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The start of Ohio State’s 2020-21 basketball season has been set

The Buckeyes will square off with the Memphis Tigers in the first round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic on Nov. 25.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The attention of Ohio State fans might be monopolized by the start of the Big Ten football season next weekend, but it’s time to start getting excited about the Basketball Bucks as well, as their season was announced on Wednesday. Ohio State will kick off their 2020-21 campaign on November 25th, taking on the Memphis Tigers in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic, which will be held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Ohio State and Memphis were both originally supposed to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis, held in Nassau, Bahamas, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to the tournament being scrapped. Seven of the eight teams originally slated to play in the Bahamas will be playing in the Crossover Classic, with Duke being the only team who won’t be in South Dakota in late November.

The Buckeyes and Tigers have met on three previous occasions, with Ohio State winning two of those meetings. The most high-profile matchup between the schools came in the 2007 Elite Eight in San Antonio. Thad Matta’s squad beat Memphis 92-76 to earn a spot in the Final Four. The game was decided at the charity stripe, as the Buckeyes hit 21 more free throws than the Tigers. Ron Lewis led Ohio State with 22 points, while Mike Conley added 19 points.

The most recent meetings between the schools came in late November in 2015 in the Hoophall Miami Classic. 40 minutes wasn’t enough to decide the result between the two teams, as they headed to overtime tied at 75. The Buckeyes weren’t able to get anything going in the extra session, scoring just one point in the 81-76 loss. The season ended up being one Ohio State wanted to forget, as the Buckeyes missed the NCAA Tournament and fell in the second round of the NIT.

Ohio State is coming off the 2019-20 season where they went 21-10 before the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament were cancelled because of the spread of the coronavirus. The Buckeyes will look a lot different this year on the court. Kaleb Wesson declared for the NBA Draft, while older brother Andre exhausted his eligibility. Along with the loss of the Wessons, Luther Muhammad and Alonzo Gaffney transferred out of the program.

The Buckeyes did get a couple of additions through the transfer portal to try and ease the pain of the losses from last year’s roster. The most notable transfer addition was of Seth Towns, who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2018 at Harvard. Cal transfer Justice Sueing will finally be able to take the floor after sitting out last year, while Utah State guard Abel Porter and Bucknell transfer Jimmy Sotos were added as graduate transfers during the offseason.

While the transfer additions should inject some energy into the program, a number of returning players will be able to show the newbies the ropes. Expect Chris Holtmann to lean heavily on senior Kyle Young and sophomore E.J. Liddell this year. Young has been the “glue guy” for Ohio State when healthy the last few years, and now will finally have the spotlight to himself. Liddell should form a strong combo with Young at forward after a solid freshman season. Running the show at guard will be C.J. Walker, who was a fixture on the court last season after transferring from Florida State.

The winner of the Ohio State-Memphis game in the first round of the Crossover Classic will go on to meet the winner of the first game of the tournament, which will feature West Virginia and Texas A&M. The Buckeyes met the Mountaineers in last year’s Cleveland Classic, with West Virginia earning a 67-59 win. Ohio State has only faced Texas A&M twice, failing to win either meeting. The last meeting came in 2007, where the Aggies drubbed the Buckeyes 70-47 at the Preseason NIT in New York City.

The most intriguing matchup for Ohio State could possibly come in their final game of the tournament. Replacing Duke in the Crossover Classic are the Dayton Flyers. Should the Buckeyes and Flyers meet in the tournament final, it would be a hotly-contested matchup. The Buckeyes and Flyers have split their six all-time meetings, but Ohio State has revenge on their mind after Dayton defeated the Buckeyes by a point in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Any possible meeting between the Buckeyes and Flyers would take place on Friday November 27th.

It may be crazy to think about basketball when Ohio State’s football season hasn’t even started yet, but it’s coming sooner than we think. Hopefully the Crossover Classic will kickoff a successful season for Chris Holtmann’s Buckeyes, and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament is in store for the squad.