to play football, not to play trumpet
Michigan's defensive line coaching staff. Bryan Fuller|MGoBlog (Title Reference)
There's never been a better time to start in life. It ain't too early and it aint too late!
Starting as a farmer with a brand new wife. Still be living in a brand-new state!
Brand new state- Gonna treat you great!
OOOOOOKLAHOMA! Coaches at large schools have done well to be entering their third year at the helm with their own jobs intact. To get that far with all of your coordinators means taking out several mortgages with every deity who still accepts sacrifices. You do poorly, can a coordinator. Do well, your best guys are instantly on the short list for whichever second-rate SEC school fired Houston Nutt this week. Do… well there isn't a middle ground is there?
So it is with great remarkability that I announce that the staff Brady Hoke arrived with in 2011 has finally had its first defection. Jerry Montgomery, a guy who's a few months older than me and a few months younger than Brian, is leaving the job he shares with the guy he reports to, and the guy that guy reports to, in order to actually coach defensive linemen at Oklahoma. This was an inevitable move once the soul patch became a full-grown beard and "knows what Adult Swim is" ceased being relevant to a generation of recruits who don't even realize robot Optimus Prime is supposed to look like a truck.
Gonna buy you barley, carrots and pertaters,
pasture for the cattle, spinich and termaters,
Flowers on the prarie where the June bugs zoom,
Plen'y of air and plen'y of room, Plen'y of room to swing a rope!
Plen'y of heart and plen'y of hope.
OOOOOOKLAHOMA! Montgomery did in fact prove himself adept at connecting with recruits on a football level. Whereas in 2012 many of the big Ohio recruits were in Mattison's western territory, Montgomery is the guy who in 2013 cracked open Pickering/Columbus and did his part in reeling in a five-star running back. For this, that, and the other reason it was coming time for him to go somewhere where he isn't just [the young guy on staff who's there to relate to the kids, aka…] the Beyonce.
Down in Oklahoma, Josh Heupel has dreamy eyes and probably knows what it's like to get in trouble for texting during class, something neither I nor Montgomery can relate to. Jerry is moving up, even if the school is a step down (to us) or sideways (to everyone else). He's coached DL under Hoke and Mattison and now he'll add Stoops to his resume, and in three or five years somebody will see if he knows how to run a defense. This wasn't Stoops coming in with a magic potion, nor did ol' Jud ride in on his fancy wagon to outbid another Big Ten team for its favorite up-and-comer. It's the way things go.
The rest of the staff is expected to be here awhile, or at least until Fred Jackson decides it's time to hold an event like the Olympics but more athletic to determine whether Hart or Wheatley's the more worthy successor. Michigan now has an opening for an assistant coach who knows what it feels like when Instagram deletes all your photos to cover a nominal position and stop by Ann Arbor every few weeks to deliver a batch of LOIs. In this day and age it's crucial to have at least one guy on staff who doesn't know the words to Oklahoma.
OOOOOklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain!
|WHAT||Illinois at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||1:00 PM Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan –11 (Kenpom)|
Right: John Groce's Jedi mind tricks weren't enough to stop a 14-point Michigan win the last time around. (Photo: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)
When Michigan travelled to The Other Assembly Hall a month ago, they faced an Illini squad that had stumbled to losses in five of their last eight games; the Wolverines, on the other hand, had only suffered one conference loss.
This time around, the Illini are riding a five-game winning streak—including upsets of Indiana and Minnesota—while Michigan has lost three of their last five, with this game coming on the heels of an uninspired performance against a terrible Penn State outfit.
Since I previewed this Illinois team last month, I'll save a few words and point you in that direction. The short version: three guards—Brandon Paul (never met a shot he didn't like), Tracy Abrams (mostly inside the arc), and DJ Richardson (mostly outside the arc)—are all volume shooters. None are particularly efficient, but if they catch fire the Illini can beat anyone in the country. Wing Joseph Bertrand is a low-usage but efficient player, while backup forward Tyler Griffey is an extreme streak shooter who's been more cold than hot this season. Power forward Sam McLaurin is notable around these parts for his inconceivably low rebound rate (6.5 DR%(!)), as is center Nnanna Egwu (13.0% despite being 6'11"), who at least provides a strong shot-blocking presence.
Illinois has collected an impressive a set of signature wins, with triumphs over #52 Butler, #4 Gonzaga, #13 Ohio State, #2 Indiana, and #18 Minnesota this season. Aside from an ugly 14-point home loss to Northwestern and a 7-point defeat at Purdue, none of their losses has come to a team ranked lower than #23 (Missouri).
Four factors, conference play only:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||46.6 (7)||17.4 (6)||33.0 (4)||30.6 (8)|
|Defense||49.2 (10)||21.5 (1)||34.3 (9)||42.1 (10)|
Illinois does a couple things very well. Offensively, it's scoring inside the arc, where they connect on 48.9% of their shots (#3 in the B1G); of course, they're largely content to shoot three-pointers, which they hit at just a 28.8% rate. Defensively, they force a ton of turnovers, but that's about all they're doing well on that end.
