Conference Action Tips Off This Week

Dec. 27, 2004

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

Conference Play Opens This Week
Beginning on Thursday, the 23rd season of Big Ten Women's Basketball opens Conference play with 10 of the 11 teams in action.  Penn State, the two-time defending regular season Big Ten Champion, hosts No. 10/7 Ohio State at 8 p.m. ET, while four League games tip-off at 7 p.m. CT.  Women's athletics were officially incorporated into the Big Ten in 1981-82, with basketball beginning in 1982-83.  Since its official inception, Big Ten Women's Basketball has become one of the elite conferences in the nation.  Last season, the Big Ten produced its fourth Final Four representative (Minnesota) in six years and captured 11 wins in the 2004 NCAA Championship, marking the League's all-time best win total in the Tournament.

Non-Conference Season Winding Down
As the last full week of non-conference action is upon us, the Big Ten is 77-37, which is a winning percentage of .675.  In 2003-04, the Big Ten finished 98-42 for a .700 winning percentage.  This season's average is expected to rise throughout the year as the Big Ten has been very successful in the NCAA Tournament in recent years.

Big Ten Women's Basketball Attracting More Fans in 04-05
Big Ten Women's Basketball has already attracted more than 54,000 fans up to this point compared to its record-breaking season last year.  So far this year, Big Ten teams have played in front of 360,007 fans over 114 games, a 54,209 improvement over the 114-game total of 305,798 from 2003-04.  In fact, excluding NCAA Tournament games, the Big Ten played a total of 121 non-conference games last season for a total of 334,347.  The League has six remaining non-conference games scheduled prior to this year's Big Ten campaign, which at its current average of 3,158 spectators per game, leaves the projected 120-game total attendance figure at 378,960.  

Ten Continues to Boast FAN-tastic Figures
The Big Ten is continuing its dominance in national attendance this season, as last year's total of 778,125 was a Conference record and ranked second nationally (Big 12).  Over the 2003-04 season, an average of 5,085 fans -- also a Conference record -- attended Big Ten games.  The League has led the nation in attendance seven of the last 12 years, most recently in 1999.

Three League Schools Drastically Improve Attendance
, Penn State and Minnesota ranked in the top five in the nation for increased attendance last season.  Purdue (2nd) averaged 10,105 fans per game -- an increase of 3,051 per game.  Penn State (4th) took in 9,670 (+2,899) last year, while Minnesota (5th) improved 1,903 to 9,703.

Big Ten Leads All Conferences With Five in National Polls
In last week's national polls (AP / USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll), the Big Ten was represented by a nation-leading five teams, while a total of seven League teams earned recognition.  Ohio State was No. 10/7, while Michigan State was 11th in both polls.  Minnesota was No. 13/12, while Iowa was No. 18/20 and Purdue was No. 21/19  Illinois and Penn State both earned votes in the AP and Coaches poll.

Big Ten First in WBCA/Summerville Conference RPI Average
In the latest WBCA/Summerville RPI Ratings, the Big Ten ranks first in Conference RPI average at .603 ahead of the Pac 10 (.595), ACC (.589), Big 12 (.579), SEC (.587) and Big East (.561).  The League is fifth in the Conference vs. Conference RPI with a rating of .579.  Iowa holds an overall RPI rating of .666, which is sixth best in the nation.  Ohio State is ninth at .658, while No. 10 Michigan State (.657), No. 13 Indiana (.647), No. 17 Minnesota (.637), No. 24 Purdue (.627) and No. 26 Penn State (.622) round out the top 30.  In overall strength of schedule, Penn State is second at .730, while Indiana is sixth at .701.  Purdue rates 22nd at .655 and Northwestern is 30th at .646.  The complete list of ratings is located on page five.

Hawk Talk:  Iowa One of Only Five Still Undefeated
At 10-0, Iowa remains one of only five undefeated teams in the nation.  Top-ranked LSU and Florida State lead all teams at 11-0, followed by the Hawkeyes and St. John's at 10-0.  Richmond stands at 8-0.  This is the best start for No. 18/20 Iowa in 11 years.

Over Half of League Games to be Televised
In the upcoming 2004-05 Big Ten season, 47 of the 88 League games are scheduled to be televised, including 15 contests before national or regional audiences.  FSN Chicago will air 12 Conference games, while ESPN2 is scheduled to broadcast two and CBS is slated for one.

