Not many people believed No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball would hold its own against Caitlin Clark and the No. 6 Iowa Hawkeyes on Tuesday. The Terps had perhaps one of their most dominant wins of the year, defeating Iowa 96-68.
The Terps have made a few statement wins throughout the year, but Maryland has a chance to complete a sweep of the Buckeyes in the final game of the regular season on Friday, which would send shockwaves throughout the Big Ten. Maryland needs a win and an Iowa loss to No. 2 Indiana on Sunday to secure the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and will be streamed on Big Ten Network.
What happened last time
Ohio State had been trending downward since the last time these two programs met. But when Maryland defeated the Buckeyes 90-54, fans started opening their eyes and seeing the deep potential that this retooled Maryland roster had.
It was a game that featured all the best parts of what Maryland has to offer. Fifteen steals highlighted the Terps’ defensive strategy, as well as holding Jacy Sheldon to five points after she returned from injury.
Taylor Mikesell took 19 shot attempts and finished with just 12 points, turning the ball over six times for the Buckeyes.
Maryland senior guard Diamond Miller had a double-double with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
What’s happened since
The win over Ohio State kicked off Maryland’s recent win streak, where it has scored 80-plus points in three of its last five games.
Against Northwestern, it almost forced the team to lay a goose egg in the second quarter when it held it to two points.
But the biggest win of them all was defeating Iowa. There was an atmosphere in the XFINITY Center that rivaled a Final Four game. With the Terps and Hawkeyes’ series split, there may even be a third meeting in the Big Ten Tournament in a few weeks.
Maryland has prioritized its offensive rebounding, especially graduate guard Abby Meyers, who had a season-high nine total boards against Iowa. The program has also placed a heavy emphasis on generating quality first halves.
While that did not happen against Michigan State, the Spartans gave Maryland a run for its money when the game came down to free throws.
Since falling to Maryland, Ohio State has gone 3-1, defeating Minnesota and No. 12 Michigan but losing to Big Ten regular-season champion Indiana. The Buckeyes are locked into the fourth seed in the Big Ten Tournament — lower than they would’ve hoped for when they were competing for the league crown in January, but enough to warrant a solid seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland complete the season sweep?
The Terps had an imposing 36-point victory over Ohio State earlier in the season. They recorded a 52.3% mark from the field, 50% average from three, and went 88.9% at the free throw line. This time around, Ohio State will host the season finale in Columbus, where it is 11-3 this season. Maryland is seeking its first season sweep of Ohio State since 2018-19, a year where it defeated the latter en route to a Big Ten Championship.
2. Will the Terps defense contain Mikesell? When these two teams met earlier this month, Maryland’s defense played with a singular focus of limiting the effectiveness of Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell. The former Maryland guard struggled to the tune of 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting and two of seven from distance. Maryland sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers faceguarded Mikesell for most of the game and crowded her space when driving to the rim. Mikesell is seventh in the Big Ten with 17.3 points per game and has proven to be an electric scorer for Ohio State. The Terps have the blueprint to stifle Mikesell, but it will need to be replicated to pick up their 11th road victory of the season.
3. What will Brinae Alexander and Lavender Briggs do for an encore? In Tuesday’s win over Iowa, reserve guards Brinae Alexander and Lavender Briggs exploded for a combined 43 points and nine three-pointers. Alexander and Briggs are decorated SEC guards that have flashed their offensive potential in their first seasons with Maryland. The last time they met Ohio State, they only combined for 13 points and one 3-pointer. It will be worth monitoring how they follow up an explosive night.