This Week in the Big Ten

Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo was one of four B1G soccer players selected this past week in the 2014 National Women's Soccer League College Draft.

Jan. 20, 2014

[ONE // state of michigan representing big ten men’s hoops]
Michigan (5-0) and Michigan State (6-0) remain unbeaten in Big Ten play heading into this week's slate of games. Michigan came out with a 77-70 win over No. 3 Wisconsin on Saturday night, marking its first win at the Kohl Center since 1999.  The Badgers also fell to Indiana in Bloomington to begin the week’s action on Tuesday, 75-72.  The Spartans, who survived a 54-50 scare against Northwestern, earned another B1G win on Saturday with a 78-62 decision over Illinois.  Elsewhere this week, Minnesota defeated No. 11/9 Ohio State 63-53 at Williams Arena on Thursday, giving head coach Richard Pitino his first win over a ranked opponent.

[TWO // three teams tied atop women’s basketball standings]
Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State all ended the week tied atop the Big Ten women’s basketball standings at 4-1 in conference action.  The Wolverines opened the week Wednesday with a 65-49 victory at No. 22 Purdue, which marked their first win over a ranked opponent this season.  On Thursday, five Spartans scored in double figures to help Michigan State past Iowa, 88-72, while No. 17/16 Penn State captured a 66-42 win over Ohio State.  Following that loss to Michigan, Purdue responded to drop in-state rival Indiana 86-53 on Friday, but the Hoosiers rebounded Sunday for an 83-78 overtime victory at home against Minnesota.  The feature matinee on Sunday included league leaders Michigan State and Penn State.  The Lady Lions came back from a seven-point halftime deficit to earn a 66-54 win and hand the Spartans their first conference loss. This marks the first time since 2003 and 2004 that PSU has won back-to-back games in East Lansing.   

[THREE // b1g trio named to wooden midseason top 20 list]
Minnesota’s Rachel Banham, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper and Penn State’s Maggie Lucas were among the midseason top 20 list for the prestigious John R. Wooden award, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced on Friday.  The Big Ten was one of three conferences to boast more three or more student-athletes on the list. All three conference standouts average over 20 points a game, with Banham leading the way at 22.5 points each time out.

[FOUR // leading the way for liberman award]

Two Big Ten women's basketball players were named to the 2014 Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List, it was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Iowa's Samantha Logic and Northwestern's Ashley Deary represent that conference on the list. The award recognizes the top point guard in women's NCAA Division I college basketball. Candidates exhibit the floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills of Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman. For the complete list of players, click here.

[FIVE //gophers blank buckeyes in hockey city classic]
The top-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team outlasted Big Ten foe Ohio State 1-0 in a defensive struggle to win the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium Friday night.  The 45,021 fans on hand gave the game the largest attendance ever for a hockey game in the state of Minnesota.  It was also the first time in 80 years an outdoor hockey game was hosted in the state.  The Gophers then went indoors the next night and used a natural hat trick by junior winger Sam Warning to erase a 2-0 deficit en route to a 4-2 triumph over OSU.  Earlier in the week, Minnesota defeated Penn State 5-2 on Monday.  Michigan State then topped the Nittany Lions twice to end the week, 3-0 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday.

[SIX //penn state proves wrestling power; michigan impresses with two top-20 wins]

Top-ranked Penn State continued its dominance on the mat this season with a pair of conference wins over No. 19 Indiana and No. 14 Northwestern.  The Nittany Lions took care of the Hoosiers 36-6 in the team's first Big Ten road dual. In Sunday’s action against No. 15 Northwestern, Penn State earned a 39-8 victory over the Wildcats, just two days after NU fell 21-12 against No. 10 Ohio State in Cincinnati.  Perhaps the most impressive effort on the week came from No. 19 Michigan, which earned two top-20 victories.  On Friday, the Wolverines defeated No. 11 Illinois 19-13 in Champaign and then returned home to stun No. 2 Minnesota 19-14 on Sunday.      

