Big Ten Women's Basketball Weekly Release - Dec. 4

Illinois' Alexis Smith ranks second in the nation with 7.4 assists per game.

Illinois' Alexis Smith ranks second in the nation with 7.4 assists per game.

Dec. 4, 2012

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Tipoff
Through four weeks of the season, Big Ten teams have combined for 69 victories and a .750 winning percentage. It was another competitive ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with the ACC claiming a narrow 7-5 victory in the annual series. Four Big Ten teams appear among both the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches Poll’s top 25, while another is receiving votes from the AP. Every Big Ten team has a .500 or better record so far this season, including nine teams with six or more victories. Conference teams will enjoy extensive broadcast coverage this week with 11 contests, including 10 home games, slated for national distribution.

Where We Rank
Four Big Ten teams are ranked in the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls, while another is receiving votes from the media. Penn State leads the contingent of ranked Big Ten teams, appearing at No. 10 in both polls. Purdue appears at No. 14 in the coaches rankings and No. 15 in the AP poll, Ohio State checks in at No. 20 in both standings, and Nebraska is rated No. 22 from the coaches and was voted to No. 25 in the media poll. Michigan State is among other squads also receiving votes in the AP rankings.

Winning Ways
The Big Ten is one of only two conferences in the country with all of its teams boasting a winning record this season, and is the only conference nationally with nine teams boasting six or more wins this season. Michigan State is the conference’s remaining undefeated squad with a 7-0 mark, its longest winning streak to start a season since 1999, while Purdue (7-1) is the Big Ten’s second team with seven wins this season. Seven teams have six triumphs on the year, led by Northwestern and Penn State at 6-1, Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska at 6-2 and Iowa and Minnesota with 6-3 ledgers. Ohio State is 5-2, while Illinois and Wisconsin are 4-3.

Among the Nation’s Best
Through the first four weeks of the season, nine conference teams boast at least six triumphs this year, making the Big Ten the only conference in the nation that can claim that feat. In addition, conference squads have combined for 69 victories this season, which averages out to a national-best 5.75 wins per squad. Overall, the Big Ten ranks second in combined winning percentage at .750 (69-23), behind only the Big 12.

Reaching Player Milestones
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 three swipes to join Michigan’s Jenny Ryan and Penn State’s Alex Bentley as the only active conference players with 200 or more steals in their careers. Penn State’s Nikki Greene needs 11 blocks, and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams needs 25 blocks to reach the 200 mark in their careers, a feat only Illinois’ Karisma Penn and Iowa’s Morgan Johnson can tout among active players, and Bentley is 12 assists shy of joining Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore in the 500 assists club.

Coaching Landmarks
Four Big Ten coaches are approaching career coaching milestones, either overall or at their respective institutions. Now in her fifth season, Penn State’s Coquese Washington needs two more victories to reach the 100-wins mark in her career and at Penn State. Nebraska’s Connie Yori is closing in on 200 wins as Nebraska’s head coach, needing four more triumphs to reach the landmark. Purdue’s Sharon Versyp is seven wins shy of reaching the 150-wins mark as the Boilermakers’ head coach. Needing eight more victories, Iowa’s Lisa Bluder is closing on 600 wins in her coaching career, and would join Ohio State’s Jim Foster as the only Big Ten coaches to reach the landmark.

Statistically Speaking
According to the national statistics released by the NCAA on Monday afternoon, numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 25 in various categories. Illinois’ Alexis Smith is second in the nation in assists per game, averaging 7.4 per game, followed by Northwestern’s Karly Roser (7th, 7.0 assists per game) and Iowa’s Samantha Logic (16th, 6.3). Penn State’s Alex Bentley is fourth nationally in steals per game at 4.3, while teammate Maggie Lucas is 16th in points per game at 21.4. Lucas is eighth in 3-point field goal percentage at 56.1, while Michigan’s Kate Thompson is 16th at 50.0 percent, Purdue’s KK Houser is 21st at 47.4 percent and Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair is 23rd at 46.8 percent. Thompson is seventh in 3-point field goals per game at 3.5, while Illinois’ Amber Moore and Lucas are tied for 11th at 3.3 per game. Ohio State’s Ashley Adams is eight in the nation in blocks per game at 3.3, while Illinois’ Karisma Penn is 18th at 2.7 per game. Penn is 14th in the nation with four double-doubles and 25th in field-goal percentage at 58.8 percent, Iowa’s Jaime Printy is 24th in free-throw percentage (93.6), and Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore (2.6) and Michigan State’s Jasmine Thomas (2.5) are 24th and 25th, respectively, in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Challenge in the Books
Following the first tie in Challenge history a season ago, this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge, held Nov. 28-29, came down to the final games as the ACC came away with a narrow 7-5 victory. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern and Purdue each won Challenge contests, with the Spartans and Wildcats each picking up road victories. In all games this season, Big Ten teams have won seven of 15 games against the ACC.

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.

CLASS Acts
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.

Tourney Town
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.