5 p.m. Thursday • BTN Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio 590 AM Omaha, 107.3 FM Lincoln
Scouting Ohio State: This will be a rough matchup for Nebraska's defense. The Buckeyes are perhaps the quickest team this side of Connecticut. They score nearly at will (85.8 points per game) and don't stop attacking. NU didn't hold up well against such a team at Minnesota and isn't likely to hold up real well Thursday night. Mitchell is the league's best scorer and probably its best player, once WNBA draft considerations are taken into account. She's aggressive — averaging 1.8 steals per game — and the definition of a volume shooter. Alston, her backcourt mate, is nearly as good, although two years older and together they could carry the Buckeyes to a Final Four. OSU beat Nebraska handily 78-60 last year and, after sweeping the regular-season series from Maryland, the Buckeyes could win on Thursday by 20 or more. OSU's key weakness — mediocre defense, especially on the perimeter — might be Nebraska's one shot to pull a major upset.
Scouting Nebraska: The Huskers haven't always fared well in these kinds of games in recent years. NU hasn't beaten a ranked team on the road since February 2012, and this season NU has lost four road games against ranked teams by an average of 27.75 points. Couple that with three straight double-digit losses on the road, and Nebraska has to find something in itself that isn't immediately evident to the common eye. The Huskers could shoot the lights out at Ohio State and try to outscore the Buckeyes. OSU doesn't have any decent defensive matchup for Shepard, and Romeo should get off plenty of open 3-pointers against the Buckeyes, who are comfortable outscoring opponents. Could this be where Theriot drops a 20-point game? It'd help if she was a true third scorer. As it is, she leads the Big Ten with 7.5 assists per game. Nebraska is still out of ESPN's Bracketology NCAA tournament projection, and probably needs to win at least three of its last four to land on the bubble heading into the Big Ten tournament.