BTN.com staff, March 4, 2015
In this week's "5 Things I Know" with BTN women's basketball analyst Stephanie White, we look back at the conference awards and ahead to the Big Ten and NCAA tourneys. And with Maryland rolling through the regular season, White spotlights three teams that could give the Terrapins a run for the tourney title.
1. Special thanks to the other Players of the Year
I?d like to send a special thanks to all of the media relations? folks and the teams behind the teams that have helped make this season so successful. You all get the game-winning assist for helping us day in and day out put the best product we can on the air and online. We appreciate your hard work, dedication and devotion to answering each email, phone call, request, etc. There is so much that goes into teams being successful and our BTN team is no different. Thank you!
2. Conference awards
Congratulations to the conference award winners. We certainly can?t argue with the fact that Amanda Zahui B. and Kelsey Mitchell both had Player of the Year type of seasons. Zahui B. helped carry a team that lost its best player and most prolific scorer in school history. When everyone counted Minnesota out, Zahui B. led the charge, and now the Gophers are on the verge of an NCAA tournament bid.
Mitchell has led the nation in scoring most of the season and helped propel the Buckeyes to a surprising finish. This is a team that many felt was a year away from regaining prominence, but now it is a scary opponent for teams in the conference tournament and NCAA field.
Both Zahui B. and Mitchell are also semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the year Award. Let?s not forget these guys are also underclassman. Wow!
Brenda Frese?s Terps were the best team all season long no matter the opposition, and after losing the best player in school history, she did an outstanding job of leading her young team. The talent in the Big Ten is much better, much deeper than it?s ever been, and we certainly saw some amazing individual performances. Each player recognized was very deserving and it?s so fun to see the results of their hard work and dedication.
3. Surprise tournament winner?
I am so excited about the Big Ten tournament because I feel like there are many unknowns. Yes, Maryland has the edge because it has been so dominant, outscoring opponents by a margin of 15.8 points per game. However, there were so many good games this season and multiple teams that have an opportunity to win on any given night.
Ohio State, Minnesota and Iowa all have legit shots at winning the tournament championship, and you can?t discount Northwestern?s chances of making a push either. The thing about the postseason is that you just have to be better on one night. Your regular-season records are thrown out the window and it?s awfully tough to beat a team two and three times in the course of a season.
If you aren't going to Hoffman Estates (tourney details at BigTen.org), you should be. At the very least tune in and watch, because this could be the best conference tournament in the country this year!
4. Seven potential NCAA tournament bids
Seven Big Ten Teams are in the RPI top 50 and enter the postseason with at least 20 wins. This, of course, is a good thing when we start thinking about the NCAA tournament. The last time seven teams from the Big Ten were in the NCAA tournament was 2012 (excluding new Big Ten members Maryland and Rutgers).
Iowa, Ohio State, Northwestern, Minnesota and Rutgers are solid when it comes to getting into the tournament, and they're playing to improve their seeding. Maryland is in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed if it is able to take care of business in the conference tournament. Many coaches say the No. 1 seed isn't the end game – and I agree. It?s the draw and the matchups that count. Seeding does make some of a difference if you are potential host team this year because the NCAA is going back to having higher-seeded teams hosting the first and second rounds. Home court advantage is always a bonus when you?re trying to survive and advance.
5. Terp domination
Maryland?s dominance this season has been remarkable. This team started the year with many unknowns: a young core group, a new league, unfamiliar environments. And the Terps answered each challenge, night in and night out. They approached each game in a very business-like manner and just got the job done. They used their depth to outlast teams and separate in the second half. This is not a team with one superstar, but a balanced attack that made it difficult to scout and game against.
Congratulations to the Terps for being the third team in the history of the Big Ten to finish the season undefeated in conference play.
|About Stephanie White||White, a member of Purdue's 1999 national championship team, is a BTN women's basketball analyst and head coach of the WNBA's Indiana Fever. Follow her on Twitter @swhitej2|