Here are 10 Big Ten headlines to check out today

Getting to the Sweet 16 has become old hat for Michigan State. Mlive.com points out that in the past 17 years, only one program in the country has been to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 more than Michigan State. That program is Duke, which has gone 13 times to Michigan State’s 12.

Before heading out to the Sweet 16, MSU got a reminder in its win over Harvard that its most dangerous foe often is itself.

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Illinois’ season is over, ending with a second-round NIT loss at Clemson. No shame in that, as the Fighting Illini have to be pleased with how they ended the season after a midseason funk. What will this team look like next season?

Jon Ekey and Joseph Bertand are the only players who don’t return from a team that won six of its last nine games to end a 1-10 slide. Three transfers and two recruits will come aboard to compensate for those losses and bolster depth.

“We’re going to have some guys battling it out,’’ John Groce said. “That should allow us to play faster and be more aggressive defensively. Two years in a row, we’ve played our best in February and March. We still have long way to go, but I like the progress we’ve made in a very short period of time.’’

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Speaking of seasons ending, that’s just what happened to Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers fell to Baylor in their opening NCAA game. The program still is searching for its first NCAA win, now standing 0-7.

But Lee Barfknecht of Omaha.com says, let’s focus on the future. It looks bright. What can Tim Miles do to take this program to the next level? No doubt, Nebraska’s recruiting fortunes should rise, as Miles can show players that you can come to Lincoln and win. Miles sets the NCAA tournament as an annual goal — even in a season like 2013-14 in which seven of the 12 scholarship players were new to the Big Ten.

“I don’t know if you’re doing justice to your team or your program with any other outlook,” he said. “Now, this team, we had no idea what we had in November.

“Was Terran Petteway going to be a dependable guy? Was Walter Pitchford going to be a dependable guy? And we were so young. But I’ve had teams with big senior classes that let you down. So you play out the season, manage it the best you can and see where you land.”

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Ohio State also has packed up its gear, losing its opening NCAA game to Dayton. Now, what does the future hold for Thad Matta’s crew?

Here is how Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com sees next season’s starting lineup:

  • PG: Shannon Scott
  • SG: D’Angelo Russell
  • SF: Sam Thompson
  • PF: LaQuinton Ross OR Marc Loving
  • C: Amir Williams

But will Ross turn pro? Hmmm. And help is needed at center, as Matta may try to add a transfer.

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Minnesota continues to march on in the NIT, beating St. Mary’s to move to the third round. Watch Richard Pitino discuss it in this video.

And here are six reasons why Pitino thinks his players should want to keep playing.

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Sure, Northwestern never has made the Big Dance. But that doesn’t mean hope doesn’t spring eternal. One guy already is thinking and writing about next season. Why not? Chris Collins looks like a great hire.

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How much could Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio make in 2014? It could be as much as $4 million.

Should Dantonio fail to the extent Michigan State wants to fire him before Jan. 15, 2017, the school has awarded him a very generous buyout package of more than $10 million. Mike Griffith of Mlive.com says that for better or worse, the details of Dantonio’s new contract indicate he and the Spartans will be stuck with each other for a while.

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Penn State football is in full swing. And one of James Franklin’s goals: to break down walls on this tight team.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: I’m not so sure about “obliterate.” But I do think Michigan will win.

My take: Says a lot.

My take: This … isn’t … good.

My take: So there is that.

My take: Gonna be some good games.

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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