November 2, 2022 

2022-23 Big Ten preview

Caitlin Clark, Iowa set the pace, but talent runs deep

The Big Ten has two new coaches and a lot of returning star power. While Iowa is widely projected to be the class of the conference, the Big Ten has a lot of teams with the talent and ability to make a deep run.

“The great thing about the parity in our league, proven night in, night out, there’s no game that’s safe, right?” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said at Big Ten Media Day. “If you’re talking at the top or at the bottom, the bottom is making strides and is going to compete every single night.”

Here is a breakdown of what each team is going to look like this season:


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Illinois

2021-22 record: 7-10 (1-13 Big Ten, 14th in conference)

Head Coach: Shauna Green (1st season)

Preseason ranking: Unranked

Key Returners: 

  • Adalia McKenzie (9.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
  • Kendall Bostic (6.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG)
  • Geovana Lopes (3.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG)
  • Jayla Oden (6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG)

Key Losses:

  • Aaliyah Nye (12.4 PPG, 3 RPG)
  • Erika Porter (4.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG)

Key Newcomers:

  • Makira Cook, transfer from Dayton 
  • Brynn Shoup-Hill, transfer from Dayton
  • Genesis Bryant, transfer from North Carolina State

After Illini head coach Nancy Fahey retired at the end of last year after five years with the program, Illinois hired Shauna Green away from Dayton to rebuild the struggling program. The Illini won just one game in regular season conference play last year along with one tournament game, and went 42-99 in Fahey’s tenure. 

The Illini lost their leading scorer from 2021-22, Aaliyah Nye, in the transfer portal, but Makira Cook followed Green from Dayton. Cook led Dayton in scoring last year, averaging 14.8 points and 3.8 rebounds, and was named the Atlantic 10’s Most Improved Player, earning second team all-conference honors.

Green brings a winning pedigree from the Flyers to Champaign. Her teams captured five Atlantic 10 regular season championships and made four NCAA Tournament appearances. During the 2021-22 season, the three-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year led the Flyers to the Atlantic 10 championship and an opening round victory in the NCAA Tournament, finishing the season with a final record of 26-6.

At media day, Green emphasized the importance of improving the Illini’s defensive play this season. Kendall Bostic said that Green spends much of practice on defensive drills and is very detail oriented.

“We gotta be able to defend. That’s going to put us into the position to at least be in a position to win games,” Green said. “You can’t run and play fast if you’re playing off of a dead ball to make — so gotta make stops.” 

Indiana

2021-22 Record: 24-9 (11-5 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Teri Moren (9th season)

Preseason ranking: No. 3 Media, No. 2 Coaches

Key returners:

  • Grace Berger (16.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG)
  • Mackenzie Holmes (15.2 PPG, 7 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Aleksa Gulbe (11.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG)
  • Ali Patberg (11.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Sara Scalia (Minnesota transfer)
  • Sydney Parrish (Oregon transfer)
  • Alyssa Geary (Providence transfer)

Indiana continued its streak of excellence with another Sweet Sixteen appearance and a Big Ten Tournament Final appearance last season. 

The Hoosiers have their two best players from last year’s team, Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes, returning this year. Berger earned All-Big Ten First Team honors last year and was an All-America honorable mention. She also earned preseason All-Big Ten honors alongside Holmes.

Incoming transfer Sara Scalia was Minnesota’s best player last year. She averaged 17.9 points and shot 41.3 percent from three and will be a critical piece of Indiana’s backcourt. Scalia earned All-Big Ten second-team honors last year. She’s a three-point specialist, but is an elite shooter from all areas, especially at the free throw line. Incoming freshmen Henna Sandvik and Yarden Garzon are also expected to make an impact in the backcourt early. 

With their returning core and new additions, Indiana expects to make another big run in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. This is likely Berger’s final year of college eligibility pending an injury redshirt, and Holmes has just two seasons left. Indiana is looking to go all the way during this critical year with their core.

