Dec. 18, 2006
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Three Big Ten Teams With Only One Loss: Michigan (11-1), Wisconsin (11-1) and Ohio State (9-1) continue their winning ways having only tallied one loss on the season. With an 11-1 mark, the Wolverines are off to their best start under head coach Tommy Amaker. The Badgers are 11-1 for the first time since registering a 12-1 start during the 1998-99 season, while the Buckeyes have opened with at least nine triumphs in 10 games for the second consecutive year as OSU jumped out to an 11-0 mark last season.
Taking on the Top 10: Just like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State will be looking to gain victories against their top-10 opponents this weekend. On Saturday, the Wolverines will travel to No. 1/1 UCLA, while the Buckeyes will take on No. 5/5 Florida in Gainesville. The Badgers defeated No. 2/2 Pittsburgh, 89-75, last Saturday, knocking off their first second-ranked team since defeating No. 2 Minnesota, 66-65, on March 8, 1997.
Cousy Award Watch List: Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor were named candidates for the 2007 Bob Cousy Award. Presented annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the award recognizes the top collegiate point guard participating in NCAA Divisions I, II and III. The selection committee is comprised of college basketball experts including media members, former coaches and players. Candidates are evaluated on their ability to maximize their team's collective potential, their leadership, their core basketball skills and overall team acheivement.
The Nation's Best Fans: The Big Ten, which has led the nation in attendance in each of the last 30 seasons, is just ahead of last year's pace as the 11 conference schools are averaging 11,870 fans through 82 games with 25 sellouts. After 79 contests last year, the conference was averaging 11,545 fans with 22 sellouts. The Big Ten went on to lead the nation in attendance for 2005-06 after welcoming an average attendance of 12,581 per game/session, over 1,000 more than the national runner-up (ACC - 11,273). The Big Ten also broke the two-million mark in total attendance (2,186,322 patrons) for the 14th straight season.
A Hoosier Milestone: Indiana is only five victories away from reaching the 1,600-career win benchmark. Only eight programs can boast that accomplishment, including Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, Temple, St. John's and Penn. The Hoosiers own a 1,595-868 (.648) all-time record in their 107th season of basketball. Among the Big Ten contingent, Indiana ranks first in all-time victories and is followed by Illinois (1,556-814; .657) and Purdue (1,517-888; .631).
30-Plus Point Performances: Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker both registered conference season-bests of 32 points in their respective games on Saturday. Neitzel shot 8-of-16 from the field to lead the Spartans to a 69-61 victory over Chicago State. Tucker scored 30 or more points for the second time in his career, while helping the Badgers to an 89-75 victory over Pittsburgh. Neitzel and Tucker join three other Big Ten standouts who have scored 30 or more points this season - Iowa's Adam Haluska (31 vs. Coppin State, Dec. 2), Ohio State's Ron Lewis (30 vs. North Carolina, Nov. 29) and Purdue's Carl Landry (30 vs. Oklahoma, Nov. 21).
Big Ten Coaching Milestones: Several Big Ten coaches are nearing career milestones this season. With a 99-14 record at the Illinois helm, head coach Bruce Weber is just one victory away from capturing his 100th win. Weber also reached another milestone earlier this month, claiming his 200th career win with an 87-59 victory over IUPUI on Dec. 6. He now has a 202-72 mark that includes a five-year stint at Southern Illinois before joining the Fighting Illini staff in 2003. With a 98-71 mark in Ann Arbor, Michigan's Tommy Amaker needs just two wins to reach the 100 victory plateau and become the sixth head coach to reach that mark with the Wolverines. In his 16th year of coaching, Iowa head coach Steve Alford stands four wins away from claiming his 300th career victory with a 296-175 record.
Dishing It Out: Three Big Ten standouts are currently averaging over 6.0 assists per game this season. Ohio State freshman Mike Conley Jr. leads the Big Ten with 6.50 assists per contest, while Illinois sophomore Chester Frazier follows in second (6.42 apg) and Northwestern's Tim Doyle ranks third (6.25 apg). Conley is vying to become the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in assists for all games since former Illinois standout Dee Brown captured the title with 5.0 assists per game during the 2002-03 season. However, Frazier will have history on his side as for the last four seasons an Illini has led the Big Ten in assists for all games. Brown finished the 2002-03 season in first place with 5.0 assists per game, followed by Illinois' Deron Williams, who claimed the 2004 (6.2 apg) and 2005 (6.8 apg) titles. Brown would close out his senior campaign with 5.8 assists per contest last season.
Big Ten's Grand Company: With 989 career points, Purdue's David Teague is vying to become the next member of the conference's 1,000-career point club. Currently, six Big Ten standouts have tallied 1,000 points in their career, including three student-athletes from Michigan. The Wolverines' Lester Abram (1,056), Dion Harris (1,294) and Courtney Sims (1,115) head up the 1,000-plus point scorers list and are joined by Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (1,755), Iowa's Adam Haluska (1,421) and Ohio State's Ron Lewis (1,397). After scoring 588 points during the 2005-06 season, Tucker is now aiming to become the first 2,000-point producer for the Big Ten since Indiana's A.J. Guyton tallied 2,100 points from 1997-00.