Big Ten

Rutgers gets first-ever Big Ten Tournament win as Ohio State's season bottoms out

Rutgers gets first-ever Big Ten Tournament win as Ohio State's season bottoms out

WASHINGTON — When those coaches were saying that anyone can beat anyone in this year's Big Ten Tournament, they weren't lying.

Rutgers, the worst team in the conference, record-wise, all season long, captured its first-ever Big Ten Tournament win Wednesday night, knocking off Ohio State by a 66-57 score at the Verizon Center.

The Scarlet Knights advanced to take on the sixth-seeded Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday night.

Ohio State can blame itself for a crushing defeat and a brutal end to its season. The Buckeyes shot a miserable 23.8 percent from the field in the second half, but they were really done in by horrendous free-throw shooting. Ohio State was 15-for-28 from the charity stripe.

Rutgers, meanwhile, dominated on the glass. The Knights had a 47-31 rebounding edge, with 19 of those offensive rebounds turning into 22 second-chance points.

Nigel Johnson scored 21 points off the bench for Rutgers, helping give the Knights a 32-8 edge in bench points.

The Buckeyes had a great first half shooting the ball, hitting at a 54.2-percent clip. But the Knights trailed by just three at the half, thanks in large part to their 12-2 edge in second-chance points. Rutgers' bench also outscored Ohio State's reserves by a 17-0 margin over the opening 20 minutes, with Johnson contributing 10 of those points for the Knights.

Rutgers punched Ohio State in the mouth to open the second half, going on a 10-1 run to grab a lead on Ohio State, which mustered just four points in the first six and a half minutes of the half, all on free throws with no made shots. Marc Loving's 3-pointer ended that stretch, but the Buckeyes continued to shoot poorly throughout the second half while the Knights kept cleaning up their own misses, dominating the offensive glass and turning that into points.

The Knights matched grabbed a six-point lead with under six minutes to play, but the Buckeyes chipped away, keeping things tight. Johnson knocked down a big 3-pointer with about two minutes remaining to turn a razor-thin two-point margin into a five-point gap. That proved the game's biggest bucket, as the Buckeyes couldn't get any closer than four the rest of the way.

Rutgers actually shot pretty poor from the field, just 37.1 percent on the night. But those big stat advantages elsewhere coupled with Ohio State's atrocious free-throw shooting helped the Scarlet Knights grab the biggest win of the young Steve Pikiell Era.

What a win it was for Pikiell. In his first Big Ten Tournament, he led the Knights to a win over Thad Matta's Buckeyes. Matta, who received a vote of confidence earlier in the day from his athletics director, entered with the best-ever winning percentage in the Big Ten Tournament.

Rutgers will take on Northwestern on Thursday night. The Knights lost twice to the Wildcats earlier this season but only by a combined 13 points.

Ohio State's season bottomed out with a 17-15 record, the worst during Matta's tenure in Columbus. This is the first group of Matta Buckeyes to fail to reach 20 wins in a season.

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.