Men's Basketball Release - Dec. 22

Michigan State's Kalin Lucas was in the giving spirit, handing out eight assists for the second-consecutive game in the Spartans' victory over Texas.

Michigan State's Kalin Lucas was in the giving spirit, handing out eight assists for the second-consecutive game in the Spartans' victory over Texas.

Dec. 22, 2008

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Winning Ways: The Big Ten will head into the final week of non-conference play after amassing a 93-21 overall record in six weeks of action. The .816 winning percentage ranks second in the nation, behind the ACC, which leads with an .831 winning percentage (103-21). Thus far, all 21 losses by Big Ten teams have come at the hands of squads that advanced to the postseason a year ago. Of those 21 deficits, nine were narrow contests, in which Big Ten teams fell short by 10 or fewer points.

Crazy Eights: Currently standing at 93-21 (.816) overall, the Big Ten is off to its best non-conference start since the 1988-89 season when it went 98-21 (.824) against non-conference foes during the regular season. Prior to that season, the closest the Big Ten came to earning a similar mark was in 1917-18 when it amassed a 47-11 slate for a .810 winning percentage in non-conference contests. Since the 1905-06 season, there have only been eight times in which the Big Ten has finished .800 or above against non-conference teams during the regular season. A complete breakdown follows.

Non-Conference Winning Percentages at .800 or Above
Year                   Record                     Pct.
 2008-09                93-21                     .816
 1988-89                98-21                     .824  
 1930-31                40-10                     .800
 1917-18                47-11                     .810
 1915-16                55-9                       .859
 1914-15                41-6                       .872
 1910-11                29-6                       .829
 1907-08                46-8                       .852
 1906-07                25-6                       .806

Big Ten. Big Stage. Big Wins: After taking down two top-five teams earlier this season, the Big Ten knocked off another. No. 19/22 Michigan State handed No. 5/5 Texas its second loss of the season. The win increased the Big Ten’s record versus top-five opponents to 3-2. With the win, the Big Ten owns fifty percent of the wins over top-five squads. A breakdown follows.

Wins Over Top-Five Opponents
Michigan def. #4 UCLA, 11/20/08
Western Kentucky def. #3 Louisville, 11/30/08
Maryland def. #5 Michigan State, 11/27/08
Michigan def. #4 Duke, 12/06/08
Arizona def. #4 Gonzaga, 12/14/08
Michigan State def. #5 Texas, 12/20/08

More on the Big Wins: Minnesota posted its first win over a top-10 foe since February of 2000, Saturday, when the Golden Gophers toppled No. 9 Louisville 70-64. The game was a reunion for Minnesota’s Tubby Smith and his former Kentucky predecessor, Rick Pitino. The victory marked Smith’s fourth consecutive win over Pitino and earned the Gophers their first 10-0 start since the 1976-77 season.

Playing on Both Ends of the Court:
The Big Ten is proving that defense wins games by holding its opposition to only 59.7 points per game to lead the nation. The Pac-10 and Big East each are allowing only 62.6 points per game, good enough to rank second and third, respectively.  The Big Ten is also averaging an 11.1 margin of victory to rank fifth in the nation – a testament to its sensational play on both ends of the court. While defense is locking down the competition, offense is reaching new heights. Six teams have increased their offensive production since this point in the season a year ago by an average of five points per game. 

A Note from the Road: The Big Ten has compiled a 10-8 (.556) record away from the friendly confines of home to join the ACC (.714) and the Big East (.667) as the only three conferences with win percentages over .500 on the road. 

Five in the Polls: With five teams--Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue--ranked in the AP poll this week, the Big Ten leads all conferences with 46 percent of its members among the top-25. The Big East is second with seven of its 16 teams ranked representing 45 percent of the conference’s contingency. The Boilermakers return to the top 10 after a two-week hiatus at No. 10. The Spartans check in at No. 11, while the Buckeyes are 15th. Minnesota moves into the polls for the first time this season, sitting at No. 23 and Michigan debuts at No. 24. 

RPI Merry-Go-Round: The Big Ten is ranked second in the third edition of the RPI Rankings after being ranked first last week. The conference has an adjusted RPI of .6008 to rank seven-thousandths of a percentage behind the ACC (.6015). Last week, the Big Ten was ranked first followed by the ACC. Three weeks ago, it was the ACC atop the leaderboard, with the Big Ten ranked second. The Big Ten has three teams in the top 15, with Northwestern (.6667) checking in at No. 9, Ohio State (.5076) at No. 11 and Michigan (.6223) at No. 15. A complete listing of Big Ten squads’ RPI rankings appears on page 5.

Rare Air: Ten teams now stand undefeated entering the sixth week of the college basketball season. The Big Ten (Minnesota, Ohio State) remains one of three conferences to have at least two teams yet to suffer a loss. The ACC (Clemson, North Carolina, Wake Forest) has three undefeated teams, while the Big East (Connecticut, Pittsburgh) has two, ranking second in the nation. The Pac-10 (Stanford), MVC (Illinois State) and Big 12 (Oklahoma) each have one perfect team. Minnesota has reeled off 10 straight wins to open the 2008-09 campaign, marking its first 10-0 start since the 1976-77 season. Ohio State has rolled to an 8-0 start this season. The Buckeyes began the 2005-06 campaign 11-0 before suffering their first loss.

