Nov. 24, 2008
Conference Record: Through the first two weeks of the 2008-09 campaign, the Big Ten owns the nation's best non-conference record, dropping only one of its 36 contests to date. The conference is 35-1 versus non-conference foes, for a .972 win percentage to lead the nation. Ten of the 11 Big Ten teams are undefeated, as Michigan is the only team to suffer a loss. The Wolverines fell to No. 10/5 Duke in the championship game of the 2K Sports Challenge, benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer.
Road Warriors: With its 69-63 win over Vanderbilt on Thursday, Illinois became the only team from the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10 or SEC to secure a road win over a squad from the aforementioned group so far this season. The Illini are off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2006-07 when they opened 7-0 before suffering their first loss.
Hot Starts: Minnesota and Northwestern are off to the best starts in recent program history. The Golden Gophers are 4-0, marking their best start to a season since opening 4-0 in the 2002-03 campaign. The Wildcats are 3-0, touting their best debut to a campaign since going 9-0 to open the 1993-94 season.
Big Apple. Big Win.: Michigan knocked off No. 4/4 UCLA on Nov. 20, in the semifinals of the 2K Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer at Madison Square Garden. The triumph was the first Big Ten Conference win over a top-five opponent since Michigan State upended No. 4/5 Texas on Dec. 22, 2007.
The Votes are In: In the latest edition of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, two Big Ten teams are ranked among the nation's top 10. Michigan State moves up one spot to rank sixth in the nation, while Purdue moved ahead one notch for ninth. Wisconsin climbed from No. 22 a week ago to the No. 19 spot. The Big Ten ties the ACC for second with two teams in the top 10. The Big East leads all conferences with four squads among the top 10.
Moore than 30: Northwestern's Craig Moore put up 31 points Saturday night against Brown. The senior guard knocked down a career-best nine three-pointers in the contest, sinking eight in the first half. Moore became NU's career leader in three-pointers made with 222, surpassing Vedran Vukusic's 212 (2002-06). Moore's 31 points mark the best single-game performance in the conference this season.
Hughes is 20-20 in Paradise: Wisconsin's Trévon Hughes has posted back-to-back 20-point games, leading the Badgers to two wins in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. Hughes led all scorers with 21 points in the overtime win over Iona on Saturday. The junior guard again led all scorers, posting 22 in the win over San Diego. The back-to-back 20-point performance was Hughes' first two of the season. Last year, Hughes recorded five games of 20 or more points.
Déjà Youth: Accounting for nearly 60 percent of the student-athletes on 2008-09 Big Ten rosters, underclassmen are again leading the conference in statistical categories. Last year, freshmen or sophomores were in the top five of every statistical category. Through games of Nov. 23, the current crop of underclassmen are on top of each category, with the exception of assists. Michigan sophomore Manny Harris leads the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 24.0 points per game. Indiana's freshman forward Tom Pritchard is averaging 10 rebounds per contest to top all players. A quartet of underclassmen lead the charge in free-throw percentage. Sophomores Al Nolen (MINN) and Evan Turner (OSU) are averaging 3.0 steals per game for the conference lead.
Hoosiers In EA Sports Maui Invitational: Indiana will make its fifth trip to Maui, Hawai'i, from Nov. 24-26 to compete in the 25th Annual EA Sports Maui Invitational. The Hoosiers are 8-4 all-time in the event and won the 2002 championship defeating Virginia, 70-63, in the tournament final. The Hoosiers also advanced to the title game in 1990 and 1998 where they lost to Syracuse each time. This year's tournament will boast a field that includes three former national champions--Indiana, North Carolina and Oregon--with 10 national titles between the three. This year's field also includes Alabama, Notre Dame, Saint Joseph's, Texas and host Chaminade. The Hoosiers will open play against Notre Dame on Monday, Nov. 24 at 12:30 p.m. EST at the Lahaina Civic Center on ESPN2. The Hoosiers will meet Texas or Saint Joseph's on Tuesday at 7:30a.m. or 2 p.m. EST on either ESPNU or ESPN.
