March 21, 2005
Nation-Leading Three Big Ten Teams Advance to Sweet 16: With the opening weekend of postseason play now concluded, three Big Ten teams - Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin - have advanced to the Sweet 16 after posting a pair of victories last weekend. The Big Ten is tied with the ACC with three teams in the NCAA Championship Round of 16.The Big Ten has now sent at least one team to the NCAA Championship regional semifinal for the eighth consecutive season and the 18th time in the 21 years since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The Big Ten is tied with the Big East with 20 teams over the last eight years reaching the third round of the NCAA Championship. The Big Ten and the Big East are followed by the ACC (19), Big 12 (16), Pac-10 (15) and SEC (15). Only four conferences maintain a current streak of eight or more consecutive years in the round of 16 -- the Big Ten, ACC, Big East and SEC.
Six Teams in Postseason: Six Conference programs earned postseason berths in 2005, as Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin played in the NCAA Championship while Indiana competed for the NIT title.
Five Squads Collect NCAA Bids: For the third time in the last four seasons, five Big Ten programs advanced to the NCAA Championship in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Illini, who earned their second consecutive outright Conference title and their second Big Ten Tournament crown, earned the No. 1 seed in the Chicago Regional and made their sixth 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 25 appearances overall, the second-highest total among all League schools. The Hawkeyes nabbed a No. 10 seed in the Austin Regional and made their 21st appearance in the NCAA Championship and first since 2001. The Spartans claimed the No. 5 seed in the Austin Regional and made their eighth consecutive showing, already a school record, and 19th appearance overall. Two Conference schools were placed in the Syracuse Regional in No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 8 Minnesota. The Badgers made their seventh consecutive showing, already a school record, and 11th appearance overall, while the Golden Gophers earned their first official appearance since 1990.
Familiar Ground: 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 172 (ACC, 156) and has the second-most NCAA Tournament victories with 273 (ACC, 306). The Conference is also tied for the most Final Four appearances (37 with the ACC) and boasts the second-most national titles (10) in college basketball history. The only other conference to reach double-figures in national championships is the Pac-10 with 15 titles.
17 No. 1 Seeds: With Illinois earning the No. 1 seed in the Chicago Regional, Big Ten teams have been awarded the top seed 17 times in the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 squads in 1985, ranking only second behind the ACC (18) over that time span. The Big 12 follows with 13, while the Pac-10 has had 11 No. 1 seeds. Michigan State leads all Big Ten squads with four No. 1 seeds, while Illinois and Purdue follow in second with three top seeds each.
Seven-Up: In the history of the NCAA Tournament, only three times has there been seven schools selected from one Conference in one year and two times those seven have been from the Big Ten (1990 and 2001). The only other time was in 1991 when the Big East earned seven spots.
Breaking Even in NCAA Play: With a record of 3-3 in the 2004 NCAA Championship, the Big Ten produced a mark of .500 or better in the last seven events. Among the six conferences with the most tournament wins over that time span, only the ACC and Big East have duplicated that feat. The Big East has broken even in two of the last four years (2002: 6-6, 2001: 5-5) while the ACC's lowest winning percentage occurred with a 5-4 finish in 2003. The Big 12 (2001, 1999, 1998), Pac-10 (2004, 1999) and SEC (2002, 2001) have all been under .500 at least twice in the last seven seasons.
Big Ten Tournament Benefits: Since the inception of the Big Ten Tournament in 1998, the Conference has sent six different teams to the Final Four and has won 65 percent of its NCAA Tournament games, compiling a record of 64-35 in the national event from 1998 through 2004.
Coaching Elite: Entering the 2005 NCAA Tournament, Michigan State mentor Tom Izzo ranked second behind only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (.790) with a .760 winning percentage among all active coaches in the NCAA Tournament. Those two coaches will meet in the Sweet Sixteen as Izzo and the Spartans will look to avenge a regular-season defeat against the Blue Devils. Over the last seven NCAA Tournaments, Izzo has led MSU to a 19-6 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.
Half of Final Four: The Big Ten has sent at least two teams to the Final Four on three occasions since 1992, the highest total among all conferences. The Conference sent a pair of squads in 1992 (Indiana, Michigan) before pulling off the feat in back-to-back years for the first time in Big Ten history in 1999 (Michigan State, Ohio State) and 2000 (MSU, Wisconsin). Since 1992, only three conferences have sent a pair of teams to the Final Four - the Big 12 in 2002 (Oklahoma, Kansas) and 2003 (Kansas, Texas), the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2001 (Duke, Maryland) and 2004 (Duke and Georgia Tech) and the Southeastern Conference in 1994 (Arkansas, Florida) and 1996 (Mississippi State, Kentucky).
