Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 27, 2015

Oh, my, Michigan State. That one had to hurt. The home loss to Minnesota last night was a blown opportunity for the Spartans, who are jockeying for an NCAA bid. I think Tom Izzo summed up the overtime defeat best: ?Sickening.?

"Gotta tell you," Izzo said, "it's a sickening loss. But I don't want to take anything away from Minnesota because they played hard and they played well, and they deserved to win."

The loss prevents MSU from achieving a season-high fifth straight victory, and puts the Spartans back into less-comfortable NCAA tournament position - especially considering the regular season finishes at Wisconsin, home vs. Purdue and at Indiana.

It was a sweet victory for Richard Pitino?s Gophers, who needed some sweetness after a three-game losing skid. In fact, it was Minnesota?s first win in East Lansing since 1997. And it shows the team is growing.


Good story on the perils of social media from the

Bashing it will do no good. Wishing it away is pie-eyed silliness. Social media is here to stay. And, like just about everything else in the world, if it's used properly, it can be a very good thing.


In case you haven?t noticed, Ohio State is in a bit of a funk. How to get out of it? Get Marc Loving on track.

Loving was Ohio State's second-most important offensive weapon behind freshman D'Angelo Russell. And in those two losses, Loving scored a total of four points and made no three-pointers in 22 total minutes. He wasn't the same player he was before his three-game suspension for an unspecified off-the-court incident. During Ohio State's 6-3 start to Big Ten play, Loving averaged 11.7 points per game. He scored 87 total points – 13.4 percent of Ohio State's total 651 during that stretch.

In his final game before the suspension, Loving played the best game of his career – a 19-point, six-rebound performance in Ohio State's 80-56 win over Maryland on Jan. 29.

In Ohio State's last two games since his return, Loving accounted for 3.1 percent of the team's total points. It's a small sample size, and he only played five minutes vs. the Spartans, but the Buckeyes are undeniably missing necessary production.

"Marc had done really well going into last weekend's game and I was kind of excited," Matta said. "He is definitely an X-Factor."


Have no fear, Iowa fans: There is plenty of NCAA tourney hope. It?s all discussed here in this video from

Iowa is 18-10 overall and 9-6 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes have won three in a row with games left at Penn State, at Indiana and vs. Northwestern. It would take an epic collapse for Iowa not to make the Big Dance.


Yes, Purdue beat Rutgers last night. But, it didn?t feel like a win. It has come to that for the Boilermakers-consternation over a victory. A few months ago, any win was celebrated.

Purdue has won four in a row and eight of nine with games left at Ohio State, at Michigan State and vs. Illinois. The NCAA tourney is within sight. And, that seemed like a remote possibility in early January. Amazing rebound act by Purdue, which may be the hottest team in the league. Who am I kidding? The Boilermakers ARE the hottest.


This is pretty neat: Bob Flounders of takes a look at how many potential first-round picks Penn State faced in 2014. It could be as many as five.


Pasadena ? South Florida ? New Orleans ? Glendale ? Arlington ? these are venues that typically come to mind when thinking of sites for the national championship game. Well, it looks like MetLife Stadium in New Jersey may make a bid for college football?s gala event. I?d love to see NY/NJ get the game. But I doubt the powers-that-be would have the guts to award the game to an outdoor venue in a cold-weather area.

MetLife Stadium and New Jersey have the benefit of big-game experience, thanks to the Super Bowl in 2014.


Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis is all for discussion of freshman preparedness, but he would vote against ineligibility. And, I don?t think he?d be alone.

"If you were to ask me to vote today on a year of preparedness, I would vote no," Hollis said earlier this week. "…I'm very much engaged in the conversation about how can we take those men and women that we bring on this campus and give them an opportunity to have a great career."

The Big Ten last week announced that it was seeking feedback from its members about preventing freshman from competing in college sports, calling it a "year of readiness". Freshmen were barred from competition by the NCAA through 1972 before the ban was lifted.


The great Braden Gall of Athlon Sports and Sirius XM takes a look at Big Ten rosters entering 2015.


Yes, that was a tough loss for Wisconsin on Tuesday at Maryland. But know this: The Badgers? legacy in 2014-15 will be determined by what it does in the Big Ten, notes Jesse Temple of FOX Sports Wisconsin. Amen. The NCAA tourney is all we typically remember, right?

"So far, I think we've been pretty successful," Sam Dekker said. "There's some games where we haven't done what we wanted to do. But winning a national championship is a goal we want to do. And last year I said if you end a season with a loss, it's a failure. So in my mind, if we end the season with a loss, it's going to be a failure again.

"I think there's a lot of the guys in the locker room that can say the same thing, so I'm excited to hopefully get a chance of doing it again and go piece by piece and hopefully we string some wins together."


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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