April 17, 2008
BUCKEYES WIN 2008 NIT CROWN: Ohio State won five straight games to earn the program's second National Invitation Tournament crown. The Buckeyes defeated Massachusetts, 92-85, in the title game. After defeating Dayton in the quarterfinals, the Buckeyes earned their fourth berth in the NIT round of four in school history and first since 1988. Ohio State opened with UNC-Asheville in the first-round and continued to post double-digit victories against California, Dayton and Mississippi. The Big Ten returned to the NIT semifinals for the first time since the 2006 season when Michigan finished as the runner-up. A Big Ten program has played in the NIT semifinals four times in the last eight seasons, as the last conference squad to be crowned NIT champion was Michigan in 2004. The Big Ten has produced seven NIT winners overall in Purdue (1974), Indiana (1979), Michigan (1984, 2004), Ohio State (1986, 2008) and Minnesota (1993). Michigan recorded the conference's 100th official all-time victory in the event in the second round on March 22, 2004, as the Big Ten now holds a record of 115-60 in 64 appearances.
RYAN NAMED 2008 JIM PHELAN NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR: Wisconsin's Bo Ryan was named the 2008 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year. Ryan lead Wisconsin to both the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament championships. The award, which is voted on by a 20-member selection committee and is chaired by Jim Phelan, is presented annually at the Final Four to the top coach in college basketball. Under the guidance of Ryan, Wisconsin is one of only five schools in the country to win at least 30 games in each of the last two seasons and his 61-11 record over two years is fifthbest nationally. Ryan's team led the nation in scoring defense (54.4 ppg.).
EVERYBODY'S ALL-AMERICANS: Indiana's dynamic inside-outside duo of D.J. White and Eric Gordon not only finished as the Big Ten leading scorers, but have collected numerous All-America accolades for their sterling play. Gordon and White collected their latest honors after being named second-team State Farm All-Americans (NABC). White also earned second-team Associated Press All-America honors, while Gordon was named to the third team. In addition, the duo have garnered several more national honors. White picked up second-team All-America accolades from CBSSports.com, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. White also earned USBWA All-District V honors and was on the Wooden Award and the Naismith Award lists. Fresh off of a record-setting freshman campaign, Gordon was named first-team All-American and Freshman first-team All-American by CBSSportsline.com, a Sporting News All-Freshman team selection and a second-team All-American honoree by Sports Illustrated. He was also a USBWA All-District V selection and was on the Wooden Award and Naismith Award lists.
TWO TEAMS MAKE SWEET SIXTEEN APPEARANCES: The Big Ten placed two teams in the NCAA Regional Semifinals. Michigan State advanced to the South Regional in Houston, Texas., while Wisconsin won two games to land in the Midwest Regional in Detroit, Mich.
HOW "SWEET" IT IS: By advancing to the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals, Michigan State became one of only four teams that has played in more than 50 percent of the Sweet 16's during the last 10 years. The Spartans have made it to the Sweet 16 in six of the last 10 years. MSU equals Kansas and UCLA with six appearances since 1999. Duke leads all teams, making eight trips to the Round of 16 in the last 10 years.
RARE AIR: Michigan State and Wisconsin advanced to the third round of this year's NCAA Tournament, making them two of 12 programs that have advanced to the Sweet 16 in at least three of the last six years. Duke, Kansas and Texas lead the group with four appearances. The Spartans and Badgers join Connecticut, Memphis, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Villanova and West Virginia with three appearances.
FAMILIAR SETTING: Michigan State made its 11th-straight NCAA appearance, the fifth-longest streak in the nation. Only Arizona (24), Kansas (19), Kentucky (17) and Duke (13) have made more consecutive appearances. This was the fifth time in school history that the Spartans entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 5 seed. This was MSU's seventh trip to the Sweet 16 in 11 NCAA Tournaments under Tom Izzo.
MR. MARCH: Michigan State's Tom Izzo is no stranger to coaching basketball in March and has a top resume to prove it. Izzo has coached the Spartans to 11 NCAA appearances and owns a 26-10 record. Of the 65 coaches in this year's NCAA Tournament, Izzo boasted the third-best winning percentage (.727) entering this year's event only behind Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (.773) and Louisville's Rick Pitino (.744). He became only the second coach in NCAA history to reach four Final Fours in his first 10 years of coaching, joining Ohio State's Fred Taylor who took his Buckeyes to four Final Fours in his first 10 seasons. Izzo is also one of only 10 coaches in NCAA Tournament history to advance to three straight Final Fours, which he accomplished from 1999-2001.
WINNING 30: Wisconsin won a school record 31 games during the 2007-08 campaign. That breaks the former record of 30 set last year. The Badgers' 61-11 (.847) record over the last two seasons is the fifth-best in the country. UW is one of just five teams in the country that have won at least 30 games in each of the last two seasons, joining North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis and Kansas. In Big Ten history only two other schools have won at least 30 games in back-to-back seasons, Indiana in 1974- 75 (31-1) and 1975-76 (32-0) and Michigan State in 1998-99 (33-5) and 1999-2000 (32-7). This year's Wisconsin team is the 14th squad in Big Ten history to record at least 30 victories.
SIX TEAMS FINISH WITH 20 OR MORE WINS: For the fourth season in a row, five or more Big Ten squads have earned 20 or more wins. Wisconsin led the way with a school-record-setting 31 wins. Michigan State recorded 27 triumphs on the season, while Purdue and Indiana each won 25 contests. Ohio State reached 24 victories on the season and Minnesota rounded out the group, collecting 20 wins in Tubby Smith's first year at the helm.
A DEEP CONFERENCE: The Big Ten is the only conference since 2000 to advance five different programs to the Final Four. The ACC, Big 12 and Big East have each had four different schools reach the national semifinals over that time, followed by the Pac-10 (2) and the SEC (2). Michigan State leads the Big Ten with three appearances (2000, 2001 and 2005) while Illinois (2005), Indiana (2002), Ohio State (2007) and Wisconsin (2000) have each earned a Final Four spot since 2000.
CREAN NAMED INDIANA HEAD COACH: On April 2, 2008, Tom Crean was announced as the 28th head coach in Indiana basketball history. Crean comes to Indiana after spending nine years at Marquette, where he averaged over 20 wins a season and made five NCAA Tournament appearances. In each of his final seven seasons, Crean's team posted at least 19 wins and earned a postseason berth. Over those seven years, he compiled an aggregate record of 160-68 (.702). He is a two-time recipient of the Ray Meyer Conference USA, NABC District XI and USBWA District V Coach of the Year awards, and in 2003 won the Coach Clair Bee Award as well as being named a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award. In 2007- 08, Crean's squad put together a 25-10 season and earned the No. 6 seed in the NCAA South Regional. The Golden Eagles topped Kentucky in the first round and lost to No. 3 seed Stanford in overtime to come up just shy of a trip to the Sweet 16. MU finished tied for fifth in the Big East with an 11-7 conference record. Prior to his arrival in Milwaukee, Crean served under Tom Izzo on the Michigan State basketball staff for four seasons, holding the position of associate head coach the last two. In Crean's four years on Izzo's staff, the Spartans put together an 88-41 record and made four consecutive postseason appearances, including a trip to the 1999 Final Four. Prior to his tenure at Michigan State, Crean spent the 1994-95 season as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh and served as the associate head coach at Western Kentucky from 1990 to 1994. Crean got his start in coaching on the Division I level in 1989-90, serving on Jud Heathcote's staff at Michigan State.