Nov. 20, 2006
Undefeated Big Ten Squads: Six Big Ten teams remain undefeated during the 2006-07 season as Michigan leads the conference contingent with a 5-0 record. The Wolverines are closely followed by Ohio State and Illinois with matching 4-0 records. Wisconsin (3-0), Minnesota (2-0) and Purdue (2-0) have also opened the non-conference season with unblemished marks.
Tournament Bound: Five Big Ten squads will be competing in several tournaments this week. Iowa closes out the Paradise Jam, facing Villanova on Monday in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, while Purdue heads to Maui, Hawaii for the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The Boilermakers will open play on Monday against Georgia Tech and will face either Oklahoma or Memphis the following day. Illinois continues action in the Chicago Invitational and will face Savannah State on Tuesday. Wisconsin travels to South Padre, Texas for the South Padre Island Invitational this weekend. The Badgers will play Delaware State at home on Tuesday before heading south to battle Missouri State on Friday. Minnesota competes in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., where the Golden Gophers will take on Marist in first round action on Thursday. The conference has already collected two tournament crowns this season as Ohio State won the BCA Classic to earn its first tournament title since the 1998 non-conference season. Michigan also claimed the John Thompson Challenge, defeating Central Connecticut State, Davidson, Eastern Michigan and UW-Milwaukee last week.
Youth Prevails: Several underclassmen are making an immediate impact during the non-conference season as either a freshman or sophomore is leading the Big Ten in several of the conference's statistical categories. After three games, Penn State sophomore Jamelle Cornley currently leads the conference in rebounds with 10.3 boards per game. Illinois second-year standout Chester Frazier is the Big Ten's assist leader with 7.25 dishes per contest, while teammate Calvin Brock has tallied a conference-best .667 three-point field goal percentage as a redshirt sophomore. Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. currently leads the Big Ten with 3.25 steals per game. Even though he is not an underclassman - Minnesota junior Lawrence McKenzie leads the Big Ten in scoring with 22.0 points per game this year. The junior guard is in his first season as a Golden Gopher after transferring from Oklahoma.
Big Ten Coaching Milestones: Three Big Ten mentors are in reach of coaching milestones during the 2006-07 season. With a triumph over Southern on Sunday, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is now only two wins away from cracking the 500-victory barrier with a 498-152 all-time record in 22 years of coaching. Beginning his 16th year of coaching, Iowa's Steve Alford stands seven wins away from claiming his 300th career victory with a 293-170 record. Illinois' Bruce Weber needs just four triumphs to tally his 200th career win with a 196-70 mark that includes a five-year stint at Southern Illinois before joining the Fighting Illini staff in 2003.
Big Ten's Grand Company: Over the weekend, Michigan's Courtney Sims (1,011) became the latest member of the Big Ten's 1,000 career point club after tallying 12 points against Harvard last Friday. Four Big Ten standouts entered the 2006-07 season with more than 1,000 career points in Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (1,556), Ohio State's Ron Lewis (1,307), Iowa's Adam Haluska (1,268) and Michigan's Dion Harris (1,204). Sims' teammate Lester Abram could be the third Michigan standout to join the current list as he only needs five points to reach the 1,000-point plateau. 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.
The 2007-08 Signees: Big Ten schools will welcome at least 35 new men's basketball players next season as each program announced its additions from the early signing period, which ran from Nov. 8-15. The incoming student-athletes hail from 12 different states, including Illinois (8), Indiana (7), Michigan (6), Minnesota (3), Ohio (3) and Wisconsin (2). The class includes 34 current high school students and one junior college transfer. A list of each school's signees is listed on page five of the release and the Big Ten website at www.bigten.org.
Protecting Your Home: With Iowa defeating The Citadel, 75-53, on Nov. 13, the Hawkeyes extended their home winning streak to 19 games, tying for the third-longest in the nation (Gonzaga - 42, Connecticut - 23, Akron - 19). Iowa was the only conference team to go undefeated at home last year and the Hawkeyes' last defeat occurred on Feb. 19, 2005 against Illinois. Iowa's 19-game streak still trails the Big Ten record of 53 straight home triumphs set by Michigan State from 1998 to 2002.
Playing the Best: Big Ten teams have once again scheduled some of the nation's toughest teams for non-conference play, including 15 teams listed in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls. Last week, Michigan State defeated No. 19/18 Texas in the semifinals of the 2006 2k Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches Vs. Cancer, while Iowa suffered a tough loss to No. 10/11 Alabama at Sunday's Paradise Jam. This week, Purdue takes on No. 23/21 Georgia Tech in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Monday. For the third consecutive year, Indiana is challenged early in the non-conference season, facing No. 10/10 Duke, No. 22/22 Kentucky and No. 21/19 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. 6/6 UCLA (Michigan), No. 8/8 Georgetown (Michigan), No. 10/10 Duke (Indiana), No. 15/16 Arizona (Illinois), No. 14/14 Boston College (Michigan State), No. 16/17 Marquette (Wisconsin) and No. 23/21 Georgia Tech (Penn State).