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Saturday, July 20, 2019

This Week in the Big Ten: Top Four Separate from Rest of Pack as Season Enters Final Stretch

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Photo Caption: Can Carmen Reynolds and company catapult the Wolverines into the Big Ten’s top tier? Michigan started the conference season well, even pulling off the upset over Ohio State, but is on a downward slide right now, having lost three of its last four games. Another loss, at No. 16/18 Nebraska Thursday, would likely take the Wolverines out of the mix this season.

Photo Credit: Courtesy UM Photo Services/Scott R. Galvin

By Mark Bradford

Heading into the home stretch there appears to be separation forming between the top four teams (Purdue, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Penn State) and the rest of the conference.

Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan are tightly packed at the next three spots, but have been just inconsistent enough to leave the impression that each is still looking at at least one, and most likely two, losses in its future.

The fun teams to watch have turned out to be Wisconsin and Minnesota, both of whom have put scares into first-tier teams before going on to lose at the last minute.

Bringing up the rear, Illinois started out the year as the hard-luck team in the conference. Still, the Illini, though also suffering from inconsistency, have been performing better of late, playing the spoiler to at least two teams who will remember not to underestimate them next time around.

Summing Up the Weekend’s Results

Games of Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012

  • Michigan State 65 @ Michigan 63
  • Illinois 66 @ No. 15/17 Purdue 77
  • Indiana 64 @ Iowa 83
  • No. 19/21 Penn State 68 @ Minnesota 65

Games of Monday, Feb. 6, 2012

  • Wisconsin 58 @ No. 11 Ohio State 72

A Look Back at the Weekend Action

Games of Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012

  • Michigan State 65 @ Michigan 63

    Porsche Poole (23 points) continued her excellent play, this time winning an away game with a jump shot with four seconds remaining to get her team an important win. Lykendra Johnson 16 points and added 11 rebounds. The Spartans outrebounded the Wolverines 33-25. Courtney Boylan scored 22 for Michigan. The game really put a hurt on the Wolverines chance to break away from the middle of the conference standings. Saddled with five losses the Wolverines first-round bye fate is in the hands of others, including Michigan State, a team hoping to see one of the front-runners falter.

  • Illinois 66 @ No. 15/17 Purdue 77

    Purdue recovered the best way it knows how, by using its defense Sam Ostarello recorded her third double-double of the season with a career high with 21 points and a season-high tying 13 rebounds. Courtney Moses (21 points) set a career high with five steals and Chelsea Jones tied her career high with five blocks. Moses went 10-of-10 from the free throw line and has hit 31 consecutive free throws. Adrienne Godbold scored 25 points for Illinois and gathered eight rebounds for Illinois. Karisma Penn continued her scoring slump, scoring only 6 points in 14 minutes of play while saddled with foul trouble.

  • Indiana 64 @ Iowa 83

    Melissa Dixon came off her injury the same day that Jaime Printy was lost and scored 19 points.Iowa was able to shoot well. “We shot a good percentage from everywhere tonight,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I think we took a lot of quick shots in thei frist half and then worked the ball better in the second half. We got the ball inside better in the second half. We only had eight turnovers today. Melissa stepped into that role nicely.  For her to come out and shoot that ball is amazing.  She is fearless. It has been emotionally draining for us without Jaime.” The Hawkeyes shot 50.7 percent (34-of-67) from the field—70 percent (21-of-30) in the second half—and 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from long range. Iowa had 18 assists in the game and a season-low eight turnovers. Defensively, the Hawkeyes forced 20 IU miscues, which led to a 28-4 advantage in points off of turnovers.

  • No. 19/21 Penn State 68 @ Minnesota 65

    A 3-pointer by Alex Bentley (16 points) with 38 seconds remaining put the Lady Lions on top, two free throws by Mia Nickson (20 points, nine rebounds)set the margin at three with 21 seconds remaining and Penn State escaped with the win when Minnesota’s 3-pointer by freshman Rachel Bonham (team leading 14 points) went awry. Kiara Buford had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota.. Minnesota outrebounded PSU 42-33. The difference was in the 3-point shooting where Minnesota was only 1-7 while PSU was 5-14. The win kept PSU in step with Purdue at the top and basically relegated Minnesota to the second division.

