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Football: Godwin Igwebuike to return for senior season

by Tim Balk 0 Comments
Football: Godwin Igwebuike to return for senior season
(Daily file photo by Zack Laurence)

Godwin Igwebuike will return to lead the Northwestern defensive backfield again in 2017, the junior safety revealed over social media Sunday, dispelling any notion that the squad’s leading tackler might follow fellow junior Anthony Walker to the 2017 NFL Draft.

Igwebuike announced his decision with an Instagram post and a Tweet. He joins junior running back Justin Jackson, who has also said he will return for his final year of eligibility in spite of NFL prospects.

Igwebuike had two interceptions and 108 tackles this fall, leading the back end of an NU defense that allowed just 13 touchdown passes. His return will bolster a team that expects to return most of its starters.

Football: Wildcats to play two primetime Friday night games in 2017

by Tim Balk 0 Comments
Football: Wildcats to play two primetime Friday night games in 2017
(Leeks Lim/The Daily Northwestern)

Starting next year, the Big Ten is rolling out an annual Friday night slate of conference games to be broadcast on ESPN and Fox as part of the conference’s television agreement.

The Wildcats will appear twice on Friday next fall, the conference revealed today. They will take on Maryland on Oct. 13 in College Park and will host Michigan State on Oct. 27 in another Friday night tilt.

NU is the only Big Ten school that will appear twice on Friday night. Nebraska and Illinois will play Sept. 29 in the other conference game on the 2017 Friday slate. Rutgers, Wisconsin and Purdue will each play a non-conference opponent on a Friday night.

On its website, the Big Ten described the Friday night contests as being part of a “broad initiative to provide more primetime exposure on national platforms” to Big Ten programs.

Men’s basketball Big Ten game dates released

The final piece of the puzzle for Northwestern’s men’s basketball schedule is finally in place, as the Big Ten announced its conference schedule Thursday.

The Wildcats will open Big Ten play at Penn State, kicking off a stretch of four road games in five to start the conference season featuring perennial contenders Michigan State and some of the conference’s lesser lights in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Rutgers.

Other schedule highlights include a few consecutive-game stretches against quality opponents, such as back-to-back games against Indiana and Purdue and against Wisconsin and Maryland. A three-game stretch featuring the Hoosiers, Michigan and the Boilermakers closes out NU’s conference slate with a few chances to pick up good wins heading into the postseason.

Women’s basketball conference opponents announced

Women’s basketball conference opponents announced
(Daily file photo by Katie Pach)

The Big Ten released conference opponents for Northwestern today, and here’s how the program’s slate will look:

During the 2015-16 season, the Wildcats went 4-14 in the Big Ten but advanced all the way to semifinals of the conference tournament in March, winning games against Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana before falling to top-seeded Maryland. Then-junior forward Nia Coffey scored 100 total points over the course of the four games, setting a tournament record.

NU’s season ended in the first round of the WNIT in a loss to San Diego.

In 2016-17, the Cats will play only 16 conference games as opposed to 18 a season ago. The reduced number of Big Ten games may prove beneficial, as NU will only face off against powerhouses Maryland, Michigan State and Ohio State once each.

However, the team will also face potential bottom-feeders just once with only three games scheduled against Penn State, Wisconsin and Illinois. Two games against a Minnesota team sans No. 4 WNBA Draft pick Rachel Banham, who tied an NCAA record against the Cats with 60 points, would have been a good break for the team as well.

The teams NU will play twice — Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers — are all middle-of-the-pack programs.

Monday’s schedule announcement adds on to the previously announced Big Ten/ACC Challenge opponent from a few weeks ago. NU will face Virginia on Dec. 1.

Big Ten announces Northwestern men’s basketball conference opponents

The final pieces of Northwestern men’s basketball’s 2016-2017 schedule are coming together, as on Monday the Big Ten announced the team’s conference home and road conference opponents.

The Wildcats will play both home and away games against Indiana, last season’s Big Ten regular-season champion who blew NU out in their lone matchup in Bloomington last year, as well as against in-state rival Illinois, Purdue, Nebraska and Rutgers.

After preparing a nonconference slate for next season that was panned for its difficulty, the Cats will need to look for quality wins in conference play if they want to stake a claim to a postseason berth. While projecting exactly how the Big Ten will look when the conference season rolls around is impossible, those games against the Hoosiers and Boilermakers, as well as a home date with Maryland and games at Michigan State and Wisconsin, look to be NU’s best chances to boost its resume.

As with pretty much any major-conference schedule, the Cats’ slate gives them ample opportunities to prove themselves against high-caliber opponents and face some difficult tests at home and on the road. Once the Big Ten releases the dates and times of each conference game, a better idea of the key games to circle on NU’s schedule will emerge.

Three Wildcats make All-Big Ten Men’s Tennis First Team

Three Wildcats make All-Big Ten Men’s Tennis First Team
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

After a historic regular season that saw the team break the school record for wins in the regular season, it’s no surprise that the Northwestern men’s tennis team would be in line for some conference-level recognition.

And on the heels of that marvelous season, juniors Konrad Zieba, Sam Shropshire, and Strong Kirchheimer were all named to the All-Big Ten first team, the Big Ten announced today.

The junior trio were rock-solid all season in the first three singles spots for the Wildcats. Zieba manned the No. 1 position for much of the season, compiling a 14-5 record in singles in dual matches this season en route to being a unanimous first team selection. Shropshire went 7-0 in singles during the conference season to earn his third consecutive first team berth. Meanwhile, Kirchheimer had the best singles record on the team this season, notching a 20-1 mark in dual matches.

In an already memorable season for the team, NU has now earned three spots on the conference’s 12-man first team for the first time since 1989. The Cats begin their quest for a Big Ten Tournament title on Friday.

Dylan Wu named to All-Big Ten second team

After taking sixth overall as an individual at the Big Ten Men’s Golf Championships over the weekend, sophomore Dylan Wu was named to the All-Big Ten second team today.

Wu has been Northwestern’s best player this season, leading the team in stroke average and notching a pair of third-place finishes at the Windon Memorial and most recently at The Boilermaker to close the regular season. He ended his Sunday round in the Big Tens with two birdies in his last three holes to shoot 69, helping NU to a sixth-place team finish in the tournament.

Wu’s consistently solid play all season and strong finish to the year clearly impressed the Big Ten coaches, who select six players apiece for the conference’s first and second teams. Now, Wu and his teammates will wait to see if their performance this year impressed the NCAA Tournament selection committee enough to earn a bid and continue their season.

Women’s golf sweeps Big Ten individual awards

After winning a second-consecutive Big Ten Championship, Northwestern’s women’s golf team has swept the conference’s individual honors.

Sophomore Hannah Kim was named the conference’s Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, becoming the first player to win the award twice in school history, while coach Emily Fletcher was named Coach of the Year and freshman Stephanie Lau was awarded Freshman of the Year.

On top of those awards, four Wildcats were named to the eight-player All Big Ten first team, with Kim and Lau joined by sophomore Sarah Cho and junior Kacie Komoto.

It’s been an excellent few days for the program, as Lau sank a clutch putt to secure a conference title for the team on Sunday and the conference awarded all three individual honors to members of the team for the second consecutive year today. The team will now look ahead to the NCAA Regionals, beginning on May 5.