Dec. 10, 2012
As non-conference play begins to draw to a close, Big Ten teams are a combined 88-24, which is good enough for a .786 winning percentage. Conference squads went 17-5 last week, including Illinois' win over No. 10/10 Gonzaga to remain undefeated and improve to 10-0. Indiana and Michigan also maintained their unblemished records. Minnesota picked up its 10th win, one of just four programs in the country to do so headed into this week.
Illinois at 10-0 and Indiana and Michigan each at 9-0 are three of the country's 14 undefeated teams, and the Big Ten is the only conference in the nation with three perfect squads. Illinois is one of just three teams in the country to enter this week with a 10-0 record. Illinois is off to a 10-0 start for the second straight year, which is the ninth-best start in program history. Indiana is 9-0 for the second consecutive season and just the second time since the 1989-90 campaign. Michigan's 9-0 mark is the program's best start in 24 years.
Where We Rank:
The Big Ten continues to lead the nation with six teams ranked in the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls. All six of the conference's ranked squads are among the polls' top 19, and four squads are in the top 10. Indiana remains the top team in the country in both polls, followed by No. 3/3 Michigan, No. 7/7 Ohio State and No. 10/10 Illinois. Minnesota is ranked No. 13 by the writers and No. 16 by the coaches, while Michigan State comes in at No. 19 in both polls.
Rating the Conferences:
The Big Ten continues to lead the nation in the RPI ratings according to RPIratings.com. The Big Ten leads the nation with five teams among the RPI's top 25 (No. 2 Michigan, No. 6 Illinois, No. 9 Indiana, No. 14 Minnesota and No. 23 Ohio State). In addition, only the Big Ten and the 15-team Big East have eight top-70 teams, as the conference adds No. 62 Michigan State, No. 69 Iowa and No. 70 Northwestern. The Big Ten also leads the nation in the Sagarin Ratings and is the only conference in the country with four teams among the system's top 10 and seven among its top 30. Indiana leads the conference at No. 3, followed by No. 6 Michigan, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Minnesota, No. 19 Illinois, No. 24 Wisconsin and No. 30 Michigan State
Getting to the Point:
Big Ten teams are combining to average 73.1 points per game this season, which is the highest scoring average in the country. Indiana ranks first among all teams with 89.1 points per game, followed by No. 26 Illinois (79.3), No. 29 Michigan (79.1), No. 35 Ohio State (78.0) and No. 49 Minnesota (76.5). Big Ten teams are also outscoring their opponents by wide margins, as Indiana leads the nation with a 31.7-point average scoring margin. Ohio State is ninth in the nation (20.9), followed by No. 10 Michigan (20.4), No. 21 Minnesota (15.9), No. 26 Wisconsin (15.2), No. 30 Illinois (14.9), No. 40 Michigan State (13.3) and No. 44 Iowa (12.4). Overall, the Big Ten's average scoring margin is 13.2 points per game, which also leads the country.
Protecting the Rock:
Big Ten teams remain some of the nation's best at taking care of the basketball, as three conference squads rank among the top 10 in the country in turnovers per game. Ohio State is third, followed by No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 8 Michigan. In addition, the Buckeyes are sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio, while the Wolverines are ninth and the Badgers are 10th. Ohio State's Shannon Scott is third among all Division I players in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Indiana's Jordan Hulls is 11th, and Iowa's Anthony Clemmons is 15th.
Several Big Ten freshmen are making immediate impacts and are appearing among the Big Ten's stat leaders. Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III appear among the conference's top 25 scoring leaders, with Stauskas averaging 13.7 points per game and Robinson averaging 12.2 points per game. Also among the top 25 is Michigan State's Gary Harris, putting up a 13.0 points-per-game average. Robinson also ranks 10th in the conference in rebounds, pulling down 6.7 per game, while Purdue's A.J. Hammons is 16th on the glass with a 6.0 rebounds-per-game average. Four freshmen rank among the conference's top 15 in assists, led by Indiana's Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell, whose 4.9 average is second in the Big Ten. Also among the conference leaders are Iowa's Anthony Clemmons (11th, 3.6) and Mike Gesell (13th, 3.3) and Nebraska's Benny Parker (15th, 2.9).
With a win over USC on Saturday, Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith won his 500th career game. Smith becomes just the 19th active Division I head coach to reach the milestone, joining fellow conference mentors John Beilein of Michigan and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin. Also last week, Beilein picked up his 650th career win as well as his 100th win at Michigan. Beilein is the seventh head coach to reach the century mark while leading the Wolverines and the seventh active Big Ten coach with 100 or more wins at his current institution.
Beating the Best:
Illinois' win over No. 10/10 Gonzaga on Saturday was the Big Ten's fifth win over a top-25 opponent this season and the first for a conference team in a true road game. Two of the Big Ten's ranked wins came in neutral-court contests and the other two were home games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
30 is the New 20:
Illinois' Brandon Paul recorded the Big Ten's third game of 30 or more points, putting up 35 in the Illini's road win over Gonzaga. The total ranks second in the Big Ten this year, behind Minnesota's Andre Hollins who dropped 41 against Memphis, and is tied for the 10th-highest total in Division I so far this season.
You'd Better Watch Out:
Ten Big Ten players landed on national awards watch lists prior to the start of the season. Illinois' Brandon Paul was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50, while Indiana's Christian Watford and Cody Zeller grabbed spots on the Naismith Award Preseason Watch List and the Wooden Watch List. Michigan's Trey Burke also landed on both lists, while teammate Tim Hardaway earned a spot on the Wooden list. Michigan State's Keith Appling was named to the Wooden Watch List, while Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe grabbed a spot on the Naismith list. Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas and Penn State's Tim Frazier also appeared on both watch lists to start the season.
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.