Feb. 10, 2010
FACES of the Big Ten
ZACK NOVAK, michigan sophomore guard
As a full-time starter for the Wolverines, Zack Novak makes a concerted effort to provide assistance off the court to young children while pursuing his business degree at U-M’s prestigious Stephen M. Ross School of Business—rated among the top four schools in the country. Novak, who is scrappy on the court, has balanced his hours of practice, classes, projects and his volunteer work with great diligence. Novak was named U-M’s first sophomore captain in history and takes great pride in talking about hard work, dedication and leadership. Whether it is visiting Mott’s Children’s Hospital, helping out with a visit from the Kids Kicking Cancer program, or serving as a basketball summer camp counselor, Novak always makes sure he takes time to speak with each child he comes in contact with. Novak is also a regular visitor to local Ann Arbor elementary schools as he is part of reading programs as well as other game activities with the children.
BIG TEN. BIG NOTES.
RACE FOR SUPREMACY: With just four weeks remaining in the Big Ten regular season, six teams are above .500 in the conference standings, with Michigan State holding a one-game advantage at 9-2. Three teams are knotted at 8-3 for second place in Illinois, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Purdue sits alone in fifth place with a 7-3 mark. Things heat up in the race this week when No. 10/10 Michigan State hosts No. 6/6 Purdue. A Spartan win could push them 2.5 games ahead of the Boilermakers. Tied at 8-3, Illinois travels to Wisconsin, as one team will gain the edge and pull ahead in the race.
BADGER PROWESS: Wisconsin is the only team in the country that has beaten two AP top-five teams. The Badgers handed then-No. 4 Purdue its first loss of the season on Jan. 9 and last week, knocked off then-No. 5 and undefeated in conference play, Michigan State. Wisconsin is 5-2 against the Associated Press Top 25 this season and tied for second in the nation with the most wins vs. foes ranked in the AP poll. Georgetown is the only team in the nation with more wins (6). The Badgers are tied with Syracuse and Duke. The Badgers are tied with Georgetown in wins versus the top 10 with three to rank second in the nation behind only Syracuse (4).
ARDUOUS TASK: Four Big Ten teams are among the nation’s most-battle tested, playing seven or more games this season against AP Top 25 opponents. Ohio State has met eight foes this season ranked in the top 25. This tally is best in the nation along with Georgetown and Marquette. Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin have each played seven ranked opponents to date for second nationally with Duke, Seton Hall and Texas A&M.
TURNING HEADS: Ohio State’s Evan Turner is currently among the top two in points, rebounds and assists in the Big Ten. If Turner’s numbers stand, he could become the only player in Big Ten history to finish in the top three in each category since assists became an official stat during the 1983-84 season. The Buckeye sophomore is averaging 19.7 points per game (1st), 9.4 rebounds (1st) and 5.7 assists (2nd). Only five players in Big Ten history have finished in the top 10 of those categories since 1983-84, including both Turner and Michigan’s Manny Harris last season. No Division I player has achieved those minimums since at least 1996-97. The only player in NBA history to match those numbers in a season was Wilt Chamberlain, who did so in both the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons.
1989-90 | Steve Smith, Michigan State
(1st in points - 20.2, T7th in rebounds - 7.0, 4th in assists - 4.8)
1991-92 | Jim Jackson, Ohio State
(1st points - 22.4, 8th rebounds - 6.8, 7th assists - 4.0)
1995-96 | Brian Evans, Indiana
(1st points - 21.2, 3rd rebounds - 7.1, 8th assists - 4.1)
2008-09 | Evan Turner, Ohio State
(1st points - 17.3, 3rd rebounds - 7.1, 8th assists - 4.0)
2008-09 | Manny Harris, Michigan
(2nd points - 16.9, 6th rebounds - 6.8, 5th assists - 4.4)
POLL POSITION: Four Big Ten teams are ranked among the AP top 15 this week to tie the Big East with the most teams in that group. The Big 12 has three teams among the top 15, while the SEC has two and the ACC has one. Purdue is currently ranked sixth, Michigan State 10th, Wisconsin 11th and Ohio State 13th.
INSTANT IMPACT: Northwestern’s Drew Crawford is among only four freshman in the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC who is averaging at least 11.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists. The first-year Wildcat is averaging 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists while logging 27.7 minutes per game. A complete breakdown of top freshmen appears below.
Player, School Points, Rebounds, Assists
Alec Burks, CU 16.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 apg
Xavier Henry, KU 13.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.9 apg
Lance Stephenson, CIN 11.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.6 apg
Drew Crawford, NU 11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg
THIS IS OUR HOUSE: Three teams enter the week undefeated at home in Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Spartans will put their steak on the line Tuesday night when they host Purdue. Wisconsin welcomes two opponents to the Kohl Center this week as they look to remain perfect at home. Ohio State will keep its streak in tact for at least one more week, as the Buckeyes hit the road for contests Wednesday and Sunday. The Badgers and Spartans are tied with the seventh-longest active streak in the NCAA. The duo also have the longest active home streaks in the Big Ten at 18 games. Ohio State’s steak of 17 home wins is good for ninth in the nation.
3O’s THE MAGIC NUMBER: Ohio State’s Evan Turner scored 32 points in the Buckeyes’ win over Iowa on Sunday. The performance marked his second and the 12th time this season for a Big Ten player. Turner joins Mike Tisdale (ILL), Maurice Creek (IND), Drew Crawford (NU), John Shurna (NU), Michael Thompson (NU), David Lighty (OSU) and Robbie Hummel (PUR) as all scoring 30 or more points this season.
A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN: Penn State’s Talor Battle is second in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 19.1 points per contest and one of 16 active players in Division I to record 1,300 points, 400 rebounds and 350 assists. The junior guard has recorded 1,391 career points, 433 rebounds and 376 assists to check in as the only non-senior among the 16 to accomplish this feat.
THE ROARING 20s: Michigan State and Purdue are both one win shy of recording their 20th victory of the season. The Spartans hosts the Boilermakers Tuesday night. If Michigan State is victorious, it will mark the 18th 20-win season all-time for the Spartans and 10th in the last 12 years. If Purdue wins the contest, the Boilermakers will have their 22nd 20-win season in school history, and fourth under head coach Matt Painter.
BIG TEN CONFERENCE CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Throughout the month of February, the Big Ten will commemorate the achievements of African-Americans on Big Ten campuses with feature stories on its Black History Month website. Among the former student-athletes to be recognized are two men’s basketball players. On Wednesday, the Big Ten will honor former Indiana standout Bill Garrett. Read his full story on www.bigten.org, beginning Wednesday.