This Week in the Big Ten

Michigan State shocked Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday and now sit atop the Big Ten standings with the Buckeyes at 9-3.

Feb. 12, 2012

[ONE // spartans shock buckeyes in columbus]
Michigan State saw a true comeback of Draymond Green and a return to the top of the Big Ten men's basketball standings Saturday following a 58-48 victory at No. 3/3 Ohio State.  The MSU win ended the Buckeyes' 39-game home winning streak.  The No. 11/12 Spartans and Buckeyes now share the conference lead at 9-3.  Michigan sits third at 9-4 after a 70-61 victory over Illinois on Sunday, while Wisconsin ranks fourth at 8-4.  The Badgers held off a feisty Minnesota ballclub on Thursday and dropped the Golden Gophers in overtime, 68-61.  For more on where the men's basketball teams rank, click here.

[TWO // lady lions remain a game ahead of ohio state and purdue]
The Penn State women's basketball team did its job this past week to earn a one-game lead in the Big Ten women's basketball standings.  PSU defended its home court on Thursday with a 69-54 victory over Wisconsin and followed with a 77-63 win over Northwestern on Sunday.  The Lady Lions are 10-3 in conference play and sit a full game ahead of the Buckeyes and Boilermakers at 9-3.  No. 11/10 OSU opened the week with a 72-58 win over the Badgers, but dropped a 66-65 heartbreaker at Illinois on Thursday.  The win marked the first for Illinois against a ranked team since defeating the Buckeyes in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament and the first over a top-10 team since defeating No. 10 Minnesota in 2003.  Ohio State fought back though and captured an 80-71 victory over Purdue on Sunday in the Boilermakers' lone contest of the week.

[THREE // buckeyes earn midseason honors]
Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis were named to the USBWA National Player of the Year Midseason Watch List on Thursday, two of 20 players from around the country to earn the distinction. The two are in the running to win the national honor, which will be announced on April 3.

[FOUR // tourney tickets]
Beginning Monday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. ET, both all-session and single-session tickets for the 2012 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament will be on sale to the general public. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at or by calling (800) 745-3000, and through the Bankers Life Fieldhouse box office.  Single-session ticket prices vary from $10 to $16 depending on the sessions, while all-session tickets are available for $70. Other than the fan blocks for that university's respective games, the women's tournament will feature general admission seating, allowing fans to witness the action from the best available seats in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis will be the site of the women's tournament from March 1-4. The tournament week features all 12 Big Ten teams competing in 11 games over four days for the 2012 tournament crown and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

[FIVE // the diamond is a girl's best friend]
The Big Ten softball season began this past week with Nebraska kicking things off on Thursday and Michigan closing out the weekend with a tournament title and a perfect 4-0 record.  The Huskers helped the collegiate game kick off opening day at the Kajikawa Classic, but fell 4-0 to Washington.  Conference teams faced six squads ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA poll on Friday and posted wins in three of those contests.  Nebraska rebounded to defeat eighth-ranked Arizona, Penn State topped No. 22 LSU, and Northwestern beat Texas Tech, which was receiving votes this past week.  On Sunday, a rare non-conference conference matchup took place with No. 15 Michigan ousting Penn State in five innings, 12-1, to claim the Tiger Classic title.  The Wolverines finished the weekend 4-0, followed by Minnesota (3-1), Iowa (3-2), Nebraska (3-3), and Indiana (2-2).

[SIX // big ten takes three of four regional titles at nwca national duals]
In a new format this season, the NWCA National Duals was split up into four different regionals, with the winners advancing to a "final four" battle next weekend.  That format paid off for the Big Ten as Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota claimed their respective regional titles.  No. 6 Illinois clinched the Cornell Regional with wins over No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 5 Cornell.  Iowa captured its regional crown with wins over No. 23 Virginia Tech and No. 16 Oregon State.  No. 4 Minnesota topped Kent State and Missouri to claim its regional championship.   Oklahoma State clinched the other regional title and will now host the three Big Ten squads for the NWCA National Duals Final Four next week.

[SEVEN // big ten well-represented in opinion of ncaa wrestling coaches' panel]
The Big Ten is well-represented in the second of three sets of NCAA coaches' panel rankings, with 90 wrestlers earning spots in the top 33 of their respective weight classes. Four Big Ten grapplers have taken the top spots in their classes, as Iowa's Matt McDonough (125 pounds), Michigan's Kellen Russell (141), and Penn State's Frank Molinaro (149) and David Taylor (165) each earned No. 1 rankings in the latest edition. The Big Ten boasts at least six ranked wrestlers in each weight class, including double-digit numbers in half of the classes. Eleven conference wrestlers are ranked at 149 and 197, while 10 are ranked at 165, 174 and heavyweight.  Additionally, the first individual RPI rankings were released this past week, with 75 Big Ten wrestlers ranking in the top 33 of their class. Molinaro, Taylor and fellow Nittany Lion Ed Ruth (174 pounds) boast No. 1 RPI ratings in their weight class.  The final set of coaches' panel rankings and the RPI are two of the three tools used as part of the selection process to determine the qualifiers for the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

[EIGHT // northwestern golf wins third straight match play championship]
Northwestern won its third consecutive Big Ten Match Play Championship on Saturday at The Concession Golf Club, defeating Minnesota 3-1-1 in the finals to take the crown. Wins from Eric Chun, Jack Perry and Bennett Lavin pushed the seventh-seeded Wildcats to the win over the eighth-seeded Gophers, giving Northwestern its 14th win in 15 matches all-time at the Match Play Championship.  The Wildcats advanced past No. 10 Penn State on a tiebreaker after playing to a 3-3-0 draw in the first round. Northwestern then picked up a 4-2-0 win over No. 2 Iowa in the quarterfinals, followed by a 5-1-0 victory against No. 6 Ohio State to advance to the finals.

[NINE // two illini vie for hogan award]
Speaking of golf, Illinois' Luke Guthrie and Thomas Pieters have been named to the watch list for the Ben Hogan Award, given to the top collegiate golfer in the country. Illinois is one of six teams to have two players named to the watch list. Ten semifinalists for the award will be announced on April 11, while three finalists will be named on May 10, with the winner announced on May 21.

[TEN // wolverine and wildcat women conclude play at ita national indoor championships; buckeye men selected]
The Michigan and Northwestern women's tennis teams finished up play in the quarterfinal consolation bracket of the ITA National Indoor Championships on Sunday.  The No. 10 Wolverines earned upsets at the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles positions but could not overcome an early deficit against No. 6 Georgia, falling 4-2.  No. 12 Northwestern closed out the event with a 4-3 loss to No. 17 Tennessee.  On the men's side, Ohio State will have the opportunity to vie for the ITA National Indoor Championship after being selected to the field this past week.  The action will take place at the University of Virginia, Feb. 17-20.  The first matches of the day feature third-seeded Ohio State facing the No. 14 seed Texas, as well as sixth-seeded Kentucky against No. 11 seed Texas A&M. All four teams will be looking to claim their first ITA National Men's Team Indoor crown after successfully defending their home courts as part of ITA Kick-Off Weekend.

[ELEVEN // impressive individual performances]
Several impressive individual performances were recorded around the conference this past, including a number on the track.  To highlight a few, Indiana's men's distance medley relay combined for a world-leading time of 9:29.12, which is tied for the fifth fastest on the all-time world indoor list, the third fastest all-time indoors by an group of Americans, and tied for fourth fastest in indoor collegiate history.  Two school records were shattered this past week at Ohio State.  Cory Leslie set a new school record in the 800m Saturday evening at the Flotrack Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., with a time of 1:48.11 - the eighth-best in Division I this season.  At the Don Kirby Elite Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.,  Demoye Bogle posted a school-record time of 7.76 seconds* in the 60m hurdles on Friday - the eighth best in Division I this season.  In addition, freshman Robby Creese became just the third athlete in Penn State history to break the four-minute barrier in the mile run Saturday at the Flotrack Husky Classic.  Creese continues to ride the momentum of one of the most impressive freshman campaigns in recent memory, running 3:59.52 for the mile to finish second to Princeton's Peter Callahan in Seattle. His effort is the second fastest in Penn State indoor history, trailing only Ryan Foster's 3:58.49 from 2011.  On the softball field, Minnesota opened the season in spectacular fashion as sophomore Sara Moulton threw a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Kent State on Saturday.  Moulton, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, recorded the 15th no-hitter in Minnesota history after totaling nine strike outs and allowing just four Kent State base runners.

[TWELVE // btn to air seven winter championships]
Finally this week, BTN will televise seven winter Big Ten Championships for the fifth consecutive year, including men's and women's swimming and diving, wrestling, men's and women's indoor track and field and men's and women's gymnastics. Every event will be produced in high definition, including live coverage of the entire Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships, the final rounds of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships and the final session of the Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships.  Coverage begins at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 25, with the Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships from the University of Iowa. The Big Ten Men's Swimming and Diving Championships will air at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 3, from Iowa City, Iowa.