Big Ten

Hawkeyes bombed out of NCAA tournament in Villanova rout


Hawkeyes bombed out of NCAA tournament in Villanova rout

Another NCAA tournament appearance has come and gone, and Iowa still hasn't been to the Sweet Sixteen in the 21st century.

The Hawkeyes watched another season come to an upsetting end Sunday, getting blown out of the Big Dance as Villanova ran away with a 87-68 win in Brooklyn.

Iowa's last Sweet Sixteen appearance remains the 1999 NCAA tournament. This latest Round of 32 loss brings another late-season collapse to a close, as the Hawkeyes dropped seven of their last 11 games, falling from a top-five team to a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament field, a seeding aided by an embarrassing first-game exit from the Big Ten Tournament.

This game was well over by halftime, the Hawkeyes buried by the Wildcats in the first half. Villanova dominated in every way, shooting a dazzling 60.6 percent and going 7-for-12 from behind the 3-point line, Iowa allowing more points than it did in any other half this season. The Hawkeyes had the game tied at 13 on a Dom Uhl 3-pointer not even seven minutes into the game, but the Wildcats streaked away with eight straight after that game-tying 3, the start of an incredible 41-16 scoring advantage the rest of the half. A seven-point game turned into an 18-point game, as Villanova's 11-0 run in the middle of the half proved the game's defining stretch. All in all, from that 28-21 score, the Wildcats outscored the Hawkeyes, 26-8, the remainder of the half, Iowa scoring just eight points over the final eight and a half minutes before halftime.

In addition to Villanova's sensational offensive play over the first 20 minutes, the Wildcats were stifling on defense, forcing eight turnovers by an Iowa team that turned the ball over just three times in 45 minutes on Friday. Villanova scored 12 points off those turnovers, compared to zero for Iowa. The Wildcats also held the deadly scoring duo of Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok to just 11 first-half points on 4-for-10 shooting.

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Though Iowa actually held a 39-33 scoring advantage in the second half, the game's status didn't change, with the margin remaining gigantic through the majority of the period, getting as high as 34 at one point.

Villanova finished shooting 59.3 percent from the field, a staggering number, especially when compared to Iowa's 45-percent mark.

Uthoff ended up leading the Hawkeyes with 16 points. Nicholas Baer came off the bench to score 15 points for Iowa, and Jok added 11 points.

Iowa has not reached the Sweet Sixteen since 1999, the only multi-win NCAA tournament appearance for the Hawkeyes since 1988. Iowa has made the Big Dance in three straight seasons after a seven-year tourney drought, but those three appearances have yielded just a 2-3 record, with all three losses coming by double digits.

Fran McCaffery's team will look mighty different next season. This was the final game for Iowa's senior core of Uthoff, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury and Anthony Clemmons.

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


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


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.