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Ohio State women’s basketball to face Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals

The Buckeyes will take on the Spartans for the third time this season; beating Michigan State in the first matchups.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Robert Killips | Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament season is upon us and after the first game of Day 2, there has already been history made, not to mention upsets and close calls. Oh, and also important for Buckeye Nation, the quarterfinal opponent for the B1G Co-Champion Ohio State Buckeyes has been decided. On Friday, March 4 at 11:30 a.m. ET, the No. 1 seeded Buckeyes will face off against the Michigan State Spartans. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

The Spartans won by a narrow 73-69 score over the Purdue Boilermakers on Thursday. There were 10 lead changes between the two sides, and if not for two seven-point runs by Michigan State in the fourth quarter, it could be a different story.

Leading the Spartans in the victory was outstanding guard Nia Clouden. The unanimous 2022 All-B1G First Team guard had 23 points, and shot 10-for-11 from the free throw line. For as often as Clouden got to the line, it was Spartan foul trouble that allowed Purdue to continue to fight back.

At halftime, Clouden had three personal fouls, alongside four for Tamara Farquhar, but Purdue helped Michigan State as well, shooting only 16.7% in the second quarter.

Thanks to MSU’s win, the Buckeyes will take on Sparty for the third time this season. So far in the 2021-22 campaign, Ohio State has won both contests, but they each ended up being very close affairs. On Jan. 12, Ohio State beat Michigan State 89-83 at Columbus’ Value City Arena. Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon led the Buckeyes in the victory with 33 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.

Ohio State fans don’t have to look too far back for the last time that these two teams played. The Buckeyes ended the regular season against the Spartans on Feb. 27. Ohio State won 61-55, even with a difficult shooting performance for a normally strong Buckeye offense.

With two wholly different performances in both games, it’s hard to tell which OSU team will come into the quarterfinals. Senior guard Taylor Mikesell’s shooting from deep has been a difference maker for most of the season. Mikesell is second in the NCAA with a 47.1% shooting percentage from distance, but has hit a cold streak as of late.

In the Buckeyes’ last three games, Mikesell’s gone 6-for-25 (24%) from beyond the arc. Even so, Mikesell has still led the Buckeyes in points in the last two games, scoring 19 and 17 to close out her first regular season as a Buckeye.

But the recent scoring issues haven’t only been reserved to Mikesell. The Buckeyes as a whole have had a top-10 shooting offense for most of the season, but finished the last two weeks of the campaign with underwhelming performances. Against the Spartans on Feb. 27, the Buckeyes shot 34.9% from the floor, far under their 46.3% average on the season.

Fortunately for Ohio State, their defense has stepped up as their offense has slid back. Senior Braxtin Miller has led the team, even as she’s working through a wrist injury sustained in the Feb. 24 victory against Penn State. Off of the bench, forwards Tanaya Beacham and Taylor Thierry have performed stronger of late.

Beacham’s energy and experience helped keep Penn State First Team All-B1G guard Makenna Marisa to a season-low 10 points. Against Sparty on Sunday, Thierry had 11 rebounds, the biggest coming on the offensive boards near the end of the fourth quarter with a rebound that sealed the victory for the Buckeyes. Thierry’s come on strong in the last month of the season as head coach Kevin McGuff has utilized her athleticism and defensive awareness on the court.

If the Buckeyes advance on Friday, they will meet either No. 13 Rutgers, the No. 5 Indiana Hoosiers, or the No. 4 Maryland Terrapins. Rutgers upset the No. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions 75-50 in the first round of the tournament and are currently taking on Indiana. The winner will face Maryland on Friday following the Ohio State-Michigan State game.

Elsewhere on the bracket, the University of Illinois, the final seed in the tournament, became the first B1G No. 14 seed to advance, beating the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers 75-66 on Wednesday.