The keys from last time around still work pretty well:
Protect the rock. Illinois gets a ton of blocks and steals, but otherwise their defense is underwhelming. If Michigan takes care of the basketball, they should win, but they could get into trouble in their outside shots aren't falling—the turnovers could come if they try to force their way to the basket.
Hands off. The Illini have the best free-throw percentage in the conference and a couple guys who can attack the basket in Paul and Abrams. With their shooting struggles, Illinois would love to get opportunities for easy points; thankfully for Michigan, they're still #2 in the country in free throw rate against. Playing like they've been playing should take care of this.
Run, run, run. Michigan can really open up this game if they're able to get out in transition, and there should be plenty of chances off long rebounds when Illinois shoots (and misses) from outside. Illinois plays at a higher tempo than most Big Ten teams, but that may not play in their favor—Nebraska had success (or at least kept Michigan close) by grinding the pace to a halt and refusing to let Michigan get out on the break.
The biggest key for Michigan, of course, is making strides with their interior defense. The Illini, however, don't boast much in the way of an interior scoring threat, and Abrams is the only guy who attacks the rim with great frequency (Paul is very capable of doing so, but mostly chooses to shoot jumpers). This isn't a great measuring-stick game for Michigan's defensive progress, unless Illinois is getting tons of points inside, and then the situation may be even more dire than we thought.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 11
It went pretty well the first time around, and that was on the road. As long as Illinois doesn't catch fire from deep, Michigan should be able to handle this challenge, assuming they come out with more energy and focus than they did against Penn State.
Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
- OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
- FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
- MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
- NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
- MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
- 2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]
Legolas is cooler than Treebeard. Brian's taking a short vacation and left me to write UV today. That's too bad because he's missing the party after Spath heard from Norfleet's mentor/7-on-7 coach ($) that the MGoFavorite little bugger's defensive foray was a temporary thing:
"He's supposedly going back to offense," Blackwell said. "They will use him in the slot and in the return game, and some as a running back. Coach [Greg] Mattison is saying he can still use him on defense and is making an argument to keep him there, but Dennis' passion is for the offense. That's where he wants to play, and from talking to Dennis it appears that's where he's going to play.
Putting him with the other elves made some sense when the cornerback two-deep was the starters, and what carries he could siphon last year from Toussaint, Rawls and Hayes would now have to be defended from Drake Johnson and three highly rated incoming freshman. The rooting for Norfleet to take over Smith's role comes from simple fan interest: it's way more fun to hold your breath and watch this guy scamper around like a maniac than to plunge a tree into the enemy lines and watch him fall forward for the same result.
Contempt for compliance, not photos of Donna Shalala. The Miami (of course THAT Miami) case was to be the Austerlitz of the new and improved NCAA enforcement empire; instead it's going to be a summer of Waterloo metaphors and Shalala vs. Emmert lead images. SBNation's Robert Wheel's afore-linked take calls for Emmert's resignation, while admitting that won't do anything to fix the underlying problem:
If the NCAA were enforcing rules that didn't require a lot of investigation, then this lack of power would not be a problem. But as long as college sports remain a big time moneymaker with rich guys who want to circumvent the rulebook to see their teams win, said rich guys will find ways to try to outfox the rules. Unless we want to give the NCAA subpoena power (we really don't) then this will always be a losing battle. The NCAA will never have the ability or the resources to catch up to people breaking its rules.
In a real legal system the Canes could discredit the prosecution's only witness and get the case thrown out. This isn't a real legal system: schools don't get in trouble for breaking NCAA rules, they get in trouble by publicly reminding everybody that the NCAA can't really enforce them. USC tried this and got slapped down despite the evidence in hand being too weak for any court. Meanwhile investigators with bees up their butts couldn't prove what every 4-year-old knows in re: Ohio State gives players cars, or really much of anything in the original Tatgate story until the NFL forced Pryor to talk. For stonewalling so politely the extent of the Buckeyes' punishment was to end a 12-0 season with Meyer on their sidelines and Tressel on their shoulders. The dumbest thing Shalala could do is comply.* The second-dumbest thing she could do is say na-na-na-boo-boo to an organization that only slightly cares if it turned up doo doo.
The obvious answer is pay the players (FoxSports in re: Clowney and the risk of injury) and end the shadow ring where guys like Shapiro are the only people who can perform the otherwise perfectly legal function of paying adult U.S. citizens for the services they provide.
* There are a select few schools like Michigan who don't have a choice because our whole thing is being the good guys, and because we're among those who would benefit the most if tradition, competitiveness and the quality of education were the only factors in recruiting and retaining college football talent. Kind of like how Great Britain would prefer to settle everything with a sea battle.
