Jan. 12, 2009
And Then There Was One: Michigan State currently leads the Big Ten with a perfect record of 3-0 in conference play. The Spartans are 3-0 for the first time since jumping out to a 4-0 start in conference games during the 2006-
Non-conference Dominance: With Ohio State's win over Houston Baptist and Michigan State's triumph over the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks, the Big Ten improved its non-conference record to 108-25.
Ten of 11 teams have won at a .750 clip or higher in out of conference play. To date, the conference has posted a .812 win percentage, marking the best non-conference effort since winning at a .824 clip during the 1988-89 campaign.
RPI Carousel: With six of 11 teams ranked in the top 35, the Big Ten is the No. 2 rated conference in the latest RPI. Once again the Big Ten (.5936) and ACC (.5951) battle back and forth for the top spot in conference RPI ratings. Michigan State is rated fourth in the country in this week's report, owning an adjusted RPI of .6631 to lead the Big Ten. In the Sagarin rankings, the Big Ten (83.95) is second behind the ACC (84.00). Seven of 11 squads are ranked
among the top 35, with Michigan State at No. 10 to lead the contingent.
Schedule Strength Still the One: The Big Ten's strength of schedule is No. 1 for the second consecutive week and third time this season. With conference play in full swing, Big Ten squads continues to meet top-notch opponents, including three Big Ten teams ranked in last week's polls. Four conference teams rank among the top 25 in strength of schedule, in Indiana (3), Wisconsin (7), Michigan State (7) and Northwestern (23). To date, Big Ten squads have met top-25 teams on 33 occasions. The Big East ranks second to the Big Ten, while the Pac-10 owns the third-toughest
schedule in the country.
TREY-mendous: Minnesota tied the NCAA and set a Big Ten and school record by hitting 9-of-9 three-point shots against Penn State for a perfect percentage. Six different Golden Gophers took long-range shots en route to the record-setting performance. Two starters--A Nolen (1-for-1) and Lawrence Westbrook (2-of-2) drained threes, while four players came off the bench to sink treys. Paul Carter and Devron Bostick were both 2-of-2 and Devoe Joesph and Jamal Abu-Shamala were 1-of-1 on the day. Headed into the game, the Gophers were shooting .353 from three-point
range to rank 7th in the Big Ten.
Still Streaking: With a 75-62 win over Kansas, Michigan State extended its home-court win streak to 27 straight. That total is good for the third-best active win streak in the nation. The Spartans are behind Notre Dame (44) and
Kansas (33). Scoring Doubles: Since the start of conference play, six players have scored in double figures in each of their games. Illinois' Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey have each scored 10 or more points in the Illini's three games. Michigan's DeShawn Sims not only has scored in double figures in the Wolverines' four Big Ten contests, but the junior has scored 10 or more points in every game to date. Michigan State's inside-outside duo of Raymar Morgan and Kalin Lucas have each scored in double figures in the Spartans' first three conference games. Minnesota's Lawrence Westbrook and Ohio State's Evan Turner join the group of players, scoring 10 or more points in every conference game to date.
One-Two-Three: Sophomores show no signs of cooling off as conference play heats up. Three second-year players rank first through third in scoring in conference games only. Michigan State's Kalin Lucas leads the brigade, averaging 20.3 points per game. The last Spartan to earn the scoring crown was Marcus Taylor in 2002, who averaged 17.7 ppg.
After leading all scorers during non-conference play, Penn State sophomore Talor Battle is averaging 18.0 ppg in conference play, good for second. Ohio State's Jon Diebler is averaging 16.3 ppg as the conference's third-leading
scorer in Big Ten play.
Looking Back, Moving Forward: After only the second week of conference action, the Big Ten has seen two of its teams surpass its win total from last season. Illinois and Michigan have each totaled 14 and 13 triumphs in games to date this season, compared to winning only 13 and 9 contests, respectively, during the 2007-08 regular season. Together, the two teams have compiled only five losses this season, with Michigan falling to opponents three times and Illinois twice, including one loss to the Wolverines in a tough conference contest in Ann Arbor. After falling to Duke early in the season, Michigan returned to defeat the fourth-ranked Blue Devils in its second meeting, 81-73, in early December. The two teams look to continue their winning ways as they head into the third week of conference play. Michigan is now 3-1 in conference action, while Illinois is 2-1 against Big Ten foes, to rank second and fifth in the conference, respectively.
Chairmen of the Boards: Michigan State secured its commanding lead on the boards this week, improving its rebounding margin to a plus 16.3 in Big Ten only games to lead the conference. The margin is almost double that of the next closest team. The Spartans have combined for at least 40 team rebounds in each of its last three games, edging out conference opponents 136-87 on the glass in Big Ten play. The Spartan force is led by veterans Raymar Morgan and Goran Suton, who rank first and second in the conference in defensive and offensive rebounds, respectively. In just three contests, Morgan has pulled down 23 defensive boards (7.67 rpg.), while on the offensive end, Suton has battled for 10 rebounds (3.33 rpg.) in conference action.
Taking Care of the Rock: The Big Ten saw five of its point guards on the national leaderboard in the assist-to-turnover
ratio category, featuring three players in the top 12. MichiganState's Kalin Lucas paces the nation with a 4.72 assist-to-turnoverratio, while Minnesota's Al Nolen and Illinois' Chester Frazier earned spots at No. 3 (4.04) and No. 11
(2.83), respectively. Penn State's Talor Battle is No. 15 (2.69) and Northwestern's Michael Thompson is 35th (2.38).