TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
I can't figure out this Illini team. Sometimes they lose by 12 to Northwestern at Assembly Hall (No not THAT Assembly Hall), and sometimes they go into Evanston and hold the cats to 41 points. Sometimes they fall to Purdue by 20, sometimes they beat Indiana. Just when you're sure they're supposed to be a noble chieftain of a great confederation of Algonquian tribes, they show up looking like Colonel Kernel or Rabid the Squirrel. They have a guy named Nnanna Egwu, which that is at least the fourth thing you would come up with if you were given four n's and two a's and told to make a name.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you were the closest, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
This happened (should be ad-less right now):
And the winner was the dude who thought Michigan would score one less and Penn State score one more. We'll forgive him a couple of free throws, but then screw with him for trying to use header text in his user signature. I like Heading Style Six. Heading Six? Heading Six.
This Week's Game:
Na, na, na, na-na-na-naaaaaaa. Na-na-na-naaaaaa. Eg-wu!
And the Prize:
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm's name has to be spelled wrong. The algorithm is not just a shooter. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
Today's recruiting roundup covers #Project135, reactions from last weekend's unofficial visitors, and much more.
2014 commit Michael Ferns unwittingly incited mass speculation last week when he teased a recruiting-related "big surprise" on Twitter that he dubbed "#Project135". Fans hoping for a new commit were disappointed, but what Ferns revealed on Friday was actually a pretty cool idea:
Kids pick the darndest fonts
Even before this, Ferns had been very active in recruiting his 2014 classmates—it's clear that Shane Morris and his tireless efforts to bring in commits for Team 134 have influenced the next wave.
One of Michigan's other 2014 commits, Wilton Speight, got the profile treatment from MLive's Kyle Meinke; in the piece, Speight talks about flying 2,000 miles to train, and also why he felt comfortable with Michigan's coaching staff:
"Michigan's staff was the first staff to be 100 percent honest with me throughout the whole process, and that meant a huge amount to me," Speight said. "There's lots of coaches from all over the country who will come in and say, 'You're our guy, you're our guy. Just wait, you're going to get an offer.' And then they go out and find someone who's better.
"Michigan, they didn't necessarily tell me I was their guy. They said, 'We're looking at two other guys too.' The thing is, I already knew that, because the quarterback recruits, we're a tight circle. We're all pretty close, and I knew who else they were looking at. And the fact they were up front with me about that meant a lot.
"It was just a perfect fit for me. It was a no-brainer."
It seems like every time Michigan pulls in a commit, one of the top two or three reasons they give for their choice is the level of honesty and openness they experience with the coaches. That's a very good thing, of course, especially in today's recruiting echo chamber—gone are the days when a coach could tell three players at the same position that they're all the school's number one priority and get away with it, not with the pervasiveness of recruiting news and recruits staying in close contact with each other.
[Hit THE JUMP for visit reactions from Parrker Westphal and Daniel Helm, the latest top schools for several recruits, and more.]
I HAVE THE POWER
1. Indiana (21-3)
LAST WEEK clobbered Nebraska and Purdue at home.
THING Neither of these games was even remotely competitive; Indiana put up 0.4 more points per possession than their opponents in both.
OTHER THING Will Sheehey was Indiana's leading scorer against Purdue, shooting 9/9 with a couple of threes mixed in. That guy only went 2/5 from the line so is probably not good at basketball.
OTHER OTHER THING This week in Indiana basketball is not really worth talking about.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Hulk Hogan versus guy in black trunks going by his real name.
Yes, that does appear to be a shirt that reads "suck it Hoff." I was working on a complicated metaphor in which Michigan State—Indiana's latest Game Of The Century opponent—is David Hasselhoff. It didn't work.
2. Michigan State (22-4)
LAST WEEK Destroyed Michigan at home. Had more difficult time with Nebraska. Which, like, cumong man.
THING I am dead certain that MSU let Nebraska score 64 points in 63 possession days after holding Michigan to 52 in 65 just to piss Michigan fans off.
ADRIEAN PAYNE THREE POINT SPECIALIST WATCH Zero attempts against Michigan, two misses against Nebraska, 7/15 on the year.
