Jessica Greer and Missouri Will Try To Stay Perfect on Thursday
Ohio State vs Missouri – 7:00 PM
The heat will be on the home side, despite coming in with a three game winning streak after a disastrous start to the new year. While none of the wins are over total patsies, with the Maryland victory having the potential to be a big one down the line, the current RPI is not enamored with the Buckeyes, meaning the club may be well served in pulling the upset here to try and lessen the amount of work needed in Big Ten play to seal an at-large bid. Also likely to be on OSU’s mind is the reverse fixture these two played in Columbia last year, a 1-0 defeat to the Tigers that could’ve spelled doom for OSU’s NCAA Tournament chances had a few other breaks not gone their way in the weeks after. The Buckeyes’ defense has been solid as a rock during their current homestand, with OSU netting three straight clean sheets to right the ship after two losses to open the year. They’ll need another standout performance to slow down a Missouri team that enters Thursday as one of the nation’s hottest squads. A 5-1 drubbing over Memphis on opening night sent out a warning shot, while a 3-2 win at Cal was also very impressive. The Tigers have been scoring goals for fun, led by Taiwo Adeshigbin’s four, whole Abi Raymer and Alyssa Diggs, who’s missed serious time the past few weeks with a hamstring injury, also have three goals. Already in a fine position in the RPI thanks to their fast start, Missouri can got a long way to sealing an at-large bid with another win here in their last non-conference game before next week’s league opener against Auburn.
Alabama vs Maryland – 8:00 PM
It’s likely to be truth or consequences for these these two sides in Tuscaloosa on Thursday night, as both seek to make an early case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The home side have rolled to a 5-0-0 start but has done it against middling opposition, a fact reflected by their current standing at 56th in the RPI despite wielding a perfect record. That could spell trouble down the line if the Tide doesn’t put together some big SEC performances, making this match all the more vital for Bama. It’s tough to get a good barometer on Todd Bramble’s Crimson Tide considering the weakness of the opposition they’ve played so far, but nineteen goals in five games is still a fine haul. The top gun for Alabama thus far has been rookie Katie Bourgeois, who has scored six goals thus far, with four coming in a demolition of South Alabama, while sophomore Theresa Diederich has four in four games as well. Maryland, trying to blood a whole lot of youngsters this year, has experienced some growing pains thus far in 2012. While the Terps have largely blown away inferior opposition, they struggled to put away Villanova and were forced to settle for a scoreless draw before another misfiring performance against Ohio State a weak later condemned them to a non-conference defeat in the regular season for the first time in four years. The RPI doesn’t exactly make for happy reading for the Terps right now, with the club lodged past the Top 100, meaning Maryland will be under pressure to get a result in their last really meaningful non-conference match of the season. But with what’s likely to be a very fired up team and crowd facing off against them in Tuscaloosa, a result is far from guaranteed for the ACC side.