Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 31, 2013

How about a little hoops talk for the last day of May? Well, here you go. The great (and I mean GREAT) Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News and BTN has his early, early Top 25 for 2013-14 out. And, it?s right here. Yes, the Big Ten is well-represented.

Kentucky is No. 1 a season after missing the NCAA tourney. (How often does a team start atop the poll a year after missing the Big Dance? I know, I know ? it?s Kentucky.) Michigan State is No. 2; Michigan is No. 7; Ohio State is No. 11; Wisconsin is No. 14; Iowa is No. 22; Indiana is No. 25.

The Badgers seem a bit high for a team with a gutted frontcourt. But a strong backcourt and Bo Ryan can overcome anything! It?s nice to see the Hawkeyes on this list. I?ve seen some other early Top 25s that have omitted Iowa.

I think every other Big Ten ranking is just about spot-on. But, I may-MAY–lean toward picking the Buckeyes ahead of the Wolverines.


PATERNO SUIT: The great David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News asks the question on the minds of many: How long could the Paterno lawsuit last, and how would it affect NCAA sanctions vs. Penn State?

The NCAA sanctions last four years, but deliberations in this case could go well past that period. So, the Nittany Lions could be probation-free, bowl eligible and back at 85 scholarships while this Paterno family-filed lawsuit continues to wind its way through the courts. A settlement could be reached in the next few years, I guess, but it sounds doubtful. I, for one, hope the NCAA doesn?t buckle and negotiate.

One last comment: I hope the Paterno family isn?t motivated to see JoePa?s stripped wins returned to the record book so he can again be college football?s win king. Who cares?


ON THE TOPIC OF GEE: When Ohio State president Gordon Gee speaks, it can be good theatre-and make you squirm in your seat. Did a university president REALLY just say that, you wonder? Hey, I like humor and jokes. But, I don?t think presidents of major universities should be cracking jokes. Terry Pluto agrees.

That?s just me. And, after a few mis-speaks, you would think Gee would have come to understand his jokes stink. But, no, he continues to crack on. Amazing. Doug Lesmerises has a good synopsis of Gee?s missteps.

Here is Gee?s latest head-scratching utterance, quipped at an Ohio State Athletics Council meeting in December:

"The fathers are holy on Sundays, but they're holy hell the rest of the week. … You can't trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday."

Gee also said in the meeting that the Big Ten wouldn?t add Louisville or Kentucky. And when asked how to respond when SEC folks noted the Big Ten couldn?t count because it membership didn?t match its name.

"You tell the SEC when they learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we're [the Big Ten] doing," Gee said.

You can?t make this stuff up, people. Gee did apologize.

MICHIGAN-NOTRE DAME RIVALRY: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn?t think the Fighting Irish?s series with Michigan is ending.

I hope he?s correct. It?s one of the iconic rivalries in sports. And, honestly, isn?t it the rivalries that make the sport great? Too many good ones have fallen by the wayside with conference expansion. As for those Brady Hoke comments about Notre Dame being ?chicken? about playing the Wolverines, Kelly says: "There's no ill will. It's really about complications with scheduling. With conferences re-aligning the scorecards are full."


BREAKOUT SPARTANS: The great Mike Griffith of has a look at Michigan State?s top candidates to be breakout offensive players in 2013.

QB Andrew Maxwell? QB Connor Cook? RB Riley Bullough? RB Jeremy Langford? An unnamed WR? For the Spartans? sake, I hope it?s a running back.


Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald-Review says John Groce is anxious to blend the new with the old. Well, he has a lot of mixing to do.

It has been difficult to keep track of the newcomers to the Illini program-five freshmen and four transfers. So many transfers: Aaron Cosby, Jon Ekey, Ahmad Starks, Darius Paul. It will be fun to watch Groce blend them with veterans like Nnanna Egwu, Tracy Abrams, Joe Bertrand, Rayvonte Rice. Is this an NCAA tourney team again? I?m not so sure.


MAKING MONEY: This is interesting: Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis says Big Ten Network revenue exceeded ticket revenue for the first time in East Lansing.

?For those two numbers to cross over is a very defining moment,? Hollis told Jack Arute and Gino Torretta on Sirius Radio, ?and for an AD it?s a very scary moment.?

To get butts in the seats, Hollis has upgraded the schedule and discussed adding WiFi, among other in-stadium amenities. Hollis also hopes the upgraded schedule will enhance the playoff chances of Big Ten teams-in addition to boosting attendance. Hey, at least Hollis and the Big Ten are being proactive. I like that.


CORNER 'CATS: What will be the most important position battle at Northwestern this fall? Drum roll, please ? cornerback.

Sophomore stud Nick VanHoose has one spot. But, who will play the other? Candidates: juniors Daniel Jones and C.J. Bryant, redshirt freshman Dwight White, sophomore Jarrell Williams and true freshmen Keith Watkins, Matt Harris and Marcus McShepard. I can?t wait to watch this NU defense, which could the school?s best in ? forever. No pressure.


RUTGERS UPDATE: Your daily Rutgers item: Scandals have cost the school a cool $2.3 mil ? and counting.

This from an institution whose athletic department ran a nearly $28 million deficit last year.

Oh, boy.


My take: I would have loved to have seen both in the Big Ten. Athletically, they bring much more than Rutgers and Maryland. But, as we know, expansion seemingly isn?t always about ?athletics.? Strange, huh?

My take: Bingo!

My take: Too funny!

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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