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Maryland women’s basketball vs. No. 18 Ohio State preview

The Terps look for their first ranked win of the season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Purdue at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball will look to build on momentum from its win Sunday against Purdue when it takes on No. 18 Ohio State.

They’ll look for their first ranked win of the season without freshman Riley Nelson, though, who suffered a torn ACL during Sunday’s contest and is out for the remainder of the season.

Wednesday’s game will begin at 7 p.m. and stream on Peacock.

Ohio State Buckeyes (13-3, 4-1 Big Ten)

2022-23 record: 28-8, 12-6 Big Ten

Kevin McGuff has served as the head coach of the Buckeyes since 2013, boasting an impressive .683 winning percentage. Last season, McGuff guided the program to its first Elite Eight appearance in 30 years, amassing 28 wins — the highest since his arrival in Columbus.

Ohio State has two ranked victories this season, against then-No. 25 Penn State and -No. 20 Tennessee. Of its three losses, two were against ranked programs in then- No. 21 USC and -No. 2 UCLA. Their third loss came against Michigan, which stands at 12-5.

Players to know

Jacy Sheldon, graduate guard, 5-foot-10, No. 4 — Sheldon is the catalyst behind the Buckeyes’ offense. This season, she is averaging a team-high 17.7 points per game and also leads the team with 37 steals. She is widely projected to be taken in next year’s WNBA draft.

Taylor Thierry, junior guard, 6-foot-1, No. 2 — Thierry has started every game for the Buckeyes and ranks second on the squad with 12.9 points per game. She also leads the team in rebounds, averaging 6.3 per game. Last season, Thierry was selected to the All-Big Ten second team.

Celeste Taylor, graduate guard, 5-foot-11, No. 12 — Taylor had stints at Texas and Duke before transferring to Ohio State this season. She’s been a consistent contributor thus far, averaging 9.1 points per game. However, what’s arguably more impressive is her team-leading 56 assists and 16 blocks.

Strength

Turnover margin. Ohio State’s press is among the best in the country. The Buckeyes force a conference-high 21.7 turnovers a game, while committing just 13.8 of their own.

Weakness

Free-throw shooting. The Buckeyes don’t have too many weak spots, but their free-throw percentage sits at 71.5 percent on 16.2 attempts per game, the 10th-worst mark in the Big Ten.

Three things to watch

1. Who will replace Riley Nelson? The true freshman had been gaining considerable traction as the season drew on, becoming seemingly more comfortable in head coach Brenda Frese’s system.

Unless Frese plans to slim down on the rotation even further, she will need to fill the void with someone who doesn’t currently see big minutes. Might fellow freshman Emily Fisher see more playing time?

2. What’s the plan to slow down Sheldon? Sheldon has had some impressive performances this season, including a 30-point showing against UCLA. The Terps have been keen on playing zone defense, but could Frese change up the defensive scheme to give Sheldon a different look? However, the Buckeyes have weapons all over the court, with Thierry, Taylor and reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Cotie McMahon all being viable threats.

Sheldon scored just five points in the Buckeyes’ 90-54 loss at Maryland last year.

3. A chance to build momentum. Wednesday’s matchup will mark Maryland’s first game against a ranked opponent since its 67-87 loss to No. 23 Washington State on Nov. 23. The Terps are 0-3 this season against ranked teams, but a win on Wednesday would do wonders for the team’s morale and energy heading into the toughest stretch of the season.