A pair of familiar faces will return to Value City Arena this season as part of Ohio State’s non-conference schedule.


Announced today, the 2020-21 slate includes an appearance in the Battle 4 Atlantis, a neutral-site game against North Carolina as part of the CBS Sports Classic and home games against Akron and Niagara.


The Buckeyes will be first-time participants in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas as part of an eight-team field that also includes Creighton, Duke, Memphis, Texas A&M, Utah, West Virginia, and Wichita State.


The schedule will also pit Holtmann against his former boss and teammate, John Groce. After the two played together at Taylor University, Holtmann was Groce’s first assistant coach hire after being hired as head coach at Ohio University in 2008. Groce went on to coach at Illinois and is now entering his fourth season at Akron, which will come to Ohio State on Nov. 19.


Former Ohio State assistant coach Greg Paulus will also make his return to Value City Arena in his second season as the head coach at Niagara, which will play the Buckeyes on Nov. 15.


The full slate of games is not yet finalized. The Buckeyes will play a pair of Big Ten games around a December 9 home game against Towson, but the conference has not yet announced its league schedule. Ohio State’s game as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge has not yet been finalized, and the location of the CBS Sports Classic has not yet been announced.


With the Big Ten now playing 20 league games, the only non-conference game not yet announced will be against an ACC opponent. The Buckeyes will not be participating in the Gavitt Games, which pits eight Big Ten and Big East teams against each other, after playing in the event during each of the last two seasons.


The schedule makes no mention of holding a game at St. John Arena, something the Buckeyes have done for each of the last two seasons. Ohio State will play six home games at Value City Arena in addition to one exhibition game, per the release, meaning the ACC game will be on the road.


Here’s the list of games, with last year’s final KenPom ranking in parenthesis:


November


11 – Oakland (239)


15 – Niagara (300)


19 – Akron (82)


25-27 – Battle 4 Atlantis


December


9 – Towson (158)


19 – vs. North Carolina (84)


22 – Morehead State (316)


30 – Alabama A&M (343)


All of this is with the caveat that it’s unclear if the season will start on time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. One significant hurdle to clear will be the physical return of students to college, something Ohio State has not yet committed to doing for the fall.


Monday, the Big Ten extended its suspension of all organized team activities through at least June 1. A moratorium on both on- and off-campus recruiting "for the foreseeable future" remains in effect as well.


ajardy@dispatch.com


@AdamJardy