This Week in the Big Ten

Michigan was the lone Big Ten rowing team to begin its 2010 season this past week.

Michigan was the lone Big Ten rowing team to begin its 2010 season this past week.

March 7, 2010

[ONE // buckeyes top hawkeyes for women’s basketball tournament title]
Congratulations to the Ohio State women’s basketball team on capturing the Big Ten Tournament title Sunday with a 66-64 victory over Iowa.  The Buckeyes (30-4) tied the school record for wins by earning their second straight conference tournament championship.  Jantel Lavender tied a Big Ten Tournament record by scoring 35 points, with her final two coming on winning free throws with just 1.9 seconds left.  Lavender was named the Most Outstanding Player for her efforts.  In addition, BigTen.org spent the week chronicling the amazing atmosphere around the Big Ten Tournament in a blog which can be found here.

[TWO // parity present in women’s basketball postseason honors]
The Big Ten office announced Monday the 2010 All-Big Ten women’s basketball teams and individual award winners, and parity was quite present for the different awards. Highlighting the list was Ohio State junior Jantel Lavender, who was named Big Ten Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. She becomes just the second player in Big Ten women’s basketball history to earn the award in three straight years, joining former Buckeye Jessica Davenport (2005-06-07).  Iowa’s Jaime Printy was named Freshman of the Year by the conference coaches and a panel of media members, while Hawkeye head coach Lisa Bluder was named Coach of the Year by the media, and Wisconsin’s Lisa Stone earned the same honor from her peers. The conference coaches also selected Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan as the Defensive Player of the Year and Spartan Kalisha Keane as the Sixth Player of the Year.  All-Big Ten teams and Sportsmanship Award honorees were also announced Monday and a complete look at all postseason accolades can be found here.

[THREE // once, twice, three times a champion]
Being a Big Ten Basketball Champion means everything.  Perhaps that is why three men’s teams have earned the right to that title this season.  The Big Ten’s first 2009-10 champion was crowned Tuesday night when Ohio State defeated Illinois 73-57.  It’s the third regular season championship under Thad Matta and the 18th conference title in program history.  On Saturday, Purdue joined the fray by beating Penn State 64-60 to grab a share of the league crown at 14-4.  The conference title is the first in 14 years for the Boilermakers.  The next day the conference trophy would be split into thirds as Michigan State topped Michigan 64-48 to win its second straight title and sixth under coach Tom Izzo.

[FOUR // now it’s time for the men’s tourney]
While one Big Ten Basketball Tournament ended on Sunday, another one was just beginning.  The field is set for the 2010 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament that will take place Thursday-Sunday, March 11-14, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Although Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue completed the regular season with identical conference records at 14-4, the Buckeyes earned the top seed by virtue of their higher win percentage versus the group. The tiebreaking procedures also made Purdue the No. 2 seed, while Michigan State clinched the No. 3 spot.  Wisconsin and Illinois were the No. 4 and 5 seeds, respectively, while No. 6 Minnesota, No. 7 Northwestern, No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 Iowa, No. 10 Indiana and No. 11 Penn State rounded out the field.  The 13th annual Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will tip off on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

[FIVE // hawkeyes reign again on wrestling mat]
Having all of their wrestlers finish in fourth place or higher, the Iowa Hawkeyes won their 34th Big Ten Championship and third in a row Sunday afternoon on the final day of the 2010 Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich.  Iowa finished with 156.5 points and had a pair of individual champions en route to victory. Minnesota earned runner-up honors with 119.5 points, while Wisconsin was third with 109 points and Ohio State was fourth with 102.5 points.  Penn State (91.0), Purdue (76.0) and Michigan State (68.5) followed in places fifth through seventh, Illinois (64.0) and Indiana (64.0) tied for eighth, and Michigan (57.5) and Northwestern (20.0) rounded out the field.  View the complete recap and all the postseason individual honors by clicking here.

[SIX // converging to create a challenge]
Over the past decade, conference “challenges” have become the quite the popular event in a number of different sports.  It’s a way to showcase one strong conference against another, but these challenges have always included current student-athletes.  Until now.  In a cooperative effort, USA Wrestling and the NCAA will present an exhibition men's freestyle wrestling dual meet – dubbed the Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge – as part of the NCAA Fan Festival which is held alongside the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Neb.  The event will feature wrestlers who competed for universities in these prestigious conferences as undergraduates, who now happen to be pursuing their Olympic dreams in men's freestyle wrestling.

[SEVEN // tracking the track honors]
The Big Ten office announced Tuesday the 2010 All-Big Ten women’s indoor track and field teams and individual award winners. Highlighting the list, Penn State junior Shavon Greaves was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Minnesota senior Alicia Rue earned the nod as Field Athlete of the Year. Michigan’s Jillian Smith was tabbed Freshman of the Year by the conference coaches while Nittany Lion head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan was named Coach of the Year by her peers. In addition, Nittany Lion senior Bridget Franek was tabbed Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships while seniors Aja Evans of Illinois and Faith Sherrill of Indiana took home Field Co-Athletes of the Championships laurels for their outstanding performances last week.

[EIGHT // another amazing accolade for angela]
Illinois' Angela Bizzarri has been named as Division I’s female cross country Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2009 season, it was announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday. Bizzarri is also among 104 given All-Academic status for the previous cross country season for their efforts in the classroom and on nation’s cross country courses.  Bizzarri, a senior from Mason, Ohio, has a 3.62 cumulative GPA in the field of Molecular and Cellular Biology. The Scholar-Athlete of the Year award goes to the highest individual finisher from the previous year’s NCAA Cross Country Championship among those given USTFCCCA All-Academic status.

[NINE // row your boat]
The 2010 Big Ten rowing season began this weekend with Michigan traveling to Florida to face Miami on Saturday in non-scoring competition. The Wolverines boated a first and second varsity eight, while the Hurricanes boated a first varsity eight. Michigan won each of the three pieces with the first varsity eight earning the top spot followed by the second varsity eight and the Miami first varsity eight.  The Wolverines were the lone conference squad to compete over the weekend.

[TEN // award honors current students, former commish]
Northwestern football player Mark Ison and Ohio State diver Chelsea Davis were named Tuesday as the recipients of the 2010 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award presented by the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership. The award is an annual scholarship recognizing one male and one female Big Ten senior student-athlete pursuing a postgraduate degree for achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership. It is given out in conjunction with the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. 

[ELEVEN // immortalizing icons]
Finally this week, we honor those whom we have been honored to follow for decades.  Throughout the Big Ten’s illustrious history, many student-athletes have defined excellence: National Champions, All-Americans, Olympians. Their jerseys hang from the rafters. They are the standard against which all others are measured, the players who made the conference big.  Beginning this fall, the Big Ten Network will celebrate these individuals with its most ambitious project in its three-year history: a multi-platform event whose centerpiece is a new 20-episode series, Big Ten Icons, hosted by legendary college sports broadcaster Keith Jackson. The show debuts Sept. 18 following a Big Ten Network football telecast in which Icon No. 20 will be revealed. The countdown continues every Tuesday night through the end of football season and into the spring.  The No. 1 Big Ten Icon will be revealed around the 2011 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.  Prior to the show’s on-air launch, Icons 50 through 21 will be revealed online daily beginning in early September at www.BigTenIcons.com and www.facebook.com/BigTenIcons.  The website will include a text and video feature on each Icon.