And Then There Was One: Wisconsin currently leads the Big Ten with a perfect record of 4-0 in conference play this season. The Badgers are off to their best start in league play since the 1961-62 season when Wisconsin opened with six wins. UW also boasts a seven-game winning streak in conference games as the Badgers' last loss occurred against Michigan State on Feb. 24, 2005.
Close Calls in Big Ten Action: It is never easy to win in the Big Ten and this year is no different as five contests were won by six or less points last week. No. 21/24 Wisconsin opened the week, downing Minnesota, 64-62. Penn State posted a 65-61 triumph at Northwestern on Wednesday and No. 7/6 Illinois defeated Michigan, 79-74. The Nittany Lions nearly claimed their second triumph in conference play, however fell to Iowa at home, 80-76, on Saturday while No. 14/15 Michigan State defeated No. 19/16 Ohio State, 62-59, in double-overtime at Value City Arena on Sunday. Overall, Illinois is undefeated in contests decided by six or less points with a 4-0 mark, while Wisconsin (5-1), Iowa (4-1), Michigan (4-1), Michigan State (3-1), Northwestern (2-1), Penn State (2-1) and Indiana (1-1) have lost only one game in close-call contests.
Road Teams Strike Back: After only one team lost on its homecourt in the first week of conference play, five teams broke through last week with road triumphs in Wisconsin (vs. Minnesota), Penn State (vs. Northwestern), Ohio State (vs. Purdue), Iowa (vs. Penn State) and Michigan State (vs. Ohio State). Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin each share a perfect record of 10-0 on their homecourts, while Michigan State is 7-0 at the Breslin Center this season.
Hawks in the National Statistical Rankings: Jeff Horner is 12th in the nation with 6.3 assists per game. Greg Brunner is 24th in the nation with 9.8 rebounds per game. Erek Hansen is 10th in the nation with 3.1 blocks per game. Iowa remains #1 in the nation with
Bracketology: In ESPN's latest NCAA bracket projection, Iowa is a #8 seed and would play #9 seeded Southern Illinois. Iowa was projected as a #7 seed last week. If Iowa's RPI remains strong all season long, and given how strong the Big Ten is on the whole, that is likely, an eight seed is lower than where they will be seeded should they make the tournament. ESPN projects that as of now, the ACC, Big Ten and Big East would each send seven teams to the tournament. Those three leagues would comprise 32.3 percent of all bids. They project as of right now that the Missouri Valley would get four bids and the Big 12 would receive only three. Kansas and Kansas State were two of their last four teams not making the cut as of 1/16/06. Obviously at this stage of the game, this is more for entertainment than anything else.
Coaching Milestones: Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo only needs three more victories to claim his 250th career win in East Lansing. Izzo currently boasts a career mark of 247-101 in his 11th season at the Spartan helm. Izzo has also compiled a 119-49 record in conference action, ranking him 15th on the Big Ten's all-time list for league victories, just one win behind Michigan's John Orr who collected 120 triumphs from 1969-80.
Double-Double Averages: Michigan State's Paul Davis is currently averaging a double-double with 18.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game this season, while Iowa's Greg Brunner is just under a double-double, tallying 13.3 points and 9.8 boards per game. The last Big Ten standout to average double-double throughout the season was former Minnesota standout Kris Humphries, who as a freshman finished the 2003-04 season with 21.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Making An Impact: Several freshmen have made an immediate impact in the Big Ten this season. Penn State's Jamelle Cornley leads all freshmen in scoring with 13.1 points per game, while also ranking 18th overall in the conference. Cornley also ranks second among the newcomers with 5.1 rebounds per game. Purdue currently has four players ranked among the freshmen's top 10 in scoring with Nate Minnoy (11.0 ppg), Corey Spates (10.9) and Chris Lutz (10.7) rated second, third and fourth respectively among all freshmen scorers, while Marcus Green (5.6 ppg) rounds out the top 10 in eighth place. (Minnoy will sit out the rest of the season after tearing his MCL on Jan. 4).
Ranked No. 1 in RPI and Sagarin: In the latest RPI Report, the Big Ten leads the nation with four teams ranked in the top 10 in the school rankings. Wisconsin is third, followed by No. 4 Illinois, No. 8 Michigan State and No. 10 Iowa. Indiana (17th) and Ohio State (26th) round out the top 30. In the league rankings, the Big Ten remains No. 1 with a .5958 rating. The ACC (.5866), SEC (.5832), Big East (.5819) and Missouri Valley (.5641) round out the top five. The Big Ten also leads the nation in the Sagarin Ratings with a central mean of 83.59. For each Big Ten team's RPI and Sagarin ratings, go to page four of this release.
Illinois' Homecourt Record: On Saturday, Illinois extended its homecourt winning streak to 31 games with a 79- 74 victory over Michigan, tying Gonzaga (31) and Southern Illinois (31) for the longest streak in the nation. Illinois has also equaled its longest homecourt winning streak ever at the Assembly Hall, tying the 31 consecutive wins at home from Jan. 15, 1984 through Jan. 4, 1986. The Illini were the only league team to go undefeated at home last season and their last defeat in Assembly Hall occurred on Jan. 10, 2004 against Purdue. Illinois still trails the Big Ten record of 53 straight home triumphs set by Michigan State from 1998 to 2002 -- a winning streak that was ended by Wisconsin.
Big Ten's Grand Company: With Adam Haluska reaching his 1,000th career point on Saturday, Iowa now joins Ohio State as the only teams in the league that have three 1,000 career point producers on their squads. Haluska (1,004) joins teammates Jeff Horner (1,264) and Greg Brunner (1,261), while the Buckeyes' Terence Dials (1,287), Ron Lewis (1,053) and J.J. Sullinger (1,029) have also reached the 1,000th-point plateau. Illinois (Dee Brown - 1,607 and James Augustine -1,180) and Michigan State (Paul Davis - 1,473 and Maurice Ager -1,256) both feature a pair of 1,000-point scorers. Indiana's Marco Killingsworth (1,301), Michigan's Daniel Horton (1,257), Northwestern's Vedran Vukusic (1,368) and Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (1,217) have also reached the 1,000 point plateau. The Big Ten's "Grand Company" list appears to the right.
Freshman of Note: Penn State's Jamelle Cornley is averaging 13.1 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game. Purdue's Nate Minnoy is averaging 11.0 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Conference RPI School Wtd. RPI
1. Big Ten .5958 ~ 3. Wisconsin .6790
2. ACC .5866 ~ 4. Illinois .6605
3. SEC .5832 ~ 8. Michigan State .6492
4. Big East .5819 ~ 10. Iowa .6469
5. Missouri Valley .5641 ~ 17. Indiana .6233
6. Big 12 .5516 ~ 26. Ohio State .6091
7. Pac-10 .5510 ~ 43. Michigan .5904
8. Mountain West .5239 ~ 87. Northwestern .5509
9. Atlantic 10 .5208 ~ 117. Penn State .5281
10. Colonial .5146 ~ 131. Minnesota .5162
155. Purdue .5008