Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Thank goodness for Michigan State big men Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson. Without that dynamic duo, Michigan State would have been sent packing tonight.
Just like Wisconsin doused a hot Baylor team last night in the Sweet 16, Michigan dumped water on a hot Tennessee team tonight in its Sweet 16 game. It wasn’t as easy for the Wolverines as it was for the Badgers. Regardless, the Wolverines won, 73-71, and are just one win from returning to the Final Four for a second season in a row.
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There is a lot going on in the world of Big Ten sports. And, my email inbox reflects that.
The Badgers took care of business last night. Now, Michigan and Michigan State take center stage in the Sweet 16. The Wolverines battle No. 11 Tennessee, while the Spartans take on No. 1 Virginia. Michigan has a tough task playing the Vols, who are outplaying that No. 11 seed. This is a hot team, going 8-1 since Feb. 26.
No one saw this coming. In fact, it was too easy for Wisconsin. And now, the Badgers are off to their first Elite Eight since 2005 after a resounding 69-52 2in over Baylor.
Rutgers is taking its first steps toward its maiden Big Ten voyage this spring, as Kyle Flood works with his third team since taking over for Greg Schiano. Flood, who is 15-11 at Rutgers with two bowl bids, has talent to work with coming off a 6-7 season and a loss to Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl. But he also has areas of concern. Among them:
It’s interesting to think about the possibility of a Michigan State vs. Michigan national championship game in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The way both teams are playing and the way the bracket is set up, it’s a possibility.
It was a bit surprising to see that the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that football players who receive scholarships are employees. NLRB directed that a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the football players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for purposes of collective bargaining with Northwestern.
The Sweet 16 is around the corner. Wisconsin takes on Baylor on Thursday, while Michigan plays Tennessee and Michigan State battles Virginia on Friday. Let’s break down the action involving the three Big Ten teams.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The NCAA tourney is down to the Sweet 16. No. 2 Michigan will battle No. 11 Tennessee; No. 2 Wisconsin will battle No. 6 Baylor; No. 4 Michigan State will take on No. 1 Virginia. Here are 16 fun numbers to keep in mind while watching the upcoming action.
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Last season, Iowa got back on track by rebounding from a 4-8 (2-6 Big Ten) season and going 8-5 (5-3).
Lots going on at Indiana recently, with the recent announcement that Jeremy Hollowell and Austin Etherington will transfer. Even bigger: Noah Vonleh is going to turn pro after just one season. Earlier, Luke Fischer bolted. Last season, Remy Abell and Maurice Creek transferred. Jeff Rabjohns of Peegs.com has a nice recap of all the activity.
Can’t say it was a shock to see a report that says Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross is going to turn pro. Still, it’s a big blow for Thad Matta’s squad, as Ross would have been the centerpiece of the 2014-15 squad.
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It wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always pretty, but No. 2 Michigan, No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 4 Michigan State all took care of business in their opening two games and have advanced to the Sweet 16. Well, it was easy for Michigan, which dispatched No. 15 Wofford in the second round and then topped No. 7 Texas in the third round.
The good times are rolling in East Lansing for a Michigan State program coming off a Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship. Mark Dantonio has this program humming along as an elite machine that can stand toe-to-toe with any Big Ten squad—if not the nation. The next goal: A national championship. Why not?
It had been speculated for weeks. Now, it’s a reality: Indiana’s Noah Vonleh is turning pro. He arrived in Bloomington as a five-star recruit, the No. 3 power forward in the nation and the No. 8 player overall, according to rivals.com.
Getting to the Sweet 16 has become old hat for Michigan State. Mlive.com points out that in the past 17 years, only one program in the country has been to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 more than Michigan State. That program is Duke, which has gone 13 times to Michigan State’s 12.
It was exhilarating. It was exhausting. And it may end up being a very memorable win for Wisconsin. Trailing 75-74, Wisconsin not once, not twice, but three times grabbed offensive rebounds before Ben Brust finally drained a 3-pointer to give Wisconsin a 77-75 lead over Oregon.
It wasn’t really that long ago when Michigan missed the NCAA tournament on a regular basis. From 1999-2008, in fact, it never went dancing. Now, the Wolverines have become one of the premier programs in the nation.
It’s a big day for the Big Ten, as No. 2 Michigan, No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 4 Michigan State (I still can’t believe Sparty is a No. 4!) look to punch their ticket for the Sweet 16. Here are four thoughts on today’s games: Wisconsin vs. Oregon (7:45); Michigan State vs. Harvard (8:40). Michigan took down Texas in the first game.
Three teams and three games. That’s what it has come down to for the Big Ten on the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
It was fun while it lasted, Nebraska. The whole “Nebrasketball” thing was a phenomenon this season. The world was watching … or at least it felt like it for a while. And that’s pretty amazing, when you consider how far off the radar this program was flying.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports