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Big Ten title hopes looking dim for OSU women’s basketball team

Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer

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For the first time this season, the Ohio State women’s basketball team (13-8, 4-5) is not in the The Associated Press‘ Top 25 poll. After entering the season as the No. 7-ranked team in the nation, OSU has led a campaign full of blunders — the loss of their status was merely the Buckeyes’ latest disappointment.

After jumping out to a 7-0 start to the season — including a dominating performance over then-No. 11 Oklahoma — OSU hit a midseason skid, going 3-6 in its next nine games. The Buckeyes’ worst loss was a nationally televised 31-point blowout Dec. 19 to then-No. 1 Connecticut, 81-50, in New York.

Despite its midseason slump, OSU appeared to hit a stride in the heart of conference play with three consecutive wins, including victories against nationally ranked Michigan State and Iowa. But the Buckeyes failed to continue with that momentum last week, as they dropped a pair of games against two teams ahead of them in the Big Ten standings: Michigan and Penn State.

OSU is seventh in the conference and three games back in the loss column to Big Ten leaders Michigan State and Wisconsin. Following the Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan, OSU coach Jim Foster said winning a seventh consecutive conference title is not out of the question but he knows it will take some help.

“It seems to be everybody’s beating everybody,” Foster said. “It doesn’t do you good to lose to the same team twice. If you lose to them early, you got to come back and get them later.”

The Buckeyes just have seven conference games remaining to make up the ground they lost in the regular season conference championship race, with five of those games against teams ahead of them in the conference standings. Michigan coach Kevin Borseth, who has coached the team through two victories against OSU this season, said it is too early to count out the six-time defending conference champions.

“The season isn’t over for them. Obviously they have a chip on their shoulder,” Borseth said. “They’re going to have to be a little more determined. Sometimes it just doesn’t go their way. I wouldn’t want to be the next team to play them. They’re going to get better every game.”

If the Buckeyes are going to climb back into conference championship contention, they’re going to need to improve their play on the road, where they are 3-6. Of the Buckeyes’ remaining seven regular season games, four are in Columbus, where the team is 10-2.

The team will return to action at 5 p.m. Sunday when it hosts Northwestern.

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