Today's recruiting roundup revels in the wake of Derrick Green's commitment and has the latest updates on Denzel Ward, Henry Poggi, and more.
Hello: Derrick Green
In case the rock you live under still isn't wi-fi capable, I have good news: Derrick Green, the nation's top-ranked running back, committed to Michigan on Saturday. He gets the full "Hello" treatment here, and below is local news coverage featuring video of his announcement:
Green's remarkable physical transformation—he entered high school at 268 pounds—is recounted in Sam Webb's latest DetNews article, which also gives a look into Green's recruitment. Green calls Fred Jackson "a father figure," and Brady Hoke managed to have a huge impact before ever meeting him in person [emphasis mine]:
With those bonds fortified there was one important connection left to be made — the one with Hoke. Even in his absence Michigan's head coach managed to begin that process with a gesture that resonates with his prized recruit to this day.
Said [Green's mother, Fran] Knight, "When we went (on the March 18 visit), he wasn't there. His dad had just passed, but I was amazed how even though he was going through the situation with his father passing, he still took the time out to call Derrick and let him know that he really wanted him there, he really wanted to be there, (and) he was looking forward to meeting him. That spoke volumes to me about the type of person he was."
If you'd like to see more scouting on Green, the DetNews also has blurbs from several Scout analysts.
In other current commit news, 247 named David Dawson and Patrick Kugler to their All-American first team for the class of 2013. Kyle Bosch and Henry Poggi earned second-team nods.
Speaking of Poggi, multiple outlets have confirmed that he did visit Alabama last weekend, and the Tide are actively recruiting him. While the exact nature of the visit is unclear—some say it was a visit to a friend on the team while others say that he took an official, and the Poggis are staying quiet—the general sense from insiders is that he'll still end up at Michigan in the end.
After a move to Florida—one that reportedly came as a surprise to the coaches—a parting of the ways between Michigan and 2014 commit Denzel Ward seemed inevitable. Today, it came to pass:
I am no longer a commit to the University of Michigan, I really appreciare the love from there but I just want to make the best decision.
— Denzel Ward (@DW75_) January 29, 2013
Michigan Leads For Doles
In-state 2014 OL Tommy Doles was on campus again last weekend, this time to check out the academic side of things, and per GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz the trip cemented Michigan at the top of his list ($):
“It helped a lot,” said Doles. “I can say Michigan is the frontrunner now. I wasn’t ready to make a commitment or anything – I think I still want to see what the options are. I think I’m just not quite ready to make a decision yet, but Michigan is a good option at this point."
Doles may take his time and check out some other options, but at this point it's tough to see him winding up anywhere but Michigan.
Per multiple sources, including 247's Clint Brewster($), Michigan offered 2014 five-star GA DE Lorenzo Carter. Carter holds one of the most impressive offer sheets in the country—pulling a five-star deep out of SEC country is a tall task, so until further notice don't get expectations too high for him.
The Best Kind Of Touchdowns
Illinois: defeated. Burke's halfcourt performance is gently prodded with many nods towards his inherent Burke-ness.
Stauskas: more than just a shooter(tm). Obligatory. I call him "Darius Morris who shoots 50% from three." Note that I just rewatched the Illinois game and my assertion that he did not take a jumper was wrong--I was misremembering a LeVert Kobe assist as Stauskas's. Stauskas left a floater short, which Illinosi rebounded. Just for the record.
Morgan's absence: problem? Doesn't seem like it so far.
Caris LeVert: future? Getting that feel despite his lack of outburst.
Everything is falling into place. All things are as you would have them be to maximize this team's performance. Enjoy it, as this sort of serendipity is uncommon.
Indiana looms. Looms.
Talking Big Ten with
Jamiemac John Gasaway. It was Monday at noon so we figured Jamie would be at that "work" stuff and dialed up the man formerly known as Big Ten Wonk, John Gasaway. We talk about his status as a battered Illinois fan, I get shot down talking about Jordan Hulls's defense, he expresses confidence in Michigan basketball, and Yogi Ferrell is talked up as a guy who has an impact outside of the box score.
Music. "The Switch and the Spur," the Raconteurs.
The usual links:
A picture of the conference. Michigan's defense isn't that much of an issue so far:
It's pretty good, and then the offense is off the charts. It's only in the context of the super-elite teams vying for a national title that it seems deficient. And with that offense… well… Gasaway's latest Tuesday Truths puts it in perspective:
It may turn out to be the case that Michigan is not in fact excellent at defense, that they're merely very good at it. But that needs to be seen in the proper context. First, this isn't a case like, say, Missouri last season, where a good many people chose to overlook the Tigers' vulnerability on D. (There was a push to give that team a No. 1 seed. I still shudder at the memory.) John Beilein's defense this season is day-and-night better, thus far, than Frank Haith's was last season.
