Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 20, 2015

I think we all can agree to an extent with Rick Brown of that the Big Ten race is missing some buzz.

There just are few elite teams. Maryland and Wisconsin are the closest thing to that. But after that, there is a drop to the likes of Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan State.


Which brings me to this gem of a quote from Tom Izzo, who thinks the Big Ten is ?almost too good? this season with increased depth. What? Am I missing something?

Izzo went on to say: "The league is not as good at the top, I said that at the beginning of the year, I say that at the middle of the year, I might say that at the end of the year. But the league is definitely deeper, better, deeper."

It may be deeper, but I find it difficult to believe that it is better. In the end, the Big Ten may not get more than five of 14 teams in the Big Dance. Does that sound like a ?deeper, better? league?


Bloomington will be the place to be Thursday night, as Maryland takes on Indiana in a clash of teams atop the Big Ten standings.

How shocking is this? Zach Osterman of notes that an unofficial poll of conference media, conducted in the preseason, slotted Indiana ninth in the conference, just one point out of 10th. The team just behind them? Maryland.

Tom Crean had to rebuild a roster that returned only six scholarship players from last season and no real post presence. So, Crean elected to flood his roster with guards, go small and run often. It?s working.

Mark Turgeon had his own rebooting to juggle, after a raft of transfers subtracted several players from Maryland's roster, including its starting point guard. Hello, freshman stud Melo Trimble!


Unless Illinois figures out how to end its late-game swoons, Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette thinks it is in for a long season.

Big game coming up for Illinois at home vs. Purdue. In fact, I?m gonna call it a ?must-win? for John Groce?s club. Sounds about right.


This is pretty neat: Dan Duggan of has ranked every bowl game by attendance.


The great Bob Flounders of is breaking down Penn State position-by-position moving forward. Here is a look at the wideouts and tight ends.

Tight end Jesse James left school a year early to enter the NFL draft. James caught 11 touchdown passes during his career and was also an effective blocker. But James Franklin's team returns all of its prominent wideouts and the tight end group will be strong led by Kyle Carter and Mike Gesicki.


No doubt, John Cooper had some good teams at Ohio State, but they never seemed to deliver consistently on expectations. But how would some of his clubs-especially the 1996 and 1998 teams-had done in a four-team playoff? Doug Lesmerises of has some fun with the hypothetical.

"I look back, some of those good teams we had in the mid-90s, I'm not telling you we would have won the national championship," Cooper said, "but at least we would have had the chance to play for the national championship."

In 1998, Ohio State lost to Michigan State, finished No. 4 in the final regular-season BCS rankings, and in that era, went to the Sugar Bowl, beat Texas A&M and finished No. 2.

In 1996, Ohio State lost to Michigan, finished No. 4 in the final regular-season AP poll, and in that era, went to the Rose Bowl, beat Arizona State and finished No. 2.

In 1995, Ohio State lost to Michigan, finished tied for No. 4 in the final regular-season AP poll, and in that era, went to the Citrus Bowl, lost to Tennessee and finished No. 6.


Good video blog from discussing the fact that the toughest stretch of Iowa?s schedule is upon us. How will the Hawkeyes perform?

Iowa plays three of its next four on the road: at Wisconsin, at Purdue, at Michigan. And the next two home games are monsters: Wisconsin and Maryland. If the Hawkeyes can go 3-2, it would be considered excellent in my book.


Losing Caris LeVert is a tough blow for Michigan. But Brendan F. Quinn of says the Wolverines? problems go beyond LeVert?s loss. Illness and injury are impacting some other key players.

So, Michigan played for the national title in 2013 and reached the Elite Eight last year. This year, the Wolverines may be hard-pressed to make the Big Dance. My, how fortunes can quickly change.


Nebraska is releasing the salaries of its football assistants. And these guys are well-paid, as you would suspect. In fact, the total amount dedicated to Mike Riley?s staff is more than what Bo Pelini?s crew was paid.

Still, the coordinators aren?t making a ton of cash, compared to what some peers make at other schools. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf's is scheduled to make $500,000. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker is the highest-paid of all the assistants at $550,000 per year. Some schools pay their coordinators $800,000-$1 million per season.

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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