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Big Ten Title Race: Ohio State women’s basketball and Iowa deadlocked

Tied at the top of the conference, the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes seven games away from a winner-take-all in Iowa City

Iowa v Ohio State Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

With less than a month remaining in the Big Ten women’s basketball schedule, it’s a better time than ever to take a look at the standings. More specifically, the regular season title race. With seven games remaining, Ohio State women’s basketball and the Iowa Hawkeyes are tied atop of the conference. Barring a slip-up by either side, and there are plenty of chances for those, the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes' March 3, 2024 game in Iowa City, Iowa has all the makings of a championship game.

Here’s how the rest of the regular season looks for both:

Remaining Big Ten Schedule

Ohio State Iowa
Ohio State Iowa
@ Minnesota Penn State
@ Michigan State @ Nebraska
Nebraska Michigan
@ Penn State @ Indiana
Maryland Illinois
Michigan @ Minnesota
Iowa Ohio State

Outside of two games, the two teams tied atop the conference standings have similar roads to the season finale. Each side plays six games where the opponent is more than happy to dethrone one of the top teams in the conference; plus two teams that both sides face who are fighting for one of the last double-bye spots for the Big Ten Tournament.

Who Has the Tougher Schedule?

The odds are in the Hawkeyes’ favor, considering all seven remaining games for both sides. Ohio State has one less home game, facing three teams away from the Schottenstein Center that the Buckeyes struggled against so far this season.

It begins on Sunday. Traveling to East Lansing, Michigan, the Buckeyes face the Michigan State Spartans, who lost to Ohio State by five points on Jan. 14. The scarlet and gray struggled offensively against Sparty but made up for it defensively, holding a team that averaged 89 points per game entering the contest to 65 points. Playing at the Breslin Center, Michigan State has home home-court advantage and, as of publishing, has a four-game winning streak.

Ohio State’s last two away games of the regular season feature matchups against teams the Buckeyes needed overtime to overcome.

Penn State’s advantages against the scarlet and gray are twofold. First, former All-American guard Ashley Owusu finally made it to the court, returning from injury. In seven appearances — including five starts — Owusu averages 18.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. The second is the history behind the matchup. On Feb. 22, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions won’t play in the Bryce Jordan Center. Instead, the two teams play at historic Rec Hall.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Penn St. at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

For Ohio State fans, it's like having the Buckeyes play at St. John’s Arena instead of the Schottenstein Center.

Then, before the final game of the season, the home games aren’t much easier for head coach Kevin McGuff’s side. Ohio State faces the Maryland Terrapins and Michigan Wolverines (the only team to beat the Buckeyes this season in conference play).

On Iowa’s side, the toughest game of the six games that aren’t against Ohio State is a trip to Assembly Hall. Earlier this season, the Hawkeyes dismantled the Indiana Hoosiers, but that was in Iowa City. With losses against the scarlet and gray and Iowa, Indiana sits in third place, with the only realistic chance of repeating as season champions coming with a win over the Hawkeyes.

Battle for Fourth

Making things difficult for both conference leaders is a group of four sides all playing for the last double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska, and Michigan all are within 1.5 games of the fourth seed of the tournament, with results going in every kind of direction. Tuesday night, the Cornhuskers beat the Wolverines, after Michigan beat Penn State on Saturday.

For Nebraska, it was their second win over the Wolverines. The Cornhuskers also have an early conference season win against the Maryland Terrapins but entered Tuesday’s game against Michigan off a loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. It was Rutgers’ first Big Ten win of the season.

In other words: it's hard to predict what will happen next in the Big Ten.

For the rest of the season, check back for weekly updates on the standings, game results, and more.