This Week in the Big Ten

Illinois' Charlie Danielson tied for the individual men's golf title this past weekend, but earned the league's AQ to NCAA action on a tiebreak.

May 4, 2014

[ONE // gophers put forth golden effort at big ten men’s golf championships]
Minnesota claimed conference men’s golf title on Sunday after shooting a four-round score of 1,186 at the 2014 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championships. The Golden Gophers were followed by second-place Illinois (1,190), third-place Iowa (1,194), fourth-place Northwestern (1,204) and fifth-place Purdue (1,205) at the par-72, 7,152-yard Pete Dye Course. Minnesota earned the Big Ten’s automatic berth into the NCAA Championships. This is the eighth team title for the Golden Gophers and first since 2007.  Illinois’ Charlie Danielson and Minnesota’s Jose Mendez shared the individual Big Ten title, shooting a 1-over 289. Due to the Big Ten’s tiebreaking procedures, Danielson earns the conference’s individual automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Minnesota’s Jon Trasamar and Northwestern’s Jack Perry tied for third place (294), while Iowa’s Steven Ihm finished fifth (295). All five student-athletes earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Championships team.  Danielson was also honored with the Big Ten’s Les Bolstad Award, given to the conference player with the lowest season stroke average (71.07) this season.

[TWO // tourney time for big ten softball]
The Big Ten on Sunday announced the 2014 Big Ten Softball Tournament bracket, with Michigan earning the No. 1 seed after clinching a share of its 18th conference championship. Nebraska, which secured the No. 2 seed in the tournament, also earned a share of its first Big Ten title after completing a three-game sweep of Indiana on Sunday.   Minnesota and Wisconsin earned the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively, while No. 5 Northwestern and No. 6 Purdue completed the top half of the bracket.  Rounding out the field will be No. 7 Ohio State, No. 87 Iowa, No. 9 Illinois, No. 10 Penn State, No. 11 Indiana and No. 12 Michigan State.  The tournament is a single-elimination format that will begin on Thursday with the title contest slated for Saturday night at Sharon J. Drysdale Field in Evanston, Ill. The tournament champion will earn the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.

[THREE // the challenge continues]
The 16th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods, played over three days from December 1-3, will be highlighted by an expanded format of 14 games - two more than previous Challenges - and the debut of Maryland and Rutgers as members of the Big Ten, and Louisville with the ACC.  ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 14 games of the three-day event matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioners Cup. All 14 games will also be available via WatchESPN.   All 14 Big Ten teams and 14 of the 15 ACC teams will participate in the 2014 Challenge.

[FOUR // six men’s tennis teams earn ncaa bids]
Six Big Ten men's tennis teams have been selected to the NCAA Championship, the selection committee announced on Tuesday. Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue each earned berths to the national tournament, which gets underway May 9 at campus sites. The Buckeyes received an automatic bid to the championship after winning the Big Ten Tournament while the other five teams earned at-large selections.

[FIVE // stay single, pair them up]
Six Big Ten singles players and three conference doubles pairs have been selected to the NCAA Championships, the selection committee announced on Wednesday. Seventeen automatic qualifiers and 47 at-large selections make up the singles field, while 14 automatic berths and 18 at-large selections comprise the doubles field.  Illinois’ Jared Hiltzik leads the pack of Big Ten singles players, entering the tournament as the No. 8 seed after earning the conference’s automatic berth. The group of five at-large selections from the conference features Hiltzik’s teammate Farris Gosea, Minnesota’s Leandro Toledo, Northwestern’s Raleigh Smith, Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt and Penn State’s Leonard Stakhovsky.  The Buckeyes’ Kobelt and Kevin Metka earned the Big Ten’s automatic berth in the doubles draw. Illinois’ Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon and Penn State’s Stakhovsky and Russell Bader will also be among the field of 32.  The singles and doubles competition will be conducted May 21-26 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championship, which runs from May 15-20.

[SIX // four women’s squads named to ncaa tennis championships]
Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue will represent the Big Ten at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship, the selection committee announced on Tuesday. The Wildcats received an automatic bid to the championship after winning the Big Ten Tournament while the other three teams earned at-large bids.  First- and second-round play takes place May 9-10 at campus sites. Subsequent rounds will be played at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., from May 15-20.

[SEVEN // drawing between the lines]
Four Big Ten singles players and two doubles duos have been selected to the 2014 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships, the selection committee announced on Wednesday. The singles field includes 15 automatic qualifiers and 49 at-large selections while the doubles field features 10 automatic berths and 22 at-large selections.  Michigan's Emina Bektas earned the conference's automatic singles bid in the 64-player field, while the Big Ten Athlete of the Year and teammate Brooke Bolender were the conference's automatic doubles selection.  Fellow Wolverine Ronit Yurovsky was among the at-large selections for the singles draw, as were Northwestern teammates Veronica Corning and Belinda Niu. Corning will also take part in the doubles competition with partner Alicia Barnett after the pair earned an at-large berth.  The singles and doubles competition will be conducted May 21-26 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championship, which runs from May 15-20.

[EIGHT // down the stretch]
Indiana baseball still maintains a series lead in the conference standings following another Big Ten series sweep, this time at home against rival Purdue.  A 12-3 win over the Boilermakers Sunday gave Indiana its fifth-straight win and its 20th victory in the last 22 games.  The Hoosiers sit 16-2 in conference play and own a three-game advantage over Nebraska and Illinois, which sit tied for second at 13-5.  Michigan is fourth at 11-10 in league play, followed by 9-9 Minnesota. 

[NINE // five softball standouts honored in classroom]
Five Big Ten softball standouts were named Capital One Academic All-District First-Team selections on Thursday. Michigan's Nicole Sappingfield, Northwestern's Marisa Bast and Purdue's Andie Varsho were named to the District 5 first team, while Minnesota's Sara Moulton and Wisconsin's Maria Van Abel were tabbed District 6 Academic All-District first-teamers. All five student-athletes will now be moving onto the national Academic All-America ballot.  The 2014 Capital One Academic All-District Baseball and Softball Teams, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, have been released to recognize the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.

[TEN // baseball trip named academic all-district]
Three Big Ten baseball student-athletes were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District teams, it was announced on Thursday. Penn State's Steve Snyder was named to the District 2 All-Academic Team, Northwestern's Jack Quigley garnered All-District 5 honors and Minnesota's Ben Meyer was picked the District 6 All-Academic squad. The trio is now eligible for Academic All-America accolades, which will be announced later this month. To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.3 on a scale of 4.0 and must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his/her current institution.

[ELEVEN // top of the class]
Indiana senior Dustin DeMuth is one of 10 finalists for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award for baseball, it was announced on Wednesday. The award goes to a senior student-athlete with notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Fan votes will be combined with media and coaches votes to determine this year's winner, which will be announced during the College World Series in June.

[TWELVE // a new challenge coming?]
Finally this week, we mentioned earlier that the 16th edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods is slated to continue in early December.  Might there be another conference challenge in the mix a few weeks earlier during the first week of the men’s basketball season?  With the Big Ten expanding east and another prestigious basketball conference with membership now in the Midwest, it seems a logical fit for two powerhouse hardwood leagues to square off before a nationally-televised audience.  Stay tuned to on Monday for more news about this partnership.