Illinois is the midst of spring practice under first-year head coach Tim Beckman, who was hired from Toledo to take over for Ron Zook. Beckman’s goal: Lead the Fighting Illini to the Big Ten championship, which they haven’t won since 2001 under Ron Turner. Zook couldn’t do it, going 34-51 overall and 18-38 in the Big Ten with three bowl bids in seven seasons. He was dismissed after a bizarre 2011 that saw the Illini open 6-0, then lose six in a row before winning their bowl game.
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With the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament about to arrive, here’s a good reminder of what you can find on BTN TV: Full game previews and breakdowns and post-game press conferences. And yes, this goes for ALL teams playing Big Ten teams, too. We’re talking to you, Wildcats, Cardinals, Orange and Bearcats fans. Find the full schedule below in this post.
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Minnesota kicks off spring practice Thursday. As part of our daily spring “Football Fix” feature, I caught up with MarQueis Gray, the Golden Gophers quarterback who is trying to build on a breakout 2011 season and lead Minnesota to a bowl. Gray started 10 games last season after splitting time between quarterback and receiver earlier in his career. The focus on quarterback benefited Gray, who hit 108-of-203 passes (50.7 percent) for 1,495 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Read the Q&A in this post.
Tuesday night on Big Ten Football Report, Rick Pizzo, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith looked in on Michigan State’s pro day, discussed the difficulty of putting together a good non-conference schedule and broke down the conference’s wide receivers. Also, Griffith sat down with Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Watch the full interview now.
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Tonight on The Big Ten Pulse, Rick Pizzo, Tim Doyle and Mateen Cleaves set the table for the Sweet 16, which includes four Big Ten teams (see the NCAA bracket). The crew also discussed another memorable Draymond Green performance and the highly anticipated rematch between Indiana and Kentucky. Speaking of the Hoosiers, Will Sheehey, who hit the game-winning shot vs VCU, joined the guys to talk about the team’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2002. Watch the full interview now.
For the first time since 1999 and the third time since the field expanded in 1985, the Big Ten has four teams in the Sweet 16. Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all made it through the first weekend of the tournament, meaning each is two wins away from the Final Four, four from claiming the national title. The competition only gets stiffer the rest of the way, of course, so it’s important to consider what these teams did against elite foes. See how the Big Ten’s remaining teams fared this season vs. the Sweet 16 field in this post.
Find out more about: Big Ten Blast, NCAA Men