This Week in the Big Ten

Dec. 7, 2008

[ONE // seven football teams bowl bound]
The Big Ten office announced the bowl destinations for seven conference football programs Sunday night, including sending a pair of teams to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games for the eighth time in the system’s 11 years. Big Ten co-Champions Penn State and Ohio State both earned trips to BCS contests, with the Nittany Lions returning to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995 and the Buckeyes playing in the Fiesta Bowl for the fourth time in the last seven seasons. In addition, Michigan State was selected for the Capital One Bowl, Iowa was chosen for the Outback Bowl, Northwestern will take part in the Valero Alamo Bowl, Wisconsin will travel to the Champs Sports Bowl and Minnesota will compete in the Insight Bowl.  The Big Ten will send two schools to BCS games for the eighth time in the 11-year history of the system and the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, the Big Ten has qualified 19 teams for BCS bowls, more than any other conference.

[TWO // iowa’s greene wins gold by winning silver]
This past Friday, Iowa running back Shonn Greene earned the Big Ten’s “gold medal” by winning the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football, the award given to the conference's Most Valuable Player.  The annual honor is voted on by all 11 Big Ten coaches, who cannot vote for their own players.  Greene, who rushed for 1,729 yards in 2008 and was the only player in the country to rush for over 100 yards in every game, garnered seven first-place votes from the head coaches.  The accolade marks the 10th time an Iowa player won the award. Last week Greene was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-Conference selection by both the coaches and media.

[THREE // trio of gridiron standouts named all-america]
Three Big Ten football stars were selected to the AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team this past Thursday, including one conference honoree who garnered his second award.  Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis was named to the team once again by the American Football Coaches Association, and joined teammate Malcolm Jenkins (DB) and Iowa running back Shonn Greene on the 25-man roster. 

[FOUR // big ten men’s soccer season concludes]
The Indiana and Northwestern men’s soccer teams each fell just one win shy of the College Cup this past week as the Hoosiers and Wildcats lost heartbreakers in the NCAA quarterfinals.  North Carolina ended Northwestern’s season on Saturday with a 1-0 victory, while No. 6 seed Indiana fell in overtime at third-seeded St. John’s, 3-2.  A complete look at Big Ten men’s soccer’s run in the NCAA Championship is documented here

[FIVE // four volleyball squads advance to ncaa regionals]
Of the five Big Ten volleyball teams selected to play in the NCAA Championship, four have advanced to regional competition after each earning a pair of wins this past week.  Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Purdue all moved on to round of 16, while Minnesota fell in the second round Saturday.  The top-ranked Nittany Lions earned their 34th and 35th sweeps of the season with 3-0 wins over Yale and Long Island.  The Fighting Illini also recorded shutouts over UW-Milwaukee and Cincinnati, while both the Boilermakers and Wolverines needed a pair of five-set matches to advance to regional play.  Tenth-seeded Purdue ousted Louisville and Middle Tennessee State, while Michigan knocked off Kentucky and No. 13 St. Louis in five games.  Complete recaps of all matches this past week can be found by clicking here.

[SIX // big ten basketball tourney tickets on sale]
All-session tickets for both the 2009 Big Ten Men's and Women’s Basketball Tournaments went on sale this past Saturday at all 11 Big Ten university ticket offices, Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, and  The 12th annual men’s event will be held March 12-15, 2009, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, while the 15th women’s tourney take places a week before, March 5-8, in the same venue.  On the men’s side, all-session tickets range from $275 or $175 depending on seat location, while women’s all-session tickets are on sale for $45 for the first 45 days of public sale. That is a $20 discount from the regular price of $65!

[SEVEN // acc edges big ten in annual hoops challenge]
The Atlantic Coast Conference just edged out the Big Ten in the 10th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, 6-5, this past week in men’s basketball.  The Big Ten actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead with Wisconsin defeating Virginia Tech 74-72 on Monday and Ohio State topping Miami on Tuesday, 73-68.  Other Big Ten winners included Minnesota, which was a 66-56 victor over Virginia, Penn State, a recipient of an 85-83 outcome over Georgia Tech, and Northwestern, a 73-59 winner over Florida State.  Illinois (Clemson, 76-74), Iowa (Boston College, 57-55) and Michigan (Maryland, 75-70) all dropped close contests by five points or less, while Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue also suffered losses in the Challenge.  Playing against the tough competition helped the Big Ten considerably.  Following the Challenge, two Big Ten squads recorded headlining upsets.  Michigan, having already defeated No. 4 UCLA, ousted No. 4 Duke, 81-73, on Saturday, while Ohio State beat its second-straight Top 25 opponent with a 67-62 win over No. 7 Notre Dame.

[EIGHT // big ten women fall as well]
This past week the Big Ten and ACC also battled in women’s basketball, competing in the second annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  The ACC took the first six games in the Challenge and went on to win the competition by a score of 7-4.  The Big Ten claimed four of the Challenge’s last five games, including wins by Indiana (Miami, 69-54), Michigan (NC State, 63-52), Minnesota (Boston College, 80-60), and Wisconsin (Virginia Tech, 61-52).  A complete look at the ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge can be found here.

[NINE // hawkeyes takedown rival in front of record crowd]
While we are comparing conferences, the Big Ten and the Big 12 have always been seen as the power conferences in college wrestling.  In the last few years, however, the Big Ten has ruled the national scene.  Just last year, the conference took home the top-three places at the NCAA Championship and seven of the 10 individual crowns.  Iowa, which earned the national title last season, showed this past weekend why it is always one of the top teams in the country.  The support of the Hawkeyes’ wrestling program has always been impressive, but the dual meet against rival Iowa State this past weekend was one to see.  A national dual-meet attendance record crowd of 15,955 watched the top-ranked Hawkeyes defeat the second-rated Cyclones 20-15 in Carver Hawkeye Arena, where the capacity was allowed to increase to 16,000 for the night. Iowa broke the record of 15,646 set when Minnesota hosted the Hawkeyes in 2002, and its previous home meet high of 15,291, which was set against Iowa State in 1992.

[TEN // big ten honors excellence in classroom]
As the fall term of the 2008-09 school year comes to a close, the Big Ten recognized a total of 680 fall sports athletes Wednesday who were named to the Academic All-Conference Team. The list of honored student-athletes features 59 men’s and 105 women’s cross country runners, 74 field hockey players, 185 football players, 69 men’s and 118 women’s soccer athletes and 70 volleyball players. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.  At least nine Big Ten student-athletes maintained unblemished GPAs this semester.  View the Big Ten’s official release here.

[ELEVEN // you and your cheese doodles]
Earlier this year, the Big Ten Network allowed us into the living room to see just how our conference football coaches talk to recruits.  We learned Indiana's Bill Lynch and Michigan's Rich Rodriguez love cookies and just how much JoePa really wants that star recruit.  Now, Big Ten fans are getting a Pep Talk.  View the new Big Ten Network men’s basketball commercial and see just what Purdue’s Matt Painter is talking about when it comes to cheese doodles and how Ohio State’s Thad Matta describes those hot dog things.