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Ohio State to open season against Illinois State on Nov. 25

After withdrawing from the Crossover Classic, Chris Holtmann is moving quickly to fill out the schedule.

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

Entering a season that is sure to be altered and interrupted by COVID-19, Chris Holtmann and the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes had a full 27-game schedule put together on Nov. 4.

But that afternoon, the Ohio Department of Health issued a list of states where Ohioans need to self-quarantine for 14 days after visiting. Unfortunately for both the Buckeyes and the Dayton Flyers, the Crossover Classic Tournament is being held in South Dakota. Both teams were forced to withdraw, because taking 14 days off afterwards is not possible in the middle of the season.

Suddenly the Buckeyes had three open game slots on their schedule, and until today, no news on which teams would fill them. This morning I wrote about how an All-Ohio Tournament in Columbus, featuring four different Ohio schools, would be fun and reasonable, even if logistics of getting schools to agree may be difficult.

However, dreams of a Buckeye Classic in the capitol were squashed later this morning, when Chris Holtmann announced on 97.1 FM’s Morning Juice that the Buckeyes will be facing the Illinois State Redbirds on Nov. 25 as part of a four-team MTE (multi-team event).

The other two teams involved have not been announced, nor has the location. With the addition of this tournament, Ohio State’s nonconference schedule will have seven games and looks like this:

  • Illinois State (location TBD) - Nov. 25
  • Second MTE game (opponent and location TBD)
  • Third MTE game (opponent and location TBD)
  • Morehead State (Columbus, OH) - Dec. 2
  • Alabama A&M (Columbus, OH) - Dec. 5
  • Notre Dame (South Bend, IN) - Dec. 8
  • No. 16 North Carolina (Cleveland, OH) - Dec. 19

Illinois State is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, where they went 5-13 last season (10-21 overall). They are No. 194 in KenPom’s rankings, and are only returning one key playmaker from last year’s team — junior guard DJ Horne.

With these seven games on the books plus 20 conference games which are still to be announced, the Buckeyes are back to the NCAA maximum of 27 games. Holtmann said that he expects the remaining two games to be announced in the next week or so.