Big Ten

Big Ten Tournament Day 3 preview: Top four seeds make their DC debuts

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USA TODAY

Big Ten Tournament Day 3 preview: Top four seeds make their DC debuts

WASHINGTON — The Big Ten Tournament marches on Friday in the nation's capital. Here's a look at the day's games. All times are Central.

No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 8 Michigan

11 a.m., ESPN

The Wolverines are now the tournament's sentimental favorites after following up their travel nightmare with a 20-point pounding of Illinois on Thursday. After high winds forced an aborted takeoff that resulted in the team plane sliding off the runway on Wednesday, it became clear Thursday how horrifying an ordeal Michigan had to go through. For the Wolverines to emotionally and mentally overcome that, get back on a plane, fly to D.C. and dismantle the Illini was an impressive accomplishment — practice uniforms and all. Of course Purdue is a much different task than Illinois, meaning Michigan will have to again be firing on all cylinders Friday. The good news for the Wolverines is that they beat the Boilermakers just recently on the second-to-last weekend of the regular season. But without a doubt Purdue is the best team in this conference with the without-a-doubt best player in this conference in Caleb Swanigan.

No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 5 Michigan State

1:30 p.m., ESPN

They always say it's hard to beat the same team three times in the same season. That'll be what Michigan State is trying to do Friday against Minnesota, a team that won eight of its final nine regular-season games. None of those wins were against the Spartans, though, with the teams' two previous meetings coming early during conference play. Michigan State won an overtime classic in the first meeting. The Golden Gophers are a bit different team these days, with offensive firepower all over the place and strong defensive skills, though they did stumble in the most recent game they played, a 17-point loss at Wisconsin. Michigan State, meanwhile, is coming off a throttling of Penn State on Thursday. The Spartans were unstoppable in that one, with Miles Bridges and Nick Ward having big games, but it was on defense where they looked the most impressive.

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

No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Indiana

5:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Indiana looked real good Thursday night, outscoring Iowa by 19 in the second half. The Hoosiers were on fire shooting the ball and went 12-for-20 from 3-point range. But while Indiana has a tendency to run up big point totals — Thursday's 95 points were just a couple away from the Big Ten Tournament record — don't expect a similar game Friday night against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes are the league's worst defensive team, and apparently even a four-game winning streak couldn't stop them from surrendering a boatload of points to the Hoosiers. Meanwhile, the Badgers are the Big Ten's best defensive team, allowing an average of just 61.6 points a game, or nearly 34 fewer than the Hoosiers scored Thursday. Still, this Wisconsin team might not be completely out of a funk that saw it lose five of its last seven in the regular season.

No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 6 Northwestern

8 p.m., Big Ten Network

The Cats' offensive prayers were answered Thursday night in one of the team's best offensive performances of the season. Northwestern shot 60 percent from the field and went on a 31-0 run in the first half to stomp Rutgers, getting 16-point nights from Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey, who need to be producing if the Cats want to keep winning in March. And the defense that's been a hallmark of this team was there, too. The Terps, though, are a different breed than the Scarlet Knights, and Northwestern has had its challenges against Maryland in recent seasons. That includes earlier this year when the Terps went into Evanston and won big, Melo Trimble destroying the Cats with 30 points in that one. Maryland closed out its regular-season schedule with back-to-back wins, and it will be the only team with any sort of home-court advantage this week. A tall task for Northwestern to keep things going.

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.

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.