Mike Lantry, 1972
|WHAT||Western Michigan at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||8:30 PM Eastern, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan –22 (Kenpom)|
Right: Buster Bronco, (s)toked. Yes, I'm not-so-subtly implying that Western's mascot is Snoop Dogg levels of high.
Western Michigan is 6-1 on the season, though that hot start has come against a pretty weak early slate—KenPom ranks their SOS #309 nationally thus far. Their opening road loss to #241 Cornell dampens the resume, though they do boast a five-point away win over #93 South Florida, a tournament team last year.
The team's top scorer is 6'7" senior wing Nate Hutcheson, who's scoring mostly via volume shooting—his 13.7 points per game come while shooting 45% from two and 33% from three. An impressive knack for getting to the line can't save an ugly efficiency rating.
Those familiar with Illinois basketball will be shocked by this: 6'8" freshman forward Darius Paul, brother of notorious chucker Brandon, is averaging a very efficient 11.7 points per game on the strength of 53% shooting from two. He's 3-11 from three this year, so he's still upholding the Paul name with pride in a way, at least, while also doing good work on the offensive boards.
Rounding out the front line is 6'10" center Shayne Whittington, who doesn't finish well inside (47.2 2P%) but has the #8 defensive rebound rate in the country (28.3%) and a very high block rate (8.4%). Whittington also gets to the line with regularity; along with Hutcheson, he could test the new-found depth of the Wolverines up front.
Starting two-guard Brandon Pokley is Western's primary outside shooting threat, knocking down 15-of-33 three-point attempts so far this year. He's also drawing fouls at an impressive clip, despite rarely attempting shots inside the arc, and knocks down over 80% of his free throws. Point guard Austin Richie is mostly a distributor, albeit one with serious turnover issues—his 29.4% assist rate is nearly matched by his 28.1% turnover rate.
Off the bench, 6'1" guard Jared Klein is a solid outside shooter with 11 steals already this season and, bizarrely, a 17.4% defensive rebound rate; he's also struggled with turnovers. The rest of the rotation plays limited roles and the Broncos don't have a true backup big—when they go to the bench, they also go small.
As stated above, the schedule hasn't exactly been a gauntlet. Along with USF, victories have come against NAIA squad Marygrove, Loyola Chicago, Maryland East Shore, High Point, and Oakland, with their lone loss at the hands of Cornell.
Four factors, with national ranks in parentheses:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||48.9 (156)||20.2 (142)||31.4 (183)||41.2 (93)|
|Defense||45.3 (87)||18.2 (277)||26.2 (31)||31.1 (95)|
Major caveats apply due to strength of schedule; even without those, the numbers are very average aside from an ability to keep opponents off the offensive glass, something they probably can't replicate against a big, talented Michigan squad.
Also of note: Western's opponents are scoring right around a third of their points from three-point range, a very high rate, despite connecting at a 34.3% clip, which is only a little above average. This suggests that opponents are getting a number of good looks, so... hello, Nik Stauskas.
Hello, Nik Stauskas. Do what you do, kid.
Protect the glass. Western isn't a stellar shooting team, nor are they great defensively; just about the only way Michigan can lose this game is to allow Paul and Whittington to dominate the offensive glass and get a ton of second-chance points. Michigan is currently the third-best team in the country at preventing opponent offensive rebounds despite playing some big, athletic squads, so... yeah, they're probably gonna win.
Keep doing what you've been doing. I mean, yeah. (Until they lose, this is staying in the previews.)
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 22
In a stunning coup, Arkansas will hire Wisconsin's Bret Bielema as its next football coach, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Bielema, who has taken the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls, was nowhere on the radar amid months of speculation over who Arkansas would hire.
An announcement will come Tuesday, sources told Y! Sports, but Bielema is not expected to be introduced until Wednesday.
But like adding Rutgers and Maryland will prevent this sort of thing from happening. People in charge of things are just in charge of them, for no reason.
[NOTE: in transit to DC today for Q&A thing Thursday, so light day from me.]
We need some elephants with adamantium blades coming from their hands. This exists:
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and I need some lambchop-possessing awful cartoon unholy wolverine-elephant combinations stat.
On your TV! Black and Blue, the Willis Ward documentary, will be on your television if you're in Detroit. Channel 7, 1 PM, Saturday. Yes, this is unfortunately timed with the Arkansas basketball game overlapping. Set your DVRs.
