As we're getting closer to spring ball we will start to see more visits being scheduled and more lists being narrowed down. Michigan is firing up visits. Here's a look at some of those trips that have been scheduled and what a few recruits have to say about the Wolverines. As always, you can follow me on twitter for more updates, and feel free to email me at TomVH@MGoBlog.com with any tips or questions.
5'11", 185 lbs.
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts athlete and teammate of LB Camren Williams has a Michigan offer and plans on taking a visit this month.
I have 12 offers right now, so I'm kind of taking everything in. Michigan is definitely a school I want to see, I think we're going there either March 26th or the 19th. Coach Mallory is the one recruiting me, and they're telling me I could play cornerback. It doesn't matter to me, wherever I can play the fastest.
Reeves is currently playing basketball for his high school, so he hasn't focused too much on the process. He does know what his timeline will look like.
My final decision will probably be no later than December or January, I'm not going to drag it out. I'll visit all the schools that have offered first, then narrow it down. I'm really looking for a school with good academics, good coaching staff, and what the campus around it is like.
So far Armani has been to Rutgers, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Maryland. Reeves will be visiting Michigan with his teammate Camren Williams, who is also being recruited by Michigan.
Me and Camren are just enjoying the process together. We've been friends since 4th grade so he's like my brother. We don't base everything on going to school together, it's just a blessing to go through it together. Hopefully we can pick the same school.
This upcoming trip to Ann Arbor should make things more clear for the pair. Williams is looking to make his decision in June, so the visit will be crucial for him.
6'2", 277 lbs.
Johnson does not have an offer from Michigan yet, but they have been in constant communication. He has definite interest.
I do think they'll offer me soon, and I know I want to get up there for a visit. I just have to put some dates in order and check my schedule to see when I have off. I think it will be during spring, since I have that time off, either way I will visit [Michigan]. I don't have a top list yet, but they're definitely a school that sticks out to me.
Defensive tackle is going to be a major focus for Michigan. Despite the fact that Johnson doesn't have an offer from Michigan yet, I believe that he could eventually get one. As other DT prospects make their decisions Michigan will have to look to kids like Johnson to try to shore up that hole on the depth chart.
These visit dates seem to be changing every day, so I will update them as I confirm what they are. Some of the recruits weren't positive on the dates, which tells me it might change. Here's a list of visitors that I have confirmed so far in the next coming weeks.
Michigan DT Matt Godin (6'5", 260 lbs) was in Ann Arbor this past weekend for the Michigan vs. MSU basketball game.
Illinois OL Dan Voltz (6'5", 289 lbs) visiting Michigan this weekend. He'll be making his final decision in the next couple months, so this is a big visit. I think Michigan is a little behind right now.
Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel (6'3", 210 lbs) also visiting Ann Arbor this weekend. This date could change, but as of yesterday it was still the right day. Vince has Michigan in his top three with BYU, and Wisconsin. The coaching changes at Wisconsin made him take a step back, so he'll visit Michigan and BYU next, then likely make his decision.
Michigan LB Royce Jenkins-Stone (6'2", 215 lbs) said he thinks he'll be up to Ann Arbor on March 12th, but it sounded like it wasn't set in stone. This one might change.
Ohio TE AJ Williams (6'6", 260 lbs) has a trip planned for March 19th.
Ohio DE Pharaoh Brown (6'6", 220 lbs) also coming up on March 19th.
As mentioned, Mass LB Camren Williams (6'2", 215 lbs) wasn't sure of the exact date, but it's either March 19th or the 25th. I'll confirm with him in the future.
Mass ATH Armani Reeves (5'11", 185 lbs) teammate of Camren Williams, and will be visiting the same time as Williams.
New York DB Wayne Morgan (5'11", 188 lbs) will be visiting on March 25th. Morgan plays quarterback, corner, and free safety for his high school team now. Very versatile, very good athlete.
