By Susan Harman
IOWA CIT, Iowa – The big crowd left happy with a 104-80 victory over No. 6 Michigan that gave their Hawkeyes a share of the Big Ten conference championship.
Both Iowa and Ohio State finished 14-4 (.777). They played 18 games, a full schedule. They are champions.
Maryland and Michigan finished 13-4 (.764). They played just 17 games. They are not champions because the winning percentage is paramount.
“It’s pretty crummy, huh?” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Even though we beat Maryland twice, beat Ohio State twice and beat Iowa once, we’re not a co-share of the Big Ten? Yeah, that’s pretty crushing.
“The reality is we didn’t get to make up the game. We did everything we needed to do during the course of the year, and we’re not co-Big Ten champs, so it’s pretty crummy because our schedule is arguably the toughest schedule in the league.”
Ironically, both Michigan and Maryland missed playing probably the worst team in the league, Illinois. Michigan’s game with the Illini was set for Feb. 3 and was postponed. Maryland’s game was set for Dec. 30, two months ago and never played.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder gave a shout out to assistant athletic director Barbara Burke for helping reschedule some of Iowa’s games, including the Indiana game, which turned out to be critical to the Big Ten race. But Barnes Arico could only shrug her shoulders and say she didn’t know what efforts were made by the school or the Big Ten to reschedule that Illinois game.
This would have been Michigan’s first Big Ten championship in women’s basketball.
The fact is the Wolverines and Terrapins didn’t have a chance because the Big Ten didn’t get the games done. We know that it was an unusual kind of season with the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting teams all over the country. But if you’re going to claim to run a Power-5 Conference regular-season championship, you can’t drop the ball like this.
Michigan will be ready to go at the Big Ten Tournament next week, you can count on that.