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NCAA Women’s Tournament Second Round Preview: Central Michigan Chippewas at Ohio State Buckeyes

The road just got a lot tougher for the Chippewas

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Minnesota Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Central Michigan Chippewas will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The game will be played in venerable St. John Arena. Central Michigan knocked off 24th ranked LSU, while the Buckeyes dismantled an over-matched George Washington squad to reach the game.


Game Details

  • Who: Central Michigan Chippewas at Ohio State Buckeyes
  • What: Second Round of NCAA Tournament
  • When: Monday, March 19th, 6:30 P.M.
  • Where: St. John Arena, Columbus, Ohio
  • Watch: ESPN 2
  • Stream: WatchESPN APP pending cable provider participation

When the Chippewas Have the Ball

Ohio State has a tall starting front court, with 3 players 6’2 or taller. However, the real presence on defense is 6’3 Stephanie Mavunga, who had 81 blocks on the season. Tenara Moore should still be able to get some decent looks in the post because of her footwork and back to the basket ability, but look for the rest of Central Michigan to struggle up close.

Luckily for the Chippewas that generally isn’t their game. The like to shoot outside. As in, all 5 starters can hit the trey, with Presley Hudson, Micaela Kelly, and Cassie Breen all being quite good at it.

OSU is a streaky team on both sides of the ball, however they are more consistent on defense. Along with Mavunga inside, guards Kelsey Mitchell, Linnae Harper, and Asia Doss all get after the basketball. Harper had 73 steals on the season, with Mitchell and Doss pitching in 51 apiece. Central Michigan did look slightly rattled a few times against the athletic LSU guards, so this is something to keep an eye on. On the plus side for CMU, all 5 starters can handle the ball well, and Moore in the middle of the court basically rendered the LSU full court press a non-factor.

Much like the LSU game, I look for the experience and talent of CMU to allow them to score against a tough defense, but at times they will find the sledding tough.


When the Buckeyes Have the Ball

Any conversation about the Ohio State Buckeyes on offense has to start with Kelsey Mitchell. She is averaging 24.5 points per game, while hitting over 40% from beyond the arch. Her career accomplishments make gamers drool. 4 time First Team All-Big Ten. 3x Big Ten player of the year. 3rd all-time in the NCAA in career points. She can be a bit streaky, and she also plays both sides of the floor. If I am CMU’s coach, I am telling Hudson, if she gets Mitchell, to run her ragged.

The rest of the Buckeyes are capable scoring, but their inside game, usually loosened up by Mitchell’s play, is pretty spot on. They also run a lot of backdoor cuts.

CMU isn’t the greatest defensive team on the planet, and they will struggle to stop the Buckeyes from scoring.


Prediction

Ohio State is playing at home and is the more complete team. If I were going to put a line on this game, I would have OSU - 10. The thing that will make this game interesting, however, is that 3MU is alive and well with these ladies. Unless Mitchell, or another Buckeye, goes nuts from outside, I see the Buckeyes scoring around 80. CMU will probably fall about 5 to 10 points under that, but they do have so many weapons, that a much closer game wouldn’t shock me in the least, and a win isn’t nearly outside the realm of possibilities.