Big Ten Men's Basketball Weekly Release - March 6
March 6, 2006
OHIO STATE CLAIMS BIG TEN TITLE:Ohio State won the Big Ten title for the first time since the 2001-02 season, while also securing the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes captured the title outright with a win over Purdue on the last day of the regular season on Sunday, the school's first outright title since 1992. OSU has now won 18 titles for the third-highest total in league annals behind Purdue (21) and Indiana (20).
EARLY SUCCESS FOR MATTA:In his second season in Columbus, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta is the fourth active coach to win a Big Ten title in his first two seasons in the league. Illinois' Bruce Weber claimed outright crowns in both 2004 and 2005, his first two years in Champaign. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan also topped the conference in each of his first two years (2002-03) while Indiana's Mike Davis earned a Big Ten title in his second season in 2002.
WELCOME BACK TO INDIANAPOLIS: After a one-year hiatus, the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Indianapolis to crown the 2006 tournament champion at Conseco Fieldhouse from March 9-12. In its first eight years of existence, the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament has welcomed more than 779,000 fans and issued over 4,800 media credentials. Six different league representatives have become Big Ten Tournament champions, with Michigan State (1999, 2000) and Illinois (2003, 2005) claiming the honor twice along with triumphs by Michigan (1998), Iowa (2001), Ohio State (2002) and Wisconsin (2004). The 2005 tournament was played at the United Center in Chicago and will return to the Windy City in 2007.
BIG TEN CAREER LEADERS:Several Big Ten standouts are vying to move up the league's career records list this week. Illinois' Dee Brown currently ranks fifth on the league's all-time assists list with 651. In addition, Brown ranks fifth on the career three-point field goals made (295) chart and sixth on the all-time steals (224) list. Iowa senior Jeff Horner is also ranked among the league's top 10 in career assists with 590 dishes for ninth place, while listed eighth on the all-time three-pointers chart (251). In the rebounding category, Illinois' James Augustine (997) and Iowa's Greg Brunner (967) are on pace to become just the 11th and 12th player, respectively, in Big Ten history to record 1,000 career rebounds. The last Big Ten standout to record more than 1,000 all-time boards was Indiana's Alan Henderson, who concluded his four-year career in 1995 with 1,091 rebounds to rank fifth on the conference's career list. Ohio State's Jerry Lucas (1959-62) is the Big Ten's rebounding leader with 1,411 boards.
HORTON EYES FREE THROW RECORDS:Michigan's Daniel Horton established a Big Ten record this season, while closing in on another league mark. Horton closed out the conference season shooting 97.8 percent (89-of-91) from the free throw line in Big Ten games, eclipsing the old mark of 93.5 percent (58-of-62) held by former Hoosier and current Iowa head coach Steve Alford set in 1985. Horton could also set a new free throw record for all games as he is shooting 93.7 (119-of-127), which is currently ahead of Alford's mark of 92.1 percent (116-of-126) set during the 1984-85 season.
THREE NAMED WOODEN FINALISTS: Illinois' Dee Brown and Michigan State's Maurice Ager and Paul Davis were named to the official voting ballot for the 2005-06 Wooden Award All-America Team and Player of the Year, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate basketball player. The winner will be announced on Saturday, April 8. Brown is one of only two returning Wooden All-Americans who was named a finalist for the 2006 award, joining Duke's J.J. Redick, while Michigan State is one of only five schools with two players on the ballot (Duke, Texas, Villanova and West Virginia).
PLAYING SMART BASKETBALL: Iowa's Greg Brunner and Adam Haluska were named to the 2006 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America third team. Iowa is the only Division I program in the nation to have two players selected for Academic All-America honors. To be nominated, student-athletes must be a starter or important reserve and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher. Minnesota's Adam Boone joined Brunner and Haluska on the Academic All-District teams.
BUCKEYE AND SPARTAN DOMINATION: Not only did Ohio State claim the Big Ten title, but they also led the league in six statistical categories this season. Ohio State finished the conference season No. 1 in scoring offense (73.4 ppg.), scoring margin (+9.2), three-point field goal percentage (.368), three-point field goal defense (.283), turnover margin (+3.00) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.38) in league games only. Michigan State led in five categories as the Spartans ranked first in free throw percentage (.781), field goal percentage (.469), rebounding defense (30.1), rebounding margin (+4.2) and assists (15.81).
TUCKER TAKES SCORING TITLE: With 20.0 points per conference game this season (320 in 16 games), Wisconsin's Alando Tucker claimed the league's scoring title in Big Ten only contests. Tucker is the first Badger to finish first in the conference scoring rankings since Don Rehfeldt won back-to-back scoring titles in 1949 and 1950. Tucker was closely followed by Michigan's Daniel Horton, who posted 19.8 points per game this league season to finish with 316 points, just four shy of the league lead.
OTHER CONFERENCE LEADERS: In other conference game only categories, Iowa's Greg Brunner finished first in rebounds, while teammate Erek Hansen led the league in blocks. Ohio State's Je'Kel Foster claimed the conference's steals title, while Illinois' Dee Brown and Michigan State's Drew Neitzel tied atop the league rankings in assists. Brunner tallied 9.6 caroms per game, while Hansen led the Big Ten with 2.38 blocks per outing. The last Hawkeye to lead the pack in rebounds was Jared Reiner in 2003, while Hansen returns as the league's leader in blocked shots after finishing first in that category in 2004. Foster became the second Buckeye to lead the pack in steals (2.13 pg), joining Scoonie Penn in 1999. Brown and Neitzel tied for the conference lead with 5.56 assists per game. For the fourth consecutive year, the assist title has gone to a Fighting Illini, as Brown's former teammate Deron Williams tallied three consecutive crowns from 2003-2005. Neitzel is the first Spartan to lead the league in assists since Marcus Taylor in 2002.
