With a top-25 ranking in the NCAA women’s basketball RPI ratings and a No. 2 mark in strength of schedule, it seems safe that Ohio State has done enough this season to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
But with only 17 wins, the Buckeyes’ margin of error is thin enough that a few more victories certainly wouldn’t hurt their cause, starting with a game today against Purdue in their regular-season finale in West Lafayette, Indiana.
A week ago, Ohio State (17-11, 10-7) took a six-game winning streak into a game at Rutgers, but a last-second loss to the Scarlet Knights and a 14-point thumping at the hands of Big Ten co-leader Northwestern on Tuesday have the Buckeyes looking to avoid a three-game losing streak to end the season.
The losses dashed OSU’s hopes for a No. 4 seed in next week’s conference tournament, which would have meant a bye into the quarterfinals.
Ohio State can still earn the fifth seed if it beats Purdue and Rutgers (20-8, 10-7) loses at home to No. 18 Iowa on Sunday. A loss would drop the Buckeyes to the No. 6 or 7 seed, depending on results involving Rutgers and Michigan.
Purdue (17-12, 8-9) is tied with Michigan State for eighth place, but the Boilermakers dealt OSU one of its most painful defeats this season in the Big Ten opener, winning 66-50 on Dec. 28 in Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes shot 31.7% from the field (19 of 60) in that game, their worst shooting performance of the season. They also were outrebounded 45-26.
OSU has greatly improved its rebounding since mid-January behind sophomore Dorka Juhasz, who averages 9.4 boards per game in Big Ten play to rank second in the conference.