March 8, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // wolverines wire to wire in the water]
In a week full of Big Ten Championships, we first start by congratulating the third-ranked Michigan men's swimming and diving squad on its 33rd conference title. The Wolverines captured the championship last weekend in their home pool in Ann Arbor in impressive fashion. They dominated the event by winning 13 of the 18 swimming events and compiling a winning total of 1,081.5 points. Indiana finished runner-up with 855 points, followed by Minnesota (682.5), Ohio State (680.5) and Purdue (488.5) in the top five. Northwestern (438), Wisconsin (363), Penn State (318), Iowa (187) and Michigan State (159) rounded out the 10-team field.
In postseason awards, Indiana's Landon Marzullo claimed both Big Ten Diver and Freshman of the Year accolades, while teammate Ben Hasen shared Swimmer of the Year and Swimmer of the Championships honors with Michigan's Alex Vanderkaay. No strangers to postseason honors, Indiana's Jeff Huber took home Diving Coach of the Year, while Michigan's Bob Bowman earned Swimming Coach of the Year. For more on the Big Ten postseason honors, follow this link.
[TWO // wisconsin wins again]
It seems like anymore when we talk about Wisconsin and Big Ten Championships, we are talking about men's track and field, although we'll get to another Badger team later on. At the 2008 Big Ten Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships last weekend in Madison, Wis., the host Badgers earned their record-setting eighth consecutive conference title. UW surprised even its 25-year tenured coach Ed Nuttycombe with its impressive 127 winning point total, which was fittingly enough 25 points better than runner-up Purdue (102). Ohio State (82), Penn State (79) and Minnesota (77) followed in the top five, while Michigan (70), Illinois (55), Iowa (49), Indiana (35), and Michigan State (26) rounded out the top-10 field.
Nuttycombe, who was featured on bigten.org last week, took home Coach of the Year honors, while his standout Brandon Bethke captured both the Track Athlete of the Year and the Championships honors. Purdue's Jon Pullum, also a bigten.org feature this year, was named the Field Athlete of the Year and the Championships. Teammate Josh Hembrough was selected as the Freshman of the Year. Click here for more on the Big Ten men's track and field postseason honors.
[THREE // minnesota out-musters michigan]
Despite the fact that Minnesota did not record a single individual winner at the Big Ten Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships, its individual performances were strong enough to help the Golden Gophers clinch their second consecutive conference title. The Gophers posted eight top-three finishers, including the meet's last race in the 4x400-meter relay, which proved to be the championship winner over Michigan, 136-128. Last year, Minnesota defeated Michigan by just 13 points (121.5-108.5).
Unlike Minnesota, the Wolverines took home several conference event titles. Michigan captured four total in the 800-meters, the mile, 60-meter hurdles and the high jump. Penn State also vied for the conference championship, but finished third with 121 points. Wisconsin (69.5), Iowa (60), Illinois (47), Purdue (40), Michigan State (35), Indiana (33.5) and Ohio State (32) rounded out the 10-team field of contenders. On Wednesday, several Big Ten postseason honors were awarded and can be found by following this link.
[FOUR // room for two at the top]
Since we are in the mood of talking Big Ten Championships, we take to the hardwood and congratulate both Iowa and Ohio State for sharing the conference's women's basketball crown this season. Remarkably, six teams had a chance at winning the title entering the final season, something no other conference in the nation could claim. OSU earned its fourth-straight championship and 11th overall. In six of those 11 titles, the Buckeyes have shared the title and on four occasions it has been with Iowa. The Hawkeyes, who along with OSU finished 13-5 in league play, earned its ninth overall title and first since 1998.
