Nebraska’s Alexis Markowski (40) prepares for the rebound during the game against Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Nebraska women’s basketball team has a clear strength.

Head coach Amy Williams’ team currently has an overall record of 17-5 with a dominating 13-1 record at Pinnacle Bank Arena. That being said, all but one of Nebraska’s losses have come on the road, where it holds a 2-4 road record.

On their latest road stretch, the Huskers face tough opponents as they try and close out their season with some momentum. Nebraska's most recent contest was a 80-65 defeat at the hands of No. 15 Maryland. 

In the defeat, the Huskers were efficient with their shots on offense, shooting 38.1% from the field, 37.5% from 3-point range and 72.7% from the free throw line. Leading the way for Nebraska was a pair of sophomores, guard Ashely Scoggin and center Isabelle Bourne, with 20 and 11 points, respectively. 

The offense may have been efficient, but dynamic sophomore guard Jaz Shelley was the exception. Shelley shot 0-of-10 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3-point range. Shelley, once the scoring leader for the Huskers, has been overtaken by freshman forward/center Alexis Markowski, who averages 12.3 points per game to Shelley’s 11.8. 

As the Huskers have demonstrated, Shelley’s scoring is not essential to winning games, but in those victories the key to their success was a stout defense. That, however, was not the case against the Terrapins, as Maryland had five scorers finish with double-digit points, led by senior forward/guard Chloe Bibby with 23. 

Each Terrapin shooting category surpassed what the Huskers have allowed on average this year, shooting 39.1% from the field, 34.8% from 3-point range and 78.3% from the free-throw line. Maryland’s impressive shooting outing was the reason for its win, torching a previously stout Husker defense.

The Huskers could chalk this game up to being a learning experience. After all, the Terrapins are the nation's No. 2 ranked team in points per 100 possessions, according to herhoopstats.com. Maryland also has the No. 5 scoring offense, scoring an average of 80.8 points per game. 

After a loss to Maryland, Nebraska’s schedule sets up yet another test for its defense in No. 21 Ohio State. According to herhoopstats.com the Huskers have only a 43.4% chance of winning against the Buckeyes. 

The Buckeyes offense poses another difficult matchup for the Huskers. Ohio State is led by junior guard Jacy Sheldron and senior guard Taylor Mikesell, who average 20.3 and 19.5 points per game, respectively.

Throughout the season, Nebraska has been pitted up against some of the top scorers in the nation, but the Buckeyes come into the Thursday matchup with two players inside the top-35 in scoring, with Sheldron No. 16 and Mikesell at No. 28 nationally. 

Sheldron and Mikesell’s offensive skill sets have been a crucial part of the Buckeyes’ recent winning form. They’ve won seven of their last eight games, including wins over Iowa, Michigan State and Maryland, whom the Huskers have been defeated by. 

50.3% of the Buckeyes’ points come from 2-point range with the help of Sheldron, Mikesell and the team’s third leading-scorer junior forward Rebeka Mikulasikova, who averages 10.1 points per game. 

The Huskers’ defense is going to have to find an answer to the Buckeyes’ offense. Its efficiency could make the game into a blowout, which the similarly high-powered Terrapins were able to do against Nebraska. The Buckeyes are currently ranked No. 2 in points per scoring attempt, with 1.15 per attempt according to herhoopstats.com

The Huskers defensively have struggled to slow down high-octane offenses, and that could pose as yet another downfall against the Buckeyes. However, the Huskers do have a more than favorable advantage over the Buckeyes in rebounding, especially offensive rebounding. 

The Buckeyes currently rank No. 275 in offensive rebounds per game, as opposed to the Huskers’ No. 67 ranking in the same metric. 

Nebraska is hoping to replicate what happened the last time the two foes faced off: a 63-55 Huskers home victory in January 2021. The Huskers defense was able to contain the dynamic scorers of the Buckeyes in that contest, as well as out-rebound them 54-44. 

If Nebraska is to pull off the upset against Ohio State, it will have to come from a combination of dynamic scoring, stout defense and dominance on the glass.