Games of Monday, Feb. 6, 2012

  • Wisconsin 58 @ No. 11 Ohio State 72

    After coach Jim Foster complained about his team not being ready to play against Minnesota, they showed up at home against the badgers, Ohio State got off to an 8-0 start, led by six quick ones by Samantha Prahalis. She scored 18 points of her xx points in the first half (7-9 from the field) while Ashley Adams had four blocks By the intermission. At the end of the game, OSU has 12 blocks, five by Adams who also had 10 rebounds. The key was at the free throw line where OSU was 12-17 and Wisconsin was 0-1. Wisconsin committed 22 turnovers to OSU’s 16.

Current Standings

As of Feb. 7, 2012
Standing Team Conference Pct.   Overall Pct.
2. Purdue 9-2 .818   19-5 .792
3. Ohio State 8-2 .800   21-2 .913
1. Nebraska 8-2 .800   19-3 .864
4. Penn State 8-3 .727   18-5 .783
6. Michigan State 6-4 .600   14-9 .609
5. Michigan 6-5 .545   17-7 .708
7. Iowa 6-5 .545   14-10 .583
8. Minnesota 4-7 .364   12-13 .480
9. Wisconsin 4-7 .364   8-15 .348
10. Northwestern 3-7 .300   13-10 .565
11. Illinois 2-9 .182   8-16 .333
12. Indiana 0-11 .000   5-19 .208


Source: BigTen.org/Women’s Basketball Standings


Coming Up Thursday

Editor’s Note: Full Court’s Big Ten correspondent Mark Bradford was 4-1 for his predictions of last weekend’s games, bringing his record for the season to almost 72 percent (46-18). Let’s take a look at his predictions for this Thursday’s games.




Michigan State has a lot at stake in this game. The Spartans snapped a four-game losing streak with a big win over Penn State a week ago, and took another big step forward on Sunday when they pulled out a 65-63 win in the final seconds of their face-off with in-state rival Michigan. That turnaround puts the Spartans in position to snatch a first-round Big Ten Tournament bye—if they can keep their momentum going.

Meanwhile, Northwestern, whose record pretty much already guarantees them an opening day play-in game at the Big Ten tournament, has little to win—or to lose—at this point in the season. The Wildcats will no doubt be better next season, but this is not next season.

Despite the disparity in their records, these two teams look a lot alike, at least on paper. Michigan State averages 66.2 points per game and gives up 59.5. Northwestern scores 65.5 and allows 66.6. Neither team is having the type of season they were hoping for as both lost huge contributors from last season and just have not been able to put a consistent effort together.

Prediction: Michigan State won the first meeting of the season between the two teams, but it was a close one, 60-65. The Spartans have won 18 of their last 19 contests with the Wildcats, including the last 10 in a row. Let’s call it, Michigan State by 10.

When: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, 6:00 p.m. EST, Breslin Center, East Lansing, Mich. (BTN)

No. 19/21 PENN STATE

Wisconsin fell apart at Ohio State on Monday night by leaving their defense at home. They will need to bring it with them Thursday, as they face the second-leading scoring team in the Big Ten.

The Lady Lions, who squeaked out a win in a tough game at Minnesota last weekend, absolutely need a win to stay at the front of the pack along with Purdue, Ohio State, and Nebraska. Penn State averages 75 points per game while Wisconsin averages 60. The Lady Lions blasted the Badgers, 82-49, when they first met this season in Madison in early January.

The Badgers are an improving team but they are still not close enough in talent and chemistry to keep pace with the Lady Lions who offer an inside-outside game and a three-headed scoring machine in Maggie Lucas (19.6 ppg) and Alex Bentley (14.5 points and 5.2 assists per game), not to mention Nikki Greene’s 8.0 rebounds per game.

Prediction: Penn State by 10.

