Boilers and Bucks to Battle in Big Ten/Big East Challenge

Ohio State hosts Rutgers in the second annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge on Sunday, while Purdue travels to Notre Dame.

Ohio State hosts Rutgers in the second annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge on Sunday, while Purdue travels to Notre Dame.

Jan. 10, 2005

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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.

All four teams are ranked in the top 25, including two teams in the top 10.  In last week's polls, Notre Dame was No. 4/3, while Ohio State was No. 9/9.  Rutgers, which has defeated No. 1/1 LSU, No. 4/3 Texas, No. 8/8 Tennessee and St. John's in its last four games, was ranked No. 14/19 last week.  Purdue was No. 24/22.  The Big Ten is currently 4-3 this season versus the Big East.   

Spartans Winning Big Over Big East
As Ohio State and Purdue enter the Big Ten/Big East Challenge this week, both teams are hoping to have the luck Michigan State has had this year against the Big East.  The Spartans are now 3-0 against nationally-ranked Big East teams this season, after wins over No. 3/3 Notre Dame, No. 11/11 UConn and No. 18/17 Boston College.  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 (Fla.) on February 21, 1992.  MSU has won its last six games against schools from the Big East.   

Big Ten Leads All Conferences With Five in National Polls
In last week's national polls (AP / USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll), the Big Ten was represented by a nation-leading five teams, while a total of six League teams earned recognition.  Michigan State was No. 6/6, while Ohio State was No. 9/9 and Minnesota was No. 11/11.  Iowa was 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 .604 ahead of the ACC (.601), SEC (.596), Pac 10 (.586), Big 12 (.585) and Big East (.573).  The League is fifth in the Conference vs. Conference RPI with a rating of .581.  Five Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 11, while seven are ranked in the top 26.  Iowa holds an overall RPI rating of .674, which is fifth best in the nation, followed by No. 6 Michigan State (.669), No. 7 Ohio State (.666).  Minnesota (.657) is 10th and Penn State is 11th (.643).  Purdue is 26th at .620, while Indiana is 40th at .603.  In overall strength of schedule, Penn State is second at .717, while Indiana is fourth at .673.  Northwestern rates 11th at .647 and Iowa is 17th at .633. 

League Tops 500,000 Mark This Season in 10 Fewer Games
The Big Ten surpassed the 500,000 mark in all-game attendance this past Sunday in 141 games -- 10 fewer contests compared to last season.

Big Ten Women's Basketball Attracting More Fans in 04-05
Big Ten Women's Basketball has already attracted more than 64,000 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 500,179 fans over 141 games, a 64,213 improvement over the 141-game mark of 435,966 from 2003-04.  The League has a current average of 3,547 spectators per game, which is over 450 better than last year's 141-game average of 3,092.

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 79 home games in front of 341,915 (4,328 avg.)  Last year's 79-home game mark was 326,601 (4,100), more than 15,000 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.  Purdue is fifth with an average of 8,240, while Minnesota (7,790) is sixth and Penn State (7,250) is eighth.  Wisconsin (5,877) ranks 14th, followed by No. 15 Michigan State (5,428) and No. 25 Iowa (3,768).

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 nine games scheduled for broadcast this week will be seen by a national audience, while two will be aired regionally.

McCarville Surpasses Impressive Career Double
All-American senior Janel McCarville became the first Minnesota student-athlete in 17 seasons and fourth overall to collect 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.  The senior center surpassed the mark at Wisconsin on January 6.  McCarville is the 10th player in Big Ten history to accomplish the double-double and now has 1,518 points and 1,008 rebounds in her career.

Conference Champs Top Badgers on CBS
Despite a second-half rally by Wisconsin last Saturday, two-time defending Big Ten Champion Penn State held on to defeat the Badgers, 67-58, in front of a nationally-televised audience on CBS.  Jess Strom led the Lady Lions with 16 points, while Tanisha Wright, Ashli Schwab and Jennifer Harris also reached double-digit scoring figures with 13, 12 and 10 points each, respectively.  Wisconsin freshman Jolene Anderson led all scorers with 27 points.

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 83-39 in non-conference action with a winning percentage of .680.  In 2003-04, the Big Ten finished 98-42 for a .700 winning percentage.

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 Penn State's 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.

I'll Take 29 For The Road...
In the first two weeks of Conference play, three student-athletes have recorded 29 points on the road.  On December 30, the opening night of League play, Illinois' Angelina Williams scored 29 at Michigan, while Purdue's Erin Lawless hit the mark at Wisconsin.  On January 6, Penn State's Jess Strom netted 29 at Iowa as the Lady Lions removed the Hawkeyes from the ranks of the unbeaten.

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 overall 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.  Currently, Penn State's Tanisha Wright leads the League with an average of 20.1.

Double-Digit Dandies
A pair of Conference student-athletes have scored in double-digits in every game so far this season.  Michigan's Tabitha Pool has scored 10 or more points in 15 consecutive games, while Penn State's Tanisha Wright has a streak in all 14 games.  Currently 16 student-athletes have double-figure scoring streaks.

Wolverines Join National Sports Celebration
The Michigan women's basketball program will be an active participant with National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) when the Wolverines host Minnesota on February 6 (2 p.m.) at Crisler Arena. The 2005 NGWSD celebration will take place on February 9 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., with the celebration game taking place three days earlier in Ann Arbor, Mich.  NGSWD is sponsored and supported by six national organizations which serve girls and women, including Girl Scouts of the USA, which is partnering with Michigan through Girl Scout of the Huron Valley Council to bring this event to Ann Arbor.