Big Ten

Northwestern's next opponent? Gonzaga advances to second round of NCAA tournament

Northwestern's next opponent? Gonzaga advances to second round of NCAA tournament

SALT LAKE CITY — There's no looking past Thursday's game for Northwestern.

But should the Wildcats take down Vanderbilt, it will be top-seeded Gonzaga waiting Saturday in the second round.

Despite a sluggish start, Gonzaga beat 16th-seeded South Dakota State on Thursday afternoon, advancing to the Round of 32 with a 66-46 win.

Early on it looked like the Zags were in danger of becoming the first No. 1 seed ever to fall to a No. 16 seed. The Bulldogs shot a woeful 31 percent from the field in the first half and led by just four at halftime after trailing for much of the opening 20 minutes. But they blew past the Jackrabbits after halftime, holding the No. 16 seed to 29-percent shooting after halftime and shooting nearly 50-percent themselves over the final 20 minutes. Gonzaga hit six 3-pointers after halftime and outscored South Dakota State 40-24.

That sets up a potential showdown with a No. 1 seed in the second round for the Cats, and history, unsurprisingly, is on the side of the No. 1 seed in those matchups.

Just 17 times ever has a No. 1 seed lost to the winner of the 8-9 game, with 12 of those upset wins belonging to the No. 8 seed, which Northwestern is.

The Cats will be working against other historical trends, including the fact that since 1985, only three teams playing in their first NCAA tournament have reached the Sweet Sixteen. However, that's largely due to the fact that first-timers don't get very high seeds and are placed in unfavorable matchups to begin with. Teams playing in their first NCAA tournament with a No. 10 seed or better are 4-3 in their first-round games.

First, though, it's the first round for Northwestern and Thursday afternoon's meeting with Vanderbilt.

(h/t to ESPN's Keith Lipscomb on that historical tournament data)

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.