Today's links: What lies beyond Big Ten tourney?

The haze from Michigan’s loss to Indiana on Sunday seems to have lifted. In fact, Wolverines sophomore point man Trey Burke feels so good that he thinks Michigan can “definitely” go to the Final Four.

I like the confidence. But I’m not as confident as Burke. The Wolverines’ defense on the interior and toughness are issues that scare me. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if Michigan doesn’t advance beyond the Sweet 16.

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Everyone with Internet access seemingly posts a mock bracket. And they all have Minnesota in the NCAA tournament. But is an NCAA berth secure for the Gophers? Listen to what the outstanding Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has to say in this podcast.

Would Minnesota still go to the Big Dance if it loses in the first round of the Big Ten tourney to Illinois? I say “yes.” So, don’t worry, Goldy. Be happy. Forget about your underachieving ways in the regular season. Your slate has been wiped clean.

Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune digs into her mailbag to answer some interesting questions. Among them: Questions about Tubby Smith’s future.

But, Rayno reminds readers that Tubby recently got a contract extension. So, any move to dump him would be difficult—and expensive. But, perhaps Smith’s staff will be shaken up. Could his son, Saul, be in peril?

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While Michigan State came up short in its quest for the Big Ten title, that doesn’t mean Tom Izzo didn’t do one of his best coaching jobs.

The great Mike Griffith of MLive.com notes that a rash of injuries, a player transfer and the proverbial “Freshman Wall” this season have forced Izzo and the Spartans to keep changing up things. Keep an eye on these guys in Chicago. I think they may win the Big Ten tourney.

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It will take a miraculous run to the Big Ten tourney title for Nebraska to earn an NCAA bid. But the NIT and CBI remain options.

However, the NIT is a remote possibility for a Nebraska team that brings a 14-17 mark to Chicago. The CBI is more of a possibility. The 16-team event requires teams to pay for home games until the final best-of-three series. No Big Ten team has played in the event, which began after the 2007-08 season. Could the Huskers be first? Or, perhaps, Purdue? Forget about pride. I think each school should play in the CBI. Playing more games is what those teams need.

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This spring, Michigan and Brady Hoke have work to do on the defensive line, where two starters must be replacedThe quest to replace Craig Roh and Will Campbell will begin when spring drills open on Saturday. But, there are plenty of quality candidates.

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Bob Flounders of the Harrisburg Patriot-News continues his series on Penn State’s positional analysis this spring. This time, he takes a look at the Nittany Lions’ receivers and tight ends. The verdict: Penn State is well-stocked at each spot. Wideout Allen Robinson is the bellwether at receiver after a breakout 2012. The tight end cup runneth over with Kyle Carter and Jesse James, among others. Now, if someone can get these guys the ball, look out!

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: So what Nick is saying: It will be a big upset if Oladipo wins.

My take: This is perfect.

My take: This is a good sign for an Illinois team that I think could surprise in the Big Ten tourney.

My take: Clip and save this for Selection Sunday. It may keep you from hyperventilating.

My take: Yes, it’s true. So, don’t listen to any Gopher naysayers.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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