Only four Big Teams have one or fewer losses: No. 1 Michigan State (11-0), No. 11 Purdue (11-0), No. 6 Maryland (9-1) and Northwestern (8-1).
The Cats have a strong case for earning a top-25 ranking come Monday after improving to 8-1 with an absolute pounding of Chicago State on Sunday night in Evanston, winning by a score of 77-35.
Northwestern put all the distance it needed to between itself and Chicago State by closing the second half on a 15-2 run, turning a narrow three-point advantage into a 16-point halftime lead. Tre Demps scored 13 points in the opening 20 minutes as the Cats allowed the Cougars to score just 15 points.
The Cats cruised from there, allowing just 20 second-half points and shooting the lights out in the final 20 minutes to the tune of 60 percent, making 10 3-pointers after the break.
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Northwestern held a 51.8 percent to 25 percent shooting advantage on the game and made a total of 15 3s. Chicago State was just 1-for-19 from behind the arc. The Cats assisted on 24 of their 29 made field goals.
Demps led the way with 23 points, hitting five 3-pointers and nearly notching a double-double with nine rebounds. Nathan Taphorn was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 11 points, hitting three 3s. But plenty of others were close: Alex Olah had nine points, and Bryant McIntosh, Sanjay Lumpkin and Jordan Ash each finished with eight.
Northwestern has received a small amount of votes in the AP poll in each of the past two weeks, but this week should see that number increase as the number of undefeated and one-loss teams in the country continues to shrink. The Cats could even land a spot in the top 25. The last time they were ranked in the poll was the 2009-10 season.
Northwestern has four non-conference games remaining before the start of the Big Ten portion of the schedule. The next comes Tuesday night against Mississippi Valley State.
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 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.