I pulled together a virtual roundtable of three prominent writers who cover Nebraska to get their thoughts on the program as it works through spring drills and into 2012. Here are their thoughts, and I’ll do more of these as spring ball continues and I file my Football Fix posts.
Who’s battling for the the left tackle spot at Iowa? How has Michigan’s Denard Robinson improved since last season? Can Purdue’s Ralph Bolden hold up? I found some great stuff from the beat writers in the Big Ten today, so come have a look. I’ll continue to track updates from around the Big Ten during this spring football season in my Football Fix posts.
Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Three Big Ten teams entered Thursday night with hopes of staying alive in the NCAA Tournament but only one of them survived as Ohio State moved on to the Elite Eight while Michigan State and Wisconsin head home.We’ve got full box scores for all three games on our scoreboard page, and I’ll get ready for Friday night’s game between Indiana and Kentucky, too.
You have questions, I have answers in my weekly mailbag. There is a lot going on, with the NCAA tourney at the Sweet 16 stage and spring football in full swing across Big Ten territory. Which of the four Big Ten teams has the best shot to reach the Final Four? What will Wisconsin do at quarterback? I address those questions—and more—in this week’s mailbag.
(AP) Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins each scored 24 points to help Minnesota advance to the semifinals of the NIT with a 78-72 win over Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night. Elliott Eliason added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Hollins also had six rebounds and four assists. Marcos Knight led Middle Tennessee (27-7) with 19 points and nine rebounds. Minnesota (22-14) will face Pac-12 regular-season champion Washington at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (NIT bracket). It will mark the Gophers’ first appearance in the NIT semis since 2003. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and get Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post.
In Wednesday’s web links, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart sends you to some of the best Big Ten spring football stories and offers his perspective on each one. Among the topics: Kirk Ferentz and his offense in need of a fix, a pair of receivers who need to prove something and an update on Maryland transfer QB Danny O’Brien, among other things. See the links, plus Dienhart’s take, in this post.
Illinois is the midst of spring practice under first-year head coach Tim Beckman, who was hired from Toledo to take over for Ron Zook. Beckman’s goal: Lead the Fighting Illini to the Big Ten championship, which they haven’t won since 2001 under Ron Turner. Zook couldn’t do it, going 34-51 overall and 18-38 in the Big Ten with three bowl bids in seven seasons. He was dismissed after a bizarre 2011 that saw the Illini open 6-0, then lose six in a row before winning their bowl game.
Minnesota kicks off spring practice Thursday. As part of our daily spring “Football Fix” feature, I caught up with MarQueis Gray, the Golden Gophers quarterback who is trying to build on a breakout 2011 season and lead Minnesota to a bowl. Gray started 10 games last season after splitting time between quarterback and receiver earlier in his career. The focus on quarterback benefited Gray, who hit 108-of-203 passes (50.7 percent) for 1,495 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Read the Q&A in this post.
With spring practice underway, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is scouring the web for the best Big Ten football headlines. Tuesday’s links include a story about Devin Gardner’s possible expanded role, Nebraska’s desire to extend its recruiting footprint south and an update on Penn State’s quarterback battle, among other things. Get all the links, plus Dienhart’s take, in this post.
Rodney Williams scored 21 points to lead Minnesota to a 78-60 victory over Miami in a second round NIT game Monday night. The Gophers never trailed after starting the game on a 12-0 run. Williams scored 16 in the first half. Minnesota (21-14) advances to the quarterfinals at Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night. The Blue Raiders efeated Tennessee earlier Monday. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and get Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post.
Spring football is in full swing across the Big Ten. And each day, BTN.com will be the place to stop by for your daily gridiron fix as we roll toward spring games in April. BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart will provide analysis, previews, videos and Q&As—among other things.
All season, the computer rankings said that the Big Ten was the nation’s strongest conference. The league lived up to that hype through the first week of the NCAA tourney. Four of the six schools that received bids are still playing, with No. 1 Michigan State, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 4 Indiana and No. 4 Wisconsin advancing the second weekend of the tourney. No. 4 Michigan fell in the second round to No. 13 Ohio, while No. 10 Purdue lost in the third round to No. 2 Kansas.
Michigan State held off Saint Louis on Sunday to advance to its fourth Sweet 16 in the last five seasons (recap). As usual, Draymond Green had an impressive all-around game (tweets). With the victory, Michigan State joins Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. It looked like Purdue may join the group, too, but it fell to Kansas in the final seconds of a game it led throughout Sunday night (recap).
Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana came into Saturday looking to take the next step in the NCAA Tournament but all three had formidable challenges ahead of them. First off, the Buckeyes held off a very tough Gonzaga team before the Badgers battled Vanderbilt right down to the end to win. Finally, the Hoosiers got some late-game heroics from Will Sheehey and defeated VCU.
You have questions, I have answers in this week’s mail bag. A lot of March Madness queries, as you would suspect. But spring football also is in the air.
In Wednesday’s web links, we look at what some of the Big Ten beat writers are saying about their school’s chances in the NCAA tournament, which tips Thursday for three Big Ten teams. Also, find links and my thoughts on a trio of Big Ten big men who are filling equally big roles for Indiana and Michigan State. There’s some football talk in here, too, as coaches discuss position changes. Find it all in this post.
Iowa ran past Dayton (recap) and Northwestern survived a potential buzzer-beating defeat against Akron (recap) in first-round NIT action Tuesday night. Catch up on both games on our BTN.com scoreboard and get stats, recaps and BTN.com Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post. Also, don’t forget to bookmark the NIT bracket.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and look at Michigan, the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Regional. The Wolverines play No. 13 seed Ohio on Friday. What do we know about Ohio? Brent Yarina told us earlier. Now I’m here to tell you about Michigan in this post. Use the NCAA.com bracket and the BTN scoreboard to track all of the action this tournament.
In today’s links we take a look at what some think the previous Illinois athletic director would have done with Bruce Weber. Plus, Michigan State’s men’s basketball team has incredible chemistry, but is that enough for the Spartans? Purdue’s shooting is heating up just in time. Could the Nebraska men’s basketball job search be warming up, too? And let’s shift gears to football where one writer reports linebacker is the deepest position on the Michigan team. Lots of others links plus the Big Ten Blast video, too.
Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE
Three Big Ten men’s teams got NIT slots and two of them play tonight. No. 7 seed Iowa hosts No. 2 seed Dayton and No. 4 seed Northwestern faces visiting No. 5 seed Akron. No. 6 seed Minnesota plays at No. 3 La Salle on Wednesday.