College Basketball Trivia: The Big Ten

By Lorenzo Tanos

After a brief hiatus, we've got more college basketball trivia bits for you, and this time we're off to the Big Ten, another major conference with a long, rich history.

1. Which Big Ten charter school was an NCAA basketball powerhouse in the ?30s but currently plays its basketball in Division III?

The Chicago Maroons once had a powerful lineup that was good enough to reach the Sweet 16 in the 1935 postseason. But when varsity athletics were de-emphasized in 1939, it was only a matter of time before the Maroons would secede from the Big Ten. Well, seven years (1946) isn't ?only a matter of time?, but you have to take into account the Second World War which limited participation in several sporting events in the early '40s.
   
2. What year was the Big Ten founded and who were the charter teams in the conference? And what was the Big Ten's original name?

The original Big Ten schools actually numbered a bit lower than that ? Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. The conference was called the Western Conference from 1896 to 1899, and became the Big Nine in 1899 after the addition of Iowa and Indiana. The Big Ten became known as such in 1917 following Michigan rejoining after a nine-year conference ban; at that time, Ohio State was the newest Big Ten school, having joined in 1912.

3. True or False ? Michigan ?Fab Five? members Jimmy King and Ray Jackson were not drafted by the NBA.

False. Jimmy King was picked 35th overall by the Toronto Raptors in 1995, and spent enjoyed a two-year NBA career with the Raptors and the Nuggets. Ray Jackson, the least-heralded member of the Fab Five, was the only member of that highly-regarded freshman class who never played a minute in the NBA. He did, however, win 1995-96 CBA Rookie of the Year honors with the Grand Rapids Hoops.
   
4. Which Major League Baseball Hall of Famer had briefly played for the Michigan State Spartans before switching to baseball and becoming a sports icon in the city of Philadelphia?

Robin Roberts was recruited by the Spartans as a 6'0? guard and had actually averaged in double digits over his three-year roundball career (10 ppg ? quite good for the time) before focusing on baseball as a junior. It turned out to be the right decision ? Roberts played 19 MLB seasons, including 14 with the Philadelphia Phillies, and was inducted to the Hall of Fame as a pitcher in 1976.
   
5. Who were the two Big Ten teams to take part in an ugly brawl early in 1972 that led to a forfeit and some very bad publicity from mainstream sports publications?

Minnesota and Ohio State were the two teams involved in this incident which took place on January 25, 1972. Two of the key players involved were future NBA journeymen Ron Behagen (Minnesota) and Luke Witte (Ohio State); Witte took a knee to the groin from Gophers player Corky Taylor, who was pretending to help him up, while Behagen had stomped Witte on the head while he was down. This happened more than a half-decade before this writer was born, but I figure this made the Pacers-Pistons brawl of 2004 look like a hair-pulling match.
   
6. Which NFL team drafted John Havlicek despite the fact he never played a down of college football for Ohio State?

The Cleveland Browns drafted Havlicek 95th overall in the 1962 NFL Draft and gave him a training camp shot as a wide receiver. Apparently, he was almost good enough to make the team, but not quite; fortunately, he would become a huge NBA success in a 16-year career with the Boston Celtics as one of the most versatile players of his time. And of course, there's that thing with him stealing the ball to help the Celts make the 1965 NBA Finals.

7. This former Northwestern head coach was the victim of one of the uglier hate crimes of the late 90s.

African-American Ricky Byrdsong was the Wildcats' coach from 1993 to 1997 and was working in the insurance industry when he was tragically killed by white supremacist Benjamin Nathaniel Smith of the Creativity Movement.
   
8. Before he was one of professional baseball's largest and most feared sluggers, he was a pretty good forward/center for Ohio State who was drafted in the third round by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1958.

No, John Havlicek wasn't the first Ohio State frontcourt man to be nicknamed Hondo. That designation went to Frank Howard, who averaged 20.1 ppg and 15.3 rpg as a Buckeyes junior. A subpar senior year (16.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg) may have doomed his NBA chances, but he was truly dominating as a 6'8?-275 MLB outfielder. Oh, and by the way ? he weighed only 218 pounds back in his college days.
   
