This Week in the Big Ten

Michigan's Trey Burke was one of seven B1G stars named to the Naismith Award Preseason Watch List this past week.

Nov. 18, 2012

[ONE // badgers pace big ten at ncaa men’s cross country meet]
Wisconsin placed second at the NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championships this past Saturday, with four Badger runners finishing in the top 50. Indiana took home 18th at the national meet, while Michigan ended 23rd and Michigan State finished 31st.  2011 Big Ten Athlete of the Year Mohammed Ahmed led the way for the Badgers, taking eighth place individually. Maverick Darling placed 11th, while Reed Connor followed at 12th and Robert Finnerty finished 49th. Ahmed, Darling and Connor each collected All-America honors after placing in the top 40. The Badgers compiled 135 team points, trailing only Oklahoma State (72).  All-American and Big Ten Athlete of the Year Zach Mayhew finished 14th for Indiana, and Illinois’ Hunter Mickow and Jannis Topfer took 46th and 64th, respectively.  The complete results can be found here.

[TWO // four women’s cross country teams finish in top 25 at ncaa’s]
All four competing Big Ten teams placed in the top 25 at the NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championships on Saturday, bringing the 2012 season to a close. Michigan took fifth, Penn State finished 14th, Michigan State placed 16th and Minnesota landed 22nd.  Iowa’s Mareike Schrulle earned the Big Ten’s top finish, taking seventh place en route to All-America honors. Schrulle finished the 6,000-meter course in 19:43, a personal best and the second-fastest time in Iowa history. Schrulle is the Hawkeyes’ fourth top-10 NCAA finisher since 2006.  Tori Perri took 47th individually to lead the Nittany Lions, while Jillian Smith placed 52nd to pace the Wolverines, and Sara Kroll followed at 53rd for the Spartans.  For the complete results, click here.

[THREE // indiana, northwestern remain alive in ncaa men’s soccer play]
Indiana and Northwestern are two of just four Big Ten men’s soccer teams still active in NCAA Championship play, as the Hoosiers, following a bye in the opener, captured a 4-1 victory over Xavier in the second round, while the Wildcats went on the road to shut out No. 7 Marquette, 1-0.  NU earned the matchup with Marquette after a 1-0 win over Western Illinois on Thursday.  Both Michigan and Michigan State posted first-round wins over Niagara (3-1) and Cleveland State (2-1), respectively.  On Sunday, the Wolverines fell to No. 5 Akron 2-1 and the Spartans were eliminated by No. 1 Notre Dame, 1-0.  For a complete look at the Big Ten in NCAA Championship action, click here.

[FOUR // penn state outkicks michigan to advance]
It was an all-Big Ten matchup in the round of 16 of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship and penalty kicks were needed in the end to decide who advanced in the tournament.  Michigan battled No. 5 Penn State to a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes of action, but the Nittany Lions won the penalty kick shootout, 3-2, to take the third-round NCAA Tournament game Sunday night and advance to the quarterfinals.  The Nittany Lions are now the lone B1G team left in the tournament as Illinois fell to No. 2 seed North Carolina, 9-2 on Friday evening.  Take a complete look at this past week’s action by clicking here.

[FIVE // illini’s rayfield honored with honor award]
Illinois head women's soccer coach Janet Rayfield was announced as the National Soccer Coaches' Association of America's 2012 Honor Award recipient, it was released on Friday. The Honor Award is the most prestigious distinction the NSCAA presents to an individual as it recognizes the individual's contribution to the game of soccer and to the NSCAA. Rayfield is the first ever female recipient of the award, which has been presented yearly since 1942.

[SIX // two dozen field hockey standouts named all-region]
Twenty-four Big Ten field hockey players were named to the 2012 Longstreth/NFHCA All-Region Teams, it was announced on Thursday. Fifteen student-athletes were tabbed first-team selections, led by Iowa with four honorees. The list of B1G honorees included:  Indiana’s Morgan Fleetwood and Audra Heilman, Iowa’s Jessica Barnett, Sarah Drake, Kathleen McGraw and Marike Stribos, Michigan’s Haley Jones, Rachael Mack, Leslie Smith and Lauren Thomas, Michigan State’s Abby Barker and Becky Stiles, Northwestern’s Chelsea Armstrong, Lisa McCarthy, Nikki Parsley and Tara Puffenberger, Ohio State’s Danica Deckard, Paula Pastor-Pitarque and Berta Queralt, and Penn State’s Kelsey Amy, Anna Fuhrman, Laura Gebhart, Brittany Grzywacz, and Ashtin Klingler.

