Men's Basketball Weekly Release - Jan. 30
Jan. 30, 2006
Five Big Ten Teams with 15 or More Wins: The Big Ten is the only league in the nation with five teams that have posted 15 or more victories this season. The Big Ten is followed by the Big East (4), ACC (3), Colonial (3), Missouri Valley (3) and Big 12 (2). Illinois (19-2) leads the conference with the most victories, followed by Iowa (16-5), Michigan State (16-5), Michigan (15-3) and Wisconsin (15-5). With a win over Florida A&M on Monday, Ohio State (14-3) would become the sixth league team to reach the 15-win plateau.
The Big Ten Race: Four Big Ten teams are tied for first place in the league standings as Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin have all tallied a mark of 5-2 this year. The Fighting Illini and the Badgers have been in similar territory over the last few conference seasons. Last year, Illinois boasted a school-record 15-0 Big Ten mark, before falling to Ohio State in the final regular season game, while UW has opened with a 6-2 league record in both the 2004 and 2005 seasons. The Hawkeyes are off to their best start in the conference race in five years since they started 6-2 in 2001. The Wolverines have notched their best league mark since the 2003 season when the U-M squad opened with a 6-2 mark.
On a Roll: Last Saturday, Michigan's Daniel Horton posted a Crisler Arena record when he went 10-of-10 from the free throw line in an 85-76 victory over Wisconsin. In seven Big Ten games this season, Horton has been perfect from the free throw line, going 38-of-38 from the line, which currently ranks third on the Big Ten's list for most consecutive free throws in league contests only. Indiana's Todd Leary set the record of 46 straight free throws from 1990-94, while Michigan State's Steve Smith (1991) follows in second with 45.
Six Big Ten Standouts Named to Wooden Award Midseason List: Five Big Ten standouts - Illinois' Dee Brown, Indiana's Marco Killingsworth, Michigan State's Maurice Ager and Paul Davis and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker - were among the 30 players selected as midseason candidates for the 2005-06 John Wooden Award Player of the Year and All-American Team. Brown joins Duke's J.J. Redick as the only preseason candidates who were honored last year as members of the 2005 Wooden Award All-America Team. The 10-player Wooden Award All-America Team will be announced on Tuesday, March 28, 2006, while the recipient of the Wooden Award Trophy as the nation's top collegiate men's basketball player will be named on Saturday, April 8, 2006. Last year, Brown was joined by former teammate Deron Williams on the 2005 Wooden All-American team, while Purdue's Glenn Robinson was the last league standout to win the Wooden Award in 1994.
The Midseason Report: With the Big Ten season nearing the halfway point, a battle is brewing for the league's top scoring position. Wisconsin's Alando Tucker currently stands atop of the league scoring leaders with 20.7 points per game in Big Ten only contests, but is closely followed by Michigan's Daniel Horton (19.4 ppg) and Michigan State's Shannon Brown (19.3 ppg). If Tucker continues to lead the league in scoring, he would be the first Badger to accomplish that feat since Don Rehfeldt won back-to-back scoring titles in 1949 and 1950.
Other Midseason Leaders: In other conference game only statistics, Iowa is taking aim on three of the top categories. After finishing second in the league in rebounds the last two Big Ten seasons, Iowa's Greg Brunner ranks first with 11.3 boards per game. If Brunner finishes out the 2006 conference season in first place, it would mark the fourth time in the last six seasons that a Hawkeye has claimed the rebounding title. Former Iowa standout Reggie Evans won back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002, while Jared Reiner secured the 2003 crown with a rebound average of 10.7 boards per game. Iowa senior Jeff Horner is ranked first in assists with 6.57 per game, while teammate Erek Hansen has tallied a conference-best 3.43 blocks per game. Horner would become the first Iowa player to lead the league in assists since Dean Oliver won the title with 5.2 dishes per game in 2001. Hansen led the way in rejections as a sophomore in 2004, becoming only the second Hawkeye to win the crown since Acie Earl finished first in 1991 and 1992. Rounding out the top categories, Michigan's Daniel Horton leads the Big Ten with 2.14 steals per game in conference contests this season, which would make him the first Wolverine to officially finish first in that category since Gary Grant won back-to-back titles in 1987 and 1988.
Attendance Nears 1.5 Million: The Big Ten will break the 1.5 million mark in total attendance this week, as 1,451,071 fans have flocked to conference arenas for 119 games. Last season, the Big Ten led the country in total attendance for the 29th-straight season as the league welcomed 2,255,332 fans through the turnstiles. The conference has also broken the two million mark in total attendance in each of the last 13 seasons as the Big Ten played host to 2,146,082 patrons in 2004-05.
Home Domination: Six of the top seven teams in the Big Ten are undefeated at home in conference play. Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin, which are tied for first place in the league standings, have tallied a 4-0 mark, while Indiana (4-0) and Michigan State (3-0) are also undefeated at home in Big Ten play this season.
Big Ten's Grand Company: This week, Michigan's Dion Harris (992) and Michigan State's Shannon Brown (970) are vying to become the next members of the Big Ten's 1,000-point career scoring club. The list has nearly doubled from the start of the season, as 14 standouts are now above that scoring plateau, including three juniors and two teams with three players. Eight Big Ten seniors began the season on the 1,000 point list in Illinois' Dee Brown (1,659), Indiana's Marco Killingsworth (1,367), Iowa's Greg Brunner (1,329) and Jeff Horner (1,295), Michigan's Daniel Horton (1,330), Michigan State's Paul Davis (1,502), Northwestern's Vedran Vukusic (1,417) and Ohio State's Terence Dials (1,326). Six more players joined the list this season in Illinois' James Augustine (1,222), Iowa's Adam Haluska (1,073), Michigan State's Maurice Ager (1,309), Ohio State's Ron Lewis (1,101) and J.J. Sullinger (1,047) and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (1,287). The Big Ten's "Grand Company" list appears to the right.
Illinois' Homecourt Record: With a triumph over Purdue on Saturday, Illinois has now tied Gonzaga and Southern Illinois for the nation's longest homecourt winning streak of 33 games. The Illini have also posted their longest homecourt winning streak ever at the Assembly Hall, breaking the old mark of 31 consecutive home wins set from Jan. 15, 1984 through Jan. 4, 1986. 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.
Working Overtime in Conference Play: The Big Ten slate has featured three games that have gone to overtime, which is only three contests away from tying last year's mark of six OT games during the entire conference campaign. Michigan State needed two extra periods to knock off Ohio State on Jan. 15, while Iowa defeated Minnesota in three overtime sessions three days later on Jan. 18. Last Wednesday, Northwestern clinched a 78-76 victory over Purdue in yet another extra session. In all, Big Ten teams have played in eight overtime games so far this season, compared to 11 OT contests in the entire 2004-05 campaign. The only league teams to miss out on the overtime experience this season has been Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Penn State, while Michigan State leads all conference squads by playing past the final buzzer on three occasions in 2005-06.
Coaching Milestones: With a victory over Penn State on Saturday, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo now only needs one more triumph to claim his 250th career win in East Lansing. Izzo currently boasts a career mark of 249-101 in his 11th season at the Spartan helm. He has also compiled a 121-50 record in conference action to rank No. 14 on the Big Ten's all-time list for league victories. Michigan's Tommy Amaker is also nearing a top milestone as he only needs two more victories to earn his 150th career win. He currently boasts an all-time mark of 148-117 in his ninth season as a head coach, which includes a four-year stint at Seton Hall.