[Bryan Fuller – MGoBlog]
With the unfortunate news that Derrick Walton didn’t make First-Team All-Conference, I decided that I should jot down some thoughts on the best players in the Big Ten this season. While I leaned on a lot of data to justify these picks, I also have probably watched way more Big Ten basketball than the average person should, so I’m pretty well acquainted with the impact and style of these respective players. Instead of naming All-Big Ten “teams” – which inherently places a huge gap between the fifth- and sixth-best players in the league – I’ll rank the top ten.
10.) Nate Mason – Minnesota
Instead of Walton, Minnesota’s Nate Mason was named First-Team All-Big Ten. Mason’s team finished a game ahead of the Wolverines in the conference standings, and he had better counting stats than Walton did (15.5 points and 5.1 assists per game to Walton’s 14.5 and 4.5); Mason was markedly less efficient as he shouldered the load for the Gophers’ inelegant offense. Aside from impressive assist and turnover rates, Mason’s statistical profile isn’t as impressive. Shooting splits of 39 / 39 / 80 (2P% / 3P% / FT%) aren’t bad, but he did hoist more than his fair share of poor mid-range jumpers and drives into too much traffic, which sunk his eFG% to just 44.9.
Mason deserves credit for his role in helping bring together Minnesota’s new players and being the best* player on a team that finished top four in the Big Ten – one that will be headed to the NCAA Tournament. Aside from Northwestern’s historic bid, the Gophers are one of the biggest storylines in the conference: they were 8-23 last season and sit at 23-8 right now. While Mason was one of the better point guards in the league (and made this list instead of Bryant McIntosh, Tai Webster, and others), his middling efficiency prevents him for ranking more highly.
*Shot-blocking menace Reggie Lynch might be better, but plays <2/3rds as much of the time as Mason does, which limits his impact.
9.) Vince Edwards – Purdue
A player that’s often forgotten about because of his gargantuan teammates, Vince Edwards was quietly one of the biggest reasons for Purdue’s success this season. With Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas often rotating at center, Edwards was able to slide from the three to a more natural four spot. It paid dividends; the versatile wing scored 12.3 points per game, led the team in assist rate, and shot 42% from behind the three-point line. Edwards’s impact as a secondary threat on the offensive glass also complemented the big men well.
The Big Ten champs lean most heavily on Swanigan, of course, but Edwards has had a considerable influence. In the Boilermakers’ last game against Northwestern, Edwards scored an efficient 25 points and added 5 rebounds and 4 assists, helping Purdue to a narrow win. While most of the players on this list are forced to create their own shots or generate offense for others, Edwards doesn’t necessarily have those responsibilities. As a consequence, he’s one of the most efficient players in the league, finishing third in offensive rating for players in Big Ten play with a usage rate over 20%.
[rest of the list after the JUMP]
March 1 - Thursday
Stewart Mandel wrote a piece about how Troy Smith is not getting enough respect from NFL scouts; after all, he won the Heisman.
As one AFC personnel director told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "He's six feet tall, he's not a super fast guy and he's not super athletic. ... I don't think he's horrible. He's just a guy."
These are all reasonable criticisms.
See what I'm saying? How can you not admire a guy who's short, slow and unathletic yet managed to win the most prestigious award in college football?
It's like someone who can't act winning an Oscar.
Or someone who can't sing winning American Idol.
Unverified Voracity Runs a 3.2. USC recruit Brandon Jennings is making fun of ‘M’ commit Alex Legion for going to Michigan.
March 2 - Friday
A closer look at scholarship numbers by conference that Brian and EDSBS came up with a few weeks ago. Specifically, the meaning of the advantage that the SEC has.
Is this scholarship gap necessarily a sign of poor moral fiber? Not necessarily. There are two different arguments getting conflated into one here:
SEC classes are overrated on Signing Day and during the media blitz that follows because their increased attrition rate -- something the numbers show is indisputable -- allows them to sign a bunch more players who will never make an on-field contribution.
The SEC doesn't care about football people. [/Kanye]
Argument #1, as noted, can be accepted as a given. Argument #2 is murkier and requires us to consider...
March 5 - Monday
Recruiting Board Update. Jonas Gray isn’t looking like a lock to ND any more and there could be some mutual interest with ‘M’.
The basketball team lost its last game, and the writing is on the wall for Amaker.
