April 27, 1999
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Big Ten regular season has ended, and the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-17, 0-10 Big Ten) know their first round opponent in the Big Ten Tournament – 69th-ranked Michigan State. The two teams will tangle Thursday at 1:30 at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
SCHEDULE OF MATCHES
Thursday, April 29 – First Round Iowa vs. Wisconsin………………..9 a.m. Northwestern vs. Penn State………..9 a.m. Michigan State vs. Ohio State………1:30 p.m.
Friday, April 30 – Quarterfinals Illinois vs. Wisconsin…………….9 a.m. Michigan vs. Northwestern………….9 a.m. Purdue vs. Michigan State………….1:30 p.m. Minnesota vs. Indiana……………..1:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 1 – Semifinals Semifinal No. 1…………………..noon Semifinal No. 2…………………..noon
Sunday, May 2 – Finals Championship Match………………..1 p.m. All times are Eastern Daylight Time
Scores of matches may be obtained by calling the Varsity Tennis Center at 734/998.8844. Results will also be updated throughout each day of the tournament on the official web site of the Ohio State Department of Athletics, www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE
The Spartans finished in sixth place in the Big Ten regular season standings with a 5-5 record (9-12 overall). They come into Thursday’s match with a No. 69 national ranking.
Mark Jacobsen has the best record on MSUs squad. The senior from Roswell, Ga., is 17-10 overall (6-4 Big Ten) playing out of the fifth and sixth singles positions. The Spartans’ No. 1 singles player, senior Trey Eubanks, went 5-5 in the Big Ten and clinched the victory over OSU in the regular season match between the two schools.
Despite having the 25th-ranked doubles team in the nation in Ken Kigongo and Francisco Trinidad, the Spartans have struggled in doubles this season, capturing only four of 10 possible doubles points. They are 3-3 in matches in which they lose the doubles point.
MSU vs. OSU – LAST TIME
Michigan State and Ohio State met up during the regular season on April 4, a match won by the Spartans 4-3. The result was one of four 4-3 losses suffered by the Buckeyes this season in the Big Ten.
MSU came out firing in the regular season contest, sweeping the doubles with 8-2 scores at all three spots for an early 1-0 lead. But the Buckeyes were able to rebound behind Kevin Hawke, who defeated Ivica Primorac 6-3, 6-2 to tie the score at 1-1.
It became apparent as the match rolled on that there was a good chance the outcome would be determined by the last remaining match on court. MSU broke through with wins at Nos. 5 and 6 to make the score 3-1. But Andrew Carlson picked up a win at No. 2 singles to cut the deficit to 3-2. But in the end, it was a case of a little too much experience from the Spartans at the No. 1 position. Senior Trey Eubanks outlasted Chris Porter 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, to clinch the match.
MSU vs. OSU – ALL-TIME
The Spartans lead the all-time series 27-34. MSU and OSU have met twice in the Big Ten Championships since 1976, with each team posting a win. Ohio State was victorious by a 5-2 score in 1988 while Michigan State prevailed in 1993, 4-2.
The Buckeyes have not beaten the Spartans since 1994.
Should the Buckeyes win their first round match with Michigan State, they will take on third-seeded Purdue in the quarterfinals. OSU lost 4-3 to the Boilermakers in the regular season.
Since the tournament it utilizing a single elimination format this year, should OSU fall to first round opponent Michigan State, its season will be over.
NO WINS, NO PROBLEM
A glance at Ohio State’s conference record might indicate they could be in some trouble this week. However, it is important to note that OSU lost by a 4-3 margin four times, including once to first round opponent Michigan State.
BREAK THAT STREAK
The Buckeyes will be looking to get into the win column in the Big Ten for the first time since April 5, 1997. It was on that day OSU defeated Wisconsin 4-3 in Madison. The last Buckeye victory in the Big Ten Tournament was April 28, 1996, a 4-2 win over Penn State.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Many firsts come out of Thursday’s first round match with Michigan State. The match will be OSUs first of the season at a neutral site, its first 1:30 p.m. start of the season and the first match to be played on a Thursday.
Chris Porter is ranked No. 88 in the latest ITA Spring IV Rankings, released April 20.
The sophomore from Canton, Ohio, has had his share of bad luck in recent matches. He had match points to beat No. 35 Mark Loughrin of Wisconsin but ended up being narrowly defeated 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (9). Porter has lost four of his last seven matches in three sets.
The Big Ten Championships could be an opportunity for Porter (20-20 overall) to get back into the winners circle. In Ohio State’s first round match, Porter should meet up with MSUs Trey Eubanks, to whom Porter lost 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the regular season.
Illinois enters the Big Ten Tennis Championships as the heavy favorite after completing its second consecutive perfect regular season. The Fighting Illini capped their 10-0 season last weekend when they defeated Michigan 6-1 and Michigan State 5-2. The match against the Wolverines was a battle for first place in the Big Ten with both teams entering with 8-0 marks.
Michigan is a strong favorite to meet Illinois in the finals. The Wolverines are currently 16-3 (9-1 Big Ten) and will have the Championships played at their facility.
Other teams who could create a stir include Purdue, Minnesota and Indiana. The Boilermakers won their last two matches to finish the regular season in a tie for third place with the Golden Gophers. The Hoosiers, who finished in fifth-place, come in on a roll after winning their final three matches by a combined score of 16-4.
DON’T HAND THE TROPHY TO ILLINOIS
Despite having won 29 consecutive matches against Big Ten opponents, Illinois is going to have to ward off the upset bug that has bitten so many top-ranked teams this season if it wants to win its third straight Big Ten Tournament crown. The most recent victims were fifth-ranked Georgia, who lost to No. 13 LSU in the finals of the SEC Championships, and eighth-ranked SMU, who fell in the finals of the WAC Championships to No. 37 Fresno State, 4-3. That leaves No. 7 Texas and No. 10 Stanford as the only two teams currently ranked in the Top 10 that have not lost to a team outside the Top 10.
Illinois, currently ranked second in the nation, had its loss to a team outside the Top 10 April 18 to No. 18 Kentucky, 4-3. They have not lost a match in the Big Ten Championships since 1996.