This Week in the Big Ten

Wisconsin's Bo Ryan earned the right Saturday to coach in his first-ever Final Four.

March 30, 2014

[ONE // badgers to represent big ten in final four]
Congratulations to the Wisconsin Badgers, who defeated top-seeded Arizona 64-63 in overtime Saturday in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship West Regional title game in Anaheim, Calif., which secured UW its first Final Four berth since 2000.  The Big Ten now has 44 Final Four appearances, including five in the last six seasons.  Michigan and Michigan State both fell just shy of the Final Four on Sunday as the second-seeded Wolverines fell 75-72 to No. 8 seed Kentucky in the Midwest Region finals in Indianapolis, Ind., while fourth-seeded Michigan State lost 60-54 to No. 7 Connecticut in the East Region Championship, played at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  Speaking of Madison Square Garden, that is where Minnesota is heading for the NIT semifinals after defeating Southern Mississippi 81-73 in Minneapolis this past Tuesday.  

[TWO // honors roll in for wolverines]
Congratulations to Michigan's John Beilein, who was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 7 Coach of the Year on Thursday. Beilein guided Michigan to its first outright Big Ten title since 1986, the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament and into the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the second straight year.  The day before, Beilein’s star Nik Stauskas was named an NABC First-Team All-American.  Stauskas was also tabbed the Big Ten Player of the Year and a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection.

[THREE // women’s hoops season concludes]
Sunday marked the official end of the Big Ten women’s basketball season as Penn State was defeated in the NCAA Regional Semifinals, while Indiana was eliminated from play in the Postseason WNIT.  The third-seeded Lady Lions (24-8, 13-3) suffered an 82-57 setback to No. 2 seed and host Stanford (32-3, 17-1 Pac-12) on Sunday afternoon inside Maples Pavilion. The loss marks the end of the career of Penn State's superb senior class, which is just the third class in school history to top 100 wins. The class finishes second in school history with a 101-31 overall record. Penn State reached the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the 13th time in program history and second time in the past three years.  The Hoosiers fell on the road in the quarterfinals of the WNIT at South Dakota State on Sunday afternoon, 76-64. Alexis Gassion led IU with a career-high tying 22 points, helping the 2013-14 Hoosiers score the second-most points ever in a single year in school history (2,369).  Earlier in the week, Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Purdue bowed out of the NCAA Tournament, while Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern saw their seasons come to an end in the WNIT.

[FOUR // host of honors distributed on women’s hardwood]
A number of Big Ten women’s basketball representatives were honored for their respective seasons this past week as two conference standouts were named Wade Trophy finalists, while a handful of others including a fresh face on the sidelines were honored regionally by the WBCA.  Nebraska's Jordan Hooper and Penn State's Maggie Lucas were among a group of 12 finalists for the Wade Trophy, presented annually by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to the National Player of the Year. Hooper and Lucas were also among a group of 15 candidates for the Wooden Award. The winner will be announced during the WBCA Awards Show on Monday, April 7 at the Women's Final Four in Nashville.  Indiana head women's basketball coach Curt Miller was named the 2014 Russell Athletic/WBCA NCAA Division I Regional Coach of the Year for Region 6 as announced by the WBCA on Wednesday.   With the regional recognition, Miller, who earned the award for the fifth time, becomes one of eight finalists for National Coach of the Year.  On Tuesday, five Big Ten women's basketball standouts were named to the WBCA All-Region team. The Region 6 team is comprised of five Big Ten student-athletes as Iowa's Samantha Logic, Minnesota's Rachel Banham and Amanda Zahui B., Nebraska's Hooper and Penn State's Lucas were recognized. The WBCA selection committee will select the 10-member Division I Coaches All-America team from the 52 members of the various All-Region teams. 

[FIVE // pair of top-10 teams highlight men’s swimming and diving nationals]
The Michigan men's swimming & diving team placed fourth at the 2014 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships this weekend, collecting 310 points throughout the three-day event. Indiana placed 10th with 141 points, followed by 17th-place Penn State (63) and 18th-place Ohio State (54). Wolverine Connor Jaeger won the national title in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 14:29.27, while Northwestern's Jordan Wilimovsky placed fourth (14:44.36). Michigan's Dylan Bosch won the national crown in the 200-yard butterfly (1:39.33), while teammate Kyle Whitaker (1:42.56) and Indiana's Steve Schmuhl (1:43.17) placed fifth and seventh, respectively. The Hoosiers’ Eric Ress placed second in the 200-yard backstroke (1:38.69), while Penn State's Shane Ryan finished fourth in the 100-yard freestyle (42.32 seconds). Code Miller of Indiana recorded a second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke (1:51.82), while Michigan's Richard Funk came in seventh (1:53.81).

