More than some years, this looks like it could be a season where more women’s basketball teams in the Big Ten Conference are capable of getting an upset victory.
That’s how it was in two of the three conference games on Jan. 6, when Illinois stunned 12th-ranked Minnesota 66-62. Before that, Illinois had lost 29 consecutive Big Ten games over three seasons. On the same day, Indiana beat 15th-ranked Michigan State. Then on Thursday, unranked Purdue beat No. 17 Iowa.
For Nebraska, the Big Ten season has gone according to what was expected, with the Huskers beating two unranked teams in Michigan and Ohio State and losing against two ranked teams in Iowa and Maryland.
Nebraska gets its next chance for what would be an upset win when the Huskers host Rutgers on Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be on TV on the Big Ten Network.
Rutgers is just outside the rankings but is alone in first place in the Big Ten standings with a 4-0 league record. Rutgers (12-3) got the first big win of the Big Ten season when it defeated then-No. 4 Maryland 73-65 on Dec. 31. Rutgers’ other conference wins were each against unranked teams Northwestern, Penn State and Illinois.
The upset wins in Big Ten play aren’t a shock to Nebraska coach Amy Williams after what she saw while following the Big Ten teams during the nonconference season.
“This league is really, really good this year from top-to-bottom, and strong,” Williams said. “On any given night, anybody can step up and knock anyone off. It’s something that we’ve been knowing and watching everybody throughout the nonconference, but here it’s played out early in the conference season.”
Nebraska (7-8, 2-2 Big Ten) has lacked consistency with a young team and sits in the middle of the pack in the league standings.
Last season, Nebraska tied for third place in the Big Ten. This season Williams isn’t sure yet where Nebraska can fit in the league.
“We like the growth that we’re seeing out of this team and we feel like when we’re playing our very best we’re poised to be able to beat anybody in our league on any given night,” Williams said.
Nebraska’s 81-63 loss against Maryland on Tuesday was disappointing because Nebraska was within two points in the third quarter. One of the positives was that Nebraska outrebounded Maryland 38-37. It was the first time in four Big Ten games that Nebraska outrebounded its opponent.
“I told our kids multiple times if you want to win, you better rebound, and I thought they took that to heart,” Williams said.