Big Ten

Big Ten poll update: Northwestern on the verge of top 25 in coaches, AP polls

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USA TODAY

Big Ten poll update: Northwestern on the verge of top 25 in coaches, AP polls

Northwestern ranked? Hey, it could happen.

In a year when folks are talking about the Wildcats perhaps finally receiving their first-ever invite to the NCAA tournament, the team is also about to crack the top 25.

Northwestern was the de facto No. 26 team in the coaches poll and the de facto No. 30 team in the AP poll when both sets of rankings were released Monday.

After beating Rutgers on the road and pummeling Iowa at home, Northwestern is 15-4 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play.

The Cats have one game this week, against Ohio State on Sunday, and should they win they could put themselves to have a number in front of their name come this time next week.

The last time that happened? Well, at least in the AP poll, Northwestern hasn't been ranked since 2009, and prior to that, you have to go all the way back to the 1968-69 season.

Elsewhere in the conference, Maryland re-entered the top 25, No. 25 in both the AP and coaches polls. The Terps stand at a somewhat quiet 16-2 overall and 4-1 in league play after wins last week over Indiana and Illinois.

Wisconsin was the No. 17 team in both polls, keeping its place in the coaches poll and moving up a spot in the AP. The Badgers scored a blowout win over Ohio State last Thursday and are 14-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play this season.

Purdue was ranked 21st in the AP poll and 22nd in the coaches poll. After a loss to Iowa, Purdue dropped four spots in the AP and three spots in the coaches. The Boilers are 14-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten.

Minnesota, which lost twice this week to Michigan State and Penn State, fell out of the top 25 in both polls.

Northwestern was the only Big Ten team also receiving votes in the AP poll, while Northwestern, Indiana and Minnesota also received votes in the coaches poll.

Illinois came close to adding Divison I hockey team before coronavirus spread

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NBC Sports Chicago

Illinois came close to adding Divison I hockey team before coronavirus spread

After trying to add a Division I men's ice hockey program at the University of Illinois for nearly three years, the school was finally close. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The Chicago Tribune reported Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman told media on Monday that the university was forced to "hit the pause button" on the hopes and dreams of alums, sports fans and young hockey players with midwest ties. 

“Clearly with everything that’s changed here in the last six weeks, it makes sense for us to hit the — at least the short-term — pause button on that project while we wait and let things unfold in the weeks and months ahead,” Whitman said.

According to Whitman, U of I was about a month away from forming the program before the pandemic changed things.

The state of Illinois produces the fourth-most college hockey players but has no Division I hockey team yet. 

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

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USA TODAY

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.