March 7, 2011
March is On!:
The 14th Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament tips off on Thursday, March 10, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The 2011 event marks the fourth consecutive year and seventh overall that the men's tournament has been held in Indianapolis. The Big Ten is in the fourth year of a five-year agreement that puts both the men's and women's tournaments in the Circle City.
Ripping up the RPI:
The Big Ten boasts the second-highest RPI among all conferences, trailing only the Big East. The Big Ten has seven teams among the RPI top 60, which also ranks second among all conferences, trailing only the Big East which has 10 top-60 teams. However, the Big Ten (63.6 percent) has a higher percentage of its teams among the top 70 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. 2 Ohio State, No. 8 Purdue and No. 13 Wisconsin. No. 40 Illinois, No. 48 Michigan State, No. 54 Penn State and No. 56 Michigan also rank among the RPI's top 60. The Big Ten's top-60 RPI teams have a combined 82 wins against other teams rated among the RPI's top 100, led by Ohio State (16 wins), Purdue (16), 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 16 wins against teams among the RPI top 100. Wisconsin has 13 such wins, while Illinois has 10, and Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State each have nine. 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 ninth. Only 18 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 Penn State and Michigan State, which have respective strength-of-schedule (SOS) ratings of sixth and 11th. Illinois follows at 19th, while Michigan (21), Purdue (22), Wisconsin (23) and Ohio State (24) also rank among the top 25. The Big Ten and Big East are tied for the lead among all conferences, each with seven top-25 SOS teams, while the Big Ten leads all conferences with 63.6 percent of its teams boasting SOS ratings of 25 or better.
Buckeyes Win Big Ten Title:
Ohio State won the outright Big Ten title with a 16-2 conference record. The conference championship marked the Buckeyes' second consecutive, fourth in the last six years and 19th overall. This year's crown marks Ohio State's 14th outright title and third under head coach Thad Matta. Matta becomes the fourth mentor in Big Ten history to win at least four Big Ten titles in his first seven years at the helm, joining Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell (1912-17, 1921), Indiana's Bob Knight (1972-78) and Michigan State's Tom Izzo (1996-00).
Bye Bye Bye:
Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin all earned byes in the 2011 Big Ten Tournament with top-five seeds. Illinois receives its third consecutive first-round bye, while Michigan earns a pass into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2004 and its highest seed since 2003. Ohio State is the No. 1 seed for the second consecutive year and has a first-round bye for the sixth straight season. Purdue earns the No. 2 seed for the second year in a row and has received first-round byes in each of the last five tournaments. Wisconsin has the longest active bye streak, now in its 11th straight tournament with a pass into the quarterfinals. The Badgers are a No. 3 seed, marking their highest placement since 2008 when they were No. 1.
Raking in the Rankings:
The Big Ten is tied for the lead among all conferences with three teams among the top 13 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Ohio State remains the No. 1 team in the nation in each poll, while Purdue comes in at No. 9 in each set of rankings, and Wisconsin is 13th. Complete poll information can be found on Page 8 of this release.
He Shoots, He Scores:
Purdue's JaJuan Johnson ended the conference season as the Big Ten's leading scorer and shot blocker. Johnson averaged 20.7 points in conference play and enters the tournament averaging 20.5 points per game in overall competition. Glenn Robinson was the last Boilermaker to lead the Big Ten in scoring during conference play, averaging 31.1 points in 1994, while Willie Dean in 2002 marked the last time a Purdue player led the conference in scoring in all games played. Johnson also concluded the conference schedule leading the Big Ten in blocked shots with a total of 45 and an average of 2.35 per game. This is Johnson's third consecutive year leading the conference in swats, making him just the second player in the Big Ten to accomplish the feat three years in a row.
Mbakwe Cleans Up the Glass:
Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe finished the conference season as the Big Ten's rebounding champion and is on pace to be the conference's stat champion in all games played. The junior averaged 11.0 boards in Big Ten play and is averaging 10.5 in overall competition. Kris Humphries was the last Golden Gopher to lead the Big Ten in rebounding during conference play, averaging 9.5 boards in 2004. He also led the conference in rebounding in all games that season with an average of 10.1 per contest. Mbakwe's conference average is the highest since Iowa's Reggie Evans pulled down 11.4 per game in 2001. His overall average would stand as the best mark since Evans averaged 11.4 in 2002.
Lending a Helping Hand:
Iowa's Bryce Cartwright averaged 6.83 assists per conference game to become the first Hawkeye since Dean Oliver in 2001 pace the Big Ten in helpers. Michigan's Darius Morris currently leads the Big Ten in assists for all games played, averaging 6.77 per contest. Morris looks to become the first Wolverine since Rumeal Robinson in 1990 to lead the conference in helpers for all games played.
Morgan Hits His Mark:
Michigan's Jordan Morgan finished the conference slate with the Big Ten's highest field-goal percentage, hitting 66.1 percent of his shots during the 18-game schedule. Morgan is the third freshman in the last five years to lead the Big Ten in conference-only field-goal percentage, following Ohio State's Greg Oden in 2007 and the Buckeyes' B.J. Mullens in 2009. He is the first Wolverine to take home the stat crown since Loy Vaught shot 67.7 percent in 1989. Morgan is also on pace to lead the Big Ten in shooting in all games played, currently with an overall mark of 62.9 percent. Courtney Sims was the last Wolverine to pace the Big Ten in overall shooting with a mark of 63.3 percent in 2006.
