April 25, 2007
Big Ten Returns To Title Game: For the fourth time in the last eight years, a Big Ten program advanced to the national championship game after Ohio State defeated Georgetown, 67-60, in the semifinal of the NCAA Tournament. However, the Buckeyes closed out the 2006-07 season with an 84-75 loss to Florida in the national championship game. OSU became the eighth different Big Ten program to compete for the national title. Indiana leads the conference contingent with six national final appearances, followed by Ohio State (5), Michigan (3), Michigan State (2), Illinois (1), Iowa (1), Purdue (1) and Wisconsin (1). OSU was also the third Big Ten school in the last three years to advance to the Final Four. Illinois and Michigan State both competed in the 2005 Final Four and the Fighting Illini advanced to the championship game before falling to North Carolina.
Final Four Frenzy: With Ohio State advancing to the 2007 Final Four, the Big Ten has accumulated the most Final Four appearances with 39 (ACC - 38) and ties the ACC and SEC with the second-most national titles (10) in college basketball history. The Pac-10 leads all conferences 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 180 (ACC, 167) and has the second-most NCAA Tournament victories with 290 (ACC, 323).
Five Different Programs Since 2000: The Big Ten is the only conference since 2000 to advance five different programs to the Final Four. The ACC and Big 12 have each had four different schools reach the national semifinals over that time span, followed by the Big East (3), SEC (2) and Pac-10 (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.
Everybody's All-Americans: Wisconsin's Alando Tucker was named a consensus first-team All-American, while Ohio State's Greg Oden was a consensus second-team choice following the 2006-07 season. Both Oden and Tucker collected first-team accolades from the Associated Press, while Tucker earned first-team laurels from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Iowa's Adam Haluska, Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. also were named honorable-mention All-Americans by the AP. Tucker becomes the Big Ten's second consensus All-American in the last three years after Illinois' Dee Brown was honored in 2005. He is also just the third consensus first-team All-American in Wisconsin history along with Gene Englund (1941) and John Kotz (1942).
Wooden Award All-Americans: Ohio State's Greg Oden and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker were also named to the 2007 John R. Wooden Award All-America Team. For the fourth consecutive year, a Big Ten standout has claimed Wooden All-America accolades as Oden and Tucker join former honorees - Wisconsin's Devin Harris (2004), Illinois' Dee Brown (2005 and 2006) and Deron Williams (2005). Oden and Texas's Kevin Durant were also the first freshmen to be named to the Wooden Team in its 31-year existence.
Playing Smart Basketball: Iowa's Adam Haluska was named the 2007 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year and first-team Academic All-American. Haluska, who is a finance and marketing major, becomes the first men's basketball player at Iowa to earn first-team accolades. He becomes the second Big Ten standout in the last three years to be honored since Michigan State's Chris Hill was named Academic All-American of the Year in 2005. To be nominated, student-athletes must be a starter or important reserve and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher.
OSU's Winning Ways: Ohio State ended the year with a school record 35 victories, which ranks second all-time in Big Ten history. Illinois established the Big Ten mark, finishing the 2004-05 season with a 37-2 record while also tying the winningest season in NCAA history.
Oden Picks Up Additional Honors: Ohio State freshman Greg Oden was named the nation's Defensive Player of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), while also collecting the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year accolade.
Ryan Earns Coach Clair Bee Award: Wisconsin's Bo Ryan picked up Coach of the Year accolades after being named the 2007 recipient of the Coach Clair Bee Award. The Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award honors a Division I men's basketball coach who through his actions on and off the court, makes an outstanding contribution to the sport of college basketball.
On the Sidelines: The Big Ten will welcome three new coaches to the conference sidelines in 2007-08. Todd Lickliter joins the Big Ten ranks as the new head coach of Iowa. He spent the last six seasons at the helm of his alma mater, Butler, where he tallied a 131-61 record and two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. John Beilein arrives at Michigan after serving as head coach at West Virginia for the past five seasons. He compiled a 104-60 record at the helm of the Mountaineers, posting 20-win seasons in his final three years. Head coach Tubby Smith takes over the Minnesota program after spending the last 10 seasons at the helm of Kentucky. During his tenure in Lexington, Smith compiled a 263-83 record for a .760 winning percentage, while leading the Wildcats to the 1998 national title. Over his 16 seasons as a head coach, Smith has an overall record of 387-145 (.727) and has tallied 14 straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Postseason Success: With the additions of Iowa's Todd Lickliter, Michigan's John Beilein and Minnesota's Tubby Smith, nine Big Ten coaches led their teams to postseason success this past year. Ohio State's Thad Matta guided the Buckeyes to the national title game as a No. 1 seed, while Iowa's Lickliter led his former Butler squad to the Sweet Sixteen. Indiana's Kelvin Sampson, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Purdue's Matt Painter and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan advanced their respective squads to the NCAA second round, while Illinois' Bruce Weber guided his team to its eighth consecutive NCAA appearance. Minnesota's Smith boosted his former Kentucky squad to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while Michigan's Beilein led West Virginia to the NIT title with a 78-73 win over Clemson.