BIG TEN ATTENDANCE RECORDS: The Big Ten reached two attendance landmarks this season as the conference broke the two-million mark in all games for the 14th straight season, while also reaching the one-million plateau for league games only for the 29th consecutive season. So far in 2006, 2,155,138 patrons have passed through the turnstiles for 171 games for an average attendance of 12,603. In league contests, 1,191,079 fans flocked to conference arenas for 88 games for an average of 13,535 per outing, the highest since the 2001-02 campaign (13,790). In 2004-05, the conference led the nation in total attendance for the 29th-straight season with 2,255,332 total patrons and led the way with an average attendance of 12,530 per game/session.
IOWA'S HOMECOURT STREAK: Iowa finished the conference season with the league's longest homecourt winning streak as the Hawkeyes boast 18 consecutive wins at home. Iowa is undefeated at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season with a school-record 17 wins and has broken the arena record with 18 consecutive home victories going back to last season. The Hawkeyes have not lost at home since Illinois defeated Iowa, 76-65, on Feb. 19, 2005.
THROW OUT THE RECORDS: History has shown that every team at the Big Ten Tournament will have a shot at leaving town with the title. Last year, Iowa advanced to the semifinals as the No. 7 seed, defeating No. 2 Michigan State before falling to third-seeded Wisconsin. In 2003, Ohio State advanced to the title game despite holding the No. 8 seed. In 2002, Iowa reached the finals as the ninth seed, just one season after becoming the lowest-seeded team to win the Big Ten Tournament, as the sixth-seeded Hawkeyes won four games in four days to earn the league's NCAA automatic berth in 2001. In addition to the magical runs of OSU and Iowa the last four years, the No. 4 seed has advanced to the finals three times. Only once has the No. 1 and the No. 2 seed faced off in the championship final. In 2004, the No. 2 Badgers defeated the No. 1 seeded Fighting Illini.
TOP TOURNEY TEAMS: Illinois leads the league in winning percentage and total wins in Big Ten Tournament play with a record of 16-6 (.727) over eight years. That mark includes two tournament crowns, three second-place finishes and a current streak of three straight victories. Iowa boasts the league's second-best winning percentage with a record of 10-7 (.588), including the 2001 title, while Michigan State follows in third place with an 8-6 mark (.571). The Spartans, along with Illinois, are the only two-time winners in the event after MSU claimed the 1999 and 2000 titles. Wisconsin has produced a 9-7 mark with a championship game victory in 2004, the last time the tournament was held in Indianapolis. Every Big Ten team has won at least one tourney game.
WINNINGEST COACHES: Only five coaches boast winning percentages of .600 or better in Big Ten Tournament play, and three will be returning to Conseco Fieldhouse in 2006. After advancing to the last two championship finals and claiming the 2005 Big Ten Tournament title, Illinois' Bruce Weber leads all coaches in winning percentage with a record of 5-1 (.833). Former Fighting Illini coach Bill Self follows in second place with a .714 winning percentage (5-2), while Iowa's Steve Alford, who boasts a 10-5 record (.667) is tied for third in winning percentage with former Illini coach Lon Kruger (6-3; .667). Wisconsin's Bo Ryan follows in fifth place with a 5-3 mark (.625). Alford leads all coaches with 10 triumphs, while Michigan State's Tom Izzo has tallied eight victories and two titles in eight events.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAMS: Four conference standouts return after earning All-Tournament honors in past Big Ten Tournaments. Last year, Illinois' James Augustine, who was named Most Outstanding Player, was joined by Minnesota's Vincent Grier and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker on the 2005 Big Ten All-Tournament team. Illinois' Dee Brown also claimed All-Tourney laurels in 2004. Illinois leads the league with eight All-Tournament selections, including two-time honoree Brian Cook (2000-03), while Ohio State follows with six honorees. Every conference squad has placed at least one student-athlete on the All-Tournament team.
TOURNAMENT CAREER RECORDS: A trio of league players already appear on the career top-10 lists in Big Ten Tournament play. Illinois' James Augustine currently ranks second in career rebounds with 70 boards, just 26 rebounds away from breaking the record of 95 set by Iowa's Reggie Evans (2001-02). Teammate Dee Brown is just one steal away from equaling the career theft record of 21 held by former Illini standout Sergio McClain (1998-01). Brown also appears on the assists all-time list, tying for fifth place with 42. Michigan State's Mateen Cleeves (1998-00) holds the all-time assists mark with 55 assists in seven games. On the blocked shots career laurels, Iowa's Greg Brunner is tied for seventh with nine career rejections in tournament play. Indiana's Jeff Newton set the Big Ten Tournament record with 16 career blocked shots in nine games.
TOURNAMENT ATTENDANCE: With the return to Indianapolis in 2006, the Big Ten is back in Conseco Fieldhouse, a facility that welcomed sellout crowds of 18,996 in each of the last four sessions in 2002. For the first time in the eight-year history of the event, the Big Ten led the nation in tournament attendance in 2005. The league tallied an average per session attendance of 21,850 at the United Center in Chicago. The Big Ten also set a pair of attendance records in the final two days of the 2005 tournament as the event attracted a single-session record of 23,697 in Saturday's semifinal before breaking the championship game attendance mark with 22,157 fans on Sunday.The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament has welcomed 783,863 fans through the turnstile, an average of 19,967 patrons per session, in its first eight years of existence.