Men's Basketball Weekly Release - Jan. 2
Jan. 2, 2006
Big Ten Title Chase Begins: The Big Ten opens its 101st season of conference play this week as all 11 teams will be in action starting Tuesday. Indiana and Michigan begin the 2006 season on Tuesday at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. It will be a showdown of Final Four participants when defending Big Ten Champion Illinois hosts Michigan State on Thursday. These two programs will square off twice during the 2006 league slate as the Illini will travel to East Lansing on March 4 to close out the regular season. Opening week will also feature Northwestern hosting Purdue on Wednesday. Wisconsin begins league play on Thursday against Iowa, while Penn State travels to Ohio State. Minnesota will open its conference slate on Saturday, as the Gophers host the Wildcats.
Non-Conference Success: With 105 wins this season, the Big Ten has posted the most non-conference victories prior to NCAA play in league history. The last time the league claimed more than 100 triumphs in out-of-conference action was during the 2000-01 season when the Big Ten tallied a 103-31 (.769) mark. The Big Ten has also posted the best out-of-league winning percentage in over six years at .814 (105-24). During the 1998-99 season, the conference recorded a non-league mark of 89-19 (.824), which does not include vacated records from Michigan or Minnesota, before heading into NCAA Tournament action that year. The Big Ten's .814 winning percentage is an improvement of more than 10 percent over last year's non-league mark of 97-41 (.703).
Ranked No. 1 in RPI and Sagarin: The Big Ten remains ranked No. 1 in the latest edition of the RPI Report with a .5858 rating. The Missouri Valley (.5753), Big East (.5717), ACC (.5711) and SEC (.5701) round out the top five. The Big Ten leads the nation with five teams among the top 25 in the school rankings. Wisconsin is ranked No. 7 in the nation, while Illinois follows in 8th. Ohio State is ranked 12th, Michigan State is rated No. 17 and Iowa is 21st. The Big Ten also leads the nation in the Sagarin Ratings with a central mean of 83.28. For each Big Ten team's RPI and Sagarin ratings, go to page four of this release.
Illinois' Homecourt Record: The Fighting Illini have extended their homecourt winning streak to 29 games after defeating Tennessee-Martin last Friday. Illinois' 29-game win streak currently ranks as the second-longest in the nation behind Gonzaga (30). The Illini were the only league team to go undefeated at home last season and their last defeat in Assembly Hall occurred on Jan. 10, 2004 against Purdue. Illinois still trails the Big Ten record of 53 straight home triumphs set by Michigan State from 1998 to 2002 -- a winning streak that was ended by Wisconsin. Two Big Ten schools also rank among the nation's top 10 in homecourt wins streaks verses non-conference opponents. Illinois' non-conference homecourt winning streak of 46 games is tied with Oklahoma for the longest in the nation, while Wisconsin is ranked seventh at 27 games.
Augustine's School Record: On his 11th and final rebound against Tennessee-Martin, Illinois' James Augustine broke the school record for career rebounds. He now has 854 boards, eclipsing the previous mark of 853 held by Efrem Winters from 1983-86. Augustine is joined by several other Big Ten standouts in reaching the 500-plus plateau in Iowa's Greg Brunner (814), Michigan State's Paul Davis (749), Ohio State's Terence Dials (690) and Indiana's Marco Killingsworth (602). Iowa's Jeff Horner (475), Ohio State's J.J. Sullinger (477) and Michigan's Graham Brown (465) are also nearing the 500-career rebound plateau.
Big Ten's Grand Company: Last weekend, Ohio State's Ron Lewis (1,001) became the 12th active Big Ten standout to score 1,000 points joining Illinois' James Augustine (1,136), Michigan State's Maurice Ager (1,206) and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (1,131) who all claimed their 1,000th career point earlier this season. Lewis' teammate J.J. Sullinger is on pace to becoming the next member of this elite club as he has tallied 983 all-time points. Eight seniors entered the 2005-06 season with more than 1,000 career points in Illinois' Dee Brown (1,541), Indiana's Marco Killingsworth (1,233), Iowa's Greg Brunner (1,232) and Jeff Horner (1,220), Michigan's Daniel Horton (1,194), Michigan State's Paul Davis (1,418) Northwestern's Vedran Vukusic (1,287) and Ohio State's Terence Dials (1,225).
Illinois Vying For Third Straight Title: After clinching its second consecutive outright Big Ten crown last season for the first time since 1951-52, Illinois enters the 2005-06 campaign aiming to become only the third school in Big Ten history to clinch three consecutive outright crowns. Ohio State was the first school to win outright titles in 1960, 1961 and 1962, while Purdue also won three consecutive titles from 1994-1996.