The 2018 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament marks the 25th in conference history. The first tournament was held in 1982 in East Lansing, Mich., before the event resumed in 1995 and has been played annually ever since. This marks the 21st time the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be played in Indianapolis, which will serve as the host city for the event through 2022.
Ohio State clinched its conference-leading 16th Big Ten title, and second in as many seasons, with a 13-3 record during conference play. The Buckeyes, who earned their first outright Big Ten title since the 2009-10 season, will also be the No. 1 seed for this week’s Big Ten Tournament, the second year in a row OSU has received that designation.
Maryland is the three-time defending Big Ten Tournament champion and seeks to become the first Big Ten school to win four consecutive tournament crowns. The Terrapins, who are seeded No. 2 for this week’s Big Ten Tournament, are one of only three conference programs to win three straight Big Ten Tournaments, joining Purdue (1998-2000) and Ohio State (2009-11).
On Monday, the Big Ten announced its 2017-18 all-conference teams and individual award recipients, as chosen by the conference coaches and a select media panel. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was voted the Big Ten Player of the Year by the coaches for the third time in her career, while Iowa’s Megan Gustafson earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors from the media (the first Hawkeye chosen since Tangela Smith in 1998). The all-conference teams and award winners are on page five of this release.
Six Big Ten women’s basketball students earned Academic All-District honors, it was announced Feb. 22 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, Maryland’s Kristen Confroy and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner were first-team selections, while Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Kelsey Mitchell garnered second-team accolades.
Indiana’s Tyra Buss is among 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to a senior basketball student who has made notable achievements in the award’s four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award recipient will be announced during this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus. Iowa’s Samantha Logic is the most recent Big Ten women’s basketball student to earn the Senior CLASS Award, doing so in 2014-15.
The Big Ten ranked No. 3 in Tuesday’s NCAA conference RPI, while six Big Ten schools were among the top 50 in the team RPI rankings, including three in the top 25. Ohio State leads the way at No. 6, joined by No. 16 Iowa and No. 21 Maryland. Michigan is next at No. 38, followed by Rutgers at No. 43 and Minnesota at No. 46, with Indiana (No. 54), Purdue (No. 56), Michigan State (No. 61) and Nebraska (No. 64) not far off.
The Big Ten had seven schools in the top 50 of Tuesday’s Sagarin ratings. The group includes No. 11 Ohio State, No. 14 Maryland, No. 24 Michigan, No. 27 Iowa, No. 32 Minnesota, No. 34 Michigan State and No. 42 Rutgers, with Nebraska (No. 53), Purdue (No. 58) and Indiana (No. 59) close behind.
Seven Big Ten schools are ranked or receiving votes in the latest Associated Press orUSA Today polls, led by No. 13 (AP)/No. 14 (USA Today) Ohio State. Maryland is also ranked in both polls at No. 17/17, while Michigan is ranked No. 24 in the coaches’ poll and is receiving votes in the AP poll. Minnesota is receiving votes in both polls, while Iowa earned votes in the AP poll and Purdue did likewise in the coaches’ poll. Ten Big Ten schools have been ranked or receiving votes in the polls for at least one week this year.
Eleven of the 14 Big Ten programs rank among the top 50 in the nation in attendance, including six in the top 20, according to Tuesday’s NCAA statistics report. Michigan State leads the way at No. 8 nationally (6,227 fans per game), joined by No. 9 Purdue (6,036), No. 11 Ohio State (5,596), No. 13 Maryland (5,537), No. 14 Iowa (5,452) and No. 20 Nebraska (4,380). The other Big Ten schools currently among the top 50 in the nation in attendance are Wisconsin (28th - 3,703), Penn State (33rd - 3,307), Indiana (35th - 3,235), Minnesota (37th - 3,130) and Michigan (40th - 2,996).
Nebraska became the sixth Big Ten school to reach the 20-win mark with its 59-51 victory at home over Penn State on Feb. 22. Rutgers needs one victory for No. 20 this year, which would give the Big Ten at least seven 20-win programs for the fifth consecutive season, highlighted by a record-setting nine 20-win teams last year.
The Big Ten has two of the nation’s most improved programs this season, with both Nebraska and Rutgers owning 13 more wins than last year. The Big Ten record for the most improvement from one season to the next (combining the difference in wins and losses, dividing by two) is +14.5 by Iowa in 1995-96 (11-17 to 27-4).
According to Monday’s NCAA statistics report, Iowa’s Megan Gustafson leads the nation in scoring (25.3 ppg.). In fact, three of the country’s top five individual scorers come from Big Ten schools — Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell is third (24.4 ppg.), and Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty is fifth (23.5 ppg.).
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell holds the NCAA Division I record by making a three-pointer in 87 consecutive games (and counting), and she set the NCAA all-division record for career three-pointers made (478). Mitchell is third on the NCAA Division I career scoring list with a Big Ten-record 3,286 points.
Four of the nation’s top 10 active NCAA Division I scoring leaders are Big Ten students — Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (1st - 3,286; also third in NCAA D-I history), Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (2nd - 2,700), Indiana’s Tyra Buss (5th - 2,204) and Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife (6th - 2,201), with Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner just outside the top 10 in 11th (2,127).
15 Big Ten students (from 11 schools) have scored 30 points in a game this year, including six who have done it more than once The Big Ten’s 30-point scorers this year include: Illinois’ Alex Wittinger, Indiana’s Tyra Buss (three times), Iowa’s Megan Gustafson (seven times), Maryland’s Kaila Charles (twice) and Eleanna Christinaki, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (three times), Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell (four times) and Carlie Wagner, Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Kelsey Mitchell (seven times), Penn State’s Teniya Page and Jaida Travascio-Green, Purdue’s Andreona Keys and Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife.
Five students (three players, two graduate assistants) from Big Ten schools are among this year’s class for the 16th annual “So You Want To Be A Coach” program, to be held March 28-30 at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Illinois’ Jenn Dynis (graduate assistant), Michigan’s Jillian Dunston and Danielle Williams (graduate assistant), and Nebraska’s Jasmine Cincore and Emily Wood will participate in the workshop, which is designed to, among other objectives, increase the understanding and application of skills necessary to secure coaching positions and subsequently achieve success in those roles.
Former Ohio State All-America guard and 1996 Big Ten Player of the Year Katie Smith (’96) has been selected for induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Smith, who was also named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Feb. 17, was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and recipient of the NCAA postgraduate scholarship, as well as a three-time all-Big Ten pick and the No. 6 scorer in conference history. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 will be enshrined June 9 in Knoxville, Tenn.
The 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four will be played March 30 and April 1, right in the heart of Big Ten country in Columbus, Ohio, and co-hosted by Ohio State and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission at Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. This will mark the seventh time the Women’s Final Four is held within the Big Ten Conference footprint, with three visits to Indianapolis (2005, 2011, 2016), two others in the state of Ohio (Cincinnati-1997, Cleveland-2007) and the 1995 event in Minneapolis (the last time it was held in a city featuring a Big Ten institution).
Next season, the Big Ten will return to an 18-game conference schedule, following approval by the Big Ten Administrators Council in October. Under the new format, schools will play five opponents twice and eight teams once (four home, four away) each season. The model will also emphasize in-state rivalries and competition between regional opponents. Big Ten women’s basketball programs played 18 regular-season conference games for the first 12 seasons of Big Ten play (1982-83 through 1993-94) and returned to that format from 2007-08 to 2009-10 and again in 2014-15 and 2015-16.