March 22, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // badgers sweep men's basketball crowns]
It has been an impressive two weeks for the Wisconsin men's basketball team. Two weeks ago the Bagders captured the outright regular season conference title and this past Sunday swept the field at the Big Ten Tournament. Wisconsin defeated upset-minded Illinois, 61-48, marking the first time both Big Ten trophies have ever been in the school's possession at the same time. Perhaps history will bode well for the Badgers as the three previous teams to accomplish the sweep - Michigan State (1999), Illinois (2005) and Ohio State (2007) - all advanced to the NCAA Final Four in their respective years. Wisconsin held Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois below 43 percent shooting during the tournament and entered the NCAA Tournament on a 10-game winning streak. Congratulations to Illinois on a hard fought Big Ten Tournament run. The Illini played four games in four days, a span which included a win over No. 17 Purdue. The five individuals named to the All-Tournament team were Illinois' Demetri McCamey and Shaun Pruitt, Michigan State's Drew Neitzel and Wisconsin's Michael Flowers and Marcus Landry, who was also tabbed Most Outstanding Player honors. Thank you also to the city of Indianapolis and the Indiana Sports Corporation for their partnership over the past two weeks with both the Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments.
[TWO // four men's teams selected for ncaa tournament]
Joining Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the 2008 NCAA Tournament was Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue. The conference boasted four selections this season, led by No. 3 seed Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional. The Spartans earned the No. 5 seed in the South Regional, while the Boilermakers are No. 6 in the West and the Hoosiers are the No. 8 in the East. Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin were in action on Thursday, while Indiana took to the court late Friday night. Three of the four teams advanced out of first round play. The Spartans topped Temple, 72-61, Purdue bested Baylor, 90-79 and Wisconsin ousted Cal State Fullerton, 71-56. Indiana ended its season with an 86-72 loss to Arkansas. Check back with bigten.org throughout the remainder of the tournament as we follow the progression of each men's team left in the bracket.
[THREE // four taken on the women's side as well]
On Monday it was announced that four Big Ten women's basketball teams were selected to compete for the 2008 NCAA Championship. Ohio State, which shared the conference regular season championship with Iowa, earned the sixth seed in the New Orleans Regional. The remaining three teams - Iowa, Minnesota and Purdue - were given No. 9 seeds. The Buckeyes will open play on Saturday, while the Hawkeyes, who are also in the New Orleans Regional, will take to the court on Sunday. Both Minnesota and Purdue will begin the tournament on Sunday as well. The Big Ten has now sent at least four teams to the NCAA Championship on 18 occasions in the 27-year history of the event, including in 15 of the last 16 years. For more information regarding the Big Ten's first-round matchups, follow this link!
[FOUR // buckeyes win, gophers fall in men's nit opener]
Two additional Big Ten men's basketball teams were selected for postseason play as last year's NCAA runner-up Ohio State and resurgent Minnesota were tabbed for the NIT. On Tuesday, the Buckeyes outsted UNC-Asheville in Columbus, 84-66. Jamar Butler led the way with 21 points, followed by Othello Hunter with 16 and Kosta Koufos with 15. In some regards, it was a monumental task for the Buckeyes as they took the floor against 7-foot-7 Kenny George, who has made headlines in the national media throughout the season. George finished the night with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 11 rebounds.
The Buckeyes will now host California on Monday at nearby St. John Arena. The change in venues was necessary because the boss said so. Athletics Director Gene Smith you ask? No, the real boss. Value City Arena is booked Monday for the Bruce Springsteen concert.
Unfortunately for the Golden Gophers, Maryland came to "The Barn" Tuesday night ready to play. The Terps defeated Minnesota, 68-58, and ended the team's first "Journey" under head coach Tubby Smith. Minnesota was led by Damian Johnson with 14 points and ended the season 20-14.
The NIT championship is April 3 at Madison Square Garden.
