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Column: I think the women’s basketball team can win it all

This team needs to be talked about more!

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joseph Scheller/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Don’t look now, but the Ohio State women’s basketball team is currently having its best start to the season in program history. I simply don’t see them being talked about enough, and I am guilty of it too. So, I’m here to share my two cents on why I think that they can win the National Championship.

They have played 17 games so far and have lost ZERO. When a team starts off the season this hot, you know that they have something special going on. The women proved themselves last season after having an impressive finish to their year, ending with a phenomenal tournament run.

The end of the last year has carried into the start of this year. Clearly, the women worked even harder in the offseason to ensure they would make it even further in the postseason tournament. The same core group remains, besides the loss of Braxtin Miller and the addition of Cotie McMahon.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joseph Scheller/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

This team has been battle tested in many ways, yet has not let difficulty knock them down. Their best player, Jacy Sheldon, went down early in the season with an injury and hasn’t played since Nov. 30. Additionally, the Buckeyes’ other guard, Madison Greene, who tore her ACL last season, suffered another knee injury this season and has been out since Dec. 20.

So, two of the best players go down, yet this team keeps winning! That is impressive and definitely a quality of a championship team. They certainly have the next woman up mentality, and that is needed especially late in the season. No matter who plays, they find their groove and find a way to win.

Players getting injured isn’t the only challenge these women have faced. Their schedule has not been easy, and that started with their very first game of the year — a top-five matchup against Tennessee. This game put the Buckeyes on the map, as they took down the Vols to show they are the real deal.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joseph Scheller/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

So, they had no games to just ease into the season, but they didn’t need those games. They proceeded to take down top-20 ranked Louisville fairly comfortably just a couple weeks later. After beating two Big Ten opponents, their first test came against USF — the game where Greene went down. Yet, they pulled it together and won in overtime. An unranked team can always be a sneaky threat, and while the Buckeyes faltered, they did not fall.

They ended 2022 with a bang after beating No. 14 Michigan on New Year’s Eve in front of a sellout crowd in the Covelli Center. Carrying that energy into 2023, the Buckeyes defeated Minnesota in their first game of the year, and then had to play Illinois on Sunday.

While the Fighting Illini aren’t ranked, they are 14-3 on the season and a very solid team. So much so, they had the Buckeyes down by 10 at the half, and 17 at one point in the third quarter. However, Ohio State does not back down, and came all the way back for the largest second-half comeback in program history to take dub No. 17.

Clearly, this team hasn’t had an easy path. Two of their best players went down and the schedule hasn’t gotten any easier. Yet, it doesn’t matter. This team has grit and depth, two crucial things in order to make a deep postseason run. McMahon, a freshman, has transitioned seamlessly from high school to college. She’s already recorded six 20-point games.

I could go on and on about each player on this team. Everyone plays an important role, because they never know when they’ll be called upon. The best part about this team is that they are having so much fun. When your work doesn’t even feel like work, that’s when you know you are truly winning.

Hopefully that carries them all the way to the National Championship.