When I close my eyes, I see Michigan basketball players bricking three-point shots. Over and over and over again.
I can’t say anything about last night’s game that others have not already said. Brian has thrown in the towel regarding an NCAA tournament bid. Dylan at UMHoops has the breakdown of one of the worst offensive performances of the season. Meanwhile, Tim at Varsity Blue corrects a flaw in the BTN analysis, while pointing out any NCAA bid will come down to home games next month against MSU and Purdue.
I don’t think all is lost for an NCAA bid. Michigan is going through the hardest patch of their season. Beginning with last night’s game, the team was staring at the likelihood of dropping three of its next four games. When that stretch is over, Michigan won’t be in anybody’s mock bracket, but they’ll have plenty of games over the season’s final month to spruce their resume up and buck for a spot in the final field.
Michigan’s possible bid into the Dance will come down to defending home turf in the month of February against the likes of Penn St, Michigan St, Purdue and Minnesota. Win those games and steal a road win at, for example, Iowa or Northwestern and it will hard to deny Michigan a bid. Any combination of five to six more regular season wins ought to do the trick. With the Big 10 as well regarded now as its been in years, there will be impressive wins in that bunch that would only add to Michigan’s nice looking list of wins already.
A road map to a bid exists. The question is do the slumping Wolverines have the moxie to follow it? In the meantime, the best we can do is hope that fellow bubble teams continue to crash and burn. Tonight’s action does not bring much opportunity for that, but there are still games—including showdowns in the Big 10 and Pac 10—that will impact Michigan’s resume and ultimate RPI numbers.
Hokies look to play Giant Killer……again
Thanks to a week that included road upsets at Wake Forest and Miami, Virginia Tech has begun to make appearances in mock brackets. The Hokies earn a 9-seed from ESPN and an 8-seed from Rivals. With a fairly manageable schedule the next couple of weeks, tonight’s contest against Clemson (7pm ESPN2, Clemson -1) looms as a big contest in Blacksburg . A win might cement their position and only a February collapse could keep them out of the field.
The Hokies have earned a defensive reputation since joining the ACC, but it’s their offense that propelling their latest winning streak. Behind the run is one the league’s most underrated players Malcolm Delaney, another in a long line of Baltimore cagers who have made an impact.
Clemson appears to be more of the real deal than in recent years. One reason is their improved free throw shooting, which might not be the worst in the ACC for the first time in four seasons. As a result, they’ve been much better in close games. That might come in handy tonight against the Hokies, who seem to do nothing but play close games. Clemson fans appear worried about this game as they’ve seen this kind of Hokie surge before.
Illini try Blackjack Gophers
Has Illinois really won 20 in a row over the Minnesota? Yikes! That dates back to the 1990s. Tonight’s matchup (7 pm, BTN, Illini -1)features a pair of 17-3 teams. Crunching numbers, one Gopher observer is not so optimistic that streak ends tonight.
The Gophers are always strong at The Barn, and, despite the streak, Illini boosters aren’t taking this game for granted. The Gophers have lost two in a row at home, burning some of my money in the process. Illinois, meanwhile, is 11-4-1 against the number, including 5-1-1 against the Big 10. Vegas has made the Illini a slight 1-point road favorite tonight, in a series where the favored team has covered 10 out of 13 times. Hmm, intriguing. I know the Illini are a good team. I am not sure how good the Gophers are. Losing their 21st straight to the Illini would be bad news for the Gophers. Losing Tubby Smith as coach would be worse
NoCal versus SoCal
Northern California meets Southern California as the Pac 10 round robin brings us a series on Golden State battles over the next 48 hours. Tonight Cal plays at UCLA and Stanford plays at USC. On Saturday, the opponents flip flop. All four of the games ought to have some lingering aspects on the bubble and Michigan’s resume.
First place is on the line when the Bears and Bruins hook up tonight (10:30, FSN, UCLA -9.5). Michigan’s resume needs all the polish possible, so Wolverine fans hope UCLA has found some answers to the problems plaguing them during their recent slide. For the first time in a long time, the Bruins might be vulnerable in the Pac 10 race. Cal is having a resurgent season under former Stanford Mike Montgomery. One reason for their turnaround is this freshmen find from south of the border.
In the other contest between the Trojans and Cardinal (10:30, no TV, USC -6), it’s hard to discern who exactly Wolverine fans should be cheering against. Neither Stanford nor USC appear in any of the primary mock brackets. Both, however, are among the final groups of teams left out of the mocks. As I see it, Michigan benefits if the both teams lose on Saturday, making this particular game less relevant. The Trojans expect to get some healthy bodies back for tonight’s affair.
