Swish Appeal: Big Ten Projections 2020-21

Ignatius L Hoops

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Gophers projected 7th:

The Golden Gophers lost their best player, Destiny Pitts, midway through last season. Pitts entered the transfer portal after being suspended for what head coach Lindsay Whalen perceived to be bad body language and is now a member of the Texas A&M Aggies. Nevertheless, Minnesota’s core of Gadiva Hubbard, Jasmine Powell and Sara Scalia could help the Gophers finish ahead of an Iowa team that dominated in the Megan Gustafson era. The X factor for the Gophers will be how well Cornell graduate transfer Laura Bagwell-Katalinich adjusts to the Big Ten
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The Big Ten was a very exciting conference a season ago as it neared the competitiveness of the SEC and Pac-12. In 2020-21, however, the previously-dominant Maryland Terrapins — in their seventh season in the Big Ten — find themselves vulnerable. They lost their best player, Kaila Charles, to graduation and Taylor Mikesell and Shakira Austin to transfer. Can the Terrapins find a way to win the conference in spite of those losses? Or, will a new champion rise from a strong field of contenders?

Maryland may be able to deal with the losses because they bring in Angel Reese, the No. 2 prospect in the nation according to ESPN. If she can immediately form a star tandem alongside sophomore Ashley Owusu, Maryland will be in good shape. They also have head coach Brenda Frese at the helm and she has a proven track record of getting the best out of her teams — the Terappins improved over the course of the 2019-20 season and surprised a lot of people with their No. 4 finish in the AP Poll.

Even with Reese and Owusu, however, Maryland should expect challenges from the Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines. The Hoosiers have a lot of good vibes surrounding them after an exciting 2019-20 season and Michigan is loaded with talent. Add in as a threat the Northwestern Wildcats, who currently are the second-highest-ranked Big Ten team after Maryland in ESPN’s “Way Too Early” rankings. And it would be a mistake to discount the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who will be powered by arguably the best player in the conference in Arella Guirantes, or the Ohio State Buckeyes, who now have Dorka Juhasz as an upperclassman
 
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