Big Ten links: Iowa back on track, spring football talk & more

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Iowa back on track, spring football talk & more

That gutty overtime win by Iowa at Penn State on Saturday likely sealed an NCAA bid for the Hawkeyes.

So, after that two-game skid that saw Iowa lose at home to Minnesota and at Northwestern, the Hawkeyes have won four in a row, something an Iowa team hasn’t strung together since the 2005-06 season.

Iowa improved to 10-6 in the Big Ten and 19-10 overall. It’s the program’s first winning Big Ten season since 2006-07. The Hawkeyes were 9-9 in each of the past two seasons. Iowa picked up its sixth win in the month of February, something that hasn’t happened since 1991. More importantly, it assured it a winning record in Big Ten play on the road for the first time since the 1986-87 season. The Hawkeyes are 5-3 with a game remaining Tuesday at Indiana.

“When it’s all said and done, if you want to be a good team in this league, you’ve got to be able to maintain your composure on the road to win a game like this,” coach Fran McCaffery said.

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Gonzaga’s loss to BYU—which ended the Zags’ national-best 41-game home winning streak–may have opened the door for Wisconsin to seize a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.

The Badgers’ competition for the No. 1 seed is Arizona and Villanova. Of course, to earn a No. 1 seed, Wisconsin will have to win out. And, that’s very possible.

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Purdue had a chance to solidify its NCAA positioning but let one get away at Ohio State on Sunday night, blowing a 13-point halftime lead. If Boilermakers can forge a split in their last two games, they should make the Big Dance. Still, unless Purdue improves what Gregg Doyel of IndyStar.com calls an “awful” offense, how deep of a run can the Boilers make?

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For Ohio State, it was a nice win, a win the Buckeyes needed. It kept coach Thad Matta unbeaten at home in March (13-0) during his tenure in Columbus. OSU can’t shoot well. But, if it continues to attack like it did in the second half vs. Purdue, it could have some postseason success.

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Turns out Michigan’s Spike Albrecht has a lingering hip injury that he says will need surgery after the season “most likely.”

“Yeah, that’ll be a problem for a while, but it’s no big deal, I’m feeling a lot better,” Albrecht said Saturday, following the Wolverines’ 66-56 loss at Maryland. He added, “This is probably the best I’ve been feeling all season. That’s the good news.”

Brendan F. Quinn of Mlive.com points out that Albrecht’s hip problems are similar to that of teammate Max Bielfeldt, who underwent surgery last spring. The procedure amounted to shaving down an area of hip bone and, according to Bielfeldt, paid major dividends. He’s been pain-free this season.

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Here is a nice spring football preview on Nebraska from Omaha.com. There is a good look at five position battles to watch: DE; CB; LB; RB; G. Oh, practice starts March 7. But, you probably already knew that.

The great Tom Shatel of Omaha.com takes a look at the Huskers’ new boss: Mike Riley. It seems Shatel thinks Riley is a perfect fit for this new gig. And, he’s correct.

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When you look at Ohio State’s football team and what it has to improve on this spring, the list doesn’t look very long. There are some areas on offense to watch, especially at receiver.

But the defense looks to be very good. Bill Landis of Cleveland.com has five ways this standout unit can get better. And one involved Joey Bosa.

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The always informative Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com looks at which Penn State players will replace the school’s five players who were invited to the Combine: safety/corner Adrian Amos, linebacker Mike Hull, tight end Jesse James, offensive tackle Donovan Smith and kicker Sam Ficken.

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Lots of interesting stuff in this piece from Gold & Black Illustrated on changes being made to the football ticket price policy at Purdue.

Prices are largely being scaled back to 2004 levels. Hey, the brass has to do something for a program that has won four games in two seasons (one Big Ten win), right? I mean, last season, the average announced attendance was 35,269, the lowest since 1951 when the program averaged 29,200 in five home games. The home finale in 2014 had only an announced 30,117 fans – the actual amount of bodies in the seats was far fewer – and that was the lowest single-game announced total since at least 1980.

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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