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Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament: Bracket, NCAA Tourney Projections

Who plays when in Indy, and who can play their way into the NCAA Tournament with a few wins.


We fell down on trying to cover the Big Ten women’s basketball season—sorry about that. Life’s busy enough trying to keep up with 14 basketball teams; 28 turned out to be way too much.

Anyways, the women’s Big Ten Tournament tips off this Wednesday from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis! Are you looking for something to stream at work instead know, actually working? Here you go!

Big Ten Tournament

Of those games, I’d say the potential for Minnesota-Iowa on Friday will be one of the telling games of the tournament. The Gophers, as we’ll see, are on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament, but they’re about the only one with any bubble potential. Add to that Iowa’s perpetual Player of the Week, Megan Gustafson, and there could be some fireworks here.

Wednesday Team to Go Far:

Purdue Boilermakers. The 11-seed weighs in at 8-10, which is hardly anything to sneeze at in a conference marked by a very mediocre but dangerous middle. They should handle Illinois, and third time’s the charm against a Nebraska club that swept their regular season meetings.

Thursday Fireworks:

Only #5 Ohio State has a virtual walkover—the 6-11, 7-10, and 8-9 matchups will feature teams that all finished within one game of each other in the standings, at either 9-9 or 8-10. There could be some damn good matchups between teams desperate to get a crack at that one last defining win.

Who wins?

We’d have to say it sets up a Maryland-Iowa final. The Hawks took the only matchup between these two in the regular season, but that’s Maryland’s only loss since a January 17 upset at Michigan State. The Terps have played a number of close games, though, escaping Minnesota, Purdue, and Illinois late.

Rutgers, should C. Vivian Stringer be patrolling the sidelines (see below), could nab an upset of the Hawkeyes (they lost a 72-66 nail-biter earlier this year). But we’ll take Maryland to face Iowa, with the Terps prevailing.

Charlie Creme’s ESPN Bracketology:

Remember, in the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament, the high-seed in each four-team pod earns home-court advantage through its first two games.

Maryland Terrapins:

Brenda Frese’s bunch find themselves hosting, as expected, but perhaps a line lower than most Maryland fans had expected at the start of the year. In the Chicago Regional, they’ll butt up against the #2 Stanford Cardinal and, if they make it that far, the #1 Louisville Cardinals.

[3] Maryland vs. [14] Maine Black Bears
[6] Florida State Seminoles vs. [11] TCU Horned Frogs

Iowa Hawkeyes:

Did we mention Megan Gustafson? That’s about it, here, though fellow tree Hannah Stewart really gives Lisa Bluder’s club a decided advantage in the paint. In the Portland Regional, they’d see the #2 Oregon Ducks and, eventually, the #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

[3] Iowa vs. [14] UT-Arlington Mavericks
[6] South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. [11] Tennessee Volunteers

Rutgers Scarlet Knights:

C. Vivian Stringer’s done it again—though, this time, she hasn’t been on the sideline for a couple weeks as she’s dealing with exhaustion. The Knights don’t have the size to bang with the better teams in the Big Ten, but their harassing defense could make some games interesting if the score stays low. They head to Storrs and will be the ceremonial victim for UConn if they can make it through the first round.

[1] UConn Huskies vs. [16] Robert Morris Colonials
[8] Rutgers vs. [9] North Carolina Tar Heels

Michigan Wolverines:

Just like in men’s basketball, I have no idea what’s going right for Michigan women’s basketball. I’d apologize, but that’s kind of the bit here. They’ll be in Louisville, where...yeah.

[1] Louisville Cardinals vs. [16] North Carolina A&T Aggies
[8] Michigan vs. [9] BYU Cougars

Michigan State Spartans:

Do they still have really tall girl Allyssa DeHaan? She was simultaneously terrifying and my favorite women’s player in the Big Ten. OK. Well, Sparty is only the 9-seed in the Big Ten Tournament, but their non-conference schedule must be good (I’m recalling a win over #2 seed Oregon), because they’re in the NCAA Tournament on the 9-line. Unless they lose to my Northwestern Wildcats in the first round, maybe. They’ll head to South Bend.

[1] Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. [16] Mercer Bears
[8] California Golden Bears vs. [9] Michigan State

Indiana Hoosiers:

This year was the first time in apparently ever that the Hoosiers cracked the Top 25 of the women’s rankings. Good for them! They’ve scuffled ever since, getting swept in conference play by my Wildcats, but they’re holding on to a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Granted, it’s an 11-seed—in Miami, though!—so they could be in trouble if they lose the 10-7 matchup to higher-seeded Minnesota. But it’s still the NCAA Tournament!

[6] Arizona State Sun Devils vs. [11] Indiana
[3] Miami-FL Hurricanes vs. [14] Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

That’s about it for the NCAA Tournament! Apparently these teams likely aren’t good enough to make it even into the Next Four Out. Hopefully we’ll see them in the Women’s NIT? Here they are, with their BTT seeds:

[5] Ohio State Buckeyes (14-13, NET 75): The Buckeyes, at 10-8, have played weirdly fewer games than the rest of the conference. I don’t get that. They could catch people’s attention with a win over Michigan in the 4-5 game, but would likely need to spring an upset of Maryland to hop someone like Tennessee into the Big Dance. Should get a home game in the WNIT, though.

[6] Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-15, NET 83): The Huskers won a four-way tie at 9-9 to get onto the 6-line for the Big Ten Tournament, but they’re below .500 and would likely be singing a different tune with even one Power-5 win in the non-conference (to #23 Drake, at Washington State, at #15 Miami, at #3 Louisville, at Creighton, at Arkansas).

[7] Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-9, NET 102): Too little, too late for the Gophers, who dropped seven of their first eight—including bad losses to Purdue and Illinois—in conference play. Lindsay Whalen is making headlines in the Twin Cities as a first-year head coach, but a non-conference schedule marked only by an upset of then-#17 Syracuse has left the Gophers with an underwhelming resume.

[8] Northwestern Wildcats (16-13, NET 114): Oof. Could my Wildcats hop off the wrong side of the very-sad WNIT bubble and give Pallas Kunayi-Akpanah one last go-round? Probably not, but here’s hoping that a team with some signature wins over ranked Duke and Green Bay could get a look at postseason play.

Anything else we should be looking for? Any good storylines we’re missing in Big Ten women’s basketball? Let us know in the comments. Enjoy the basketball!