Nov. 27, 2012
Big Ten teams enter the fourth week of the regular season boasting a 56-12 mark overall, good for an .824 winning percentage. Three conference squads have posted 5-0 marks this season, while six others have lost just once this season. This week's schedule features the sixth annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with contests slated for Wednesday and Thursday, while six Big Ten teams are ranked or receiving votes in one or both national polls. Conference teams will enjoy extensive broadcast coverage this week with 13 contests, including 11 home games, to be nationally distributed.
Where We Rank
Six Big Ten teams are ranked or receiving votes in one or both of the Associated Press (AP) and the USA Today Coaches panel. Penn State remains among the nation's top 10, leading the conference contingent at No. 6 in the AP rankings and No. 7 in the coaches poll. Purdue and Ohio State appear at Nos. 14 and 15, respectively, in the AP rankings, while the Boilermakers are 13th and the Buckeyes are16th in the coaches poll. Nebraska climbs one spot in the USA Today rankings to No. 19 and jumps two spots in the AP poll to No. 21 this week. Iowa is receiving votes in the AP poll, while Minnesota is receiving votes from the coaches.
Beginning Wednesday, the ACC and Big Ten conferences tip off two days of inter-conference action in the sixth annual ACC/Big Ten Women's Basketball Challenge. Eight games are scheduled for Wednesday and four more are slated for Thursday night. Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska and Purdue will host Challenge contests on Wednesday, while Illinois and Minnesota will play at home on Thursday. Two games feature matchups of ranked opponents as No. 21/19 Nebraska hosts No. 11/10 Maryland on Wednesday and No. 15/16 Ohio State travels to take on No. 22/rv North Carolina on Thursday. During last season's event, the conferences battled to a 6-6 draw. The ACC holds the all-time advantage in the Challenge, but the Big Ten was 9-7 overall against the ACC a year ago, and has won two of three meetings this season.
Off to a Good Start
Through five games this season, Michigan State, Northwestern and Penn State enjoy unblemished records. The Spartans have won their first five games for just the second time since 2000 and the first time since 2008, when they started the year 6-0. Northwestern and Penn State have both won their first five games for the second time in the last three seasons.
In addition to the conference's three unbeaten teams, six Big Ten squads have just one loss on the year, while three others boast records above .500. Minnesota holds a 6-1 record, while Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska and Purdue have won five of their first six games, and Ohio State is 4-1 overall. Iowa holds a 5-2 ledger, while Illinois and Wisconsin are both 3-2. The Big Ten is the only conference in the nation to have each of its teams boasting a better than .500 record through Monday's games.
That's a Record
Iowa's Jaime Printy tied the Big Ten record by converting all 17 of her free throw attempts in the Hawkeyes' win over nationally ranked West Virginia on Sunday. The senior is one of only three players in Big Ten history to go 17-for-17 from the free-throw line, joining Wisconsin's Michele Kozelka and Keisha Anderson in in 1989 and 1996, respectively, and her 17 made free throws is tied for second-most in conference history. She leads the Big Ten in free-throw percentage this season at 95.1 percent (39 of 41).
Several Big Ten players are poised to pass career milestones in the coming contests. Wisconsin's Taylor Wurtz is just five points shy of reaching 1,000 for her career, and would become the 10th active member of the club. Ohio State's Tayler Hill is closing in on 200 career steals, needing seven swipes to join Michigan's Jenny Ryan and Penn State's Alex Bentley as the only active players with 200 or more steals in their careers. Penn State's Nikki Greene needs 17 more blocks to reach the 200 mark in her career, a feat only Illinois' Karisma Penn and Iowa's Morgan Johnson can tout among active players, and Bentley is 19 assists shy of joining Nebraska's Lindsey Moore in the 500 assists club.
In the first set of national statistics released by the NCAA on Monday afternoon, numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 25 in various categories. Northwestern's Karly Roser is second nationally at 8.0 assists per game, one of three Big Ten standouts ranking in the top 12. Roser is joined by Illinois' Alexis Smith (11th, 6.8 assists per game) and Iowa's Samantha Logic (12th, 6.7). Two Big Ten players appear among the top five in 3-point field goals per game, with Michigan's Kate Thompson fourth at 3.67 and Illinois' Amber Moore fifth at 3.6. Moore is one of four conference players in the top 25 in assist-to-turnover ratio, ranking sixth with a 4.0 mark. She is joined by Penn State's Alex Bentley (13th, 3.43 assist-to-turnover ratio), Nebraska's Lindsey Moore (17th, 3.22) and Michigan State's Jasmine Taylor (24th, 2.9). Alex Bentley is eighth in steals per game at 4.4, while Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Wisconsin's Tiera Stephen rank 22nd at 3.8 per game. Ohio State's Ashley Adams is 11th with 3.25 blocks per game, while Penn is 14th at 3.2, Indiana's Aulani Sinclair is 13th in 3-point percentage at 55.6, followed by Thompson in 21st at 52.4, and Penn State's Maggie Lucas is 17th in points per game at 21.2.
Up For The Awards
Five Big Ten student-athletes are listed on all three major preseason women's basketball awards lists, appearing on the Naismith Early Season Watch List, the Wade Trophy Watch List and the Wooden Award Watch List. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Penn State's Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas were named to each preseason list. The trophy winners will be announced during the Women's Final Four in New Orleans, La.
Four Big Ten student-athletes were named candidates for the 2012-13 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Iowa's Jaime Printy, Ohio State's Tayler Hill, Penn State's Alex Bentley and Purdue's Drey Mingo were chosen as candidates for the award, and the winner will be announced during the Women's Final Four in New Orleans, La.
Watch Us Here
The Big Ten will continue to receive extensive national broadcast coverage this season, as approximately 65 games will be televised live nationally through the conference's media agreements. BTN, ESPN and CBS Sports will televise 47 Big Ten Conference games, while nearly 97 percent of the intra-conference schedule will be available nationally through televised coverage or streamed online at BTN.com. For the sixth straight season, every game of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament will be nationally televised.
For the first time, the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament will be held in the Chicagoland area as this year's event will be staged at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The 19th edition of the tournament will be held March 7-10, featuring 11 games over four days. Thursday and Friday will feature four games each, with the semifinals contested on Saturday in advance of Sunday's championship game. The Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament will return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for the 2014 event.