2017-18 Women's Basketball Season in Review
May 30, 2018


Academic Achievement
• Four Big Ten women’s basketball students — Indiana’s Tyra Buss, Maryland’s Kristen Confroy, Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner and Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell — earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2017-18, receiving the conference's most exclusive award, and the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." Big Ten schools currently feature more than 8,200 student-athletes, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In the 100 years of the Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction. This marks the second time in the past four years (also in 2015) a record-setting four Big Ten women’s basketball students have earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor. BUSS RELEASE | CONFROY RELEASE | WAGNER RELEASE | MITCHELL RELEASE
• Maryland’s Kristen Confroy was a recipient of the 2017-18 Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship, one of two representatives from her school to earn the $7,500 award that goes towards a student’s graduate education and is selected primarily on the basis on academic achievement. Confroy, who also was the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree in women’s basketball for 2017-18, graduated from Maryland in May with her degree in biology and a concentration in neurobiology and physiology, and will attend Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine this fall. FULL RELEASE
• For the 11th consecutive season, Big Ten women’s basketball honored more than 45 Academic All-Big Ten standouts as 67 women’s basketball students, representing all 14 conference schools, were recognized in 2017-18. Included in this group was Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga who was one of 21 students across all Big Ten winter sports to maintain an unblemished 4.0 cumulative GPA. FULL RELEASE
• Two Big Ten women’s basketball students received CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2017-18, recognizing the nation’s top students for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. Indiana’s Amanda Cahill earned second-team recognition while Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner received third-team honors. It was the second career Academic All-America citation for both women, and marks the fifth consecutive season the Big Ten has produced at least one Academic All-American, with three of the last four seasons seeing multiple Big Ten women’s basketball students earning Academic All-America honors. FULL RELEASE
• Six Big Ten women's basketball students earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, Maryland’s Kristen Confroy, Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner and Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Kelsey Mitchell were among the 68 NCAA Division I academic all-district selections nationwide. Cahill, Confroy and Wagner were three-time academic all-district honorees during their careers, while Buss, Mavunga and Mitchell each earned their first academic all-district citation in 2017-18. FULL RELEASE
• Indiana’s Tyra Buss was among 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to a senior student who has made notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Buss went on to be chosen as a first-team Senior CLASS All-American. FULL RELEASE

Season Highlights
• In 2017-18, the Big Ten had 10 schools selected for postseason play (six NCAA, four WNIT), the second-most in conference history behind the 11 postseason participants chosen in 2015-16 (five NCAA, six WNIT). NCAA SELECTION RELEASE | WNIT SELECTION RELEASE
• For the 18th consecutive season, the Big Ten sent at least eight schools to postseason play.
• Indiana’s WNIT championship was the ninth postseason women’s basketball title won by a current Big Ten school and second in as many seasons following Michigan’s 2017 WNIT championship. The Hoosiers are the sixth current Big Ten school to raise the WNIT championship trophy, joining Penn State (1998), Wisconsin (2000), Ohio State (2001), Rutgers (2014) and Michigan (2017). FULL RECAP
• The 2017-18 season marked the second year in a row that the Big Ten had a record-setting nine schools win at least 20 games (Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers). This included Indiana, which tied its school record for wins (23) first set in 2016-17.
• For the 33rd consecutive season, at least four current Big Ten women’s basketball programs reached the NCAA Tournament. Maryland made its 26th appearance, tying Purdue for the most by a current Big Ten school, while Iowa and Ohio State each earned their 25th NCAA Tournament berth in 2017-18.
• Current Big Ten programs have collected 15 NCAA Women’s Final Four appearances, most recently with Maryland’s appearance in 2015.
• Eight current Big Ten schools have competed in a Women's Final Four: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State and Rutgers.
• The Big Ten had the nation’s two most improved teams this past season, with both Nebraska and Rutgers recording 14 more wins than 2016-17. Rutgers finished with an overall +13 improvement and Nebraska at +12.5 from last season, using the NCAA method of calculating improvement (combining the difference in wins and losses from one season to the next, dividing by two).
• At the time of the announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament field on Selection Monday (March 12), the Big Ten was No. 3 in the NCAA conference RPI table, with six Big Ten schools ending up among the top 50 in the team RPI rankings including three in the top 25. Ohio State led the way at No. 6, joined by No. 18 Maryland and No. 21 Iowa. Michigan was next at No. 39, followed by Rutgers at No. 40 and Minnesota at No. 41, with Indiana (No. 54), Nebraska (No. 60), Purdue (No. 62) and Michigan State (No. 65) not far off.
• Six Big Ten schools were ranked or receiving votes in the final Associated Press or USA Today/WBCA polls, led by No. 10/15 Ohio State and No. 16/18 Maryland. Michigan and Minnesota received votes in both polls, while Iowa earned votes in the AP poll and Indiana did likewise in the USA Today poll. All told, 10 Big Ten schools were ranked or received votes in one or both of the major national polls for at least one week during the 2017-18 season.

