Toledo’s Tim Beckman may be the man at Illinois. According to a Thursday morning report in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois is focusing on Beckman to replace Ron Zook, who was fired after seven years in Champaign. I think Beckman would be a terrific hire. He has done a good job at Toledo, forging a 21-16 record (16-6 in the MAC) in three years and leading the school to share of the MAC West title this season. The 8-4 Rockets, 7-1 in each of the last two years in MAC action, will play Air Force in the Military Bowl this month, the second bowl under Beckman.
Find out more about: Big Ten Bowls, Rose Bowl
It was a struggle for the Big Ten on Wednesday night. The conference eked out several wins against inferior opponents, including Illinois over St. Bonaventure (box), Nebraska over Florida Gulf Coast (recap) and Purdue over Western Carolina (recap), while Penn State lost to Lafayette (recap). There were a couple drama-free games, though, as Wisconsin drilled Green Bay (recap) and Michigan State blew away CCSU (recap). Catch up on all the action on our Big Ten scoreboard.
Find out more about: Hoops Rapid Recaps
Roughly halfway through the nonconference basketball season, CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm decided to take another look at what the NCAA tourney bracket looks like. First impression: Jerry really likes the Big Ten. Nine teams make the field, more than any other conference, including Northwestern (No. 10), which eyes its first NCAA berth, and Indiana (No. 7), which hasn’t made the tourney since 2007-08. See all the Big Ten teams Palm included in this post.
Four Big Ten women’s hoops teams were in action Wednesday night. Illinois carded a 66-56 win over instate foe Illinois and Minnesota thumped Air Force, 81-46, while Indiana and Iowa lost to St. Bonaventure and Iowa State, respectively. Catch up on all of Wednesday’s action in this post and don’t forget to watch our highlights from Minnesota’s easy win now.
Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus won the Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, it was announced Wednesday. The junior leads the nation in sacks (14.5), sacks per game (1.2) and forced fumbles (9) while ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game (1.6). The award makes Mercilus the first Illini to win a national honor since Dana Howard (1994) and Kevin Hardy (1995) won the Butkus Award in back-to-back years.
It’s been a quiet week so far in Big Ten land, but we did get two interesting games last night. Let’s review the light slate, as well as a couple noteworthy performers to this point of the season.