Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
Even after final exams this week, the No. 6 Ohio State women’s basketball team might not take its toughest test until Dec. 19. That’s the day the Buckeyes will get their shot at the No. 1 team in the nation: Connecticut.
The Huskies are riding an 86-game winning streak. A win against the Buckeyes could extend the streak to 88, which would tie the 1971-74 UCLA men’s team for the longest winning streak in college basketball history.
The game will be played at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, N.Y. OSU coach Jim Foster said he’s looking forward to the location of the game more than he is the opponent.
“A lot of people watch really interesting matchups, regardless of who it is. I think where it is is a little more significant than who. Connecticut is Connecticut, there’s no two ways about it,” Foster said. “But Connecticut at Madison Square Garden? That’s a historic building.”
Connecticut will try to match OSU’s star power of center Jantel Lavender and guard Samantha Prahalis with its own duo in forward Maya Moore and guard Tiffany Hayes.
All four players are members of the preseason watch list for the John R. Wooden award, which is given to the most outstanding player in college basketball each season. Moore won the award in 2009 and is Connecticut’s career leader in scoring.
Prahalis said knocking off Connecticut would be a big moment for the OSU women’s basketball program.
“Playing UConn and playing to our potential, and hopefully coming out with a victory, that would make our mark,” Prahalis said.
The Buckeyes’ matchup with the Huskies will be the last marquee game of what has been a murderer’s row of a non-conference schedule for OSU. The Buckeyes will have already faced LSU, Virginia, Oklahoma and Syracuse before they take on Connecticut.
Prahalis said the Buckeyes are always prepared for each opponent’s best effort.
“Anytime we go somewhere to play, or that they come play us, they give us their best shot,” Prahalis said. “We wouldn’t expect anything less. We treat every opponent as they’re going to try their hardest, because they are.”
The Buckeyes are 8-0 following an 95-84 win over Oklahoma. Foster said his team this year could perhaps be the best he’s coached in his nine seasons at OSU.
“Maybe,” Foster said. “You can’t answer that question today, but I think we’ve got some depth that we haven’t had.”