Showdown in Pacific Northwest
Cal and UCLA is not the only showdown with first place on the line along the left coast this evening. St. Mary’s travels to Gonzaga (11pm, ESPN2, Zags -9) tonight with the top spot in the West Coast Conference on the line. Little Bubble impact will be felt, however, as both teams are ranked in the top 25 and expected to get bids into the dance come Selection Sunday. But, its as big a rivalry as you’ll find among the mid major conferences. Night owls should find plenty fun watching and here’s a primer from a Zag perspective to help track the action.
Also of note tonight is Alabama at Arkansas. The Hogs have played themselves out of the field with a 0-4 SEC start. They need to close with an 8-4 record just to even have bubble hopes. Meanwhile, in Tucson, Arizona hosts Washington. Hard to believe the fall the Wildcats have taken this year. They’re 2-5 in league play and need a major run over the next month just to put them in consideration. They’re an underdog on their home floor, and, no, the person in this poster is not me.
Zack Novak deserves to ride the bench for 1-1.5 games. He's a freshman who allowed game frustration and immaturity to cloud his judgement and pull a stupid move.
Here's video of the Michigan/OSU game. The elbow incident starts at 1:28. Watching it in real-time, the elbow looks suspect and you award Novak the red-card (THAT'S CRIMINAL JIM!). However, when you watch the slow-motion replay you see Hill sells the elbow completely. To the point he's facing the rim and then goes "oh heads go back when they get hit" and throws his head back completely, in the middle of SPAAAAAAAAACE.
If Zack Novak had been recruited from Clear-head, Indiana, there might be a better view but before Columbus police throw the cuffs on Novak, an eyebrow has to be raised about how much of this, especially when Hill claims he "warned officials and referees that Novak was going to do it," is a late sell. Shit at least Purdue's guy fell down and looked in pain. Hill just looks around for the foul. And I know Hill said he got hit. He's been sure to let every news source know how awful of a person Novak is and how bad his chin hurt. I just don't see Novak's arm stop at all (like, you know, when you connect with a hard object), a line of contact where his elbow would have been at chin-level, or any reaction from Hill except in open space when he snaps his head back to sell the hit.
Zack Novak - god have mercy on you during practice today. You deserve any punishment that would have come had you connected. I'm just not buying that he got him.
Cue MSU/OSU anger and fury!
I pulled this commentary on Iowa’s incoming class off of BHGP (public, non-paid) from one of their posters who then got positive feedback on this assessment:
“Seems as though the Hawks picked up a few recruits this weekend, the good folks at Rivals now have them at 17 verbals for this offseason. So far we have the two 4 stars from Iowa in Wegher and Keenan Davis, 4-3 stars and the rest 2. It seems as though most people were wondering how this class was going to turn out, and it looks as though it is rounding into shape nicely. They may not all be the top notch recruits, but they all seem like solid (if not spectacular) players. As we all know, recruiting and rankings are a complete crapshoot, but I think this class has a not of promise. In particular,this wide receiver if he turns out to be the player he looks as though he can be, combined with any of DJ-K, Trey Stross or Keenan Davis, this offense could be quite efficient next year.”
I am not a massive Ferentz guy, but how in the world do you win with a team made of this? He got 9-4 with a NYD bowl win (granted a favorable bowl match up and I am less enamored with NYD bowls considering so many big days scheduled later) and top 25 finish using this type of talent. This has to be somewhere in 50s or 60s for a rivals class ranking. This would be absolute armageddon at Michigan, people would be jumping out of windows, mob with torches would roam the streets looking for the coaching staff and children would cry at the mention of RRs name. I don’t see how this makes a mid-upper level (you know what I mean) Big Ten team. Maybe that is why he is mentioned in the pros. I hope we are able to now develop our talent in this type of manner.
I tried not to write this. I waited, but I have to say it, even if I may get banned.
I wasn't at last night's Michigan-Ohio State basketball game, but the camera angles made me feel like I was on the hardwood. I saw OSU guard PJ Hill reeling backward with one hand on his face, his other arm waving helplessly in the air. Evan Turner was right there, anger coursing through his veins, seemingly unable to grasp the brutality of what he had witnessed. I wished I were down there on the court with him. But that's the difference between men like Novak and pigs: curly tails. That's it. Everything else is the same- not physical enough to legitimately box out, so they just get dirty.
