Feb. 20, 2009
Fasten Your Seatbelts: With 72 of the 99 conference games in the books, fasten your seatbelts as the Big Ten speeds to the finish line. This weekend’s slate brings about a storied in-state rivary, win streaks on the line, NCAA Tournament resume builders and Big Ten Tournament seeding implications. Indiana and Purdue meet on Saturday in the 192nd all-time contest between the two teams. A win by Purdue would keep the Boilermakers one game back of Michigan State and could land them a high tournament seed. Illinois travels to Ohio State as both teams are coming off mid-week losses and both are playing for Big Ten Tournament seeding. Demetri McCamey (11.8 ppg) leads four Illini in double-figure scoring. Mike Davis (7.8 rpg) and Chester Frazier (5.3 apg) lead the team in rebounds and assists, respectively. Ohio State’s Evan Turner (17.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is the tops on the team in rebounder, assists and steals. Also on Sunday, Wisconsin puts its five-game win streak on the line at the Breslin Center in the only regular season meeting between the two rivals this year. Marcus Landry (12.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg) leads three Badgers in double figures while Joe Krabbenhoft (6.6 rpg) is the leadingrebounder. Kalin Lucas heads the Spartans in scoring (14.8 ppg) and assists (4.7 apg). Goran Suton tops the team in rebounding with 7.4 per game. Michigan heads to Iowa on a two-game winning streak, looking to enhance its NCAA Tournament resume on Sunday. Manny Harris (17.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and DeShawn Sims (14.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) lead the Wolverines. The Hawkeyes are coming off an eight-day break after playing without Cyrus Tate and Jeff Peterson in a 49-45 loss to Purdue on Feb. 14. Freshman Matt Gatens (10.9 ppg) leads Iowa in scoring. In the weekend finale, Northwestern heads to Minnesota, where the Gophers look to avenge an earlier loss to the ‘Cats. Kevin Coble (16.0 ppg) and Craig Moore (14.9 ppg) lead the Wildcats in scoring. Minnesota’s Devoe Joseph has emerged as a reliable scorer for the Gophers, averaging 12.4 ppg in his last five games.
Shall We Dance: As February winds down and March is days away, the Big Ten is looking to dance. As a conference, the 11 squads have combined to go 92-3 against teams ranked 150 and below in the RPI. In addition, the conference has 12 wins against the RPI Top-25 and 39 wins against the RPI Top-50. The Big Ten is the No. 2 rated conference by RPI while playing the No. 1 strength of schedule. The conference sports the nation’s second-best non-conference win percentage (.807) and owns a 19-18 non-conference record against top-six RPI conference opposition, the second best in the country. During the non-conference season, 27.4 percent of the games played were against teams in the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 or SEC, which ranks second best among those conferences.
Close Calls: After four of five games last weekend were decided by five or fewer points, Northwestern and Ohio State battled to the end Wednesday night, with NU coming up victorious in a four-point win. To-date, 22 Big Ten games have been decided by five or fewer points. A breakdown is below.
Games Decided by...
1 point 2
2 points 2
3 points 6
4 points 9
5 points 6
6 points 3
7 points 3
8 points 5
9 points 4
10 points 3
Free Basketball: With Michigan’s 70-67 overtime win on Sunday at Northwestern, the Big Ten has now seen six games go to an extra stanza to determine a winner. Only Michigan State and Penn State have not played in an overtime game during the conference slate. The Big Ten has not seen this many games go to overtime since the 2004-05 season, when six contests needed extra time to be decided. Last year there were only three overtime games. The six OT games ranks second among the top-six RPI conferences behind the ACC with nine games going to overtime.
Overtime Games in Conference Play
Big Ten 6
Big 12 5
Big East 5
Three’s a Charm: As the conference season draws to a close, Big Ten teams continue to step up to the line – the three-point line. In Wednesday’s showdown, Northwestern and Ohio State combined for 23 treys. Craig Moore spearheaded the shooting spree for the Wildcats, finishing with seven three-pointers to add to his overall tally of 296 in his career. The Wildcat senior currently leads the Big Ten in three-pointers per game this season (3.58) and ranks ninth in the nation. Overall, Northwestern was 13-of-25 from beyond the arc, representing 54 percent of its total points in the win. The Wildcats currently lead the Big Ten with a .391 three-point field goal percentage. Ohio State’s Jon Diebler was not to be outdone, connecting on 8-of-10 three-point attempts in the contest, good enough to sit second in the conference with 2.75 triples per game. In Thursday’s home contest against Minnesota, Michigan posted 27 field goals with 13 coming from beyond the arc, marking the ninth time this season the Wolverines have combined for 10 or more triples in a game. Leading the pack of sharp-shooters, Zack Novak drained a career-best six three-pointers, finishing 6-of-10 from three-point land. The Wolverines continue to lead the Big Ten with 8.56 long-range buckets per game.
And the Fans Keep Coming: Through 161 contests, the Big Ten is nearing the two-million fan mark in overall attendance. The conference has welcomed 1,949,926 patrons to date and could break the two-million barrier this weekend. The conference is averaging 12,111 fans through the turnstiles per contest. The Big Ten has led the nation in average attendance for the past 32 years.
Big Ten Scoring Title Chase: Ohio State’s Evan Turner retains his position atop the conference leaderboard in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per contest in Big Ten games to date, while fellow sophomore Kalin Lucas of Michigan State ranks second with 17.1 ppg, tying with Northwestern’s Kevin Coble, edging Penn State’s Talor Battle (15.6 ppg.) by a narrow margin. Should Turner sustain his lead in the conference in scoring, he would be the first Buckeye to accomplish that feat in over 10 seasons since Michael Redd topped the charts in 1998.
Big Ten Celebrates Black History Month: In a continued effort to commemorate the achievements of African-Americans on Big Ten campuses, the conference office announced the 22 student-athletes to be recognized on the Big Ten’s Black History Month website. Throughout February, the website will feature stories on current and former student-athletes from each institution and can be accessed at www.bigten.org. The five men’s basketball players on the list are: Indiana’s Mike Woodson, Minnesota’s Jim Brewer, Ohio State’s Michael Redd, Penn State’s John Amaechi and Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry.