TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
Spring of 1989 was the semester we switched from playing football during recess at Quarton Elementary School, to hoops. A particularly muddy field that spring made this the sane thing to do. Upside: you get in less trouble when you don't come home from school covered in mud. Downside: the best athlete in the class* was staunchly against it since he was also the 2nd shortest guy in the class, and under the Universal Rules Regarding the Governorship of Boys in the 3rd Grade the best athlete gets to decide which game we play. What finally changed "I'm Tony Boles" to "I'm Rumeal Robinson"† was twofold: the Pistons went to the NBA Finals and were on their way to another, and then this happened:
By fall the spell was broken and some kid got bloodied pretty badly by falling on the pavement and the recess calls were back to "I'm Desmond Howard!" We were off to middle school by the time the Fab Five arrived. But for a time in '89 the only thing on anybody's minds was "wow when did Michigan basketball get so good?". I wonder what made me think of that.
* Ironically that kid who gave me a blue Michigan football for my birthday, then announced we can't play with any other ball ever again, ended up a mouthy walk-on on MSU's 2000 championship team. And a nice guy, for a Spartan.
† I was always Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson until some other kid started fighting me for it and I switched to Mark Aguirre.
How it works:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, 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.
About Last Time:
"I am a structural engineer and I know that that bicyle [sic] on the shirt has a flexural hinge waiting to happen. I could not wear the shirt in my right mind without modifying it."
This Week's Game:
Michigan versus Purdue tomorrow night. I'm Trey Burke!
And the Prize:
Look soft? It is soft. It's tri-blend, so it feels like you've been breaking it in since "Michigan Man" became a thing, except this time your mom won't rip it up and use it for rags.
Normally I post a prize from the MGOSTORE, but this week I thought I'd expand a bit outside our corner and highlight an important partner of this site: Underground Printing and Moe's, without whom we don't have a store, we don't have a book, and Brian Cook is some kind of computer engineer with a blogspot page. Other than MGoShirts, their calling card is those comfy retro tees.
This I appreciate, since my actual vintage 1989 Michigan basketball shirt was a tattered rag by 1993. Oh it would fit; my generation was fortunate to come upon the "wear everything three sizes too large" fashion period when we were still growing. By the time clothes were meant to fit again, ours did, even if the hyper color was washed out.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm tore its ACL. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm goes on 20-6 runs out of halftime.. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
As you've referenced with KenPom's research several times, it would appear that the best way to defend the 3 point shot is to keep your opponent from shooting them at all. Unfortunately, according to an ESPN insider article, Michigan is allowing its opponents to shoot them on 36.9% of their possessions, which ranks 295th in the nation. Does this concern you? I think we would all hate to see Michigan beaten in the tournament by a less talented opponent with a hot hand from deep because they can't prevent teams from getting off 3 pointers.
Somewhat. The nice thing about Michigan's defense is how few shots at the rim they give up. Michigan's forcing more two-point jumpers than any team in the league except Nebraska:
Team Defensive Summary
% of shots
% of Shots Blocked
Insofar as shots are migrating to three-pointers, they're shots at the rim. So… that's okay. Ideally you'd like to see that Nebraska shot configuration, but to do that the Huskers give up on the idea of offensive rebounding and steals.
I'm not sure what Michigan can do to improve their defense at this point. Forcing a lot of jumpers plus their defensive rebounding and lack of fouls has propped their defense up, and that's about all they can do. They don't have a shotblocker—at least right now, maybe Horford can provide some of that later in the season—or an elite perimeter defender. They rotate out on pick and rolls to prevent guys getting to the basket, and then you have to start rotating away from the corners. Threes inevitably result… if you're not Wisconsin.
As for the tourney, it will be tough for any major underdog to keep up with Michigan's offense, but a second or third round matchup against a good defensive team that takes and hits a lot of threes would be worrisome.
Whenever Michigan gets a 3-star recruit earlier in the process, there tends to be widespread complaining about taking up scholarships that could be filled by more highly rated players. The general response to that is, "I trust the coaches to evaluate players." This got me to thinking that most major programs essentially have their pick of just about any three star player that they want.
My question is, do three star and lower players who go to major programs perform better on average than the total population of three star players?
I understand it would be hard to distinguish between a three star player taken for depth/filling out a roster purposes compared to a three star player who the coaches think are better than their ranking, but I thought it might be an interesting topic to explore.
I'd guess it's actually worse since there's more competition and recruiting sites give recruits at the bottom end of the scale a courtesy bump to three stars 90% of the time a nobody commits to a power program.
At Purdue, everyone is a three-star player and someone has to be relied upon; sometimes you get Kawann Short. At Michigan—at least at Michigan in the near future—the three star is going to have to climb over some other guys to get on the field.
I do think that there is a big difference between a recruitment like Reon Dawson—who Michigan clearly grabbed to fill a previously designated spot that was vacated—or Da'Mario Jones—seemingly offered once Treadwell flitted off—and Channing Stribling, who Michigan liked at camp and then had a very nice senior year. To put in in Gruden terms, did Michigan want THIS GUY or just A GUY?
In your post, "Aging in a Loop", you mentioned how the solid defensive rebounding performance in Columbus proves that we are for real on the boards this year. I agree completely, but it got me wondering how much of that has to do with our sudden ability to actually have three to four non-midgets (relative use of the term, I get it) on the floor at once. I can't remember too many Michigan teams having anything resembling a luxury of length in quite some time.
Have ever looked for or found any statistical correlation between average height and rebounding prowess? Even the least astute observer must realize it will benefit the numbers, but I guess what I'm after is just how much it actually does?
[Note: since this email came in Minnesota did pound Michigan on the offensive boards.]
While much-improved, Michigan still isn't a very big team. Replacing Novak and Douglass with a couple of 6'6" guys and adding McGary into the mix has pushed them to a hair above average on Kenpom's "effective height,"* but that's in the context of 347 D-I teams. There are entire conferences where the 6'10" guy is a tourist attraction. They remain a lot shorter than Kentucky, Arizona, USC, Miami, Gonzaga, Eastern Michigan, and others. Effectively four inches shorter, in fact.
Michigan's moved up in the world in that stat—they've generally hovered around 250th in effective height since Beilein arrived—but I don't think that's the reason they've been so good at rebounding this year. I crammed together the data available on Kenpom to eyeball an ugly scatter plot, and here it is:
Libre Office makes sinfully ugly graphs yo.
That round ball with a dense central cluster is typical of things that are not correlated. You'd find something similar if you graphed hair color versus desire to eat bananas.
There is no correlation between effective height and defensive rebounding. If you insert a trend line into this—something I don't like to do in low-correlation graphs like because it implies that there actually is a trend—it actually goes down as your height goes up, at a surprisingly steep slope. Some people would try to apply some crazy mechanism to make that make sense here; I'm just going to tell you there is no meaning. There does seem to be some correlation between EH and offensive rebounding, but not much of one.
Anecdotally, that enormous Eastern Michigan team Michigan played earlier this year is below average at both facets of rebounding despite having played only a few games against decent competition. They're hideous on the defensive glass.
In general this is good news for Michigan, a team that trades some rebounding muscle for increased offensive effectiveness. But why are they so much better this year than last? Well:
- Luck, always luck.
- Effective height does not capture the difference between Mitch McGary and Evan Smotrycz very well.
- Michigan has not trudged through their Big Ten schedule yet; IIRC they entered conference play last year in the top ten and ended up 9th in conference, dropping to 99th overall.
- Tim Hardaway is serious, man.
- Some teams are abandoning the offensive boards in an effort to choke Michigan's transition game off.
If you asked me to put weights on these things I would give them nearly all equal weight, which means they can expect some regression as #1 and #3 betray them but should realize a significant gain from last year's 9th-place conference finish.
SIDE NOTE: You'll notice that GRIII > Novak is not on that list. While it's true that GRIII is much better on the offensive boards than Novak was, their defensive rebounding is essentially identical, lending credence to the idea that getting on the defensive glass is a matter of effort and positioning while offensive rebounding is more about being a skyscraper-bounding genetic freak. Holla at yo' Petway.
*[IE, if you have a seven-footer who plays 10 minutes and a 6'8" guy who plays 30, the 6'8" guy counts three times more than the seven-footer.]
Brian, Quite often the site discusses the ability of an offensive lineman to pull. Why is this difficult? My understanding is that pulling requires the lineman to:
(0) (set up:) ignore the guys across from him before the snap, because the lineman is about to pull,
(1) after the snap, back up a step or two,
(2) run sideways behind other blockers, and then
(3) find a guy to block.
So what is hard? I'm not saying there isn't anything, I just don't know what it is. Is finding the right guy to block hard? Or backing up and running?
Also, have you thought about doing a basketball version of HTTV?
One of the major takeaways from the clinic swing I did last spring was that everything is hard on the offensive line. I missed most of a three-hour presentation by Darryl Funk on inside zone because I was at Mattison's thing, and when I came in I was too far gone to understand much. I also sat in with a wizened consultant who scribbled various v-shaped diagrams on an ancient projector and demonstrated how if you stepped like so your world would end, and if you stepped like so demons would pour into the world from outside known space, but if you stepped like so there was a slight chance of you living to see dinner.