I thought I'd cool off overnight, but I woke up craving bacon. I was pissed; I couldn't even enjoy breakfast without being reminded of one of the most vicious, disgraceful incidents I've seen on a basketball court. Zack Novak should be booted from the NCAA, the local YMCA, and the Special Olympics, period.
Then I read the news. Ejected from the game? A one-game suspension?! What a joke. Skipping a beatdown at the hands of Purdue? Hardly punishment at all. It's superficial. Not .001% of enough. You could start with a ban on the NIT- but seriously, this basketball season is already over.
I watched Novak line up Hill's jaw out of the corner of his eye and then launch his elbow like a coiled snake striking. Hill was just playing a simple game, oblivious to the 100 MPH python that was about to slam into him. At the bare minimum, the NCAA needs to have Novak register his right elbow as a weapon or a pet and never set foot in Ohio again. And even then, they'd just be covering their asses.
I'm still pissed. You should be, too. I thought Michigan basketball was above such thuggery. At least under Ellerbe we just had scandal, not this on-court violence.
Any thoughts on the punishment that should be doled out to Novak for the cheap shot elbow he delivered to PJ Hill's dome with 1:27 left in last night's game?
I know I am going to get troll remarks for posting this but considering the round and round argument I had in the UV thread on the Tropp/Conboy/Kampfer powder keg incident I found this incident too much to not bring up.
Obviously the situations are VASTLY different but at the same time I didn't hear the Buckeyes chanting FYM or anything to that effect and the police blotter doesn't suggest there were any assaults last night at the Schottenstein Center. I'm not here to advocate a position that Buckeye fans are pure of heart and don't cause their fair share of issues amongst their own and opposing players and fans but it was nice to not hear any chanting towards Novak, towards the Wolverines, or really towards the incident itself. Considering the athletic department let students in for free to this game it certainly had the proper environment to become that powder keg considering the rivalry and hard fought nature that comes with any Ohio State - Michigan contest.
Clearly I am not thinking a season ending suspension is in order but seems to me that Novak ought to be sitting a while for an unprovoked attack on an unsuspecting player.
So what is it? Buckeye blog, 11W, suggests a one-game suspension .. that doesn't seem like enough to me .. I would go with 2+ games for the cheap shot. Will Beilein take the action or will it be required of Delaney to handle the punishment?
And FWIW man is Michigan going to be tough in another season or so.
I've been thinking about doing a diary entry about Michigan Wrestling for awhile now, and with the start of the Big Ten schedule this weekend, I figured it was as good of a time as any to start. I'm gonna try to preview the matchups and make a vague prediction about the final result, probably with the accuracy of a Nick Sheridan thrown 15 yard out. I'll give a small breakdown of how each team is doing season wise and recently, and then break the meet down match by match, giving the wrestlers I expect to be out there, their ranking, and how I expect the match to end. Michigan's kids will be listed first at each weight, and if there is a question as to who will go I'll try to mention who else might get the nod.
The first team Michigan will wrestle in the conference schedule is Northwestern. The Wildcats come into Cliff Keen Arena ranked 19th in the country in the NWCA rankings, with a 9-3 overall record, and coming off an upset of #17 Wisconsin. Michigan checks in at 18th in the country with a record of 5-6, and when they last wrestled suffered a loss to a surprisignly good Virginia Tech team, and has yet to officially wrestle in conference, though they did happen to face Penn State in a non-conference tournament. With that, onto the matchups, which include a lot of speculation about how good NW's kids not named Precin and Herbert are.
125: Micheal Watts (15th), Brandon Precin (3rd)
This is a tough one for the Wolverines. Watts is pretty solid, but Precin is one of the top kids at a weight class that is ridiculously top heavy. Precin is ranked 3rd, and the returning national champ, Escobedo, is sitting at the 6 spot. I think Watts can manage to go all 7 minutes with him, but I can't see him holding him to less than a major decision here.
Wildcats lead 4-0
133: Zac Stevens, Eric Metzler
I don't really know what to expect here. Stevens is a true freshman starter with a 9-5 record to date. Metzler is a redshirt junior who has been so-so in his time at Northwestern, and is 3-1 this year. It seems he was out earlier in the year, for reasons I don't want to look through Northwestern wrestling forums for. Last year Metzler beat Chris Diehl 4-0, and Stevens was able to beat him out for the starting job. It'll be a close match, but in a tight match I've got to go with the upperclassmen in the decision.
