FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN THE BIG TEN
1. CAN PENN STATE BE CAUGHT?
The Nittany Lions still have superior guard play thanks to Maggie Lucas. But do they have enough to repeat as conference champions?
2. CAN THE BIG TEN BREAK THROUGH?
Six conference teams qualified for the NCAA tournament last season, but five lost in the second round. Nebraska reached the regional semifinals, losing to Duke. The conference had four teams in the most recent AP poll, none higher than Penn State at No. 15.
3. WELCOME, NIA
Nia Coffey, the former Hopkins star forward, stands a very good chance of giving Northwestern back-to-back freshman players of the year. She is currently leading a balanced Wildcats’ scoring attack at 15.6 points per game.
4. NEW FACES
There are three new coaches in the conference this season, at Illinois (Matt Bollant), Indiana (Curt Miller) and Michigan (Kim Barnes Arico). The Hoosiers went a school-record 13-0 in nonconference play while the Wolverines were 9-4 and the Illini 7-6.
5. GETTING COMFORTABLE
It was a learning experience for Nebraska last season, the Huskers’ second in the Big Ten. Still, Nebraska finished second in conference play and reached the conference tournament final. How good will this talented team be in its third season of conference play?