The Big Ten have not sent a team to the Women’s Final Four since 2015. But this year, the league may open that door again.
Five Big Ten schools stand out this week in Sportzshala’s Women’s College Basketball rankings, and four key matches will be played between these teams over the next few days. On Monday, the undefeated state of Ohio will host Iowa (7:00 pm ET, Sportzshala2/Sportzshala App) and Indiana will head to Michigan. On Thursday, Michigan plays Maryland and Ohio State plays Indiana.
By the end of the week, the Buckeyes may further solidify their place in the Big Ten standings, or we could face an even bigger stalemate.
Big Ten players also dominate several NCAA Division I statistical categories, ranking in the top five in scoring (Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, 26.7), assists (Clark, 7.5), assist-to-assist ratio (Chloe Moore- McNeil of Indiana, 3.60), 3 points per game (Taylor Mikesell of Ohio State, 3.21), three-point percentage (Yarden Garson of Indiana, 49.43 and Genesis Bryant of Illinois (48.96) and field goals (Mackenzie Holmes of Indiana, 68.09; Taylor Thierry of Ohio State, 66.89); and Monica Chinano of Iowa, 65.09).
Several Big Ten coaches have made significant strides this season. Lisa Bluder of Iowa led the way in Big Ten wins, ranking 234th on December 11. Kim Barnes Ariko of Michigan became the fifth active Big Ten coach to reach 500 career wins on December 28. Teri Moren of Indiana led her program in wins (189). ) last Wednesday. Maryland’s Brenda Frese scored her 600th win on December 8th.
Ohio State’s Kevin McGuff is still one of the top contenders for National Coach of the Year. And Shauna Green of Illinois put together one of the biggest turns in the country in her first year, hoping to lead the Illini to their first NCAA Tournament since 2003.
The Big Ten placed seven teams in the most recent bracketing. As January draws to a close, the Big Ten’s drive for March Madness remains compelling.
Player of the Week: Haley Jones, Stanford
After losing to USC on January 15, the Cardinal were looking for a big chance to bounce back as they faced two ranked teams, Utah and Colorado. Jones, the senior guard, had 25 points and 12 rebounds in a 74-62 win over the Bluff on Friday and 11 and 18 in a 62-49 win over the Buffs on Sunday. Jones has double-digit rebounds in seven of her last eight games.
Team of the Week: Tennessee
On December 18, Tennessee lost 7-6 at Stanford. But take into account that the four teams that Lady Vols lost to were ranked at the time, and now all six. It shows how challenging their schedule outside of the conferences was.
Since then, they have won nine games in a row, eight of them in the SEC. That includes last week’s 74-56 victory over Florida on Thursday and 68-65 on the road against Missouri on Sunday. The Tigers led 65–60 with a minute left, but Lady Vols scored eight points in the last 55 seconds to take the win.
It sets up the always-anticipated matchup with UConn on Thursday in Knoxville (8:00 pm ET, Sportzshala). The Huskies have a 16–9 lead, but the series was on hiatus after the 2007 season when Tennessee last beat UCLA until it resumed in 2020. January 30.
Win of the Week: NC 61, Duke 56
The offense wasn’t great, especially in the first half when Duke had only five points in the first quarter and North Carolina had only nine in the second. But the longtime rivals saved the best for the fourth quarter, when each of them played big. But the Tar Heels made a few more points in the game, led by Deja Kelly with 19 points. The crowd in the Carmichael area was loud as UNC handed the Blue Devils their first ACC loss of the season. The rematch at Cameron Indoor Stadium will take place on February 26.
Coach of the Week: Rick Insell, Middle Tennessee
In his 18th season at Middle Tennessee, Insell continues to pick up wins. With victories last week over UAB, Charlotte and Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee is 9-0 in Conference USA and 16-2 overall. In November, Middle Tennessee lost their first season 76-75 on the road against Mercer and lost to Texas Tech 72-67 in Las Vegas. Since then, Middle Tennessee has won 14 games in a row.
Insell is a Tennessee prep legend with 28 years as a coach at Shelbyville Central High School, where he went 775-148 with 10 state titles. He’s currently 421-148 in Middle Tennessee, which is led this season by Ksenia Malashka (16.2 ppg) and Savannah Wheeler (16.1 ppg).
1. Gamecox of South Carolina (20-0)
Previous rating: 1
This week: at Alabama Crimson Tide (Sunday)
There is a rebound from the opponent, and there is a demolition of the opponent on the boards. Here’s what South Carolina did to Arkansas on Sunday: 74-17. Aside from hitting 39.5%, there was nothing wrong with the Gamecocks’ 92-46 win. The same with their 96-48 win over Vanderbilt last Thursday when Alia Boston was 8 of 8 from the field. Her double-doubles in both games gave her a high school record of 73.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (19-0)
Previous rating: 2
This week: vs. Iowa (Monday), in Indiana (Thursday) vs. Purdue (Sunday)
The Buckeyes thrashed the Northwestern 84-54 on Thursday with an easy week leading up to the big games this week. Rebeka Mikulasikova has amassed 43 points in her last two games and is likely to play a major role against the Hawkeyes and Hoosiers. So far, the Buckeyes have found a way to answer every challenge they throw at them.
