Big Ten Women’s Basketball Bracketology: Ohio State sends a message vs. Caitlin Clark, Iowa

The Ohio State Buckeyes made it clear Sunday: You’re going to hear from them in March.

The 18th-ranked Buckeyes took down the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes 100-92 in Columbus on the strength of a 42-27 edge in the fourth quarter and overtime. They withstood 45 points and seven assists from Caitlin Clark, out-executing Iowa down the stretch and showcasing a talent level that will make them a threat against any team in the country.

Ohio State’s signature win was the biggest statement of the week, but it wasn’t the only one to come from the Big Ten this week. Here’s how the teams stack up for NCAA Tournament seeding at this point in the season:

Iowa: 1-seed

Games this upcoming week: vs. Nebraska on Sat.

The Hawkeyes were outperforming the Buckeyes when they were getting contributions from players such as Molly Davis and Addison O’Grady. However, Clark was the only player to score in overtime, and Ohio State threw enough bodies at her to get a few stops. It’s a bit of a nitpick coming off a 15-game win streak, but you can bet it’s something Iowa will stew over with nearly a week of rest.

Caitlin Clark record tracker: How close is she to breaking all-time points record?

Ohio State: 3-seed

Games this week: at Illinois on Thu. (Peacock), at Purdue on Sun.

The Buckeyes come at you in waves with talent only matched by the very best teams. Just take the Iowa game for example: Cotie McMahon dropped 33-12; Jacy Sheldon added 24, including the most timely buckets you’ll see; Celeste Taylor and Taylor Thierry produced while navigating foul trouble, with Taylor taking the Caitlin Clark assignment. The Buckeyes are one of the best teams in the country.

Indiana: 3-seed

Games this week: vs. Northwestern on Sun.

It’s difficult to keep Indiana in front of Ohio State at this moment after the Buckeyes beat a team that dominated the Hoosiers by 27. Yes, Indiana had to go to Iowa while Ohio State got the Hawkeyes at home, but winning 74-68 at Purdue isn’t impressive enough. The Hoosiers remain a 3-seed, though, with a full week to prepare for Northwestern – not that they should need it.

We’re going to do something slightly different next. There are six more teams with a case for an NCAA Tournament spot. Here is a table that shows just how close their basic resumes are:













Michigan State












Penn State




The list is in alphabetical order and even that is jumbled!

So you can see, at this point in the season there is a ton of depth in the Big Ten, and it’s hard to differentiate between these teams. That being said, here’s my attempt at seeding them along with one stat that makes their case:

Nebraska: 8-seed

Games this week: at Iowa on Sat.

The Cornhuskers are one of the most dominant rebounding teams in the country – their 57.2 rebounding percentage ranks 13th in the country according to Sports Reference.

Minnesota: 9-seed

Games this week: at Wisconsin on Tue., at Illinois on Sun.

Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota are the only teams in the conference that have at least one win against a NET 1-25 team as well as a winning record in NET 26-50 teams per NCAA Statistics.

Michigan State: 9-seed

Games this week: vs. Purdue on Wed., vs. Michigan on Sat.

The Spartans are the only team on this list with a losing conference record, but they’re also the most elite team on one end of the floor (ninth in the country in offensive rating per Sports Reference).

Penn State: 10-seed

Games this week: at Northwestern on Thu., vs. Maryland on Sun.

The Nittany Lions score as efficiently as anyone in the country; their 57.9% effective field goal percentage ranks fourth in the nation, right behind Iowa and Indiana.

Maryland: 11-seed

Games this week: at Michigan on Wed., at Penn State on Sun.

The Terrapins have the worst surface-level stats, but they have played one of the five most difficult schedules in the country, so they get some leeway.

Michigan: Out (On the bubble)

Games this week: vs. Maryland on Wed., at Michigan State on Sat.

The Wolverines hold a distinct edge over their conference counterparts in creating extra opportunities. With a 39.2% offensive rebounding percentage, they are the only Big Ten team inside the top 20 in the metric nationally.

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