This Week in the Big Ten

Michigan State's Tom Izzo, who has led his top-seeded Spartans to the Sweet 16, was named the National Coach of the Year by this past week.

March 18, 2012

[ONE // champs once again]
Penn State won its second NCAA Wrestling Championships title in as many seasons after picking up three individual weight class titles on Saturday night at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Nittany Lions accrued 143 team points en route to the national title, while Minnesota and Iowa rounded out the top three with 117.5 and 107.5 points, respectively.  The Nittany Lions' Frank Molinaro (149 pounds), David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (174) each won titles to push Penn State to the national crown, while Iowa's Matt McDonough (125), Ohio State's Logan Stieber (133), Michigan's Kellen Russell (141) and Minnesota's Tony Nelson (285) also won national championships on Saturday to give the Big Ten seven of the 10 individual champions.

[TWO // hooray for j and taylor]
Congratulations to Minnesota head wrestling coach J Robinson on being named the NWCA Coach of the Year following the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships.  In addition, Penn State’s David Taylor was honored with individual awards as the Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships and for most pins at the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

[THREE // lucky 13]
The Big Ten set a conference record with a combined 13 men's and women's basketball teams earning berths to their respective NCAA Tournaments, surpassing the previous record of 12, which was set in 1990 (seven men's teams, five women's) and matched in 2009 (seven men's, five women's) and again in 2011 (seven men's, five women's).  Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin represent the conference in the men's tournament, while Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue earned spots in the women's tournament. The seven women's teams marks a Big Ten record, while the six men's teams is tied for the second-highest total in conference history.

[FOUR // how sweet it is]
Four Big Ten men’s basketball teams – Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin – have advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Championship, which ties a conference record.  Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin all advanced to regional play on Saturday, while Michigan State punched its ticket on Sunday.  Draymond Green registered a triple-double Friday to help the Spartans to an 89-67 victory over No. 16 seed LIU Brooklyn.  MSU responded on Sunday with a 65-61 win over No. 9 seed Saint Louis.  Indiana earned its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2002 with a 63-61 result over No. 12 VCU, which followed a 79-66 win over No. 13 New Mexico State on Thursday.  Ohio State dropped No. 15 Loyola Maryland 78-59 on Thursday and backed it up with a 73-66 win over No. 7 Gonzaga on Saturday.  The Badgers opened the tournament with a 73-49 drubbing of No. 13 Montana and then defeated Vanderbilt 60-57 on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16.

[FIVE // close calls]
Elsewhere in Big Ten basketball, Purdue nearly became the conference’s fifth team to earn a Sweet 16 bid by almost knocking off No. 2 seed Kansas, 63-60, Sunday night.  The Boilermakers had advanced to the Round of 32 following a 72-69 victory over No. 7 St. Mary’s on Friday.  Michigan dropped its NCAA Championship opener to Sweet 16-bound and 13th-seeded Ohio, 65-60, on Friday.  Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern were all selected to the Postseason NIT this past week.  On Tuesday, Iowa opened with an 84-75 win over Dayton, while the Wildcats scored a 76-74 thriller over Akron.  Minnesota bounced La Salle 70-61 on Wednesday.  On Friday, top-seeded Washington defeated No. 4 seed Northwestern 76-55, and Iowa dropped a high-scoring contest Sunday at Oregon, 108-97.  Minnesota will head back on the road to take on the University of Miami in the second round of the NIT on Monday night.     

[SIX // the nation’s best]
Congratulations to Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, who was named National Coach of the Year by on Tuesday. Izzo led the Spartans to the Big Ten Tournament title, a share of the Big Ten Championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  Izzo was also named the 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year, marking the third time he has won the award (1998, 2009).  For Izzo, this is the seventh time he has been named National Coach of the Year by a major organization. He also was named the top coach in the country in 1998 (Associated Press, Basketball News, United States Basketball Writers Association), 1999 (Basketball Times), 2001 (National Association of Basketball Coaches) and 2005 (Clair Bee).

