Jan. 23, 2013
Heading into the fourth week of Big Ten action, four teams carry four or more wins in conference play, while seven teams boast 13 or more wins overall this season. The Big Ten claims seven squads in the top 50 of the Sagarin ratings, while 10 conference teams appear in the top 80 of the latest NCAA RPI report. This week's games feature seven matchups with at least one ranked team, while nine of the contests will be nationally distributed, including five games on BTN and one showdown on ESPN2.
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 15 of each poll. Penn State leads all conference squads at No. 8 in both rankings, while Purdue appears at No. 13 in the coaches poll and No. 15 in the AP poll. Michigan jumps two spots in the AP rankings to No. 23, while Michigan State rounds out the poll at No. 25. Iowa and Nebraska are receiving votes in both rankings, while Michigan and Michigan State are receiving votes from the coaches.
Leading the Way
Penn State sits alone atop the Big Ten standings with an unblemished 5-0 conference record, while Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue are in a three-way tie for second with matching 4-1 Big Ten records. Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska each boast three wins in conference action.
The Big Ten is one of two conferences in the nation with seven or more teams with 13 or more victories this season. Michigan State is one of just 13 schools around the country to boast 16 or more wins this season. Michigan, Penn State and Purdue each have 15 victories, while Iowa has 14 wins and Minnesota and Nebraska share 13-6 records. In addition, three other conference teams have won 10 or more games, including Ohio State with 11 victories and Illinois and Indiana with 10 each.
Reppin' in the RPI
According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday afternoon, 10 Big Ten teams appear in the rating's top 80, one of three conferences that can claim such a feat. In addition, with all of its squads ranked No. 150 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 25, with Penn State leading at No. 8, followed by No. 11 Purdue, No. 21 Iowa and No. 22 Michigan. Michigan State appears at No. 31, followed by No. 49 Nebraska, No. 61 Minnesota, No. 67 Illinois, No. 69 Ohio State and No. 79 Wisconsin.
The Big Ten is tied for second among all conferences with seven teams in the top 50 of the latest Sagarin ratings, released through Sunday's games. Penn State leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 9, followed by No. 16 Michigan State, No. 26 Iowa, No. 27 Michigan and No. 29 Purdue in the top 30. Nebraska is 36th and Illinois rounds out the conference's top 50 teams at No. 48.
Watch Out For Wooden
Three Big Ten standouts have been named to the John Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 list, which was released on Tuesday. Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Penn State's Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas were selected to the list, which is comprised of players that are considered frontrunners for selection to the ballot of college basketball's top award. Penn State is one of six schools to have multiple players named to the list.
Success on the Road
Big Ten teams have proven to be just as successful on the road during the conference season, having split the 32 Big Ten contests through three weeks of play. Illinois has opened conference action with a 3-0 mark on the road, while Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State have started the year 2-0 away from home. Nebraska and Purdue each boast winning records on the road, holding 2-1 marks away from home.
To The Point
Through Sunday's games, the Big Ten boasts five standouts in the top 50 in the nation in points per game. Ohio State's Tayler Hill is 13th in the nation at 20.6 points per outing, while Minnesota's Rachel Banham is 17th in the country at 20.3 points per game. Penn State's Maggie Lucas comes in at 20th (19.8 points per game), while Illinois' Karisma Penn is 36th (18.6) and Indiana's Aulani Sinclair is 45th (18.1).
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 53.1 percent, while Michigan's Kate Thompson is third at 48.9 and Indiana's Aulani Sinclair is 25th at 41.7. Thompson is first in 3-pointers per game at 3.88, followed by Lucas in seventh with 3.25. Penn State's Alex Bentley is second (4.13) and Wisconsin's Tiera Stephen is 19th (3.32) in steals per game, while Iowa's Samantha Logic is eighth (7.2) and Northwestern's Karly Roser is 15th (6.4) in assists per game. Illinois' Karisma Penn and Wisconsin's Cassie Rochel are among the top 25 in blocks per game, with Penn 18th at 2.56 and Rochel 21st at 2.50. Iowa's Jaime Printy is fourth nationally in free-throw percentage (93.1 percent), followed by Minnesota's Rachel Banham in 11th (89.9). Minnesota's Micaëlla Riché is shooting 55.2 percent from the field, good for 16th nationally, while Iowa's Morgan Johnson is 24th at 54.0 percent.
Several Big Ten players surpassed or are closing in on various career milestones. Indiana's Aulani Sinclair broke the 1,000 point mark for her career when she nailed a three-pointer 30 seconds into the second half in the Hoosiers game against Michigan State last week. Three other players are closing in on 1,000 points as Purdue's Courtney Moses is three tallies away, Michigan's Rachel Sheffer needs eight points and Penn State's Nikki Greene needs 12 scores to reach the mark. Last week, Greene became just the third active player to accumulate 200 blocks in her career, while Ohio State's Ashley Adams is just eight swats away from the landmark. Northwestern's Dannielle Diamant is 13 rebounds shy of 500 boards in her career, while Illinois' Karisma Penn needs seven steals to reach the 200 plateau. A list of Big Ten student-athletes approaching career milestones can be found on Page 3 of this release.
Coaching to Milestones
A Big Ten coach reached a notable milestone last week, while another is poised to do so in the coming games. On Sunday, Iowa's Lisa Bluder eclipsed 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 two more wins to reach the 400 career victory 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.