Big Ten Weekly Women’s Basketball Central – Jan. 3-9

  • All Big Ten programs will pass the quarter pole in this year’s conference schedule this week, with three games scheduled for linear television. Headlining this week’s Big Ten slate is Saturday’s top-20 matchup as Iowa travels to Michigan for a 4:30 p.m. (ET) tipoff at Crisler Center that will be televised live nationally on the FOX broadcast network (the first time the conference television package has featured games on the main FOX network). Two other games this week will be broadcast live on BTN — Thursday’s Land of Lincoln contest as Northwestern visits Illinois (9 p.m. ET) and Saturday’s contest between Nebraska and Rutgers in Piscataway (2 p.m. ET) — with the remaining Big Ten games streamed live on B1G+ (visit for further information).
  • At least three Big Ten Conference games this week will be broadcast globally on SiriusXM Radio —Tuesday’s matinee featuring Penn State at Michigan (Channel 195), Thursday’s Ohio State at Minnesota game (Channel 203) and Saturday’s Iowa at Michigan game (Iowa feed on Channel 196, Michigan feed on Channel 195).
  • As part of its ongoing recognition of the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, Rutgers will celebrate the career of one of its first head coaches, Theresa Grentz, during Saturday’s game against Nebraska at Jersey Mike’s Arena (2 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network). RU will not only recognize Grentz’s remarkable legacy, which included leading the Scarlet Knights to the 1982 AIAW national championship, but also her enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame back in September (joining another Big Ten great in current Minnesota head coach and former Golden Gopher All-America point guard Lindsay Whalen). Grentz coached at Rutgers from 1976-95, compiling a 434-150 (.743) record. She then moved on to another Big Ten institution, Illinois, where she led the Fighting Illini from 1995-2007, posting a 210-156 (.574) record and guiding the program to the 1997 Big Ten title, as well as back-to-back NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances in 1997 and 1998.
  • Illinois continued its resurgence with a 90-86 win over No. 12/10 Iowa on Sunday at the State Farm Center in Champaign. It was the first Top 25 victory for the Fighting Illini since Jan. 6, 2019 (at No. 12 Minnesota), their first at home since Jan. 8, 2015 (vs. No. 17 Iowa) and marked the first time Illinois has scored 90 points against a ranked opponent since Jan. 26, 2003 (94-80 over No. 10 Minnesota). The Fighting Illini are the eighth different Big Ten Conference program to earn a Top 25 victory this season.
  • In another example of the depth and strength of the Big Ten Conference this season, Illinois’ win over Iowa represented the third time this season an unranked Big Ten school defeated a Top 25 conference program. The others were Nebraska’s win at No. 20/21 Maryland on Dec. 4, and Michigan State defeating No. 4/3 Indiana on Dec. 29.
  • The Big Ten leads all Division I conferences with a remarkable 10 schools among the top 60 in the latest NET rankings, including two in the top 10 and four in the top 20 — No. 6 Indiana, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 16 Iowa, No. 19 Michigan, No. 28 Illinois, No. 31 Michigan State, No. 33 Maryland, No. 39 Nebraska, No. 43 Purdue and No. 60 Penn State. The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) is the primary sorting tool used by the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee for determining NCAA Tournament teams.
  • The Big Ten Conference leads all conferences with seven schools receiving mention in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, including five in the top 16 and two in the top 10. For the fifth week in a row, Ohio State is No. 3 (tying the Buckeyes’ highest-ever ranking and best since a No. 3 rank on Nov. 30, 2009), followed by Indiana at No. 6. Maryland is next at No. 13, with Michigan right behind at No. 14 and Iowa at No. 16. Illinois leads all schools receiving votes in this week’s AP poll, putting the Fighting Illini on the brink of their first AP Top 25 ranking since Nov. 27, 2000. Nebraska is also receiving votes, the eighth time in nine weeks the Huskers have earned mention in the AP poll.
