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Breaking Down Ohio State’s 2019-’20 Schedule

What will the Buckeyes face this season?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Day Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes head into Chris Holtmann’s third season at the helm with a team that is ready to return to the Big Ten championship conversation.

In Holtmann’s first year, Ohio State surprised even themselves by going 25-9 and coming within a game in conference play of sharing the Big Ten title. In 2018, Ohio State struggled a bit introducing young players to Holtmann’s system and replacing the production from Keita Bates-Diop. However, the Buckeyes still managed to make the tournament and won a game against Iowa State.

This year the Buckeyes return most of their rotation and add a top-15 recruiting class and looked primed to return to the top of the Big Ten. Let’s take a look at what they are up against this season.

Ohio State’s 2019-’20 Schedule

  • 11/6 - Cincinnati
  • 11/10 - UMass-Lowell
  • 11/13 - Villanova
  • 11/18 - Stetson
  • 11/22 - Purdue Fort Wayne
  • 11/25 - Kent State
  • 11/29 - Morgan State
  • 12/4 - at North Carolina
  • 12/7 - Penn State
  • 12/15 - at Minnesota
  • 12/17 - Southeast Missouri State
  • 12/21 - Kentucky (Las Vegas, NV)
  • 12/29 - West Virginia (Cleveland, OH)
  • 1/3 - Wisconsin
  • 1/7 - at Maryland
  • 1/11 - at Indiana
  • 1/14 - Nebraska
  • 1/18 - at Penn State
  • 1/23 - Minnesota
  • 1/26 - at Northwestern
  • 2/1 - Indiana
  • 2/4 - at Michigan
  • 2/9 - at Wisconsin
  • 2/12 - Rutgers
  • 2/15 - Purdue
  • 2/20 - at Iowa
  • 2/23 - Maryland
  • 2/27 - at Nebraska
  • 3/1 - Michigan
  • 3/5 - Illinois
  • 3/8 - at Michigan State

Non-Conference Breakdown

Gavitt Games

On November 13th, the Buckeyes welcome Villanova to Columbus. Jay Wright’s squad is picked second in the Big East this season and KenPom has them no. 8 right now in his preseason rankings.

For Ohio State to come out on top of this one, they will need to shut down junior Collin Gillespie, who projects to average nearly 15 points per game this season. Check out some of his highlights against Providence last season.

KenPom puts this game as a two-point victory for Ohio State right now, so expect a close one in Columbus this season.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The Buckeyes travel to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina in the latest iteration of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The Tar Heels enter the season ranked no. 9 in the country. On the analytical side, North Carolina is currently no. 6 in KenPom and no. 5 in T-Rank.

An interesting matchup to watch in this one is the Kaleb Wesson against North Carolina freshman, Armando Bacot. If there is a weakness of North Carolina this year it is that they might be a little unproven in the frontcourt. Ohio State is going to rely on the abilities of big boy Wesson and his abilities posting up and spreading the floor from three.

Bacot, North Carolina’s premier big this season, comes to Chapel Hill ranked in the top-30 for the 2019 class, but how will he matchup against one of the Big Ten’s best big men? Take a look at some of Bacot’s highlights below.

A Vegas Showdown

Another intriguing non-conference matchup this season occurs in Las Vegas with the Buckeyes and Kentucky Wildcats tipping off in the latest version of the CBS Sports Classic.

Ohio State will be an underdog in this one as Kentucky enters the season ranked no. 2 in the country. Coach John Calipari always has some of the best recruits on his squad’s and this year is no different.

The latest freshman phenom to look out for is point guard Tyrese Maxey. The 247Sports composite no. 10 player in the country will probably run the point this season. T-Rank is high on the success of this young player, saying he will average 13 points per game and be Kentucky’s leading scorer.

For Ohio State, they will trot out their freshman phenom, DJ Carton. It will be fun to watch to see who can get the better of two players that have grown up playing against each other throughout AAU play.

Check out some highlights of Maxey below.

Conference Breakdown

Toughest Stretch

  • 12/7 - Penn State
  • 12/15 - at Minnesota
  • 1/3 - Wisconsin
  • 1/7 - at Maryland
  • 1/11 - at Indiana

The beginning portion of Ohio State’s Big Ten slate is probably its toughest. The Buckeyes start with three out of their first five on the road. This is also in a stretch where Ohio State must play neutral-site games against Kentucky and West Virginia.

If the Buckeyes can get through this stretch relatively unscathed the schedule eases up a bit (relatively). The Buckeyes only play Michigan State and Purdue once each in their conference schedule and will only have two more total games against Wisconsin and Maryland.

They must get through this stretch above .500 to stay in the Big Ten race. A 2-3 start here puts Ohio State in a position of needing to go 14-1 or 15-0 to earn a share of the title. That’s just too difficult in this league.

Road Game To Watch Out For

  • 1/11 - at Indiana

As mentioned, this road game is the third in five games of conference play. This particular road game is also one of the most difficult places to play in the country.

The Hoosiers should be middle-of-the-pack this season, but this is a big Saturday FOX showdown that Indiana and it’s faithful will be ready for.

KenPom puts this one as a 70-69 loss right now while T-Rank has it as a one-point win. It will no doubt be close and competitive. The Buckeyes will need to lean on the Wesson brothers to stick out in a game full of freshmen and sophomores.

Overall Outlook

This is a tough schedule in the first couple of months of the season. There are no short cuts in non-conference play for the Buckeyes this season. Its beginning portion of Big Ten play has Holtmann’s crew on the road three out of its first five.

If the Buckeyes can keep its chin up through that stretch the schedule clears up a bit, but there aren’t going to be many easy games this year in the Big Ten, especially on the road.

Still, I like this team a lot. With another talented recruiting class coming in and its sophomore class a year older and stronger, I think this is going to be a tough defensive team and an offensive team that is more multi-faceted and not as reliant on Kaleb Wesson underneath.

Michigan State is the runaway favorite to take the Big Ten crown this season, but if you are looking for a decent sleeper pick, Ohio State isn’t a bad choice.