Big Ten

Big Ten Tournament Day 1 preview: Bottom four seeds can start unlikely tourney runs


Big Ten Tournament Day 1 preview: Bottom four seeds can start unlikely tourney runs

The Big Ten Tournament starts Wednesday in Washington. Here's a look at the day's games.

No. 12 Nebraska vs. No. 13 Penn State

3:30 p.m. CT, ESPN 2

Both teams finished the regular season in a bad way. The Huskers ended with four straight losses — including a 36-point mauling in the regular-season finale against Michigan — and have won just three games since starting Big Ten play 3-0. The Nittany Lions haven't fared much better, currently on a five-game losing streak with just three wins since starting conference play 3-2. So is this a battle of losers? Technically, perhaps, but these teams have consistently played opponents close all season. Penn State has beaten Maryland, Minnesota and Michigan State, while Nebraska has wins over Maryland, Iowa and Purdue. The winner gets Michigan State on Thursday.

Go-to guys

Look for Tai Webster and Tony Carr to be the key figures. Webster, Nebraska's All-Big Ten Second Team guard, is the conference's third-best scorer, averaging 17.2 points per game. Sunday's loss to Michigan was the first game all season in which he failed to score in double figures. Webster also ranks in the top 10 in the league in assists and steals. Carr, meanwhile, is part of a promising future for the Lions. The Penn State freshman made the conference's All-Freshman Team after averaging 13.2 points per game, ranking in the top 10 assists and being one of just two freshman to rank in the top 10 in the league in minutes played.

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No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Rutgers

6 p.m. CT, Big Ten Network

This one would seem to be a bit one-sided, what with the Buckeyes being the Buckeyes and the Scarlet Knights being the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers was the Big Ten's worst team this season with just three conference wins, making it the underdog even in Ohio State's worst season since Thad Matta took over as head coach. But close games have been a hallmark for both these teams this season. The Buckeyes lost six Big Ten games by six points or fewer, while the Knights lost seven conference games by single digits. And both teams played in thrilling regular-season finales, Ohio State losing by just four points after erasing an 18-point deficit against Indiana, and Rutgers getting a last-second game-winner to upset Illinois. The winner gets Northwestern on Thursday night.

Go-to guys

Corey Sanders is Rutgers' leading scorer with 13 points a game, an average good for top 20 in the Big Ten, where he also ranks in the top 15 in assists and the top 10 in steals. But he's been especially good during conference play, averaging 14.7 points per game with three 20-point performances, good enough to place him 11th in the league in conference-only scoring. A trio of scorers gets it done for Ohio State: Jae'Sean Tate, Marc Loving and JaQuan Lyle. All three ranked in the top 26 in the league in scoring during conference play. But Tate stands out, also averaging 6.4 rebounds a game, 2.0 assists a game and 1.1 steals a game in addition to his 14.2 points per game.

Northwestern Wildcats pause football workouts after positive COVID-19 test

USA Today

Northwestern Wildcats pause football workouts after positive COVID-19 test

The Northwestern Wildcats have stopped football workouts due to a player testing positive for COVID-19. A university spokesperson says, the school is now undergoing “rigorous contact tracing and quarantine protocols to protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff.”

Some student-athletes have already been placed in quarantine, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The earliest any football activities can resume for the Wildcats is Wednesday, according to the university spokesperson.

Michigan State required their entire football team to go into quarantine in late July after several positive tests among players and staff.

In addition, the Big Ten announced they will play a conference-only schedule in 2020, if they’re able to play at all.

RELATED: Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

Lou Henson, former Illinois Fighting Illini basketball coach, dies at 88

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Lou Henson, former Illinois Fighting Illini basketball coach, dies at 88

Hall of Fame former Fighting Illini head basketball coach Lou Henson died last Saturday. He was 88 years old.

Henson was the all-time wins leader at the University of Illinois, guiding the team to a 423-224 record from 1975-1996. That included a 214-164 record in Big Ten Conference play, and one Big Ten conference title in 1984.

He also led the Illini to 12 NCAA tournament appearances, the highlight being a Final Four berth with the 1988-89 “Flying Illini.”

"Our Orange and Blue hearts are heavy," said Josh Whitman, Illinois Director of Athletics, in a statement. "We have lost an Illini icon. We have lost a role model, a friend, and a leader. We have lost our coach.

“Coach Henson may be gone, but the memories he provided us, and the legacy he created, will last forever. He was responsible for almost 800 wins in the record book and countless Fighting Illini moments frozen in time, but Coach Henson's true measure will be felt in the lives he touched – the lives of his former players, people on this campus, and friends in our broader community.

“We are all better for whatever time we were privileged to spend with Coach Lou, whether it was five minutes or 50 years. He made everyone feel like a friend. I so enjoyed my time with Coach these last five years, and I will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary, Lisa, Lori, Leigh Anne, and the entire Henson family. Their family will always be part of ours."

In addition to his iconic career at the University of Illinois, Henson coached at New Mexico State where he compiled another 289 victories, from 1966-1975 and 1997-2005. Henson is the wins leader at New Mexico State, as well.

His 779 career wins rank 28th all-time in NCAA history. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame in 2015. The same year, the newly renovated court at Illinois was renamed “Lou Henson Court.” The basketball court at New Mexico State is named “Lou Henson Court,” as well.

“He really was ahead of the game, in terms of bringing fan interaction and fan connection to a program,” said Stephen Bardo, one of Henson’s former players in a video on Twitter. “For me, Lou Henson’s voice got louder the longer after I left school. The more of an adult I became, the older my kids became, I would hear coach Henson’s voice more. I would impart the lessons I learned from him onto my children.

“He had an enormous impact on my life.”

RELATED: Big Ten to play conference-only NCAA football schedule 'if able'