March 6, 2012
March is On!:
The 15th Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament tips off on Thursday, March 8, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The 2012 event marks the fifth consecutive year and eighth overall that the men's tournament has been held in Indianapolis. The Big Ten is in the fifth year of a five-year agreement that puts both the men's and women's tournaments in the Circle City.
New for 2012:
With the addition of Nebraska, the 2012 Big Ten Tournament is formatted differently from those in years past. This year's event includes four games over two sessions on Thursday, and the top four seeds in the regular-season standings now receive byes into the quarterfinals.
Wolverines, Spartans and Buckeyes Share Title:
Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all finished atop the Big Ten standings with 13-5 records, sharing the 2012 Big Ten Men's Basketball Championship. The title marks Michigan's 13th overall and first since 1986. Michigan State also earned its 13th overall championship, the team's third in the last four years and the seventh for head coach Tom Izzo, which is fifth all-time in Big Ten history. Ohio State claimed its third consecutive championship and 20th overall, which is tied for the second-most in Big Ten history.
Bye Bye Bye:
Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all earned byes in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament with top-four seeds. Michigan earns a pass into Friday's games for the second straight year and earns its highest seed ever at No. 2. Michigan State is the No. 1 seed for the fourth time in history and has earned a bye for the fourth time in the last five years. The No. 3 seed, Ohio State receives a bye for the seventh consecutive season, while No. 4 seed Wisconsin holds the longest active bye streak, earning a pass into the quarterfinals for the 12th consecutive tournament.
Where We Rate:
The Big Ten continues to lead the nation in RPI, according to RPIratings.com, entering this week ranked first among all conferences with a rating of .5799. The Big Ten leads all conferences with five teams in the top 25 and is the only conference with more than half its teams ranked among the RPI top 50, led by No. 5 Michigan State, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 11 Michigan, No. 12 Indiana and No. 23 Wisconsin. With all its teams rated 159 or higher, the Big Ten is the only conference with all its teams among the RPI top 170. The Big Ten also leads all conferences with a Sagarin rating of 84.18, led by No. 2 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 9 Indiana. The Big Ten is the only conference with five top-20 teams, and with all its teams rated 138 or higher, is the only conference with all its teams among the Sagarin's top 150. For more information on Big Ten teams in the RPI and Sagarin ratings, see Page 7 of this release.
In the Polls:
The Big Ten leads all conferences with five teams in the top 15 of the latest national polls and three top-10 teams in the latest Associated Press (AP) poll. Ohio State leads the conference, ranked No. 7 by the AP and coaches, followed by No. 8/8 Michigan State. Michigan rounds out the AP top 10 and is ranked 13th by the coaches, while Wisconsin earned a No. 12 ranking from the coaches and is 14th in the AP poll. Indiana comes in at No. 15 in both polls. This week marks the second time this season the Big Ten has had three top-10 teams in either poll, the ninth time the conference has had more than one top-10 team in either poll and the 12th time in the last 13 weeks that the conference has had at least five ranked teams. The Buckeyes have been ranked in the top 10 all season long, while the Wolverines have been in the top 25 throughout the year. The Hoosiers and Spartans have each been top-25 teams for the last 13 weeks, and the Badgers have held a top-25 ranking in 16 of the season's 18 weeks.
Big Ten. Big Wins.:
Michigan State and Ohio State are tied for the national lead with six wins each over top-25 opponents this season. Overall this year, Big Ten teams have combined to win 36 games against ranked opposition, and every Big Ten team has at least one win over a top-25 foe. In addition to the Spartans and Buckeyes, Michigan is tied for second in the nation with five top-25 victories, Indiana and Iowa each have four, Illinois and Wisconsin have three each, and Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue all have one top-25 victory.
The Big Ten is the only conference in the country with five teams with 23 or more wins this season. Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 25 wins, which marks the team's eighth consecutive 20-win season. Indiana and Michigan State each have 24 wins, which is the Hoosiers' first 20-win campaign since the 2007-08 season and the Spartans' 12th 20-win season in the last 15 years. Michigan and Wisconsin have 23 wins each, representing the Wolverines' second consecutive 20-win season and the Badgers' sixth straight year with 20 or more wins.
