Big Ten Mail Call! Answering your letters

You have your questions. And, as usual, I have my answers. Put them together and you have another BTN.com mailbag. Basketball is on the minds of many, which is why I rank my top Big Ten point guards in this mailbag. But interest in football never wanes so we talk about some recruiting, too. Heck, some spring practices will begin in less than a month, if you can believe it.

An as always, drop me a note right here.

Shouldn’t the Big Ten realize that the rest of the country recruits the exact same way that Urban Meyer does? What exactly is he doing that is illegal or underhanded that has caused this rancor and discord? – Dee

In the end, it turns out Urban Meyer wasn’t doing anything illegal. And there is no “gentlemen’s agreement” among Big Ten coaches not to recruit players who are committed to Big Ten schools. So, honestly, I’m not sure what Bret Bielema was so upset about. From what I gather, Meyer simply asked kids if they were interested in being recruited by Ohio State. If they said “yes,” then he recruited the kid. What’s wrong with that? Meyer owes it to his bosses and fans to recruit and sign the best players available.

Now, if a kid said he didn’t want to be recruited, that he was committed to another school, and Meyer kept recruiting him, then I could see where other coaches would have issues.

But if a kid says it’s OK to recruit him, why blame Meyer if a kid changes his mind? Blame the kid who opened his commitment and then didn’t keep his original commitment.

Between Ohio State and Michigan State, which school has the toughest remaining schedule? – Joe

Great question. First, know this: Ohio State and Michigan State still have to play each other—twice. In fact, the last game prior to the Big Ten tourney is Ohio State at Michigan State, which could end up being a de facto regular-season championship game. It also may be a contest that decided Big Ten Player of the Year honors between the Buckeyes’ Jared Sullinger and the Spartans’ Draymond Green.

Following is a look at each team’s remaining schedule.

The Buckeyes have seven games left (full schedule here):

  • Michigan State
  • At Minnesota
  • At Michigan
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin
  • At Northwestern
  • At Michigan State

The Spartans also have seven games left (full schedule here):

  • At Ohio State
  • Wisconsin
  • At Purdue
  • At Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • At Indiana
  • Ohio State

After careful consideration, I think Ohio State’s remaining slate is a bit more challenging. It comes down to road games. Each school has a trip to Minnesota. The difference is Ohio State has to play at Michigan and at Northwestern. The Wolverines are a Top 20 team, and the Wildcats can beat anyone. Just ask Michigan State.

The Spartans go to Indiana and slumping Purdue. Tough? Yes, but not quite as tough as Ohio State’s menu.

One more negative for the Buckeyes is a visit from Illinois, which beat Ohio State earlier this season.

The Big Ten seems to be loaded with good point guards. How would you rank them? – Ralph

Great question. Here is how I would rank the top 10.

1. Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
2. Tim Frazier, Penn State
3. Trey Burke, Michigan
4. Aaron Craft, Ohio State
5. Keith Appling, Michigan State
6. Lewis Jackson, Purdue
7. Dave Sobolewski, Northwestern
8. Jordan Hulls, Indiana
9. Bo Spencer, Nebraska
10. Bryce Cartwright, Iowa

I know what everyone else thinks, but how many teams do you see in the NCAA tourney? – Zack

I talk to Jerry Palm every week, and he still has nine Big Ten teams in the Big Dance, meaning Palm still has Minnesota, Purdue and Northwestern in the tourney. I guess I just don’t see it. There is still time and hope for that trio, but work must be done.

For me, the locks are Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. I think Illinois’ bid may be playing itself onto the bubble with some bad losses as it enters a very tough stretch.

But know this: Any Big Ten team that can get to 9-9 in conference play will make the Big Dance, based on playing in what most everyone feels in the nation’s top league.

It seemed like the East Region of the 2011 NCAA Tournament was overly strong, especially for the No. 1 seed in the region and No. 1 overall seed Ohio State. Was this an aberration or a mistake, and will this now be a trend with the tournament at 68 schools (the overall No. 1 seed having the toughest region)? The selection committee in 2011 didn’t seem to follow a S-curve in any way. Thanks. -Jacob

To review, the East Region was absolutely loaded last year. And that sure didn’t seem fair to Ohio State, which like you said was the No. 1 overall seed in the tourney. In addition to the Buckeyes, the East also included North Carolina, Syracuse, Kentucky, West Virginia and Xavier as seeds 2-6. Talk about a murderer’s row. I, like many, felt the committee did a poor job in seeding that region. The Buckeyes eventually lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

Is this a trend? No. Was it an aberration? Yes. The committee can’t get it right every year.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.

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Show Comments (5 Comments)
5 Post Your Comment
Harrison on 2/9/2012 @ 10:58pm EDT Said:

I completely agree with Tom Dienhart’s comments about Urban Meyer’s recruiting. It’s time the Big Ten realizes that a lot of major football powers recruit like Meyer. In Meyer’s defense, he just took over a program and why shouldn’t he at least check with people since he just started? It’s 2012 and this is big-money college sports.

Doug on 2/10/2012 @ 10:15am EDT Said:

you made the ulitmate sin and said OSU and Michigan have to play eachother twice, I think you meant OSU and Michigan STATE!!!!

    BTN.com staff on 2/10/2012 @ 10:18am EDT Said:

    Pin that one on this editor. Our bad – just an oversight.

Eric on 2/10/2012 @ 8:15pm EDT Said:

Craft, Burke, and Frazier are all better than Jordan Taylor this year. I saw Tom tweet that Craft can’t shoot…he’s shooting TEN PERCENT better from the field this year than Taylor. His 3 pt % is also much higher than Taylor’s. He also said Taylor can shoot…he’s hitting 39% of his shots and just 32% beyond the arc. Does this guy do any homework?

Kevin on 2/13/2012 @ 11:20am EDT Said:

Hulls #8 pg in the b10? …. come on. In your player rankings, you had him 6th (18th overall). Seems a bit inconsistent. He has a knack of making the other players better, some, like craft, appling are made better by those they play with. There is a stark difference. We will see how the b10 plays out, who the real leader is.

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