[FIVE // an additional five women's teams earn postseason bids]
Five Big Ten women's basketball teams have earned the right to continue playing this 2008 season in the WNIT. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin all accepted WNIT Tournament bids this week. Indiana earned one of the 16 first-round byes and will play James Madison on Saturday in Bloomington. Michigan State is also in action on Saturday, playing Bowling Green in East Lansing. Wisconsin, which was the WNIT runner-up last season, will host Villanova on Saturday. The Badgers also won the event in 2000. Illinois will face the winner of the UW Green Bay/Drake contest on Monday at Assembly Hall in Champaign. Also on Monday evening, Michigan will continue its impressive season when it hosts the winner of the Virginia Commonwealth/Charlotte contest in Crisler Arena. This season's WNIT bid marks the Wolverines first return to postseason play since 2002.
[SIX // big ten looking for another national championship in wrestling]
The quest for another Big Ten wrestling national championship began this past Monday when the brackets for the 2008 Championships were released. Five of the Big Ten's 72 wrestlers earned a No. 1 seed, while nine others garnered No. 2 seeds. Indiana's Angel Escobedo (125), Michigan State's Franklin Gomez (133), Iowa's Brent Metcalf (149), Michigan's Eric Tannenbaum (165) and Northwestern's Dustin Fox (285) all earned the tops seeds in their respective weight classes. The NCAA Championships began on Thursday and the Scottrade Center in St. Louis and wraps up on Sunday. Last year Minnesota claimed its third national championship and the Big Ten's 24th overall in the sport. This season top-ranked and Big Ten champion Iowa is looking to win the conference's 25. Live updates can be found by clicking here!
[SEVEN // big ten women ready to take the plunge at ncaas]
Also taking place Thursday through Saturday is the 2008 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, hosted by Ohio State. Sixty-three student-athletes from eight different schools will represent the Big Ten, including a school-record 12 from conference champion Minnesota. Penn State boasts the next-best total with 10 swimmers qualifying, while Big Ten runner-up Michigan will send eight swimmers and one diver. The event is being held at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion and live results can be found at ohiostatebuckeyes.com. Prelims will be at 11 a.m. and finals will be at 7 p.m. each day.
[EIGHT // osu earns yet another national championship]
Speaking of Ohio State, congratulations to the Buckeyes fencing team, which captured the National Collegiate Fencing Championship this past weekend. The OSU women entered the event ranked No. 1, while the men were rated second. The two teams combined to win the program's third national team title. By edging out Notre Dame, 185-176, as well as fourth-place finisher and defending national champion Penn State, the fencing team earned the school's 57th national title overall.
[NINE // row your boat]
The USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Preseason NCAA Division I Varsity Eight Coaches Poll was released last Saturday and four of the conference's seven rowing squads are ranked in the top 20. Ohio State enters the first poll in fifth after coming just six points shy on the national title last season. Michigan is ranked eighth, followed by defending Big Ten champion Minnesota in 13th and Wisconsin in 19th. Michigan State is receiving votes outside the preseason poll.
[TEN // badger women's hockey team in ncaa frozen four]
There sure is a lot of NCAA Championship action this week! Let's talk about another even going on and that's the 2008 NCAA Women's Hockey Frozen Four. Wisconsin has won the past two national championships and traveled to Duluth, Minn., this week in search of its third. The Badgers opened Thursday against top-seeded Harvard in the national semifinal. The game will be a rematch of the epic four-overtime NCAA quarterfinal from last season, when 5,125 fans at the Kohl Center saw Zaugg send the Badgers past the Crimson 1-0. This time it wasn't so close. The Badgers dominated the game and advanced to the national championships final with a 4-1 victory over Harvard.
With the win, the Badgers advanced to Saturday's final against Minnesota-Duluth.
[ELEVEN // minnesota men's hockey player recovering]
Finally this week we are proud to report that Minnesota men's hockey player Tom Pohl is recovering after sustaining an injury in the Golden Gophers' double overtime victory over Minnesota State last Sunday. Pohl suffered a skull fracture when his head hit the boards in front of the team's bench at 6:09 of the second period. He was airlifted to a hospital in Rochester with bleeding on the brain, rushed to surgery, and stationed in intensive care. He has since left the ICU and is listed in fair condition. Our thoughts are with Tom, his family, and the Gophers at this time and we wish him a speedy recovery.