Nov. 9, 2011
All 12 conference squads open play this weekend, including Michigan State, which opens its season against No. 1 North Carolina at the Quicken Loans Aircraft Carrier Classic. To view the complete release, click the link at the top of the story.
Welcome to the Big Stage: The Big Ten officially welcomed Nebraska into the conference on July 1, 2011, giving the Big Ten 12 teams for the first time in conference history. Big Ten basketball teams will continue to play an 18-game conference schedule, and will now play seven teams twice and four teams once throughout the course of the season.
Glad to Have You Back: The Big Ten welcomes back 11 members of the 2010-11 All-Conference teams, including two first-team honorees.
Ohio State's Jared Sullinger earned first-team distinction a season ago and was the unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Sullinger earned national recognition as the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year as well as first-team All-America status. Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor joined Sullinger on the All-Big Ten first team and received second-team All-America status last season. In addition, Purdue's Robbie Hummel earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition following the 2009-10 season, but missed all of last year due to injury.
Also returning from last year's All-Big Ten teams are second-team members Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota) and William Buford (Ohio State), third-team honorees Draymond Green (Michigan State) and John Shurna (Northwestern) and honorable mention selections Melsahn Basabe (Iowa), Bryce Cartwright (Iowa), Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan), Aaron Craft (Ohio State) and Lewis Jackson (Purdue).
Leaders of the Pack: The Big Ten returns five players who have scored 1,000 or more points in their careers, led by Ohio State's William Buford, who has 1,424 tallies over three years. Buford is followed on the chart by Northwestern's John Shurna (1,377), Purdue's Robbie Hummel (1,199), Indiana's Verdell Jones III (1,122) and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor (1,001). In addition, Michigan State transfer Brandon Wood has amassed 1,139 points in his collegiate career prior to joining the Spartans. Several more conference players are within striking distance of the 1,000-point milestone, led by Michigan State's Draymond Green (916), Indiana's Christian Watford (834), Michigan's Zack Novak (768) and Northwestern's Drew Crawford (751).
Topping the Charts: Also back on Big Ten courts in 2011-12 are five players that led the conference in a statistical category last season. Each of the Big Ten's top three rebounders from last year are back, led by Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, who averaged 10.5 boards per game. Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor set an NCAA record with a 3.83 assists-to-turnover ratio and is back for his senior season. Another senior, Iowa's Matt Gatens led the Big Ten as a junior with an .874 free-throw percentage. A pair of freshmen paced the Big Ten in two categories last season, as Michigan's Jordan Morgan ranked first with a .627 field-goal percentage, and Ohio State's Aaron Craft paced the Big Ten with an average of 1.97 steals per contest.
Wooden is Watching...: The Big Ten ranked second among all conferences with nine players on the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List, which was released on Oct. 3. Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan State's Draymond Green, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, Northwestern's John Shurna, Ohio State's William Buford, Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger, Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor were all tabbed as early frontrunners for college basketball's most prestigious honor. Seven different Big Ten schools were represented on the list, and Ohio State was one of just three teams in the nation with three or more players to make the cut.
...Naismith, Too: The Big Ten placed eight players on the Naismith Preseason Watch List, announced Nov. 7. Six different conference schools were represented, including Ohio State, who was one of five schools with three or more players on the list. Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan State's Draymond Green, Northwestern's John Shurna, Ohio State's William Buford, Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger, Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor are among the 50 players on the early watch list.
American Boys: Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor were named Preseason First-Team All-Americans by the Associated Press, making the Big Ten the only conference with two first-team honorees. Sullinger was a unanimous selection, and Taylor was the lone senior on the squad, named among four sophomores.
Where They Rank: Three Big Ten teams earned top-20 rankings in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches and Associated Press preseason top 25 polls. Ohio State is ranked No. 3 in each poll, followed by Wisconsin at No. 14 in the coaches' poll and No. 15 in the AP poll. Michigan is No. 18 in each set of rankings. Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota are each receiving at least one vote from the AP, while the Spartans and Boilermakers are also earning votes outside the coaches' top 25.
Stay CLASS-y: Five Big Ten players have been named candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, more players than any other conference in the country. Michigan's Zack Novak, Michigan State's Draymond Green, Ohio State's William Buford, Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor are among the 30 student-athletes nominated for the award that recognizes seniors that make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Join the Club: In addition to welcoming Nebraska and head coach Doc Sadler to the Big Ten in 2011-12, the conference is also joined by new Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers. Chambers spent the last two years as head coach of Boston, having led the Terriers to the America East title and an NCAA berth last season. Chambers joins the Big Ten coaching fraternity that includes five National Coach of the Year honorees (Bruce Weber, Tom Crean, Tom Izzo, Tubby Smith, Bo Ryan) and five coaches that have made at least one Final Four appearance (Crean, Izzo, Thad Matta, Smith, Weber).
