Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 11, 2015

It?s Wednesday, March 10 and I?m in Chicago. So, that can mean just one thing: It?s time to start the Big Ten hoops tourney. Many storylines loom, including Wisconsin?s push to be a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. Jim Polzin of says a rematch-and win-vs. Maryland in the league title game would augment the Badgers? cause. And, he?s correct. A win over a ranked team would augment Wisconsin?s resume. Check out this video.



Good news for Michigan State: Branden Dawson is expected to play on Friday in the Big Ten tourney.

Dawson left last Wednesday's game against Purdue after taking an elbow to the head. He showed concussion-like symptoms after that and had to sit out the Spartans' regular-season finale on Saturday against Indiana. Izzo is confident Dawson will be cleared. And Dawson also said after Saturday's game at Indiana that he was expecting to be back for the tournament.

"I'm expecting him to be able to play," Izzo said.

Remember: Dawson was MVP of last year?s Big Ten tourney.


Spring football has kicked off at Purdue. And, let?s just say that it?s a big spring for Darrell Hazell as he enters his third season in West Lafayette looking for a breakthrough.

Many questions loom, not the least of which is: Who will be the quarterback? Who will catch passes? Who will run the ball?


Spring practice also began at Ohio State. And lots of focus will be on defense. Among the biggest holes to fill is at defensive tackle, with Michael Bennett gone. Urban Meyer isn?t jacked up about the available replacement options.

"Mike Bennett leaves, and if you're not as good as Mike Bennett, then our team is not as good," Meyer said Tuesday.

Bill Landis of thinks that?s a call to Tommy Schutt, Michael Hill and Donovan Munger. Adolphus Washington will take Bennett's spot as the three-technique, meaning the Buckeyes need someone to slide in at the nose tackle spot Washington manned last year after making a switch with Bennett that changed things for the defense in 2014.


Spring ball is about to commence at Wisconsin (sense a theme here?). Keep an eye on tight end Troy Fumagalli, who could have a breakout year.

An area to watch: The o-line, which has some holes to fill. The good new-there is talent on hand to fill in the gaps.


Get ready for some no-huddle offense at Minnesota, as Jerry Kill and his staff are installing that element this spring.

This offense needs a jump-start. Maybe playing with some tempo will help spark an offense that has been inconsistent in the Kill era.


If you haven?t seen Iowa?s new football facilities ? well, you are missing something.


The ?cost of attendance? stipend that is coming has caused some ripples, especially with speculation and reports indicating that there will be wild differences between the amounts among Big Ten schools. Here is a nice piece on that talks to Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis about the subject. Lots of good info here.

"For the most part the amount is intended to be that amount that it would cost to go to that school above and beyond books, room and board, tuition and fees, and you can understand that there are going to be variances because it costs different to live in one area versus another,? Hollis said.

"Athletics really can't play a role in that (COA) number. That number is determined by financial aid offices on campuses and then applied to the student athletes.?


On that note, it?s always fun to hear from Charles Barkley. Opinions? He has ?em. Check out this one: Paying college athletes is ridiculous.

"I don't know who you pay," Barkley said at a tourney media day. "You have to pay them all, don't you? You can't discriminate. You have to pay the soccer team, the lacrosse team, you have to pay the girls teams - that's why I don't think you can pay players."


Fun story here on how Tom Brady got away from Mike Riley when he was an assistant at USC.

This piece in says that USC was the front runner to sign Brady until one weekend when Riley came home from another visit. That?s when USC coach John Robinson broke the news: USC didn?t have room for Brady. Don?t you wonder: What if? Well, things have worked OK for the Trojans and Brady, right?


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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