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Season on the line, Michigan's mission remains: Just Beat Ohio State

When Michigan plays Ohio State, people care. It doesn’t matter if it is another installment of The Game with a College Football Playoff berth on the line or if it’s two club teams, beating Ohio State is a requirement at Michigan.

For the women’s basketball team, a win over Ohio State is a must. Michigan stands at 8-8 in the Big Ten with two regular season games to go and rests on the cusp of making the tournament, firmly on the bubble. A win on Wednesday over the No. 2 team in the country would effectively secure Michigan’s place in March.

The stakes could not be higher for the Wolverines.

Thankfully for Michigan, beating Ohio State is something with which head coach Kim Barnes Arico has experience. Since taking over the team 12 seasons ago, Barnes Arico has beaten Ohio State eight times. Not only is this more than any other coach in program history, but it accounts for nearly half of Michigan’s 17 all-time wins in the series.

Kim Barnes Arico, referred to around campus as KBA, has already taken Michigan women’s basketball to heights never before seen. She is the winningest coach in program history, is the only coach to take the team into the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8, and is responsible for the program’s only two wins over top-5-ranked teams. A win on the road in Columbus would give KBA – and the program – their highest ranked win of all-time.

KBA isn’t the only big name attached to this team. Arguably the most popular player among Michigan basketball fans this year is junior guard Laila Phelia. She leads the team in both points and minutes played and has served as a leader for this team, stepping up following the graduation of several key contributors. Earlier this season, she scored a career-high 26 points in an 69-60 upset win over Ohio State in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverine faithful hopes to see more of that Wednesday evening.

How to Watch: Michigan at Ohio State on Peacock

But put aside the storylines and buildup and immediacy, and the Michigan mentality can be described in four words: Just Beat Ohio State.

The phrase has motivated Michigan’s dominant three-year stretch in football, during which they did not lose to Ohio State and captured a national title. Now, you can find it mentioned around campus any time Michigan is playing its most hated rival. Students don “JBOS” shirts. The phrase floods social media. And it’s at the forefront once again as that’s what the women’s basketball needs to do – again.

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Iowa at Indiana

Big Ten Women’s Basketball Bracketology: Indiana shows its contender credentials

The Hoosiers’ crucial blowout win over Iowa showed that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

A good season becomes a great one with a win over Ohio State (and even a bad season can have a pretty nice silver lining with a win).

It's simple enough: Michigan hates Ohio, and Ohio hates Michigan.

Michigan fans have had it pretty good in recent months, with a third-straight win in football, a (rare) win in men’s basketball, and a massive upset earlier this season over the then-No. 17 Ohio State women’s basketball team.

Now, OSU is No. 2. And now, they’re in Columbus. But KBA’s team won’t be intimidated. After all, they’re Michigan: beating Ohio State is what they do.

About the Author:

Ryan Thomas is a junior at the University of Michigan currently studying Film and Psychology. He writes and works on Wolv Sports Center, a series covering a variety of Michigan sports.