This Week in the Big Ten

With a victory over top-ranked Penn State, Minnesota clinched a share of the Big Ten Wrestling Dual Meet Championship on Sunday.

Feb. 9, 2014

[ONE // big ten represented at olympic games]
The Big Ten is represented by at least 43 current or former student-athletes, alumni or coaches competing for gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, from Feb. 7-23. The group of conference competitors, which includes 18 former Olympians and 16 past medalists, hail from six different countries and seven of the 12 Big Ten institutions in five different sports.  The Big Ten Olympians include 31 members of the United States team, along with athletes representing Austria, Canada, Finland, Japan and Sweden. Overall, Minnesota leads the way with 14 Olympic participants, followed by Wisconsin (12), Michigan (8), Ohio State (4), Illinois (2) and Michigan State (2) and Nebraska (1).  For more on the Big Ten’s representation, click here.

[TWO // badgers, buckeyes impress in men’s basketball action]
Ohio State opened the week in Big Ten men’s basketball action in impressive fashion, upsetting No. 17/13 Iowa by a score of 76-69 on Tuesday.  Wisconsin, which nabbed a 75-63 win over Illinois on Tuesday, closed the week just as the Buckeyes began with 60-58 stunner over No. 9/8 Michigan State.  Traevon Jackson's jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining gave the Badgers the upset win.  Among the other headlines this past week, Purdue outlasted Minnesota in three overtimes Wednesday, 77-74, and Michigan State stopped Penn State 82-67 on Thursday.  Home teams scored a 3-1 mark on Saturday, including Iowa besting No. 10/16 Michigan, 85-67.  The weekend losses by Michigan and Michigan State kept the in-state rivals atop the Big Ten standings at 9-2 in conference play.  Iowa remains in third place, two games behind the leaders.

[THREE // crawford named national player of the week]
One day after being named the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week, Northwestern's Drew Crawford was tabbed the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week as voted on by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).  Crawford's accolade marks the second consecutive honor for a Big Ten player, after Michigan's Nik Stauskas claimed National Player of the Week plaudits on Jan. 28.  Crawford averaged 23.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in leading the Wildcats to a pair of road wins over #14/13 Wisconsin and Minnesota. Northwestern has won three consecutive conference road games for the first time since 1960.

[FOUR // hawkeyes stun league leader lady lions]
Despite Penn State ending the week atop the Big Ten women’s basketball standings at 9-2, one of those conference losses came this past Thursday when Iowa stunned the Lady Lions 73-70 at the Bryce Jordan Center.  Penn State responded with a 74-54 victory over Ohio State on Sunday to keep its one-game advantage over No 24 Michigan State, which sits at 8-3 in league play.  The Spartans defeated Illinois 69-53 on Wednesday, but fell 76-56 to No. 22 Nebraska on Saturday.   

[FIVE // celebrating an important day]
Led by its member institutions, the Big Ten was proud to be an active participant in the 28th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), celebrated around the country this past Wednesday.  Thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic directors, recreation directors, association members, sponsors, students and parents across the country are showing their support of the day and of this year's theme, "Passing the Torch, Blazing the Trail!” Several Big Ten institutions have taken or will take part in various festivities surrounding NGWSD at home women’s basketball contests or around campus.

[SIX // golden gophers grab share of wrestling title]
With its 18-17 win over No. 1 Penn State on Sunday afternoon, No. 2 Minnesota clinched a share of the Big Ten Wrestling Dual Meet Championship. The regular season conference title marks the second in the past three years for the Gophers. Minnesota and Penn State both ended the Big Ten dual meet season with matching 7-1 marks. With its win over Michigan last Sunday, Penn State had previously clinched a share of the title.

[SEVEN // big ten expands again…in baseball]
The conference office announced Friday that the Big Ten Baseball Tournament will feature an eight-team field for the first time in conference history, beginning with the 2014 event. The 2014 Big Ten Baseball Tournament will be held May 21-25 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., home of the College World Series.  The tournament’s double-elimination format will culminate with a single championship game on Sunday, with the winner earning the tournament title and the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.

[EIGHT // baseball pair named preseason all-america]
Two Hoosiers were named to Baseball American's preseason All-America teams, the publication announced this past Monday. Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber was named to the first-team, the third time he appears on a preseason All-America squad. Teammate Sam Travis was named to his second All-America squad of the preseason after being named Baseball America's second-team first baseman.

[NINE // softball season starts]
The 2014 Big Ten softball season began this past weekend with all 12 conference teams taking to the diamond. On Friday, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin opened the year at various tournaments around the country, while Michigan and Purdue began the campaign on Saturday.  Illinois and Minnesota each opened the season with a perfect 5-0 record at the Rosemont Rumble and LSU Tiger Classic, respectively, while Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern starter 2014 with a 3-1 mark. 

[TEN // badgers, nittany lions make hockey headlines with upsets]
This past week in Big Ten hockey was certainly a memorable one as Wisconsin upset top-ranked Minnesota not once, but twice for a weekend sweep in Madison.  On Thursday, the No. 12/12 Badgers used a 2-1 victory to snap Minnesota's nation-leading 14-game unbeaten streak, which began back on Nov. 29.  On Friday, UW duplicated that effort with a 2-1 win in front of a sellout crowd of 15,359 at the Kohl Center.  Elsewhere in the league, after falling 7-3 to No. 10/10 Michigan on Friday, Penn State rallied before a sellout crowd of 6,170 fans to earn a 4-0 blanking of the Wolverines.  The Nittany Lions earned their first shutout of the season and became only the second school this season to blank Michigan.  From shutouts to shootouts, Ohio State earned two shootout wins over Michigan State this past week after tying the Spartans 2-2 on both Friday and Saturday.   

[ELEVEN // good to golf again]
The 2013-14 Big Ten women's golf season resumed on Sunday, with Minnesota and Wisconsin opening the spring at the UCF Challenge at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Fla.  The Gophers opened with a 295 while the Badgers scored a 303 to sit 11th and 17th, respectively.  Elsewhere, Michigan State and Ohio State opened the spring at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, Calif.  The Buckeyes (303) and Spartans (304) sit 13th and 14th after the first round.  The remaining Big Ten teams will resume action in the following three weeks.

[TWELVE // rare award, signing day highlight football notes]
Finally this week, Nebraska fullback C.J. Zimmerer became the sixth winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, as he took home the 2014 honor this past Saturday. Zimmerer becomes the third Big Ten student-athlete to win the trophy, joining fellow Husker Rex Burkhead (2012) and Penn State's Eric Shrive (2013). 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. Zimmerer will be presented the trophy at the Maxwell Club Awards Gala on March 14, at Revel Casino in Atlantic City.  Sticking with the gridiron, Wednesday was National Signing Day and tracked each school’s signings throughout the day.  For complete coverage of National Signing Day, click here.