Big Ten links: NCAA tourney TV rights, spring football & more

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: NCAA tourney TV rights, spring football & more

What a mega deal the NCAA has inked with TBS and CBS for its basketball tourney, extending it for another eight years. The extension to the current deal — for a combined total rights fee of $8.8 billion — will keep the big game at Turner and CBS until 2032.

Where does all that loot go?

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If you missed Jim Harbaugh’s rant about the banning of satellite camps, then you missed something. Per usual, he holds nothing back. And, he has many good points.

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A bummer to see Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis leave for the NBA after just one season in East Lansing. Yes, the guy drips with potential, but he probably could have used one more season in the college ranks.

“It was a tough decision, but after talking to my family and coaches, I felt it was the right decision and one I’m fully committed to,” Davis said in a statement released by the school.
Davis went on to thank teammates and coaches for what he described as a “great year” at Michigan State.

Davis now becomes just the second player to leave Michigan State for the NBA after just one year. Zach Randolph is the only player in program history to do so. In all, only six Michigan State players have left for the NBA with eligibility remaining.

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MSU also learned this week that the nation’s top recruit, Josh Jackson, picked Kansas over the Spartans. But despite that spurning, Tom Izzo still will welcome his most talented recruiting class ever.

Izzo will welcome McDonald’s All-Americans Miles Bridges and Joshua Langford, Michigan’s Mr. Basketball Cassius Winston and another top-50 recruit in Ohio big man Nick Ward.

So, don’t weep for Sparty, OK?

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Yes, Wilton Speight made some nice strides in the spring and looks to be the leader in the race to be Michigan’s QB. But is Speight really a starting-caliber Big Ten signal-caller?

One of Speight’s top traits is his ability to avoid mistakes. And as Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com points out, Speight doesn’t have the best arm on the team, he’s not the most athletic quarterback, either. He’s somewhat of a low-risk, low-reward player when he’s truly dialed in. Conversely, John O’Korn has a higher ceiling physically. He can make more plays with his feet and he’s just generally more explosive. What’s the point of all this? Don’t be shocked if O’Korn ends up winning the job.

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Penn State’s James Franklin says he has no big issue with the satellite camp ban. This coming from a guy who embraced them. But he does have an issue with the rule that will allow unlimited texting by schools to prospects. Interesting.

“The difference between direct messages and text messages is, text messages, the kids have no control over that,” Franklin told Sirius XM recently. “You can have kids getting 1,000 messages a day. That was a big point for the rule change.

“Before, they didn’t have the [unlimited text messaging] plans that they have now. They changed the rule, and it helped. Now, it doesn’t affect them financially, but when you go with direct message, the kids have to choose to follow you back. I don’t know why it passed, and I think it shocked some people.”

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How big is it for Wisconsin to have center Dan Voltz back from injury? Big. He probably is the best center in the Big Ten.

“I feel like I haven’t played in years,” Voltz, who will be a redshirt senior next season, said after a recent practice.

Voltz last played on Oct. 24 at Illinois, UW’s eighth game of the 2015 season. His season ended when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the third quarter.

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Speaking of Wisconsin, hoops coach Greg Gard has finalized his staff for next season. This guy has a bright future.

Gard promoted Lamont Paris to associate head coach as well as retaining assistant coach Howard Moore and director of operations Kat Vosters. Paris, Moore and Vosters will join assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft, who was hired on April 4, on the Badgers’ staff. I like this group. And the Badgers will be a fav in the Big Ten next season.

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If you want to go to the Ohio State spring game, act now, as attendance is expected to surpass 100,000—which would break a school standard.

Brett Scarbrough, Ohio State’s assistant athletic director for ticketing, told Cleveland.com on Tuesday morning that 67,400 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s game. A year ago, the Buckeyes had sold 47,400 tickets by the Tuesday before the game. Ohio State is 20,000 ahead of last year’s pace. With a forecast for Saturday of 70 degrees and sunshine, getting to 100,000 and beating last year’s mark is very possible.

“That’s what we’re aiming for,” Scarbrough said. “We want to get there.”

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A good mailbag from Minneapolis Star Tribune Gopher hoops writer Amelia Rayno. One of the subjects she looks at is a possible starting five next season for Richard Pitino’s squad.

Rayno says that regardless of who else Minnesota picks up this offseason, the initial starting lineup is likely going to be:

So. G Nate Mason
Fr. G Amir Coffey
Jr. F Davonte Fitzgerald
So. F Jordan Murphy
Jr. C Reggie Lynch

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Winning doesn’t cure all ticket-selling ills. Just ask Iowa, which is putting “Fans First” as it tries to bolster ticket sales.

HawkCentral.com notes that even with last year’s stunning 12-0 regular season (including a 7-0 home mark), average Kinnick attendance was 63,142 — down by 4,370 fans per game from 2014, or 6.5 percent. Among Big Ten teams, only Northwestern (which had home attendance plummet 14 percent despite a 10-2 regular season) saw a sharper butts-in-seats decline.

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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