Today's links: Michigan flexes, Illinois vexes

No doubt, Wisconsin’s victory at Indiana on Tuesday was impressive. But Michigan’s win at Minnesota last night may have been even more impressive. So, let’s start daily links right there, OK?

The Wolverines sent a statement to the rest of the Big Ten that they may indeed be the best team in the conference. Michigan took command early and maintained control throughout in a raucous environment. And this comes just days after many questioned the team’s toughness after a loss at Ohio State on Sunday. Well, question answered—and then some.

Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press says the Golden Gophers were doomed by a slow start—also an issue in the loss at Indiana–that was the result of star point man Andre Hollins being on the bench much of the first half with foul issues. But Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe needed to do more.

And credit Michigan’s star point man Trey Burke, whom Minnesota couldn’t contain, says Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Burke more than made up for any shortcomings he displayed in the loss at Ohio State.

***

No one ever said life in the Big Ten was gonna be easy for Iowa freshman big man Adam Woodbury. The guy is shooting just 35 percent in four league games.

Still, the future is bright for the 7-1 Woodbury. But challenges lurk, as Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette notes. So far, Woodbury has seen Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Michigan’s Mitch McGary and the Michigan State duo of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne. The degree of difficulty climbs Saturday night when the Hawkeyes play host to Wisconsin.

The Badgers inside army of Jared Berggren (6-10), Mike Bruesewitz (6-6), Frank Kaminsky (6-11) and Sam Dekkar (6-7) made instrumental contributions to help the Badgers become the B1G’s lone undefeated team with a victory Wednesday at Indiana. Woodbury will benefit from the experience.

***

Is there a better story in the Big Ten than Northwestern’s Reggie Hearn? Maybe not. The guy arrived in Evanston as a walk-on—and now is the team’s top scorer and top player. Oh, and he had a nice effort in the win at Illinois last night, too.

***

Boy, this season is beginning to look a lot like last season for Illinois, doesn’t it? Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald-Review thinks so after watching last night’s ugly 68-54 home loss to … Northwestern, which had just gotten hammered at home by Iowa on Sunday.

And this Illini loss comes on the heels of a brutal defeat at Wisconsin over the weekend. Spotty defense, bad shots, inconsistent effort, a lack of leadership … you name it. They all are hurt an Illini program that has seen a 12-0 start melt into a 14-5 mark. Welcome to the NCAA bubble, Chief.

***

Some quick hits …

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper took a turn analyzing the Penn State NFL draft prospects. Here you go.

You knew it was coming, right? You knew there was gonna be a movie about Joe Paterno. Well, it’s gonna happen. And Al Pacino will play JoePa in the film adaptation of Joe Posnanski’s book. The tentative title: “Happy Valley.” Wonder what the license of creativity will be?

Penn State’s Bill O’Brien won the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year honor last night. Bravo! Well-deserved!

Nebraska continues to try to bolster its defense, especially up front, with recent commitments from three defensive linemen. But, none are highly-touted, for what it is worth.

The Iowa athletic department released its annual budget report. And for the first time in six years, it’s in the red. Gulp. Athletics officials are quick to explain, though, that the nearly $7 million deficit in fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, is due largely to construction projects the department paid for that year, including the renovation project on Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the new football practice facility.

The great Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal was in State College, Pa., recently. And he says the Sandusky scandal has had a lasting impact on this hamlet.

***

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: This is exactly right.

My take: Yes, it looks like a race between Michigan and Indiana. Oh, let’s not forget about pesky Wisconsin.

My take: “Huh?” sounds about right.

My take: I’m not gonna touch that one.

My take: This is fascinating—and unexplainable.

My take: It’s called “paying your dues.” And more people should have to do it. Take that silver spoon out of your mouth and try it.

My take: Well, there you go.

My take: Yes, scared sounds right. But, why be scared on your home court with a veteran team?

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.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.

Find out more about: ,

Show Comments (No Comments)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Have a question for BTN Customer Service? Please e-mail us here