[FIVE // lavender colored with postseason awards]
The day after officially crowning two teams as Big Ten Champions, the conference office announced that two standouts earned Player of the Year. Ohio State freshman Jantel Lavender and Wisconsin senior Jolene Anderson were named co-Player of the Year, as Lavender was honored by the coaches and Anderson was tabbed by the conference media. Lavender is the first freshman to win the award and also was the consensus pick for Freshman of the Year as well. Anderson is the first Badger to ever be honored as the conference's top player. Lavender's teammate, Shavelle Little, earned Defensive Player of the Year recognition, while Iowa's Lisa Bluder and Megan Skouby were honored as Coach and Sixth Player of the Year, respectively. For a look at the complete list of postseason awards, including All-Big Ten teams, follow this link.
[SIX // women's basketball tournament underway]
Currently the Big Ten is in the process of crowning a Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament champion. The semifinals are set and many feel the bracket boasts a surprise participant. No. 9 seed Illinois, which finished 8-10 in conference play this season, knocked off top-seeded Ohio State on Friday. The win is regarded as the biggest upset in the tournament's 13-year history as no No. 9 seed had ever advance to the semifinals. Saturday's action consists of No. 2 seed Iowa facing No. 3 Purdue, while No. 9 Illinois will face off against No. 5 Michigan State, which defeated No. 4 Minnesota in Friday's nightcap. Tournament action can be followed in several ways. Be sure to follow along with the Big Ten Tournament Blog for all the news, notes, recaps and video of the tournament, which ends on Sunday.
[SEVEN // badger basketball honored as men's champs]
Always a week behind the women on the basketball court, this weekend is reserved for crowning a Big Ten regular-season champ in men's basketball. With a 77-41 win over Penn State on Wednesday, Wisconsin clinched a share of the conference title at the Kohl Center. A road win over Northwestern on Saturday would give the Badgers (15-2) the outright title. Should the Badgers fall in Evanston, that opens the door for Purdue (14-3) and Indiana (14-3). The Boilermakers face Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sunday, while the Hoosiers travels to Penn State.
[EIGHT // time to hit the mats]
The 2008 edition of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships takes to the mats on Saturday and Sunday in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers will host the annual event and look to successfully defend the conference championship they claimed last season. Earlier in the week the Pre-Seeds were announced and on Friday the official brackets were set. In 2007, Minnesota led the way with 156 points and four individual champions, followed by Wisconsin (100.5), Iowa (91), Penn State (90.5) and Indiana (85) in the top five.
[NINE // a nod for todd]
Congratulations to Ohio State's Bob Todd, who has been elected for induction into the American Baseball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame. Todd has recorded an 805-411-2 (.662) record in Columbus since becoming the school's 10th head coach in 1988. During that time his teams have never had a losing season and have captured six Big Ten regular season championships and eight conference tournament crowns. Since his arrival in 1998, no program in the Big Ten has won more games and Todd is one of only two conference coaches to win more than 300 Big Ten games.
[TEN // thinkin' pink for a cure]
We take things back to the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament for a moment, and a serious one at that. Saturday's semifinals will honor former breast cancer survivors and help educate all in attendance of the disease when the Big Ten partners with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The conference office will donate $2 from every ticket purchased for the semifinals to the foundation. This year one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. One in every 33 will die from it. Today, women as young as 25 years old are diagnosed with the disease. Last month the Big Ten took a closer look at the promotion and the efforts to fight breast cancer in this feature.
[ELEVEN // even more reason to find a cure]
Finally, this week we learned of another member in the Big Ten family who is battling cancer. Daily Collegian reporters Josh Langenbacher and Dave Miniaci reported this week that Penn State track and field jumps coach Fritz Spence has been diagnosed with AML leukemia. Spence is on a leave on absence from the team as he battles the disease. What was thought to be just the common cold turned out to be something far more serious, the newspaper reported, and Spence on Wednesday began a seven-day chemotherapy treatment plan.
With all the talk of Big Ten Championships this week, we are saddened that Spence was unable to join the Nittany Lions in their quest for a conference title. We end the week by wishing him the best of luck in a speedy recovery, and the Big Ten family continues to keep him in our thoughts.