Big Ten

Michigan sneaks by Tulsa in First Four to advance to Round of 64

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Michigan sneaks by Tulsa in First Four to advance to Round of 64

Michigan barely made the NCAA tournament's field of 68. And it barely sneaked into the Round of 64.

The Wolverines went back and forth with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane all night during their matchup in the First Four, but it was Michigan coming away with the 67-62 win on Wednesday night in Dayton.

The win earned the Wolverines the No. 11 seed in the East Region and advanced them to the Round of 64, where they'll meet the No. 6-seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Friday in Brooklyn.

Woeful shooting in the first half and 16 lead changes throughout the game had Wolverines fans sweating, especially down the stretch, as Michigan trailed as late as the final minute. Tulsa dominated the paint, and Michigan was just 6-for-25 from 3-point range.

But thanks to the heroics of, who else, Zak Irvin — who hit a game-winning shot to beat Northwestern in overtime just last week at the Big Ten Tournament — the Wolverines pulled out the win.

Michigan led by eight at the half, a surprising turn of events considering the Wolverines had a more than six-minute scoreless stretch during the opening 20 minutes and went to the half shooting just 34.4 percent from the field and 4-for-18 from 3-point range. But Michigan capitalized on Tulsa's own more than six-minute scoreless stretch, finishing the first half on a 19-4 run to take that eight-point lead into the break.

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Tulsa came out of the gates smoking, though, erasing that edge in the first few minutes of the second half thanks to a 16-8 run that had the score knotted at 34 by the first media timeout. And it was back and forth from there the rest of the way, neither team building a lead bigger than six the remainder of the game. A 7-1 spurt looked to create a decent amount of breathing room for Michigan, but that was immediately answered by Tulsa's 9-2 run to turn a six-point deficit into a one-point lead with four and a half minutes to play. The teams continued swapping leads from there, the lead changing four times, the last of that quartet being a Hurricane bucket to create a 60-59 lead with about a minute to play. But that's when Irvin stepped up, knocking down a go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds left to put Michigan in front for good.

The Wolverines were demolished in the paint, the Hurricane scoring twice as many points there in the second half, 28-14. Tulsa also held a 12-6 edge in second-chance points over the final 20 minutes, but Michigan's 8-3 edge in points off turnovers loomed large, as well. On the game as a whole, the Wolverines had 20 points off 11 Tulsa turnovers.

After combining for just seven points in the first half, Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman teamed for 25 points in the second half, the duo coming up huge as first-half catalyst Derrick Walton Jr. sat on the bench for nine second-half minutes while battling foul trouble. Irvin and Abdur-Rahkman were a combined 8-for-17 from the field over the final 20 minutes.

Four Michigan players finished in double figures: Irvin and Abdur-Rahkman each scored 16 points, Duncan Robinson had 13 points plus 11 rebounds for a double-double, and Walton scored 12 points.

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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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.