Ohio State beat one unbeaten Big Ten team this week. Can it take down another?
Ohio State suffered a crucial loss at Nebraska on Jan. 16 that could be rectified and forgotten with back-to-back wins against the top two teams in the Big Ten.
The No. 17 Buckeyes (8-1, 4-1) responded and survived its first challenge against unbeaten No. 11 Michigan on Thursday to set up a showdown against No. 7 Maryland (11-1, 7-0) at Value City Arena on Monday, and an opportunity to move into a tie for first in the Big Ten.
Ohio State was upset at Nebraska in part because of its inability to move past a draining comeback win earlier in the week at Iowa. Coach Kevin McGuff believes his team has learned that lesson and won’t have the same issue against one of the premier teams in the women’s basketball.
"It was an emotional win versus Michigan, but this is where we've got to show some maturity,” McGuff said. “They get it that we won the other night because our preparation and practice was really good. We're going to certainly need that same preparation heading into Maryland. Anything short of great practice and preparation will leave us unprepared and really not give ourselves a chance to be successful."
The Terrapins are the top scoring team in the country, averaging 92.5 points per game. They are led by sophomore guards Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu, both of whom average nearly 18 points per game.
The last time these two teams met was the final game before the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in early spring. Maryland beat Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament championship game last year for its 17th straight win, and the Terps have extended their conference winning streak to 24 games.
"They beat us three times last year,” guard Madison Greene said. “We're definitely trying to come out this year and make our mark and try to get a win.”
Monday’s game could turn into a track meet, with both Ohio State and Maryland preferring to get out in transition and score quickly. It will be difficult to slow down Maryland, but the Terrapins have allowed more than 80 points in four of their seven conference games.
"One of the best teams in the country,” McGuff said. “Really, really talented, can score the ball, seem to be in a really good rhythm right now, so it'll certainly be a challenge for us."
Ohio State allowed Michigan’s star, forward Naz Hillmon, to go off for a school-record 50 points in its last game. Maryland doesn’t have that one player to focus on, McGuff said, rather has weapons all over the floor that the Buckeyes will have to locate in transition to have a shot at the upset.
"This has got to be a really good, balanced defensive effort for our team to have a chance to win," he said.
Maryland at Ohio State
When: 7 tonight
Radio: WBNS-AM (1460)