Big Ten Preps for Postseason Play

A total of seven Big Ten teams will enter postseason play this week.

A total of seven Big Ten teams will enter postseason play this week.

March 15, 2006

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BIG TEN GRABS THREE OF TOP 16 SEEDS
The Big Ten snagged three of the top 16 seeds in this year's NCAA Championship, which is tied for the most by any conference (ACC, Big East, SEC).  Ohio State earned a No. 1 seed, followed by No. 4 Michigan State and No. 4 Purdue.

ANOTHER "ONE" FOR THE BIG TEN
For the third consecutive season, a Big Ten team earned a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Championship.  No. 2/2 Ohio State (28-2) earned its second No. 1 seed in program history in 2006, while Michigan State proved its top seed last year by playing in the national championship final.  Penn State was one of four top-seeds in the 2004 tournament.  The Buckeyes are the ninth overall top-seed in Big Ten history.  Iowa earned the league's first two top-seeds in 1988 and 1992, while Ohio State was No. 1 in 1993 and both Penn State and Purdue were No. 1 seeds in 1994.  The Boilermakers staked claim to the top seed in 1999 and captured the conference's lone national championship.  Penn State also earned a top seed in 1991, however that was prior to joining the Big Ten.

SIX FOR FIVE
For the sixth consecutive season, the Big Ten has sent five or more teams to the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.  The conference sent five teams to the 2001, 2005 and 2006 tournaments and tied the league high of six teams in 2002, 2003 and 2004. 

NCAA ACTION SLATED FOR PENN STATE & PURDUE
Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center and Purdue's Mackey Arena will play host to NCAA first- and second-round play this season.  The 2006 tournament marks the third year that the NCAA has predetermined its opening-round sites.  First and second-round action will begin in University Park, Pa., March 18 and 20, while West Lafayette, Ind., will host conference teams Ohio State and Purdue for the opening rounds, March 19 and 21.  This season's Final Four will be hosted by Harvard University and Northeastern University at the TD Banknorth Garden (19,334) in Boston, Mass., April 2 and 4.

BIG TEN RATES AMONG TOURNEY'S BEST
Ohio State, Northwestern and Illinois were three of the 32 teams selected to play in the first NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament in 1982, tipping off what would become the Big Ten's outstanding legacy in the event. Since the championship's inception, the Big Ten has earned 100 invitations to the Big Dance. That ranks as the third-highest total behind the SEC (153) and the ACC (110).  Purdue leads the conference field this year with its 17th NCAA appearance overall, followed by Iowa (16th), Ohio State (15th), Michigan State (7th) and Minnesota (6th).

BIG TEN TOURNEY WINS BREED NCAA SUCCESS
Recent history has shown that winning in the Big Ten Tournament breeds success for conference teams in the NCAA Tournament.  Since 1995, the teams that have won the Big Ten Women's Tournament have combined to post a 25-10 record in the NCAA Championship.  Purdue captured the league's first-ever NCAA women's title in 1999 after winning the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 1 seed.  Penn State appeared in the 2000 NCAA Final Four after finishing as the runner-up in that year's Big Ten Tournament, while Purdue made an appearance in the 2001 National Championship game after also finishing second in that year's conference tournament.  With the return of Lindsay Whalen after the 2004 Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota went on to its first Final Four appearance in school history.  Top-seeded Michigan State, the 2005 Tournament Champion, finished 5-1 after falling to Baylor in the national championship game.

MOST SUCCESSFUL BACK-TO-BACK NCAAS
For the second straight season, the Big Ten boasted one of its most successful NCAA Tournaments in league history last year.  In 2004, the conference earned an all-time best 11 wins in the postseason, while 2005 produced 10 wins.  The combined 21 wins the past two years bettered the previous two-year high of 19, set in 2003 (8) and 2004 (11).  Prior to the record-breaking success in 2004, the old record for wins stood at 17, which was set in 1993 (8) and 1994 (9).

SUCCESS DOESN'T TAKE LONG
Since 1999, the Big Ten has sent five teams to the Women's Final Four.  In four of the five years, the conference representative was led by a coach who had been at the school five years or less.  In fact, Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie, who completed her fifth season at the helm in 2005, ranks fourth on the list of league coaches who sent their teams to the Final Four the quickest.  Currently, Ohio State's Jim Foster is in his fourth season with his No. 1 seed Buckeyes.  Below is a breakdown of the tenures of the Big Ten coaches that have led their teams to the Final Four since 1999.

Year Coach, School Year Result
1999, Carolyn Peck, PUR, 2nd, National Championship
2000, Rene Portland, PSU, 20th, Final Four
2001, Kristy Curry, PUR, 2nd, National Finalist
2004, Pam Borton, MINN, 2nd, Final Four
2005, Joanne P. McCallie, MSU, 5th, National Finalist

FINAL FOUR FAMILIARITY
Big Ten teams have competed in five of the last seven Women's Final Fours and seven overall. Ohio State and Iowa squared off against each other in the league's first Final Four appearance in 1993.  The Buckeyes won that tilt before falling to Texas Tech in the national final.  Purdue followed up in 1994, advancing to it's first Final Four, where it fell to North Carolina in the semifinals.  The third time was the charm for the league, as Purdue defeated Duke, 62-45, to claim the Big Ten's first and only national championship.  Penn State made an appearance in 2000, bowing to eventual national champion Connecticut in the semifinals.  The Boilermakers made it three in a row for the Big Ten in 2001 when they fought their way to the championship final against Notre Dame.  Purdue fell to the Irish, 68-66, in one of the closest finishes in tournament history.  The game was one of five NCAA Championship finals to be decided by two points or less.  After a two-year hiatus, Minnesota returned the Big Ten to the national semifinals in 2004 and was followed by Michigan State in 2005, which advanced to the championship game.

