Six Big Ten teams appeared in the Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, including four top-25 squads. Nebraska appears at No. 12 to lead all conference programs, with reigning Big Ten Champion Penn State rated 15th in the poll. Michigan State checks in at No. 18 and Big Ten Tournament Champion Purdue is ranked 23rd, while Iowa and Minnesota are among the other squads also receiving votes in the preseason poll.
Three Big Ten players were named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon. Minnesota's Rachel Banham, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Penn State's Maggie Lucas were each named to the preseason list, which honors the nation's most outstanding player. The trio appear on their second preseason watch list this year, having also earned spots on the preseason Wade Award Watch List. Lucas was a finalist for both awards last season.
Four Big Ten institutions will serve as hosts during the 2014 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, the NCAA announced on Wednesday. Iowa, Penn State and Purdue are slated to host opening-round matchups, while Nebraska is one of four regional hosts. Opening-round contests at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the Bryce Jordan Center and Mackey Arena will be contested on March 22-25, while the newly minted Pinnacle Bank Arena will host regional contests on March 29 and 31 or March 30 and April 1. All roads from the opening rounds to the regional sites will lead to Nashville for the 2014 Women's Final Four. Bridgestone Arena will serve as the host site for games to be played on April 6 and 8.
Three Big Ten players are among the preseason Wade Watch list, a 25-member cast announced by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on Tuesday. Minnesota's Rachel Banham, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Penn State's Maggie Lucas each appear in the preseason running for the award, which honors the Division I Player of the Year. Lucas was the consensus Big Ten Player of the Year in 2013, winning the honor from the coaches and media, while earning unanimous All-Big Ten accolades from the coaches group. Hooper earned first-team accolades from both panels, while Banham was a first-team coaches honoree. It is the second season Hooper and Lucas have earned the Wade Watch honor, while Banham garners her first preseason accolade.
The WNBA Finals will feature four former Big Ten standouts when the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx face off this weekend, as Minnesota's Janel McCarville and Lindsay Whalen, Nebraska's Lindsey Moore and Penn State's Alex Bentley chase the title. McCarville, Moore and Whalen are part of a Lynx squad that enters its third WNBA Finals appearance in a row, having won the title in 2011. Bentley will play for the Dream, as it makes its third finals appearance in the last four years. The four representatives from the Big Ten is tied for most among all conferences nationally.
Whalen and Bentley have already picked up individual accolades this year, as Whalen was named to the All-WNBA first team and Bentley was an All-Rookie team pick.
Game 1 tips off on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
ESPN has announced its Big Monday women's basketball lineup for the 2014 season, which includes one Big Ten matchup. On Feb. 24, Nebraska will host Penn State at 7 p.m. ET in a matchup that features the two-time defending conference champion Lady Lions against the Huskers, who have appeared in two consecutive Big Ten Tournament championship contests. Both squads appear in ESPN.com's preseason top 25, with Nebraska ninth and Penn State 19th.