Welcome to “This Week in Illini Athletics,” a weekly review of the past week of Illini sports and a preview of the week to come.
MEN’S BASKETBALL (17-5 Overall, 10-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: The snow couldn’t stop the Illini, as No. 18 Illinois launched itself into first place in the Big Ten with a 80-67 win over No. 11 Wisconsin in front of a small but mighty crowd at State Farm Center on Wednesday. Then, the Illini went to Indiana and came away with their largest ever victory at Assembly Hall, defeating the Hoosiers, 74-57. The first half of the win over Wisconsin was a back-and-forth affair, but the Badgers never found an answer for Kofi Cockburn as the Illini pulled away in the second half. The National Player of the Year candidate played like one, scoring 37 points on a hyper-efficient 16-of-19 from the field, with 12 rebounds to boot. On Saturday, it was Trent Frazier taking the lead, with 14 of his team-high 23 points coming in a dominant second half for the Illini. Illinois trailed by two at halftime, but it completely outclassed Indiana in the second half, winning the period 40-21.
This Week: The two best teams in the Big Ten — and two of the best teams in the country — face off on Tuesday when Illinois travels to No. 4 Purdue for a big time battle at 8 p.m. The Illini finish the week at home against Northwestern at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (6-12 Overall, 1-6 Big Ten)
Last Week: Illinois’ game against Michigan was postponed due to travel complications from the snowstorm; the programs hope to reschedule for a later date. The Illini did finally return to action on Sunday though, losing at Wisconsin 70-62 after a two-week layoff. Sophomore Kendall Bostic posted her fourth double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
This Week: The Illini begin a three-game homestand with games against No. 5 Indiana on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Nebraska on Saturday afternoon at 2.
SOFTBALL (0-0 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)
This Week: The Illini open their season with five games this weekend at the LSU Tiger Classic: against Central Arkansas at 12:30 p.m. and No. 14 LSU at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, South Alabama at 10 a.m. and Central Arkansas at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, and No. 14 LSU at 10 on Sunday morning.
WRESTLING (3-5 Overall, 1-5 Big Ten)
Last Week: Illinois picked up its first Big Ten win on Sunday, taking down Indiana 36-3 at State Farm Center. Nine of 10 Illini won their bouts, with freshman Lucas Byrd (133) and sophomore Zac Braunagel (184) each pinning their opponents.
This Week: A big weekend awaits the Illini, as they travel to No. 9 Wisconsin on Friday for a 7 p.m. meet before finishing Big Ten season at No. 8 Nebraska on Sunday morning at 11.
WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING (5-4 Overall, 1-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: Three Illini divers competed at the UIC Diving Invitational on Saturday, finishing third out of seven teams at the meet. Senior Taylor Shegos scored 290.30 to place second in the 1-meter, and sophomore Brooke Michael earned third place in the 3-meter with a score of 304.30.
This Week: Illinois swimming, along with the divers, will be back in the pool for the Big Ten Championships from February 16-19.
MEN’S GYMNASTICS (2-0 Overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
Last Week: The fifth-ranked Illini toppled #6 Ohio State in dominating fashion on Saturday, defeating the Buckeyes 400.750-394.500 and taking five of the six event titles in their home opener. Juniors Ashton Anaya (rings) and Dylan Kolak (vault) won their respective events along with seniors Hamish Carter (high bar), David Pochinka (parallel bars), and Ian Skirkey (pommel horse).
This Week: On Saturday, Illinois hosts #2 Oklahoma at 4 p.m. for a massive top-five matchup in Huff Hall.
WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS (2-2 Overall, 1-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: The Illini began a busy week on Monday with a nail-biter at Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers eked out a 195.500-195.450 win. Then in a quad meet at Kentucky on Friday, the Illini placed third out of four. However, their 49.400 score on uneven bars tied the fifth-best score in program history. On Sunday, Illinois returned to Champaign for its home opener, but #6 Minnesota was too much to handle as it defeated the Illini 197.125-195.725.
This Week: Big Ten season continues for the Illini as they travel to #15 Michigan State for a 3 p.m. meet on Sunday.
MEN’S TENNIS (1-3 Overall, 0-1 Big Ten)
Last Week: All three of Illinois’ matches were postponed this weekend due to weather-related travel complications.
This Week: In a pair of road matches, the Illini play #17 Michigan on Friday at 5 p.m. and Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon at 4.
WOMEN’S TENNIS (5-3 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)
Last Week: The Illini swept in-state rival Illinois State 7-0 on Sunday at Atkins Tennis Center. ISU took the first doubles set 6-3, but the doubles teams of Kate Duong/Megan Heuser and Emily Casati/Kida Ferrari each won their sets to give Illinois the doubles point. All six Illini won their singles matches as Illinois shut out ISU.
This Week: It’s Braggin’ Rights week for the Illini women as they host Missouri on Sunday at noon.
This Week: Illinois kicks off its spring season at the Columbia Classic in Melbourne, Florida on February 13 and 14.
MEN’S and WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD
Last Week: Illinois came away with two event titles from Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational on Friday and Saturday, both from Illini women. Junior Olivia Howell broke her own school record with a time of 4:37.11 to win the mile, and senior Allison McGrath won the 3000 meters (9.37.89) as well.
This Week: The Illini split up this weekend, with two different meets on Friday and Saturday: Washington’s Husky Classic, and the Indoor Music City Challenge at Vanderbilt.