Nov. 13, 2006
Big Ten Squads Begin 2006-07 Season with 11-1 Mark: Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all opened the 2006-07 season with perfect 3-0 records last week, while Penn State and Wisconsin also began the non-conference slate with victories on their respective home courts. The Wolverines advanced to the John Thompson Challenge Finale and will face UW-Milwaukee on Wednesday, while the Spartans will head to Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday to take part in the semifinals of the 2006 2k Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches Vs. Cancer. The Buckeyes captured the BCA Classic title with wins over VMI, Loyola-Chicago and Kent State last weekend to earn their first tournament crown since the 1998 non-conference season. The rest of the Big Ten will open their non-conference slate this week, including the Indiana Hoosiers, who begin a new era under head coach Kelvin Sampson on Monday against Lafayette.
Iowa Wins 18 Straight at Home: The Iowa Hawkeyes will face The Citadel in their season-opener on Monday, while also vying for their 19th straight victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa, which was the only league team to go undefeated at home last season, enters the 2006-07 season with the longest current home winning streak in the Big Ten. Iowa's 18-game streak is currently tied for third in the country entering the 2006-07 season (Gonzaga - 40, Connecticut - 19, Akron - 18) and still trails the Big Ten record of 53 straight home triumphs set by Michigan State from 1998 to 2002. The Hawkeyes' last loss at home was on Feb. 19, 2005 against Illinois.
Playing the Best: Big Ten teams have once again scheduled some of the nation's toughest teams for non-conference play, including 12 teams listed in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls. For the second consecutive year, Indiana is challenged early in the non-conference season, facing No. 12/11 Duke, No. 22/22 Kentucky and No. 18/18 Connecticut, while Ohio State will battle the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation - No.1/1 Florida and No. 2/2 North Carolina. Other Big Ten programs will take on No. 4/5 Pittsburgh (Wisconsin), No. 6/5 UCLA (Michigan), No. 8/8 Georgetown (Michigan), No. 10/10 Arizona (Illinois), No. 15/15 Boston College (Michigan State), No. 23/21 Georgia Tech (Penn State and Purdue) and No. 16/17 Marquette (Wisconsin).
Big Ten in the Polls: The Big Ten was well represented in the preseason Associated Press (AP) and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls with two teams among the top 25 and five programs receiving votes. Ohio State led the way for the conference in both polls, ranking No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll and No. 7 in the AP poll. Wisconsin followed at No. 9 in both polls. Illinois, Indiana and Michigan received votes in each poll, while Michigan State garnered votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll.
On the Sidelines: The Big Ten welcomes head coach Kelvin Sampson, who takes over the Indiana program after spending the last 12 seasons at the helm of Oklahoma. He brings impressive credentials with him to Bloomington, including a 455-257 (.639) overall record and a 279-109 (.719) ledger at OU. Sampson amassed 111 regular season Big 12 victories, the most in league history, while also collecting three conference tournament titles and a share of the 2004-05 regular-season crown. He also led the Sooners to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a showing in the 2002 Final Four. Prior to his stay at Oklahoma, Sampson spent seven years (1987-94) as the head coach and two years as the assistant coach (1985-87) at Washington State and four years (1981-85) as the head coach at Montana Tech.
Big Ten Coaching Milestones: Three Big Ten mentors are in reach of claiming several coaching milestones during the 2006-07 season. With a victory over Mercer last Sunday, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is now only four wins away from cracking the 500-victory barrier with a 496-152 all-time record in 22 years of coaching. Beginning his 16th year of coaching, Iowa's Steve Alford stands nine wins away from claiming his 300th career victory with a 291-169 record. Illinois' Bruce Weber needs just eight triumphs to tally his 200th career win with a 192-70 mark that includes a five-year stint at Southern Illinois before joining the Fighting Illini staff in 2003.
Four 1,000-Plus Point Scorers Return: Four conference standouts open the 2006-07 season as a member of the Big Ten's 1,000-point club. With a 21-point performance on Sunday, Wisconsin's Alando Tucker leads the active 1,000-plus scorers with 1,522 points, followed by Ohio State's Ron Lewis (1,296), Iowa's Adam Haluska (1,225) and Michigan's Dion Harris (1,177). After scoring 588 points during the 2005-06 season, Tucker is now aiming to become the first 2,000-point producer for the Big Ten since Indiana's A.J. Guyton tallied 2,100 points from 1997-00. Last year, the Big Ten concluded the season with 19 members of this grand club, marking the second consecutive season that the conference produced more than 15 1,000-point scorers.
Double-Double Perfomances: Three Big Ten players tallied double-doubles in the first week of action. In his second game of the 2006-07 season, Michigan State's Goran Suton notched 10 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double-double. Ohio State's Ron Lewis claimed his first double-double as a Buckeye with a 27-point and 11-rebound performance against Loyola-Chicago, while Penn State's Jamelle Cornley tallied 17 points and 12 rebounds for his second career double-double.
Preseason Wooden Award Watch: Five Big Ten men's basketball student-athletes were listed among the top preseason candidates for the 2006-07 Wooden Award All-America Team. The Big Ten's group of honorees includes two players from Wisconsin in seniors Kammron Taylor and Alando Tucker as the Badgers were one of only nine teams in the country to boast two or more Wooden Award nominees. Also earning preseason recognition was Illinois' Brian Randle, Iowa's Adam Haluska and Ohio State's Jamar Butler. The 50-player preseason list will be narrowed to a midseason top 30 in January. The 10-player Wooden Award All-America Team will be announced on Tuesday, March 27, 2007, while the recipient of the Wooden Award Trophy as the nation's top collegiate men's basketball player will be named on Saturday, April 7, 2007.
Big Ten Hosts 2007 NCAA First/Second Round: In 2007, the Big Ten will host the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds on Friday and Sunday, March 16 and 18, at the United Center in Chicago. It marks the third time in league history that the conference has played host to the NCAA Tournament as the Big Ten welcomed eight teams to the United Center in both 1998 and 2002. Ohio State will also host first and second rounds (March 16 and 18) next year at the Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.
Looking at the 2006-07 Schedule: The 102nd year of conference play is set to begin with Ohio State defending its Big Ten title on Tuesday, Jan. 2, with a home matchup against Indiana. Six more teams will begin the race for the conference crown on Wednesday, Jan. 3, with Michigan hosting Illinois, Purdue traveling to Minnesota and Penn State welcoming Northwestern. Defending Big Ten Tournament Champion Iowa opens Big Ten play on Thursday, Jan. 4, with a home test against Michigan State. Wisconsin will be the final team to begin conference play, as the Badgers host the Golden Gophers on Saturday, Jan. 6.
Big Ten Television Schedule: All 88 Big Ten Conference games are scheduled to be televised in 2007 with contests appearing on CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Plus. The conference season will conclude with the 10th annual Big Ten Tournament, which is scheduled to take place Thursday through Sunday, March 8-11, at the United Center in Chicago. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Plus will broadcast the first round and quarterfinal games while CBS will televise the semifinals and championship contests.