NCAA Mens Tennis

No. 18 Men’s Tennis Hits the Road for Ranked Conference Matches in Illinois

No. 18 Men's Tennis Hits the Road for Ranked Conference Matches in Illinois

EAST LANSING, Mich. – 18th-ranked Men’s Tennis will hit the road for the first time in Big Ten play, taking on No. 19 Illinois on Saturday before traveling upstate to face-off with No. 60 Northwestern on Sunday, with first serves set for 1 p.m. ET.
The Spartans are 16-3 on the season, 3-0 on the road and coming off a pair of home wins last weekend to kick off the B1G season. MSU is 5-3 against ranked opponents and 1-1 in top-25 matchups.
Scouting No. 19 Illinois
Prior to the battle between the two sides in the Urbana-Champaign, Ill. Saturday afternoon, the Fighting Illini are 10-6, 1-1 in conference play and 4-5 against top-25 opponents. Illinois fell to national No. 1 Ohio State 4-1 last time out on Sunday, March 24.
Aside from Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State are the only top-40 nationally ranked teams in the Big Ten and this could prove to be a crucial match in the conference standings down the road.
The Illinois lineup features several familiar names that the Spartans faced during the historic fall season. Four Illini are ranked in singles: No. 31 Karlis Ozolins, No. 47 Hunter Heck, No. 83 Kenta Miyoshi and No. 116 Oliver Okonkwo. In doubles, the pairing of Heck and Ozolins are ranked 4th nationally, while Okonkwo and Lucas Horve are ranked No. 46.
Illinois head coach Brad Dancer was an all-Big Ten player at Michigan State from 1985-1993 and began his coaching career as a Spartan assistant from 1993-1998. Prior to COVID, Dancer led Illinois to a winning record and NCAA Tournament appearances in his first 14 seasons.  
Series History vs. Illinois
Illinois holds a 60-29 series lead, 35-14 in its home comforts in Urbana-Champaign, while also having won the last 30 matchups. MSU last topped the Fighting Illini on March 23, 1997, on the road.
Scouting No. 60 Northwestern
Northwestern is 6-12 on the season ahead of the matchup in Evanston, Ill. Sunday and will play No. 40 Michigan Friday afternoon. The Wildcats split their first two Big Ten matches but had lost six straight prior and hold a 1-7 record against ranked opponents this season. No Wildcats are ranked in the ITA singles or doubles player rankings.
Series History vs. Northwestern
MSU is 25-58 against Northwestern all-time with the Wildcats owning a 37-10 overall edge in matches on their home courts north of Chicago. Northwestern…

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