April 27, 2005
Big Ten regular season champion Illinois will look for its fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship title this weekend, but it will not have to travel far. The Fighting Illini, winners of seven of the last eight Conference titles, will host the 2005 Big Ten Championship at the Atkins Tennis Center and Illini Grove in Champaign, Ill., Thursday, April 28 through Sunday, May 1.
The Illini enter the Big Ten Championship with a record of 20-3 overall, including a perfect 10-0 mark in Conference play. Ranked fifth in the nation, Illinois has not lost a League matchup since Ohio State beat them at the 2001 Big Ten Championship.
The Buckeyes, 17-7 overall and 8-2 in Big Ten play, are currently 26th in the country. Additional Conference squads ranked in the ITA top 75 are No. 50 Northwestern, No. 54 Minnesota, No. 58 Michigan, No. 60 Indiana, and No. 62 Penn State.
Throughout the year, the Big Ten has been represented toward the top of the singles and doubles rankings by members of the Illini and Buckeyes. Illinois' Ryler DeHeart is currently ranked the eighth-best singles player in the nation, while OSU's Scott Green and Ross Wilson are ranked fifth in doubles, after spending the majority of the season atop the nation's rankings. The duo of DeHeart and GD Jones are ranked ninth in the country for the Illini.
Action gets underway Thursday with No. 8 seed Michigan State battling ninth-seeded Iowa at 10 a.m. No. 7 Minnesota will face No. 10 Wisconsin at the same time, followed by the afternoon matchup between No. 6 Penn State and No. 11 Purdue at 2 p.m.
The top-three seeds -- No. 1 Illinois, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan -- all received first-round byes and will compete on Friday. No. 4 Indiana and No. 5 Northwestern will also face-off Friday at 10 a.m.