Week four of the NCAA season was full of beginnings and endings in the Big Ten. Celebrating the final ACC/Big Ten Challenge, going away due to television deals and ESPN opting for an ACC/SEC challenge to keep things in-house, and the beginning of another conference season.
Here are some non-Buckeye happenings around the conference.
So Long ACC/Big Ten Challenge
On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the Big Ten met the ACC for the last time, at least in a formal, organized, format. Teams can still play each other, and the challenge wasn’t the first time teams from the two conferences met in the 2022-23 season. Even so, an in-season competition like the challenge will be missed, maybe more for the ACC than the Big Ten.
The ACC continued its winning ways, adding an 11th challenge win out of 15 seasons. That doesn’t mean the Big Ten wasn’t successful. Of the four ranked vs. ranked match-ups, the Big Ten took away three wins, and two by double-digits. The third was the most exciting of the competition.
(Rankings as of competition date)
No. 20 Maryland 74 - No. 7 Notre Dame 72
In South Bend, Indiana, the Maryland Terrapins met an undefeated Notre Dame side. The Fighting Irish were also 7-1 in the challenge entering the Dec. 1 game. That didn’t matter to star guard Diamond Miller.
After 39:45, the score was 72-72, with Maryland holding the last possession. The Terps inbounded in their offensive half, quickly getting the ball to Miller. She received a screen, and Notre Dame kept man coverage. After a second screen, Miller shot a midrange jumper, outside of the free-throw line. The rest, as they say, is history.
All the angles and reaction shots of The Miller Money Shot #FTT x #LegUSy pic.twitter.com/JZ7gg8hT8A— Maryland Women’s Basketball (@TerpsWBB) December 2, 2022
The week didn’t end great for Maryland, but the buzzer-beater capped off a Miller performance of 31 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists; Diamond’s dominance on full display.
No. 6 North Carolina 63 - No. 5 Indiana 87
A few hours south of South Bend was another ranked game, that looked like the match-up of the challenge. It ended up not being much of a challenge at all for the Indiana Hoosiers.
Missing guard Grace Berger, who was out with an injury, the Hoosiers went down 7-0 quickly, and it seemed like maybe the Tar Heels could take advantage and confirm their higher spot in the polls with a key away win.
Instead, the Hoosiers answered back, going 27-14 for the remainder of the first quarter, stretching a 13-point run into the second quarter. Indiana never let UNC back into the game, outscoring the No. 5 team in the country in all four quarters.
Starting in Berger’s place was guard Sydney Parrish. The Oregon Ducks transfer went off, hitting her season-high in her second straight start, scoring 24 points with six rebounds. Parrish had help too in center Mackenzie Holmes.
The center had 25 points and five assists, for her fourth game in a row with at least 20 points. Holmes helped Indiana outscore UNC in the paint 36-26.
No. 12 NC State 94 - No. 10 Iowa 81
The final ranked v. ranked game saw the Wolfpack travel to Iowa City, Iowa. Guard Caitlin Clark, who won B1G Player of the Week following Week 4, scored an NCAA season-high 45 points. It was another dynamic performance by a consistently dynamic player, but Iowa couldn’t turn that performance into a win.
NC State’s game plan was to limit those around Clark. Only one other Hawkeye hit double-digit scoring and center Monika Czinano scored a season-low five points. Clark took 47% of Iowa’s shots, 28-of-59. The rest of the team shot 11-for-31, a 35.5% average.
After a rough first quarter offensively for the visitors, scoring just 13 points on 37% shooting, the Wolfpack stormed back and Iowa didn’t have an answer.
Iowa’s defeat is their second against ranked opponents this season and third overall. The Hawkeyes took their aggression out on Wisconsin in Big Ten play, winning 102-71.
Purdue, Illinois, and No. 17 Michigan also won their games, ending the challenge 8-6 in the ACC’s favor.
Gophers and Nittany Lions Play Free Basketball
In last week’s Land-Grant Holy Land Big Ten women’s basketball power rankings, both the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Penn State Nittany Lions were sides that have played interesting seasons. Penn State came back against Syracuse for their largest comeback win in program history and the Gophers lost players in transfers but boast two standout freshmen on their roster.
