Hoops Team Facing Early Road Tests

By Jeff Rapp, May 19th, 2018

The Ohio State men’s basketball team will open the 2018-19 season at Cincinnati, also plays UCLA away from home and now is scheduled for a rough matchup at Creighton in mid-November.

That means Chris Holtmann and his young team – now without the services of starters Jae’Sean Tate, Keita Bates-Diop and Kam Williams – will have plenty of early tests before embarking on a 20-game Big Ten schedule.

The game with Creighton is confirmed for Nov. 15 and was announced on Tuesday when the Big Ten Conference and Big East unveiled pairing for the Gavitt Games. The time and television assignments (Fox Sports 1 or Big Ten Network) for all the Gavitt Games matchips will be set at a future date.

Big Ten teams are also awaiting official notification of assignments for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Last year, the Buckeyes lost at home to Clemson in what was a matchup of 2018 NCAA Tournament teams.

The Gavitt Games also will feature a rematch of the 2018 national championship game as defending champion Villanova will again take on Michigan. A complete list of the Gavitt Games schedule follows:

* Tues., Nov. 13 – Georgetown at Illinois, Wisconsin at Xavier

* Wed., Nov. 14 – Seton Hall at Nebraska, Marquette at Indiana, Michigan at Villanova

* Thurs., Nov. 15 – Ohio State at Creighton, Penn State at DePaul, St. John’s at Rutgers

Creighton is coming off a 21-12 season which ended with a 69-59 loss to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA tourney. The Buckeyes were a surprising 25-9 in Holtmann’s first season and like Creighton finished third in regular-season conference play. OSU defeated South Dakota State and then lost an opportunity to reach the Sweet 16, losing to Gonzaga.

Ohio State and Creighton last met on Nov. 24, 2004, as part of the Guardians Classic in Kansas City. Creighton won that game 65-63 in overtime.

The Buckeyes figure to be well-challenged at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., where the Bluejays enjoy a healthy homecourt advantage.

Coach Greg McDermott, who reportedly was offered the OSU job before Holtmann agreed to a deal, again will have a formidable team. Creighton returns three starters in guards Davion Mintz, Khyri Thomas and Mitch Ballock.

The Buckeyes are looking to fill several holes in their rotation but do return senior guard C.J. Jackson and sophomore center Kaleb Wesson. They’ll be challenged right out of the chute as they are scheduled to open the season Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, which will be christening newly renovated Fifth Third Arena.

OSU also will face UCLA as part of the CBS Sports Classic on Dec. 22 at Chicago’s United Center. North Carolina and Kentucky will meet in the other half of that doubleheader.

If the ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest is on the road, OSU fans may have to wait a while to see a marquee opponent in person. So far, the most recognizable nonconference home game is against Bucknell, although that game hasn’t been announced with a firm date.

The Big Ten will showcase a 20-game schedule for the first time. The conference used a 12-game league schedule from 1920 to 1950 and upped to to 14 games from 1951 to 1974. Member teams played 18 league games from 1975 to 1997, went to 16 games from 1998 to 2007 and went back to the 18-game format in 2008.

This season, Ohio State will play Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, Maryland, Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern both home and away. The Buckeyes will play Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska only on the road and Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin only at home.