Jan. 24, 2010
[ONE // michigan state maintains men’s basketball lead]
Despite a 65-64 thriller against the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis on Saturday, No. 6/7 Michigan State remained undefeated in Big Ten play at 7-0, matching the school’s best conference start since going 7-0 during the 1977-78 season. Wisconsin junior Jordan Taylor scored 18 of the Badgers’ final 24 points, including the last eight of regulation, to help UW steal a 79-71 overtime victory over Penn State in a nail biter Sunday at the Kohl Center. The win moved the Badgers to 6-2 in league play and in sole possession of second place. Three teams – Illinois, Ohio State and Purdue – are tied in third at 4-3. Among the other highlights this past week, Indiana scored its first Big Ten road win since 2008 with a 67-61 victory over Penn State, but the Hoosiers also dropped a 58-43 decision to Iowa on Sunday, which ended the Hawkeyes’ 11-game conference road losing streak and a 15-game road losing streak overall. On Saturday, Northwestern topped Illinois 73-68 to score its first victory over the Illini in 12 tries.
[TWO // buckeyes outlast michigan to extend lead in women’s hoops]
In its lone contest of the week, Big Ten women’s basketball leader Ohio State fought off a stingy Michigan ballclub and used a 58-56 victory to extend its lead in the conference standings to 8-0. Penn State currently sits second overall at 6-2 while Minnesota is 4-3. In Sunday’s action, Michigan bested Indiana 70-56, Penn State ousted Illinois 70-66, Michigan State defeated Minnesota 66-57, and Iowa topped Northwestern 78-69. Purdue will attempt to give the Buckeyes’ their first blemish in conference play as the Boilers host OSU on Monday at 7 p.m.
[THREE // big ten standouts shine in nfl playoffs]
Former Big Ten football standouts did just that Sunday, stand out, in the NFL’s AFC and NFC Championship playoff games. In the Indianapolis Colts’ 30-17 win over the New York Jets, Iowa graduate Dallas Clark caught four passes for 35 yards and a touchdown for the Colts, while former Illinois defender Kelvin Hayden posted six tackles, including five solo stops, and an interception that sealed the win for Indianapolis. In the AFC Championship loss, Iowa’s Shonn Greene ran 10 times for 42 yards, Michigan’s Braylon Edwards had two catches for 100 yards and a TD, and Purdue’s Dustin Keller scored once while hauling in six passes for 63 yards. On defense, Michigan’s David Harris had a game-high 11 tackles – all solo – and two sacks, while former Wisconsin safety Jim Leonhard recovered a fumble. Illinois punter Steve Weatherford booted four punts for an average of 51.0 and Michigan’s Jay Feely was 1-of-3 in field goals. In the New Orleans Saints’ 31-28 NFC Championship overtime victory against the Minnesota Vikings, former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees was 17-of-31 passing for 197 yards and three touchdowns for New Orleans. Teammate and former Illinois tailback Pierre Thomas rushed 14 times for 61 yards and a score, while hauling in two receptions for 38 yards. Indiana’s Tracy Porter posted eight tackles and picked off Brett Favre near the end of regulation to preserve the tie and allow the Saints the chance to win in overtime. Fellow Hoosier Courtney Roby made strides on special teams as he opened the second half with a 61-yard kickoff return and finished with 143 return yards. In Minnesota’s loss, Iowa’s Chad Greenway led the Vikings with seven tackles and Purdue’s Ray Edwards recorded three solo stops.
[FOUR // conference footballs players also shine in shrine]
While a number of former Big Ten football players were busy competing in the NFL Playoffs on Sunday, a handful of recent Big Ten players were busy performing in the annual East-West Shrine Game. In fact, a pair of conference stars shined on the East Team’s winning drive Saturday in Orlando. Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Penn State’s Andrew Quarless with 6 seconds remaining, lifting the East to a 13-10 win over the West. Kafka, who was 18-of-27 passing for 150 yards and the winning touchdown, was named Offensive MVP, while Wisconsin’s O’Brien Schofield earned Defensive MVP honors as he recorded three solo tackles and a first-half interception for the victorious East squad. Michigan State’s Blair White was the East’s leading receiver with seven receptions for 93 yards.
