With the announcement Monday that Maryland will join the Big Ten conference and the expectation that Rutgers will also join, no team should be more worried about the impact than the Michigan women’s basketball team.
Coming from the ACC and Big East — traditional powerhouse conferences in basketball — Maryland and Rutgers bring a long history of success to a conference on the rise.
After competing as one of seven teams in the NCAA tournament last year, the Wolverines and the Big Ten will welcome two teams that have already become acquainted in postseason play.
The Terrapins have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in eight of the last 10 years under coach Brenda Frese. During the 2005-06 season, Frese led her team to a national championship, beating fellow ACC opponent, Duke in the championship game.
“I think Maryland is a great addition to our conference,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “It’s a great academic school as well as one of the best women’s basketball programs in the country.”
Maryland has accumulated a 795-389 record, for a .671 winning percentage in its 41-year history following a 31-5 record last season. This year, the Terrapins were selected to finish second in the ACC preseason poll after winning the conference championship last year.
Michigan is 0-1 against Maryland all time, losing 74-65 in 2011 to a sixth-ranked Terrapins squad in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
“For us, it’s great to play against the best,” Barnes Arico said. “I thought prior to this addition we were the best conference in the country. With the addition it only gets more competitive.”
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer leads the Scarlet Knights, who are 365-183 in 16 seasons of play. Stringer was the first coach to lead three different women’s programs to a Final Four, including Rutgers in 2000 and 2007.
Rutgers finished 22-10 last year, including a loss to Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. As a member of the Big East, Rutgers will bring its experience against perennial powerhouse Connecticut — which has won seven national championships —to the Big Ten, which has only had four teams compete in the championship game.
As coach of Big East member St. John’s last year, Barnes Arico upset the Scarlet Knights for her 169th win at St. John’s — setting the record for the most career wins at her former school.