Jan. 8, 2013
The Big Ten season opened with three teams, Michigan, Penn State and Purdue, posting perfect 2-0 marks, while six other squads finished the opening week of play with a 1-1 record. Eight conference squads are ranked or receiving votes in one or both national polls this week. The Big Ten is one of two conferences with each of its teams carrying winning records into this week, while 10 squads appear in the top 100 of the NCAA’s first RPI report of the season. Of the eight conference games scheduled for this week, six are slated for national television coverage by BTN or ESPN2.
Where We Rank
For the first time this season, eight Big Ten teams are ranked or receiving votes in one or both polls released by the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today. Penn State climbs one spot in each poll and appears at No. 8 this week. Purdue rises three spots in the coaches poll to No. 11 and two places in the AP ranks to No. 12, while Nebraska checks in at No. 23 in the coaches rankings. The Huskers are one of four Big Ten teams receiving votes in the media poll, joining Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State. Iowa and Ohio State join the Wolverines among teams also receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Off to a Quick Start
Nine Big Ten teams opened conference play with at least one victory last week, including three teams who began with unblemished 2-0 marks. Michigan, Penn State and Purdue each opened the season with two straight victories, with the Boilermakers earning two overtime road victories, while the Wolverines and Lady Lions were victorious in their respective home and road openers. Six teams began the year with 1-1 conference records, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Nine at 10
The Big Ten is one of only two conferences with nine or more teams boasting 10 or more victories on the season, including six who have won 12 or more games. Three teams carry 13 triumphs into the second week of the conference season as Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue lead all Big Ten teams in wins. Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State each have 12 wins, Nebraska has won 11 games, and Indiana and Ohio State each boast 10 wins on the season. With eight wins each and two games this week, Illinois and Wisconsin can reach the 10-wins mark, while Northwestern has just one game this week and is seeking its ninth win of the year.
Entering the week, the Big Ten is one of only two conferences with each of its teams enjoying a winning record. Following the first week of conference play, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue are three of just 10 teams in the country with 13 or more wins on the season, as each carries a 13-2 mark into the second week of Big Ten play. Penn State is 12-2, while Iowa and Minnesota have matching 12-4 marks. Nebraska is 11-4, while Indiana and Ohio State are 10-5 entering the second week of conference action. Illinois is 8-6 after winning two of its last three games over ranked foes, while Northwestern and Wisconsin are each 8-7.
Reppin’ in the RPI
With 10 teams appearing in the top 100 of the first RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, the Big Ten leads all conferences with the highest percentage of its teams within the ranking’s top 100. And with all of its teams ranked 128 or higher, the Big Ten is the only conference in the country with all of its squads ranked among the RPI’s top 130. Penn State leads at No. 6, followed by No. 12 Purdue, No. 13 Michigan and No. 20 Iowa. Michigan State is rated 39th, Minnesota is No. 45, and No. 57 Nebraska gives the Big Ten seven top 60 teams. Rounding out the Big Ten in the RPI are No. 72 Illinois, No. 74 Ohio State, No. 85 Wisconsin, No. 109 Northwestern and No. 128 Indiana.
The Big Ten is tied for the national lead with eight teams appearing in the top 50 of the latest Sagarin ratings, released through Monday’s games. Penn State leads all conference teams at No. 9, followed by No. 16 Michigan State and No. 17 Purdue. Michigan appears at No. 26 and is trailed by No. 29 Iowa, No. 38 Ohio State, No. 40 Nebraska and No. 48 Minnesota. In addition, the Big Ten is one of three conferences with 11 teams in the rating’s top 100, which also includes No. 60 Illinois, No. 90 Wisconsin and No. 98 Northwestern.