All of these steps looked identical to me. Offensive line is hard.
So. Consider the pull. You are 300 pounds, and you are lined up across from men who would like to run you over, and you are trying to get to a hole past other 300 pound men before a 200 pound man lined up a gap closer to this hole can get there. On the way you may encounter bulges in the line you have to route around. When you arrive you have to instantly identify the guy to block, reroute your momentum, and get drive on a guy.
This is a tall order. Michigan particularly had difficulty with step 2 the last couple years. Here's a canonical example from the uniformz MSU game. Watch Omameh (second from the bottom):
"Run sideways" goes all wrong there as Omameh arcs slowly and Denard ends up hitting the hole before he does; Denard has to bounce as a result when a block on Bullough is promising as the left side of the line caves in MSU.
To get to the place you are supposed to be you have to execute a series of steps as carefully choreographed as anything on dancing reality TV and be able to adapt on the fly, and you have to be able to redirect your momentum quickly enough to go in three different directions in a short space of time, with enough bulk to be, you know, an offensive lineman. Getting there in time is harder than anything the tailback has to do.
How does this impact Michigan's search for run-game competence in 2013? I hope it doesn't since I'd rather have Schofield back at right tackle than moving back inside.
Ostensibly because they simply don't have the resources to keep Lane Kiffin from tweeting recruits every five nanoseconds, the NCAA this week announced they're getting rid of those limits altogether. They're also planning to let schools send as much mail as they want.
If you're a big school like Michigan who can afford to pay a guy to do nothing but send mail and text people wonderful Michigan facts, this is horray. But if you're a young football player upon whose skills rests the future employment of a hundred highly motivated collegiate coaches, prepare for the USC Legion of Owls…
What can you do to fight back? Well it's not like recruits don't have options, and I'm not just talking about picking a hat. You, young sirs, are for this brief window the sole source of information for a voracious, massive, and more than a little creepy information vacuum. Collegiate hopefuls of America's high school, I tell you today you can approach the recruiting process with poise, intelligence, humility, and maturity, or you could wield that which has ever been the tool of your kind—troll them.
Now some of you have tried this before—demanding your program have a good medical school to sound academically inclined, making up fake visits to Notre Dame, making up fake dead girlfriends, even committing to big schools sight-unseen to drum up internet interest *cough*DeQuinta Jones*cough*—I call such sad attempts sophomoric. Inspired in part by DeAnthonthy Arnett, in part by a conversation with Ace when Michael Ferns announced, and with help from Brian Cook, here follows a handy list of ways the nonpareil prospect can pique the system, discomfit the coaches, and have a little fun at the expense of all those strangers hanging on the bell.
==Idiot disclaimer: I am not actually advocating any of this.==
Remedies for the Coach With the Iron iPhone:
You are a running back whose backflip hurdle over a defender hit YouTube and now Bob Stoops is waiting at your car after the game: "Hello." But wait, now Mark Stoops climbs out of your back seat: "Hello." And now here's Urban Meyer's helicopter landing in the middle of the parking lot with a Corvette and dealer plates: "Hello." Suddenly your lower body trembles and a purple thing emerges, its face reconstituting into that of Brian Kelly: "Hello." Lane Kiffin taps you on the shoulder. "Hello." Lane Kiffin has surgically implanted himself into your shoulder. "Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello." What do you do?
1. Hold "hair ceremony" instead of hat ceremony. Display toupees modeled after your finalist coaches.
2. Skype video invite to Brian Kelly, Les Miles, and Urban Meyer so they all think you're calling to commit to them, then do hat dance between three schools and "lose connection" to video. Repeat following week. (Please record this)
3. Flip to your former chosen school's most hated rival, and in so doing read the same exact statement a guy going the other way did last year.
4. Tell him you'll commit, but only because you believe the rumors saying he'll be replaced with Ron Zook in a month.
5. Insist on being called "future major violations case."
6. Claim you're a package deal with your team's kicker, provide name and phone # of least athletic person you know (it's not like anybody ever gets film on a kicker).
7. Invite coach for an in-home visit; once he's seated ask if he'll watch your baby sister while you run out real quick.
8. Demand your final two schools prove they will know how best to deploy your talents by playing each other on NCAA using created teams made up entirely of you.
9. Suggest to Ole Miss that they text your dad to "work out a deal." Provide phone number of friend/co-conspirator/NCAA enforcement agent.
Remedies for the Reprobate Recruiting Reporters
So many sites today promise subscribers instant information on the latest whims of recruits considering their schools. Mention interest in a visit and you'll instantly have seven dudes from seven services camped out in your shower. Here's how you flush 'em:
1. Call recruiting services and continually ask them if they have a top five list. Refuse to offer any information unless the reporter announces his favorite schools. Follow-up: If reporter changes those schools, tell him he's dishonest and drop him.
