Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 10, 2014

The Big Ten race looks like it?s gonna come down to Michigan State and Michigan. Not a big shock. Each team has a 9-2 Big Ten mark. And each team is in a bit of a slump, losing two of its last three games. Still, once the Spartans get healthy, you have to think they should win the conference, right? Right.

The Spartans continue to deal with horrible injury luck, too.


Just as Adreian Payne returns from a foot ailment, Keith Appling exits with a wrist injury. And, he could be out a few weeks. Oh, and Branden Dawson remains out (hand). Earlier this season, Matt Costello missed time with mono, while Gary Harris dealt with an ankle injury.


By the way: Michigan State plays at Michigan on Feb. 23. If the Wolverines hope to get over the top, Glenn Robinson III needs to step up his game.

It isn?t unfair to characterize his season as disappointing. Now would be a good time for GR3 to break from his funk. The Wolverines will travel to Ohio State and host Wisconsin and Michigan State over the next two weeks. All three are ranked between 10 and 16 in the RPI.


The Badgers are back, baby! Wisconsin scored a big win on Sunday vs. Michigan State, the first-place Big Ten team. It was a vintage Badger performance, complete with that classic Bo Ryan defense. And the game-winning shot by Traevon Jackson was pretty cool, too.

Will Wisconsin win the Big Ten? Probably not. The Badgers have five league losses; Michigan and MSU each have two. Still, UW has a lot to play for.


Everyone in Champaign can exhale: Illinois? eight-game losing streak is over with a win at Penn State. It was 35 long days between wins. The last time the Illini won? It was Jan. 4 vs.-you guessed it-Penn State. The Illinois win was fueled by freshmen. So, hey, that bodes well for the future. Keep playing Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill.


Iowa announced to the Big Ten that it?s still firmly in the title hunt after that 18-point win vs. Michigan in Iowa City on Saturday. So impressive.

The Hawkeyes are just two games behind conference leaders Michigan and Michigan State. It?s just too bad Iowa lost at home to the Spartans and Ohio State. But if Iowa plays like it did vs. Michigan, it is VERY difficult to beat.


The struggles continue for Indiana. Will the Hoosiers make the NCAA tourney a year after earning a No. 1 seed? The latest setback was a loss at Minnesota that came on the heels of a big home victory vs. Michigan. How bad has it been in ?Gloomington?? IU is 2-4 in its last six games.


Remember when Northwestern was a darling, winning five of seven games? Now, the Wildcats are coming off a home loss to Nebraska with a visit from Michigan State next.

But, hey, there seemed to be genuine disappointment in Evanston over Northwestern?s loss to the Huskers. And, that?s a good thing. This is an evolving program with ? expectations. Yes, expectations.


Stop me if you?ve heard this before, Purdue fans: The Boilermakers need to play with a better basketball I.Q.

The latest loss at Ohio State was yet another example of a Purdue team that hasn?t really gotten better this season. And, that?s an indictment of a lot of people.


Because Nebraska fans never can get enough recruiting info, here?s one last look at the 2014 signing class for the Huskers.

The steal of the class? It could be LB Jaevon Walton. He?s a versatile guy who could also be used as a pass-rushing end.


My take: No doubt, this was a bad loss for Penn State.

My take: It was pretty bad. 3-for-20 for 6 points?

My take: This was pretty neat.

My take: I like these youngsters.

My take: Gonna be an interesting race.

My take: If things don?t change, they stay the same.

My take: Not good.

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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