Where many coaches just show up from the MAC. The Big Ten has pants and pants of money. Leg-sleeves stuffed with cash. And…
Purdue Football Coaching Search: Butch Jones Leaning Towards Colorado
…that about says it all. I know that Purdue is maybe not the best example but the current Big Ten coaches are:
MAC OR MAC-ISH HEAD COACHES: Beckman, Kill, Hoke
NOT EVEN MAC: Hope (fired)
BIG EAST HEAD COACHES: Dantonio
COORDINATORS: Wilson, Bielema, O'Brien, Pelini
POSITION COACH: Fitzgerald (thrust into the job early by tragedy), Ferentz
URBAN MEYER: Urban Meyer
People, stop hiring MAC coaches who get hot for a couple seasons. Anyone can get good in the MAC (except Eastern why do you have football Eastern), and the MACtion nature of the league means that whoever is good is good because of chaos. Hoke at least had a couple years of turnaround at SDSU to his credit.
Also, there is one coach in the league who came in with BCS-level bonafides, Meyer, and he had extenuating circumstances that removed him from his previous job. This year is not a great example because I can't think of anyone who leaps off the page as an excellent coach Purdue should try to poach, but in the past five to ten years no midlevel Big Ten school has even approached a decent hire. I mean, yeah what about Sonny Dykes:
Sonny Dykes- Where art thou?
Sonny Dykes, my number one choice, seems to be staying pretty quiet during this whole process. I haven’t heard his name mentioned for Tennessee or Arksans or even NC State despite early murmurs those were his preferences. His team turned down a bowl game because they were hoping for a better offer. If that’s any indication of how Dykes negotiates someone may get a bargain of a coach. Cal seems to be the front runner for him at this point but with the coaching carousel you never know. I’d still like to see Burke take a shot at him and use the extra money for a hot shot defensive coordinator.
Is Cal going to outspend a Big Ten team for Dykes? Adding Rutgers and Maryland will change that. Sure.
Next up for Purdue: maybe Darrell Hazell because Hazell has one year in which his team came out on top of MACtion and two as a head coach. Conference, I roll my eyes at you.
Burnin' the shirt, burnin' the shirt. Well so much for Caris Levert the redshirting guy. Michigan put him out there against Bradley and will continue playing him. This means bad news for Matt Vogrich, who went from a starting, if minor, role to a few minutes late:
"(The plan is to play him) six to eight or six to 10 (minutes per game)," Beilein said Monday. "I don't know if that's always going to happen, it depends on what's going on late in the game.
"That was our intention, that's why we made the move to put him in the top eight -- we're still going to stay with a top eight or nine (guys in a rotation), and he's in there."
With Albrecht and McGary definitely part of that rotation, Levert's addition just about kicks Vogrich out of meaningful PT.
How do we feel about this? Vogrich was off to a poor start this season, but he has been able to provide sporadic gritty grit off the bench in past years and knows how to work a back-door cut. I'm less incensed about burning redshirts in basketball, where the really good players don't stick around four years, let alone five, and anyone on the floor is contributing in a way Sione Houma wasn't when he covered kickoffs that were going into the endzone anyway.
If Levert is worth a couple points a game, I'd say go for it. We haven't seen much to indicate that he is yet, but the buzz has been consistent. If they can really use him as a "defensive stopper," I'll be surprised but that's what Beilein says and Beilein draws a lot of water in this town.
Everyone was injured and now it can be told. Taylor Lewan's shoulder you didn't know was hurt is fine now, which hurrah because Clowney. Gardner's ankle you didn't know was hurt will be fine by the time bowl practice starts. Denard's elbow you knew was injured is still coming along:
Robinson was asked Monday if he's been throwing at all.
"I'm not throwing how I want to throw," he said. "I'll get there eventually."
He didn't indicate what has kept him from throwing the way he'd like.
"I don't know right now," he said. "Got to keep going, keep trying and keep getting treatment."
Nate Brink is not returning and this is apparently still news despite the fact that he walked on senior day. Stood, really, but you know what I mean.
The discussion: Which team is the nation's most talented?
Ford: …the team that may have the most talent in the country, in my book, is Michigan. The Wolverines currently have five players ranked in our Top 100. Kentucky is the only other team to have as many Top 100 players.
Right now, point guard Trey Burke is the only Michigan player ranked in our top 30, but Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. both have the ability to crack the first round of the NBA draft. Freshmen Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas are further down the list, but both have a real shot at getting drafted down the road.
That's in part why I believe Michigan is a Final Four team and may give Indiana a run for the No. 1 spot by the end of the season.
/spins in chair whistling strangely
Adopt-a-Bundesliga. I mentioned this on the podcast a few weeks ago and I am still kicking the idea around: I kind of want to adopt a Bundesliga team, because the Bundesliga is a place where people think like this:
Among Germany's well-organised supporter groups is Kein Zwanni (Not Twenty), a campaign to keep tickets cheap. Its spokesman, Dortmund fan Marc Quambusch, said: "You have to keep tickets affordable so poorer and young people can have the experience of being football supporters. German football has a special relationship with supporters because we are the owners of the clubs; people do feel that very emotional sense of belonging and the clubs do listen to the fans. I feel we need to really value what we have."
Watzke is a confirmed adherent to the Bundesliga rule that its clubs, with the historic exceptions of Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and more recently Hoffenheim, must be controlled "50% plus one" by their members. The other 33 of the 36 clubs, including Bayern Munich, which is 82% owned by its member-supporters, cannot be bought by a single person from outside, like the Premier League clubs, but instead are democratically answerable to their members.
An indication of an "emotional sense of belonging" is what the Big Ten's leadership got from fans once they announced they'd be adding Maryland and Rutgers, and is what they are busy throwing away right now in pursuit of ever-greater dollars without bothering to ask first. Ask anyone. They just did it.
That article is on Dortmund*. Dortmund fell in to debt and is coming off consecutive league championships by digging out and buying young players and building something. The entire league is organized like the Packers with exceptions grandfathered in; meanwhile the Packers setup is banned by the NFL with Green Bay grandfathered in. One gives you Dan Snyder. The other does not.
*[Dortmund pros: successful, opportunity to root against Jermaine Jones. Yellow overlaps with Michigan somewhat. Cons: somewhat of a carpetbagging thing to root for defending league champion, their yellow seems a little off. ]
The average household already spends about $90 a month for cable or satellite TV, and nearly half of that amount pays for the sports channels packaged into most services. [Emphasis added.] Massive deals for marquee sports franchises like the Dodgers and Lakers are driving those costs even higher. Over the next three years, monthly cable and satellite bills are expected to rise an average of nearly 40%, to $125, according to the market research company NPD Group.
So far, people seem willing to pay. But the escalating costs are triggering worries that, at some point, consumers will begin ditching their cable and satellite subscriptions.
“We’ve got runaway sports rights, runaway sports salaries and what is essentially a high tax on a lot of households that don’t have a lot of interest in sports,” said John Malone, the cable industry pioneer and chairman of Liberty Media. “The consumer is really getting squeezed, as is the cable operator.”
That is an unsustainable model that will erode. The Big Ten has hitched its entire wagon to that instead of things without an immediate return like, oh I don't know, an emotional sense of belonging. They are following the lead of newspapers, most of whom have abandoned any long-term strategy for slowly milking what profits can be made—except newspapers did not have a choice.
At this point I just don't care about the Big Ten expanding. I had my rage, and now I don't care what happens. That's where I am, and that's dangerous for the pointy-haired bosses. I'll watch, I'm committed to that, but there's a continuum here.
Here is a libertarian-flavored argument from Mother Jones's Kevin Drum about this whole business that GTP linked and I agree with, no polo.
No link just a thing I am thinking. The best example of the milking behavior is the Big Ten ruining things by making more of them. The two examples I'm thinking of:
- Splitting Michigan and Ohio State in the hopes of getting a rematch the next week.
- Cramming four Big Ten bowls onto New Year's Day, cheapening the accomplishment.
Instead of NYD being a litmus test for a good season it is now highly likely 8 and 7 win teams get there annually, and then who cares.
Yes, I am thinking about living under a highway overpass. Let's think about something happier.
Also other key plays. I love how on the last one you can hear the entire arena moan disgustedly before Stauskas even gets the ball. They know it's going in.
Etc.: Nebrasketball beats USC to give the Big Ten a little bit of a schedule bump. I watched the first 15 minutes or so and came away amazed at how bad the Trojans were. They have a guy with above-average usage (Jio Fontan) shooting 24% from 2!
Hagerup profiled. Baumgardner on the Bradley game, which I was fine with them playing. I'd rather have Michigan go to MVC schools for RPI and competitive purposes than beat up on the SWAC. Beard on the freshmen. MGoUser club_med looks at overtime games and eventually concludes that how you get to overtime—by blowing a lead or coming back—does not affect your chance of winning.
