Jeff Boals’ first non-conference schedule as the Ohio men’s basketball coach is a doozy.
It starts off fast, with a plethora of matchups away from home, then eases into a six-game home stand highlighted by a rare visit form a Big Ten foe.
The 13-game slate has a few givens — Ohio has regular-season games against two non-Division I opponents — but more than enough challenges for a young Bobcat club that will have seven newcomers on the roster.
“We are looking forward to a challenging non-conference schedule that will help prepare us for Mid-American Conference play,” Boals said in a released statement.
On the schedule are four teams that appeared in the NCAA Tournament last spring, and at least three power programs from power conferences in Villanova (26-10, Big East), Baylor (20-14, Big XII) and Purdue (26-10, Big Ten).
The highlight of the non-conference season will be on Dec. 17 when Purdue invades the Convocation Center. ‘The game is the second half of a home-and-home series between the two programs, a series that was created when Ohio Football agreed to a lower-than-market payout for a road game at Purdue in 2017.
The Boilermakers will be the first Big Ten team to play in the Convo since Wisconsin in 2001.
The matchup with Purdue is the fourth of six consecutive home games to end 2019. Ohio won’t play a game, until conference play, after a four-day stay in the Myrtle Beach Invitational Nov. 21 through 24.
The end-of-the-year home stand includes a rematch with Detroit Mercy (11-20 in 2018-19) on Nov. 30, a game against non-Division I opponent Rio Grande on Dec. 4, a visit from Tennessee Tech (8-23) on Dec. 8, the bout against Purdue, and games against Morehead State (13-20) and Campbell (20-13) on Dec. 21 and Dec. 29.
Ohio will have three non-D1 opponents on the schedule. The Bobcats will face Division III Capital in an exhibition game at the Convo on Nov. 2. In addition to Rio Grade, Ohio will also face D-III Heidelberg in the Convo on Nov. 9.
The non-conference portion of the schedule will be 13 games — one exhibition, eight home games, three neutral site games and three true road games.
And although ‘lighter’ in December, the Bobcats face a gauntlet right off the bat.
After the exhibition, Ohio travels to St. Bonaventure (18-16) on Nov. 5. After facing Heidelberg, the Bobcats hit the road again for a trip to Iona (17-16).
Just three days later, Ohio will play at Villanova (26-10), the three-time defending Big East champion. After that, it’s three games in four days at Myrtle Beach. Ohio will face Baylor (20-14) in its first game of the tournament.
Iona, Villanova, Baylor and Purdue were all in the NCAA Tournament a season ago. If the Bobcats survive the early stretch, they’ll have a chance to build momentum before conference play.
“Being home the whole month of December will allow us to play in front of our great fanbase before we start MAC play,” Boals said.
Ohio, 14-17 a year ago, return MAC Freshman of the Year in sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas, and All-MAC Freshman Team member in point guard Jason Preston.
The Bobcats will have seven new faces on the roster in incoming freshmen Ben Roderick, Marvin Price, Miles Brown, Michael Brown, Lunden McDay, Nolan Foster and graduate transfer Sylvester Ogbonda.
Start times for the non-conference schedule will be announced at a later date.
2019 Ohio Men’s Basketball
Nov. 2 CAPITAL (exhibition)
Nov. 5 at St. Bonaventure
Nov. 9 HEIDELBERG
Nov. 13 at Iona
Nov. 16 at Villanova
Nov. 21 vs. Baylor*
Nov. 22 vs. Utah or Coastal Carolina*
Nov. 24 TBD*
Nov. 30 DETROIT MERCY
Dec. 4 RIO GRANDE
Dec. 8 TENNESSEE TECH
Dec. 17 PURDUE
Dec. 21 MOREHEAD STATE
Dec. 29 CAMPBELL
HOME GAMES IN ALL CAPS
* — Myrtle Beach Invitational