Feb. 18, 2013
Entering the week, each Big Ten team has just five conference games remaining, with tipoff of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament a little more than three weeks away. Seven Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest polls, with Indiana appearing at No. 1 in both rankings this week. Indiana and Michigan State are tied atop the conference standings at 11-2, and will square off on Tuesday in the seventh meeting of top-10 teams during Big Ten play. Of the conference's eight matchups this week, six will feature teams that are receiving votes, including matchups of ranked teams Indiana and Michigan State on Tuesday and Michigan State and Ohio State on Sunday.
Where We Rank
Seven Big Ten teams received votes in the latest national rankings, with Indiana appearing at the top of both the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today/Coaches polls, which were released on Monday. For the ninth time this season, Indiana is at No. 1 in at least one poll, and returns to the top of the coaches rankings after appearing at No. 2 a week ago. The conference continues to have three squads appearing in the top 10, with Michigan State ranked fourth in the AP vote and fifth in the coaches poll, while Michigan checks in at No. 7 in both rankings. Wisconsin is rated 17th in the coaches vote and 19th in the writers rankings, while Ohio State checks in at No. 18 in both standings. Illinois and Minnesota are receiving votes in both polls.
Top 10 Matchups
When Indiana faces Michigan State on Tuesday, it will mark the seventh time during the Big Ten season a pair of top-10 ranked teams have squared off. The Hoosiers have faced three top-10 conference opponents previously this season, going 3-0 in those contests with wins over Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State. The matchup against the Hoosiers will be the Spartans' fourth top-10 conference foe this season, posting a 1-2 record in appearances against Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota.
A Week of Ranked Matchups
In addition to the top-10 showdown between Indiana and Michigan State, three other conference matchups this week will feature matchups between teams who are receiving votes in both national rankings. On Wednesday, Minnesota, who is receiving votes in both polls, visits No. 18 Ohio State. Saturday features a pair of matchups between teams receiving votes when Illinois, winners of four straight, travels to face No. 7 Michigan, while No. 4/5 Michigan State will take on the Buckeyes.
With just three weeks left in the regular season, and each Big Ten team with five conference games to play, two squads are tied at the top of the standings, while three others are within three games of first place. Indiana and Michigan State are each 11-2 in conference play, with the two teams squaring off on Tuesday with first place at stake. Michigan and Wisconsin are tied for third with 9-4 Big Ten marks and Ohio State is three games back with an 8-5 record in conference play.
The Big Ten is the only conference in the nation to have three of its teams boasting 22 or more wins this year, while being one of just two conferences nationally with eight squads carrying 17 or more wins on the season. Indiana leads all conference teams in wins with 23, while Michigan and Michigan State each hold matching 22-4 records on the year. Illinois has 19 victories, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin each have 18 triumphs on the season, while Iowa has won 17 games.
Big Ten Against the Top 25
This season, seven conference squads have recorded multiple wins over top-25 teams, including five programs that have won four or more games against ranked foes. Indiana and Wisconsin are among the national leaders in victories over top-25 squads, each posting five wins against ranked foes, including an unblemished mark for the Hoosiers. Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota have each won four games against ranked competition, Michigan has won three contests against the top 25 and Northwestern boasts a pair of triumphs against top-25 teams.
Ratings in the RPI
The Big Ten continues to lead the nation in RPI, according to RPIratings.com. Through Sunday's games, seven Big Ten teams appear in the top 30 of the rating, the most of any conference in the nation. Four conference teams appear in the ratings' top 15, led by No. 5 Michigan State, followed by No. 8 Michigan, No. 12 Indiana and No. 15 Minnesota. Wisconsin appears at No. 26, Ohio State is 28th and Illinois rounds out the Big Ten in the top 30 at No. 29.
The Big Ten is the top-rated conference in the Sagarin Ratings, buoyed by six squads in the top 16, including three among the top 10. Through Sunday's games, Indiana is rated first in the nation, with Michigan and Michigan State appearing at No. 4 and No. 7, respectively. Wisconsin climbs to No. 12 in the rating, followed by No. 13 Ohio State and No. 16 Minnesota. Illinois and Iowa give the Big Ten eight teams in the rating's top 35 as the Illini are 32nd and the Hawkeyes are 33rd.
Battling for Stat Champions
Heading into the final stretch of the conference season, Big Ten standouts are looking to finish as the conference's stat leaders among all games and conference games only. Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas looks to give Ohio State the scoring champion for the third time in the last five seasons, leading in points per game at 20.1 in all games and 20.5 in conference games only. Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe is on pace to lead the Big Ten in rebounding for the second time in his career, averaging 8.6 boards in all games and 10.0 in conference play this season, after previously winning the rebounding title in both categories in 2011. Michigan's Trey Burke is on pace to become the first Wolverine to lead the Big Ten in assists in conference games only since Gary Grant in 1988 and the second assist leader in all games from Michigan in the last three years. Burke is averaging 6.4 assists in conference games, and 6.9 helpers in all games.
National Team Scoring Leaders
Seven Big Ten teams are averaging 70 or more points per game this season, with a pair of programs appearing among the top 25 nationally. Indiana is ranked second in the country, averaging 82.9 points per game, while Michigan is 23rd nationally at 76.2 points per contest. The five other conference teams averaging 70 or more points per game this season include Iowa (72.2), Illinois (71.5), Ohio State (70.6), Minnesota (70.1) and Michigan State (70.0).
Thanks to the Fans
The Big Ten exceeded the one-million mark in total attendance in conference game only last week, marking the 36th straight season the conference has surpassed the milestone. During the conference season, Big Ten teams are welcoming better than 13,600 fans per contest, including three programs that are averaging better than 17,000 patrons per game. Among all games, conference teams have welcomed better than 2.3 million patrons to Big Ten arenas this season. It is the 21st straight year Big Ten programs have combined to welcome more than two million fans to its arenas in a single season.