Reader mail: IU-UK hoops & football answers

What about Indiana vs. Kentucky going away? How do think Wisconsin will do this year with a new quarterback? Wjhat do I think about the Penn State quarterback slot? Do I think the Big Ten will expand soon? You have questions, I have my answers in this week’s mailbag.

Send me questions for next week over here on the mailbag page. And stay in touch with me on Twitter (@BTNTomDienhart) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BTNTomDienhart), too.

What do you think of Indiana and Kentucky not playing next season? -Philip

It’s too bad, really. Again, to recap: Kentucky wants to play the game at a neutral site—like Indianapolis. Indiana wants to keep playing the game on the campus of each school. The schools have met every season since 1969. The games rotated between Louisville and Indianapolis from 1991-2005. Prior to that and since, the games were played on campuses.

UK feels more money could be made by playing in larger venues away from campus. But Indiana feels the off-campus site doesn’t provide atmosphere. I have to side with Kentucky on this.

Does it really matter where the game is played? Fans, students and alums can get to Indianapolis or Louisville easily. And as far as atmosphere goes, it would be great wherever these teams met. Indianapolis, Louisville, the moon.

I have seen rivals meet in off-campus setting in football and basketball—and the atmospheres are great. Check out the Oklahoma-Texas game in the Cotton Bowl every year. Or, how about Florida-Georgia in Jacksonville?

Are you telling me those are bad atmospheres? Indiana and Kentucky would pack Lucas Oil Stadium in a sea of red and blue, tickets split 50-50. How on God’s green earth could that not be a GREAT atmosphere? While also making a ton of money?

It’s just too bad both parties can’t come together for one of the sport’s top rivalries that has thrived in on- and off-campus settings.

How do think Wisconsin will do this year with a new quarterback? – Daniel

With the arrival of Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien, I think the Badgers will be a favorite in the Leaders Division. Remember, Ohio State isn’t eligible for the title because of probation. Illinois and Penn State will have new questions—and lots of questions. Indiana? Purdue? Yes, the Badgers should win the division for a second season in a row.

The questions: Will the receiving corps develop after an inconsistent spring? Will a playmaker emerge on the defensive line? Are cornerback Devin Smith and free safety Dezmon Southward solid in the secondary? Will the new kicker and punter be OK?

In the end, I think Bret Bielema and his overhauled staff will get things figured out.

There is a lot of talk about Michigan State and how good it can be. What are your thoughts? – Joey

The more I watch the spring game, the more people I talk to and the more I read, the more I am falling in love with the Spartans.

This looks like Mark Dantonio’s best team, especially a defense that that is loaded front to back. Yes, tackles Jerel Worthy and Kevin Pickelman, along with safety Trenton Robinson, are key cogs that are gone. But the linebacking corps led by Denicos Allen will be special. And will there be a better defensive end in the nation than William Gholston?

Yes, I know the offense will have a new quarterback, but I like the potential of Andrew Maxwell. And there’s talent at wideout that will develop quickly. Bottom line: Michigan State very well may be the top team in the Big Ten.

There has been so much written about who will be the Penn State quarterback. What do you think? – Max

Well, it appears one thing is probably certain: It won’t be Rob Bolden, who didn’t have a strong spring. That leaves Matt McGloin or Paul Jones. Each had their moments, and Jones was one of the Nittany Lions surprises in the spring. But, he redshirted his first season in 2010 and missed last year due to academics. McGloin has lots of starting experience, which can’t be overvalued. Is he the most talented signal-caller on the roster? Probably not. But, again, that experience is what I think will ultimately win him the job.

Do you think the Big Ten will expand soon? – Bill

No, I don’t think it will expand anytime soon. Aside from Notre Dame, I don’t know if there are any other schools that would “move the needle” to make it worth the Big Ten’s while. And the Irish are giving no indication that they are interested in joining.

There was some wild speculation over the past few years during all the conference movement that maybe the Big Ten would look East, moving into populated areas with lots of TV sets. Schools like Maryland, Rutgers and Georgia Tech were mentioned. But, again, that all was pure conjecture and speculation.

Bottom line: The Big Ten is happy with its 12-team configuration. And it’s not gonna make a move just because everyone else has recently. Above all else, it has to be the right move with lots of added value.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, and all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart. Send questions to his weekly mailbag, subscribe to his RSS feed, and check out his video Q&A.

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