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No. 5 Ohio State will take on No. 12 Iowa in Round 1 of the 2018 Big Ten Tournament

The Buckeyes are coming off a strong season finale win over Michigan as they look to make a long postseason run.

Ohio State Athletics

It’s been an up and down season for the Ohio State softball team, but after finishing their regular season finale with a run-rule victory over Michigan in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes are ready to make a run in the postseason. The 2018 Big Ten Tournament gets underway on Thursday, and No. 5 Ohio State will face No. 12 Iowa at 8 pm ET (on the Big Ten Network).

The tournament is single elimination, with the winner of Thursday’s game advancing to face No. 4 Northwestern in the quarterfinals on Friday evening.

How did Ohio State’s 2018 season play out?

The Buckeyes fluctuated between being ranked and not ranked throughout the year. Ohio State climbed to No. 18 thanks to several 6-, 7- and 8-game win streaks. The team finished their 2018 campaign 34-13 and ranked No. 25 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.

The solid season propelled the seven seniors on the squad to 133 wins (54 Big Ten wins) over the past four seasons, good for ninth all-time senior class in program history. This talented group isn’t done competing yet, and will look to end their career with some postseason hardware and accolades.

How did Ohio State fare against the rest of the Big Ten?

The Buckeyes finished the season 14-8 against conference opponents. They claimed series sweeps over Rutgers, Penn State, Michigan State, and Maryland, and went 2-1 against Wisconsin and 1-2 against Michigan. Unfortunately, they did not have any wins during their series against Indiana and Northwestern — not good news if the Buckeyes make it to the quarterfinals on Friday.

Their solo win against the Wolverines was a nice little momentum booster. OSU run-ruled Michigan in Ann Arbor — a first for TTUN since 2000 — in the team’s final game of the regular season. That’s all well and good, but that means Michigan won the first two games, and with those wins they claimed the overall No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament as they clinched yet another outright B1G Championship.

As a team, the Buckeyes fared pretty well in the conference, however as individuals, they stood out. Not surprising, Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 62 home runs, and ranks No. 2 in the B1G in triples (11), doubles (74), and slugging percentage (.495).

What’s the series history between OSU and Iowa?

The Hawkeyes lead the overall series, 66-42, but the teams didn’t meet this season. During the 2017 series, Ohio State won two of the three games, 3-1 and 6-0, respectively.

That streak might continue in the Buckeyes’ favor, with Iowa claiming just a 20-31 record on the year, and just 6-16 against conference opponents. They finished their regular season with four straight losses, including a Purdue sweep, and will have to do something quick to regain some confidence.

Any Big Ten Tournament history?

This year’s tournament marks the 12th time the Buckeyes have made an appearance, and the sixth year straight — not surprisingly, the postseason streak has continued under super-winning head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly.

Overall the Buckeyes are 16-14 in the Big Ten Tournament, and won their only title back in 2007. They made it through to the championship game in last year’s tournament, but ultimately fell 6-0 to the Minnesota Gophers.

This is their year.

Who to watch

You should watch every single Buckeye at-bat for the opportunity to see a fun home run, but if you’re looking for the “LeBron James Factor” of this squad, it’s Lilli Piper. Not just among the top of the Big Ten conference in a host of categories, but Piper sits at No. 5 nationally in home runs (19), No. 4 in home runs per game (.40), and No. 10 in slugging percentage (.899).

How to watch No. 5 Ohio State vs No. 12 Iowa

Here’s the complete tournament bracket: