Big Ten Men's Basketball Weekly Release - March 27, 2012




March 27, 2012

Big Ten Men's Basketball Weekly Release - March 27, 2012 Get Acrobat Reader

Buckeyes Advance to Final Four:
Ohio State advanced to the 2012 Final Four after defeating No. 1 Syracuse, 77-70, in the regional finals. The Final Four appearance is the Buckeyes' 10th overall and first since 2007 when the team moved on to the national championship game. The Final Four appearance is also the second for head coach Thad Matta, who took Ohio State to the national semifinals in the 2006-07 season. Ohio State's 10 Final Four appearances leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in NCAA history.

Big Ten in the Final Four:
Ohio State's trip to the Final Four marks the Big Ten's 42nd national semifinals appearance and the conference's third in the last four years. Michigan State was the last Big Ten team to make the Final Four, advancing in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. Ohio State's Final Four trip also marks the Big Ten's sixth in the last eight seasons, making the Big Ten and the Big East the only two conferences to have sent six or more teams to the national semifinals over that time span.

Moving Right Along:
An Ohio State win in the national semifinal game would give the Buckeyes their sixth championship game appearance and second in the last six years. It would also give the Big Ten 22 all-time national championship game appearances and four in the last eight years. Michigan State was the Big Ten's last national championship game participant, having gone in 2009. The Buckeyes look to give the Big Ten its 11th national championship and first since 2000. Ohio State is also seeking the program's second NCAA title and first since 1960.

Round-by-Round:
Six Big Ten teams were selected to the NCAA Tournament, tying the conference for second in the nation. This year marked the fifth in the last seven that the Big Ten sent six or more teams into the bracket. Michigan State received the conference's automatic bid after winning the Big Ten Tournament, while Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin earned at-large berths.

Big Ten teams combined to go 9-2 during the first weekend of tournament play, leading all conferences that sent multiple teams to the tournament with an .818 winning percentage through the opening rounds. The Big Ten's only two losses in the first three rounds came at the hands of eventual Sweet 16 teams by a combined eight points.

The Big Ten tied its own conference record and tied for first among all conferences this year with four Sweet 16 teams (Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin). Among conferences that sent multiple teams to the tournament, the Big Ten had the highest percentage of its teams remaining after the first three rounds of action.

Big Ten teams went 1-3 in the regional semifinals. Wisconsin came within one point of No. 1 Syracuse, falling 64-63, while Indiana came up short in a shootout against No. 1 Kentucky, 102-90, and Michigan State fell to Louisville, 57-44. Ohio State knocked off Cincinnati, 81-66, before defeating Syracuse, 77-70, en route to its trip to the Final Four.

Ohio State's Jared Sullinger was named the East Regional's Most Outstanding Player, while teammates Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Deshaun Thomas and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor joined him on the All-Tournament Team. Michigan State's Draymond Green was named to the Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team, and Indiana's Christian Watford earned the same honor in the South Regional.

Racking up the Wins:
The Big Ten enters the national semifinals with a combined 11-5 record in the NCAA Tournament, marking the first time since 2005 that the conference has recorded 10 or more wins in the event.

Offensively Minded:
The Big Ten enters the Final Four with a scoring average of 70.4 points per NCAA Tournament game and is one of just four conferences averaging more than 70 points per game in the tournament.

NCAA Tournament Points per Game
1.    SEC, 76.0
2.    West Coast, 71.6
3.    Big Ten, 70.4
4.    Big 12, 70.1
5.    Ivy, 70.0
T6.   Big West, 68.0
T6.   MEAC, 68.0

30 is the New 20:
Ohio State's win over Cincinnati in the regional semifinals gave the Buckeyes their 30th win of the season, marking the program's second consecutive and third overall 30-win season. It marks the fifth time in the last six seasons the Big Ten has had at least one 30-win program.

American Boys:
The Big Ten is the only conference with two first-team All-Americans as named by Sporting News, the USBWA, the NABC and the Associated Press. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger earns his second straight honor from all four outlets, while Michigan State's Draymond Green is in line to be the Spartans' first consensus All-American since Mateen Cleaves in 1999. In addition, Green and Sullinger were both named to the 10-person Wooden Award All-America Team, making the Big Ten, Big East and Big 12 the only conferences with two honorees on the squad.

Noting No. 1:
Michigan State earned the No. 1 seed in the West Region, picking up the program's fifth No. 1 seed and first since 2001. Michigan State's five No. 1 seeds leads the Big Ten and is tied for fifth in the country. Ohio State has four No. 1 seeds in its history, including the No. 1 overall seed last season, while Illinois and Purdue each have three, Indiana and Michigan each have two, and Minnesota has one.

View from the Top:
In addition to No. 1 Michigan State, several other Big Ten teams captured high seeds in this year's NCAA Tournament. Ohio State is the No. 2 seed in the East, while Indiana (South), Michigan (Midwest) and Wisconsin (East) earned No. 4 seeds, and Purdue (Midwest) was a No. 10 seed. The Big Ten's average seed of 4.17 entering the tournament ranked second behind only the ACC's average of 4.00 among conferences with four or more teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Average Conference Seed (4 or more teams)
Rank    Conference    Average
1.    ACC,  4.00
2.    Big Ten, 4.17
3.    SEC, 5.50
4.    Big 12, 5.67
5.    Big East, 6.11
6.    Mountain West, 7.00
7.    Atlantic-10, 9.50

Top-Heavy:
The Big Ten led all conferences with five teams seeded fourth or better in this year's NCAA Tournament, setting a Big Ten record and tying the all-time tournament record since seeding began in 1979. The only other conferences to have accomplished the feat are the Big East (2009, 2010, 2011) and the ACC (2004). In all five years, at least one top-four seeded team advanced to the Final Four.

Triple Threat:
Michigan State's Draymond Green recorded 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the Spartans' second-round win over LIU Brooklyn, marking his third career triple-double and his second in an NCAA Tournament game. Green's three career triple-doubles ranks second in Big Ten history behind only Magic Johnson's eight. However, Johnson's were all unofficial, as assists were not kept by the NCAA until 1984. Green is also one of just three players to record multiple triple-doubles in NCAA Tournament games, joining Johnson and Oscar Robertson. Johnson's and Robertson's NCAA triple-doubles were also unofficial.

Heading to the Garden:
In addition to its success in this year's NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten is also making a run in the NIT. Minnesota has advanced to the tournament's semifinals at Madison Square Garden and faces top-seeded Washington on Tuesday night. Minnesota is seeking its second NIT title and the conference's ninth. The Big Ten last won the NIT in back-to-back years with Ohio State taking home the crown in 2008, and Penn State winning in 2009.

Earning Invitations:
Minnesota was one of three Big Ten teams to earn a berth in the 2012 NIT, joining Iowa and Northwestern. All three Big Ten teams won their opening-round games, while the Hawkeyes and Wildcats both fell in the second round, and Minnesota has advanced to the tournament's semifinals.

Twenty-Somethings:
Minnesota's win over La Salle in the first round of the NIT gave the Gophers 20 wins on the season, making them the Big Ten's seventh 20-win team this year, joining Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin. The Big Ten has now had at least seven 20-win teams in three of the last four years and has had six or more 20-win teams in each of the last six seasons.

Where We Rate:
The Big Ten continues to lead the nation in RPI, according to RPIratings.com, entering this week ranked first among all conferences with a rating of .5814. The Big Ten leads all conferences with five teams in the top 16, led by No. 3 Michigan State, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 11 Indiana, No. 15 Michigan and No. 16 Wisconsin. With all its teams rated 159 or higher, the Big Ten is the only conference with all its teams among the RPI top 180. The Big Ten also leads all conferences with a Sagarin rating of 84.36, led by No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan State, No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 9 Indiana. The Big Ten is the only conference with six top-25 teams, and with all its teams rated 131 or higher, is the only conference with all its teams among the Sagarin's top 150. For more information on Big Ten teams in the RPI and Sagarin ratings, see Page 8 of this release.

Top to Bottom:
For the third straight season, every Big Ten team has recorded 10 or more wins, and for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign, every Big Ten team has won four or more conference games. The Big Ten is the only conference in the nation in which every team has at least 12 overall wins and at least four conference victories.

Sending out an SOS:
Big Ten teams have combined to play the nation's toughest schedule this year, led by Michigan State, who ranks tops among all teams in strength of schedule. Ohio State ranks second in the conference and sixth in the nation, followed by nine more teams among the top 40 in No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 16 Indiana, No. 20 Michigan, No. 21 Northwestern, No. 27 Purdue, No. 35 Illinois, No. 39 Minnesota and No. 40 Penn State. No Big Ten team holds a strength of schedule rating outside the top 80.

'Cats' Shurna Leads the Pack:
Finishing with an even 20.0 points per game, Northwestern’s John Shurna ended the conference season as the Big Ten’s leading scorer. Shurna became the first Wildcat to lead the Big Ten in scoring since Ray Ragelis was crowned the conference scoring champion in 1951. In all games, he finished his season with a 20.0 points per game average, which currently ranks first in the conference this season. Should he remain at the top spot, Shurna would become the first Northwestern player to lead the Big Ten in scoring for all games played.

Keeper of the Glass:
Michigan State’s Draymond Green ended the regular season as the conference’s rebounding king, finishing the year with 10.6 boards per game during the Big Ten season. He becomes the second Spartan in four seasons to conclude the conference season as the Big Ten’s leading rebounder, following Goran Suton in 2009. Green’s average of 10.6 rebounds per contest in all games also ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten, and he would join Suton in 2009 as the latest Spartan to lead the Big Ten on the glass in overall competition.

Dual Threat:
Michigan State's Draymond Green became the 13th player in Big Ten history with 1,000 career rebounds earlier this year. Green became the first player since Illinois' James Augustine in 2006 to join the conference's 1,000 career rebounds club and finished his career ranked fourth in conference history with 1,096 career boards. Green is also just the fifth player in Big Ten history with 1,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 100 career blocks, joining Augustine, Indiana's Alan Henderson, Ohio State's Herb Williams and Purdue's Joe Barry Carroll.

30 for 30:
Big Ten players have put together several impressive scoring games throughout the season, led by conference scoring champion John Shurna of Northwestern, who led the Big Ten with three 30-point games this season. The senior scored 30 or more points six times in his career and put up tallies of 37 (vs. LSU), 32 (vs. Eastern Illinois) and 30 (vs. Purdue) this season. Iowa's Matt Gatens recorded a pair of 30-point performances against ranked teams this year with 30 against Indiana and 33 against Ohio State, while Illinois' Brandon Paul, Michigan State's Draymond Green, Northwestern's Drew Crawford, Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas and Penn State's Tim Frazier all recorded one 30-point game during the regular season. Michigan's Trey Burke, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Wisconsin's Rob Wilson all put up 30 points during the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, marking the first time in tournament history that three 30-point performances occurred on one day. Ohio State's Thomas added a career-high 31 points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble scored a career-high 31 in the Hawkeyes' second-round NIT game.

Join the Club:
Northwestern's John Shurna finished his career with a program-best 2,038 career points, becoming the Wildcats' first member of the Big Ten's 2,000 career points club. Shurna is the Big Ten's third new addition to the club in the last two years, as Penn State's Talor Battle and Purdue's E'Twaun Moore surpassed the milestone last season. Shurna is the fifth player since 2000 to score 2,000 points playing in the Big Ten, joining Battle, Moore, Indiana's A.J. Guyton and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker.

Awards Season:
Michigan State's Draymond Green was named one of five finalists for the Naismith Award after he, Indiana's Cody Zeller, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor were named to the award's midseason watch list. Zeller, Green and Sullinger were also among the 20 finalists for the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Trophy. Zeller, Green and Sullinger join Ohio State's William Buford as four of 25 finalists for the John Wooden Player of the Year Award, while Zeller is one of five finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year award. Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor were named among the finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, honoring the nation's top point guard. Green, Buford, Michigan's Zack Novak and Purdue's Robbie Hummel are finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, making the Big Ten the only conference with more than one representative on the final list for the award that recognizes a Division I senior who has demonstrated notable achievements in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition.

Basketball I.Q.:
Ohio State's Aaron Craft (first team), Northwestern's Drew Crawford (second team) and Michigan's Zack Novak (third team) were named Capital One Academic All-Americans. The Big Ten is the only conference in the country with three Academic All-Americans this season, and Craft is just the first sophomore since 2008 to earn first-team accolades.