[SEVEN // sensational seven]
A conference record seven teams were selected into the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship field of 64, it was announced this past Monday night. Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue were representing the conference in the tournament this past week, marking the first time in Big Ten history seven teams have advanced to the NCAA Tournament field, one more than the previous record of six (1996, 2002, 2003, 2004).  Purdue, seeded fourth in the Fresno Regional, opened its run in the 2012 NCAA Tournament with an 83-68 victory over South Dakota State on Saturday, setting up a Monday contest against South Carolina. Michigan State, the No. 10 seed in the Raleigh Regional, fell 67-55 to Louisville, 67-55.  Penn State also advanced in the NCAA Tournament with an 85-77 win Sunday evening over 13th-seeded UTEP.  The Lady Lions will now face No. 5 seed LSU in the second round Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.  The other four conference teams dropped their tournament openers Sunday as Iowa fell 84-74 to California, Michigan lost 88-67 to Oklahoma, Nebraska was stopped 57-49 by Kansas, and Ohio State was defeated 70-65 by Florida.  Additionally, Minnesota was named to the Women's Basketball Invitational, where the Gophers defeated Charleson Southern 80-51 on Friday and Bradley on Sunday by an 85-59 count.  With the win, Pam Borton's squad improved to .500 on the year with a 17-17 record and advanced to the WBI Semifinals where it will face No. 8 seed Manhattan at Williams Arena Friday at 7:00 p.m.   

[EIGHT // four for region six]
Four Big Ten players were named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-Region 6 Team, it was announced on Thursday. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper, Penn State's Alex Bentley and Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis were part of the initial list of 52 All-Region teamers, and that list will be cut to 40 on Monday. That list of 40 will be eligible for All-America honors, which will be announced on March 31.

[NINE // time to dry off]
The Big Ten recorded nine top-10 finishes on the final day of the NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center on the campus of Auburn University.  Minnesota recorded 131 team points at the championships, leading the Big Ten with an 11th-place finish. The Golden Gophers were followed by No. 13 Indiana (115), No. 15 Wisconsin (91), No. 20 Ohio State (34) and No. 22 Penn State in the top 25.  Among the individual highlights, Minnesota's Haley Spencer recorded a second-place finish in the 200 breaststroke while teammate Ashley Steenvoorden placed fourth in the 1,650 freestyle (15:44.56).  Indiana's Amy Cozad placed third on the platform (329.35) and Ohio State's Bianca Alvarez recorded a runner-up finish in the 3-meter event with a score of 386.30.  California Berkeley took home the NCAA title with a score of 412.5, followed by No. 2 Georgia (366) and No. 3 USC (325.5).

[TEN // all-american women]
Twenty-Six Big Ten student-athletes earned USTFCCCA All-America honors following their performance at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Nampa, Idaho.  Illinois led the conference with six student-athletes earning a total of seven All-America distinctions, including Ashley Spencer with first-team honors in the 200 meters and second-team accolades in the 4x400 relay.  Michigan followed with five representatives, followed by Nebraska (4), Ohio State (3), Wisconsin (3), Michigan State (2), Purdue (2), and Penn State (1).

[ELEVEN // big ten men earn all-america accolades]
On the men’s side, 53 Big Ten men's track & field student-athletes earned All-America recognition for their performance at the NCAA Championships in Nampa, Idaho.  Indiana paced all conference schools with 15 All-America distinctions, including three from Andrew Bayer in the mile (1st), distance medley relay (1st) and 3,000 meters (2nd).  Ohio State totaled 14 honors, followed by Minnesota (9), Penn State (6), Wisconsin (6), Michigan (5), Nebraska (5), Michigan State (3), Illinois (1) and Purdue (1).

[TWELVE // gopher greats]
Finally this week, congratulation to the Minnesota women’s hockey team on earning its third NCAA Championship, and first since 2005, after defeating Wisconsin in the title game Sunday at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. Senior Captain Sarah Erickson tallied two goals, while senior Emily West had two points on a goal and an assist.  Four Minnesota players were named to the All-Tournament team: Sarah Erickson, Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek and Noora Raty, who was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four.