conference, and the Big Ten coaches picked the same 4 as contenders.
The reality is that all 4 are overrated.
1. Penn State (13-3) is tough but #6 nationally? I do see them as Big Ten champs. But the truth is that after guards Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas, the Lions, well even with Bentley and Lucas, they're not a very good shooting team. They hit the boards and they'll be counting on Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson to get 'em some 2nd opportunities, and they'll be looking to Bentley and Lucas to create points off of turnovers. But for primary offense and also on the defensive end, they're not an elite team at all.
(X. For future reference, Maryland would go here.)
2. Northwestern (11-5). OK, here's the 1st surprise, the young Wildcats knocking Purdue, Ohio State and Nebraska out of 2nd place. They're the anti-Penn State, well, except they too pound the boards. But they shoot the ball, too. Their primary offense is very solid, led by F-C Dannielle Diamant with 16 points on 56% shooting (so far this year) and Kendall Hackney with 16 and 47% (so far). Guard Karly Rosar has been good for 8 assists per game so far.
3. Michigan State (11-5). And another surprise, the not so-young Spartans also out-performing the rest of the faves. This is a great defensive team, and guards Klarissa Bell and Jasmine Thomas score just enough to stay ahead. Actually they're outstanding shooters.
4. Nebraska (10-6). Jordan Hooper, Lindsay Moore and Emily Cady are pretty much another 3-woman team. And, frankly, I'd rather build around them than the Buckeye's big 3. Neither appears to have the right pieces alongside.
(X. And for further reference, Rutgers would go here. IOW, the football Gophers may have picked up a couple of new Big 10 opponents they can beat. But for women's basketball, the Big 10 just got a lot tougher.)
5. Ohio State (10-6). This is a 3-woman team with guards Tayler Hill and Amber Stokes and post Ashley Adams. And neither Stokes nor Adams is a great offensive player. Stokes is however a genuinely great defender but she will have to create a lot of turnovers to keep Ohio State running. The loss of Sam Prahalis is just too much.
6. Minnesota (9-7). Improving. But like the above, the Gophers are also a 3 or maybe even a 2-woman team unless freshmen Kayla Hirt and Shayne Mullaney get it together in a hurry. Which could happen.
8. Iowa (7-9). Has some nice talent but has not jelled so far, and the shooting percentages are not very good. Still Morgan Johnson has become a great all-around player, and Jamie Printy and Sam Logic are potentially a great guard pair. Theairra Taylor and Beth Doolittle are getting major minutes.
9. Michigan (6-10). Kate Thompson has become a contributor with 15 ppg and 49% shooting. But the Wolves are a little thin and a little lacking in firepower.
10. Indiana (5-11). Aulani Sinclair offers hope and Jasmine McGhee, too. And Milika Taufa for that matter. But it will take time.
11. Illinois (3-13). Karisma Penn didn't make the pre-season all-conference team, which is a joke. She is the best player in the conference. Without her, a winless season would be in order.
12. Wisconsin (2-14). Cassie Rochel and Anne Marie Brown are playing major minutes, but this team cannot shoot straight.
Post-Season: The Big 10 is not exactly an elite conference in women's basketball, and so 10 wins will be an easy cut-off for the NCAA to execute. So the top 5--Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State--advance.
Karisma Penn, Illinois, not among the 8 pre-season picks by the coaches and media, ha ha
Alex Bentley, Penn State, more all-around chops than Lucas, the bigger scorer
Jordan Hooper, Nebraska
Morgan Johnson, Iowa
Rachel Banham, Minnesota, where oh where would the Gophers be without Rache?
Tayler Hill, Ohio State, I know, I know, probably wins the scoring title, but a bit 1-dimensional
Maggie Lucas, Penn State, ditto
Dannielle Diamant, Northwestern
Aulani Sinclair, Indiana
Kendall Hackney, Northwestern
Lindsay Moore, Nebraska
Klarissa Bell, Michigan State
Jamie Printy, Iowa
Rachel Sheffer, Michigan
Ashley Adams, Ohio State
Maggie Lyon, Northwestern
Jasmine Thomas, Michigan State
Amber Stokes, Ohio State
Taylor Wurtz, Wisconsin
Micaella Riche, Minnesota
Sam Ostarello, Purdue
Courtney Moses, Purdue