Things are looking good so far for the Ohio State women’s basketball team. They sit 4-0, have a marquee victory and rank No. 4 in the country. But what about the rest of the Big Ten? While the Buckeyes were facing some less challenging sides, teams across the conference played interesting matchups ending in victory, defeat and an injury to a big name.
It all started Monday, Nov. 14 when the then No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers traveled to Tennessee to face the No. 11 Volunteers.
Third Time’s a Charm for Vols
To steal a line from cinema classic Mean Girls, “why are you so obsessed with me?” That’s what the Big Ten was saying to the Tennessee Volunteers after the SEC side scheduled three of their first four games against Big Ten teams.
Monday, the Hoosiers picked up where the Buckeyes left off, hitting the Vols with the proverbial bus in a 79-67 victory. Indiana didn’t let Tennessee into the game, outscoring the Vols 22-14 in the first quarter with a completely different game plan than the Buckeyes. Indiana moved the ball around with precision, and eventually forced Tennessee to go into a press because the Hoosiers were shooting more effectively, and locking center Tamari Key out of the game.
Hoosiers center Mackenzie Holmes and the visiting defense held Key to 14 points but only three rebounds. The Vols were still without dynamic guard Jordan Horston, and it let Grace Berger do things even better than the usual Berger. Transferring to a facilitator role, from a shooting guard, Berger had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
The media asked Volunteers head coach Kellie Harper about their 1-2 start to the year, specifically how it impacts the team’s confidence.
“It does, it worries me a little bit, not just with confidence but morale a little bit,” said Harper. “At the same, to me, if you’ve got your back against the wall, you’ve got to come out swinging’ you’ve got to have some fight.”
Saturday, the Vols finally got their white whale, beating an eight-player Rutgers University 94-54. Since then though, in a rigorous three games in three days for Tennessee, they lost 80-63 to UCLA Sunday and 73-72 to Gonzaga on Monday. As a result, they suffered a 12-position drop in the latest AP Poll.
After a first week where then-ranked No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers beat two smaller schools, all eyes went to their second week. Monday is started with a ranked matchup against the No. 20 Creighton Bluejays.
Last season, the Cornhuskers beat the Bluejays early in the season 62-67, but it was a vastly different Bluejays in 2022. Following an NCAA Tournament run where they knocked the Iowa Hawkeyes out — on Iowa’s home court — and Sweet Sixteen victory against the Iowa State Cyclones, Creighton was battle tested for the next chance to beat another Big Ten side.
Creighton beat the Huskers 77-51, a 26-point trouncing of a Nebraska team that surprised the conference last season. It didn’t get any easier for Big Red in their second game of the week in Des Moines, Iowa against Drake University.
This is the second week in a row that the Drake Bulldogs have featured in the Land-Grant Holy Land Big Ten recap, when they took Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes into overtime before eventually falling. Drake kicked Nebraska when they were down, winning 80-62. Nebraska had spurts where they fought back, cutting a 12-point deficit into a tied 24-24 game in the second quarter, but Drake fought even harder. In the final three minutes of the first half, Drake pushed the lead back to 12 and held through the second half.
A bright spot was 2021-22 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, center Alexis Markowski. The center led everyone on the court with 21 points. Unfortunately for the Huskers, nobody else on their team hit double-digit scoring.
Maryland is Back
More specifically, guard Diamond Miller is back. After their 81-56 defeat to the consensus preseason No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks, Maryland got Miller back and she’s gone on a tear. Against Fordham, Miller recorded a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds. Then it was Davidson to the tune of 19 points, six assists and four rebounds. It all culminated with the other marquee match-up of the second week of the NCAA season — traveling to then-No. 17 Baylor Bears.
Miller was fantastic for the Terrapins’ first ranked win of the season. In the middle two quarters, Miller scored 24 of her court-leading 32 points. The most impressive coming right before the halftime buzzer, when Miller made a move with superb ball-handling and hit a three, one of her two on the night.
It’s going to be hard to beat a team with an on-point Miller, and she’s been that since returning from injury. If she can stay healthy, the Big Ten Week 2 Player of the Week can make Maryland and interesting team in Big Ten play, challenging for the title after last year went south.
The Big Ten lost a team, and lost it in a big way. Nebraska dropped out of the top-25 completely after their dual defeat week. On a positive note, the Buckeyes, Hoosiers and Terrapins each moved up multiple spots.
Impacting Iowa’s drop was an 84-83 upset defeat to the Kansas State Wildcats. More on that at the end of this week’s review.
Games to Watch (non-OSU)
Thursday, Nov. 24
- Wisconsin Badgers at Georgia Bulldogs - 1:00 p.m. ET
- No. 5 Iowa State Cyclones at Michigan State Spartans - 7:30 p.m. ET
Friday, Nov. 25
- Florida State Seminoles at Purdue Boilermakers - 1:30 p.m. ET
- No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes at Oregon State Beavers - 8:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, Nov. 26
- Minnesota Golden Gophers at Virginia Cavaliers - 2:00 p.m. ET
- Nebraska Cornhuskers at Mississippi State - 2:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Nov. 27
- No. 14 Maryland Terrapins at Pitt Panthers - 11:30 a.m. ET
A final note to share is about Iowa’s Clark. In an upset loss to Kansas State, Clark injured her ankle on the final play. More would usually be made about this injury that was labeled “day-to-day,” but Clark returned three days later to score 33 in a victory over Belmont University. She seems to be ok.