2. Announce you will only talk to recruiting reporters under 16.
3. Only answer recruiting questions with boilerplate quotes that have strong sexual double-entendre.
4. Pick recruiting service. Respond to all inquiries from recruiting service with quotes from "Baby Got Back". Pick different recruiting service. Respond to all inquiries from recruiting service with quotes from Robert Frost. Pick third recruiting service. Respond to all inquiries from recruiting service with obfuscated C programs that print "Baby Got Back"/Robert Frost mashup quotes.
Describe the recruiting process for you so far? "I'm tired of magazines."
Is distance a major factor for you? "Like men we look too near."
How did you feel when you got that Ohio State offer? "You say you wanna get in my Benz?"
Would you consider other offers if your coach takes that NFL job? "My homeboys try to warn me, but I have promises to keep."
Bonus: "Take the average black man and ask him that" as a reply to most recruiting questions will make an interviewer really uncomfortable until they figure out what you're doing.
5. Insist that your name is Lee Fucking Corso.
6. Insist that people call you Lee Fucking Corso even though they know that's not your real name.
7. Hold hat ceremonies every Tuesday. One of the hats is "Decision Next Tuesday." Eventually you'll call it Walt, so every press conference ends with you pickin' ol' Walt.
8. Commitment ceremony has five hats. Each hat reveals a different cheese. Describe your favorite cheeses. Pause. Say "but I'm going to have to go with.... PORT SALUT!!!!!!!!" and eat 10 oz in one bite. When done, stare at assembled crowd. Pause again. Say... "what, I like cheese."
9. Game of Thrones gambit: Tell five different journalists, in confidence, that you're silently committed to a different school, wait and see which one gets leaked. Follow-up: Announce you are committing to the Lannisters.
Remedies for the Message Board Morans
Who us? We're annoying?
1. Go on message boards to solicit video testimonies from fans as to why you should go to their school of choice. Publish the best of them.
2. Announce press conference for "big announcement," where you play Catlab dubbed over with french noveau vague and film noir soundtracks, occasionally turn back to audience and explain "You see? You get where I'm going yet?"
3. On your announcement day, proclaim you have buried your decision in a box you've geocached based on some obscure statistic, but which coordinates are actually in the middle of the hippo pen at your local zoo.
4. Find some annoying person on the fan site for the top team you didn't commit to, claim it was that person's posts that made you choose the other school, watch that person get devoured.
5. Do the same with whatever the last protest was at that school. "I was going to commit to Michigan but then I saw they were protesting to save the whales, and I hate whales."
6. At your hat ceremony, stick a large wad of cash under one hat you were about to discard. Act surprised, try to cover it, then say you're canceling the ceremony while you think things over a bit longer.
7. Hold your hat ceremony in a hat store.
8. Answer all questions as if you were being asked about your NCAA dynasty.
(Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments)
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest NCAA rulebook changes, a change in plans for Durham Smythe, a possible 2014 commit, and more.
NCAA Deregulation: All Of The Text Messages
Kelvin Sampson, presumably after hearing about the latest NCAA rule changes
On Saturday, the NCAA approved several rule changes that will have a major impact on recruiting. As part of an ongoing effort by NCAA president Mark Emmert to slim down a bloated rulebook, the changes are largely of the deregulation variety. To wit:
- Proposal 13-3 "will eliminate restrictions on methods and modes of communication during recruiting."
- Proposal 13-5-A eliminates restrictions on mailing printed recruiting materials.
That means, starting with the class of 2014, coaches can call, text, tweet, facebook, snapchat, or use whatever other form of communication they so desire to contact recruits as often as they want (recruiting dead periods aside, of course). It'll be open season on snail mail, too.
On the positive side, this means the NCAA can stop paying investigators to tally phone calls, and coaches can no longer get a recruiting edge by ignoring limits on communication (looking at you, Mr. Sampson). The negative is obvious: big-time recruits, already inundated with calls and texts from coaches and reporters alike, now must brace themselves for more of the same—especially with the potential for a recruiting arms race as coaches fall over themselves to make sure they're recruiting a prospect the "hardest".*
The other notable changes to recruiting involve the NCAA removing limits on which staff members can recruit. The Bylaw Blog's John Infante outlined the ramifications for Proposal 11-2, which eliminates the rule that recruiting functions must be performed by a head or assistant coach, in conjunction with deregulated communication with recruits:
The potential model of recruiting that develops is very clear. A general manager/director of player personnel will have a staff of recruiting coordinators who do much of the early grunt work in recruiting. They’ll watch film, gauge interest, rank prospects, and evaluate needs. The coaching staff will go see top targets in person, invite prospects on visits, and go see recruits at home or at school. The player personnel staff and the coaching staff will then meet to make decisions and send offers.
