March 28, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // two men's basketball teams still alive in ncaas]
All eyes will be on the Michigan State Spartans and the Wisconsin Badgers Friday evening as the two squads are the conference's remaining men's basketball teams in NCAA Tournament play. Each contest has been billed in a unique fashion. No. 5 seed Michigan State is looking to dethrone top-seeded Memphis on Friday, while the No. 3 seed Badgers hope to end Cinderella's run by defeating 10th-seeded Davidson. For all the news, notes, and live scoring of the games, log on to the NCAA.com's Game Center.
[TWO // buckeyes big apple bound]
There might be two Big Ten teams left in the NCAA Tournament, but there are three still playing this season. The Ohio State Buckeyes have continued their dominance through the MasterCard National Invitation Tournament bracket and are now off to New York for semifinal action. Since we last checked in, the Buckeyes defeated California, 73-56, in St. John's Arena on Monday and came back to oust Dayton, 74-63, at Value City Arena on Wednesday. OSU will travel to New York on Sunday and begin preparing for its semifinal contest against Mississippi at 9:20 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The game will be held at historic Madison Square Garden and will be televised on ESPN2.
[THREE // speaking of the nit...]
The women's edition of the Postseason WNIT is taking place as well and wouldn't you believe the bracket has given Big Ten fans a bonus intraconference matchup this season. Believe it or not, both Michigan and in-state rival Michigan State remain in the tournament and the two teams will square off against one another on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in East Lansing. The host Spartans (21-13) advanced to the quarterfinal by edging out Kansas, 58-54, on Thursday. Michigan (19-13) defeated Southern Miss by a score of 59-45. No question bragging rights will be on the line Sunday as both in-state rivals split their two games during the regular season, with each team winning on its home court. Illinois was eliminated from the WNIT third round on Wednesday, as the Illini ended their run with a 72-64 loss to Marquette.
[FOUR // purdue falls at home to defending national champion]
After an impressive ride to earning the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament championship, the Purdue Boilermakers fell in NCAA second round action on Tuesday, ending their season. The No. 9 seed Boilermakers dropped eighth-seeded Utah, 66-59, in Mackey Arena on Sunday to advance to the second round to face defending NCAA champion Tennessee. On Tuesday Purdue fell 78-52 to the No. 1 seed and third-ranked Lady Vols, marking the fourth top-10 team the Boilermakers faced this season. Earlier in the year Purdue battled No. 8 Duke, No. 4 North Carolina and No. 1 UConn in regular-season action.
[FIVE // focusing on another ncaa championship]
Indiana and Michigan are pacing the Big Ten contingent this weekend at the 2008 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, held at the Weyerhauser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. The fourth-ranked Wolverines completed the first day of competition on Thursday with 88 points, good for sixth place. The Hoosiers, who earned 11 All-America certificates on day one, follow in seventh place with 72 points. Minnesota, which has placed in the top 10 six of the last eight years, is currently 11th with 50 points. Northwestern follows in 13th and Ohio State is 19th after the first day. For complete results on the Big Ten teams in action, including individuals from Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin, follow live on NCAA.com by clicking here.
[SIX // and while we are talking ncaa championships...]
Let us first congratulate the Iowa Hawkeyes for taking home the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championship this past weekend. Iowa earned its 21st title overall and its first since 2000. What was more impressive was the dominance of the Big Ten as a whole. Ohio State and Penn State earned second and third-place finishes, respectively, marking the first time a conference has swept the top-three positions since 1968. In addition, Big Ten wrestlers claimed seven of the available 10 weight-class titles and 14 conference grapplers were among the 20 finalists. For a more in-depth look at the Big Ten's dominance this past week in St. Louis, as well as over the span of the last 12 years, check out this bigten.org feature posted on Thursday.
[SEVEN // sticking with wrestling]
A special congratulations is in store for Iowa wrestler Brent Metcalf. The Hawkeye sophomore, competing in his first year with Iowa after sitting out via transfer rules, claimed three major honors in college wrestling this season. Metcalf earned the NCAA title at 149 pounds and was named the event's Outstanding Wrestler for his efforts. It was announced Friday that Metcalf was named the winner of the 2008 Dan Hodge Trophy, awarded to the nation's top college wrestler. Metcalf earned wrestling's version of the "Heisman Trophy" by posting a 39-1 record in arguably the toughest weight class this year. His efforts were more impressive considering the manner in which he won. Seventy percent (28) of his victories were by pin (12), tech fall (7) or major decision (9). The only other Hawkeye to win the award was Mark Ironside in 1998.
[EIGHT // hawkeye volleyball welcomes new coach]
The Big Ten would like to extend its warmest of welcomes to Sharon Dingman, who was named Iowa's new volleyball coach on Tuesday by athletic director Gary Barta. Dingman is no stranger to the conference as she played for Purdue during two Big Ten Championship seasons. Over a 17-year career, she has coached Auburn (1991), Butler (1992-99) and Illinois State (2000-07) to a combined 336-212 record. Welcome back Sharon and best of luck!
[NINE // wolverine gymnasts look to continue dynasty]
Michigan will look to continue its dominance when its hosts the Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships on Saturday in Crisler Arena. The Wolverines have won 14 of the last 16 conference titles, with Minnesota being the spoiler in 1998 and 2006. Last year Penn State nearly dethroned the Wolverines, falling just 0.100 shy of first-place Michigan, which also marked the narrowest margin of victory in the event's history. Five Big Ten teams are currently ranked in the nation's top 25. Michigan is fourth, followed by No. 17 Michigan State, No. 22 Iowa, No. 23 Penn State and No. 25 Minnesota. For more information on Saturday's Big Ten Championship, follow this link.
[TEN // btn brings you big ten baseball and softball]
Yes, it is time for Big Ten baseball and softball conference action, and the Big Ten Network is set to show it. This weekend's conference slate gets underway throughout Big Ten Country in both sports. The Big Ten Network will televise at least 25 baseball contests as well as no fewer than 25 softball games throughout the season. Penn State and Ohio State will play in the first baseball game televised by the Big Ten Network at 6:35 p.m. ET on Friday in Columbus. The BTN will broadcast its first softball game in Bloomington on Sunday when Penn State plays at Indiana at 10:30 a.m.
[ELEVEN // putting the student before the athlete]
And finally, congratulations to the 469 winter sports athletes who were named Academic All-Big Ten on Wednesday. The list of honored student-athletes features 34 men's and 47 women's basketball players, 41 men's and 43 women's gymnasts, 101 men's and 141 women's swimming and diving athletes and 62 wrestlers. Five student-athletes maintained a perfect grade point average, while several others achieved conference and national awards throughout the winter season. For a full breakdown of the 2008 Big Ten Winter Academic All-Conference Teams, click here!