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Top of conference looking clearer for Big Ten Women’s Basketball

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Four teams pick up two wins in the conference play’s first weekend.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Lexington Regional- Ohio State vs Notre Dame
Ohio State Buckeyes guard Kelsey Mitchell (3) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the semifinals of the Lexington Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Rupp Arena. Notre Dame won 99-76. 
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It was only the opening weekend of conference play, but the top of the Big Ten got a little clearer on the women’s side with four teams sweeping their first two games.

No. 10 Ohio State, No. 13 Maryland, No. 18 Iowa and Rutgers each went 2-0 to sit atop of the Big Ten standings as 2018 gets underway.

Maryland had possibly the easiest slate out of the four with wins against Illinois and Penn State to extend its win streak to 11 games. Kaila Charles and Stephanie Jones posted double-doubles against Illinois with Charles scoring 24 and 10 rebounds, while Jones scored 16 and grabbed 11 boards. In its win against Penn State, Maryland grabbed 50 rebounds with Charles leading the way with 11 rebounds.

Iowa took down No. 22 Michigan, 82-72, to snap the Wolverines’ eight-game win streak in the Big Ten’s lone ranked matchup of the week.

For Iowa, Megan Gustafson led the way toward the Hawkeyes’ ninth consecutive win as she continued her standout season with two more double-doubles against Wisconsin and Michigan to grow her season total to an NCAA-best 14. She leads the conference in rebounds with 12.5 per contest and in field goal percentage with 68.9 percent while blocking 1.9 shots per game.

"Megan only has nine attempts on goal and has 27 points," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder told HawkeyeSports.com following the win against Michigan. "How is that physically possible? And she also has a career high in blocks.

"It was a pretty happy locker room. We were excited to get this win -- a top 25 win, 2-0 in the Big Ten, beating a team that is ranked ahead of us and who beat us last year in our solo meeting."

Ohio State knocked off Nebraska and Indiana. Stephanie Mavunga and Linnae Harper each posted double-doubles against Indiana, while Kelsey Mitchell scored 22 and 25 against Nebraska.

Mitchell, who is battling Gustafson and Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell in the Player of the Year race in the Big Ten, ranks second in the country with 25.8 points per game

The biggest surprise this season has been Rutgers, who won just six games last season and currently sits at 14-2 with a nine-game win streak, including wins against Purdue and Michigan State to start conference slate. Tyler Scaife led the way with 25 points as the Scarlet Knights edged the Spartans, 61-58.

On tap for the next week, a couple key matchups around the conference include Minnesota, who has a pair of tough matchups against Ohio State on Thursday and Michigan State on Sunday. The Golden Gophers split their games beating Northwestern while falling to Nebraska, 79-74. Bell dominated in both contests, including a 26-point, 10-assist, 7-rebound effort against Northwestern and a 30-point, 7-rebound, 7-assist game against Nebraska.

Ohio State sits at 13-2 on the year and after they take on Minnesota the Buckeyes travels to Michigan for a Sunday game.