Big Ten Squads Advance to Tournament Semifinals: It's non-conference tournament season and the Big Ten enters another week of exempt tournaments. The conference is 15-1 in said tournaments entering this week's competition. Wisconsin advanced through the Paradise Jam bracket over the weekend to land in the championship game. The Badgers will face No. nationally ranked Connecticut Monday night in the finale in the Virgin Islands. Michigan State travels to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic. The Spartans will face Maryland on Thanksgiving Day to open the tournament. Illinois moves to the semifinals of the South Padre Tournament, travelling to South Padre, Texas this week. Iowa will host Southeast Missouri early in the week with hopes of moving on to the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational. After collecting two wins in University Park, Penn State moves to the semifinals of the Philly Hoops Classic at the famed Palestra in Philadelphia this weekend. Purdue rolled through the Preseason NIT first and second rounds to land a spot in the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden. The Boilermakers will meet Boston College in the semifinals Wednesday night. Michigan closed out the 2K Sports Classic, as the runner-up, falling to then-No. 10/5 Duke in the championship game last week. Minnesota claimed the NABC Classic title on Nov. 16, with a win over Georgia State.
The Block Party Doesn't Stop: Minnesota's frontcourt was nasty through the first four games of the season, recording 26 blocks in the contests. Freshman Colton Iverson led the stuffing party with nine blocks against Bowling Green and added a single block against Concordia-St. Paul to total 10 for the week. The blocking party did not end with the Gophers as Ohio State's Dallas Lauderdale swatted a career-high seven blocks in 19 minutes of action in the Buckeye's opener versus Delaware State. Not to be left out, Wisconsin's Marcus Landry joined the block party, swatting 15 shots in the Badgers' four games to date, averaging 3.75 per contest. Lauderdale, Landry and Iverson lead the conference in blocks.
Playing the Best: Big Ten teams have once again scheduled some of the nation's toughest teams for non-conference play, including 13 teams listed in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls. Each team will face at least two ranked teams this season, with several having the potential to meet ranked foes in non-conference tournaments. Michigan met the first of ranked opponents when it defeated then-No. 4/4 UCLA in the semifinals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. The Wolverines squared off with No. 10/5 Duke in the championship game of the tournament the follwing day, falling 71-56. Michigan will face the Blue Devils again on Dec. 6 for a regular-season match up.
Coaches Nearing Milestones: Several Big Ten coaches are nearing landmark wins or games coached. Ohio State's Thad Matta will coach in his 275th game when the Buckeyes host Bowling Green on Monday. Matta owns a 208-66 overall record and is 106-35 at OSU. Minnesota's Tubby Smith is five games away from coaching in his 575th career contest. Smith is 411-159 in his 18th year as a head coach. In his second season at Minnesota, Smith has compiled a 24-14 record. Northwestern's Bill Carmody is two wins shy of his 200th career victory. Indiana's Tom Crean is eight wins away from his 200th-career triumph.
Scouting the Competition: With the ACC/Big Ten Challenge a week away, the two conferences have already clashed on the hardwood. Michigan met then-No. 10/5 Duke in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic on Nov. 21. The Wolverines fell to the Blue Devils, 71-56. Michigan State will take on Maryland in the first round of the Old Spice Classic on Thanksgiving Day and Purdue will meet Boston College in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT in New York Wednesday evening. None of the match ups mimic those of the 10th Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge slate set for next week. Entering the week, Big Ten teams are a combined 35-1 and the 11 teams competing in the Challenge from the ACC sport a 36-4 record.
10th Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge: The 2008-09 season will celebrate the 10th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The matchups for the challenge have been determined with the event featuring top collegiate basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioner's Cup on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. For the fourth straight season, the event will feature 11 games. ESPN and ESPN2 will broadcast nine games and ESPNU will air the remaining two. This year's challenge will be played on Dec. 1-3 and will be highlighted by Michigan State hosting North Carolina at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., which is expected to house over 70,000 fans for that contest. Other games include Wisconsin at Virginia Tech, Ohio State at Miami, Iowa at Boston College, Clemson at Illinois, Duke at Purdue, Virginia at Minnesota, Indiana at Wake Forest, Penn State at Georgia Tech, Michigan at Maryland and Florida State at Northwestern.