The 2020 men’s college basketball season begins on Wednesday, November 25th, with a mammoth slate of games, including the Illinois State Redbirds at the #23 Ohio State Buckeyes. These two teams have never met in their program’s history. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. EST inside Value City Arena in Colombus, Ohio.
What to Know – Illinois State Redbirds
Illinois State enters the 2020-21 season with many unknowns after accumulating a 10-21 overall record last year. The Redbirds win total was the worst for the Missouri Valley Conference squad since a nine-win season in 2005-06.
The team’s leading scorer graduated, and their second-leading scorer has opted out this season due to the coronavirus. Senior Keith Fisher III was selected to the preseason All-MVC third team but has elected to opt-out this season due to coronavirus concerns.
With last season’s leading scorers Zach Copeland and Fisher gone, look for guard DJ Horne to be a focal point of the offense. Horne averaged 8.7 points per game as a freshman while shooting 45-percent from the floor and 40-percent from beyond the arc.
Also back for the Redbirds is sophomore guard Antonio Reeves. Reeves saw action in 31 contests last season, logging three starts, and averaged 7.2 points over 22.4 minutes of action per game.
The Redbirds welcome a handful of new faces to the program, including five freshmen and four transfers. Illinois State was picked to finish 9th in the Missouri Valley Conference according to a preseason poll.
What to Know – Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State had a solid 2019-20 campaign, posting a 21-10 overall record and the seventh seed in the postseason Big Ten Tournament. The season was up-and-down for the Buckeyes, who started the season 10-0, faltered during the middle of the season before ending the shorted season, winning eight of their last ten.
Three of the Buckeyes top four scorers are gone, including their top scorer and rebounder, with only junior guard Duane Washington Jr. (11.5 ppg) back in the scarlet and grey. Washington started 15 games and averaged 24.9 minutes of action as a sophomore.
Redshirt senior guard C.J. Walker (8.7 ppg), senior forward Kyle Young (7.5 ppg), and sophomore forward E.J. Liddell (6.7 ppg) round out the top returning scores for head coach Chris Holtmann’s squad.
Ohio State brings in two freshman and three transfers that will see action for the first time in a Buckeye uniform. Ohio State was picked for seventh in the unofficial preseason media poll released last week.
The Pick is In
Both teams enter the season with an offseason that saw quite a bit of roster turnover. The Buckeyes got out to a fast start last season, while the Redbirds opened the season with a pair of victories as well. With the Redbirds coming off one of their worst seasons in recent memory, you expect head coach Dan Muller and company to come out fired up. OSU is too talented, however, and this one should be over by halftime.
The Prediction: Ohio State – 77 Illinois State – 53