Feb. 19, 2007
Big Ten Nabs No. 1 and No. 2 in the Polls: Wisconsin garnered the No. 1 ranking and Ohio State followed at No. 2 in the latest Associated Press Poll, while the Buckeyes claimed the top ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and the Badgers nabbed the No. 2 spot. For the first official time, the Big Ten claims the top two rankings since the AP began weekly polls in 1948. Michigan and Indiana were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Nov. 30, 1992 poll, however the Wolverines' 1992-93 season was later vacated by the NCAA. The last time a conference claimed the top two rankings in the AP poll was the Big East with No. 1 Connecticut and No. 2 Villanova on March 7, 2006.
No. 1 vs. No. 2: For the first time in conference history, two Big Ten teams ranked first and second in the national polls will meet on the court this Sunday when No. 2/1 Ohio State hosts No. 1/2 Wisconsin. For the first time in school history, the Badgers have earned the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll. It also marks the first time a Big Ten team has garnered the top ranking in the Associated Press poll since Illinois was No. 1 throughout the 2004-05 season. Earlier this year, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 in the ESPN/ USA Today Coaches Poll the week of Nov. 27, 2006.
Best Freshman Class Ever?: This year, freshmen are not just making an impact, but also leading in several statistical categories. In conference games only, Ohio State freshman Greg Oden leads the Big Ten in rebounding (9.1 rpg) and blocked shots (3.54 bpg). Teammate Mike Conley Jr. is the conference leader in assists (6.69 apg), steals (2.23 spg) and assists/turnover ratio (3.63) in Big Ten games only. In comparing other conferences, only the Big Ten has a freshman leading in five statistical categories. The Big East has a first-year standout leading in four categories, while the Big 12 and the ACC follow with three freshmen leaders. Other Big Ten freshmen appearing in the top 20 in conference games only statistics include Indiana's Armon Bassett, Iowa's Tyler Smith, Michigan's Ekpe Udoh, Michigan State's Raymar Morgan, Northwestern's Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan, Ohio State's Daequan Cook, Purdue's Chris Kramer.
Tucker Eyes UW's Career Scoring Record: With 2,071 points, Wisconsin's Alando Tucker is looking to break UW's all-time scoring record held by Michael Finley, who tallied 2,147 points from 1992-95. Last week, Tucker became the second Badger and 23rd player in Big Ten history to score at least 2,000 points in his career. The senior forward became the first 2,000-point producer for the Big Ten since Indiana's A.J. Guyton who registered 2,100 points from 1997-00. Tucker currently ranks 19th on the Big Ten's scoring chart and is vying to surpass Purdue's Dave Schellhase (2,074 points from 1964-66).
The Conference Leaders: Wisconsin established a school record in wins with 26 victories on the season. The Badgers currently are tied with Ohio State for the conference lead with a 12-1 record in Big Ten action. The Buckeyes have tallied their best start in Big Ten action since beginning the 1990-91 campaign with a 15-1 mark.
Non-Conference Success: On Wednesday, Northwestern will step out of conference play and take on Texas-Pan American. With 117 wins this season, the Big Ten has posted the most non-conference victories prior to postseason play in conference history, eclipsing last year's mark of 112 wins. Last season, the conference tallied a 112-28 mark before heading into NCAA Tournament action. The Big Ten then closed out the season with the best out-of-conference winning percentage in over six years at .767 (115-35).
ESPN's College Basketball GameDay: Michigan State will host the popular ESPN College Basketball GameDay television show at the Breslin Center this Saturday, prior to the Indiana-MSU men's basketball game. ESPN College Basketball GameDay activities begin at 9 a.m. with the live TV show originating from the Breslin Center. Hosts of ESPN College Basketball GameDay include Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis, Dick Vitale and Andy Katz.
Big Ten Scoring Race Heats Up: Iowa's Adam Haluska remains in first place among the conference's scoring leaders with 21.5 points per game in Big Ten only contests, but is closely followed by Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (20.1 ppg), who captured the Big Ten scoring title last season. If Haluska continues to lead the conference in scoring, he would be the first Hawkeye to accomplish that feat since Andre Woolridge in 1997.
The Final Stretch: With just two weeks left in the Big Ten regular season, eight teams at or above .500 in conference play as Wisconsin and Ohio State currently lead the Big Ten with matching 12-1 marks. Indiana follows in third place (7-5), while Illinois and Iowa are tied for fourth place with 7-6 records. With victories this past week, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue are just a half game behind in sixth place with matching 6-6 records. Of the top three teams, Wisconsin wraps up the conference slate with two of its three contests on the road and faces the toughest competition as the combined record of the Badgers' opponents is 24-13 (.649), including road tests at Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans face the toughest slate of the top eight teams as their remaining opponents boast a .740 winning percentage.
Big Ten's Grand Company: The conference's group of 1,000-point scorers has more than doubled from the start of the season as 10 standouts are now above that scoring plateau, including three teams with two players or more players. Four Big Ten seniors began the season on the 1,000-point list in Iowa's Adam Haluska (1,786), Michigan's Dion Harris (1,490), Ohio State's Ron Lewis (1,544) and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (2,071). Six more players joined the list this season in Michigan's Lester Abram (1,205) and Courtney Sims (1,265), Penn State's Geary Claxton (1,182), Purdue's Carl Landry (1,030) and David Teague (1,258) and Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor (1,113). With 969 points, Minnesota's Lawrence McKenzie, who transfered from Oklahoma and sat out last season, is vying to become the next member of the conference's 1,000-point club.
NCAA RPI Rankings: The Big Ten has six teams in the top 45 of the RPI rankings which were released by the NCAA on Monday. Ohio State leads the Big Ten contingent with a No. 4 ranking, while Wisconsin (5th), Indiana (17th), Purdue (40th), Illinois (41st) and Michigan State (42nd) round out the top 45.
Big Ten's Homecourt Records: Ohio State has the fourth-longest home winning streak in the country with 24 consecutive triumphs at Value City Arena while Wisconsin follows in fifth place with a 21-game home winning streak at the Kohl Center. Air Force leads the nation with a 30-game homecourt winning streak. The Buckeyes' last home loss was on Jan. 15, 2006, in double-overtime, 62-59, against the Spartans. Wisconsin's last loss at home occurred on Jan. 31, 2006, when the Badgers fell to No. 6/6 Illinois, 66-51. OSU and UW still trail the Big Ten record of 53 straight home triumphs set by Michigan State from 1998 to 2002 -- a winning streak that was ended by the Badgers.