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Ohio State, Cincinnati schedule series for first time in nearly 100 years

Butler v North Carolina

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 24: Head coach Chris Holtmann of the Butler Bulldogs looks on against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 24, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Earlier this year, I went on one of my many rants about the state of college basketball and why the sport is in trouble if we cannot find a way to get the coaches to schedule the games that people will care about.

It seems as if at least two people listened to me, as Ohio State and Cincinnati agreed to play a home-and-home series for, essentially, the first time ever. The Buckeyes and the Bearcats have not played during the regular season since 1921. They will now play in 2018-19 and 2019-20, as the two best basketball programs in the state square off.

(Why aren’t Xavier and Dayton mentioned as possibly the best program in Ohio? Hmm ... I don’t know. Maybe if you guys played each other to determine who was better we wouldn’t be at this crossroads.)

Credit to new Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann for getting this done. Throw in that he’s gotten about 17 players - OK, maybe less than that - to commit to the Buckeyes, and it’s been a great start to his Ohio State tenure.

“This is a great thing for Ohio, for basketball in Ohio and for the fans of these great universities,” UC head coach Mick 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.”

“We have great respect for the UC program and Coach (Mick) Cronin,” Holtmann said. “The idea of challenging ourselves in the non-conference 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.

“We will continue to work to put together a challenging and attractive non-conference schedule in the future within the constraints of the Big Ten schedule as well as the games that have already been contracted,” Holtmann said.