Big Ten

With Alabama’s exciting victory over unbeaten Clemson earlier this week, view the 2015 college football season came to an end and Alabama won the CFP Championship.  Even though the teams have barely settled back into their campuses after the trip to Arizona, is it too early to start thinking about next year?  Well, probably, but let’s do it anyway.  Here are some things to look for in the 2016 season:

  1. The Clemson Tigers will probably open the season ranked #1.  They will most likely be bringing back 17 starters including Heisman Trophy finalist, Deshaun Watson. Even though they have a few significant losses, they will be in a position to regroup around the core players that will be returning.  Key match-up for next year:  A road game against Florida State.  Pencil that one in now as one to watch.  Will the Tigers be able to repeat their perfect season and return to the championship game?
  2. The Expectations for Michigan are Off the Charts.  This year’s 10-3 team also returns a group of strong players, especially on defense, and no doubt Wolverines fans can practically taste the chance to make it to the championship game.  Some oddsmakers are reporting that Michigan has 12/1 odds of making it to the final game.  One thing is for sure: Coach Jim Harbaugh has started the recruiting season and everyone is taking note!
  3.  The Big Twelve May Host a Conference Champsionship Game. At the NCAA convention this week, the league voted to allow the Big 12 to have a conference championship game, even if does not expand from its current ten-team roster.  However, the Big 12 Commissioner walked back the rule change, stating to ESPN that the vote did not necessarily mean that a championship game would happen.  ESPN reports it is unlikely that a championship game would be held next year, in any event.
  4. Alabama isn’t Going Anywhere.  This team has won four championships in the last seven years.  Even with star running back Derrick Henry declaring he will enter the NFL draft next year, can you really count on Alabama not to be in the hunt for a national title?  No.  And if politics have anything to do with it, AL.com encourages Crimson Tide fans to vote democrat in the next election.  Why?  Eleven of ‘Bama’s sixteen championships have come with democrats sitting in the White House.  And four have come with O-Bama occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  5. Big Ten to Begin Nine Game Conferenece Schedule.  Despite the fact the Big Ten coaches unanimously hate the 9-game conference schedule, it’s here.  All Big Ten teams will now have to play nine conference games and one intersectional game against a power league.  No more padding those scheduleds with MAC teams.  We can only wonder what the bowl eligibiilty will look like with nine conference games.  Yikes.

 

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Happy New Year!  For college football fans, mind there is no better way to ring in 2016 than by binge-watching bowl game after bowl game.  For those of us who will be sitting on our couches today watching those games, doctor  the storyline that will be undoubtably be dominating the airwaves is the performances of Clemson and Alabama last night, viagra sale both earning a trip to Arizona for the CFP championship game on January 11th in convincing fashion.  Sadly for Michiagn State fans, the Spartans were beaten 38-0 by Alabama last night.  You have to wonder just how the game would have turned out if MSU’s interception right before halftime hadn’t happened.  It felt like Michigan State was in the game up until that point, but they just couldn’t recover after that interception.  Hats off to Alabama as they looked like a championship caliber team last night.  The Detroit Free Press has a great analysis of not only the game, but what the Spartans need to do in the future to get to the level of a championship-caliber team.

Then there was the matter of Oklahoma vs. Clemson where the Tigers handed the Sooners a 37-17 loss and earned their way to the CFP champsionship game.  Did you know that “Clemsoning” was a word?  The urban dictionary has an actual definition for “Clemsoning.”  It is: “The act of delivering an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of a college football season.”  Well take note, urban dictionary, you may need to update that definition.  Clemson fans were anything but disappointed last night. Despite the fact that Clemson came into the game undefeated and ranked #1 in the country, they were underdogs.  The much under-appreciated, disrespected, and often overlooked Clemson team showed everyone last night that they are the real deal and deserve to be in the champsionship game.

So we are set for the showdown in the desert to decide the 2015 NCAA football national champion.  Will it be the Crimson Tide of Alabama who are trying to win their first title in three years?  Or will the Tigers, who have only won one championship – back in 1981, bring home the title?  This southern duel will surely be a fun one to watch.

And Big Ten and Notre Dame fans, even though Michigan State loss its game last night, you are well represented today as four of the five bowl games feature Big Ten teams and the Fiesta Bowl has Notre Dame going against Ohio State.  The day starts off with Northwestern facing Tennessee in the Outback Bowl.  Then Michigan plays Florida in the Citrus Bowl at the same time Notre Dame and OSU battle it out.  Then Iowa takes on Stanford in the Rose Bowl.  By the way, who would have predicted that Iowa would have been representing the B1G in the Rose Bowl this year!

So get comfy on those couches – you’ve got a lot of football to watch today!

 

 

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Even though more than a week has passed since our Thanksgiving turkey feasts, sick I’m just now getting back into the swing of things after being off the grid for a while and having to recover from some awful-looking Illini basketball.

The orange and blue completely collapsed on themselves in the second half Wednesday night against Notre Dame during what is one of my favorite events: The Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

This annual event pits teams from the Big Ten and the ACC against one another, viagra and the winning conference gets to take home the Commissioner’s Cup. The ACC won the first 10 Challenges, there but the B1G had won four of the last six through 2014, according to the Big Ten.

And this year, the Big Ten notched its fifth Challenge victory, winning eight of the 14 matchups.

The ACC winners:

  • Wake Forest (over Rutgers)
  • #10 UVA (over OSU)
  • #21 Miami (over Nebraska)
  • #9 UNC (over #2 Maryland)
  • Notre Dame (over Illinois)
  • #7 Duke (over Indiana)

And the Big Ten winners:

  • Minnesota (over Clemson)
  • Michigan (over NC State)
  • Northwestern (over Virginia Tech)
  • #11 Purdue (over Pitt)
  • #3 Michigan State (over #24 Louisville)
  • Wisconsin (over #14 Syracuse)
  • Penn State (over Boston College)
  • Iowa (over FSU)

The Iowa win was especially dramatic, as the Hawkeyes needed to beat Florida State for the B1G to clench a Challenge victory, and it went into overtime. As you can see here, the Iowa fans were…nervous?

But Iowa came out on top in the end, taking down the Seminoles 78-75. So even though the Illini couldn’t get it done, and the Big 10 has just three teams currently in the AP top 25 and the ACC has six, the Midwestern conference still came out on top.

And, speaking of ranked teams losing to unranked upstarts, UCLA just took down the previously undefeated, #1-ranked Kentucky Wildcats Thursday night.

Fun fact from when these two teams faced off last year:

My, how the tables turned. That’s why I love college basketball.

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Category: NCAA

Those familiar with Chicago sports know all too well that the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. (Heck, no rx let’s be honest, cialis everyone knows that.)  And quite frankly, stuff it is difficult to find any sports records that go beyond that century plus mark.  Well, we found one! For the first time in 112 seasons of Big Ten football, 1903 to be exact, there are three undefeated Big Ten teams headed into Week 10 – Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa.

Seven Big Ten teams have already won the required six wins to qualify for post-season bowl games: Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Northwestern, in addition to the three undefeateds.  And Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana each need two more wins to qualify.  This is familiar territory for the Big Ten and its fans as 2014 saw its best bowl season ever with ten teams receiving invitations. There could be a repeat this year if Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana can each grab two wins and qualify.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, this time of year in college football is the home stretch and a lot can happen.  So here are some Big Ten match-ups to watch this weekend:

  • Penn State at Northwestern. Both teams are coming off big wins, Penn State over Illinois and Northwestern over Nebraska before their bye week last week.  Northwestern’s defense has been strong all year and will need to hold down PSU’s running game.
  • Wisconsin at Maryland. After losing to Iowa, the Badgers need to win out and get help to win the West Division. But getting Corey Clement back last week helps move them in the right direction. Their staunch defense should be able to hold off Maryland.
  • Michigan State at Nebraska. Undefeated MSU takes on a Nebraska team that may be headed for its first losing season since 2007.  MSU’s offense has been on fire, but you can’t count out Nebraska, especially at home.
  • Minnesota at Ohio State. This is Minnesota’s first road game under their  interim coach  who took over the team after their head coach  retired because of his epilepsy.  Minnesota made it a really close game against Michigan at home last week and Ohio State has had anything but an uneventful off-week with their starting quarterback being suspended for driving while impaired on campus.

After this weekend, will the Big Ten standings be shuffled because of upsets, or will we still be looking at three undefeated teams?  All indications are that there will be three undefeated teams heading into week 11 – which makes for an awfully exciting home stretch to the 2015 season.

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Category: NCAA

College basketball season! It’s finally here!

Well, nurse kind of. Officially, buy viagra Big Ten men’s basketball will start Nov. 13, with all 14 B1G teams tipping off for real at some point next weekend. BUT, the AP released its preseason top 25 poll earlier this week, and six Big Ten teams landed on the list. To no one’s surprise, Maryland was the highest ranked in the conference, coming in at No. 3 nationally. The other ranked teams are Michigan State (13), Indiana (15), Wisconsin (17) Purdue (23) and Michigan just squeaking in at 25.

And even though the season hasn’t officially started yet, most B1G teams have already notched their first win. For instance, the Wisconsin Badgers put up 101 points and didn’t even allow their opponents, the UW-River Falls Falcons, even half that amount in an exhibition game Wednesday.

Fellow ranked B1G teams Maryland, Indiana and Michigan State also notched wins in exhibition games so far this week against small-name teams. Purdue and Michigan will play their own meaningless games before Monday.

So what do these wins tell us? Not a whole lot, since they’re played against the likes of the Southern New Hampshire Penmen and the Northern Michigan Wildcats, both Division II teams. Indiana took on arguably the most fearsome opponent among the ranked B1G teams — Ottawa University, a team that was ranked No. 1 for part of its season last year in Canada, according to the Indy Star.

Regardless of the opponent, exhibition games do give the public a first look at how any new freshmen/transfers handle themselves against people who aren’t their teammates. The Detroit Free Press seemed impressed with Coach Tom Izzo’s new recruits, and four of Wisconsin’s freshmen combined for 44 points and 27 rebounds, for instance.

The Illini play their first and only exhibition game Sunday against the big bad Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars. And, even though it’s meaningless, I’m still looking forward to it.

 

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Who doesn't love a good mascot photo?!

It’s hard to live in Wrigleyville and think about anything but the Cubbies right now (#FlytheW) but Chicago isn’t just about baseball or even the Blackhawks this week — the Big Ten is hosting basketball media days here in Chicago starting this morning.

I am breathing a sigh of relief because this means the glory that is NCAA basketball is that much closer to tipping off. Personally, cialis sale I hope media days lead to Nebraska Coach Tim Miles (one of the most active coaches on social media) tweeting something fabulous from the podium and memorable quotes from Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan at what may be his last-ever media day address.

Leading up to media days and the actual start of the season, health the conference announced selections to the preseason All Big-Ten team Wednesday.

So who are these players that a panel of conference media deemed worthy to name to the preseason all-conference team? I break it down for you below, click with players listed in no particular order:

  • Melo Trimble, Maryland. Trimble is a sophomore, 6’3″ guard running the court in College Park. Last year as a true freshman, he led the Terps in scoring, assists and steals. In addition to naming him to the All-Big Ten team, the experts also selected Trimble as the conference’s preseason player of the year. As my dad always says, the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores so, I’m sure Trimble will only get better with time and experience.

 

  • Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. Ferrell is a senior who I selfishly hoped would leave Indiana because I hate it when Illinois has to face him. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for the Hoosier state, Ferrell — a dominant 6-foot guard — announced in April he would stay at IU instead of leaving for the NBA. “Anyone who actually knows me knows that I am a fierce competitor. I truly want to leave a legacy of accomplishments at IU, like the great IU legends of the past. I look forward to returning to IU to complete my undergraduate degree and to begin my graduate studies,” he said. And that’s something I can respect. All signs point to him finishing out his career in Bloomington strong.

 

  • Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. I have to say that Hayes is one of my favorite non-Illini in the Big Ten. While I have never met him personally, this 6’8″ junior forward just seems like he’d be a great guy be around. He started all of Wisconsin’s games last season and is also a 2015 Academic All-Big Ten honoree. You might remember him from the NCAA tournament this year when he learned what a stenographer does and tested her skills during press conferences. (Don’t remember? Check out coverage from Bleacher Report and be prepared to crack a smile.)

 

  • Caris LeVert, Michigan. Similarly to Ferrell, this 6’7″ senior guard passed on going pro and will finish out his four years in Ann Arbor. “Coming back allows me to keep working towards my Michigan degree and take the next steps in my development as a player, teammate and a leader of our program,” he said in his announcement, according to the Detroit Free Press. Respect to the Wolverine co-captain. He’s also on the Jerry West Award Watch List.

 

  • Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. Valentine, a 6’5″ senior guard in East Lansing, was the only B1G player to rank in the top 15 in the conference in scoring, rebounding and assists last season. He was one of the players receiving unanimous voting onto the preseason all-conference team.

 

  • James Blackmon Jr., Indiana. Blackmon is a 6’4″ sophomore guard who, as a freshman, ranked in the top 10 in the conference in scoring, free throw percentage and 3-point field goals made. On a team that is lacking young leadership thanks to discipline issues, Blackmon is poised to make an impact during his second year in Bloomington.

 

  • Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa. This Iowa native, nearly 7-foot-tall forward is a senior in Iowa City. Not only can he ball, he can also hit the books, as Uthoff was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree last season. Also, Uthoff was the only Division I player to record more than 55 blocks, more than 50 three pointers and more than 35 steals last season.

 

  • A.J. Hammons, Purdue. Unlike Uthoff, Hammons is actually a 7-footer, and that height advantage pays off: He has let the B1G in blocked shots for three seasons straight. Adding to is accolades, Hammons became the first Big Ten player in 35 years to reach 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 250 blocks by the end of his junior year. In short, this guy has three years of playing experience under his belt and will be a definite asset to the Boilermakers in West Lafayette this season.

 

 

  • Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin. Koenig got the starting point guard gig in Madison halfway through the season last year, playing in all 40 games and starting the last 24 the Badgers played. The junior 6’4″ Wisconsin native is also on the watch list for the national Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes the nation’s top point guard.

Whew! Can’t wait to see what these guys do during the season.

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