Ohio State women see Big Ten title hopes take hit with upset loss at Wisconsin

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State guard Braxtin Miller, left, scored 10 points for the Buckeyes in an upset loss at Wisconsin but fouled out with the score tied and 3:08 remaining.

Despite a self-imposed postseason ban because of potential NCAA infractions, at least one objective has remained at stake this winter for Ohio State’s women’s basketball team.

The Buckeyes could still compete for a regular-season Big Ten championship.

But their bid took a serious hit Wednesday night when they suffered a 75-70 upset loss at Wisconsin, a team that had been sitting in last place in the conference and had lost 11 of its previous 12 games.

The setback saw Ohio State (12-3, 8-3) tumble to fifth place in the standings. The Buckeyes trail Maryland (9-1 in the Big Ten) by 1½ games and also sit behind Indiana (10-2), Michigan (5-1) and Northwestern (9-3) in the conference race. 

By virtue of back-to-back-to-back victories over Michigan, Maryland and Indiana last month, Ohio State holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over those three teams. But the Buckeyes have only six games remaining on their regular-season schedule, though some games postponed earlier in the season when OSU had a COVID-19 outbreak could be rescheduled.

Coach Kevin McGuff called Wednesday’s loss “tough” and “very unfortunate” in his team's quest for the conference crown, but sought not to dwell on the potential ramifications of the defeat.

“I think maybe not getting so caught up in the big picture,” he said, “and just getting back to making sure we practice well over the next couple of days heading into Sunday’s game, and putting the focus there, and keeping it there.”

The Buckeyes will have chances to climb toward the top of the standings again as half of their remaining scheduled games are against teams that are ahead of them. That includes a matchup with Northwestern at 12:30 p.m. Sunday in Value City Arena.

Ohio State also has a Feb. 21 trip to Michigan and a Feb. 27 matchup with Indiana. A game at Maryland postponed from Dec. 23 might also be added to the schedule.

In the meantime, the most pressing on-court issue to fix for the Buckeyes is their effort on the glass. They were outrebounded 49-34 by Wisconsin, the biggest margin in a Buckeyes game this season.

Twenty of the rebounds were on the offensive end for the Badgers, allowing them to finish with 19 second-chance points.

They also allowed Wisconsin, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the conference, to make 46.6% of its shot attempts as the Badgers led throughout much of the second half.

Ohio State twice tied the score in the fourth quarter, the last time at 66, but never could reclaim a lead after falling behind 28-27 midway through the second quarter.