Reader Mail: NCAA Tourney, Illini Search & More

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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Big Ten Geeks: Previewing Friday

While Thursday is the potentially big night for the Big Ten, with three schools looking to reach the Elite Eight, Friday night brings the enticing rematch of Indiana and Kentucky. The Hoosiers have surpassed all expectations by reaching the Sweet Sixteen for just the second time in 18 years, and they now have a golden opportunity to knock off most people’s national title pick. Let’s look at the match-up.

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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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MSU, OSU, UW meet media, prep for Sweet 16

The Sweet 16 tips off Thursday night, with three Big Ten teams in action, which means players and coaches met the media and practiced at their respective arenas Wednesday. Ohio State and Wisconsin prepped for their games against Cincinnati and Syracuse, respectively, at TD Garden, while Michigan State got ready for Louisville at US Airways Center. See photos, courtesy of US Presswire, from all three teams in this post.

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Shaka Smart opts to stay at VCU

(AP) Shaka Smart says he will stay at Virginia Commonwealth. Illinois had offered its coaching job to Smart, according to multiple reports. In a statement released by VCU on Wednesday, the 34-year-old Smart said: “I’m looking forward to building on the successes of our program and university.”

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