Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Buckeyes seek to hold onto Big Ten supremacy

No. 5 Ohio State (15-1, 4-0)
Greg Oden is not the only basketball superstar in Columbus. Senior center Jessica Davenport is averaging a double-double (19.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game) for the Lady Buckeyes. Her dominance beneath the hoop has led Ohio State to a No. 5 national ranking and second place in the Big Ten, one win off the conference lead. Ohio State will get its first chance to take over the Big Ten lead when it squares off against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., Jan. 29. Thus far, Ohio State is 2-1 versus ranked opponents, including a win at No. 3 Oklahoma and its only loss of the season at No. 9 LSU.

No. 13 Purdue (16-3, 5-0)
The Boilermakers, led by senior Katie Gearlds’ 17.8 points per game, are a perfect 10-0 at home so far this season. Both Gearld and junior forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who averages 14.3 points per game, have provided Purdue with the perfect one-two combination. The potent duo has led the Boilermakers atop the Big Ten standings.

As dominating as Purdue has been at home, the road has been somewhat of a challenge. They’ve lost away games to Texas, Notre Dame and No. 7 Connecticut.


Fortunately for Purdue, its future matchups with nationally ranked Michigan State and Ohio State are at home.

No. 23 Michigan State (13-4, 4-1)
The Spartans’ lone Big Ten loss came at home against the No. 13 Purdue Boilermakers Jan. 11 by a score of 70-60, five days after getting blown out at No. 1 Maryland, 97-57.

Michigan State has four players averaging double figures in scoring, including senior guard Victoria Lucas-Perry, who leads the team with 13.9 points per game. This balanced attack has earned the Spartans a top 25 national ranking and should allow them to contend for the Big Ten title along with Purdue and Ohio State. However, for that to happen MSU must pick up upsets when it plays PU and OSU later in the season.

Penn State (9-10, 2-4)
Head coach Rene Portland won her 600th game for the Lady Nittany Lions with a 65-51 victory over Michigan on Jan. 14. With the win, Portland becomes one of nine Division-I head coaches to win 600 games with one team headlined by legends Geno Auriemma (Connecticut) and Pat Summitt (Tennessee).

“That’s pretty special that schools have stayed with their coaches and haven’t gone for the 'trophy coaches,'” Portland said in a press conference after reaching the milestone. “We’re not just a basketball team here at Penn State, and I think that’s what I am proud of.”

With a 2-4 conference record, Penn State looks nothing like the team predicted to finish fourth in the Big Ten. Despite playing No. 5 Ohio State to the wire Jan. 11, the team has struggled to find consistency, losing by 26 at No. 13 Purdue and 14 at lowly Michigan. Portland will look to preseason All-Big Ten selection Amanda Brown — 14 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game — to carry the team down the stretch.

Iowa (11-8, 3-3)
Fifth year senior Johanna Solverston suffered her second right ACL tear of her career last summer, and officially decided to sit out the remainder of this season as a medical redshirt.

Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder believes Solverston will provide Iowa the spark they need to get over the hump next year as a sixth year senior.

For now, the Hawkeyes must rely heavily on sophomore center Megan Skouby, who was voted to the preseason All-Big Ten first team by both the coaches and media.

Wisconsin (13-5, 2-3)
The Badgers were picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten this season and find themselves one spot below that at seven.

Wisconsin was an impressive 11-2 in non-conference play and was 10-0 at home until Illinois defeated the Badgers 70-62 Jan. 14.

Preseason All-Big Ten guard Jolene Anderson has been phenomenal, averaging 17.1 points per game, which puts her at third in the conference. Fellow backcourt-mate Janese Banks is not far behind at 14.9 points per game, ranking her fifth in the Big Ten.

Finishing sixth will be difficult as Wisconsin faces a difficult road ahead. The Badgers still have No. 5 Ohio State twice and No. 13 Purdue left on their schedule.

Illinois (13-4, 3-2)
The Fighting Illini are currently tied with the Golden Gophers for the fourth spot in the Big Ten.

Illinois has been impressive thus far, led by sophomore guard Lori Bjork’s 14.5 points per game, but its fight will be tested down the stretch, facing all of the Big Ten’s ranked teams — No. 5 Ohio State, No. 13 Purdue and No. 23 Michigan State — twice.

Indiana (13-6, 2-4)
The Hoosiers have been impressive this season, but have struggled against Big Ten opponents, as they are currently tied for eighth place in the conference. However, three of the four Big Ten losses have come at the hands of nationally ranked opponents (No. 13 Purdue and No. 23 Michigan State twice), so the verdict on the Hoosier’s season is still pending.

Junior guard Nikki Smith leads the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game and shoots an impressive 37 percent from beyond the arc.

Minnesota (11-7, 3-2)
Behind the play of senior guard Kelly Roysland, the Golden Gophers have climbed into the Big Ten’s No. 4 spot. But like the tide, Minnesota’s season has had many highs and lows. The Gophers scrapped their way to a road victory over No. 25 Nebraska, but lost two home games against weak non-conference opponents — South Dakota State and Middle Tennessee State.

Still, Minnesota has played well against the Big Ten, slipping past Northwestern 65-63, knocking off Illinois 70-61 and routing Wisconsin 71-53. The Gophers go for the border battle sweep of the Badgers Jan. 28 in Madison.

Michigan (8-11, 1-5)
In a competitive conference like the Big Ten, teams like Michigan have little chance.

Playing stiff non-conference opponents doesn’t make it any easier.

So far, Michigan has played three ranked opponents: Duke, Nebraska and Purdue.

The team lost all three affairs by an average margin of 43 points.

Without a top scoring threat or stifling defense, the Wolverines are already looking to next season.

Northwestern (6-12, 0-5)
The Wildcats started strong at 6-1 but are currently in the midst of an 11-game losing streak and find themselves at the bottom of the Big Ten.

Aside from its abysmal record, Northwestern’s starting backcourt has played well. Junior Sara Stutz and senior A.J. Glasauer are both averaging double figures in scoring and shooting more than 33 percent from the three-point range.

However, the lack of a low-post presence in a league dominated by them has been the Wildcats’ Achilles’ heel all season.

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