Iowa Women's Basketball

Early Big Ten women's basketball predictions: Focus turns to Indiana, Ohio State in 2020-21

Hawkeyes lose 49 percent of their scoring, but should remain in the league's upper division

Iowa's Monika Czinano (25) attempts a shot under pressure from Minnesota's Taiye Bello (5) during their game Feb. 27. Cz
Iowa’s Monika Czinano (25) attempts a shot under pressure from Minnesota’s Taiye Bello (5) during their game Feb. 27. Czinano is the Hawkeyes’ top returner for 2020-21. (Cliff Jette/Freelance for The Gazette)

Who’s perfect? Not this guy. The University of Iowa women’s basketball team made that abundantly clear last season.

Last summer, once the Hawkeyes’ schedule was released, I penciled them in at 19-12 overall and a ninth-place Big Ten finish at 9-9.

I drastically underestimated them. Heck, everybody did.

Instead, Iowa went 23-6 in the regular season, and the Hawkeyes were in the thick of the Big Ten race until the final week of the season. They finished third at 14-4, two games behind co-champions Maryland and Northwestern.

On the other hand, I did correctly pick Iowa second in 2018-19, behind Maryland.

Once again, Iowa loses a good portion of its punch for 2020-21. The Hawkeyes return 51.1 percent of their scoring, and only Maryland (41.8 percent) returns less.

That creates the potential for some major upheaval, with Indiana and Ohio State the most likely candidates to pounce.

Indiana (24-8, 13-5) figures to return four double-figure scorers, led by senior-to-be Ali Patberg. Ohio State (21-12, 11-7) got hot late and advanced to the Big Ten tournament final before falling to Maryland. The Buckeyes blasted Iowa, 87-66, in the quarterfinals, and should return its roster virtually intact.

As for the Hawkeyes, I’m going to slot them at sixth, though much depends on what their schedule looks like. Iowa returns two starters — Monika Czinano and Alexis Sevillian — and should be bolstered by a top-20 recruiting class that features Miss Iowa Basketball Caitlin Clark of West Des Moines Dowling.

My really early 2020-21 predictions:

1. Indiana

2019-20 overall record: 24-8

2019-20 Big Ten: 13-5 (4th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Semifinalist

Points returning for 2020-21: 89.0 percent

 

2. Ohio State

2019-20 overall record: 21-12

2019-20 Big Ten: 11-7 (T-5th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Runner-up

Points returning for 2020-21: 100.0 percent

 

3. Northwestern

2019-20 overall record: 26-4

2019-20 Big Ten: 16-2 (T-1st)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Quarterfinalist

Points returning for 2020-21: 63.4 percent

 

4. Maryland

2019-20 overall record: 28-4

2019-20 Big Ten: 16-2 (T-1st)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Champion

Points returning for 2020-21: 41.8 percent

 

5. Rutgers

2019-20 overall record: 22-9

2019-20 Big Ten: 11-7 (T-5th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Quarterfinalist

Points returning for 2020-21: 71.7 percent

 

6. Iowa

2019-20 overall record: 23-7

2019-20 Big Ten: 14-4 (3rd)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Quarterfinalist

Points returning for 2020-21: 51.1 percent

 

7. Michigan

2019-20 overall record: 21-11

2019-20 Big Ten: 10-8 (7th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Semifinalist

Points returning for 2020-21: 76.2 percent

 

8. Michigan State

2019-20 overall record: 16-14

2019-20 Big Ten: 9-9 (8th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Second round

Points returning for 2020-21: 74.0 percent

 

9. Nebraska

2019-20 overall record: 17-13

2019-20 Big Ten: 7-11 (10th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Second round

Points returning for 2020-21: 73.3 percent

 

10. Purdue

2019-20 overall record: 18-14

2019-20 Big Ten: 8-10 (9th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Quarterfinalist

Points returning for 2020-21: 59.0 percent

 

11. Minnesota

2019-20 overall record: 16-15

2019-20 Big Ten: 5-13 (11th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Second round

Points returning for 2020-21: 51.9 percent

 

12. Illinois

2019-20 overall record: 11-19

2019-20 Big Ten: 2-16 (13th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: First round

Points returning for 2020-21: 75.7 percent

 

13. Wisconsin

2019-20 overall record: 12-19

2019-20 Big Ten: 3-15 (12th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: Second round

Points returning for 2020-21: 65.2 percent

 

14. Penn State

2019-20 overall record: 7-23

2019-20 Big Ten: 1-17 (14th)

2020 Big Ten tournament: First round

Points returning for 2020-21: 79.8 percent

 

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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