“I think we would be remiss if anybody felt like they could come up here and say we could go into any contest in the Big Ten and just show up,” Moren said. “You better show up ready to play. If you don’t, you have an opportunity to come up short that night if you’re not ready to play.”

Iowa

2021-22 Record: 24-8 (14-4 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Lisa Bluder (23rd season)

Preseason ranking: No. 1 Coaches and Media

Key returners:

  • Caitlin Clark (27.0 PPG, 8 RPG)
  • Monika Czinano (21.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG)

Key losses: none

Key newcomers:

  • Molly Davis (Central Michigan transfer)
  • Hannah Stuelke (freshman)
  • Taylor McCabe (freshman)

Iowa returns all five starters from last year’s Big Ten Championship-winning team. Caitlin Clark was one of the best players in all of college basketball last season, earning All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Last year’s team was a historic one, the first Hawkeye team to ever win both the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships.

But for all Iowa’s regular season dominance, they only won one game in the NCAA tournament before getting knocked out in the Round of 32. With their core pieces back and another year older, Iowa is looking to make a deep run in March. 

Of all the teams in the Big Ten, Iowa might have the most pressure to win this year. They return all of their starters. They have the conference’s best player, and one of the best players in the nation. They’ve proven they can win the conference, but they haven’t been able to win in the NCAA Tournament. But Lisa Bluder isn’t thinking about the expectations.

“Honestly, I think if you think about it all the time, you’re going to strangle it. We don’t want to do that. We want to enjoy it… I had the opportunity to meet Billie Jean King one time. She told me, Lisa, pressure is a privilege, a quote she’s used often. She wrote it on a piece of paper, signed it, it’s in our locker room. I want our team to remember that pressure is a privilege, enjoy it.”

Frese
Brenda Frese received a contract extension with Maryland that makes her the Terrapins head coach through 2029 (Photo Credit: Maryland WBB’s Twitter).

Maryland

2021-22 Record: 23-9 (13-4 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Brenda Frese (21st season)

Preseason ranking: No. 4 Coaches & Media

Key returners:

  • Diamond Miller (13.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
  • Shyanne Sellers (7.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Angel Reese (17.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG)
  • Ashley Owusu (14.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Abby Meyers (Princeton transfer)
  • Lavender Briggs (Florida transfer)

Maryland finished fourth in the Big Ten last year, winning 23 games, but they got bounced by Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal. Now, after losing arguably their two best players in Angel Reese and Ashley Owusu to the transfer portal, Maryland will rely on its own transfer portal additions in Abby Meyers and Lavender Briggs, as well as returners like Shyanne Sellers, to become top contributors alongside Diamond Miller. Miller was named to the preseason All-Big Ten Team, Maryland’s only selection. 

Meyers averaged 17.9 PPG and 5.8 RPG at Princeton last season, and was named Ivy League Player of the Year. Briggs led Florida in scoring in 2020-21 with 19.6 PPG, and had 12.5 PPG in 14 games in 2021-22 before an injury kept her sidelined. Both guards look to slot in to help replace Reese and Owusu’s production. 

“Obviously we’re going to be led by Diamond,” coach Brenda Frese said. “She is back and she is healthy. I love what I’ve been able to see from her. She’s a player that has been here for three years now, and someone that I trust completely on the court as well as with her leadership for our team. She’s going to put a lot on her shoulders for our team this season.”

Michigan

2021-22 Record: 25-7 (13-4 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Kim Barnes Arico (11th season)

Preseason ranking: 5th Coaches

Key returners:

  • Leigha Brown (14.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG)
  • Emily Kiser (9.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG)
  • Leila Phelia (8.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Naz Hillmon (21.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Greta Kampshroeder (Oregon State transfer)

Michigan is coming off its best season in program history, finishing third in the Big Ten and making an Elite Eight appearance. But they also lost their best player and one of the best players in the nation in Naz Hillmon. Without Hillmon, head coach Kim Barnes Arico knows the Wolverines will have to change their style of play.

