March 19, 2008
THE MARCH TO MADNESS: Four Big Ten teams were selected to participate in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. Big Ten regular season and tournament champion Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue will all be participating in this year's event.
Wisconsin is the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional and will travel to the Omaha, Neb., first/second round site. First up for the Badgers will be No. 14 Cal-State Fullerton with the second round pitting the winner of that game against the winner of No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Kansas State. The Badgers will be playing in the tournament for the 14th time and making their 10th straight appearance. Wisconsin is 17-12 in its previous trips and has made two Final Four appearances, including winning the 1941 title.
Michigan State is the No. 5 seed in the South Regional and is on the road to the Denver, Colo., first/second round site. The Spartans are slated to play No. 12 Temple first with the victor facing the winner of No. 4 Pitt vs. No. 13 Oral Roberts. MSU is making its 22nd NCAA appearance overall and 11th consecutive. Michigan State has a 41-20 mark in the NCAA Tournament and six Final Four appearances, including the 1979 and 2000 national championships.
Purdue is the No. 6 seed in the West Regional and will be in Washington, D.C., for its first/second round games. The Boilermakers will take on No. 11 Baylor with the winner of that game facing the victor of No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 14 Georgia. Purdue's appearance is the 21st in school history and its second consecutive. The Boilermakers have a 27-20 record in NCAA Tournament games as well as two Final Four appearances.
Indiana is the No. 8 seed in the East Regional and will play at the first/second round site in Raleigh, N.C., The Hoosiers have No. 9 Arkansas as their first-round opponent and the winner goes on to face the winner of No. 1 North Carolina vs. Coppin State/Mt. St. Mary's game. Indiana is making a conference-record 35th appearance in the tournament and its third consecutive trip. In tournament play, the Hoosiers have recorded a 60-29 mark, and have eight Final Four appearances to their credit, including five national titles, the most recent of which came in 1987.
SEEING RED: Wisconsin followed up its regular season title by winning the second Big Ten tournament title in school history, defeating Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois to take the crown in Indianapolis. Four other teams in Big Ten history have won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles in the same season. Each of those teams has advanced to the Final Four (Michigan State in 1999 and 2000, Illinois in 2005 and Ohio State in 2007).
WISCONSIN CLAIMS BIG TEN TITLE: The Badgers claimed sole possession of the title for the second time in Bo Ryan's tenure and the third title in that seven-year span, sharing the crown in 2002 and winning the title outright in 2003. Wisconsin earns its 17th title in program history, tying Illinois and Ohio State for third in number of conference crowns. Purdue leads all Big Ten teams with 21 conference championships, while Indiana ranks second with 20 titles. After winning the Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin now has 29 wins, second-most all-time, and 16 conference wins, a school record. Wisconsin's 30 triumphs in 2007 are the school record for overall wins.
LANDRY NAMED MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: Wisconsin's Marcus Landry was voted Most Outstanding Player of the 2008 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. In the Badgers' three games during the tournament, Landry led the team in scoring averaging 12 points per game and was second on the squad in grabbing 7.3 rebounds per game. In Wisconsin's quarterfinal win over Michigan, Landry had eight points and seven boards. On Saturday in the 65-63 win against the Michigan State, the Milwaukee, Wis., native nearly had a double-double with his 18 points and nine rebounds. In the championship game, Landy helped stop a streaking Illinois squad by scoring 10 points with six caroms, adding four assists and two blocks. Landry was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammate Michael Flowers, Illinois' Demetri McCamey and Shaun Pruitt and Michigan State's Drew Neitzel.
GORDON CAPTURES SCORING TITLE: With 20.8 points per conference game this season (374 in 18 games), Indiana's Eric Gordon claimed the Big Ten's scoring title in conference only contests. Gordon led the conference for the duration of the season. The last Hoosier to lead the conference in scoring was Bracey Wright in 2005. Gordon becomes the first freshman since Minnesota's Kris Humphries to lead all players in scoring. Gordon was closely followed by teammate D.J. White, who closed out the conference season with 17.8 points per game.
DYNAMIC DUO: One of the nation's top inside-outside combinations, Eric Gordon and D.J. White finished the regular season ranked one and two in scoring. Gordon and White become the first teammates to accomplish that feat since Michigan's Glen Rice and Gary Grant finished first and second in scoring in 1987-88. MR.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Indiana's D.J. White finished the regular season as the Big Ten's rebounding champion, averaging 10.7 caroms per game. White is the first player to average a double-double in scoring and rebounding since Minnesota's Kris Humphries did so during the 2003-04 season.
WHITE TABBED BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Indiana's D.J. White captured the conference's highest honor as he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year in voting by both the coaches (unanimous) and the media. He is the sixth Hoosier to earn the award and the first since Jared Jeffries did so in 2002. In Big Ten games only, White led the conference in rebounding (10.7 rpg) and finished second in scoring (17.8 ppg). The senior forward finished the regular season averaging a double-double, becoming the first player to do so since Minnesota's Kris Humphries in 2004. This year, White moved into 19th place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,402 points and is 14th all-time at IU with 714 rebounds.
OTHER INDIVIDUAL HONORS: In other individual accolades, Indiana's Eric Gordon was named Freshman of the Year by the coaches and media. Gordon led the conference in scoring all year, averaging 20.8 points in Big Ten games only. The 6-4 guard was joined by four other first-year standouts on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. The five-man squad included Michigan's Manny Harris, Ohio State's Kosta Koufos and Purdue's Robbie Hummel and E'Twaun Moore. Purdue's Chris Kramer picked up Defensive Player of the Year laurels. Kramer earns his second nod as a member of the All-Defensive Team. Michigan State's Travis Walton and Wisconsin's Michael Flowers were also honored for a second-straight year and are joined by Michigan's Ekpe Udoh and Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft on this year's All-Defensive Team. Wisconsin's Jason Bohannon, who recorded only two starts in 30 games this season, was named the Sixth Man of the Year. The sophomore guard provided a spark off the bench for the Badgers this season, averaging 8.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in all games.
ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM: Eleven of the 18 players named to the 2008 All-Big Ten first-, second- or thirdteams have a chance to return to their teams next season. Both All-Big Ten first-team squads included Indiana's Eric Gordon, D.J. White, Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Wisconsin's Brian Butch. Michigan State senior Drew Neitzel was honored by the coaches, while the media named Ohio State's Jamar Butler to the top squad. White was a unanimous selection by both the coaches and media. MSU's Neitzel earned first-team laurels for the second-consecutive year.
BIG TEN CONFERENCE REACHES ATTENDANCE MILESTONES: The Big Ten has once again surpassed the two-million mark in total attendance and the one-million mark in conference games. The conference has welcomed 2,394,349 fans in 185 home contests. This is the 16th season in which the Big Ten has seen more than two million spectators pass through the turnstiles. For the 31st season, attendance at Big Ten contests has eclipsed the one-million mark, as 1,347,040 fans have attended 99 games. The conference is on pace to once again to lead the nation in average attendance.