9. Who was the Indiana Hoosiers' head coach before Bob Knight took over in 1971?

When we think of the Hoosiers, particularly their glory days, we think of Bobby Knight. Older fans may remember Branch McCracken as the head coach for 27 seasons, from 1938 to 1965. But between the McCracken and Knight (1971-2000) eras, Lou Watson coached Indiana from 1965 to 1971. Watson had a 61-60 record during that time frame, and his most notable star during that time was ABA/NBA All-Star and NCAA All-American George McGinnis.
   
10. How many Purdue Boilermakers have led the NCAA Division I in single-season scoring ? two or three?

Two. Dave Schellhase averaged 32.5 ppg in 1965-66 and was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. He averaged less than 1/10ths of that over two NBA seasons (2.8 ppg in 73 games). Glenn ?Big Dog? Robinson needs no introduction, having been picked first overall in 1994, with a career scoring average of 20.7 ppg from 1994 to 2005. Robinson averaged 30.3 ppg as a Purdue junior in 1993-94. Rick Mount averaged an amazing 35.4 ppg in 1969-70 but that was only good enough for second place in NCAA Division I to one ?Pistol? Pete Maravich.
   
11. Who was the first Nebraska Cornhusker to have his number retired in basketball?

Like Penn State, Nebraska is far better known for its football teams, but there have been a few good Cornhuskers to see action in the NBA. Well, maybe not that good on an NBA level ? Dave Hoppen had his #42 retired following his brilliant Cornhuskers career, where he scored over 2,100 points in four seasons. As an NBA player, he was a third-round draft pick who never averaged more than 6.5 ppg.
   
12. Which co-Indiana Mr. Basketball winners stayed home to play for the Hoosiers in the late 80s, yet failed to live up to NCAA and/or NBA expectations?

Jay Edwards and Lyndon Jones formed a potent high school backcourt for Marion HS, leading the team to three state championships. As such, it was a huge coup for Indiana when both Edwards and Jones committed to the Hoosiers in 1987. Edwards, a 6'4? shooting guard, lived up to the hype, averaging 20.0 ppg and 4.3 rpg in 1988-89, but made an ill-timed decision to jump to the NBA after his sophomore year. A second-round pick of the Clippers in 1989, Edwards played in only four NBA games. Jones, a 6'2? point guard, started as a sophomore but was relegated to the bench as a junior and senior. A career 5.9 ppg average isn't what you'd expect from such a highly-regarded high school guard.
   
13. Who was the Wisconsin Badgers' head coach for the 1994-95 season?

In his highest-profile NCAA coaching job, Stan Van Gundy went 13-14 in his only season as Badgers' coach. He did, however, have a future NBA All-Star in that lineup in Michael Finley, whose disappointing senior season that year may have cost him a potential lottery spot. Still, that didn't stop him from having a very successful NBA career.
   
14. Who is the only man to win National Coach of the Year honors in NCAA Division I basketball for Illinois?

Bruce Weber, who coached the Illini from 2003 to 2012, won National Coach of the Year in 2005 when he led the team to a 37-2 record and a runner-up finish in that year's NCAA Tournament. That team was led by future NBA guards and co-captains Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head.
   
15. What was the nickname of Iowa's 1969-70 team that went 20-5 and ranked first in the Big Ten that year? This team also produced two NBA standouts, both of whom played for the 1978-79 champion Seattle Supersonics.

Because coach Ralph Miller used a six-man rotation that year, the Hawkeyes of 1969-70 were known as the Six Pack. The top players on that team were forward John Johnson and guard ?Downtown? Fred Brown, both of whom played key roles on the championship-winning Sonics of 1978-79.
   
16. How many Penn State players have been drafted in the NBA since 1947? And how many of them were drafted after the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten?

Penn State, which most of us know is one of the top football schools in America, has produced only 10 NBA Draft selections since 1947, most notably former NBA guard/head coach Bob Weiss and journeyman forward/center Frank Brickowski. The only Nittany Lion to be drafted by the NBA since 1993 is Calvin Booth (35th, 1999), another journeyman forward/center who played 10 seasons from 1999 to 2009.

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