Big Ten stories worth a read Wednesday

What a barnburner last night at the Breslin Center, as Michigan State had to work overtime to beat Ohio State after blowing a 17-point second-half lead. Give Adreian Payne major props. He didn’t start as he dealt with a foot injury but fought through the pain and discomfort to notch 18 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes. Heroic. And how about that big 3-pointer he hit in the dying moments? So clutch.

Maybe this will this turn out to be a pivotal moment in what’s a championship season for Michigan State. But for the Spartans to be truly great, I think Gary Harris has to be more of a factor. If he’s one of the top players in the Big Ten, he has to find a way to impact in crunch time in a game like this. And, he was largely invisible.

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Speaking of MSU, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has interviewed for the Louisville job. I hope he gets it.

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Big Ten Standings
Conference Overall
W-L W-L
Michigan State 3-0 14-1
Wisconsin 2-0 15-0
Illinois 2-0 13-2
Michigan 2-0 10-4
Ohio State 2-1 15-1
Minnesota 1-1 12-3
Iowa 1-1 12-3
Purdue 0-2 10-5
Indiana 0-2 10-5
Penn State 0-2 9-6
Nebraska 0-2 8-6
Northwestern 0-2 7-8
View Full Standings

While Michigan State is pumped about its harrowing victory, Ohio State is bummed. Rightly so. It’s the Buckeyes’ first defeat of the season. And, as Aaron Craft points out: “We really haven’t done much this year.”

Yep, this really was Ohio State’s first test after playing a marshmallow non-conference schedule. And, the Buckeyes came up short. Still, no shame in losing at Michigan State. I think Craft is being too hard on himself and his team. Yes, OSU shouldn’t have fallen behind by so much last night, but the team showed toughness and grit to fight back and nearly pull out the victory in a hostile environment. This experience will be helpful the rest of the winter for the Buckeyes.

Quick side note: How good is true freshman Marc Loving going to be? Exactly.

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Should Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah stay for his senior season? Or, should he go pro? The Big Ten rushing champion has a decision to make. The deadline is Jan. 15. I don’t think there’s a huge market for 5-8, 190-pound NFL running backs, but there’s no doubt there’s a role for Abdullah in the pros. And, honestly, how much more can he prove in college? The guy’s stock is sky-high right now. And, we all know a running back has only so many hits in his body. Dan Hoppen of HuskersOnline.com has a nice breakdown on the subject.

If it’s me, I go pro.

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Great insight here from Bill O’Brien’s confidant on his final days at Penn State. You have to read this.

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Rick Brown of HawkCentral.com wonders how Fran McCaffery’s outburst would have been viewed 20 years ago. Interesting.

Well, I don’t think it would have been looked upon as harshly as it has. We get it. But, times have changed. And this type of behavior, especially by a college coach, just won’t be tolerated.

More on McCaffery: Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald has an interesting take on the situation. (I promise, this is the last one. For today, at least.)

Barfknecht says the question going forward is how to walk the line between defending your team without hurting it.

“It’s hard to define,” McCaffery said. “In a perfect world, you say your piece, you get banged and you hope that will jump-start things. Your assistants pull you away, they get two free throws and we’re done with it.”

In addition to quelling the firestorm over this double-technical ejection, McCaffery also needs to look at his roster and cut down on his 11-man rotation. It’s too unwieldy. He needs to have an eight or nine-man rotation, as Barfknecht points out. You know the saying: less is more.

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Gotta love social media. Michigan center Mitch McGary posts some pre-back surgery photos.

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Interesting revelation about Ohio State DE Noah Spence and his suspension for the Orange Bowl and the first two games of 2014. Turns out he was suspended for using ecstasy. Just strange. Just weird. Spence’s father said it was a “small amount,” like that matters.

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Big Frank Kaminsky expects a Big Ten crown for Wisconsin. I’m not gonna disagree.

Kaminsky is a big reason for Wisconsin’s rise up the polls. I love this Badgers team. And I love the schedule of this Badgers team, which doesn’t have to play at Michigan State or Ohio State.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: This could be a NIT team. Maybe.

My take: Exactly. Giving credit to the system is insane. “Well, I guess the BCS got it right.” Hogwash.

My take: Heroic effort.

My take: Rebounding has been spotty for Michigan State all season.

My take: Tom Izzo with a strong take on his team. Maybe too strong.

My take: Save the date.

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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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