League Leader Welcomes in the Rival and the Ranked

Jan. 17, 2005

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League Leader Welcomes in the Rival and the Ranked
Big Ten leader Penn State (10-6, 5-0) will open its doors at the Bryce Jordan Center to top rival Purdue (10-6, 3-2) and nationally-ranked Michigan State (15-2, 4-1) this week.  The Lady Lions and Boilermakers have not met since perhaps the most thrilling Big Ten Tournament game in the 10-year history of the event.  Purdue earned its second-straight Tournament title by knocking off the two-time League champion in the final seconds, 59-58.  The Lady Lions welcome No. 20/20 Purdue on Thursday, in a game which will be televised on FSN Chicago and FSN Pittsburgh.  Penn State returns to the small screen on the networks above on Sunday as the Lady Lions host the No. 9/9 Spartans.  The games mark the eighth and ninth ranked opponents the Lady Lions will face. Already this year the Lady Lions have defeated three top -25 teams. Penn State hasn't lost a Big Ten game at home since February 10, 2002 (Iowa). In fact, Penn State is 23-3 at home in Big Ten action since 2001-2002.

No. 5 Ohio State Outlasts No. 4 Rutgers in Challenge
The second annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge was split once again this season as No. 5/5 Ohio State defeated No. 4/7 Rutgers, 52-50, while No. 7/6 Notre Dame topped No. 20/20 Purdue, 86-69.  Last year, the Boilermakers defeated Notre Dame in West Lafayette, 76-63, while Rutgers upended the Buckeyes, 56-53, in Piscataway, N.J.  Currently this season, the Big Ten is 5-4 (.556) versus 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.  Ohio State was No. 5/5, while Michigan State was No. 9/9 and Minnesota was No. 11/12.  Purdue was No. 20/20 and Iowa was No. 21/22.  Penn State gained votes in both the AP and Coaches polls.

Five League Squads Rank Among Nation's Top 15 RPI
In the latest WBCA/Summerville RPI Ratings, the Big Ten ranks third in Conference RPI average (.599) and fifth in overall RPI (.581), while five League teams rank among the nation's top 15.  Michigan State holds an overall RPI rating of .675, which is third best in the nation, followed by No. 4 Ohio State (.673) and No. 8 Iowa (.655).  Minnesota (.649) is 10th and Penn State is 13th (.642).  In overall strength of schedule, Penn State is second at .686, while Northwestern  is sixth (.648) and Purdue is eighth (.646).

Big Ten Women's Basketball Attracting More Fans in 04-05
Big Ten Women's Basketball has already attracted more than 47,000 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 556,660 fans over 153 games, a 47,374 improvement over the 153-game mark of 509,286 from 2003-04.  The League has a current average of 3,638 spectators per game, which is over 300 better than last year's 153-game average of 3,329.

Six 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 8,349, while Minnesota (7,790) is sixth and Penn State (7,246) is seventh.  Wisconsin (5,877) ranks 13th, followed by No. 16 Michigan State (5,218) and No. 23 Iowa (3,989).  Ohio State ranks just outside the top 25 in 28th at 3,521.

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 has broadcasted two and CBS has aired one.  Three of the four games scheduled for broadcast this week will be seen by a regional audience on FSN Chicago, FSN North and FSN Pittsburgh.

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 84-40 in non-conference action with a winning percentage of .678.  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 (1/11/05), issued each week on Tuesdays, seven teams and seven student-athletes rank in the top 15 in their respective categories.  Penn State's Tanisha Wright is 13th with 20.1 points per game, while Penn State's Jess Strom is third with a .918 free-throw percentage, while Ohio State's Caity Matter ranks 11th at .900.  Teammate Jessica Davenport ranks 12th with 3.0 blocks per game, while Michigan State's Kristin Haynie ranks 14th with 3.5 steals per game.  Ohio State's Brandie Hoskins ranks 13th with a .603 field goal percentage, while Jamie Cavey of Iowa is 15th with at .597.  Ohio State is first in field goal percentage (.520), while Penn State ranks first in free throw percentage at .797, followed by OSU in second at .790. Minnesota is third in rebounding margin with an average of 11.5.

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.

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 19.9.

Anderson and Walker the Next Mazzante/Whalen???
Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson and Michigan's Ta'Shia Walker are currently among the ranks of Big Ten greats Kelly Mazzante of Penn State and Lindsay Whalen of Minnesota.  In the past five years, the Big Ten has not had two freshmen pair each average over 13.5 points in all games since the 2000-01 season when Mazzante and Whalen began their collegiate careers.  But this year, Anderson and Walker are currently above the 13.5 mark, as the Badger rookie is fourth in the League at 17.6 points per game, while Walker stands at 13.6 ppg.  In fact, not since the 2000-01 season has any freshman averaged over 13.5 points.  Currently there are four freshmen ranked in the top 30 in scoring this season, which is a first since the Big Ten had six during the 2000-01 campaign as well.  The League had three in the top 30 in 2001-02, and just two in each of the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

See a detailed breakdown of the freshmen play over the past five years by downloading the weekly release PDF     

I'll Take 29 For The Road...
In the first three weeks of Conference play, four student-athletes have recorded 29 points or more 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.  Also on Iowa's home court, Northwestern's Ifeoma Okonkwo scored 30 points on January 16 as her Wildcats fell just shy of an upset bid over the Hawkeyes.

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 and Penn State's Tanisha Wright have scored 10 or more points in each of their team's 16 games this year.  Currently 17 players have double-figure scoring streaks.

From Way Downtown
Ohio State's Caity Matter recorded eight three-pointers against Michigan on January 11, which matched her career high set in 2003 against IUPUI.  Matter's eight treys are the second-highest total in Conference-game history.  Only Maxann Reese (MSU) and Kelly Mazzante (PSU) have knocked down eight treys in League play, while Reese and Indiana's Amy Cherubini hold the record of 10.  Matter's eight three-pointers are the third-highest for a single game in Big Ten history.

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.