Jan. 16, 2013
Heading into the third week of conference play, three Big Ten teams carry perfect 3-0 marks in conference play, while seven teams boast 12 or more wins overall this season. The Big Ten leads all conferences with nine squads in the top 50 of the Sagarin ratings, while nine conference teams appear in the top 75 of the latest NCAA RPI report. This week, every game will be nationally distributed, with four contests slated to be televised by BTN.
Where We Rank
Six Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls, including two teams in the top 12 of each poll. Penn State leads all conference squads at No. 8 in both rankings, while Purdue appears at No. 11 in the coaches poll and No. 12 in the AP poll for the second straight week. Michigan climbs into the AP rankings for the first time since Dec. 23, 2002, rounding out the poll at No. 25. Iowa and Nebraska are receiving votes in both rankings, while Michigan State is receiving votes from the AP.
Leading the Way
Three Big Ten teams carry unblemished records into the third week of conference play, each with matching 3-0 marks, while five others have two wins in conference action. Michigan, Penn State and Purdue have each won their first three conference games and are tied for first atop the standings. Iowa, Michigan State and Minnesota are tied for fourth in the standings with matching 2-1 conference marks, while Illinois and Nebraska are 2-2 through their first four games of the conference season.
The Big Ten is one of only two conferences in the nation, joining the SEC, with seven or more teams boasting 12 or more victories this season. With 14 triumphs each, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue are among a group of 17 programs around the country to have won 14 or more games this season. Penn State is 13-2 this season, while Iowa and Minnesota are 13-4. In addition, three other conference teams have won 10 or more games, including Nebraska at 12-5, Indiana at 10-6 and Ohio State at 10-7.
Reppin’ in the RPI
According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday afternoon, nine Big Ten teams appear in the rating’s top 75, one of three conferences that can claim such a feat. In addition, with all of its squads ranked No. 140 or higher, the Big Ten is one of only two conferences with all of its teams appearing in the rating’s top 150. Entering the week, four Big Ten squads appear among the top 30, with Penn State leading at No. 7, followed by No. 13 Purdue, No. 20 Michigan and No. 26 Iowa. Michigan State appears at No. 35, followed by No. 42 Nebraska, No. 51 Minnesota, No. 67 Illinois and No. 71 Ohio State.
The Big Ten leads all conferences with nine teams in the top 50 of the latest Sagarin ratings, released through Sunday’s games. Penn State leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 10, followed by No. 17 Michigan State, No. 20 Purdue, No. 29 Michigan and No. 30 Iowa in the top 30. Nebraska is 35th, Ohio State and Minnesota are Nos. 45 and 46, respectively, and Illinois rounds out the conference’s top 50 teams at No. 48.
Competitive to the Finish
Through two weeks of Big Ten play, many conference contests have been decided in the final minutes or have gone to overtime. Of the 20 conference games, 10 have been decided by two possessions or were won in extra time, including each of Purdue’s three conference wins this season. The Boilermakers won road overtime contests at Illinois and Nebraska, while needing three overtimes to knock off Ohio State last Monday, and Iowa needed overtime to hold off the Buckeyes on Jan. 3. Other games that have been decided by two possessions or less include Illinois-Ohio State, Illinois-Michigan State, Indiana-Northwestern, Iowa-Michigan, Minnesota-Wisconsin and Northwestern-Penn State.
Not So Friendly Confines
Big Ten teams have proven to be just as successful on the road during the conference season, having split the 20 Big Ten contests through two weeks of play. Purdue and Illinois each opened conference play with 2-0 marks on the road, while Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Penn State have each triumphed away from home early in the Big Ten season.
To The Point
Through Sunday’s games, the Big Ten leads all conference with five standouts in the top 30 in the nation in points per game. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill is 10th in the nation at 21.3 points per outing, buoyed by her 29.3 points per game average during Big Ten games only. Minnesota’s Rachel Banham is 13th in the country at 20.8 points per game, followed by Penn State’s Maggie Lucas in 17th (20.4 points per game), Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair in 23rd (19.6) and Illinois’ Karisma Penn in 30th (19.2).
In addition to scoring leaders, numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top of the NCAA statistical leaders, which were released on Monday. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas continues to lead the country in 3-point field goal percentage at 53.2 percent, Michigan’s Kate Thompson is seventh at 47.2 percent and Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair is 22nd at 42.7 percent. Thompson is second in 3-pointers per game at 3.69, followed by Lucas in sixth with 3.33 and Sinclair in 18th at 2.94. Penn State’s Alex Bentley is third (4.0) and Wisconsin’s Tiera Stephen is 19th (3.29) in steals per game, while Iowa’s Samantha Logic is sixth (7.2) and Northwestern’s Karly Roser is 16th (6.3) in assists per game. Illinois’ Karisma Penn and Wisconsin’s Cassie Rochel are among the top 25 in blocks per game, with Penn 15th at 2.63 and Rochel 22nd at 2.44. Iowa’s Jaime Printy is fourth nationally in free-throw percentage (92.4 percent), followed by Minnesota’s Rachel Banham in seventh (89.5) and Purdue’s Drey Mingo in 25th (87.0), while Minnesota’s Micaëlla Riché and Iowa’s Morgan Johnson are shooting 57.1 percent from the field, which is tied for 14th nationally.
Several Big Ten players surpassed or are closing in on various career milestones. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas became the fifth active player to record 1,500 career points, joining Illinois’ Karisma Penn, Iowa’s Jaime Printy, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill and teammate Alex Bentley. Penn State’s Nikki Greene is five blocks from reaching 200 in her career, while Ohio State’s Ashley Adams is 11 swats away from the landmark. Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair is eight tallies shy from reaching 1,000 career points, while Michigan’s Rachel Sheffer and Purdue’s Courtney Moses are 32 points away from 1,000. A list of Big Ten student-athletes approaching career milestones can be found on Page 3 of this release.
Coaching to Milestones
Three Big Ten coaches reached milestones last week or are poised to do so in the coming games. With Monday’s win, Purdue’s Sharon Versyp recorded her 150th triumph as the Boilermakers’ head coach, becoming the fifth current Big Ten mentor to record 150 or more wins at their respective programs. Needing one more win, Iowa’s Lisa Bluder is closing in 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 three more wins to reach the 400 career wins mark.
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.