In the 2021-22 season, the Ohio State women’s basketball team did not have an out-of-conference schedule that drew a lot of attention. Eight of these were won by head coach Kevin McGuff’s team in the regular season with an average of 35.25 points. Every win was against teams outside of the usual women’s basketball power conferences like the ACC, Big East, Pac 12 or SEC. The 2022-23 non-conference schedule already looks very different for Scarlet & Gray.
This year, Ohio State has a list of 11 non-conference teams, up against teams from many conferences that the Buckeyes missed last year. There is at least one SEC matchup, possibly a second, two guaranteed games against ACC teams, and a potential off-court storyline matchup.
Last week, LGHL counted down the top five conference games to watch and now it’s the turn of the non-conference schedule. Here they are, with a surprise at number 5.
5) November 17 at Ohio University
Ok, after all the talk of games versus conferences touting multiple NCAA basketball championships, first to emerge is the mighty MAC. The reason speaks for itself.
Ohio State University vs. Ohio University is good, healthy and fun. It brings back memories of backstabbing mascot attacks, and for the people of the state it creates a rivalry that’s far less centered on the court or fields and more than makes up for it with Ohio pride.
Bobcat fans draw on the fact that Ohio University, in the beautiful hills of Athens, Ohio, began before the university that owns the word “The”. It is a university ranked in the top 10 for developing journalism, with alumni spanning across the globe. It is a university for poetry and art.
It shouldn’t be a big fight on the court, as Ohio State emerges from a Big Ten conference co-championship and is a favorite to compete again this season. The Bobcats were 15-15 last season, good for ninth place in the Mid-American Conference.
The location adds another fun layer to the game. The Buckeyes make the hour and a half drive southwest. Ohio State has not lost a game to an Ohio school since November 24, 2013. If there’s a chance that this stretch will end, it’s for a team playing at home.
4) November 13 at Boston College
The game four days before the Buckeyes’ trip to Athens is an ACC away day at Beantown. Boston College posted a 21-12 record last year, beating the likes of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Virginia.
Not known as a conference power, Boston College brings a unique game to the Buckeyes. Like the competition against the Bobcats, it should be a game where a top-tier Big Ten team wins.
Boston College lost its two top scorers from last season: guard Cameron Swartz and forward Taylor Soule to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, respectively. The Swartz loss is particularly tough for the Eagles as the all-ACC guard sits at the top of the conference on the 21-22 ACC schedule.
This game is the second of the season for the Buckeyes. Here is another matchup that appears later in this list. Depending on how this game is going, it could affect this one as well.
3) Nov. 30 at the University of Louisville
That only loss for the Buckeyes in their non-conference schedule last season came in the ACC/B1G challenge. Ohio State traveled to Syracuse and walked away with a scoring 97-91 loss to a recovering Orange team.
Scarlet & Gray’s loss was no indication of how they would play against non-conference teams outside of Columbus. Ohio State won the NCAA tournament twice, including a home game for the LSU Tigers, which the Buckeyes dominated in a 79-64 win. Late November brings the intensity of McGuff’s schedule against the Louisville Cardinals to a whole different level.
Louisville was one win away from the 2022 NCAA championship game, losing to eventual champions, the South Carolina Gamecocks. Also, they only lost twice in the regular season last year.
There’s definitely a scenario where the Buckeyes can win this game, despite the fact that Louisville is the clear favorite on paper. Win, and who knows where this Ohio State team might break into the Big Ten game.
2) December 12 at the University of Oregon (San Diego Invitational)
This game is second on the list, but it’s not even a guaranteed game. Ohio State won’t know until Dec. 11 if that game will go ahead as the Buckeyes are part of the four-team San Diego Invitational.
On December 11, the Scarlet & Gray will meet the University of South Florida Bulls in the first of two games of the fast-paced in-season tournament, a win or loss for the Buckeyes and the same result for the Ducks, where two teams teamed with some compete history.
That story lies with Buckeyes guard Taylor Mikesell. The Northeast Ohio native, who started her career with the Maryland Terrapins, joined the Ducks for the 2020-21 season. It was a season when Mikesell didn’t live up to the standard that was being established in high school and college.
Mikesell moved back to her home state ahead of the 2021-22 championship season. Just a few days before the season started, Mikesell was immediately eligible and played an All-Big Ten First Team season averaging 18.6 points – a career high for the shooting guard.
In March, Mikesell used her extra season of NCAA eligibility and stayed at Ohio State. Discussing the situation, Mikesell offered advice for other transfers that could date back to the lonely year with the Ducks.
“My advice to anyone is to go where they feel valued,” Mikesell said. “Go where they will have a chance to showcase themselves as a person and as a player.”
It wasn’t officially affiliated with Oregon, but it’s not hard to connect the dots.
1) Nov 8 vs Tennessee volunteers
#1 on the list is a no-brainer. It’s not a top five team like Louisville, but the Volunteers are always a team that comes with a challenge. Add in the fact that it’s the only non-conference game against a top conference in Columbus and probably adds a sea of orange to the Schottenstein Center, making it a must-see.
The Volunteers were a 2022 Sweet Sixteen team that lost to the Louisville Cardinals 76-64 but was tested with a strong SEC regular season schedule. Tennessee overwhelmingly defeated eventual Conference Tournament Championship winners Texas and Kentucky in the regular season before slipping against the latter in the SEC tournament.
Leading the Volunteers is Center of the Year Finalist Tamari Key Lisa Leslie, who plays a position the Buckeyes struggled at last season. Key is averaging 8.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game and is returning for her senior season.
They also return 6ft 2 guard Jordan Horston. Before suffering a season-ending injury last year, Horston led Tennessee in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game. Even if the Buckeyes can slow down Key, Horston’s trouble is doubled.
An SEC team in Columbus is causing excitement from all angles for the first game of the regular season in this encounter. Hopefully the Buckeye fans and students can outnumber Rocky Top’s orange.