Feb. 28, 2011
The Week That Was:
Ohio State maintained the top spot in the Big Ten standings with a win over Indiana on Sunday. The Buckeyes are 14-2 in conference play, one game ahead of second-place Purdue, which improved to 13-3 with a win against Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. Wisconsin remains in third with a 12-4 record, two games out of first place. Big Ten action continues on Tuesday as the Boilermakers host the Illini at 7 p.m. ET and Penn State welcomes the Buckeyes at 9 p.m. ET.
Ripping up the RPI:
The Big Ten boasts the second-highest RPI among all conferences, trailing only the Big East. The Big Ten has eight teams among the RPI top 65, which also ranks second among all conferences, trailing only the Big East which has 11 top-65 teams. However, the Big Ten (72.7 percent) has a higher percentage of its teams among the top 65 than any other conference. The Big Ten and Big East are the only two conferences with three or more top-15 teams, as the Big Ten is led by No. 3 Ohio State, No. 6 Purdue and No. 13 Wisconsin. The Big Ten's top-65 RPI teams have a combined 81 wins against other teams rated among the RPI's top 100, led by Ohio State (14 wins), Purdue (14), Wisconsin (13) and Illinois (10).
Top 100 Countdown:
Big Ten teams have racked up impressive amounts of wins against top competition this season, led by Ohio State and Purdue, who each have 14 wins against teams among the RPI top 100. Wisconsin has 13 such wins, while Illinois has 10, Michigan State has nine and Michigan and Penn State each have eight. Minnesota has five top-100 wins, including three victories against top-25 squads. Ohio State's and Purdue's top-100 wins totals are tied for the second-most among all teams, while Wisconsin's total is tied for fourth. Only 15 teams in the nation have more top-100 wins than Illinois' total of 10.
Sending Out an S.O.S.:
Big Ten teams have played some of the most difficult schedules in the country, led by Michigan State, which has a strength-of-schedule (SOS) rating of sixth. Penn State follows at ninth, while Purdue (17), Illinois (19) and Michigan (21) also rank among the top 21. The Big Ten ranks second among all conferences with five teams in the top 21 of the SOS ratings, but leads all conferences with 45.5 percent of its teams ranked among that range. The Big Ten also leads all conferences with 72.7 percent of its teams owning SOS ratings of 35 or better, including Ohio State (28), Wisconsin (34) and Minnesota (35).
On the Verge:
Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin all remain in contention for at least a share of the Big Ten title. Ohio State can clinch a share of the championship with its next win or a Purdue loss, while Wisconsin would be eliminated from title contention with a Buckeye victory. Ohio State is looking for its second consecutive Big Ten championship, which would also be its 19th overall and fourth since 2006.
Bye, Bye, Bye:
With respective conference records of 14-2, 13-3 and 12-4, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin have clinched first-round byes in the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. With just 2.5 games separating the fourth- and ninth-place teams, the rest of the tournament field will be decided in the final week of play. The top five teams in the final conference standings receive first-round byes in the Big Ten Tournament, which begins Thursday, March 10. For more information on the Big Ten Tournament, see Page 3 of this release or visit www.bigten.org.
Raking in the Rankings:
The Big Ten leads all conferences with three teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press (AP) and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Ohio State is back at No. 1 in each poll, while Purdue comes in at No. 6 and Wisconsin is ranked No. 10. This week's poll marks the first time since Nov. 22 (No. 2/2 Michigan State, No. 3/3 Ohio State, No. 10/8 Purdue) that the Big Ten has had three top-10 teams in both polls. It also marks the first time since the final 2004-05 poll (No. 1/2 Illinois, No. 15/4 Michigan State, No. 20/10 Wisconsin) that the Big Ten has had three top-10 teams, including the No. 1 squad, in either poll. Complete poll information can be found on Page 7 of this release.
With three assists against Northwestern on Thursday, Penn State's Talor Battle became the first player in Big Ten history and just the 12th in NCAA Division I history with 2,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. The senior currently boasts career totals of 2,079 points, 594 boards and 500 helpers. He is the Big Ten's active leader in points scored and ranks 19th on the conference's all-time list. His rebound total places him fifth among all active Big Ten players, and he is the third active conference player with 500 assists. Purdue's E'Twaun Moore joined Battle in another elite club, becoming just the fourth player in Big Ten history with 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 350 assists in a career. Battle and Moore join Michigan State's Steve Smith (1988-91) and Wisconsin's Michael Finley (1992-95).
Saluting the Seniors:
Ten of the Big Ten's 11 schools will play their last home games of the regular season this week, celebrating Senior Night. Wisconsin bid farewell to its seniors on Sunday, a 78-63 win against Northwestern, during which Jon Leuer dropped 26 points playing in front of the Kohl Center crowd for the last time in his career. The top four scorers in the Big Ten this season are all seniors, led by Penn State's Talor Battle (20.5 ppg). Purdue's JaJuan Johnson (20.4) and E'Twaun Moore (18.5) rank second and fourth, respectively, while Leuer (19.3) is third. Overall, 14 of the Big Ten's top 30 scorers are seniors, including eight of the top 15 and five of the top 10. Seniors are the leading scorers on six Big Ten teams - Illinois (Demetri McCamey), Michigan State (Kalin Lucas), Minnesota (tied - Blake Hoffarber), Northwestern (Michael Thompson), Purdue (Johnson) and Wisconsin (Leuer).
Home Sweet Home:
Big Ten teams are nearly unbeatable on their home courts this year, combining for a 141-36 (.797) record in front of the home crowd. Wisconsin finished undefeated at home during the regular season for the third time under head coach Bo Ryan. Ohio State and Purdue also have the chance to close out their seasons with unblemished home records, each with one home game remaining on the regular season schedule. During conference games, Big Ten home teams are 60-29 (.674), including nine teams with records of .500 or better.
Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Purdue's JaJuan Johnson were named two of 10 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Award as presented by the USBWA. The Big Ten was one of just three conferences with multiple players on the list, marking the latest in a long list of accolades given to conference student-athletes this season. Minnesota's Blake Hoffarber was named a Capital One Academic All-American last week and was previously named Academic All-District along with Michigan's Zack Novak and Northwestern's Drew Crawford. The Big Ten tied for the lead among all conferences with five players -- Illinois' Demetri McCamey, Ohio State's Sullinger, Purdue's Johnson and E'Twaun Moore and Wisconsin's Jon Leuer -- on the Naismith Award Midseason Top 30 List. McCamey and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor are finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, and Sullinger is one of five finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award. Moore, Leuer and Ohio State's David Lighty are finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
March is (Almost) On:
The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Indianapolis March 10-13, 2011 for the fourth year of a five-year agreement that puts both the men's and women's events in the Circle City. All-session tickets for the 2011 Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments are on sale now. For more information, visit www.bigten.org and see Page 3 of this release.
Let the Madness Begin:
The Big Ten Conference will serve as host for the second and third rounds of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Games will be played at the United Center in Chicago, and a limited number of tickets are still available. Visit www.bigten.org for more information.