Badgers Host Conference Champs on CBS
The Wisconsin Badgers will gain national exposure this season, as on Saturday, January 8, CBS will be in Madison to televise the noon EST tip-off featuring UW and Penn State.  Last year in Madison, Wisconsin nearly upset the then-No. 9 Lady Lions, but fell in the final seconds of the game, 60-59.

Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
In the latest NCAA report (12/21/04), issued each week on Tuesdays, five teams and four student-athletes rank in the top 10 in their respective categories.  Penn State's Tanisha Wright is third with 22.2 points per game, while Ohio State's Jessica Davenport is eighth with 3.4 blocked shots per game.  Michigan State's Kristin Haynie ranks sixth with 4.1 steals per game and Caity Matter of Ohio State is ninth with a .935 free-throw percentage.  Leading all teams is Ohio State, which is first in scoring defense (48.3) and field goal percentage (.547) and second in scoring margin (31.9), three-point field goal percentage (.486) and assists (19.8).  

Top Moments of Tournament in Indy Begin on Thursday
Celebrating its 10th year of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, the League office will highlight 10 great Tourney moments beginning on Thursday.  Over a 10-week period, will feature a new moment every Thursday leading up to Thursday, March 3 -- the opening day of the 2005 Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Big Ten Proves Dominant in Overtime and Blowouts
The Big Ten has accumulated a combined record of 77-37 (.675) this season, but carries a 41-10 (.804) record in games that League teams either win by 16 points or more, or are extended into overtime.  Currently, Big Ten teams are 6-2 in overtime, 6-1 in games decided by 16-20 points and 29-7 in games decided by 21 or more points.  Michigan State is 2-0 in overtime games this year -- both of which came to ranked Big East opponents.

Thirty Something
Six Big Ten standouts have eclipsed the 30-point mark seven times so far this season.  Penn State's Tanisha Wright scored 32 at Pittsburgh on December 9 and 30 in the season-opener at Texas on November 14.  Iowa's Crystal Smith and Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen have each tied the highest output among League players this year with 33.  Smith recorded her career high at Drake on December 18, while Bowen reached the mark on November 28 against TCU.  Minnesota's Janel McCarville scored 31 points against top-ranked LSU on December 14, while Illinois' Angelina Williams (vs. UCLA, 12/19) and Indiana's Cyndi Valentin (at Indiana State, 12/6) have each scored 30 points on one occasion.

Double-Digit Dandies
Four Conference student-athletes have scored in double-digits in every game so far this season.  Ohio State's Jessica Davenport leads the League with a streak of 12 games, while Michigan's Tabitha Pool, Penn State's Tanisha Wright and Iowa's Jamie Cavey have scored 10 or more points in 10 consecutive games.  Currently 26 student-athletes have double-figure scoring streaks. 

Big Ten Teams Outscoring Opponents Big Time
Six Conference teams - Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue - have each outscored their opponents by more than 10 points per game this season.  OSU tops the League with an impressive difference of 31.2 ppg, which ranks second nationally.  The Buckeyes, who have played 12 games, including four against top-25 teams, are currently outscoring their opponents, 965-591.  OSU beat Ohio on December 1, 107-37, matching the League's highest output of the year.  Minnesota is second in the League with a scoring margin of 16.0 ppg, while Michigan State holds a 15.1 difference over its opponents.  Illinois (14.7), Purdue (12.8) and Iowa (11.6) are more than 10 points better than their opponents.

Shooting For 20
A total of 31 student-athletes have gone for 20 or more points this season on 62 different occasions.  Penn State's Tanisha Wright has scored over 20 points in six games this season, including the last four.  Indiana's Cyndi Valentin has also scored 20+ points four times this season along with Illinois' Angelina Williams, Iowa's Crystal Smith and Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson.

Boilers and Bucks to Battle in Big Ten/Big East Challenge
The second annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge will be played on Saturday, January 16 on ESPN2 and will feature Conference teams Purdue and Ohio State.

Purdue, the defending Big Ten Tournament Champion, plays at Notre Dame at 5 p.m. ET in a rematch of last year's Challenge contest, which the Boilermakers won at home, 76-63. The two programs are no strangers to each other, as both teams battled in the 2001 NCAA Championship Final, which Notre Dame won 68-66. Since that matchup, Purdue has won the last four games. Preceding the Purdue vs. Notre Dame contest, Ohio State hosts Rutgers at 3 p.m. ET. In last year's inaugural Challenge, Rutgers upended the Buckeyes, 56-53, in Piscataway, N.J.