Ohio State football isn’t the only team with too much time between the regular season and postseason. The OSU women’s basketball team has faced the same problem for years.
OSU football has a five- or six-week break every year separating the end of the season from its bowl game. Since they would only play once a week, this equates to a five- or six-game break.
The women’s basketball team won the Big Ten tournament on Sunday and now has to wait two weeks before its first NCAA Tournament game. Since the Bucks typically play two games each week during the regular season, this creates the equivalent of a four-game break.
“Two weeks off,” coach Jim Foster said. “I think that the challenge, more so, is simulating games and continuing the process of playing twice a week, which we’ve been doing a long time, since the middle of November.”
The Big Ten is one of only a few conferences in women’s basketball to have this problem, just like in football.
So far, only seven of the 31 conferences have ended their seasons and conference tournaments and are currently waiting for the postseason to begin. Some conferences still have five to seven days of games remaining.
OSU’s success in the Big Ten Tournament doesn’t necessarily mean success in the NCAA Tournament, either.
This is the third season that OSU has won the Big Ten Tournament under Foster. The other two times, in 2006 and 2009, the Buckeyes were knocked out of the tournament in the second round and the Sweet 16, respectively.
These outcomes are similar to seasons when OSU lost in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals in 2004 and 2005 and made it to the second round and Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
The biggest difference between football and women’s basketball in the Big Ten is the solution to the problem.
It has been debated locally and nationally how the OSU football team and Big Ten need to find a way to shorten the break between regular season and postseason play, and the solutions are many.
Big Ten women’s basketball doesn’t have the luxury of options. Only an overhaul of the regular season schedule could remedy the Big Ten in this instance.
OSU’s regular season ended with a 10-day break until the Big Ten tournament even started, so just pushing back the Big Ten tournament wouldn’t help.
The only feasible solution would be to make the regular season last longer, and then move the Big Ten Tournament back.
“The discussion [in football] of adding a team to have a championship game so there’s less time between the bowl, we could have that very same discussion about women’s basketball and the start of the NCAA Tournament,” Foster said. “I hope that it’s discussed with the same fervor and passion.”