Wisconsin to Host Big Ten Champions on CBS Saturday

Penn State's Tanisha Wright shoots over Wisconsin's Jordan Wilson in last year's regular season matchup.  The Badgers host the Lady Lions Saturday morning on CBS.

Penn State's Tanisha Wright shoots over Wisconsin's Jordan Wilson in last year's regular season matchup. The Badgers host the Lady Lions Saturday morning on CBS.

Jan. 3, 2005

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Badgers Host Conference Champs on CBS
The Wisconsin Badgers will gain national exposure this Saturday, January 8, as CBS will be in Madison to televise the noon EST tip-off featuring UW (6-5, 1-1 Big Ten) and Penn State (6-6, 1-0).  Last year in Madison, Wisconsin nearly upset the then-No. 9 Lady Lions, but fell in the final seconds of the game, 60-59. 

Conference Play Underway
Last week marked the start of the 23rd Conference season of Big Ten Women's Basketball.  Nine of the 11 League teams have two Conference games under their belts, while Michigan State and Penn State were each victorious in their lone Big Ten game.  The Lady Lions, who are the two-time defending regular season Big Ten Champion, defeated No. 9/7 Ohio State in State College, 69-62, in the Conference opener.  Iowa and Minnesota each won two games this past week and sit atop the League standings at 2-0.   

Hawk Talk: Iowa One of Two Teams Still Undefeated
At 13-0, Iowa and top-ranked LSU are the two remaining teams still undefeated this season. This is the best start for No. 18/17 Iowa in 17 years. In its next three games, Iowa hosts two-time defending Conference champion Penn State, and travels to No. 6/6 Michigan State and No. 9/9 Ohio State.

Big Ten Records Successful Non-Conference Season
While Conference action is now upon us, the Big Ten will still have a few non-conference games this season prior to the NCAA Tournament. The League is currently 81-39 in non-conference action with a winning percentage of .675. In 2003-04, the Big Ten finished 98-42 for a .700 winning percentage.

Big Ten Leads All Conferences With Five in National Polls
In this week's national polls (AP / USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll), the Big Ten is represented by a nation-leading five teams, while a total of six League teams earned recognition.  Michigan State is No. 6/6, while Ohio State is No. 9/9 and Minnesota is No. 11/11.  Iowa is No. 18/17 and Purdue was No. 24/22.  Penn State gained votes in both the AP and Coaches polls.

Big Ten First in WBCA/Summerville Conference RPI Average
In the latest WBCA/Summerville RPI Ratings, the Big Ten ranks first in Conference RPI average at .608 ahead of the Pac 10 (.593), ACC (.592), SEC (.590), Big 12 (.580) and Big East (.567). The League is fifth in the Conference vs. Conference RPI with a rating of .580. Four Big Ten teams are ranked in the top eight, while seven are ranked in the top 25. Iowa holds an overall RPI rating of .685, which is fourth best in the nation, followed by No. 6 Michigan State (.663), No. 7 Minnesota (.649) and No. 8 Ohio State (.649). Indiana is 19th at .630, while Purdue is 20th at .630 and Penn State is 23rd at .628. In overall strength of schedule, Penn State is second at .737, while Indiana is third at .715. Purdue rates sixth at .677 and Northwestern is eighth at .667.

Over Half of League Games to be Televised
During the 2004-05 Big Ten season, 47 of the 88 League games are scheduled to be televised, including 15 contests before national or regional audiences. FSN Chicago will air 12 Conference games, while ESPN2 is scheduled to broadcast two and CBS is slated for one. The lone CBS game will be this Saturday as Wisconsin plays host to Penn State at 11 a.m. CT. Two of the six games scheduled for broadcast this week will be seen by a regional audience. FSN North will air Minnesota at Wisconsin, while FSN Chicago is set to broadcast Michigan State at Ohio State. Both games are set for Thursday.

Big Ten Women's Basketball Attracting More Fans in 04-05
Big Ten Women's Basketball has already attracted more than 60,000 fans up to this point compared to its record-breaking season last year. In all games this year, Big Ten teams have played in front of 439,396 fans over 130 games, a 60,317 improvement over the 130-game mark of 379,079 from 2003-04. The League has a current average of 3,380 spectators per game, which is over 450 better than last year's 130-game average of 2,916.

Big Ten Boasting FAN-tastic Home-Game Figures
The Big Ten is continuing its dominance in national attendance this season, as the League is on pace to break last year's home-game total of 778,125, which was a Conference record and ranked second nationally (Big 12). Over the 2003-04 season, an average of 5,085 fans -- also a Conference record -- attended Big Ten games. Currently, the League has played 68 home games in front of 281,132 (4,134 avg.) Last year's 68-home game mark was 268,509 (3,949), more than 12,500 fewer than the current 2004-05 total. The League has led the nation in attendance seven of the last 12 years, most recently in 1999.

Over Half of League Teams Rank in Top 25 in Attendance
In the latest unofficial attendance rankings compiled by the University of Wisconsin, six Big Ten teams average in the nation's top 25. Minnesota is fifth with an average of 7,997, while Purdue (7,509) is sixth and Penn State (7,250) is eighth. Wisconsin (5,882) ranks 11th, followed by No. 17 Michigan State (4,811) and No. 23 Iowa (3,773).

Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
In the latest NCAA report (1/4/05), issued each week on Tuesdays, five teams and four student-athletes rank in the top 10 in their respective categories.  Penn State's Tanisha Wright is ninth with 20.9 points per game, while teammate Jess Strom is seventh with a .913 free-throw percentage.  Michigan State's Kristin Haynie ranks ninth with 3.7 steals per game and Jamie Cavey of Iowa is ninth with a .618 field-goal percentage.  Ohio State is first in field goal percentage (.529), Minnesota is second in rebounding margin (11.5) and Iowa is third with 13.1 personal fouls per game. 

Celebrating 10 Years of the Big Ten Tournament in Indy
Celebrating its 10th year of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, the League office will highlight 10 great Tourney moments throughout the season, which began on the first day of Conference play, December 30. Over the 10-week period, bigten.org will feature a new moment every Thursday leading up to March 3 -- the opening day of the 2005 Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. For this week's moment, check out bigten.org or page nine.

Roar of the Lion: A Return to the Top of Big Ten Scoring?
In three of the last four years, a Penn State student-athlete has led the Conference in scoring. Kelly Mazzante led the League in 2000-01 (19.7 ppg), 2001-02 (25.1) and 2002-03 (22.2), before yielding to Purdue's Shereka Wright last season as she averaged a Conference-best 21.4 points per game. While Penn State has played just one League game this season, two Lady Lions -- Jennifer Harris and Tanisha Wright -- are currently tied for first place with Ohio State's Jessica Davenport at 22.0 ppg. A Buckeye has not led the Conference in scoring since Katie Smith in 1994-95.

Spartans Winning Big Over Big East
On December 29th, Michigan State defeated Connecticut, 67-51, marking the worst home loss for the 11th-ranked Huskies since a 16-point defeat to Miami on February 21, 1992. The Spartans are now 3-0 against nationally-ranked teams this season, with two of the wins coming on the road. All three wins have been against teams from the Big East. MSU has won its last six games against schools from the Big East.

Michigan's Burnett Set For 500th Career Game Thursday
Michigan head coach Cheryl Burnett will coach in her 500th career game when the Wolverines play at Northwestern on Thursday. Burnett, who is in her second year with the Maize and Blue, is 337-162 overall with a winning percentage of .675.

Other Coaching Milestones...
Last week, Illinois defeated Central Michigan, 82-44, giving Illini head coach Theresa Grentz a win in her 900th career game on the sidelines. Penn State's Rene Portland earned her 150th Big Ten win on December 30 when the Lady Lions upset No. 9/7 Ohio State, 69-62, in State College. Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie is just three wins shy of her 250th win, as is Northwestern's Beth Combs of her 50th. Combs is also one win away from earning her first Big Ten win.

Double-Digit Dandies
Four Conference student-athletes have scored in double-digits in every game so far this season. Ohio State's Jessica Davenport leads the League with a streak of 14 games, while Michigan's Tabitha Pool and Iowa's Jamie Cavey have scored 10 or more points in 13 consecutive games. Penn State's Tanisha Wright has a streak of 12. Currently 20 student-athletes have double-figure scoring streaks.

Boilers and Bucks to Battle in Big Ten/Big East Challenge
The second annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge will be played on Saturday, January 16 on ESPN2 and will feature Conference teams Purdue and Ohio State.

Purdue, the defending Big Ten Tournament Champion, plays at Notre Dame at 5 p.m. ET in a rematch of last year's Challenge contest, which the Boilermakers won at home, 76-63. The two programs are no strangers to each other, as both teams battled in the 2001 NCAA Championship Final, which Notre Dame won 68-66. Since that matchup, Purdue has won the last four games. Preceding the Purdue vs. Notre Dame contest, Ohio State hosts Rutgers at 3 p.m. ET. In last year's inaugural Challenge, Rutgers upended the Buckeyes, 56-53, in Piscataway, N.J.