Nov. 14, 2011
Tip-Off: Big Ten teams opened the 2011-12 season with a 12-1 combined record last week. Indiana became the first conference squad to pick up two wins, opening its schedule 2-0 for the fifth consecutive season. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin recorded one win each over the weekend, while Michigan State fell to No. 1/1 North Carolina at the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic.
Room for Error: The Big Ten's 12 weekend victories all came by wide margins. The Big Ten's closest win was by 12 points (Minnesota over Bucknell), while its widest was 62 points (Purdue over Northern Illinois). In addition, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin each posted a win by 30 points or more. Overall, the Big Ten won its 12 games by an average of 29.75 points.
Starting Off on the Right Foot: Big Ten men's basketball saw the start of two new eras over the weekend as it welcomed a new team, Nebraska, and a new head coach, Patrick Chambers of Penn State. Nebraska won its first game as a Big Ten member, defeating South Dakota, 65-48. Chambers also won his conference debut, as the Nittany Lions downed Hartford, 70-55.
Instant Classics: Michigan State faces two tough tests right out of the gates this season, opening the 2011-12 campaign against No. 1/1 North Carolina and No. 6/6 Duke. The Spartans dropped a 67-55 decision to the Tar Heels at the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic on Friday, and will face the Blue Devils on Tuesday as part of the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. Michigan State is the first team since 1976 to open a season vs. North Carolina and Duke in back-to-back games.
Picking Up Where They Left Off: Several Big Ten players picked up right where they left off in 2010-11 to open the 2011-12 campaign. Last year's National Freshman of the Year and a Preseason All-American this season, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger scored 19 points against Wright State on Friday, marking his 35th career outing scoring in double figures. Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, also a Preseason All-American, led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio last year and opened this campaign with seven helpers and zero giveaways. Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, who led the Big Ten in rebounds and collected a conference-high 19 double-doubles last season, tallied 17 points and 10 boards on Friday to pick up the 20th double-double of his career. Michigan State's Draymond Green, the Big Ten's active leader in rebounds, grabbed 18 off the glass against UNC on Friday, giving him 720 in his career. Finally, after missing all last season with an injury, Purdue's Robbie Hummel scored 21 points in the Boilermakers' opener, giving him a career total of 1,220.
Fabulous Freshmen: Several Big Ten freshmen have already made big impacts in their collegiate debuts. Iowa's Aaron White scored 19 points and grabbed 10 boards in the Hawkeyes' season-opener, becoming the program's first player since 1997 to debut with a double-double and the first since 1993 to do so in points and rebounds. He is currently tied for second in the conference in scoring and rebounding. Indiana's Cody Zeller set a school freshman record with six steals against Chattanooga. He also ranks in the Big Ten's top 10 in rebounding (7.5 rpg) and field-goal percentage (77.8). At Penn State, Trey Lewis led the team with 17 points against Hartford, while Ross Travis led the way with seven rebounds.
You'd Better Watch Out: 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 -- have been named to the Wooden and Naismith award preseason watch lists. The Big Ten ranks second among all conferences with nine players on the Wooden Award Watch List and is tied for second with nine players on the Naismith Award Watch List. Ohio State is one of just three teams in the nation with three or more players on the Wooden list and one of five teams with three or more on the Naismith list. The Big Ten is tied for the lead among all conferences with seven different schools represented on the Naismith 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.
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.
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.
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.