According to the national statistics released by the NCAA on Monday, several Big Ten standouts appear among the top 25 in various categories. Maggie Lucas is the national leader in 3-point percentage, converting at a 52.9 percent clip. Michigan’s Kate Thompson is fourth at 48.8 percent and Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair is 21st at 43.1 percent. Thompson is second in the nation in 3-pointers per game, averaging 3.9 per night. Lucas is seventh at 3.3, and Sinclair is 18th at 2.9. Penn State’s Alex Bentley is fourth is steals per game at 3.9, while Iowa’s Samantha Logic is ninth in assists per game (7.1) and Northwestern’s Karly Roser is 14th (6.5). Ohio State’s Tayler Hill is 11th in scoring at 21.1 points per night and is one of five Big Ten players in the category’s top 25. Minnesota’s Rachel Banham is 15th (20.6 points per game), followed by Illinois’ Karisma Penn and Lucas in 16th (20.5) and Sinclair in 23rd (19.9). Minnesota’s Micaella Riche is 10th in field goal percentage at 58.6, while Iowa’s Morgan Johnson is 14th at 57.5. Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.55, ranking 14th in the nation, while Penn is 12th in double-doubles (8), 16th in blocks (2.64) and 24th in rebounds (10.8) per game. Wisconsin’s Cassie Rochel is tied for 16th in blocks at 2.64 per game.
Several Big Ten players surpassed or are poised to exceed career milestones in the coming contests. Penn State’s Alex Bentley became the fourth active player with 1,500 career points, while teammate Maggie Lucas needs just 21 points to become the fifth active student-athlete to achieve the feat. Michigan’s Jenny Ryan became the third active player with 400 or more career assists, joining Bentley and Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore. Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair needs 23 points to become the 10th active member of the 1,000-points club, while Michigan’s Rachel Sheffer needs 41 tallies to reach 1,000. Penn State’s Nikki Greene is six swats away from 200 in her career and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams needs 13 blocks to reach the milestone. A list of Big Ten student-athletes approaching career milestones can be found on Page 3 of this release.
Party of Five
After scoring 13 points against Michigan State on Sunday, Penn State’s Alex Bentley became just the fifth player in conference annals to record 1,500 points, 500 assists and 250 steals in her career. Currently ranking among the conference’s active leaders in those categories, Bentley has 1,506 points (fourth among active players), 511 assists (second) and 271 steals (first). She joins Ohio State’s Yvette Angel, Purdue’s Katie Douglas and Stephanie White, and Wisconsin’s Tamara Moore as the only Big Ten standouts to achieve the feat.
Three Near Coaching Achievements
Three Big Ten coaches are approaching milestone wins, either overall or at their respective institutions. Needing two more victories, Iowa’s Lisa Bluder is closing on 600 wins in her coaching career, joining Ohio State’s Jim Foster as the only Big Ten coaches to reach the landmark. Nebraska’s Connie Yori needs just four more wins to reach the 400 career wins mark and Purdue’s Sharon Versyp is one triumph shy of reaching the 150-wins mark as the Boilermakers’ head coach.
Beginning this week, Big Ten women’s basketball will be nationally televised every Monday through the end of the regular season. BTN will televise at least one conference matchup on Monday evenings, beginning with the Ohio State-Purdue matchup on Jan. 14, while ESPN2 will also televise one of its six conference matchups on Feb. 4 when Penn State hosts Purdue.
Up For The Awards
Five Big Ten student-athletes are listed on all three major preseason women’s basketball awards lists, appearing on the Naismith Early Season Watch List, the Wade Trophy Watch List and the Wooden Award Watch List. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Penn State's Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas were named to each preseason list. The trophy winners will be announced during the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans, La.
Four Big Ten student-athletes were named candidates for the 2012-13 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Iowa’s Jaime Printy, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill, Penn State’s Alex Bentley and Purdue’s Drey Mingo were chosen as candidates for the award, and the winner will be announced during the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans, La.
Watch Us Here
The Big Ten will continue to receive extensive national broadcast coverage this season, as approximately 65 games will be televised live nationally through the conference’s media agreements. BTN, ESPN and CBS Sports will televise 47 Big Ten Conference games, while nearly 97 percent of the intra-conference schedule will be available nationally through televised coverage or streamed online at BTN.com. For the sixth straight season, every game of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be nationally televised.
For the first time, the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be held in the Chicagoland area as this year’s event will be staged at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The 19th edition of the tournament will be held March 7-10, featuring 11 games over four days. Thursday and Friday will feature four games each, with the semifinals contested on Saturday in advance of Sunday’s championship game. The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for the 2014 event.