Dec. 27, 2012
Heading into the final week of the non-conference season, Big Ten teams boast a combined record of 106-36 (.746) for an average of 8.8 victories per team. Seven conference teams are receiving votes in the latest national rankings, and five have reached the 10-wins mark this season. Every Big Ten squad carries a winning record into the final week of the non-conference season, ranking the conference second nationally in the RPI. This week, two Big Ten teams participate in holiday tournaments, while six conference contests will be available to a national audience, including Michigan State's Saturday contest against Temple.
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 eighth consecutive week, led by Penn State, who remains at No. 10 for the fourth straight edition of the poll. Purdue moves up one spot to No. 11, Nebraska climbs two places to No. 19, while for the second straight week, Ohio State rounds out the Big Ten's ranked squads in the poll at No. 24. Penn State and Purdue are ranked 10th and 11th, respectively, in the AP rankings, while Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State are among other teams also receiving votes.
That's 10 Wins
The Big Ten is one of just two conferences in the nation with five or more teams having reached double-digit wins on the season, joining the SEC. Michigan State and Purdue have each won 11 contests this season to pace all conference squads, and are among a group of just 11 teams in the country to have recorded 11 or more triumphs this season. Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State each reached the 10-wins mark after posting victories last week, while Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State can also achieve double-digit wins in the coming days.
Continuing Their Winning Ways
Heading into the final week of the non-conference season, every Big Ten team holds a winning record and can head into conference action at or above .500, making the conference one of three nationally to boast such a feat. Michigan State and Purdue are atop the conference standings with 11 victories apiece, while Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State boast 10 wins. Iowa and Nebraska hold matching 9-3 records, Ohio State is 8-3 and Indiana is 8-4. Northwestern and Wisconsin carry seven wins and Illinois has six triumphs on the season. Conference squads have combined for 106 victories this year, which averages out to 8.8 triumphs her squad, ranking second nationally.
Up in the RPI
Six Big Ten teams appear in the top 40 of the RPI report, which is tied for second among all conferences, according to RPIRatings.com. Penn State leads all conference teams at No. 9 in the rankings, followed by Michigan at No. 19. Purdue checks in at No. 22, followed by No. 27 Iowa, No. 36 Michigan State and No. 40 Nebraska. Overall, the Big Ten ranks second among all conferences in the RPI with a .5899 rating, appearing just behind the Big 12.
Several Big Ten standouts appear among the conference's top 10 in scoring and rebounding or assists. Ranking second in scoring at 20.1 points per game, Minnesota's Rachel Banham is seventh in assists at 4.6 per game. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper is third in points (19.7), and second in rebounds per game (9.1), while Illinois' Karisma Penn is fifth in scoring at 19.2 points and first in rebounding at 10.1 boards per game. Iowa's Morgan Johnson is seventh in points (17.7) and ninth in rebounds per game (7.3), and Nebraska's Lindsey Moore is 10th in points (15.5) and fourth in assists per game (5.3).
With five 3-pointers in Penn State's win against NJIT last week, Maggie Lucas jumped into the Big Ten's all-time top 10 in 3-point field goals, now with 234 in her career. Tied for eighth with former Wisconsin standout Katie Voigt on the all-time list, Lucas is second in program history, passing the 230 by Lisa Shepherd and trailing the 357 from Kelly Mazzante, which is the all-time conference standard.
Two Big Ten teams will take part in holiday tournaments around the country this week, with each opening play on Friday. Iowa heads to the Surf `N Slam Classic in San Diego, Calif., where it will open play against nationally ranked Texas before concluding play on Sunday. Also on Friday, Wisconsin takes in the part in the first of two games at the Miami Holiday Tournament in Miami, Fla. The Badgers open against Delaware State before concluding the tournament on Saturday.
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, while Penn State's Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas are within 55 points of reaching the 1,500 career points mark. Penn State's Nikki Greene needs seven blocks and Ohio State's Ashley Adams needs 17 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 230 career blocks, Penn needs one more blocks to tie former Illini Jenna Smith for 10th on the Big Ten's career swats list, while Johnson ranks eighth on the conference's all-time list in the category.
Three 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 one more triumph to reach the landmark, and is six wins shy of reaching 400 career victories. Purdue's Sharon Versyp is three wins shy of reaching the 150-wins mark as the Boilermakers' head coach. Needing five 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.
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.