Big Ten

Big Ten NCAA tournament roundup: Wisconsin, Purdue advance, Maryland, Minnesota go home

Big Ten NCAA tournament roundup: Wisconsin, Purdue advance, Maryland, Minnesota go home

SALT LAKE CITY — The Northwestern Wildcats are justly demanding a great deal of attention after reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history and then for winning their first NCAA tournament game in exciting fashion on Thursday.

But there are six other Big Ten teams in this year's Big Dance, and four of those teams also played Thursday.

Here's a recap of those games.

Bronson Koenig hits eight 3s to advance eighth-seeded Wisconsin

The Badgers seemed totally disrespected by the selection committee, handed the No. 8 seed in the East Region. But Bronson Koenig turned in an eight of his own Thursday night against Virginia Tech, hitting an octet of triples and scoring a career-high 28 points in Wisconsin's 84-74 win over the ninth-seeded Hokies. Nigel Hayes also had a big night with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. The two veterans of the Badgers' recent Final Four runs helped keep the Hokies at bay. Virginia Tech never got too far away and trailed by as little as a point in the second half. The good news is Wisconsin advanced. The bad news is it advanced to play No. 1 overall seed Villanova in the second round. That's where that unfavorable seeding comes in. It's up to the Badgers to do something not many winners of an 8-9 game have done.

Purdue avenges last season's first-round loss with win over feisty Vermont

Despite getting another all-out effort from a team wih a double-digit seed, Purdue advanced past the first round this season, avenging its first-round loss to Arkansas Little Rock a season ago. The Boilermakers got huge performances from Vincent Edwards and Caleb Swanigan in the 80-70 victory. Edwards totaled 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. And Swanigan, otherwise known as Mr. Double-Double, finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. The Boilers had their hands full with the Catamounts, trailing by as many as eight in the first half and leading by just a point at halftime. But the upset bid ran out of gas in the game's final minutes, meaning no double-overtime defeat this year. Purdue will tangle with fifth-seeded Iowa State on Saturday for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.

Middle Tennessee takes another Big Ten victim, this time Minnesota

Last year, 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee pulled the unthinkable, upsetting second-seeded Michigan State in the first round. Well, it seems the Blue Raiders have the Big Ten's number. This time seeded 12th, Middle Tennessee pounded Minnesota on Thursday, winning 81-72 to bounce the fifth-seeded Gophers from their first NCAA tournament under Richard Pitino. Middle Tennessee led for the final 28 minutes, grew its lead as big as 17 in the second half, shot nearly 50 percent from the field and out-rebounded Minnesota to the tune of 37-24. It was quite the thud of an ending to what had been a sensational season for the Gophers, who after going 8-23 a season ago entered the Big Dance with a 24-9 record. But after an eight-game winning streak near the end of the regular season, Minnesota finished losing three of four.

Is Melo Trimble's Maryland career over after first-round loss to Xavier?

Perennial good tournament team Xavier tossed Maryland from the Big Dance on Thursday thanks to a huge 21-4 second-half run that transformed a six-point Terps lead into an 11-point one for the Musketeers. Maryland at one point went five minutes without a point in the second half. But the biggest question on everyone's mind is whether we've seen the last of Melo Trimble in a Maryland uniform. The Terps' star has been the center of speculation following each of the two previous seasons. He opted to stay for his sophomore season when it looked like Maryland had the makings of a national-title contender, and he stayed for this, his junior season, after watching his statistics (and perhaps NBA Draft stock) plummet as a sophomore. Trimble gave no indication to his thinking Thursday, but the Terps at least looked like they will survive should he leave: Freshmen Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson combined for 33 points in the loss.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.