ARE YOU A BASEBALL GUY? IF SO, WHO IS YOUR TEAM? WHAT DO YOU GOT FOR A WIN TOTAL ON THE CUBS THIS YEAR?
I am unfortunately a fan of the Cincinnati Reds. The window has obviously closed for them. The last few years we've lost Todd Frazier, Ryan Hanigan, Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, Dioner Navarro, Shin-Soo Choo, Alfredo Simon, Sean Marshall, and Jonathan Broxton. We've also come close to dealing Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. Total rebuild mode. They missed their window a couple seasons ago. Small market teams have to hit that window just like the Royals did. The Rockies did a handful of years ago. The Reds didn't. The Twins didn't a handful of years ago. The Pirates better. This is their window. The Reds' time was when they were up 2-0 on the Giants in the NLDS and then lost it 3-2. Giants went on to win it all. I believe it was in 2012. I also casually pull for the Yankees because of Derek Jeter and tradition, pinstripes, etc.
I think the Cubs win 90-95 like they did a year ago. The Reds and Brewers are awful. The Pirates and Cubs are very good. St. Louis lost a bit but we all know they don't go away. They'll beat on the other two and end up with similar records again.
READ YOUR 2.0 FOOTBALL RECRUITING UPDATE. WHY WERE YOU SO NEGATIVE ON IOWA'S CHANCES WITH THE PROSPECTS?
I had them landing Colbert and Ben Stewart. I said Tayon Fleet-Davis was someone to keep an eye on. They could land Andrew Clair but I think they're looking for better. Eno Benjamin got offered by Michigan and Oklahoma State. I think Baylor and Texas A&M will offer. I think Ohio State will offer. Iowa was the leader before those schools were all that involved. I was a bit more pessimistic on him because there's distance to overcome and a lot of competitors to overcome. That's no easy task. They're actually probably falling behind on Jaevon McQuitty now because he's from Columbia, Missouri and Mizzou just offered him. Texas offered defensive tackle Damion Daniels of Dallas so that's probably not realistic anymore. Kallenberger is giving Oklahoma a long look and wants an offer from the Sooners but I still tend to think the Hawkeyes get him. I also gave them high marks with Jordan Rowell, Cody White, Colin Anderson, and Isaiah Robertson. Wasn't a lot of negative, just on Eno Benjamin. And now McQuitty and Daniels.
WITH THREE BIG TEN REGULAR SEASON GAMES AND THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT LEFT, CAN IOWA REGAIN IT'S FORM? IF SO, HOW FAR DO YOU THINK THEY CAN GO IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT?
Definitely. Fans get too high on a winning streak and too low on a losing streak. They're fine. You thought they were going to go through a 30+ game schedule without any kind of losing streak? This isn't women's basketball. Teams don't win 70 games in a row. Teams don't go undefeated. Iowa is still 20-7 and 11-4 in the league. You would have taken that back in November. I see them defeating Ohio State and Indiana but losing to Michigan. That'd be 13-5 in the league. I think that shares the league. I think confidence is almost the issue. They just need a few things to go their way again to build some. They're pressing now. The way they've sputtered here makes me jump off the Final Four bandwagon. I am only comfortable with saying sweet 16 with conviction. Anything further would not surprise me but not much conviction.
RANK ALL THE BIG TEN BASKETBALL COACHES.
1 - MSU HC Tom Izzo: All the Final Fours. All the titles. Does it with talent. Does it with less talent.
2 - UM HC John Beilein: Did at WVU. Already done it at Michigan. Final Fours. Championship Appearance. Heck of a recruiter. Has shown can overachieve with less talent.
3 - OSU HC Thad Matta: This is more based on longevity. Just look at his accomplishments at Butler, Xavier, OSU. Final Fours. Recruiting Classes. Not a great in-game coach and seems to be coming to a close now. Not the third best right now but his accomplishments and achievements put him here.
4 - Maryland HC Mark Turgeon: He's shown he can recruit and he's shown he can build a roster. Now he has to win. This year's team has Final Four talent. So they better make a deep run.
5 - Iowa HC Fran McCaffery, Indiana HC Tom Crean, Purdue HC Matt Painter: McCaffery's trajectory looks good but they have to finish strong this year. Recruiting is better now, improved every season, but not the achievements of the others, yet. Needs a strong finish this year. Next year will be a huge coaching challenge. Crean can recruit and he has some big wins but they need a deep run under him. He's also underachieved a few times. Painter's recruiting classes have been nice lately and he's had some really, really good teams. But they also tend to miss the tournament so the consistency lacks but he's still a good coach.
6 - Wisconsin HC Greg Gard, Northwestern HC Chris Collins: Gard will be candidate for coach of the year. They've turned it around. Is that coaching or the inexperienced team just maturing together? Probably some of both. But he's going to get the credit, it could be a lot worse. He should be hired permanently and the real test begins to see if he can sustain the success. Collins is an up and comer. The recruiting is better. They continue to improve. They have to see real signs of it starting next year but I think this has a chance to turn out well for the Wildcats and for him to become a hot name.
7 - Minnesota HC Richard Pitino, Illinois HC John Groce, Penn State HC Pat Chambers, Nebraska HC Tim Miles: Pitino, Groce, and Chambers I think all get an extra year to prove themselves but they'll be on the hot seat next year. Miles probably has more of a leash because they've made the tournament under him recently and he's got recruiting on the uptick.
8 - Rutgers HC Eddie Jordan: Yikes. Probably lasts past this year but this is a bad program right now.
WHO ARE IOWA'S TOP 5 FOOTBALL RECRUITING TARGETS AND HOW DO YOU LIKE IOWA'S CHANCES WITH EACH OF THOSE FIVE?
Top five would probably be five-star guys they've offered and they're not going to land another five-star outside of A.J. Epenesa. Five reasonable top targets right now would be offensive tackle Mark Kallenberger of Bettendorf, safety Djimon Colbert of Kansas City, running back Eno Benjamin of Texas, wideout Isaiah Robertson of the Chicago area, and wideout Cody White of Michigan. I like them for Kallenberger but Oklahoma will compete. They'll land Colbert in March. Benjamin will be tough because of distance and schools involved. They're in the mix for Robertson at this time and it's doable and in the mix for Cody White as well.
HOW MANY OF THE FRESHMEN ON THE BASKETBALL TEAM WILL TRANSFER THIS SPRING?
That's tough to predict but I expect at least one.
WHO ARE YOUR FIVE BEST PLAYERS IN THE NBA RIGHT NOW?
Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook not in any order. The next five in no order would probably be Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Chris Paul. I have little respect for how James Harden plays so that's why he's missing on my lists. He drives and flails his body into others for fouls and plays little to no defense.
WHAT CURRENT OR FORMER NFL PLAYER DOES EZEKIEL ELLIOTT REMIND YOU OF?
This is tough because nobody comes to mind right away. I've seen some people say Marshall Faulk but I don't think he's as twitchy or elusive. Others have said Le'Veon Bell and I do see some of that. I also see maybe a blend with Matt Forte. Former player maybe someone like Curtis Martin of the Jets but not as tight and a bit more quick.
PERCENT CHANCE THAT DJIMON COLBERT COMMITS ON HIS VISIT TO IOWA?
On it? 50 percent. But within the next week following the visit? 80-85 percent.