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Top five Ohio State women’s basketball conference games to watch in 2022-23

Ranking the five most entertaining and storyline-filled games of the B1G calendar.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week, the Big Ten announced the full 2022-23 regular season schedule for all 14 women’s basketball programs. Combined with the Ohio State Buckeyes releasing their non-conference schedule six days prior, the full season schedule is now available, with key dates circled throughout the 29-game schedule.

There are home games against top-ranked opponents both in and outside of the conference that make this season vastly more difficult than the Buckeyes' 2021-22 season slate.

To help you get excited about the season, here’s a ranking of the five most anticipated Buckeyes in-conference matchups.

Jan. 14 at Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Nebraska Cornhuskers surprised a lot of people last season, starting the season by winning their first 12 games.

They ended up coming down to earth in Big Ten play, but still looked like a team on the rise. Nebraska went 11-7 in conference play, led by Big Ten Freshman of the Year Alexis Markowski, and beat both the Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines during the regular season, with Nebraska adding another win against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.

Ohio State and Nebraska played just once last year, in Columbus, with the Scarlet and Gray coming out on top 80-70. This time around, they play only in Lincoln. This will be Ohio State’s first big road test of the conference schedule and should be an exciting matchup.

Jan. 26 at Indiana Hoosiers

Last season, the Scarlet and Gray played the Hoosiers only once during the regular season. The Buckeyes were humbled on their home court, in one of only two home defeats in the entire season.

The loss was the result of an Ohio State side that struggled against teams with a strong presence in the paint. For Indiana, MacKenzie Holmes is just that. The 6-foot-3 forward struggled with minor injuries throughout the year, but on Dec. 12 there was no denying Holmes. She scored a season-high 30 points and added seven rebounds in a resounding 86-66 victory in Columbus.

This season’s edition of the matchup will be a test of the Buckeyes' paint improvement with Holmes returning.

Ohio State’s added former Arizona State and Syracuse forward Eboni Walker, who averaged 4.8 rebounds per game on the defensive boards and another 2.8 offensively, putting the transfer near the top of the Pac-12. Walker’s addition was an under-the-radar transfer since the former Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year only played six games last year with the Orange before suffering an injury.

Feb. 25 vs. Maryland Terrapins

When a new schedule is released, one of the games you look for is the final one of the season. The Big Ten schedule makers did well selecting competitive matchups between top sides to end the year.

This season, four of the top five from last regular season face off in games that could decide the conference. Ohio State is in one of those games as they will welcome the Maryland Terrapins to the Schottenstein Center in the last week of February.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State’s marquee home conference win of the 21/22 season came against Maryland. Can they repeat their win this season?
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last season, the Buckeyes and Terps split their two games, with each side taking the home edition. Although Maryland lost forward Angel Reese and guard Ashley Owusu to transfers, 2006 National Championship-winning coach Brenda Freese didn’t sit back and wallow in despair.

Freese brought in 2022 Ivy League Player of the Year Abby Meyers, who averaged 17.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Maryland also added 6-foot-3 four-star freshman forward Mila Reynolds, who can come in to help fill the rebounding gap left by Reese.

It’s no stretch to see both Ohio State and Maryland in the final battle for the conference title and tournament seeding. The Buckeyes won their share of the 2022 championship on the last day of the season and could repeat that again in 2023.

Dec. 31 vs. Michigan Wolverines

There isn’t much selling needed to watch an OSU-Michigan athletic competition. Last year, forward Naz Hillmon and the Wolverines humbled the Buckeyes twice by 19 points each game.

Hillmon is gone now though and Ohio State’s brought in players to help address its lacking paint presence. Also, both losses came before now sophomore forward Taylor Thierry began to establish herself inside the arc.

Michigan of course didn’t let Hillmon go without adding more players to their roster. They still have forward Emily Kiser who received her first conference honor of an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.

Kiser used her extra year of eligibility given to players because of the Covid-19 pandemic and will bring veteran leadership to the Wolverine’s inside game. Expect her to work alongside Australian freshman Chyra Evans. The forward played one year in Australia’s NBL1 league with Newcastle, averaging 19.8 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Ohio State and Michigan play in Columbus on New Year’s Eve, which is about as big as the regular season gets.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
With Naz Hillmon (left) gone, can the Buckeyes beat their rivals up north on New Year’s Eve?
Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jan. 23 vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

The most exciting Buckeyes’ game last year was a trip out to Ames, Iowa against the Hawkeyes. A 92-88 Ohio State victory featured 16 lead changes and a 43-point game from Naismith Player of the Year award finalist, Iowa guard Caitlin Clark.

Clark and center Monika Czinano scored 66 of the Hawkeyes’ 88 points, but couldn’t stop Ohio State with four players scoring in double digits, led by splash sisters Taylor Mikesell (24) and Jacy Sheldon (20). It was the win that ended up earning the Buckeyes a split of the regular season conference title with those same Hawkeyes.

The 2023 edition is the lone matchup between the teams unless the two meet in the Big Ten or NCAA Tournaments, so there’s a lot on the line at the end of January. Both squads return scoring leaders that put them in position to lift a Big Ten trophy and this game has all of the makings of a high-powered home game for head coach Kevin McGuff and the Buckeyes.

When the schedules were released, the Big Ten Network talked about Iowa and Indiana as the two sides most likely to fight for the 2022 conference, but Ohio State has the opportunity to spoil narratives for the second season in a row.

Next up, Land-Grant Holy Land will share the top five non-conference games.