Second, whatever Michigan's level of performance has been on defense, the Wolverines have been able to plug that in as one half of an equation whose result has been outscoring the best conference in the country by nearly a quarter of a point per possession. The Wolverines' only loss this season has come not to an offensive juggernaut that was able to exploit UM's worrisome deficiencies on defense, but to the hapless-on-offense Ohio State Buckeyes, who shut down Michigan's offense beautifully.
Lastly, the past 10 years can be ransacked profitably not only for prerequisites (and I'll be joining Luke on this beat soon -- watch for it!) but also for weirdness. I've seen a team rank No. 8 in its 12-team league in two-point accuracy and then go on to win a national championship. I've seen a team rank No. 103 in the nation in offense and then go on to make the Final Four. And do I even need to drag Gordon Hayward into this?
The most likely outcome of March is that Michigan will indeed lose to some other team in the tournament, because they are only amongst a leading group of teams. If and when that happens, people will point to the defense; I'll just be like "Michigan was the Vegas favorite and still 5 to 1 against."
Slightly more favored in the league. Michigan's huge scoring margin in the league sees them favored to win the Big Ten in SpartanDan's Bradley-Terry projection system*, which may not be a huge surprise. What is surprising is how much they're favored by.
Dan's basic system that does not take margin of victory into account says Michigan has a 69% chance of an outright title and an 85% chance of sharing. The margin-aware numbers are 80%(!!!) and 92%(!!!).
Those numbers are probably too high since Michigan is likely to have outperformed its real level of skill significantly in the opening third of the conference schedule, but… wow.
BONUS: Penn State has a 30% shot at going winless in the margin-aware system.
*[College hockey fans: this is KRACH.]
Bullet of stats-enthusiasm-dissing hypocrisy incoming. While I'm generally a fan of Big Ten Geeks, their latest foray into stat assemblage is goofy to me. They use "stops," which is a Dean Oliver formula that crams steals and blocks and rebounding statistics into a number. As with all attempts to create a catch-all defensive statistic, it waves its hand at who is in fact responsible for team defensive rebounding and how replaceable they may or may not be. Also unaccounted for is a player's contribution to the opponent's shot quality.
But they've compiled the numbers and shown you the results:
Let’s look at Stops:
Player Stops per 40 minutes Adam Woodbury 11.35 Mitch McGary 10.94 Jordan Morgan 10.47 Branden Dawson 10.21 Trevor Mbakwe 10.20 Cody Zeller 10.20 Ryan Evans 9.45
Well, this is interesting—we have a couple of freshmen leading the way. Both Woodbury and McGary are tremendous rebounders (as is Jordan Morgan this season), which explains why they rate so high. And to those who complain that Stops unfairly rewards good rebounders, I think that’s about as valid a point as the complaint that offensive rating unfairly rewards efficient scorers. Rebounding is defense—a big part of it.
So this works if rebounding is, in fact, defense. It's not. It has an impact but the top ten teams in defensive rebounding are 54th, 144th, 162nd, 147th, 103rd, 171st, 240th, 64th, 18th, and 25th in defensive efficiency. As I mentioned when pooh-poohing Mason Plumlee's KPOY candidacy, rebounding is the least important of the four factors. It's only its trackability that makes it so prominent. It's easy to say who got a rebound. It's really hard to credit someone for an effective rotation.
This metric thinks Jordan Morgan is a lot better this year because the team is better at rebounding. His personal DREB rate is a tick better this year, but it's still just 257th. He gets credit that other players don't because Tim Hardaway is mansome this year.
Morgan is then declared the best defensive player in the league because he fouls less often than the other guys at the top of the list, with this capper:
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Jordan Morgan has been the best defensive player in the Big Ten so far. Unbelievable. And in case you’re wondering, Oladipo fouls quite a bit—4.42 fouls per 40 minutes. Talk about the eye test all you want, but the numbers suggest he’s not the best defensive player (or even the best defensive perimeter player) in the Big Ten.
I accuse Big Ten Geeks of gross misuse of stats. Yes, it is unbelievable. Thus you should disbelieve it.
Victor Oladipo isn't a high-end defensive rebounder because he's frequently sticking his hand in the face of the highest-volume shooter the opposition has. His role defines his numbers. You can cram defensive rebounds into a slightly modified form all you want—notice that not one perimeter defender appears on this stops list—but all you get is a comparison between yourself and David Berri. Deployed.
Sometimes you have to go by the eye test because the stats compiled are inadequate, and until basketball stats get crazy detailed individual defensive performances are in that bucket.
BONUS WONKY STATS COMPLAINT. Most attempts to compile defensive numbers underrate the value of a steal, by the way. A defensive rebound is just the successful conclusion of a defensive possession ending in a missed shot. A steal ends a possession by itself—it's the miss and the rebound rolled into one—and frequently leads to a transition opportunity at the other end. That latter part is not well accounted for.
Morgan's ankle. Nothing broken, just a sprain, AP got a totally gross picture of it, if he can play basketball on Wednesday he will play basketball on Wednesday—I bet he cannot play basketball on Wednesday.
Zak Irvin continues rain of destruction. Last week: 26 points and 30 points in wins. One was over Arsenal Tech, both the best-named and top-ranked team in the state until Zak Irvin declared his school was now named Sharkfin Elfin 3000 and scored almost half of his team's points in a 64-59 win.
You want to watch the whole game, you say? You have free time.
If you are going to do this you probably want to start at halftime. Irvin scored 26 of his 30 after the break.
Zing. John Niyo on the Nobody Remembers #1 thing:
"It's Jan. 27," Beilein said after a 74-60 victory at Illinois last weekend, "and not one of you can remember who was No. 1 last Jan. 27."
Well, actually many of us can. It was a 20-1 Kentucky team that went on to win the Southeastern Conference and the SEC tournament and eventually the NCAA title.
But point taken.
5 to 1 against, 5 to 1 against, 5 to 1 against, repeat until you internalize the likely outcome of the season is not cutting down nets…
Etc.: You can be happy about being #1. Via UMHoops, the view on Bielfeldt from Peoria. Being back on top is nice and you should be happy. Here's an excellent primer on Beilein's 1-3-1 from the man himself.
Michigan dodged a bullet today when X-rays revealed no broken bones in Jordan Morgan's ankle, but the Wolverines likely will have to make do without their starting center for the next couple games, at least. How much will his absence hurt Michigan?
If the numbers from conference play are any indication, not nearly as much as you'd think.
I spent yesterday compiling the statistics for each five-man unit John Beilein has deployed in Big Ten play (garbage time excluded) to see if I could spot any trends. The entire spreadsheet of all 40(!) different lineup combinations is available for your perusal as a Google Doc. Here are the five most common lineups the Wolverines have used, divided up by offensive statistics...
The raw numbers are tough to compare, so this is where tempo-based stats come in handy. I've calculated each unit's number of possessions using KenPom's standard formula (2PA+3PA+(0.475*FTA)+TO-OR). From there, it's easy to calculate points per possession, which I've multiplied by 100 to give the standard offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. Also included is plus/minus, for those curious.
|Off Poss||Off Eff||Def Poss||Def Eff||+/-|
Well, then. Only the top two lineups have enough data to really rely upon (Michigan averages around 65 possessions per game, so even those have less than two full games of data)—the Horford lineup's numbers come almost entirely from the Illinois game.
Caveats aside, there's little doubt that Michigan's starters play are playing far, far better—on both ends of the court—with Mitch McGary at center than Jordan Morgan. The offensive efficiency with that lineup is off the charts*, and that defensive efficiency number would put Michigan just behind Ohio State, one of the best defensive teams in the country, at third in the Big Ten.
To see if this trend bore itself out regardless of the surrounding lineup, I calculated the offensive and defensive efficiency numbers for any lineup featuring Morgan/McGary/Horford...
|Off Poss||Off Eff||Def Poss||Def Eff|
|ALL Morgan Lineups||180.6||109.1||179.2||102.1|
|ALL McGary Lineups||199.1||126.1||202.6||90.3|
|ALL Horford Lineups||43.3||124.7||43.8||89.0|
...and the team's four factors statistics when each of the three centers is on the court:
Here is where you can really see the difference between Morgan and McGary. When McGary is on the floor, Michigan rebounds over 10% more of the available misses on offense, and while they get to the line far less frequently, they shoot better from the floor. This could be chalked up as an anomaly, since the two-point shooting numbers are virtually equal for Morgan lineups and McGary lineups, while Michigan shoots 46.6% from three with McGary compared to 34.0% with Morgan.
There's a possible explanation for that, however, in the defensive numbers. The Wolverines force more turnovers with McGary on the court (19.2% to 15.6%), and of late many of Michigan's best looks from three have come off their transition game. That probably doesn't account for a 12-percent difference, but even if that's normalized there's still a gap in offensive production between the two; I consider McGary the better passer, a factor that may also contribute.
The difference between the two defensively is easier to figure out. McGary's activity defensively helps the team force more turnovers, while his excellence on the glass leads to a better rebounding rage. While McGary fouls more often than Morgan, the team fouls so rarely as a whole that the foul rate isn't affected greatly.
As for Horford, the sample size issues make it tough to take away anything concrete, but thus far the team hasn't missed a beat when he's on the floor—in fact, they're doing unsustainably well on both ends, with an eFG% of 64.5 on offense and 40.0 on defense. He's an interesting case defensively; like McGary, he's disruptive on defense, leading to more turnovers, but opponents are rebounding better with him on the floor than either Morgan or McGary.
I've said this before, but I'll make it clear in this post: John Beilein has stated repeatedly that he's very happy with the rotation as it is, and it could take some fantastic play from McGary paired with sub-par performances from Morgan for him to consider making any changes. When Morgan returns, I fully expect him to slide back into the starting lineup, and that's fine—given the physical demand of the position, regardless of who's starting McGary and Morgan are going to split minutes relatively down the middle anyway.
What this shows, however, is that Michigan has something special in Mitch McGary. Not only that, but Horford's solid work in limited time means the Wolverines shouldn't be in trouble if Morgan misses more than a couple games.
I'll have more notes from this five-man lineup data tomorrow, including insight on Caris LeVert's impact and how Michigan fares when they go to the bench.
*Michigan's overall conference-only offensive efficiency is 118.9, which is over ten points clear of Indiana for the Big Ten lead.
Green / Grady / Woodson
Like many of my generation, I had a little thing when Ace finally posted the long-awaited Hello: Derrick Green post. Like he was all…
And the board was all…
And even Magnus was all…
And I was all…well, nothing that would make for an interesting gif. You kids won't remember this but we've had a five-star tailback commit before. And we got really excited. Like We Beat the Russians to the Moon, except fast-excited. And that was right before a Des-pose'd NCAA 2006 arrived with a new mode where you create a freshman and run him to a Heisman. We were all Grady.
But we were all of us deceived.
The high schooler who plowed through the state turned out to be Thomas Rawls except not fast. Grady was given a lot of chances, especially early, but peaked as a fumble-prone, #2 guy to Hart. The meat of his career was spent nursing an ACL tear that won him his medical redshirt, and flirting with the edge of the Darryl Stonum outer boundary of tolerable off-the-field stuff. He finished his eligibility as a fullback in the 2009 outfit with 783 yards, a 3.9 YPC and 10 TDs.
That's a respectable enough career for a blue collar fullback, but not a blue chip. It's also way too small a sample size to justify acting like a wet blanket over Michigan's first five-star RB since the first Grady.
It is well to remember that we had a lot of highly rated backs before stars became a thing, for example Charles Woodson was one according to a Lloyd interview on one of the videotapes I bought when the video store in the Union closed. A-Train was Prep Football Report's #2 back in the nation. Wheatley in high school was the best all-around athlete the state of Michigan had seen since Harmon. Tom Harmon…well this is why we keep things to recent memory. What we need is more samples. To the rest of the NCAA!
(…where gordie bell just traveled, kinda. His stuff is just off Rivals, and includes four-stars, and is mostly a bunch of lists. Aw heck just read both. And JUMP)
Prospective one-seeds started—or continued to—drop like flies this week. Duke got blasted at Miami; Syracuse lost at Villanova; Louisville is now on a three-game losing streak after dropping games to that same 'Nova team and Georgetown.
This is good news for Michigan in two ways: it gives them some wiggle room as the Big Ten inevitably piles defeat on them, and it helps get Florida on that one-line so Michigan can't face 'em until Atlanta. Yeah, maybe Florida isn't that good. I'd rather have someone else test that
theory hypothesis. If you're thinking about a bet on sports you could do a lot worse than taking Florida and the points.
So with the Big East chaos and Florida's continued rampage in the SEC I'm moving the Gators onto the one-line. Kenpom projects them at 27-3 in the regular season, and while the terrible terrible SEC will be a drag it may not matter.
As for Michigan's numbers, Crashing the Dance has moved Michigan to second and projects the same one-seeds as I do below. M is the top overall seed at the Bracket Matrix. Their RPI has dipped to 7th; RPI forecast projects that is where they will finish. They're up to second on Kenpom, with IU, Louisville, and Duke nipping at their heels. Florida is far and away #1.
