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This Week in the Big Ten

March 24, 2014

[ONE // wrestling up mount nittany]
Penn State won the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championship title on Saturday night at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. The crown marked the fourth straight national title for the Nittany Lions and the eighth year in a row that a Big Ten school has taken home the NCAA Championship. Prior to Penn State’s run of four straight crowns, Iowa claimed three consecutive titles from 2008-10 and Minnesota won the championship in 2007.  In a tightly contested team race, Penn State tallied 109.5 points to finish 5.5 points ahead of second place Minnesota (104.0 points). Oklahoma State, Iowa and Edinboro rounded out the top five with 96.5, 78.5 and 62.0 points, respectively. Ohio State and Northwestern also finished in the top 10, as the Buckeyes took sixth place (57.0 points) and the Wildcats finished in ninth (46.0).  The Nittany Lions’ Ed Ruth (184 pounds) and David Taylor (165) each won individual titles to push Penn State to the national crown. Ruth becomes the first Nittany Lion to win three NCAA titles, while Taylor took home his second national title. Illinois’ Jesse Delgado (125), Iowa’s Tony Ramos (133), Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis (149) and Ohio State’s Logan Stieber (141) also won national championships to give the Big Ten six of the 10 individual crowns.

[TWO // on ice, it’s on wisconsin]
Congratulations to the Wisconsin men’s hockey team on earning the first Big Ten Hockey Tournament Championship in conference history.  The Badgers fought back from a pair of two-goal deficits and captured the 2-1 victory over Ohio State with Mark Zangerle’s game-winner at 7:48 into overtime.  Zangerle was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and joined five others on the All-Tournament Team.  The inaugural event opened with two thrilling overtime games on Thursday, including the first contest that saw No. 6 Penn State upset No. 3 Michigan 2-1 in two extra sessions.  In Friday’s nightcap, the fourth-seeded Buckeyes earned a right to play for the title with a 3-1 stunner over No. 1 Minnesota.  It was the lone game out of five matchups that was decided by more than one goal.  For a complete breakdown of the results and recaps of the inaugural tournament, click here.  Late Sunday night, Minnesota and Wisconsin each earned No. 1 seeds as the pair was selected to participate in the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship.

[THREE // hockey trio finalist for major awards]
Three Big Ten hockey standouts were named finalists for major awards on Thursday. Goalkeepers Adam Wilcox of Minnesota and Joel Rumpel of Wisconsin were finalists for the Mike Richter Award and Hobey Baker Award. Ohio State forward Ryan Dzingel was also named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.  The Mike Richter Award honors the best goalkeeper in college hockey, while the Hobey Baker Award is given annually to the top collegiate player. The winners will be announced at the 2014 NCAA Men's Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

[FOUR // wolverines win women’s gymnastics title]
Michigan earned the 2014 Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships title on Saturday, securing its 20th title and first since 2011. The Wolverines tallied 197.550 points en route to the team title, followed by Nebraska in second place with 196.950. Minnesota finished in third with 196.675 points, Illinois placed fourth with 196.625 and Penn State rounded out the top five with 196.475 points. Minnesota's Lindsay Mable won the vault with a score of 10.000 en route to the all-around title with a score of 39.650. Michigan's Joanna Sampson scored a 9.925 to win the bars title, while Nebraska's Emily Wong won the beam with a score of 9.950. Sampson and Wong posted matching scores of 10.000 on the floor exercise to share the title. The conference's individual awards were also given out following the championships. Nebraska's Wong was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, marking the first honor in Cornhusker history. Michigan's Nicole Artz was tabbed the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while Minnesota head coach Meg Stephenson was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.  In addition, 12 student-athletes were named to the All-Championships Team.

[FIVE // hoops tourney nothing but sweet for badgers, spartans and wolverines]
The Big Ten went 3-0 in NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship play Saturday, with Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin recording wins to advance to the Sweet 16.  No. 2 Michigan ousted No. 7 Texas 79-65 in the Midwest Region third-round matchup, while No. 2 Wisconsin dropped No. 7 Oregon 85-77 in the West and No. 4 Michigan State got past No. 12 Harvard 80-73 in the East.  Three other teams battled in NCAA Tournament play this past week as Iowa fell to Tennessee in one of the First Four games, while Nebraska and Ohio State both suffered second-round losses to end their respective seasons.  In NIT action, Illinois saw its season end Sunday in a heartbreaking 50-49 loss at Clemson, while Minnesota advanced to the third round with a 63-55 win over visiting St. Mary's.  Penn State continues play in the College Basketball Invitational in quarterfinal action at Siena Monday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. from the Times Union Center in downtown Albany on CBS Sports Network.  