Top to Bottom:
For the third straight season, every Big Ten team has recorded 10 or more wins, and for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign, every Big Ten team has won four or more conference games. The Big Ten is the only conference in the nation in which every team has at least 12 overall wins and at least four conference victories.
Sending out an SOS:
Big Ten teams have combined to play the nation's toughest schedule this year, led by Michigan State, who ranks tops among all teams in strength of schedule. Northwestern ranks second in the conference and 11th in the nation, followed by six more teams among the top 25 in No. 12 Ohio State, No. 18 Michigan, No. 24 Indiana, No. 25 Illinois, No. 26 Wisconsin and No. 30 Purdue. No Big Ten team holds a strength of schedule rating outside the top 100.
'Cats' Shurna Leads the Pack:
Finishing with an even 20.0 points per game, Northwestern’s John Shurna ended the conference season as the Big Ten’s leading scorer. Shurna becomes the first Wildcat to lead the Big Ten in scoring since Ray Ragelis was crowned the conference scoring champion in 1951. In all games, he enters Big Ten Tournament play with a 19.8 points per game average, which currently ranks as tops in the conference this season. Should he remain at the top spot, Shurna would become the first Northwestern player to lead the Big Ten in scoring for all games played.
Keeper of the Glass:
Michigan State’s Draymond Green ended the season as the conference’s rebounding king, finishing the year with 10.6 boards per game during the Big Ten season. He becomes the second Spartan in four seasons to conclude the conference season as the Big Ten’s leading rebounder, following Goran Suton in 2009. Green’s average of 10.3 rebounds per contest in all games also ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten, and he would join Suton in 2009 as the latest Spartan to lead the Big Ten on the glass in overall competition.
The 2011-12 Big Ten assist champion in conference games, Penn State’s Tim Frazier, became the first Nittany Lion in program history to lead the conference in that category. Frazier ended the conference season at 5.6 assists per game, and his 6.3 helpers per contest among all games this season also ranks as the Big Ten’s best.
When Indiana’s Cody Zeller finished as the conference champion in field goal percentage this season at 61.6 percent, it marked the fourth time in the last six seasons a freshman has led the conference in the category. Converting on 101 of 164 shot attempts during the 18-game conference slate, Zeller joined Ohio State’s Greg Oden (2007) and B.J. Mullens (2009) and Michigan’s Jordan Morgan (2011) as conference newcomers to lead the Big Ten in shooting percentage since 2007. Zeller is the first Hoosier to finish No. 1 in shooting percentage since Alan Henderson did so in 1995. Zeller's percentage of 63.5 in all games is Big Ten’s best since Mullens shot 63.8 percent from the floor in 2009.
Showing Accuracy From Deep:
Indiana’s Matt Roth finished as the Big Ten’s top specialist from long range, ending the conference season with a 59.2 shooting percentage from three-point distance. That mark ranks as one of the best in conference history, second all-time behind fellow Hoosier Ted Kitchel, who finished the 1983 conference season shooting 65.6 percent from behind the arc. Roth’s all games percentage of 57.4 percent ranks as the Big Ten’s best since at least 1990.
Michigan State's Draymond Green became the 13th player in Big Ten history with 1,000 career rebounds earlier this year. Green became the first player since Illinois' James Augustine in 2006 to join the conference's 1,000 career rebounds club and enters the Big Ten Tournament ranked 12th in conference history with 1,020 career boards. Green is also just the fifth player in Big Ten history with 1,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 100 career blocks, joining Augustine, Indiana's Alan Henderson, Ohio State's Herb Williams and Purdue's Joe Barry Carroll.
30 for 30:
Big Ten players have put together several impressive scoring games throughout the season, led by conference scoring champion John Shurna of Northwestern, who led the Big Ten with three 30-point games this season. The senior has scored 30 or more points six times in his career and put up tallies of 37 (vs. LSU), 32 (vs. Eastern Illinois) and 30 (vs. Purdue) this season. Iowa's Matt Gatens recorded a pair of 30-point performances against ranked teams this year with 30 against Indiana and 33 against Ohio State, while Illinois' Brandon Paul, Michigan State's Draymond Green, Northwestern's Drew Crawford, Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas and Penn State's Tim Frazier all have one 30-point game each this season. Paul went for 43 points, which is the conference's highest single-game total since the 1994 NCAA Tournament, the highest total in a Big Ten game since earlier in the 1994 season and tied for the fifth-highest in Division I this season.