Projected ones: Michigan, Duke, Kansas, Florida
The Nonconference Folk
Sweet hoppin' pickles, IUPUI and Binghamton are bad. IUPUI hasn't won in a month. Binghamton… OH MY GOD BINGHAMTON BEAT MAINE. Well done, Binghamton. Work that RPI for us. Uhn.
Fellow struggler EMU just got a lot of pub for holding Northern Illinois to four first-half points; they've actually leveled their MAC record at 3-3. Cleveland State continued losing. Western swept the other MAC directional Michigans last week and is looking like the best team in the West division of that conference, but that's not saying much.
Bradley is going to be a .500 MVC team; Western has pulled well ahead of them on Kenpom.
Big sorts of teams
@ Providence: W 68-64. DePaul: W 93-55
relevant, I promise
Providence isn't good but they do show relatively well in Kenpom (66th) and hung in against Syracuse at home, so the relatively narrow win there isn't as bad as it looks. Also, Pitt was up 10 with two minutes left and Providence never pushed their win percentage past 5 after that.
Then the Panthers did what they do to all bad teams, obliterating them. If you're thinking about a bet on sports you could do a lot worse than taking Pitt to crush a bad team. In a frenetic, up-and-down affair Pitt held the Blue Demons to 28% from the field. DePaul's decided that if they can't be good they'll at least be fast. They're currently the #1 team in the country in adjusted tempo.
Tonight, a huge game for Pitt watchers as the Panthers take on reeling Louisville. The Cardinals have dropped well back in the race for Indianapolis in the second round, but still remain a threat.
BONUS BONUS BONUS: while perusing Big East scores to find out what happened in the Pitt-DePaul game, I discovered, well, this:
Vander Blue scored 13 points and played suffocating defense on the Big East's leading scorer to lead Marquette to an 81-71 victory over Providence Saturday in a game delayed several times because of a dive-bombing bat.
Play on, man. This ain't no tennis.
Kansas State (15-4)
Kansas: L 59-55. @ Iowa State: L 73-67
A very creditable performance against Kansas in which the Jayhawks struggled considerably more than Michigan did when they took on K-State earlier in the year. Michigan had a neutral court, granted.
In that game, K-State jacked a bunch of threes, kept Jeff Withey from recording a block, and held Kansas just under a point per possession. Their offense was rough, as it usually is, and they were considerably aided by a 62% effort at the line from Kansas.
The Wildcats then went out and lost to The Hoiberg Home For Lost Big Ten Boys, albeit narrowly and on the road. Iowa State shot 46%(!) from the free throw line and 50%(!) from three; Kansas State couldn't get an offensive rebound to save their lives and fell despite shooting a lot better than they usually do.
SEEDWATCH: a seven on Crashing The Dance; a six on Bracket Matrix.
North Carolina State (16-4)
@ Wake Forest: L 86-84. North Carolina: W 91-83
NC State's crap defense perforated wildly against a Wake Forest team that's lost to Nebraska (by 16!), Iona, Richmond, and Seton Hall already. NC State let those dudes shoot 51% from two, sent them to the line 33 times, and allowed them to grab almost 40% of their misses. NC State did all the things they usually did on offense, and lost.
NC State did that again against UNC, but this time kept their opponents off the boards and the free throw line, so they won. Richard Howell is officially nuts. He had 15 OREBs in two games last week.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: Total of six minutes, one missed shot, three assists, and no turnovers.
SEEDWATCH: 5 on Bracket Matrix; 5 on Crashing The Dance.
BONUS: Wake Forest features a player named "Arnaud William Adala Moto."
Miss St: W 96-70, @ South Carolina: L 75-54
That press business is a feast or famine thing, eh?
.500 SEC team; NIT bid, usual.
West Virginia (9-10)
TCU: W 71-50. @ Okie State: L 80-66.
Results as expected—yeah, TCU is that bad. They're headed for a season around .500.
CONFERENCE OF POWER RANKING POWER POWER
LAST WEEK Eased by Purdue and Illinois, though Purdue kept it close in the first half with some torrid three-point shooting.
THING There's just one more game in this relatively easy stretch before the bear appears: @ IU, OSU, @ Wisconsin, @ MSU. Go 2-2 there and hold serve at home against MSU and Indiana late and they'll likely secure the title. Easier said than done.
OTHER THING Trey Burke is descending into some heroball business at times. In the Illinois game, Nnanna Egwu was repeatedly switched onto Burke; instead of trying to drive it was a lot of dribble dribble dribble questionable long two. Michigan would be better off if they moved the ball around more.
OTHER OTHER THING Here's a candidate for Most Frequently Repeated Sentence In Big Ten Basketball This year: "Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter™." Every time Stauskas puts the ball on the floor for a gliding layup or GAME… BLOUSES dunk or beauty touch pass assist, the color commentator says Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter even if we have been given ample evidence that he is not just a shooter already.
OTHER OTHER THING Meet the new Nik Stauskas: Tim Hardaway, Jr. Hardaway is now 17/31 from three in Big Ten play.
OTHER CANDIDATES FOR MOST FREQUENTLY REPEATED SENTENCE IN BIG TEN BASKETBALL THIS YEAR
- "DJ Byrd from way downtown."
- "Steal by Victor Oladipo."
- "DJ Byrd from Cleveland."
- "Official time out to clean up Tom Izzo's froth."
- "This game does not involve Purdue but DJ Byrd just attempted a three pointer in it despite being in Indiana."
THING THEY ARE LIKE boom headshot
LAST WEEK Clubbed Penn State again. Broke out a inadvisable 2-3 zone at home against Michigan State and survived MSU's unexpectedly frequent and effective three-pointers to avoid a second home loss in the league.
THING Good God, Victor Oladipo: 21 points on 12 shots, many of those generated from his six steals. Steals that lead to fast break dunks seem to be worth far more than the two points they generate—you've defeated an offensive possession and then grab a free two on the other end. They're big deals; Oladipo is kind of good at that.
And then that thing where Oladipo goes from the three-point line to the basket in Denard Robinson time. PLUS: three blocks! Three OREB! I am impress, Oladipo.
OTHER THING Wither Cody Zeller? His absence (two points) in the Penn State blowout was essentially irrelevant; a similar disappearance against MSU was rescued by a late drive to the bucket and charge taken. Still, just nine points and not much in the way of peripheral stat-itude for Zeller in this one. I'd still be a little concerned about his production if I was an Indiana fan.
OTHER OTHER THING Was the 2-3 zone an attempt to hide Jordan Hulls?
OTHER OTHER OTHER THING Yogi Ferrell's shooting numbers aren't great but he was a major part of Keith Appling having a miserable night. Appling couldn't check Ferrell and ended up fouling out.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Last year's Indiana team except Victor Oladipo is awesome.
DESHAUN OF THE DEAD
3. Ohio State (15-4)
LAST WEEK Ran out to a huge lead versus Iowa, stopped scoring, almost gave it all back, yes this sounds familiar. Had no such problems against Penn State.
THING Iowa's defense was permissive enough to make the OSU box score look like an actual basketball team produced it instead of Deshaun Thomas and several undead people. Four Buckeyes hit double figures. Three managed it against Penn State, and Thomas was not Ohio State's leading scorer. Dios mio, man.
OTHER THING Thomas has still cracked the KPOY leaderboard. He's now tenth, and why not: despite jacking up almost a third of OSU's shots he's putting up excellent efficiency numbers and has a rock-bottom turnover rate. If he had gone to the NBA last year, OSU would be an NIT outfit. If you're looking for a Most Valuable Player that really emphasizes "valuable", he's it.
THING THEY ARE LIKE That scene at the end of Shaun of the Dead where Shaun and his zombie buddy are playing playstation—it's gonna be okay, you guys. Unless he eats me.
LAST WEEK Played Wisconsin game against Wisconsin, winning by two. Stayed in contact at Indiana thanks to blazing three-point shooting but never really threatened to take the lead.
THING Adreian Payne's three point shooting career:
- Entirety of freshman and sophomore years plus the first 16 games of this season: 1/4
- Last five games: 6/7
The miss was a desperation jack at the end of the Indiana game; he's hit every plausible three pointer he's attempted in January.
It's weird man.
OTHER THING ABOUT ADREIAN PAYNE He's looking kind of scary right now. It doesn't really show up in the box score outside of the three point shooting but he looks like a much better player. The charge Zeller took was one of those where the guy gets there after the guy with the ball takes off, and Zeller had forever because Payne leapt a thousand feet in the air from around the three point line. So… yeah, charge, but a really impressive charge.
50/50 he Puts It All Together around now and makes MSU into a real contender.
OTHER THING Michigan State had a huge nationally televised game and looked dumb; Indiana looked like Indiana.
THIS WEEK IN STOP ASKING FOR POST TOUCHES Against Wisconsin Nix and Payne combined to go 2/7 from the field with no FTAs, 3 assists, and four TOs, though these days who knows where Payne is shooting from.
Things were a bit better against Indiana: 8/14. No FTAs, but Nix had six assists, mostly on high-value open threes.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Flowers For Algernon Guy, but at what point on the cycle?
5. Wisconsin (14-6)
LAST WEEK Played two grim games with 50-some possessions in them, winning against Minnesota and losing to Michigan State.
THING They nearly won that game against Michigan State despite hitting 30% from both two and three and 39% from the free-throw line. Gross. Meanwhile, they didn't do much better against the Gophers—42%/32%/50%. If Wisconsin wants to play HORSE with Michigan that's a matchup Michigan will be fine with.
OTHER THING Wisconsin gave up only nine threes against MSU (19%) and 11 against Minnesota (24%). Preventing three-pointers is a skill. Unlike shooting free throws, it's one the Badgers have.
RYAN EVANS FT WATCH 3/6 last week. Sent to the line late in the Minnesota game, he barely scraped the rim on the first and flung it way too hard on the second, and was then lifted in the last few minutes. If you are trailing Wisconsin there are worse ideas than fouling him every time he touches the ball.
THING THEY ARE LIKE
LAST WEEK Locked in a tight game with Northwestern until the Wildcats unleashed the zone, whereupon they looked upon it like it was a space monolith and withered. Had Wisconsin-style game at Wisconsin, losing by one in a 51 possession game.
We can declare the Gopher renaissance slightly overstated. They'll still be a team you do not want to draw in the tournament… unless you can run an exotic zone.
THING You kind of had to see Minnesota disintegrate in front of your eyes to believe it, but the win percentage graph from Kenpom does a pretty good job of communicating how baffled the Gophers were once Northwestern deployed the 1-3-1:
Take Michigan's game against Pittsburgh and multiply it by 10. It was amazing watching Minnesota turn it over against the guy at the top of the zone over and over again. Does Tubby coach offense? Seriously.
OTHER THING Also Austin Hollins fouled out with 12 minutes left in that game. I'm usually a zealot about not chaining your best players to the bench with foul trouble; even I wouldn't grumble at hiding a guy with four on the bench until eight minutes or so
THIS WEEK IN MINNESOTA INTIMIDATION FACTOR Rebounded 48% of their misses against Northwestern—Mbakwe had nine. However, got badly out-rebounded by Wisconsin en route to defeat.
OTHER TUBBY COACHING BITCH How the hell is this team 278th in defensive rebounding and first (by a mile) in offensive rebounding? They're last in the Big Ten in TOs surrendered, too. The Gophers look like a talented team with abnormally crappy coaching. A Michigan outfit featuring lots of Evan Smotrycz at the five finished 99th last year. There is no possible excuse for these Gophers to be bad on the defensive boards.
THING THEY ARE LIKE a dizzy King Kong who feels like he's about to throw up.
LAST WEEK Fell behind by lots against OSU, almost caught up, lost by nine. Had grim, grim first half against Purdue that morphed into super fun second half and OT; lost.
THING Okay, my love affair with these guys is over. Nobody on this team can shoot even a little bit. Freshman PG Mike Gesell had to take over the scoring load against Purdue, and while he's a pretty good freshman he is no Stauskas. He had to do this because…
OTHER THING Roy Devyn Marble has evaporated in Big Ten play. This week he was 3/15 from two, 1/7 from three. He's shooting 29%/25% since the conference season kicked off, and even that Indiana game when he hit 12 free throws saw him miss 13 of his 14 shots from the field. About the only thing he's done right this year is hit some threes against Michigan.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Maybe I should have termed them a quintessential Amaker bubble team.
LAST WEEK beat up on Nebraska, had every little run they made ruthlessly stomped out by Michigan.
THING Illinois is dying by the three. DJ Richardson scorched the nets for 30 points versus Nebraska, but only one of Illinois's 13 threes from the rest of the team went in and they scuffled to 32%. It was worse against Michigan, 23%. As the season goes along these things stop being anomalies and just become reality.
OTHER THING The last time Tyler Griffey hit a three, Michigan was #1 in the AP poll. Tyler Griffey had not yet been born.
NNANNA EGWU WATCH The rebounding has picked up. He secured a total of ten in the Michigan game. Unfortunately for the Illini, Egwu has started jacking up extremely inadvisable shots, perhaps as part of an attempt to impart a helpless fatalism into Illinois fans*.
*[A futile attempt since any Illinois fan who doesn't have it yet must be immune.]
THE ENNUI QUESTION Should I move them below the line? Mmm… not yet. They're 2-5 in the league but I assert they can make the tourney at 21-11, 8-10 in league play. Very few bubble teams are going to be able to stand up to wins over Gonzaga, Butler, and Ohio State.
Let's assume they win home outings against Penn State and Nebraska. Can Illinois win four of these games?
- HOME: Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue
- AWAY: MSU, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa, OSU
I think they can. Likely? No. As unlikely as Kenpom thinks? (~20 percent.) No. And hell, it might be tough to leave them out at 7-11. Last year a 22-14 South Florida team with one good win (@ Louisville) and losses to Penn State, Auburn, and Old Dominion got in. Above the line they stay.
THING THEY ARE LIKE the pointless destruction and creation of meaningless human life
HENRI LINE OF ENNUI
LAST WEEK kept it close for a half against Michigan, whereupon their bullcrap threes abandoned them; was on the happy end of that fun Iowa-Purdue game.
THING AJ Hammons was a useless seven-foot lump against Michigan.
OTHER THING AJ Hammons was probably the best player on the court against Iowa, with apologies to Terone Johnson's double-double. While Hammons wasn't particularly effective on offense there was an obvious difference in Iowa's ability to get any shot worth having when he left the game.
OTHER OTHER THING Purdue's advancement is a bad thing for the league since they've got very little shot at an NCAA bid what with a loss to Eastern Michigan on the ol' record; honey Purdue don't care.
With DJ Byrd likely to be the only departure from this edition of the Boilers, a .500-ish Purdue will be eyeing large improvement and an NCAA bid next year. I project the rims at Mackey will experience a barrage of practice three-pointers heretofore unknown to man.
RONNIE JOHNSON THREE POINTER WATCH nyet
THING THEY ARE LIKE Something specifically designed to piss off Jim Delany. Garlic, then. Or rap. Like, early-90s rap that's about as offensive as bubbles. Bust A Move. Yes. Purdue is Bust A Move.
not that bust a move
/disapproves of loose women
/takes refuge in Bob Seger
LAST WEEK Picked up the Loki baton from Illinois, beating Minnesota by deploying the 1-3-1 in the face of the uncomprehending Gophers and then losing to Nebraska by lots.
THING Seriously, WTF, Northwestern?
OTHER THING Oh you were 6 of 29 from three.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Chaos.
11. Nebraska (11-10)
LAST WEEK DJ Richardson beat them by 20, with some help from the other Illini. And then they cruised against Northwestern. Life is weird.
THING For a guy who was supposedly out for the year, Brandon Ubel played a suspiciously large number of minutes against Northwestern: 39. Assertion: Brandon Ubel is not, in fact, out for the year.
THING THEY ARE LIKE corn quicksand
LAST WEEK Crubberated by Indiana. Not quite crubberated by Ohio State, but basically.
THING they ain't winning a single game this year in the league you guys
OTHER THING it's at Nebraska or nothin'
OTHER OTHER THING okay maybe Purdue at home
OTHER OTHER OTHER THING and everybody knows neither of those is happenin'
THING THEY ARE LIKE movies my wife likes
hoo boy you should see some of these movies
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 MICHIGAN, #2 Indiana, #3 Michigan State, #4 Ohio State, #5 Minnesota
Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award
Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award
Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …
1) helping M win conference title
2) best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding
3) greatest number of tourney teams from league
4) eff Michigan State
5) also Wisconsin
Pitt at Louisville, 7 PM, ESPN
Kansas at West Virginia, 9PM, ESPN
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 7 PM, ESPN
Nebraska at Minnesota, 9PM, BTN
NC State at Virginia, 7 PM, ESPN2
Northwestern at MICHIGAN, 6:30 PM, BTN
Indiana at Purdue, 8:30 PM, BTN
Texas at Kansas State, 8PM, ESPN2
Illinois at Michigan State, 7 PM, ESPN
Penn State at Iowa, 8PM, ESPNU
Arkansas at Alabama, 9PM, ESPN2
Purdue at Northwestern, noon, ESPN2
Syracuse at Pitt, noon, ESPN
Miami at NC State, 4PM, CBS
Tennessee at Arkansas, 4PM, ESPN
Kansas State at Oklahoma, 6PM, ESPN2
Ohio State at Nebraska, 7 PM, BTN
MICHIGAN at Indiana, 9PM, ESPN
Iowa at Minnesota, 1PM, BTN
Wisconsin at Illinois, 3:30 PM, BTN