Feb. 7, 2012
As teams head into the back stretch of the Big Ten season, Purdue is atop the conference standings at 9-2, with six other conference squads within three games of the Big Ten leader. Four conference programs appear in the top 20 of the latest Associated Press poll, while three teams boast 19 or more wins this season, making the Big Ten one of only two conferences that can make such a claim. Four Big Ten teams appear in the top 30 of the latest RPI report, while several Big Ten teams have already met or are on the cusp of meeting their win totals from last season. This week, all 10 Big Ten matchups will be televised live by BTN or ESPN2 or streamed online at BTN.com.
Where We Rank
The Big Ten is one of only two conferences in the nation to have four or more teams ranked in the top 20 of the Associated Press (AP) poll released on Monday. Ohio State climbs one spot to No. 10 this week, while Nebraska moves up three spots and is now No. 13 in the week’s media poll. Purdue checks in at No. 15, while Penn State moves up one place to No. 18 in the AP poll. The same four teams also appear in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, released on Tuesday. Ohio State appears at No. 10, followed by Nebraska at No. 15, Purdue at No. 19 and Penn State at No. 21.
Time for the Stretch Run
With all teams having six or fewer games remaining on their conference schedules, the Big Ten Championship race is beginning to take shape. Six teams are within three games of conference leader Purdue, which boasts a 9-2 mark in Big Ten play. Nebraska and Ohio State are tied for second at 8-2, while Penn State is fourth with an 8-3 ledger. Michigan State holds the fifth spot in the standings at 6-4, and Iowa and Michigan are tied for sixth with matching 6-5 records in Big Ten play.
Stacking Up Around the Nation
The Big Ten is one of only two conferences in the nation to have three teams with 19 or more wins this season. In addition, four conference teams have 18 or more victories, while a fifth program has 17 wins on the year. Ohio State (21-2) is the lone Big Ten program with 20 or more victories this season, while Nebraska (19-3) and Purdue (19-5) are each one triumph away from the 20-wins mark. In addition, Penn State moved its record to 18-5 on the year following Sunday’s win over Minnesota, while Michigan has won 17 contests this season.
By the Numbers
Four Big Ten teams appear among the top 30 in the latest RPI released by the NCAA on Monday, tied for the second highest total of any conference in the country. Overall, six conference teams rank among the top 50 in the latest ratings, led by Ohio State at No. 13. Nebraska and Purdue appear at Nos. 22 and 23, respectively, while Penn State is the fourth top-30 conference squad at No. 28. Michigan checks in at No. 38, while Iowa jumped 10 spots to No. 48 in this week’s edition of the RPI.
Putting the Past Behind Them
Several Big Ten teams have already met or are on the cusp of meeting their win totals from last season. With their next victories, Michigan and Minnesota will surpass their win totals from a year ago. The Wolverines have won 17 games this season, matching their total from last year, while the Gophers’ next win will give them 13 on the season, surpassing last season’s mark. With 19 triumphs, Purdue is two wins short of its 21 victories from a season ago and eyes back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. Nebraska surpassed its 2010-11 wins total of 13 following its Jan. 8 victory at Iowa.
Five Big Ten games were decided by six points or less and two Thursday contests needed overtime to determine a winner during last week’s games. In Madison, Iowa knocked off Wisconsin, 85-79, in overtime after regulation ended with the teams tied 73-73. In West Lafayette, Nebraska needed three extra periods to outlast Purdue, 93-89. It was the Big Ten’s first triple overtime conference game since Feb. 1, 2009, when Iowa knocked off Penn State.
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, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper ranks 14th at 20.0 and Penn State’s Maggie Lucas is 19th at 19.6. Three players are in the top 25 in assists per game, with Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis leading the charge at 6.8, good for eighth nationally. Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore checks in at No. 19 with 5.6, and Northwestern’s Karly Roser is 23rd with 5.5. Penn State’s Alex Bentley is 19th in steals per game at 3.1, followed closely by Michigan’s Jenny Ryan, who ranks 22nd in the country at 3.1. Hill is fifth in the nation in 3-point percentage at 43.1, while Lucas is 10th at 41.7 percent. Ryan ranks third in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.81) and is followed by Prahalis at No. 10 (2.42). Iowa’s Morgan Johnson ranks 14th in the country in field goal percentage at 54.4 percent, Hooper is 22nd in the country in double-doubles with 10, and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams ranks 18th in blocks per game (2.7).
Doubling Their Efforts
During the last two weeks, Big Ten players have put together a number of impressive performances, highlighted by 22 double-double efforts. Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper leads the Big Ten and ranks 22nd nationally with 10 double-doubles this season, while Illinois’ Karisma Penn and Michigan State’s Lykendra Johnson each have eight double-double performances this year, while 20 other conference players have recorded multiple such efforts this season. A complete list of the 2011-12 double-double performers can be found on Page 5 of this release.
With five assists in Ohio State’s game against Wisconsin on Monday, Samantha Prahalis brought her career total to 863 and is just 30 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. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas became the 13th member of the 1,000-points club, now with 1,002 in her career, after scoring 10 points against Minnesota on Sunday. Iowa’s Morgan Johnson needs 19 points to become the 14th member of the 1,000-points club, while Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper is 52 tallies away from 1,000. Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore is closing in on 500 career assists, needing 44 more to join Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis as the only active members of the 500-helpers club. Northwestern’s Kendall Hackney, Wisconsin’s Taylor Wurtz and Purdue’s Sam Ostarello are closing in on 500 career rebounds, each within 30 of the milestone. Penn State’s Alex Bentley is just 11 steals away from 200 in her career, while Illinois’ Karisma Penn needs 14 blocks to join the 200-swats club. A complete list of Big Ten milestones can be found on Page 3 of this release
Welcome Additions to Wade List
Three Big Ten players were added to the Wade Trophy Watch List on Tuesday, bringing the Big Ten total to five on the list. Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper and Ohio State’s Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis were named to the list, joining Iowa’s Jaime Printy and Penn State’s Alex Bentley. The current list 34 student-athletes will be trimmed to 12 finalists in mid-March, with the winner announced at the Final Four in April.
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.
Getting it Done in the Classroom
Four Big Ten student-athletes were named to Capital one Academic All-District teams, it was announced last week. Michigan’s Jenny Ryan, Northwestern’s Kendall Hackney and Purdue’s Brittany Rayburn earned District 5 honors, while Iowa’s Jaime Printy was named to the District 6 first team. All four will advance to the Capital one All-American Team ballots, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.
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.