Late fades after being up big are the best problem to have but I would prefer it if they were fixed.
"I will wear it with pride."
To a man, the seniors of Team 133 thanked the University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit for the rings presented to them at last night's annual football bust. They may have been told to do so; the sincerity rang true, regardless.
To earn those rings, the seniors endured far more tumult than the average Wolverine class. A handful committed to Lloyd Carr's class of 2008, witnessing a coaching change before they ever set foot on campus. Every one made the jarring transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, who had the privilege of introducing each senior, charmingly butchering the more complicated majors—the sciences presented a particularly tricky articulative obstacle—and presenting their rings with the requisite bear hug.
Then came the stories, the laughter, and in one case, tears.
Ricky Barnum, heading to the School of Social Work next year after graduating with a degree in Afro-American and African Studies, implored the audience to "hit me up" if they ever need a grant or proposal written.
Will Campbell thanked the strength coaches for turning him "from a 346-pound slob to a 308-pound stud, as you can see."
Brady Hoke, before introducing fullback Paul Gyarmati, noted that Gyarmati's father played bass with Carlos Santana for several years. Gyarmati, off the cuff, thanked his father for "stealing my thunder."
While introducing Jack Kennedy, graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Physics, Hoke quipped, "it was tough, but I got him through."
Elliott Mealer, lumberjack beard intact, started his speech by saying, "I cleaned up for you tonight." He finished with a quote from his late father: "If you don't have good dreams, you have nightmares."
Patrick Omameh, Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Award winner for his academic accomplishments, sweat profusely during his improvised speech. "It's my trademark," he said, with no hint of shame.
Craig Roh thanked Jesus Christ for getting him through two-a-days and fall camp.
Roy Roundtree lit up while reliving his recruitment, recalling high school teammates Michael Shaw and Brandon Moore telling the then-Purdue commit that he might get a Michigan offer—"Man, I get that offer, I'm coming to Michigan," he said, noting how good he looked in a winged helmet.
Roundtree later broke down in tears while thanking Director of Academic Counseling Greg Harden, whom he credited for getting him through Michigan; his genuine thankfulness, even awe, at the prospect of going to grad school was heartwarming.
Floyd Simmons revealed that during games he liked to sit to J.T. Floyd's right on the bench, spelling out "Floyd" "Simmons" with their jersey nameplates, "but no one ever gets a picture of it."
Vincent Smith joked about chasing rabbits in Pahokee, and thanked the coaches for teaching him how to cut-block defensive ends—quite well, one might add.
Hoke called out Steve Wilson for getting into Michigan State's medical school. After mock boos from the crowd, Wilson noted that, yes, he got into State, but the only medical school he really wants to attend is Michigan.
Going last, of course, was Denard Robinson, who thanked virtually everyone associated with the program, including the academic staff that corralled the self-proclaimed "free spirit" and helped him become the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college. He also apologized to Al Borges—and his wife—for sending him home with so many headaches before closing, aptly, with "this is Michigan, fergodsakes."
The MVP of the bust, however, was also voted Bo Schembechler MVP by the team. Jordan Kovacs, a late arrival after attending the Burlsworth Award ceremony for nation's top former walk-on, brought down the house with his opener:
“I’d first like to thank coach Rich Rodriguez for allowing a slow, unathletic and undersized kid to play at the University of Michigan. That was really nice of him to let Drew Dileo play football here.”
Kovacs, who also won the Bob Ufer Spirit Award, finished by saying he was proud to call himself many things, walk-on included, but most of all to be a Michigan Man.
On this night, as the seniors had their football graduation of sorts—a few with more football ahead, many more on their way to becoming doctors, lawyers, social workers, or teachers—it was a fitting close from the captain. All have earned the right to wear their rings with pride.
- The team will focus on fundamentals in practice over the next week or so.
- Team will leave for Tampa on the 23rd.
- The NFL discussion with Taylor Lewan will continue after the bowl.
- Devin Gardner had an ankle issue after the OSU game (was spotted walking around in a boot). Otherwise no new boo boos.
