Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 27, 2013

The Sweet 16 starts tomorrow, with four Big Ten teams vying to all reach the Final Four. Wouldn?t that be something? But before we dig in on that, it looks like Northwestern soon will hire a hoops coach. Maybe as soon as today.

Duke assistant Chris Collins never has been a head coach. But, honestly, what does Northwestern have to lose? Exactly.

On to the NCAA tourney. ?

HARRIS AT HOME: Michigan State guard Gary Harris not only is excited about playing in the Sweet 16. He?s also extra pumped because his region has taken him to Indianapolis, a city he grew up just outside of.

And-get this-Harris has played in Indy?s Lucas Oil Stadium before-as a high school football player. Now, he?ll wear shorts and play No. 2 Duke with a possible clash with No. 1 Louisville for a spot in the Final Four on the line. Who says dreams don?t come true?

HOW TO BEAT DUKE: Speaking of Michigan State, Mike Griffith of has five keys to the Spartans toppling Duke.

If I?m the Spartans, I?m worried about guard play. Will Keith Appling hit some shots and take care of the ball? Is he healthy? If not, MSU will be sunk.

TAKE A LISTEN, HOOSIER FANS: Indiana fans will enjoy this video of legendary Hoosiers broadcaster Don Fischer?s NCAA Indiana title calls. Is another one coming in April?

RANKING THE SWEET 16 TEAMS: The great Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News ranks the Sweet 16 teams.

His No. 1 is a Big Ten team. Guess who? But the next Big Ten squad doesn?t come in until No. 6-Ohio State. Too low? Yes. Has DeCourcy not seen the shambles that is the West Region? Does he not know the Buckeyes have won 10 games in a row? Oh, well.

TONS OF TALENT: Having your players viewed as pro prospects is a good thing. Really. Ask Michigan coach John Beilein. Why? Well, it means you have some pretty good players.

How many pro prospects does Michigan have? Well, there?s Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary. Am I missing anyone?

STRIKES AGAINST TUBBY: Tubby Smith?s firing after six seasons at Minnesota wasn?t all about NCAA tournament shortcoming (one win in three trips) and an atrocious Big Ten record (46-62). It seems recruiting and fundraising were factors.

Now, who will want the job?

It seems like Minnesota has as good a shot at landing Phil Jackson as it does Shaka Smart.

PLAY FOR MILES: Nebraska?s season is over. Now, Tim Miles needs to bolster his roster after an oh-so-promising debut. And he?s zoning in on three recruits with the spring signing period fast approaching on April 17.

One is a former Michigan walk-on: Sai Tummala, who is at a Utah JC right now. While in Ann Arbor, Wolverines coach John Beilein said of Tummala: ?He may be our most athletic player. Aside from maybe Trey Burke (this year?s Big Ten player of the year), he?s one of our quickest players.?

Wow. Wow, again.

PUTTING A BOW ON ILLINI SEASON: Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette pens the epitaph of the Illinois hoop season. And, for Tate, it?s a sad, familiar ending.

But Tate notes Illinois does hold some NCAA tourney distinctions.

  • The largest fan base without a championship.
  • The greatest comeback in the last four minutes, racing from a 75-60 hole to beat Arizona in OT in 2005.
  • A series of crushing loss in the Big Dance.

Take a bow, Chief.

WATCH THESE NITTANY LIONS: Bob Flounders of the Harrisburg Patriot-News takes a look at which young Penn State players will make the biggest impacts this spring.

The most popular pick? Redshirt freshman linebacker Nyeem Wartman. Others to watch: WR Eugene Lewis, DE Anthony Zettel, RB Akeel Lynch, TE Brent Wilkerson, all redshirt freshmen.

SOME TOUGH DATES: Dustin Hockensmith of already is breaking down non-conference football schedules. Really. And he says Penn State?s is among the toughest in the Big Ten.

Penn State and Michigan are the lone Big Ten teams that play an all-FBS schedule. But, take a closer look at the Nittany Lions? non-league games in 2013.

  • Aug. 31 Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J.
  • Sept. 7 Eastern Michigan
  • Sept. 14 UCF
  • Sept. 21 Kent State

While all these schools are ?FBS,? they hardly are daunting foes.

NELSON'S READY TO COMPETE: There are several interesting quarterback situations to watch during spring drills. One is at Minnesota, where Philip Nelson won?t say the job is his despite turning some heads as a true freshman last season.

True freshman Chris Streveler already is on campus, trying to impress. And redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner also is in the mix. Stay tuned. This could be interesting.


I guess blood isn?t thicker than water-at least for some. Bizarre.

This isn?t good news for Goldy.

How about Mitch McGary? Or Derrick Nix?

This is fantastic news for Indiana.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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