This Week in the Big Ten

Aug. 16, 2009

[ONE // nittany on notice – penn state volleyball selected to win big ten]
Six-time defending Big Ten Champion and two-time defending NCAA Champion Penn State was selected by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite for the 2009 volleyball season, the Big Ten office announced on Thursday. The honor marks the fifth consecutive time the Nittany Lions have topped the conference’s preseason poll.  Minnesota and Illinois, who finished second and third, respectively, last season, were tabbed to fill those same slots again in 2009. Michigan, Wisconsin and Purdue rounded out the coaches’ poll with the fourth, fifth and sixth respective positions. The Big Ten’s coaches elected to vote only on the conference’s top six teams beginning this year.  As for the conference’s pick, Penn State is coming off a year in which it won the program’s third overall NCAA title and second in as many years. Going undefeated on the season, the Nittany Lions set records for consecutive matches (64) and sets (111) won, becoming the first team in NCAA Division I, II or III history to complete a regular season without dropping a single set.

[TWO // conference names preseason volleyball squad]
In addition to preseason team voting, the conference’s volleyball coaches also named a preseason All-Big Ten squad on Thursday. The top six squads mentioned above combined to produce 12 players on the 14-member team, led by Penn State’s four honorees.  Five student-athletes were named to the squad unanimously, including Illinois junior Laura DeBruler (OH), Michigan State senior Vanessa King (MB), Minnesota junior Brook Dieter (OH) and Penn State seniors Alisha Glass (S) and Megan Hodge (OH).  For a complete look at the All-Conference squad, click here. The 2009 volleyball season begins Friday, August 28, with all 11 Big Ten teams in action. This year’s campaign will once again feature vast national exposure for the conference with 23 regular-season matches set to be nationally televised on the Big Ten Network, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

[THREE // going for a dozen]
Volleyball was not the only Big Ten sport that announced all-conference teams this week.  Both men’s and women’s have selected their team standings and just like volleyball, Penn State sits atop the conference charts in women’s soccer.  The Nittany Lions were named the preseason favorite to win the 2009 Big Ten women’s soccer crown as voted on by the conference coaches, it was announced Wednesday. The honor marks the seventh-consecutive time Penn State has been favored entering the season. Michigan State followed with the No. 2 spot in the poll, while Illinois came in third.  Purdue was tabbed fourth and Ohio State and Minnesota tied for fifth in the voting.  Rounding out the field was Wisconsin and Indiana in seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan.  The 2009 season of Big Ten women’s soccer gets underway on Friday, Aug. 21, with 10 conference squads in action.

[FOUR // indiana soccer picked first once again]
And just as Penn State has been dominant in Big Ten women’s soccer, Indiana has been the leader in recent years in men’s soccer.  For the seventh-straight season, the Hoosiers have been selected as the favorite to win the Big Ten men’s soccer title, the conference office announced Wednesday. Northwestern came in second while Michigan State, the 2008 regular season and tournament champion, rounded out the top three in the poll, which was voted on by the Big Ten coaches.  Ohio State was selected to finish fourth while Penn State and Wisconsin tied for the No. 5 spot. Michigan completed the field in seventh place.  The 2009 Big Ten men’s soccer season kicks off on Tuesday, Sept. 1, with Michigan and Penn State in action, while four other teams are set to open the fall slate in front of home crowds on Friday, Sept. 4.

[FIVE // big ten football tour continues, bus and all…]
The Big Ten Network’s Big Ten Football Tour began this week as Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith took in practice at Ohio State on Tuesday, Penn State on Thursday, Michigan on Friday and Michigan State on Saturday.  Not only is the BTN covering all football teams on air, but they are also sending back updates via twitter and facebook.  For more information on the Tour, including where the crew is heading next, click here.

[SIX // four big ten “big guys” named to outland trophy watch list]
Four Big Ten football players, including a pair of Penn State standouts, were named to the 2009 Outland Trophy Watch List that was released Tuesday.  Illinois guard Jon Asamoah, Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and Penn State center Stefen Wisniewski and defensive tackle Jared Odrick were named to the list, which honors only interior linemen – tackles, guards and centers on both sides of the ball.  In early October, the FWAA will consider other players for the 2009 Outland Trophy Watch List when most teams have completed four games of play.

[SEVEN // big ten wideouts on watch list for biletnikoff award]
Those popular awards aren’t just for the big guys either.  A pair of Big Ten wide receivers saw their names in the spotlight this week as Illinois’ Arrelious Benn and Minnesota’s Eric Decker were named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.  The Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to the nation's top wide receiver, is awarded as part of ESPN's College Football Awards Show on Dec. 10.

[EIGHT // eight defensive standouts named to bednarik award list]
Eight Big Ten defensive specialists learned this past week they had been named to the 2009 Watch List for the 15th Chuck Bednarik Award, as announced by the Maxwell Football Club.  Congrats to Indiana senior Jammie Kirlew (DE), Iowa senior Pat Angerer (LB), Michigan senior Brandon Graham (DE), Michigan State junior Greg Jones (LB), Northwestern senior Corey Wootton (DE) and Penn State seniors Sean Lee (LB) and Jared Odrick (DT) and junior Navorro Bowman (LB).  The award, given to the most outstanding defensive players of the year, has been presented since 1995 and is named in honor of Chuck Bednarik, a former University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Eagle great.

[NINE // several conference football standouts sporting “good work” attitude]
In addition to the major college football awards that honor student-athletes’ achievements on the field, other honors recognize the work of these individuals off the field.  A tip of the cap goes to seven Big Ten football players, who this week were nominated for the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team, which honors college football players who make outstanding contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement.  Congratulations to Indiana’s Jammie Kirlew, Iowa’s Julian Vandervelde, Michigan’s Zoltan Mesko, Northwestern’s Andrew Brewer, Ohio State’s Kurt Coleman, Penn State’s Stefen Wisniewski and Wisconsin’s Chris Maragos. The total of 106 nominations submitted by sports information directors across the country on behalf of their teams surpasses all previous single-season nominee totals in the 18-year history of the award. The 2009 class of nominees represents 41 states, including Washington, D.C., and 45 college athletic conferences.

[TEN // hawkeye golf to represent big ten]
It’s hard to believe that the start of the fall sports season is right around the corner, but Big Ten teams in all sports are gearing up to compete against the nation’s best once again.  In men’s golf, Iowa is set to represent the Big Ten and serve as co-host top teams from 14 other conferences in Golfweek's 2009 Collegiate Conference Challenge. This inaugural event for Golfweek will kick off the 2009 fall collegiate season and include some of the best Division I programs in the country. The 54-hole Challenge will be held at Blue Top Ridge in Riverside, Iowa, August 29-Sept. 1, with 18 holes of play each of the three days.  Joining Iowa in the field will be Florida State (ACC), Xavier (Atlantic 10), Baylor (Big 12), South Florida (Big East), Coastal Carolina (Big South), VCU (Colonial Athletic Association), Memphis (Conference USA), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), California (Pac-10), Vanderbilt (SEC), Georgia Southern (Southern), Texas-Arlington (Southland), Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt) and New Mexico State (WAC).

[ELEVEN // indiana’s assembly hall to host nba contest]
Finally this week, professional basketball is coming to Indiana’s Assembly Hall, albeit for one preseason game in October.  Indiana University announced this past week that the Indiana Pacers will travel to Bloomington on Oct. 23 to play a preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Pacers last played in Bloomington when an ABA playoff game was held at Assembly Hall in 1972.  For more on this exciting announcement, click here.