Jan. 21, 2013
The Big Ten enters the fourth week of Big Ten play with Michigan State holding a one-half game lead over Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin in the conference race. Of the 12 Big Ten matchups this week, nine feature at least one ranked team, while Sunday's Michigan State at Indiana contest features a pair of top-15 teams. Five Big Ten teams appear in the top 15 of the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls, while conference teams continue to rate highly in the latest RPI and Sagarin ratings.
Where We Rank
Five Big Ten teams appear in the top 15 of the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls, which were released on Monday. Two squads appear in the top 10 of each poll, as Michigan leads the way in both rankings at No. 2 in the AP vote and No. 3 in the coaches poll, while Indiana appears at No. 7 in the writers rankings and No. 8 in the USA Today poll. After a pair of wins last week, including Saturday's triumph over nationally ranked Ohio State, Michigan State climbs six spots in the coaches poll to No. 11 and rises to No. 13 in the AP vote, up five spots from last week. Minnesota (No. 12 AP/No. 14 Coaches) and Ohio State (No. 14/No. 15), round out the ranked Big Ten squads. Wisconsin is receiving votes in both polls this week. The Big Ten has more teams ranked in the top 15 than any other conference has in the top 25 of either poll.
Quick Out of the Gate
Entering the fourth week of the Big Ten season, Michigan State stands atop the conference standings with a 5-1 record. Winners of five in a row, the Spartans hold a one-half game lead over second-place Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, who each hold a 4-1 conference mark. Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue are in a three-way tie for fifth with matching 3-2 Big Ten records.
Reporting on the RPI
The Big Ten continues to be among the national leaders in the RPI ratings, according to RPIratings.com. The Big Ten enters the week leading the nation with six teams appearing among the rating's top 35 and is one of two conferences with nine or more squads in the top 70. Michigan and Minnesota each rank in the top 10, with the Wolverines appearing at No. 5 and the Gophers checking in at No. 8. Indiana is rated No. 14 and is followed by No. 16 Michigan State, No. 27 Ohio State and No. 31 Illinois in the top 35. In addition, Wisconsin appears at No. 51, Iowa is rated 64th and Nebraska is 66th in the latest RPI.
The Big Ten is the top-ranked conference in the Sagarin ratings, buoyed by three top-10 teams and six top-20 squads. Michigan paces the conference squads at No. 3 in the ratings and is joined in the top 10 by No. 7 Indiana and No. 9 Minnesota. Ohio State appears at No. 13 in the ratings, followed by No. 18 Michigan State and No. 19 Wisconsin in the top 20. In total, 10 conference squads are rated among the nation's top 100, including No. 37 Iowa, No. 60 Illinois, No. 83 Purdue and No. 91 Northwestern.
Continuing Their Winning Ways
Three Big Ten teams entered the week with 16 or more victories on the season, making the Big Ten one of two conferences nationally that can claim such a feat. Michigan leads all Big Ten teams in victories and is one of five teams in the country to have 17 wins on the season, while Indiana and Michigan State carry 16 wins into the fourth week of Big Ten play. In addition, the Big Ten is one of only three conferences in the nation to have 11 or more squads with 10-plus victories on the season. Minnesota has 15 wins, Illinois has 14 triumphs, Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin each have 13 victories, Northwestern boasts 11 wins and Nebraska and Purdue each reached the 10-wins mark last week.
The Big Ten is the only conference in the nation with two teams appearing among the top 10 in scoring offense, while eight conference squads are averaging better than 70 points per game this season. Entering the week, Indiana ranks second nationally at 84.4 points per game, while Michigan is 10th at 79.3 points a night. In total, five conference teams are among the top 60 in the country, including Minnesota (76.2 ), Iowa (73.9) and Ohio State (73.4) who are averaging better than 73 points per game. Illinois (72.8), Michigan State (70.3) and Wisconsin (70.2) are also averaging 70 or more points per game this season.
