This Week in the Big Ten

Michigan State's Brandon Eckerle joined Minnesota's Scott Matyas as two of the 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award this past week.

Michigan State's Brandon Eckerle joined Minnesota's Scott Matyas as two of the 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award this past week.

Feb. 27, 2011

[ONE // continuing to the celebrate black history month]
The Big Ten's Black History Month campaign continued this week with human-interest features posted on former student-athletes from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin.  The  Nittany Lions' Bob White was highlighted on Monday, followed by Northwestern's Ndidi Opia Massay on Tuesday, Indiana's Quinn Buckner on Wednesday, Illinois' Celena Mondie-Milner on Thursday, MSU basketball star Steve Smith on Friday, and Wisconsin's Pam Moore on the weekend.  For more on the Big Ten's Black History Month campaign, click here.

[TWO // a magical big ten icon]
Sometimes, the athletes at the top of their sport need only to be identified by one name.  In boxing, there is Ali. In soccer, there is Pele. In basketball, there is Magic.  Considered by many to be the greatest point guard in basketball history, and arguably one of the best players regardless of position, Earvin "Magic" Johnson became one of the most celebrated and accomplished players ever. The world was introduced to Magic at Michigan State.  Earlier this week Johnson was named the No. 2 Big Ten Icon by the Big Ten Network. Presented by Discover and hosted by Keith Jackson, Big Ten Icons continued Sunday with a profile on the Spartan legend.  Click here to view Magic's Big Ten Icon locker for more information.

[THREE // michigan men earn big ten title in the pool]
Michigan captured its 35th Big Ten Championship on Saturday evening at the University Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Minn. The Wolverines earned the conference crown with 678 points, followed by Indiana with 604. Ohio State finished the meet in third place with 593 tallies, followed by Minnesota (505.5) and Purdue (343.5) rounding out the top five in the overall team standings.  Wolverine skipper Mike Bottom earned Coach of the Year honors while Purdue's Adam Soldati picked up his third straight Diving Coach of the Year award. For their efforts, Minnesota's Michael Richards and Purdue's David Boudia earn Swimmer and Diver of the Championships, respectively. Michigan newcomer Kyle Whitaker earned the nod as Freshman of the Year.  All-Big Ten teams were also named, and a complete list of the honorees can be found by clicking here.

[FOUR // minnesota track men win again]
Four individual champions propelled Minnesota to its third straight Big Ten men's indoor track and field championship on Sunday at the University of Illinois Armory.  The title marked the fourth conference crown for Minnesota.  Over the weekend, the Gophers totaled 117.33 team points with Indiana second compiling 104.5 team tallies and Wisconsin third with 96 points. Iowa finished with 88 tallies while Ohio State rounded out the top five, scoring 86 points. The entire 2011 Big Ten Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships will be aired by the Big Ten Network on March 12 at 2 p.m. ET.  For a complete look at the first and second team All-Big Ten selections, click here.

[FIVE // ohio state women earn first-ever big ten track title]
Ohio State captured its first-ever Big Ten Indoor Championship on Sunday inside Purdue's Lambert Fieldhouse. The Buckeyes posted two individual conference titles, five silver medals and 16 top-five finishes on the weekend to total 122.50 points.  Penn State placed second with 86 points, followed by Minnesota (73) and Michigan (68.50) in third and fourth place, respectively. Indiana rounded out the top-five spots with 67 team tallies.  The Big Ten Women's Indoor Championship can be seen on the Big Ten Network on March 12, at 4 p.m. ET. For a complete look at the first and second team All-Big Ten selections, click here.

[SIX // spartans earn outright women's basketball title; tournament bracket announced]
The Big Ten announced on Sunday the bracket for the 2011 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament, with conference champion Michigan State earning the No. 1 seed. The tournament is set for March 3-6 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. After finishing the season with a 13-3 mark in Big Ten play, which earned Michigan State the outright conference title, the Spartans received the tournament's top seed for the first time in school history. MSU put together its eighth-straight 20-win season, closing out the regular season with a 25-4 overall record. They will play their first tournament game in Friday's second session at 6 p.m. ET after earning a first-round bye for the ninth consecutive year.  Penn State earned the No. 2 seed, followed by No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Iowa and No. 5 Ohio State.  Rounding out the field is No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 Northwestern, No. 9 Minnesota, No. 10 Indiana and No. 11 Illinois.

[SEVEN // final wrestling rankings are in]
The final NCAA Wrestling Coaches Panel Rankings were released on Wednesday, with 75 Big Ten wrestlers making the cut in their respective weight classes. The NCAA also released its qualifier allocations for the 2011 Wrestling Championships, giving 64 of the 282 qualifying slots, the most of any conference, to the Big Ten. Wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships solely based on their finish at the conference championships and how many qualifiers each conference is given in each weight class.  The Big Ten has five representatives ranked at 125 and 165 pounds, six at 141, 157, 184, 197 and 285, and eight at 133, 149, and 174.

[EIGHT // all-americans in the classroom]
Two Big Ten basketball players were honored this past week as Academic All-Americans. Minnesota's Blake Hoffarber was named a Capital One Academic All-American, CoSIDA announced on Tuesday. The senior maintains a 3.50 grade-point average as a finance major and is among the Big Ten's leading scorers.  On the women's side, Wisconsin's Alyssa Karel earned Academic-All-America status by CoSIDA on Thursday. The Badger senior was named a third team Academic All-American and carries a 3.88 grade-point average as a nursing major. On the court, Karel has guided the Wisconsin to third place in the conference standings this season.

[NINE // northwestern field hockey the smartest of them all]
Northwestern was recognized Tuesday by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) for achieving the highest collective team GPA among all Division I field hockey programs for the fall academic period. The Wildcats placed 13 individuals on the 2010 Academic All-Big Ten team, amassed a team GPA of 3.54 for the fall quarter.  Five other Big Ten schools were honored with achieving a team GPA of 3.0 or higher, including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.

[TEN // class acts]
Michigan State outfielder Brandon Eckerle and Minnesota pitcher Scott Matyas were named two of the 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award this past week. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Eckerle maintains a 3.98 GPA in general business administration with an emphasis in pre-law, while Matyas has a 3.21 GPA in sports management.

[ELEVEN // a freshman finalist]
Finally this week, the USBWA announced on Friday that Ohio State's Jared Sullinger was named one of five finalists for the 2011 Wayman Tisdale Award, presented to the men's National Freshman of the Year.  Sullinger joins Kentucky teammates Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, Baylor's Perry Jones III and Texas' Tristan Thompson as finalists. The announcement of the winner will come at the USBWA Awards Breakfast on Fri., April 1 in Houston in conjunction with the NCAA Men's Final Four.