Jan. 31, 2012
Past the halfway point of the conference season, Purdue remains atop the Big Ten standings with an 8-1 mark with five teams within three games of the conference leader. Four Big Ten teams appear in the top 25 of the latest national polls, while three conference teams boast 18 or more wins this season, making the Big Ten the only conference that can make such a claim. The Big Ten is also one of only three conferences in the country to have five or more teams appear in the top 35 of the latest RPI. This week, nine of the Big Ten’s 10 conference matchups will be televised by BTN or steamed live 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. 11. Purdue checks in at No. 15, while Nebraska jumped three spots to No. 16 and Penn State moved to No. 19. In the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, Ohio State appears at No. 11, Purdue remains at No. 17, Nebraska climbs three places to No. 18 and Penn State appears at No. 21. Michigan State is receiving votes in both polls.
It’s a Race
Halfway through the conference season, Purdue remains atop the Big Ten standings with an 8-1 mark, and five teams are within three games of the conference lead. Nebraska and Ohio State are one game back at 7-2, while Penn State is fourth in the standings with a 6-3 record. Michigan is fifth at 5-4, while Michigan State is sixth with a 5-4 ledger in conference action.
Piling Up the Wins
The Big Ten holds a unique distinction in college basketball, being the only conference in the nation with three teams boasting at least 18 victories on the season. It is also one of four conferences in the country, joining the ACC, Big East, and SEC, with five or more teams having won 16 or more games this season. Ohio State (20-2) is one of seven teams in the country to have won 20 or more contests this season and Nebraska (18-3) and Purdue (18-4) each met the 18-wins landmark with triumphs last week and. In addition, Michigan (16-6) and Penn State (16-5) each have won 16 games this season.
Reppin’ in the RPI
The Big Ten is one of only three conferences in the nation with five or more teams appearing in the top 30 of the latest RPI, released by the NCAA on Monday. The Big Ten is tied with the ACC with five top-30 teams, and trail only the seven from the Big East. Ohio State leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 14, while Purdue jumps three spots to No. 17 in this week’s ranks. Michigan appears at No. 22, while Penn State and Nebraska each jump four spots in the latest RPI, the Lady Lions to No. 26 and the Huskers to No. 29.
Putting the Past Behind Them
Three Big Ten teams have already met or are on the cusp of meeting their win totals from last season. With a victory over Ohio State on Sunday, Minnesota earned its 12th victory of the season, already matching its wins-total from the 2010-11 campaign. With its next victory, Michigan will notch its 17th triumph of the year, the same number of wins the Wolverines finished with a season ago. Nebraska is one of just three conference squads with 18 or more wins on the season, and surpassed its 2010-11 wins total of 13 following its Jan. 8 win at Iowa.
Two Named To Wooden Midseason List
Two Big Ten players remain in the hunt for the prestigious Wooden Award after being named to the midseason watch list. Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis and Penn State’s Alex Bentley were among 20 players named to the midseason list, which was comprised of athletes based on their performances during the first three months of the season. It is the second such honor for Prahalis and the first for Bentley.
Showing Her CLASS
Purdue’s Brittany Rayburn is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes excellence on and off the court. The award is given to a Division I senior with notable achievements in the areas of community, character and competition. Nationwide fan voting has begun to determine the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on either the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award website or the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Facebook fan page through March 18.
With three assists in Ohio State’s game against Minnesota on Sunday, Samantha Prahalis brought her career total to 858 and is just 35 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.
Numerous Big Ten players surpassed career milestones or are poised to do so in the coming games. Michigan’s Jenny Ryan became the third active member of the 200 steals club after finishing with one against Wisconsin on Monday. Two Big Ten players are within 40 points of 1,000 for their careers as Penn State’s Maggie Lucas needs just 32 points, while Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore is 35 tallies away from joining the club that features 11 active members. Moore is also closing in on 500 assists, needing 48 more to join Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis as the only active members of the 500-helpers club. Penn State’s Alex Bentley is just 18 steals away from 200 in her career, while Illinois’ Karisma Penn needs 19 blocks to join Iowa’s Morgan Johnson in the 200-swats club.
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 Sunday’s games, four players appear among the top 25 in scoring. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill is 11th at 21.6 points per game, Penn State’s Maggie Lucas is 14th at 19.8, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper is 16th at 19.7 and Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis is 23rd at 19.0. Three players are in the top 25 in assists per game, with Prahalis leading the charge at 6.8, good for seventh nationally. Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore checks in at No. 15 with 5.8, and Northwestern’s Karly Roser is 24th with 5.5. Michigan’s Jenny Ryan ranks 17th in the country in steals per game, averaging 3.3. Hill is 10th in the nation in 3-point percentage at 43.1, while Lucas is 18th at 40.6 percent. Ryan ranks third in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.79) and is followed by Prahalis at No. 11 (2.42). Hooper is 15th in the country in double-doubles with 10, and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams ranks 16th in blocks per game (2.7).
With more than half of the Big Ten season in the books, the conference-only 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 22.2 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 22.2 points per game average would be the highest since Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante also averaged 22.2 points per game in the 2002-03 season. At 10.2 rebounds per game, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper is on pace to become the first Husker to lead the Big Ten in any statistical category. Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis looks to make it four straight years of leading the conference in assists, pacing the Big Ten with an average of 6.3 per game 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.