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Ohio State men’s basketball announces non-conference schedule

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OSU guard JaQuan Lyle (13) leads the offense in the Big Ten tournament against Penn State on March 10 in Indianapolis. Credit: Lantern File Photo

OSU guard JaQuan Lyle (13) leads the offense in the Big Ten tournament against Penn State on March 10 in Indianapolis.
Credit: Lantern File Photo

The Ohio State men’s basketball team has been criticized in recent years for not scheduling high-major opponents in the nonconference season.

Since the 2013-14 season when OSU did not play one ranked team until conference play, coach Thad Matta and the Buckeyes have shared the court with Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia, UCONN, Memphis and Kentucky. Only one of those games (Virginia) was played in Columbus.

On Tuesday, OSU announced its 2016-17 nonconference schedule, which features two familiar high-major opponents, and two other prominent programs — at Virginia, versus UConn, versus Providence and in Las Vegas against UCLA.

Providence will travel to Columbus for the first time in school history when the Friars and Buckeyes meet on Nov. 17, as a part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games between Big Ten and Big East schools. This is the first meeting between the two schools since the 1990 NCAA Tournament. The Friars lost their two leading scorers from last season to the NBA: guard Kris Dunn and forward Ben Bentil.

Matta’s team lost last year at home to then-No. 6 Virginia 64-58 in a closely contested game, and OSU also suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the UConn Huskies in Storrs, Connecticut, 75-55. Matta and company has its chance at revenge next season.

On Nov. 30, OSU will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia, to face coach Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Virginia lost its two best players in ACC player of the year and defensive player of the year Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill. However, three-point mastermind Logan Perentes returns with Memphis’ former leading scorer Austin Nichols, who is now eligible after sitting out a year because of the NCAA transfer rule, and four recruits in ESPN’s top 100 for 2016.

OSU hosts UConn on Dec. 10 at the Schottenstein Center, completing its home-and-home series with the Huskies. Coach Kevin Ollie’s team loses three of its top four scorers but owns the ninth-ranked 2016 recruiting class, according to ESPN.

In the final year of the CBS Sports Classic, OSU tips off against UCLA on Dec. 17 in Las Vegas. UCLA owns the sixth-ranked 2016 recruiting class, according to ESPN, and the Bruins return four starters.

Each pivotal nonconference opponent has a roster that will undergo some change whereas the Buckeyes return its six leading scorers from last season.

A young OSU team in 2015-16 couldn’t capitalize on teams inside the RPI top 50. The Buckeyes were just 2-10 in those games, including 1-8 versus the RPI top 25.

Despite a poor resume, a nonconference win in Brooklyn, New York, versus then-No. 4 Kentucky held OSU’s NCAA Tournament hopes from the unfathomable. In 2016-17, a strong nonconference showing could be the Buckeyes’ best friend come next March.

Nov. 11 @ Navy
Nov. 14 NC Central
Nov. 17 Providence
Nov. 21 Western Carolina
Nov. 23 Jackson State
Nov. 25 Marshall
Nov. 30 @ Virginia
Dec. 3 Fairleigh Dickinson
Dec. 6 Florida Atlantic
Dec. 10 Connecticut
Dec. 17 vs. UCLA (Las Vegas)
Dec. 20 Youngstown State
Dec. 22 UNC-Asheville

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