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Dienhart: Four thoughts on today's games

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. [ MORE: Get all of Dienhart’s 2014 NCAA tournament coverage ] 1. Michigan State obviously can’t expect Adreian Payne to go off for over 40 points today when it meets No. 12 Harvard. But, he probably can, given

Jay Bilas follows 1 person on Twitter: Lacey Holsworth

Eight-year-old Michigan State super fan Lacey Holsworth — featured on “The Journey” several times — has become an inspiration throughout the college basketball world, and beyond. That became more than evident today as Holsworth, who is battling an aggressive form of cancer known as neuroblastoma, found out she has a new follower on Twitter: ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. Why is that unique, you ask? Because Holsworth is Billas’ first, and only person he follows on Twitter. Bilas send out the following tweet to his 658k followers earlier this afternoon. Credit USA Today’s For the Win for sharing the

Big Ten Geeks: Defense on Day One

Ohio State dropped a tight one against an in-state “Little Brother,” which had to make the loss all the more frustrating. There wasn’t anything especially unique about this loss—once again, Ohio State’s offense stalled out when it had to play in the half-court. The outside shooting was tepid (3 of 12 on 3s), and the ballhandling was suspect (the Buckeyes turned it over on 21 percent of their possessions; Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross each had five of their own). And on the 27 occasions when Ohio State had an opportunity to rebound one of its frequent misses, Thad Matta’s

Dienhart: Thursday was a success for the Big Ten

The first full-fledged day of NCAA tournament action was a success for the Big Ten. Yes, No. 11 Iowa lost a play-in game to No. 11 Tennessee on Wednesday. And No. 6 Ohio State fell to No. 11 Dayton today. But neither loss was a stunner. But the fact the defeats came early in the tourney, it caught the attention of critics. No matter, the Big Ten’s “Big Three” opened with victories today. And they looked good doing it. [ MORE: Dienhart: Ohio State’s elimination no surprise ] No. 2 Wisconsin destroyed No. 15 American. No. 4 Michigan State whipped

Payne leads MSU past Delaware in Tourney opener

Adreian Payne scored a career-high 41 points as Michigan State cruised to an impressive 93-78 win over Delaware in an NCAA Tournament opener. Travis Trice added 19 points off the bench for the Spartans, who will advance to play Harvard in the third round of the East Regional on Saturday. Payne, a 6-foot-10 senior, scored 12 straight points in the first half to help the fourth-seeded Spartans (27-8) to an 18-point lead. He set an NCAA tournament record by making all 17 of his free throws and broke the program’s tournament scoring record, set previously by Greg Kelser in 1979.

Big Ten Geeks: Preview of Michigan State vs. Delaware

After an impressive run to the Big Ten tournament title, Michigan State became a trending pick to reach the Final Four. That journey starts today with a 4:40pm ET tip against Delaware. Do the Spartans have any reason to worry about the Blue Hens? In a word, no. Delaware is an experienced team that won both the regular season title and the CAA tournament, but it’s a small squad that figures to be outmanned in the paint against Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson. I’d be shocked if Michigan State doesn’t dominate the glass, and I also don’t think the Blue

#BTNLive poll: Vote for the best coaching duo

If you’re on Twitter, you can vote in our ongoing series of Big Ten Twitter polls for our weekday show #BTNLive.” On tonight’s episode of #BTNLive at 6 p.m. ET, our experts discuss this question: Which Big Ten football and basketball head coaching duo is the best? The choices for this poll: Michigan (#MichDuo), Wisconsin (#WiscDuo), Ohio State (#OSUDuo) and Michigan State (#MSUDuo).

Dienhart: Many choose Spartans, but I like Badgers

It’s official: America has fallen in love with Michigan State. It’s mad-crazy tattoo-her-name-on-your-chest love that has mushroomed in a flash, going from 7th-grade crush to full-grown infatuation/borderline stalking. It just seemed like last week when some were shoveling dirt onto the Spartans after a disappointing 12-6 Big Ten season that was ruined by a litany injuries. Wait, it was last week. [ MORE: President Obama picks Michigan State to win national title ] Michigan State limped into the Big Ten tournament going 5-7 in its last 12 games. The Spartans were a No. 3 seed, a listing ship looking to

Barack Obama picks Michigan State to win NCAA tourney

College basketball experts across the nation are picking Big Ten tourney champ Michigan State to win the NCAA tourney. The same goes for the President. As he’s done each of the past five years, Barack Obama filled out his NCAA bracket in a recent ESPN special, and he selected the Spartans to win it all. [ MORE: View Barack Obama’s full NCAA tourney bracket ] Obama has Michigan State topping No. 13 Delaware, No. 12 Harvard, No. 1 Virginia and No. 2 Villanova on its way to the Final Four. In the national semis, he has the Spartans dropping No.

Dienhart: 21 things I didn't expect in 2013-14

With the regular season in the rear-view mirror and the NCAA tourney underway, I decided it was a good time to share some of the things I didn’t expect to see this season in the Big Ten – whether it be from a team, player or coach. See my list of 21 things in this post. [ MORE: View the official interactive NCAA bracket ] 1. Nebraska would be in the NCAA tourney. 2. Indiana wouldn’t be in the NCAA tourney. 3. Indiana wouldn’t be in any tourney. 4. Nik Stauskas would be player of the year. 5. Michigan would