For the second consecutive year, Ohio State's Jon Diebler led the Big Ten in three-point field goals made. With 355 three-pointers made in his career, Diebler holds the Big Ten's career record. Against Penn State last Tuesday, the Buckeye senior set an Ohio State and Big Ten single-game record with 10 three-pointers, scoring 30 points and making 83 percent of his three-point attempts (10-of-12). Against Wisconsin on Sunday, he poured in 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting, going 7-of-8 from behind the arc, giving him a three-point field goal percentage of 85 percent over the last week of the regular season.
Back Home Again in Indiana:
The Big Ten claims at least 23 student-athletes from the state of Indiana, including six who will return to their hometown of Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana's Taylor Wayer (Bishop Chatard HS), Iowa's Devon Archie (Ben Davis HS) and Purdue's Patrick Bade (Franklin Central HS), Kelsey Barlow (Cathedral HS), JaJuan Johnson (Franklin Central HS) and Terone Johnson (North Central HS) all hail from the Circle City. Purdue boasts 11 players from the state, while Indiana has six natives on its roster. Two of Michigan's players are from Indiana, while Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State each have one player from the state.
Penn State's Talor Battle and Purdue's E'Twaun Moore became the 24th and 25th players in Big Ten history to eclipse the 2,000-career-points plateau. Battle reached the milestone on Feb. 13, while Moore surpassed the marker one week later, on Feb. 20. Battle and Moore became the first Big Ten players to reach the milestone since Wisconsin's Alando Tucker in 2007 and are just the eighth duo in conference history to rack up 2,000 career points during the same four-year span. The last pair to accomplish the feat was Michigan State's Shawn Respert and Wisconsin's Michael Finley from 1992-95. Battle and Moore enter the Big Ten Tournament with respective career points totals of 2,119 and 2,090. Battle and Moore rank second and sixth, respectively, in scoring average this season.
Michigan's Darius Morris, Michigan State's Draymond Green and Wisconsin's Josh Gasser all recorded triple-doubles during the Big Ten season, marking the first time in history that three official triple-doubles have been recorded during a single conference slate. Gasser became the first freshman in conference history to record an official triple-double, recording 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists on Jan. 23. His triple-double also marked the first in Wisconsin program history. Morris racked up 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Jan. 30, marking the third triple-double in program history and the first since Manny Harris last season. Green tallied 15 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists on Feb. 10, becoming the third Spartan in program history to accomplish the feat and the first since Charlie Bell in 2000. Prior to this season, a triple-double had not been recorded in Big Ten play since Illinois' Sergio McClain did it in 2001. Gasser's accomplishment also marked the first in a Big Ten road game since Northwestern's Evan Eschmeyer in 1999.
Home Sweet Home:
Big Ten teams are nearly unbeatable on their home courts this year, combining for a 148-39 (.791) 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 while Ohio State and Purdue also ended with unblemished home records, and all 11 teams finished with home records of .500 or better. During conference games, Big Ten home teams posted a combined record of 67-32 (.676).
Every Big Ten team concluded the regular season with at least 10 wins, marking the second consecutive season that every conference squad racked up double-digit victories. This year marks just the second time in the last decade that every Big Ten team is guaranteed to finish with at least 10 overall wins. This year also marked the second consecutive season and fourth time in the last decade that every conference squad finished with three or more Big Ten wins.
Big Ten underclassmen are represented well in the conference statistics for all games, as a freshman or sophomore appears in the top two of several major categories. Ohio State freshman Aaron Craft led the conference in steals, averaging 2.06 per game. Craft is the first newcomer to lead the Big Ten in the category since 1991. Fellow Buckeye freshman Jared Sullinger finished second in rebounding, averaging 9.7 boards per game. Michigan sophomore Darius Morris led the conference in assists, dishing out 6.77 assists per contest.
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 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.
Racking Up Awards:
Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger took home 12 Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors the first season the conference awarded a newcomer on a weekly basis. Sullinger also took home four Big Ten Player of the Week honors, setting a conference record for most weekly awards won by a Big Ten freshman.
The 2010-11 regular season has seen several individual performances that rank among the best in conference history. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger scored 40 points against IUPUI on Dec. 9, marking the first time since 1995 that a Big Ten player scored 40 or more points in a game. It was also the first time since 1944 that the feat had been accomplished by a freshman. Purdue's E'Twaun Moore scored 38 in the Boilermakers' win over Ohio State on Feb. 21, marking the highest-scoring performance in a Big Ten conference game since 2006, when Michigan's Daniel Horton put down 39. On March 3, Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor scored 39 on the road against Indiana, marking the highest-scoring performance in a Big Ten road game since 1996.
The Madness Continues:
The Big Ten Conference will serve as host for the second and third rounds of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. 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. The Big Ten and United Center last hosted NCAA action in 2007 when Wisconsin was among the eight teams to compete in Chicago.