Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 22, 2015

Great gutsy win by Illinois at home last night vs. Purdue. Freshman bull Leron Black was the best player on the court. The Illini have won three games since top player Rayvonte Rice suffered a season-ending injury. Oh, and Illinois also didn?t have injured Tracy Abrams and Aaron Cosby last night-and it still won. Very impressive. John Groce can flat-out coach.

Where does Purdue go from here?


This team may be lucky to earn an NIT bid. Even that may be a monster stretch. If you are scoring at home, the Boilermakers went 16-18 overall (8-10 Big Ten) two years ago (7th place/CBI bid) and 15-17 (5-13) last year (last place). Purdue is 11-8 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten this year–with losses at home this year to North Florida AND Gardner-Webb.

Matt Painter, who is in his 10th season, knows his team has to get better. But can it? Many have their doubts. I don?t care if the Boilers have 10 7-footers; if their guard play continues to be spotty, this program is going nowhere-for a third season in a row.


Nice story from Dennis Dodd of, who caught up with ex-Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen. Turns out, prickling admissions standards were the reason why he unceremoniously bolted for Oregon State-at least that?s the storyline Andersen is sticking to.


 Hey, this is nice: Michigan State has announced a football series with BYU in 2016 and 2020.

MSU associate athletics director for communications John Lewandowski said the series with BYU — which marks the first time the programs have met in football — replaces games with Eastern Michigan. Thanks goodness.


Remember former Minnesota QB Philip Nelson, who transferred to Rutgers and then got in trouble with the law?

He has entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor assault in a fight that left a man with brain damage last May. Nelson had been charged with two felonies — first- and third-degree assault — for kicking the man in the head during the altercation that took place on May 11 outside of a bar in downtown Mankato, Minn. Nelson has been released from his scholarship at Rutgers and other schools have expressed interest in him. Nelson could resume his career immediately and would be eligible to play this fall.


Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says faith in Richard Pitino is being tested by this rough start to the Big Ten season. What has happened coming off an NIT title season?

Rand wonders that if the Gophers are 1-6 this year, what are they going to be like next year when they lose their two most established guards (Andre Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu) and their two most established big men (Mo Walker and Elliott Eliason) to graduation?


Nebraska coach Mike Riley has completed his first staff with the hiring of a receivers coach.

New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh also has completed his staff.

Let?s play some football.


Speaking of Nebraska, what are the missing pieces of the puzzle to Tim Miles? hoops team?

Dirk Chatelain of says it?s a solid point guard ? solid shooter ? and solid big man. That?s all. Still, despite that, the Cornhuskers are pretty salty. Credit Miles, who is riding Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields and some strong defense.


It sounds like Michigan?s Jabrill Peppers may be moving from cornerback to safety. Interesting.

Peppers was lauded as the nation?s top corner prospect by some last year, so I find it a bit surprising he would move. Great corners are more difficult to find than great safeties. Isn?t Peppers a mega-athletic talent? Regardless, Peppers began last year at nickel, and played some corner only played in parts of three games due to knee and ankle injuries. He took a medical redshirt as a result. Let?s see what Jim Harbaugh can do with him.


Here is a podcast from that looks back at the NCAA settlement that restored Joe Paterno?s wins. PennLive reporter Charles Thompson joined the Keystone Sports Network to talk about the NCAA settlement, the Paterno family lawsuit and the criminal case against former Penn State officials Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier.


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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