Today's links: Stunning win shakes up Big Ten race

Wisconsin’s win at No. 2 Indiana was impressive. Not only that, but the victory pushed the Badgers into sole possession of first place in a Big Ten race that looks to be wide open now. And, get this: Wisconsin isn’t even ranked, while six other Big Ten teams are: Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois. Let’s start the daily links there.

The Badgers played smarter and tougher than Indiana, which was an 11-point favorite and now has lost five in a row in Assembly Hall to Wisconsin and 11 overall to the Badgers.

What killed Indiana? Lack of transition points. The Hoosiers had thrived in getting up and out on foes, scoring cheap, easy baskets in transition. But, Indiana had just three points in transition vs. the Badgers.

Big Ten Standings
Conference Overall
W-L W-L
Wisconsin 4-0 13-4
Michigan 3-1 16-1
Minnesota 3-1 15-2
Indiana 3-1 15-2
Michigan State 3-1 14-3
Ohio State 3-1 13-3
Purdue 2-2 8-8
Illinois 1-3 14-4
Iowa 1-3 12-5
Northwestern 1-3 10-7
Nebraska 0-4 9-8
Penn State 0-4 8-8
View Full Standings

That was a big reason why the Hoosiers had a season-low 59 points after entering the game leading the nation with an 87.1-point average.

Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports offers five reasons why Wisconsin still has Indiana’s number. Two big reasons: Wisconsin dictated pace, and Traevon Jackson continues to develop at the point after some felt he was a mid-major player.

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This is a big week for Purdue, looking to build some mojo coming off a home win over Penn State with games at Nebraska tonight and vs. West Virginia over the weekend. But unless the Boilermakers solve their shooting woes (54 percent from the free-throw line in Big Ten play?), they will struggle to stay around .500.

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You think Michigan State is a team of grinders? Don’t tell that to the Spartans.

To shed that label, Tom Izzo say Michigan State needs better leadership, screening, rebounding, spacing and shooting. And a key player is point man Keith Appling, who has just six baskets in the past three games, on 25 shots. Izzo wants him to be more vocal on the floor, which isn’t natural for the soft-spoken Appling who also needs to be more aggressive on offense.

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One of the strengths of Minnesota has been a bench that goes 10 deep. But the production of that bench needs to improve if the Golden Gophers want to make a push for a league championship.

Players like Maverick Ahanmisi and Andre Ingram have been key. But since the start of Big Ten play, the reserves have fallen off. Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out that Tubby Smith has stated that he now trusts his starters to play longer stretches because they are more conditioned than they were at the start of the season, and frankly, they’re more needed, which is all fine and good. But used in the capacity that Smith does – for however many minutes that is – the bench needs to produce, says Rayno.

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There is no doubt Michigan has a strong set of guards and good perimeter play with players like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Glenn Robinson III, among others. But should the Wolverines go inside more? Perhaps. And, it may be a good time to start on Thursday when Michigan plays a huge game at Minnesota.

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Here are some quick hits:

Remember former Michigan State star Korie Lucious? Well, he’s now a force at Iowa State.

Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald had a recent chat. Here’s the transcript. Read it and learn, people.

A vigil is being planned to mark the one-year anniversary of Joe Paterno’s death.It seems 409 candles will be lit in honor of JoePa’s 409 career wins—even though many of those victories have been stripped. Oh, well.

Have you taken a look at Iowa’s 2013 football schedule? It’s tough. And that’s not ideal for a team coming off a 4-8 season. The menu features nine bowl teams. Oh, and there also is a trip to Ohio State, which went 12-0 last season. Gulp.

This just in: Football is not valued at Illinois, so writes Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette. No doubt, Illinois as an institution is outstanding, one of the best in the nation. The football program? Well, let’s just say it has struggled to keep pace with the academic side. In fact, a recent study valued the Illini football program last in the Big Ten. The grid program fails to meet the campus standard in terms of talent, facilities, revenue and reputation, says Tate.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: I couldn’t have said it any better.

My take: Five wins in a row in Assembly—and 11 overall—will do that to a coach.

My take: Yes, there you have it.

My take: This is amazing.

My take: Bold. That’s what that is.

My take: He’s the early leader for Big Ten Coach of the Year. And it’s not even close.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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