OTHER THING Maybe if Tom Izzo wasn't Michigan State's coach this assertion wouldn't be seen as a shot at Michigan…
"If we had played Northern Michigan and Eastern Michigan, we would have been ranked fifth, sixth, the whole time — like Michigan has, they've been a top five, seven team. Indiana has been that. You almost act like they aren't getting better. Maybe they are getting better, but you don't see it as easy as ours."
…but it will be. Michigan nonconference opponents include three teams that have been ranked most of the year: Pitt, NC State, and K-State. Michigan State has two of those, Kansas and Miami. Instead of Northern and Eastern, State played Tuskegee and Nicholls State.
THIS WEEK IN STOP ASKING FOR POST TOUCHES This is mostly a section designed to get Michigan fans stop asking for post touches to Morgan and McGary based on the success of the older, larger, more involved post guys on Michigan State, and I think we've seen enough of Michigan's attempted post touch routine to know that's not a good idea. Anyway: against Michigan, 8/14 from the floor with two FT attempts, both makes, 5 assists, 2 TO. Against Nebraska, similar shooting with a bunch of trips to the line as Nebraska proved incapable of handling those dudes.
THING THEY ARE LIKE annoying. Yes, I MAD, U MAD guy.
3. Michigan (22-4)
LAST WEEK Run off the court by Michigan State. Struggled on defense against Penn State but did end up winning relatively comfortably.
THING Michigan's 35 free throw attempts against Penn State were more than they had in their previous four games combined.
OTHER THING Pick a thing Michigan did against MSU and they did it horribly. Rebound? 37% OREB for MSU, 18% for M. Take care of the ball? They lost the turnover batle 16-8. Shoot? 44/32 versus 55/35. The game was only as close as it was because Michigan won the scrubwar at the end and MSU was under 50% at the free throw line.
OTHER OTHER THING Almost as damaging in the realm of possession-by-possession tempo-free ranking bits was the Penn State game, an eventual eight-point win that Michigan was predicted to take by 25. Penn State put up 1.08 points per possession, which is scary.
While the Nittany Lions' previous outing against Iowa was efficient, before that Penn State put up 0.84 against Nebraska and 0.75 against Purdue. Penn State is tenth or worse in three of the four factors and seventh in rebounding, dead last in the league in offense by a good margin. Michigan's defense was porous against those guys and seems to be going backwards as the season progresses.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Manny Pacquiao.
Penn State was a tentative outing against a meatball to recover.
4. Wisconsin (15-7)
LAST WEEK Third consecutive OT game ended in a loss, this one at Minnesota. Destroyed Ohio State at home.
THING Wisconsin is currently 9th in the Big Ten at shooting twos even after tearing up OSU for 61.
OTHER OTHER THING …and they shot 36%/25% against the Gophers in an OT loss. Their defense is impressive even if it seems impossible that they get such a nice whistle.
OTHER OTHER OTHER THING Jared Berggren now owns a majority share in Amir Williams after holding him to this line: 9 minutes, one missed 2, four fouls, no other stats.
OTHER THING Ben Brust had a double-double in that game with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
WISCONSIN PREVENTS THREE POINTERS WATCH Minnesota went 4/17, OSU 3/12. It's a skill.
RYAN EVANS FT WATCH 2/8 against Minnesota—they finally lost a game because of it—and 1/2 against OSU. Now at 40% on the season.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Lawyers.
5. Ohio State (18-7)
LAST WEEK Fairly rote ten point win against Northwestern. Destroyed by Bo Ryan's flaming eyes at the Trohl Center.
THING remember how you felt as a Michigan fan before the Penn State game? That's where OSU is right now, having lost 3 of 4, with one loss an OT gut punch, another a not-very-competitive outing against Indiana, and the most recent a depressingly uncompetitive road blowout.
A slight difference between Michigan and OSU: the Buckeyes have Minnesota and MSU up next instead of Penn State. Thanks, Penn State.
OTHER THING The script has flipped from earlier in the year. Previously a defensive juggernaut without the ability to score, OSU has seen opponents put up 1.2, 1.2, 1.1, and 1.2 points per possession in their last four games, one of which was against Northwestern. The normally incapable Badgers shot 61% from two the last time out.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Ditto Manny Pacquiao.