Big Ten Tournament
• The 2018 Big Ten Tournament was the 25th in conference history, with numerous events designed to spotlight this anniversary, including a social media campaign on the official Big Ten Women’s Basketball feeds highlighting the great people and moments in tournament history. Video vignettes with members of all 14 conference programs were displayed on the arena scoreboard, not only touching on the historic nature of the 25th tournament, but also offering humorous insights into the students and coaches that make Big Ten Women’s Basketball so special. TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
• The 25th anniversary celebration culminated with a special new red carpet entrance for the two competing championship teams on Championship Sunday, with both teams arriving at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Entry Pavilion and making their way through the assembled pep rally crowd before heading to their locker rooms.
• Ohio State completed its first sweep of the Big Ten’s regular season and tournament titles since the 2009-10 season when it defeated Maryland, 79-69 in the 2018 Big Ten Tournament championship game on March 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It was the Buckeyes’ sixth Big Ten Tournament title (first since 2011) and came on the heels of their conference-leading 16th Big Ten championship and second in as many seasons with a 13-3 record during conference play (good for their first outright Big Ten title since 2009-10). FULL RECAP
• Big Ten Tournament championship games have traditionally produced exciting finishes, with 21 of the 25 finals decided by 10 points or less, including Ohio State’s 79-69 win over Maryland in this past year’s title game.
• This year’s epic four-overtime second-round game between Indiana and Michigan State (won by the Hoosiers, 111-109) was the longest Big Ten Tournament game (men’s or women’s) ever played, with Indiana setting tournament records for points and field goals made (43). FULL RECAP
• That 4OT game was also the longest game ever played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which is also the home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and WNBA’s Indiana Fever, as well as the site of the Indiana High School Athletic Association state finals and numerous other NCAA Women’s Final Fours, men’s/women’s regionals and other international basketball events.
• Eight different schools have been crowned Big Ten Tournament champion. Purdue leads the way with nine tournament titles, while Ohio State owns six tournament championships. Maryland has won three, Iowa and Penn State have each claimed two, while Indiana, Michigan State and Nebraska have each earned one title in program history.

Individual Honors
• No fewer than 10 Big Ten women’s basketball students earned All-America honors from at least one national organization following the 2017-18 season. FULL RELEASE
• Iowa’s Megan Gustafson and Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (the Big Ten Players of the Year by the media and coaches, respectively) were consensus All-America selections, making the All-America teams as named by the Associated Press, espnW, USA Today, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Three other Big Ten students earned All-America nods from multiple organizations — Indiana’s Tyra Buss, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty and Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell.
• In addition to Gustafson and Mitchell each earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors, Minnesota's Destiny Pitts was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Purdue's Ae'Rianna Harris was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Maryland's Ieshia Small was the Big Ten Sixth Woman of the Year and Nebraska's Amy Williams was chosen as the Big Ten Coach of the Year. FULL RELEASE 
• Iowa’s Megan Gustafson finished as the NCAA statistical champion in scoring (25.7 ppg.) and field goal percentage (.671), while Indiana’s Tyra Buss led the nation in minutes per game (39.97).
• Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty became the sixth Big Ten student to win the State Farm Women’s College 3-Point Championship, defeating Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell in the final on March 29 in San Antonio. Flaherty was one of three Big Ten students participating in this year’s event, along with Maryland’s Kristen Confroy and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner. Flaherty joins previous Big Ten winners Caity Matter of Ohio State (2005), Lindsey Bowen of Michigan State (2006), Katie Gearlds of Purdue (2007), Aulani Sinclair of Indiana (2013) and Rachel Banham of Minnesota (2016). FULL RELEASE
• Five students (three players, two graduate assistants) from Big Ten schools were among the 2017-18 class for the 16th annual “So You Want To Be A Coach” program that was held March 28-30 at the WBCA Convention in Columbus. Illinois’ Jenn Dynis (graduate assistant), Michigan’s Jillian Dunston and Danielle Williams (graduate assistant), and Nebraska’s Jasmine Cincore and Emily Wood participated in the workshop, which was designed to, among other objectives, increase the understanding and application of the 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) was selected for induction into both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Smith, 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, will be enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 9 in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Attendance
• For five consecutive seasons, Big Ten women’s basketball programs have welcomed more than 830,000 fans in home arenas. This past season marked the 20th straight year the conference has surpassed the 650,000 mark in total attendance and 13th time in the last 15 years that Big Ten programs have hosted more than 700,000 fans.
• In 2017-18, the Big Ten unofficially ranked third among all NCAA Division I conferences in attendance with an average of 3,841 fans per game and a total attendance of 868,038 fans coming through the turnstiles. Traditionally, the final official NCAA attendance rankings are announced during the summer.
• Eleven Big Ten teams ranked among the top 40 in the nation for total attendance in 2017-18, including seven in the top 25 (the most of any conference). Purdue (No. 8) and Michigan State (No. 10) were among the top 10, while Maryland (12th), Iowa (13th), Ohio State (14th), Nebraska (20th) and Indiana (23rd) were among the top 25. The remaining schools in the top 40 included Wisconsin (29th), Minnesota (35th), Penn State (36th) and Michigan (40th). Of note, 10 of these schools averaged better than 3,000 fans/game (Michigan was at 2,996), highlighted by seven that averaged more than 4,000 fans/game and five that averaged more than 5,000 fans/game.

