Welcome to the calm before the storm… unless you’re an NIT junkie, then your Madness has already started. In honor of Coach Calipari’s fantastic coaching job on Tuesday night, today’s soundtrack channels the thoughts of Wildcat fans as they get to watch the rest of the tournament. Hey… you think they’ll have time to join our Bracket Challenge?
Yesterday’s win over Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament was huge for the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s hopes of making the NCAA tournament. Today’s matchup with top seeded and 7th ranked Penn State was an opportunity for the Buckeyes to improve their NCAA resume and virtually assure themselves a spot in the Big Dance. This was also a chance for OSU to get some revenge after Penn State overcame a halftime deficit to beat the Buckeyes in their only regular season meeting.
The game started out as a tight, back-and-forth defensive battle with both teams having to work hard to get an open look. The opening five minutes saw both team trading baskets with neither able to open up more than a three point lead. Ohio State led 14-13 at the fourteen minute mark but then Penn State scored six straight points to take a 19-14 lead just a minute and a half later and it seemed like the Nittany Lions were poised to take control of the game. The Buckeyes responded though, getting some defensive stops which led to some nice layups as OSU scored 8 straight to take the lead, 22-19, with eight minutes remaining in the half. The teams would go back to trading baskets for the next few minutes and OSU managed to extend its lead to 29-24 with just under five minutes left in the half. The Nittany Lions closed out the half strong though, going on a 9 to 2 run to close the half and to take a 33-31 lead into halftime.
When it comes to Ohio State sports, it is only appropriate that the regular season should end with a game against Michigan; unfortunately this rarely happens for most sports that aren’t football. This year the Big Ten scheduling computers got things right for the women’s basketball team who closed the regular season today by hosting Michigan, their only game against the Wolverines this season. The Buckeyes came into this game on a two game winning streak that had seen them play some of their best basketball of the season and they looked to keep that momentum going heading into this week’s Big Ten tournament.
After Michigan scored on the game’s first possession, the two teams traded baskets until Ohio State scored six straight to take an 11-6 lead just over six minutes into the game. The Wolverines responded with a pair of three points sandwiched around an Ameryst Alston basket to make it a one point game and then tied it at 16 a few minutes later. The Buckeyes roared back with a 10 to 2 run to take a 26-18 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the half. The teams would trade baskets for the rest of the half and Ohio State went into halftime lead 30-25.
Coming off one of their best team games of the year in Monday’s win over Michigan State, the Ohio State women’s basketball team looked to build some momentum with tonight’s game at Illinois. This was the last road game of the year for the Buckeyes, which must come as a relief to a team that has really struggled on the road over the past two seasons. Those road struggles also meant that this game was really important for OSU, not only as it would tell us if the good performance against Sparty was indicative of things to come or was just a mere blip but also because a road win would greatly help the Buckeyes’ case to sneak into the NCAA tournament.
The game started out as a back and forth affair which resulted in the game being tied at 9 seven minutes into the game. The importance of this game for the postseason hopes of both teams was apparently early as both teams played energetic defense but also had moments of sloppy play on offense which led to turnovers. After a good shooting start by Ohio State, their shooting went cold and Illinois took advantage to go on a 7 to 2 run to take a 16-11 lead with eight minutes remaining in the half. The Buckeyes responded though, scoring six straight to take a 17-16 lead just over six minutes on the clock. The lead bounced back and forth for a couple minutes before OSU went on an 8 to 2 run to take a 27-22 lead with two and a half minutes remaining. The two teams would trade baskets the rest of the way and when the buzzer sounded for halftime Ohio State had a 31-26 lead.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team looked to copy the men’s team from yesterday and pull off an upset of Michigan State at home. Following a heart breaking loss to Minnesota last Thursday, the Buckeyes added a new wrinkle to their lineup as sophomore guard Raven Ferguson returned to the starting lineup but in a new position, taking over at the four spot. This change gives OSU a smaller lineup but one that is more athletic and one that is a bit more dangerous from the outside.
After Ohio State’s recent shooting woes, Buckeye fans were relieved and excited as Tayler Hill hit OSU’s first shot of the night with her foot on the three point line. The Buckeyes would hit 4 of their first 6 shots to take an 8-7 lead at the first media timeout. At that point OSU’s good offensive start quickly evaporated as the Buckeye missed five straight shots and Michigan State forced several turnovers. Fortunately MSU also struggled with its shooting during this stretch and only managed to take an 11-8 lead with just over fourteen minutes remaining in the first half. After three minutes of neither team being able to score, Ashley Adams finally hit a two point jumper which the Spartans immediately answered. The Adams basket seemed to re-ignite the Buckeye offense as Raven Ferguson hit a three to tie the game on the next trip down the floor and Ohio State went on an 18 to 5 run to take a 28-15 lead with just under five minutes on the clock. MSU wasn’t going to go away though as they scored six straight points and closed the half on an 8 to 2 run to cut the Ohio State lead to 30-23 at halftime.
Ohio State entered tonight’s game riding a three game winning streak, their longest this season since Big Ten play started. The Buckeyes knew that keeping that streak going wasn’t going to be easy as they had to face Nebraska in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers came into tonight’s game in second place in the Big Ten and on a three game winning streak against the Buckeyes, all three wins being fairly comfortable ones.
Nebraska got out to an early lead; hitting three of their first four shots to take a 6-0 lead three minutes into the game. Ohio State responded though with a seven point run to go up 7-6 just a bit more than three minutes later. At this point an intense back-and-forth battle started with the two teams trading baskets and the lead for the next eleven minutes with neither team able to take more than a two point lead. That narrow margin was broken when the Cornhuskers scored 5 straight to take a 23-19 lead with a minute left in the half. The Buckeyes would briefly narrow that lead back to a single basket but then Nebraska hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to give themselves a 25-21 lead going into intermission.
After winning just their second Big Ten game of the year by beating Indiana on Super Bowl Sunday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team hosted Wisconsin in an attempt to finally get a conference winning streak going. This game also represented the first chance at revenge this season for the Buckeyes who lost in Madison last month thanks to a disastrous second half where OSU couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.
The first half was a tight, back-and-forth affair where neither team could get much breathing room in a very tough defensive battle where both teams really slowed down the pace of play. Wisconsin opened with a 6-2 lead only to see Ohio State tie it up at 6 after approximately six minutes of action. The Badgers would go back out front, 10-8 before the Buckeyes scored 7 straight to open up a 15-10 lead with just over seven minutes left in the half. Just as it seemed like OSU was going to have some nice momentum, Wisconsin responded with an 8 to 2 run of their own to retake the lead, 18-17, with four minutes remaining in the half. Those last four minutes continued the defensive, back-and-forth nature of the game but Ohio State managed to claw their way to a 26-24 halftime lead.
School: University of Wisconsin – Madison
Location: Madison, WI
Student Population: 42,595 total, 28,897 undergrad
School Type: Public
Stadium: Kohl Center
Head Coach: Bobbie Kelsey
Experience: 2nd year