Friday night, two teams who could surprise the conference played to not one but two overtime periods in an exciting back-and-forth game.
With 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions had an eight-point lead in Minnesota. The way the Gophers comeback was unconventional, cutting down the lead with perfect free throw shooting.
Minnesota went 13-for-13 from the charity stripe in the final quarter of regulation. Of those 13, five came from freshman guard Mara Braun in the final 1:18 of the game. Not phased by the pressure, Braun tied the game at 74 a piece hitting three free throws on a foul earned beyond the arc.
Penn State had their chances, even scoring the final in-play basket with guard Leilani Kapinus running the floor and hitting a layup with two seconds remaining. The apparent game-winner was nullified though on the final break of the fourth quarter,
Within two seconds, Minnesota inbounded the ball and an errant knee by guard Taniyah Thompson caught guard Katie Borowicz, sending her to the ground. In the bonus, Borowicz hit her two free throws to send it to overtime.
Even with Penn State freshman Shay Ciezki hitting a big layup at the end of the first overtime, the Lions couldn’t pull out the away victory. The Gophers went 10-for-12 on free throws in two overtime periods, compared to 1-for-6 from the line for the Nittany Lions. That was the difference in the 98-96 Minnesota win.
Speaking of Braun, the freshman picked up B1G Freshman of the Week again for her performance, leading Minnesota with 26 points.
Nebraska Bounces Back Big
The Nebraska Cornhuskers were having a difficult season until Sunday afternoon. In their ACC/B1G Challenge game, the Virginia Tech Hokies won by 31 points in a big 85-54 defeat for Nebraska. Compare that to Maryland’s last-second win against the Irish and Nebraska’s first conference game of the season was looking grim. Fortunately for Big Red, that doesn’t matter after the jump ball.
Maryland lost by 23 points to a Nebraska team showing an incredible ability to bounce back after their worst loss of the early season. Also, they got the Terps’ Miller into foul trouble early.
Miller didn’t play the entire second quarter after picking up two early fouls in the first quarter. Even so, Maryland still went into halftime up five points, with Miller entering the game again in the third quarter, ending the day with 13 points.
The second half belonged to Nebraska guard Jaz Shelley. The Australian scored 18 of her 29 points in the second half on her way to the highest point total for any player on the day, adding five assists.
Sophomore guard Allison Weidner also kept up her rebounding game, hitting a personal high with 15 rebounds, 12 on the defensive boards. Even outrebounding center Alexis Markowski, who leads Nebraska in that department, grabbing five rebounds.
Nebraska’s win was their first against the Terrapins in program history. A potential momentum-shifting win for a Cornhuskers’ side that’s so far not met their expectations of starting the season ranked No. 22.
Big Ten WBB Standings
The same five sides stayed within the AP Top 25 this week, with three teams making moves in the right direction.
3 - Ohio State (+1)
4 - Indiana Hoosiers (+2)
14 - Michigan Wolverines (+3)
16 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-6)
20 - Maryland Terrapins (NC)
Games to Watch (non-OSU)
Wednesday, Dec. 7
- No 10. Iowa State Cyclones at No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes - 7:00 p.m. ET
- Kentucky Wildcats at Minnesota Golden Gophers - 8:00 p.m. ET
Thursday, Dec. 8
- No. 20 Maryland Terrapins at Purdue Boilermakers - 6:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Dec. 11
- No. 3 UConn Huskies at No. 20 Maryland Terrapins - 3:00 p.m. ET
Team Say No to Las Vegas Invitational
In positive news off the court, the Fyre Frestival-esque Las Vegas Invitational which found the Indiana Hoosiers playing in a near-empty ballroom in The Mirage hotel, lost three teams for its second Vegas tournament this season.
The Purdue Boilermakers, who won the other overtime game over the Big Ten weekend, bowed out of the tournament.
Joining the Big Ten side are the Dayton Flyers and Texas A&M. All three were contracted by Destination Basketball, with five non-Power Five schools with the group organizing the event.
The less money Destination Basketball makes, the better.