March 19, 2014
Nine in the Postseason: For the fourth time in conference history, the Big Ten will send nine teams to postseason competition. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue earned berths to the either the NCAA Championship or WNIT fields. The Big Ten last sent nine teams to postseason play in 2010, while also doing so in 2002 and 2008. Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue take part in the NCAA Tournament, while Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern compete in the WNIT.
Room For Five: For the 15th time in the last 21 seasons, and fourth consecutive, the Big Ten will send at least five teams to NCAA Championship competition. This year, Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue will represent the conference in the postseason tournament. Each team is making at least its third straight appearance in the NCAA Championship, with Iowa carrying the conference’s longest active streak at seven.
Highly Regarded: The five Big Ten teams in the NCAA Championship field were each seeded sixth or higher in their respective regionals, making the Big Ten one of two conferences with five or more teams earning at least a No. 6 seed. Among the conferences with five or more teams selected the field, the Big Ten carries the highest average seed at 4.4. Penn State is the conference’s highest seed, earning the No. 3 seed in the Stanford Regional, while Michigan State is the No. 5 seed. Nebraska is the No. 4 seed in the Lincoln Regional, Purdue is the No. 4 seed in the Notre Dame Regional and Iowa is seeded sixth in the Louisville Regional.
Among the All-Time Leaders: Three conference teams rank among the nation’s top 10 in all-time NCAA Championship appearances, as Iowa, Penn State and Purdue have each made at least 23 appearances in the annual event. Penn State will be making its 25th appearance in the tournament, which is tied with North Carolina for seventh all-time. Purdue is ninth in the nation and earned its 24th all-time berth into the field, while Iowa is tied with LSU for 10th on the all-time list, boasting 23 NCAA Tournament appearances in program history.
Gracious Hosts: Four Big Ten venues will serve as host sites during the 2014 NCAA Tournament, including three that will welcome first- and second-round contestants this weekend. Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena and Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center will host games on Sunday and Tuesday, Purdue’s Mackey Arena will serve as host for first- and second-round games on Saturday and Monday and Nebraska’s Pinnacle Bank Arena will serve as a host during next weekend’s regional round, scheduled for March 29 and 31.
WNIT Bound: Four conference squads were named to the 64-team Postseason WNIT field on Monday. Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern each earned bids to the field, whose games begin on Wednesday. Michigan earns a postseason berth for the fifth straight season and will host Stony Brook on Friday. Minnesota makes its second straight WNIT appearance and welcomes Green Bay on Wednesday, Northwestern will take part in postseason competition for the first time since 2011 when it hosts Ball State on Thursday and Indiana makes its first appearance in a postseason tournament since 2009 when it takes on Belmont at Assembly Hall on Thursday.
We Are the Champions: Michigan State and Penn State finished tied atop the Big Ten standings with matching 13-3 records to earn a share of the conference championship. The Spartans won their fourth Big Ten Championship in program history and secured their second in four seasons, having also won the conference crown in 2011. The Lady Lions claimed their third consecutive conference title and the eighth Big Ten Championship in program history, which is tied for third among conference programs.
Where We Rank: Five Big Ten teams enter the NCAA Championship among the top 25 teams in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls. Nebraska leads the way in both polls, appearing at No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 12 in the coaches vote, while Penn State is ranked 14th by the media and 15th by the coaches. Purdue checks in at No. 17 in the writers rankings and No. 19 in the USA Today poll, Iowa is ranked No. 19 by the AP and No. 25 by the coaches, while Michigan State was voted 20th in the media’s standings and 24th in the USA Today vote.
To the Point: This season, Big Ten programs have combined to produce 211 70-point outings, including 91 efforts of 80 or more. As compared to the 2012-13 season, conference teams combined for 131 70-point outings, with 56 of those resulting in 80-point performances. Iowa leads all conference programs with 28 70-point games this season, Nebraska has scored 70 or more points 23 times, Penn State has done so on 22 occasions and Purdue enters the tournament with 21 70-point games. Iowa has scored 80 or more points 14 times, while Indiana, Michigan State and Nebraska have each recorded 10 80-point games this season.
Tracking Stat Champions: Minnesota’s Rachel Banham became the first Gopher since Carol Ann Shudlick in 1993 to lead the Big Ten in scoring, carrying an average of 23.3 points per game. That is the highest single-season average since Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante averaged 25.1 points per game in 2002. Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. is the first Gopher to lead the conference in rebounding since Janel McCarville in 2005, averaging 11.5 rebounds per game. Ending the year at 8.0 assists per game, Iowa’s Samantha Logic led the Big Ten in the category for the second straight season and recorded the highest single-season average since Penn State’s Helen Darling averaged 8.5 assists per game in 1999. Teammate Bethany Doolittle averaged 3.4 blocks per game, which is the most in a single season since Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan averaged 4.3 in 2007, and became the first Hawkeye to lead the conference in the category since Tangela Smith in 1998.