But whether or not Tommy Amaker is a good coach or not is no longer all that relevant -- though for the record all available evidence indicates they he is not. He has had six years to produce a basketball team that fans are capable of watching for more than two minutes at a time without screaming something profane and punting the cat into the next room. This he has not done, and he must be fired, even if none of what's transpired over his tenure is actually his fault.
March 6 - Tuesday
Pairwise update and things are looking up for the hockey team.
Unverified Voracity is Confused and Thrilled by YouTube with lots of ‘M’ related clips. The only one that still works is of Jack Johnson taking off a goalie’s helmet with a slapshot.
March 7 - Wednesday
PSA that more posting will be delayed.
JMFJ photoshop collection.
March 8 - Thursday
After switching to zone blocking before the ‘06 season, the football team found it difficult to convert on third and short.
March 9 - Friday
Liveblog of Big Ten tournament game against Ohio St. The basketball team loses again.
If you met Greg Oden on the street, how old would you think he is? Like... 800, right? You can't be that enormous and craggy without having hit your eighth century. OSU alley-oop.
I Call Him Mini Voracity with a working video of The Victors done on beer bottles.
March 11 - Sunday
Hockey update. Michigan is firmly in the tournament and might get as high as a 5 seed.
March 12 - Monday
Third down statistics from the ‘06 season. Links to charts no longer work.
March 13 - Tuesday
Unverified Voracity is Also Emo. Lester Abram says the basketball team won’t try to lose on purpose. Amaker says a lot of people want to trade places with them to be in the NIT.
Complete list of noun phrases willing to trade places with the Michigan basketball program:
anyone rushing puck against JMFJ
NIT Liveblog with a single remark.
March 14 - Wednesday
Michigan beat Utah St. which is the worst case scenario. Amaker’s tenure is extended.
Does Michigan's performance in something that doesn't exist have an impact on Amaker's future? The implication is that it does, and therefore the implication is that a good performance can help Amaker's case. Furthermore, it implies that there is an Amaker case at all. There is no case. Michigan can win the entire freakin' Not Extant Tournament and it will matter not one bit.
Spring Football Presser. Adrian Arrington, Carson Butler, and Eugene Germany have been in trouble and are currently suspended. Carlos Brown is switching to CB, and Brandon Graham will play inside.
March 15 - Thursday
Brian looks at Ben Wallace’s departure and how it has affected the Pistons’ 06-07 record. (In case you didn’t realized, Detroit Piston and Edmonton Oiler posts were a thing back in this era of the blog.) His conclusion is that Wallace’s replacement of Chris Webber, Nazr Mohammed, and Jason Maxiell send their opponents to the line more often. Otherwise, production hasn’t fallen off.
March 16 - Friday
Recruiting Board Update. Added names of note: Kurt Wermers and Latavius Murray. ‘M’ leads for Daryl Stonum and Sam McGuffie.
March 17 - Saturday
Amaker has been fired. It’s not mentioned, but the basketball team lost to Florida St. on Thursday night.
March 18 - Sunday
Amaker Voracity with lots of reaction, but not a whole lot of substance yet on where things will go from here. Terry Foster says Tom Crean would be a good option.
Hockey gets the Denver bracket instead of the GR bracket. Brian swears a lot.
March 19 - Monday
Coaching Profiles: Mid Majors looking at Reggie Theus, Todd Lickliter, Chris Lowery, Greg Marshall, and Karl Hobbs but Sean Miller is a no.
Coaching Profiles: Name Guys looking at Mike Montgomery, Tubby Smith, Lon Kruger, and John Beilein. About Beilein:
Buyout is prohibitive and the total outlay in that situation is approaching a range in which Montgomery or Smith might perk up. There will be -- already has been -- a lot of talk about him, but I don't see it happening.
Coaching Profiles: Absentminded Edition looking at Sean Miller.
March 20 - Tuesday
Unverified Voracity Swoons for Chris Lowery. Internet says the top three candidates are Lowery, Miller, and Beilein. Lots more coaching stuff included.
March 21 - Wednesday
MGoBlog moves to a new host site, and for the first time there are a significant number of viewable comments.
Unverified Voracity is so Over Chris Lowery with a closer look at John Beilein.
Carson Butler and Chris Richards have been arraigned for beating up another student. Probably the end for both.
The hockey game will be on tape delay on local Comcast.
And...Eugene Germany is in court for Marijuana. Probably not a big deal.
There’s a sale in the MGoBlog store. Buy shirts.
March 22 - Thursday
Apparently, the issue with Germany was more serious. He’s off the team.
Recruiting Board Update. Dann O’Neill committed last weekend.
Tubby Smith is heading to Minnesota. It’s unknown what this will do to the coaching landscape now that Kentucky is open too.
March 23 - Friday
Preview of hockey game against North Dakota.
March 24 - Saturday
Germany, Richards, and Butler are official out of the program. The biggest loss is Butler. TE is left with Mike Massey and Chris McLaurin and only freshman Vince Helmuth at FB. 2008 would have been rough no matter who was the coach.
I am leery about the possibility that our third-and-short conversions get even worse next year.
March 25 - Sunday
Michigan hockey lost, and Jack Johnson is moving on.
March 26 - Monday
Jason Forcier is transferring to Stanford. Brian says Lloyd is not happy about it.
Unverified Voracity is Husky Proud (Or Something). The coaching search continues. Calipari is mentioned, but how shady do we want to be?
*(an MGoBlog created measuring stick for coaching corruption. Not actually headed by Huggins:
11: Dave Bliss (yes, this one goes to 11)
10: Tarkanian -- full on cheaty cheaty all the time
9: Jim Harrick -- a consistent pattern of malfeasance that includes academic fraud
8: Clem Haskins -- Harrick except not slimy enough to get away with it for quite as long
7: Huggins -- as skeezy as you can be and still have a job
6: Steve Fisher -- classic don't ask, don't tell
5: Billy Donovan -- you just KNOW there's something fishy but can't actually prove it.
4: Kelvin Sampson -- persistent minor flouting of NCAA regulations to harrass recruits for personal aggrandizement
3: Rick Majerus -- persistent minor flouting of NCAA regulations because he thinks they're stupid
2: Izzo -- basically squeaky clean, will occasionally take flyers on dodgy characters
1: Amaker -- ick
0: Whoever the current sacrificial lamb at Northwestern is.)
March 27 - Tuesday
For two years Michigan has been the same team, a top heavy array of scorers with prone to stupid faith-shattering breakdowns and shaky goaltending. This has been good for not much: first-round exits in the NCAA tournament and watching other teams raise CCHA and GLI banners. In a sense, the departure of the defensemen and TJ is a relief. The team next year might be terrible. It might be fantastic. But it will definitely be different.
March 28 - Wednesday
Coaching Search Update. Beilein seems to be the guy simply because no news has come out and he’s still in the NIT, so no contact can be made for another couple of days. Bruce Pearl says he’s not interested, and John Calipari is rumored to have approached ‘M’ but was turned down. Also interesting that Beilein nearly went to NC State the year before, but the deal fell through at the last minute.
A closer look at Beilein, refuting arguments from other bloggers, specifically about his offense and his ability to recruit.
T. J. Hensick is not a Hobey finalist, despite leading the nation in scoring.
March 29 - Thursday
Beilein! Beilein! Beilein! (Unverified Voracity). Rosenberg says Beilein isn’t just a candidate, he is the candidate.
Recruiting Board Update. Not much of interest ten years later. One name of note is J.B. Shugarts, but he has named OSU and LSU as his leaders.
March 30 - Friday
All Quiet on the West Va Front. Nothing much new. Top three seems to be Beilein, Chris Lowery, and Kevin Stallings.
March 31 - Saturday
Lots of nitty gritty on a potential Beilein buyout situation.
West Virginia message boards are saying that Beilein is gone.
1:02 PM today. "creamer14" posts this:
Message board freaks out like whoah. Scout WVU board picks up on it and gives an indications of this guy's rep:
Saw that too - coming from a very solid poster as well. This is the same guy who gave the scoop on Coach Rod staying, ND verballing, WR coach hiring, the initial hiring of Ron West. This guy definitely has an 'in' with the athletic department.
(Patrick Barron) Not your fault, tonight, Hayden
FIRST: It was an odd period for even strength offense. The first half of the period was alternating team penalties, so Michigan's best looks definitely came on the man advantage. They ended up with an 8(1) in even strength. That's not great, but it does come with a bit of an asterisk. Still, they're going to need to get better looks (and probably more of them) if they're going to beat Schierhorn. Marody did have a goal waved off and he bumped Schierhorn back into his net. Worth a shot, I guess.
SECOND: A very different period structure sees Michigan tally a 30(8) in the attacking end. They did generate quite a few nice scoring chances but were only able to sneak one by Schierhorn. Tony Calderone had multiple very good looks and finally scored after Marody created some space in the high circle and slid the puck to him alone in the slot.They're still only getting 26% of the attempts from the HP, though. Minnestoa's defense has been better, tonight, and Schierhorn has looked good, as well.
- THIRD: Michigan had a bit of an uptick in the third period, generating a few better looks, including a couple of posts. Minnesota was content to sit back and not get caught up ice, given their two goal lead...but Michigan couldn't take advantage of their time in the attacking end. They did have 21 even strength attempts with 8 coming from the HP. Given the game situations, though, I do not think this accurately portrayed how the game went...with most of Michigan's better looks coming in desperation time. They finished with a 59(17) that resulted in a 26% from the HP. That's not good enough...but Minnesota's defense played very well, too.
FIRST: In a period with five stand-alone penalties, Minnesota was still able to generate a 17(6)...which is very good for only a half of period played at even strength. That's not great for Michigan's defense. Lavigne was able to bail them out a few times but he was beaten once, as Michigan left Pitlick alone in the slot. Not a great period for the defense, but we've come to expect as much.
SECOND: Michigan gave up a 33(13) in the second period. That's a 40% clip from the HP. That's just too high at that volume for a team of Minnesota's caliber. The first goal was a nice one-timer from the upper circle. That was just a nice play by the offense. The shooter was even decently marked. The second goal was an embarassment, though. Multiple shots came from all angles around Lavigne, as no Michigan skater moved their feet in an attempt to get out to any of Minnesota's multiple shooters. Finally Lavigne wasn't able to see one of them and it was 3-0. If you're literally going to stand around in the defensive zone, a goal is all but guaranteed. Ugh.
- THIRD: Michigan was better, only giving up an 11(4). However, this is an incomplete because Minnesota took their foot off the gas half way into the third and just bled the game out. I don't have anything else relevant to say regarding this.
FIRST: All of the penalties. Michigan had three opportunities. They had a golden chance when Marody and Calderone found themselves alone in the slot and Calderone missed a wide open net. Michigan was able to generate a few more looks but nothing with that high of a percentage of finishing. Minnesota had two power plays and looked a little more dangerous than Michigan. They moved the puck well and got a few nice chances, but Lavigne denied all of them. The first half of the period was mostly alternating penalties.
SECOND: There were no second period power plays for either team.
- THIRD: Michigan did not draw a third period penalty. Minnesota had a power play off a too many men penalty against Michigan. They didn't really try to do a whole lot, being up a couple goals. Special teams were not a factor tonight, after the first ten minutes of the game.
FIRST: Hayden Lavigne started in net for the first time since the MSU series. He faced 15 shots in the first period and looked solid. His rebound control was not the greatest, but he positioned himself well and bailed Michigan out of multiple situations when attackers got into the slot and the front of the crease. I do not put the goal on him as Pitlick crashed down into the slot, unchecked, and was able to rifle a shot over Lavigne. Good shooting percentage from that spot. Lavigne with 14 saves, though.
SECOND: I thought Lavigne had another solid period. He gave up two more goals but the first was a one-timer fron the top of the circle. I could not tell if he was screened or not, but it was a good pass and quick shot. He probably could have been marked a little tighter, but Bristedt did not have as much room as Pitlick did in the first. The second goal was on the defense as consecutive shots came from all angles before one snuck past Lavigne. No Michigan skater moved very far at all during that flurry. The fact that Lavigne was able to deny the first few was impressive. His rebound control has been shaky, tonight, though. Lavigne has 28 saves on 31 shots, so far.
- THIRD: Another good performance from a Michigan goalie. Lavigne was not Nagelvoort-hot, but he gave up fewer that he probably should have given the chances that Minnesota got. I've asked a handful of people who the best goalie on this team is and I've gotten different answers from everyone. That's a great thing. If nothing else, it says a lot about Steve Shields, Michigan's goaltending coach. I'm very comfortable with any of Michigan's goalies in net. In fact, I'm not completely against trying this theory by throwing Chad Catt between the pipes, next weekend.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: Michigan gave up one OMR in the first period. It was a 2v1 in a 4v4 situation. The shot was high and wide from a distance with no real chance at a cross pass.
SECOND: Michigan gives up two more OMRs. The first was a dangerous 3v2 that saw Lavigne leave the initial rebound right out in front of him, but he was able to cover the 2nd shot. The other was a 2v1 that Lavigne correctly positioned himself to the shooter and stopped.
