March 5, 2013
All 12 Big Ten women's basketball teams head to Hoffman Estates, Ill., and the Sears Centre Arena 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 second consecutive season and seventh time overall. Nebraska, which enters the field as the No. 2 seed, looks to make a return trip to the tournament final. For the sixth 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 3 p.m. CT on Sunday.
Roaring to the Top
With its 82-67 win over Nebraska on Sunday afternoon, Penn State secured sole possession of the Big Ten Championship, the Lady Lions' second consecutive outright title. It marks the seventh Big Ten title in Lady Lion history. With a 14-2 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. CT against the Minnesota-Ohio State winner from Thursday.
In the 18-year history of the Big Ten Tournament, nine conference teams have advanced to the tournament championship game. The No. 9 seed is the lowest seed to advance to the championship game when Illinois accomplished the feat in 2008, while the No. 5 seed is the lowest seed to earn the tournament crown (Purdue, 1998; Indiana, 2002; Ohio State, 2011).
Down to the Wire
The Big Ten Tournament has proved to be highly competitive in its history. Fifteen of the 18 title games have been decided by 10 points or less and eight of the last 11 have been decided by four points or less, including last year's double-overtime thriller when Purdue edged Nebraska.
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 Chicago
A number of conference student-athletes will be returning to the Chicagoland area for the Big Ten Tournament. Fourteen Big Ten players hail from the city or surrounding areas, including nine who play for in-state schools Illinois and Northwestern. The complete list of Chicagoland natives includes:
Ivory Crawford, Illinois (Proviso East)
Adrienne GodBold, Illinois (Marshall)
Kersten Magrum, Illinois (Lincoln-Way East)
Kierra Morris, Illinois (Morgan Park Academy)
Taylor Tuck, Illinois (Bolingbrook)
Sam Arnold, Michigan (Lake Park)
Kiana Johnson, Michigan State (Whitney Young)
Anna Morrissey, Michigan State (Stevenson)
Tessa Haldes, Northwestern (Whitney Young)
Maggie Lyon, Northwestern (New Trier)
Meghan McKeown, Northwestern (Loyola Academy)
La'Terria Taylor, Northwestern (Von Steuben)
Jacki Gulczynski, Wisconsin (Bartlett)
Michala Johnson, Wisconsin (Montini)
Where We Rank
Four Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls. In the AP vote, Penn State leads the way at No. 8, followed by Nebraska at No. 22. The Lady Lions check in at No. 8 in the coaches poll, while the Huskers are ranked No. 24 and Purdue comes in at No. 25. Michigan State and Purdue are receiving votes from the AP.
Reppin' in the RPI
Six Big Ten teams appear among the top 40 squads in the latest RPI Report released by the NCAA on Monday, tied for the second most of any conference in the nation. Entering the week, three Big Ten squads appear among the top 20, with Penn State leading at No. 5, followed by No. 15 Nebraska and No. 18 Purdue. Michigan State appears at No. 27, followed by No. 31 Michigan and No. 37 Iowa.
The Big Ten has nine teams in the top 50 of the latest Sagarin Ratings, released through Sunday's games, the most among all conferences. Penn State leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 8, followed by No. 14 Nebraska and No. 21 Michigan State in the top 25. Iowa comes in at No. 34, Purdue is No. 37, Ohio State is No. 41, Michigan is No. 43, Illinois is No. 44 and Minnesota is No. 50.
Six 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 six squads boasting 19 or more victories on the year. Penn State leads the conference with 24 wins on the year and is joined by Nebraska and Michigan State (22 wins), Purdue (21) and Michigan (20) as the five Big Ten teams with 20 or more victories on the year. Iowa is within one victory of the 20-win milestone as the Hawkeyes have 19 triumphs on the season. Additionally, the Big Ten is the only conference in the nation with all of its teams boasting 11 or more wins.
To The Point
Through Sunday's games, the Big Ten boasts five players in the top 45 in the nation in points per game, the most of any conference. Minnesota's Rachel Banham is 12th in the country at 21.0 points per game, while Ohio State's Tayler Hill is 13th with 20.9 points per outing. Penn State's Maggie Lucas is 15th (20.5 points per game), Illinois' Karisma Penn is 26th (19.4) and Nebraska's Jordan Hooper is 42nd (17.9).
In addition to scoring leaders, numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the NCAA statistical leaders, which were released on Monday. Penn State's Maggie Lucas is fourth in the country in three-point field goal percentage at 47.0 percent, while Michigan's Kate Thompson is 18th at 40.8, Iowa's Melissa Dixon is 22nd at 40.1 and Indiana's Aulani Sinclair is 23rd at 39.8. Thompson is second nationally in three-pointers per game at 3.59 and Lucas is ninth at 3.07. Penn State's Alex Bentley is fourth (3.68) in steals per game, while Iowa's Samantha Logic is 12th (6.6) in assists per game and Northwestern's Karly Roser is 17th (6.3). Wisconsin's Cassie Rochel is 14th in blocks per game at 2.64. Iowa's Jaime Printy is third nationally in free-throw percentage (92.2 percent), followed by Lucas in 11th (89.8) and Minnesota's Rachel Banham in 12th (89.3). Minnesota's Micaëlla Riché is shooting 52.9 percent from the field, good for 25th nationally.
Several Big Ten student-athletes reached career milestones last week or are poised to do so in the coming games. Illinois' Adrienne GodBold reached the 1,000-point mark for her career, while teammate Karisma Penn hit the 1,000-rebound plateau. Ohio State's Tayler Hill is 33 tallies shy of the 2,000-point milestone. Hill reached the 500-rebound mark, while Indiana's Sasha Chaplin and Iowa's Jaime Printy are six and nine boards, respectively, shy of the plateau. A list of Big Ten student-athletes approaching career milestones can be found on Page 3 of this release.
Conference Stat Champions
The Big Ten crowned its 2012-13 stat champions in conference games only following the conclusion of the Big Ten season on Sunday. Ohio State's Tayler Hill won the Big Ten scoring title with an average of 22.3 points per game, marking the fourth time in five years a Buckeye has led the conference in the category. Iowa's Samantha Logic finished as the conference leader in assists per game, averaging 6.4 per outing, becoming the first Hawkeye to top the category since Cara Consuegra in 2001. Purdue's Sam Ostarello emerged as the Big Ten's leading rebounder this season, finishing with an average of 10.9 boards per contest. She was the first Boilermarker to lead the category since Joy Holmes in 1991.
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 Penn State's Alex Bentley were two of seven 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.