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7 years ago today: Illinois rallies, stuns Arizona

March 26, 2005, forever will hold a special place in Illinois men’s basketball fans’ hearts. It was on this day, after all, that the top-ranked Illini pulled off one of the more memorable comebacks in NCAA tourney history (AP recap). Down 15 points with four minutes left in the Chicago Regional final against No. 3 seed Arizona, Illinois rallied all the way back to force overtime, where it carded an unforgettable 90-89 victory. Watch a video of the unbelievable comeback in this post. Find more “Did You See This?’ videos, see other Illinois’ Best videos, and subscribe to our free

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. Got a question? I’m adding a new inbox all the time. You can email me here, come talk to me on Twitter, drop a comment on my BTN Facebook page, or type in a question

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.” Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas declined comment through a spokesman. Thomas fired Weber on March 9 after a 17-15 season that ended with a 2-14 slump. Weber’s teams missed three of the last five NCAA tournaments and this year didn’t make the postseason at all. Smart’s Rams were the darlings of last year’s

Dienhart: Big Ten & Sweet 16 since 1985

All season, the computer rankings said that the Big Ten was the nation’s strongest conference. The league lived up to that hype through the first week of the NCAA tourney. Four of the six schools that received bids are still playing, with No. 1 Michigan State, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 4 Indiana and No. 4 Wisconsin advancing the second weekend of the tourney. No. 4 Michigan fell in the second round to No. 13 Ohio, while No. 10 Purdue lost in the third round to No. 2 Kansas. There’s a chance the Buckeyes (if they beat No. 6 Cincinnati)

Michigan State, Purdue advance; Michigan falls

Ohio pulled out a stunning 65-60 upset over Michigan in the first of three Friday night games involving Big Ten teams. Purdue dropped St. Mary’s 72-69 in a day of upsets at the NCAA tournament. In the late game, Draymond Green recorded a triple-double to lift Michigan State to an 89-67 win over Long Island. In my daily links in this post, I found some interesting takes on Indiana’s win as well as what lies ahead for Purdue and Michigan. And did you hear what Bill Self said about the Illinois program? Dive on in. Plus, here are times and

Journey: Watch segment & bonus clips from finale

On Wednesday night, we aired a special one-hour season finale of “The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2012.”  On the show, we went behind the scenes for the entire Big Ten tourney in Indianapolis. We also featured Senior Day at Michigan State and provided an inside look at the thrilling Ohio State-Michigan State season finale. Plus, we covered the emotional reunion of Illinois’ Meyers Leonard and his brother, Bailey, a U.S. Marine who recently returned from active duty. Watch a segment from the show now and see bonus clips in this post. Don’t forget – our show producers are on Twitter

10 Early Big Ten Questions for 2012-13

The NCAA tournament officially tipped off Tuesday night, as did the NIT, which has BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina’s attention divided between the tourney and the future. It’s very early to entertain the 2012-13 season, admittedly, but there are important questions Big Ten teams will address, as soon as the coming days or weeks. See Yarina’s top 10 questions facing Big Ten basketball teams in this post. Have a different one? Leave it as a comment at the bottom of the post. And don’t forget to watch our Big Ten Basketball Images of the Year feature. 1. How does Michigan

Ready, set, click the lastest Big Ten links

In Wednesday’s web links, we look at what some of the Big Ten beat writers are saying about their school’s chances in the NCAA tournament, which tips Thursday for three Big Ten teams. Also, find links and my thoughts on a trio of Big Ten big men who are filling equally big roles for Indiana and Michigan State. There’s some football talk in here, too, as coaches discuss position changes. Find it all in this post. Cody Zeller has exceeded expectations in leading the Hoosiers to a No. 4 seed, says Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star. No doubt. We

Final Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings

The NCAA tourney tips Tuesday night, meaning it’s time to release my final 2012 Big Ten men’s hoops power rankings. The rankings are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply my thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands right now and who would win on a neutral court. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina or leave your comments below. Also, did you see my top 10 Big Ten plays from the past week? Watch all the plays here. The latest national polls are out, as well. Here we go…

Dienhart's Best of the Big Ten Tournament

With 11 games over four days, there was a lot to watch and digest at the 15th Big Ten tourney in Indianapolis. There were highs and lows as well as good and bad from the first game to the final game. My best player? Michigan State’s Draymond Green. The Big Ten player of the year had an encore performance, winning tourney MVP honors. Green didn’t enjoy his best scoring effort in the title game win, notching just 12 points, but he still had a big impact as a defender and grabbed a team-best nine boards. Bottom line: Green is a