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Big Ten Tournament Preview: Ashley Owusu, Maryland Terrapins favored to repeat

The Maryland Terrapins continue their reign at the top of the Big Ten, once again entering the conference tournament as favorites to win it all. The Michigan Wolverines, Indiana Hoosiers and Rutgers Scarlet Knights are also in the mix.

Iowa v Maryland
The Maryland Terrapins went 17-1 in Big Ten play in 2020-21 and are once again the favorites entering the conference tournament.
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

The 2020-21 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will begin this Tuesday, March 9, with the reigning conference champion Maryland Terrapins (21-2; 17-1 Big Ten) once again favored to take the crown.

Maryland, which is currently ranked No. 7 nationally by the Associated Press, has won the Big Ten Tournament four times since joining the conference in 2014 and finished as the tournament runner-up twice. Most recently, the Terrapins cruised to the 2020 title behind eventual WNBA draftee Kaila Charles, standout freshman and tournament Most Outstanding Player Ashley Owusu and a havoc-inducing defense.

While the Terrapins’ defense isn’t as ferocious this time around — they’re allowing 93.7 points per 100 possessions, compared to just 76.3 last season — their offense has more than made up for it, leading all of NCAA Division I with 121.8 points scored per 100 possessions. Six players, including Owusu and greatly-improved sophomore Diamond Miller, average double-figure scoring for Maryland, while the team itself takes great care of the basketball (1.6 assist/turnover ratio). Finally, as if all that wasn’t impressive enough, the Terrapins are also nearly impossible to keep off the glass, ranking sixth in the nation in offensive rebounding rate at 41.6 percent.

Iowa v Maryland
Ashley Owusu leads the high-octane Terrapins in both scoring (18.7) and assists (5.8).
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins Getty Images

In spite of these dominant regular-season numbers, Maryland is far from the only team to watch for in the 2020-21 Big Ten Tournament. The Michigan Wolverines (14-4; 9-4 Big Ten) are led by Big Ten Player of the Year Naz Hillmon, who finished second in the conference in scoring (25.1 points) and first in rebounding (11.3 rebounds). The Indiana Hoosiers (18-4; 16-2 Big Ten), meanwhile, finished with their best-ever record in the Big Ten and earned the tournament’s No. 2 seed. Both Michigan (No. 13) and Indiana (No. 11) are nationally ranked.

Also in the mix are the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (13-3; 9-3 Big Ten), who finished the season on a nine-game winning streak and boast a projected first-round WNBA draft pick in Arella Guirantes. Rutgers is currently ranked at No. 19 nationally.

You can’t count out the Iowa Hawkeyes (15-8; 11-8 Big Ten), either — not when they have Caitlin Clark. Clark was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after leading the conference in both scoring (27.4 points) and distributing (6.9 assists). Iowa is projected by ESPN’s Charlie Creme as a No. 7 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Iowa v Maryland
Can Iowa freshman phenom Caitlin Clark lead her team to a Big Ten Tournament championship?
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

With Ohio State (13-7; 9-7 Big Ten) not participating in the tournament due to a self-imposed postseason ban, there will be an uneven amount of teams competing; thus, the tournament’s first round will consist of only one game. The first three games on the docket will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network, with later games being aired on FS2 and the championship game on ESPNU.

Big Ten Tournament Schedule

All games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

First Round — Tuesday, March 9, 5 p.m. ET

Game 1: No. 12 Illinois vs. No. 13 Wisconsin, 5 p.m. ET (BTN)

Second Round — Wednesday, March 10, 11 a.m. ET

Game 2: No. 8 Nebraska vs. No. 9 Minnesota, 11 a.m. ET (BTN)

Game 3: No. 5 Northwestern vs. Game #1 winner, 1:25 p.m. ET (BTN)

Game 4: No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Penn State, 6:30 p.m. ET (FS2)

Game 5: No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Purdue, 8:55 p.m. ET (FS2)

Quarterfinals — Thursday, March 11, 11 a.m. ET

Game 6: No. 1 Maryland vs. Game #2 winner, 11 a.m. ET (FS2)

Game 7: No. 4 Michigan vs. Game #3 winner, 1:25 p.m. ET (FS2)

Game 8: No. 2 Indiana vs. Game #4 winner, 6:30 p.m. ET (FS2)

Game 9: No. 3 Rutgers vs. Game #5 winner, 8:55 p.m. ET (FS2)

Semifinals — Friday, March 12, 2 p.m. ET

Game 10: Game #6 winner vs. Game #7 winner, 2 p.m. ET (FS2)

Game 11: Game #8 winner vs. Game #9 winner, 4:25 p.m. ET (FS2)

Finals — Saturday, March 13, 2 p.m. ET

Game 12: Game #10 winner vs. Game #11 winner, 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU)