Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 31, 2014

Is Nebraska becoming a basketball school? I kid. But, you have to be impressed with the work of Tim Miles, the upbeat Howdy Doody of Big Ten coaches. The guy emotes enough positivity to light up Scottsbluff, Neb. Last night?s win over Indiana made the Cornhuskers 10-1 at home and was the team?s third victory in four games. Hey, I?m a believer. Give me two of whatever Miles is drinking ? pronto.

Nebraska has beaten Minnesota and Ohio State. The only team to escape sparkling Pinnacle Bank Arena with a victory has been Michigan, which won 71-70 and just happens to be playing as well as anyone in America. So, climb aboard the Miles bandwagon. There is still room in the back with me.

What?s next for Indiana? This was a game the Hoosiers really needed to win to stay on course for an NCAA bid. Now, IU looks destined for the NIT. Even worse: It looks like Indiana will go from being a No. 1 seed last year to missing the Big Dance. If so, the Hoosiers will be the 16th team to suffer that dubious fate since 1985. Man, Tom Crean is being paid a lot of money.

IU blew a 16-point lead, looking spotty on defense too often and had issues with turnovers again (19). We have seen this show before. Next!


Big Ten Standings (through 1/31)
Conference Overall
Michigan 8-0 16-4
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
Ohio State 3-5 16-5
Purdue 3-5 13-8
Indiana 3-5 13-8
Nebraska 3-5 11-9
Illinois 2-6 13-8
Penn State 2-6 11-10
View Full Standings

That?s three losses in a row for Purdue after its three-game winning streak, as the Boilermakers fell at Michigan. This story says it well: It?s time for Purdue to grow up. This team should be better than this. But, it isn?t. I?ll invoke my old Mom clause: If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.

OK, I take that back. Here's one comment: This is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Or, is there something I?m missing? Where is that old Purdue Gene Keady toughness? (Crickets.) I just don?t see this team winning more than two or three games. Look at the schedule ? look at the consistently inconsistent performances.

Bundle up, Purdue Pete: It?s gonna be a long, cold February.


Michigan rolls on, now boasting a 10-game winning streak. This team is too good and too well-coached of a team to lose at home to Purdue, avoiding being the next home upset victim. Gosh, I love John Beilein.


Michigan State has an odd non-conference game vs. Georgetown on Saturday in New York, which also happens to be the site of the Super Bowl-in case you hadn?t heard. The Spartans really don?t need to be playing this game. But get this: Lady Gaga?s dad will be courtside at Madison Square Garden munching on a tofu hot dog, I?m sure. Why? Because he?s a Michigan State grad. Will Lady Gaga be there wearing a dress made out of meat? Hmmmm. I?m guessing ? not. Too bad. I?d watch that.


Much has been made about Bruce Weber not recruiting Rayvonte Rice-a Champaign native-coming out of high school. Enough already! This piece deftly defends Weber.

Look, Weber already had a monster recruiting class lined up in 2010 that included the likes of Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard and Crandall Head. There was no room for Rice, a 6-2 small forward who drew middling interest from others. It wasn?t like Indiana or Michigan were jamming his cell phone with text messages. Wait, is that legal?

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One more Illinois item: Nice read from Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times on Illini OT Corey Lewis, who played last season despite suffering a fourth left ACL tear. And played on. What a story of perseverance. Someone should make a movie about this kid.


Signing Day is drawing near. In fact, it?s this coming Wednesday. The gang at has taken a look at the 10 best three-star recruits that have signed with Ohio State over the past decade. This is a very impressive list.

Topping the list is James Laurinaitis. Who doesn?t love him? Exactly. He has the thickest neck I ever have seen. How did he do that? Keep this list on your coffee table if you lament missing out on some four- and five-star studs on Wednesday, Brutus.


Sticking with the football theme, Illinois fans will want to keep an eye on their quarterback situation this spring with Nathan Scheelhaase gone. It looks like a delicious three-man race.

I can?t wait to watch this play out between Aaron Bailey, Wes Lunt and Reilly O?Toole. Looks like Lunt, an Oklahoma State transfer, is the favorite. But Bailey is a heck of a talent. And O?Toole has been around the longest, for what that?s worth. Where?s my popcorn?


Bob Flounders of has a neat series going on that?s building toward Signing Day, as he poses various questions each day. Today?s query: What?s the biggest difference between James Franklin and Bill O?Brien?

Boy, where to begin? Well, let me chime in quickly: O?Brien is a nice guy who is-shall we say–overly intense. The guy oozes football 24/7 and sweats Xs and Os. I always got the impression he didn?t like the trappings of being a college coach. O?Brien just wanted to diagram plays on cocktail napkins. Franklin is much more affable and personable, embracing the many roles he plays as a college coach. He?d play Uno or Yahtzee with you. O?Brien? Uh, no.

Different personas, both equally successful.



My take: Is this foreshadowing?

My take: Lots of close ones. That?s life in the Big Ten.

My take: Agreed. This is a tough team.

My take: And Michigan is doing all of this without Mitch McGary. Amazing.

My take: Indeed, big games at Iowa and vs. Michigan State to come.

My take: #smh


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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