10 Thursday Big Ten stories to read up on

Great win for Purdue at Illinois last night. In fact, the Boilermakers may look back on that cold January night in Champaign as a turning point in a 2013-14 season that just wasn’t getting off the ground. Watch this video to learn three things Purdue beat writer Nathan Baird learned about the Boilermakers’ victory in Champaign. I learned this – OK, I already knew it – but When A.J. Hammons and Ronnie Johnson play well, Purdue is difficult to beat. And, don’t look now, but Purdue soon could be 4-2 in the Big Ten after an 0-2 start.

Up next: a visit from Penn State and trip to Northwestern. What’s next for Illinois? Is this the start of a freefall for the Fighting Illini, who struggle to score?

If you can remember this far back, Illinois opened 2-0 in Big Ten play, beating Indiana in overtime and Penn State—both at home. Since then, the Fighting Illini have lost at Wisconsin, at Northwestern and last night to Purdue at home. And there are upcoming games vs. Michigan State, at Ohio State, at Indiana, vs. Iowa and vs. Wisconsin. Ugh.

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

Despite Wisconsin’s loss at Indiana on Tuesday night, one poll voter sees no reason to drop the Badgers on his ballot.

I concur. Wisconsin got caught in a perfect storm in Bloomington. Indiana had a sense of urgency, needing a marquee victory to polish a dank NCAA tourney resume. And the Badgers were feeling the pressure of being unbeaten. They also are showing a tendency to be vulnerable to quick, penetrating guards who can get into the paint. Keep an eye on that.

There is a lot to like about big Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin’s sweet-shooting 7-footer. How about that 43-point effort earlier this season? And, apparently, the pro scouts like what they are seeing, too.

When I talked to Kaminsky earlier this season, I asked him about a potential pro career. He played coy and disinterested. But, the guy has some skills. And, as we know, you can’t coach being 7-feet tall.

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After consecutive losses, where does Ohio State turn? Before you jump off a bridge, remember this: Just two years ago, the Buckeyes lost three out of five games in one stretch in February–two of them at home–yet still rebounded to go 31-8 and make it to the Final Four.

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Could former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel land a spot on the staff of new Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell?

Tressel and Caldwell worked with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011. Remember that? Tressel works at the University of Akron behind a desk. If Tressel thinks that’s an anonymous existence, wait until he becomes an NFL assistant.

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The gang at TheWolverine.com posed an interesting question: Did linebacker Jake Ryan underachieve or overachieve after coming back from a knee injury in 2013?

Me? I think he overachieved. To come back and be productive from an injury that often keeps a player out for a year was impressive. Ryan not only had to deal with physical hurdles, but also mental ones. We’ll see the Ryan of old in 2014. And the Wolverine defense will be better because of it. With Cam Gordon gone and Brennen Beyer at strong-side end, Ryan is the only returning strong-side linebacker SAM with experience, and he could demand a role in which he plays every snap.

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Good stuff from Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald: What’s the best Nebraska team in the post-Eric Crouch era?

I’ll take the 2009 team, please. Those Huskers went 10-4 and played in the Big 12 title game. Some of the players? Ndamukong Suh, Prince Amukamara, Roy Helu, Jr., Baker Steinkuhler, Jared Crick and Alex Henery. Yes, not bad, huh?

There is a lot to like about Nebraska’s defense in 2014, what with players like linebacker Michael Rose, end Randy Gregory, tackle Vincent Valentine and linebacker David Santos back, among others. But it looks like two talents won’t return: linebacker Jared Afalava and end Avery Moss.

Still, there’s enough talent—and motivation—for this to be a good unit next season. Don’t believe me? Read this.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Take note.

My take: Yep, the big man and point man need to play well. It’s a time-honored formula.

My take: And who doesn’t like a good post-victory movie? Exactly.

My take: This isn’t good.

My take: Izzo always has an opinion, doesn’t he? As for the “academic” hurdle at NU, I’m tired of hearing about it. Academics don’t hold back Stanford, Duke or Wake. As for more money, I concur. Priority No. 1 has to be a new arena. This is the Big Ten. Get a Big Ten arena, for crying out loud.

My take: Mark Dantonio deserved some type of hardware. Oh, well. He got the Rose Bowl and Big Ten champ trophies. So, that’s better than any individual honor, right?

My take: High praise, indeed.

My take: So there is that. Take note, MSU opponents up to this point.

My take: Hawkins is a smart young man.

My take: This is the type of defense Matt Painter has been pining for.

My take: Looks like Richard Pitino is like his dad: They both love the 3-pointer.

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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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Show Comments (3 Comments)
3 Post Your Comment
theotherbigone on 1/16/2014 @ 12:01pm EDT Said:

Not sure being compared to Tim Tebow is such a positive.

bob jones on 1/16/2014 @ 1:17pm EDT Said:

Don’t remember any Mike Henery on the 2009 Husker team, but do remember the Huskers had the most accurate kicker in NCAA history in Alex Henery.

    BTN.com staff on 1/16/2014 @ 1:26pm EDT Said:

    Bob, that was our editing error. To all: please note that this post has been corrected to reflect the accurate name.

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