• Only two games separate the top eight schools in the Big Ten standings as the fourth week of conference play tips off Tuesday with four games on the docket. Highlighting Tuesday’s schedule is a Big Ten Network doubleheader as No. 19/18 Michigan visits Big Ten leader and No. 8 Ohio State and Michigan State travels to Illinois. In other conference action, Indiana is at No. 14 Maryland, while 20th-ranked Iowa heads to Nebraska, with both of those games televised live on BTN Plus.
• The Big Ten ranks No. 3 in Tuesday’s Collegiate Basketball News conference RPI index (found at RPIratings.com). What’s more, seven Big Ten schools are among the top 50 in the team RPI rankings as noted by NCAA.com and Collegiate Basketball News, including three in the top 25. Ohio State leads the group at No. 5, followed by No. 10 Rutgers and No. 25 Iowa. Michigan State is next at No. 31, followed by Michigan at No. 33, Maryland at No. 35, Purdue at No. 41, with Minnesota just outside at No. 51.
• The Big Ten has seven schools appearing in the top 50 of Tuesday’s Sagarin ratings. The conference contingent includes No. 11 Ohio State, No. 12 Maryland, No. 19 Michigan State, No. 25 Rutgers, No. 30 Michigan, No. 32 Iowa and No. 38 Minnesota, with Purdue knocking on the door at No. 54.
• Seven Big Ten schools are ranked or receiving votes in the latest Associated Press or USA Today polls, led by No. 8 (AP)/No. 8 (USA Today) Ohio State. Maryland is also ranked in both polls at No. 14/14, as are Michigan at No. 19/18, Iowa at No. 20/20 and Rutgers at No. 25/21. Ten of the 14 Big Ten schools have been ranked or receiving votes for at least one week this year.
• At No. 19 this week, Michigan earned its highest ranking in the Associated Press poll since Dec. 31, 2001, when it was 18th. The Wolverines have also been ranked all 11 weeks this season, setting a school record for consecutive weeks in the polls, topping the previous mark of nine in 2001-02.
• The Big Ten has two of the nation’s most improved programs this season, with Rutgers already owning 11 more wins than last year and Nebraska second with five wins more than its total in 2016-17. The Big Ten record for the most improvement from one season to the next is +14.5 by Iowa in 1995-96 (11-17 to 27-4). Also of note — Nebraska is 6-0 on the road and Rutgers is 4-1 on the road this season, after neither school won a road game in a combined 24 tries last year (Nebraska 0-10, Rutgers 0-14).
• In Saturday’s win at Indiana, Ohio State senior guard Kelsey Mitchell became the second Big Ten student and 13th NCAA Division I student to score 3,000 career points. Mitchell now has 3,013 points, good for 12th in NCAA history, and just 27 points away from passing the next four players on the list — USC’s Cheryl Miller (3,018), Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw (3,025), UConn’s Maya Moore (3,036) and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne (3,039). Mitchell is also 80 points shy of the Big Ten career scoring record held by Minnesota’s Rachel Banham (3,093 from 2012-16).
• Michigan senior guard Katelynn Flaherty became the school’s all-time scoring leader (male or female) with her 26 points in Saturday night’s overtime win at Nebraska. Flaherty has 2,457 career points, surpassing former Wolverine men’s basketball standout Glen Rice (2,442 points from 1985-89) as the top scorer in Michigan basketball history.
• Purdue earned its second win over a ranked opponent this week with its 76-70 victory at No. 18/17 Iowa on Saturday. It’s the first time the Boilermakers have won back-to-back games against Top 25 schools since March 3-4, 2012, when they defeated No. 9 Penn State (68-66) and No. 24 Nebraska (74-70 in double overtime) to win the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
• Saturday’s Big Ten slate saw two games go into overtime, with No. 21/19 Rutgers defeating Minnesota, 80-70, and No. 23/20 Michigan winning at Nebraska, 69-64. This marked the first time the Big Ten had two regular-season conference games decided in overtime on the same day since Feb. 2, 2012, when Iowa won at Wisconsin, 85-79, and Nebraska earned a 93-89 triple-overtime victory at Purdue.
• Michigan State picked up its second win over a ranked opponent this season with its 82-68 win at No. 11 Maryland last Thursday, snapping the Terrapins’ 13-game winning streak. The Spartans became the first school other than Ohio State to defeat Maryland in Big Ten regular season play, with the Terrapins now 53-4 (.930) in their four seasons as a conference member, including a 27-2 (.931) record in Big Ten regular-season home games (the only other home loss was on Jan. 2, 2016, to OSU by an 80-71 score).
• In Tuesday’s NCAA statistical rankings, three Big Ten schools rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense — Ohio State (3rd - 88.4 ppg.), Maryland (6th - 85.9 ppg.) and Minnesota (9th - 85.4 ppg.).
• As of Tuesday, four of the nation’s top 25 scorers come from Big Ten schools, led by Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell, who is No. 2 with 25.6 points per game. Iowa’s Megan Gustafson is 4th (23.5 ppg.), Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty is 8th (23.1 ppg.) and Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife is 18th (21.1 ppg.).
