THIS WEEK IN THE BIG TEN
January 27, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
[ONE // former big ten standouts ready for super week]
The Big Ten will be well-represented this upcoming Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Thirteen former student-athletes and nine coaches with conference connections appear on the rosters of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Eleven Big Ten schools will be represented among the players and coaches in the Super Bowl, including draft picks and undrafted free agents who entered the National Football League (NFL) between 2004 and 2013. Wisconsin is tied for second among all schools with four players on the rosters, followed by Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue with two each. Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern will each have one former player competing for the title. On the sidelines, Michigan State has four coaches with affiliation to the Spartan program, while Ohio State has two coaches with Buckeye ties and Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin each have one with a connection to the school. The Broncos boast six former Big Ten players on their roster, each from different schools. Seven former Big Ten standouts from four different schools are members of the Seahawks active roster.
[TWO // michigan men sit atop basketball standings]
With an 80-75 upset over in-state rival No. 3/3 Michigan State on Saturday, No. 21/T25 Michigan earned dibs on first place in the B1G men’s basketball standings. The Wolverines are 7-0 in conference play while the Spartans fell to 7-1. In other headlines this week, Nebraska upset No. 17/15 Ohio State 68-62 on Monday, and Michigan dropped No. 10/10 Iowa 75-67 and Minnesota stunned No. 9/8 Wisconsin 81-68 on Wednesday.
[THREE // lady lions leading women’s race]
On the women’s side, Penn State holds a one-game lead over Michigan and Michigan State at 6-1 in league action. The No. 13/13 Lady Lions scored a 30-point victory over Minnesota on CBS Sunday to maintain their lead atop the conference standings. Elsewhere, Illinois shocked Michigan State 61-51 before 5,360 fans in East Lansing on Thursday, while Northwestern upset No. 21/18 Nebraska 63-59 on Sunday.
[FOUR // men’s hoops players honored nationally]
Four Big Ten men's basketball players representing three schools were named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list on Wednesday, including Michigan State's Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Wisconsin's Sam Dekker. Additionally, Appling and teammate Gary Harris were named to the Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List, the organization announced on Thursday. Also, Indiana's Noah Vonleh was among nine standout freshmen named to the Integris Wayman Tisdale Award Midseason Watch List, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association unveiled on Friday. The award is presented annually to the best freshman in the nation.
[FIVE // minnesota hockey earns first-ever north star college cup]
In Big Ten hockey this past week, top-ranked Minnesota earned a pair of non-conference nods, including one over No. 5/5 St. Cloud State and a shootout win over Minnesota Duluth. The latter gave the Golden Gophers the inaugural North Star College Cup in front of 14,518 fans in downtown St. Paul at Xcel Energy Center. Elsewhere, No. 14/14 Michigan scored a sweep over Michigan State, ninth-ranked Wisconsin and Ohio State split a Big Ten double, while Penn State fell to No. 2 Boston College.
[SIX // gopher grapplers top hawkeyes in conference headliner]
A full slate of Big Ten wrestling was on the docket this past week, highlighted by Saturday’s top-four matchup in Iowa City between No. 2 Iowa and No. 4 Minnesota. The teams split 10 matches, but Minnesota scored bonus points at 125 and 197 to earn the 19-15 victory and hand No. 2 Iowa its first conference loss of the season. Top-ranked Penn State scored a 31-3 result over No. 15 Illinois in front of 6,500 fans in Rec Hall on Friday, although the Fighting Illini rebounded to score a 29-6 decision at Michigan State on Sunday. Wisconsin posted two Big Ten dual wins against Indiana and Northwestern, as did Nebraska with victories over Ohio State and Purdue.
[SEVEN // four tennis teams heading to nationals]
Four Big Ten men’s and women’s tennis teams have advanced to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships following wins in the sixth annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend, which took place Jan. 24-27. Illinois and Ohio State will represent Big Ten men’s tennis, while Michigan and Northwestern claimed victories on the women’s side. The Illinois men punched its ticket by defeating Michigan 4-2, and Ohio State stopped Louisville 4-1, which also marked head coach Ty Tucker’s 400th career win at OSU. On the women’s side, Michigan blanked Yale 4-0 as Northwestern did the same to Arizona State. In all, 120 teams competed across the country for 30 berths at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
[EIGHT // illini first to open up spring season in men’s golf]
The Big Ten men’s golf spring season began on Saturday, with Illinois traveling to Placida, Fla., to compete in the Tinervin Cup versus Illinois State. The Fighting Illini remained perfect in the 11th-annual Tinervin Cup, defeating the Redbirds 6-3 at the 7,038-yard, par-71 Coral Creek Golf Club. Illinois swept the morning's fourball portion before going 3-3 in singles in the afternoon. The remaining 11 conference squads will begin their seasons in February. All 12 conference teams will participate in the Big Ten Match Play Championship from Feb. 14-15 at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. The Illini won the Match Play Championship for the first time last season.
[NINE // wolverines, huskers softball ranked in preseason]
Michigan and Nebraska will both open the 2014 NCAA softball season in the top-10, as the preseason USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll has the Wolverines slotted No. 5, and Nebraska ranked No. 9. Reigning Big Ten Tournament Champion Wisconsin also received votes in the preseason poll. Michigan is set to return 16 letterwinners from a team that captured its sixth consecutive Big Ten title and advanced to the WCWS for the 10th time. The Huskers' preseason ranking of No. 9 is its highest since 2004. Nebraska won 45 games last season and earned the program's seventh trip to the WCWS. Wisconsin returns 14 letterwinners from last year's team that made its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance.
[TEN // five soccer stars selected to play at next level]
Five Big Ten men's soccer players were selected in the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft over the past two weeks. Indiana's A.J. Corrado and Nikita Kotlov, Michigan's Fabio Pereira, Michigan State's Kevin Cope and Wisconsin's AJ Cochran were all drafted by MLS clubs. Three standouts were taken in the first two rounds, while Kotlov and Pereira were selected in the remaining rounds, which resumed this past Tuesday.
[ELEVEN // nebraska’s zimmerer named finalist for meaningful award]
Nebraska fullbackC.J. Zimmerer was named one of five finalists for the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award. The award is presented annually to a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. The winner will be presented at the Maxwell Club Awards Gala on March 14, 2014, at Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Big Ten student-athletes have won the past two Rare Disease Champion awards, as Penn State's Eric Shrive took home the honor last season and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead was tabbed the winner in 2012. To read more about Zimmerer's cause, click here.
[TWELVE // standing with purdue]
Finally this week, Tuesday’s unthinkable act on the Purdue campus left all of Big Ten Country shaken. However, it also showed just how close the conference community can be in times of need. Support stormed in from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, but perhaps no sign of support was more poignant than what a group of Northwestern students did prior to the Wildcats’ 63-60 overtime victory over the Boilermakers that night in Evanston. The student body painted their bodies to display, “Stand With Purdue.” It was not only a wonderful display of sportsmanship, but a fitting reminder of just how powerful a role and outlet sports can have on our lives.