Around the Oval: Women's Hoops Heads to B1G Tournament & Tennis Teams Climb Rankings

By Kevin Harrish on February 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm
Kelsey Mitchell leads the Buckeyes into the Big Ten tournament.

Buckeye excellence is not exclusive to the football field or the basketball court. Around the Oval is our way of keeping you informed of the amazing things happening with the other 34 varsity sports on campus.

Let the Madness Begin

The Ohio State women's hoops team officially starts March Madness this week. The Buckeyes head to Bakers Field House in Indianapolis to face either No. 10 seed Rutgers or No. 7 seed Nebraska in their opening Big Ten tournament game, Friday evening.

Ohio State enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed after losing back to back overtime games to close out the regular season. The Buckeyes were on pace to win the conference, having a virtual two game lead on second place Maryland, but they couldn't get passed two hard-fought road tests to claim the top-seed.

Despite the disappointment, the team is in great shape to make a run at its first Big Ten tournament title since 2011, and improve its NCAA tournament resume along the way. Although, awin Friday likely puts the Buckeyes in a tough match-up  against No. 20 Michigan State, Saturday evening. The teams are separated by just three points on the season, as Ohio State won the first contest 85-80 and the Spartans bested the Buckeyes in a three-overtime marathon 107-105 in the regular season finale.

The full 2016 Big Ten Tournament bracket can be seen here.

With a good showing in the conference tournament, the Bucks can solidify their status as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and earn the right to host the opening weekend's games in Columbus. Ohio State has lost just one game on its own court his season, dropping the home opener to No. 1 Connecticut, so opening the tournament at home would appear to provide an enormous advantage.

Before the Big Ten Tournament tips, however, a few Buckeyes are likely to take home some post-season honors. Tonight, at 5:30 pm, the Big Ten will release its 2016 All-Big Ten selections which should feature a number of Ohio State players. We'll provide updates after the selection as well as comments from head coach Kevin McGuff and the team.

Climbing to the Top

Both Ohio State tennis teams have been on fire to start the season. Both squads have routinely downed top-ranked teams while both losing only one match in the ITA National Indoor Team Championships.

At last, both teams are beginning to get the recognition they deserve. In the latest ITA Polls, the men's team sits at No. 3, climbing three spots from No. 6 while the women's team is ranked No. 2, up three spots from No. 5.

The teams backed-up their rankings in this weekend's matches.

The women's team opened conference play with a bang, Friday, trouncing Penn State 7-0. The Bucks kept the momentum going, Sunday, rolling No. 24 Arizona State 6-1. 

"We want our identity to be not based on our ranking but on how hard we compete and we showed that today," said Ohio State head coach Melissa Schaub, following the victory over the Sun Devils. "I’m really proud overall.”

Not to be outdone, the men's team had a solid weekend outing as well. The Buckeyes opened Big Ten play with a 4-0 sweep over No. 21 Penn State, followed by a 5-2 win over Notre Dame in South Bend.

Both teams have fought their way to the top, and now they'll have to fight to stay there, as both teams face road tests this weekend. The women's team travels to Waco Texas, Saturday, to face Baylor. 

The men's team travels to face No. 10 Oklahoma, Sunday. The Sooners are a familiar foe for the Buckeyes – last season, Oklahoma defeated the Buckeyes 4-3 in Columbus, snapping Ohio State's NCAA record 201 home match winning streak.

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