Michigan State's men's basketball staff was led to believe Thursday that Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson had been fired during the day.  That's what Fox News reported and that was quickly refuted by both IU officials and the Indianapolis Star.  The IU people said no decision had been made and would not be made until Friday.  It better come early.  The Indiana team is due to leave at mid day for Evanston, Illinois and a Saturday win against Northwestern.  However, if Sampson indeed is fired, assistant Dan Dakich is expected to take over on an interim basis.  Dakich is a former Bob Knight player who also served as head coach with mixed results at Bowling Green. 

     The Wisconsin win at Illinois on Wednesday keeps the Badgers in the thick of the Big Ten title hunt.  Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue each have two league losses-- the Spartans have four with five games remaining.  I still think Michigan State will finish 4-1 in the last five and that would provide a 13-5 conference record and likely a fourth place finish.  State would then be 25-6 heading into the Big Ten tournament.  If the Spartans win a game and go maybe 1-1, then they'd be about 26-7 on NCAA tournament selection Sunday, March 16th.  That would be good for about a fourth or fifth seed, probably no lower.

     Tom Izzo told me Thursday he thinks his team can still be sent to the Midwest Regional without winning the league title, but that his Spartans will have to finish strong that they won't be just given the assignment, even though an MSU presence could help sell 75,000 tickets for the March 28th doubleheader.  MSU of course would have to win two first round games to even get to Detroit if it does get assigned to the Midwest Regional.  But there's lots of regular season to play yet and a lot can yet happen for all of these teams, both good and bad.


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