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This Week in the Big Ten

May 12, 2014

[ONE // gophers golden on the diamond]
The 15th-ranked and third seeded Minnesota softball team earned its first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 in walk-off fashion as freshman Sam Macken drove in Erica Meyer with a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh to give the Gophers a 3-2 win over top-seeded Michigan at Sharon J. Drysdale Field in Evanston, Ill.  Minnesota, which became the fourth Big Ten team to win multiple conference tournament titles, improved to 41-9 on the season and earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, sealing the school’s ninth appearance in the national tournament.  Minnesota’s Kaitlyn Richardson was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while the 11 All-Tournament Team members can be found here.

[TWO // cream and crimson clinch championship share]
With its 9-2 victory over Penn State on Sunday, Indiana (35-12, 19-2 Big Ten) claimed at least a share of the Big Ten Championship. The Hoosiers clinched their sixth conference title in program history and become the first team to secure back-to-back Big Ten Championships since Michigan did so in 2007 and 2008.  Five Hoosiers recorded multiple hits on Sunday, while Sam Travis led the way with three runs batted in. With the game tied 2-2 after three innings, Indiana added a run in the fourth and two in the fifth thanks to Travis' two-run home run for a 5-2 edge. The Hoosiers tacked on four runs in the eighth inning to complete the scoring. Brad Hartong and Will Nolden added two RBI each, while Kyle Schwarber had three runs scored on the day.  Indiana ends the regular season with a three-game homestand against Minnesota, which begins on Thursday. The Hoosiers can claim the outright Big Ten Championship, and the top seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament, as early as Monday, with a Michigan State win over Nebraska on Monday. The 2014 Big Ten Baseball Tournament will be held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., May 21-25.

[THREE // and with the next pick in the nfl draft…]
Thirty Big Ten football standouts were selected in the seven-round NFL Draft held this past weekend, including four first-rounders.  Michigan’s Taylor Lewan was the first Big Ten player off the board, going 11th overall to Tennessee.  Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby went 15th (Pittsburgh) and 31st (Denver), respectively, while Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard was the 24th overall selection by Cincinnati.

[FOUR // hoops tourney heading east]
The Big Ten announced Tuesday that the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will make its first appearance on the East Coast when the 2017 event is held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The 2017 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will mark the conference's 20th annual event and will feature all 14 conference institutions in action from Wednesday, March 8, through Sunday, March 12, with the winner earning the Big Ten's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.  The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament has been held in either Chicago or Indianapolis through the first 17 years of its existence, and returns to Chicago's United Center for the ninth time in 2015. Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse will host the tournament for the 10th time in 2016. Each of the last two tournaments have been sold out, including a conference record of more than 124,000 fans at the United Center in 2013 and over 111,000 fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse earlier this year, the largest attendance in Indianapolis. More than 1.6 million fans have enjoyed the tournament since the inaugural event in 1998.

[FIVE // expanding east at tipoff too]
The BIG EAST and Big Ten Conferences have announced the establishment of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual early-season series of eight men's basketball games played between the two conferences and named in honor of Dave Gavitt, founder of the BIG EAST and basketball visionary.  The Gavitt Tipoff Games will be played on four consecutive days in the first full week of the college basketball season. The series begins at the start of the 2015-16 season and will span eight years, with games played at home sites.  The unique series between the two conferences is named to honor the late Gavitt, who had a profound and lasting influence on the sport of basketball on the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

[SIX // illinois, ohio state men’s tennis reach round of 16]
Illinois and Ohio State have advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship, following wins in the opening two rounds of the tournament.  The third-seeded Buckeyes cruised past Bryant 4-0 in the first round and then duplicated that effort against Wake Forest, while the Fighting Illini blanked Ball State 4-0 before ousting Memphis, 4-3.  For a complete look at how all team’s fared in the NCAA Championship field, click here.

[SEVEN // women’s tennis season concludes]
The Michigan and Northwestern women’s tennis teams each fell on Sunday, which marked the official end to the Big Ten women’s tennis season.  No. 16 seed Southern California eliminated the Wolverines 4-2 in Los Angeles, while Notre Dame ended the Wildcats’ streak of 10 consecutive trips to the NCAA Round of 16 with a 4-3 victory on Saturday.  For a complete look at all Big Ten members in action this past week, click here for more information.

[EIGHT // big ten trio advances to ncaa women’s golf championships]
Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State all advanced to the NCAA Championships following the final round of play on Saturday. The Spartans placed fifth with a score of 39-over 903, while the Wildcats placed eighth with a score of 914. In the Central Regional, the Buckeyes tied for fifth with a mark of 18-over 899.  All three women's golf squads will travel to the NCAA Women's Golf Championships, which will be held May 20-23 at Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.  For a complete breakdown of the Big Ten contingent in regional play this past week, click here.

[NINE // indiana’s travis named to midseason award list]
Indiana's Sam Travis was named to USA Baseball's 30-man Midseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List, it was announced on Thursday. The award annually honors the top amateur baseball player in the country. Travis is one of the conference's top hitters this season, averaging .372 with seven home runs and 46 runs batted in. Semifinalists will be announced on May 27, with the trophy awarded on July 17.

[TEN // fletcher earns national weekly honor]
Illinois' Casey Fletcher had a big week at the plate last week for the Illinois baseball team. The junior belted five home runs, with three coming last Wednesday against Southern Illinois and two against Michigan State on Saturday, with 10 RBI over a four-game stretch. Not only did Fletcher earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors, he was recognized as a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and NCAA.com.

[ELEVEN // big ten standouts earn major conference awards; up for national honors]
Michigan's Sierra Romero was named one of 10 finalists for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award on Wednesday, while a pair of Big Ten newcomers were named as finalists for another major award.  Romero was also tabbed the Big Ten Player of the Year for the second straight season this past week. During her sophomore campaign, Romero led the conference in batting average (.516), slugging percentage (.968), on-base percentage (.663), runs scored (32) and walks (27) in Big Ten games only. She is hitting .511 on the season, which would mark the single-season Big Ten record for batting average in all games.  Michigan's Megan Betsa and Minnesota's Sara Groenewegen were named finalists for the inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Trophy on Thursday.  Betsa boasts a 15-3 record in the circle and an ERA of 1.90. In 103.0 innings, Betsa has recorded 125 strikeouts and pitched a total of 11 complete games.  Earlier in the week, Groenewegen became the first Golden Gopher to collect both Big Ten Pitcher and Freshman of the Year honors in the same season.

[TWELVE // big ten “makes” parry name “be there” on command center]
Finally this week, the Big Ten's state-of-the-art video command center based in the conference's new office and meeting center in Rosemont, Ill., has been named in honor of David M. Parry, the Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials for two decades who passed away in 2011. The Big Ten held a dedication ceremony and installed a plaque in his honor on May 3, with conference dignitaries and the Parry family in attendance.  For more on the command center and Dave Parry himself, click here.

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