Big Ten

Wisconsin stops slide with emphatic win over red-hot Minnesota

nigel-hayes-0305.jpg
USA TODAY

Wisconsin stops slide with emphatic win over red-hot Minnesota

Wisconsin doesn't want you counting it out of the running for Big Ten Tournament and NCAA tournament titles quite yet.

Entering Sunday's regular-season finale, the Badgers had dropped three straight and five of six. But they bounced back in a big way, stuffing rival Minnesota by a 66-49 score up in Madison.

The Golden Gophers saw their eye-popping eight-game winning streak snapped with the double-digit blowout defeat. Richard Pitino's team had a chance to ride into the Big Ten Tournament without a loss since late January, but instead it was the Badgers clinching the No. 2 seed in next week's conference tournament in Washington.

Wisconsin shut down Minnesota in this one, limiting the visitors to 32.1-percent shooting on the night and a grotesque 23.3-percent mark in the second half.

The Gophers led by a bucket at the break, though neither team reached 30 points in the opening 20 minutes. The Badgers responded with a dominant second half, shooting 50 percent from the field and splashing home eight of their 10 3-point tries after halftime. Minnesota was just 3-for-13 from 3 on the night and got a grand total of 19 points from everyone not named Nate Mason and Amir Coffey.

Bronson Koenig knocked down five triples and finished with a game-high 17 points. Nigel Hayes and Zak Showalter scored 12 points apiece, the trio of seniors combining for 41 in their final game at the Kohl Center.

The win sends the Badgers into the Big Ten Tournament in far better shape than they were just a few hours prior. Wisconsin entered on a nightmarish stretch that started with a home loss to Northwestern, featured three road losses and culminated in this week's home loss to Iowa on a last-second bucket from Jordan Bohannon. Once the Big Ten's best hope to compete for a national title, some folks were wondering on social media if the Badgers would win another game this season. While a slide-snapping victory against any opponent would have been huge just to get back in the win column, getting one against Minnesota — considering how well the Gophers had been playing — is gigantic heading into the postseason.

Minnesota, meanwhile, won't enter the Big Ten Tournament as the conference's hottest team. On an eight-game roll, it looked like the Gophers might've been able to claim to be the favorite in Washington. But Sunday's defeat paired with a big road win for Purdue will likely leave the Boilermakers as the favorite. Still, Pitino's remarkable turnaround effort will still give the Gophers a double bye and the No. 4 seed.

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.

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.