Game Preview: Gophers at Big Ten Tournament

Feb. 28, 2018

RV/RV Minnesota (22-7, 11-5  B1G) vs. RV/NR Iowa (24-6, 11-5 B1G)
 Date / Time Friday, March 2 // 1:30 p.m. CT
 Location Bankers Life Fieldhouse // Indianapolis, Ind.
 TV / Stream Fox Sports North // BTN2Go
 Radio 93.3 ALT FM // Listen Online // iHeart Radio App
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Live Updates Game Day Live
 Tournament Central Big Ten Tournament
 Game Notes Minnesota // Iowa
 Official Sites Minnesota // Iowa
 Social Media  @GopherWBB | Facebook | Instagram

Winners of five of its last six and eight of its last 10, Minnesota opens play at the Big Ten Tournament Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Golden Gophers will face No. 5 Iowa at 1:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports North.

Here are five things you need to know before tipoff: 

1. The Golden Gophers earned the No. 4 seed after an 11-5 record in league play. It's the team's highest seed in the last decade, last earning fourth in 2007-08. It's just the sixth time in program history the team enters the tournament seeded fourth or better.

2. In the latest AP poll, Minnesota was among the teams receiving votes for the fifth time this year. While in the Coaches Poll, Minnesota was among those receiving votes for the second straight week. The team is also ranked 46th in the RPI (as of 2/26). At 22-7, Minnesota has reached the 22-win mark for the ninth time in program history, including twice in four years under head coach Marlene Stollings.

3. Minnesota's scoring average of 84.9 points per game ranks second in the Big Ten and fifth nationally behind only Connecticut (90.5), Baylor (87.0), Ohio State (85.3) and Notre Dame (85.0). It's also on pace to be the highest scoring average in team history, which currently stands at 83.6 set in 2015-16. Junior Kenisha Bell, an all-Big Ten First Team selection, leads the Gophers with 19.6 points per game, while senior Carlie Wagner, also a First Team All-Big Ten honoree, is not far behind at 18.3. They rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in the B1G in scoring. The Gophers also sit 15th in the country in 3-pointers made (260) and 3-pointers made per game (9.0) and 28th in 3-point shooting percentage (37.1)

4. The Golden Gophers have won three straight games against Top-25 teams, beating then-No. 20 Iowa on Jan. 21 and taking down then-No. 23 Michigan and No. 10 Maryland in a span of five days in mid-February. For those wins over the Wolverines and Terrapins, Minnesota was named the National Team of the Week by

5. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Destiny Pitts was named B1G Freshman of the Week a league-best seven times, a number that tied her with Amanda Zahui B. (2013-14) for the most in Minnesota history. Pitts is also one of just five players in league history to reach that number. The USBWA National Freshman of the Week on Feb. 13, Pitts is averaging 13.1 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game this year. She's also tied for the team lead with six double-doubles and has scored at least 10 points 19 times.

• Iowa enters the game with a 24-6 record on the season and went 11-5 in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes have won eight straight games, including a 55-45 win over Northwestern in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

• Iowa is led by do-everything forward Megan Gustafson, who entered the tournament averaging a nation's best 25.3 points and was fifth in the country at 12.8 rebounds per game. She also led the country in made field goals (285), field goal percentage (66.7) and was second in double-doubles (26).

• As a team, the Hawkeyes entered the tournament ranked second in the country in defensive rebounds per game (31.0) and was third in assists (625) and assists per game (21.6).

• Minnesota and Iowa met twice this season with each team defending their home court.

• In the first meeting between the two, Minnesota upset No. 20/20 Iowa with a 77-72 victory in Minneapolis on Jan. 21. It was the team's first win over a ranked team since knocking off No. 5 Ohio State 90-88 in overtime on Feb. 24, 2016.

Kenisha Bell led the way for Minnesota with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Carlie Wagner added 15 points, including 11 in the second half, and Destiny Pitts finished with 11 points and a career-high three blocks.

