• The Big Ten is in the midst of a stretch that features conference games on six consecutive nights (Jan. 20-25), continuing Tuesday with the first of two meetings this season between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State (7 p.m. ET on BTN), as well as Illinois visiting Penn State (7 p.m. ET on BTN Plus).
• Maryland took over sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings on Monday with its 99-69 win over Ohio State. The Terrapins, who have won 16 of their last 17 games, are 55-4 (.932) in Big Ten regular season games since joining the conference in 2014-15.
• Michigan has posted the best record in program history through 21 games (17-4), surpassing its 16-5 start on three occasions (2011-12, 2012-13 and 2016-17). In addition, the Wolverines are up to No. 16 in this week’s Associated Press poll, the second-highest ranking in program history behind a No. 12 placement on Dec. 24, 2001. Michigan has been ranked all 12 weeks this season, setting a school record for consecutive weeks in the AP poll, topping the previous mark of nine in 2001-02.
• Ohio State senior guard Kelsey Mitchell currently ranks eighth in NCAA Division I history with 3,048 points, passing UConn’s Maya Moore (3,036) and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne (3,039) on Monday with her 15 points at Maryland. Mitchell is also 46 points shy of breaking the Big Ten career scoring record held by Minnesota’s Rachel Banham (3,093 from 2012-16). In addition, Mitchell’s lone three-pointer on Monday set the NCAA all-division record for career three-pointers made (442), surpassing the record held by Laura Malemee of Division II West Liberty (441 from 2008-11).
• Nebraska collected its second consecutive win over a Top 25 opponent with Sunday’s 52-42 win at No. 25/21 Rutgers. It was the Huskers’ first true road victory over a ranked team since March 25, 2013, when they downed No. 9/11 Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This marks the first time Nebraska has won back-to-back games against Top 25 foes since March 3-4, 2014, when it defeated No. 19/23 Michigan State and No. 23/RV Iowa to win the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
• Minnesota became the ninth Big Ten school to earn a win over a ranked opponent this season with its 77-72 victory over No. 20 Iowa on Sunday. It was the Golden Gophers’ first victory over a Top 25 team since Feb. 24, 2016, when they edged fifth-ranked Ohio State, 90-88 in overtime in Minneapolis.
• The Big Ten ranks No. 3 in Tuesday’s Collegiate Basketball News conference RPI index (found at RPIratings.com). What’s more, eight Big Ten schools are among the top 50 in the team RPI rankings as noted by NCAA.com and Collegiate Basketball News. Ohio State leads the group at No. 7, followed by No. 14 Rutgers and No. 23 Maryland. Michigan is next at No. 27, followed by Iowa at No. 31, Minnesota at No. 40, Michigan State at No. 44 and Purdue at No. 47.
• The Big Ten has seven schools appearing in the top 50 of Tuesday’s Sagarin ratings. The conference contingent includes No. 11 Maryland, No. 15 Ohio State, No. 22 Michigan, No. 24 Michigan State, No. 32 Rutgers, No. 35 Iowa and No. 38 Minnesota.
• Eight Big Ten schools are ranked or receiving votes in the latest Associated Press or USA Today polls, led by No. 12 (AP)/No. 14 (USA Today) Ohio State. Maryland is also ranked in both polls at No. 14/13, as is Michigan at No. 16/16. In addition, Iowa is No. 25 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, while Purdue and Rutgers are receiving votes in both polls, Nebraska earned votes in the AP poll and Michigan State did likewise in the coaches’ survey. Ten of the 14 Big Ten schools have been ranked or receiving votes 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 seven in the top 25, according to Tuesday’s NCAA statistics report. Michigan State leads the way at No. 8 nationally (6,042 fans per game), joined by No. 9 Purdue (5,843), No. 12 Ohio State (5,428), No. 13 Maryland (5,323), No. 19 Iowa (4,553), No. 22 Nebraska (3,867) and No. 25 Wisconsin (3,522). The other Big Ten schools currently among the top 50 in the nation in attendance are Michigan (34th - 3,098), Indiana (35th - 3,072), Penn State (38th - 3,053) and Minnesota (41st - 2,968).
