Dec. 26, 2011
Tip-Off: Big Ten play begins on Tuesday night as Illinois hosts Minnesota and Nebraska welcomes No. 11/11 Wisconsin in the Huskers' first ever men's basketball conference game as members of the Big Ten. No. 2/2 Ohio State begins its title defense on Wednesday as it hosts Northwestern, while No. 13/15 Indiana hits the road to play No. 16/17 Michigan State, and Purdue heads to Iowa that night. Thursday features one game, as No. 16/18 Michigan hosts Penn State. Eight teams hit the court on New Year's Eve, as the Hawkeyes head to Madison, Nebraska stays home to play the Spartans, Purdue hosts Illinois and Indiana welcomes Ohio State. The Big Ten rings in the new year with a pair of games on January 1, with Michigan hosting Minnesota and Northwestern welcoming Penn State. Ten of this week's 12 games feature at least one team ranked or receiving votes in the latest national polls.
Topping the Charts: The Big Ten continues to lead the nation in RPI, ranking first among all conferences with a rating of .5816 and first with a Division I winning percentage of .8125. The Big Ten leads all conferences with eight top-55 RPI teams, led by Minnesota at No. 17. The Gophers are followed by No. 21 Michigan State, No. 23 Ohio State, No. 27 Wisconsin, No. 37 Northwestern, No. 43 Illinois, No. 50 Michigan and No. 53 Indiana. The Big Ten also continues to lead the nation in the Sagarin Ratings this week with an average of 83.51. The Big Ten also leads all conferences with nine teams ranked in the top 55 of the Sagarin ratings, led by No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 5 Indiana. The Buckeyes, Badgers and Hoosiers are followed by No. 13 Michigan State, No. 35 Purdue, No. 45 Northwestern, No. 49 Michigan, No. 51 Minnesota and No. 54 Illinois. The complete list of Big Ten teams in the RPI and Sagarin ratings can be found on Page 4 of this release
Where We Rank: The Big Ten is tied for the lead among all conferences with five teams ranked in the top 20 of the Associated Press (AP) and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. Ohio State leads the conference at No. 2 in both polls, followed by No. 11/11 Wisconsin, No. 13/15 Indiana, No. 16/17 Michigan State and No. 18/16 Michigan. Illinois is receiving votes outside the top 25 in both polls. Four of the Big Ten's five ranked teams moved up in this week's polls, while Ohio State remained at No. 2 in both polls for the fifth consecutive week.
And Then There Was One: Indiana improved to 12-0 with a pair of wins last week and is the Big Ten's only remaining undefeated team. The Hoosiers are one of six remaining undefeated teams in Division I and are 12-0 for the first time since 1975-76, the year the Hoosiers ended the season with a perfect record. 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 nine teams with 10 or more wins entering Thursday's games. Indiana (12-0), Minnesota (12-1) and Ohio State (12-1) lead the Big Ten with 12 wins each, while Illinois (11-2), Michigan State (11-2) and Wisconsin (11-2) have 11 victories each, and Michigan (10-2), Northwestern (10-2) and Purdue (10-3) each have 10 wins. In addition, Iowa, Nebraska and Penn State are just two victories shy of reaching the 10-win milestone. Last season, every Big Ten team compiled 10 or more wins for the second consecutive season.
Everyone's A Winner: Entering the first week of conference play, every Big Ten team has a record above .500. The Big Ten, Big East and Mountain West are the only conferences in the nation in which every team has a winning record, while the Big Ten and the Mountain West are the only two conferences in which every team is three games or more over .500. The Big Ten is the only Division I conference that enters this week's games with all its teams having won at least eight games.
Dynamic Duos and Terrific Trios: Northwestern's John Shurna and Drew Crawford rank first and second in the Big Ten in scoring with respective averages of 19.4 and 18.1 points per game, and are the Big Ten's highest scoring pair of teammates, averaging 37.5 points per contest. Shurna and Crawford are one of the only two pairs of teammates in the nation to rank first and second in scoring in their respective conferences. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas and William Buford are the conference's highest-scoring trio, all in the Big Ten's top 10 in points per game, combining to average 47.8 points per game.
Dual Threats: The Big Ten's top four rebounders also rank among the conference's top 15 in scoring, led by Michigan State's Draymond Green, who leads the Big Ten with 9.8 boards per contest and is ninth with 15.5 points per game. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger ranks second in rebounding (9.2) and fifth in scoring (16.2), Illinois' Meyers Leonard is third on the glass (8.2) and 14th in points (13.4), and Indiana freshman Cody Zeller is fourth in rebounds (7.3) and 11th in scoring (15.1), also the Big Ten's highest-ranked freshman in either category.
Running Point: Five Big Ten players were named candidates for the 2012 Bob Cousy Award last week, 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.
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 Bankers Life 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.