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Big Ten Tips Off 40th Women’s Basketball Season Wednesday

by | Nov 25, 2020 | Basketball Blogs | 0 comments

  • The 40th season of Big Ten Conference women’s basketball tips off Wednesday with six non-conference games on the schedule (two others were postponed earlier in the week). Before the Thanksgiving weekend is out, 11 of the 14 conference schools are slated to have opened their seasons, including four of the Big Ten’s five Top 25 programs.
  • Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer begins her 50th season and 26th at Rutgers on Wednesday. The Hall of Famer will be the first NCAA women’s basketball coach ever to coach 50 seasons and just the fourth men’s or women’s basketball coach in any NCAA division to reach that milestone — the others are legendary Kansas coach Phog Allen (50 seasons, also including time at Baker, Central Missouri and Haskell from 1906-56), Jim Smith (51 seasons at Division III Saint John’s-Minn. from 1965-2015) and Herb Magee, who is beginning his 54th season on the sidelines at Division II Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia Textile), where he took over in 1967-68. Also of note, Harry Statham coached the men’s program at NAIA McKendree University for 52 seasons (1966-2018).
  • The Big Ten shared top honors among all conferences with five Top 25 teams in both the Associated Press and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today preseason polls. In the AP balloting, Maryland leads the Big Ten pack, coming in at No. 12, followed by No. 16 Indiana, No. 17 Northwestern, No. 20 Ohio State and No. 25 Michigan, with Rutgers also receiving votes. In the WBCA/USA Today poll, Maryland was ranked 11th, Indiana was 15th, Northwestern was 16th, Ohio State was 22nd and Michigan was 24th. In addition, Iowa and Rutgers both received votes.
  • On Monday. the Big Ten released its 2020-21 conference schedule, which will see schools play 20 games, adding two conference contests from the previous two seasons. Schools will play seven opponents twice (once at home and once on the road) and the other six opponents once (three at home and three on the road). To account for the additional games and preserve flexibility in the schedule, the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament has been moved to March 9-13 and will continue to be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
  • The Big Ten is coming off a historic 2019-20 season that saw the conference finish with the nation’s No. 2 RPI, including the No. 1 RPI in non-conference play. It was the Big Ten’s highest placement in both ratings since at least the 2001-02 season (NCAA archives are incomplete prior to that year).
  • The 2020-21 Big Ten season is expected to feature 20 first-, second-team and honorable mention all-conference honorees returning, including eight first-team selections, led by five 2019-20 honorable mention All-Americans — Indiana’s Grace Berger and Ali Patberg, Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam, Ohio State’s Dorka Juhász and Rutgers’ Arella Guirantes. Also expected to return are the 2019-20 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Veronica Burton of Northwestern, along with reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ashley Owusu of Maryland and Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year Leigha Brown (who transferred to Michigan during the offseason after earning last spring’s honor while at Nebraska).
  • The WBCA and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame recently announced the preseason watch lists for its national player of the year awards at the five traditional court positions. Eleven students representing six Big Ten schools were named to the preseason season watch lists, which can be found on page 2 of this release.
  • For the 13th consecutive season, Big Ten women’s basketball honored more than 45 Academic All-Big Ten standouts as a record-setting 87 women’s basketball students were recognized in 2019-20.