Dec. 8, 2008
The Votes are In: The Big Ten leads all conferences with 73 percent of its teams receiving votes in this week's Associated Press (AP) poll. Three teams--Purdue (14), Michigan State (18) and Ohio State (21) are ranked among the top-25 while Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin are all receiving votes. The ACC follows with 58 percent of its membership receiving votes in the AP poll. The ACC has three teams ranked and an additional four receiving votes. The Big East and Big 12 round out the top four with 50 percent of their squads receiving votes.
And the Wins Keep Coming: Ohio State is on a 10-game win streak after five consecutive victories to end the 2007-08 season and triumphs in the first five games this year. Ohio State won the 2008 National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Buckeyes own the longest win streak in the nation. Pittsburgh is ranked second behind OSU with nine straight wins. Minnesota is on an eight-game win streak, tied with nine other squads for third in the nation.
euFOURia: For the second time this season, Michigan defeated the fourth-ranked team in the country. The Wolverines first beat then-No. 4 UCLA, 55-52, in the semifinal of the 2K Sports Classic and defeated No. 4 Duke, 81- 73, at Crisler Arena on Saturday. The last time Michigan defeated two top-five teams in the same regular season was 1986-87 when U-M upended fifth-ranked Syracuse, 91-88 (Jan 18, 1987), second-ranked Iowa, 100-92 (Jan. 31, 1987), and third-ranked Purdue, 104-68 (Mar. 7, 1987).
American Beauty: With Michigan's wins over top-five opponents UCLA and Duke, the Wolverines have the most wins over top-five teams in the country. In fact, the Wolverines have as many wins over top-five teams as the rest of the nation combined. Western Kentucky defeated then-No. 3 Louisville on Nov. 30 and Maryland earned a triumph over then-No. 5 Michigan State on Nov. 27.
Road Warriors: Ohio State picked up a pair of wins over top-25 foes last week. The Buckeyes knocked off No. 21/23 Miami in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday. On Saturday, OSU defeated No. 7/7 Notre Dame. The last time that Ohio State beat an opponent ranked in the Top 10 was Mar. 31, 2007, with a 67-60 win over Georgetown in the NCAA Final Four. That game also marks the last time that the Buckeyes beat top 25-ranked teams in back-to-back games away from Columbus (92-76 win over No. 5 Memphis, Mar. 24).
Not in Our House: Michigan State defeated Bradley Sunday afternoon, 75-59, to maintain its home win streak. The Spartans have now won 23 straight games at home, dating back to the 2006-07 season. Michigan State has the sixth-longest streak in the nation. BYU owns the longest streak with 51 straight home wins.
HOME WIN STREAKS
1. BYU 51
2. Notre Dame 40
3. Tennessee 35
4. Kansas 30
5. Georgetown 25
6. Michigan State 23
The Untouchables: As the non-conference season draws to a close, the Big Ten has two of the 18 undefeated teams in the nation. Minnesota has reeled off eight straight wins to open the 2008-09 campaign. Ohio State has rolled to a 5-0 record this season. The Big Ten is tied for third among all conferences with two teams yet to suffer a loss. The Big East has four (Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova) while the ACC has three (Clemson, North Carolina, Wake Forest). Minnesota has its first 8-0 start since beginning the 1976-77 season 11-0. The Buckeyes opened the 2006- 07 campaign with a 6-0 start en route to the NCAA National Championship game.
Ranked No. 2 in RPI: The Big Ten is ranked No. 2 in the first edition of the RPI Report with a .6130 rating. The conference follows only the ACC (.6222), while the Big East (.5939), Big 12 (.5718) and Mountain West (.5421) round out the top five.
Tough Schedules: According to the RPI Report, the Big Ten's non-conference strength of schedule is the toughest in the country. After one month of non-conference play, the conference has taken on 13 top-25 ranked teams, to tie with the ACC and SEC. Big Ten squads have also competed against 27 teams among the ACC, Big East, Big 12, SEC and Pac-10. That total ranks second behind only the ACC (30).The Big Ten has three of the top 25 toughest schedules led by Michigan, who are rated 9th in strength of schedule and followed by Northwestern (11th) and Wisconsin (24th). For the Wolverines, two of their six wins have been over squads ranked in the top 10 of the national polls - UCLA and Duke.
Big Ten. Big Stage. The Big Ten is 67-18 on the season for a .788 win percentage to rank fourth in the nation. All 18 of the losses to date have come at the hands of teams who were postseason teams a year ago.