Indiana TE/DE Pierre Aka (6'4", 250 lbs) is planning a trip on the 25th as well. He thinks Michigan may offer on the visit. If Michigan offered they could hear his decision shortly after.
This is who I've confirmed so far. I'll be spending time this week trying to confirm more, so this list is going to go up from here.
- Mass LB Camren Williams says Michigan is in his top five, and grew up a Michigan fan. Visiting this month.
- The Good Counsel prospects have interest in Michigan, and vice versa.
- Ohio DE Ifeadi Odenigbo will visit Michigan in June, and says that Michigan is not in his top five yet. A visit may change that, but I believe Ohio State and Stanford are the teams to beat.
- Texas LB Jeremiah Tshimanga didn't make it up to Ann Arbor this weekend, but is hoping to make it up soon.
- Kentucky QB Zeke Pike (6'5", 220 lbs) told me that he plans on visiting Michigan sometime this spring. He doesn't have an exact date yet, but he will make it up. Remember that 2011 Michigan signee TE Chris Barnett is friends with Pike, and has been trying to convince him to pick the Wolverines.
3/5/2011 – Michigan 70, Michigan State 63 – 19-12, 9-9 Big Ten
[KIDS! Due to the exact content of the quote this column is built around there are a couple of swears included herein. You should read something else right now.]
right: Marissa McClain/Daily
Set aside the fact that the coach complaining about a last-second layup left his starters in with his team up 50 points against Michigan once. Look past the game two years ago in which Durrell Summers threw down a dunk with 11 seconds left and the shot clock turned off in a 17-point game. Try to forget that the last second layup put Michigan up seven, not 19, and came on a possession that started with 16 seconds on the clock in a two possession game, and that Darius Morris had passed up a similarly open layup with near-disastrous results earlier in the year. Squint hard and pretend that Michigan State doesn't currently features a high master of on-court whine and trash-talk in Draymond Green, that Kalin Lucas didn't chuck the ball at Morris after his layup, that Lucas wasn't the first guy to open his mouth in the handshake line and probably wasn't offering salutations to Morris's mother.
Ignore the many reasons why the epic post-game meltdown about "class" currently underway on the Michigan State internets is ridiculous. If you can't—understandable—at least run off somewhere else to get your fill and then come back when you're ready.
That dispensed with: Michigan State basketball fans, even the elaborately reasonable ones, are whining about class on the internet. Since a Vick isn't involved, this can only mean one thing: they lost, and it wasn't that close, and they can't say anything else. Basketball! The game with the ball that you bounce and attempt to throw through a hoop and if you're Michigan you never do it quite as much as Michigan State, certainly not twice in one season. It is in this sport that a Michigan team with no seniors and approximately 45% freshman usage has reduced the Michigan State fanbase to a blubbering collection of brahs with zeroes on their chest looking up the Queensberry Rules and fainting at rough language. In other news, Michigan fans did the same after a football game in fall and earth's magnetic poles have flipped.
Michigan didn't even play that well. They shot poorly and Stu Douglass took two NBA threes for no reason and every shot that wasn't a delicately executed easy bucket was a flung prayer. But State played worse, especially right at the beginning, and most of the game was played in a six to eight point range that would have been comfortable if we weren't talking about a team that Michigan hadn't swept since Charles Woodson was walking around with a rose in his teeth and another that had seen simply massive leads against tourney no-hopers Northwestern and Indiana dwindle alarmingly down the stretch.
But after the usual dwindling and a brief moment of alarm Michigan just felt… better. While they had to use Evan Smotrycz as a center again and Blake McLimans made a cameo appearance they didn't have walk-ons on the court for most of the game and didn't spend offensive possessions running the three man weave in a desperate attempt to generate something other than a long two off a curl screen. Michigan's best players seemed better than Michigan State's, and so did the role players.
