This Ohio State women’s basketball team has repeatedly proven a pleasant surprise for Buckeyes fans this season.
The Buckeyes weren’t projected to win the Big Ten regular season championship, but they earned a share of the conference title and then rode that momentum all the way to the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament. The No. 6 seed Buckeyes (25-6) will take on No. 2 seed Texas (28-6) in a West Region matchup on Friday night at Spokane Arena in Washington.
Meanwhile, the sportsbooks continue to project the Buckeyes as underdogs.
A season-long surprise
South Carolina is the clear favorite to end the year as national champions. DraftKings has odds of +115 on the Gamecocks taking the title, while Caesars has it at +120 and FanDuel offers +125.
Ohio State found its way into the Sweet 16 by defeating Missouri State, 63-56, to open NCAA Tournament action, then upsetting No. 3 seed Louisiana State University, 79-64, on Monday. Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell paced the Buckeyes by combining for 41 points against LSU.
The men’s team is done, but the Ohio State women’s basketball team is still rolling in the Sweet 16.@wcrosher of the Hoopla newsletter joins me to discuss how Kevin McGuff’s team has done it, and preview this weekend’s matchup with Texas. https://t.co/AXq1nADQOe
— Tom Orr (@TomOrr4) March 24, 2022
FanDuel and DraftKings have Ohio State as a 4.5-point underdog facing Texas, while Caesars Sportsbook has the Buckeyes as a 5-point ‘dog. All three sportsbooks have the over/under at 136.5 points.
Inside the matchup
Sheldon (19.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Mikesell (18.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg) are the primary scorers on a team that has found success by playing solidly on defense. Mikesell is the Buckeyes’ top perimeter shooter, making nearly 50% of her 3-pointers. She has made 111 of 236 from beyond the arc.
Rebeka Mikulasikova (9.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has also been a key player during a season in which the Buckeyes have gone 11-2 against non-conference competition. Tanaya Beacham (7.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Rikki Harris (7.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg) have also been steady contributors.
Defensively, the Buckeyes are limiting opponents to 40% shooting from the field and are forcing teams into 18.4 turnovers per contest.
But they face a tall task in a Longhorns team that won the Big 12 Tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Texas has been tough to defend against, averaging 72 points per outing, led by Aliya Matharu (12.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Rori Harmon (11.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg), and Joanne Allen-Taylor (11.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg).