Aug. 12, 2012
[ONE // bringing the games to a close]
The 2012 London Olympic Games are officially in the book and the Big Ten turned in an impressive performance with its current and former representatives. While a complete recap of the Big Ten’s efforts in London will be posted in the coming days, several gold-medal performances stole the headlines this past week. Deron Williams (Illinois) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota) each claimed gold over the weekend as both the Team USA men’s and women’s basketball teams earned the right to be called the world’s best basketball team. Individually, Betsey Armstrong (Michigan) took home a gold medal as the goalkeeper for the first-place U.S. women’s water polo squad, Jordan Burroughs (Nebraska) won gold in the men’s wrestling freestyle at 74kgs, and David Boudia (Purdue) earned fans worldwide in a thrilling competition, becoming the first American man to win 10-meter platform gold at the Olympics since Greg Louganis in 1988. For more information on the Big Ten’s efforts in London, follow the Big Ten Blog by clicking here.
[TWO // on the road again]
The Big Ten Network’s annual Big Ten Football Preview Tour hit the road this past week, making stops at Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. BTN’s Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, along with BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart, traveled to each campus to preview the upcoming season. For a complete recap on the Hawkeyes, Cornhuskers and Golden Gophers, click on the corresponding links. On the docket for this week, the BTN bus will travel to Wisconsin (Aug. 14), Northwestern (Aug. 15), Purdue (Aug. 16), Indiana (Aug. 17), Illinois (Aug. 18) and Ohio State (Aug. 19).
[THREE // five in the top 25]
In preseason rankings released by ESPN and the Sporting News, the Big Ten is one of only two conferences to have five or more teams ranked in each poll's top 25. Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin appear in both rankings' top 25, with the Wolverines leading the way in each at No. 8. The other four teams each boast a top 20 ranking in one or both preseason polls, including Michigan State (No. 12 ESPN/No. 13 Sporting News), Wisconsin (No. 15/No. 12), Ohio State (No. 14/No. 22) and Nebraska (No. 21/No. 17).
[FOUR // b1g stars honored by si.com]
Seven Big Ten football players have been named to SI.com’s Preseason All-America Team, which was released on Thursday. First-team honorees included Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and left tackle Ricky Wagner, while Michigan State defensive end William Gholston and cornerback Johnny Adams, as well as Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead and Wisconsin offensive lineman Travis Frederick, were named to the second team.
[FIVE // the challenge ahead]
ESPN announced this past week the network and start time designations for the 14th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge presented by DICK’s Sporting Goods, to be played Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 27 and 28. All 12 games of the two-day event will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. The 2012 Challenge will feature nine teams ranked in an ESPN.com early preseason top 25 poll, including five of the top nine squads: No. 1 Indiana, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 NC State, No. 8 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State. The Challenge annually features top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioner’s Cup. The Big Ten won its third consecutive Challenge in 2011, while the ACC had captured the first 10 titles. In the event of a 6-6 tie, the Commissioner’s Cup will remain with the conference that won it the previous year. The full 2012 Challenge schedule can be found by clicking here.
[SIX // gameday to invade bloomington]
ESPN announced this past week its College GameDay Covered by State Farm will make a stop in Bloomington, Ind., during its ninth overall season, as Indiana hosts Michigan on Feb. 2. The matchup is the only one on the schedule that includes two teams ranked in the top five of ESPN.com's early preseason poll, as the Hoosiers come in at No. 1, and the Wolverines are ranked No. 5.
[SEVEN // so long to stilts]
Ohio State and its Buckeye basketball community suffered a loss this past Saturday as Naismith Hall of Famer Arnie “Stilts” Risen passed away at the age of 87. Risen was an All-Big Ten center in 1944 and a Helms Foundation second-team All-American in 1945, when the Buckeyes finished first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten. He also helped the Buckeyes reach the Final Four over three consecutive years from 1944-46. Risen later shined as a professional, winning two NBA Championships in his career.
[EIGHT // preseason pitch rankings]
Penn State and Illinois have both earned top-25 consideration in the preseason NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA women's soccer rankings. After winning its 14th consecutive Big Ten Championship in 2011, the Nittany Lions lead the way at No. 9. The Fighting Illini check in at No. 19 after capturing the Big Ten Tournament title last season. Click HERE to see the complete poll.
[NINE // get ready to watch some field hockey and soccer]
The BTN announced this past week it will televise more field hockey this season than ever before, with at least 15 matches set to air on BTN, including for the first time each round of the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament. Each BTN broadcast will also be available on BTN2Go. The field hockey season on BTN begins on Friday, Sept. 21, when defending Big Ten Tournament Champion Penn State hosts Indiana. BTN also announced its plans to televise more soccer than ever, with at least 60 matches set to air on BTN, including for the first time each round of the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Soccer Tournaments. Each BTN broadcast is also available on BTN2Go. The soccer season on BTN begins on Friday, Aug. 24, when defending Big Ten Champion Penn State women host 2011 National Champion Stanford, while the men begin on Sunday, Sept. 23, with seven-time national champion Indiana at Ohio State.
[TEN // bottom up for michigan]
Congratulations to Michigan’s Mike Bottom, who was promoted this past Friday as the head coach of both the Wolverines’ men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs. The current Michigan men’s coach, who is beginning his fifth season in Ann Arbor, has led the men's swimming program to three of the last four Big Ten championships and four straight top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. The men's swimming and diving team won the 2012 Big Ten Championship and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships -- its highest finish since 2004 -- with 17 swimmers earning a total of 37 NCAA All-America honors or All-America honorable mention. The Michigan women's swimming and diving team, which placed eighth at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, has a rich history, with 14 conference titles in the past 27 years under recently retired head coach Jim Richardson. Bottom is coming off another head coaching appointment, as he served as the head coach for the Serbian National Team at the 2012 Olympic Games.
[ELEVEN // badgers brought back home]
Congratulations to six former Wisconsin Badgers, who have been named to the UW Hall of Fame and will be officially inducted on Friday, Aug. 31. Wrestler Jim Haines won the 1997 NCAA Championship, Lawrence Johnson was a first-team All-American defensive back in 1978 and won four Big Ten titles on the track in 1976, Karen Lunda was a two-sport letterwinner for the Badgers, Cory Raymer was a consensus first-team football All-American, Dick Bennett coached the Badgers to postseason play four years, including three NCAA tournament appearances, and James Haluska led the UW to the 1952 Big Ten title and its first Rose Bowl appearance.
[TWELVE // sent to the principal]
Finally this week, Principal Financial Group is kicking off a new partnership with the Big Ten Conference. The Principal announced on Thursday it will be an official partner of the Big Ten Conference through the 2014 season. As part of the new partnership, negotiated by rEvolution, The Principal’s collegiate sports marketing agency of record since 2009, The Principal will have a presence at both the Big Ten Championships in football and basketball, as well as select Olympic sports at the collegiate level. In addition, its digital footprint will expand through the Big Ten Digital Network of sites and a new Big Ten-themed microsite on Principal.com.