This Week in the Big Ten

Purdue's Molly Garst is one of six Big Ten standouts to be named a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for softball.

Feb. 19, 2012

[ONE // goldy is golden]
Congratulations to the Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team on capturing the 2012 Big Ten Championship Saturday at the Campus and Recreation Wellness Center in Iowa City, Iowa.  The Golden Gophers were led by Tess Behrens and Haley Spencer on the final day of competition, helping the Maroon and Gold amass 680.5 points over the four-day event.  Indiana finished second with 651 points and Ohio State was third with 560 points. Wisconsin tallied 411 points, while Penn State compiled 379.5 points to complete the top five in the final team standings.  Purdue (285), Northwestern (258) and Michigan (241) followed sixth through eighth, while Iowa (201), Illinois (84), Nebraska (82) and Michigan State (65) rounded out the 12-team field.

[TWO // handing out the hardware]
Following the conclusion of the Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, several individual awards were handed out, including the top honors of the season.  Minnesota, which took home five individual Big Ten titles during the meet, saw head coach Kelly Kremer pick up Swimming Coach of the Year laurels and Golden Gopher sophomore Maggie Keefer tabbed as Diver of the Championships.  Indiana's Allysa Vavra claimed Swimmer of the Championships honors, Iowa's Becky Stoughton was selected Freshman of the Year, and Ohio State's Vince Panzano earned Diving Coach of the Year accolades.  More than 50 All-Conference awards were also handed out, including first- and second-team honorees.  In addition, 12 representatives were also named as sport honorees for the Big Ten’s Sportsmanship Award.  A full list of individual honorees can be found by clicking here.

[THREE // michigan state manning the mbb standings]
Following a 76-62 victory over Purdue on CBS Sunday afternoon, No. 7/8 Michigan State has sole possession of first place in the Big Ten men’s basketball standings at 11-3.  Ohio State and Michigan follow in second place at 10-4, after the Wolverines’ 56-51 upset win over the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor on Saturday.  Wisconsin sits fourth in the conference standings, having been beaten by MSU 69-55 on Thursday before rebounding to knock off Penn State 65-55 on Sunday.  Indiana, which earned its first 20-win season in the Tom Crean era with a 71-66 battle over Northwestern Wednesday, struggled to keep the momentum Sunday and fell 78-66 at Iowa.  The Hawkeyes were paced by Matt Gatens career-high 30 points and seven 3-pointers, which might not have even been the top individual performance this past week.  On Saturday, John Shurna broke Billy McKinney’s all-time school scoring record while adding 18 points in a 64-53 victory over Minnesota.

[FOUR // tis the top honor to get]
Congratulations to Indiana men’s basketball freshman standout Cody Zeller, who was named one of five finalists for the 2012 Wayman Tisdale Award, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced on Wednesday. The award is presented to the men's National Freshman of the Year and presented at a gala banquet on April 16 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The announcement of the winner will come at the USBWA College Basketball Awards Breakfast on March 30 in New Orleans in conjunction with the NCAA Men's Final Four.  The other four finalists were Kentucky teammates Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Duke's Austin Rivers, and Washington's Tony Wroten.  Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger captured the award last year.

[FIVE // state of the state]
Following 14 women’s basketball conference contests, Penn State holds a slight one-game advantage in the standings over Ohio State at 11-3.  The No. 12/17 Lady Lions opened the week Thursday with a 74-63 road win at Purdue in a game that featured seven ties and 12 lead changes.  The victory marked PSU’s first in West Lafayette since Jan. 2, 2004.  Ohio State founded the win column the same night with a 75-54 victory over Indiana, as did Northwestern with a shocking 63-51 upset over 16th-ranked Nebraska in Lincoln.  The Huskers sit in a logjam at 9-5 with Iowa, Michigan State and Purdue.  The Spartans knocked off the Boilermakers 67-52 in overtime on Sunday

[SIX // pair of big ten guards on point]
Two Big Ten women’s basketball stars have been named finalists for the 13th Annual Nancy Lieberman Award, honoring the nation's top collegiate point guard in women's basketball.  Congratulations to Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore and Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis on earning the honor.  The criteria for the award are the floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills that personified Hall of Famer, Nancy Lieberman during her career. Sportswriters from across the country have determined this final nominee list. They will select three finalists from this list and one winner at the beginning of April 2012. The announcement of the three finalists and one winner will be made during the Final Four Weekend (April 1-3, 2012). We will invite the winner to attend the award luncheon in Detroit, Mich.

[SEVEN // gophers back on top at national duals]
Congratulations to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on capturing the 2012 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Dual Championship.  Minnesota defeated top-ranked Oklahoma State 18-13 in the championship dual Sunday evening in Stillwater, Okla.  The Big Ten was well-represented at the event, as the Gophers were joined by Illinois and Iowa in the four-team field.  In the semifinals, the Gophers barely squeaked past the Hawkeyes by a 16-15 count, while Illinois dropped a 19-15 bout to the Cowboys.  In the battle for third place, Iowa ran away with the match, scoring a 28-6 result over Illinois.

[EIGHT // take me out to the ballgame… or sit inside and watch it on btn]
At least 176 Big Ten baseball and softball games will be broadcast by BTN on television or online in 2012, all in high definition, it was announced this past week by the Big Ten and BTN.  The Network will nationally televise at least 32 conference baseball games, including the entire Big Ten Baseball Tournament. It will also stream at least 51 additional games on the Big Ten Digital Network.  At least 27 Big Ten softball games will be broadcast on BTN this season, with a minimum of 66 additional games streamed on the digital network. A select number of streamed baseball and softball games will be televised on delay through BTN’s Student U initiative.  The entire broadcast schedule can be found by clicking here, while the complete streaming schedules will be announced at a later date.

[NINE // sparty the pick to click]
After winning a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1979, Michigan State has been selected by the conference coaches as the favorite to win in 2012, the Big Ten office announced on Tuesday. The conference’s baseball coaches voted on the top six teams and also selected three players from their own squads to a “Players to Watch” list. Following the Spartans on the coaches’ preseason top six list are No. 2 Purdue, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Illinois.  Michigan State returns 26 players from last year’s squad including Players to Watch Torsten Boss, Tony Bucciferro and Ryan Jones. All three were first-team All-Big Ten honorees last season, while Boss has earned preseason All-America accolades. The Spartans are led by Jake Boss Jr., who was named the 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year.

[TEN // let the season and challenge begin]
The Big Ten baseball season got underway this past week with 11 of the 12 teams participating in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Fla.  The Big Ten received wins from Iowa and Michigan State on Day 1 of the event, but trailed 6-2 heading into the weekend.  It was moving day on Saturday though, as the Big Ten picked up ground by winning seven games to trail 11-9 going into Sunday’s finale.  The rally continued for the conference as the Big Ten picked up six wins on Sunday to conclude the 2012 Big Ten/Big East Challenge in a 15-15 tie.  For a complete breakdown of the Challenge contests, followed the Big Ten Baseball Blog by clicking here.

[ELEVEN // purdue and michigan off to the races in softball standings]
Purdue and Michigan have stormed out of the gates quickly in the Big Ten softball standings as the Boilermakers are a perfect 4-0 on the year, while the Wolverines at 8-1.  Minnesota (7-2) and Nebraska (8-3) follow closely behind the frontrunners.  Purdue had its perfect mark in jeopardy on Sunday, but rallied to remain undefeated.  The Boilers scored five runs in the final two innings of a shortened game to come back from a 6-5 deficit and post a 10-6 win over the previously undefeated New Mexico Lobos (9-1).  The 11th-ranked Wolverines scored four unearned runs in the fifth inning and recorded its fourth consecutive shutout with a 4-0 win over Wright State in the finale of the FAU Kickoff Classic on Sunday morning.

[TWELVE // they’ve got class]
Finally this week, the Big Ten lead all conferences with six players selected as candidates for the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for softball, awarded annually to the student-athlete who excels both on and off the field.  Iowa's Liz Watkins, Michigan's Bree Evans, Nebraska's Ashley Guile and Ashley Hagemann, Northwestern's Adrienne Monka and Purdue's Molly Garst were named to the list of 30 candidates, which will be trimmed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season. The winner will be announced at the Women's College World Series.