That would free coaches from much of the busy work of recruiting and let them focus on coaching their current teams. Player personnel will become the major track for aspiring coaches as well as a career path in its own right. Recruits may see more sophisticated and intense recruiting from a dedicated staff.
If Infante is correct—and you can bet he is—this means we'll start seeing separate player personnel staffs at the schools that can afford to create them. This is good news for Michigan and other big-budget athletic departments, and unlike the deregulated communication measure there isn't an obvious downside for the recruits themselves. The impact from a competitive balance standpoint is clear: the rich will get richer unless the Indiana States of the world successfully push for staff limits on these new player personnel departments.
*It's not hard to imagine Lane Kiffin screaming at his recruiting coordinator, "Mr. Orgeron, we must not allow a Snapchat gap!"
[Hit THE JUMP for Durham Smythe's visit plans, potential commitment watch for a 2014 in-state four-star, and more.]
Note: due to creeping hacking lung death, this feature did not appear last week. We'll cover the last two weeks of games for everyone as a result.
Michigan's split on the road against a tough pair of teams allows them to tread water at the top of the projections, as Duke suffered a loss to Michigan victim NC State and Louisville went down to Syracuse.
Michigan's actually crept upwards on RPIForecast, where they're now projected to finish seventh. They're down to fifth in actual right-now RPI. In 14 brackets updated since the Minnesota game, Michigan is a #1 in ten of them. They're up to third in Sagarin and fifth on Kenpom.
Projected ones: Michigan, Duke, Kansas, Louisville
The Nonconference Folk
dangit NC State
IUPUI, EMU and Binghamton continued losing to everyone, except EMU actually beat CMU. Those teams are KP300s, or almost, and will stay there. Cleveland State is muddling along at 2-3 in the Horizon. WMU opened conference play against the two best teams in the league (Akron and OHIO) by a wide margin, losing both; they rebounded to take out Toledo easily.
Bradley got blown out by Indiana State and Northern Iowa before rebounding to beat SIU narrowly. Disappointing week for them.
Big sorts of teams
@ Georgetown: W 73-45. Marquette: L 74-67 (OT). @ Villanova: W 58-43. UConn: W 69-61
Pitt's schizophrenic start to the year seems to have settled down into the profile of a decent team that won't threaten Syracuse and Louisville at the top of the league. They remain jarringly erratic.
The Georgetown blowout is worthy of a top ten team—GT took Indiana to OT earlier this year and beat UCLA; their only other loss was by a point at Marquette. Getting blown out like that cost GT 22 spots on Kenpom. So… yeah. Big Time.
Then Pitt goes out and loses to Marquette at home. OT, yeah, but I watched that one and it was grim. Back to back wins over Nova and UConn have them at .500 in the league with a couple of easy wins on the docket before 'Cuse and Louisville back to back.
There is a massive disparity between most bracket projections and Kenpom. Pitt's a top ten team on Kenpom; they're currently a ten-seed to bracketologists.
Kansas State (14-2)
@ West Virginia: W 65-64. @ TCU: W 67-54. Oklahoma: W 69-61.
We know West Virginia; they are not good, and scraping by them by a point is a bit of a warning sign. TCU is one of the worst major-conference teams in the country—Northwestern held them to 31 points in a 24-point beating—so beating them is expected, even on the road.
Beating Oklahoma is expected, but that's a decent team and winning will push their Kenpom projection up a bit. They could be in the 5-6 seed range. They've got Kansas next in what should be the game of the year in the Big 12, not that it's saying much. Bracketologits have them a weak six seed at the moment.
North Carolina State (14-3)
Georgia Tech: W 83-70. Duke: W 84-76. @ Maryland: L 51-50. Clemson: W 66-62.
The Duke win is obviously huge, both for NC State and Michigan. They'll probably be ranked at the end of the year, and a neutral-court win over a ranked team will catch the committee's notice. The next two games did not build on that accomplishment much, with a road loss against Maryland and an uninspiring win against a mediocre Clemson team. They're still a three seed to the bracket people.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: Five minutes and four made free throws against GT, ten minutes over the next three games with no points.
@ TAMU: L 69-51. Vandy: W 56-33. Auburn: W 88-80 (2OT). @ Ole Miss: L 76-64
Arkansas is not deviating from its path as a .500 SEC team that heads to the NIT.
