Dec. 11, 2012
With just over three weeks remaining until the start of the Big Ten Conference season, teams continue their impressive starts during non-conference play. The Big Ten is one of just two conferences with each of its teams boasting a winning record, averaging a national-best 6.9 wins per team. Six squads are ranked or receiving votes in the latest national polls, buoyed by some of the nation’s top statistical performers.
Where We Rank
Six Big Ten teams are ranked or receiving votes in the Associated Press (AP) and USA Today Coaches polls, including four top 25 teams. Penn State leads the conference in both polls, appearing at No. 10 in the coaches poll and No. 11 in the AP ballot. Purdue remains at No. 14 in the coaches ranks and No. 15 in the writers standings, while Ohio State appears at No. 19 in the USA Today poll and No. 20 in the AP poll. Nebraska checks in at No. 24 in the USA Today poll, and is receiving votes from the AP. Iowa is receiving votes in both rankings, while Michigan State is receiving votes in the AP poll.
Still Going Strong
The Big Ten is one of two conferences in the country with each of its teams boast a winning record through Monday’s games. Seven conference squads have won seven or more games this season, including three with eight or more triumphs. Minnesota and Purdue each have won nine contests, while Michigan State boasts eight victories. Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State have won seven games, and Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern also enjoy winning records through the first five weeks of the season. Conference squads have combined for 83 wins, which averages out to a national-best 6.9 wins per squad.
Penn State’s Maggie Lucas was named the USBWA National Player of the Week on Tuesday. The junior, who shared Big Ten Player of the Week honors, averaged 27.0 points per game and shot 52.6 percent from the 3-point range in two games last week, including a 39-point effort against Georgetown on Sunday to become the first Lady Lion to break the 35-point mark since Kelly Mazzante in 2003. She also tallied 15 points and four rebounds against nationally ranked Connecticut.
A Pair of 30s
Two Big Ten student-athletes scored 30 or more points in a game last week, marking the fourth and fifth such efforts by conference standouts this season. On Saturday against Florida State, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper notched the fifth 30-point game of her career, pouring in 36 against the Seminoles in the Huskers’ win. On Sunday against Georgetown, Penn State’s Maggie Lucas set a Bryce Jordan Center scoring record, men’s or women’s, with 39 points, the third 30-point game of her career, to lead the Lady Lions to victory. Both totals were career-highs.
Several Big Ten players recently surpassed or are poised to pass career milestones in the coming contests. Three standouts surpassed the 1,500-points mark in recent games in Illinois’ Karisma Penn, Iowa’s Jaime Printy and Ohio State’s Tayler Hill. 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 one 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 nine blocks, and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams needs 25 blocks to reach the 200 mark in their careers, a feat only Penn and Iowa’s Morgan Johnson can tout among active players. Bentley is seven assists shy of joining Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore in the 500 assists club.
Approaching Landmark Wins
Four Big Ten coaches are approaching career coaching milestones. Now in her fifth season, Penn State’s Coquese Washington needs one more victory 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 three more triumphs to reach the landmark and eight more to reach 400 overall. Purdue’s Sharon Versyp is five wins shy of reaching the 150-wins mark as the Boilermakers’ head coach. Needing seven more victories, Iowa’s Lisa Bluder is closing on 600 wins in her coaching career, joining Ohio State’s Jim Foster as the only Big Ten coaches to reach the landmark.
This season, Big Ten student-athletes have combined for 39 double-doubles, including eight standouts who have recorded two or more such performances. Illinois’ Karisma Penn and Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper have each recorded four double-double performances, while Iowa’s Morgan Johnson, Northwestern’s Dannielle Diamant, and Purdue’s Drey Mingo and Sam Ostarello have three each, and Indiana’s Jasmine McGhee and Northwestern’s Lauren Douglas have two such efforts.
According to the national statistics released by the NCAA on Monday, numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 25 in various categories. Four standouts appear among the top 16 in 3-pointers per game, led by Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, who ranks second with 3.67 per game. Michigan’s Kate Thompson is fifth with 3.56 per game, Illinois’ Amber Moore is 15th at 3.11 and Ohio State’s Tayler Hill is 16th at 3.0 per game. Lucas is third in 3-point percentage at 55.0, Thompson is ninth at 49.2, percent and Hill is 24th at 45.3 percent. Northwestern’s Karly Roser leads three Big Ten players in the top 20 in assists. Roser is sixth at 6.9 assists per game, followed by Illinois’ Alexis Smith (14th, 6.4 apg) and Iowa’s Samantha Logic (19th, 6.1 apg). Iowa’s Jaime Printy ranks 10th in free-throw percentage at 94.3 percent, followed by Lucas in 24th at 90.2 percent. Lucas is eighth in the country in points per game at 22.7, Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore is 18th in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.52, Ohio State’s Ashley Adams is 19th blocks per game at 2.86, and Penn State’s Alex Bentley is 25th in steals per game at 3.56.
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.