April 11, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // penn state earns men's gymnastics championship]
One dynasty ended over the weekend in State College and perhaps one began. Penn State earned the 2008 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championship on its home floor in Rec Hall last weekend, ending a three-year reign by Ohio State. The Nittany Lions, who are the defending national champions, captured their second conference title and first since 2003. Penn State's winning score of 360.450 bettered Illinois (357.300), Ohio State (353.350) and Michigan (353.000). Minnesota (351.400) and Iowa (344.500) rounded out the field of six.
Penn State's Casey Sandy, who was featured earlier this year on bigten.org, was named the conference's Gymnast of the Year, while his mentor Randy Jepson was selected Coach of the Year. Michigan's Thomas Kelley earned Freshman of the Year honors. For a complete list of All-Big Ten honorees, click here.
[TWO // all six men's gymnastics squads qualify for nationals]
The NCAA on Monday announced the 12 teams selected for the NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships, and all six conference teams earned bids. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and conference champion Penn State were all selected to the national qualifier, which consists of two pre-qualifying sessions. The event will be conducted April 17 at Stanford's Maples Pavilion. Three teams and the top three all-around competitors not on one of the qualifying teams, plus the top three individuals on each event not already qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor, will advance from each pre-qualifying session to the finals session. Final competitions will take place April 18-19, also at Stanford University. Last year Penn State won the national title with a score of 221.000.
[THREE // three teams finished ranked in final men's basketball poll]
Wisconsin, Michigan State and Purdue finished ranked in the final USA Today men's basketball coaches poll, which was released on Tuesday. The Badgers finished the season ranked 10th at 31-5, followed by No. 13 Michigan State at 27-9 and No. 20 Purdue at 25-9. Both Indiana and NIT champion Ohio State were receiving votes outside the top 25.
[FOUR // two women standouts taken in wnba draft]
Ohio State's Marscilla Packer and Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson were selected in Wednesday's 2008 WNBA Draft in Tampa, Fla., just one day after the women's national championship game. Anderson, the co-Big Ten Player of the Year and the all-time leading scorer at Wisconsin, was taken 23rd by the Connecticut Sun. Packer was selected 41st by the defending WNBA champions, the Phoenix Mercury. With two selections 2008, 59 Big Ten standouts have now been taken in the 12 years of the WNBA draft.
[FIVE // michigan baseball leading the way]
The Michigan baseball team, whose history was profiled on bigten.org Thursday, is currently atop the conference standings at 7-1 and 18-8 overall. The Wolverines hold a one-game advantage over Illinois and Purdue, who both sit at 6-2 in league play. Ohio State ranks fourth at 5-3, while Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State and Northwestern are in a logjam at 3-5 in conference action, followed by Iowa at 1-7. Michigan is on the road this weekend for a four-game set at Illinois, while Purdue is hosting Penn State.
[SIX // northwestern softball is too...]
The Northwestern Wildcats, ranked 14th in the latest NFCA Softball Top 25 poll, is leading the conference softball race at 6-0 and 20-9 overall. Sixth-ranked Michigan, which has played eight Big Ten contests and is 7-1, sits second in the standings, while Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue at 4-2. Penn State is 3-5 on the campaign, followed by Illinois (2-4), Ohio State (2-6) and Indiana and Wisconsin at 1-7 each. This weekend Northwestern travels to Illinois and Iowa, while Michigan heads to Minnesota and Wisconsin.
[SEVEN // speaking of softball]
The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced Wednesday that four Big Ten standouts are among the 25 finalists for the 2008 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Michigan freshman Jordan Taylor (P) and senior Samantha Findlay (1B) join Northwestern junior Tammy Williams (INF) and Ohio State sophomore Sam Marder (C) on the national list. On May 7, just days before the start of postseason play, a list of 10 finalists will be named from the players on this list. On May 21, the list will be cut to three and those final three players will travel to Oklahoma City for the announcement of the winner at the 2008 NCAA Women's College World Series Party at the Park on May 27.
[EIGHT // michigan men end hockey run with overtime upset]
The Michigan men's hockey team fell to Notre Dame on Thursday in the second of two Frozen Four semifinals, denying the top-ranked and No. 1 seeded Wolverines a chance at the NCAA Championship. It what turned out to be an impressive hockey contest, the start of the matchup appeared one-sided in favor of the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame opened with a 3-0 lead in the first period, only to have the Wolverines respond by tying the game later on. The Irish took a 4-3 lead again only to have Michigan respond with a goal to send the game into overtime. ND's Calle Ridderwall scored on Michigan freshman goalie Bryan Hogan 5:44 into overtime for the win. Congrats to the Wolverines on their season.
[NINE // big ten tennis putting fans in the stands]
Fans continue to pack the stands at the Illinois and Michigan tennis courts as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association released the updated attendance figures over the weekend. Illinois ranks first among on men's programs in average attendance (560) and third in total attendance (3,925). Michigan is fourth in average (306) and sixth overall (2,754). The Illinois women are welcoming 165 fans on average to their matches, a total which ranks third in the country, while Michigan follows closely behind in fourth with a clip of 164.
[TEN // the answer...what is happening in madison this week?]
This week the popular quiz show JEOPARDY! is on site at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., to film 10 episodes of the JEOPARDY! College Championship. Longtime host Alex Trebek has accompanied the crew to Badger country and is currently in the midst of filming. This year's winner will take home $100,000, with the runner-up earning a guaranteed $50,000. Contestants eliminated in the first week of the event will receive $5,000. The episodes taped at the Kohl Center will air in national syndication from May 5 to May 16. For more information on JEOPARDY! on the campus of Wisconsin, click here!
[ELEVEN // saluting a spartan]
Finally this week, there is sad news to report out of East Lansing. Former Michigan State All-American Julius McCoy passed away last Friday at the age of 76 at his home in Harrisburg, Pa. McCoy ended his basketball career as MSU as the school's all-time leading scorer. He earned postseason honors ranging from All-America, to first-team All-Big Ten, and team MVP accolades in 1956. Our condolences to Betty, his wife of 46 years and the entire McCoy and Spartan family.