- THIRD: No 3rd period OMRs! Yay! Only one very dangerous one on the night.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Minnesota 61(23), Michigan 59(17)
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Minnesota 61, Michigan 61
(Marc-Gregor Campredon) Alex Kile with his best performance of the year
FIRST: Michigan had a weird offensive period. They generated 27 (!!) attempts on goal but only 2 from Home Plate. They came close a couple times, but Schierhorn had the angle and it would have taken a corner shot to beat him. It semed that the gameplan was to shoot if you had the puck anywhere in the attacking zone...because that's pretty much what happened. The shot volume is great, but if they're going to beat Schierhorn tonight, they're going to have to get to a more dangerous place on the ice.
SECOND: Michigan's second period was better and worse than their first. They generated half as many chances (14), but they also got into HP with 7 of them...something they did not do in the first. Alex Kile generated their first goal, hitting a corner on a shot from just above the circles that snuck inside the post. Probably not the best goal for Schierhorn to give up, but he easily could have been screened. I guess the first period of strategy of sheer volume of pucks to the net paid off for Michigan on that goal. Not as many chances but higher quality ones.
- THIRD: Michigan had their best offensive period of the evening in the third. They took 18 even strength attempts, including 10 from HP. That's very, very good. They also got some power play attempts from inside HP, as well. Michigan's game-winner was from even strength when Nolan De Jong threw a puck at the net from the side boards and Evan Allen redirected it past Schierhorn. Kile probably had his best game of the year. He shot the puck when he had opportunities, and passed the puck very well, tallying a goal and two assists. Allen has also come on very strong the last half of the season. He's also had a nice shot, but has learned the art of slot-tipping, gathering the winner, tonight. Michigan ended the night with 56(19), 34% from HP...right at their season average. The difference was their volume, tonight.
FIRST: Well, taking my advice from the first period above, Minnesota did just that. They out-attempted Michigan in the first period by one, getting 28 looks on net. To top that, they were also able to get into the Home Plate area for 10 of those 28. That's a nice 36% with a high volume. If Michigan is going to allow those types of numbers, they're going to need another Hobey performance from Nagelvoort. Michigan also struggled to get the puck out of their zone, lost an attacker a few times, and had more untimely DZTOs (surprise!). Improvement requested.
SECOND: Well, the second period was pretty much a carbon copy of the first for Michigan, defensively. They allowed 25 more attempts and 11 from HP. Again, not great. Nagelvoort played very well, again, and Michigan was lucky to not surrender a goal. I mean...this just is what it is: Minnesota has a good offense and Michigan does not have a good defense. I expect the third to be similar, penalties pending.
- THIRD: Michigan gave up a 19(8) in the 3rd period. The percentage wasn't great, but the overall volume decreased by period. So...yay! Still, not a great defensive third frame. It took another fantastic effort from Nagelvoort to see this one through. The would-be game-winner for Minnesota was just a great play/move/decision from Vinni Lettieri who came in on a 2v2, used his teammate and the defenders as a screen, and popped out to beat Nagelvoort. Sometimes, good players makes winning plays. In the end, Michigan gave up a 72(29). That's a 40% from HP. That's too high on too large a volume of shots.
FIRST: Minnesota got the only power play of the period (bit of a soft call on Calderone -or so it looked from up here). They threatened with multiple chances before Cammarata finally got alone in front of Nagelvoort and wraped one around him. Minnesota has the #4 power play at 26%. Penalties need to be kept at a minimum tonight.
SECOND: Minnesota had one more power play and threatened, again, but didn't score. Nagelvoort was great on that penalty kill. Michigan drew their first power play and had multiple different chances that Eric Schierhorn was equal to...until Alex Kile had a DO from just above the dot to the back post that Calderone tapped in to tie the game. Pass of the year, if you ask me. I may grunted as to refrain from cheering after that pass, as it was easy to see it all unfold from up here. Fun stuff.
- THIRD: Michigan out-skated Minnesota in the third period and it resulted in several penalties. They had a carry over from the second, threatened, but did not score. Michigan drew a second power play a few minutes late, but again failed to score. After giving up the lead, Lockwood broke in alone and was slashed, drawing Michigan's 3rd and final power play of the period. Jake Slaker took advantage by fanning on his first attempt and rifling his second attempt over Schierhorn (who was fantastic, tonight) to tie the game. Michigan never gave up after going down 3-2 and drawing the penalties exemplified that. Michigan's only penalty kill of the 3rd came when Cutler Martin dumptrucked Schierhorn way after the whistle. Minnesota only had a minute and a half advantage due to the Kloos slash...and they were in time kill mode, already, being up 3-2. M: 2/4; Minn: 1/3
(Marc-Gregor Campredon) Kick Save? Glove Save? FACE SAVE!
