March 2, 2009
[ONE // black history month concludes]
When looking back at the milestone achievements of African-Americans in Big Ten athletics, another celebration of Black History Month continues on the court, on the field, on the diamond and in the classrooms across the Big Ten universities. This past month the Big Ten took an in-depth look at several current and former student-athletes who have made a difference on and off the field of play. Take a look at some of the current Big Ten student-athletes or coaches whose everyday contributions to forwarding the conference mission also continue to build a rich tradition of black history in Big Ten athletics.
[TWO // michigan garners 34th big ten title]
In a week full of Big Ten Championships, we first start by congratulating the Michigan men's swimming and diving squad on its 34th conference title. The Wolverines tallied 829 points to garner the program’s second-straight Big Ten crown – an impressive performance over runner-up Ohio State and its 521 points. Minnesota finished third with 507 and host Purdue (494) was fourth, followed by Indiana (449.5), Wisconsin (248.5), Penn State (246), Northwestern (213), Iowa (144), and Michigan State (108). In postseason awards, Purdue brought home five awards with David Boudia collecting Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Diver of the Year and of the Championships. The Boilermakers’ Dan Ross captured Coach of the Year honors while colleague Adam Soldati garnered Diving Coach of the Year. Michigan’s Tyler Clary earned Big Ten Swimmer of the Year and of the Championships while leading his squad to a conference title. For more on the Big Ten postseason honors, follow this link.
[THREE // minnesota takes men’s indoor track title]
The Minnesota men’s track and field team claimed its second Big Ten Indoor title in school history after recording 135 points at this past weekend’s championship. The Golden Gophers last won the men’s title in 1998. The Minnesota women also captured the Big Ten crown, marking the first school to sweep the indoor championships since the Wisconsin men and women did it in 1997. The Michigan men finished runner-up with 93 points, while Penn State (78), Ohio State (77.5) and Wisconsin (69) rounded out the top five. Indiana placed sixth (61), followed by Illinois (55), Michigan State (49), Iowa (43) and Purdue (41.5).
[FOUR // minnesota women three-peat]
In exciting fashion, the Minnesota women’s track and field team captured its third consecutive Big Ten Indoor title on Sunday. For the second year in a row, the team finish order was decided in the meet’s final event, the 4x400-meter relay. Minnesota entered the race 5.5 points ahead of Michigan and 9.0 points in front of Penn State. The Nittany Lions won the race, but the Gophers iced the Big Ten team title with a fourth-place showing. Minnesota finished with 129 points and was followed by Penn State (125), Michigan (121.5), Indiana (69.5), Illinois (60), Michigan State (53.5), Wisconsin (46), Purdue (38.5), Ohio State (33), and Iowa (25).
[FIVE // michigan state clinches share of conference title]
The ninth-ranked Michigan State men’s basketball team clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season championship after defeating No. 20 Illinois, 74-66, on Sunday afternoon in Champaign, Ill. Purdue remains in contention for a piece of the Big Ten title, but it trails MSU by 1.5 games with two to play. The Big Ten title race continues as Michigan State looks to host the Boilermakers Sunday, March 8 at noon.
[SIX // buckeyes crowned on the hardwood as well]
Congratulations to Jim Foster and the Ohio State women’s basketball team on earning the outright Big Ten title on Sunday. The Buckeyes finished the regular season 24-5 and 15-3 in the Big Ten, winning the conference championship for a record-tying fifth consecutive season and a record 12th overall. Ohio State also won five straight Big Ten titles from 1983-87.
[SEVEN // women's basketball bracket revealed]
This past Sunday the conference office revealed the bracket for the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, held March 5-8 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Ohio State, which earned a first-round bye, received the tournament’s top seed for the fifth straight year after finishing the conference slate with a 15-3 record. Also receiving first-round byes were No. 2 seed Michigan State, No. 3 Purdue, No. 4 Iowa and No. 5 Minnesota. Thursday’s games will feature No. 7 Illinois vs. No. 10 Northwestern at noon, followed by No. 6 Indiana vs. No. 11 Michigan, and No. 8 Penn State vs. No. 9 Illinois. To view the complete bracket, click here.
[EIGHT // big ten takes inaugural baseball challenge]
The Big Ten won the inaugural BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge by taking 15 of the 24 games played between the two conferences last week in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Big Ten jumped out to a 5-3 lead on Day 1 with wins from Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue. The Big Ten and Big East split Saturday’s eight-game interconference schedule with wins from Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State. On the final day of the event, the Big Ten won six of eight games to put the conference’s final win total at 15. At the conclusion of the event, nine Big Ten players were named to the All-Tournament team by CollegeBaseball360.com, while 11 more received honorable mention recognition. The full list can be found here.
[NINE // michigan honors abbott]
Speaking of baseball, Michigan announced this past week it will retire former pitcher Jim Abbott's baseball jersey prior to a home game against Michigan State on April 18. Abbott wore No. 31 while pitching for the Wolverines from 1986-88. He ranks fourth in school history with 26 wins in a single season and is the fifth person in program history to have his uniform retired. Abbott joins Don Lund (1943-45), Moby Benedict (1954-56), Bill Freehan (1961) and long-time coach Ray Fisher (1921-58) on the list of retired Michigan uniforms.
[TEN // gophers anticipating new futbol field?]
You wouldn’t think that the University of Minnesota, Chicago, soccer, and the 2016 Olympics would have much in common, but the word on the street is if Chicago wins its bid for the 2016 Games, the new Gophers football stadium (TCF Stadium) will be one of six U.S. stadiums hosting Olympic soccer matches. If the bid comes through, the stadium will be the smallest facility, with a capacity of 50,300 fans — to host the preliminary soccer games before the finals are held at Soldier Field in Chicago.
[ELEVEN // big ten blue over passing of red]
Finally this week, the Big Ten mourned the loss of former Illinois men’s basketball player Johnny "Red" Kerr, who died on Thursday from prostate cancer. He was 76. Kerr was a star for the Fighting Illini nearly 60 years ago, scoring 1,299 points during his three seasons with Illinois. The highlight of his collegiate career occurred in 1952, when he helped the Illini win the Big Ten title and advance to the NCAA Final Four. Kerr was also the former Chicago Bulls coach who spent more than three decades as a broadcaster for the team.