A not-so-old friend has returned to action in the Big Ten Conference as former Michigan Wolverines basketball head coach John Beilein and the Big Ten Network announced that he would be joining the station as an analyst.
Beilein left at the end of last season from Michigan to be the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Less than a month ago, Beilein was fired from the position and was replaced by J.B. Bickerstaff who signed a multi-year extension on Tuesday.
The former Wolverines head coach will make his first appearance tonight on the Big Ten Tip-Off Show prior to the 6 PM ET start of No. 13 Northwestern vs No. 12 Minnesota, the first fame of the Big Ten Tournament. The winner will play No. 5 Iowa on Thursday after No. 9 Michigan play No. 8 Rutgers.
The second game of the double-header tonight is No. 14 Nebraska vs No. 11 Purdue with the winner going on to face No. 6 Penn State in the last game of Thursday’s action.
Juwan Howard has confidence and concern heading into the Big Ten Tournament
Meanwhile, the Wolverines current head coach held a press conference on Tuesday to talk about the pending Big Ten Tournament matchup with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
“It’s hard beating a team one time,” he said. “I don’t get caught up in beating a team three times. We’ll let our guys play that out and have fun with it. We’re just focused on one game. We have our first game that starts on Thursday (noon), and whatever happens in the past is in the past.”
“We have a great group of guys. I’ve stated before they are high IQ ball players,” Howard said. “I look forward to competing out there. Every opponent we faced, [our team] did an amazing job of game planning for the opponent, have always been locked in and focused. They always bring effort, the attitude of getting better.”
“Am I nervous about this upcoming tournament? No,” he said, insisting the venue didn’t matter. “Let’s go to the playground and play. We’ll go to the playground, play anywhere, man. Somebody’s backyard … doesn’t matter.
”Just give us a basketball. We’re going to show up.”
Howard believes that they have the players to make a run in this tournament, no matter who or where they play. The Wolverines have a long way ahead of them to make a deep run in the tournament. If they get past Rutgers (who they have beaten twice this season), then they will go onto the No. 1 seed, the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers beat Michigan just over two weeks ago in Ann Arbor, 81-74.
Coach Howard is confident in the team’s chances in the Big Ten Tournament, but there are definitely some things about Indianapolis that have left him uneasy. Orion Sang of the Detroit Free Press summarized a few of Howard’s comments on the spread of the coronavirus and the danger it could bring to the athletes:
“Because now I’ve recognized by listening to a lot of the media outlets — I was always, ‘Well, maybe this thing is kind of overblown,’ “ Howard said. “But I heard this today, the Ivy League, they’re cancelling their conference (tournament). A lot of NBA, hockey as well as other professional leagues are now starting to address it a little bit differently and everyone’s been extremely concerned.
”I am going to communicate this to our team about how our health is the most important thing, and so we will sit down with our medical staff and see what the best way is to move forward with preventing anyone from getting sick.”
The Big Ten Conference issued the following statement on Saturday, March 7 about the upcoming tournament:
“At this time all Conference championships/tournaments will continue to be held as scheduled, and we will continue to consult with local and state public health departments, host facilities and the NCAA leading up to and during these events to implement best practices and provide the most current information.”
Since then, a lot has changed. As Howard mentioned, the Ivy League announced that the entire tournament for both men’s and women’s basketball would be canceled due to the spread of the virus. The regular season champions were granted the automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament.
Then, the Big West and the MAC conferences announced they will play their tournaments with no fans in attendance. Time will tell if other majors conferences will follow suit over the next few days.
Big Ten Brews:
- Chris Solari recapped a lawsuit filed by former Michigan State Football assistant coach Curtis Blackwell against Mark Dantonio for forcing members of his staff to “record opponent’s practices without consent and with the intent to invade their privacy”. He also accused Dantonio of racial profiling, illegally visiting recruits homes, soliciting improper benefits to players’ families, and tampering by recruiting players already enrolled at other universities.
- Ohio State University is moving all of their classes online and are telling every student to not return to campus.
- Nebraska has reportedly added two football players, QB Noah Vedral and OT Brant Banks, to their basketball team for the conference tournament. The Huskers suspended Dachon Burke Jr. and Cam Mack indefinitely last week.