Dec. 19, 2011
Tip-Off: Big Ten teams enter the final week of non-conference competition with all 12 squads rounding out the first half of their schedules before the conference slate begins next week. Ten of the 12 teams round out their non-conference slates at home, while No. 25/24 Illinois and Northwestern hit the road before Big Ten play begins. On Thursday, the Fighting Illini compete in their second neutral-site game in as many weeks, playing No. 9/8 Missouri at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, while the Wildcats travel to No. 23/21 Creighton.
Where We Rank: The Big Ten is again tied for the lead among all conferences with six teams ranked in the Associated Press (AP) and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls. Ohio State leads the conference at No. 2 in both polls, followed by No. 13/14 Wisconsin, No. 17/18 Indiana, No. 19/20 Michigan State, No. 20/19 Michigan and No. 25/24 Illinois. Northwestern is receiving votes in both polls. Five of the six squads moved up in this week's AP rankings, while four improved upon their respective rankings in the previous coaches' poll. This week's rankings mark the second straight week that the Big Ten has had six teams ranked in the top 25 of the AP and coaches' polls.
Topping the Charts: The Big Ten continues to lead the nation in RPI, ranking first among all conferences with a rating of .5827 and second with a Division I winning percentage of .8047. The Big Ten leads all conferences with eight top-50 RPI teams, led by Wisconsin at No. 12. The Badgers are followed by No. 19 Minnesota, No. 27 Ohio State, No. 31 Michigan State, No. 36 Indiana, No. 39 Illinois, No. 41 Northwestern and No. 44 Michigan. The Big Ten also continues to lead the nation in the Sagarin Ratings this week with an average of 83.70.
And Then There Was One: Indiana improved to 10-0 with a win over Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic and is the Big Ten's only remaining undefeated team. The Hoosiers are one of seven remaining undefeated teams in Division I and are 10-0 for the first time since 1989-90. The Big Ten joins the Big 12, Big East and the Ohio Valley as the only conferences with at least one undefeated team this season.
Perfect Tens: The Big Ten leads all conferences with six teams with 10 or more wins entering the final week of non-conference play. Minnesota leads the Big Ten with 11 wins, standing at 11-1, while Indiana (10-0), Illinois (10-1), Ohio State (10-1), Northwestern (10-1) and Wisconsin (10-2) have 10 victories. In addition, three more conference teams have nine wins, and every Big Ten squad has at least six victories. Last season, every Big Ten team compiled 10 or more wins for the second consecutive season.
Join the Club: Ohio State head coach Thad Matta picked up his 200th win with the Buckeyes on Saturday vs. South Carolina. Matta becomes the fourth active conference coach with 200 or more wins at his current institution, joining Illinois' Bruce Weber, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan.
Everyone's A Winner: Entering the final week of non-conference play, every Big Ten team has a record above .500. The Big Ten and the Mountain West are the only conferences in the nation in which every team has a winning record, and the Big Ten is the only Division I conference that enters this week with all teams having won at least six games.
Running Point: Five Big Ten players were named candidates for the 2012 Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's top point guard. Michigan's Trey Burke, Ohio State's Aaron Craft, Penn State's Tim Frazier, Purdue's Lewis Jackson and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor are each among the field of nearly 60 candidates. The field will be narrowed down to 20 players by Jan. 1, followed by a cut to 10 players by Feb. 1. Five finalists will be announced by March 1.
Tenacious D: Big Ten teams continue to stifle opponents on offense, with six squads holding the opposition to 60 points or less points per game. Wisconsin leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 44.7 points on average, while Ohio State (57.1) is 22nd, Illinois (57.2) is 23rd, Michigan State (57.9) is 31st, Purdue (59.9) is 44th and Minnesota (60.0) is 45th. In addition, six conference teams are outscoring their opponents by an average of 10 points or more, including Ohio State, which is second in the nation with a scoring margin of 23.2.
Sharing the Wealth: Four Big Ten teams rank in the nation's top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio, including Northwestern, which is second in the nation with a 1.81 mark. Wisconsin is fourth (1.63), followed by No. 5 Ohio State (1.58) and No. 9 Purdue (1.53). Individually, the Wildcats' Dave Sobolewski ranks third in the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.0, followed by Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble (eighth, 3.7).
You'd Better Watch Out: Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan State's Draymond Green, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, Northwestern's John Shurna, Ohio State's William Buford, Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger, Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor were named to the Wooden and Naismith award preseason watch lists. The Big Ten ranked second among all conferences with nine players on the Wooden Award Watch List and tied for second with nine players on the Naismith Award Watch List. Ohio State was one of just three teams in the nation with three or more players on the Wooden list and one of five teams with three or more on the Naismith list. The Big Ten tied for the lead among all conferences with seven different schools represented on the Naismith list.
Stay CLASS-y: Five Big Ten players are candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, more players than any other conference in the country. Michigan's Zack Novak, Michigan State's Draymond Green, Ohio State's William Buford, Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor are among the 30 student-athletes nominated for the award that recognizes seniors that make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Stars on the Small Screen: This season, every Big Ten home game will be produced and distributed to a live national audience. The Big Ten Network, 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 www.BTN.com. More than 75 games will be broadcast by an ESPN platform - ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3, and CBS Sports will carry 15 games.
March is (Almost) On: The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Indianapolis in 2012 for the fifth year of a five-year agreement that puts both the men's and women's events in the Circle City. 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 the event's inception in 1998 has reached a live national television audience.
The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will return to Conseco Fieldhouse in 2014 and 2016 and will be played at the United Center in Chicago in 2013 and 2015.
All-session tickets for the 2012 Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments are on sale now. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.