Big Ten

Miles Bridges makes return to Michigan State official as Spartans become instant title contender

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USA TODAY

Miles Bridges makes return to Michigan State official as Spartans become instant title contender

It's official: Miles Bridges is coming back to East Lansing and Michigan State is a national-title contender.

After it was reported Wednesday that the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year was leaning toward a return to college for his sophomore season, Bridges made things official Thursday, announcing a return that instantaneously made Tom Izzo's team one of the favorites to win next season's national championship.

Bridges was expected to be selected early in the first round of the NBA Draft after a fabulous freshman campaign, ranked as the 11th-best draft prospect by Draft Express.

But he's no longer in that pool after announcing that he's coming back for a shot at a title with the rest of Izzo's highly touted recruiting class from a year ago. Bridges is sticking around with fellow sophomores-to-be Nick Ward, Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford in what should be the preseason-favorite lineup in the Big Ten.

Bridges ranked in the top six in the conference in scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. His 56 made 3-pointers and 43 blocked shots also ranked among the league leaders.

Bridges will be the centerpiece of a loaded roster for Izzo & Co. In addition to the return of that four-man 2016 class of Bridges, Ward, Winston and Langford, Michigan State will also welcome back veterans Tum Tum Nairn Jr., Matt McQuaid, Gavin Schilling and Kenny Goins and welcome in one of the highest-rated recruits in the country in power forward Jaren Jackson.

In other words, there will be few teams in the country that can match the combination of talent and experience.

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

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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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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.