National Television Exposure
• The Big Ten’s media agreements have played a significant role in helping Big Ten women’s basketball reach unparalleled amounts of national exposure. In 2017-18, each of the 112 regular season women’s basketball conference games were produced and distributed by BTN, BTN Plus or an ESPN Network, the fourth consecutive season every Big Ten women’s basketball game was televised on one of these networks.
• ESPN2 carried the 2018 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game, while BTN produced the first 12 games of the tournament, carrying the opening three rounds on BTN Plus and the semifinals on BTN.
• For the second consecutive year, the conference tipped off the season with Big Ten Women’s Basketball Week, a digitally-based media season preview event that delivered exclusive content and interviews with coaches and students from all 14 Big Ten women’s basketball programs through linear and social media channels. The Big Ten and BTN also worked to produce the BTN Women’s Basketball Preseason Special, which was televised live on BTN on the Monday evening (Nov. 6) prior to the start of the 2017-18 season and re-aired no less than four times during the ensuing week as a lead-in to the ’17-18 season tipoff. WOMEN'S BASKETBALL WEEK CENTRAL

2018 WNBA Season
• Four Big Ten students were selected in the 2018 WNBA Draft, which was held April 12 at the Nike New York Headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was chosen No. 2 overall by the Indiana Fever, where she will be joined by Buckeye teammate Stephanie Mavunga, who was selected in the second round (No. 14 overall) by the Fever. Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife was also chosen in the second round (No. 20 overall) by the Phoenix Mercury, while Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner was selected in the third round (No. 36 overall) by the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx. FULL RELEASE
• Mitchell was the fourth Big Ten student to be selected No. 2 overall in the WNBA Draft and first since Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B in 2015 by the Tulsa Shock (Zahui B now plays for the New York Liberty).
• The Big Ten has had at least four students selected in 19 of the 22 WNBA College Drafts the league been conducted (dating back to the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997).
• Along with this year's WNBA Draft selections, seven other students with ties to current Big Ten schools participated in WNBA training camps in 2018 — Indiana's Tyra Buss (Connecticut Sun), Michigan State's Taya Reimer (Los Angeles Sparks), Nebraska's Jordan Hooper (Los Angeles Sparks), Ohio State's Ameryst Alston (Chicago Sky) and Alexa Hart (Atlanta Dream), Rutgers' Rachel Hollivay (New York Liberty) and Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson (Los Angeles Sparks).
• A total of 29 women’s basketball standouts from eight current Big Ten schools earned a place on 2018 WNBA Opening Day rosters, covering all 14 league franchises. This year’s Big Ten WNBA contingent includes Maryland’s Marissa Coleman (New York Liberty), Tianna Hawkins (Washington Mystics), Brionna Jones (Connecticut Sun), Lynetta Kizer (Minnesota Lynx), Crystal Langhorne (Seattle Storm), Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun), Kristi Toliver (Washington Mystics) and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Washington Mystics); Michigan State’s Aerial Powers (Dallas Wings); Minnesota’s Rachel Banham (Connecticut Sun), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) and Amanda Zahui B (New York Liberty); Nebraska’s Yvonne Turner (Phoenix Mercury); Northwestern’s Nia Coffey (Las Vegas Aces); Ohio State’s Linnae Harper (Chicago Sky), Tayler Hill (Washington Mystics), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Stephanie Mavunga (Indiana Fever) and Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever); Penn State’s Alex Bentley (Connecticut Sun), Maggie Lucas (Atlanta Dream) and Tanisha Wright (Minnesota Lynx); and Rutgers’ Essence Carson (Los Angeles Sparks), Kahleah Copper (Chicago Sky), Betnijah Laney (Connecticut Sun), Cappie Pondexter (Los Angeles Sparks), Epiphanny Prince (New York Liberty), Kia Vaughn (New York Liberty) and Erica Wheeler (Indiana Fever). WNBA WEB SITE