OSU Wins Big Ten Tournament Crown: Ohio State added the 2007 Big Ten Tournament crown to its regular season trophy with a 66-49 win over second-seeded Wisconsin. Before taking on the Badgers, the Buckeyes defeated Michigan and Purdue to advance to their second consecutive championship final. OSU's Mike Conley Jr. poured in a game-high 18 points, while adding six assists and teammate Ron Lewis tallied 17 points in the championship game.
Oden Named Tourney's Most Outstanding Player: Ohio State's Greg Oden became the first freshman to earn Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after averaging a double-double with 17.0 points and 12.3 rebounds during the three victories. The freshman also blocked four shots against the Badgers for a tournament total of 12, the most in Big Ten Tourney history. In addition, those 12 rejections ties Oden for fourth on the Big Ten Tournament career list, trailing Indiana's Jeff Newton for the all-time mark of 16. Oden was joined by teammate Mike Conley Jr. on the All-Tournament team, while Purdue's Carl Landry and Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor and Alando Tucker also earned All-Tournament laurels.
OSU Claims Second-Straight Big Ten Title: Ohio State won its second consecutive Big Ten Championship for the first time since winning two straight championships during the 1991 and 1992 campaigns. The Buckeyes captured back-to-back outright crowns for the first time since running off three in a row between 1960-62, while becoming the first Big Ten squad since Illinois won two straight outright titles in 2004 and 2005. OSU has now tied Illinois for the third-highest total in conference annals with 17 Big Ten Championships, behind Purdue (21) and Indiana (20).
Tucker Claims UW's Scoring Mark: With 2,217 points, Wisconsin senior Alando Tucker closed out his career establishing the UW's all-time scoring record, while also ranking ninth on the Big Ten's career scoring leaders chart. During the Big Ten Tournament, Tucker broke Wisconsin's all-time scoring record held by Michael Finley (2,147 points from 1992-95). Against Iowa on Feb. 10, Tucker became the second Badger and 23rd player in Big Ten history to score at least 2,000 points in his career. Tucker also became the first 2,000-point producer for the Big Ten since Indiana's A.J. Guyton (2,100 points from 1997-00).
Tucker Tabbed Big Ten Player of the Year: Wisconsin's Alando Tucker captured the conference's highest honor as he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year in voting by both the coaches and the media. He is the second Badger in the last four years to earn the award as Devin Harris claimed Wisconsin's first Player of the Year laurel in 2004. In Big Ten games only, Tucker ranked second in the conference in scoring (19.7 ppg) and tied for eighth in rebounding (6.1 rpg).
Other Individual Honors: Ohio State's Thad Matta was tabbed the Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media for the second consecutive year, while also picking up coaching accolades from his peers. OSU's Greg Oden was named Freshman of the Year after leading the conference in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and blocked shots (3.44 bpg) in Big Ten games only. He was joined on the All-Freshman Team by Iowa's Tyler Smith, Michigan State's Raymar Morgan, Northwestern's Kevin Coble and Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. Oden also became the first freshman in Big Ten history to claim Defensive Player of the Year laurels and the first Buckeye since Ken Johnson won back-to-back honors in 2000 and 2001. The Big Ten's All-Defensive Team included Oden, Illinois' Chester Frazier, Michigan State's Travis Walton, Purdue's Chris Kramer and Wisconsin's Michael Flowers. Ohio State's Daequan Cook, who recorded only one start in 39 games this season, was the conference's second recipient of the Sixth Man of the Year award.
All-Conference Team: A total of seven of the 15 selections on the 2007 All-Big Ten teams were underclassmen and had a chance to return to their teams next season. Both All-Big Ten first-team squads included Iowa's Adam Haluska, Michigan State's Drew Neitzel, Ohio State's Greg Oden and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker. Purdue senior Carl Landry was honored by the coaches, while the media named Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. to the top squad. UW'S Tucker earned first-team laurels for the second-consecutive year.
2006-07 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' Trent Meacham, Indiana's Errek Suhr, Iowa's Adam Haluska, Michigan's Brent Petway, Michigan State's Drew Neitzel, Minnesota's Jamal Abu-Shamala, Northwestern's Tim Doyle, Ohio State's Greg Oden, Penn State's David Jackson, Purdue's Chris Hartley and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker. 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.
Haluska Takes Scoring Title: With 21.3 points per conference game this season (341 in 16 games), Iowa's Adam Haluska claimed the Big Ten's scoring title in conference only contests. The senior guard is the first Hawkeye to finish first in the conference scoring rankings since Andre Woolridge in 1997. Haluska was closely followed by last year' conference scoring leader Alando Tucker of Wisconsin, who closed out the Big Ten season with 19.7 points per game.
