This Week in the Big Ten

Ohio State senior defensive tackle John Simon was named this past week as one of three finalists for the Fellowship of Christian Athlete's (FCA) Bobby Bowden Award, an honor that goes to the college football player who best epitomizes being a student-athlete.

Dec. 16, 2012

[ONE // big ten fall shorts of ncaa volleyball title]
The Big Ten was well-represented in the NCAA Volleyball National Semifinals this past week, but both top-seeded Penn State and Michigan were upended in their respective paths to the national championship on Thursday.  The Wolverines won sets two and three against No. 3 and eventual national champion Texas, but fell in five games, 3-2, by scores of 25-11, 21-25, 23-25, 25-12 and 15-11.  Penn State was stopped by No. 5 Oregon in four sets by scores of 25-21, 28-30, 22-25, 19-25.  For a complete look at the Big Ten’s path through the NCAA Volleyball Championship, click here.

[TWO // huskers’ mancuso head of the class]
Nebraska outside hitter Gina Mancuso was selected Friday as the 2012 Senior CLASS Award winner in Division I volleyball, given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete. Mancuso was chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I volleyball coaches, media and fans. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- classroom, community, character and competition.  Mancuso became the Huskers' second recipient of the award, as All-America women's basketball player Kelsey Griffin earned the honor in 2010.  For the complete release, click HERE.

[THREE // pair of netters named first-team academic all-americans]
Nebraska senior Gina Mancuso and Purdue junior Ariel Turner earned Capital One Academic All-America honors, with Turner being named Capital One Academic All-America of the Year, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced on Thursday. Mancuso, a marketing major, and Turner, a mechanical engineering major, each received spots on the first team. The pair of Academic All-Americans marks the second consecutive year that two conference standouts have earned the accolade.  For the complete release, click HERE.

[FOUR // fourteen volleyball standouts earned all-america status]
Fourteen Big Ten players were selected Wednesday as AVCA Division I All-Americans, the most of any conference, with four players earning first-team status. Minnesota's Katherine Harms, Nebraska's Lauren Cook and Penn State's Micha Hancock and Ariel Scott earned first-team honors, while Michigan State's Lauren Wicinski, Minnesota's Tori Dixon, Nebraska's Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth, Purdue's Ariel Turner and Penn State's Katie Slay were named to the second team. Michigan's Jennifer Cross, Northwestern's Stephanie Holthus, Ohio State's Mari Hole and Penn State's Deja McClendon earned third-team honors. Four others received honorable mention -- Michigan's Lexi Erwin, Michigan State's Kori Moster, Minnesota's Ashley Wittman and Nebraska's Meghan Haggerty.

[FIVE // the greats of the great lakes region]
Eleven men's soccer players were named to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Team, it was announced this past week. Five of the seven conference squads were represented on the list, including four from Co-Big Ten Champion Northwestern and three from NCAA Champion Indiana. A complete list of Big Ten student-athletes on the All-Great Lakes Region Team can be found here

[SIX // big ten soccer trio invited to mls player combine]
Three Big Ten men's soccer student-athletes were invited to the 2013 adidas MLS Player Combine, it was announced on Tuesday. Indiana's Luis Soffner, Michigan's Kofi Opare and Penn State's John Gallagher will join 51 of their peers in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from Jan. 11-15 to take part in the combine which leads to the MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 17, in Indianapolis, Ind.  For the complete list of invited players, click here.

[SEVEN // illinois, michigan, remain unbeaten in men’s basketball play]
The Illinois and Michigan men’s basketball teams remained undefeated on the season at week’s end, as the 10th-ranked Fighting Illini improved to 12-0 on the year, while the No. 3/3 Wolverines moved to 11-0.  Minnesota sits third in the overall standings at 11-1, followed by top-ranked 9-1 Indiana at 9-1, which was upset by in-state rival and recent two-time national finalist Butler on Saturday.

[EIGHT // purdue women’s hoops continue to pace conference]
As the week comes to an end, the Purdue women’s basketball team continues to sit atop the conference’s overall standings with a 10-1 record.  Michigan State follows at 9-1, while Michigan and Penn State share 9-2 records.  The Boilermakers scored a 77-46 victory over Oakland on Sunday, while Michigan State claimed a 64-36 outcome over IPFW.  The Wolverines earned a pair of wins over in-state opponents this past week, scoring a 55-43 result over Eastern Michigan and a 60-41 victory over Western Michigan.  No. 11/10 Penn State also netted two wins this past week, a 60-41 nod over Virginia Tech and a 60-50 test against South Dakota State.

[NINE // big ten sweeps national basketball player of the week honors]
Illinois' Brandon Paul and Penn State's Maggie Lucas were named the men's and women's National Players of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association this past Tuesday.  Paul earned the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week honor after averaging 24.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks over two games last week, including a season-high 35 points to lead Illinois to a road win over then-No. 10/10 Gonzaga.  Lucas took home the Ann Meyers Drysdale Women's National Player of the Week award after averaging 27.0 points, including 39 against Georgetown, setting a Bryce Jordan Center record and becoming the first Lady Lion since 2003 to break the 35-point barrier.

[TEN // nebraska women’s gymnasts picked to do it again]
Defending Big Ten Champion Nebraska was selected by the conference coaches as the favorite in the Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Huskers stand atop the poll after winning the Big Ten Championship last season in their first year as a member of the conference. Michigan follows Nebraska in second, while Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota round out the top five. Illinois stands in sixth, followed by Iowa in seventh and Michigan State in eighth.  The Big Ten also announced its 2013 Gymnasts to Watch List, with seven returning All-Conference honorees highlighting the list.  For a complete look at the poll and the Gymnasts to Watch List, click here.

[ELEVEN // michigan men doing flips over preseason pick]
Michigan earned the top spot in the Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the conference office announced this past Wednesday. The Wolverines stand atop the poll after placing second at the conference championships a season ago. Defending NCAA Champion Illinois followed at No. 2 in the poll, while Penn State rounded out the top three. Ohio State ranked fourth, followed by Minnesota in fifth, Nebraska in sixth and Iowa in seventh.  The Big Ten also announced its 2013 Gymnasts to Watch List, with four previous first-team All-Conference honorees headlining the list.  For a complete look at the poll and the Gymnasts to Watch List, click here.

[TWELVE // simon says be the best you can be]
Finally this week, Ohio State senior defensive tackle John Simon was named one of three finalists for the Fellowship of Christian Athlete's (FCA) Bobby Bowden Award, an honor that goes to the college football player who best epitomizes being a student-athlete. In order to be nominated for the Bowden Award, a player must conduct himself as a faith role model in the classroom, on the field, on the campus and in the community. The award is named for former Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden. The 2012 Bowden Award winner will be announced on January 4, 2013. Northwestern's Jason Wright was the inaugural winner of the Bowden Award in 2003.  Simon has already been honored as the Big Ten's Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year. He was also a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which honors the defensive player of the year with equal weight given to athletic performance and personal character.