Big Ten Men's Basketball Weekly Release - Feb. 11, 2013

Feb. 11, 2013

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Now past the halfway point of the Big Ten season, five squads have won seven or more conference games, with Indiana and Michigan State tied atop the conference with matching 9-2 records. Seven Big Ten teams are receiving votes in both national polls this week, while seven conference squads appear among the top 35 of the latest RPI. Of this week's 12 conference matchups, 11 will feature at least one team receiving votes in the national polls, while two will showcase a pair of top-20 opponents.

Where We Rank
Seven Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest national polls, released on Monday. For the second straight week, Indiana is the nation's top-ranked team in the Associated Press (AP) poll and is one of five Big Ten teams appearing in the top 20 of the rankings. The Hoosiers are ranked second in the USA Today Coaches poll. Michigan is ranked fourth in the AP poll and fifth in the coaches rankings, while Michigan State gives the Big Ten three top-10 squads, checking in at No. 8 in both polls. Ohio State is ranked 13th in the writers' rankings and 14th in the coaches vote, while Wisconsin is 20th in the AP poll and 19th in the USA Today rankings. Minnesota and Illinois are receiving votes in both polls.

Another Week of Ranked Matchups
Of the conference's 12 matchups this week, 11 will feature at least one team receiving votes, while two contests will highlight a pair of ranked squads. An in-state game between Michigan and Michigan State on Tuesday pits a pair of top-10 teams, marking the sixth time during the Big Ten season two top-10 teams will take to the court. It is the fourth time during conference play the Wolverines will face a top-10 foe, while the Spartans will face their third Big Ten team ranked in the top 10. Sunday will feature the conference's second game of the week featuring ranked squads as Wisconsin welcomes Ohio State.

20-Game Winners
Three Big Ten programs have reached the 20-wins mark this season, including a pair of programs with 21 victories. Michigan was the first conference team to reach 20 wins and will carry 21 triumphs into the week, while Indiana recorded its 21st victory of the year with its road victory over Ohio State last Sunday. Michigan State posted its 20th win of the year with a triumph over Purdue last Saturday. It marks the third straight year the Wolverines have won 20 or more games, while the Hoosiers and Spartans have reached the landmark for the second consecutive season.

Well Rated in the RPI
The Big Ten continues to rank first in the RPI, according to Through Sunday's games, the Big Ten is one of two conferences with seven squads appearing in the top 35 of the latest rating. Michigan and Michigan State both appear in the top 10, with the Wolverines fifth and the Spartans ninth. Indiana and Minnesota appear in the top 15 as the Hoosiers are rated 11th and the Gophers are 13th. Ohio State appear at No. 23, followed by No. 27 Illinois and No. 31 Wisconsin among the top 35.

Sagarin Says
The Big Ten is the top rated conference in the Sagarin Ratings, buoyed by six squads in the top 15, including three in the top 10. Through Sunday's games, Indiana emerged as the top team in the poll and is joined in the top 10 by No. 3 Michigan and No. 10 Ohio State. Michigan State appears at No. 11, followed by No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 15 Minnesota. In addition, four other conference teams appear among the rating's top 45, including No. 39 Iowa and No. 42 Illinois.

Big Ten vs. the Top 25
This season, seven conference squads have recorded multiple wins against top-25 teams this season, including six programs that have won three or more games against ranked foes. Indiana is among the national leaders in victories over top-25 squads, enjoying a 5-0 mark against ranked teams. Illinois and Wisconsin have each played eight top-25 squads this season, winning four of those contests, while Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota have each won three contests against ranked teams this year. Northwestern has two triumphs against top-25 teams.

Heading Toward the Stretch Run
Now past the halfway point of the Big Ten season, two squads are tied for the conference lead with three more within two games in the standings. Indiana and Michigan State stand atop the conference standings, with each holding 9-2 marks in Big Ten play. Michigan and Wisconsin are tied for third with matching 8-3 records, while Ohio State is fifth at 7-4. This week's slate of games will feature two games pitting top-five squads. Michigan State hosts in-state foe Michigan on Tuesday, while Wisconsin welcomes Ohio State on Sunday.

To The Point
Six Big Ten teams are averaging better than 71 points per game this season, including Indiana, which ranks as the second-highest scoring team in the nation at 83.2 points per game. Michigan also ranks among the top 25 most prolific offenses, rating 21st at 77.0 points per game. Other Big Ten teams averaging more than 71 points per game are Iowa (72.2), Ohio State (71.7), Illinois (71.6) and Minnesota (71.4)

Dual Threats
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 16.5 points, which ranks fourth, and 8.3 rebounds, which is second in the conference. Three Big Ten players rank among the conference's top 10 in both points and assists per game. Michigan's Trey Burke ranks second in scoring at 18.2 points per game, while leading all conference players in assists at 7.1 a night. Penn State's D. J. Newbill ranks sixth in points (15.8) and sixth in assists (4.0) per game and Michigan State's Keith Appling is 10th in scoring (14.1) and fifth in assists (4.1) per game.

Three Named Cousy Finalists
Three Big Ten players were selected as finalists for the 2013 Bob Cousy Award, more than any other conference. The honor is awarded annually to the nation's top point guard, and will be presented at the Hall of Fame Class Announcement on April 8. Michigan's Trey Burke, Michigan State's Keith Appling and Ohio State's Aaron Craft were all named to the list, which will be narrowed to five on March 11. Illinois' Dee Brown was the last Big Ten standout to win the award in 2006.

Hulls a CLASS Act
Indiana's Jordan Hulls was named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, it was announced last week. The Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The men's Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta. Hulls is the 10th Big Ten player to be named a finalist in the last four years, with Purdue's Robbie Hummel winning the 2012 award.