Dec. 11, 2006
Four One-Loss Big Ten Squads: Four Big Ten teams have tallied only one loss in over a month of non-conference action this season. Michigan leads the Big Ten contingent with a 10-1 record, followed by Wisconsin (9-1), Ohio State (8-1) and Purdue (8-1). The Wolverines have notched a 10-1 mark for the second consecutive season, while the Badgers are just one win away from tying their best start under head coach Bo Ryan. For the second time under third-year head coach Thad Matta, the Buckeyes have opened with at least eight triumphs in nine games as OSU registered an 11-0 mark last season. The Boilermakers, who have registered their best start since the 2003-04 season, have currently won six in a row.
Home Dominance: Big Ten squads have jumped out to a 65-7 mark (.903) in home games this season, as six teams are undefeated and four programs have only one loss on their home courts. Michigan leads the way at 9-0, while Ohio State (7-0), Michigan State (7-0), Wisconsin (7-0), Purdue (6-0) and Indiana (4-0) are also unbeaten on their own floors. Last season, the Big Ten boasted a record of 142-34 (.807) at home.
Neutral Friendly: Big Ten teams have also shown that they can play in neutral contests as Illinois and Michigan State both picked up victories on neutral courts last weekend. The Fighting Illini downed Illinois-Chicago, 71-66, at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday. The Spartans followed with a victory over BYU, 79-53, at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich. Two more teams will compete this weekend on neutral courts when Ohio State and Purdue take part in the Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Boilermakers will face Butler and then the Buckeyes will take on Cincinnati in the second game. Illinois has competed in the most neutral contests of all Big Ten squads, tallying a 3-1 mark.
Close Call Contests: Big Ten squads have quickly become accustomed to close games this season with 30 contests decided by six points or less. The conference owns a 16-14 record in those games as Purdue (2-0) and Michigan (1-0) lead the Big Ten with perfect records. Illinois (3-1), Penn State (3-1) and Wisconsin (2-1) have only lost one close contest this season. Big Ten squads have also competed in four overtime games this season, tallying a 3-1 mark.
Hitting the Three's: Just a month into non-conference play, seven Big Ten squads have tallied 60 or more three-pointers this season. Ohio State currently leads the Big Ten with 93 three-pointers made this year, followed by Illinois (86), Michigan State (71), Iowa (70), Minnesota (68), Purdue (64) and Michigan (62), Last year at this time, only three teams had posted more than 60 three-pointers on the season.
Among the Nation's Best: The first edition of the NCAA national statistical rankings were released last Monday, as several Big Ten programs appeared among the top 10 in the country. Northwestern leads the nation with the fewest turnovers (9.7 pg), while Ohio State ranked fourth in three-point field goals per game (10.8 pg). The Buckeyes also ranked 10th in field goal percentage (52.4) and three-point field goal percentage (43.7). Individually, Michigan's Courtney Sims was tied for 10th in field goal percentage (67.9), while Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. rated 11th in assists with 6.6 per game and Illinois' Chester Frazier followed in 15th place with 6.4 dishes per contest. The national statistics are updated every Monday afternoon on the NCAA website and the conference players and teams among the top 30 are added every Tuesday on page five of this release.
Big Ten Coaching Milestones: Illinois' Bruce Weber captured his 200th career win with an 87-59 victory over IUPUI last Wednesday. He now has a 201-72 mark that includes a five-year stint at Southern Illinois before joining the Fighting Illini staff in 2003. In addition, Weber is vying for his 100th triumph at Illinois with a 98-14 record. Iowa's Steve Alford is also nearing a coaching milestone this season. In his 16th year of coaching, Alford stands four wins away from claiming his 300th career victory with a 296-174 record.
A Race for the Big Ten Scoring Title: Two years ago, Purdue's Carl Landry was in a tight race with Indiana's Bracey Wright for the Big Ten scoring title before his season ended with a torn ACL in February 2005. After redshirting last season, Landry has come back with a vengeance, tallying a scoring average of 20 points per game and ranking second behind only last year's conference's leading scorer - Alando Tucker of Wisconsin (20.2 ppg). Tucker is vying for his second straight scoring title after leading the Big Ten last season with 20.0 points per conference game. Tucker would be the first Big Ten standout to lead the Big Ten in consecutive seasons since Purdue's Glenn Robinson won back-to-back scoring crowns in 1993 (25.5 ppg) and 1994 (31.1 ppg).
Perfect from the Field: In his first collegiate start, Ohio State freshman Greg Oden tied a school record for field goal percentage in a 78-57 triumph over Cleveland State on Saturday. Oden notched finished the game a perfect 8-of-8 from the field in the win. Former Buckeye J.J. Sullinger was the last to record a perfect outing for the Buckeyes when he made eight shots against Penn State on Jan. 5, 2006.