Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 9, 2015
The regular-season is in the books. And, as expected, Wisconsin dominated from start to finish. So, it was fitting that the Badgers crushed Ohio State-in Columbus, no less-to cap things off.
"This was kind of a statement game for us going into the Big Ten tournament, beating a good team on their home floor," said Frank Kaminsky. "We're really excited about what's next."
A national title, perhaps? If so, the Badgers may have to do it as a No. 2 seed. Can Wisconsin earn a No. 1 seed? Pat Forde of Yahoo wonders how low the Badgers can go.
To me, it would seem if Wisconsin-a projected No. 2-wins out and Villanova-the lowest projected No. 1-wins out, Villanova has a better resume and would remain on the top line.
How about Matt Painter?s Purdue Boilermakers? This team was picked by Lindy?s to finish 13th. Look at Purdue now, 12-6 and holding a double-bye in the Big Ten tourney. Few saw this coming during an 8-5 non-conference record. Credit a commitment to defense.
Tom Izzo?s proudest achievement? The Michigan State boss says it is his run of consecutive NCAA tourney appearances, which looks primed to be 18 in a row.
"That's probably the thing I'm proudest of," Izzo said. "All the things, the graduation rates, the program and this and that, but to be at consistently at a level that is considered a high level. Man, if I dreamed 20 years ago where I'd put the program, that would supersede all my dreams."
(Insert a pat on the back here; make it two pats on the back)
Kyle Austin of Mlive.com says this season wasn't the easiest one for Izzo to keep the streak going, after the Spartans lost two NBA players off an Elite Eight squad and at one point stood at 13-7. But the fact that his team is on the cusp of another tournament appearance is a mark of consistency to Izzo. Yep.
Speaking of Michigan State, the Spartans hope to have Branden Dawson back for the Big Ten tourney. He got knocked out of the Purdue game last week after taking an elbow to the head. Dawson then missed the Indiana game over the weekend.
Going forward, Izzo said he's unsure about when Dawson will be available.
"I have no idea," Izzo said. "None. I hate to say it because you guys know I don't lie to you about injuries and I have no idea. I'm confused."
Good piece from Tom Shatel of Omaha.com, who takes a look at the ?lost identity of the Nebraska quarterback.?
From 1962 to 2001, Shatel points out that six Nebraska quarterbacks made first-team All-America. In that span, 11 were first-team all-conference. Since Eric Crouch left with the Heisman Trophy in 2001, only two Husker quarterbacks have made all-conference. It?s been a rough, and eventful, 13 years. Can new coach Mike Riley turn Nebraska back into Quarterback U? I like Riley?s chances, as he produced some good passers at Oregon State, like Derek Anderson, Sean Canfield and Matt Moore.
No team will be any hotter than Iowa when the Big Ten tourney tips off. The Hawkeyes have won six in a row, the program?s first six-game Big Ten winning streak in 28 years. The key to the run, which followed a two-game skid? Defense, according to Rick Brown of HawkCentral.com.
Brown points out that the last time Iowa won 12 league games was the 1996-97 season. Aaron White was 4 years old at the time.
"We did it at home, we did it on the road," White said. "We did it in multiple ways. But we always stuck to our identity, which is what I'm most proud of."
I hope White lands on some All-American teams. If not, it will be a crime.
Being Tom Crean is kinda tough these days, seeing as how Indiana crossed the regular-season finish line running on fumes. IU started Big Ten play 5-1-and went 4-8 down the stretch. But Tom Izzo has Crean?s back. Of course, Crean used to be an Izzo assistant.
"Do I think he's a hell of a coach? Yes I do. Do I think he's got to make adjustments, just like I do and everybody else? Probably," Izzo said. "But I'm telling you, the guy can coach, and the guy can recruit. And he built my program. My program wouldn't be as good as it is if it wasn't for Tom Crean."
OK, Penn State fans: Here is a photo gallery of the Nittany Lions in winter workouts from Pennlive.com. This should get you fired up for some grid. Let your minds run wild with 2015 possibilities.
It?s good to be Rutgers A.D. Julie Hermann, who earned $30,000 in performance bonuses in 2014.
Hermann earned $490,275.88, which included a regular salary of $448,275.88, the $30,000 bonus and a $12,000 vehicle stipend, Rutgers spokesperson Greg Trevor said following a recent request from NJ Advance Media.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, 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.|