Through the first quarter of the Big Ten season, reigning conference champions Maryland and Ohio State are joined by Rutgers atop the Big Ten standings at 4-0.The Terrapins own the conference’s longest active winning streak at 13 games, while the Scarlet Knights are on an 11-game winning streak, their longest since a 12-game string to end the 2013-14 season and start the 2014-15 campaign (their first in the Big Ten). Rutgers has also won its first four conference games for the first time since 2013-14, when they started 4-0 in their only season in the American Athletic Conference.
The Big Ten has two of the nation’s most improved programs this season, with Rutgers already owning 10 more wins than last year and Nebraska tied for second with four wins more than its total in 2016-17. The Big Ten record for the most improvement from one season to the next is +14.5 by Iowa in 1995-96 (11-17 to 27-4). Also of note — Nebraska is 5-0 on the road and Rutgers is 4-0 on the road this season, after neither school won a road game in a combined 24 tries last year (Nebraska 0-10, Rutgers 0-14).
A pair of Big Ten students are on the verge of scoring milestones this week. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell needs two points to become the second Big Ten student and 13th NCAA Division I student to score 3,000 career points — Mitchell is also 95 points shy of the Big Ten career scoring record held by Minnesota’s Rachel Banham (3,093 from 2012-16). Like Mitchell, Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife is two points away from her own milestone of 2,000 career points, poised to become the 27th Big Ten student to reach that scoring landmark.
Iowa joined Ohio State as the only schools to win 400 Big Ten regular-season conference games when the Hawkeyes posted an 84-71 victory at Illinois on Sunday. Iowa, which has a 15-2 record this year and is off to its best start since 1995-96 (when it opened 16-1), has a 400-212 (.654) all-time record in Big Ten play since the conference’s inaugural season in 1982-83 (composite standings on page two).
Michigan welcomed the second-largest crowd in program history on Sunday, as 8,313 fans jammed Crisler Center to watch a nationally-televised Top 25 matchup between the Wolverines and Ohio State that went the way of the Buckeyes, 78-71 in overtime.
Eleven of the 14 Big Ten programs rank among the top 50 in the nation in attendance, including eight in the top 25, according to Monday’s NCAA statistics report. Purdue leads the way at No. 6 nationally (5,855 fans per game), joined by No. 10 Ohio State (5,500), No. 11 Maryland (5,325), No. 16 Michigan State (5,304), No. 19 Iowa (4,229), No. 22 Michigan (3,181), No. 23 Nebraska ( 3,843) and No. 24 Wisconsin (3,342). The other Big Ten schools currently among the top 50 in the nation in attendance are Indiana (35th - 3,081), Penn State (36th - 3,209), and Minnesota (37th - 2,764).
The Big Ten ranks No. 3 in Monday’sCollegiate Basketball News conference RPI index (found at RPIratings.com). What’s more, six Big Ten schools are among the top 50 in the team RPI rankings as noted by NCAA.com andCollegiate Basketball News, including four in the top 25. Ohio State leads the group at No. 5, followed by No. 8 Rutgers, No. 15 Iowa and No. 21 Maryland. Michigan State is next at No. 40, followed by Michigan at No. 42.
The Big Ten had seven schools appearing in the top 50 of Monday’s Sagarin ratings. The conference contingent includes No. 10 Maryland, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 18 Rutgers, No. 24 Michigan State, No. 25 Iowa, No. 30 Michigan and No. 45 Minnesota.
Five Big Ten schools are ranked or receiving votes in the latest Associated Press or USA Todaypolls, led by No. 10 (AP)/No. 10 (USA Today) Ohio State. Maryland is also ranked in both polls at No. 11/11, as are Iowa at No. 18/17, Rutgers at No. 21/19 and Michigan at No. 23/20. The Wolverines have been ranked all 10 weeks this season, setting a school record for consecutive weeks in the polls, topping the previous mark of nine in 2001-02). Ten of the 14 Big Ten schools have been ranked or receiving votes for at least one week this year.
In Monday’s NCAA statistical rankings, four Big Ten schools rank in the top 25 nationally in scoring offense — Ohio State (3rd - 89.1 ppg.), Maryland (6th - 87.0 ppg.), Minnesota (11th - 85.9 ppg.) and Iowa (25th - 80.4 ppg.).
As of Monday, six of the nation’s top 25 scorers come from Big Ten schools, led by Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell, who is No. 2 with 26.2 points per game. Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty is 6th (22.9 ppg.), Iowa’s Megan Gustafson is 7th (22.7 ppg.), Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife is 15th (21.5 ppg.), Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell is 20th (20.9 ppg.) and Indiana’s Tyra Buss is 25th (20.5 ppg.).
Five of the nation’s top 10 active NCAA Division I scoring leaders are Big Ten students —Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (1st - 2,998), Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (2nd - 2,408), Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife (5th - 1,998), Indiana’s Tyra Buss (9th - 1,950) and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner (10th - 1,895).
Nine Big Ten students (representing six conference schools) have scored 30 points in a game this season. The Big Ten’s 30-point scorers this year include: Iowa’s Megan Gustafson (three times), Maryland’s Kaila Charles and Eleanna Christinaki, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty (twice), Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell (three times) and Carlie Wagner, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Kelsey Mitchell (seven times) and Penn State’s Jaida Travascio-Green.
Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, and Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner are among 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to a senior basketball student who has made notable achievements in the award’s four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The field of 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, with the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award recipient announced during this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus. Iowa’s Samantha Logic is the most recent Big Ten women’s basketball student to earn the Senior CLASS Award, doing so in 2014-15.
The 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four will be played March 30 and April 1, right in the heart of Big Ten country in Columbus, Ohio, and co-hosted by Ohio State and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission at Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. This will mark the seventh time the Women’s Final Four is held within the Big Ten Conference footprint, with three visits to Indianapolis (2005, 2011, 2016), two others in the state of Ohio (Cincinnati-1997, Cleveland-2007) and the 1995 event in Minneapolis (the last time it was held in a city featuring a Big Ten institution).