Big Ten

Big Ten Tournament Day 2 preview: Northwestern, Illini hit the court in Washington


Big Ten Tournament Day 2 preview: Northwestern, Illini hit the court in Washington

The Big Ten Tournament continues Thursday in Washington. Here's a look at the day's games. All times are Central.

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Illinois

11 a.m., Big Ten Network

What was an intriguing matchup between a hot Michigan team and an Illinois team trying to get on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble is now all about the Wolverines' terrifying plane situation on Wednesday. High winds caused Michigan's plane to abort takeoff and slide off the runway, stranding the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it all means that Michigan won't arrive in Washington until around 6:30 a.m., just four and a half hours before tipoff of the 11 a.m. bout with Illinois. What effect that will have on the Wolverines remains to be seen, but perhaps more interesting is what effect a potentially jetlagged opponent will have on the Illini. Can John Groce's team take advantage of the situation and score a win that could get it into the Big Dance? Or will this whole deal have no effect at all, leaving an Illinois team that most recently lost to Rutgers still up against a team that won its regular-season finale by 36?

No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Penn State

1:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Penn State's already beaten Michigan State once this season. Can it make it two in a row? Certainly the Nittany Lions benefited from Nebraska's woeful shooting on Wednesday night. Even the Huskers' all-conference guard Tai Webster accounted for just 12 points and fouled out. But the overtime win showed some resilience in this Penn State team as well as an impressive weapon. Big man Mike Watkins was outstanding with 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks, the last number a Big Ten Tournament single-game record. The Spartans are the obvious favorite with Big Ten Freshman of the Year Miles Bridges and Big Ten All-Freshman Team snub Nick Ward. But Ward wasn't a snub because of his defense, which Tom Izzo admits isn't the best. What if Watkins goes off for a second straight day? Will it be the upset at The Palestra all over again?

[TICKETS: Get your Big Ten Tournament seats right here]

No. 7 Iowa vs. No. 10 Indiana

5:30 p.m., ESPN 2

This one would seem to be an easy pick, as Iowa is as hot as anyone riding a four-game winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament and Indiana is fresh off dropping eight of its last 11 regular-season games. But you kind of have to throw everything out the window with a matchup between these two because they are the two of the three best scoring-offense teams in the conference and the two worst scoring-defense teams in the conference. Iowa averages 80.2 points per game but allows 77.1 points per game. Indiana averages 80.4 points per game but allows 73.3 points per game. The last time these two got together, the Hawkeyes won by a 96-90 score in overtime. The Hoosiers might get another game like the one they just played, a 96-92 win over Ohio State in which they led by as many as 18 before blowing that lead completely and squeaking out a win.

No. 6 Northwestern vs. No. 14 Rutgers

8 p.m., ESPN 2

Rutgers surprised with a landmark win over Ohio State on Wednesday night, and the Scarlet Knights looked all right doing it, dominating the boards and turning 19 offensive rebounds into 22 second-chance points. Their shooting numbers were still pretty ugly, but that's OK because Northwestern doesn't rely on offense to get the job done, either. Now, the Wildcats certainly could put on an offensive show if Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey can solve their shooting struggles and help Bryant McIntosh out. But an offensive show doesn't seem to be in the cards considering these two teams both scored in the 60s in both of their prior matchups this season. The Cats have been one of the Big Ten's best defensive teams this season, second in the league in scoring defense (64.9 points a game) and in field-goal percentage defense (39.8 percent). But as Rutgers showed Wednesday, it doesn't need to shoot well to win. The Knights are the conference's best offensive-rebounding team, while the Cats rank 11th out of 14 in rebounding margin.

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'