“This year, we’re not going to go to our inside game and Naz as much as we have in the past,” Arico said at media day. “We have some feisty guards. We have some intense guards, dynamic play in Laila Phelia or Leigha Brown or Maddie Nolan. I think it’s gonna be a different style of play, but the effort and the intensity and the feistiness will certainly be there.”

Brown was selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team, the only Michigan player to be selected. 

Michigan State

2021-22 Record: 15-15 (8-9 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Suzy Merchant (16th season)

Preseason ranking: unranked

Key returners:

  • DeeDee Hagemann (7.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG)
  • Matilda Ekh (11.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Nia Clouden (20.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Gabby Elliott (Clemson transfer)
  • Kamaria McDaniel (Baylor transfer)

Michigan State was a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team last year, finishing eighth in the conference. Now, with star guard Nia Clouden graduating last year, the Spartans will look to DeeDee Hagemann and Matilda Ekh, who both earned Big Ten All-Freshman honors, to take the next step and replace Clouden’s production. Ekh was the Spartans’ second leading scorer behind Clouden last year.

Gabby Elliott, a transfer from Clemson, is another young player who will get a significant opportunity this year. Elliott earned ACC All-Freshman honors in 2020-21 and averaged 9.4 points per game last year. While this year will be more of a development year for a young Michigan State core, the potential of their young players and the historic success of head coach Suzy Merchant make them a sleeper team in conference play.

Minnesota

2021-22 Record: 15-18 (7-11 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Lindsey Whalen (5th season)

Preseason ranking: unranked

Key returners:

  • Alanna Micheaux (4.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Sara Scalia (17.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
  • Kadi Sissoko (10.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Mara Braun (freshman)
  • Mallory Heyer (freshman)
  • Nia Holloway (freshman)
  • Amaya Battle (freshman)

Minnesota lost 83 percent of their production from last season, when they finished ninth in the Big Ten. But Minnesota also brings in its best recruiting class in school history, bringing in three of ESPN’s top 100 recruits. Minnesota’s 2022 class is the tenth-ranked class nationally according to ESPN, and the best in the Big Ten. Mara Braun, the 28th ranked recruit according to ESPN, headlines the class, and all four players are Minnesota natives.

Those freshmen will get plenty of playing time with the significant departures from the program. Returning sophomores like Alanna Micheaux, a former Top 100 recruit, will be tasked with replacing the production Minnesota lost. 

This year looks like a rebuilding season for Minnesota. The Gophers have so much talent leaving the program, like Sara Scalia and Kadi Sissoko, but also some excellent talent entering the program. While their top recruiting class can make Minnesota a top contender in the future, the freshman class will likely need a season to adjust to the college level, but with their talent, anything is possible.

Sam Haiby has been a major contributor for Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Amy Williams over the last four years. Photo by Scott Bruhn/NU Communications

Nebraska

2021-22 Record: 24-9 (11-7 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Amy Williams (7th season)

Preseason ranking: 5th Media

Key returners: 

  • Alexis Markowski (12.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
  • Jaz Shelley (13.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Sam Haiby (11.0 PPG, 4.5 PPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Maddie Krull (South Dakota transfer)

Nebraska returns four starters from last year’s sixth-place Big Ten squad, losing only Sam Haiby to a season-ending injury. Alexis Markowski was selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team after winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year, and she will again be a critical piece of a Nebraska squad on the rise. 

Last season was Nebraska’s best season under Williams as head coach, and with the core of last year’s group returning, they are poised to be even better this year. 

“There’s a lot of reasons,” said Williams of Nebraska’s season last year. “But mostly because this team committed to competing and to connecting and staying connected. All season long we watched this team celebrate each other’s successes. We had some great contributions to the program and couple that with great returning leadership, and it clicked. They played their hearts out for each other.”

