Dec. 18, 2012
The 2013 Big Ten Conference season begins in just over two weeks, and conference teams look to conclude their non-conference slates on a high note. Every Big Ten team has won at least 60 percent of its games, making the Big Ten one of just two conferences to boast such a feat, combining for 95 wins, or a national-best 7.9 victories per squad. Seven Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the latest national rankings, five of which can record their 10th win of the season this week. Eight conference games are slated for national distribution this week, including Michigan’s contest against Valparaiso that will be televised live on BTN on Thursday.
Where We Rank
Seven Big Ten teams are receiving votes in the Associated Press (AP) or USA Today Coaches polls. Four teams appear in the coaches rankings for the seventh consecutive week, led by Penn State, who remains at No. 10 for the third straight edition of the poll. Purdue moves up two spots to No. 12, Nebraska climbs three places to No. 21, and Ohio State rounds out the ranked squads in the poll at No. 24. Penn State and Purdue are ranked 11th and 13th, respectively, in the AP rankings, while Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State are among other teams also receiving votes.
Continuing the Winning Ways
The Big Ten is one of just two conferences in the nation with each of its teams boasting a .600 or better record through Monday’s games, including nine squads which have won at least 70 percent of their contests. Purdue reached the 10-wins mark last week, while Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State each have nine victories. Iowa and Nebraska each boast 8-3 marks, Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin have each won seven games, and Illinois and Northwestern each carry six wins into this week. Conference squads have combined for 95 victories this year, which averages out to a national-best 7.9 victories per team.
Looking for Double-Digit Wins
Through Monday’s games, Purdue is one of just six teams in the nation boasting 10 or more wins on the season. The Boilermakers improved their record to 10-1 following Sunday’s victory over Oakland. This week, four more Big Ten squads can reach the 10-wins mark, each needing one more triumph to reach the standard. Entering the week with nine wins, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska each have one game each this week, while Michigan State has two chances to notch its 10th win in the coming days.
The Big Ten ranks second among all conferences with seven teams appearing in the top 50 of the latest Sagarin ratings. Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue each appear among the top 20, with the Lady Lions leading at No. 13, the Spartans following at No. 15 and the Boilermakers appearing at No. 18. Ohio State checks in at No. 31, followed by No. 34 Michigan, No. 39 Iowa and No. 47 Nebraska rounding out the conference contingent among the top 50. Additonally, the Big Ten ranks second in the RPI among all conferences according to RPIRatings.com, behind only the Big 12.
Several Big Ten players recently surpassed or are poised to pass career milestones in the coming contests. Penn State’s Alex Bentley joined Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore as the conference’s active members of the 500-assists club, now with 502 in her career. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill now has 201 steals in her career, joining Bentley and Michigan’s Jenny Ryan in the 200-steals club. 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. Penn State’s Nikki Greene needs eight blocks and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams needs 21 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. With 224 career blocks, Penn needs seven more blocks to tie former Illini Jenna Smith for 10th on the Big Ten’s career swats list.
A pair of Big Ten squads will take part in holiday tournaments around the country this week. Beginning Wednesday, Michigan State takes part in South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas, opening against Oregon State on Wednesday before taking on Texas Tech on Thursday. Beginning Saturday, Northwestern will play in the Hofstra Holiday Tournament, opening against Mississippi before concluding the event on Sunday against host Hofstra.
Reaching Coaching Milestones
With a pair of wins last week, Penn State’s Coquese Washington surpassed the 100-wins mark in her career and at Penn State, becoming the 11th current Big Ten coach with more than 100 career wins. In addition, three other Big Ten coaches are approaching career coaching milestones, either overall or at their respective institutions. Nebraska’s Connie Yori is closing in on 200 wins as Nebraska’s head coach, needing two more triumphs to reach the landmark. Purdue’s Sharon Versyp is four wins shy of reaching the 150-wins mark as the Boilermakers’ head coach. Needing six 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.
They Can Do it All
When Ohio State’s Tayler Hill surpassed the 200-steals mark and Penn State’s Alex Bentley recorded her 500th assist last week, they became the sixth and seventh active Big Ten players to record more than 1,000 points and either 500 assists, 500 rebounds, 200 blocks or 200 steals for their careers. Hill is the conference’s active leader in points with 1,578 and has 201 career steals. Illinois’ Karisma Penn has 1,521 points, is the conference’s active leader in rebounds with 822 and has 224 blocks. Bentley has 1,474 career points, 502 assists and is the Big Ten’s active leader in steals with 256. Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore has 1,311 points and is the active conference leader with 560 assists, while teammate Jordan Hooper has 1,281 points and 611 rebounds. Iowa’s Morgan Johnson has 1,294 points, 713 rebounds, and is the Big Ten’s active leader in blocks with 249, and Northwestern’s Kendall Hackney has 1,278 points and 585 rebounds.
According to the national statistics released by the NCAA on Monday afternoon, numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 25 in various categories. Michigan’s Kate Thompson ranks second nationally in 3-pointers with 3.73 per game, followed by Illinois’ Amber Moore (11th, 3.2 per game) and Penn State’s Maggie Lucas (12th, 3.18), while Lucas is sixth in 3-point percentage (51.5 percent), followed by Thompson in 11th at 47.7 percent and Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair in 23rd at 44.3 percent. Northwestern’s Karly Roser ranks seventh with 6.9 assists per game, Illinois’ Alexis Smith is 14th with 6.4 and Iowa’s Samantha Logic is 18th with 6.2. Iowa’s Jaime Printy is eighth in free-throw percentage at 94.6 percent. Lucas is 16th nationally with 20.9 points per game, followed by Minnesota’s Rachel Banham in 25th (19.6). Ohio State’s Ashley Adams is 17th in blocks per game (2.75), followed by Illinois’ Karisma Penn, who ranks 25th (2.5). Penn State’s Alex Bentley is 20th in steals per game (3.64) and Minnesota’s Micaëlla Riché is 22nd in field-goal percentage (57.4 percent).
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.