Big Ten play is officially underway for women’s basketball. After the start of conference play, there was slight movement in the power rankings, as the top teams continue to separate themselves from the weaker ones. But with some teams having the week off, there is still a lot to be seen early in the season.
1. No. 14 Maryland (4-1, 1-0 B1G)
Last Week: 1
The Terps edged out a talented Rutgers squad 91-87 in their lone game this week, showing there are clear adjustments the team must make to get back to consistent domination. Brenda Frese’s squad continues to lead the nation in offense thanks to redshirt sophomore Mimi Collins’ 22-point scoring outburst off the bench. They’ve got a showdown against Ohio State next Wednesday that will tell us a lot about both squads.
2. No. 15 Indiana (2-1)
Last Week: 2
Indiana didn’t play this week after its game against Butler was postponed due to COVID cases within the Bulldogs’ program. They’ll go up against Tennessee (3-1) on Thursday on short notice to replace that game and earn a different non-conference win.
3. No. 16 Northwestern (2-0, 1-0)
Last Week: 5
Northwestern has destroyed its two less-than-inspiring opponents. The small-ball lineup saw great success against Minnesota, while Veronica Burton has put her well-rounded game on display. The Wildcats head to West Lafayette on Thursday for a matchup with a Purdue team they’ve had fits with in the past.
4. No. 17 Ohio State (4-0)
Last Week: 3
The Buckeyes have not played a game since our last power rankings, so not much has changed. They have continuously blown out less talented opponents and will finally have their first shot against a top-tier team when they go up against Maryland on Wednesday. It should be an interesting battle between two of the nation’s top offenses where star Dorka Juhasz should be able to exploit a smaller Terps squad.
5. No. 19 Michigan (5-0)
Last Week: 4
Two words: Naz Hillmon. Michigan opens Big Ten play against three opponents toward the bottom of the conference (Illinois, Penn State, Wisconsin), giving them an opportunity to build momentum before heading to Evanston.
6. Michigan State (4-0)
Last Week: 9
It may be a resurgent year for the Spartans after being wildly inconsistent last season. Sophomore Alyza Winston finished with 25 points in a big win over Iowa, making back-to-back 20-point performances and putting her on the national radar.
7. Rutgers (2-1, 1-1)
Last Week: 6
The Scarlet Knights are packed full of talent and showed how dangerous they can be in their close four-point loss to Maryland. It is only a matter of time before the squad led by future WNBA-draftee Arella Guirantes starts to develop more chemistry and becomes more fluid. They have three non-conference games against weak opponents to gain momentum before jumping back into conference play.
8. Iowa (4-1, 1-1)
Last Week: 7
After a blowout loss to Michigan State, the losses of Kathleen Doyle and Makenzie Meyer and clearly showing. They won’t have a chance to pick up a good win against Ohio State since that game was canceled, but that gives them more time to work out the kinks before Rutgers on New Year’s Eve.
9. Purdue (3-1)
Last Week: 8
Purdue appears to be getting back on track with wins against Buffalo and Bowling Green following the loss to Valparaiso. While those are just about the opposite of season-defining wins, it could be enough for the Boilermakers to build up some confidence as they open Big Ten play against a much more talented Northwestern squad. Madison Layden’s 13 points against BGSU are enough to get fans excited about the freshman’s talents as well.
10. Nebraska (3-1, 1-0)
Last Week: 11
Losing to a subpar Creighton team by 16 shows where Nebraska should be this season. The Huskers’ first conference win wasn’t easy, and it came against a bad Illinois team. Leigha Brown was the squad’s best player, but after she transferred to Michigan, it’s Sam Haiby who has gotten out to a hot start.
11. Penn State (3-1)
Last Week: 10
Even with losing star Kamaria McDaniel, who was a lone bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season, the Nittany Lions find themselves at 3-1 to start the season. One must take this record with a grain of salt with the team yet to play a Big Ten game. PSU did keep it close against a ranked Syracuse team, only losing by 10 and getting contributions from a number of players.
12. Wisconsin (2-2, 0-2)
Last Week: 12
The Badgers have shown some fight early on. Against much better conference opponents in Iowa and Rutgers, Wisconsin lost by a combined 12 points. This team lives and dies by Sydney Hilliard but will need others to step up if it wants to make any noise.
13. Illinois (2-2, 0-1)
Last Week: 13
The Fighting Illini’s near loss to Omaha indicated a lot about this team. Winning by three and putting up a mere 53 points against a mid-major program is never convincing, and the loss to Nebraska cements Illinois’ spot in the B1G cellar yet again.
14. Minnesota (1-3, 0-2)
Last Week: 14
The Gophers find themselves on a three-game losing streak following a close win against Eastern Illinois. They looked helpless against Northwestern in a 21-turnover display. There is no lack of talent in the Twin Cities with five-star Alexia Smith and five-star transfer Kadi Sissoko, but they may need a few seasons to put it all together.