The Big Ten women’s basketball tournament starts today in Indianapolis. The bottom four seeds play with Wisconsin (13) taking on Northwestern (12) at 12:30 pm central. Illinois (14) takes on Penn State (11) at 3 pm.
The #3 seed Huskers play the last game on Friday (8 pm central). The winner of Illinois/Penn State plays the #6 Michigan Wolverines on Thursday. The winner of that game goes up against Nebraska. The Huskers would like another crack at Michigan after an overtime loss in the regular season. That overtime loss came after the Huskers were up with only a few seconds to go. A bogus foul call on Nicea Eliely gave the Wolverines three free throws. They made all three to take the game to an extra period where Michigan prevailed.
That game was the first in a stretch of several Nebraska played against ranked teams. It was also the stretch where we got to see the potential in this team as they mowed down those ranked teams. The Huskers have fallen back to earth a bit since then, but will likely be highly motivated, especially if their opponent is the Wolverines.
The Huskers are very much a bubble team for the NCAA tourney. Their performance in the conference tourney likely will decide which postseason tourney becomes their destination. With an RPI at 64, the 20-9 Huskers probably need a couple of wins (making the tournament finals) to feel good on selection day. They have a good resume and some really good wins, so if other bubble teams falter or if there are no surprises among the one-bid leagues, they may still have a shot with an earlier exit (but I wouldn’t hold my breath on selection day).
All of the tournament’s first-round (Games 1-2), second-round (Games 3-6) and quarterfinal (Games 7-10) contests, played Wednesday through Friday, will be televised live on BTN2Go (available to authenticated BTN subscribers) as well as on linear television through several Regional Sports Networks (RSN) around the country. Those RSN affiliates that will carry the early-round tournament games that cover the home markets for all 14 Big Ten schools throughout the conference footprint and are as follows:
- Fox Sports Detroit (Games 1-2 will air on FS Detroit PLUS; will not air Games 9-10)
- Fox Sports Indiana (Games 3-8 will air on FS Indiana PLUS; will not air Games 9-10)
- Fox Sports Kansas City (Games 3-10 will air on FS Kansas City PLUS)
- Fox Sports Midwest (Games 3-6 and 9-10 will air on FS Midwest PLUS; will not air Games 7-8)
- Fox Sports North (Games 5-6 will air on FS North PLUS; will not air Game 10)
- Fox Sports Ohio (Game 9 only)
- Fox Sports Wisconsin (Games 3-6 and 9-10 will air on FS Wisconsin PLUS)
- MASN (Games 1-2 will air on MASN2)
- SportsTime Ohio (Game 10 will air on delayed basis; will not air Game 9)
- WHVL-TV in State College, Pa. (all 10 games)
BTN will carry Saturday’s semifinals live on its linear network, as well as through its BTN2Go platform. Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament championship game will be televised live on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN platform.
- Ohio State clinched its conference-leading 16th Big Ten title, and second in as many seasons, with a 13-3 record during conference play. The Buckeyes, who earned their first outright Big Ten title since the 2009-10 season, will also be the No. 1 seed for this week’s Big Ten Tournament, the second year in a row OSU has received that designation.
Maryland is the three-time defending Big Ten Tournament champion and seeks to become the first Big Ten school to win four consecutive tournament crowns. The Terrapins, who are seeded No. 2 for this week’s Big Ten Tournament, are one of only three conference programs to win three straight Big Ten Tournaments, joining Purdue (1998-2000) and Ohio State (2009-11).
- The Big Ten ranked No. 3 in Tuesday’s NCAA conference RPI, while six Big Ten schools were among the top 50 in the team RPI rankings, including three in the top 25. Ohio State leads the way at No. 6, joined by No. 16 Iowa and No. 21 Maryland. Michigan is next at No. 38, followed by Rutgers at No. 43 and Minnesota at No. 46, with Indiana (No. 54), Purdue (No. 56), Michigan State (No. 61) and Nebraska (No. 64) not far off.
- The Big Ten had seven schools in the top 50 of Tuesday’s Sagarin ratings. The group includes No. 11 Ohio State, No. 14 Maryland, No. 24 Michigan, No. 27 Iowa, No. 32 Minnesota, No. 34 Michigan State and No. 42 Rutgers, with Nebraska (No. 53), Purdue (No. 58) and Indiana (No. 59) close behind.
- Seven Big Ten schools are ranked or receiving votes in the latest Associated Press or USA Today polls, led by No. 13 (AP)/No. 14 (USA Today) Ohio State. Maryland is also ranked in both polls at No. 17/17, while Michigan is ranked No. 24 in the coaches’ poll and is receiving votes in the AP poll. Minnesota is receiving votes in both polls, while Iowa earned votes in the AP poll and Purdue did likewise in the coaches’ poll. Ten Big Ten schools have been ranked or receiving votes in the polls for at least one week this year.
- Nebraska became the sixth Big Ten school to reach the 20-win mark with its 59-51 victory at home over Penn State on Feb. 22. Rutgers needs one victory for No. 20 this year, which would give the Big Ten at least seven 20-win programs for the fifth consecutive season, highlighted by a record-setting nine 20-win teams last year.
The Big Ten has two of the nation’s most improved programs this season, with both Nebraska and Rutgers owning 13 more wins than last year. The Big Ten record for the most improvement from one season to the next (combining the difference in wins and losses, dividing by two) is +14.5 by Iowa in 1995-96 (11-17 to 27-4).
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