Anticipation grows for really exciting and fun games
The 40-day countdown to the start of March Madness in downtown Minneapolis begins this Friday. The city will play host to the 2023 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament from March 1-5 for the first time in the tourney’s 30-year history.
All 14 teams will converge and play at the home of the four-time WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Playing in NBA arenas is actually something that we’d love to do with our tournament,” admitted Big Ten Vice President of Women’s Basketball Megan Kahn. The Lynx-Wolves court joins the NBA-WNBA Indianapolis arena and Madison Square Garden as previous tournament hosts over the years.
Kahn and other conference officials, along with the Minnesota Sports and Events staff among others, met on Tuesday, Jan 17. She talked to the MSR prior to the scheduled meeting.
“The folks of Minnesota Sports and Events and the folks of the Target Center have just been ambitious,” Kahn pointed out. “They’re anxious. They’re excited.”
A year ago, Minneapolis hosted the NCAA Women’s Final Four, and Kahn said she and others are excited to build on that success. “It was sold out. The crowds were great. The national attention, the media coverage was great. We’re happy we can build on it.”
Before she joined the Big Ten in 2021, Kahn ran WeCOACH, a nonprofit organization formerly called the Alliance of Women Coaches. Before that she was assistant and associate commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference (2009-12), where she was director of the 2012 league championships and the 2010 and 2011 A-10 men’s championships. She also assisted the 2007 and 2008 NCAA WBB Greensboro Regional as an assistant in the Atlantic Coast Conference women’s basketball operations.
Now, with Commissioner Kevin Warren’s imminent departure to run the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Kahn was asked if this would be disruptive as she and league officials plan this year’s tournament. “We have to march on,” said Kahn.
“With his leadership style, Kevin has allowed us a lot of autonomy to do what we need to do on a day-to-day basis. I can assure you he will be in Minneapolis to support these events.”
Besides the five days of hoopin’, the 2023 Big Ten women’s tourney, which earlier this month unveiled a new logo, also will feature ancillary events. “We have plans in place on every day. There’re going to be theme days,” said Kahn.
The Big Ten vice president also pledged that diversity will be on display when things get rolling a little over a month from now. “I’m very much aligned with Commissioner Warren’s vision and our commitment to diversity and equity as it relates to race and gender,” Kahn said.
“We’ve been very intentional about seeking community leaders and community involvement from a very diverse population, and making sure that we have a very diverse representation.”
With seven Big Ten teams currently nationally ranked, nine teams in the top 50 of the NET rankings, and the league boasting the nation’s No. 1 strength of schedule among all conferences, Kahn predicts fans will see a great tournament here in March, and the winner gets the NCAA automatic bid.
“I think with how our season is looking to shape up, I can assure you it’s going to be competitive and really exciting and fun games,” said Kahn.