Basketball on verge of spread revolution. Weinreb dug up a budding Mike Leach from a D-II school in West Virginia to highlight a story about how pacing in basketball has slowed way down while the smart guys beating up the lower ranks are going the other way. That coach's motto is "Don't do it unless you can rationalize why you're doing it." He's too old to end up in Ann Arbor, but apparently the Yost alleles for engineering-minded coaches are still going strong in Appalachia. Beilein small ball isn't speed ball, but this…
When Crutchfield recruits, he looks for kids who react quickly — "You can make up for a lot of quickness and speed if you react mentally," he says — and play with high intensity: If they get beat on defense and they don't D up even harder the next time down the floor, he starts to wonder if they might not fit into his system.
That's part of a discussion on how road game success can be a strong predictor of postseason performance. I've used it for predicting NBA and NHL playoff results, and March Madness would be right there with them if it wasn't such a crapshoot in general. HT again from the board: SoFlaWolverine.
Assistant Coaches like money too. There's a rumor that Oklahoma may be going after Jerry Montgomery (Meinke via Footballscoop). Cam Cameron you may have heard just joined Les Miles's staff, further evidence to my theory that LSU is the In a Mirror, Darkly evil twin of Michigan from another dimension.
Dark universe Les Miles is in his 5th season as head coach at Michigan, where he's been slowly rebuilding the school's reputation shredded by win-at-all-costs Evil Lloyd Carr
Cameron will be making $3.4 million over 3 years, and this has made internet people start buzzing about top assistants commanding the kind of salary you give the school president. /mind blown. /thinks about the difference between GERG and Greg. /mind unblown.
It's right because the internet said so. The NCAA cover vote on Facebook has moved to a semifinals where the S-E-C!!! vote has been split (to Eddie Lacy's doom and random A&M guy's benefit) and Denard now leads. Every time this appears on the board cynical-me goes to erase it because it's playing to somebody's marketing ploy, and enchanted-me says "But Denard on the cover would be a wonderful thing!" I wish Denard would be on the cover because he is the living symbol of what is singularly spectacular about NCAA football; I also wish they could have come to that conclusion without somebody "developing an engaging social media campaign" that might only settle on Robinson because a cat playing guitar hero wasn't allowed in the race. #AIRBHG2014
Etc. People of the East Coast, check your DVR schedule or wind up recording a Virginia-BC game. UMHoops takes on Michigan's defense, scores a bazillion points (ha!). Zoltan's foundation update. FAU's marketing department derps stadium sponsor, double-derps wikipedia entry. MGoAndroid App is updated, report bugs here. NFL logos if they were designed by British people.
For the sake of helping to bring all the good stuff to the fore, we're going to start using the hashtag #MGoTWIT. If you see anything particularly noteworthy (or, more realistically, scornworthy), tag it with that hashtag and the internet hamsters will stop by to collect it. As always, feel free to send any TWIT-worthy content to @Bry_Mac.
Hoosier (Can No Longer Become a) Daddy
On Tuesday night, Michigan State faced off with Indiana in East Lansing. It was a matchup of Top 5 teams with serious implications for the Big Ten regular season title, as well as NCAA seeding and the overall future of mankind. Blah blah blah LET'S TALK ABOUT THE GROIN-PUNCH. Late in the 4th quarter, Cody Zeller threw an elbow to the nether-region of Derrick Nix en route to the bucket. Nix was displeased because, and I quote, "mmmmmnnnnnggggguuuuurrggggggghhhh [/labored breathing]." So shortly thereafter when Nix was defending Zeller in the post, this happened:
Congratulations Cody Zeller, you have joined the same exclusive club as Brian Cook's soul, Corey Liuget, and 80% of America's Funniest Home Videos participants. The video evidence is pretty damning, so let's consider how Sparty might respond:
DOOR NUMBER ONE: Blame the victim
Some believe that Zeller did this to himself; he pulled Nix's hand into his own manflesh in an attempt to draw a foul. [ED-S: Must include gif:
This is an interesting take on the classic "quit hitting yourself" employed by older brothers everywhere, but I'm not sure I buy it. For one thing, that's not a very effective way to draw a flagrant call; it's just too difficult to expect a ref to see that. Moreover, can anyone point to any time ever that someone hit himself in the dangly bits? Have you ever encountered a moment in your life when you thought to yourself, "if I can just rack myself in the huevos right now, everything will work out." The theory doesn't pass the smell test, and I think this is one of those situations where slow motion muddies the water a bit; remember when Michigan fans were all saying that Watford shoved GRIII's arm when GRIII decked Hulls, but a better angle showed that to be inaccurate? I think this is that. But I suppose the video COULD (through bleary, homer-tastic eyes) support that theory. So let's look at...
[After the thing where you do the JUMPING]
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