3. YuConn Huskies (17-2)
Previous rating: 3
This week: vs. DePaul (Monday), Tennessee (Thursday) vs. Villanova (Sunday)
Speaking of testing, the Huskies have endured many trials and are now without quarterback Azzi Fudd indefinitely after re-injuring their knee on January 15. However, the Huskies have won 10 games in a row, including a rout of Seton Hall and Butler last week. – as Alia Edwards is having an excellent season. UConn’s matchup with DePaul has been rescheduled from January 8, when the Huskies didn’t have enough players available. As such, it makes for a more intense week, including an out-of-conference showdown with Tennessee. Villanova was the only Big East team to beat UCLA last season.
4. LSU Tigers (19-0)
Previous rating: four
This week: in Alabama (Monday)
The Tigers fought Arkansas on Thursday but won 79-76 thanks to Angel Reese’s 19th consecutive double-double (30 points, 19 rebounds) and four key free throws in the last 16 seconds of freshman Fluge Johnson. Can we read anything in the fact that LSU went to the wire with the Razorbacks, but one of the leaders of the SEC from South Carolina beat them by 46 points three days later? Admittedly, the Razorbacks are probably a little tired in their third game of the week after intense games with Vanderbilt and LSU. But it also shows how hard it is to run into Gamecocks. LSU, however, is not going to focus on this until the week of Feb. 12 when they meet.
5. Stanford Cardinal (19–2)
Previous rating: five
This week: v. Oregon (Friday), v. Oregon (Sunday)
Along with the performance of Jones, our player of the week, the Cardinal had the usual big contributions from Cameron Brink (39 points and 19 rebounds) and Hannah Jump (34 points combined) in wins over Utah and Colorado. These victories restored Stanford single-handedly to the top of the Pac-12 7-1.
6. Indiana Hoosiers (17-1)
Previous rating: 6
This week: in Michigan (Monday), vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Thursday) vs. Rutgers (Sunday)
We continue to highlight striker Mackenzie Holmes as she continues to light up the scoreboard. Her 30 points, 10 rebounds and six steals led the Hoosiers 83–72 in a tough game in Illinois. Indiana shot 55.6% against Illini, with defenseman Grace Berger scoring 18 points, her highest total since returning on January 8 from a knee injury sustained in November. Things are clicking for the Hoosiers heading into this big week.
7. Notre Dame, Irish fight (16-2)
Previous rating: 7
This week: vs Florida State (Thursday), North Carolina State (Sunday)
Like the six teams above them in the strength rankings, the Irish stayed where they were the week before thanks to victories over Clemson and Virginia. Olivia Miles continues to drive like crazy with a combined 32 points, 15 assists, eight rebounds and four steals in two wins. Notre Dame is now ACC tied with Duke.
8. Iowa Hawkeyes (15-4)
Previous rating: eleven
This week: in Ohio (Monday) vs. Nebraska (Saturday)
This season, the Big Ten schedule doesn’t lend itself well to traveling to Iowa, with some of the toughest matches taking place outside the Carver Hawkeye Arena. So every road win counts, including the Hawkeyes’ 84-81 overtime victory over Michigan State on Wednesday. They did this despite Chinano fouling the rules, although she did a lot to take them to the OT: scoring 11 of 11 and scoring 22 points. Clark had 26 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds. However, starter McKenna Warnock suffered a chest injury while installing the screen, and her readiness for the showdown with Ohio State is in question.
9. Maryland Terrapins (16-4)
Previous rating: nine
This week: vs. Michigan (Thursday)
Seven weeks after an unexpected crushing loss at home to the Nebraska, the Turps got their revenge with a 69–54 win over the Nebraska on Sunday, in which they held the Huskers to 14 points in the first half. That followed a 77-64 win in Wisconsin on Thursday. Shyann Sellers led Maryland with 41 points and 18 rebounds.
10. Duke Blue Devils (17-2)
Previous rating: 8
This week: vs. Virginia Tech (Thursday), Florida State (Sunday)
Duke lost his first ACC game of the season last Thursday in the first part of his rivalry with North Carolina, 61-56. But on Sunday, the Blue Devils beat the Syracuse 62-50. Shyanne Day-Wilson scored 40 points in two games. The Blue Devils’ only two losses this season – to UConn and North Carolina – are the only times they’ve allowed opponents to score 60 or more points.
11. UCLA (17-3)
Previous rating: 12
This week: Colorado (Friday), Utah (Sunday)
Although Washington and Washington State are in the bottom half of the Pac-12 standings, they still challenge…