Men's Basketball Weekly Release -March 14
March 14, 2006
Nine Teams in Postseason: Nine of the 11 Big Ten schools earned postseason berths this season, with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin taking part in the 2006 NCAA Championship and Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State competing for the NIT title. The conference will officially send nine programs to the postseason for the first time in league history, although the Big Ten did advance nine teams to postseason play in both 2001 and 1993 before appearances were later vacated by Ohio State and Michigan, respectively. The league's six representatives in the NCAA Championship are officially the most since the 2001 event, when Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin competed for the national title. The Big Ten sent an official league record of seven teams to the NCAA Championship in 1990.
Six Squads Collect NCAA Bids: Six Big Ten programs have advanced to the NCAA Championship in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Illini, who earned a No. 4 seed in the Washington Regional, will be making their seventh consecutive appearance in the event, the school's longest streak of NCAA bids since building an eight-year streak from 1983-90. Illinois now has 26 appearances overall, the second-highest total among all league schools. The Hoosiers, as the sixth seed in the Oakland Regional, claimed a conference-best 33rd NCAA Tournament berth and will face San Diego State in the first round. The Hawkeyes nabbed a No. 3 seed in the Atlanta Regional after winning their second Big Ten Tournament title last weekend. Iowa will be making its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Championship and second consecutive showing. The Spartans are in the Washington Regional as the No. 6 seed and will make their ninth consecutive appearance, already a school record, and 20th overall. The Buckeyes, who claimed their 18th conference title in school history, are a No. 2 seed in the Minneapolis Regional and will be making their 19th official appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers will join Ohio State in the Minneapolis Regional. Wisconsin is making its eighth consecutive showing, already a school record, and 12th appearance overall.
Horner Named Tourney's Most Outstanding Player: Iowa's Jeff Horner was named the 2006 Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player after averaging 18.7 points and 6.0 assists during the three victories, including a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists in the championship game. Horner is the second Hawkeye standout to collect Most Outstanding Player accolades, joining Reggie Evans, who was honored in 2001. Horner was joined by teammate Greg Brunner on the All-Tournament team, while Michigan State's Maurice Ager and Ohio State's Jamar Butler and J.J. Sullinger also earned All-Tournament laurels.
Buckeyes Win Outright Big Ten Title: Ohio State won the Big Ten title for the first time since the 2001-02 season with a 12-4 record in league action. The Buckeyes captured the title outright with a win over Purdue on the last day of the regular season on March 5, 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.
Dials Named Player of the Year: Ohio State's Terence Dials collected the conference's highest honor as he was chosen as the Big Ten Player of the Year in voting by both the coaches and the media. He is the first Buckeye to earn Player of the Year accolades since Scoonie Penn was tabbed the media's choice in 1999 and the fourth standout in school history. Two-time All-American Jim Jackson won back to-back honors for OSU in 1991 and 1992 while Dennis Hopson was the first Buckeye to garner the award in 1987. The 6-9 forward/center ranked third in field goal percentage (.599) and blocked shots (1.00 bpg) in league contests only while rating among the top 10 in rebounding (5th at 8.4 rpg) and scoring (8th at 16.3 ppg).
Big Ten Career Leaders: Several Big Ten seniors 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 658. In addition, Brown ranks fifth on the career three-point field goals made (296) 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 608 dishes for seventh place, while listed eighth on the all-time three-pointers chart (261).
Big Ten's 1,000 Rebounders: With 15 rebounds against Michigan State at the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois' James Augustine became the 11th player in Big Ten history to top 1,000 career rebounds. He now has 1,012 rebounds, while also adding 1,354 points in his four years at Illinois. 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. Also vying to reach 1,000 rebounds is Iowa's Greg Brunner, who only needs 20 more boards to become the 12th player in Big Ten history to reach 1,000.
Horton Claims Big Ten Record: Michigan senior Daniel Horton established a Big Ten record this season, while closing in on another league mark. Horton finished 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 93.8 percent (121-of-129), which is currently ahead of Alford's mark of 92.1 percent (116-of-126) set during the 1984-85 season.
Final Four Frenzy: With Illinois and Michigan State advancing to the 2005 Final Four, the conference has tied the ACC for the most Final Four appearances with 38 and boasts the second-most national titles (10) in college basketball history. The Pac-10 leads the nation with 15 titles. Since the inception of the NCAA Tournament in 1939, the Big Ten has recorded the most appearances of any conference in the Big Dance with 174 (ACC, 160) and has the second-most NCAA Tournament victories with 274 (ACC, 310).
Four Final Four Programs: Since 1990, the Big Ten has tied the ACC, Big 12 and SEC with four different programs in the Final Four. Michigan State leads the Big Ten with four appearances (1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005) and Indiana (1992 and 2002) has reached the national semifinals twice, while Illinois (2005) and Wisconsin (2000) have each earned a Final Four spot in that time span.
Low Seeds Turn Into High Win Totals: Big Ten teams have made a habit of advancing deep into the tournament despite low seeds and that trend continued in 2005, as fifth-seeded Michigan State was the lowest-seeded team to advance to the Final Four. Two years ago, the Spartans were the lowest seed to reach the Elite Eight after winning three games despite earning a No. 7 seed. Two other conference teams have advanced to the Final Four in the last seven years despite their low seeds, as fifth-seeded Indiana advanced to the 2002 national championship game and eighth-seeded Wisconsin reached the national semifinals in 2000.
Coaching Elite: In 2005, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo directed the Spartans to his fourth Final Four in his first 10 seasons as a college head coach, becoming just the second coach in NCAA history to accomplish this feat. Ohio State head coach Fred Taylor took his Buckeyes to four Final Fours in his first 10 seasons. Izzo also ranks second behind only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (.786) in NCAA Tournament winning percentage among active coaches at .767. Over the last eight NCAA Tournaments, Izzo has led MSU to a 23-7 record and is also one of only nine coaches in NCAA Tournament history to advance to three straight Final Fours, which he accomplished from 1999-2001. He is also the sixth active coach with four or more Final Four appearances.