Big Ten

Northwestern's Chris Collins named finalist for Naismith Coach of the Year honors

Northwestern's Chris Collins named finalist for Naismith Coach of the Year honors

SALT LAKE CITY — Chris Collins wasn't the Big Ten Coach of the Year, but maybe he'll be the national coach of the year.

Northwestern's head coach was announced Thursday as one of four finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year award, joined by a trio of mighty impressive names: Gonzaga's Mark Few, Villanova's Jay Wright and Kansas' Bill Self. All three of those coaches' teams earned No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

Collins lost out to Minnesota's Richard Pitino in the conference's coach of the year race, with Pitino earning just rewards for flipping Minnesota's record from a year ago from 8-23 to 24-9.

Collins certainly would have won, however, if the award honored entire tenures, say if it was called the Big Ten Coach of the Years award.

Collins has done a remarkable job in four seasons taking Northwestern from the bottom of the Big Ten standings and a college hoops afterthought to a winning program in the conference, obviously culminating in the Wildcats making the program's first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. They play their first game Thursday afternoon.

This season, in addition to the big "first" of reaching March Madness, there have been many others. Northwestern has a program-record 23 wins, scored huge victories over Wisconsin, Michigan and Maryland and reached the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time.

The winner of this year's Naismith Coach of the Year award will be announced on April 2.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.