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Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

There’s no doubt in my mind that Iowa women’s basketball is going to be successful this season.

The Hawkeyes are returning all five starters and 99 percent of their scoring on an offense that scored 86.1 points per game last season — second in the nation.

Now, ranked No. 9 in the AP Preseason Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll, Iowa will contend nationally.

But the Hawkeyes are not the only team in the Big Ten to boast a top-10 national rating.

Maryland is the top-ranked team in the Big Ten, coming in at No. 4 in the AP poll. The Terrapins were the only team to top the Hawkeyes nationally in offensive production last season, averaging 90.8 points per game.

The Terrapins also had something the Hawkeyes couldn’t find — defense.

While Maryland only allowed 69 points per game, the Hawkeyes gave up a whopping 80.3 — 336th out of 336 Division I teams in the country.

The Terrapins got the best of the Hawkeyes twice in 2020-21. First, the Terrapins took down the Hawkeyes in the regular season, 111-93. When Iowa and Maryland met again in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game, the Terrapins eclipsed triple digits again, 104-84.

Both the Hawkeyes and the Terrapins were knocked out in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, giving them relatively equal footing to begin the 2021-22 season. Maryland is also returning all five of its starters, and 96 percent of its scoring.

But Indiana, in an unsuspecting national run, advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

The Hoosiers are ranked eighth in the AP Preseason Poll, just one spot above the Hawkeyes. Indiana also took down the Hawkeyes twice in the 2021-22 regular season.

If the Hawkeyes can find their defensive form, they will be a contender in the conference and nationally. But until then, Maryland and Indiana have a competitive advantage.

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