  • The Big Ten Conference is tied for tops among all conferences with five teams in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today Top 25 poll, including two in the top 10. Ohio State is up to No. 3 this week, the Buckeyes’ highest ranking in the coaches’ poll since Nov. 30, 2009, when they were also third. Indiana is No. 7 this week, followed by No. 12 Iowa, No. 14 Maryland and No. 19 Michigan. Illinois is second among schools receiving votes this week, as the Fighting Illini seek their first Top 25 coaches’ ranking since Nov. 28, 2000.
  • The Big Ten is making a strong case as one of the nation’s top conferences this season, between its seven top-10 and 12 ranked wins in non-conference play, 10 schools in the top 60 of the NET rankings and seven teams ranked or receiving votes in one or both major national polls. Now, add in the analytical component — in the latest Massey Ratings, the Big Ten has the nation’s No. 1 strength of schedule among all conferences (nearly a full rating point clear of the nearest challenger) and the country’s top offensive power rating (more than a full rating point ahead of the second-best conference).
  • At 13-2, Illinois is off to the best 15-game start in program history, supplanting the 12-3 record in 2006-07, and already have more wins this season than in all but one of the past 10 campaigns (15-16 record in 2014-15). The Fighting Illini are also off to their best start in conference play (3-1) since 2012-13, when they opened with a 6-3 record.
  • Indiana and Nebraska battled into overtime Sunday before the Hoosiers prevailed, 74-62 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. It was the third OT game in Big Ten Conference play this season, one shy of last year’s total for the entire conference schedule and more than the full 2020-21 Big Ten season (two). In addition, it was the seventh overtime game featuring a Big Ten program this season, with Nebraska playing in three of those seven — the Huskers previously earned non-conference OT wins over Mississippi State (73-65 on Nov. 26 in San Juan, Puerto Rico) and handed nationally ranked Kansas its lone loss this season in triple overtime (85-79 on Dec. 21 in Lincoln).
  • Ohio State has matched the best start in school history at 15-0 following its 66-57 win over No. 14/19 Michigan on New Year’s Eve at the Covelli Center in Columbus. The Buckeyes also started the 2011-12 season at 15-0, while this year’s 4-0 record to begin Big Ten play is OSU’s best since 2016-17(also 4-0).
  • As of Tuesday, four Big Ten Conference schools ranked among the top 25 nationally in terms of toughest schedules played to date this season, tied for the most of any conference in the country. Based on past opponent winning percentage, Penn State is ninth nationally (.688), followed by Northwestern (12th – .675), Nebraska (17th – .670) and Maryland (24th – .663).
  • During non-conference play this season, the Big Ten Conference posted seven top-10 wins and 12 victories over ranked non-conference opponents, both leading all Division I conferences. The seven non-conference top-10 wins (which included three away from home) were the most by the Big Ten in the past 20 years, more than doubling the three top-10 victories in both 2004-05 and 2008-09. The 12 Top 25 wins (seven of which came on the road or at neutral sites) tied for the most for the Big Ten in the regular season during the past two decades, matching the total from the 2004-05 season.
  • The Big Ten currently leads all Division I conferences in scoring (76.0 ppg.), field-goal percentage (.452), three-point percentage (.347) and assists (16.8 apg.), while ranking second in steals (9.3 spg.) and third in free throw percentage/tops among Autonomy Five conferences (.728).
  • In recent years, the Big Ten Conference has cultivated a deserved reputation as the home for an exciting brand of up-tempo basketball. This season, 10 Big Ten schools rank among the top 50 in the nation in scoring offense (five are averaging more than 80 points per game and rank in the top 20), led by Ohio State (6th – 87.3 ppg.) and Iowa (7th – 86.1 ppg.). In addition, nine Big Ten schools have scored at least 100 points in a game this season.
  • The Big Ten features some of the sharpest shooting teams in the country, with six schools among the top 15 (and three of the top 10) in the country in field goal percentage, according to the latest NCAA statistical report. Indiana leads the way (4th – .506), followed by Ohio State (7th – .491) and Iowa (10th – .486), with Michigan (12th – .480), Purdue (13th – .479) and Illinois (14th – .479) also in the top 15 nationally. Individually, the Big Ten also has the nation’s top two shooters this season in Ohio State’s Taylor Thierry (1st – .712) and Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes (2nd – .682).