“You know, we’re obviously thrilled to be heaing to the Outback Bowl our fifth time. The bowl itself, the organization, the volunteers, they’ve always been gracious hosts. The city of Tampa and Clearwater do a tremendous job of embracing the bowl, making it a great event for both teams. It’s an opportunity to play a very good football team in South Carolina. 10-2, Coach Spurrier is one of the iconic coaches in this country. Laid a great foundation and has done a great job at South Carolina, really did a great job at Florida when he was the head ball coach down there. So it’s going to be a great football game, one that we’re excited to be a part of against a great opponent.”
How much do you know at this point about South Carolina?
“I know they have a really good front from a defensive perspective. I think they gave up 17 points a game. Very athletic. Lost at Florida and at LSU, so their two losses were on the road against two very good football teams. I think offensively the quarterback has done a nice job. I think the coach is a hard guy to please at that position. Lattimore won’t play obviously, and that’s a shame, because he’s one of the great football players in the country, but from that standpoint, you just start breaking them down.”
Your brother coached with Steve Spurrier. Were you able to get to know him and form a relationship as a result?
“You know, a little bit. Not a huge one, but Jon was there, my brother was there three years, Steve’s last three, as his defensive coordinator. Steve and his wife are really nice people. They treated my brother well. Him and Jon talk back and forth, but it’ll be a fun football game to be a part of.”
How much will the time off help Denard recover and do more than he was doing at the end of the regular season?
“Well, I think we hope for all of them -- they go through the grind. It’s good for all of them to heal up a little bit. We’ll start practicing at the end of the week on Friday and Saturday. They’ll do some lifting and running this week. But to get them away from the pounding a little bit helps them all.”
Any injuries resulting from the OSU game?
“No. Not really. Devin had a little bit of an ankle, but he’ll be fine by the time we get started on Friday.”
How do you improve your ability to run the ball and limiting turnovers for this game?
“Well I think we always work hard on running the football. That’s not going to change. We always preach and teach the mindset of running the football and finishing at the line of scrimmage and backs finishing on safeties and the ninth man or eighth man that people want to get in the box. But I think you just keep plowing through it going forward, and your demands and your expectations have to be met.”
How much emphasis will be put on developing younger players?
“Yeah, we’ll start going Friday, Saturday this weekend, and then Friday, Saturday next weekend. We have finals coming up and all those kinds of things, so those will be more of just the fundamentals and the basics, kind of getting back to it for everyone. We’ll use a lot of that time to help develop the young guys. And then as we go through the bowl practices, we’ll devote some time to those young guys and what we want to get accomplished.”
When do you leave for Tampa? And what’s your philosophy on working your players too hard vs. not enough?
“That’s always the fine line, to be honest with you. We’re going to leave on the 23rd and practice when we get down there, kind of get acclimated to where we’ll be and all those things, which I don’t completely know yet. Mike Vollmer and Bob Lopez are down there now securing the sites, but we’ll go down the 23rd. Most game planning should be all done by the time we leave, so that’s always a positive. We’ll kind of judge where we’re at from health, from the mindset of where we are and what we’ll do.”
Why has Hopkins left the team?
“You’d have to ask him. I know we already discussed it.”
When did he let you know?
“He let me know.”
The Big Ten has struggled against the SEC. Do you feel like you’re playing for the conference?
“I think you always are. I think you’re playing for Michigan and your seniors first, but we’re proud to be in the Big Ten. Why we wouldn’t want to represent and have that be part of our focus, it’d be really bad for us not to feel that way about the Big Ten.”
What do you want to see from Devin?
“Continued growth as a quarterback. His development is just like some of those guys, you know, Willie Henry’s growth -- only it’s a little different because he’s a quarterback. Willie Henry’s a nose tackle or a three-technique. So Willie’s not touching the ball a whole lot, right? So I think his continued growth to playing in big football games and environments not in Michigan Stadium.”
How has playing a tough schedule prepared you for the level of talent you’ll face in the bowl game?
“I think there’s always a benefit. When you play good football teams, and whether you win or lose, you learn how you have to play. You learn that you have to do a better job taking care of the football. You have to run the football better. You have to get the ball back for your offense at the end of the game to give them the opportunity to score. Those are all the things you take out of the last game that we didn’t do.”
How important is it to win this bowl game?
“I think as we would look at it, for our seniors, that ninth win -- you always want 10 when you’re here. It’s kind of an expectation. But sending them out in a real positive fashion and I think you build some momentum going into winter conditioning.”
Is it harder to vote in the coaches’ poll knowing that your choices are made public?
