This Week in the Big Ten

Illinois' Ron Zook was one of 11 Big Ten football coaches standing by the fax machine Wednesday on National Signing Day.

Illinois' Ron Zook was one of 11 Big Ten football coaches standing by the fax machine Wednesday on National Signing Day.

Feb. 8, 2008

by Jeff Smith
Contributor, BigTen.org

[ONE // purdue and wisconsin stay atop the men's basketball standings]
The start to the week was highlighted by several uncertainties surrounding Big Ten men's basketball. Would conference co-leader Purdue, who deservingly earned the 24th position in the national polls this week, be able to withstand Penn State, which was coming off a huge 85-76 upset of seventh-ranked Michigan State on Saturday? Then there was Wisconsin, who had to bus through a foot of snow to get to Iowa City for a matchup against the Hawkeyes, who had just topped Ohio State.

Well, both Big Ten leaders prevailed, with the Badgers scraping past Iowa, 60-54, and Purdue taking care of Penn State, 67-53. At 9-1 in league play, the Boilermakers are off to their best conference start since the 1989-90 season.

Following those wins earlier in the week, attention turned to the Illinois-Indiana basketball rivalry, which took place on Thursday night. Despite an unbelievable effort by a freshman guard - no, not that one - Illinois could not outlast the Hoosiers in double-overtime. The Illini's Demetri McCamey posted a career-high 31 points, helped by 7-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc, but Indiana escaped Champaign with the 83-79 win. The game was the second in the last three contests between the schools to go into overtime and it was the first occasion in the series history the teams needed a second extra session to find a winner. With the victory, Indiana remains in third in the Big Ten at 8-1.

[TWO // purdue upsets buckeyes for conference lead, but remains tied with the hawkeyes]
The Purdue women's basketball took a big step toward helping its NCAA Tournament resume on Thursday as the Boilermakers upset No. 19 and tri-Big Ten leader Ohio State, 68-67. Purdue, which had not defeated a ranked team all season, earned the key victory behind FahKara Malone's career-high 23 points. Ohio State freshman Jantel Lavender continued to impress in her first season, totaling a career-high 30 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Purdue advances to 9-3 in the conference, while Ohio State falls to 8-4.

But now there is another team tied with Purdue for the Big Ten lead. Don't look now but Lisa Bluder and the Iowa Hawkeyes have won seven-straight games and are tied with the Boilermakers at 9-3 in league play. Sixth-year senior Johanna Solverson, who was featured on bigten.org earlier this year, recorded 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while scoring her 1,000th-career point in the Hawkeyes' 82-64 win over Michigan State on Thursday.

[THREE // speaking of women in sports...]
The Big Ten and its 11 schools recognized the 22nd annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) on Thursday. NGWSD is celebrated in all 50 states and the conference participates in the campaign by designating a women's basketball game on each campus to highlight and encourage participation of girls and women in sports. Read more about what each school has done or is planning on doing this season for NGWSD.

[FOUR // time for tourney talk]
This past Tuesday single-session tickets went on sale publicly for the 2008 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament presented by Xbox 360 Live. The event, which takes place on March 6-9 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, can be taken in for a mere $12-$16 depending on seat location for each session. The 14th-annual tournament features all 11 Big Ten teams battling in 10 games over four days of competition. Log on to ticketmaster.com or contact Ticketmaster or the Conseco Fieldhouse box office by phone for more information.

[FIVE // lots of letters, lots of tired fax machines]
With all that action on Thursday, it almost seems like Wednesday's National Signing Day is a distant memory. The Big Ten welcomed in some impressive classes this season and team-by-team signings can be followed by clicking on this link. Clearly one of the advantages of having your own national television network was seen on Wednesday when Dave Revsine and the Big Ten Network football crew broke down each team's class, and spoke with several conference coaches. For more on the BTN's coverage of National Signing Day 2008, click here.

