IU women picked to win Big Ten

ROSEMONT, Ill. — There’s a first time for everything, and there’s been a lot of firsts for Indiana women’s basketball in recent years.

The Hoosiers added another historic first on Wednesday when they were selected as the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten by both conference coaches and media.

Records of preseason polls date to 1998, and this is the first time Indiana has been the favorite.

“It is a nice honor to be picked at the top of the Big Ten preseason rankings,” IU coach Teri Moren said in a news release. “It is a tribute to what these young women accomplished last season. We know, however, that these rankings won’t matter when the games begin this year. We need to continue to do the work every day to get better and prepare for an exciting season. The Big Ten is such a talented and deep conference and every game is a challenge.”

The No. 16 Hoosiers return four starters and nine letterwinners from a 24-8 team that set a school record for wins and finished fourth in the Big Ten at 13-5, also a school record for wins. Indiana was No. 14 in the final NCAA RPI report, which would’ve put them in position to be a top-four seed and an early-round host for the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

IU was picked first ahead of defending regular season and conference tournament champ Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State by the coaches, while the media chose Northwestern, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio State.

In addition, Indiana senior guard Ali Patberg and junior guard Grace Berger were selected as preseason All-Big Ten honorees, making the 10-person team for both coaches and media. IU and Northwestern were the only schools with multiple players on the preseason all-conference list.

Patberg was first team All-Big Ten and a WBCA All-American honorable mention selection last season. The Columbus North product was named to the Nancy Lieberman Award preseason watch list earlier this week and enters the 2020-21 season just 11 points shy of her 1,000th point as a Hoosier.

Berger also was a first team All-Big Ten and WBCA All-American honorable mention selection a year ago, more than doubling her scoring average. The Louisville, Ky., native shot 45.6 percent from the field and 76.9 percent on free throws en route to 13.1 points per game.

Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam was voted Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year by the media, while Michigan’s Naz Hillmon and Rutgers’ Arella Guirantes were chosen co-Preseason Player of the Year by the coaches.

The 2020-21 season is scheduled to begin on Nov. 25, although official schedules have not been announced.

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