Dec. 5, 2011
Tip-Off: Fresh off its third consecutive victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the conference faces another week full of top-tier competition. This week's action features five opponents ranked or receiving votes, including Indiana's matchup with No. 1 Kentucky. Ohio State is a perfect 2-0 against ranked opponents and looks to add to that total on Saturday as the Buckeyes hit the road for the first time this season to play No. 13/13 Kansas.
Up to the Challenge: The Big Ten won its third straight Big Ten/ACC Challenge, tying an event record with eight victories. The Big Ten's eight Challenge wins are the conference's highest total, and four road wins sets the record for either conference. The 8-4 margin of victory is the Big Ten's largest ever and the widest for either conference since 2007. With respective wins over Georgia Tech and No. 3/4 Duke, Northwestern and No. 2/2 Ohio State became the first Big Ten teams to win four straight Challenge games. Illinois and Purdue extended their active Challenge winning streaks to three games.
Topping the Charts: The Big Ten leads the nation in the season's first RPIratings.com report. The Big Ten ranks first among all conferences with an RPI of .5981 and a Division I winning percentage of .7986 through the first four weeks of the season. The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern and Michigan, who all have top-50 RPI ratings. The Big Ten also leads all conferences in the Sagarin Ratings, paced by No. 2 Ohio State, who is one of nine conference squads in the top 55.
And Then There Were Three: The Big Ten lays claim to three of the nation's 15 undefeated teams, as Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State each boast 8-0 records heading into the fifth week of the season. The Fighting Illini are off to their best start since opening the 2005-06 season 15-0. The Hoosiers are 8-0 for the first time since 2002-03 and have won eight straight games by double-digits for the first time since 1988-89. The Buckeyes are off to an 8-0 start for the second consecutive season and have won their last 30 home games.
Knocking 'em Down: Big Ten teams beat two more ranked opponents last week, including Ohio State's 22-point win over then-No. 3/4 Duke. With the victory, the Buckeyes became the first team in the nation to beat two top-10 teams, having defeated then-No. 7/8 Florida earlier this year. Illinois took down No. 19/18 Gonzaga, snapping a five-game losing streak to ranked opponents. The win also marked the Illini's highest ranked non-conference victory since 2004.
Join the Club: Ohio State's Thad Matta became the sixth active member of the Big Ten's 300 career wins club, now with a 300-88 record in his 12th year as a head coach, joining Illinois' Bruce Weber, Michigan's John Beilein, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Minnesota's Tubby Smith and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan. Weber became the third active conference coach with 200 wins at his current school, owning a 201-86 record in his ninth season at Illinois. Weber joins Izzo and Ryan, and Matta is just two victories away from reaching the same milestone.
Where We Rank: No. 2/2 Ohio State, No. 14/16 Wisconsin, No. 20/19 Michigan and No. 24/22 Illinois are ranked in the latest coaches and AP polls, giving the Big Ten four top-25 teams for the first time this season. Michigan State, Indiana, Northwestern and Purdue are receiving votes outside the coaches poll, giving the Big Ten eight teams ranked or receiving votes.
Not Even Close: Three Big Ten teams rank among the top 10 in the NCAA in scoring margin. Ohio State is beating teams by an average of 29.3 points per game to lead the nation, followed by No. 7 Wisconsin (24.1) and No. 8 Indiana (23.8). No. 19 Michigan State (17.9), No. 26 Illinois (16.1) and No. 30 Purdue (15.1) are also averaging double-digit victories over opponents.
Protecting the Rock: Big Ten teams hold the nation's top three spots in turnovers per game, led by Wisconsin, which gives it up just 8.6 times per game. The Badgers also rank first in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 44.5 points per contest. Purdue ranks second in turnovers, followed by Northwestern, who leads the country in assist-to-turnover ratio. Ohio State ranks first in turnover margin, second in assist-to-turnover ratio and 12th in turnovers per game.
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 -- were 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.
Stay CLASS-y: Five Big Ten players are 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.