“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s -- you know, I think you vote your conscience. I don’t know if I would have voted any differently than I did.”
Why did you have Michigan 15th?
“Becaue I think we’re a good team. You look at the opponents that we played compared to other schedules that are out there. It would be easy to play a lesser schedule, but I think this has helped us grow as a program and as a team.”
You met with Taylor this last week?
Any words of wisdom?
“You know that I don’t have a whole lot of words of wisdom, but we’ll talk after the bowl game. We’ll do our due diligence and trying to get him as much information as we can.”
When do you expect to hear back from the advisory committee?
“I don’t know.”
What kind of a test will it be for him to go up against Jadaveon Clowney?
“Well I haven’t talked to him since we found out who we were playing. But if you’re truly a competitor, I think it would be a tremendous, fun opportunity.”
What are the tangible rewards of playing a tough schedule? Seems like teams aren’t really rewarded for it.
“Well I don’t think you are, but I think for us and this program and the future of the program, I think it’s a real positive. Playing in a kickoff classic in Arlington, everything that goes along with it and how you prepare, it’s kind of a big stage. So I think that all helps.”
Is there anyone you’ve coached or coached against that you can compare to Jadaveon Clowney?
“Mm mm. He’s pretty good.”
What’s your feeling about Te’O and the Heisman? Brian Kelly said if Te’O doesn’t win it, why not just make it an offensive award?
“I think if I were Brian Kelly, I’d say the same thing. You know, my thoughts on it? I think everyone’s going to have an opinion, every voter’s going to have an opinion on does he do enough? But no one really knows what he does for that team. I think he’s worthy of it. But I don’t know if Johnny Manziel’s not worthy of it. And I don’t know if it’s just Johnny Manziel. I don’t even know who’s up for it. But Te’O, being a defensive guy, I’m kind of in his corner.”
Thoughts on the MAC getting their first BCS bowl?
“I think it’s great for that league. The MAC’s a great league.”
Why did you invite Hagerup to camp even though he was suspended for four games? He said it meant a lot to him.
“Well I thought it was important for him to be around his teammates. There were some mistakes that were made that we’ve all made -- some of you maybe haven’t -- but it’s nice for a kid to be around his teammates.”
Members of the younger generation find this appealing.
Over the weekend BTN released an online survey (still alive) that let the fans opine on the divisions and their stupid names and how they ought to be reorganized and stuff. Online poll is online poll but I was ready to leap the second DIABEETUS posted it on the board because a.) Who Michigan plays and what is at stake for those games is important to me, and b.) There's been a growing sense since "Leaders and Legends," that sense emphatically underlined with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, that general fan-think matters diddly to Delany and co.; opportunities to put an opinion where they might see it don't come along every day.
One of the questions in the survey asked us to rate the importance of three divisional considerations: geography, parity, and keeping traditional rivals together. They're all kinda important, and if there's any silver lining to adding two broke schools from the east coast it's that 7-team divisions are a better fit than 6-teams for an alignment that doesn't sacrifice any of those ideals.
The reason is because our conference is clustered in groups of three or four. Minnesota-Iowa-Wisconsin always had their circle of hate that has just enough room to add Nebraska. Illinois-Northwestern and Purdue-Indiana are an intermingled Chicagoland group that shouldn't be separated. Our block is the Michigan schools and Ohio State. Penn State could attach to that except it throws parity off, their awful thing be damned. Maryland and Rutgers turn the eastern part of the conference into two groups of three to match the west's groups of four:
The thick dark blue lines are the rivalries that ought to be protected within divisions and played every year. The light blue are old trophies and close non-trophy rivalries you keep if you can. The little green ones are those with the recent derived trophies or a proximity thing that isn't yet a full thing. Divisions then ought to pair one of the threesomes with one of the foursomes. Since one of the foursomes has Nebraska and Wisconsin in it and the other doesn't, the divisions ought to be obvious:
|In the Weight Room Division||In the Community Division|
|Ohio State||Penn State|
Don't care about the division names just yet. Let's check this against the three considerations.
Geography: Well Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana make a nice little Great Lakes grouping. Here's a table of distances written in driving hours (HT Google). The upper left quadrant is our division; lower-right is the other one:
You'll note the other division has some very long drives. Minnesota to anywhere starts at four hours and goes to 18 (to Rutgers). Lincoln and New Brunswick are literally half the country away. How can Rutgers be in a division with Nebraska that's a 20-hour drive away? Well…