The Nebraska Cornhuskers will try to repeat as Legends Division champs, as the program searches for its first conference championship since winning the Big 12 in 1999. Nebraska’s potent offense may have to carry the load early on while a re-tooled defense takes shape.
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The hiring of Richard Pitino as Minnesota coach is a gamble. But, it’s one worth taking.
Spring football is in full bloom in the Big Ten, from Lincoln to State College. Many issues must be decided between the conclusion of spring drills and the start of the season. But, most won’t be resolved until fall camp. Until then, here are the 18—yes, 18–biggest Big Ten spring questions.
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Let’s hear it for Iowa! I said: Let’s hear it for Iowa!! The Hawkeyes beat Maryland last night in the NIT semifinals. Gotta start daily links there. When folding seemed possible, Iowa seemingly found a way to straighten up and seal the deal against the Terps, notes the great Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
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Of the seven Big Ten teams selected for the NCAA tourney back on March 17, I didn’t think Michigan would be the last one standing. Not by a long shot. But, here are the Wolverines, heading to Atlanta for the school’s first Final Four since it made back-to-back runs in 1992 and 1993 behind the “Fab Five.”
Nebraska holds its annual Red-White Spring Game at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, and you’ll be able to watch it live on BTN/BTN2Go. As we’ll be doing with every team this spring, BTN’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina address one hot topic facing each team entering the 2013 season. Up first: Nebraska.
No doubt, the emergence of freshman big man Mitch McGary in the NCAA tourney has turned Michigan into a dangerous team that’s capable of winning the national championship. Let’s start daily links with the big fella.
In 25 years of coaching Purdue, Gene Keady never made it to a Final Four. But, he has made it to the College Basketball Hall of Fame it was announced on Monday night. And, it’s a well-deserved honor despite that one void in an otherwise stellar resume.
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A weekend that began with promise for the Big Ten ended amid more disappointment than joy.
Michigan is off to the Final Four for the first time since 1993—I didn’t think it would be 20 years between appearances. I also thought more than one Big Ten team would be headed to Atlanta for the Final Four. Nonetheless, let’s celebrate Michigan! And, let’s start the daily links here.
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Michigan raced to a 13-0 lead and led by as many as 24 points en route to dismantling Florida 79-59 on Sunday afternoon in the South Region final. With the convincing win, the Wolverines punched their ticket to the Final Four in Atlanta. Get BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart’s instant reaction to Michigan’s big-time win in this post.
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After winning the last two games over Iowa State and Arizona on last-second shots, Ohio State’s luck finally ran out. The Buckeyes dug themselves a hole they couldn’t dig out of vs. Wichita State and saw their 11-game winning skein and season end in the Elite Eight.
Coming in, most felt Duke needed to win the battle at the 3-point and free-throw lines, while the Spartans needed to win the clash in the paint. Which team could impose its will on the other? It was the Blue Devils. Scoring came much easier for Duke, which was propelled by the sweet shooting of Seth Curry, who tallied a game-high 29 points and hit 6-of-9 3-pointers. And the Blue Devils played good defense, especially in the second half. At one point, MSU went almost 14 minutes between field goals in the second half. The Spartans won the battle on the boards, 38-29. But MSU had 11 turnovers to Duke’s six.
Time and again, Michigan looked dead in the water. But the Wolverines never stopped fighting, rallying from 14 points down to force overtime and win in the extra session. Trey Burke played like the national player of the year. He went 0-for-4 in the first half and didn’t score. But he came alive after intermission, scoring 23 points (five in OT) to save the day.
With a brief break in all of the hoop action, it’s time for me to reach into my BTN.com mailbag. Lots of interest in Ohio State, which looks like it has a good shot to perhaps reach the Final Four.
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Northwestern hiring of Duke assistant Chris Collins as the school’s new men’s basketball coach has created a buzz in college hoops circles. Many love his pedigree, youth and energy. Collins sizzles with potential. Do you smell it? Could the thirtysomething wunderkind lead the Wildcats out of the wilderness of basketball hopelessness and to their first NCAA tourney ever? Collins will be hailed a hoop savant if he does so.
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For the second game in a row, Ohio State needed a last-second shot to pull out victory. Aaron Craft did the honors vs. Iowa State in the third round. This time, LaQuinton Ross threw the dagger that killed Arizona to lead the Buckeyes to their 11th victory in succession.
The Sweet 16 kicks off tonight, with No. 2 Ohio State playing No. 6 Arizona in the West and No. 1 Indiana tangling with No. 4 Syracuse in the East. Let’s start daily links there. Each team survived hair-raising third-round games to advance. Are they teams of destiny?
Moments after Bill Carmody was fired as Northwestern coach on March 16, speculation began to swirl about Duke associate head coach Chris Collins being a top target. That speculation became reality today when Collins was named Wildcats coach.
Could the Big Ten advance four teams to the Final Four?
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The dust has cleared and only 16 teams are standing in the NCAA tourney—four of them are Big Ten schools. The league more than acquitted itself in the opening three rounds of the Big Dance, forging a 10-3 mark from the seven teams that competed.
The firing of Minnesota coach Tubby Smith resonated across Big Ten country and the nation, and most of the reaction was negative. So, I have to start daily links right there—even with postseason basketball in full churn. Legendary columnist Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the Gophers haven’t had much success hiring big-time coaches. He’s correct, but why stop trying? And am I the only one in the galaxy who knows Smith was 46-62 in Big Ten games at Minnesota?
Tubby Smith did many good things while head coach at Minnesota. He won some big games, advanced the program to three NCAA tourneys and two NITs in six years on the job. But, the school decided today that all of that wasn’t enough. Smith was fired. Now what for the Golden Gophers, who join Northwestern as Big Ten schools in search of a coach?