Jan. 24, 2012
At the halfway point of the conference season, Purdue remains the only undefeated team during Big Ten play with a 7-0 mark. The Boilermakers are one of four teams appearing in the top 25 of both polls this week. This Big Ten is one of only two conferences with five teams having won at least 15 games this season and is tied for the national lead with five teams appearing in the top 25 of the latest Sagarin ratings. This week, all 12 of the conference’s matchups will be televised by BTN or ESPN2 or streamed online at BTN.com.
Where We Rank
The Big Ten is one of only three conferences with four or more teams appearing in one or both national rankings this week, joining the Big East and ACC. The Big Ten is also one of only two conferences, the Big East being the other, with four or more teams appearing in the top 20 of either poll. The Associated Press (AP) poll features four top-20 Big Ten teams, led by Ohio State at No. 9. Purdue checks in at No. 13 for the second consecutive week, while Penn State jumped four spots to No. 18, and Nebraska moved up one place to No. 19. In the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, Ohio State is tied for ninth, followed by No. 17 Purdue, No. 19 Penn State and No. 21 Nebraska. Michigan is receiving votes in both polls.
It’s A Race
Halfway through the conference season, Purdue remains the only undefeated squad in Big Ten action. The Boilermakers have won 10 straight games overall and boast a 7-0 mark in Big Ten play. Five teams are within three games of the conference lead, including a three-way tie for third place. Ohio State is one game back at 6-1, while Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State are tied for third with 5-2 records. Michigan State is sixth in the standings with a 4-3 ledger in conference action.
Piling Up the Wins
The Big Ten is one of only two conferences in the country, the Big East being the other, with five or more teams boasting at least 15 victories on the season. The Big Ten and Big East are also the only conferences with four or more teams with 16 or more triumphs on the year. Ohio State (19-1) is one of only three programs in the country with 19 or more victories on the season. Purdue (17-3) surpassed the 16-wins mark with a pair of victories last week, while Michigan (16-4) and Nebraska (16-3) each reached the landmark with wins a week ago. With two triumphs last week, Penn State (15-4) became the fifth conference team to reach the 15-wins plateau.
Leaders of the Pack
The Big Ten is tied for the national lead with five teams appearing in the top 25 of the latest Sagarin ratings. Ohio State appears at No. 11, followed by Penn State at No. 15. Purdue and Nebraska are rated Nos. 18 and 19, respectively, while Michigan rounds out contingent at No. 23. Only the Big East can match the Big Ten’s mark of five top-25 teams.
A Part of the Crowd
Five Big Ten squads appear in the top 35 of the latest RPI released by the NCAA on Monday, making the Big Ten one of four conferences in the nation boasting five or more top-35 teams. Ohio State is one of three Big Ten teams in the top 20, leading the way at No. 14. The Buckeyes are followed by No. 16 Michigan and No. 20 Purdue. Penn State appears at No. 30 in the rankings, while Nebraska rounds out the conference contingent of top-35 teams at No. 33.
Mid-Season Big Ten Stat Leaders
With nearly half of the Big Ten season in the books, the conference’s statistical leaders look to continue their production during the second half of the year. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill leads the conference in scoring at 22.3 points per game and is on pace to become the third Buckeye in four years to lead the Big Ten in scoring, following in the footsteps of Jantel Lavender. Her 22.3 points per game average would be the highest since Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante averaged 25.1 points per game in the 2001-02 season. At 10.1 rebounds per game Lady Lion Nikki Greene is on pace to become the first Penn State player to lead the conference in rebounding since Amanda Brown in 2006-07. Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis looks to make it four straight years of leading the conference in assists, leading the Big Ten with an average of 6.4 per game this season.
With six assists in Ohio State’s game against Illinois on Monday, Samantha Prahalis brought her career total to 846 and is just 47 away from becoming the conference’s all-time leader in the category. Only the third player with 800 or more helpers in conference history, Prahalis stands in second place on the Big Ten career list. Northwestern’s Nancy Kennelly holds the all-time career record with 892 helpers from 1989-93.
Several Big Ten players are poised to pass career milestones in the coming games. Northwestern’s Kendall Hackney needs just two points to become the 11th active member of the 1,000-points club. Illinois’ Karisma Penn is 23 blocks shy of joining Iowa’s Morgan Johnson as the only active members of the 200-swats class, while Iowa’s Kelly Krei needs just five rebounds to become the sixth active player in the 500-rebounds club. Michigan’s Jenny Ryan and Penn State’s Alex Bentley are closing in on the 200 career steals club, which currently has two active members. Ryan needs three steals to join the class, while Bentley is 19 swipes shy of reaching the milestone.
Seven of the Big Ten’s top 10 scorers in conference games also rank among the Big Ten’s top 10 in rebounds or assists per game during conference play. Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis leads the conference in assists at 6.4 per contest and is tied for second in scoring at 20.1 points per game, while Iowa’s Jaime Printy ranks fifth in scoring (19.0 points per game) and third in assists (5.4). Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper is fourth in the conference in scoring (19.1) and fourth in rebounding (8.7), while teammate Lindsey Moore is ninth in scoring (15.1) and second in assists (6.3). Minnesota’s Rachel Banham ranks sixth in scoring (18.6) and is tied for 10th in rebounding (6.9), and Penn State’s Alex Bentley is 10th in scoring (15.0) and tied for fifth in assists (4.6). Illinois’ Karisma Penn is the only conference player to appear in the top 10 in all three categories, ranking seventh in scoring (17.1), fifth in rebounding (8.6) and tied for 10th in assists (3.3).
Ranking Among the Nation’s Best
Several Big Ten standouts appear among the top 25 of the nation’s statistical leaders according to information released by the NCAA. Through Monday’s games, three players appear among the top 25 in scoring. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill is 10th at 21.6 points, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper is 16th at 19.9 points, and Penn State’s Maggie Lucas is 18th at 19.6 points per game. Two players are in the top 15 in assists per game, with Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis leading the charge at 6.9 per game, good for eighth nationally, and Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore checks in at No. 12 with 6.1 assists per game. Two Big Ten players appear in the top 20 in steals per game as Michigan’s Jenny Ryan ranks 15th with 3.4, while Bentley is 18th at 3.3 swipes per outing. Hill is seventh in the nation in 3-point percentage at 45.1, while Lucas is 19th at 40.7 percent. Ryan ranks second in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.07) and is followed by Prahalis in eighth (2.56). Illinois’ Karisma Penn and Hooper are tied for 25th in the country in double-doubles with eight this season.
Broadcasting to the Nation
Big Ten women’s basketball continues to receive extensive national broadcast coverage. This season, more than 90 percent of Big Ten women’s basketball home games are scheduled to be nationally distributed through the conference’s media agreements. At least 65 contests will appear on national television on BTN, CBS Sports or ESPN2. Also, every game of the Big Ten Tournament will be nationally televised. In addition, approximately 100 games are tentatively scheduled to be streamed online at BTN.com.
Back Home in Indiana
The 2012 Women’s Basketball Tournament will once again call Indianapolis home. It is the 17th time in 18 years the Circle City has played host to the annual event, and the 11th straight year the women’s tournament will take place in Indianapolis. The conference is in the fifth year of a five-year agreement with Indianapolis to serve as the host city of the annual men’s and women’s postseason events. The women’s tournament will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse beginning on Thursday, March 1, and culminate with the tournament championship game on Sunday, March 4.