Big Ten

Great matchups on the way for Badgers as part of loaded Maui Invitational field

greg-gard-0719.png

Great matchups on the way for Badgers as part of loaded Maui Invitational field

Aloha!

The bracket for this fall's Maui Invitational was released Tuesday morning, and it is a good one, complete with a Big Ten representative in the Wisconsin Badgers.

Greg Gard's team will enter the 2016-17 campaign as one of the favorites in the Big Ten, returning all five starters, and Maui will be one of the first chances to show off the squad.

The Badgers start things off in the Aloha State with a game against Tennessee on Nov. 21. Win that one, and it's a date with the winner of the Georgetown-Oregon game. Keep winning, and the championship opponent will be one of these four teams: North Carolina, UConn, Oklahoma State and Chaminade.

Here's a look at the bracket:

That is an absolutely loaded field, with three teams that played in last season's Sweet Sixteen in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Oregon. The Tar Heels reached the national championship game, and both North Carolina and Oregon were No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. UConn was also a part of the NCAA tournament field last season.

Wisconsin and Tennessee have met three times in the past, with the Badgers winning just one of those games, the most recent meeting in 2001.

A second-round matchup against Georgetown for Wisconsin would be a rematch of last season's game at Madison Square Garden, a win for the Hoyas. The teams played in the Bahamas the year prior, a win for the Badgers. Meanwhile, a second-round matchup between the Badgers and Ducks would be a rematch of the Round of 32 game in the 2015 NCAA tournament, a game Wisconsin won in its march to a second straight Final Four.

Certainly, North Carolina would be Wisconsin's highest-profile opponent in a potential championship game appearance. That would be a battle between the last two national runners-up and a rematch of the Sweet Sixteen game from the 2015 Big Dance, won by the Badgers.

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

jeremy_larkin.jpg
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

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.