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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 12/5/2023, Last updated: 3/15/2024
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Big Ten Weekly Women's Basketball Central - Dec. 5-11

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  • The Big Ten is coming off one of its most successful weeks of play after going 21-3 (.875) during Week 4 of the 2023-24 season. Conference schools were perfect during three of the five days they played last week.

  • Early December ushers in a mix of non-conference and conference games to the Big Ten schedule. All 14 Big Ten programs will open their conference slate this weekend, while eight schools will face non-conference opponents on Tuesday and Wednesday, including Michigan at Toledo (5 p.m. ET Wednesday on CBSSN) and No. 4/3 Iowa at Iowa State (7 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN2).

  • The Big Ten Network will feature three conference matchups this weekend, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday. Nebraska visits Michigan State at 2 p.m. ET, followed by Rutgers hosting No. 16/15 Indiana at 4 p.m. ET. No. 4/3 Iowa hits the road to take on Wisconsin at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

  • The first Top 25 showdown between Big Ten programs is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET when No. 25/RV Penn State challenges No. 12/11 Ohio State.

  • The NCAA issued its initial NET rankings of the 2023-24 season this week and the Big Ten has three teams in the top 20 and an impressive 10 schools among the top 50 – No. 6 Iowa, No. 7 Michigan State, No. 15 Ohio State, No. 25 Michigan, No. 26 Illinois, No. 28 Indiana, No. 33 Penn State, No. 37 Nebraska, No. 42 Minnesota and No. 43 Maryland. The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) is the primary sorting tool used by the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee for determining NCAA Tournament teams.

  • The Big Ten is back up to four teams in this week’s Associated Press (AP) Top 25 poll. In the latest media survey, Iowa remains at No. 4, with Ohio State (12th) and Indiana (16th) both moving up. Penn State is making its debut in the poll at No. 25 as Michigan State receives votes. This is the first time the Nittany Lions have been ranked in the AP poll since the final rankings of the 2013-14 season (14th).

  • Similarly, the Big Ten has four programs in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, all having moved up in the rankings. Iowa checks in at No. 3, Ohio State is 11th, Indiana climbed to No. 15 and Michigan sits 25th. Maryland and Penn State are both receiving votes.

  • Ohio State’s Cotie McMahon was named one of five Ann Meyers Drysdale National Players of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) on Tuesday. She scored 19 points and went a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the Buckeyes’ 78-58 victory over Tennessee.

  • As of Tuesday, the Big Ten features some of the best shooting teams in the country with six teams among the top 25, including three in the top five, in field goal percentage, according to the latest NCAA statistical report. Iowa paces the conference (2nd – .527), followed by Michigan State (3rd – .523), Illinois (5th - .517), Penn State (11th - .499), Indiana (18th - .488) and Ohio State (24th - .480). Michigan State (.435) and Penn State (.408) are also proficient from beyond the arc, ranking third and seventh, respectively, in three-point percentage.  

  • Big Ten teams have been passing the rock quite well this season as five programs rank in the top 30 in the country in assists, led by Michigan State (3rd – 22.9), Iowa (10th – 20.7), Indiana (13th – 20.4), Northwestern (21st – 18.6) and Penn State (26th – 18.1). A pair of Big Ten players rank among the top 10 nationally in assists – Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (3rd – 7.9 apg) and Northwestern’s Caroline Lau (8th – 7.1 apg).

  • Individually, Caitlin Clark (IOWA) leads the country in points (261) and points per game (29.0) while coming in second in assists (71). Serah Williams (WIS) and Julia Ayrault (MSU) are sixth (3.12) and seventh (3.00), respectively, in blocks per game. DeeDee Hagemann (MSU) is shooting 55.2 percent from beyond the arc to rank fifth in three-point percentage.

  • The Big Ten has consistently ranked among the top three conferences in women’s basketball attendance for the past three decades and that trend appears to be continuing this season. Currently, 11 Big Ten schools rank among the top 50 in the nation in average attendance, including seven in the top 25, with both figures leading all Division I conferences. Iowa is second nationally in attendance (14,998 fans per game), followed by Indiana (6th - 8,543), Maryland (12th – 5,737), Nebraska (15th – 5,212), Ohio State (18th – 5,050), Illinois (20th - 4,987) and Purdue (24th – 4,803).

  • No. 16/13 Ohio State secured a landmark non-conference victory on Sunday with a 78-58 win at No. 20/22 Tennessee. It was just the second time in Tennessee’s history that the Lady Vols have lost in Thompson-Boling Arena by at least 20 points. Ohio State is only the second Big Ten Conference program to defeat Tennessee in Knoxville, joining Indiana. It was the first time in conference history that the Big Ten has posted multiple wins over Tennessee in back-to-back years – Ohio State and Indiana both claimed victories over the Lady Vols during the 2022-23 season – and has won five of its last six matchups with Tennessee.

  • Michigan connected on 14 three-pointers during its 103-59 win over SIUE, tying its school record.

  • Illinois outrebounded Central Connecticut State, 48-21, in an 89-50 victory. The +27 rebounding margin is the highest since the 2018 season.

  • Maryland’s Brinae Alexander knocked down a school-record 11 consecutive field goals on her way to a career-high 29 points against Niagara. Maryland’s 114-44 win was the largest margin of victory (70) in four years.

  • Mara Braun is the third player in Minnesota history to play 50 minutes in a game and the first to commit zero turnovers while doing so in a 94-88 comeback win over Drake. She also made history after making her 34th consecutive free throw in the victory to set a new program record. She has started the season 27-for-27 from the charity stripe with her streak dating back to last year. Braun is one of five players in the country who hasn't missed a free throw this season with her ongoing streak being eighth in Big Ten history and the longest streak in the conference since 2018. 

  • Nebraska dropped 58 second-half points on Georgia Tech, which tied for the 10th most in a second half in school history.

  • Rebeka Mikulášiková became the 37th player in Ohio State history to score 1,000 career points after finishing with a season-high 18 points at Tennessee.

  • Offensive production continues to be the story for the Big Ten Conference as nine different schools (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State) have scored 100 points in at least one game this season. Six Big Ten teams are averaging more than 80 points per game and four of the national top 20 scoring offenses reside in the Big Ten, led by Michigan State (3rd – 93.9), Iowa (7th – 91.2), Penn State (15th – 83.9) and Ohio State (16th – 83.6).

  • No. 21/19 Indiana secured an impressive non-conference 71-57 victory over No. 19/21 Tennessee on Nov. 23. It was the second time in as many years that the Hoosiers have bested the Lady Vols and the largest margin of victory (14) in the four-game all-time series. Last year’s Hoosier win was the first time a Big Ten Conference school defeated Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena. The matchup scored 1,118,000 viewers to rank as FOX’s most-watched women’s college basketball game ever and the most watched regular season women’s college basketball game on any network since last season’s 1,466,000 viewers for LSU vs. South Carolina on ESPN.