To get to the previous sentence from hoping for double digit wins in the preseason and staring at a 1-6 Big Ten record before the first MSU matchup is almost incomprehensible. I spent most of the second half of the game at Breslin terrified that this would be the moment the vastly superior Spartans blew the doors off and showed us our hopes were foolish. If wasn't exactly serene on Saturday*, second half thoughts were at least things like "don't blow this" and "OMG Hardaway." When the Spartans cut it to two, Michigan treated them like Indiana or Northwestern by throwing down a dunk and immediately pushing the margin back out. Michigan didn't make a whole lot of shots—Jordan Morgan is the only guy coming out of the State game with a high FG%—but it didn't matter. Somewhere, there is a commentator talking about how good teams win even when they don't play well who does not know he's actually talking about Michigan.
Yes: good. No qualifiers. Right now they are good. Since the last Michigan State game Michigan has won eight of eleven. Two of the losses were by two and one to tournament teams; the other was by nine to a one-seed on the road. Only the Iowa game qualifies as an escape—Michigan's kind of unlucky to have won only eight of eleven. They got up from an all-time gut punch to beat Minnesota and MSU and have probably punched their ticket no matter what happens in the Big Ten Tournament.
They're good. Full stop. They'll be better next year. Anyone who can remember a time in which the future was brighter for Michigan basketball that hasn't been vacated in retrospect is probably thinking of the first time they saw Glen Rice shoot.
Kalin Lucas said something to Darius Morris. Whether Morris actually did or not, the rivalry's legends will now include the fact-type substance that he responded "get the fuck off my court."
Depending on what side of the rivalry you're on that's either a shocking violation of the Queen's English or something you've been waiting ten years for a Michigan player to say. But if interpreting that comment is a matter of perspective, what happened after is not: Kalin Lucas got the fuck off Darius Morris's court. Again.
*[In part because I was watching the game at 1 AM because I had been travelling literally the whole day; by the time I got home I could have seen my grandmother and thought she was a loud, stupid, slow person I wished did not exist. Air travel from obscure locations inflates your natural level of misanthropy 1000%.]
Official restatement of trash-talk policy. Entirely in favor. Makes game spicier for fans without doing anything negative other than spawning I'm-looking-over-my-hornrims comments about "ugly scenes" from newspaper folk. I dislike opposing players who are annoying, but like that I dislike them, if that makes any sense. I miss David Boston and think Ohio State fans secretly love Mike Hart.
Michigan's sweep and Morris's layup/swearin' raises the stakes for next year, and there's nothing bad in that.
The great disaster. Here it is as captured by WXYZ:
Newspapers see an "ugly scene," I see games worth investing in. Seriously: Rollerball. Too bad Lucas won't be around.
On the other hand. Izzo has got to be the worst loser on the planet. After the game:
Lucas took exception to whatever Morris yelled at the visiting team, following his game-ending coast-to-coast layup with the Spartans appearing to lay off. Lucas responded by throwing the ball at him, causing a small tussle that Michigan's Jordan Dumars broke up as the teams shook hands.
“I'm not for that, so I'll straighten that out," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "But at the same time, going for a layup with three seconds left — (Morris) talked a lot of stuff all game, including at our place, so maybe he deserved it.”
"Going for a layup with three seconds left"—what a hypocritical asshat. Again: Durrell Summers dunk to go up 19 two years ago. Criticizing another player for talking trash when you have the team you do—hypocritical asshat.
Paint by mouthguard. The other side of the now-infamous picture of Hardaway after the Wisconsin game:
Oh snap. I don't think MSU AD Mark Hollis's tweet in the aftermath of the game about a "great program" being preferable to a "great season" had anything to do with Michigan. (People who do have lowered their expectations well beyond reason.) So whatever… except for one of the great zingers in the history of MGoBlog:
That's pretty rude to his football team
In the aftermath, I consulted the flowchart.
If you haven't gotten your fill of Lloyd Brady versus Michigan State, BlueBarron's thread has you covered.
