Every weekday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart selects several of the best tweets he sees and offers his opinion and thoughts on them. See today’s collection of tweets in this post.
Hope is floating at a high level in Evanston for what may be Pat Fitzgerald’s best Northwestern team yet. In fact, it may be the school’s best team since the 1995 squad that marched to the Rose Bowl. The Wildcats have some swagger as they put the wraps on spring practice, as Fitz prepares for—can you believe this?—his eighth season leading Northwestern. And, it could be special. Very special.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Count Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston among those who are an Ohio State believer after watching the spring game. Who can blame Livingston? There is a lot to like about this edition of Ohio State. No doubt, the Buckeyes’ second spring game impressed even Urban Meyer.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan’s Trey Burke has declared for the NBA draft. No shock there. What is shocking is that it took him so long to make a decision.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan hopes it took the first few steps toward the school’s first Big Ten championship since 2004 Saturday in the spring game. Brady Hoke’s third team has a lot of potential after coming close to winning the Legends Division in 2012. But it’s also a program in transition on the offensive side of the ball with iconic Denard Robinson no longer around.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Urban Meyer put the wraps on his second Ohio State spring practice Saturday afternoon. And optimism remains high heading into Year Two coming off a 12-0 season. The offense showed flashes of why it could be one of the Big Ten’s best. And a rebuilt defensive front seven looked good—and only figures to improve. Yes, the Buckeyes may be the Big Ten’s top team—again.
Here are my observations from Friday night’s Illinois spring game, as Tim Beckman moves toward his second season leading the Fighting Illini coming off a 2-10 season. There were 40 players going through their first spring game, showing the youth of this squad.
Danny Hope guided Purdue to back-to-back bowl games the past two seasons, but there was little momentum behind the program. That’s why Hope was shown the door after going 22-27 overall and 13-19 in the Big Ten in four seasons in West Lafayette and Darrell Hazell was brought in.
Year One under Tim Beckman was difficult. A lack of depth was a major issue in the transition from the Ron Zook era. But, Beckman didn’t stand pat, making wholesale staff changes that include a new offensive coordinator along with new offensive and defensive line coaches. This spring has been about developing chemistry, improving horrid special teams and developing a winning attitude—among other things–as Beckman continues to put his stamp on the team.
Hopes are high in Evanston. Northwestern is coming off its first bowl victory since toppling Cal in the Rose Bowl after the 1948 season, winning 10 games for just the third time in school annals and first since the 1995 Rose Bowl squad. Now, the possibilities seem endless for what could be Pat Fitzgerald’s most talented team yet at his alma mater. NU has been to a bowl each of the last five seasons and has a legit chance to win the Legends Division if the defense continues to make strides this spring.
Andrew Weber-US Presswire
Who has left the biggest shoes to fill in the Big Ten? Spring football is a time for teams to begin to fill those slots with new names.
Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE
There is a sense of renewed optimism in West Lafayette with the dawn of the Darrell Hazell era. The former Kent State coach and long-time Ohio State assistant has built a strong staff and brought a winning attitude to Purdue. How quickly can he develop an offensive identity? That will be key in trying to get the Boilermakers to a third bowl in a row. Keep an eye on the quarterback battle and offensive line, the two biggest keys for 2013.
Indiana is a program on the rise as it enters its third season under Kevin Wilson. It also is a young program that’s still developing and lacking a strong senior core. Still, there is some excitement for a program searching for its first bowl since 2007. To take that next step, the Indiana defense needs to improve—a lot. Hope floats for a program that may be on the verge of turning the corner.
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Victor Oladipo turned pro on Tuesday. It was Cody Zeller’s turn Wednesday. And, like Oladipo, Zeller made a wise choice. Zeller has accomplished a lot in two scant years in Bloomington, helping revive the Indiana program by leading it to its first outright Big Ten title in 20 seasons.
Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
The debut for Urban Meyer was smashing, as he led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record in 2012. If not for being on NCAA probation, Ohio State would have been in the thick of the national championship race. The shackles are off this season—and expectations are sky high for a team that should have a terrific offense. How will the defense develop? That will be the key for a Buckeyes team that has legit national championship aspirations.
Michigan came close to breaking through to the Big Ten title game last season in Year Two under Brady Hoke. But, alas, it didn’t happen—as a loss at Nebraska in which Denard Robinson got hurt proved to be detrimental. So, the program still is searching for its first Big Ten championship since 2004. It could come this season, if among other things, Devin Gardner proves to be the real deal and the defensive line develops. Yes, this is still a relatively young team, but it has lots of talent, potential and hunger as it begins life without Robinson, a Michigan icon.
There are a lot of things to like about an Ohio State offense led by QB Braxton Miller. But the Buckeye offense will be even better if some big-play receivers step up. Could Michael Thomas be one of those guys? Let’s start links here.
Victor Oladipo is turning pro. Please tell me you aren’t surprised.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan’s run for the national championship game up short. But the Wolverines have no shame in falling 82-76 to No. 1 overall seed Louisville. Have to start daily links right there. Michigan’s improbable march to the national championship game is evidence that the program is back among the nation’s elite—and it’s not going anywhere.
Little Jack Hoffman has captured the attention of fans nation-wide. The 7-year-old Nebraska fan who is battling brain cancer got to run a play in the Husker spring game on Saturday, bolting around right end for a 69-yard touchdown run. It was the highlight of the day—not just in Lincoln, but across the nation. In case you missed it, check it out.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan’s trip to the national championship game was further validation of the Big Ten’s greatness this season. But, without this journey to the summit of college basketball, I don’t think that would have been true.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
With Trey Burke saddled with foul trouble, Michigan was fueled in the first half by none other than Spike Albrecht, who had 17 points. Yes, 17 points. That helped the Wolverines hold a 38-37 halftime cushion, although it could have been more as they led by as many as 12 points. But Louisville turned up the heat in the second half, outscoring Michigan, 45-38, and holding Albrecht scoreless to win its third national championship (1980 and 1986).