Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 8, 2015

Here is a neat look at Wisconsin?s 17 consecutive NCAA trips. Since 1999, the Badgers have made eight Sweet 16 appearances, four Elite Eight trips, three visits to the Final Four, and one shot at the championship game.

Very impressive. No more doubts on if this program has reached the "elite" level. It is there.


Tom Izzo has had enough of opponents shooting more free throws than his Spartans. The loss to Duke in the national semifinal apparently was the last straw.

"I'm going to drive it a little more, and then a little more after that, and then a lot more after that," Izzo said.

Izzo spoke immediately after watching Duke attempt 37 free throws in the Blue Devils' 81-61 Final Four win over the Spartans. The game marked the most free throws attempted against Michigan State all year, after the Blue Devils repeatedly drove to the basket, drew fouls and kept the Spartans at bay. says Izzo's vow may have come after one of the most lopsided free throw games of the season for Michigan State. But the data from the last two years shows that teams are shooting more free throws against Michigan State, and the Spartans haven't kept up.

That is Tum Tum Nairn?s cue to get after it next season.


Will Michigan?s Caris LeVert turn pro?

"He has dreams of playing in the NBA, but at the same time, he understands that it's not about playing in the NBA and giving up a Michigan education to be drafted," John Beilein said. "It's about giving up a diploma from Michigan to have a career in the NBA. Those are the things he's sorting out."

If LeVert comes back, the Wolverines should be pretty good with Spike Albrecht, Derrick Walton Jr., Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman back, among others.


The Rutgers offensive line has a lot to prove next season. And big left tackle Keith Lumpkin needs to be a leader.

"I'm going to have to play a bigger role this year," Lumpkin said. "Guys like (graduated center) Betim (Bujari) and (graduated left guard) Kaleb (Johnson) were leaders last year; they got us going. So now this year we have a lot of younger guys out there. I know the guy who is going to be in there hasn't played a lot.

"We all need to communicate so things don't look all out of sorts. We all have to communicate and leadership basically has to come from me. I need to help them out in the long run."


No one covers Michigan State like Mike Griffith of So, when he writes, I read. Check out his five position battles to watch this spring.

The battle at tailback between Gerald Holmes and Madre London intrigues me with Jeremy Langford gone. The thought here, Griffith says, is that London has the upper hand, but the competition is close enough where a lackluster spring or summer offseason could flip the running order quickly. The competition gains importance because Delton Williams is suspended indefinitely.


Lots of good stuff on Ohio State football from Ari Wasserman of


Anyone who saw Minnesota play last year knows the Gophers need a boost at receiver. Good news: Eric Carter has looked good this spring.

And Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says three redshirt freshmen have looked good, too: Isaiah Gentry, Melvin Holland Jr., and Desmond Gant. Love the size, as Gentry is 6-4, 205 pounds. Holland is 6-3, 196. Gant is 6-3, 214. All three have made plays this spring. Gentry has that extra gear, so to speak. Holland might be the most polished. Gant is a little more raw, but you can see the upside. With the spring game coming this Saturday, fans have been looking forward to seeing this trio.


Henry Bushnell of has updated projected depth charts for Northwestern after Saturday?s open practice.

I can?t wait to see Clayton Thorson at quarterback.


Nothing like an offensive lineman to break down the play of defensive linemen. And that?s what Penn State C Angelo Mangiro does with DTs Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson. These guys are good, one of the best sets of defensive tackles in the league.


Chad Leistikow of has five Iowa backups to watch in 2015.


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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