Jan. 7, 2014
Tipoff: The Big Ten opened conference play last week, with six teams holding 1-0 records heading into the second week of conference action. In total, nine squads have won 10 or more games, with Indiana leading the way with 14 triumphs on the season. The Hoosiers are off to their best start in program history and appear in the national rankings for the first time in more than 20 years. Eleven conference teams appear in the top 80 of the first RPI report released by the NCAA this week, while six teams are receiving votes in one or both polls. Eleven Big Ten matchups are scheduled for this week, with each set to be nationally televised by BTN or ESPN2 or streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network.
Recapping Week 1 of the Conference Season: Six conference teams carry 1-0 marks following the first week of conference action. Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin each won their opening conference clashes last weekend, with the Wolverines, Spartans and Lady Lions claiming road triumphs. Ohio State split its opening two contests of the season and was one of two teams to play twice during the opening week of conference play.
Still Going Strong: Just five teams in the country enter the week with perfect marks, an elite group that counts Indiana among its members. Indiana is one of nine teams nationally that has won at least 14 games this season as the Hoosiers hold a 14-0 mark and continue to improve on their best start in program history. As a result of its 14-game winning streak, Indiana appeared in the top 25 of the national polls for just the second time, having last been ranked in 1993.
Ten-Win Teams: Nine Big Ten teams have reached the 10-wins mark, making the Big Ten one of two conferences to enter the week with 75 percent of its squads having reached double-digits in wins this season. Indiana paces all conference squads with 14 triumphs on the season, while Iowa has 12 wins. Three Big Ten teams, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State, have won 11 contests, while Michigan, Northwestern Penn State and Purdue each boast 10 victories this year. With its next win, Michigan State can secure its 10th victory.
Up in the RPI: Following a strong start to their seasons, 11 conference teams appear in the top 80 of the RPI, released by the NCAA on Monday. The Big Ten is the only conference in the nation that can claim that feat, while being one of three conferences boasting 10 or more squads in the top 100. Purdue appears at No. 11 this week, while Indiana debuts at No. 16. Ohio State checks in at No. 23, followed by No. 28 Iowa, No. 35 Penn State, No. 37 Minnesota and No. 39 Wisconsin among the top 40. In addition, Michigan State is rated No. 60, with No. 63 Michigan, No. 70 Northwestern and No. 76 Nebraska all among the RPI’s top 80.
Point Taken: Big Ten squads are averaging 73.67 points per game this season, more than five points higher than the national average of 68.32. Among all games, nine conference teams are averaging more than 70 points per game this season, including five squads that average at least 75 points per contest. Iowa leads the way at 81.9 points per game, while Indiana follows closely at 78.9. Penn State is third at 77.2, Michigan State is fourth at 76.9 and Nebraska is fifth at 76.2. Overall, Big Ten squads have combined to produce 564 outings of at least 80 points, including five such efforts last week. Indiana has scored 80 points nine times this season, while Iowa and Michigan State have scored at least 80 points seven times and Michigan and Ohio State have five such outings.
Where We Rank: Four Big Ten teams appear in the latest Associated Press top 25 that was released on Monday, with two other squads also receiving votes. Penn State climbed one spot to No. 14 this week, while Nebraska jumped two spots to No. 16. Purdue is ranked No. 21, while Indiana appears in the national rankings for the first time this season at No. 22. The Hoosiers, off to a program-best 14-0 start, are ranked in the AP poll for the first time since Jan. 19, 1993. Iowa and Ohio State are also receiving votes in the latest rankings. Three Big Ten teams appear among the top 20 of Tuesday’s USA Today Coaches poll, with Nebraska leading the way at No. 14, followed by No. 15 Penn State and No. 20 Purdue. Indiana and Iowa are among the other squads also receiving votes in the poll.
Statistically Speaking: Numerous conference standouts appear among the latest national statistics released by the NCAA on Monday. Michigan State’s Kiana Johnson is ranked fourth nationally in assists-to-turnover ratio at 3.84, while ranking 17th in assists per game at 6.1. Johnson is joined by Iowa’s Samantha Logic and Northwestern’s Ashley Deary among the national assists leaders as Logic is 10th at 6.9 and Deary in 13th at 6.6 per contest. Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. and Iowa’s Bethany Doolittle rank among the top 10 in blocks per game as Zahui is ninth at 3.3 and Doolittle is 10th at 3.2 blocks per game. Illinois’ Amber Moore ranks sixth in three-point field goals per game at 3.4 and Iowa’s Melissa Dixon in 17th at 3.1 per game, while Minnesota’s Rachel Banham (sixth, 48.1 percent), Michigan’s Siera Thompson (18th, 45.9) and Purdue’s Courtney Moses (24th, 44.9) are among the nation’s top 25 in three-point field-goal percentage. A complete list of where the Big Ten ranks among the national stat leaders can be found on the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Blog.
Among the NCAA Active Leaders: Three Big Ten standouts rank among the top 25 active scoring leaders in the nation, including two seniors among the top 10. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas is fifth nationally at 2,118 points, one of six active players to enter the week with at least 2,000 career points. Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper is currently eighth in the nation with 1,947 tallies, needing just 53 points to reach the 2,000-point plateau. In addition, Minnesota’s Rachel Banham is 25th among the active scoring leaders at 1,532 points, the most points by a non-senior in the country. Three players are among the top seven in three-pointers as Lucas is third with 319, Illinois’ Amber Moore is sixth at 255 and Hooper is seventh with 241. Hooper is also 10th among the active career rebounding leaders with 951, while Ohio State’s Ashley Adams is third among active players with 253 career blocks.
Freshman Debuts: Making their first appearances in Big Ten matchups, numerous conference freshmen wasted no time making an impact for their respective teams. Five freshmen appear among the Big Ten’s top 15 scoring leaders from last week, with Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. scoring 21 points in the Gophers’ conference opener, while Indiana’s Larryn Brooks had 20 points in her debut. Northwestern’s Christen Inman had 19 tallies, while teammate Nia Coffey scored 16 and Michigan’s Siera Thompson poured in 18 points. Brooks also recorded nine assists en route to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades, while Northwestern’s Ashley Deary had seven assists in her only game of the week. Deary and Coffey appear among the top 10 leaders in rebounds per game after corralling nine each in their lone contest last week. A complete breakdown of the conference’s overall and conference-games only stat leaders can be found at bigten.org.