The Big Ten announced its women’s basketball opponents for each team’s conference schedule for the 2023-24 season on Thursday.
Indiana’s slate won’t be easy as the Hoosiers try to defend their Big Ten regular season crown.
IU women's basketball Big Ten opponents for 2023-24:
Home only: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State
Away only: Nebraska, Ohio State, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Double play: Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Northwestern, Purdue#iuwbb
— Seth Tow (@SethTow) June 22, 2023
Four of the five teams IU will play twice next season went to the NCAA Tournament last year. Iowa went all the way to the national title game, and Maryland got to the Elite Eight; both programs will expect to be back at that caliber again next year. The Hawkeyes, in particular, have high expectations with Caitlin Clark back for another season.
Purdue and Illinois saw breakthroughs last season, and though both lost in the First Four last season, Katie Gearlds and Shauna Green have their programs trending in the right direction. Northwestern has not been to the Big Dance since 2021 and finished last in the conference last season.
Ohio State and Michigan are the top teams the Hoosiers will face just once, and they get one at home and one away. IU won pretty handily in Columbus last season, though the Buckeyes got revenge in the Big Ten Tournament a few weeks later. With Big Ten Freshman of the Year Cotie McMahon leading the way, the Buckeyes should be back near the top of the standings. Indiana handled Michigan at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall last year as well. The Wolverines lost some key players from last year’s team, but Kim Barnes Arico’s track record suggests they’ll plug those holes effectively.
Nebraska had a disappointing season last year after expecting to be more competitive in the Big Ten, and the Cornhuskers lost some pieces from that squad. But with Jaz Shelley and Alexis Markowski back, they could bounce back and return to the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin and Rutgers finished 10th and 11th last season, respectively, and IU may have hoped to see one of them as a double-play team.
Two of the home-only opponents, Michigan State and Minnesota, are interesting for the same reason. Both teams enter the year with new head coaches. Dawn Plitzuweit likely has a bigger rebuilding task at Minnesota than Robyn Fralick does at Michigan State, but both teams are coming off down years. But in the transfer portal era, some new head coaches have been able to orchestrate quick turnarounds. Penn State finished 12th in the conference last year, and although the Nittany Lions gave IU a little trouble in State College last year, the Hoosiers may also have hoped to see them twice next season.
But in one of the most competitive women’s basketball conferences in the country, there aren’t many places to hide. There aren’t many softball opponents. No matter how the schedule broke down, Indiana would have to beat a lot of quality opponents to have a shot at becoming back-to-back Big Ten champions.
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