Sports

Sports

Illini volleyball puts scare into Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. – Don Hardin's Illinois volleyball squad has dropped 11 matches this season, but there's one thing the team hasn't lost: its competitive spirit.

"We've played so many five-game matches," Hardin said after 10th-ranked Wisconsin defeated the Illini 30-22, 23-30, 30-24, 26-30, 15-10 on Friday night at the UW Field House. "That's a tribute to the players' fighting attitudes through a rough season."

Asmussen: Don't bet on extra BCS bid

No conference has enjoyed the BCS more than the Big Ten.

In the first seven years of the convoluted system, the Big Ten earned more at-large berths (four) than any other league. Not only did it mean a competitive advantage on the field, it also gave Big Ten budgets an unexpected boost. Those fancy field hockey uniforms at Iowa might not have happened without the BCS. Same with the new tennis nets at Illinois or the hockey sticks at Ohio State.

Ohio town full of loud, proud Illini fans

COLUMBUS, Ohio – You'll hear no complaints from the folks in Loudonville, Ohio, about the new football coach at Illinois. They couldn't be more thrilled.The fine people in the town of 2,900 have the signs to prove it.

Enter Loudonville from the north, south, east or west and you'll be reminded that it's the home of Ron Zook, football coach at Illinois. Complete with the school's insignia.

Upset leaves Illinois in holding pattern

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It's all over but the waiting now for Illinois soccer.

After a 2-1 loss to eighth-seeded Michigan in Friday's Big Ten tournament semifinal, the fourth-seeded Illini will have to sit tight until Monday to learn their NCAA tournament fate.

Storylines

This week's storylines in the Ohio State-Illinois football game:

Opening win – as usual

ANNARBOR, Mich. – Illinois has been a bane for first-round Big Ten soccer tournament opponents.

Jessica Bayne and a strong defense made sure to keep that tradition going strong as the Illini beat Minnesota 1-0 on Thursday afternoon to win their seventh straight Big Ten tourney opener.

Study hall

Three things News-Gazette staff writer Brett Dawson learned in Illinois' exhibition opener at the Assembly Hall:

Who's that Illini?

I was an NCAA wrestling champion in 1935 at 175 pounds, leading Illinois to third place in the national meet. That same year, I won the first of two straight Big Ten titles. The second was in the heavyweight class. A native of Chicago, I went on to become a star on the pro wrestling circuit. Taking the name Ruffy Silverstein, I was a major attraction in the Chicago area for over 20 years.

Freshman has a shot at playing time

CHAMPAIGN – Jamar Smith wanted to catch some Z's before he launched some threes, but his nerves got the best of him.

With time to kill between Illinois' afternoon shootaround and its exhibition opener, the freshman guard made a beeline for his dorm room, made a peanut butter sandwich and settled in for a nap.

10 questions for Chris Spielman

Sure, Ohio State's got great linebackers on the current team. But none of them is as good as the former Lombardi Award winner and longtime NFL standout. Today, he's a successful radio talk show host and ESPN game analyst. He talked with staff writer Bob Asmussen on his drive to Champaign.