BIG TEN TO THE WNIT:  JUST WiN IT
The Big Ten is set to field two league squads -- Illinois and Indiana -- for the 2006 Postseason WNIT.   This marks the second straight season the conference has sent a pair of teams to the WNIT, as Illinois and Iowa were participants last season.  The postseason WNIT is an event that the Big Ten has won three times since 1998, most recently in 2001 when Ohio State defeated New Mexico.

MORE ON THE WNIT
Two Big Ten teams -- Illinois and Indiana -- were invited to participate in the 2006 Postseason WNIT.  The Illini will host Western Illinois on Wednesday, March 15, while Indiana awaits the winner of the Jackson State-Rice game.  The Hoosiers will host that game on Saturday, March 18, in Bloomington.

Illinois (15-14) heads to the postseason for the ninth time in the last 10 years with its second straight postseason WNIT bid.  The Illini are 2-3 overall in three previous postseason WNIT appearances.

This year the WNIT added eight teams to bring the field to 40 for the first time. The Illinois-WIU game is one of eight preliminary round games that will feed into the round of 32. The eight additional slots were added to reward teams that won their regular season conference title but did not win the conference tournament or get an NCAA at-large bid. Western Illinois is one of the teams that fits those criteria this year.

Indiana (17-13) is making its third appearance at the WNIT and its first since the 2000-01 season.  The Hoosiers are 3-2 in WNIT play and earned their highest finish in 1998 after capturing third place.

OSU EARNS FIRST OUTRIGHT TITLE IN 20 YEARS
In 2006, Ohio State clinched its first outright Big Ten crown since the 1985-86 season.  It is the ninth conference championship and fourth outright league title for the Buckeyes.  The championship also marked the first time OSU has won back-to-back Big Ten regular season titles since 1985-86 and 1986-87.  Ohio State also claimed the Big Ten Tournament earlier this month and its second-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championship.  In addition, OSU has a current win-streak to 19 games, one victory shy of the school record of 20, set back during the 1984-85 campaign.

DAVENPORT REPEATS AS BIG TEN SCORING QUEEN
Ohio State's Jessica Davenport closed out the regular season repeating as the Big Ten's scoring leader.  The Buckeye center racked up 327 points in 16 conference games for an average of 20.4 points per game.  She was 2.5 points better than runner-up Cyndi Valentin of Indiana, who averaged 17.9 per contest.  Davenport was just the third Buckeye to win the scoring title and the third to claim two straight as well.  Nikita Lowry won the crown in 1987-88 (23.7 ppg) and 1988-89 (18.9), and Katie Smith was the league's top scorer in 1993-94 (22.4) and 1994-95 (21.2).  The last player to win back-to-back scoring titles was Penn State's Kelly Mazzante, who earned three straight from 2001-2003.

SKOUBY TOP-SCORING FROSH SINCE `01
Third place in the conference scoring race went to Iowa freshman Megan Skouby (16.8 ppg), which marked the highest finish for a freshman since Penn State's Kelly Mazzante won the scoring title as a newcomer at 19.7 points per game in 2000-01.  Last season, Wisconsin freshman Jolene Anderson averaged more points than Skouby at 18.1 points per contest, but was fourth in conference scoring.

OHIO STATE'S FOSTER EARNS WIN NO. 600
With a win on Feb. 20 against Michigan State, Ohio State head coach Jim Foster became the third current coach in the Big Ten to possess 600 career victories. He joined Illinois' Theresa Grentz (651-298, 32 seasons) and Penn State's Rene Portland (678-249, 31 seasons) in the league and is the 12th active coach in the nation to amass 600 career wins.  Foster has recorded his 605 career wins at three different stops in 28 seasons as a Division I head coach.  Since 1978, Foster has found success at St. Joseph's (248-126, 1978-91), Vanderbilt (256-99, 1991-2002) and Ohio State (101-27, 2002-present).

ILLINOIS' GRENTZ CAPTURES CAREER WIN NO. 650
Illinois head coach Theresa Grentz became the 10th Division I coach to reach 650 wins for her career, following a road win at Michigan on the last day of the regular season.  Grentz, in her 32nd season overall and 11th at Illinois, has coached in 949 games and has won 651 (.686) of those contests.  Penn State's Rene Portland is already a member of the 650-win club, having won 678 career games.

PAIR OF SPARTANS SETTING SCORING RECORD
In a race to the finish, two Spartan seniors are continuing to battle over the Michigan State scoring record.  Liz Shimek currently sits at 1,736 points, while teammate Lindsay Bowen is second all-time at 1,708.  Both Spartans have eclipsed the previous record of 1,668, set by Kisha Kelley.