On the Edge:
Northwestern's John Shurna is 30 points away from becoming the newest member of the Big Ten's 2,000 career points club. Already his program's all-time leading scorer, Shurna is looking to become the Wildcats' first member of the Big Ten's 2,000 points club and the conference's third addition in the last two years, as Penn State's Talor Battle and Purdue's E'Twaun Moore reached the milestone last season. Shurna would become just the fifth player in the last decade to score 2,000 points while playing in the Big Ten.
Several Big Ten freshmen made immediate impacts on their teams and in the conference in their first collegiate seasons. Indiana's Cody Zeller enters the Big Tournament as his team's leading scorer and rebounder with 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, which both rank among the Big Ten's top 10. Zeller also finished the regular season with the conference's best field-goal percentage, hitting 63.5 percent of his shots. Michigan's Trey Burke leads the Wolverines with 14.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. His assists average is second in the Big Ten, while his points average is tied for 13th. Iowa's Aaron White is among the Big Ten's leaders with 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest and his team's leader in boards. Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski enters the tournament ranked 10th in the conference in assists (3.5) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6). Michigan State's Branden Dawson ranks third on the team with 8.4 points and is second with 4.5 rebounds per game.
Protecting the Rock:
Big Ten teams and players continue to be some of the nation's best at taking care of the basketball according to the latest NCAA statistics released on Monday. Purdue leads the nation with just 8.7 turnovers per game, while Wisconsin's average of 8.9 is second. Northwestern's mark of 10.2 is fourth, while Michigan (10.7) is 14th. Purdue is second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55), followed by No. 4 Northwestern (1.52), No. 17 Wisconsin (1.30) and No. 19 Ohio State (1.29). Three Big Ten players rank in the top 20 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, led by Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor in 15th (2.63). Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski is 16th (2.59) and Purdue's Lewis Jackson is 17th (2.55).
Big Ten teams continue to rank among the best in the country in numerous defensive categories entering the Big Ten Tournament. Wisconsin leads the country in scoring defense, allowing just 51.9 points per game. Ohio State and Michigan State stand just outside the top 10, as the Buckeyes rank 11th with 58.5 points per game and the Spartans are 13th with 58.7. Ohio State is second in the country in scoring margin, outscoring its opponents by 16.1 points per game. Michigan State follows in 10th (13.2), while Indiana (14th, 12.2) and Wisconsin (15th, 11.9) also rank in the top 15. The Spartans and Badgers are in the top three nationally in field goal percentage defense, with Michigan State ranking second with an opponent average of 37.6 percent and Wisconsin in third at 37.7 percent.
Back Home Again in Indiana:
Twenty-five student-athletes participating in this year's Big Ten Tournament will be returning to their home state of Indiana, including three who call Indianapolis their hometown. Indiana sophomore Taylor Wayer (Bishop Chatard HS), Iowa senior Devon Archie (Ben Davis HS) and Purdue sophomore Terone Johnson (North Central HS) all hail from the Circle City. Indiana boasts nine players from the state, followed by in-state rival Purdue with eight, Michigan State with three, Michigan with two and Iowa, Northwestern and Ohio State with one each.
Indiana's Cody Zeller, Michigan State's Draymond Green, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor were named to the Naismith Award Midseason 30 Watch List. Zeller, Green and Sullinger are among the 20 finalists for the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Trophy. Zeller, Green and Sullinger join Ohio State's William Buford as four of the 25 finalists for the John Wooden Player of the Year Award, while Zeller was also named one of five finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year award. Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor were named among the finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, honoring the nation's top point guard. Green, Buford, Michigan's Zack Novak and Purdue's Robbie Hummel are finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, making the Big Ten the only conference with more than one representative on the final list for the award that recognizes a Division I senior who has demonstrated notable achievements in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition.
Ohio State's Aaron Craft (first team), Northwestern's Drew Crawford (second team) and Michigan's Zack Novak (third team) were named Capital One Academic All-Americans. The Big Ten is the only conference in the country with three Academic All-Americans this season, and Craft is just the first sophomore since 2008 to earn first-team accolades.