March 4, 2013
Entering the final week of the regular season, Indiana has clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Championship, while four other squads remain in the running to also claim a share of the conference crown. Seven Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest national polls, including five among the top 25, while Sunday's Indiana-Michigan contest will be the ninth matchup of top-10 teams during the conference season. Seven Big Ten teams have reached the 20-wins mark, while five conference standouts were named finalists for postseason honors.
Where We Rank
Seven Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today/Coaches polls released Monday, including five conference squads among the top 25 in each ranking. Three teams appear in the top 10 as Indiana is ranked second in both polls, Michigan appears at No. 7 in the AP vote and No. 8 in the coaches rankings and Michigan State is 10th in the writers rankings and 12th in the coaches poll. Ohio State was voted 13th in the USA Today standings and 14th in the AP poll, while Wisconsin is No. 21 in the coaches rankings and No. 22 in the AP vote. Illinois and Minnesota are receiving votes in each poll.
Down the Stretch
With a win last Saturday, and victories by both Purdue and Michigan on Sunday afternoon, Indiana enters the final week of the regular season having earned at least a share of the Big Ten Championship. At 13-3 in conference play, the Hoosiers claimed their 21st conference title in program history and first since 2002, the same year they advanced to the national championship game. With one victory in its final two games, Indiana can claim its first outright title since 1993. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin are tied for second in the standings with 11-5 marks and are still in the running to earn a share of the conference title.
A Top-10 Finale
When Indiana travels to Michigan on the final day of the regular season on Sunday, it will mark the ninth time during the Big Ten season a pair of top-10 teams have squared off. The Hoosiers have faced four top-10 conference opponents this season, going 4-0 in those contests with wins over Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State. Sunday's contest against Indiana will be Michigan's sixth top-10 matchup during the conference season, with the Wolverines owning a 3-2 mark in those games. It will be the second time this season both teams have met on the court with each ranked in the nation's top 10.
Seven Big Ten teams have reached the 20-wins mark this season, tied for the most of any conference. Indiana leads all conference teams with 25 victories, Michigan has 24 wins, Michigan State carries 22 triumphs this season and Illinois and Ohio State boast 21 wins this season. Last week, Minnesota and Wisconsin each reached the 20-wins mark. Minnesota reached the 20-wins mark for the second straight season, while it is the seventh straight year the Badgers have reached the milestone.
Big Ten Against the Top 25
This season, nine conference squads have recorded multiple wins over top-25 teams, including six programs that have won four or more games against ranked foes. Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin are among the national leaders in victories over top-25 squads, as the Hoosiers have a 6-0 mark and the Gophers and Badgers hold five wins against ranked foes. Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State have each won four games against ranked competition. Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue boast a pair of triumphs against top-25 teams.
Rated by the RPI
The Big Ten continues to rank among the national leaders in the RPI, according to RPIratings.com. Through Sunday's games, six Big Ten teams are ranked among the top 35, the most of any conference in the nation. Three teams appear in the rating's top 10, led by No. 7 Indiana, with No. 8 Michigan State and No. 10 Michigan also checking in among the top 10. Minnesota is rated 16th, followed by No. 21 Ohio State and No. 35 Illinois. Wisconsin gives the Big Ten seven top 50 teams, checking in at No. 41 this week.
The Big Ten is the nation's top rated conference in the Sagarin Ratings as nine squads appear among the top 60. Through Sunday's games, four Big Ten teams are ranked among the top 10, with Indiana leading all squads at the top of standings. Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan are Nos. 7-9, respectively, while No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 21 Minnesota give the conference six top-25 teams. No. 37 Iowa, No. 40 Illinois and No. 58 Purdue round out the Big Ten contingent rated in the top 60.
To the Point
Through Sunday's games, seven Big Ten teams are averaging better than 69 points per game this season, including a pair of squads ranked among the top 25 nationally. Indiana is second in the country, averaging 81.9 points per game, while Michigan is ranked 25th with an average of 75.4 points a night. Other Big Ten teams averaging better than 69 points per game this season include Iowa (70.9), Illinois (70.8), Ohio State (70.3), Minnesota (69.6) and Michigan State (69.2).
Four Big Ten standouts were named finalists for the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Award, while another is among the final eight for the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award. The Big Ten leads all conferences in national player of the year finalists, with Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, Michigan's Trey Burke and Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas listed among the final 14. Michigan State's Gary Harris was listed among the freshman of the year finalists. The winners of both awards will be announced on April 5.
Battling for Stat Champions
Heading into the final week 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 19.8 in all games and 19.9 in conference games only. Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe is on pace to lead the Big Ten in rebounding for the second time, averaging 8.8 boards in all games and 10.1 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 6.6 assists in conference games, and 6.9 helpers in all games.
Packing the United Center
For the first time in the event's history, the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament has sold out all tickets in advance. After the original allotment of general public tickets for the event sold out in January, the conference office made a limited number of additional all-session packages available on Feb. 1, but all tickets have now been sold. The conference tournament averaged 18,882 fans per session when the event was last held at the United Center in 2007. The men's tournament set total and average attendance records while in Chicago in 2001 with 109,769 fans in attendance for an average of 21,954 patrons per session. Last season, the Big Ten sold out three sessions and averaged nearly 18,000 fans per session.