It's Not Plagiarism If You Link To It is BHGP's regular news roundup. Send all tips to any of the email addresses at the bottom of the page. Please direct all correspondence concerning this year's Never Nudes convention to Patrick.
(via our friends at CBS; the 1985-1986 CBS intro is still pretty awesome, frankly)
Sixteen teams. Fourteen players from the Big Ten. And only nine who are averaging more than 10 minutes per game.
The best of the bunch right now are forwards Jason Richardson of Orlando, Zach Randolph of Memphis (both of Michigan State) and Carl Landry of New Orleans (Purdue), and guards Jamal Crawford of Atlanta (Michigan) and Mike Conley of Memphis (Ohio State).
Oof. That's a pretty rough assortment of talent there; aside from Randolph there isn't a lot of star power there, although Crawford has played well for Atlanta and Conley has guided the Grizzlies to their 3-1 lead over San Antonio. It doesn't help that some of the best Big Ten alums are sitting out this postseason, like Illinois' Deron Williams (New Jersey), Indiana's Eric Gordon (Clippers), and the immortal Joel Pryzbilla (Minnesota), but there's a definite lack of Big Ten talent among the NBA's elites.
It doesn't get any better if you look at quantity rather than quality, either. The Big Ten's 14 player total is by far the worst among the six top college conferences. In comparison, the Big 12 has 22 players on this year's playoff teams, the Pac-10 has 27, the SEC has 29, the Big East has 32, and the ACC leads the way with 33 players. The Big Ten isn't churning out talent on par with other big leagues.
* The DiNardo Dog gets around. Gerry DiNardo traveled hither and yon to cover Big Ten spring football over the past month, so he might be as well-suited as anyone to making judgments about the state of the league heading into 2011 (keeping in mind the practical difficulties of drawing too many conclusions based off spring football). So what'd he think?
Did you get a good feel for the overall strength of the conference?
"Well, yes, but keep in mind, we're just talking about the spring, so some of this stuff changes because there are injuries and teams will have freshmen coming in. But the one thing that jumped out at me was it's more of an offensive conference this year than it's been in years. If you go down the list, Illinois' offense is probably going to be better than its defense. Indiana, the offense is better. Iowa, Michigan -- same thing. Michigan State, it's a little closer, although I think their offense is better. If you go through all 12 of them, most of the teams are going to have better offenses than defenses.
"Do I think there's a national-championship team in the conference? I'd say probably not. We're talking about a bunch of good teams; I don't think we're talking about any great teams this year."
The latter point seems eminently reasonable: two of last year's tri-champions (Wisconsin and Michigan State) lost key players from those squads (and, in Michigan State's case, must guard against their regular attacks of Sparty-itis), while the other champion (Ohio State) is mired in an epic NCAA scandal that, at the very least, will keep key personnel away from the field for almost half the season. The Big Ten's two other historical powers, Michigan and Penn State, are dealing with (respectively) an entirely new coaching staff (with brand-new philosophies and schemes) and a quarterback controversy (not to mention the now-regular offensive line concerns). That leaves incoming member Nebraska as perhaps the most likely team to be this year's standard-bearer -- only they have questions of their own on offense and a fairly merciless schedule.
The former point is also intriguing because last year we saw a league where the offenses were ahead of the defenses. Outside of Ohio State, there wasn't really an elite defense in the league. Iowa had a very good defense, but for a variety of reasons, they had a nasty tendency to break down late in games. Wisconsin and Michigan State had solid defenses, but they weren't immune to getting lit up every now and then, either. And that's not even mentioning the dumpster fire defenses at the bottom of the league like Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Indiana. So if DiNardo is suggesting that the offenses have moved even further ahead of the defenses... well, maybe we need to get used to seeing Big Ten scoreboards getting a workout.
* Golfing from the ashes. It doesn't get a lot of play because, well, it's collegiate golf, a sport Iowa has rarely had much success in and that's even more rarely on TV, but Mark Hankins has engineered a pretty stunning turnaround in Iowa's golf fortunes over the last four years:
Iowa had an interim golf coach when Vince India signed a letter of intent to play for the Hawkeyes in 2007.
Mark Hankins left Michigan State to take over the Iowa program before India enrolled. In addition to India, Hankins inherited a team ranked 155th in the country.
The Hawkeyes, who finished fourth Sunday at the Kepler Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, are now ranked 11th in the country. And India, a senior from Deerfield, Ill., is ranked fifth nationally by Golfstat.com and seventh by Golfweek.
It's been a pretty dramatic turnaround; the only thing missing so far is a significant trophy to symbolize the program's growth. That could come this weekend, as Iowa travels to OMHR to take part in the Big Ten Championship and improve upon a 2nd-place finish a year ago. Good luck, golfer bros.
* Win or lose, Ann Arbor is still a whore, right? Remember what we said a week ago, about how if Iowa was going to make a move in baseball this season, it was going to have to start this weekend? Yeah, not so much. Iowa took on fellow B1G cellar dweller Michigan in the friendly confines of Duane Banks Field this past weekend... and promptly lost two of three to Big Blue. After rallying from a 6-0 deficit to top Michigan 13-7 in Saturday's opener (Friday's game was, yet again, rained out), Iowa dropped the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader, 2-1, and lost the series finale, 5-2, on Sunday. Iowa's pitching staff gave up late runs in both losses, but once again an anemic offense seems mostly to blame; three runs over two games won't win too much. The losses dropped Iowa to 15-22 overall and 4-8 in B1G play, good for dead-last in the conference. Up next is a road one-off at Nebraska in mid-week, followed by a three-game series against Minnesota at Target Field (at the least the setting will be lovely, even if the baseball probably won't be).
Meanwhile, the Iowa ladies split a pair of softball games with #1-ranked Michigan, winning 4-2 on Saturday before losing 3-2 on Sunday. Despite the loss, Iowa sits at 26-17 overall and 8-4 in the league, good for third-place in the conference. Iowa pitcher Chelsea Lynn earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors for her sterling efforts last week: 1.27 ERA in 11 innings, including a complete game, 2-run performance in the aforementioned win over Michigan, plus four solid innings against Iowa State.
* Jim Delany wants to move Big Ten football start times back an hour (to 12pm CST, 3:30pm CST, etc.); this might be the one good thing he's done since adding Nebraska during EXPANSIONPALOOZA 2k10.
* Iowa's track and field teams crowned a buttload of champions (18, to be precise) at Musco Twilight XII, which is pretty nice.
* Iowa ladies' hoopyballer Hannah Draxten is calling it quits on her basketball career, citing recurring back problems.
* The Arcade Fire sings "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at Wrigley Field. No, really.
* And finally:
(clickthrough on the image to see the .gif in all its splendor)