When: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, 7:00 p.m. EST, Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa. (BTN.com)


Jim Foster believes in momentum but he also knows that momentum is a combination of hard work and belief. His two leading scorers, Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill, average 42 points between them. But after that there is a huge drop off, both in scoring and in overall athleticism. His squad has enough talent to win the Big Ten, but they are clearly not the dominant force of yesteryear. The Buckeyes lack an inside presence, and at the highest level, opposing teams are quick enough to guard OSU’s two scorers.

Illinois got off to a dreadful start in Big Ten Conference play. The Illini finally notched their first conference win in late January, and since then have picked up another. They have bested two solid conference teams in Michigan State and Minnesota, and have given the some of the Big Ten’s elite a run for their money. They have seen better scoring of late from Adrienne GodBold, who averaged 8.5 points per game in the preconference portion of the schedule, but has raised her production to double digits (10.8 ppg) since conference play began. And that’s GodBold’s average; in Illinois’s two most recent outings, at home against Minnesota and on the road at Purdue, GodBold put up 18 and 25 points, respectively.

Illinois may yet have time to get its leading scorer Karisma Penn back in the scoring mold before the Big Ten tournament. Penn averages 13.8 points per game, but suffered a bit of a slump in the Illini’s last four games.

When Illinois faced Ohio State in their first meeting of the season in Columbus, Penn had one of her best games, putting up 23 points, hauling down six boards, and handing out four assists, to pace four Illini players in double figures. But it was not enough then, and is not likely to be enough come Thursday.

Prediction: Ohio State by 10.

When: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. CST, Assembly Hall, Champaign, Ill.


The loss of Jaime Printy, the team’s leading scorer at 16.9 points per game, to a season-ending knee injury leaves a big question mark hovering over Iowa’s postseason hopes. The Hawkeyes managed to overcome Printy’s absence against an Indiana squad still in search of its first conference win. But Minnesota has been playing well, beating Ohio State and then taking Penn State down to the wire.

How freshman reserve Melissa Dixon does in her second game back for the Hawkeyes after injuring her knee against Ohio State will go a long way toward how her team does. Dixon, who began her collegiate career as a walk-on, moved into the starting line-up replacing Printy against Indiana on Sunday. Dixon posted 19 points (second only to Kamille Wahlin’s game-high 22 for the Hawkeyes) and snatched three steals in her impressive debut as a starter.

Freshman sensation Rachel Banham’s 15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 44-percent shooting from beyond the arc have resurrected belief for the Minnesota faithful. Banham and senior guard Kiara Buford, who averages 13.8 points per game, have been getting help from junior forward Katie Loberg (10 ppg and 6.8 reb), giving the Gophers are more balanced offense than they have had in years.

Prediction: Iowa holds the better record, but the Hawkeyes were erratic even before Printy’s loss. It’s hard to see them getting past the new and much improved edition of the Golden Gophers, even at home. Minnesota by five.

When: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. CST, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa (BTN.com)


No. 16/18 NEBRASKA


The best game of the midweek features Michigan at Nebraska. Expect the Huskers to put Michigan out of the league’s top four for good, spelling the end of the Wolverines’ hopes for a first-round Big Ten Tournament bye.

Nebraska’s Big Three—Jordan Hooper (20 points and 9.4 rebounds per game), Lindsey Moore (16.5 points and five assists per game), and Emily Cady (10.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game)—would love nothing better than to claim the Big Ten title in Nebraska’s first year in the league, and a win over Michigan would be a big step in that direction.

Michigan has eight players who average over 14 minutes a game, led in scoring by Rachel Sheffer and Courtney Boylan, both of whom average about 13 points per game.

Nebraska has knocked off Purdue; Michigan has defeated Ohio State. In this case, home-court matters and it belongs to the Huskers.

Prediction: Nebraska by five.

When: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, 8:05 p.m. EST/7:05 p.m. CST, Devaney Center, Lincoln, Neb. (BTN.com, Husker Sports Network)

Originally published Mon, February 06, 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
10 483
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.