Big Ten links: Indiana's 2017 roster, spring football updates & more

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Indiana's 2017 roster, spring football updates & more

There was a lot to like about Indiana’s run to the outright Big Ten title this past season. But, the Hoosiers still failed to get past the Sweet 16, something the program hasn’t done since 2002 when it made a run to the national title game under Mike Davis. Peegs.com takes a look at what next year’s team could look like.

Here is how Indiana could line up if it has no early departures.
G – Josh Newkirk, Devonte Green, Harrison Niego
G – James Blackmon, Curtis Jones
G – Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman, Grant Gelon
F – Troy Williams, OG Anunoby, Juwan Morgan
C – Thomas Bryant, De’Ron Davis, Tim Priller

Not bad, huh?

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Like Indiana, Wisconsin has big hopes for next season. In fact, the Badgers could be the team to beat—especially if Nigel Hayes returns.

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When will Iowa get back to the Final Four? Good read from Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. At one point this year, it looked like the Hawkeyes would make it back to college basketball’s Promised Land for the first time since 1980. Alas, it didn’t happen.

Hlas notes that from 1981 to 2015, teams from 30 different states and the District of Columbia have participated in Final Fours. Wisconsin teams (the Badgers three times and Marquette once) have been to four. The Illinois Fighting Illini have been to two. Even Minnesota went to one. Iowa? Zippo. Hey, if it makes you feel any better, Hawkeye fans, Purdue’s Final Four drought is just as long.

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It’s spring … time for football, baseball and hoops transfers. Michigan State has been hit, as Javon Bess and Marvin Clark are bolting East Lansing.

Don’t weep for Sparty. Mlive.com notes that the moves now open up two scholarships for 2016. Michigan State is one of three finalists for the services of Josh Jackson, the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2016, who is expected to announce his decision in the coming weeks. See how this all works out?

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Congrats to former Purdue hoopster and assistant Kevin Stallings on landing the Pitt job. I think he was in need of a change after 17 seasons in Music City.

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New Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys says he likes the intensity of spring drills. I love this quote from him: “If they don’t bite when they’re a puppy, they won’t bite.”

Sounds like QB Mitch Leidner is ahead of schedule from December foot surgery. And he also has lost almost 20 pounds. Asked about spring standouts, Claeys said: “On offense, it’s mainly the wide receivers. Hunter Register has done a tremendous job, putting himself in position to play. Rashad (Still) is a lot better than what he was last fall.”

This team needs some difference makers at wideout.

On defense, the Minneapolis Star Tribune says Claeys and defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel have been in the lab, experimenting. They still plan to rely on their 4-3 base defense, Claeys said, but they’re trying some four-linebacker packages on third down.

“Here’s the challenge: We’re going to get as fast as we can — and not give up a big play with the running game,” Claeys said.

“It’s all about speed. So speed for coverage, speed for getting the quarterback, but we can’t get seamed on the running game.”

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Good column from Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star, on why Mike Riley’s strong offseason really does matter.

Coming off a 6-7 debut, Sipple points out that Riley’s rebound this offseason has been critical. It reduces negative noise. Maybe produces patience. Is he really in the midst of establishing a solid foundation and championship culture? Time will tell. But momentum is evident after last year’s nadir in the loss at Purdue that dropped the Huskers to 3-6. Riley needs a big rebound in 2016.

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Maryland could get a nice boost from Virginia Tech transfer RB Trey Edmunds, whose father Ferrell was a tight end for the Terrapins in the 1980s.

The Baltimore Sun notes that Edmund’s arrival provides an instant boost to a Maryland running game that ended last season strong but was poised to be a question mark. Leading rusher Brandon Ross exhausted his eligibility, and Wes Brown was suspended indefinitely in November. Sophomore Ty Johnson was the leading returning rusher with 250 yards.

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Looking for spring storylines for Michigan State? Mlive.com has ‘em.

For me, most big stories to watch are on offense, beginning with the quarterback spot and line.

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So, why did Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh lash out recently at Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith, who wasn’t a fan of the Wolverines’ spring trip to Florida? Let him explain.

The next outrageous Harbaugh news item it coming up in five … four … three … two … one.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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