Chris Holtmann has promised to beef up his non-conference schedule and appeared amenable to adding in-state opponents at Ohio State. Today, both of those stated goals came to fruition with the news that the Buckeyes have scheduled a home-and-home series with Cincinnati to open the next two seasons.

To open the 2018-19 season, the Bearcats will host the Buckeyes at a newly renovated Fifth Third Arena. The next year, Ohio State will return the favor.

"We have great respect for the UC program and Coach (Mick) Cronin,” Holtmann said in a statement. “The idea of challenging ourselves in the nonconference while also providing an attractive game for our collective fan bases certainly made sense to us. We understand the challenge of opening the season on the road vs. a high-caliber opponent with a younger team provides some risk but we felt like it was the right decision at this time.”

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It was the type of series former coach Thad Matta was disinclined to schedule. This will be the first true regular-season games between the two programs since 1921. The teams have since played three times in the NCAA Tournament and also met on a neutral site in Indianapolis during the 2006-07 season.

“This is a great thing for Ohio, for basketball in Ohio and for the fans of these great universities,” Cronin said. “I want to thank everyone involved in making this happen. We are very excited about reopening our arena next season. Supporting this and agreeing to play Cincinnati in a home-and-home series is a first class move by Ohio State, coach Chris Holtmann and the OSU administration.”

The games will take place on the first allowable day of competition each year.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy