Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 16, 2015

Indiana is playing well, positioned for an NCAA berth. And the Hoosiers can thank junior Yogi Ferrell. Zach Osterman had a recent mail bag question that asked: Will Yogi leave for the NBA after this season?

If he is projected as a first-rounder, it may be difficult not to leave. Much may depend on how well IU finishes the season and how far Ferrell can carry the Hoosiers.


Iowa? Iowa! That?s two losses in a row for the Hawkeyes, who fell in overtime at Northwestern on Sunday. Not long ago, I thought Iowa was primed to show it was the second-best team in the Big Ten. Hmmmm. Iowa may be treading on thin NCAA ice. I would advise finishing strong-very strong. Jarrod Uthoff says Iowa can win out. It may need to do so.


After Denzel Valentine hit that huge game-winning 3-pointer-on Valentine?s Day, no less-he no doubt is now Michigan State?s late-game shooter.

MSU wasn?t sure who would be that guy earlier this season. But after the 25th game of the season, there's a more definitive answer to that question.

"Most of the time, he is taking the shot," Tom Izzo said Saturday following the big home win vs. Ohio State. "It's not up for debate anymore. He's worked to earn the right."


Close losses-they have been a theme of Ohio State?s season. Will the close defeats come to define the Buckeyes? campaign? The latest heartbreak took place on Saturday at Michigan State.

Ari Wasserman of calls it a trend. Louisville. Indiana. Iowa. Purdue. North Carolina on a neutral site. Ohio State has played with some very talented teams away from Value City Arena, but the Buckeyes haven't gotten it done. The three road wins Ohio State does claim? Minnesota, Northwestern and Rutgers — teams who combine for nine wins in conference play. With March roughly two weeks away, the Buckeyes, a team that was seemingly hitting its stride, still has a lot to prove.


Remember that brief mini-flap between Penn State's Herb Hand and Pitt counterpart John Peterson? Well, it?s over.

Let?s hold hands and sing ?Kumbaya.?


New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has things to work out this spring-chief among them is sorting through the quarterback spot. But Harbaugh also is in search of toughness. Can you instill toughness? Nah.

"There are several ways to gauge that," Harbaugh said recently. "How do you gauge somebody's toughness? I mean, what does their contact courage look like? A back that will lower their pads going through a hole, a defender that cannot wait to get from point A to point B and go hit somebody.

"We wanted guys who are serious about football."


Rutgers made an interesting hire for its recruiting coordinator spot, tabbing Jeff Towers for the post. Who is he? That?s where it gets interesting, as Towers comes from the business world. Wait, it gets better ?

Another twist to this hire: Towers reportedly donated $1 million toward Kyle Flood?s salary last year.


Tough for new Nebraska coach Mike Riley to see secondary coach Charlton Warren bolt for North Carolina before spring ball even starts.

Warren was the lone holdover from Bo Pelini?s staff. He also was a boffo recruiter.


Michigan State looks to be loaded for a run at the Big Ten title in 2015. But the secondary will need some work.

The corner spots look to be very much in flux with CB Trae Wayne and S Kurtis Drummond gone. But the safeties look good.

"I'd look for three of our safeties, Demetrious Cox, RJ Williamson, Montae Nicholson, all three will have breakout years," co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel said. "We've set expectations here with our defense, our players have set expectations for themselves, and we don't expect to do anything but get better.

"We have a system that everyone believes in, and our guys believe in playing fast and physical."


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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