The Ohio State Buckeyes had a new wrinkle in the 2022 edition of the NCAA March Madness tournament. Instead of having a week to prepare for their opponent, the Buckeyes wouldn’t know who they’d face until two days before their Saturday tip. Ohio State now knows that they’ll compete against the Missouri State Bears in the first round.
Thursday’s First Four game between Missouri and Florida was the first time the NCAA women’s tournament included an eight-team play-in round. The Seminoles and Bears played a close, physical game.
In the game, both sides went on big runs. Missouri started the game hot, going up 14-1 in the first six minutes of the first quarter. Florida State responded big, turning their one point into a 26-18 lead with three minutes left in the half.
The Bears weren’t phased. Florida State replaced a weak start to the game with attacks in the paint. The Seminoles forced 17 first-half fouls and took only two three-point attempts in the second quarter, but Missouri adjusted too. As the Bears calmed down, their fouls lowered and so did Florida’s effectiveness. Missouri ended the half on an 11-3 run to go into halftime tied 29-29.
That carried into the second half. Missouri State outscored the Seminoles 21 to 10 in the third quarter. What made it more impressive was how they did it. It was without their leading scorer, and First Team All-MVC, forward Abigail Jackson. Due to foul trouble, Jackson scored only six points on the game and fouled out with 7:38 remaining in the fourth.
Florida State attempted a comeback, but fell short. Missouri defeated Florida State 61-50. Defeating the ACC at-large bid side for the No. 11 seed in the first round of March Madness.
Leading the Bears was an unexpected offensive leader in guard Mya Bhinar. The senior had 12 points and six rebounds, despite only averaging 4.8 points per game on the season.
Saturday’s game is the first time that the Buckeyes and Bears will face each other in their program’s histories. Even though Missouri State plays in a smaller conference, the Missouri Valley Conference, that won’t phase the Bears. Missouri played a tough non-conference schedule in 21/22 and has a long history in the NCAA tournament.
The Bears played five teams from power five conferences. In the process, they beat the ACC’s Virginia Tech Hokies, who made the tournament as an at-large bid, and Big 12 in-state opponent Missouri University. Also, they narrowly lost to LSU of the SEC and Big 12’s Oklahoma State University.
In March Madness, 2022 is the 17th appearance for the Bears, and third season in a row, minus 2020 that was canceled due to COVID-19. They’ve also made the Final Four twice, with the last appearance in 2001.
Ohio State and Missouri State tip Saturday, March 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET. LSU hosts the game in Baton Rouge, LA, and it will air on ESPNU.