What to watch for in Illini Olympic sports

What to watch for in Illini Olympic sports

Yes, basketball season is over for Illinois. But that doesn't mean the Illini are done with sports this school year. 

Baseball

Getting to play baseball at the site of Super Bowl 52? Why not. One thing is for sure: The Illini will be tested this weekend in Minneapolis with a three-game series featuring opponents from the Pac-12. UCLA and Arizona both made the NCAA tournament last season and the Bruins are ranked No. 11 in the country. Hard-throwing righty Jake Bird, UCLA's No. 1 guy, should challenge the Illini right out of the gate at 11 a.m. today.

Softball

Back in the state of Illinois, at last. After trips to Florida and North Carolina, Tyra Perry's club will spend the next few weeks inside state lines. It starts this weekend in Carbondale, where the Illini will face Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Murray State in pool play before the bracket is reset ahead of Saturday's semifinals. Weather wise, Sunday looks to be the best day with 60's in the forecast when the title game is played.

Men's gymnastics

National-powerhouse Stanford welcomes Illinois, Michigan and California on Saturday. Add in international athletes from Japan and Canada, and this will be a great weekend for men's gymnastics. Bobby Baker, a four-time All American, is in good form. In the Illini's last meet, Baker dazzled with a school-record 15.000 on vault. He finished seventh overall in vault at last year's NCAA finals.

Women's gymnastics

Tonight's "Elevate the Stage: Augusta," lives up to its name. For Illinois, it's an early look at what the Illini will face in the postseason. Staged on a podium floor, which is typically used only in postseason play (starting with the NCAA regionals), Illinois will be in Georgia's backyard. The Gymdogs are a perennial power in the sport. Karen Howell and Haylee Roe are the ones to watch for the Illini.

Men's tennis

The 100-win watch is on for Illinois senior Aleks Vukic. The Aussie enters the weekend with 99 wins in singles play, and will have two chances to reach the century mark, as the Illini host TCU on Friday and defending nation champions Virginia on Sunday. Make a trip to Atkins Tennis Center and enjoy the tennis. Sunday might be the match of the year.

Women's tennis

Friday is the perfect day for tennis fans, as both the men's and women's teams play matches. The Illini women start the double dip at 2 p.m. when Illinois hosts Northwestern. Jaclyn Switkes and the 5th-ranked Illini are currently on a seven-match winning streak and look to continue the best start in program history since 1982 against the rival Wildcats.

Wrestling

No Illini wrestler has ever four-peated in the Big Ten Tournament. Isaiah Martinez should become the first to do so, barring a major upset this weekend in East Lansing, Mich. Martinez has been a picture of dominance, outscoring his opponents by an aggregate score of 199-62, highlighted by eight wins by technical fall. But this weekend is just as big a deal for the likes of Illini grapplers Travis Piotrowski, Dylan Duncan, Mike Carr, Eric Barone and Emery Parker, each of whom are seeded at the Big Ten tourney and aim to lock up bids to the national tournament in Cleveland in a few weeks.