Dec. 20, 2011
Big Ten Weekly Release
Just more than one week remains until conference teams begin the start of Big Ten competition, and squads are looking to finish the non-conference portion of their schedules on a high note. Three conference teams have already reached the 10-wins mark, while three more can do so before the start of Big Ten action. Four conference squads will compete in holiday tournaments across North America this week to conclude their non-conference schedules. Eight Big Ten home matchups will be streamed online by BTN.com, including all four games scheduled on Thursday.
Where We Rank
Four Big Ten women's basketball teams appeared in the top 25 in one or both polls this week, tied for the second most of any conference in the nation. Ohio State leads the conference contingent in both rankings, checking in at No. 11 in the Associated Press (AP) poll and No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Penn State remains at No. 16 in the AP poll and climbs to No. 16 in the coaches rankings, while Purdue jumps two spots to No. 20 in the AP rankings and one spot to No. 21 in the coaches poll. Nebraska gives the Big Ten its fourth ranked squad, appearing at No. 24 in the AP poll. Michigan and Northwestern are among other squads receiving votes this week.
Not Too Many Like Them
Ohio State is one of just nine teams in the country with an unblemished record. With three wins during the last week of play, the Buckeyes are off to their best start in the NCAA era with an 11-0 mark, surpassing the 10-0 start from the 2000-01 season. Ohio State ranks first in the conference in scoring margin and boasts two of the Big Ten's top four individual scorers in Tayler Hill (1st, 21.0 points per game) and Samantha Prahalis (4th, 18.5).
Reaching Double Digits
Three Big Ten teams have already reached the 10-wins mark this season, while three more can record double-digit wins before the start of the conference slate. Ohio State leads all Big Ten teams with an 11-0 mark and is the lone undefeated conference squad. Nebraska's 10-1 start is tied for the second-best start in school history, trailing only the Huskers' 30-0 start to the 2009-10 season. Boasting a 10-2 mark, Michigan has won 10 of its first 12 games for the second time in program history, having last achieved the feat during the 2001-02 campaign. With their next triumphs, Northwestern and Penn State will reach double-digit wins, while Purdue needs victories in its final two non-conference games to reach the 10-wins mark. Through Monday, the Big Ten is one of just two conferences in the country with three or more teams boasting at least 10 victories.
Topping the Charts
Six Big Ten teams are rated in the top 30 of the latest Sagarin ratings released Tuesday, tied with the Big East for the most of any conference in the nation. Ohio State and Penn State appear in the top 15, with the Buckeyes at No. 11 and the Lady Lions at No. 13, while Nebraska is ranked 24th. Michigan appears at No. 26, Purdue checks in at No. 28 and Northwestern rounds out the top 30. Additionally, the Big Ten ranks third in the RPI among all conferences according to RPIRatings.com, behind only the Big 12 and Big East.
Four Big Ten teams are taking part in holiday tournaments across North America this week. Illinois and Northwestern are in Las Vegas, while Indiana and Michigan State travel to Cancun, Mexico, for non-conference tournament experience. At the Holiday Hoops Tournament, Illinois faced Montana State on Monday before facing Dayton on Tuesday. Northwestern takes on North Dakota State with the hopes of finishing 2-1 at the Basketball Travelers Invitational, having defeated UNLV on Sunday before falling to Kansas State on Monday. Indiana and Michigan State will both face Pittsburgh and Colorado State as part of the Caribbean Classic on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Several Big Ten players and one conference coach either passed career milestones last week or are poised to do so in the coming games. Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis became the first active member of the 200-steals club with four last week. Michigan's Carmen Reynolds and Ohio State's Tayler Hill are within 50 points of becoming the latest members of the 1,000-points club, with Reynolds needing 14 points from and Hill just 41 points shy of becoming the latest members of the class, which currently boasts eight active members. Iowa's Morgan Johnson needs 14 rebounds to become the fifth active player on the 500-rebounds list. On the sidelines, Ohio State's Jim Foster won his 750th NCAA game last week against California, becoming just the ninth coach in Division I history to record 750 or more career victories.
Four conference standouts rank in the NCAA's top 40 in points per game in the latest national statistics released through Sunday's games. Ohio State's Tayler Hill ranks 13th in the country with an average of 20.6 points per game, while teammate Samantha Prahalis ranks 37th at 18.5 points per contest. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper ranks 22nd nationally with an average of 19.5 points per game, and Penn State's Maggie Lucas is No. 27 in the country at 19.0 points per outing.
Passing to the Top
Four Big Ten point guards rank among the NCAA's top 16 in assists per game, the most of any conference in the country. Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis ranks fourth in the country at 6.9 assists per game, while Northwestern's Karly Roser follows close behind with 6.8 per game, ranking sixth. Nebraska's Lindsey Moore is 14th in the nation at 5.9 assists per outing, while Penn State's Alex Bentley is 16th at 5.7 assists per contest.
Recapping the Big 12/Big Ten Challenge
The second installment of the Big 12/Big Ten Challenge ended last week with Texas Tech defeating Illinois, giving the Big 12 a 7-4 victory in the annual showdown. The overall series between the two conferences is 1-1 with the Big Ten having taken a 7-5 decision during the inaugural event last season. Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue claimed the four Big Ten wins.
Broadcasting to the Nation
Big Ten women's basketball continues to receive extensive national broadcast coverage. This season, more than 90 percent of Big Ten women's basketball home games are scheduled to be nationally distributed through the conference's media agreements. At least 65 contests will appear on national television on BTN, CBS Sports or ESPN2. Also, every game of the Big Ten Tournament will be nationally televised. In addition, approximately 100 games are tentatively scheduled to be streamed online at BTN.com.
Back Home in Indiana
The 2012 Women's Basketball Tournament will once again call Conseco Fieldhouse home. It is the 17th time in 18 years the Circle City has played host to the annual event, and the 11th straight year the women's tournament will take place in Indianapolis. The conference is in the fifth year of a five-year agreement with Indianapolis to serve as the host city of the annual men's and women's postseason events. The women's tournament will begin on Thursday, March 1, and culminate with the tournament championship game on Sunday, March 4.