Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 11, 2014

The debate will rage: Who is the Big Ten Coach of the Year? The Big Ten media bestowed the honor on John Beilein. The Big Ten coaches bequeathed the award on Tim Miles. Probably a good idea to just split it. A great case can be made for each guy. Personally, my vote would have gone with Beilein, who just isn?t comfortable with these things. And he means it, too.

But I certainly love what Miles is doing. He and Beilein each share a similar odyssey.

Gotta be excited about the future of Illinois? Kendrick Nunn, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and helped revive the Illini?s season.

A nice group of freshmen on this team, with Purdue?s Kendall Stephens, Michigan?s Derrick Walton, Jr., Wisconsin?s Nigel Hayes and Indiana?s Noah Vonleh, the top freshman of them all. A stud.

[ MORE: The 2013-14 All-Big Ten Teams | What at stake in the tourney? ]

If any team wants a fresh start in the postseason, it?s Michigan State. The Spartans need a blank slate after going 5-7 in their last 12 games.

Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News points out that Tom Izzo is hoping to draw on past experiences to spark this year?s team. In 2005, Michigan State struggled at different points in the season and lost in the first game of the Big Ten tournament only to go on to a Final Four. Two years ago a loss in the final game of the regular forced the Spartans to share the Big Ten title and Izzo declared that day Michigan State was going to Indianapolis to ?win its title back.?

Michigan State did just that, avenging its loss to Ohio State with a victory on the conference title game to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. MSU can only hope the Spartans have a similar spring revival this year.


Herbie Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times has a breakdown of the conference with tourney time on our doorstep.

Gould thinks the Big Ten has three teams capable of reaching the Final Four: Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. I agree with two of those. You guess which one I don?t concur on with Gould.


Everyone is wondering how Iowa slipped into a tailspin to end the regular season. It was a train wreck, as the Hawkeyes lost five of their last six. notes that Iowa has won 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2004-05 and 2005-06. The Hawkeyes were ranked for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Want more? They won four Big Ten road games for the first time since 2003-04 and three in a row on the road for the first time since 1997-98. Still, this team lacks mojo as March marches on. Close games have been killer: Ten of the Hawkeyes? 11 defeats have been by seven points or less. Poor defense and rebound have been costly for Iowa.


Back in November, if I had told you that Wisconsin?s Frank Kaminsky would be a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick, you?d have called me crazy. Well, that?s exactly what the big fella is. Has there been a more improved player in the league this season? Of course not.


Make no mistake about it: Thad Matta loves Aaron Craft?s defensive efforts. But Ohio State will need more than just defense from Craft if the Buckeyes hope to make a postseason run. Still, it would be nice to see Craft earn national defensive player of the year honors. Only two Big Ten players have earned the honor since the National Association of Basketball Coaches started handing out the award in 1987.


It seems Graham Couch isn?t pleased with the All-Big Ten teams announced by the conference. So, he has his own actual team: PG, SG, SF, PF, C. Interesting, Couch has Gary Harris as his small forward over Nik Stauskas.


Interesting revelation from Nebraska spring ball: Jamal Turner will see double-duty as a wideout and quarterback. Think Northwestern?s Kain Colter. I like it.



High praise.

So, this is a rare occasion.

So, this is a rare occasion.


I think Jackson is correct.


No one does defense better.


Fitting. This was a last-place team for a reason.

Among other things.



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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