[SEVEN // buckeyes earn outright leaders division title]
Ohio State clinched the outright Leaders Division title with a 21-14 overtime win at Wisconsin on Saturday. The undefeated Buckeyes boast a 7-0 record in conference play, owning a two-game lead over Penn State with just one game remaining on the Big Ten schedule. Ohio State concludes its season next week with a home matchup against Michigan.  The Buckeyes earned their first division title in the second year of Big Ten divisional play. Ohio State is 11-0 overall this season, the third time in the last 11 years the school has reeled off 11 wins to start the season. OSU was a perfect 12-0 in the 2006 regular season before falling in bowl play and produced an unblemished 14-0 record, including a Fiesta Bowl triumph and a national championship, in 2002.  Elsewhere in the league, Michigan downed Iowa 42-17, Penn State dropped Indiana 45-22, Northwestern outlasted Michigan State 23-20, Nebraska bested Minnesota 38-14 and Purdue defeated Illinois, 20-17.

[EIGHT // big ten discovering the orange bowl]
The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Orange Bowl Committee announced Thursday that the Discover Orange Bowl will annually feature the ACC Champion against an opponent from the Big Ten Conference, Southeastern Conference or University of Notre Dame as part of the 12-year agreement that begins following the 2014 season. In addition, ESPN will serve as the broadcast partner, and the historic bowl game will either be played in an exclusive prime-time window New Year’s Eve or on New Year’s Day, pending the schedule of the new collegiate postseason playoff games. The selection of the opponent will be based on the guiding principle of securing the highest-ranked team in the final standings available from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame, but will also utilize criteria that shares the minimum appearance standards as agreed upon by all parties. The standards include at least three guaranteed appearances over the 12 years for both the Big Ten and the SEC and a maximum of two with no minimum for Notre Dame.

[NINE // penn state locks down another big ten volleyball title]
Penn State (17-1) clinched its ninth Big Ten Championship in the last 10 years this past weekend with a 3-0 shutout over Indiana and a 3-1 victory over No. 21 Purdue.  Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State are tied for second at week’s end with 13-5 records in conference play.  The No. 14 Golden Gophers defeated ninth-ranked Nebraska in five games on Friday and responded with a 3-0 blanking of Iowa on Saturday, while the Huskers shut out Wisconsin on Sunday.  Ohio State, ranked 15th entering the weekend, topped Purdue 3-0 on Friday and Indiana by a 3-1 count on Saturday.  For a complete look at the Big Ten volleyball action from this past week, click here.    

[TEN // buckeye netter earns national honor]
Ohio State outside hitter Mari Hole was been named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week this past week after leading the Buckeyes to back-to-back Big Ten wins. Hole recorded 19 kills on .395 hitting with 13 digs in a four-set win against Northwestern before posting 21 kills, including five in the fifth set, and the game-winning point against Illinois. The award is the second consecutive by a Big Ten student-athlete this season, as Penn State's Micha Hancock was honored on Nov. 6. Hole becomes the eighth Buckeye to win National Player of the Week laurels, with the most recent honor going to Marissa Main on Oct. 24, 2005.  For the full release, click HERE.

[ELEVEN // hoops stars named to naismith award watch list]
Seven Big Ten men’s basketball players were named to the early season watch list for the Naismith Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Tuesday.  Indiana’s Christian Watford and Cody Zeller, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, and Penn State’s Tim Frazier highlight the list, which can be found in the complete release found HERE.  On the women’s side, five B1G standouts were named among 50 selected players to the women’s early season watch list.  Battling for the Naismith Award this year is Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Penn State's Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas. The Naismith Women's College Player of the Year Award will be presented on April 8, 2013, during the NCAA Women's Final Four in New Orleans, La.

[TWELVE // sign right here]
Finally this week, Wednesday marked the first day of the early signing period, and several prospective student-athletes are signing their National Letters of Intent to play on Big Ten campuses next fall. The Big Ten Men's Basketball and Women’s Basketball blogs have been tracking on all the signees and have been linking to the official announcements from Big Ten schools.  Click the above links to track your favorite school.