Buckeyes coach has signed best class in Big Ten

Ohio State basketball nonconference foes include Cincinnati, North Carolina, Kentucky

Cedarville University is set to play an exhibition game against the Buckeyes at Value City Arena on Oct. 30. 

That will be the first time fans get to see a star-studded freshman class of D.J. Carton, Alonzo Gaffney, E.J. Liddell and Ibrahima Diallo in scarlet and gray. 

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The Buckeyes will begin the regular season a week later playing host to Cincinnati. 

The game against the Bearcats was announced two years ago, but its date and time were not known until OSU’s nonconference slate was revealed Monday afternoon. 

The Bearcats, in their first season under new coach John Brannen, will play the Buckeyes at Value City Arena on Nov. 6. 

That will be the first meeting in Columbus between the OSU and UC since December 1921, a 33-17 UC win. 

Ohio State opened last season with a 64-56 win at Cincinnati in the first on-campus game between the Buckeyes and Bearcats since 1921. The win last season at the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena proved to be crucial to coach Chris Holtmann’s team receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after the Buckeyes finished below .500 in Big Ten play. 

This season the two in-state matchups are just the prelude to what should be a grueling campaign for Ohio State in its third season under Holtmann. 

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The nonconference schedule also includes a home game against Villanova (Nov. 13) and a game at North Carolina (Nov. 4) with neutral-court games scheduled against Kentucky (Dec. 21 in Las Vegas) and West Virginia (Dec. 29 in Cleveland). 

Ohio State will also play a game at St. John Arena for the second consecutive season as Kent State is set to visit the venerable old basketball barn on Nov. 25. 

(Last season, Ohio State beat Cleveland State at its former home arena, and Holtmann said afterwards he would like to play there annually if possible.) 

Coach Chris Holtmann enjoyed Buckeyes’ win over Cleveland State, says annual game (or two) at Ohio State's old home has been discussed.

On top of that, another 20-game Big Ten slate is on tap that will include two games apiece against Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes only travel to Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern while playing Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers only at home. 

While the schedule may be daunting, the Buckeyes figure to have high expectations thanks to the influx of talent and the return of leading scorer and rebounder Kaleb Wesson, among other key members of a 20-win squad. 

Ohio State and Cedarville have played one official game, a 40-12 Ohio State win Jan. 13, 1906. The schools also played a B squad game in 1930. Ohio State won that one 47-30. 

An NCAA Division II team, the Yellow Jackets went 21-12 last season, including a 70-50 exhibition loss at Akron. 

They finished the season by winning the National Christian College Athletic Association national championship with a 64-58 win over Roberts Wesleyan. 

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