[SIX // as one football season begins, another one ends]
Represented by 14 players in Super Bowl XLII, the Big Ten saw impressive performances by some of its former players last Sunday in New York's 17-14 championship win over New England. Minnesota's Laurence Maroney scampered for 142 all-purpose yards and one touchdown for the Patriots, but it was Michigan State's Plaxico Burress who stole the show. Despite having only caught two passes for 27 yards, the N.Y. receiver's 13-yard touchdown reception with 35 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winner.

In addition, Michigan's Tom Brady threw for 266 yards and a score, while Ohio State's Mike Vrabel posted two tackles for the Patriots. On the Giants' side of the ball, Michigan's Amani Toomer hauled in six passes for 84 yards and Penn State's Jay Alford registered two tackles and a sack.

[SEVEN // tippet tabbed for hall of fame]
Congratulations to former Iowa Hawkeye Andre Tippett, who learned last Saturday that he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tippett, who made the NFL's 1980s All-Decade team and currently serves as the New England Patriots' director of community affairs, was thought to be the Lawrence Taylor-like dominant linebacker of the AFC during his time.

"This is by far the proudest moment of my professional football career," said Tippett in a release. "I will be joining the greats of the game and I am deeply honored."

[EIGHT // another former hawkeye spotted at the super bowl]
Andre Tippett was not the only former Iowa Hawkeye football player to be spotted at Super Bowl XLII on Sunday. Scott Helverson, a former 6-foot-2, 195-pound walk-on from Des Moines, Iowa, served as the back judge for Super Bowl XLII. During his time in Iowa City, Helverson earned a scholarship and went on to be named the team's Most Valuable Player as a possession receiver. As a senior, he caught 54 passes for 703 yards and five touchdowns. For more on Helverson's story, follow this link to the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

[NINE // spring sports opening up this weekend, including golf]
Yes, this is a big opening week for Big Ten baseball and softball, but the conference also has golf teams hitting the links, albeit down south away from the snowy Midwest. In the past weeks we have highlighted the nationally-ranked baseball and softball teams in the conference, so this week we will shine the light on the Big Ten linksters. On the men's side, Michigan State enters the spring ranked 15th by Golfweek/Sagarin, followed by No. 21 Indiana, No. 22 Penn State, No. 34 Michigan, Northwestern and No. 48 Illinois rounding out the nation's top 50. Individually, Michigan State's Ryan Brehm is rated ninth, while Minnesota's Clayton Rask is 11th, Penn State's Kevin Foley is 36th and Indiana's Jorge Campillo is 41st.

On the women's side, Purdue leads all conference teams at No. 11. Michigan State follows in 21st, while Ohio State is 38th and Indiana is 46th. The Boilermakers' Maria Hernandez ranks 13th in the nation indivudally, followed closely by Michigan State's Laura Kueny in 15th and Purdue's Christina Boeljon in 25th.

[TEN // no need to leave the state for buckeyes' next volleyball coach]
Last week the Big Ten had a chance to welcome in a new Michigan women's soccer coach, so this week we will do the same for the Buckeyes. Congratulations and welcome to Geoff Carlston, the new Ohio State women's volleyball coach. Carlston was a four-time MAC Coach of the Year and two-time Mideast Region Coach of the Year in his five seasons at Ohio University. He replaces the recently retired Jim Stone, who was featured on bigten.org back in the fall.

[ELEVEN // a legend of the game]
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not tip our cap to a man who was both a student-athlete and coach in the Big Ten. Former Ohio State basketball player and legendary Indiana coach Bob Knight announced his retirement from the game on Monday. Knight had been the head coach at Texas Tech since 2001, but will long be remembered for his success at Indiana. While he became the game's all-time winningest coach when he surpassed Dean Smith's total of 880 wins on Jan. 1, 2007, and retired with a career record of 902-371, the majority of those wins came during his 29 seasons in Bloomington. Under his watch, Knight's Hoosiers went 662-239 from 1971-2000.

At Indiana, Knight won three NCAA Championships (1976, 1981, 1987) and a conference record 11 Big Ten titles (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 and 1993). He also earned several Big Ten and National Coach of the Year awards and was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

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