Big Ten positioning on line for OSU women
Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff insists that he has not been — nor will be — scoreboard watching with two games left in the Big Ten women’s basketball regular season.
That’s probably a good thing heading into a game Thursday night at Wisconsin, because the Buckeyes’ potential landing spot for the conference tournament couldn’t have a much bigger range.
The Buckeyes (13-12, 9-7) could finish as high as third, with wins over the Badgers (13-15, 4-12) and then against Rutgers (19-8, 11-5) on Sunday, depending on other results. Then again, Ohio State could place as low as 10th, if it loses its final two games and several other dominoes fall in a particular order.
The bottom line: If McGuff’s team closes with a pair of wins, they will finish no worse than fifth. The Buckeyes already have been assured of a day 1 bye in the tournament, which begins Wednesday; if they finish fourth or higher, they won’t have to play until Friday’s quarterfinals.
Over the past two weeks, Ohio State has won at Rutgers and at home against Wisconsin. That’s a far cry from the team that endured a five-game losing streak and was 7-10 overall and 3-5 in the conference at one point. The Buckeyes have won three in a row and four of their past five.
“We’ve continually gotten better and that’s what I’ve emphasized to our kids,” McGuff said. “Keep getting better and we’ll be in a different place at the end of the year.”
In a 70-68 win over the Badgers on Feb. 17, Ohio State trailed by 14, rallied to take a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and then held on. The Buckeyes have won 27 of the past 29 games with the Badgers.
“(Wisconsin) played a great game here, we really put ourselves in a hole in the first half,” McGuff said. “Their zone was really problematic against us, but in the second half we played really well on offense.”
One change for the Badgers from the last matchup is the presence of 6-foot-1 freshman Imani Lewis, who is second on the team in scoring (12.4) and rebounding (7.6), She missed the first game while attending a funeral.