Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 28, 2013

Let?s begin daily links with a homage to Michigan. I think it?s the best team in America, at least this week. And count the great Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette among those who also are impressed with Michigan, which quelled any notion Illinois had of upsetting the Wolverines with impressive penetration and passing on Sunday en route to improving to 19-1 with a win over the Fighting Illini.

But Michigan?s next three road games will be killer: Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State. If the Wolverines survive that gauntlet, I?ll really be impressed. And so should you.


Paging Rodney Williams, paging Rodney Williams. Minnesota needs you to regain your form ? ASAP.

Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press says Williams was averaging a team-high 13 points and six rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field and 69 percent from the free-throw line for the Gophers during nonconference play. In Big Ten play, however, it has been a different. Williams is Minnesota?s fifth-leading scorer at nine points per game, while shooting 37 percent from the field and 57 percent from the foul line. So, is it any coincidence the Gophers have lost four in a row? Of course not.


Big Ten Standings
Conference Overall
Michigan 6-1 19-1
Indiana 6-1 18-2
Michigan State 6-2 17-4
Ohio State 5-2 15-4
Wisconsin 5-2 14-6
Purdue 4-3 11-9
Minnesota 3-4 15-5
Northwestern 3-5 12-9
Illinois 2-5 15-6
Iowa 2-5 13-7
Nebraska 2-6 11-10
Penn State 0-8 8-12
View Full Standings

It wasn?t pretty, but it was a win for Wisconsin against visiting Minnesota over the weekend. The great Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal points out that it had been 16 years since the Badgers won two Big Ten games while scoring fewer than 50 points.

Well, Wisconsin hasn?t even reached the halfway point in league play this season and already has matched that total. Amazing. Wisconsin is shooting 40.2 percent from the field and a league-worst 51.9 percent from the line in Big Ten play, yet the Badgers find themselves just one game out of first place. Wisconsin has perfected the art of winning ugly.


First-year Nebraska hoops coach Tim Miles may look mild-mannered, but he has lots of fire. And he showed it during a critical timeout during a big weekend victory over Northwestern.

Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star says ?Miles? sense of humor and upbeat nature are endearing traits. But his infectious smile and quick wit belie a razor-sharp edge. He's a killer, in a sporting sense. His abundant energy and toughness should give Nebraska fans hope he can pull the program from a malaise that has dragged on for a decade-plus.? And, early signs are Miles does have a good shot at making Cornhuskers basketball relevant. Just wait until he moves into that new arena next season.


Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has some questions about the Ohio State hoop team. Among them: How tough is Deshaun Thomas? Oh, he?s plenty tough. And the Buckeyes are plenty good when others around Thomas are scoring consistently.


Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald has a monster graphic/story that details each of Nebraska?s turnovers 35 turnovers from last season. It?s quite impressive. It makes me wonder how the Huskers football team won so many games despite all of those giveaways.

*** offers a neat peek into the inner circle of Penn State coach Bill O?Brien, offering a look at who are his seven most trusted associates.


Signing Day is less than two weeks away. Kyle Meinke of takes a look at Michigan?s 10 best recruits since 2002. It?s a mixed bag, with some of these players panning out and playing well ? while others failed to live up to the hype. Sound familiar? Oh, Ryan Mallett is No. 1.


It?s no secret: Iowa needs help at receiver. Keenan Davis is gone, as is wideout coach Erik Campbell. The Hawkeyes already have commitments from four players who could play wideout. And they still are wooing more. Yes, the situation is THAT dire.

Pat Harty of says Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis warned that trouble might lay ahead when he told the media shortly after being hired that more speed was needed at receiver. Harty says Davis? offense depends on shifty slot receivers to gain yards after catching short passes, but there weren?t enough of them on Iowa?s roster last season. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an understatement.



My take: More proof of how times have changed.

My take: I agree.

My take: The point: It?s been a long time. A REALLY long time.

My take: He can?t get back quick enough. The Badgers could use the big fella?s shot.

My take: Yes, the loss at Purdue dampens Iowa?s NCAA hopes. A lot.

My take: Amen.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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