Lucky 13: Ohio State has the nation’s longest win streak at 13 games after five-consecutive victories to end the 2007-08 season and victories in the first eight games this year. Ohio State won the 2008 National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Silencing the Sharp-Shooters: Last week two of the Big Ten’s teams shut down a couple of the nation’s leading scorers en route to wins over ranked opponents. Purdue held national leader Stephen Curry of Davidson to just 13 points. Curry, who entered the game averaging 31.9 points, made just five-of-26 field goal attempts as a relentless Boilermaker defense limited his productivity. Purdue also silenced the prolific shooter from three-point range, as he was only two-of-12. Michigan State shut down a sharp-shooting A.J. Abrams of Texas. Abrams, who averaged 28.5 points over his previous four games, went three-for-10 from the field and scored eight points. He went 0-for-four from three-point range, failing to hit one for the first time this season.

It’s a First: With his 15 second-half points and career-best 13 assists, Michigan’s Manny Harris posted his third career double-double--first for points and assists. He is the first Wolverine to post a point-assist double-double since Dion Harris had 14 points and 10 assists against Wofford on Dec. 2, 2006. Overall, he is the 17th Wolverine to accomplish the feat, and his effort marked the 54th all-time point-assist double-dip in U-M history.

Spreading the Holiday Cheer: Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas picked up eight assists for the second-consecutive game in the Spartans’ victory over Texas. Over the last three games, he is averaging 8.3 assists per game. For the season, Lucas is averaging 6.5 helpers per contest to rank 15th in the nation. Lucas is the nation’s leading ball handler, with a turnover-to-assist ratio of 6.50.

Home Dominance: Big Ten squads have jumped out to a 66-3 mark (.957) in home games this season, as eight teams are undefeated and three squads have one loss on their home courts. Minnesota leads the way with an 8-0 mark, while Iowa (7-0), Michigan (6-0), Northwestern (6-0), Ohio State (6-0), Wisconsin (6-0), Indiana (4-0), and Michigan State (4-0) are also unbeaten on their own floors.

More on the Home Courts: With a 66-3 record on home floors, the Big Ten ranks second in the nation behind the Big 12 in win percentage. The Big Ten owns a .957 win percentage, five points behind the Big 12 (75-3) with a .962 win percentage. The Southland Conference (45-4) rounds out the top three with a .918 win percentage. The Big East (96-10, .906) is in fourth.

Trio of Players on Naismith Trophy Watch List: The Purdue duo of Robbie Hummel and E’Twaun Moore join Michigan State’s Raymar Morgan as the three Big Ten players represented on the Naismith Trophy Watch List. The 50-member list was announced on Thursday, Dec. 18.  The Naismith Award is presented annually to the nation’s best player. The academy of voters will narrow its early season list to the top 30 players in the nation in February. Those players, and others who distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final ballot in March. 

Two Big Ten Players Candidates for Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award: Thirty senior men’s basketball players have been announced as candidates for the 2008-09 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, presented annually to a NCAA Division I student-athlete in nine sports. Penn State’s Danny Morrissey and Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry represent the Big Ten. Based on criteria focusing on the “Four C’s” of classroom, character, community and competition, the award winners will be selected by national balloting of head basketball coaches, national media and college basketball fans. Former Wisconsin standout Alando Tucker was the 2007 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winner.

Big Ten Network to Air 16 New Basketball Classics on ‘Greatest Games’: Watch Big Ten legends Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Glenn Robinson, Deron Williams and Keith Smart square off against basketball greats like Larry Bird, James Worthy, Tayshaun Prince, Jacque Vaughn and Chris Paul on the Big Ten Network this winter on the popular series, The Big Ten’s Greatest Games. In all, 16 new classics will debut during the course of the basketball season. The ‘Greatest Games’ schedule features five Big Ten national championships, including Indiana’s title games in 1981 and 1987, Michigan’s championship game in 1989 and Michigan State’s titles in 1979 and 2000.

2009 Big Ten Tournament Media Hotel Information: Media representatives who plan to cover the 2009 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament are advised that reservations are now being accepted at the Crowne Plaza at a rate of $169 for single or double room. Reservations can be made on-line by accessing: www.indy.org/mens09 or by calling 800-556-4639. You will need a private access code to reserve rooms either on-line or over the phone--contact the Big Ten Communications office for that code. The Reservation deadline is February 27, 2009, and rooms are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis until the room block is exhausted.

Big Ten Tournament Tickets On Sale: All-session tickets for the 2009 Big Ten Men’s Basketball are on sale to the general public at all 11 Big Ten university ticket offices, Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (317) 239-5151.All-session tickets, which include 10 games over four days, will be available for either $275 or $175 depending on seat location. Orders will be limited to 12 all-session tickets. Fans wishing to purchase all-session tickets within their university’s fan block are encouraged to contact their