The Spartans are a sure thing in an unpredictable tourney, says Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press. No doubt, Michigan State is playing well, winning three games to claim the program’s first Big Ten tourney title since 2000. That’s also the last time MSU won the national championship. Coincidence? But to get to New Orleans for the Final Four, the Spartans must navigate a West region that includes No. 2 Missouri, No. 3 Marquette and No. 4 Louisville. And they must do it without Branden Dawson. It means players like Brandon Wood, Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix must continue to play well. And the Spartans must avoid the extended scoreless stretches that sometimes plague them.
The Buckeyes challenge is to move on, says Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch. Ohio State was a colossal disappointment last year, entering the Big Dance as the No. 1 overall seed before losing in the Sweet 16 to Kentucky. This year is all about redemption for a talented Buckeye squad that played well in the Big Ten tourney in losing the title game clash with Michigan State. I like Ohio State’s draw as a No. 2 seed in the East with Syracuse as the No. 1. The key for the Buckeyes: Keeping Jared Sullinger out of foul trouble, and players like Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., hitting shots with defenses focused on Sullinger.
The Wolverines look to stick around a while in the NCAA, opines Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News. I’m not so sure Michigan is in for an extended run. The team didn’t look very good in the Big Ten tourney, needing overtime to beat Minnesota before losing by 20 to Ohio State. I even think Michigan may get toppled by Ohio in the first round. Having Trey Burke’s quickness and ability to penetrate will help, but it will be more vital for players like Stu Douglass and Zack Novak to hit open shots from long range if Michigan wants to enjoy an extended run.
The Badgers’ bracket is dangerous, but Kentucky’s nowhere near, says Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal. Yes, avoiding the No. 1 overall seed Wildcats will help the Badgers’ cause. But they need to be wary of a very good Montana team. The Grizzlies have won 14 in a row and can shoot very well. They also have a 7-footer. As usual, it will be very import for Wisconsin shooters like Ben Brust, John Gasser and Jordan Taylor—among others–to be on target. But even more vital: The Badgers need to dial up their typically tough defense, especially on the perimeter in what looks to be a good first-round matchup with many experts having Wisconsin on upset alert.
NCAA committee did Purdue a favor, says Jeff Washburn of the Lafayette Journal-Courier. On the surface, I agree with Jeff on this, as being a No. 10 seed is much better than being a No. 8 or No. 9 seed—thus avoiding a likely clashing with a No. 1 seed in the next round. But the Boilermakers still have some heavy lifting in the first round vs. St. Mary’s, which basically is the new Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference. And should Purdue survive the Gaels, it likely will have to deal with No. 2 Kansas in the next round. And the Jayhawks very well could have been a No. 1 seed. So, in this instance, being a No. 10 isn’t really better than being an 8 or 9 seed.
OTHER LINKS OF NOTE
The Big Ten gets a chance for redemption on the big stage, says Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
NIT snub is the final insult for Illinois, says Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune.
No NIT, but Illinois still has plenty to do, says Paul Klee of the Champaign News-Gazette.
Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette writes a letter to the next coach.
Illinois bids goodbye to a disappointing season, writes Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Hoosiers are back where they belong, says Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star.
The Hoosiers take a big step, writes Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star.
Matt Gatens is ready to play in his first postseason tourney, says Pat Harty of the Iowa City Press-Citizen. In football, Brian Ferentz is eager to prove himself as a college coach, writes Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Here are the salaries for new Iowa coaches, compliments of Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The new coaches are a bit more social media savvy, once again from Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
The Wolverines are trying to patch up the offensive line, writes Kyle Meinke of AnnArbor.com. Michigan will take its next baby step by making the Sweet 16, says Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press.
The Spartans earn more than a top seed, says John Niyo of the Detroit News.
The Gophers earn an NIT date with LaSalle, writes Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.
Bo Pelini allows the media an invaluable opportunity to observe, says Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star. And Sipple adds that Lacking star power, the defense is looking for resurgence. New coaches are transitioning well, says Jon Nyatawa of the Omaha World-Herald. And Tom Osborne needs to search far and wide for the next hoop coach, says Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald. Nebraska plans “to open up the checkbook,” says Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star.
The journey begins for the Buckeyes, says Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch. Ohio State’s NCAA aspirations are led by its crafty thief, says Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Recruits Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg are eager to build on a top class, says Dustin Hockensmith of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Spring football is off to a promising start, writes Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal-Courier.
Bo Ryan needed convincing that these Badgers were the real deal, says Jim Polzin Wisconsin State Journal.
The Badgers look to keep success rolling vs. Montana, says Jeff Potrykus 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.
The Buckeyes challenge is to move on