“It was a competitive, fun environment,” Markowski said. “We all really thrived in it. I think this year we’re expecting more than last year.”

Northwestern

2021-22 Record: 17-12 (8-8 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Joe McKeown (14th season)

Key returners:

  • Sydney Wood (3.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
  • Courtney Shaw (8.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Veronica Burton (17.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Caroline Lau (Freshman)

Veronica Burton has been the backbone of Northwestern basketball in all her four years at Northwestern. Burton won three consecutive Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards, and led the Wildcats in scoring each of the last two seasons. 

“It creates opportunity for younger players, too. We brought back two fifth-year seniors, Courtney Shaw and Sydney Wood. They were part of our Big Ten Championship team in 2020. They just understand. They’re helping our young players every day. We’re just lucky to have them, have that experience in a league where everybody’s good. It’s my 40th-plus year in women’s basketball. Just getting started, so really excited about my team, what we’re doing at Northwestern.”

Northwestern will turn to Courtney Shaw and Sydney Wood to lead the charge in replacing her production. Wood played just four games last year before suffering a season-ending injury. In 2020-21, Wood averaged 10.8 points per game. Freshmen Mel Daley, Caileigh Walsh and Jillian Brown are also poised for an increased role.

Ohio State

2021-22 Record: 25-7 (14-4 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Kevin McGuff (10th season)

Preseason ranking: 2nd Coaches, 3rd Media

Key returners:

  • Jacy Sheldon (19.7 PPG, 4.2 APG)
  • Taylor Mikesell (18.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Tanya Beacham (7.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Eboni Walker (Syracuse transfer)
  • Karla Vreš (American transfer)

Ohio State earned a share of the Big Ten Regular Season Championship last year and made the Sweet Sixteen in one of the best seasons in program history. Now, with its two star players in Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell returning for their senior seasons, the Buckeyes are looking to make another big run.

Both Sheldon and Mikesell were named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. With point guard Madison Greene on track to be healthy to return for 2022-23 and starting forward Rebeka Mikulášiková also returning, Ohio State has a strong core of veterans to build off of this season.

“Last year we had a great chemistry and I think it was built throughout the year,” Mikesell said. “It’s going to be something we build over time even though we already have that great chemistry. We’re starting in a good spot. Obviously, that will be built through adversity and tough times, but I’m excited for the season. I think we have a lot of good relationships already on the team and we’ll be able to build on that.”

Penn State

2021-22 Record: 11-18 (5-13 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Carolyn Kieger (4th season)

Preseason ranking: unranked

Key returners:

  • Mackenna Marisa (22.2 PPG, 4.2 APG)
  • Leilani Kapinius (9.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Shay Hagans (6.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Alexa Williamson (Temple transfer)
  • Taniyah Thompson (East Carolina transfer)
  • Chanaya Pinto (Oregon transfer)

Mackenna Marisa was dominant last year in a First Team All-Big Ten campaign, and she’s expected to shoulder much of the load for Penn State again this season. Marisa was selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team, the only Lady Lion selected. 

During Penn State’s disappointing year last year, Marisa was the only player to average double-digit points. For Penn State to elevate in the Big Ten standings this year, the supporting cast, especially sophomore Leilani Kapinius, will need to provide more scoring. Kieger also shouted out Anna Camden, Johnasia Cash and Alli Campbell as potential big contributors this year. Cash and Campbell both missed last year due to injuries.

“We believe this is the year we’re going to make a big turnaround,” Kieger said at media day. “As hard as it is to be patient during a rebuild, we know all the adversity we’ve been through the last three seasons will be a catalyst for our success this year. The foundation is laid, the standard is set, the culture has been driven by our leaders. We have had a fantastic off-season in the gym and in the weight room. We know we’re ready.”


