The Ohio State women’s basketball team is back playing a top-10 ranked Big Ten team this weekend. After two games against unranked opponents, the Buckeyes travel to College Park for a game against the No. 8 Maryland Terrapins.
For the Buckeyes, it’s a hopeful return to beating ranked sides. For Maryland, it’s a game where a win keeps them in the conversation to be in the hunt for a Big Ten regular season title.
It’s a season-changing game for both sides. Which team will rise to the occasion?
Outside of a tough seven days of the Buckeyes’ season, they’ve risen to those exact occasions. Entering Jan. 23, the Scarlet & Gray were 4-0 against ranked opponents, but since are 4-2, and a three-game losing streak put them back into the pack within the Big Ten.
Maryland brings a unique challenge to keep Ohio State from getting back to a winning streak, because the two programs are fairly similar.
All season, the narrative around the Scarlet & Gray has been equal part epic comebacks and blistering full court defense. Sunday, head coach Kevin McGuff’s side takes on a team who’s separated themselves from the conference in forcing turnovers.
The Terrapins feature a quick and athletic roster led by future WNBA Draft pick, guard Diamond Miller. After last season’s Maryland campaign where the Terrapins walked away from the season without a single team honor for the first time since 2017-18, stars on the team jumped ship.
Guard Ashley Owusu went to Virginia Tech where she’s battled injuries all season, and forward Angel Reese went to LSU, where she’s put herself into the conversation as the best player in the country after putting up a double-double in every game this season.
Despite those departures, Miller stayed to finish off her career as a Terrapin, and with the team on the ropes, she’s put Maryland back near the top of the conference.
Miller is dangerous because of how well she can read the court and then use her size and ability to get around defenses. For Ohio State, it’ll be a busy day for guard Taylor Thierry and forward Cotie McMahon, the two most likely to be on the guard to try — stress try — and neutralize her game.
Diamond said I ain't sorry pic.twitter.com/rpQIzKHeDe— Maryland Women’s Basketball (@TerpsWBB) January 26, 2023
Miller will make moves like a spin in the paint against the Michigan Wolverines, use blistering speed in transition to catch opposing defenses napping and also find her teammates, who are all formidable in their own ways.
Alongside the senior Miller is sophomore Shyanne Sellers. The Northeast Ohio native has taken a big leap from her freshman season to now being a regular for head coach Brenda Frese. Sellers excels at a modern game. In other words, Sellers can do it all. The guard takes smart shots, can attack the basket, hit from deep, find teammates on offense and provide strong defense when the opposition has the ball.
Should Sellers stay in the Big Ten throughout the rest of her NCAA career, she’ll be in the same place that Miller is today. It’s a tough scenario for the Buckeyes having both of them on the court. There can’t be a double-team against either of them without putting the other one in a wide-open position; a situation both can exploit.
If extra attention is on both guards, there are more Terrapins on the court to cause damage. From deep its guard Abbey Meyers. Last season, Meyers was the Ivy League Player of the Year for the Princeton Tigers. The Ivy League isn’t at the same level of the Big Ten, but Meyers adapted well to the conference and will be an issue for the Buckeyes.
Meyers is dangerous from beyond the arc. So, when Maryland is dumping the ball into the paint or Miller is attacking the post, Meyers will be standing in waiting. Meyers leads the Terrapins in total makes with 45, but that’s not her entire game. The Maryland native will also rush the paint to grab rebounds. Meyers is second on the team, averaging 5.3 rebounds per game.
- Wednesday’s Buckeye win pushed Thierry above forward Rebeka Mikulášiková in scoring, as her averaged bumped up to 13.4 points per game.
- Mikesell is tied with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark with 72 made three-pointers this season — the most in the Big Ten.
- When Rikki Harris gets at least four assists per game, the Buckeyes are 7-0. They are 1-3 when she does not reach that mark.
- Maryland’s allowed the most three-point shots all season with 175 total — 42 more than the Buckeyes.
- Sellers’ 51.4% field goal percentage is the second-most efficient for a guard in the conference, behind only Michigan’s Leigha Brown.
- Guard Elisa Pinzan joined the Terrapins from the USF Bulls, and leads Maryland with 74 assists.
So far this season, games between ranked Big Ten teams have been mostly one-sided at the final buzzer. Sunday will be one of the closest between ranked teams.
Ohio State will do ok at slowing down Miller, but not enough to take her completely out of the picture. The Buckeyes full court press will create Terrapins turnovers and easier chances on fastbreaks. However, there will be spells of the game where shooting from deep isn’t hitting.
The Buckeyes win a close game, with Mikesell leading Ohio State in their first top-10 ranked Big Ten win of the season.
How to Watch
Date: Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023
Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
Where: XFinity Center, College Park, Maryland
Stream: ESPN App with ESPN subscription
LGHL Prediction: 82-80 Ohio State Buckeyes
Who Wins the Rebounds?
Back to the loss of Reese. Last season, the forward led the Terrapins with 10.6 rebounds per game. When Reese left, so did the Terrapins’ dominance in the paint. They went from a formidable team in the paint down to the Buckeyes’ level, where it’s hard to know if Ohio State will be out rebounded by 20 or edge their opponent late in the game in that department.
Of the ranked teams in the conference, they’re the only two with a negative rebounding margin. Maryland’s -1.6 rebounds per game is the second worst in the Big Ten, followed closely by Ohio State at -0.7 per game — slightly better 10th in the conference.
Sunday’s game will be played in the open court and transition game, but Thierry and some of the Buckeyes’ rebounding-prone teammates could be the difference.