Feb. 24, 2014
Michigan (11-3) claimed sole possession of first-place in the Big Ten standings after defeating Michigan State (11-4) Sunday at Crisler Center. Wisconsin (9-5) is in third place, while Iowa (8-5) sits alone in fourth place. The Wolverines play two games this week, and could clinch a share of the Big Ten Championship with two wins and a victory by Illinois over the Spartans.
Piling Through the Turnstiles:
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Big Ten is on pace to record the conference's highest average attendance figure since at least 1971-72. The Big Ten enters this week's slate of games averaging 13,468 fans per contest, which would surpass 13,400 or more fans for just the third time in at least the last 40 years. The current record for average attendance is 13,455, set during the 1989-90 season. The conference surpassed the 13,000 mark in average attendance last season for the first time since 2001-02 on the way to setting the conference's attendance record of more than 2.9 million. The Big Ten has led the nation in men's basketball attendance in each of the last 37 years.
The latest version of the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) was released on Monday, and the Big Ten was well-represented with seven teams rated among the top 50. Wisconsin led the way at No. 5, followed by No. 13 Michigan, No. 17 Ohio State, No. 19 Michigan State, No. 28 Iowa, No. 46 Minnesota and No. 48 Nebraska.
Craft Closing in on Big Ten Steals Record:
Ohio State's Aaron Craft tallied four steals against Minnesota, pushing his career total to 321 thefts. Craft enters Thursday's game at Penn State just four steals shy of becoming the Big Ten career steals leader. Illinois' Bruce Douglas has held the record for the past 28 years after collecting 324 steals during his career with the Fighting Illini from 1983-86.
Five Teams Ranked in Top 20 of Coaches Poll:
The Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls were released on Monday, and the Big Ten was represented with five teams among the top 20 of the coaches' ballot. In the AP poll, Wisconsin was ranked No. 14, followed by No. 16 Michigan, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 20 Iowa and No. 22 Ohio State. In the coaches' ballot, Wisconsin was ranked No. 14, followed by No. 16 Michigan, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 19 Iowa and No. 20 Ohio State. Nebraska collected one vote in the coaches' poll for the second consecutive week.
Wisconsin and Nebraska Streaking:
Wisconsin and Nebraska have both captured five consecutive Big Ten victories, marking the longest active winning streaks in Big Ten play. The Badgers are 7-2 versus teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, which is the most top-25 wins in the nation. Nebraska defeated Purdue on Sunday, and has won seven of its last eight Big Ten games. The Cornhuskers are above .500 in conference play (8-6) for the first time since joining the Big Ten for the 2011-12 season.
Big Ten Road Warriors:
Big Ten road teams have posted a 38-47 record during conference play, a winning a percentage of .447. Since Feb. 1, a total of 18 Big Ten games have been won by road teams, including two on Saturday. All 12 Big Ten teams have posted at least one road victory during conference play, with five teams boasting at least four Big Ten road wins.
Filling it Up:
Big Ten teams have posted 88 games with at least 80 points this season, and are averaging more than 72 points per game heading into this weekend's slate. Seven different Big Ten teams scored 70 or more points last week, with Michigan State eclipsing 90 points and Nebraska topping the 80-point plateau. Iowa (2,165) and Michigan State (2,164) have both scored at least 2,000 points this season.
Against the Nation's Best:
Eleven of the Big Ten's 12 teams have recorded wins over top-25 foes this season. Wisconsin boasts six wins against top-25 opponents, Michigan has posted five wins against the top 25, Michigan State and Ohio State have each recorded three wins against top-25 foes, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern all boast two wins against ranked opponents, while Illinois and Penn State have each collected one victory against the top 25.
Leading the Way:
Through games of Feb. 23, the Big Ten has seen a variety of players pacing the conference in major statistical categories. Nebraska's Terran Petteway leads the Big Ten in scoring (18.4 ppg), Indiana's Noah Vonleh paces the conference in rebounding (9.4 rpg), Ohio State's Amir Williams is the Big Ten's leader in field goal percentage (.599), Penn State's Tim Frazier leads the conference in assists per game (5.9), Ohio State's Aaron Craft leads the Big Ten in steals per outing (2.6) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons is the Big Ten's leader in blocks per game (3.0). Wisconsin's Ben Brust paces the Big Ten in free throw percentage (.903) while teammate Josh Gasser leads the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.463).
Leaders of the Pack:
After Wisconsin's Ben Brust scored his 1,000th career point at Iowa, the Big Ten now has 16 active members of the 1,000-point club. Northwestern's Drew Crawford continues to lead the way with 1,840 career points, followed by Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble (1,565), Penn State's Tim Frazier (1,466), Michigan State's Keith Appling (1,457), Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (1,420), Indiana's Evan Gordon (1,340), Penn State's D.J. Newbill (1,267), Purdue's Terone Johnson (1,253), Ohio State's Aaron Craft (1,238), Iowa's Aaron White (1,212), Minnesota's Andre Hollins (1,205) and Austin Hollins (1,155), Iowa's Melsahn Basabe (1,091), Michigan State's Adreian Payne (1,068), Indiana's Will Sheehey (1,021) and Brust (1,000).
Roaming the Sidelines:
Six active Big Ten coaches have amassed 300 wins, led by three who have more than 400 career victories. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan is the conference's active wins leader (696), followed by Michigan's John Beilein (692), Michigan State's Tom Izzo (461), Ohio State's Thad Matta (374), Iowa's Fran McCaffery (324) and Nebraska's Tim Miles (314).
Sellout Announced for Big Ten Tournament:
For the second consecutive year, the conference office announced that the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is officially sold out. The 2014 event is scheduled for March 13-16 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament features 11 games over four days, beginning with four contests on Thursday, and the top four teams will receive byes into the quarterfinal round on Friday. Six different programs have won the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State has claimed the title four times, including three of the last four years. Michigan State has won the tournament on three occasions, including the last time the event was held in Indianapolis in 2012. Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin have each won the championship twice, and Purdue has won the tournament once.
Stay Glued to the Tube:
The 2013-14 season marks the seventh consecutive year that every Big Ten men's basketball conference regular season and tournament game will be broadcast nationally. The Big Ten's most recent media agreements will result in nearly 175 regular season and postseason games appearing on BTN, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.