Tom Dienhart, senior writer for BTN.com, joined us Monday to give us his thoughts on men's basketball in the Big Ten and Big Ten Coach of the Year.
With March Madness just around the corner, we asked Dienhart about the Big Ten's potential in the tournament. He said this year in the conference has been fun to track and thinks the Big Ten "will be well-represented" in the tournament "with probably seven teams." He added that "if you get the right matchups", any Big Ten team has the chance to go deep into the tournament. Of the two conference teams with the best shot at winning it all, Dienhart thinks Indiana is a "no-brainer" and that Michigan, even as a young team, stands a good chance.
What does Dienhart believe is the key to a championship team? "Guard play" is the most important thing in the tournament. He said "big men are kind of luxury items", but that guard play is critical.
We also asked Dienhart his predictions for Big Ten Coach of the Year. His pick is Indiana's Tom Crean, with Bo Ryan coming in 2nd. Indiana's ability to play "with a target on their back" has been most impressive to Dienhart. Of the Badgers' head coach, he added that "Ryan, again, has proven us all wrong."
On a side note, Dienhart thinks the NFL combine is not as critical as many people view it. Regarding Montee Ball's performance, he thinks "nobody was shocked" that Ball didn't put up spectacular numbers, but that the combine evaluation is just "one small sliver of a larger evaluation process."