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Oregon or Arkansas? Ohio State women’s basketball clear on their pick

The San Diego Invitational means one of two games this week are undecided on the opponent front, but the team is sure on who they want.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Sweet Sixteen-Oregon at Louisville Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday, the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team faces the USF Bulls in the first of two-straight games in the San Diego Invitational. Win or lose, the Scarlet & Gray have two possible options for their Wednesday opponent, and both bring a challenge: the No. 16 Oregon Ducks or No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks.

That begs the question of who will the Buckeyes play? By the time Ohio State and USF tip at 6:30 p.m. ET, the Buckeye opponent game outcomes become clearer. Oregon and Arkansas, a marquee match-up this late in the non-conference schedule, tips at 1:00 p.m. ET. A win by Oregon and same result by the Buckeyes means a reunion between Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell and a Ducks team she played with for one season.

After breaking out at the University of Maryland, Mikesell swapped the East Coast for the Pacific Northwest. Following two years in the Big Ten of playing over 2,000 combined minutes, Mikesell played a career low 594 minutes, averaging 9.3 points per game and shooting a career worst 33.3% from deep.

Following a 2021-22 debut season with Ohio State where Mikesell was named to the First Team All-B1G, the guard decided to return to Columbus for her final season of eligibility. After announcing it, Mikesell might have hinted to that time in Oregon, when giving advice to players who are looking to transfer schools.

“My advice to someone is to go where they feel appreciated,” said Mikesell. “Go where they’re going to have the chance to showcase themselves as a person and as a player.”

From the sounds of it behind the scenes, the Buckeyes are hoping to show the Ducks their appreciation for Mikesell’s move back to the Big Ten.

“I just want to play Oregon,” said freshman forward Cotie McMahon.

Those were the first words out of the back-to-back Big Ten Freshman of the Week winner, when asked about her thoughts on the San Diego Invitational in general.

Head coach Kevin McGuff’s team wants this matchup, but it’s fair to say the Buckeyes would like to face Oregon after both teams win on Tuesday. Neither the Buckeyes or the Ducks have an easy road to San Diego Invitational glory.

Arkansas is a surprise team this season. After ending the 21/22 season 18-14, the Razorbacks are 13-0, including wins against ranked Kansas State Wildcats and Creighton Bluejays. For Oregon, their lone game against a ranked opponent ended in an 85-79 defeat.

Either team will provide a test for the Scarlet & Gray on Wednesday. Plus, Ohio State can still leave California with a third-straight win against a ranked opponent this season, even if they stumble against a tough USF team.

The Bulls have the Buckeyes number in recent history. Since 2018, their two games against each other ended in big double-digit Ohio State defeats. Even though both teams now feature different lineups, the Bulls feature a conference talent in guard Elena Tsineke and forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu. Also, the Bulls don’t care about Mikesell of the Buckeyes wants for the second game.

No matter which way the games fall, Ohio State has the opportunity to help reinforce their No. 3 ranking in the country. Look too far into the future though, and past USF, the ranking might not be there for long.