Read Up On Our Last-Minute Tourney Links

Check out these Thursday morning headlines from around Big Ten country before the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off.

Big Ten parity will be on display in the league tourney, writes Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal. The fact Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State all tied for the conference title speaks to that balance in a conference that the RPI says is No. 1 league in the nation. Just look at the league! How many of these teams could win the event in Indy? I think six could: MSU, OSU, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue. I’m not sure how many other conferences could say that. This is a deep league with a talent level that’s as high as it has been in recent years. And the coaching is among the best in the country, too. But I wonder: Will the conference tourney champ be able to net a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney? Many factors will end up telling that tale, but Michigan State and Ohio State may have chances to do so.

The Hoosiers take momentum into the tourney, writes LaMond Pope of the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette. No doubt. Indiana has won seven of its last eight games and is playing as well—if not better—than any team in the Big Ten as the league tourney opens. The Hoosiers are a deep team that has an array of good shooters. And Cody Zeller has been one of the nation’s top freshmen, making a huge impact on both ends of the court in what has been a breakout season for the Hoosiers under Tom Crean. Can Indiana win its first Big Ten tourney? I think it could happen. IU takes its first step today vs. overmatched Penn State; next would be a date with Wisconsin. This is gonna be fun.

Minnesota? Northwestern? John Beilein doesn’t care who he plays on Friday when Michigan opens the Big Ten tourney, writes Nick Baumgardner of AnnArbor.com. He shouldn’t care. His Wolverines are a good matchup for either foe. In fact, Michigan may have a shot to advance to the league title game for the first time since winning the inaugural even in 1998. The key for the Wolverines will be their ability to shoot well. Gunners like Zack Novak, Stu Douglass and Tim Hardaway, Jr., must be on target in Indianapolis. And they could get open looks if Trey Burke is able to penetrate into the paint to draw defenders from the perimeter. Also, big man Josh Morgan could be an X-factor. Watch him. Bottom line: This could be the first of many deep Big Ten tourney runs for Michigan under Beilein.

The spotlight falls on the Wildcats as they seek to build a case for the NCAA, writes Tina Akouris of the Chicago Sun-Times. In fact, there may not be a juicer storyline in Indianapolis, as the nation watches to see how Northwestern performs in its quest for that elusive NCAA bid. Without a doubt, the Wildcats have work to do, beginning with a must-win over Minnesota today in the opening round of the Big Ten tourney. Then, a game with Michigan waits. Would NU need to beat the Wolverines to assure itself of an NCAA bid? Maybe. Regardless, it will be great theatre the next couple of days.

Gotta sprinkle in a bit of gridiron with your hoops, right? Check this out: Jon Budmayr’s injury setback has turned the focus toward Wisconsin landing Maryland transfer quarterback Danny O’Brien, writes Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal. The sense of urgency to find a replacement for Russell Wilson—who was a transfer from N.C. State–has gone up a few notches. And recent news that touted incoming freshman signal-caller Bart Houston will undergo shoulder surgery that figures to limit him in fall drills only exasperates the situation for the two-time defending Big Ten champs. Hey, at least Montee Ball is back, right?

OTHER LINKS OF NOTE:
Illinois
Illini look to be the surprise of the tourney, says Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune. Paul Klee of the Champaign News-Gazette says Indiana is winning it.

Indiana
The Hoosiers’ success has had an economic impact, says Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star. Hutchens also writes
about role reversal in the first round with Penn State.

Iowa
Matt Gatens is described as the epitome of character and class, says Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register. Iowa document says A.D. Gary Barta hired and will supervise Brian Ferentz, writes Tom Witosky of the Des Moines Register. Brian Ferentz and Levar Woods are happy to be part of the Hawkeye family, writes Ryan Suchomel of the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The new staff is attempting to form Iowa’s new identity says Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Michigan
Tim Hardaway, Jr. reaches a better state of mind, writes Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News. Stu Douglass says the underclassmen will keep the Wolverines rolling, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit News.

Michigan State
The Spartans look to replace one Branden Dawson with two others,says Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press. NCAA chair says Branden Dawson’s injury will be considered in the Spartans’ tournament seed, writes Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. According to an expert, the Spartans may be a No. 1 seed, says Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News

Minnesota
The Gophers have made a find among their losses in freshman guard Andre Hollins, writes Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune updates the search for an A.D. Gophers need two wins just to have a shot at an NIT bid, says Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Nebraska
Lavonte David’s heir may not look much like him, writes Rich Kaipust of the Omaha World-Herald. JC reliance and roster turnover are the reasons for Doc Sadler’s demise, says Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal Star. The 2011 season has Will Compton wanting more, writes Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star. Fortunes of Doc Sadler and Nebraska never changes, says Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald.Season struggles weigh on the Huskers, says Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald.

Northwestern
Bill Carmody is a survivor, writes Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune.

Ohio State
Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer takes us inside the Big Ten tourney.

Penn State
Alums and fans push to name the field for Joe Paterno, says Elizabeth Gibson of the Harrisburg Patriot News.

Purdue
The Big Ten tourney for the Purdue seniors is high and lows, says Jeff Washburn of the Lafayette Journal Courier. The Boilers are aware that upsets can happen, says LaMond Pope of the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette. Safety switching to receiver, says Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal Courier.

Wisconsin
The Badgers are looking to end a run of early tournament exits, says Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal. ESPN’s Dan Dakich disagrees with the coach who dissed the Badgers’ style, says Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com and will post his Daily Links on weekdays. You can subscribe to the Daily Links RSS here, find Dienhart’s work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow him on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his overall RSS feed.

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