West Virginia (8-8)
@ Texas: W 57-53 (OT). K-State: L 65-64. @ Iowa State: L 69-67. @ Purdue: L 79-52.
West Virginia had been playing somewhat better these days, beating a lame Texas team in Austin and then suffering two narrow losses, one to K-State that we're fine with. Would have been nice if they had managed to pull off a road win against The Hoiberg Home For Lost Big Ten Boys, which is also known as Iowa State.
Then they got obliterated by Purdue. I should just move these guys into the category of limited attention.
CONFERENCE OF POWER RANKING POWER POWER
LAST WEEK Fell down by a billion early against OSU, tied it up, lost their minds late, ended up losing by three. Worked way to six-point halftime lead at Minnesota, blew doors off with 20-7 run to start the second half, and held off Minnesota's comeback.
THING Well, yeah, they're still up here with that impressive road win against one of the other contenders and Indiana's inexplicable home loss to Wisconsin. Sorry.
OTHER THING In the battle of leaping force versus surprisingly resilient object, the force won. Michigan's defensive rebounding collapsed as Minnesota picked up 47% of their misses. Michigan mitigated the damage by doing pretty well on the offensive boards themselves and winning the turnover battle.
OTHER OTHER THING Yeah, I got a lot of crap for not even mentioning this in the game post so like HOLY PANTS MICHIGAN DOES THIS SORT OF THING ON THE REGULAR YO
OTHER OTHER OTHER THING Nik Stauskas has met severe resistance thus far at the three-point line in the Big Ten, but his teammates are picking him up in a big way. Michigan now has six guys shooting at least 38% from deep: Stauskas is at 50%, Levert 43%, Burke is 40%, Hardaway and Robinson 39%, and Albrecht 38%. That's everyone who's taken a three except Matt Vogrich, now relegated to the bench.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Momentarily staggered assassins.
LAST WEEK Clubbed Penn State. Ran out to huge lead against Minnesota and held on to win by seven. Lost to Wisconsin at home in a grim 59-possession game that inexplicably did not end with Indiana fouling the pants off Ryan Evans and seeing if he could make some free throws. Kinda sorta struggled with Northwestern, eventually winning by nine.
THING Northwestern's 1-3-1 discombobulated the Hoosiers to some extent. Early in the second half they mostly missed bunnies and often got offensive rebounds off those missed bunnies; late they had significant problems generating shots. They turned the ball over only six times in the game, though, so the 1-3-1's goal was not met. I'm not sure Michigan would be wise to duplicate that.
OTHER THING Keeping Cody Zeller off the offensive boards is going to be a massive task for Michigan when the two teams face off. He can go quiet from the field because he does not like taking iffy shots, but he has a tendency to go GRAAAGH three or four times a game and put a tip dunk back in.
OTHER OTHER THING I dismiss the relatively close score against Northwestern; eight points in a 54 possession game is like eleven in a 74 possession game, and then no one's wagging their eyebrows about potential weaknesses.
THING THEY ARE LIKE sandbags
LAST WEEK Participated in Big Ten's annual Illinois Dismemberment Potluck. Suffered brutally effective Indiana onslaught in first half of a game at Assembly, then damn near got themselves back in it. The Michigan game was a similar script, but less extreme: Michigan got out to a big lead, but not that big, and Minnesota came back, but not that much.
THING Man, Tubby Smith's line change thing is weird. Ten players got at least six minutes against Indiana; ten got at least four against Michigan. The backup brigade was brutal in the loss to Michigan, with seven turnovers and just two rebounds in 43 minutes. Given that
- Minnesota rebounds everything on the offensive end and
- Michigan scores everything in transition
Those turnovers were decisive.
Those guys were a little better against Indiana, at least. I still don't know what the hell Oto Osenieks is doing on the floor in Big Ten games.
OTHER THING As we're about to cover in This Week In Minnesota Intimidation Factor, a turnover for the Gophers is an unforgivable sin. If you're getting half of the shots that go up on the board, you might as well avoid turnovers and take longer, safer shots. In the context of their team, Minnesota's turnover rate of 22%—245th in the country—is pretty much the only thing keeping them from elite-elite.
In conclusion, jack it up, Gophers.
THIS WEEK IN MINNESOTA INTIMIDATION FACTOR 40% OREB against Indiana, 47% against Michigan. Mbakwe and Williams combined to block ten shots in those two games. Both of those OREB performances reduced their season average.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Super pissed off pogo stick superball men about to take it out on squirrels.
LAST WEEK Beat Purdue at Mackey comfortably. Staved off slow-motion Michigan comeback to win by three at home. Dropped a narrow one at Breslin.
THING Shannon Scott may not perceive the passing of time accurately.
OTHER THING No, they have no secondary scoring still. A couple guys managed to get to nine points against Michigan; their top scorer outside of Thomas against Michigan State was Lenzelle Smith with six.
OTHER OTHER THING I'm still placing them above MSU due to the tendency of close winners of home games to lose the return trip; if we call that game even would you rather beat Michigan and get blown out by Illinois or get blown out by Minnesota and beat Iowa? Seems obvious to me.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Four anchors, one of whom is really good at defense, and a boat.
5. Michigan State (16-3)
LAST WEEK Came back to beat Iowa at CHA; had uninspiring wins against Nebraska and Penn State; squeezed it out against OSU.
THING It looks like State is going all-in on the dual-big lineup they scrapped earlier in the year. Payne had 32 minutes against OSU, Nix 35(!), and both played well. The major cost was a flurry of good three-point looks for Deshaun Thomas when Payne and Nix either could not communicate or could not get through screens effectively. Thomas was 6/11 from deep.
If MSU does the same thing against Michigan, GRIII's ability to match that production will be crucial. That and forcing the 20-ish turnovers MSU had been providing in games earlier this year.
THIS WEEK IN STOP ASKING FOR POST TOUCHES Not the best week for this one. Even if you set aside the Penn State game as meaningless, against OSU Nix and Payne absorbed 13 possessions with shots from the block and came away with 19 points; they had two assists and one turnover between them. As mentioned, they did have some difficulty guarding Thomas as a result.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Russell Crowe.
CALM DOWN BRANDEN DAWSON SRSLY
LAST WEEK Participated in the Big Ten's annual Illinois Dismemberment Potluck. Beat Indiana! On the road! Lost to Iowa, also on the road.
THING It's time for the annual obeisance to Kenpom after Wisconsin turns out to be pretty okay. We're sorry, Kenpom. You probably have Wisconsin too high but our bitching is less accurate than Beats Indiana On The Road.
OTHER THING Preventing three-pointers is a skill, and Wisconsin has it. In their win over Indiana they held Jordan Hulls to a single missed attempt. As a team Indiana launched just 12 attempts, five of them from Yogi Ferrell, a 24% shooter. In their loss to Iowa, the Hawkeyes hit just 2 of 10 attempts, with fully half of those coming from 29% shooter Mike Gesell.
On the year, Wisconsin is allowing just a quarter of their opponents' shots to come from behind the line—top ten nationally—and they're hitting just 30%. That is the biggest difference between Michigan and Wisconsin's Ds—Michigan cedes a lot of threes, and even though they're not going in that much they're still more effective than the foul-free twos Michigan allows.
OTHER OTHER THING On the other hand, conference opponents are shooting 21% from three against these guys. Even if you're good, you're not that good. Regression to the mean will burn the Badgers here. Probably. I mean, if you can keep getting sub-30% shooters to launch half of your opponents' attempts you're going to be fine.
THING THEY ARE LIKE whatever robots find uncontrollably sexy.
7. Iowa (13-5)
LAST WEEK coughed up the lead late against Michigan State, crubberated Northwestern on the road, finally acquired that elusive victory over a tourney-level team by running out to a big lead against the Badgers and hanging on.
THING Bet they're pretty ticked off that Roy Devyn Marble had a really ill-timed ankle injury that held him out of the narrow MSU loss.
OTHER THING Aaron White may have put up the unlikely statline of the year. Against Wisconsin he got to the line 15 times (he made 13). I would like to know the last time Wisconsin gave up 15 free throws to one dude.
That's a big strength for White, BTW: his FTRate is top ten nationally and he hits 76% at the line. Anything they can do to get his usage up will help this team—he's a low-turnover guy, too. Good, good player.
OTHER OTHER THING Man, this is not a good shooting team. They've got two guys over 30% from three, Marble and freshman Anthony Clemmons. They've got just about everything else in the green on Kenpom, but hitting 30% as a team is 286th.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Evidence for Quintessential Beilein Bubble Outfit continues what with the near miss at quality win and current projection of a 20-11, 9-9 season that would have them squarely on the bubble—but probably the right side of it.
8. Illinois (14-2)
LAST WEEKs Followed up thumping victory over OSU with 17 point loss to Minnesota, 23 point loss to Wisconsin, and 14-point loss to Northwestern. The first and last there were at home.
What was a bigger hoax? Manti Te'o's girlfriend or the Illini starting out the season 12-0?
Is it happening again?
THING yes, it's happening again
OTHER THING It's die by the three time for the Illini: they're hitting just 23% in conference play; opponents are hitting 43%. This means they are nowhere near as bad as they have seemed so far, because that is unsustainable at both ends.
NNANNA EGWU WATCH Probably had best rebounding outing of the year against the rampant Gophers, picking up nine (three on offense) and helping hold Mbakwe and company to just seven OREBs of their own.
The next game he was limited to 11 minutes with foul trouble, picked up one offensive rebound, and largely watched Wisconsin grab 55% of their misses. He only had 4 rebounds in 25 minutes against Northwestern, but Northwestern only had four rebounds anyway.
His DREB rate is now 11.1, still second-to-last on the team. The guy in last place? Sam McLaurin, his 6'8" backup.
THING THEY ARE LIKE last year's Illinois team
HENRI LINE OF ENNUI
LAST WEEK never really threatened OSU in a ten point loss at Mackey; beat up fellow Henri Division participants Penn State and Nebraska, put the spurs to West Virginia in one of those weird late nonconference games.
THING The Boilers and Wildcats have clearly separated themselves from Penn State and Nebraska. The former two teams are inside the Kenpom 100; the other two teams are nowhere near it. Purdue easily swept those guys and Northwestern has a win over a tourney aspirant.
That might not do them much good over the rest of the year, but it's something.
OTHER THING You guys might as well get used to me pumping up AJ Hammons. The seven-foot freshman has 14 blocks in his last three games and is a major reason the best part of Purdue's team is their defense on twos. He's not very efficient on offense yet; if that comes, he'll probably be the league's best center next year as long as Zeller departs for the NBA.
RONNIE JOHNSON THREE POINTER WATCH 0/2 the last three weeks.
THING THEY ARE LIKE The kid picked third from last at kickball.
10. Northwestern (11-8)
LAST WEEK Cruised past Penn State at Bryce Jordan, got blown out by Iowa, participated in annual Big Ten Illinois Dismemberment Potluck, kinda gave Indiana a game at Assembly… kinda.
THING I'm not really seeing it for the Wildcats next year either. Crawford will be back; Hearn and Swopshire are out the door. So take the Northwestern team that played Michigan and add Crawford plus a year for the other guys. Is that a bubble team? Probably not. And that would probably be it for Carmody.
THING THEY ARE LIKE A ghost that would like to give you a quest.
11. Nebraska (10-9)
LAST WEEK lost by 15, 10, and 9 against Michigan, MSU, and Purdue in slow-it-down grind games; went to Bryce Jordan and stuck their flag in the ground with a 68-64 win. Congratulations, Huskers: you're not the worst team in the Big Ten.
THING Nebraska joined a sad, and ever-growing club of schools: We Were Already Gonna Die And Now Our Best Player Is Gone For The Season. Brandon Ubel is gone, joining Tim Frazier and Drew Crawford on the shelf. Hammons should be sleeping in bubble wrap.
THING THEY ARE LIKE pancakes of doom
12. Penn State (8-10)
LAST WEEK Annihilated by Indiana, Northwestern, and Purdue. Played relatively tight game against Michigan State, aided by their punchin' suspensions. Went down against Nebraska at home, and that's about it for their chances to win a Big Ten game this year.
THING they in da process of dyin'
OTHER THING oh man that is some viscera
OTHER OTHER THING i don't even know how you fit that much gore in a hamster
THING THEY ARE LIKE the butter of shame
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 MICHIGAN, #2 Indiana, #3 Minnesota, #4 Ohio State, #5 Michigan State
#9 Wisconsin, #10 Iowa, #12 Illinois (currently in the midst of Illinois-2011-style implosion)
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
Iowa at Ohio State, 6:30, BTN
Michigan State at Wisconsin, 7 PM, ESPN
Pitt at Providence, 7 PM, ESPN2
NC State at Wake Forest, 7PM, ESPN3
Kansas at Kansas State, 8PM, ESPN3(!!! What may be the game of the year in the Big 12 is streaming only.)
Illinois at Nebraska, 8:30, BTN
Penn State at Indiana, 7 PM, BTN
TCU at West Virginia, 7:30, ESPN2
Minnesota at Northwestern, 9PM, BTN
Mississippi State at Arkansas, 9PM, ESPN3
Purdue at MICHIGAN, 7 PM, ESPN
Ohio State at Penn State, noon, ESPN2
Arkansas at South Carolina, 1:30, ESPN3
Kansas State at Iowa State, 1:45, ESPN3
Minnesota at Wisconsin, 2PM, BTN
Northwestern at Nebraska, 3PM, ESPNU
Depaul at Pitt, 4PM, ESPN3
North Carolina at NC State, 7PM, ESPN
West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 7:30, ESPNU
Michigan State at Indiana, 1 PM, CBS
Purdue at Iowa, 3:30 PM, BTN
MICHIGAN at Illinois, 6 PM, BTN