Feb. 28, 2012
All 12 Big Ten women’s basketball teams head to Indianapolis and Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the annual Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, where the tournament champion will earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Championship. Penn State clinched the top overall seed after earning the Big Ten Championship for the first time since the 2003-04 season. Ohio State, which enters the field as the No. 2 seed, looks to become the first team in Big Ten history to win four consecutive tournament titles after winning the event in 2009, 2010 and 2011. For the fifth consecutive season, every game of the Big Ten Tournament will be televised to a national television audience. The first 10 games of the tournament will be televised by BTN, while ESPN2 will carry the tournament final at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Roaring to the Top
With its 74-51 win over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon, Penn State secured sole possession of the Big Ten Championship, the Lady Lions’ first outright title since the 2003-04 season. It marks the sixth Big Ten title in Lady Lion history. With a 13-3 record in conference play, Penn State also earned the top overall seed in the Big Ten Tournament, where it will play its first game on Friday at 6 p.m. ET against the Minnesota-Wisconsin winner from Thursday.
With the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten Tournament will now feature 11 games over four days, with the top four seeds receiving byes into Friday’s quarterfinals. In a change from year’s past, Thursday will now feature four games over two sessions, beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET. The 2012 bracket, complete with times and television designations, can be found on Page 4 of this release.
In the 17-year history of the Big Ten Tournament, seven conference teams have advanced to the tournament championship game. In addition, the No. 9 seed is the lowest seed to advance to the championship game when Illinois accomplished the feat in 2008.
Down to the Wire
The Big Ten Tournament has proved to be highly competitive in its history. Fourteen of the 17 title games have been decided by 10 points or less and seven of the last 10 have been decided by three points or less.
Pulling the Double
Six times in the tournament’s history, the Big Ten Champion during the regular season has gone on to win the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State was the first to achieve the feat in the tournament’s inaugural year (1995), Purdue pulled the double in 1999, Michigan State won both in 2005 and Ohio State won the 2006, 2009 and 2010 tournaments after winning the regular season crown.
Back Home in Indiana
A number of conference student-athletes will be returning to their home state for the Big Ten Tournament. Twelve Big Ten players hail from the Hoosier state, including eight who play for in-state schools Purdue and Indiana. The complete list of Indiana natives includes:
Andrea Newbauer, Indiana (Fort Wayne)
Aulani Sinclair, Indiana (Eminence)
Jasmine McGhee, Indiana (Anderson)
Bryonna Davis, Michigan State (Merrillville)
Akyah Taylor, Michigan State (Elkhart)
Alex Bentley, Penn State (Indianapolis)
Torrie Thornton, Purdue (Carmel)
Brittany Rayburn, Purdue (Attica)
Courtney Moses, Purdue (Sweetser)
Dee Dee Williams, Purdue (Indianapolis)
Alex Guyton, Purdue (Bloomington)
Lacia Gorman, Wisconsin (Fort Wayne)
Where We Rank
Five Big Ten teams received votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) poll, which was released on Monday. Penn State climbed into the top 10 after clinching the Big Ten Championship last week, appearing at No. 9 this week, its highest ranking of the season. Ohio State is ranked at No. 14 this week, followed by No. 21 Purdue and No. 24 Nebraska. Iowa is among other teams also receiving votes this week.
Up in the RPI
Seven Big Ten teams appear among the top 55 teams in the latest NCAA’s RPI Report released on Monday, tied for the third most of any conference in the nation. Penn State, Ohio State and Purdue appear in the top 30, with the Lady Lions at No. 19, the Buckeyes at No. 22 and the Boilermakers at No. 30. Iowa climbs to No. 36 in this week’s ranks, Nebraska is No. 39, and Michigan appears at No. 45. Michigan State made the biggest jump in the ratings of any top 55 team, climbing 14 spots to No. 54 this week.
Piling Up the Wins
Seven conference teams have won 19 or more games this season, making the Big Ten one of only three conferences in the country with at least seven squads boasting 19 or more victories on the year. Ohio State leads the conference with 24 wins on the year and is joined by Penn State (23 wins) and Nebraska and Purdue (21) as the four Big Ten teams with 20 or more wins on the year. Three other conference squads are within one victory of the 20-win milestone as Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State each have 19 triumphs on the season.
With three assists in Ohio State’s game against Nebraska on Sunday, Samantha Prahalis brought her career total to 889 and is just four 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.
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, three players appear among the top 25 in scoring. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill is 12th at 20.7 points per game, teammate Samantha Prahalis is 14th at 20.4 and Penn State’s Maggie Lucas is 23rd at 19.3. Prahalis also ranks in the top 25 in assists per game with 6.5, good for eighth nationally. Michigan’s Jenny Ryan is 20th in steals per game at 3.1, followed by Penn State’s Alex Bentley with 2.9. Two Big Ten players rank among the top six in three-point percentage with Hill fifth at 42.5 percent and Lucas sixth at 42.3 percent. Ryan ranks fourth in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.54) and is followed by Prahalis at No. 22 (2.02). Iowa’s Morgan Johnson ranks 14th in the country in field goal percentage at 54.2 percent and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams ranks 12th in blocks per game (2.9).
Conference Stat Champions
The Big Ten crowned its 2011-12 stat champions in conference games only following the conclusion of the Big Ten season on Sunday. Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis won the Big Ten scoring title with an average of 22.5 points per game, marking the third time in four years a Buckeye has led the conference in the category. Her 22.5 points per game average is the highest since Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante averaged 25.1 points per game in the 2001-02 season. Prahalis also finished as the conference leader in assists per game, averaging 5.9 per outing to become the first player in conference history to lead the Big Ten in assists four years in a row. Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper emerged as the Big Ten’s leading rebounder this season, finishing with an average of 9.6 boards per contest.
Two Named Lieberman Award Finalists
Two Big Ten guards were named finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guards. Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore and Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis were two of eight players chosen as finalists, who were selected based on their leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills. The winner will be announced during the Final Four weekend.
Still in the Hunt
Three Big Ten players were added to the Wade Trophy Watch List, 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. Two conference players, Bentley and Prahalis, also remain in the hunt for the Wooden Award. The winners for both awards will be announced in April.