FIRST: Zach Nagelvoort started tonight after his shutout of Ohio State. He looked the part, early on, making multiple point-blank saves. Minnesota had several stretches of sustained offensive zone pressure, but Zach held strong for most of the period. Neither first period goal should be on him. The power play goal was shot from about 2 feet away and the second came from a 2v1 and an unlucky bounce after a nice defensive play. He ended the period with 13 saves.
SECOND: Nagelvoort backed up his nice first period with an even better second. He did not allow a goal and made multiple saves from dangerous positions and two OMRs. I thought his positioning and rebound control were both great. The defense has not exactly helped him out a ton, but he's held strong as Michigan's last line of defense. 12 more saves for a two period total of 25.
- THIRD: Dude. Nagelvoort. Maybe its just Steve Shields? I tweeted something out about Michigan not having a best goalie. They have three great ones. Who do I want to start tomorrow night? Like, whomever, man. Each have had hiccups because they're college-aged goalies, but, man...Nagelvoort played very well, agian, tonight. The goal he gave up was just a great offensive play shot from very close. He had no chance. He also made about 3-4 consecutive saves and then had back-to-back glove snatches. Is it past the trading deadline? Can we deal one for Auston Mathews? Nagelvoort ended with 35 saves on 38 shots.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: Michigan surrendered two OMRs. The first was a 3v2 that Nagelvoort got a piece of and it just trickled wide. The second was a 2v1 that Boka raced back to break up, but the puck bounced right back to the attacker and he was in Nagelvoort and beat him. Both could have easily been goals. Michigan cannot get caught up ice against this team.
SECOND: Ugh, another couple OMRs. Neither cost Michigan a goal, though. Minnesota had a couple 3v2s: both were denied by Nagelvoort, including the last one with his face. Minnesota up to 4 OMRs.
- THIRD: Michigan gives up one more OMR: Another 3v2 and De Jong gets in front of it to block it aside. Five OMRs is too many, if you ask me...especially against a team like this that can score. You can't give them advantages on special teams or get caught up ice. They got one tonight and could have easily has another 1-2.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Minnesota 72, Michigan 56
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Minnesota 73, Michigan 56
With one game left in the regular season, the Big Ten Tournament picture is becoming clearer – there are still a wide variety of potential outcomes, but most teams have a pretty good idea of where they’ll end up. With Michigan’s recent heartbreaking loss to Northwestern, and Iowa’s impressive road win over Wisconsin, it’s likely that Michigan will find itself playing in the 8/9 game on Thursday afternoon against none other than Illinois, the team that may have sparked the Michigan turnaround with a blowout win and Maverick Morgan’s harsh-but-mostly-true “white collar” comment. Derrick Walton in particular has been playing blue-collar ball as of late, and I’m sure he’d relish another shot at the Illini even though Michigan won the rematch.
This excellent post by Dan Baker at The Only Colors outlines the potential outcomes of this weekend of action across the Big Ten (and it’s definitely worth a click to read through in-depth) – right now, this is what the bracket would look like if there’s chalk in the remaining seven games:
The favorites in the remaining games (according to Kenpom) are in bold:
- Indiana at Ohio State
- Illinois at Rutgers
- Michigan State at Maryland
- Penn State at Iowa
- Purdue at Northwestern
- Minnesota at Wisconsin
- Michigan at Nebraska
A look at some possible seed outcomes after the JUMP.
After last night's loss to Northwestern, I got a little panicked about the thought of Michigan blowing their next 2 games and missing out on the tournament. To help assauge my fears, I took a look at all the bubble teams (based on Bracket Matrix) and how they fared in the categories we know the Committee tends to weigh heavily in their decision making process. Those categories are: Record, RPI, Non-Conference SOS, Wins vs. Top 50 RPI, Wins vs. Top 100 RPI. Apparently, they have added some emphasis on advanced metrics (my guess is KenPom) to aid in their decision-making process.
