Big Ten links: Could IU's Oladipo go No. 1 overall?

Self-important, fast-talking, arm-waving weather people who predicted a massive Midwest snow storm yesterday called “Winter Storm Q”? Over-hyped. Indiana hoops? Not over-hyped. That’s why the Hoosiers get the lead in my daily links. Michigan guard Trey Burke agrees with me on the formidable Hoosiers. In fact, he says Indiana is the best team the Wolverines have played this season, and another expert says Victor Oladipo’s NBA stock is rising.

I think most every team that played Indiana would say that, right? Frankly, I wonder how Indiana has lost any games this season. The losses: In overtime to Butler on a neutral court; at Illinois on a last-second shot; at home vs. Wisconsin by five points. If Indiana isn’t in the Final Four, the season will be a disappointment.

Now, could Oladipo be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft? Chad Ford of ESPN.com said it could be so in a recent chat.

From Ford:

“Yes. He’s moved into the Top 5 on our Big Board and for the first time, I’ve had a couple of GMs tell me that they like him more than Ben McLemore. They are in the minority right now … but still. What a rise. In all my years of covering the draft, I’ve never seen a player improve as much as I’ve seen him improve in such a small period of time. He has weaknesses, but major, major upside. If he continues to improve, I don’t think it’s out of the question he could be the No. 1 pick in June. He’s not there yet, but he’s special.”

Speaking of Indiana, here’s a nice feature on freshman point man Yogi Ferrell, who has been as good as advertised.

How big has the hype been around Ferrell? Hoop Scoop—a scouting service–named him the top fourth grader in the nation back in 2004! Nine years later, Ferrell is making Hoop Scoop look brilliant—and No. 1 Indiana very good.

***

Big Ten Standings
Conference Overall
W-L W-L
Indiana 12-2 24-3
Michigan State 11-3 22-5
Wisconsin 10-4 19-8
Michigan 9-4 22-4
Ohio State 9-5 19-7
Illinois 7-7 20-8
Iowa 6-7 17-9
Minnesota 6-8 18-9
Purdue 5-8 12-14
Northwestern 4-10 13-14
Nebraska 3-10 12-14
Penn State 0-14 8-18
View Full Standings

Michigan State’s loss to Indiana this week didn’t kill the Spartans’ Big Ten title hopes. But the defeat means MSU will need help if it wants to win the conference.

To earn at least a share of their fourth crown in five years, the Spartans need to win out—and hope the Hoosiers lose at least one game. Indiana has games remaining at Minnesota, at home vs. Iowa and Ohio State, and at Michigan. Michigan State plays Sunday at Ohio State, a trip to Michigan and home games vs. Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Also, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo defends Derrick Nix for his exchange with Cody Zeller on Tuesday night. And MSU A.D. Mark Hollis is behind Nix, too. They don’t appreciate the way Nix was characterized after the incident—and they say the film exonerates him of any wrong-doing.

So, there you go. This is the final word on that Nix-Zeller spat. I think. Maybe not. Oh, who am I kidding?

***

The great Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News spent a day with Michigan coach John Beilein. Follow along. And you’ll see why he’s one of the best in the business.

***

Wisconsin has been one of the Big Ten’s biggest surprises, currently sitting in third place and on course for another NCAA tourney bid and top-four finish in the conference under Bo Ryan. But some felt both of those streaks were in jeopardy this season, especially after a home non-conference loss to Virginia in November. But Ryan wasn’t one of those people.

Speaking on Sirius XM Radio, Ryan said:

“Virginia comes in, they know our system pretty well,” Ryan said. “Tony (Bennett) and I worked together for a couple of years. They are solid. They are not going to beat themselves either. We hadn’t figured out our guard positions yet.”

Is Ryan the Big Ten Coach of the Year?

***

Tim Miles has endured some rough patches during his maiden voyage as Nebraska coach. But freshman Shavon Shields has been a nice surprise. Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald has a good feature on the kid here.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know it: Shields is the son of ex Cornhusker football great Will, who was an All-Pro blocker for the Kansas City Chiefs for years.

“Shavon has performed very well in the Big Ten,’’ Miles told Barfknecht. “He’s had some very big nights. And we haven’t featured him getting shots. He just does it within the flow of the offense, which I think is most impressive. For anybody who is a true freshman in this league, that surprises me.’’

***

Could Victor Oladipo be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft? Chad Ford of ESPN.com said it could be so in a recent chat.

From Ford: Yes. He’s moved into the Top 5 on our Big Board and for the first time, I’ve had a couple of GMs tell me that they like him more than Ben McLemore. They are in the minority right now … but still. What a rise. In all my years of covering the draft, I’ve never seen a player improve as much as I’ve seen him improve in such a small period of time. He has weaknesses, but major, major upside. If he continues to improve, I don’t think it’s out of the question he could be the No. 1 pick in June. He’s not there yet, but he’s special.

***

Speaking of Indiana, here’s a nice feature on freshman point man Yogi Ferrell, who has been as good as advertised.

How big has the hype been around Ferrell? Hoop Scoop—a scouting service–named him the top fourth grader in the nation back in 2004! Nine years later, Ferrell is making Hoop Scoop look brilliant—and No. 1 Indiana very good.

***

It wasn’t pretty—but it was a fifth win in a row for Illinois, downing Penn State last night to allow the Fighting Illini to level their Big Ten record at 9-9.

While Illinois is soaring toward an NCAA bid as one of the Big Ten’s hottest teams, Penn State remains winless in league play and has dropped 19 conference games in succession. Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette points out that the Nittany Lions are an aggregate 49-151 in 12 years of Big Ten action. Enough said.

***

Anyone who has watched a nanosecond of Purdue knows it has flaws—major flaws. Chief among them: The Boilermakers can’t shoot. I’ll just stop there. No need to be cruel, right? It’s Friday, anyway. Well, help may be on the way in the form of a touted three-man recruiting class.

I’ll just say this: If these guys don’t impact significantly in 2013-14, well, next season is gonna be ugly, too.

***

Ohio State won a game that it had to vs. Minnesota on Wednesday. A big key was the play of Shannon Scott. It’s worth noting how much better the Buckeyes are when he plays well, notes Tony Gerdeman of TheOzone.net. In fact, I’ll take it a step further and call Scott the Buckeyes’ X-factor.

Does this February funk for Minnesota seem familiar? It should, says Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Michigan State is in the market for an offensive coordinator. The last time Mark Dantonio needed one, he promoted from within. QB coach Dave Warner and RB coach Brad Salem are obvious in-house candidates. But could Dantonio be looking at outside candidates? I think he should. This offense needs the spark an outside coach could be able to bring.

***

The Big Ten’s proposal to not schedule FCS schools in the future would have an impact on those school’s budgets. A BIG impact.

The Big Ten plans to vote on the proposal in June. What if other leagues follow suit?

“If the SEC and ACC make the same decision, we’ve all got to sit back and reevaluate how we’re going to replace our money,” Samford Athletics Director Martin Newton told AL.com. “If you eliminate those guarantee teams, it puts us in a tough situation at a private school where we don’t get any state funding.”

By the way: nine Big Ten schools have games vs. FCS foes in 2013.

***

The Iowa coaching staff continues to take shape with the recent hiring of Chris White as running backs coach. He was a special teams assistant with the Minnesota Vikings. Oh, and he never has been a running backs coach.

***

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: I agree. In fact, if Tim Frazier was playing, I think Penn State would be ahead of Nebraska and maybe Northwestern and Purdue, too.

My take: What do you think Notre Dame thinks?

My take: Illinois can’t forget this.

My take: Hmmm. Interesting.

My take: And for the first time since the event began in 1998, it is sold out in advance.

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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Click here on 2/25/2013 @ 9:36pm EDT Said:

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