Catch up on Tuesday's Big Ten headlines

From the good news, bad news department: Several Big Ten schools are projected to make the NIT, college hoops’ version of the Belk Bowl, Little Caesar’s Bowl, Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl … well you get the idea … all rolled into one gloriously meaningless event.

Big Ten schools who have the “honor” of being projected for the NIT: Indiana is a No. 1 seed; Purdue No. 4; Northwestern No. 4. Illinois No. 7; Nebraska No. 7; Penn State No. 8.

Gotta think IU still has a shot to make the Big Dance, but it better get moving. Honestly, I don’t see Purdue even making the NIT. It looks like CBI-or-bust for a second year in a row for the Boilers. Yeeesh. I just really typed that. And Illinois? In the NIT? C’mon.

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Signing Day is coming. That’s why Michigan fans are smiling. You see, the Wolverines are poised to sign the top class in their state.

But, it’s poppycock. You see, recruiting is mostly based on name-brand schools and perceptions. Michigan supposedly has had better recruits than Michigan State for all of Mark Dantonio’s tenure. But, the Spartans have dominated on the field and on NFL draft boards.

Speaking of Michigan State, it sounds like Adreian Payne’s status for Thursday’s game is up in the air.

If he misses the Penn State tilt, it would be the eighth in a row the big fella wouldn’t play in. MSU is 5-2 sans Payne. I’d go ahead and rest him again. But, that’s just me. Maybe play him on Sunday at Wisconsin.

[ MORE: Read Tom Dienhart's recent look at football recruiting busts ]

Ohio State breathed a sigh of relief after it escaped Wisconsin with a win on Saturday. Alas, the Buckeyes fell from the Top 25 for the first time since 2010.

But, I think I can guarantee that OSU will be back in if it wins at Iowa. The Hawkeyes won in Columbus earlier this season, for what it’s worth. Can OSU score enough to keep up with the Hawkeyes?

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In case you hadn’t noticed, defense has been an issue for Minnesota during a recent slide that has seen the Gophers lose three of four games. Per this story from Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota sits dead last in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency since the start of conference play (all stats according to KenPom.com).

  • The Gophers have the worst free throw rate (which measures how much a team gets to the line relative to how much they try to score).
  • They have the worst three-point defense, allowing opponents to convert 36.7 percent of their attempts from behind the arc.
  • And they are the second worst at forcing turnovers, with opponents ending possessions that way just 15.1 percent of the time.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough, Andre Hollis is out with an ankle injury. The lesson here, kids: Things can change quickly in life.

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To say that Purdue is frustrated by its four-game losing streak would be a massive understatement. Where is the maturity? Attrition has ripped up the Boilermakers’ recruiting classes from 2009-11. And, Purdue is paying for it. Bottom line: Some poor decisions were made by the staff in recruiting.

“It’s big, to be honest with you,” Matt Painter said during Monday Big Ten coaches teleconference. “You want your classes full with two or three seniors, two or three juniors … and we don’t have that with people who’ve been in our program.

Listen to Painter’s Q&A session here;


“But there are still teams in our league winning with younger guys. You have to play with a maturity when you play younger guys and we haven’t been able to do that and be consistent in that area.”

***

Brady Hoke has spoken for the first time in, well, forever. Among other topics, he discussed the quarterback competition this spring. And, it looks like it’s gonna be open—even with Devin Gardner back.

Not a big shock. Every spot on this 7-6 team needs to be “open,” given how the Wolverines were a spectacular failure for most of last season. The offensive line will be of particular interest for me. The unit was an absolute abomination in 2013.

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More football for you on this snowy Tuesday: Here’s a stab at how the 2014 Ohio State defensive depth chart may look.

The line looks to be good, but the back seven has work to do, especially the secondary. Corner Doran Grant is the lone starter back for a unit that got torched … often. And while two starting linebackers return in Joshua Perry and Curtis Grant, don’t be shocked if some young guys push past them.

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In recruiting, you can’t win them all. Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com looks at the ones who got away in this class for the Nittany Lions.

No doubt, the one who hurts the most is defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who plans to sign with Florida after position coach Larry Johnson left for Ohio State. Holley would have been a nice replacement for DaQuan Jones.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Yes, you just read that.

My take: Yes, kinda sad, isn’t it?

My take: Wow and amaze your friends with this factoid.

My take: Let’s just say it’s going to be an interesting season in Ann Arbor.

My take: Is there an end in sight?

My take: Yes he is.

My take: Oh, this team isn’t finished winning. And it will win more than one more game.

My take: I won’t argue.

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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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