Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 30, 2014

What a crazy, loony night in the Big Ten. First, last-place Penn State waltzed into No. 24 Ohio State and won. If that wasn?t zany enough, Northwestern cruised into No. 17 Wisconsin and shocked the world with a triumph. The more I learn about this Big Ten race, the less I seemingly know. Confused? You betcha.

Think about these nuggets for a moment: Ohio State had won 80 straight games against unranked teams, which was longest active streak in Division I. And NU hadn?t won at Wisconsin since 1996, when the Badgers still played in the old Field House and were coached by Dick Bennett.

Let?s move Chris Collins into the ?Big Ten Coach of the Year? conversation.

And it was nice to see Penn State and Pat Chambers taste some success after losing three of six Big Ten games by a combined eight points.


Big Ten Standings (through 1/29)
Conference Overall
Michigan 7-0 15-4
Michigan State 8-1 19-2
Iowa 5-3 16-5
Wisconsin 4-4 17-4
Minnesota 4-4 15-6
Northwestern 4-5 11-11
Purdue 3-4 13-7
Indiana 3-4 13-7
Ohio State 3-5 16-5
Nebraska 2-5 10-9
Illinois 2-6 13-8
Penn State 2-6 11-10
View Full Standings

Is Ohio State at rock bottom? Fair question. The Buckeyes incurred their first loss to an unranked team at home in over five years and first loss to an unranked Big Ten team at home in nine years. I can?t believe I just typed all of that. Remember when this team was 15-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation? Now, the Buckeyes have lost five of six. The lone win in that span? Vs. Illinois. Trips to Wisconsin and Iowa are next.


Wisconsin?s issues have been defensive-oriented up to this point. And, the defense wasn?t too hot vs. NU last night. But, the offensive issues are boiling to the surface now. What a mess in Madison. The Badgers have lost four of five games. The lone win? At Purdue.

There actually was a point in time not that long ago when I really thought Wisconsin could run the table in the Big Ten-or have just one or two losses. Silly me.


Because I love nostalgia so much, I just have to pass along this story that celebrates Northwestern?s win over Magic Johnson?s Michigan State Spartans 35 years ago. (Sigh.) Seems like a good time to do it in the wake of NU?s big upset triumph last night.


Nice story on Michigan?s Glenn Robinson III from Brendan Quinn of

The sophomore is looking for some consistency in his jumper. Maybe he should ask his dad, who was one of the best shooters I ever saw. How bad has it been for ?Little Dog?? Robinson hasn't made a 3-pointer since Michigan?s Jan. 14 win over Penn State. Since then, he's 0-for-8 from behind the arc, but Michigan has gone 3-0 with wins over No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 10 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State. That speaks to the depth of talent on the Michigan club. I am amazed. I thought GR3 would be the star; but Nik Stauskas has been.


If you are like me, you have been impressed with how Michigan State hasn?t gone off the rails-or even teetered-with Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson out with injury.

Yes, MSU trails Michigan in the standings and lost to the Wolverines at home last weekend. But I still think-when they have a fully-charged roster-the Spartans are the best team in the Big Ten.

A big key to MSU not dipping: The play of Matt Costello, who is coming off the ?best game of his life? at Iowa. Tom Izzo?s words, not mine. But I agree, of course.


The gang at the always irreverent Champaign Room wonders: Is Illinois the worst team in the Big Ten?

My answer: Yes. Heck, yes.


Congrats to Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith on getting a promotion and a raise.

Gene Smith will receive a four-year contract extension, a promotion to vice president and a raise, retroactive to last July, that will pay him $940,484 per year in base salary, the university announced on Tuesday. He was also announced as assuming new duties with the business office that Smith said in a phone interview he actually has been performing for about a year.

It wasn?t long ago when some questioned Smith?s future amid an NCAA scandal that swallowed Jim Tressel. Look at Geno now.



My take: It?s a deep conference, no doubt.

My take: I agree with this.

My take: Penn State won the NIT that year.

My take: Stunning descents.

My take: I agree.

My take: It was impressive, especially coming on the road.

My take: The truth hurts.

My take: Good question. Me? I don?t know.

My take: #smh

My take: Seems like eons ago.

My take: More interior domination vs. the Badgers.

My take: When does spring football start?

My take: Very high praise.


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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