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Solochek: Early games good for Big Ten

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first_imgYou know Bo wasn’t happy with it. Even coming out of Blacksburg with a win, the Wisconsin head coach does not agree with the way the ACC-Big Ten Challenge is set up.The Badgers have had to play three out of the last four games against the ACC on the road. The last time they played at the Kohl Center was in 2006 in a victory over Florida State. Since then, they have traveled to Durham, N.C., to play Duke and spent this year at Virginia Tech.Although Wisconsin has split its last four games in the Challenge, Ryan thinks it is unfair for both the players and his team that has had to travel so much.“You know I wasn’t very happy, and I will tell you why,” Ryan said at Big Ten basketball media day in October. “You look at [Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft]. Those two guys will play three away games in four years. Our fans have had one [ACC-Big Ten] Challenge game in four years at home. Forget how I feel. I think players and fans ought to be asked what they feel about back-to-back trips for the team.”While this year’s sophomore class is yet to see a challenge game in person (unless they made the trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to see the Crazies live), the atmosphere at the games can be overwhelming, especially when Duke or North Carolina come to town.Bo may not agree with the scheduling, but the Challenge games offer Big Ten teams a unique opportunity to show they can compete with one of the most historically successful conferences. For years, people have disregarded Big Ten teams as slow and mostly reliant on defense. They see final scores of 50-30 and find the games boring, disregarding them as threats to go deep into the post season.While Big Ten conference games may seem boring to others, the Challenge remains exciting. The Challenge matches offer a variety of styles of play and, most importantly, they give each team a chance to gauge how they would fair against other conferences early in the season to help for preparation for the NCAA tournament.But Bo doesn’t think the challenge does anything special for his team.“People say, ‘You were Big Ten champs.’ That doesn’t mean anything,” Ryan said. “Who’s doing us any favors? No one is looking after us but ourselves.”The Badgers may not see anything in the Challenge, but it provides some great national exposure to many Big Ten teams. The traditionally disregarded Big Ten is given a chance to shine against the heavily hyped ACC teams. More importantly, it allows coaches and fans to judge the progress of their team against another conference they otherwise might not see again until the NCAA or NIT tournament.The national exposure teams receive during the tournament not only gives coaches the opportunity to rate their team’s performance against other conferences, but it also allows those who vote in the AP or ESPN/USA Today poll to see how the Big Ten and ACC teams stack up against each other.For example, Purdue went into Monday night’s game against Duke ranked in the top 10 in both national polls. However, the Blue Devils walked into West Lafayette and crushed the Boilermakers, affirming they are deserving of the top-five status they were given following the release of yesterday’s polls.The best game of the series was billed for last night. The powder blue of North Carolina made the trip to Detroit to face Michigan State in a potential showdown of another game being played at Ford Field — The Final Four.As for the Badgers, playing on the national stage can only help them come tournament time. Getting the big win against Virginia Tech and playing Texas tough at home later this month could improve the Badger’s RPI enough to move them up a couple of seeds in the brackets.As for playing on the road, nothing can prepare a young player for such hostile environments such as the Izzone at the Breslin Center or the Orange Crush at Assembly Hall better than ACC crowds. Being able to communicate with your team in loud stadiums is essential for success on the road.So while Bo may not see the direct positives of the Challenge, sticking with the annual game is a challenge the Badger should keep on taking up.Ben is a senior majoring in journalism and history. If you would like to discuss the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, e-mail him at bsolochek@ badgerherald.com.last_img read more

Chrystal Ezechukwu Named Women’s Basketball Player of the Week

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first_imgFRISCO, Texas – Nicholls’ Chrystal Ezechukwu is the Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league announced Monday.Ezechukwu led the Colonels (6-14, 3-8) to a 79-63 win over McNeese with 35 points last Wednesday night, her second consecutive career-high scoring performance. The senior was three rebounds shy of a double-double against the Cowgirls but also recorded three assists, one block and one steal in the win. In addition to an 87.5-percent clip from the free throw line, Ezechukwu also registered a 63.6-percent outing from the field against the Cowgirls.Basketball Player of the Week – Chrystal Ezechukwu, Nicholls – Sr. – Forward – Decatur, Ga.Ezechukwu set a career-high scoring mark for the second-consecutive game, pouring in 35 points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in a 79-63 victory at home over rival McNeese. Following her 25-point game last weekend, Ezechukwu had another dominating performance Wednesday night, going 14-of-22 from the field and 7-for-8 at the free-throw line. Her 35 points are the most by any Southland player in a single game this season and are just four shy of the Colonels’ program record.Honorable Mention: Damilola Balogun, McNeese; Caitlyn Williams, Southeastern Louisiana; Alexes Bryant, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.Southland weekly award winners are nominated and voted upon by each school’s sports information director. Voting for one’s own athlete is not permitted. To earn honorable mention, a student-athlete must appear on 25 percent of ballots.last_img read more