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Big Ten Conference will be a tough battle until the end

So far this season, there is a lot of parity in each conference in women’s college basketball, including the Big Ten. As a result, many teams could compete for the Big Ten title.

Preseason top five rankings

  1. Maryland  
  2. Indiana
  3. Iowa
  4. Michigan
  5. Indiana

Current standings

  1. Michigan 10-1 2-0
  2. Indiana 8-2  2-0
  3. Maryland 9-3 2-0
  4. Nebraska 10-0 1-0
  5. Iowa 5-2  1-0
  6. Northwestern 7-3 1-0
  7. Ohio State 7-2 1-1

So far this season, No. 9 Maryland has gotten off to a good start at 9-2, with two conference wins. Angel Reese leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.5 points, and Ashley Owusu is putting up 17.3 points per outing. The other three starters are also averaging double figures. With this personnel and their great ball movement, they are hard to beat. 

Naz Hillmon. Carlos Osorio, AP photo.

No. 13 Michigan has the two-headed monster of Naz Hillmon and Leigha Brown. Hillmon averages 24.3 points per game, while Brown is scoring 17.9 per contest. Hillmon was 2021 Big Ten Player of Year and is well on her way toward winning the title again. She is also averaging 11.6 rebounds per game this year. Hillmon knows how to score and rebound the basketball, and between her and Brown, the Wolverines have a formidable one-two punch.

No. 10 Indiana returns all five of its starters, and they play outstanding defense. They have held Big Ten opponents to their lowest total field-goal percentages and lead the conference in defensive rebounding. With junior guard and All-Big Ten preseason team member Mackenzie Holmes at the helm, the Hoosiers have a shot at claiming the conference title. 

Dynamic No. 14 Iowa guard Caitlin Clark is back for her sophomore year, and she is averaging 26 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three-point land. Senior Monica Czinano is scoring 17 points per game, and is a force in the paint defensively. Clark can score from anywhere on the court, and knows how to get her teammates involved. With her at the point, the Hawkeyes are definitely in contention for the Big Ten title, but their role players will need to produce in order for them to claim the top spot.

Teams that could surprise

Nebraska is off to a 10-0 start and is 1-0 in conference. Transfer Jaz Shelley leads the way for the team with 15.2 points per game. Junior Sam Haiby is fresh off an All-Big Ten second team campaign and remains a reliable player for the Huskers to build around this season. But she is only averaging 9.8 points, and will need to play better for Nebraska to compete.

No. 24 Ohio State is off to a good start this season behind Jacy Sheldon’s 18.6 points per game. But the big addition to the team was in Oregon transfer Taylor Mikesell, who is averaging 16.3 points per game on 55 percent shooting from behind the arc. Yet, the Buckeyes, who are 7-2, must figure out a way to pull out wins within the conference to compete.

Caitlin Clark. Shivansh Ahuja photo.

The Big Ten, the first Power 5 conference to begin league play, is already fun to watch, as its ranks are filled with star-studded top 25 teams. Two of the best and most exciting players in the country are Hillmon and Clark, and both of their teams have legitimate chances to win the league title because of them. Along with Maryland and Indiana, the journey to the end will be filled with excitement.

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