With all of the tackling, running, hitting and passing that went on across the Big Ten during spring football games last Saturday, the top story was about Bo Pelini carrying a cat onto the field. And so it went during a Nebraska spring game that often times was more carnival than game.
Badgers quarterback Joel Stave missed the Wisconsin spring game with injury. And Tanner McEvoy took advantage by excelling. It has been a weird career for McEvoy, who arrived from a JC as a quarterback, moved to safety and is now back at quarterback.
Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen inherited some good talent from Bret Bielema, riding that skill to a nine-win season in 2013 that would have culminated with a BCS bowl if not for that Senior Day loss to Penn State. But now, Andersen faces some big voids—especially on defense. That side of the ball was a major emphasis for the Badgers this spring. And, the unit showed some spark during last Saturday’s spring game.
The Penn State spring game ushered in the James Franklin era amid much excitement and energy in front of over 72,000 fans, the most for any spring game this year. It couldn’t be any other way with a coach like the enthusiastic Franklin. The Blue squad took a resounding 37-0 win over the White squad.
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As far as dress rehearsals go, this one was a success … I guess. The final score said Gray 17, Scarlet 7. Not sure what it really means. But, it doesn’t really matter now, does it?
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Basketball season is over and spring football is reaching its peak. What’s it all mean? My email inbox is filling up. Let’s answer some of your questions. Remember that there are eight Big Ten schools conducting spring games Saturday and all eight will be available live via BTN2Go. The teams in action: Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana.
There will be a lot to watch at the Ohio State spring game this Saturday. How will the defense look? Is the offensive line coming together? Any good running backs with Carlos Hyde gone?
Freshmen often are expected to contribute the moment they hit campus. Look at what guys like Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr., and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh—among others–meant to their teams last season.
The 2013-14 season was punctuated with UConn’s win over Kentucky in the national championship game Monday night. Deep breath … exhale. That means it’s time to turn the page toward the 2014-15 season. Yes, already.
It’s crazy-nutty to do 2014-15 college hoops polls the moment the final buzzer sounds on the national title game. But, hey, media outlets do it. And, we post it. So, here you go: polls from Bleacher Report, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, USA Today and Yahoo! Sports.
UConn’s win last night showed how good Michigan State could have been. Don’t follow? Well, it’s about guard play. The Huskies rolled to the title behind the backcourt tandem of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. The Spartans had a similarly skilled backcourt in Keith Appling and Gary Harris.
I have to admit: Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports hit the nail on the head with his recent piece about the NCAA not seeing the totality of the picture when it comes to the future of intercollegiate athletics.
This will be Michigan’s fourth season under Brady Hoke. And, make no mistake about it: It’s a crossroads campaign. No one in Ann Arbor was satisfied with the 7-6 record last season. And heads rolled, as offensive coordinator Al Borges was fired. Hoke looked to Alabama for a replacement, tabbing Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
Wisconsin’s season ended one game short of the national title game. The loss to Kentucky on Saturday was close, painful and soon won’t be forgotten in Madison. Still, as Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, there are many good memories from one of the best seasons in school annals.
With Wisconsin’s heartbreaking national semifinal loss to Kentucky late Saturday night, the Big Ten’s 2013-14 hoops season is officially complete. It was a great season, one that saw three Big Ten teams make the Elite Eight. Now, it’s time for my All-Big Ten NCAA tourney team.
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Traevon Jackson has hit a number of big shots this season for the Badgers. The guy was money. The guy was clutch. But he didn’t have his magic touch on this night. Jackson missed a key free throw and potential game-winning shot that proved fatal in the dying moments of Wisconsin’s 74-73 loss to Kentucky in a national semifinal game.
Northwestern is the lone Big Ten team that doesn’t play a spring game. Instead, the Wildcats just conduct a final practice. Hanging over the on-field goings-on on this day was the specter of NU players forming a union. The players will vote on April 25.
It’s almost time to tip off at the Final Four, as No. 2 Wisconsin is carrying the Big Ten flag in pursuit of the conference’s first national championship since 2000. Here’s a look at seven keys for the Badgers if they want to beat this white-hot Kentucky team that entered the Big Dance as a No. 8 seed but is playing like a No. 1 seed after starting the season as the preseason No. 1 team. Watch for these things during the game and see how they impact the outcome.
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How about those Minnesota Gophers! In his first year on the job, Richard Pitino led the Golden Gophers to the NIT title, as Minnesota downed Larry Brown and SMU last night. Yes, Pitino inherited some nice talent from Tubby Smith. Still, Pitino acquitted himself as a coach. The guy has a bright future. And, think of this: He’s just 31. Now, if Pitino can recruit like he can coach, Minnesota could be on to something.
The Big Ten beckons. And Maryland coach Randy Edsall can’t wait to help usher in the new era for the Terrapins. Edsall knows the challenges that loom, beginning with playing in a Big Ten East division that also will include Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State. But Edsall also knows the possibilities. Besides, Edsall isn’t afraid of a challenge as Maryland moves from the ACC.
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Firing through my e-mail inbox on this rainy day, reading your Big Ten love letters and answering the best ones. Keep ‘em coming! You can always email me directly at the bottom of any of my posts – including this one.
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Minnesota’s NIT semifinal overtime win over Florida State on Tuesday night wasn’t a thing of beauty. But, it doesn’t matter. The triumph means that the Golden Gophers will play SMU for the NIT title on Thursday night.
When the season dawned, Michigan State was the consensus pick to win the Big Ten. And for good reason, with talents like Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Keith Appling and Branden Dawson, among others.