Ohio State has announced a nonconference schedule that’s among the toughest in recent memory and includes another return to St. John Arena.

Highlighted by games against Villanova, North Carolina, Kentucky, Cincinnati and West Virginia, the 13-game slate opens with seven straight home games and likely won’t see the Buckeyes hit the road until they face the Tar Heels in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 4. The Big Ten will again play two regular-season games in early December, and while it’s unknown if those games will come before or after the North Carolina game, it seems unlikely they would come before that game.

Ohio State will also host its own “Ohio State Classic,” a multi-team event featuring Kent State, Purdue Fort Wayne and Stetson. The Golden Flashes will be the opponent for the St. John Arena game, which will be played Nov. 25. Last season, Ohio State hosted Cleveland State at its former arena for a Friday night game leading into the football team’s home game against rival Michigan.

The Buckeyes will unofficially get the year underway with an Oct. 30 exhibition game against Cedarville, which means they will also be able to play a closed-door scrimmage. The official start to the season will be a Nov. 6 home game against Cincinnati, the return leg of a home-and-home series to open the season against the Bearcats.

A week later, Villanova will come to Value City Arena as part of the Gavitt Games, which regularly pits Big Ten and Big East teams against each other.

The Buckeyes will close the calendar year with two neutral-site games. Ohio State will face Kentucky in the CBSSports Classic at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 21 and then, after a break for Christmas, face West Virginia at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, home of the NBA’s Cavaliers, on Dec. 29. The only home date during the month of December will be against Southeast Missouri State on the 17th.

“As I’ve said, this is an exciting nonconference schedule and certainly the most challenging we’ve been a part of,” coach Chris Holtmann said in a statement. “We have a variety of outstanding teams and programs we will be competing against here in Columbus, on the road and in our neutral-site games. When you combine it with two December Big Ten opponents as part of our 20-game schedule, in a league that I believe will be the deepest in the country again, the schedule provides some outstanding early games for our fans. We look forward to growing as a team through the demands of this schedule.”

Game times and television information, as well as the full Big Ten schedule, will be announced at a later date. This is the second year of a 20-game conference schedule for the league. The Big Ten tournament will take place in Indianapolis from March 11-15.

However, Ohio State does know how many times and where it will play each Big Ten team:

Home and home: Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland, Wisconsin and Nebraska

Home only: Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers

Road only: Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern.

Here is the full nonconference schedule:

November

6 – Cincinnati

10 – UMass Lowell

13 – Villanova

18 – Stetson

22 – Purdue Fort Wayne

25 – Kent State

29 – Morgan State

December

4 – at North Carolina

17 – Southeast Missouri State

21 – vs. Kentucky

29 – vs. West Virginia

 

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy