Big Ten

Wisconsin slays the giant, upsets No. 1 overall seed Villanova to advance to Sweet Sixteen

Wisconsin slays the giant, upsets No. 1 overall seed Villanova to advance to Sweet Sixteen

Wisconsin's unfavorable No. 8 seed set up a massive challenge against No. 1 overall seed Villanova in the second round.

Well, challenge met.

The Badgers advanced to their fourth straight Sweet Sixteen with a gargantuan upset of the defending national champions Saturday afternoon, taking down the Wildcats by a 65-62 score.

Wisconsin seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, veterans of the program's back-to-back Final Four runs, provided the engine for this upset, combing for 36 points and hitting the game's biggest baskets down the stretch.

Despite a four-point lead at halftime after a hot-shooting first 20 minutes, the Badgers trailed by seven with five and a half minutes to play.  But the Badgers rattled off seven straight from there, Koenig tying the game at 57 with a triple with three and a half minutes remaining.

After a Villanova free throw, Ethan Happ got a running bucket to beat the shot clock and put Wisconsin in front by a point, the Badgers' first lead since four and a half minutes into the second half. The Wildcats tied the game by splitting a pair of free throws at the other end, only for Koenig to nail another huge 3-pointer inside of two minutes to play. Villanova's Jalen Brunson cut the lead to one with a bucket, and after Koenig missed a 3-point try, Villanova turned the ball over with a travel in the final minute.

But things quickly looked like they were going to spiral out of control for Wisconsin when Koenig was trapped at halfcourt and turned the ball over when he tried to find Hayes with a pass, Hayes then fouling and sending Donte DiVincenzo to the free-throw line with just a handful of seconds left. But DiVincenzo split his free throws, only managing to tie the game. Hayes instantly redeemed himself at the other end, getting an up-and-under basket to give the Badgers a two-point lead with 11.4 seconds left.

Josh Hart had the ball stripped away at the other end, Vitto brown hit a free throw, and Wisconsin clinched its massive upset.

This is the second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen for Greg Gard, in just his second season as the team's head coach. It's the fourth straight for the program and fourth for a senior class that has created a remarkable legacy in Madison.

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

jeremy_larkin.jpg
USA TODAY

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

anderson.jpg
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.