Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 18, 2015

Time to reach into my Big Ten mail bag, where I got letters about football, men's hoops and – sometimes – restaurants. Seems I have hacked off an Iowa fan for putting my sports writers' curse on the Hawkeyes by continually hyping Iowa in football and basketball. I got another letter from a reader who wonders why Wisconsin isn't projected as a No. 1 NCAA seed.

I take those on and more in this week's mail bag. You can drop me your notes at the bottom of this post – I read every single one of them. But for now, it's your turn to read on.

PLEASE get off Iowa's bandwagon. I am a Hawks fan and you are killing us. Please DO NOT pick us to win anything anymore. Thanks. – Eric


This is funny. And, true! I picked Iowa to win the Big Ten West in football.


Then, I recently said I thought the Hawkeye hoops team was the second-best in the Big Ten.


Oh, man. I am on a roll! So, yes, I am off the Iowa bandwagon. Hope you sleep better knowing that.


Why is Wisconsin not projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney by Jerry Palm or Joe Lunardi? – Tom

I am miffed like you. I will concede top seeds to Kentucky, Duke and Virginia. But Gonzaga? I think Wisconsin deserves to be a No. 1. It?s just too bad the Badgers lost at Rutgers this year. Their only other defeat has been at home to Duke. No shame there. Wisconsin is 23-2 overall and 11-1 in the Big Ten. And its RPI as I type this is No. 6.

Gonzaga?s RPI is No. 8, as the Zags are 25-1. Their only loss was at Arizona. No shame there. But the Badgers have more quality victories than Gonzaga, which toils in the West Coast Conference.

The Zags? ?Top 50 RPI? wins? Vs. SMU and Georgia on a neutral floors, and at St. John?s and at UCLA. The Badgers? ?Top 50? RPI wins? Green Bay, Boise State, Georgetown and Oklahoma on neutral floors; Indiana, Illinois. Plus, Wisconsin has several games remaining vs. teams currently in the Top 50.

Case closed.

If the Badgers win out-and then win the Big Ten tourney-I think they will be a No. 1 seed ? even if Gonzaga does the same thing.

When looking at NCAA resumes for Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue and Iowa, you probably should have included the Fighting Illini?s victory vs. Baylor on a neutral court as a ?good? win. – David

Yep. My bad. The Bears are solid, boasting an 18-7 mark and 6-6 Big 12 record.


Do you agree with Pat Chambers that the officials made a bad call at the end of last weekend?s Maryland game? – Lynne Turosky

Yes, I do think it was a poor call by the officials. But, they will make mistakes, too. I think over time that the calls of officials tend to even out. I don?t agree with how Chambers handled things, criticizing the refs in the postgame presser. The conference has procedures and guidelines for how to handle grievances over officiating. Chambers needs to focus on controlling what he can control-and just coach his team.


When it comes to NCAA tourney talk, I'm just frustrated by all the Purdue haters. – Garrett

Look, facts are facts: Purdue lacks many good wins. And it has zero quality road wins. The young roster may have still been developing when the Boilermakers lost at home to North Florida and Gardner-Webb, but a loss is a loss. And those weren?t just losses-they were horrid losses at home. The loss at Vandy was bad, too, as the Commodores are No. 117 in the RPI. Even the K-State loss on a neutral court was bad, as the Wildcats are No. 99 in the RPI. So, you have to look past Purdue?s 9-4 Big Ten record when assessing its NCAA hopes.

The good news for the Boilers-who have an ugly No. 66 RPI–is they control their fate. Win at home vs. Rutgers and Illinois; and win one of the final three road games (Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State), and I would guarantee Purdue a spot in the Big Dance with a 12-6 Big Ten mark.

But if the Boilermakers go 11-7 in the league, losing the three aforementioned road games, things will be dicey. I think Purdue then would need at least one win in the Big Ten tourney.

By the way: Gardner-Webb?s RPI is No. 167; North Florida?s is No. 191.


Which Big Ten team was rated the highest in football recruiting for 2015? – Bobby Karaffa

In case you missed it, here is how ranked the Big Ten classes.

1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
3. Michigan State
4. Nebraska
5. Wisconsin
6. Michigan
7. Illinois
8. Maryland
9. Indiana
10. Northwestern
11. Rutgers
12. Iowa
13. Indiana
14. Purdue

You can run this same ranking next year ? the year after that ? the year after ? and it?s always basically going to be the same.

Do you have a general impression of Indiana?s 2015 basketball recruits? – Fred Beebe

So far, Indiana has 6-7 small forward O.G. Anunoby of Jefferson City, Mo., in the fold, along with 6-7 power forward Juwan Morgan of Waynesville, Mo. Anunoby is rated three stars by rivals; Morgan is four stars. Neither is ballyhooed by recruiting pundits, but each brings a good athletic quotient to the court. Stay tuned. Indiana still is looking at other players.

On your poll asking what is the loudest Big Ten arena, I think it should have been Maryland. The student section is huge. – Trscorvette

Good point. The Terps? venue should have been mentioned. But in a league with so many good arenas, you knew some would be left out of the conversation.


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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