The Big Ten conference saw all but one team hit double-digit games played in the 2022/23 campaign. While it’s still too early to tell how the conference competition is going to shake out, there was action worth noting. Conference games stayed close, like the Indiana Hoosiers winning close games against the Illinois Fighting Illini and Penn State Nittany Lions, but the final non-conference games of the regular season took the spotlight.
Here are the wins, a big loss, and all the corn you can handle, in the latest Big Ten WBB Weekly Update.
Iowa Wins Corn Cy-Hawk Series Event
Sure, everyone knows about The Game between Ohio State and Michigan and Texas vs. Oklahoma and the Red River Showdown grabs the collective attention. There’s a rivalry that goes deeper than all of those and it's corn that’s the motivating factor.
Between Iowa and Iowa State, every competition is a battle for Corn Cy-Hawk Series supremacy. On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the then No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes welcomed then No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones to Iowa City for the next installment of the fall athletics series.
With Iowa guard Caitlin Clark on one side and Iowa State guard/forward Ashley Joens on the other, it was a midweek heavyweight fight in NCAA women’s basketball.
The Hawkeyes got the better of the Cyclones, and they achieved the 70-57 win with defense, of all things. Iowa held Iowa State to only eight points in the third quarter, on 33.3% shooting.
In the first half, Clark primarily played facilitator — only scoring six points, but adding four assists and five rebounds.
Making the difference were bigs for the Hawkeyes: Monika Czinano and Addison O’Grady. Going up against 6-foot-6 center Stephanie Soares, the two Iowa players in the paint held Soares to five fewer points than her season average, scoring 11 points in the game.
While Clark ended the day leading Iowa with 19 points, Czinano’s consistent stellar play net the Hawkeyes 18 points and 10 rebounds in her second double-double of the season.
That’s all well and good on the basketball side, but after a swimming and diving win by the Cyclones on Dec. 9, Iowa State leads the Cy-Hawk series 11-6, with four remaining events netting the winning university two points per win. Iowa State’s going for their second back-to-back championship.
There’s a lot of corn on the line, folks.
Maryland Defeats UConn(ish)
Another big victory for the conference, in non-conference play, was a Sunday win for Diamond Miller and the Maryland Terrapins. It’s no easy task beating the UConn Huskies, but Sunday’s match-up left out a lot of the flair of the game with many UConn players injured.
Guard Paige Bueckers, who’s out all season with a knee injury. Also, the star leading the Huskies’ offensive power this year, guard Azzi Fudd, was also out after sustaining an injury. In addition, starting forward Dorka Juhasz, the Ohio State 2021 transfer, was out with a broken thumb.
Overall, UConn had seven healthy players, doing their own Rutgers impersonation.
Miller had the highlight three to ice the game in the fourth, but it was Abby Myers and Shyanne Sellers who led the way for Maryland. The two combined for 39 of the Terrapins' 85 points and added a combined 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Maryland’s win came three days after edging the Purdue Boilermakers 77-74, in an away game in Indiana. Beating a ranked team and a tough in-conference opponent It’s a strong bounce back though, injuries or not, for the Terps after losing their first conference game 90-67 to the inconsistent 2022-23 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Battle of Toledo Goes to Rockets
The shock of the week came in Ann Arbor, Michigan when the Maize & Blue faced the MAC’s Toledo Rockets.
Entering the game 9-0, the Wolverines faced a Toledo team that’s no slouch. The Rockets were 6-2 coming into the game, with their only large loss of the season coming to the Duke Blue Devils, plus a narrow one-point defeat to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Even with a strong start to the year for Toledo, it’s a game Michigan’s expected to win.
Toledo came out of the gate, like a rocket, really. The Rockets scored 42 first-half points, keeping the home team to just 31 points. From there, Toledo played “hold onto the lead” basketball.
Proven ✅ but not done.— Toledo Women's Basketball (@ToledoWBB) December 9, 2022
Another big one against Dayton this Sunday in Savage Arena! pic.twitter.com/xdLoo1XYsY
They did just that until 2:22 left in the fourth, when the Wolverines tied the game and went ahead two points. After trading small leads, the Rockets did what the Buckeyes did against the Spartans and got to the line, hitting their shots.
The Rockets shocked the conference, beating the Wolverines 71-68. They did it wearing blue and yellow too. Savage.
Big Ten WBB Standings
The Big Ten is tied with the Pac-12, with each conference having five teams in the top 25 and two in the top 10.
3 - Ohio State (NC)
4 - Indiana Hoosiers (NC)
12 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+4)
15 - Maryland Terrapins (+5)
19 - Michigan Wolverines (-5)
Games to Watch (non-OSU)
It’s a slow week for games to watch, with most sides playing smaller, regional, non-conference opponents. Illinois vs. Missouri is the highlight of the week, but Northern Iowa University almost beat then No. 7 ranked Iowa State on Nov. 17, so another game against a big Iowa team has small upset potential.
Sunday, Dec. 18
- Northern Iowa Panthers at No. 12 Iowa Hawkeyes - 3:00 p.m. ET
- Illinois Fighting Illini at Missouri Tigers - 5:00 p.m. ET
Christmas Week Action
Catching up with the slow week of competitive games in week six will be rewarded in week seven. Going into the holidays, big games are on the horizon.
Ohio State heads to San Diego for the San Diego Invitational. They’ll face the USF Bulls and either the Oregon Ducks or Arkansas Razorbacks. Elsewhere, ranked games and match-ups featuring top conference sides line the week.
No. 19 Michigan State will face No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels, who have Big Ten revenge on their mind after the Hoosiers took care of them in the ACC/B1G Challenge. No. 4 Indiana takes on the Butler Bulldogs and the No. 22 Kansas Jayhawks face the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
There won’t be any games from Dec. 23 to 27, so enjoy what you can as an early gift to yourself.