Big Ten links: Michigan's heralded d-line, basketball updates & more

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Michigan's heralded d-line, basketball updates & more

The hype surrounding the Michigan defensive line continues to grow. And end Taco Charlton hopes to be a big part of the front as he aims for an impactful senior send-off. Will this be the year he finally puts it all together? He looks like a pro—but doesn’t always play like one.

“I’m going to set my expectations higher than anyone else can set them,” Charlton said last month in Ann Arbor. “As a d-line we do the same thing collectively, together. We hold ourselves to that point. We feel like we can be the best. But it doesn’t mean anything just saying it.

“We have to go out and prove it.”

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Speaking of the Michigan d-line, Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com thinks it’s the best in America. I won’t argue that notion.

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This is pretty cool: former Gopher o-lineman Joe Bjorklund is helping build the Athletes Village at Minnesota.

Bjorklund earned a construction management degree and was offered a job with a construction company in May. Now, he’ll get to help build the future of the university with the Athletes Village, which includes the football program’s new headquarters, weight room and practice facility. How cool is this?

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So, it’s July. How are Big Ten schools doing in recruiting? Greg Pickel of Pennlive.com takes a look.

No shock to see Ohio State and Michigan at the top. But Rutgers No. 3? Interesting. It’s early. Still, there is no denying the impact of new coach Chris Ash. The RU program has so much potential.

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Dan Duggan of NJ.com keeps churning out the good Rutgers’ copy. This time he takes a look at how much Scarlet Knights are paid in the NFL. RU’s 24 alums will make $31 mil in 2016.

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Iowa’s non-con hoops schedule is set. Here are four takeaways from Chad Leistikow of HawkCentral.com.

No doubt, tilts vs. Virginia, Seton Hall, Notre Dame and Iowa State will be tests for a Hawkeye roster that is in transition in 2016-17.

Iowa lost four starters and will have 10 of 13 scholarship players be sophomores and freshmen. But Iowa will be bigger even without 7-1 center Adam Woodbury. In fact, there’s a good chance Fran McCaffery’s shortest starter will be 6-6.

“Even though we’re a young team, we’re not a young, skinny team,” McCaffery said earlier this summer. “We’ve got some bodies that are ready to compete.”

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Good to see Aaron Craft in the NBA summer league. Can he finally make an NBA roster? Can’t some NBA team use a player with Craft’s tenacity and grit? I hope so.

Cleveland.com notes that Craft has two solid seasons of D-League play in the Golden State Warriors system under his belt, could be ready to make a jump this season. In two seasons with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Craft has averaged 10.8 points and 6.6 assists per game. He was the D-League Defensive Player of the year during the 2014-15 season. Craft has done everything you’d expect him to do in the D-League if you were paying attention to his career at Ohio State.

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Tum Tum Nairn is finally healthy and ready to play a leadership role for a Spartan hoop squad that may be the team to beat next season.

Nairn played 28 games and started 18 in 2015-16, but was never healthy. Plantar fasciitis meant he played in pain, and was limited in minutes and in what he could do on the court. Michigan State shut him down for seven games midseason, but to little avail. With Nairn full-go, a MSU squad with lots of young talent and potential will benefit from his talent and leadership.

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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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