[SEVEN // three men’s soccer standouts honored by soccer america]
Three Big Ten men’s soccer standouts were honored this past Wednesday by Soccer America.  Wisconsin's AJ Cochran and Michigan State's Kevin Cope earned first-team and second-team MVP honors, respectively. Cochran, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, was recognized after leading a backline that held opposing offenses to 1.29 goals per game. Starting all 21 matches, he scored three goals and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection. Cope was named to the second team after contributing to a backline that helped the Spartans lead the Big Ten in fewest goals allowed (17). He scored two goals and collected two assists in helping lead Michigan State to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.  In addition, Indiana's Tommy Thompson was named to the Soccer America All-Freshman first team. Thompson, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, collected 13 points during his debut season, scoring five goals and recording three assists. He led the Hoosiers in shots (56) and helped Indiana win its 12th Big Ten Tournament title.

[EIGHT // two soccer stars selected in first two rounds of mls draft]
Two Big Ten men’s soccer stars were selected this past week in the first two rounds of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.  Wisconsin’s AJ Cochran was picked 14th by the Houston Dynamo, while Michigan State’s Kevin Cope was taken sixth in the second round and 25th overall by the Philadelphia Union. Cochran is the first UW player to be chosen in the first round since former NSCAA All-American Mike Gentile was taken ninth overall by the Colorado Rapids in 1996.  Cope is the eighth player in MSU history to be drafted into the MLS and the second-highest overall pick.  The third and fourth rounds of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 21.   

[NINE // three women’s soccer student-athletes selected in first-round of nwsl draft]
Four Big Ten women's soccer players were selected in the 2014 National Women's Soccer League College Draft this past week, including three in the first round. Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo, Michigan's Nkem Ezurike, Nebraska's Jordan Jackson and Penn State's Maya Hayes will all continue their careers professionally. DiBernardo was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars with the No. 4 overall pick, becoming the highest drafted member of the Fighting Illini in school history.  Hayes was drafted sixth overall by Sky Blue FC. A three-time NSCAA All-American, Hayes scored a team-high 19 goals and collected six assists last season.  Ezurike was selected eighth overall by the Boston Breakers. She is the Wolverines' all-time leader in goals (49) and points (118).  Jackson was selected by the Houston Dash with the No. 28 overall pick in the NWSL draft. The 2013 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year collected 30 points last season, including nine goals and a conference-best 12 assists.

[TEN // right on track]
Four Big Ten track and field teams were in action against each other this past week as Ohio State and Penn State competed at the Penn State Challenge while Indiana and Purdue battled it out in West Lafayette. In University Park, five Nittany Lions earned marks in the top-five nationally, highlighted by redshirt-senior Evonne Britton and her meet-winning performance in the 60-meter hurdles (8.22).  Junior Timothy Faust was the top performer of the day for the Buckeyes, earning a sweep in the 60-meter (6.60) and 200-meter (21.05) dashes for the second-consecutive meet. The Boilermakers swept the Hoosiers in the Purdue & Indiana Dual inside Lambert Fieldhouse. It was the first win for the Boilermakers on either side since the rivalry dual was renewed in 2010.

[ELEVEN // boilermaker tabbed national track and field athlete of the week]
With a nation-best heave of 73-0 (22.25m) in the weight throw at the Gene Edmonds Invitational last weekend, Purdue's Chukwuebuka Enekwechi broke all sorts of records -- namely the meet, facility and school records at Purdue --- en route to being named the first USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week of the 2014 season. His final margin of victory was nearly 13 feet, and surpassed 71 feet on three of his five legal attempts. He now leads Kent State's Matthias Tayala -- a sophomore, himself -- by 9½ inches. He also won the shot put with a personal-best indoor throw of 61-11 (18.87m), giving him the nation's eighth-best mark in that event.

[TWELVE // btn to celebrate life, legacy of mlk]
Finally this week, as the nation’s prepares to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so too does the BTN.  To commemorate the holiday, BTN will air a special edition of #BTNLive that pays tribute to the civil rights leader with a series of remembrances and interviews with key Big Ten leaders. Hosted by Rick Pizzo and Stephen Bardo, the show will include interviews with Ohio State Athletics Director Gene Smith and Penn State Women’s Basketball Coach Coquese Washington.  To learn more on how the BTN is celebrating the national holiday through its programming, click here.