No. 20 Ohio State women’s basketball has first major challenge of season vs. No. 10 Indiana
McGuff on Indiana: “I think when it's all said and done they're a potential Final Four team."
What is the Ohio State women’s basketball team really made of?
That question should partly be answered when the 20th-ranked Buckeyes battle their first ranked opponent of the season, No. 10 Indiana (5-2, 1-0 Big Ten), at 7 p.m. Sunday at Value City Arena.
While Ohio State (7-1, 1-0 Big Ten) owns the third-best scoring offense in the country at 87.8 points per game, the Buckeyes haven’t exactly played a competitive schedule.
Their lone loss came against a Syracuse team that was picked to finish at the bottom of the ACC and scored 97 points. Ohio State’s best win is a 17-point victory that was closer than the final outcome on the road against a Purdue team that won four games in the Big Ten last season.
In every way, the Hoosiers will challenge an Ohio State team that is still unsure how good it can be with point guard Madison Greene out for the season.
"Indiana's great,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “They've got one of the oldest, most experienced teams in the country. They went to the Elite Eight last year and basically returned everybody. They're a very physical team. We'll have to really, really execute on offense because they're as good of a defensive team as we've seen all year. Then they really execute and they're fairly methodical on offense. It's going to be a big test.”
Coming off the best season in program history, Indiana returned all five starters, including first-team all-Big Ten players Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes and second-team all-Big Ten guard Ali Patberg. The Hoosiers’ only losses this season have been by three points to now-No. 4 Stanford and by eight points to No. 2 North Carolina State. They have allowed just over 57.2 points per game.
“I think when it's all said and done they're a potential Final Four team, legitimately, after what they did last year and what they return,” McGuff said. “Big test, but also great opportunity.”
Since a 97-91 loss to Syracuse, Ohio State has regained a little confidence. The Buckeyes had handily won five straight games to start the season and hadn’t been forced to respond to adversity.
"That hurt everybody, and it was kind of a wake-up call and humbled us all,” sophomore guard Gabby Hutcherson said.
The Buckeyes showed a bit of resilience in the next game at Purdue, scoring just seven points in the second quarter but pulling away to win by 17.
Junior guard Jacy Sheldon said the Buckeyes have progressed since the loss to Syracuse. How much is yet to be determined.
“Big Ten's a really good conference,” Sheldon said. “Every game you have to show up ready to go.”