Earlier Saturday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team had a tough road to beat the No. 2 team in the country, the Indiana Hoosiers. The Buckeyes overcame a 24-point deficit to defeat Indiana. Following their win, the Scarlet & Gray sat in the crowd to see who their opponent would be on Sunday. After an entertaining four quarter game, the Iowa Hawkeyes beat the Maryland Terrapins.
With Iowa’s win, they advance to the Big Ten Tournament title game for the third season in a row. Last year, the Hawkeyes beat the Indiana Hoosiers 74-67. In the win, center Monika Czinano went off for 30 points and 10 rebounds. A win Sunday would give Iowa back-to-back tournament wins, with the Maryland Terrapins beating them in the 2021 edition of the annual tournament,
That 2022 victory over the Hoosiers gave the Hawkeyes a double-trophy season in the Big Ten conference, winning a share of the Big Ten regular season title alongside their tournament victory. Now they have a chance to win their fifth conference tournament title against the Buckeyes.
This year, Iowa was another team that the Scarlet & Gray couldn’t beat, but the Hawkeyes faced the Buckeyes at a different point of the season, with Ohio State playing under a different mentality.
Their first meeting, on Jan. 23 in Columbus, Ohio, featured an Ohio State side who entered the game going 19-0, a program record best start. The Buckeyes were the No. 2 team in the country at the time and from the outside looking in it would be a close game between two elite sides.
Instead, the Hawkeyes humbled Ohio State. Iowa superstar guard Caitlin Clark had her way with the Buckeyes in spells. The guard had a triple-double with 28 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds on the night. Also, Ohio State had no luck stopping Czinano, who had 22 points herself in the 83-72 victory.
Now though, the Buckeyes don’t have the same undefeated mentality. Following that defeat, and subsequent defeats to the Indiana Hoosiers and Maryland Terrapins in the regular season, the chip on the shoulder of Ohio State seemed to grow, culminating in their big performance in the second half of Saturday’s second half victory.
The Buckeyes adjusted well to Indiana forward Mackenzie Holmes holding her under her averages in points and rebounds with 12 and seven respectively. Ohio State will need a similar performance against Czinano, and limit options for Clark who has the ability to seemingly win games with little help.
Another thing the Buckeyes will need to battle is the crowd. With Iowa’s campus two hours south of Minneapolis, Minnesota, each tournament game for the Hawkeyes is a defacto home game.
It will be the second time in the history of the Big Ten women's basketball tournament that the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes face off. Their only other game in the final was back in 2010. That’s when forward Jantel Lavender scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 66-64 comeback victory.
Currently, both sides are tied with four Big Ten Tournament trophies apiece. The Buckeyes would have five if not for a 2018 vacated title due to recruiting violations. In April 2022, that title was retroactively taken away.
Sunday’s game will tip off at 4:00 p.m. CT in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Land-Grant Holy Land will be there providing coverage the entire way.