Given its history and academic standards, Northwestern has long been a Big Ten cupcake -- frosting, sprinkles, the whole bit. If Northwestern is scheduled twice, that's two victories for whoever plays it. That's been the status quo since, well…just about forever.
The IU baseball team opens up its season 2 p.m. today with a doubleheader against Taylor University at Sembower Field. The Hoosiers look to improve their 24-31-1 record of a year ago, which was Coach Bob Morgan's first losing season in 18 seasons at IU.
ANN ARBOR, Mich -- The people in Michigan still haven't forgotten when Dane Fife left Clarkston and, as the state's reigning Mr. Basketball of the 1998 season, chose to play for the Hoosiers. For the past three years, the Crisler Arena fans gave him a hard time, and the fourth time around was no different.
Things were already going pretty bad for Tommy Amaker and his Michigan Wolverines. They had struggled after a 3-3 start in the conference, but after a tough loss to Illinois and a victory over Penn State last week, the Wolverines seemed to be getting things together. That changed this week. The strain of four games in seven days caught up to Michigan (10-13, 5-7 Big Ten), who dropped an overtime game at Colorado State Monday before getting whipped at Purdue Wednesday, 79-43.
The Hoosiers travel to Iowa City Sunday in search of their first victory over Iowa in the last 12 meetings. IU's last victory at Iowa came in 1967. This will be a homecoming for head coach Duane Goldman, who was an All-American wrestler at Iowa from 1983-86. The No. 2 Hawkeyes (14-3, 4-1) are coming off victories over Penn State and Wisconsin and won five of their last six matches. Their lone Big Ten loss was to No. 1 Minnesota. Goldman knows that it will be a tough place to compete in.
The Big Ten couldn't get any more out of whack. IU, Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin all have a legitimate chance to win the conference and are all separated by two games or less. Northwestern and Michigan State are both just three games back.
When asked this week whom they consider the league's most valuable player, Big Ten women's basketball coaches couldn't help but mention Minnesota point guard Lindsay Whalen. The sophomore averages 22.7 points, 6.7 assists and 2.6 steals a game, propelling the No. 15 Golden Gophers to only their fourth winning season in 20 years.
IU's men's track team is full of athletes who run without a scholarship. There are a limited number of scholarships available and many positions to fill. One of these walk-ons to the team has helped play a large role in the teams' success this season. Junior Matt Harris is a 60 meter hurdler who currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten. He also is the school record holder with a time of 7.98 seconds.
Just over one month into his season, sophomore Coyte Cooper went through what no athlete wants to experience. At the Midlands Tournament at the end of December, Cooper strained his knee and partially tore his MCL. The injury kept Cooper out until the start of the Big Ten season. Throughout the recovery process, Cooper managed to keep a clear focus.
So this is what life is like without Jared Jeffries. IU hobbled through Wednesday night's Big Ten matchup with Wisconsin. Jeffries, who sprained an ankle in a win against Louisville Saturday and bruised his thigh earlier in the week, hobbled through warm-ups. Then, the Big Ten's leading scorer sat and stood during the game before somberly walking off the Assembly Hall floor after the Badgers upset No. 22 IU 64-63. Not once did he remove his red warm-up jacket or his candy-striped pants.