In Other Conference Categories: Ohio State had two standouts finish first in four conference only categories. OSU freshman Greg Oden claimed the conference's rebounds and blocked shots titles, while teammate Mike Conley Jr. finished first in steals and assists. With 8.9 boards per game, Oden is the first freshman to lead the way on the glass since Minnesota's Kris Humphries (9.5 rpg) led the conference in rebounds in 2004. Oden is also the first Buckeye to claim the rebounding crown since Brad Sellers tallied a conference-best 11.5 boards per game in 1986. In addition, Oden (3.44 bpg) became the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in blocked shots since Penn State's Calvin Booth won the 1996 title (3.22 bpg). He is also the first Buckeye to lead in rejections since Ken Johnson won back-to-back crowns in 2000 and 2001. Conley closed out the Big Ten season with 6.56 assists per game, becoming the first OSU player to lead the pack in assists since Kelvin Ransey won the title (6.3 apg) in 1980. He is also the first freshman to rank first since Illinois' Deron Williams dished out 4.8 assists per game in 2003. In addition, Conley tallied a conference-best 2.06 steals per game, becoming the first freshman to lead in that category since Illinois' Dee Brown claimed the 2003 title with 1.88 thefts per contest. In addition, Conley is the second-consecutive OSU player to win the steals title as former Buckeye Je'Kel Foster tallied a conference-best 2.13 thefts last season.
Big Ten Attendance Milestones: The Big Ten reached two attendance landmarks this season as the conference broke the two-million mark in all games for the 15th straight season, while also reaching the one-million plateau for league games only for the 30th consecutive season. In 2006-07, a total of 2,470,250 patrons passed through the turnstiles for 196 games for an average attendance of 12,652. In Big Ten contests, 1,200,542 fans flocked to conference arenas for 88 games for an average of 13,643 per outing, the highest since the 2001-02 campaign (13,790). In 2005-06, the conference led the nation in total attendance for the 30th-straight season with 2,255,332 total patrons.
Non-Conference Success: With a 128-45 record this season, the Big Ten has posted the most non-conference victories in conference history, eclipsing the mark of 119 triumphs set during the 1988-89 campaign. In 2005-06, the Big Ten closed out the season with the best out-of-conference winning percentage in over six years at .767 (115-35).
Ohio State's Triple Crown Season: For the first time in Big Ten history, one school has earned outright conference titles in the sports of football and men's and women's basketball. Last year, the Buckeyes became the first conference school to earn Big Ten titles in all three sports, but shared the football crown.
Playing for the NCAA Title: Overall, Ohio State was the 22nd Big Ten squad to advance to the NCAA Championship tilt and the fourth in the past eight seasons. Michigan State defeated Florida, 89-76, to claim the 2000 title. Indiana fell to Maryland, 64-52, in 2002 and Illinois was defeated by North Carolina, 75-70, in the 2005 championship finals.
A National Championship Feat: Since 2000, the Big Ten and the ACC are the only conferences to advance four different programs to the title game (Big Ten - Michigan State (2000), Indiana (2002), Illinois (2005) and Ohio State (2007); ACC - Duke (2001), Maryland (2002), Georgia Tech (2004) and North Carolina (2005)).
More on The Final Four: The Big Ten and the ACC lead all conferences as both have sent seven conference representatives to the Final Four since 2000. The Big 12 follows with five appearances over that time span, followed by the SEC (4), Big East (3) and Pac-10 (3).
Outstanding Tournament Performances: Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. picked up Most Outstanding Player accolades at the NCAA South Regional. Conley became just the fourth Buckeye in school annals to earn the honor along with Jerry Lucas (1963), Dave Sorenson (1968) and Scoonie Penn (1999). Senior Ron Lewis and freshmen Greg Oden joined Conley on the South Regional All-Tournament Team. In addition, Conley and Oden claimed All-Tournament accolades at the Final Four, becoming the first standouts since Illinois' Luther Head and Deron Williams were named to the All-Tournament Team in 2005.
No. 1 Seeds: With Ohio State earning a No. 1 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, Big Ten teams have been awarded the top seed 18 times since the field expanded to 64 squads in 1985, ranking second behind only the ACC (20) over that time span. The Big 12 has had 14, followed by the Pac-10 (11) and Big East (10). Michigan State leads all Big Ten squads with four No. 1 seeds, while Illinois and Purdue follow in second with three top seeds each.
Coaching Elite: Over the last 10 NCAA Tournaments, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has led MSU to a 24-9 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. In 2005, 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. In addition, Izzo also ranks third behind Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (.772) and Louisville's Rick Pitino (.744) in NCAA Tournament winning percentage among active coaches at .727.
Low Seeds Turn Into High Win Totals: Big Ten teams have made a habit of advancing deep into the tournament despite low seeds. In 2005, fifth-seeded Michigan State was the lowest-seeded team to advance to the Final Four. Four years ago, the Spartans were the lowest seed to reach the 2003 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.
Big Ten Tournament Benefits: Since the inception of the Big Ten Tournament in 1998, the conference has sent eight different teams to the Final Four and has won over 60 percent of its NCAA Tournament games, compiling a record of 82-48 in the national event from 1998 through 2007. The conference teams that have won the Big Ten Tournament have combined to post a 23-7 (.767) record in the NCAA Championship.
Breaking Even In NCAA Play: With a record of 9-6 in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten has produced a mark of .500 or better in nine of the last 10 events. Among the six conferences with the most tournament wins over that time span, only the ACC and Big East have posted NCAA records of .500 or better over the last 10 years. The Big East has broken even in two of the last seven 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 10 seasons.