With the Big Ten set to announce the 10 players and five teams that were honored by both media and coaches as the top in the conference for women’s basketball, here is how my ballot looked:
Top Five Big Ten Teams For The 2020-21 Season
3.) Ohio State
When picking the top teams in the conference, I focused primarily on the returning core members of each team in the Big Ten over the potential of new players that are coming in as freshmen or transfers, despite those additions obviously being incredibly important.
That distinction is why Maryland falls to No. 5 on this list despite winning the Big Ten tournament a season ago. The Terrapins lost five of their top six scorers from 2019-20, a whole lot of production to make up from an impressive 28-4 campaign.
Michigan and Ohio State are very much in the same tier for me, with both teams bringing back a large chunk of their rosters after successful years a season ago. I like forward Naz Hillmon and guard Amy Dilk a whole lot for the Wolverines, and think they will be among the best in the conference for their junior seasons, but the Buckeyes bring back an entire starting five that was almost entirely underclassmen, and I think that cohesion will be massive in such a chaotic year.
The Big Ten should have a bunch of teams fighting for the top five, but Northwestern and Indiana stand out as the two best teams for me. The Wildcats won the regular season title in 2019-20 and bring back Lindsay Pulliam, one of the best players in the country, for her senior year, as well as another major contributor in Veronica Burton.
But, Indiana has almost every single contributor back from last season and is a roster loaded with talent, with veteran guards Ali Patberg and Grace Berger leading the way. This feels like a now-or-never year for the Hoosiers, and I think they have the pieces to end at the top of the Big Ten.
Preseason All-Big Ten Roster
Grace Berger, Indiana
Veronica Burton, Northwestern
Monika Czinano, Iowa
Arella Guirantes, Rutgers
Naz Hillmon, Michigan
Dorka Juhasz, Ohio State
Ashley Owusu, Maryland
Ali Patberg, Indiana
Jasmine Powell, Minnesota
Lindsay Pulliam, Northwestern – Player of the Year
The Big Ten is loaded with talent that is spread across a wide variety of teams, and that was made clear when I picked 10 players on eight different teams within the conference.
As mentioned above, Pulliam is an elite scorer and was one of the best players in the NCAA last season and fell just short of the player of the year honor last season to Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle, and I think this year she will bring it home.
The player most likely to challenge Pulliam in my eyes is Patberg, especially if she does lead Indiana to the top record in the Big Ten. Also firmly in the conversation for player of the year last season was Rutgers guard Arella Guirantes, who should be right back there again, and is on a Scarlet Knights team that I had just outside my top five.
For my Ohio State selection, Juhasz is a double-double machine who has improved in each of her first two seasons, and her remarkably efficient three-point shooting has made her a true offensive threat anywhere on the floor. I think that one of the Buckeyes starting guards – Madison Greene, Braxtin Miller and Jacy Sheldon – could step up and make this top 10, but they could run into the same issue as last season and distribute the wealth too much to get recognized.
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