After a 2021-22 season in which the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball non-conference schedule didn’t come with too many challenges, the upcoming season is beginning to be stacked with competitive, top-conference schools. On Thursday, the Ohio State Buckeyes announced their second confirmed non-conference game. On Nov. 8, OSU will welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to the Schottenstein Center.
The eight-time NCAA champions haven’t won a national title since 2008, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous to the Buckeyes. In 2021-22, the Volunteers ended with a 25-9 record going 11-5 in the SEC, home of the 2022 NCAA Championship-winning South Carolina Gamecocks.
Throughout last season, the Volunteers beat top teams like the 2022 SEC Conference winning-University of Kentucky, the Virginia Tech Hokies, and UCF Knights. Like Ohio State, the Volunteers made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament before falling to the Louisville Cardinals.
Leading the Volunteers was then-junior Tamari Key. The 6-foot-6 center led the nation with 119 blocks in 34 games, on top of 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Key was named as a finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award for top center in the country and earned a spot on the SEC All-Defensive and the Coaches All-SEC Second teams.
Last season, the Buckeyes struggled against teams with bigger threats in the paint. Michigan Wolverine Naz Hillmon and Indiana Hoosier Mackenzie Holmes couldn’t be stopped against a smaller Buckeyes side, with Michigan and Indiana beating Ohio State in all four matchups, in all competitions.
The Scarlet and Grey will have to work through not one, but two Volunteers who excel underneath the basket. Alongside Key is senior guard Jordan Horston. The Columbus, Ohio native almost averaged a double-double, leading Tennessee in scoring with 16.2 points per game and averaging 9.4 rebounds per game.
All-in-all, the Volunteers return four starters, who bring experience in a top basketball conference to Columbus.
Not only does Tennessee bring a strong group of players, but the team also features a fervent group of supporters who are well-represented across the nation. When the Volunteers and Buckeyes tip on Nov. 8, don’t be shocked to see a sea of orange in the stands.
The Buckeyes and Vols have played against each other 11 times, with Tennessee winning 10, and are on a current five-game winning streak. In their last game, in 2016, the Volunteers and Buckeyes met in the Sweet Sixteen, with Tennessee winning 78-62. Former Buckeye All-American Kelsey Mitchell featured for Ohio State that day, scoring 20 points in 40 minutes on the court.
Ohio State and Tennessee is the second confirmed non-conference game for the Buckeyes in 2022. On July 11, the Big Ten announced the matchups for the ACC/B1G Challenge, with the Scarlet and Grey traveling south on Nov. 30. They face the same University of Louisville team that ended the Volunteers 2021/22 season.
Their full non-conference schedule is still pending, but the Buckeyes are also linked with an in-season tournament on Dec. 20 and 21. Ohio State and Virginia Tech may play on Dec. 20, with a game the next day against the winner of an Oregon Ducks and Arkansas Razorbacks game, also played on Dec. 20. The full tournament, slated to be held in San Diego, California is yet to be finalized, but was announced by Arkansas on Wednesday.