[SIX // women’s hoops perfect in the postseason]
In terms of the Big Ten’s success in the women’s basketball postseason, so far, so great!  The Big Ten has gone a perfect 12-0 in the postseason thus far, with a 5-0 record in the NCAA Tournament and a 7-0 mark in the WNIT.  On Monday, five squads were seeded sixth or higher in their respective regionals when the NCAA announced the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship field.  Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue earned bids to the field, marking the 15th time in the last 21 years the conference has sent five or more teams to the NCAA Tournament.  In addition, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern each earned bids to the 64-team 2014 Postseason WNIT field.  The conference’s pursuit of perfection will definitely come to an end Thursday when Northwestern travels to Bloomington to take on Big Ten foe Indiana in the third round of the WNIT. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at Assembly Hall.

[SEVEN // pool performers]

The Big Ten was well-represented in the 2014 NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, which concluded Saturday at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota finished in 10th place with 136.5 points, followed by Indiana in 12th with 118 points and 13th-place Wisconsin with 78 points. Penn State finished 18th (42), followed by Purdue in 25th (33) and Michigan in 30th (23).  Indiana's Brooklynn Snodgrass won the national crown in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:50.52. Hoosiers' Lindsay Vrooman finished fifth in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:44.45, followed by Minnesota's Kiera Janzen in seventh with a time of 15:57.38. Gophers' Kierra Smith placed sixth in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:06.76, while Purdue's MacKenzie Tweardy placed eighth in the platform diving event with 294.70 points. Wisconsin's Martin, Kinney, Van Hout and Palm concluded the meet with an eighth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

[EIGHT // diamond notes]
The 2014 Big Ten baseball and softball conference seasons began this past weekend.  In baseball, Indiana hosted Michigan, Iowa welcomed Nebraska, Michigan State took on Ohio State and Northwestern challenged Minnesota in St. Charles, Mo.  It was a strong start for the home teams as Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio State took two of three games for their respective series wins and sit atop the league standings at 2-1In softball, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State hosted home series, with the Boilermakers, Buckeyes, and Wolverines opening with perfect 3-0 conference marks.  Iowa, Minnesota, and Northwestern began 2-1 in league play, while Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin started 1-2, leaving Indiana, Michigan State and Penn State winless in three outings.

[NINE // tune in and watch]
BTN will offer its most extensive baseball and softball coverage ever, with over 240 events airing on BTN, BTN2Go and the Big Ten Digital Network (BTDN) for the 2014 season, it was announced last Wednesday.  BTN’s television coverage of Big Ten baseball began Sunday with the third game of a three-game series between Indiana and Michigan. BTN’s television coverage of Big Ten softball begins with a doubleheader between Iowa and Minnesota on Tuesday, April 8, with games at 4 p.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET.  Highlights and coverage of Big Ten baseball and softball will be featured on This Week in the Big Ten, a new studio show which airs Sunday nights beginning Sunday, April 6. Hosts Rick Pizzo, Mike Hall and various analysts will discuss Big Ten matchups and breakout performances from the weekend’s games. The Diamond Report will return with nightly airings during the baseball and softball tournaments.

[TEN // top of his class]
Indiana senior third baseman Dustin DeMuth has been selected as one of 30 baseball candidates nationally for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award, it was announced on Wednesday.  The candidates are selected based on notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

[ELEVEN // honoring the medal of honor]
During the Big Ten's celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, BigTen.org is featuring past winners or highlighting specific story angles each day on its blog.  This past Monday, a number of Illinois Medal of Honor recipients were recognized, while two past winners were noted on Tuesday for advancing into media careers in the Indianapolis area.  On Wednesday, College Football Hall of Fame inductees were featured, while the remainder of the week focused on Penn State female pioneers, student-athletes who are now coaches, and a popular face on the Wheaties box.

[TWELVE // still on the fence]
Finally this week, we started with a Penn State national championship and we end with one as well. The Big Ten tips its cap to member Penn State and its fencing team as it clinched its 13th national title with a dominant performance in the 2014 NCAA Fencing Championships on Sunday. This title is Penn State's third in the past six years and the Nittany Lions are now the winningest program in NCAA history.  As a team, Penn State finished the competition with 180 bout victories toppling Princeton University's second place finish of 159 bout victories, and St. John's University's third place finish of 156 bout victories. Individually, sophomore Kaito Streets (Redwood City, Calif.) claimed the 2014 men's saber NCAA Championship. Streets became the 13th individual champion for the Nittany Lions in program history.

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