Dec. 3, 2012
Through the first month of the season, Big Ten teams are a combined 71-19, which equals a .789 winning percentage. The Big Ten went 6-6 in last week's ACC/Big Ten Challenge, retaining control of the Commissioner's Cup for another year. This week's schedule features games on Monday through Saturday, including a matchup of top-15 opponents.
Controlling the Cup:
The Big Ten and ACC played to a 6-6 tie in the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, marking the first tie in the history of the event. The Big Ten retains control of the Commissioner's Cup, having won the Challenge in the previous year. Big Ten teams picked up two wins over ranked opponents in last week's Challenge and also recorded three road victories.
Where We Rank:
The Big Ten leads all conferences with six teams ranked in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls. Indiana remains the No. 1 team in both polls, followed by No. 3/3 Michigan and No. 7/7 Ohio State, making the Big Ten the only conference with three top-10 programs. Illinois jumped up to No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 14 in the coaches poll, while Minnesota is ranked No. 14 by the writers and No. 21 by the coaches. Michigan State comes in at No. 19 in the AP poll and No. 17 in the coaches poll.
The Big Ten is one of just three conferences in the country with three undefeated teams, joining the Mountain West and SEC. The Big Ten and the Mountain West are the only two conferences with a pair of 8-0 teams entering this week. The Big Ten's three undefeated teams -- 8-0 Illinois and Indiana and 7-0 Michigan -- combine for the most wins of any conference's undefeated teams (23). Two of the country's six 8-0 teams entering this week are slated to go head-to-head this weekend when Illinois takes on Gonzaga on Saturday.
Rating the Conferences:
The Big Ten enters this week's games leading the nation in the RPI, according to RPIratings.com. The Big Ten has five top-20 RPI teams in No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Illinois, No. 10 Indiana, No. 11 Minnesota and No. 18 Ohio State, and 10 of the conference's squads fall among the top 100, a percentage that leads all conferences. The Big Ten also ranks first in the Sagarin Ratings with a rating of 84.59. Seven Big Ten teams are in the report's top 25, including four in the top 10. Indiana leads the conference in the Sagarin report at No. 2, followed by No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 22 Wisconsin, No. 23 Michigan State and No. 25 Illinois. The Big Ten is 69-16 in Division I games this year, a .586 winning percentage, which ranks first among all conferences.
Getting to the Point:
Big Ten teams are scoring at high rates and putting up crooked numbers on opponents. According to the latest NCAA statistics released on Monday, Indiana leads the country with 87.8 points per game. Michigan (79.9) and Illinois (79.5) also rank in the nation's top 30. The Hoosiers also lead the country in scoring margin, defeating the opposition by an average of 31.8 points per contest. Michigan (19.9) ranks 11th in that category, followed by No. 14 Ohio State (18.7), No. 20 Illinois (16.3), No. 24 Minnesota (15.2) and No. 30 Wisconsin (14.5).
Protecting the Rock:
Several Big Ten teams and players currently rank among the nation's best at protecting the basketball. Northwestern leads the conference and is fourth in the nation with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.62, followed by No. 7 Wisconsin (1.55), No. 11 Michigan (1.49), No. 13 Ohio State (1.46) and No. 17 Indiana (1.40). Individually, The Buckeyes' Shannon Scott is fifth in the country with a ratio of 6.00, followed by Indiana's Jordan Hulls (No. 13, 4.00), Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski (No. 14, 3.89), Ohio State's Aaron Craft (No. 16, 3.71) and Purdue's Terone Johnson (No. 25, 3.17).
Join the Club:
Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas became the eighth active Big Ten player to join the conference's 1,000 points club, scoring 16 against No. 2 Duke to eclipse the milestone. Minnesota's Rodney Williams is just 61 points away from joining the same club.
Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith owns 498 career victories and is looking to become just the 19th active Division I coach to reach the 500 wins mark. Smith would join Michigan's John Beilein and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan as other active Big Ten coaches with 500 or more career victories.
The Big Ten's two newest coaches are making immediate impacts with their squads this season. Illinois' John Groce has the Illini off to an 8-0 start, which is the best debut for a new Illinois coach in more than 100 years. Nebraska's Tim Miles has the Huskers out to a 5-1 record and became the first Nebraska head coach to win his first road game with the Huskers since 1920.
Now on Naismith:
Seven Big Ten players were named to the early season watch list for the Naismith Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced. The full list of Big Ten representatives on the list are: Christian Watford and Cody Zeller, Indiana; Trey Burke, Michigan; Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota; Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State; Tim Frazier, Penn State.
Wooden is Watching:
The Big Ten led the nation with nine players named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50. Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State each have two players on the list, accounting for three of the eight teams nationally with multiple honorees. Big Ten players among the preseason top 50 are: Brandon Paul, Illinois; Christian Watford and Cody Zeller, Indiana; Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan; Keith Appling, Michigan State; Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State; Tim Frazier, Penn State.
They've Got CLASS:
Five Big Ten players were named candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, a total that leads all conferences. Illinois' Brandon Paul, Indiana's Jordan Hulls, Northwestern's Drew Crawford, Penn State's Tim Frazier and Wisconsin's Jared Berggren are in the running for the honor that recognizes an NCAA Division I senior with notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- community, classroom, character and competition.
Stars on the Small Screen:
For the sixth consecutive season, every Big Ten home game will be produced and distributed to a live national audience. BTN, 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 BTN.com. More than 75 games will be aired by an ESPN platform -- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3, and CBS Sports will carry 15 games.
March is (Almost) On:
The 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Chicago's United Center for the first time since 2007 and the eighth time in the event's history, including the inaugural event in 1998. 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 its inception has reached a live national television audience.
The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will also be played at the United Center in 2015, and will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., in 2014 and 2016.
All-session tickets for the 2013 Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments are on sale now. Visit bigten.org for more information.