  • Illinois has been even more proficient from outside the arc this season, as the Fighting Illini lead the nation in three-point percentage (.419). The Big Ten also is the only conference in the country with three players ranked in the top 10 in three-point percentage — the Illinois tandem of Genesis Bryant (2nd – .522) and Jada Peebles (3rd – .517) and Indiana’s Yarden Garzon (6th – .500).
  • It’s called “sharing the sugar”, and no conference is sweeter in the assist game than the Big Ten. Nine conference schools rank among the top 40 in the country in assists (three in the top 10), paced by Iowa (6th – 19.3 apg.), Ohio State (7th – 19.0 apg.) and Indiana (10th – 18.8 apg.). Three Big Ten players rank among the top 10 nationally in assists — Purdue’s Jeanae Terry (4th – 7.5 apg.), Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (7th – 6.9 apg.) and Nebraska’s Jaz Shelley (10th – 6.4 apg.).
  • Ohio State’s production has also carried over to the defensive end of the court, where the Buckeyes lead the nation in turnover margin (+11.47 per game), while ranking third in the country in steals (14.5 spg.) and turnovers forced (25.13 per game). OSU has nabbed double-digit steals in 12 games this year, including a season-high 25 steals on Nov. 20 against McNeese.
  • Four of the 11 largest single-game attendances in the country this year have taken place on a Big Ten Conference campus. The nation’s second-largest crowd this season (13,802) was on hand for Iowa’s victory over No. 10/8 Iowa State on Dec. 7 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Four days later on Dec. 11, Maryland welcomed 12,566 fans to the XFINITY Center (the program’s largest home crowd in nearly six years) to watch the Terrapins defeat No. 6/6 UConn. On Dec. 18, Iowa drew the country’s third-largest crowd this year when 13,394 saw the Hawkeyes defeat Northern Iowa. Most recently on Dec. 29, Iowa drew 11,942 fans (11th in the nation) for its win over Purdue.
  • The Big Ten has consistently ranked among the top three conferences in women’s basketball attendance for the past three decades and that trend appears to be continuing this season. As of Tuesday, 11 Big Ten programs ranked among the top 50 in the nation (and five in the top 20) in average attendance, with both figures leading all Division I conferences. Among the Big Ten contingent, Iowa is No. 2 in the nation (9,750 fans per game), followed by Maryland (7th – 7,441), Nebraska (11th – 5,223), Indiana (14th – 4,978) and Ohio State (16th – 4,893).
  • Maryland’s win over No. 6/6 UConn on Dec. 11 was the Big Ten’s first regular-season women’s basketball home game televised on ABC and it garnered 470,000 viewers, the fifth-largest audience for a televised women’s basketball game on any network this season. There have already been six Big Ten women’s basketball games this season that drew more than 200,000 viewers after four Big Ten games reached the 200,000-viewer mark last season. Of note, Iowa’s Nov. 27 game vs. UConn at the Phil Knight Legacy in Portland attracted 597,000 viewers on ABC, the second-largest figure in the nation this year. Overall, eight of the nation’s 20 highest-viewed women’s basketball television broadcasts this season have featured at least one Big Ten program.
  • The Big Ten has rolled out a robust women’s basketball television package for the 2022-23 season, with all 126 conference games nationally produced and distributed for the ninth consecutive season. No less than 76 Big Ten women’s basketball games are scheduled to be televised nationally by three of the conference’s TV partners (Big Ten Network, FOX and ESPN). Included in this year’s Big Ten television package are 62 games on BTN, nine games on ESPN networks (highlighted by the first regular-season Big Ten home game on ABC on Dec. 11 when Maryland defeated UConn), and five games on FOX or FS1, the first time the conference package has includes games on the FOX broadcast network (and the third consecutive year Big Ten games will air on FS1).

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