Emergence. Everyone's focused on Hardaway exploding over the second half of the Big Ten season—and with good reason—but another player is quietly emerging as we move along here: Matt Vogrich. Vogrich is never going to be a star but you've probably noticed a few defensive MANBOUNDS in the last couple games that came from a surprising source. After one against State the amiably incompetent color guy called Vogrich "Novak," which was wrong but at least understandably so. Vogrich hasn't seemed like a huge liability on defense and is currently shooting 40% from 3—48% in the Big Ten. As Michigan adds slashers like Brundidge and Burke and hopefully gets more driving action from Hardaway and Smotrycz there will be more open threes to be had, and Vogrich is probably the best guy on the roster to take them.
Smotrycz. Obviously had himself a day despite not getting any rebounds. One of his fast break layups was a gift but he made the other one by poking the ball out; his fake and drop step on Roe was Morgan-like. Also hit a three. He obviously does not have a long term future at the five so the biggest thing Michigan needs from him is a leap forward on defense.
Nosesplosion. The Lucas "intentional foul" that gave Michigan the ball and two free throws was a major turning point in the game. Some bits on it. One: Lucas nailed LLP in a previous game. Two: after the Manny Harris debacle against Purdue the Big Ten has been pretty consistent about their reaction to similar plays. No ejections but the opponent gets two shots and the ball. Lucas's elbow got above his neck and nailed a 6'5" guy in the face—it was clear as day that they were going to call the harsher version of the foul. Three: they really should change the lingo from "intentional," which confuses everyone, to something like "severe."
Morgan. Have we not been giving him enough credit for his FG%? He gets a lot of help, sure, but he's got that baby hook and a variety of other shots that turn Morris passes into baskets. He's not just a dunk machine. He's been hesitant from time to time this year and has spun into trouble some; I think the improvement we get from him is not in efficiency but time on the court—must stop taking nothing fouls—and usage.
Eamonn Brennan awards Michigan his "best bubble win":
Considering where the Wolverines started -- getting blown out by teams in Belgium in the summer and being picked to finish close to the Big Ten cellar -- and considering this win came over a hated in-state rival that's dominated Michigan for a decade-plus ... well, let's just say it was a good day for the Maize and Blue. Enjoy it, folks.
Izzoface? Izzoface. Also the comments after the State News story are amaaaazing. Daily game story. News game story. Wojo column. Five Key Plays from UMHoops. Player interviews. Torrent. Tourney bracket features Michigan's first bye in seven years(!). Um… Kesha? Alex Legion is in the wilderness again. Blame crazy mother? Um… maybe.
[Ed: bump. I won't reinvent such a clear, informative wheel.]
Even though Michigan did not play, there were some interesting developments in the Pairwise rankings this weekend. For a more detailed breakdown on how the Pairwise works, see here. Michigan currently sits 4th in the Pairwise, just ahead of Denver, just like they were last week.
Major events that occurred this weekend:
- Denver lost to St. Cloud St. on Friday, dropping their RPI enough that we are still ahead of them. More importantly, we also own the TUC comparison with them. If they win out, they might pass us in RPI, but they can’t pass us in TUC by winning out (as I explain below). So if we win out, we own this comparison.
- Nebraska-Omaha is currently winning their comparison with us, by virtue of a dramatically improved TUC record (a result of Bemidji State dropping out of the TUC field). They sit tied for sixth in the Pairwise
- BC swept UNH, solidifying their comparison win against us and taking away virtually any possibility of a comparison win against a team currently above us. (The path to beating BC in our comparison is so byzantine as to be irrelevant. It is also meaningless, because it wouldn’t change which region the teams are sent to.)
- Michigan State and Ohio State were both swept. Yay! The OSU sweep cost Michigan a little bit, but it was probably worth it.
- EDIT: upsets in the ECAC tournament mean that Union plays Colgate in the quarterfinals of the ECAC playoffs. Had Union drawn 8th seed Quinnipiac, they would have had a chance at getting as many as four wins over TUCs, but now they can only get two. Since the difference in TUC record between the two teams is half a game (same ties and losses, Michigan has one more win), this means that if Michigan wins out, they can't be passed, since any team they play after this weekend would be a TUC (except, maybe, for LSSU, if they somehow get past Notre Dame). Yes, it's weird that this matters, but the important thing is that it was good for Michigan.
This weekend’s important games:
- Michigan hosts either BG or LSSU (EDIT: BG beat Northern, so we play BG). Neither are a TUC, so it would be nice to draw BG, since they are really bad, but either way, a sweep is a must.
- Denver hosts Minnesota State. Other than the Michigan series, this is the series of the weekend for Michigan fans, and your rooting interest is a little strange. Weirdly enough, you are rooting for a Denver sweep. The reason is that Minnesota State is currently just above the TUC cliff, and Denver has a 3-0-1 record against them. Also, Neb.-Omaha is 2-0 against Minnesota State. So dropping them out of the TUC field would actually help us in both comparisons. A sweep would do that; I don’t think Denver winning 2 out of 3 is enough. The improvement in RPI that Denver gets from a sweep is more than offset by the resulting precipitous drop in their TUC record, and virtually eliminates the chance that they could pass us if we win out. If Denver does lose a game, root for them to lose a second one as well.
- Neb.-Omaha hosts Bemidji State. This one is a little awkward as well. A Bemidji win makes them a TUC and really hurts UNO, but helps Denver a bit. Still, as long as we beat Denver in RPI we’re ok there, so go ahead and root for Bemidji State to get at least one win.
- Union hosts an as-yet unknown (and probably bad) ECAC team. EDIT: due to upsets in the ECAC tournament, Union plays Colgate, who is the Bowling Green of the ECAC. It also means that Union only has, at most, two more TUC games left, so if Michigan wins out, it is virtually impossible for Union to pass us. In any event root against Union in case Michigan doesn't win out. You are hoping that someone (probably Yale) eventually takes them out in the ECAC tournament.
- Merrimack hosts Maine, who just crushed them last weekend. Any wins by Maine this weekend will prevent Merrimack from passing us until at least next weekend, so root hard for Maine. This comparison is very close, and will swing Merrimack’s way if they get a sweep.
- Finally, Miami hosts either Northern or Alaska. Any Miami loss will help keep us ahead of them; those two head-to-head losses mean we have to win every comparison, so root against Miami.
Even a Michigan sweep could see them dropping down to 5th or 6th in the Pairwise. Remember that the Pairwise is very fluid, and there is still another very consequential weekend to go after this one. Go Blue!
Tales from Last Night
Last night went much better for Michigan than did Monday. The relevant results for the Wolverines:
- Harvard beat Penn 79-64. The Crimson are a past opponent, so we want them to do very well.
- Princeton beat Dartmouth 77-55. We wanted Princeton to lose because they're Harvard's competition for the Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament bid.
It was a small schedule last night, and everything went as expected.
Looks like The Matrix isn't going to update before tonight's relevant games start, so the table below comes from yesterday's update.
Per the Bracket Matrix:
|Bids||Bubble In||Bubble Out||Change|
|Big East||11||Marq (10)|
|SEC||5||Tenn (9), UGa (10),||Bama||Bama out.|
|Big Ten||6||Mich (12), MSU (10), Ill (9)||Minn, PSU|
|ACC||5||Clemson (12), BC (12), VT (11), FSU (9)||Mary|
|Big 12||5||Neb, Bay, Colo, OkSt|
|Pac-10||3||Wash (9), UCLA (8)||USC, Washington St.|
|Atlantic 10||3||Richmond (11)|
|Mountain West||3||UNLV (8)||Colo St|
|West Coast||2||Zaga (12), St Mary's (11)|
|Colonial||2||George Mason (8), Old Domin (8)||VCU|
|CUSA||2||Memphis (12), UAB (11)||USM, UTEP, Marsh, UCF|
|WAC||1||Utah State (9)|
|Horizon||1||Butler (12)||Cleve St, UW-Mil|
|Summit||1||1-bid Oakland (13)|
|Ivy||1||1-bid Princeton (13)||Harvard|
Chart doesn't include last night's results.
Big day. General rule: cheer against bubble teams, and for past Michigan opponents.
- Kansas @ Missouri (Noon, CBS). The Jayhawks are a past Michigan opponent, so you want them to win.
- Virginia Tech @ Clemson (Noon, ESPN2). These are both bubble teams, but Virginia Tech has a stronger resume right now and Clemson is also a past Michigan opponent. Pull HARD for the Tigers.
- Indiana @ Illinois (Noon, BTN). You want Indiana to stay above the 200 RPI threshold, so Michigan's loss to them isn't as bad. Plus, the Wolverines own a win over Indiana but not Illinois. This game could also hurt the Illini's psyche before a possible first-round BTT matchup with Michigan. HOWEVA, Indiana ain't gon' win, so don't worry about it.
- Duquesne @ Richmond (Noon). The Spiders are a bubble team, and you want the Dukes to do everything in their power to change that.
- Georgia @ Alabama (1:30, ESPN3). Both are bubble teams, but the Bulldogs are slightly stronger right now, and you want Alabama to knock them down to their level - especially since the Tide probably lost their main at-large chance against Florida the other night.
- Iowa State @ Kansas State (1:30, ESPN3). Iowa State has no shot at an at-large bid, so you want them to do as much damage as possible to Kansas State.
- Oregon @ Arizona (2:00, CBS). Haha, most of you have to watch this instead of a game that more than 8 people care about. CBS hates you.
- Virginia @ Maryland (2:00, ESPN3). Root for the Hoos to end Maryland's chances to get an at-large.
- UTEP @ SMU (3:00). Though UTEP is a fellow bubble team, they're a past Michigan opponent so you want them to do well. If the MSU game isn't going so hot, switch allegiances to SMU, I guess.
- Purdue @ Iowa (4:00, ESPN). You want Iowa to spring the upset and stay in the RPI top 200 (not gonna happen).
- Tulane @ Memphis (4:00). The Green wave can end Memphis's hopes to pick up an at-large bid by saddling them with a bad loss.
- Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (4:00, ESPN3). Oklahoma State is on the bubble fringe, but the Sooners can end that on their senior day.
- UNLV @ Utah (4:00). The Runnin' Rebels are solidly in the tournament, but Utah is a past Michigan opponent.
- UCLA @ Washington State (5:30). The Bruins are solidly in the tournament, and can knock off Washington State's run.
- Marquette @ Seton Hall (6:00, ESPN3). Marquette is sliding after Wednesday's loss to Cincinnati, and this could finish them.
- Princeton @ Harvard (7:00, ESPN3). The Ivy League's website breaks down title scenarios. You are a HUGE Harvard fan in this one (see top section of this post).
- Southern Utah v. Oakland (7:00). Past Michigan opponent Grizzlies kick off their conference tournament.
- UCF @ Marshall (7:00). Both teams are on the bubble, so root for UCF because they're a little further behind.
- East Carolina @ UAB (8:00). UAB is on the bubble, and you want East Carolina to knock them off it.
- Southern Miss @ Tulsa (8:00). Same goes for this game.
- Texas @ Baylor (9:00, ESPN). You want Texas to permanently knock Baylor out of the running for a bubble spot.
- Nebraska @ Colorado (9:00). Both bubble teams, root for the weaker one.
- Colorado State @ San Diego State (10:00). The Aztecs can knock Colorado State off the bubble.
- Canisius v. Rider (10:00, ESPN3). Least important game on the docket, since both schools are highly unlikely to get anything other than an autobid. Get good karma by rooting on John Beilein's old team, though.
- USC @ Washington (10:30). Since USC lost Thursday night, they're going to miss the tournament. Root for them to weaken Washington on their way out.
- Buffalo @ Bowling Green. The Falcons are a past Michigan opponent, and you want them to end up as respectable as possible.
Tons of games today, but remember that most of them mean nothing unless the maize-and-blue can emerge victorious over MSU.
Go Blue Wear Maize Beat State.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Michigan State|
|WHERE||Crisler Arena (Maize Out)|
2:00 PM EST
March 5th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan -2.5|
|TELEVISION||CBS (Coverage Map)|
This is The Most Important Game Of The Season. No qualifiers necessary. Michigan could be 1-29 - still with a win in Breslin, of course - and this would be The Most Important Game Of The Season still. The fact that tomorrow's winner is likely to make the NCAA Tournament while the loser is likely NIT-bound barring a strong run in Indianapolis... well, I don't have to explain the stakes to you.
I've started this post a hundred times, and frantically erased a couple paragraphs that just didn't seem adequate for the situation. I'm no college basketball fanatic, but this game just feels... bigger. I'm struck with writer's block at the enormity of the moment, much like Brian must have when he started writing Eleven Swans. Nothing I can come up with will seem right.
Beat the Spartans. Sweep the Spartans.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Michigan State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. MSU Def eFG%||47||122||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. MSU eFG%||170||161||-|
|Mich TO% v. MSU Def TO%||16||255||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. MSU TO%||253||194||S|
|Mich OReb% v. MSU DReb%||324||62||SSS|
|Mich DReb% v. MSU OReb%||54||69||M|
|Mich FTR v. MSU Opp FTR||342||144||SS|
|Mich Opp FTR v. MSU FTR||35||213||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. MSU AdjD||54||37||S|
|Mich AdjD v. MSU AdjO||54||71||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
This is a pretty even statistical matchup (and was probably tilted in Michigan's favor prior to the Spartans' beatdown of Iowa). You know the characters: Kalin Lucas is putting the team on his back, Durrell Summers is a huge disappointment, Korie Lucious will next hit the court for Iowa State, not MSU.
On the other side of the court, Michigan has been steadily improving since the victory in the Breslin Center, particularly on defense. Tim Hardaway has emerged into a star. Darius Morris is (ugh) the Butterfly. Jordan Morgan is holding his own in the post as a redshirt freshman.
With both teams' post-season hopes hanging in the balance, this should be one of the games of the year. And CBS thinks most of the country would rather see a routine beatdown of a terrible Oregon team! CBS is the anti-Sheen #notwinning.
Game preview from The Only Colors, and they also break down Big Ten defensive efficiency by each of the Four Factors. David Merritt talks shop with UMHoops. Friday links from UMHoops, including a couple other game previews. UPDATE: Dylan's preview is up.
Bonus Bracketology Rootin'
Since there's a meager slate of games tonight, no dedicated post. You want Harvard to win and Princeton to lose in the Ivy League, so the Crimson can make the Tournament (and stay in the RPI top-50). Both games are at 7.
In the Horizon League, you probably want to cheer against Cleveland State to make the field a little easier for Butler. They'll likely get an at-large, so you don't want the league's auto-bid to go to anyone else.
There are tons of relevant games tomorrow, so look for an early-morning bracketology post.
With both teams' tournament lives on the line, I have to sadly side with Tom Izzo, who guaranteed a win Wednesday night (H/T iSportsWeb):
Don't get me wrong, John Beilein is one hell of a coach. But Tom Izzo isn't shabby himself, and he's been doing this a long time at Michigan State. He knows what it takes to get a win, and the NCAA Tournament is the norm in East Lansing. Nothing else is acceptable, and the players and coaches in green all know that.
Durrell Summers will break out of his offensive slump and Kalin Lucas will out-duel Darius Morris at the point guard spot. However, Tim Hardaway and some clutch shooting from the two juniors will keep this a tossup until the very end. Spartans win, 65-64.
Go Blue. Beat. State.