While there’s nothing official, an announcement by the Razorbacks puts Ohio State in a potential San Diego tournament
While the Ohio State men’s basketball non-conference schedule has gone live, the women’s schedule is still trickling in here and there. On July 11, the Big Ten announced the 2022 ACC/B1G Challenge with the Buckeyes traveling south for a matchup against the University of Louisville, but nothing else on the non-conference side has been announced. Wednesday, a hint of two future games went public, linking Ohio State to the San Diego Invitational at the end of December, facing the Virginia Tech Hokies, Oregon Ducks, or Arkansas Razorbacks.
On Wednesday, the University of Arkansas announced its non-conference schedule and featured a potential game on Dec. 21 against either the Buckeyes or Hokies, under the heading of the San Diego Invitational. A team representative for Ohio State could not confirm the report, stating that final contracts for additional non-conference games haven’t been finalized. However, if the Razorbacks’ schedule is correct, OSU has the makings of a very strong schedule outside of the Big Ten.
The tournament itself hasn’t gone public, but Arkansas plays the Ducks on Dec. 20 and either the Hokies or Buckeyes the next day. Considering it’s likely a four-team tournament — a common event in NCAA women’s basketball — that leaves Ohio State and Virginia Tech to play on Dec. 20, with whoever comes out on top facing the winner of the Ducks and Razorbacks.
Of the four teams linked with the in-season tournament, all four took part in the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Oregon and Arkansas each entered the tournament as five-seeds after finishing second and third in their respective Pac-12 and SEC conferences during the regular season.
In the tournament, each side lost in the first round; Oregon had the most shocking upset of the early tournament, going up against the Belmont Bruins. In an overtime thriller, Belmont shocked the Ducks 73-70, with Kilyn McGuff — daughter of Buckeyes head coach Kevin McGuff — and the Bruins moving into the second round.
To add even more intrigue to a potential matchup with Oregon, Ohio State standout guard Taylor Mikesell, who was second on the Buckeyes in scoring in the 2021-22 season, played with the Ducks before transferring. Mikesell, who entered college playing for the Maryland Terrapins after playing at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio, played one season in Eugene before returning home to the Buckeye state.
After Mikesell announced her return for a final year of college eligibility, she gave advice to anyone transferring to pick a school where they “feel appreciated.” The not-so-thinly veiled comment could add some intrigue to a game against Oregon, where Mikesell’s playing time didn’t come close to her impact with the Terrapins or Buckeyes.
For Virginia Tech, the Hokies lost to Florida Gulf Coast in the first round. Even that matchup had an Ohio State connection with forward Kierstan Bell leading the way for FGC. The former Buckeye, who transferred in 2020, led the Eagles into the second round before losing to the Terps.
In the 2021-22 season, the Scarlet and Gray’s non-conference schedule wasn’t nearly as strong, with an unranked Syracuse as their toughest regular-season non-conference opponent. Even then, the Orange entered the game with an interim head coach and mass transfers leading into last season. Ohio State lost 97-91 but won every other non-conference game leading into Big Ten play.
Assuming that this tournament becomes official for more than just the Razorbacks, it gives Ohio State two more challenging games in the fall, in addition to its ACC/B1G Challenge game. Once contracts become final, the entire non-conference schedule will be announced this summer.