6. Illinois (17-8)
LAST WEEK Continued streak of playing like basketball team instead of collection of geese in heat, wiping out Purdue and Northwestern by 20+ points.
THING They're in you guys. It's not even a question. Home games against Penn State and Nebraska will be enough to do it, and while the rest of their schedule is pretty brutal—@ M, @ Iowa, @ Ohio State—they're not even on the bubble anymore and those teams are in various states of reeling.
TYLER GRIFFEY WATCH Followed up monster Indiana-game-winning week by going 0/7 from three. He did put up 12 points against Purdue and acquire four offensive rebounds in each game, so there's that.
NNANNA EGWU WATCH Only 22 minutes against the Boilers; 2 and 2 as far as rebounds go. 18 minutes against Northwestern, in which he acquired one defensive rebound and fouled out. DREB rate has slipped behind DJ Richardson.
OTHER EGWU WATCH Sam McLaurin's impossibly low DREB rate is still dropping! He's down to 6.4%. What an amazing player.
THE ENNUI QUESTION GTFO
THING THEY ARE LIKE power donut. Inexplicable first image hit for "power donut": Gerald Ford.
It appears to be a GQ article about Picard-esque bald haircuts. You will agree that all of this is very Illinois.
7. Minnesota (18-8)
LAST WEEK Received rousing huzzah from league for beating Wisconsin in OT; put Iowa on the bubble with massive loss to them.
THING Tubby's tendency to give scads of minutes to terrible players was somewhat reduced against Wisconsin, with the Hollinses playing 43 minutes each and all starters going at least 34 in a 45 minute game. He's learning!
OTHER THING …or he's giving Oto Osenieks 20 minutes against Iowa. I guess his entire team was playing like death so maybe that's understandable. Also, Rodney Williams went out with a shoulder injury and only played ten minutes. Maybe this is all easily explainable by common sense. Except it is a Tubby Smith substitution pattern, so it is not.
THIS WEEK IN MINNESOTA INTIMIDATION FACTOR Actually got beat up by the Badgers on the boards thanks in no small part to Team, which was credited with six Badger OREBs. But Mbakwe was held to one offensive rebound. Jared Berggren can put that in his pocket, too.
Meanwhile in the game they lost by a billion, they outrebounded Iowa 37%-30%.
THIS WEEK IN NO ONE EXPECTS RANDOM MINNESOTA PLAYER INQUISITION Andre Ingram had all three of Minnesota's blocks in the Badger game; Elliott Eliason had four of their five against Iowa.
ENNUIWATCH Q: Is Minnesota on the bubble? They're under .500 in the league and their best nonconference win is against Memphis—they have no other Ws over at-large teams.
A: Absolutely not? I feel like they are a bubble-ish team looking at their accomplishments but no one else in the world does. The worst I can find for them on Bracket Matrix are a few eights; overall their seed average is dead on 6. Crashing the Dance also has them in that range. I guess wins over MSU/Illinois/Wisconsin in the league are good, but there's also a loss to Northwestern and one to Iowa in there.
I believe what the world is saying here, but it feels to me like Minnesota should be at least somewhat fearful of dropping out; they aren't anywhere near it.
THING THEY ARE LIKE A guy who plays Mastermind by putting in random guesses until the game is over. BONUS: mustache.
8. Iowa (17-9)
LAST WEEK Almost blew it all to hell at Penn State but eked out a two-point win. Come home and put the spurs to Minnesota in a 21-point win.
THING Basketball is weird.
OTHER THING It's strange to me that Iowa's defense is better than their offense, except then I think about Iowa's offense and this makes sense.
THIS WEEK IN WHERE'S ROY DEVYN WALDO He's back. A high FTR guy, he was always going to have a lot of fun playing the hackers at Penn State, and he put up 22 points thanks to 11 FTAs. Success was less assured against Minnesota, but he got to the line 8 times in that one and put up 15 points.
He's still turning the ball over too much and not shooting that efficiently overall. If it's a choice between that and not existing, Iowa will take existing.
