Big Ten

Michigan finishes off remarkable run with Big Ten Tournament title game win over Wisconsin


Michigan finishes off remarkable run with Big Ten Tournament title game win over Wisconsin

WASHINGTON — What an incredible run for the Michigan Wolverines.

Wednesday afternoon in Ann Arbor, the team plane faced high winds that forced an aborted takeoff and the plane to slide off the runway. The next morning, Michigan finally got to D.C., and all it did after arriving was win.

Sunday at the Verizon Center, the Wolverines capped a tremendous four days of basketball with their fourth win, beating the Wisconsin Badgers 71-56 in the Big Ten Tournament championship game.

The win gave Michigan its first championship in the event since the inaugural edition back in 1998 as well as an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. At No. 8, the Wolverines became the lowest seed to ever win the tournament.

Derrick Walton Jr., who has looked like one of the best players in the country this week in Washington, starred once more with 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He also made four 3-pointers and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the 3-point line. Zak Irvin also had a terrific game with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Michigan's offense has been terrific much of this tournament and was again Sunday, the Wolverines shooting 56.3 percent on the game and better than 50 percent in both halves.

And how about the Michigan defense, which after a mighty entertaining if low-scoring first half during which Wisconsin shot 53.8 percent from the field held the Badgers to 26.7-percent shooting after halftime. Wisconsin went the first eight minutes of the second half without a basket.

The teams started hot from the field, making for an entertaining opening half. Michigan hit 12 of its first 19 shots, Wisconsin nine of its first 17. The teams played real tight until Walton created some separation with back-to-back triples — his third and fourth of the game — to make it a 10-point game with about five and a half minutes until halftime. But the Badgers rattled off seven straight from there and closed the half on a 12-3 run, capped by Bronson Koenig's buzzer-beating 3-pointer to polish off a mighty entertaining half of hoops.

Michigan shot 59.1 percent from the field, with Wisconsin not far off at 53.8 percent. The teams combined to make 11 first-half 3s, the Wolverines splashing home seven of them. Michigan led in the points off turnovers department with 11, while the Badgers have five second-chance points to the Wolverines' none. Koenig was the game's leading scorer after a half with 13 points, hitting three 3s. Walton had 12 points and four 3s.

Michigan opened the second half on an 11-2 run, with Irvin converting a three-point play to again give the Wolverines a 10-point lead. Wisconsin, after its hot-shooting first half, went the first eight minutes out of halftime without a made basket before Ethan Happ laid one in. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman stretched the Michigan lead briefly to 11 before a 7-2 spurt from Wisconsin had the Badgers within six with six minutes to play. But Irvin answered that run with a shot-clock beating triple to stretch the Wolverines' advantage back out to a more comfortable nine.

After Happ got two of those points back, Duncan Robinson and Zak Showalter traded triples to keep the margin at seven with three and a half minutes to play. Michigan kept answering, though, every time Wisconsin got some points, most emphatically with press-breaking, fast-break dunks from Abdur-Rahkman and D.J. Wilson. And a fast-break layup from Walton gave the Wolverines a 13-point lead with about a minute to play, allowing them to hang on for a remarkable win.

For Michigan to do what it did after enduring the emotionally and mentally exhausting events of Wednesday afternoon is simply incredible. Certainly the Wolverines' hot streak dates back long before than, as they had a fabulous finish to the regular season and entered this tournament as one of the league's hottest teams. This team, now with a Big Ten championship in hand, will be one no one wants to see in next week's NCAA tournament.

Wisconsin also did impressive things in the nation's capital, reestablishing itself as a squad to be reckoned with in March. After a stumble down the stretch of the regular season, the Badgers won three straight games by double figures and looked far more like the preseason favorites everyone pegged them as months ago.

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'