Illinois Wins Second Big Ten Tournament Crown: The championship game of the 2005 Big Ten Tournament featured a rematch from 2004's championship game. In that edition of the title game Wisconsin defeated Illinois, 70-53. However, the Fighting Illini came out on top this year, defeating the Badgers, 54-43, to claim their second Big Ten Tournament title at the United Center in Chicago. The finals appearance was the Illinois' fifth in the eight-year history of the event and its first title since 2003 when the Illini defeated Ohio State, 72-59, in the finale. Illinois becomes only the second No. 1 seed to win the Big Ten Tournament crown as Michigan State won the 1999 crown as the No. 1 seeded team before advancing to the Final Four.
Augustine Named Tourney's Most Outstanding Player: Illinois' James Augustine was named the 2005 Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player after averaging a double-double (12.7 points; 10.3 rebounds) during the three victories. Augustine is the second Illinois standout to collect Most Outstanding Player accolades, joining Brian Cook, who was honored in 2003. Augustine was joined by teammate Luther Head on the All-Tournament team, while Minnesota's Vincent Grier and Wisconsin's Zach Morley and Alando Tucker also earned All-Tournament laurels. With two selections this year, Illinois now leads the Big Ten with eight overall All-Tournament picks as Augustine and Head join Cory Bradford (1999), Brian Cook (2000-03), Roger Powell (2003), Dee Brown (2004) and Deron Williams (2004).
New Tourney Attendance Records: The Big Ten set a pair of attendance records in the final two days of the 2005 Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago, as the event attracted a single-session record of 23,697 for the semifinal on Saturday before breaking the championship game attendance mark with 22,157 fans on site Sunday. Saturday's crowd shattered the previous single-session best of 23,509 patrons at the semifinal of the 2001 Big Ten Tournament (also held in Chicago) while Sunday's attendance total also bested the previous high set in 2001 (22,081). A total of 109,250 fans attended the 2005 Big Ten Tournament, marking the second-highest attendance total in Tournament history behind the 109,769 fans that were present for the 2001 event. This year's record crowds marked an increase of over 30,000 fans compared to the 2004 event in Indianapolis and nearly 20,000 more patrons compared to the last time the four-day event was held in Chicago in 2003.
Illinois Clinches Outright Big Ten Title: Illinois won its second consecutive outright Big Ten crown for the first time since 1951-52 and its fourth title in five seasons. The Illini nearly posted a perfect season, but fell at Ohio State, 65-64, on the last day of the regular season. The Illini have now won 17 Big Ten titles to equal Ohio State for the third-highest total in League annals behind Purdue (21) and Indiana (20). Illinois claimed four crowns in a five-year span for the first time in school history and is the first Big Ten team to accomplish that feat since Michigan State claimed at least a share of four straight titles from 1998-2001.
Weber First To Clinch Consecutive Crowns: Illinois' Bruce Weber became the first coach in Big Ten history to win back-to-back outright championships in his first two years at the helm. Weber led the Illini to the 2004 regular season title with a 13-3 League mark and followed with another League Championship this season with a 15-1 mark.
Weber Earns Henry IBA Award: Illinois Bruce Weber was named winner of the 2005 Henry Iba Award, presented annually by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association to the national college basketball coach of the year. Weber is the first Illinois coach to receive the award since the USBWA began selecting a coach of the year in 1959. He is the first Big Ten coach to win the award since 1998, when Michigan State's Tom Izzo was honored as national coach of the year by the USBWA.
Keady Also Honored by USBWA: Retiring Purdue head coach Gene Keady, along with former Illinois head coach Lou Henson, will also receive a special award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association for their years of service in the coaching profession on April 1. Keady is retiring after 25 years at Purdue and 26 years as an NCAA Division I head coach. He has compiled an impressive coaching resume, boasting a League-record seven Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, while also earning six national Coach of the Year accolades. He has led the Boilermakers to six Big Ten Championships (1984, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1995 and 1996) in 25 years, including three straight outright titles from 1994 to 1996. Henson announced his retirement at New Mexico State earlier this season after 38 years as a major college coach, including 21 seasons at Illinois, where he remains the all-time winningest coach.
Playing Smart Basketball: Michigan State's Chris Hill was named the 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year and First-Team Academic All-American, earning first-team honors for the second straight year and Academic All-America accolades for the third straight season, having received third-team honors in 2003.The MSU senior is the first Big Ten men's basketball player to be honored in three consecutive seasons since Northwestern's Shon Morris accomplished this feat from 1986-88. To be nominated, student-athletes must be a starter or important reserve and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher.
Brown Named Player of the Year: For the third time in five years, an Illinois standout collected the Big Ten's highest honor as junior Dee Brown was chosen as the Conference Player of the Year in voting by both the coaches and the media. He joined Brian Cook (2003) and Frank Williams (2001) as just the third player in program history to earn Player of the Year accolades. Brown, one of two unanimous All-Big Ten First Team picks by the coaches, led the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage (.515) and three-point field goals made with 3.19 per game in League contests only. He also rated among the top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2nd at 2.91), assists (4th at 4.0 apg), steals (5th at 1.75 spg) and scoring (10th at 15.0 ppg).