ENNUIWATCH The Minnesota game gave them a bit of a boost—they now appear on five Bracket Matrix brackets—but they're actually below Arkansas on CTD. They've got two left against Nebraska and a home game against seemingly done-for-the-year Purdue. Win those—no sure thing—and lose at Indiana—yup—and it comes down to two things:
- Can Iowa beat Illinois at home?
- Can Iowa pick up a quality win in the Big Ten Tourney?
Two "yes" answers and they're in. One and they're sweating it out for Dayton. Zero and it's NIT all the way.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Steve Ballmer.
Sweaty, kind of crappy, prone to be a yelling freak in a suit, not entirely ready for the job they've been put in.
Now with actual line
9. Northwestern (13-10)
LAST WEEK Ten point loss at OSU; blown out by Illinois.
THING Northwestern shot 33%/19% against Illinois.
OTHER THING But they had kale!
THING THEY ARE LIKE Trying to eat kale.
10. Purdue (12-14)
LAST WEEK Lost by 2 and 28 to Illinois and Indiana, respectively.
THING In their last eight games, Purdue has either won (in OT by 3 against Iowa, by 9 against Penn State) or lost by 15+. If Iowa doesn't make the tourney, that's going to be… well, one of five games they kick themselves over. This kick will be quite a bit harder than the others.
AJ HAMMONS WATCH Terrible week, with 10 points against Illinois (point Egwu, admittedly) and six against Indiana. Indiana was never going to let him blow up again. No FTAs and few blocks.
RONNIE JOHNSON THREE POINTER WATCH 0/2 against Indiana; 15%.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Mike Samples.
11. Nebraska (12-14)
LAST WEEK Clubbed by Indiana. Vaguely competitive against Michigan State.
THING I have no idea how Nebraska kept in contact with MSU looking at the box score. Oh, I guess Dylan Talley had 28 points. He could develop into… oh, he's a senior. Never mind.
RAY GALLEGOS BOMBS AWAY WATCH Ten three pointers launched in both games. Two makes against Indiana, zero against MSU.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Scott Bailey.
12. Penn State (8-12)
LAST WEEK Almost got off the schneid versus Iowa and had a decent shot against Michigan.
THING At the rate Northwestern is losing players, this winless Big Ten season thing is not in the bag. Kenpom doesn't know that Northwestern is operating down half its team and still has the Nittany Lions with a 20% shot at winning in that one
THING THEY ARE LIKE GopherQuest, still GopherQuest.
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 Indiana, #2 MICHIGAN, #2 Michigan State, #4 Wisconsin, #6 Ohio State, #6 Illinois, #7 Minnesota
Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award
Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award
Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue
Two photos by Upchurch made into one.
I've been spending much of the last week going through last year's photos by Eric Upchuch (ChewerD on the site) to find the good stuff for this year's HTTV. Ninety-five percent just gets deleted, several hundred make it to folders I can access for various players and stuff. Then there's the shots and sequences that I can't, for whatever reason, use in the book but can't in good conscious throw out. So here you go.
You know those guys who stick their heads in lions' mouths? We've got a cameraman who'll stick his lens inches from Jake Ryan. Peer into the soul of the Viking.
[The rest after THE JUMP]
NOTE: these posts ballooned to 3500 words, so I'm chopping them in half. The Big Ten Power rankings will become a separate post running Tuesday since the Big Ten never plays on Monday; seedwatch, nonconference updates, and viewing guide will run today.
Well, it finally happened. Going 1-3 in their tough stretch has moved Michigan out of the ranks of the one seeds in the circuits of computer formulas and minds of bracket projectors. The Matrix has Michigan fifth, on the verge of a top seed, but that has a lot to do with lag. The vast majority of 1 votes come from brackets that haven't been updated since Michigan got demolished by State. Almost everyone who's update since has moved them down a line.
The news is grimmer on Crashing The Dance, which has hurled Michigan all the way down to eighth. They're still a spot ahead of MSU. Miami is the main beneficiary, sliding up to the top line virtually everywhere after a narrow escape against Clemson yesterday.
Michigan still has the ability to play themselves back into a top seed. To be there by the end of the regular season they would probably have to win out; if they split their upcoming home games against MSU and Indiana they could probably wrest a one seed away by winning the league tournament. The bet here is they end up a 2.
Projected ones: Florida, Indiana, Duke, Miami.
ark bid: remote possibility
Last win for IUPUI: December 27th. Binghamton: January 19th. Central Michigan: also January 19th. All of these are unchanged since last week.
Cleveland State crammed in 3 games this week, two losses, and is a bad Horizon team. Bradley remains a 500-ish MVC team. Eastern is the same in the MAC. They're fourth nationally in block rate, though. They're sending back 17% of opponent twos! And 341st in defensive rebounding.
Western is going to win their division of the MAC but still cannot crack the KP 100 because they do things like lose to BGSU and not blow out that Northern Illinois team that infamously had four points at the half against Eastern.
Big sorts of teams
@ Marquette: L 79-69
Pitt gave up 60% on twos and sent Marquette to the line 29 times; they also allowed the Fightin' Wades to rebound 48% of their misses. Result: 1.27 PPP allowed and defeat despite playing a lot better on offense than they usually do. That's an aberration from a usually very good Pitt defense. Marquette may be a team to keep an eye on in your brackets.
SEEDWATCH: Still a five on CTD; four on the Matrix, but they're a hair away from five as well.
Kansas State (20-5)
@ Kansas: L 83-62. Baylor: W 81-61
Reeling Kansas got off the mat in a big way in a game K-State was never really in. The usually stout Wildcat rebounding got destroyed 45%-18%, and Kansas shot 54% from two.
K-State then turned around and blew out a Baylor team that's on the bubble despite losing to Charleston and Northwestern; in that one it was an avalanche of Baylor turnovers that did them in, mostly late. A six minute scoring drought whittled away a large K-State lead to two seven minutes into the second half. From there, K-State blew the doors off.
SEEDWATCH: Status quo. Four on both sites.
North Carolina State (18-7)
Virginia Tech: W 90-86 (OT)
We have to stop complaining about bad luck ruining what could have been a truly impressive nonconference win for Michigan, I think. Yeah: the last two NC State outings have been a one point win over Clemson and an OT win over Virginia Tech. They're still a little short on the luck end of the ledger, but they are who they are right now, a team that can get in a one-point game with any-damn-body.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: Seems to have earned a bunch of playing time even with the healthy return of Lorenzo Brown. In 21 minutes he had 13 points on 8 possessions used. I take it back, McHobbit.
SEEDWATCH: Five on CTD, Six on the Matrix.
@ Auburn: W 83-75. Missouri: W 73-71.
Hey, two wins in a week for Arkansas, one of them against a team headed for the tourney in Missouri, the other on the road, where Arkansas is horrible. Road wins this year for Arkansas include at Auburn, and at Auburn, and also at Auburn.
Arkansas is now on the bubble to get on the bubble. They'll have to go at least 4-2 down the stretch to get in the conversation. With one of those games at Florida, that's a tall order. NIT looks good, though.
SEEDWATCH: nyet. CTD has them 12 teams away from a bid; Bracket Matrix doesn't even know their name.
West Virginia (13-12)
@ Baylor: L 80-60. Texas Tech: W 66-64.
Bob Huggins looks like a ragecomic drawing. That is all.
SEEDWATCH: ain't no seed
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
Notre Dame at Pitt, 7PM, ESPN
West Virginia at K-State, 9PM, ESPN
Indiana at Michigan State, 7PM, ESPN (I punt on rooting interest.)
Florida State at NC State, 9PM, ESPN2
Virginia at Miami, 9PM, ESPNU
Florida at Missouri, 9PM, ESPN
Minnesota at Ohio State, 7PM, BTN
Wisconsin at Northwestern, 9PM, BTN
Penn State at Illinois, 8:15, BTN
Iowa at Nebraska, 9PM, ESPN2
Duke at Virginia Tech, 9PM, ESPN
Miami at Wake Forest, 1PM, ESPN3
NC State at North Carolina, 4PM, ESPN
Arkansas at Florida, 7PM, ESPNU
Illinois at Michigan, 1PM, ESPN
Michigan State at Ohio State, 4PM, CBS
Northwestern at Purdue, 6PM, BTN