Big Ten

Big Ten Tournament Day 4 preview: Can Northwestern reach championship game?

Big Ten Tournament Day 4 preview: Can Northwestern reach championship game?

WASHINGTON — The Big Ten Tournament marches on in the nation's capital Saturday with the two semifinal games. Here's a look at the action to come in D.C. Listed start times are Central.

No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 8 Michigan

12 p.m., CBS

This matchup might seem a little funky, but it might not have been terribly difficult to predict considering the way these two teams were playing to close out the regular season. Minnesota has been one of the best teams in the world since the start of February, rattling off eight straight wins before stumbling the regular-season finale against Wisconsin. But the Golden Gophers got back on track with a win over Michigan State on Friday. Richard Pitino's team didn't play out of this world — it probably should've smoked Tom Izzo's group, which shot horribly — but it got the win it needed to get back on track and has now won nine of 10. Michigan, of course, is the feel-good story of this week's tournament, winning twice in two days after enduring that horrifying aborted takeoff on Wednesday. And the Wolverines have looked incredible in winning the games they've won, blowing out Illinois before grabbing a huge win over top-seeded Purdue on Friday.

While both teams have stellar point guards in Nate Mason and Derrick Walton Jr., the bigs could determine this one. Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson have taken turns starring for Michigan with an ability to score inside and out. Meanwhile, Reggie Lynch is the newly minted Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and backed it up with five blocks Friday. Jordan Murphy ain't no slouch, either, turning in a double-double against the Spartans.

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

No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Northwestern

2:30 p.m., CBS

It's a rematch of a Feb. 12 game in which Northwestern went up to Madison and grabbed a landmark, NCAA tournament resume-building victory. That was just the Badgers' second loss since Thanksgiving at the time, but it started a losing stretch of five defeats in six games. For the Wildcats it was an anomaly during a 2-5 stretch. Northwestern played near-perfect defense in that game and turned the remainder of Ethan Happ's season into an inconsistent roller coaster by double-teaming him at every opportunity and sending him to the bench the majority of the second half he was so ineffective.

Wisconsin is playing better now, the winner of back-to-back games including Friday's tournament win over Indiana in which it flexed its league-best defense. It'll need to flex it again as Northwestern's offense has been sensational in two games in Washington, shooting 60 percent against Rutgers and 55.3 percent against Maryland. Scottie Lindsey — who didn't play in that game up in Madison — and Vic Law have found their grooves after searching for their shot down the stretch of the regular season, combining for 66 points in the two wins. But the Badgers can shoot, too, anf they buried 10 triples in Friday's win.

The Cats will likely be the sentimental favorites, on the verge of their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance with a chance at more program history this week in D.C. But the Badgers are the No. 2 seed for a reason.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

anderson.jpg
USA TODAY

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.