Men's Basketball Weekly Release - Feb. 6
Feb. 6, 2006
Iowa Claims Big Ten Lead: With a 7-2 record, Iowa is off to its best start in Big Ten play since the 1996-97 season when the Hawkeyes also tallied a 7-2 league mark. It also marks the first time Iowa has been in first place in the month of February since 1981-82. The Hawkeyes began that season with a 10-1 league record before suffering their second conference loss on Feb. 11. Minnesota (14-4) won the 1982 Big Ten title, while Iowa (12-6) tied for second. The Hawkeyes' success away from home will be tested on Wednesday, as the squad travels to Evanston to face Northwestern (3-6). Defending champion Illinois (6-3) and Michigan (6-3) are currently tied for second place in the league standings.
NCAA RPI Rankings: The Big Ten led the nation with four teams ranked in the top 10 of the RPI rankings which were released by the NCAA last Wednesday. Michigan State ranked No. 5, followed by Illinois (7th), Wisconsin (8th) and Iowa (10th). Rounding out the top 25 were Ohio State (15th), Michigan (17th) and Indiana (21st).
Three Big Ten Seniors Named to Bob Cousy Award Watch List: Illinois' Dee Brown, Iowa's Jeff Horner and Michigan's Daniel Horton were among 16 finalists for the 2006 Bob Cousy Award, an honor presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point guard. All three currently rank among the league's top five in assists. Horner leads the league with 6.22 dishes per game, while Brown follows in second (6.11 apg) and Horton ranks fourth (4.50 apg). Nominees for the Bob Cousy Award were solicited through the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). The award will be presented Monday, April 3 at the Final Four in Indianapolis, Ind.
Non-Conference Success: Northwestern will host IPFW on Saturday to close out the Big Ten's non-conference slate. The Big Ten has posted the best out-of-league winning percentage in over six years at .803 (106-26). 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 postseason action that year. The Big Ten's .803 winning percentage is an improvement of 10 percent over last year's non-league mark of 97-41 (.703). With 106 wins this season, the Big Ten has also 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.
Big Ten's Grand Company: Michigan State became the third Big Ten team to have three 1,000-point scorers on its team. On Saturday, MSU's Shannon Brown (1,001) scored 22 points against Northwestern to become the 16th standout to reach the 1,000-point plateau, joining teammates Paul Davis (1,518) and Maurice Ager (1,330). Iowa (Greg Brunner (1,356); Adam Haluska (1,102); Jeff Horner (1,341)) and Ohio State (Terence Dials (1,347); Ron Lewis (1,112); J.J. Sullinger (1,078)) also have three members of the 1,000-point club, while Illinois (Dee Brown (1,686); James Augustine (1,242)) and Michigan (Dion Harris (1,028); Daniel Horton (1,362)) both have two. Also joining the list is Indiana's Marco Killingsworth (1,391), Northwestern's Vedran Vukusic (1,458) and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (1,328). The Big Ten's "Grand Company" list appears to the right.
Horton's Free Throw Streak Snapped: Michigan's Daniel Horton nearly broke the Big Ten's record of consecutive free throws. On Saturday against Iowa, Horton missed his third free throw of the game to halt his streak at 42, which ranks as the third best all-time in Big Ten play. Indiana's Todd Leary set the record of 46 straight free throws from 1990-94, while Michigan State's Steve Smith (1991) followed in second with 45.
PSU Ends Illinois' Homecourt Record: On Saturday, not only did Penn State upset No. 6 Illinois, but also gave the Fighting Illini their first loss at Assembly Hall since Jan. 10, 2004. With a 66-65 victory, the Nittany Lions snapped Illinois' 33-game home winning streak, which heading into the game was a school record and tied Gonzaga as the nation's longest current streak. It also marked the highest ranked opponent that the Nittany Lions have ever defeated on the road and their first win over a ranked foe since beating No. 5 North Carolina in the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
New Big Ten Homecourt Winning Streaks: With Illinois' 33-game home winning streak snapped, Iowa and Michigan State are now vying for the league's longest homecourt winning streaks. The Hawkeyes are undefeated at home this season with a school-record 14 wins and have tied the Carver-Hawkeye Arena record of 15 consecutive home victories going back to last season. Iowa has not lost at home since Illinois defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-65, on Feb. 19, 2005. Michigan State currently boasts 13 straight home triumphs at the Breslin Center. The Spartans' last loss was also against the Fighting Illini as Illinois claimed an 81-66 victory on Feb. 1, 2005.
The Importance of Defending the Homecourt: Winning home games can be crucial to a conference title run, as defending Big Ten champion Illinois (8-0) went undefeated in the friendly confines of Assembly Hall last season. Michigan State and Wisconsin, which finished second and third respectively in the league standings, boasted only one conference loss on their homecourts last year. In fact, no Big Ten team in the past 14 seasons has lost more than one league home game and gone on to claim a share of the title. The last conference squad to accomplish that feat was Indiana, as the Hoosiers went 7-2 at home in 1991 but earned a tie with Ohio State. From 1990-2005, teams that won or shared the Big Ten title have compiled a cumulative home record of 170-14 (.924) in league games only. So far in 2006, four teams boast perfect home records in conference play in Indiana (5-0), Iowa (5-0), Michigan (4-0) and Michigan State (3-0), while three programs have dropped only one home contest in Illinois (4-1), Wisconsin (4-1) and Ohio State (3-1).
Coaching Milestones: With a victory over Northwestern on Saturday, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo claimed his 250th career win in East Lansing. Izzo currently boasts a career mark of 250-102 in his 11th season at the Spartan helm. He has also compiled a 122-50 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 one more victory to earn his 150th career win. He currently boasts an all-time mark of 149-118 in his ninth season as a head coach, which includes a four-year stint at Seton Hall.
Scoring Explosion: This season, a total of nine different players have tallied 30 or more points in a game. Most recently, Iowa's Jeff Horner scored a career-high 32 against Purdue last Wednesday. Wisconsin's Alando Tucker tallied a conference-best 38 points on Nov. 19 against Eastern Kentucky.
Tucker in the Lead: Wisconsin's Alando Tucker remains in first place among the league's scoring leaders with 20.7 points per game in Big Ten only contests, but is followed by Michigan State's Shannon Brown (19.6 ppg) and Northwestern's Vedran Vukusic (18.5 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.