[SIX // gophers continue golden hockey run]
Led by a pair of goals from freshman Justin Kloos and a 24-save shutout by Adam Wilcox, top-seeded Minnesota defeated third-seeded St. Cloud State 4-0 Sunday evening at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. With the win, the Gophers advance to the NCAA Frozen Four at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where they will face North Dakota on April 10 – a team that knocked out Wisconsin 5-2 on Friday.

[SEVEN // hail to the victors of men’s gymnastics title]
The Michigan men’s gymnastics team captured the 2014 Big Ten Championship Friday night at Nebraska’s Bob Devaney Sports Center. The title marks the Wolverines’ second consecutive crown and 17th overall.  Michigan totaled a team score of 448.200 points, followed by second-place Ohio State (441.050) and third-place Penn State (438.000). Illinois finished fourth (435.350), Minnesota placed fifth (429.150), Nebraska came in sixth (428.150) and Iowa rounded out the team standings with 425.600 points.  Michigan’s Sam Mikulak was the Big Ten all-around champion after finishing with a score of 93.700 points, claiming his third Big Ten all-around crown and becoming the first conference gymnast to win three all-around titles since Ohio State’s Blaine Wilson won three straight from 1995-97.  In addition, individual event winners were crowned on the second day of the Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships, which concluded with the conference office announcing the All-Big Ten teams and postseason award winners.  Michigan's Sam Mikulak was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year for the third time, becoming the first conference gymnast to earn the honor three times since Ohio State's Blaine Wilson earned the accolade from 1995-97. Ohio State's Sean Melton was tabbed the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while Michigan's Kurt Golder was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second straight season. 

[EIGHT // diamond notes]
On the diamond this week, Penn State baseball is off to its best start in conference action since the 2007 season, having jumped to the top of the league standings at 2-0.  The Nittany Lions took a pair from Northwestern over the weekend and are now 6-0 in Happy Valley for the first time since 1997.  Meanwhile, hot on their heels is Indiana, which swept Ohio State in a three-game series this weekend to move to 5-1 in Big Ten play.  Illinois is third at 2-1, while Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, and Minnesota all sit fourth at 3-3.  In softball, the Wolverines have remained perfect in conference action, using a 40-4 offensive outburst over three wins at Penn State to improve to 6-0 overall.  Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue are all one game back of the Maize and Blue at 5-1.

[NINE // buckeye streak breaker]
Led by senior Peter Kobelt, a native of New Albany, Ohio, the No. 2 Ohio State men's tennis team rewrote history Friday night with a 4-3 victory over No. 28 Northwestern at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Buckeyes (20-2, 6-0 Big Ten) won their 185th-consecutive home match, breaking the intercollegiate NCAA record set by Stanford women's tennis team from 1999-2011. Guided by director of tennis and head coach Ty Tucker, who claimed his 415th career win, Ohio State won the doubles point and three singles matches to secure the win against the Wildcats (12-9, 1-4 Big Ten).

[TEN // wrestling trio honored with ncaa awards]
Three Big Ten wrestlers took home awards from the NCAA on Wednesday, as Indiana's Taylor Walsh, Ohio State's Logan Stieber and Penn State's David Taylor earned recognition from the national office.  Taylor earned the Most Dominant Wrestler Award after finishing the season undefeated (34-0) on the way to the 165-pound national championship.  Walsh earned the award for most pins in a tight race that came down to time against Bucknell heavyweight Joe Stolfi.  Stieber won his third consecutive national championship in Oklahoma City, in addition to taking the award for most tech falls with 11 in 2013-14, tied for the most across divisions.

[ELEVEN // big ten duo up for aau sullivan award]
Penn State's John Urschel and Nebraska's Kelsey Robinson were named finalists for the Sullivan Award on Friday, which recognizes the nation's premier amateur athlete.  A 2013 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient, Urschel garnered back-to-back first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2012 and 2013 and Academic All-District honors for three straight years.  Robinson played and started in all 33 matches for the Nebraska volleyball team, totaling 530 kills and averaging 4.45 kills per set for the 2013 season.  First presented in 1930, the Sullivan Award honors an athlete who demonstrates the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on Friday, April 11 at the AAU National Headquarters in Orlando, Fla.

[TWELVE // a winter to remember in the classroom]
Finally this week, the Big Ten on Wednesday recognized a total of 679 winter sports student-athletes who have been named to the Academic All-Conference team. The list of honored student-athletes features 34 men's and 49 women's basketball players, 51 men's and 52 women's gymnasts, 69 hockey players, 143 men's and 183 women's swimmers and divers and 98 wrestlers. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.  At least 10 of these student-athletes have maintained unblemished cumulative GPAs.