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Northern Illinois graduate student and Huskie Media Relations graduate assistant Michael Benson returns to ESPN UNITE: The Schwab Wednesday at 11 p.m. CT to take part in the semi-final round.

 
Benson will take on Mississippi's Ryan Smith, the Southeastern Conference's winner, and Penn State's Daniel Smith, the champion from the Big Ten. The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Bristol, Conn., for the finals at ESPN's headquarters.
 
"The semi-finals should be quite a challenge," Benson said. "It was nice to get out of the first round with a win, but now the questions and the competition will be better. I've been doing what I can to prepare, but it ultimately comes down to getting questions that fit your strengths."
 
The sport management major clinched a berth in the semi-finals April 10 by winning the Mid-American Conference title over students from Central Michigan and Western Michigan. Benson got four points out of the first round, which asked the contestants to name the top 15 NFL career leaders in rushing yards. After stumbling on the pop culture question, he all but clinched the win by scoring five points in the college sports round question that asked contestants to name the members of the Pac-12 Conference.
 
"I really struggled in the pop culture and social media rounds the first time out," Benson said. "If I have any chance of moving on to the finals, I'll have to do considerably better in both of those categories."
 
The winner from the third semi-final will take on Michael Smith of Utah and Taylor Smith of Maryland.

NIU'S MICHAEL BENSON SELECTED FOR ESPN UNITE: THE SCHWAB

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Northern Illinois graduate student and Huskie Media Relations graduate assistant Michael Benson will compete in ESPNU's newest sports trivia show Wednesday as a contestant on UNITE: The Schwab.
 
A regular segment of the nightly "UNITE" show on ESPNU, the UNITE: The Schwab contest is hosted by ESPN sports trivia guru Howie Schwab and UNITE host Reese Waters. Each week, college students from across the country are quizzed in four categories - pro sports, college sports, pop culture and social media - for a chance to advance in the tournament bracket.  Benson's appearance airs Wednesday, April 10 at 11 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
 
Benson will represent Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference round of the competition. The winner from Wednesday's round will advance to the semifinals against conference champions from around the nation, including the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12.
 
"It would be great to say that I am a MAC champion," Benson said. "Not too many people can claim that distinction, granted it is a sports trivia contest and not an actual sport. It's a lot of fun and I'm excited to represent my family and NIU."
 
A native of Morrison, Ill., Benson is a graduate student in NIU's sport management program and serves as the primary media contact for the Huskie cross country, wrestling and track & field teams.

POWER RANKINGS

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The Northern Illinois University football team climbed up one spot in Andrea Adelson's Non-AQ Power Rankings on ESPN.com. The Huskies, which were ranked seventh last week gained a spot after beating Central Michigan, 33-7, Saturday at Huskie Stadium. NIU ranks sixth in her latest rankings.