Watch the Rock
No conference has more teams in the nation's top 20 of turnovers per game than the Big Ten, which has five appearing among the top 17 in the category. Wisconsin leads the nation with just 9.1 turnovers per game, with Michigan close behind in fourth at 9.7. Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State also appear among the top 20 teams in fewest turnovers, with the Huskers 12th at 10.8, the Wildcats 14th at 10.9 and Ohio State 17th at 11.1 per game.
Enjoying the Road
Following a week in which the majority of road teams claimed wins in conference games, visiting squads hold a .500 record during Big Ten play with a 16-16 mark. Of the nine intra-conference contests last week, seven were won by the visiting teams. Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin each won road matchups last week. Five Big Ten teams own winning road records during conference play, with Indiana boasting a 3-0 mark and Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin each holding 2-1 records away from home.
They Can Do It All
A select group of conference standouts rank among the Big Ten's overall leaders in various statistical categories. Indiana's Cody Zeller ranks among the conference's top four in both points and rebounds per game, averaging 17.2 points, which ranks fourth, and 8.2 rebounds, which is tied for the Big Ten lead. Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas, who is ninth nationally in scoring, is the conference leader in points (20.8) and ranks eighth in rebounds (6.6) per game. Three Big Ten players rank among the conference's top 10 in both points and assists per game. Michigan's Trey Burke ranks third in the conference at 18.0 points per game, while leading all players with 7.2 assists per game. Penn State's D. J. Newbill ranks sixth in points (15.3) and eighth in assists (4.1) per game and Minnesota's Andre Hollins rounds out the top 10 scorers at 14.3 points per game and is ninth with 3.7 assists per game.
Three Big Ten coaches either reached career milestones or are poised to do so in the coming games. With Michigan State's victory over Penn State on Wednesday, Spartan head coach Tom Izzo became the sixth coach in conference history to record 200 career Big Ten wins. Now in his 18th year, Izzo joins former coaches Lou Henson of Illinois, Bob Knight and Branch McCracken of Indiana, and Gene Keady and Ward Lambert of Purdue in the 200-conference wins class. Now in his fifth season, Illinois' John Groce needs one more victory to clinch the 100th win in his career, while Purdue's Matt Painter is five triumphs from 200 career wins, aiming to become the 10th current Big Ten coach to reach the 200 career wins mark.
Making the Cut
Four Big Ten players were named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 last week, while four conference standouts were tabbed finalists for the 2013 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Michigan's Trey Burke made both lists, while Illinois' Brandon Paul, Indiana's Cody Zeller and Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas earned spots on the 25-person Wooden list. Michigan State's Keith Appling, Minnesota's Andre Hollins and Ohio State's Aaron Craft earned places on the 20-member Cousy Award finalist list.
They've Got CLASS
Five Big Ten players were named candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, a total that leads all conferences. Illinois' Brandon Paul, Indiana's Jordan Hulls, Northwestern's Drew Crawford, Penn State's Tim Frazier and Wisconsin's Jared Berggren are in the running for the honor that recognizes an NCAA Division I senior with notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- community, classroom, character and competition.
Stars on the Small Screen
For the sixth consecutive season, every Big Ten home game will be produced and distributed to a live national audience. BTN, which is available in more than 80 million homes in the U.S. and Canada, will broadcast over 100 events on its linear channel or on BTN.com. More than 75 games will be aired by an ESPN platform -- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3, and CBS Sports will carry 15 games.
March is (Almost) On
The 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Chicago's United Center for the first time since 2007 and the eighth time in the event's history, including the inaugural event in 1998. Every game of the tournament will be broadcast to a national audience with contests appearing on BTN, ESPN, ESPN2 and CBS Sports. Every tournament game since its inception has reached a live national television audience. The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will also be played at the United Center in 2015, and will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., in 2014 and 2016. All-session tickets for the 2013 Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments are on sale now. Visit bigten.org for more information.