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Sunday, June 16, 2019

This Week in the Big Ten: Things Do Not Go as Planned for Conference Front Runners

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Photo caption: Purdue will need all its weapons Sunday against Ohio State.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Purdue University

By Mark Bradford

When competition started Thursday, most observers assumed that by the night’s end, there would be a three-way tie at the top of the Big Ten Conference. But by the time it was over, only one team held the top spot—and that was Purdue, the team that did not play.

When competition started Thursday, most observers assumed that by the night’s end, there would be a three-way tie at the top of the Big Ten Conference. But by the time it was over, only one team held the top spot—and that was Purdue, the team that did not play.

To begin with, Illinois joined Minnesota as teams that have stunned the conference by beating Ohio State, thus reinforcing the coaching maxim that if you can cut the head off of the team, the body will die. In this case, that simply means if you can keep Samantha Prahalis from scoring, OSU is beatable. Coach Jolette Law’s team went one better: They also shut down Tayler Hill for the first half and by the time, the two stars got going, the fighting Illini had the confidence and enough of a lead to complete the job.

Most coaches would tell you that eventually Illinois was going to get someone. It was just a question of who.

At the same time, Nebraska started slowly against highly motivated Michigan team and never recovered.

So Purdue stands alone at the top, as the Boilermakers have nearly all season, and head for Columbus on Sunday for what should be an incredible game. OSU has not developed the support to their two stars and that will be their Achilles’ heel come tournament time. Purdue has an interchangeable group of players but will need to prove they can win the Big One—they lost their first Big One at home against Nebraska last week.

A loss to OSU Sunday might create a virtual four-way tie at the top … Parity is real and the race is on.

This round, I had two correct and three wrong, putting me at 48-21 for the season (just under 70 percent).

A Look Back at the Midweek Action: Games of Thursday, Feb. 10, 2012

Michigan State 72, Northwestern 58

The Wildcats stayed close for the first 16 minutes but the Spartans put on a late run to give themselves a 33-28 edge. They expanded it early in the second half and held on from there. Porsche Poole scored 20 and dished out seven assists while Lykendra Johnson contributed 12 points and eight rebounds. MSU limited Northwestern to 37.5 percent from the field and kept Dannielle Diamant to seven points on only five shots. The Wildcats were led by Kendall Hackney’s 16.

Penn State 69, Wisconsin 54

The Lady Lions withstood a tremendous game by Badger Anya Covington to stay one step behind the league leaders. Covington scored 20 and Taylor Wurtz 11 but the Badgers were held to 37.3 percent from the field and were outrebounded 38-33. Maggie Lucas scored 16, Alex Bentley 14, Ariel Edwards 14, and Mia Nickson 11 for the Lady Lions, who shot at a 48 percent rate.

Illinois 66, Ohio State 65

Upsets don’t get any bigger than this. Alexis Burke (15 points) hit a jumper with two seconds left to stun the 10th-ranked Buckeyes and perhaps pour a little confidence into an Illinois team that couldn’t buy a break the first three weeks of the Big Ten season. The Fighting Illini jumped out to an 18-10 lead in the first half as they shut down both Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill, forcing Ashley Adams to score 12 of her team’s points in a first half that ended with Illinois leading 34-29. Tayler Hill (18 points) led the Bucks back and Prahails added 17, most of them coming very late in the contest, though, and a big 17-6 run gave OSU a 50-44 lead with about 12 minutes to go. But Jolette Law’s team refused to die, and Burke’s jumper sent shockwaves through the conference. Adrienne Godbold led Illinois with 16 points.

Iowa 75, Minnesota 58

As sometimes happens, the loss of a key player (Iowa’s Jaime Printy out for the year with an ACL) appears to have consolidated the rest of the team, The Hawkeyes shut down Rachel Banham (20 points) early, but the name of this game was rebounding. Iowa won that battle 42-24 (Sam Logic 9, Kelli Krei 9, Morgan Johnson 8). The win kept Iowa’s name on the NCAA bubble heading into the stretch run of the regular season. “Good victory for us,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I thought we came out both halves really strong. We shot the ball well tonight. We did a good job on the boards. I was worried about the boards. The key to the victory was we had to do a good job on the boards.”

Michigan 63, Nebraska 52

This was the second biggest stunner of the evening, and another statement that the conference that bragged about its parity wasn’t kidding. Michigan, quite frankly, had to have this win. It keeps their name in the NCAA conversation, as a loss would have bubblized them. The Wolverines broke out quickly and when the Cornhuskers started the game throwing up bricks, the upset was formed. Michigan shot 57 percent in the first half and Nebraska stumbled to 13 percent, so the first half score was a lopsided 32-12 in favor of the visiting Wolverines. Jordan Hooper (14 points) and Lindsey Moore (23) were a combined 3-19 from the first in the first half. Michigan extended the lead to 41-17 at the 15:19 mark before Moore stopped the bleeding. Carmen Reynolds led Michigan with 16 points and Courtney Boylan added 14. Nebraska ended the game at 25 percent from the field and Michigan outrebounded the Huskers 42-24, a combination of statistics that pretty much spell defeat.

