Big Ten Women's Basketball Weekly Release - Jan. 28
Jan. 28, 2014
Big Ten Medal of Honor 100th Anniversary Spotlight: Ohio State's Cheryl Perozek
Tipoff: Four teams are within two games of conference leader Penn State, which is 6-1 in Big Ten play. Ten conference programs are among the top 80 of the latest RPI report released by the NCAA, including seven among the top 50. Nine conference squads carry wins over ranked opponents this season, while seven programs are averaging better than 70 points per game. Nine conference freshmen enter the week ranked among the Big Ten’s top 30 scoring leaders, while several upperclassmen are approaching or have reached significant career milestones. This week, all 12 conference matchups will be available to a national audience, with each contest televised live on BTN or streamed on the Big Ten Digital Network.
A Look at the Standings: Entering the halfway point of the Big Ten season, Penn State stands atop the conference standings with a 6-1 mark in Big Ten play. Michigan and Michigan State are tied for second in the conference race, one game back of the Lady Lions with matching 5-2 Big Ten records. Purdue is fourth with a 5-3 ledger, while Iowa is fifth at 4-3 and Nebraska rounds out the top half of the standings with a 3-3 mark. Northwestern and Ohio State are tied for seventh at 3-4 in the conference with Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin carrying 2-5 Big Ten ledgers.
Up in the RPI: Ten Big Ten programs are rated among the top 80 in the latest RPI report, released by the NCAA on Monday, including seven squads among the top 50. Purdue remains among the top 10 in the latest rating, appearing at No. 9, followed by No. 17 Penn State, which jumped 15 spots from No. 32 a week ago. In addition, No. 32 Ohio State, No. 33 Iowa, No. 34 Indiana, No. 39 Minnesota and No. 49 Michigan State all appear among the rating’s top 50. Also, No. 61 Northwestern, No. 67 Michigan and No. 78 Nebraska appear among the rating’s top 80, with Wisconsin checking in at No. 83.
Beating the Best: Nine Big Ten teams carry victories over top 25 foes this season, including six squads with multiple such triumphs. Following its win over Nebraska on Sunday, Northwestern has won three games against ranked foes this season, having also defeated ranked DePaul and Purdue squads earlier this season. Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue each have won two games against top 25 squads, while Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska have each posted one win over a ranked opponent this season.
Where We Rank: Three Big Ten teams appear among the top 25 of the latest Associated Press (AP) or USA Today Coaches rankings, with six teams receiving votes in one or both polls. Penn State climbed one spot in the AP poll to No. 12, while remaining steady at No. 13 in the coaches poll. Purdue jumped three places to No. 19 in the writers rankings and four spots in the USA Today poll to No. 16, while Nebraska appeared at No. 23 in the coaches vote. The Huskers are one of four teams also receiving votes in the AP ballot, which also includes Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State. The Spartans are also receiving votes in the coaches poll.
An Elite Class: Already the conference’s active leader in rebounding and second-leading scorer, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper needs just 10 rebounds to reach the 1,000 mark in her career. She would become the 16th Big Ten player to reach the career mark. In addition, she would become the nation’s fourth active player among the 2,000 point and 1,000 rebound club, joining Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike, Middle Tennessee’s Ebony Rowe and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas. Hooper is poised to become the fifth Big Ten player to reach the historic landmark, joining Illinois’ Jenna Smith, Minnesota’s Laura Coenen and Ohio State’s Jessica Davenport and Jantel Lavender, and the third Nebraska player in history to achieve the feat alongside Karen Jennings and Kelsey Griffin.
Milestone Moments: Numerous conference players have recently reached milestone achievements. Purdue’s Courtney Moses became the fourth active player to reach the 1,500 point mark, now with 1,508 in her career, while Iowa’s Samantha Logic is the lone active conference player with 500 career assists. In addition, Penn State’s Maggie Lucas and Dara Taylor became the second and third active players, respectively, to reach the 200 career steals mark. A listing of Big Ten standouts and where they rank compared to career milestones can be found on Page 3 of this release.
Making An Impact: Nine Big Ten freshmen rank among the conference’s top 30 scoring leaders among all games this season, with each averaging at least 12 points per contest. Indiana’s Larryn Brooks ranks fourth in the Big Ten and leads her team in scoring, averaging 17.4 points per game. Northwestern’s Nia Coffey and Christen Inman are the Wildcats’ top two scorers this season and rank among the Big Ten’s top 25, as Coffey is sixth at 16.1 points and Inman is 24th at 13.0 points per game. Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. is 13th at 14.5 points per game. Michigan State’s Aerial Powers is the Spartans’ leading scorer, and ranks 19th in the Big Ten at 13.6 points per game, while teammate Tori Jankoska is third on the squad and 30th in the conference at 12.0 points per contest. Michigan’s Siera Thompson is the second-leading scorer on the team with 13.5 points, which ranks 21st in the conference, followed by Illinois’ Jacqui Grant, who is 22nd in the Big Ten at 13.4 points per game, and Iowa’s Ally Disterhoft, who is 26th at 12.7 points per contest.
To the Point: With its teams averaging better than 72 points per game, four points higher than the national average, the Big Ten ranks among conference leaders in scoring this season. The Big Ten’s top four scoring teams rank among the top 50 nationally, with Iowa rated No. 17 in the country and leading the conference with an average of 81.3 points per game. Penn State is second in the conference, averaging 75.7 points per contest, Purdue is third at 75.1 points and Michigan State is fourth at 75.0 per game. Four other conference teams are averaging more than 70 points per game, including Nebraska (74.7 ppg), Indiana (73.9), Illinois (72.1) and Michigan (70.9), with Minnesota and Northwestern each averaging 69.6 points per game.
Among the Leaders: The Big Ten’s three most prolific scorers rank among the NCAA’s active leaders in scoring average entering the week. Minnesota’s Rachel Banham ranks fifth nationally, averaging 19.3 points per game, buoyed by her scoring average of 25.6 points during Big Ten games only this season. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas is sixth, averaging 18.8 points per game over her career, while Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper is 13th in the nation at 17.5 points per contest. The Big Ten and Conference USA are the only conferences with three active players among the NCAA active scoring average leaders.