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Purdue

2021-22 Record: 17-15 (7-11 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Katie Gearlds (2nd season)

Preseason ranking: unranked

Key returners:

  • Madison Layden (11.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
  • Abbey Ellis (11.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Ra Shaya Kyle (11.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG)
  • Brooke Moore (10.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Lasha Petree (Rutgers transfer)
  • Caitlyn Harper (California Baptist transfer)

In Katie Gearlds’ first season at the helm at Purdue, the team won 10 more games than in 2020-21. Gearlds hopes to keep the team moving up in the standings with Madison Layden and Abbey Ellis both returning for the 2022-23 season.

Last year, the Boilermakers set a program record for three-pointers made and attempted. They also defended the perimeter at an elite level last season. Opponents made just 26.7 percent of their three point shots, the best in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers added Lasha Petree from Rutgers, who has shot 32.7 percent from three in her career. 

“We did shoot it well,” Gearlds said at media day. “We shot it a lot, I know that. Hopefully, we shoot it even better this year.”

Rutgers

2021-22 Record: 11-20 (3-14 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Coquese Washington (1st season)

Preseason ranking: unranked

Key returners:

  • Chyna Cornwell (2.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Osh Brown (10.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG)
  • Shug Dickson (8.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG)

Key newcomers:

  • Kassondra Brown (Saint Peter’s transfer)
  • Antonia Bates (Freshman)
  • Kaylene Smikle (Freshman)

Rutgers starts the year with just eight players on the roster, after losing eight to the transfer portal and returning just three players from last year’s team. 

This first year under new head coach Coquese Washington will be a rebuilding year, as Washington tries to establish the culture for the program. Washington won three Big Ten Regular Season titles as head coach at Penn State in 2012, 2013 and 2014. 

“This year, for us, is really about one main thing, and that’s about establishing our culture,” Washington said. “We’re in it for long-term success, and so there’s no shortcut to that. You have to build a strong foundation so the program can build and grow off that … We also want to establish our style of play. We’re going to play uptempo. We like to play fast, and we’re going to work to do that and make that visible on gameday.”

With very few of Rutgers’ impact players from 2021-22 coming back this year, the Scarlet Knights will rely on newcomers for the majority of their production. Saint Peter’s transfer Kassondra Brown will be a big part of Rutgers’ offense. Brown averaged 14.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game at Saint Peter’s last season. Incoming freshmen Antonia Bates and Kaylene Smikle will get significant playing time. Rutgers’ success this year will be dependent on how quickly those players adapt to Washington’s system and Big Ten play.

Avery LaBarbera has Holy Cross fans dreaming of a Patriot League championship. Photo credit: Mark Seliger

Wisconsin

2021-22 Record: 8-21 (5-13 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Marisa Moseley (2nd season)

Preseason ranking: unranked

Key returners:

  • Julia Pospisilova (14.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
  • Sydney Hilliard (12.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG)

Key losses:

  • Katie Nelson (8.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG)

Key newcomers: 

  • Avery LaBarbera (Holy Cross transfer)

In Moseley’s first season at Wisconsin, the Badgers won five conference games, the most they’d won since the 2014-15 season. The Badgers return their two highest scorers from last year, Julia Pospisilova and Sydney Hilliard. They also add Avery LaBarbera, the reigning Patriot League Player of the year. LaBarbera averaged 16.8 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 4.1 assists per game and 1.8 steals per game last year at Holy Cross. 

Wisconsin is looking to continue the progress they saw near the end of last year. They went 3-4 down the stretch, including a 22-point comeback win over Purdue. Moseley is looking to her returning players to develop and take more steps to become a Big Ten contender.

“I have to make sure I get really good players who understand what it is we’re trying to do, but then I’ve got to let go of the reins a little bit and allow them to be who they are, play through some of their mistakes,” Moseley said at media day. “Ultimately they’re going to gain confidence from knowing that I believe in them and we can take those steps together.”

Written by Gabriela Carroll

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