Current Standings

As of Feb. 10, 2012
Standing Team Conference Pct.   Overall Pct.
1. Purdue 9-2 .818   19-5 .792
2. Penn State 9-3 .750   19-5 .792
3. Ohio State 8-3 .727   21-3 .875
4. Nebraska 8-3 .727   19-4 .826
5. Michigan State 7-4 .636   15-9 .625
6. Michigan 7-5 .583   18-5 .720
7. Iowa 7-5 .583   15-10 .600
8. Minnesota 4-8 .333   12-14 .462
9. Wisconsin 4-8 .333   8-16 .333
10. Northwestern 3-8 .273   13-11 .542
11. Illinois 3-9 .250   9-16 .360
12. Indiana 0-11 .000   5-19 .208


Source: BigTen.org/Women’s Basketball Standings


Coming Up This Weekend

Editor’s Note: Full Court’s  On a midweek game day filled with upsets and surprises, Big Ten correspondent Mark Bradford went 2-3 and is now 48-21 for season (70 percent).


Penn State needs this win to keep its hopes alive for the regular season championship. The Lions average 10 points more per game on offense (75-65) and allow seven fewer on defense (60-67) against better quality opponents. PSU averages five more rebounds a game and Northwestern averages three more turnovers a contest. So, all the statistics point to Penn State as a winner. Oh yeah, Penn State has one of the best inside-outside combinations in the league in Maggie Lucas (19.6 ppg).

Prediction:Penn State by 10.

When:Sunday, Feb. 12, 2 p.m. EST, Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Ill. (BTN)



Coach Jolette Law’s team needs this win to show they have made progress this season. Indiana is clearly the bottom feeder but this is a chance for the Hoosiers to score a rare Big Ten win. Indiana is in last place in just about everything positive, including the standings. The Hoosiers are last in points scored, last in points allowed, last in scoring margin, last in number of three-pointers per game, last ... well you get the idea. Oddly enough, though, they are first in offensive rebounds (maybe because they miss so many shots). Illinois has been trying to spread out the offense more from Karisma Penn (13.8 ppg and 7.5 rpg), and Kersten Magrum (12.8 ppg and 5.9 rpg) has stepped up. Both teams have trouble with turnovers (both are at 19 a game). Indiana has the home court going but their average attendance is under 1800 in gigantic Assembly Hall.

Prediction: Illinois by 5.

When: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, 2:00 p.m. EST, Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind. (BTN.com)




Two up-and-down teams meet in Iowa. Both are most likely going to be mired in the middle of the conference, but only Iowa has suffered the loss of its team leader. When Jaime Printy went down last week, it could have been a death blow for an already inconsistent club but her replacement, Melissa Dixon, had a spectacular first game (19 points in 28 minutes in an 83-64 win over Indiana). Iowa averages 71 ppg while MSU averages 67 but MSU is third in the league in defense, allowing only 59.5 ppg while Iowa allows 65.5. MSU is the better team on a neutral court, but I think homecourt is the key.

Prediction: Iowa by two.

When: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa (BTN) 

No. 16/19 PURDUE


The battle for the Big Ten lead will come down to whether a team of good players can defeat a team with two superstars. The Buckeyes lead the league in scoring average with a 77 ppg but Purdue leads the league in fewest points allowed at 56. OSU’s Samantha Prahalis (19.8 ppg, and 7.6 apg) is the conference’s most dynamic player and can take over a game at any time. Tayler Hill will has been in Prahalis’ shadow but is the league’s leading scorer at 21.5 ppg. The Boilers appeared unbeatable until Iowa and Nebraska came along and knocked them off. If a team can keep Brittany Rayburn under control (as both these teams did), Purdue struggles. Ironically this game may come down to the play in the paint, where Pudue’s Sam Ostarello and Alex Guyton will have to do something to stop Ashley Adams.

Prediction: Homecourt advantage sends this Ohio State’s way.

When: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST/2:00 CST, Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio, (ESPN2)

No. 13/15 NEBRASKA

The Cornhuskers better watch out for this one. Minnesota is not a bad team, especially with freshman guard Rachel Banham (15.8 ppg and 5.5 rebounds and leading the league with 43.8 percent in 3-pointers.) Katie Loberg is Minnesota’s inside threat with 10 ppg and 6.8 rebounds. Nebraska averages 75 ppg while Minnesota kicks in 66. They both allow about 61 ppg. Husker Jordan Hooper is in the running for Big Ten Player of the year, averaging almost a double-double with 20 ppg and 9.4 rebounds. I am going with an upset here.

Prediction:Minnesota by 5.

When: Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, 7:30 p.m. EST, Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minn., (BTN) 

Originally published Fri, February 10, 2012

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
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11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.