Latest Tom Dienhart News

Roundtable: Breaking Down The Wildcats

Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) runs the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies in the fourth quarter during the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas at Kyle Field. Texas A&M defeated Northwestern 33-22. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Northwestern - Signing Day 2012

It is four straight bowls (Alamo, Outback, TicketCity, and Meineke Car Care) and counting for Northwestern under Pat Fitzgerald, but he’s still looking to sip from the postseason championship cup as he enters his seventh season in Evanston. It could happen this year, if the Wildcats can answer some key questions this spring.

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Dienhart: Illini's Leonard To Enter NBA Draft

Illinois' Meyers Leonard

Meyers Leonard Dunks on Northwestern

Illinois center Meyers Leonard has opted to turn pro. And it isn’t a shock. “This was a very difficult decision because I love the University of Illinois,” Leonard said in a statement released by the school. “But I feel the timing is right for me to follow my dream of playing in the NBA and having the opportunity to provide for my mom and family.”

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Football Fix: Talking Purdue Football

Purdue's Robert Marve

Ohio State at Purdue - Football Highlights

Danny Hope broke through in Year Three last season with his first bowl appearance as Boilermaker coach, capping a 7-6 season with a victory over Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Now, he’s looking to take Purdue to the next level. And, it may happen in 2012, if some key issues get resolved. I talked to three writers who cover Purdue to get their thoughts on the Boilermakers’ spring to-do list. See what Mike Carmin, Brian Neubert and Pete DiPrimio all have to say about the Boilermakers in this post.

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Dienhart: Ohio State-Kansas Reaction

Ohio State fans

DeShaun Thomas Final Four postgame reaction

Ohio State led by as many as 13 points in Saturday night’s national semifinal against Kansas, but it couldn’t hold on in a 64-62 defeat at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It was a heartbreaking defeat as Kansas’ rally marked the third-largest comeback in Final Four history. BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his rapid reaction to the season-ending loss in this post.

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Football Fix: Fitzgerald Q&A

It is four bowls in a row and counting for Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern. But something is missing: A bowl victory. Fitzgerald is 0-4 in the postseason; Northwestern. But Fitzgerald presses on, coming off his first losing season (6-7) since his 4-8 debut in 2006. And his Wildcats have issues to address this spring. Chief among those is improving a defense that ranked 11th in the Big Ten overall (407.7 ypg), 12th vs. the pass (230.4 ypg) and 10th against the run (177.3 ypg). The offense also has work to do with Dan Persa gone under center. I caught up with Fitzgerald as he was in the midst of spring drills.

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Dienhart: Friday's Big Ten spring football links

It’s not Friday the 13th, but it probably feels like it at Iowa, where another running back (Jordan Canzeri) has gone down with injury. Is the position cursed in Iowa City? Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette scoffs at that notion. Still, you have to wonder … Marcus Coker … Mik’ail McCall … Adam Robinson … Jewel Hampton … Brandon Wegher … all gone earlier or hurt since Shonn Greene’s huge 2008 season. Hmmm. Just sayin’.

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Mailbag: OSU's chances, Danny O'Brien & more

Ohio State's Aaron Craft

Aaron Craft Heads to the Final Four

There’s no shortage of newsworthy Big Ten items right now, what with Ohio State headed to the Final Four in New Orleans, spring practice in full swing and ex-Maryland QB Danny O’Brien deciding to commit to Wisconsin over Penn State, among other schools.

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Dienhart: Illinois hires Ohio's John Groce

John Groce

John Groce New Illinois Men's Basketball Coach

What has been anticipated for a few days became reality Thursday as Illinois named Ohio’s John Groce as its men’s basketball coach. Will it be a good hire? A bad hire? Who knows? It’s absurd to draw a conclusion on something like that on the day of an introductory press conference. But a few things are without dispute.

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Football Fix: Talking Michigan Football

Michigan's Denard Robinson

Denard Robinson - Howard Griffith Conversation

As far as debuts go, Brady Hoke’s was a hit at Michigan. Hoke sauntered into Ann Arbor and ripped off a stunning 11-2 mark, finishing second in the Legends Division and capping the remarkable season with a triumph over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. It almost made memories of the mercurial three-season Rich Rodriguez tenure vanish. Almost. Now, the question begs: What will Hoke do for an encore? I talked to three top writers who cover Big Blue to gather their thoughts on Michigan’s to-do list this spring.

