The Big Ten Conference is shaping up to be arguably the most competitive leagues in the entire country. After getting four teams into the Sweet 16 last season, the league is looking to have even more post-season success and get more teams into the NCAA tournament. Here I give my contenders, Player of the Year, Freshman of the year and more!
Player of the Year: Caitlin Clark- Iowa
Clark wasted no time establishing herself as one of the top players in not only the Big Ten but also the entire country. There is no way that Clark can’t score on the court and is a threat to put up 30 or more any night she steps onto the court. I expect her to have a stranglehold on the conference POTY award for the next few seasons despite the enormous amount of talent inside the league.
Freshman of the Year: Adalia McKenzie- Illinois
Last season, scoring at times was a hard thing to come back for the Illini. Lucky for them, Adalia’s specialty is scoring and scoring in bunches. She is a forceful guard who is likely to see a large amount of minutes and a large amount of shot attempts. While Illinois might be a player or two away from contending this season, they might have their next go to player for the coming seasons in McKenzie.
Maryland-The Terps had one of the most dangerous offensive squads in the country last season and everyone is coming back. Even with all the depth in the Big Ten top to bottom, the conference title is Maryland’s to lose.
Iowa- Anytime you have a player like Clark, who could very well be the leading scorer in the country, you have a chance to have a successful season as a team. Add in one of the most efficient post players in Monika Czinano and the Hawkeyes have a nearly unstoppable 1-2 punch.
Indiana- The Hoosiers have multiple different players who can lead them to victory each night, starting with the triple-double machine Grace Berger. A talented and productive starting five group will have this team in contention all season long for the conference title.
Michigan- Naz Hillmon is likely to be the most likely contender to Clark for the conference Player of the Year. She is a threat to put up 20/20 game each and every night. This is a team that has the guard scoring from Brown out on the perimeter to compliment the inside game.
Ready to Jump up:
Michigan State- Injuries have already sadly caught up with the Spartans but behind their star guard Nia Clouden, MSU is capable to competing with the top four teams for one of the top spots.
Minnesota- As Coach Whalen enters her fourth season, she is working with probably her most talented and complete team she has had in her time with the Maroon and Gold. This team has one of the most productive scoring groups in Sissoko, Hubbard, Scalia and Powell and their season will likely go as far as these four take them.
Ohio State- While this appears to be a guard-heavy team with some of the transfers the team has experienced. However, those guards are Madison Greene, Taylor Mikesell, Braxtin Miller, and Jacy Sheldon and those are better than most guards some teams can put in the court.
Northwestern- While the Wildcats have some guard production to replace from graduation and transfers, they still have the leader of the team in Veronica Burton and there may be no better captain to steer this ship as they try and climb their up towards the top of the conference.
Nebraska- The Huskers have been up and down the last couple of seasons with some head scratching losses and impressive wins. If they can find consistency behind the play of Sam Haiby, Kendall Coley, Isabelle Bourne and Annika Stewart, they could be in business this season in the conference race.
Predicted Conference Standings:
6. Ohio State
7. Michigan State
10. Penn State
Top 15 Players in the Big Ten:
Caitlin Clark- Iowa
Grace Berger- Indiana
Nia Clouden- Michigan State
Kadi Sissoko- Minnesota
Jasmine Powell- Minnesota
Ashley Owusu- Maryland
Angel Reese- Maryland
Diamond Miller- Maryland
Naz Hillmon- Michigan
Veronica Burton- Northwestern
Monika Czinano- Iowa
Sam Haiby- Nebraska
Braxtin Miller- Ohio State
Taylor Mikesell- Ohio State
Mackenzie Holmes- Indiana