Wrapping up the weekend that was in the Land of 10 in football and hoops…
The Point After
The Lone Star State wasn’t always this kind. In the winters of 2014, 2015 and 2016, Big Ten schools managed to haul in from Texas, by 247Sports.com composite metrics, a total of three 4- or 5-star prospects, total, over three recruiting cycles.
In February 2017, the league wrangled six.
Now that’s out of 76 4- and 5-stars in the league pool — 8 percent, basically — and Ohio State’s epic class accounted for four of the six in question (Michigan and Northwestern plucked one apiece).
So a movement, it ain’t.
But it’s, at worst, a door. And even if it’s only open a crack, it doesn’t hurt to stick a foot in to try and keep it from closing again.
Coaching unrest at the University of Texas — a course of instability two former Buckeyes offensive coordinators, Tom Herman and Tim Beck, are being charged with correcting — and the stench coming out of Baylor have contributed to a nationwide raid on one of the country’s most fertile talent pools. Locals want to close the gates and put up walls, but the leaks are everywhere.
If Herman, as expected, gets the Longhorns swinging like a burnt orange powerhouse again, some of those leaks figure to get patched up as more local studs are swayed to stay home. But the Big Ten has scheduled more than a few opportunities, up and down the league, to try to continue to make an impression in Texas and build upon the tiny pipelines laid.
In 2017, Ohio State hosts Oklahoma — not a Texas program, but the kind of program a whole bunch of Texans pay attention to — on Sept. 9. The Buckeyes visit TCU in 2018 and entertain the Horned Frogs the year after that.
Michigan opens its slate this fall in greater Dallas against Florida and hosts SMU in 2018. North Texas visits Iowa this fall. Northwestern visits Rice in 2018.
And Maryland plays Texas — Herman’s Longhorns — in a semi-neutral contest at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., to open the 2018 slate.
@viewfromamerica When realignment started, Big Ten wanted Texas. Everyone was shocked. The reason: Recruiting. That’s why ND chose ACC: FL.
— Hello! (@eddie2003PRT) September 28, 2014
If the Horns won’t listen to your pitch, start preaching to the kids they covet, because nothing speaks louder than the scoreboard. The eyes of Texas are upon you, Big Ten.
The noses, too.
Who’s dancing in the NCAA tourney this week, according to BracketMatrix.com
As of Feb. 4:
Wisconsin (20-3) — 4 seed
Maryland (20-3) — 5 seed
Purdue (19-5) — 6 seed
Northwestern (18-5) — 7 seed
Minnesota (16-7) — 8 seed
Michigan State (14-9) — 9 seed
Indiana (15-9) — 9 seed
Michigan (14-9) — 11 seed
Noses pressed against the bubble:
Ohio State (14-10) — listed on 2 of 97 mock brackets
One man’s rolling Big Ten Player of the Year ballot
- Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue (19.1 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 4.7 Win Shares on Sports-Reference.com)
- Ethan Happ, F, Wisconsin (12.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 4.4 Win Shares on Sports-Reference.com)
- Dakota Mathias, G, Purdue (10.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 3.5 Win Shares on Sports-Reference.com)
And speaking of Swanigan, there’s a new Big Dog in town
Just how stinking good has Swanigan been this winter? He’s slowly pushing Glenn Robinson — who in 1993-94 put together arguably the best single season of any Purdue men’s basketball player and parlayed that into becoming the No. 1 pick in the 1994 NBA Draft — down the pecking order in the Boilermakers’ record books. This last week, the big man out of Indianapolis recorded his 19th and 20th double-doubles of the season in wins over Northwestern and Maryland, lifting him past the previous school record of 18 in a season — a mark co-held by Robinson during a 1993-94 campaign in which “The Big Dog” averaged 30.3 points and 11.2 boards per contest.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (Groundhog edition)
a groundhog sees his shadow and everyone claps but I see my shadow and everyone says put on some pants
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) February 2, 2017
Welcome to the Hot Seat, pal
John Groce, Illinois
The long knives have been out for a while in Champaign, where the NCAA Tournament drought is about to reach four years running — the longest gap in program history since a 17-season streak that got snapped in 1980-81. That’s a tough sell for any coach in basketball-mad Champaign-Urbana, but it’s proven to be especially galling in a “transitional” year from the league in which traditional stalwarts such as Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan have proven to be mercurial, young, inconsistent, or a combo of all of the above.
3 games coming up we’d absolutely pay to watch
- Illinois at Northwestern (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, BTN). Groce has lost two of his last three in Evanston, but the Wildcats raised some serious postseason red flags at Purdue.
- Michigan State at Michigan (Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Wolverines risk falling on the wrong side of the bubble if they can’t hold serve at home.
- Purdue at Indiana (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN 2). Team Painter racked up a huge road win at Maryland to close the gap at the top of the standings. The Boilers are 3-7 over their last 10 in Bloomington and have dropped three of their last four at Assembly Hall.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (Love and whiskers edition)
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) January 30, 2017
The takeaway number(s)
As in, the previous record for catches in the Super Bowl by a player from a Big Ten school before ex-Wisconsin tailback James White snared 14 balls to help rally the Patriots to a 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The old mark belonged to former Ohio State wideout Santonio Holmes, who in 2009 snared nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown to help Pittsburgh hold off Arizona, 27-23, in Super Bowl XLIII.