Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 12, 2015

A nice mix of basketball and football questions in this week?s mail bag. Grab a Fresca, click, read, scroll and enjoy. Keep those cards and letters coming!

You can always drop me a line via the email box at the bottom of this post.

What does Wisconsin need to do to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney? – Steven Wood

The Badgers have a shot to earn a No. 1 seed. bracket man Jerry Palm currently has Wisconsin as a No. 2 seed. The No. 1 seeds are Kentucky, Duke, Virginia and Gonzaga. If the Badgers can win out, they may have a shot to move onto the No. 1 line-depending on what happens to the current projected No. 1 seeds. The Badgers have some tough games left: Illinois; at Maryland; Michigan State; at Minnesota; at Ohio State.

How far can Iowa go if it keeps playing at the same pace/rate it is now? – Marcus

The Hawkeyes could go far. Iowa is 15-8 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten with many quality wins-at North Carolina, at Minnesota, at Ohio State, at Michigan. And it has a relatively light schedule down the stretch. In the end, I think Iowa will finish second in the Big Ten with at least a 12-6 league mark.

If that happens, the Hawkeyes possibly could earn an NCAA seed as high as No. 5.

How did you leave Penn State kicker Sam Ficken off your list of biggest pairs of shoes to fill in 2015? – Adam

No doubt, I could have included Ficken. He had an interesting career filled with ups and downs. He went out with a bang in 2014. Ficken opened the season by booting a game-winning field goal vs. UCF. And he closed it with a game-tying and game-winning field goal vs. Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl, earning consensus second-team All-Big Ten honors. In 2013, he broke the Penn State record for consecutive field goals made with 15. In 2013, Ficken had a tough beginning, missing seven of his first 11 field-goal attempts. But he rallied to have a nice season.

How about Iowa?s Fran McCaffery as Big Ten Coach of the Year? – Wezilsnout

A case certainly can be made for McCaffery, especially is he can rally the Hawkeyes to a second-place Big Ten finish and nice NCAA seed. Still, if Bo Ryan guides Wisconsin to a 17-1, or 16-2 Big Ten record, it will hard to not give him the honor. And, remember: point guard Traevon Jackson has been out most of the Big Ten season, hurting a foot in a loss at Rutgers on Jan. 11. Since then, Wisconsin hasn?t lost a game, ripping off seven victories in a row.

How do you think Nebraska will do in the Big Ten in 2015? Do the Huskers have a shot at the Big Ten title and possibly the national championship? – Zack Hoffman

New coach Mike Riley has some good personnel to work with, including quarterback Tommy Armstrong, wideout Jordan Westerkamp, tight end Cethan Carter and tackle Alex Lewis on offense. The defense will welcome back corner Daniel Davie, safety Nathan Gerry, punter Sam Foltz, linebackers David Santos and Josh Banderas and tackles Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins. A Big Ten title? I?m not positive about that, but Nebraska could win the Big Ten West. I?m just not sure if the Cornhuskers will have enough to hang with whatever school wins the Big Ten East-probably Ohio State or Michigan State.

In regards to comparing J.J. Watt and Joey Bosa, I've yet to see Watt end an overtime game like Bosa did against Penn State. #walkoffsack – Bryan D

Amen. Again, no disrespect to Watt, but Bosa did more his first two season in college than Watt.

Watt began his career at Central Michigan in 2007, playing in 14 games as a tight end and making eight catches for 77 yards. He transferred to Wisconsin in 2008, moved to defensive end and was named the team?s defensive scout player of the year as he sat out.

Bosa?s first two seasons have seen him notch 90 tackles with 33.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks, earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2014.

Will Nebraska men's basketball make it to the NCAA tournament again? – Jacob

Barring a run to the Big Ten tourney title, no. I wish all questions were this simple. The Huskers have been one of the league?s big disappointments after last year?s breakthrough, as offensive issues have dogged Tim Miles? club.

How many recruiting classes will it take for James Franklin to have a full roster of scholarship players at Penn State? – Jon Carlson

Franklin inked 25 players earlier this month. And, it was a nice haul that ranked No. 15 in the nation by Rivals and is 11th when all the major recruiting services rankings are averaged. According to reports, Penn State should have 84 players on scholarship this season. The max is 85.

How many years in a row do you think the Big Ten East will be the winner of the conference championship? – Jeffrey White

Hmmm. It could be a while, what with Urban Meyer building a Frankenstein program that will be difficult to stop. And Michigan State isn?t chopped liver, either, with double-digit win seasons four times in the last five years. Plus, James Franklin has Penn State rising, while you know Jim Harbaugh will amp up Michigan.

It does make you wonder if Big Ten West teams will have a shot to win the league banner, as the East figures to be the favorite for the foreseeable future. But, anything can happen in one game. I have seen firsthand some big upsets in league title games over the years: Texas over Nebraska in the 1996 Big 12 title game; Texas A&M over Kansas State in the 1998 Big 12 title game; LSU over Tennessee in the 2001 SEC title game. So, you never know.


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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