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This Week in the Big Ten

April 2, 2012

[ONE // buckeyes and gophers conclude hoops season]
The Minnesota and Ohio State men’s basketball teams both saw their respective seasons come to an end over the weekend, including the Buckeyes’ 64-62 loss to Kansas at the Final Four.  Despite owning a 13-point lead early in the game, OSU could not hold off a Jayhawks’ rally that eventually gave them the win.  Ohio State senior William Buford led the team with 19 points in his final game as a Buckeye.  As for Minnesota, the Golden Gophers fell 75-51 to Stanford in the NIT Championship game this past Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York.  Rodney Williams, who made the All-Tournament team, finished with 12 points to lead the Gophers.  Freshman guard Andre Hollins, who had just four points in the loss, also made the All-Tournament team.

[TWO // a class award for a classy guy]
Purdue All-American forward Robbie Hummel was named Friday as the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner for men's basketball. The announcement and trophy presentation were made Friday by Lowe's, an official corporate sponsor of the NCAA, during the open practice sessions of Final Four Friday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Hummel is Purdue’s first-ever winner of the award, given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I men’s basketball. The award is chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I men’s basketball head coaches, national media and fans.  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.  Hummel’s status as a national finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in 2012 marked the third year in a row that Purdue has placed a student-athlete in the final running for the honor. Chris Kramer was Purdue’s first-ever finalist for the award in 2010, and E’Twuan Moore made the final cut in 2011. Kramer won the fan vote in his year as a finalist.

[THREE // shurna sure from 3]
For four years, Northwestern’s John Shurna showed regularly that he knew how to put the ball in the basket. That didn't change this past Thursday evening at the 2012 State Farm College Slam Dunk and 3-point Championships in New Orleans.  The Wildcat knocked down his final seven shots in the championship round to edge Temple's Juan Fernandez 21-20 to take home the Hampton Hotels Men's 3-Point Championship.  Later on, Shurna squared off against women's champion Ashley Corral of USC and recorded a lights-out total of 24 points in cruising to a 10-point victory to win the Pure Protein Battle of the Champions crown.  Shurna ranks third all-time at Northwestern with 294 career 3-point makes. He connected on 95 triples during the 2011-12 season, shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc.

[FOUR // all-american girls]
Four Big Ten women’s basketball stars earned All-America recognition from the Associated Press on Tuesday. Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis earned second-team honors, while team Tayler Hill, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Penn State's Maggie Lucas were awarded honorable mention distinction.  In addition, Ohio State’s Prahalis was named to the 2011-12 USBWA Women's All-America Team on Wednesday. Prahalis, who earned Big Ten Player of the Year accolades following the regular season, led the Big Ten in points per game (22.5) in conference play and ended her Buckeye career as the Big Ten's all-time leader in assists with 901.

[FIVE // from maroon and gold to red, white and blue]
Former Minnesota standout Lindsay Whalen was selected to the 2012 United States Olympic Team, it was announced by USA Basketball this past Friday. Whalen, who was selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft, helped the Gophers to their only Final Four appearance in 2004.  This selection marks her first appearance on the United States Olympic team, but she was also part of the U.S. contingent at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

[SIX // bollant, miller take over women’s basketball programs]
The Big Ten welcomed not one, but two new women’s basketball coaches to the conference on Wednesday as hires were made on both the Illinois and Indiana campuses.  The Fighting Illini named Matt Bollant as their new head women's basketball coach, while the Hoosiers welcomed Curt Miller as the man to lead the Cream and Crimson. Bollant arrives in Champaign after five years at Green Bay, leading the Phoenix to five straight Horizon League Crowns and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.  Miller served as head coach for Bowling Green State University for the last 11 seasons, compiling an overall record of 258-92 and earning Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year accolades six times in his career.

[SEVEN // a perfect 8?]
They strive for the perfect 10 while competing, but for Big Ten women’s gymnastics, it was a perfect 8 on Monday when all eight conference teams were chosen among the 36-team field to compete at NCAA Regionals on April 7. The Big Ten will be represented at five of the six regional sites.  Nebraska received the top seed in the Salt Lake City Regional after earning its first Big Ten Championship. The Huskers are joined in Salt Lake City by No. 3 seed Minnesota.  Ohio State and Penn State head to the Raleigh Regional, as the Buckeyes received the No. 2 seed and the Nittany Lions took the No. 3 seed.  Michigan and Michigan State earned spots in the Auburn Regional, picking up the Nos. 4 and 6 seeds, respectively.  Illinois hosts the Champaign Regional, earning the No. 4 seed at the event, while Iowa heads to the Seattle Regional, where it holds the No. 5 seed.  The top two teams, along with the top two all-around competitors not on an advancing team, will receive automatic berths to the NCAA Championships on April 20-22. In addition, the event winners at each regional site will advance to the national championships in that event only if they do not qualify as part of a team or as an all-around competitor.

[EIGHT // and the awards go to…]
The Big Ten announced this past Wednesday the 2012 Big Ten Men’s Swimmer and Diver of the Year award winners, as voted by the conference coaches. Michigan’s Dan Madwed captured Swimmer of the Year honors, while Indiana’s Zac Nees took home Diver of the Year accolades.  Madwed recorded three first-place finishes and added a second-place mark at the Big Ten Championships, and recently earned five All-America honors for his performances at the NCAA Championships.  Nees recorded two top-five finishes at the Big Ten Championships, placing third and fourth, respectively, and recorded a pair of top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America status.

[NINE // gophers walk-off with big ten baseball lead]
Matt Halloran hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to help the Minnesota baseball team to a 4-3 win and a home series sweep over Michigan on Sunday, giving the Golden Gophers sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings at 3-0.  Minnesota’s three-straight wins over a Big Ten team at home marked the first series sweep for the Gophers since sweeping Iowa in 2009.  In-state rivals Indiana and Purdue share second place in the standings at 4-2, while four teams are tied for fourth place.  Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern sit at 3-3, while Michigan State owns a 1-1 record, giving all four teams a .500 winning percentage.

[TEN // boiler up to the big ten softball lead]
Speaking of sweeps, Purdue’s softball team closed out a three-game sweep of Penn State with a 5-0 win on Sunday, propelling the Boilermakers to their seventh straight win and the top spot in the Big Ten at 6-0 after two weekends of conference play.  Michigan and Ohio State sit closely behind in second place at 5-1, while Iowa and Nebraska trail the Boilers by two at 4-2 in conference action.

[ELEVEN // diamond report is back]
The season premiere of BTN's Big Ten Diamond Report aired Sunday evening, recapping the week that was on the Big Ten diamond while previewing the week ahead.  Host Mike Hall and analysts Cal Eldred and Tammy Williams will have highlights and analysis of the weekend's baseball and softball games on Sunday evenings throughout the season. Visit BTN.com/shows or check your local listings for future times.  BTN will televise a total of 33 baseball and 28 softball games live this season. More than 150 additional games will stream live on the Big Ten Digital Network.

[TWELVE // on and off the field]
Finally this week, the Big Ten recognized Wednesday a total of 615 winter sports student-athletes who were named to the Academic All-Conference team. The list of honored student-athletes features 41 men's and 62 women's basketball players, 57 men's and 50 women's gymnasts, 105 men's and 221 women's swimmers and divers and 79 wrestlers. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.  For a complete list of the winter honorees, click here.

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