It sounds like we are very slightly on the right side of the bubble with 6 games remaining. I think we will win one of our two tough home games (Wisc or Purdue) and three of our four road games (Minn, Rutgers, Northwestern, Nebraska), which will put into the Big Dance. Whatever we do in the B1G tourney will be gravy (i.e., an opportunity to help our seeding).
What say you, Mgocommunity? Will Michigan be dancing in March?
Here's an update on one of the coaches in our rearview mirror. Tommy just became the winningest coach in Harvard basketball history, prompting this feature on CBS's "Men of March". Interesting cameos here by a few recruits who chose Amaker over Belein:
I was reading Uni-Watch this morning and they wrote about these wallets that have pieces of game used uniforms inside. Sure enough, they have a Michigan collection. You can get a piece of football or basketball uniform. The site also has cuff links with game worn materials. Pretty cool stuff, but as you'd expect, very expesnive.
As 2016 winds down, the Big Ten will be getting ready for conference play. Despite the league being off its usual standard, it should still be a compelling conference race – Indiana, Purdue, and Wisconsin probably are the teams with a shot at the conference title, but there’s a bloated middle that could produce a surprise contender and should give us plenty of competitive games for the rest of the winter. Since this post was getting long, I split it in two and will be covering the other half of the conference later this week.
Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
After experiencing year-over-year declines in win totals throughout his Illinois career, John Groce might have entered the season with the least job security of any coach in the Big Ten, despite a strong recruiting class that will be arriving in Champaign next season (featuring 5* big man Jeremiah Tilmon). The Illini returned several players from injury and still have senior swingman Malcolm Hill – probably the most underrated player in the conference. Hill has had a good year, averaging 18 points per game; he’s still drawing fouls at a high rate and leads Illinois in shot attempts by a healthy margin, but he’s been less of a distributor with 6th-year senior PG Tracy Abrams back on the court. After two seasons on the sidelines, Abrams has been a revelation for the Illini: his eFG% leapt from 37.7 to 65.6, the 5th-highest mark in the league.
Outside of an unfortunate home loss to Winthrop in overtime – a game the Illini led by ten with three minutes left in regulation, and a game in which 5’7 reserve Keon Johnson scored 38 points on just 23 shot equivalents for the Eagles – there have been few surprises in non-conference play. Illinois did lose to West Virginia (by 32) and Florida State in Brooklyn, though those are both good teams. They notched wins against NC St., VCU, and BYU, but it’s not likely that any of those teams will represent a particularly quality win come March. Winthrop wasn’t a terrible loss, and Illinois could theoretically play their way into the tournament with a strong showing in conference play – which would be a surprise. They’re the most experienced team in the Big Ten per Kenpom, and it seems like they’ve reached their ceiling.
[Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, MSU, and Minnesota after the JUMP]