Wildcats lead 7-0
141: Kellen Russel (5th), Keith Sulzer (16th)
Finally, a matchup that favors the Wolverines. Russel is a sophomore who started last year and shot up the rankings, at one point being ranked 1st at 141, but finished last year without placing at NCAA's after losing 2 very tough matches. Sulzer is a redshirt sophomore who also notched some good wins last year but failed to place at the tournament. Russel might be a little banged up, but he is the better wrestler, and should win a close decision.
Wildcats lead 7-3
149: Mark Weber?, Andrew Nadhir
I put the question mark because I'm not sure who gets sent out here. Weber has the most matches of everyone, but you could also see Mark Beaudry or Justin Chrznowski here. I think we see Weber because he has performed the best so far this season. Weber is a true freshman with a 6-8 record and was a 4 time state champion in high school. Nadhir is a redshirt sophomore, oddly enough from Detroit Catholic Central, who is 7-8 on the year. Neither guy stands out, and normally I would go with the kid who has been in college more, but I've seen Weber wrestle a lot, and I think he can pull this one out in a close decision.
Wildcats lead 7-6
157: Aaron Hynes, Jason Welch (15th)
This could be a swing match. Hynes is a redshirt sophomore, currently with a record of 10-6. Welch is a true freshman, and at a record of 16-5. Welch was OMG Shirtless! wrestling recruit, the NW site says he was the top recruit last year, and with him being a 3 time California state champ, I'm willing to take their word for it. Hynes probably can beat him, but I dont' think it happens. I'm going with a decisions for Welch.
Wildcats lead 10-6
165: Justin Zeerip, Dominic Marella
A must win match for Michigan. Zeerip is a true freshman, was a 4 time undefeated state champ in high school, and currently holds the record for most wins in a career in Michigan. He will be going up against Dominic Marella, a redshirt junior, who started out last year strong but failed to quality for the NCAA's after going 0-2 at Big Tens, and has been dissapointing this year at 5-10. Marella has been inconsistent this year, able to hold Marable (7th) to a decision but getting pinned by Rendos (15), Headlee (UR), and Young (UR). I think Zeerip wins in a decision, but don't be overly surprised if Marella gets caught in something nad put on his back.
Wildcats lead 10-9
174: Steve Luke (1st), Robert Kellog
We're starting to get into the part of the lineup where the big guns are. Luke is a redshirt senior who placed 2nd last year at NCAA's and comes in with the top ranking and a spotless record, Kellog is a redshirt freshman who comes in with a 10-7 record. Luke might be able to pin him but pins are so rare in college I hate expecting one. I think he goes in and builds up a lead at least big enough to get the major and then tried to get a nearfall or two so that if he can tech him he gets the TF5 instead of just the TF.
Wolverines lead 14-10
184: Anthony Biondo (12th), Jake Herbert (1st)
This looks like a good match with just the numbers, but it won't be pretty. Biondo is a redshirt sophomore and 8-4 on the year, sadly, it won't matter much. Herbert was a national champion in 2007, and took 2008 off in order to train for the Oympics. He was granted another year of eligibility from the NCAA and has returned with a vengeance. Out of those 20 matches, only 2 of them have lasted the full 7 minutes, 14-1 and 15-1 victories. One of those he pinned at a later time and the other is currently ranked 3rd. As much as I respect Biondo and think he will have a great career at Michigan, a tech would be surprising. Herbert is just too good.
Wildcats least 16-14
197: Tyrel Todd (6), John Schoen
This one looks like a sure win, but the bonus points will be important. Todd is a redshirt senior, 2 time all american, currently undefeated. Schoen is a redshirt freshman who has a 6-11 record and has really struggled with the top kids at 197. Like Luke, Todd can probably pin here, but its not likely. I'm not even sure if he gets the tech as he's a little banged up, but he won't get anything less than the major decision.
Wolverines lead 18-16
HWY: Eddie Phillips, Ben Kuhar
It all comes down to this one. Phillips is a redshirt sophomore, holding a record of 8-6. Kuhar is a redshirt freshman with a record of 6-10. The best guage I have on these two is each have wrestled Michigans other HWY, Chad Bleske, and each came away with very close decisions. This match is probably a coin flip either way, so I'm going to go with Phillips, for no reason other than I can't predict Michigan to lose the first time I do this.
Wolverines win, 21-16.