• A crowd of 11,950 fans attended the Michigan State-Indiana game on Jan. 20 at MSU’s Breslin Center, the largest gathering to watch a Big Ten women’s basketball game this season.
• The Big Ten has two of the nation’s most improved programs this season, with Rutgers already owning 11 more wins than last year and Nebraska second with seven wins more than its total in 2016-17. The Big Ten record for the most improvement from one season to the next is +14.5 by Iowa in 1995-96 (11-17 to 27-4). Also of note — Nebraska is 7-0 on the road and Rutgers is 4-2 on the road this season, after neither school won a road game in a combined 24 tries last year (Nebraska 0-10, Rutgers 0-14).
• 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 position in women’s basketball and achieve success in those roles.
• Former Ohio State All-America guard and 1996 Big Ten Player of the Year Katie Smith (’96) is one of this year’s 10 finalists for induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Smith was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and recipient of the NCAA postgraduate scholarship, in addition to being a three-time all-conference pick and the No. 5 scorer in conference history. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will be announced Feb. 12 and enshrined June 9 at the Hall in Knoxville, Tenn.
• Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner are among 30 candidates 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 field of 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, with the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award recipient 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.
• Five of the nation’s top 10 active NCAA Division I scoring leaders are Big Ten students — Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (1st - 3,048), Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (2nd - 2,505), Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife (5th - 2,062), Indiana’s Tyra Buss (9th - 2,020) and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner (10th - 1,970).
• A total of 11 Big Ten students (representing seven conference schools) have scored 30 points in a game this season. The Big Ten’s 30-point scorers this year include: Iowa’s Megan Gustafson (four times), Maryland’s Kaila Charles (twice) and Eleanna Christinaki, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (twice), Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell (three times) and Carlie Wagner, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Kelsey Mitchell (seven times), Penn State’s Jaida Travascio-Green and Teniya Page, and Purdue’s Andreona Keys.
• 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.
• For the fourth consecutive year, every Big Ten women’s basketball conference game, including 112 regular-season and 13 tournament games, will be produced and distributed by BTN, BTN Plus or an ESPN network.
• Big Ten programs produced 61 Academic All-Big Ten selections in 2016-17, the 10th consecutive season at least 45 women’s basketball students received the award. That list includes returning Academic All-Americans Amanda Cahill of Indiana and Carlie Wagner of Minnesota, plus Academic All-District honoree Kristen Confroy of Maryland.
|Jan. 23, 2018||at #16/16 Michigan 74, #NR/RV Michigan State 48||Ann Arbor, MI||RECAP||BTN
|at Penn State 68, Illinois 59||University Park, PA||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|Jan. 24, 2018||at Indiana 69, Wisconsin 55||Bloomington, IN||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|at #RV Nebraska 75, #RV/RV Purdue 51||Lincoln, NE||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|Jan. 25, 2018||at #RV/25 Iowa 103, #12/14 Ohio State 89||Iowa City, IA||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|#14/13 Maryland 68, at Northwestern 65||Evanston, IL||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|Jan. 27, 2018||at #12/14 Ohio State 78, #NR/RV Michigan State 62||Columbus, OH||RECAP||ESPNU
|at Indiana 64, #RV/RV Rutgers 58||Bloomington, IN||RECAP||BTN
|Jan. 28, 2018||at #RV/RV Purdue 88, Penn State 73||West Lafayette, IN||RECAP||BTN
|#RV Nebraska 92, at #RV/25 Iowa 74||Iowa City, IA||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|#16/16 Michigan 80, at Northwestern 59||Evanston, IL||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|Wisconsin 70, at Illinois 61||Champaign, IL||RECAP||BTN
NOTE: Rankings from the Jan. 22-23 Associated Press/USA Today Sports polls (RV - receiving votes/NR - not ranked; when only one ranking is listed, it is from the Associated Press poll)