Here are the "Bubble Teams" at the moment:
Atlantic 10: VCU, Rhode Island
ACC: Syracuse, Wake Forest
Big Ten: Michigan, Northwestern, Michigan State, Illinois
Big East: Xavier, Seton Hall, Marquette, Providence
Big XII: Kansas State
Pac-12: USC, Cal
SEC: Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Georgia
Mid-Majors: Wichita State, Illinois State, Middle Tennessee, UNC-Wilimington, Texas-Arlington
|TEAM||RECORD||RPI||NCSS||VS. TOP 50||VS. TOP 100 (L vs. 100+)|
|Rhode Island||20-9||42||20||2-3||4-7 (2)|
|Wake Forest||17-12||38||13||2-9||7-12 (0)|
|Michigan St||18-12||46||21||6-7||11-11 (1)|
|Seton Hall||19-10||50||200||3-6||9-9 (1)|
|Kansas St||18-12||58||220||3-8||5-11 (1)|
|Wichita St||26-4||41||221||1-4||2-4 (0)|
|Illinois St||24-5||33||139||1-1||2-3 (2)|
Based on Bracket Matrix, 18 of these 24 teams are currently in the field. Obviously, that # could drop if the mid-majors lose in their conference tournament. If neither WSU/ISU, MTSU, UNCW, or UTA win, there would be at minimum 14 spots for these 24 teams. Where does Michigan stand in each category?
If Michigan were to lose out and end up at 19-13, they'd be playing with fire. A list of teams with less than 20 wins to garner at-large bids in the last 5 years is as follows:
2016: Vanderbilt (19-13, Play-In), Oregon State (19-12, #7), Texas Tech (19-12, #8), Syracuse (19-13, #10)
2015: Oklahoma State (18-13, #8)
2014: Nebraska (19-12, #11)
2012: West Virginia (19-13, #10)
2011: Tennessee (19-14, #9), Penn State (19-14, #10), Illinois (19-13, #9), USC (19-14, Play-In), Michigan St. (19-14, #10)
Some years are more leniant than others to teams with less than 20 wins, but picking up that 20th win would make us all feel much safer on Selection Sunday. Not only does that 20th win represent an important benchmark, but it avoids the stigma of Michigan being in a freefall and finishing the year with 3 consecutive losses. That said, you may realize that half of these teams currently have less than 20 wins. I'd root against all of them as hard as you possibly can.
Michigan is currently dead center in terms of RPI with the 12th best RPI among bubble teams. Again, the concern with losing out is that two more losses to average-or-worse teams would probably see their RPI end up in the high 50s or so, which would put them towards the back of the pack depending on what other teams do. I believe last year, Michigan went into Selection Sunday with a RPI in the low-60s and barely made it in.
This is much better. 85 isn't eye-popping, but this stat will remain static (ha!) until Selection Sunday. Michigan sits 14th, but some of these teams have truly dismal numbers. The Valley teams and the Big East might suffer from not having played many good teams outside of their conference (or in-conference in the case of Wichita St. and Illinois St.)
Michigan is in good standing here.
Record vs. RPI Top 50:
And here we get to the good stuff. Michigan currently has the 7th most wins against teams in the RPI Top 50. The mid-major teams are hard to gauge because they haven't had many opportunities, but when you look at teams like Wake Forest, Cal, and Georgia, Michigan is a cut above. This may not matter much for a team like VCU, but UNC-Wilmington has played 1 game against a Top 50 opponent all year. The Committee will not look favorably at that.
Record vs. RPI Top 100:
And here's our shining star. Michigan is tied with State for the most wins against Top 100 teams of anybody on the bubble. Last year's team had 4, count 'em, 4 wins against Top 100 teams. And much like last year, they have zero losses outside of teams in the Top 100. They have as many wins as almost half the teams have games played. Also, even if they lose their last 2, they'd still be Top 100 opponents (Nebraska is currently at 85).
Of the 37 brackets updated after last night, Michigan is in all of them and is an 8 or 9 seed in 32 out of the 37. They are actually the highest ranked team on the Matrix out of all 24 teams. Even if they lose out, it seems unlikely that 14-18 of these teams will do enough to pass Michigan within the next two weeks.
That said, beat Nebraska and all of this is moot and the Big Ten Tournament becomes about whether they can climb to a 6-7 seed (if they make the semifinals/finals) rather than spending next Thursday worrying about winning or getting left out. If you'd like to watch some games with an eye towards eliminating some competition, here are my recommendations: