Big Ten Mailbag: Our guy answers your questions

Yes, it’s that time of the week when I reach into my mailbag and answer your questions. See my latest installment in this post. And don’t forget, send me your questions via the comment box at the bottom of the post. My survey to Big Ten hoops writers that posed the question “who is the Big Ten’s toughest player” struck a chord.

Funny that Aaron Craft gets tough player but you show a video of him wiping out a cheerleader. – Bob

How can you even mention Aaron Craft? He is the Big Ten’s dirtiest player and gets away with more fouls than the entire league combined.  Get real!! – John

Not sure about Craft being “dirty.” But, as they say in football, Craft certainly “plays to the whistle.” I think any fan/coach would love to have Craft of their team. But, he can aggravate the opposition with his, ahem, intense play.

What about Josh Gasser from Wisconsin? – Ducks

What’s not to love about Gasser? He’s the epitome of a Bo Ryan/Badger player. Would have been a nice choice!

I appreciate the comments from everyone. No doubt, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft is a lightning rod who many of you faithful readers have a strong opinion one way or the other about.

I’m not convinced the “automatic” nature of the conventional PAT is necessarily that much of a negative. But, if one must fiddle, why not simply increase the value of the pass or run PAT from two to three points? That would change, say, a relatively common 17-point margin into a two-score deficit instead of a three score deficit. Might make for some interesting fourth-quarter decisions by a team trying to mount a rally. – Bob Payne

I like your idea and would put in on the table. I’m all for evaluating every aspect of the sport. I think the fact the NFL is looking at altering PATs may cause the college to do the same. It could be a way to spruce up a mundane aspect of the sport.

I lost buying Indiana stock. – Ned

You and me both! This team struggles with handling the ball. Too many turnovers! And the shooting has gone south—WAY south—since last season. This year, IU is shooting 33 percent from three-point range and 45 percent from the field. Last year, the Hoosiers hit 40 percent from long range and 48 percent from the field. Enough said. With each passing week, it looks like the Hoosiers may not be an NCAA tourney team. I never thought I’d type that back in November.

I get physically ill watching Ohio State basketball this season. (Surprisingly the same feeling I got watching the OSU football defense). Is this slump just a one-year thing and perhaps it will get better once the program changes out players starting in 2014? I trust Thad Matta. – Johnathan

Always believe in Matta. He’ll get things straightened out, but it would be nice if the Buckeyes could notch a signature win. It’s lacking from their resume. We saw the beginning of that with a win over Illinois on Thursday. It was a good start. The Buckeyes need to get more from the pivot, offensively and defensively. The entire team needs to shoot better. And that begins with Lenzelle Smith Jr., Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft.

***

But no recent story stirred more emotions than my ranking of the 10 best Big Ten teams from the BCS era (1998-2013).

Look, it was a near-impossible task, as there were many outstanding teams over that period of time. And, if I didn’t include your team, then you let me have it. That’s OK. Read on, and enjoy these comments.

No Iowa 2009? That team dominated Georgia Tech’s top-ranked rushing offense to a tune of 156 total yards! – cbryceson44

I don’t understand how the 2009-2010 Orange Bowl champion Hawkeyes can be left off of this list. They were really good and could have gone undefeated had they not lost their starting quarterback, Ricky Stanzi, against Northwestern. He was injured in that game and did not play in the de facto Big Ten championship game against Ohio State. We still took the mighty Buckeyes to overtime. However, we threw a game-losing INT! – Tad Dorsey

How about the 2011 Badgers? They had three losses all on last-second plays. – Kyle

This list is an absolute joke. How could you leave off 2006 Michigan and 2005 Penn State? – Michael

For on-the-field wins, the 2005 Penn State that finished No. 3 in the nation with a win over Bobby Bowden definitely trumps some of your picks. – Ipsler

Where is 2005 Penn State? You have too much bias towards Ohio State? – Kyle

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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