Should be. Iowa was #28 in the AP last week (3rd in receiving votes). Michigan was #24 and just lost twice this week. Princeton was #25, but only a few votes higher than Iowa. I'd guess at least #24, though possibly higher. Two ranked wins are really impressive.
I'd say any of: Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Northwestern, or Rutgers could win the Big Ten. Rutgers has started well, but two of its three road wins are Illinois and Wisconsin. No Big Ten road win is easy, but those are easier than most.
Nebraska also looks solid, but not sure it has enough to beat all the teams it will need to. Ohio State seems like it could beat or lose to any opponent on a given night. Minnesota had some potential, but it seems like that team is a mess right now.
I don't know a lot about Michigan, Michigan State, or Purdue, but 3 losses in 5 is hard to come back from.
The coaches have done a great job this year. One micro example from this game came around the 4 minute mark. Iowa switched from a 2-3 zone to a triangle and two to close out the game, and it confused Maryland for a couple possessions. Iowa got a couple stops, and Sevillian hit her buckets in that time. Then Maryland needed threes, but didn't get open looks because the "two" were playing man to man against Maryland's best three-point shooters.
Yeah, they haven't played the best conference schedule yet, but the South Carolina win looks really good on paper (I don't know if SC was missing players or had an off night, etc). Coming into conference play, I figured they and Maryland were the favorites, with a bunch of good teams just below them. Maryland's two losses gives Indiana a leg up, but the tough part of Indiana's schedule is still ahead. We'll know a lot more after Sunday.
I like to do a freshman watch when multiple freshman play a significant role in the team's rotation, but aren't necessarily the team's stars on any given night. I think their development over the course of the season is an intriguing subplot, but not one that would be touched upon if I just focus on the top performers any given night. I wasn't doing recaps during Doyle and Meyer's freshman season, but I would've done a freshman watch for that season, too. The last couple seasons before this haven't had multiple freshman with big roles, so I haven't done a freshman watch.
Otherwise, I try to touch on top performers either in the recap or in thoughts after the recap. For this one, that was mostly touched upon in the recap itself. Doyle had her best game of the year, and carried Iowa for large stretches. Meyer had a pretty bad game until she got hot from three late to help the comebacks. Ollinger was big for Iowa on the glass. Sevillian had the game's biggest steal.
I'm not arguing for mailing in the season, though. Based on what we've seen so far, Gabbie Marshall might be better than Alexis Sevillian right now. And if not, it's close and Marshall has a lot higher ceiling. Ollinger is probably better than Warnock right now, but if Warnock gets significant minutes going forward, I'm not sure that'd be true by the end of the year. Warnock is already a lot better offensively, and rebounding is probably a push. You don't have to give her 30 minutes a game, but 20 is a lot better than the 8 she got Sunday.
As for the UNI game, I'm not sure what the win probability is down 20 part way through the 3rd quarter, but I'd guess it's less than 5%. Even when they briefly cut it to 13, the win probability was still really low and made lower by the reality that UNI's offense was still generating better shots than Iowa's. Putting in the younger players at that point gets them experience, but it also reduces the injury risk to the starters. Doyle particularly has had fairly significant injuries that past two years. If she, Meyer, or Czinano go down for an extended period of time, Iowa's chances of making the tournament take a nose dive.
I really hate when referees come into games with goals/agendas, like keeping it even or focusing on one or two calls more. In my view, officials should have a relatively clear standard and apply that standard regardless of what happens. I prefer refs that allow a little contact before calling fouls, but that doesn't mean the ones that call ticky-tack fouls are bad necessarily. Just be sure to call them all game and the players can adjust. When refs try to keep it even, the standard for calls is all over the place and nobody knows what a foul, travel, etc. is.
We have to be careful with +/- because of garbage time and other basketball randomness. Otherwise, this is spot on. In game one, Doyle, Sevillian, and Meyer looked like the players we've seen before. I tend to favor playing younger players, but here would be my lineup going forward:
The other of Marshall/Martin off the bench first. Then Sevillian. Then Taiwo. Ollinger to backup Warnock/Czinano. The freshman plus Czinano and Taiwo has the beginnings of a fairly good future core. I'd play them a lot this year even if it makes the team a little worse in the short term. The team's ceiling in future years is higher than its ceiling this year.
You get the bonus points!