• Just two weeks later, Iowa prevailed 92-84 in Iowa City on Feb. 4. Wagner joined Minnesota's 2,000 point club, while Bell poured in a career-high 35 points but it wasn't enough to best Iowa.

• Iowa's Megan Gustafson led the way with 25 points and 15 rebounds. She was one of five players in double figures for the Hawkeyes.

• For the season, Bell is averaging 28.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game against Iowa, while Wagner is averaging 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals per contest.

Destiny Pitts was named the unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while senior Carlie Wagner and junior Kenisha Bell were each named to the All-Big Ten First Team.

• Pitts is the fourth player in Minnesota history to be named Freshman of the Year by the league. She was also placed on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention recognition by the league's coaches, while the media selected her for the All-Big Ten Second Team.

• Bell was named to the All-Big Ten First Team by the league's coaches and was a unanimous selection by the media. It's the first time she's received First Team honors after taking home honorable mention recognition a year ago. She was also placed on the coaches' All-Big Ten Defensive Team.

• Like Bell, Wagner was also named an All-Big First Team honoree for the first time in her career. In each of the last two seasons she was named to the Second Team by the media and coaches. She also was picked as the school's Sportsmanship Award representative.

• Known for developing players, in just four seasons head coach Marlene Stollings has produced two Big Ten Player of the Year winners, three WNBA Draft Picks (including two in the Top 5) and five All-Big Ten First Team honorees.

• With 20 points at Iowa on Feb. 4, senior guard Carlie Wagner became the fifth player in Minnesota history to reach 2,000 points in a career. Ranked 11th among active DI players with 2,127 career points and fifth with 292 career 3-pointers, she recently passed Carol Ann Shudlick (2,097) for third on Minnesota's career list. (See page 3 for more of Wagner's ranks).

• Wagner is second on the team this year with an average of 18.3 points per game and ranks third in the Big Ten in 3-pointers made (86) and 3-pointers made per game (2.97) and fourth in 3-point percentage (.408) and 3-pointers attempted (211).

• Wagner started the year by making just 19-of-64 3-point attempts (29.7%) through her first nine games, but since then has made 67-of-147 (45.6%) over her last 20 contests.

• On Feb. 19, 2018, Wagner was named the B1G co-Player of the Week for the first time in her career after averaging 21.5 points per game as the Gophers upset No. 23 Michigan and No. 10 Maryland.

• Wagner has 110 career games in double figures, including a streak of 44 consecutive games from March 6, 2015 to Dec. 8, 2016 where she scored at least 10 points.

• Wagner's 38 points at Michigan last season (1/15/17) was the 12th-best scoring game in program history. This year, she posted 34 against Indiana on Feb. 20 to tie for her second highest scoring output.

• Junior Kenisha Bell is one of the most versatile players in the country. She leads the Big Ten in steals/game (2.76) and assists/game (6.6), ranking 30th and 14th, respectively in those categories.

• In addition to ranking 14th in assists/game, Bell also ranks 36th in scoring average (19.6), joining her with Miami (Ohio)'s Lauren Dickerson (33rd and 28th) as the only players in the country to rank in the top 40 of each category.

• With 21 points against Maryland on Feb. 18, Bell became the 24th player in school history to reach 1,000 points. She currently has 1,050 points as a Gopher to rank 19th in program history.

• Minnesota leads the Big Ten in both total rebounds (1,269) and rebounds per game (43.8). Those figures rank eighth and 10th in the nation, respectively.

• Only two other Power 5 team have more rebounds or average more rebounds per game than Minnesota this year: Baylor with 1,371 total and 49.0 per game and Tennessee with 1,288 total and 44.4 per game.

• Four players average at least 5.0 rebounds per game with freshman Destiny Pitts leading the way at 7.4 boards per contest. She's on pace to become the first freshman to lead the Gophers in rebounding since Amanda Zahui B. in 2013-14.

• The Gophers have rebounded their opponents 20 times this year, going 16-4 in those contests.

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