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Roundtable: Talking Penn State Football

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien - Gerry DiNardo Conversation Part 1

For the first time since 1965, Penn State will have a new coach prowling the sideline. Joe Paterno was forced out amid scandal late in the 2011 season—and subsequently died. In steps Bill O’Brien, a first-time head coach who comes freshly minted from the New England Patriots, where he served as offensive coordinator for arguably the NFL’s top franchise.

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See Wednesday's best B1G spring football links

Wisconsin's Bret Bielema

Step Into My Office - Bret Bielema

Big doing today, as the Danny O’Brien sweepstakes have ended with the Maryland quarterback picking Wisconsin. This is two years in a row the Badgers will welcome an ACC QB transfer. Russell Wilson from N.C. State worked out pretty good. If O’Brien is anywhere close to Wilson, 2012 will be a fun year in Madison. Fire up the grill and open the brats! Find more on that and other happenings in this post.

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Gophers outlast Huskies, advance to NIT title game

(AP) Freshman guard Andre Hollins scored 20 points, including five in overtime, and short-handed Minnesota beat Washington 68-67 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT title game. With the shot clock winding down and the Golden Gophers clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, Hollins banked in an off-balance shot to put Minnesota up 68-65. The sixth-seeded Golden Gophers (23-14) will face No. 3 seed Stanford in Thursday’s title game at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinal beat Massachusetts in the first semifinal. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and interactive NIT bracket and get Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post.

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Football Fix: Kirk Ferentz Q&A

Iowa's Kirk Ferentz

Tailgate 48: Kirk Ferentz

Who is the longest-tenured coach at his Big Ten school? It’s Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who is entering his 14th season in Iowa City. And as he embarks on another spring practice, he faces a unique set of challenges he never before has encountered. Chief among the challenges is developing chemistry on a coaching staff that long has been a beacon of stability but has been shaken up like never before on Ferentz’s watch. On top of the staff overhaul, Ferentz also has some key personnel issues to deal with this spring. I caught up with the Iowa coach this week to discuss those issues—and others.

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Roundtable: Talking Ohio State Football

Ohio State's Braxton Miller

Ohio State/Gator Bowl Postgame Reaction

The Urban Meyer era has dawned at Ohio State. And with it comes big dreams—national championship dreams. Why not? Meyer led Florida to BCS titles in 2006 and 2008. Yes, Ohio State is ineligible for the Big Ten title and a bowl this season as it serves probation incurred under Jim Tressel. But Meyer still wants to lay the foundation for future greatness for a team that went 6-7 last season, the program’s first losing season since going 4-6-1 under John Cooper in 1988 and the school’s first seven-loss season since 1897.

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NOLA Bound! Buckeyes advance to Final Four

Ohio State's Jared Sullinger

Ohio State vs. Syracuse - 2012 NCAA Tournament Analysis

(AP) Jared Sullinger recovered from first-half foul trouble to score 19 points and grab seven rebounds, helping Ohio State beat Syracuse 77-70 on Saturday to advance to the Final Four. It will be the Buckeyes’ first trip to the NCAA semifinals since 2007. Deshaun Thomas scored 14 with nine rebounds for Ohio State (31-7), which led by eight points with 59 seconds to play and held on after the Orange cut it to three. The Buckeyes made 13 of 14 free throws in the final 68 seconds. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and get Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post.

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Dienhart: Huskers announce Miles as coach

Colorado State Rams head coach Tim Miles reacts during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs of the first round of the 2012 Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rams defeated the Horned Frogs 81-60. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Nebraska introduces Tim Miles

Nebraska announced Colorado State’s Tim Miles as its new basketball coach Monday. Miles takes over for Doc Sadler, who went 101-89 in six seasons in Lincoln. He took the Cornhuskers to the NIT three times but never earned an NCAA bid. Nebraska went 12-16 overall and 4-13 in the Big Ten this season, finishing last in its first season in the conference.

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Football Fix: Tracking Spring Gridiron News

Michigan's Denard Robinson

Denard Robinson - Howard Griffith Conversation

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.

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Buckeyes ride Thomas, Sullinger into Elite Eight

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.

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Reader Mail: NCAA Tourney, Illini Search & More

Michigan State Spartans center Adreian Payne (5) drives to the basket during practice the day before the semifinals of the west region of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Four Big Ten teams advance to the Sweet Sixteen

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.

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NIT: Gophers top MTSU, off to Big Apple

(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.

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Get Wednesday's Big Ten web links

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.

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