The daily schedule gets shaken up for the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team this week. Head coach Kevin McGuff and the Scarlet & Gray play an early game, part of two home Buckeye basketball games on Thursday. Up first is the No. 3 women’s team in the country versus their first of four final non-conference regular season games of the season. On the docket is another smaller conference opponent, the University of New Hampshire.
Thursday’s lunchtime tip welcomes the New Hampshire Wildcats. It’s another game, now their fifth this season, where the Buckeyes can hone their game before the Michigan State Spartans descend on Columbus, Ohio.
For Thursday’s opponents, they sit 4-6 in the America East conference, the same conference for the Buckeyes' last small non-conference game against the University of Albany on Friday, Dec. 16.
Chosen to sit in seventh of eight teams this season in America East’s preseason poll, the Buckeyes will be the biggest test for the Wildcats, so much of Ohio State’s focus will be internal.
Against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Sunday, coach McGuff applauded a strong start but after the first quarter, the team went stagnant. After Rutgers adjusted, Ohio State had trouble getting back to their game plan, something Thursday will help.
The press didn’t have the same intensity and the team didn’t have the same energy, looking like the Scarlet & Gray weren’t as concerned with the Knights. Even if Ohio State won by 12 points at the final buzzer, it featured the Buckeyes hanging on in the final quarter with a surging Rutgers team who outscored Ohio State from the second quarter through the end of the game.
Expect a motivated Buckeyes team, giving guard Jacy Sheldon another game off to recover her lower leg injury and guard Madison Greene more opportunities to fill that pressing role left by Sheldon. Without Sheldon, the Buckeyes’ opponents average 11 fewer turnovers a game. If Sheldon’s injury continues for bigger opponents, the press will need consistency.
Another area to watch is communication on the floor. Forward Rebeka Mikulášiková and guard Taylor Mikesell played off each other well to score 31 and 30 points, respectively, but coach McGuff referenced overall team communication as a concern versus Rutgers. That meant players forced shots without playing on the same page as their teammates.
On the opponent’s side, the Wildcats' lone game outside of the New England area came in Florida, against Ohio State’s Dec. 20 opponent, the USF Bulls. The Bulls took care of the Wildcats 75-57. Even if it looks like a game with a lot of Buckeyes scoring, there’s still an Ohio connection to watch on the Wildcats.
Freshman guard Breezie Williams joined New Hampshire this season out of Glenoak High School, outside of Canton, Ohio. Although there wasn’t overlap between Williams and Mikesell, who played close at Jackson High School, their schools are conference rivals. With New Hampshire, the freshman has started all 10 games and averages 10 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Don’t be surprised to see a lot of Wildcats blue in the Schottenstein Center on Thursday.
- Considering the match-up, a Greene start for Sheldon seems likely, making it the guard’s fourth start of the season
- Mikulášiková’s 31 points against Rutgers put her team-leading points per game up to 19.8
- Ohio State features five players averaging double-digit scoring per game
- Guard Avery O’Connor is fifth in the conference in scoring per game (12.8) and third in three-pointers made (22)
- The Wildcats are the only America East team with a positive turnover margin (1.20)
- New Hampshire features no NCAA DI transfers on their roster
This game should go the way games against North Alabama, Wright State, and McNeese State have gone for Ohio State. In other words, Buckeyes domination.
The Scarlet & Gray will limit starter minutes, and allow players on the bench to continue their progression in competitive play. Starting forward Cotie McMahon’s been benched the last two games, in favor of more experienced players. Thursday gives her the chance to get back on track, offensively. McMahon’s defense has been great throughout.
Watch guard Emma Shumate, who missed two games before the Buckeyes' trip to Louisville. The Newark, Ohio native played against Rutgers in meaningful minutes and should see more Thursday.
How to Watch
Date: Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022
Time: 11:00 a.m. ET
Where: Schottenstein Center - Columbus, Ohio
LGHL Prediction: 101-52 Ohio State Buckeyes
Buckeye Double-Header Benefits Women’s Team
Value City Arena at the Schottenstein Center plays host to two Buckeyes games on Thursday. The second is on the men’s side when the No. 25 Scarlet & Gray men welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to Columbus. The men sit 6-2, and Thursday’s game against Rutgers is their first Big Ten conference game of the season.
The early tip-off might hurt attendance for the women’s side, but there are still positives.
With a game against Sparty three days later, McGuff gets the extra time to prepare for Michigan State’s visit. If Thursday was a night game for the Buckeyes, that’d cut hours of prep away from a tough conference game.
Inside Thursday’s crowd is the second positive: the children. Thursday’s game is an incentive for students in Columbus City Schools. Through the 2nd and 7 Foundation, close to 4,000 students will be in attedance, a reward for students with good attendance to take in a basketball game.
“Our kids have been doing a great job with [being good role models],” said head coach Kevin McGuff. “I think it’ll be great to have the younger kids here for a game.”
If attending in-person, remember that 4,000 kids can be loud. Bring hearing protection if you need it.