This is the last season that our Oregon Ducks perform in the Pac-12. From next season onward, we’ll be competing in the B1G. What will women’s basketball be up against in the way of competition in 2024 and beyond? Today we’ll catch a glimpse into the future and look into the very good women’s basketball teams that call the Big-10 home.
Where WBB is concerned, the B1G is every bit as good as the Pac-12, if not better. The Ducks will be challenged to be a great team in a great conference.
Here is a quick look, bottom-to-top, at the teams that comprise the B1G.
Joe McKeown has coached the Northwestern Wildcats for the past 15 years. NW is in something of the same boat as the Ducks, in that their record in 2019-20 was 26-4 and were likely to be a very high seed in the NCAA tournament that was cancelled. The Wildcats have struggled since then, and placed last in the B1G last season (9-21, 2-16 B1G).
Minnesota had been coached by Lindsey Whalen for the past five seasons, and when the Golden Gophers again struggled to stay out of the basement in the B1G standings (11-19, 4-14 B1G), Whalen was let go and Dawn Plitzuweil was hired from West Virginia University. While at South Dakota before WVU, Plitzuweil was named the Kay Yow National Coach of the Year.
The Penn State Lady Lions were quite the powerhouse in the 80s and 90s, and more recently had a string of NCAA tournament appearances in 2012-2014. They are coached by Carolyn Kieger, who is entering her fifth season coaching Penn State. Last season, the Lady Lions had a record of 14-17 (4-14, B1G), and have failed to rise from the bottom quadrant of the conference.
Coquese Washington became the new head coach for the Scarlet Knights last season, replacing former coach C. Vivian Stringer, who retired after holding one of the bet winning records in Women’s basketball. Washington coached at Penn State during their last run of NCAA tournament appearances.
Last season, Rutgers ended with a 12-20 (5-13 B1G) record, and are looking to elevate the program to their previous years of glory.
The Badgers (11-20, 6-12 B1G) have not been to the NCAA tournament since 2010, and then 2002 before that. Head coach Marisa Moseley is in her third season coaching Wisconsin, and it’s difficult to imagine this team rising from the bottom of the conference rankings.
The Spartans (16-14, 7-10 B1G) came in at 9th in the conference rankings last season. Their head coach for the previous 16 season, Suzy Merchant, stepped down for health reasons. Head coach Robyn Fralick enters her first season with the Spartans, having previously coached at Bowling Green.
The Cornhuskers (18-15, 8-10 B1G) are coached by Amy Williams, who is entering her eighth season as the Nebraska head coach. She lead the Huskers to the NCAA tournament in 2018 and 2022, and last season Nebraska made it into the WNIT Super 16, where they lost to eventual champion Kansas.
The Purdue Boilermakers (19-11, 9-8 B1G) will see coach Katy Gearalds in her third season leading Purdue. Last season, Purdue played in the NCAA Play-In game as an 11-seed, losing to St. John’s.
Head Coach Shauna Green lead Illinois in her first season last year to a 22-10 (11-7 B1G) record. Last year was a substantial improvement over previous incarnations of the Fighting Illini, who had not been to The Dance in 20 years. Illinois also entered the NCAA tournament as an 11-seed in the First Four, losing to Missippi State.
Kim Barnes Arico is going into her 12th season as the head coach of the Wolverines, who were 23-10 (11-7 B1G) last year. Arico has lead Michigan to the NCAA or WNIT tournament in every season as head coach. Last season, Michigan entered the NCAA tournament as a 6-seed, losing in the second round to eventual champion LSU.
Kevin McGuff has been the head coach for Ohio State since 2013-14, guiding the Buckeyes last season to a 28-8 (12-6, B1G) record. Last season, the Buckeyes entered the B1G women’s basketball tournament as a 4-seed and defeated #1 Indiana to match up in the finals against champion Iowa2. He has regularly taken Ohio State to postseason play, and last season the Buckeyes reached the NCAA Elite Eight as a 3-seed, losing to #1 seed Virginia Tech.
Brenda Frese has lead the Terrapins (28-7, 15-3 B1G) for 20 years and has guided Maryland to postseason play in all but her first season. Maryland was a 3-seed in the B1G tournament and lost in the semifinals to Iowa. In the NCAA tournament, the Terrapins were a 2-seed and fell in the Elite Eight to #1 South Carolina.
Lisa Bluder has been the head coach for the Hawkeyes since 2000. In her 23 years at Iowa, she has only failed to reach postseason play once, in 2007. Iowa (31-7, 15-3 B1G) won the B1G tournament in 2023, and entered the NCAA tournament as a 2-seed, where they lost in the finals to champion LSU.
Teri Moren has lead the Hoosiers since 2014-15. Last season, Indiana (28-4, 16-2 B1G) rose to the top of the B1G standings. Moren has also lead Indiana to postseason play in all but her first season. Indiana was the #1 seed in the B1G tournament, but were bounced out in the semifinals against Ohio State. The Hoosiers entered the NCAA tournament as a #1 seed, but were upset in the second round against 9-seed Miami.
Oregon women’s basketball will have their work cut out for them when they join the B1G in 2024. The B1G is an excellent conference that regularly puts multiple teams in postseason play. The competition level will go up and it will be interesting to see where the Ducks place in their new conference.