November 27, 2023 

Big Ten roundup: Indiana back on track, Maryland’s question marks and more

Hoosiers starting to find their rhythm

It was a busy Thanksgiving week across the Big Ten with teams participating in various tournaments across the country. Ohio State’s blowout of Cornell on Sunday extended the Buckeyes’ win streak to five after their season-opening loss to USC, Purdue lost two games by a combined 11 points and Michigan State lost its first game of the season after a 5-0 start under Robyn Fralick.

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Here’s your week three roundup of Big Ten action:

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What everybody’s talking about

Just two weeks ago, Indiana looked far from the program that won the Big Ten regular season title last year after its 32-point loss at Stanford. Since then, though, the Hoosiers have rattled off four wins in a row by an average of over 22 points. That included a 71-57 win over No. 19 Tennessee on Thanksgiving and a 72-63 win over Princeton on Saturday.

Against the Volunteers, sophomore guard Yarden Garzon turned in her best performance of the young season, scoring 23 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range, adding five rebounds and five assists. The Hoosiers will need similar contributions from Garzon, Sara Scalia, Chloe Moore-McNeil and Sydney Parrish moving forward to take some of the pressure off Mackenzie Holmes. Part of what made Indiana so dynamic last year was the diversity of scoring threats that opponents had to worry about. Without Grace Berger to run the offense this year, things haven’t operated as smoothly yet, but the last week certainly served as a step in the right direction.

“After that Stanford loss, we were not just angry and frustrated and disappointed, we were a little bit embarrassed,” head coach Teri Moren said on Thursday after the Tennessee win. “We knew that that’s not our team, that’s not what we’re capable of. Tonight I think had a little bit to do with the fact that we were getting ready to play another ranked opponent, and they just happened to be a great Tennessee team, and they wanted to show up and prove to themselves, more than anything, that they were better than what we showed (in) our performance in Stanford.”

This caught my attention…

Last week, I wrote about how Maryland should be fine, even after blowout losses to South Carolina and UConn. Then, the Terps barely beat Syracuse (83-81) and lost by 20 to Washington State, raising further alarm.

But I’m not sure that warrants significant reason for concern. Will Maryland be an Elite Eight team this season? Perhaps not. Still, head coach Brenda Frese’s track record speaks for itself; even years where her team has faced significant challenges (see 2021-22), she’s found a way to rally the troops during the most important time of the year.

The Terps’ trip to Mexico for the Cancun Challenge certainly did little to validate why this team has a good chance of turning the corner, but it’s still November. Shyanne Sellers is a first-team all-Big Ten talent, and Jakia Brown-Turner is a steady veteran presence in the post. More consistency from the other veterans on the roster should help stabilize things in College Park.

Other notable headlines

Iowa gets revenge on Kansas State in Florida

Caitlin Clark shot just 2-of-16 from beyond the arc against Kansas State in Iowa’s 65-58 loss at home less than two weeks ago. On Sunday night – in an unusual non-conference regular season rematch, thanks to both teams advancing to the Gulf Coast Showcase championship – she re-litigated her case with more success. Totaling 32 points on 7-of-16 from deep and 10-of-25 shooting overall, Clark paced the Hawkeyes to a 77-70 win.

Graduate guard Kate Martin turned in a double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, helping provide some balance for an Iowa offense that’s started to find its stride since the Nov. 16 loss. Over their four-game winning streak since, the Hawkeyes are averaging 97 points per game.

Penn State comes up short against Southern California

The Nittany Lions’ biggest test of the season so far came on Wednesday, and although Penn State came up just short in a 71-70 loss against USC, it proved it could go toe-to-toe with a Top 10 team in the country. Sophomore guard Shay Ciezki scored 18 points and had seven rebounds, helping make up for an underwhelming day for guard Makenna Marisa who had just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting.

Penn State’s next key matchup will come next Monday when it faces West Virginia on the road, before the Big Ten opener in Columbus against the Buckeyes on Dec. 10.

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Caroline Lau a bright spot for Northwestern

It was a pretty brutal week for the Northwestern Wildcats, losing by 38 against No. 13 Florida State and then by 22 against Belmont. But sophomore guard Caroline Lau’s play has been one of the biggest bright spots so far.

Through the first three weeks of the season, Lau sits atop the Big Ten leaderboard averaging eight assists per game, narrowly ahead of Clark. She’s totaled 10 or more assists in three of Northwestern’s six games this season, helping facilitate for an offense that’s gotten off to a rocky start overall.

Notable games coming up this week:

  • Thursday: Indiana plays Maine at 7 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: Michigan State plays DePaul at 7 p.m. ET
  • Saturday: Michigan plays Harvard at 2 p.m. ET
  • Saturday: Minnesota plays Drake at 2 p.m. ET
  • Saturday: Nebraska plays Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: Ohio State plays Tennessee at 5 p.m. ET

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Written by Eric Rynston-Lobel

Eric Rynston-Lobel has been a contributor to The Next since August 2022. He covered Northwestern women's basketball extensively in his four years as a student there for WNUR and now works as a sports reporter for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire.

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