March 5, 2007
Celebrating 10th Anniversary: After a one-year hiatus, the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Chicago to crown the 2007 tournament champion at the United Center from March 8-11. After nine years of Big Ten Tournament play, the conference has welcomed more than 870,000 fans and issued over 5,300 media credentials. Four different conference representatives have become Big Ten Tournament champions with Michigan State (1999, 2000), Illinois (2003, 2005) and Iowa (2001, 2006) claiming the honor twice along with Wisconsin capturing the 2004 crown.
Tucker Nears UW's Scoring Mark: Wisconsin senior Alando Tucker enters the Big Ten Tournament with 2,125 points and is close to breaking UW's all-time scoring record held by Michael Finley, who tallied 2,147 points from 1992-95. Against Iowa on Feb. 10, Tucker became the second Badger and 23rd player in Big Ten history to score at least 2,000 points in his career. Since then, the senior forward has climbed past eight former Big Ten greats - Ohio State's Herb Williams (2,011 from 1976-79), Michigan State's Greg Kelser (2,014 from 1976-79), Purdue's Troy Lewis (2,028 from 1985-88), Indiana's Mike Woodson (2,061 from 1977-80), Purdue's Dave Schellhase (2,074 from 1964-66), Ohio State's Dennis Hopson (2,096 from 1984-87), Indiana's A.J. Guyton (2,100 from 1997-00) and Iowa's Roy Marble (2,116 from 1986-89) - to move to No. 15 on the Big Ten's scoring chart. Next on the list at 14th overall is Illinois' Deon Thomas, who tallied 2,129 points from 1991-94. Tucker became the first 2,000-point producer for the Big Ten since Guyton.
Three Named Wooden Finalists: Michigan State's Drew Neitzel, Ohio State's Greg Oden and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker were among the 22 players selected as finalists for the 2006-07 John Wooden Award Player of the Year and All-America Team. The 10-player Wooden Award All-America Team will be announced on Tuesday, March 27, 2007, while the recipient of the Wooden Award Trophy as the nation's top collegiate men's basketball player will be named on Saturday, April 7, 2007. Last year, Illinois' Dee Brown was named to the 2006 Wooden All-America team, while Purdue's Glenn Robinson was the last conference standout to win the Wooden Award in 1994.
Playing Smart Basketball: Iowa's Adam Haluska was named the 2007 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year and first-team Academic All-American. Haluska, who is a finance and marketing major, becomes the first men's basketball player at Iowa to earn first-team accolades. He becomes the second Big Ten standout in the last three years to be honored since Michigan State's Chris Hill was named Academic All-American of the Year in 2005. To be nominated, student-athletes must be a starter or important reserve and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher.
NABC All-District Accolades: The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced its Division I All-District teams last week as 10 Big Ten student-athletes were recognized for their achievements on the court. Indiana's D.J. White, Ohio State's Greg Oden and Purdue's Carl Landry were named to the District 10's first team, while Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. earned second-team accolades. Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker claimed District 11 first-team laurels, while Illinois' Warren Carter and Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor picked up second-team accolades. Iowa's Adam Haluska was a first-team selection on the District 12 squad, while Penn State's Geary Claxton was named to District 3's second team. All 10 players are now eligible for selection to the NABC All-American Team to be announced at the end of the season.
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 or more players. Four Big Ten seniors began the season on the 1,000-point list in Iowa's Adam Haluska (1,848), Michigan's Dion Harris (1,551), Ohio State's Ron Lewis (1,576) and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (2,125). Six more players joined the list this season in Michigan's Lester Abram (1,232) and Courtney Sims (1,303), Penn State's Geary Claxton (1,252), Purdue's Carl Landry (1,092) and David Teague (1,322) and Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor (1,133). Minnesota's Lawrence McKenzie (999) and Michigan State's Drew Neitzel (965) are vying to become the next members of the conference's 1,000 point club. The complete Big Ten's "Grand Company" list appears on this page.
Haluska Takes Scoring Title: With 21.3 points per conference game this season (341 in 16 games), Iowa's Adam Haluska claimed the Big Ten's scoring title in conference only contests. The senior guard is the first Hawkeye to finish first in the conference scoring rankings since Andre Woolridge in 1997. Haluska was closely followed by last year' conference scoring leader Alando Tucker of Wisconsin, who closed out this season with 19.7 points per game.
In Other Conference Categores: Ohio State had two standouts finish first in four conference only categories. OSU freshman Greg Oden claimed the conference's rebounds and blocked shots titles, while teammate Mike Conley Jr. finished first in steals and assists. With 8.9 boards per game, Oden is the first freshman to lead the way on the glass since Minnesota's Kris Humphries (9.5 rpg) led the conference in rebounds in 2004. Oden is also the first Buckeye to claim the rebounding crown since Brad Sellers tallied a conference-best 11.5 boards per game in 1986. In addition, Oden (3.44 bpg) became the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in blocked shots since Penn State's Calvin Booth won the 1996 title (3.22 bpg). He is also the first Buckeye to lead in rejections since Ken Johnson won back-to-back crowns in 2000 and 2001. Conley closed out the Big Ten season with 6.56 assists per game, becoming the first OSU player to lead the pack in assists since Kelvin Ransey won the title (6.3 apg) in 1980. He is also the first freshman to rank first since Illinois' Deron Williams dished out 4.8 assists per game in 2003. In addition, Conley tallied a conference-best 2.06 steals per game, becoming the first freshman to lead in that category since Illinois' Dee Brown claimed the 2003 title with 1.88 thefts per contest. In addition, Conley is the second-consecutive OSU player to win the steals title as former Buckeye Je'Kel Foster tallied a conference-best 2.13 thefts last season.
Big Ten Attendance Milestones: The Big Ten reached two attendance landmarks this season as the conference broke the two-million mark in all games for the 15th straight season, while also reaching the one-million plateau for league games only for the 30th consecutive season. So far in 2007, 2,467,136 patrons have passed through the turnstiles for 195 games for an average attendance of 12,652. In Big Ten contests, 1,200,542 fans flocked to conference arenas for 88 games for an average of 13,643 per outing, the highest since the 2001-02 campaign (13,790). In 2005-06, the conference led the nation in total attendance for the 30th-straight season with 2,255,332 total patrons.
Non-Conference Success: With 118 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).