March 28, 2017
Michigan advanced to its third consecutive WNIT semifinal on Saturday with an 80-62 home win over Virginia Tech, leading a strong Big Ten postseason run. To date, the eight Big Ten schools in postseason play have posted a 17-7 (.708) record (5-4 in the NCAA Tournament, 12-3 in the WNIT - the latter a Big Ten record for wins in one WNIT).
Current Big Ten schools have advanced to the WNIT semifinals 14 times (as well as four times in the tournament’s now-defunct predecessor, the National Women’s Invitation Tournament), including each of the past four seasons (eventual champion Rutgers in 2014, plus Michigan from 2015-17). The Wolverines are the second program in the WNIT’s modern history (1998-present) to advance to three consecutive semifinals, joining Illinois State (2009-11).
A Big Ten-record nine schools won at least 20 games in 2016-17, with Iowa joining the group March 23 following its 80-62 victory over Colorado in the third round of the WNIT. The Big Ten has seen at least seven of its women’s basketball programs win 20 games in each of the past four seasons, including a (then) Big Ten-record eight 20-win schools in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Indiana (23) and Michigan (26) have also set school records for wins in a season.
Five Big Ten students received AP All-America honors Monday. Maryland’s Brionna Jones was a first-team selection, Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell made the second team, and Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough was a third-team choice. Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska and Northwestern’s Nia Coffey earned honorable mention All-America status.
Eight Big Ten students earned WBCA All-Region 4 honors on March 23 — Indiana’s Tyra Buss, Maryland’s Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty, Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska, Northwestern’s Nia Coffey, Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell and Penn State’s Teniya Page. The Big Ten has had at least one student from a current conference school go on to receive WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team honors every year since 1999, with Mitchell (also a finalist for the Wade Trophy) the Big Ten’s most recent WBCA All-America selection last season.
Sixty-one Big Ten women’s basketball students received Academic All-Big Ten honors, marking the 10th consecutive season at least 45 women’s basketball students earned the award. That list, which featured students from all 14 Big Ten schools, includes Iowa’s Ally Disterhoft, who is a two-time Academic All-America Team Member of the Year. Northwestern had a conference-high nine honorees on this year’s Academic All-Big Ten Team, for which students must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Iowa’s Ally Disterhoft is the fifth NCAA Division I women’s basketball student to be a two-time Academic All-America Team Member of the Year when she was chosen for the honor on March 2 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Disterhoft joins such notables as Elena Delle Donne, Maya Moore and former Nebraska standout Karen Jennings as a two-time Academic All-America Team Member of the Year. Disterhoft was also a first-team Academic All-America selection this year (the third honor of her career), becoming the sixth three-time honoree from a Big Ten school and first since Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante (2002-04). Indiana’s Amanda Cahill and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner were third-team Academic All-America honorees (their first career citations), and Maryland’s Kristen Confroy and Northwestern’s Ashley Deary received CoSIDA Academic All-District plaudits.
Maryland became the first Big Ten school to sweep the conference’s women’s basketball regular season and tournament championships in three consecutive seasons when it defeated Purdue in this year’s Big Ten Tournament title game, 74-64 on March 5 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Terrapins shared this year’s Big Ten Championship with Ohio State, which earned its Big Ten-record 15th title and first since 2010.
For the first time, the Big Ten has five active 2,000-point scorers as Iowa’s Ally Disterhoft, Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska, Northwestern’s Nia Coffey and Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell all entered that elite club this season, with Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty closing in (see page 3 of the attached PDF for a full list of the top active Big Ten scorers). The only other time in Big Ten women’s basketball history the conference had three active 2,000-point scorers was 2003-04, when Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante (2,919 points from 2001-04), Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen (2,285 points from 2001-04) and Purdue’s Shereka Wright (2,251 from 2001-04) all reached the mark.
Eleven Big Ten schools currently rank among the top 50 in the country in average attendance, including seven of the top 26. Michigan State ranks eighth nationally at 6,011 fans per game, followed by No. 9 Purdue, No. 11 Maryland, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 17 Nebraska, No. 19 Iowa and No. 26 Wisconsin. Minnesota (No. 33), Indiana (No. 37), Penn State (No. 41) and Michigan (No. 42) are also in the top 50 of the NCAA attendance rankings.
Maryland center Brionna Jones and guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough are among 10 finalists for the 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award, given annually to the nation’s top senior who has made notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Women’s basketball students from two Big Ten schools have earned the award — Nebraska’s Kelsey Griffin (2009-10) and Iowa’s Samantha Logic (2014-15).