• Five of the nation’s top 10 active NCAA Division I scoring leaders are Big Ten students —Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (1st - 3,013), Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (2nd - 2,457), Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife (5th - 2,032), Indiana’s Tyra Buss (9th - 1,978) and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner (10th - 1,940).
• Ten Big Ten students (representing seven conference schools) have scored 30 points in a game this season. The Big Ten’s 30-point scorers this year include: Iowa’s Megan Gustafson (four times), Maryland’s Kaila Charles and Eleanna Christinaki, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (twice), Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell (three times) and Carlie Wagner, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Kelsey Mitchell (seven times), Penn State’s Jaida Travascio-Green and Purdue’s Andreona Keys.
• Eleven of the 14 Big Ten programs rank among the top 50 in the nation in attendance, including six in the top 25, according to Tuesday’s NCAA statistics report. Purdue leads the way at No. 8 nationally (5,847 fans per game), joined by No. 10 Ohio State (5,500), No. 12 Michigan State (5,304), No. 14 Maryland (5,198), No. 19 Iowa (4,553) and No. 22 Nebraska (3,887). The other Big Ten schools currently among the top 50 in the nation in attendance are Wisconsin (28th - 3,377), Penn State (33rd - 3,111), Michigan (35th - 3,084), Indiana (36th - 3,072) and Minnesota (43rd - 2,764).
• Former Ohio State All-America guard and 1996 Big Ten Player of the Year Katie Smith (’96) is one of this year’s 10 finalists for induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Smith was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and recipient of the NCAA postgraduate scholarship, in addition to being a three-time all-conference pick and the No. 5 scorer in conference history. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will be announced Feb. 12 and enshrined June 9 at the Hall in Knoxville, Tenn.
• Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner are among 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to a senior basketball student who has made notable achievements in the award’s four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The field of 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, with the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award recipient announced during this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus. Iowa’s Samantha Logic is the most recent Big Ten women’s basketball student to earn the Senior CLASS Award, doing so in 2014-15.
• The 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four will be played March 30 and April 1, right in the heart of Big Ten country in Columbus, Ohio, and co-hosted by Ohio State and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission at Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. This will mark the seventh time the Women’s Final Four is held within the Big Ten Conference footprint, with three visits to Indianapolis (2005, 2011, 2016), two others in the state of Ohio (Cincinnati-1997, Cleveland-2007) and the 1995 event in Minneapolis (the last time it was held in a city featuring a Big Ten institution).
• Next season, the Big Ten will return to an 18-game conference schedule, following approval by the Big Ten Administrators Council in October. Under the new format, schools will play five opponents twice and eight teams once (four home, four away) each season. The model will also emphasize in-state rivalries and competition between regional opponents. Big Ten women’s basketball programs played 18 regular-season conference games for the first 12 seasons of Big Ten play (1982-83 through 1993-94) and returned to that format from 2007-08 to 2009-10 and again in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
• For the fourth consecutive year, every Big Ten women’s basketball conference game, including 112 regular-season and 13 tournament games, will be produced and distributed by BTN, BTN Plus or an ESPN network.
• Big Ten programs produced 61 Academic All-Big Ten selections in 2016-17, the 10th consecutive season at least 45 women’s basketball students received the award. That list includes returning Academic All-Americans Amanda Cahill of Indiana and Carlie Wagner of Minnesota, plus Academic All-District honoree Kristen Confroy of Maryland.
|Jan. 16, 2018||at #14/14 Maryland 74, Indiana 70||College Park, MD||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|#19/18 Michigan 84, at #8/8 Ohio State 75||Columbus, OH||RECAP||BTN
|at Nebraska 74, #20/20 Iowa 65||Lincoln, NE||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|#RV/RV Michigan State 67, at Illinois 55||Champaign, IL||RECAP||BTN
|Jan. 18, 2018||at Penn State 70, #25/21 Rutgers 67||University Park, PA||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|at #RV/RV Purdue 63, Northwestern 60||West Lafayette, IN||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|at Minnesota 90, Wisconsin 65||Minneapolis, MN||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|Jan. 20, 2018||Indiana 69, at #RV/RV Michigan State 65||East Lansing, MI||RECAP||BTN
|at #19/18 Michigan 86, Illinois 42||Ann Arbor, MI||RECAP||BTN
|Jan. 21, 2018||at Minnesota 77, #20/20 Iowa 72||Minneapolis, MN||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|at Wisconsin 58, Northwestern 46||Madison, WI||RECAP||BTN
|Nebraska 52, at #25/21 Rutgers 42||Piscataway, NJ||RECAP||BTN Plus|
|Jan. 22, 2018||at #14/14 Maryland 99, #8/8 Ohio State 69||College Park, MD||RECAP||ESPN2
NOTE: Rankings from the Jan. 15-16 Associated Press/USA Today Sports polls (RV - receiving votes/NR - not ranked; when only one ranking is listed, it is from the Associated Press poll)