March 27, 2013
Illinois and Nebraska continue postseason competition this week, with the Huskers reaching the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament and the Illini competing in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Six Big Ten teams have reached the 20-wins mark, which ties a conference record, while several student-athletes and Penn State’s Coquese Washington remain in the running for national postseason honors.
Continuing the Streak
Nebraska’s berth into the round of 16 marks the 26th time in 28 seasons the Big Ten has sent one or more teams into the NCAA regional semifinal round. Nebraska heads to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history. The last time the Huskers reached the Sweet 16 was during the 2009-10 season when Nebraska put together an undefeated 29-0 regular season record en route to a No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Huskers are looking to advance to their first regional final in school history.
Playing first- and second-round games in College Station, Texas, Nebraska knocked off Chattanooga in the opening round before defeating host Texas A&M in the second round en route to its berth into the regional semifinals. Against Chattanooga, four Huskers scored in double-figures, led by Jordan Hooper’s 21 points and 12 rebounds in the 73-59 victory. In the second-round triumph over Texas A&M, Hooper and Lindsey Moore both notched 20-point games, as Hooper scored 21 points and Moore recorded 20 tallies. Hailie Sample posted her first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the 74-63 win over the host Aggies on Monday night.
Winning in the WNIT
Illinois has advanced to the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament after winning its first and second round contests on its home floor last week. The Illini travel to Toledo on Thursday, and a win would send them into the quarterfinals. Illinois advanced to the third round after a first-round win over Miami (Ohio) and a second-round victory against Eastern Illinois. This year marks the Illini’s fifth appearance in the WNIT and first since Illinois advanced to the quarterfinal round in 2010.
Piling Up the Wins
For the second consecutive season, and only the fourth time in Big Ten history, six conference teams have reached the 20-wins mark, with another within two victories of the milestone. The six conference teams boasting 20 or more victories this season make the Big Ten one of only three other conferences nationally with six or more teams having won at least 20 games this year. Penn State leads all conference teams with 26 wins, while Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue each claim 25 victories this season. Michigan boasts 22 wins on the year and Iowa claims 21 victories. Illinois is two triumphs away from giving the Big Ten seven teams with 20 or more wins this season, which would be a new conference record.
Washington Up For Coach of the Year Honors
Penn State’s Coquese Washington is in the running for National Coach of the Year accolades by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Named Region 6 Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season by the group, Washington is one of eight coaches in the running for the WBCA national honor. Washington led the Lady Lions to their second straight Big Ten Championship and was named conference Coach of the Year by the media after leading the team to a 24-4 regular season record and a 14-2 mark in Big Ten play.
Lucas Named Wade Trophy and Wooden Award Finalist
Penn State’s Maggie Lucas was named one of 12 finalists for the Wade Trophy and one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award. The awards both honor the nation’s most outstanding player. The Wade Trophy will be awarded at the WBCA Awards Show on April 8, while the Wooden Award will be presented on April 12 at the annual Wooden Award Gala. Voted the Big Ten Player of the Year, Lucas finished as the conference’s third-leading scorer at 20.1 points per game. The junior is seventh in Lady Lion history with 1,857 points and is on pace to become the fifth member of Penn State’s 2,000-point club. Lucas also ranks second in Penn State history and third in Big Ten annals with 293 career three-pointers made.
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.
Five Named to WBCA All-Region Team
Five Big Ten standouts were named to the WBCA All-Region team. The Region 6 team is comprised of five Big Ten student-athletes as Minnesota’s Rachel Banham, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill and Penn State’s Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas were recognized. The WBCA selection committee will select the 10-member Division I Coaches All-America team from the 52 members of the various All-Region teams.
Roaring to the Top
After defeating Nebraska in its regular-season finale, Penn State secured sole possession of the Big Ten Championship, the Lady Lions’ second consecutive outright title. It marked the seventh Big Ten title in Lady Lion history and second under fifth-year head coach Coquese Washington.
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 Purdue at No. 21 and Nebraska at No. 24. The Lady Lions check in at No. 8 in the coaches poll, while the Boilermakers are ranked No. 21 and the Huskers round out the poll at No. 25. Michigan State is receiving votes from both groups.
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. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill is 11th in the country at 21.1 points per game, Minnesota’s Rachel Banham is 13th with 20.7 points per outing and Penn State’s Maggie Lucas is 16th (20.1 points per game). Lucas is third in the country in three-point field goal percentage at 46.2 percent and Iowa’s Melissa Dixon is 20th at 40.2. Michigan’s Kate Thompson is third nationally in three-pointers per game at 3.33 and Lucas is 11th at 3.06. Penn State’s Alex Bentley is sixth (3.41) in steals per game, while Iowa’s Samantha Logic is 15th (6.4) in assists per game and Northwestern’s Karly Roser is 17th (6.3). Wisconsin’s Cassie Rochel is 13th in blocks per game at 2.67. Iowa’s Jaime Printy is second nationally in free-throw percentage (92.5 percent), followed by Lucas in ninth (90.0) and Banham in 10th (89.5). Iowa’s Morgan Johnson and Minnesota’s Micaëlla Riché are shooting 52.9 and 52.2 percent from the field, respectively, good for 19th and 25th nationally.
Conference Stat Champions
The Big Ten crowned its 2012-13 stat champions in conference games only following the conclusion of the Big Ten season. 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 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.