The move of the Maryland women's basketball team to the Big Ten from the Atlantic Coast Conference last season had the Terrapins casting the kind of giant shadow that Connecticut has in the Big East and American conferences.

The move of the Maryland women's basketball team to the Big Ten from the Atlantic Coast Conference last season had the Terrapins casting the kind of giant shadow that Connecticut has in the Big East and American conferences.

The Terps were 18-0 in the conference regular-season standings, won the Big Ten tournament and advanced to their second consecutive NCAA Final Four.

The season didn't have the happiest ending. Sophomore point guard Lexie Brown left the program in late May and transferred to Duke. Nobody in College Park, Md., is blinking.

>> More fromThe Dispatch'scollege basketball preview section

>> Get the most out of your Ohio State experience, follow @BuckeyeXtra on Twitter

"This program has never been about one player," coach Brenda Frese said. "I like the fact that it's change. Your players aren't going to get complacent."

FRONT ROW

Maryland: The cupboard is not bare. Two all-conference players - guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and forward Brionna Jones - lead a talented cast that includes five-star recruits Brianna Fraser and Kiah Gillespie.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes are back behind the all-conference guard tandem of sophomore Kelsey Mitchell and senior Ameryst Alston. The defense must improve to unseat Maryland.

Northwestern: Junior Nia Coffey is one of four returning double-figures scorers for the Wildcats, who won 23 games last season made their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996-97.

Michigan State: The Spartans look ready to rebound from an injury-plagued season behind all-Big Ten juniors Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska. Senior post Jasmine Hines gets redshirt season.

Nebraska: Nebraska: Return of senior point guard Rachel Theriot from an ankle injury and the arrival of two knee surgery survivors - transfer guard Kyndal Clark from Drake and top freshman post prospect Jessica Shepard - should make the Huskers interesting and dangerous.

LOGE SEATS

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights were a solid 23-10 in their Big Ten debut last season. Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer needed more three-point offense and added freshman Aliyah Jeune to join junior Tyler Scaife from downtown.

Minnesota: Coach Marlene Stollings lost co-Big Ten player of the year Amanda Zahui B. to the WNBA two years earlier than she had hoped and forward Shae Kelley to graduation. Guard Rachel Banham is back from a knee injury to anchor the offense.

Iowa: Graduation cost the Hawkeyes star point guard Samantha Logic, shooting guard Melissa Dixon and center Bethany Doolittle. Junior guard Ally Disterhoft is the leader of a suddenly not-so-veteran team.

Michigan: The Wolverines lost 69-65 to UCLA in the semifinals of WNIT last season. Sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty leads a cast that includes nine freshmen and sophomores.

PEANUT GALLERY

Illinois: Ugly offseason included a lawsuit filed by former players accusing coach Matt Bollant of creating a racially hostile environment. An independent report cleared Bollant. Sophomore center Chatrice White is the top returner.

Indiana: Second-year coach Teri Moren had sophomore guards Larryn Brooks and Taylor Agler transfer. Sophomore guard Tyra Buss is leading returning scorer at 11.8 points.

Penn State: Coach Coquese Washington and the Lady Lions took a 6-24 beating at the outset of a major rebuilding project. Six freshmen are aboard along with UConn transfer Brianna Banks.

Purdue: The Boilermakers were 11-20 last season. Guards April Wilson and Ashley Morrissette will help break in a seventh-ranked recruiting class.

Wisconsin: The Badgers lost top inside threat Michala Johnson to a knee injury after six games and finished 11-20. Johnson returns with three-point threat Nicole Bauman.

PRIME-TIME PLAYERS

Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State: Big Ten co-player also earned All-America notices last season by leading the nation in scoring at 24.9 points per game and setting a conference single-season scoring record with 873 points and an NCAA single-season mark with 127 three-pointers.

Aerial Powers, Michigan State: Athletic, 6-0 forward paced Spartans with 21.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per game last season. Powers collected 24 double-doubles in scoring and rebounding.

Rachel Banham, Minnesota: Redshirt senior guard returns from knee injury. She brings along 2,179 career points and needs 107 points to pass Lindsay Whalen as program's all-time leading scorer.

NICE TO MEET YOU

Kyndal Clark, Nebraska: The Missouri Valley Conference player of the year at Drake in 2014, the 5-foot-9 guard played one game last season before suffering a knee injury. She graduated and transferred to Nebraska.

Jessica Shepard, Nebraska: The highest-ranked freshman in the 2015 class to choose a Big Ten team, the Lincoln, Neb., native was rated third overall by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 4 in Prospects Nation.

Kiah Gillespie, Maryland: The 6-2 forward from Meriden, Conn., was a McDonald's and Parade All-America. She averaged 31.2 points and 16.2 rebounds as a senior.

THREE BURNING QUESTIONS

1. Can anybody in the Big Ten beat Maryland this season?

The answer is yes with Ohio State getting two shots in the regular season and potentially a rematch of the conference tournament championship game last season.

2. How can Kelsey Mitchell improve her game?

The left-hander drew comparisons to Houston Rockets southpaw star James Harden. She led the Buckeyes with 146 assists but had 142 turnovers. A 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio could move her to the next level.

3. Is the Big Ten better?

Not likely. Losing All-America post Amanda Zahui B. of Minnesota to the WNBA hurt. Lexie Brown's surprising defection from Maryland doesn't help, either.

jmassie@dispatch.com

@MassDispatch