Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 20, 2014

Just when you thought this was going to be a ho-hum night of Big Ten hoops action, NCAA-hopeful Minnesota gets dumped at home by last-place Illinois. Those Big Dance dreams in the Twin Cities? They are fa-fa-fa-fa-ding. Oh, and the Gophers? next three games are killers: at Ohio State; vs. Iowa; at Michigan.

While Minnesota floundered, Ohio State easily dispatched visiting Northwestern.

And that?s saying something, as NU has won at places like Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota this season. And the Buckeyes have lost at home to Penn State. But there would be no zaniness last night in C-bus-except for the ejection of LaQuinton Ross for incurring two technicals. He won?t be forced to miss a game because he wasn?t ejected for fighting. NU?s Nikola Cerina also was booted. Unlike Ross, he will be suspended because his ejection was related to swinging a fist. Some good video here.

The result of all of this? Ten consecutive free throws. By the way: That?s four losses in a row for Northwestern. Remember when they were a darling?

Michigan State will try to get back on the horse tonight at Purdue. The Spartans have gone 3-4 in their last seven games. The issue for MSU, according to Gary Harris, is that it has gotten ?out toughed.?

I never thought I?d see the day a Tom Izzo team was described as being ?out toughed.? This may not be a great time to be coming to Purdue, which is coming off a rousing victory vs. Indiana in its best win of the season as it looks to keep some postseason options alive. To knock off Sparty, the Boilermakers will need another big game from Sterling Carter, the star of the victory vs. the Hoosiers.

Good news for MSU: Sounds like Keith Appling will play. But Branden Dawson is still out. And, that?s not good.


Nebraska has won three in a row and five of its last six games. What has fueled the run? Defense.

Lee Barfknecht of notes that earlier this season, Nebraska gave up 96 points to Massachusetts, 87 to UAB, 82 to Creighton, 74 to Cincinnati and 84 to Ohio State. Recently, the Huskers have allowed 62 to Ohio State in a rematch, 55 to Indiana, 58 to Penn State, 49 to Northwestern, 58 to Illinois and 51 to Michigan State.

Could this team make the NCAA tourney? Tom Shatel thinks so.

The prevailing wisdom: If Nebraska can get to 10 conference wins and get at least triumph in the Big Ten tournament, the Huskers will punch their Big Dance ticket. The Huskers are 6-6 in the Big Ten.

Guess who ESPN?s Jay Bilas mentions as an under-appreciated player on Nebraska? If you don?t know, you haven?t been paying attention. Shame on you.

By the way: From now until the end of time, every Nebraska basketball player will be under-appreciated.


Big Ten night games in November? Oh, they?re probably coming. We won't know for sure until ESPN/ABC and BTN announce their prime-time schedules this spring, but there's momentum for more night games and night games later in the season. Honestly, November night games are long overdue in the Big Ten.



My take: Honestly, one has nothing to do with the other when it comes to NCAA bids.

My take: So there is that.

My take: This is wild.

My take: Incredible.

My take: An NIT bid? For Illinois? Would seem like a long shot to me, even with two more wins.

My take: Nunn is really coming on. The freshman looks to have a bright future.

My take: Yep.


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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