Returning Firepower: The Big Ten returns seven of its top 15 scorers from a season ago, led by Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, who averaged 18.1 points per game to rank fourth in the conference. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger was sixth with 17.2 points per game, while Northwestern's John Shurna (16.6 ppg) and Indiana's Christian Watford (16.0 ppg) also ranked in the top 10, finishing eighth and 10th, respectively. Ohio State's William Buford (14.4 ppg), Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe (13.9 ppg) and Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. (13.9 ppg) wrapped up the 2010-11 campaign 13th, 14th and 15th, respectively, on the Big Ten's scoring chart.
Board Meeting: Each of the Big Ten's top three rebounders from the 2010-11 campaign will be back on the court again this season. Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe led the conference with 10.5 boards per contest, while Ohio State's Jared Sullinger was second with 10.2, and Michigan State's Draymond Green was third with 8.6. Overall, eight of the conference's top 15 rebounders are back in 2011-12 as Iowa's Melsahn Basabe (6.8) was seventh, Michigan's Zack Novak (5.8) was 11th, Minnesota's Ralph Sampson III (5.4) was 13th, Indiana's Christian Watford (5.4) was 14th and Michigan's Jordan Morgan (5.4) was 15th. Green is the Big Ten's leading career rebounder, having grabbed 702 in his three years with the Spartans.
A Solid Start: Big Ten teams played 16 exhibition games in late October and early November, going 16-0. Conference squads won their games by an average margin of more than 24 points, and three teams -- Indiana, Northwestern and Ohio State -- scored 90 or more points in a game. The Wildcats had the highest offensive output, tallying 99 against Robert Morris, while the Buckeyes put up 95 against Walsh, and the Hoosiers scored 90 on Indianapolis.
Packing the House: Big Ten schools welcomed nearly 2.4 million fans through the turnstiles during the 2010-11 season for an average of 12,638 fans per game. The Big Ten's average attendance led the NCAA for the 35th consecutive year. The overall attendance figure also marked the 19th straight season that the Big Ten welcomed more than two million fans in a season. With over 1.3 million fans attending conference games last year, the conference cracked the one million mark in Big Ten games for the 34th consecutive year.
World Travelers: Over the summer, Purdue head coach Matt Painter led Team USA to a 7-1 record and a fifth place finish at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China. Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe averaged 11.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in the tournament, while Michigan State's Draymond Green averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards.
Stars on the Small Screen: This season, every Big Ten home game will be produced and distributed to a live national audience. The Big Ten Network, which is available in more than 80 million homes in the U.S. and Canada, will broadcast over 100 events on its linear channel or on www.BTN.com. More than 75 games will be broadcast by an ESPN platform - ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3, and CBS Sports will carry 15 games.
Making Predictions: Prior to Big Ten Basketball Media Day, a panel of conference media selected a Preseason All-Big Ten Team, Player of the Year and top-three poll. The results are listed below.
Preseason All-Big Ten Team
Draymond Green, Michigan State
Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Robbie Hummel, Purdue
Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
Preseason Player of the Year
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
1. Ohio State
3. Michigan State
March is (Almost) On: The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Indianapolis in 2012 for the fifth year of a five-year agreement that puts both the men's and women's events in the Circle City. Every game of the tournament will be broadcast to a national audience with contests appearing on BTN, ESPN, ESPN2 and CBS Sports. Every tournament game since the event's inception in 1998 has reached a live national television audience.
The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will return to Conseco Fieldhouse in 2014 and 2016 and will be played at the United Center in Chicago in 2013 and 2015.
All-session tickets for the 2012 Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments are on sale now. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.
The Challenge Continues: The 13th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge presented by DICK's Sporting Goods will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 29 and 30, with all games set to appear on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. The Big Ten has won the last two Challenges, each by scores of 6-5. This year's Challenge expands to 12 games, and in the event of a tie, the Commissioner's Cup will remain with the conference that won the previous year. The complete 2011 Challenge schedule follows:
Tuesday, Nov. 29
MICHIGAN at Virginia - 7 p.m., ESPN2
NORTHWESTERN at Georgia Tech - 7:15 p.m., ESPNU
ILLINOIS at Maryland - 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Miami at PURDUE - 9 p.m., ESPN2
Clemson at IOWA - 9:15 p.m., ESPNU
Duke at OHIO STATE - 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday, Nov. 30
INDIANA at NC State - 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
PENN STATE at Boston College - 7:15 p.m., ESPNU
Florida State at MICHIGAN STATE - 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Virginia Tech at MINNESOTA - 9:15 p.m., ESPN2
Wake Forest at NEBRASKA - 9:15 p.m., ESPNU
WISCONSIN at North Carolina - 9:30 p.m., ESPN
All times ET