Dec. 16, 2013
Sixteen games occupy this week's Big Ten men's basketball slate, with 11 conference teams in action, including five matchups against teams from the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. Illinois will take on Missouri in the annual Braggin' Rights Game in St. Louis on Saturday, while Michigan will face Stanford at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Michigan State will travel to Texas, Ohio State will take on Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden and Purdue will play at West Virginia on Sunday. Wisconsin will be idle until Dec. 28.
Three in Top Five For Second Straight Week:
The Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls were released on Monday, and the Big Ten was well-represented with four teams among the top 25, and three positioned in the top five. In the AP poll, Ohio State was ranked No. 3, followed by No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 25 Iowa, while Michigan received votes. In the coaches' ballot, Ohio State was tied with Syracuse at No. 2, followed by No. 5 Michigan State and No. 6 Wisconsin. Iowa and Michigan also received votes in the coaches' ballot.
Ohio State and Wisconsin remained unbeaten on the season with convincing non-conference wins last weekend. The Buckeyes improved to 10-0 with a 79-62 win over North Dakota State, recording their fifth straight game shooting at least 50 percent from the field. Wisconsin upped its record to 12-0 with an 86-61 victory over Eastern Kentucky, continuing the program's best start to a season during the modern era (since 1946). The Badgers did complete undefeated 15-0 seasons in 1911-12 and 1913-14.
Nittany Lion Tandem Scoring at Impressive Clip:
Penn State guards D.J. Newbill and Tim Frazier enter this week's slate of games as the Big Ten's top two scorers. Newbill is averaging a conference-best 19.0 points per game, while Frazier is scoring 18.4 points per contest. The last time a pair of teammates ended the season ranked as the top two scorers in the Big Ten was in 2007-08, when Indiana's Eric Gordon (20.9 ppg) and D.J. White (17.4 ppg) ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
Individual Milestones Eclipsed Last Week:
Minnesota's Austin Hollins and Penn State's D.J. Newbill both eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau last week, with Hollins (1,003) accomplishing the feat against South Dakota State and Newbill (1,025) reaching the milestone versus Duquesne. In addition, Illinois' Jon Ekey (502) and Iowa's Aaron White (512) both passed the 500-rebound plateau last weekend, becoming the fifth and sixth active Big Ten players to accomplish the feat.
Climbing the Buckeye and Big Ten Record Books:
Ohio State's Aaron Craft handed out seven assists against North Dakota State, becoming the all-time assist leader (581) at Ohio State. Craft also has a school-record 271 career steals, which is tied for fifth on the Big Ten's career list. With one more theft, Craft would pass Northwestern's Pat Baldwin (1990-94) for sole possession of fifth all-time. Craft, who is averaging 2.4 steals per game, is on pace to record at least 325 steals, which would mark the Big Ten career steals record.
Leading the Way:
Through games of Dec. 14, the Big Ten has seen a variety of players pacing the conference in many of the major statistical categories. Penn State's D.J. Newbill leads the Big Ten in scoring (19.9 ppg), Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh paces the conference in rebounding (9.6 rpg), Ohio State's Amir Williams is the Big Ten's leader in field goal percentage (.696), Penn State's Tim Frazier leads the conference in assists per game (7.6), Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott share the Big Ten lead in steals per outing (2.6 spg), Michigan State's Keith Appling is pacing the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage (.515) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons is the Big Ten's leader in blocks per game (3.9).
Crashing the Boards:
Indiana's Noah Vonleh has posted a Big Ten-best seven double-digit rebounding efforts, and enters this week's slate of games as the conference leader in rebounding (9.6 rpg). If he maintains the Big Ten lead through the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign, Vonleh would become the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in rebounding since Ohio State's Greg Oden, who averaged 9.6 rebounds per contest in 2006-07.
Filling it Up:
Big Ten teams have posted 59 efforts of 80 or more points during non-conference play, and enter this week averaging 77.6 points per game. During non-conference action last season, Big Ten teams averaged more than 73 points per game, over five points higher than the NCAA average.
The most recent version of the NCAA statistics were released on Monday, and several Big Ten teams were well-represented across an array of categories. Indiana led the nation in rebound margin (14.7), while Michigan State led the nation in assists per game (20.0). Ohio State ranked second in three-point field goal defense (.223), while Wisconsin was third in the country in fewest turnovers per game (9.1). Ohio State also ranked third in scoring defense (54.6 ppg) and fifth in defensive field goal percentage (.366), while Iowa was fourth in scoring margin (23.0). A complete summary of the updated NCAA statistics can be found on NCAA.org.
Leaders of the Pack:
The Big Ten now has 11 active members of the 1,000-point club. Northwestern's Drew Crawford continues to lead the way with 1,550 career points, followed by Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble (1,325), Indiana's Evan Gordon (1,283), Michigan State's Keith Appling (1,270), Penn State's Tim Frazier (1,256), Illinois' Rayvonte Rice (1,178), Purdue's Terone Johnson (1,083), Ohio State's Aaron Craft (1,070), Iowa's Aaron White (1,041), Penn State's D.J. Newbill (1,025) and Minnesota's Austin Hollins (1,003). Craft, Frazier, Hollins, Johnson, Rice and White all passed the 1,000-point plateau this season. Minnesota's Andre Hollins enters Friday's game against Nebraska-Omaha with 994 points, just six tallies shy of equaling 1,000 points for his career.