[FIVE // tourney ticket talk]
A quick reminder was issued this past week from the Circle City, as ticket specials for the 2010 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis can be purchased through Wednesday, Jan. 27. All-session tickets for the lower and club level are available for $275 through the 11 Big Ten universities only. All-session tickets for the upper level are available for $220 or $165 (depending on seat location) through Ticketmaster or the Conseco Fieldhouse box office only. Orders will be limited to 12 all-session tickets. In addition, the men's basketball tournament for the first time features a special discounted rate of $50 for all-session tickets available only to students of the 11 Big Ten universities. Student section seating will be available in eight balcony sections and orders will be limited to four all-session passes.
[SIX // conference career expo returns during tourney time]
Speaking of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament, Indianapolis will host the 3rd Annual Big Ten Conference Career Expo on Friday, March 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in conjunction with the annual hoops tourney. Registration for the Career Expo is free for all Big Ten students and alumni at www.bigtencareerexpo.com. The Career Expo will once again be held at historic Union Station just blocks from Conseco Fieldhouse, the site of this year's tournament. The event is a chance to be introduced to top-tier employers that are interested in hiring for full-time or internship positions within their companies.
[SEVEN // big ten wrestling opens conference competition]
Big Ten wrestling teams kicked off intraconference competition this past week will all 11 squads hitting the mats. On Friday, No. 14 Wisconsin topped No. 11 Indiana 21-18 in Madison, No. 13 Penn State defeated No. 19 Illinois 24-11, fifth-ranked Minnesota bested Michigan State 18-16, and No. 1 Iowa blanked Michigan 36-0. In non-conference action, Northwestern dominated Southern Illinois 28-15. In the lone dual on Saturday, the Golden Gophers ousted the Wolverines 30-6. Sunday’s action included a 41-6 Iowa victory over No. 25 Purdue, a 23-12 Illinois win against Michigan State, a 31-9 Indiana “W” over Northwestern and a 21-14 victory for No. 3 Ohio State versus the Nittany Lions.
[EIGHT // wrestling for the world cup]
Staying on the mats, congratulations to former Ohio State wrestler J.D. Bergman for earning a spot on the U.S. World Cup Team this past Friday. At the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Bergman beat Bryce Hasseman, a National Team member and Olympian Andy Hrovat at 96kg/211.5 pounds in his bid to represent the United States. Against Hasseman, Bergman, a three-time All-American at Ohio State, posted back-to-back shutouts, 1-0, 1-0. The native of Oak Harbor, Ohio, then downed Hrovat, 1-0, 2-1. Former Illinois star Mike Poeta swept two straight periods from 2009 World Team member Trent Paulson at 74 kg/163 lbs and will now face Travis Paulson at a later date for the World Cup spot at 74 kilos. In addition, Northwestern standout and 2009 World medalist Jake Herbert (84 kg/185 lbs.) has already clinched a spot on the World Cup Team by virtue of winning medals at last year’s World Championships.
[NINE // illini gymnast earns national honor]
Inside Gymanstics named Illinois junior Paul Ruggeri its NCAA Gymnast of the Week this past Tuesday, marking the first time the Fighting Illini had a gymnast earn the honor since Wes Haagensen on January 17, 2007. At the Windy City Invitational, Ruggeri placed first in the all-around (88.600) and high bar (15.600) and also finished in second place on the vault (15.800) and floor exercise (15.500) and fourth on the parallel bars (14.450). In addition, Illinois captured the team title, vaulting the Illini into the No. 1 spot in the latest GymInfo team rankings.
[TEN // gophers earn ncaa swimming meet next year]
This past week the NCAA announced the University of Minnesota and The University Aquatic Center will play host to the 2011 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, March 24-26, 2011. Texas will host the women’s event in 2011. "The committee is pleased with the selection of Austin and Minneapolis to serve as hosts for the 2011 championships," said Tracy Huth, chair of the Division I Swimming and Diving Committee and director of athletics at Oakland University. "The University of Texas and the University of Minnesota have rich traditions and a commitment to swimming and diving. Both institutions have proven their success in hosting this, as well as many other championships. We believe that the student-athletes, coaches and fans will experience NCAA swimming and diving at its finest in Austin and Minneapolis."
[ELEVEN // bielema rewarded by badgers]
Finally this week, Wisconsin announced it has extended head football coach Bret Bielema's contract through Jan. 31, 2015, after the Badgers finished the 2009 season ranked 16th and won the Champs Sports Bowl. In Bielema’s first four seasons, the Badgers have gone 38-14 and posted two postseason wins in four bowl games. In 2010, UW is scheduled to return 10 starters on offense and six on defense.