Other Individual Honors: Illinois' Dee Brown also was named the Conference Defensive Player of the Year, becoming only the second player in Big Ten history to earn Player of the Year honors and defensive accolades in the same season. In 1988, Michigan's Gary Grant became the first Conference standout to earn both awards. Brown is just the third Illinois player to collect Defensive Player of the Year laurels, joining Bruce Douglas (1985-86) and Stephen Bardo (1989). Illinois' Bruce Weber was tabbed as the Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media after becoming the first mentor in League history to lead his team to back-to-back outright championships in his first two years at the helm. The Illini finished the regular season with a 15-1 record, tying the 1999 Michigan State squad for the most victories in Big Ten play since the League went to a 16-game schedule. Illinois also set a school record, posting 25 consecutive victories in Big Ten play, breaking the previous school mark of 17 set during the 1914-1915 season. Indiana's D.J. White earned Freshman of the Year honors from both the coaches and media. He became the seventh Hoosier to nab Freshman of the Year honors after tying for first place in League games only with 2.12 blocks per contest, while ranking third in field goal percentage (.603) and 16th in scoring (13.9 ppg). White was joined by four other first-year standouts on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, as the five-man squad also included teammate Robert Vaden, Michigan State's Drew Neitzel, Minnesota's Dan Coleman and Penn State's Geary Claxton.
Youthful All-Conference Teams: The 2005 All-Big Ten teams were dominated by underclassmen for the second consecutive year, as 12 of the 15 selections have a chance to return to their teams next season. Both First Team All-Big Ten squads included Illinois' Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams and Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson. Indiana's Bracey Wright was the fifth choice of the media, while the coaches picked Minnesota's Vincent Grier. Williams was the only returning First Team honoree, while Brown and Wilkinson were unanimous picks. In addition, it marks only the fourth time in League history that three or more players from the same squad earned First Team accolades. Indiana had four players named to the 1975 All-Big Ten First Team (Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner, Steve Green and Scott May), while Ohio State had three standouts honored in 1961 (John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas and Larry Siegfried) and 1971 (Jim Cleamons, Allan Hornyak and Luke Witte). Illinois also had three players named to the 1956 All-Big Ten First Team (George Bon Salle, Paul Judson and Bill Ridley).
2004-05 Sportsmanship Honorees: The Conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for men's basketball are Illinois' Roger Powell Jr., Indiana's Mike Roberts, Iowa's Greg Brunner, Michigan's Graham Brown, Michigan State's Chris Hill, Minnesota's Brent Lawson, Northwestern's Davor Duvancic, Ohio State's Matt Marinchick, Penn State's Kevin Fellows, Purdue's Andrew Ford and Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson. These 11 student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the Conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.
Wright Takes Big Ten Scoring Title: After averaging 18.3 points per game in Conference outings only, Indiana's Bracey Wright became the first Hoosier since Kirk Haston (2001, 20.3 ppg) to lead the Big Ten in scoring. Purdue's Carl Landry, who had topped the Big Ten in point production for the last month, fell behind Wright after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee on Feb. 26 and missing the remainder of the season.
Three in a Row: Illinois' Deron Williams became only the second player in League history to lead the Big Ten in assists for three consecutive seasons. He finished in first place for the third consecutive year after averaging 6.69 assists in League games only. Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves was the first player in the Conference to rank first in assists for three straight seasons from 1998-2000. He finished his senior season as the Big Ten's all-time assists leader with 816 career dishes. Williams is only the fourth Illinois standout to lead the Conference in assists as Tony Wysinger ranked first in 1987, Bruce Douglas led the Big Ten during three different seasons (1983, 1984 and 1986) and Derek Harper was the League leader in 1982.
Other Conference Leaders: In other Conference game only categories, Penn State's Aaron Johnson led the League in rebounds and Minnesota's Vincent Grier finished first in steals. Indiana freshman D.J. White and Minnesota's Jeff Hagen tied atop the League rankings in blocked shots. Johnson tallied 9.2 caroms per game, while Grier led the Big Ten with 2.19 steals per outing. The last Nittany Lion to lead the pack in rebounds was Jarrett Stephens in 2000, while Travarus Bennett was the last Minnesota standout to finish first in picks in 2002. White and Hagen tied for the Conference lead with 2.12 blocks per game. White became the third Hoosier in the last four seasons to lead the pack in rejections, joining Jared Jeffries (2002) and George Leach (2003). He is also the first freshman to finish at the top of the Conference in blocks since Penn State's Calvin Booth in 1996. Hagen is the first Minnesota blocker to lead the League since Randy Breuer in 1983.