Among the Nation's Best: The first edition of the NCAA national statistical rankings were released last Monday, as several Big Ten standouts appeared among the top 10 in the country. Ohio State's Dallas Lauderdale was second nationally in blocked shots (5.3) while Illinois' Chester Frasier was ranked eighth in the nation averaging 7.0 assists per game, and Michigan State's Kalin Lucas rated eighth in assist-toturnover ratio (5.17). In the team rankings, Ohio State ranked among the top 10 in three separate categories, as the Buckeyes led the country in scoring defense, holding opponents to 40.3 points per game while rating fourth in blocked shots (8.7 per game) and fifth in scoring margin (23.0). Northwestern also appeared among the top 10 in two statistical categories, ranked sixth in three-point field goal percentage (44.9) and seventh in the country with only 10.0 turnovers per game. Purdue rated ninth in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 43.4 percent from behind the arc. Illinois was ninth in the country in assists, dishing out 19.2 per game.
ACC/Big Ten Challenge Recap: The Big Ten used wins by Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin to record five victories in the Challenge for the first time since 2005. The Badgers opened the 10th annual event with a 74-72 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg for a 1-0 Big Ten lead. The second day of the Challenge saw Minnesota defeat Virginia, 66-56, at home and Ohio State upend No. 21/22 Miami, 73-68, in the sunshine state. The Nittany Lions headed to Georgia to face the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech, defeating the hosts, 85-83. Penn State has won its last two Challenge games, defeating Virginia Tech in last year's event. Northwestern collected the final win of the Challenge with a 73-59 triumph over Florida State in Evanston. Six of this year's games were decided by five or
fewer points. Michigan fell to Maryland by five points, while Illinois' and Iowa's losses were by only two points each.
Youth Movement: Of the Big Ten's 11 teams, seven are led in scoring by underclassmen,including two freshmen. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue are all paced by freshmen or sophomore standouts. Michigan sophomore Manny Harris leads all scorers in the conference, averaging 20.8 points per game. Other sophomores to lead their teams in scoring include Illinois' Mike Davis (14.8), Ohio State's Evan Turner (16.6), Penn State's Talor Battle (19.2) and Purdue's E'Twaun Moore (15.6). Freshmen include Indiana's Tom Pritchard (14.0) and Iowa's Matt Gatens (10.8).
• At 6-1, Northwestern is off to its best start since opening the 2001-02 season 7-1.
• The Wildcats held DePaul to 36 points in their victory over the Blue Demons on Saturday. It was the fewest points in a game by DePaul since Jan. 29, 1949.
• With it's 7-1 start, Illinois has now won 11 of its last 13 games dating back to the end of last season.
• With the Gophers win over Cornell on Saturday, it marked the first time that head coach Tubby Smith has started a season 8-0 in his career.
• Purdue's Chris Kramer continued his streak of consecutive games with a steal with four in the win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Kramer has now stolen the ball at least once in 12 straight games dating back to last season.
• Purdue's E'Twaun Moore continued his streak of consecutive games in double-figures with 15 points versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He has now scored 10-or-more points in 13 straight games, dating back to last season.
Staking a Place in the Books: Two current players recently reached milestones in steals and assists. Michigan State's Travis Walton has dished out 450 assists during his two-plus seasons in East Lansing. The junior is 50 helpers shy of breaking into the 500-assists career club. Former Spartan Mateen Cleaves is the career assists leader, dishing out 816 during his career spanning from 1997-2000. Purdue's Chris Kramer--in his junior campaign--now has 159 career steals to rank fifth all-time in Boilermaker annals. Illinois' Bruce Douglas holds the Big Ten record with 324 steals in his career from 1983-1986.
Coaches Nearing Milestones: Several Big Ten coaches are nearing landmark wins or games coached. Minnesota's Tubby Smith is a game away from coaching in his 575th career contest. Smith is 415-159 in his 18th year as a head coach. In his second season at Minnesota, Smith has compiled a 28-14 record. Indiana's Tom Crean is five wins away from his 200th-career triumph.
Big Ten Tournament Tickets On Sale: All-session tickets for the 2009 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament went on sale to the general public on Saturday, Dec.6, at all 11 Big Ten university ticket offices, Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (317) 239-5151. The 12th annual event will be held March 12-15, 2009, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. All-session tickets, which include 10 games over four days, will be available for either $275 or $175 depending on seat location. Orders will be limited to 12 all-session tickets. Fans wishing to purchase all-session tickets within their university's fan block are encouraged to contact their school's ticket office.
Big Ten Tournament Returns to Indy: After finishing the first of a five year agreement in which Indianapolis, Ind. will host the Big Ten Tournament, the annual event will return to Conseco Fieldhouse in 2009. In 11 years, the Big Ten has welcomed 1,049,050 fans to the tournament and has issued over 6,000 media credentials. Wisconsin won its second Big Ten Tournament crown in 2008 and is one of five programs to take home the trophy in the tournament's history. Illinois (2003, 2005), Iowa (2001, 2006), Michigan State (1999, 2000), Ohio State (2007) and the Badgers (2004, 2008) are the five Big Ten schools who have won the title.