Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Big Ten fans. Call up your closest Michigan State friend and borrow something green for the day.
1. The NCAA tournament begins tonight with a play-in game between Manhattan and Hampton to determine who gets to look like the Washington Generals against Kentucky later in the week. While the College Football Playoff folks are a long way from having to pick any 16 seeds, it’s fun to imagine what it would be like if they did.
The Sporting News laid out its version of what a 68-team field in football might have looked like at the end of the 2014 season. Nine Big Ten teams qualified in the mock brackets with Ohio State holding the No. 1 seed in the Midwest. Michigan State (a No. 2 seed), Wisconsin (4), Minnesota (7) and Nebraska (7) all were favored to win the hypothetical first-round matchups in their respective quadrants.
The brackets as they’re set up would give Michigan State a shot at avenging its loss to Oregon in the Elite Eight round. The East is packed with five Big Ten teams and could feature a second-round matchup of Rutgers and Wisconsin if the Scarlet Knights were to upset UCLA. Playing around with some of the possible scenarios in this alternate universe isn’t a bad way to kill the time before the actual tournament kicks into full gear Thursday.
2. Penn State is shaking up its athletic department in what it hopes will be a new model for how universities can better serve students and their business interests. Restructuring the department is the biggest change athletic director Sandy Barbour has made since taking her post in August.
Barbour’s plan essentially divides the department into four categories that deal with either the students or the business side of things. She said she hopes the structure will provide for better communication among the different facets of the department. Barbour has spent her career in college athletics, serving as a player, coach and administrator during the last 30-plus years. Her announcement sounded much more like it was coming from the head of a Fortune 500 company than someone who has spent her career in academics.
"We are moving in a direction that will effectively serve our most important stakeholders, our student-athletes, while employing a contemporary business model to engage and provide value to our fans,” she said. "This strategic move will allow us to modernize our business while taking a national leadership role in intercollegiate athletics."
And now, onto the links...
Urban Meyer learned about the pitfalls of playing with a target on his back at Florida. What will he change now that he's on top again at Ohio State?
The offensive line presents the most pressing questions for Penn State's offense as it gears up for spring practice.
A few young players in key spots have made good impressions during Michigan State’s winter conditioning.
Maryland is returning some of its attention to the recruiting trail as spring practice hits its groove.
Former Wisconsin star linebacker Chris Borland, 24, decided to retire from football due to concerns about head injuries.
Nebraska receiver Brandon Reilly is off to a fast start this spring in Lincoln.
Illinois freshman Jeff George Jr. has made some “Wow”-inducing throws early in spring practice.
Northwestern veteran lineman Shane Mertz is back one more time after recovering from three season-ending injuries during his career.