INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Maryland has controlled the road to the Women’s Big Ten Tournament title for seven consecutive seasons. Five times, the Terrapins won the top prize, and their only loss came from the title games.
This week, their dominance may come to an end.
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Five teams head to Indianapolis this week with the top 15, hoping to host NCAA Tournament games and in fact win the league’s most expansive tournament in years.
“This is when you want to play your best basketball,” Iowa star Caitlin Clark said after the big win Sunday before Then. 6 Michigan. “And we’re playing our best basketball.”
Clark makes anything possible.
A year ago, she led the Hawkeyes to a surprise finish as runner-up at the conference tournament, falling only to Maryland in the championship match. This year, in hopes of winning Iowa’s No. 12 title, she helped the Hawkeyes rally to four straight wins to claim a piece of the regular-season crown and the No. 2 seed.
Now, the national leader in goalscoring (27.5 points/match) and assists (8.3) has even greater aspirations – dethroning the two-time defending champion. Iowa’s first tourney title since 2019.
But abbreviating Terrapins number 11 (21-7) would be a mistake.
After losing four straight games to ranked opponents in December and January and playing short-handed for most of the season, Maryland has won nine of its last 10, including a February 14 win at Iowa. , and won the lowest seed (number 4) in the Big Ten Era. Coach Brenda Frese is not complaining.
“To lock down the goodbye is huge, just because of the fact that we don’t have the depth we’ve had in the past,” she said. “Getting an extra day for your feet makes a big difference.”
Who else can challenge?
Top-seeded Ohio State (22-5) and third-seeded Michigan (22-5) have four losses in the conference game – just like Maryland and Iowa – and all four start playing on Friday.
Even fifth seed Indiana (19-7) makes it to the list after spending most of the season in the top 10. But the Hoosiers have played nine of their 16 games in the final 22 days of the season. official and lame for 3 games in a row. losses. Indiana opens Thursday with either 12th-seeded Penn State or 13th-seeded Rutgers.
But a rematch between the Hawkeyes (20-7) and Terps might be worth the wait.
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“A month ago we had seven players, we had two COVID outages, we rescheduled games,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. “And these people continue to believe.”
ashes for play
No. 10 Michigan and No. 13 Ohio State could renew their tough rivalry in the first of two semi-finals on Saturday. It’s a match that could yield some rewards for both shows.
The werewolves appeared headed for the league’s regular-season championship until Sunday’s stumble gave the Buckeyes a piece. Ohio State, meanwhile, didn’t play in Indy last year because of a self-imposed ban after the season.
Michigan was led by Naz Hillmon, the first player in school history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Ohio State is the only school with two players – Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell – scoring 19 points per game.
BACK TO THE BIG STAGE
A year ago, boys and girls teams shared the big stage in Indianapolis. They played the same week in nearby arenas and in front of significantly smaller and socially distanced crowds. That won’t be the case when Wednesday’s three-game opening round begins. This year, there will be no restrictions on the health and safety of fans, but the organizers still encourage wearing masks indoors.
One person who won’t be there is longtime Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, who has chosen to sit out this season. Deputy head coach Tim Eatman replaced Stringer on the bench. He also filled out Stringer at Big Ten media days last fall – also at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Although the Hoosiers are playing about an hour’s drive from campus, it hasn’t led to consistent success. Coach Teri Moren is only leading 4-7 in this tournament and Indiana has only reached the semi-finals twice since winning a lone tourney title in 2002.
Meanwhile, Purdue’s freshman coach Katie Gearlds will return to a venue she knows well from her competitive days. The former star of the team won the Class 3A state title here in 2003 and was named the 2007 Big Ten Player of the Year. She was also Miss Indiana 2003 Basketball. Ninth-seeded Purdue (16-13 will open on Thursday against eighth-seeded Michigan State (14-14).
If someone outside the top 5 makes it to the semifinals, it could be Nebraska. At 22-7, the Cornhusker team shared the league lead with victories with Ohio State and Michigan. They are 4th in offensive scoring (78.6 points) and defensive scoring (62.9 points) and open Thursday against Illinois or Wisconsin.
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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/01/maryland-looks-to-repeat-at-wide-open-big-ten-womens-tourney/ Maryland Looks Like a Repeat at the Big Ten Women’s Tourney – CBS Baltimore