5 things to know about Ohio State’s unbeaten women’s basketball team

Credit: Joe Maiorana

Credit: Joe Maiorana

At 19-0, Ohio State has authored one of the biggest stories in women’s college basketball so far this season.

The second-ranked Buckeyes (19-0, 8-0 Big Ten) have matched their highest ranking in program history with hopes of adding a second Final Four in March.

There is lots of basketball to be played between now and then, of course, but here are five things to know about coach Kevin McGuff’s team as it prepares for a top 10 showdown with fellow defending Big Ten champion Iowa (15-4, 7-1) on Monday night on ESPN2.

1. Ohio State is on the best start in school history.

The 2011-12 Buckeyes won their first 15 games before being upset at Michigan on Jan. 2.

This Ohio State team surpassed that mark with an 83-71 win over Minnesota on Jan. 5 and has won three more since.

They can match the all-time longest winning streak in school history with a win Monday night.

Ohio State was last ranked No. 2 in the first three weeks of February 2005.

2. The Buckeyes are among the nation’s best teams in more than a handful of statistical categories.

Ohio State leads the Big Ten and is fifth in the nation in scoring margin (23.3), steals per game (13.4) and turnovers forced per game (23.1).

The Buckeyes also lead the Big Ten in 3-point percentage defense (.261) and turnover margin and are second in scoring (86.3 points per game) and assists per game (18.7).

3. A freshman from Centerville is one of the key players.

Cotie McMahon graduated early from CHS, got a jump on college and spent most of last season practicing with the Buckeyes.

That work appears to have paid off as the 6-foot guard has started every game this season and been arguably the best freshman in the Big Ten.

McMahon scored 10 points in a season-opening win over No. 5 Tennessee and hasn’t looked back, logging 11 double-figuring scoring games and reaching 20 points five times.

She has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week four times and averages 12.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor.

4. They are doing it despite key injuries.

Madison Greene is out for the season with a second serious knee injury in as many years, and fellow guard Jacy Sheldon has not played since the end of November because of a lower leg injury.

The Buckeyes have rolled on, though, with guard Taylor Mikesell leading the way. The 5-11 senior averages 18.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per gam while making 40.1 percent from 3-point range.

Senior forward Rebeka Mikulasikova provides punch inside with 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while sophomore guard Taylor Thierry has pitched in 12.2 points and 6.5 rebounds.

Sheldon, a first-team All-Big Ten selection along with Mikesell last season, averages 16 points and 6.0 steals per game and is expected to return at some point this season.

5. Ohio State and Iowa are old-time rivals.

The Buckeyes won or shared the first six Big Ten women’s basketball regular season championships and eight in the first 11 seasons of Big Ten play (1982-93).

Iowa won or shared six titles in that span, and in 1993 the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes became the first teams from the conference to make the Final Four (doing so in the same season).

Ohio State is No. 1 in all-time Big Ten regular season titles (17, including two vacated because of NCAA sanctions) while Iowa is second with 10, and they tied for the league crown for the fifth time last season.

Ohio State leads the all-time series 39-34 and has won the last four meetings.

The only regular season meeting of this season between the teams could loom large in the final standings as Iowa and Indiana are tied for second place in the Big Ten at 9-1, one game behind Ohio State.

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