|WHAT||Michigan vs Penn State|
|WHERE||United Center, Chicago, Illinois|
|WHEN||~2:30 PM Eastern, Thursday (20 minutes after ILL/MINN)|
|LINE||Michigan –16 (Kenpom)|
I'm fresh off a four-hour drive and Minnesota/Illinois is halfway over, so this will be short and sweet.
Penn State has received the preview treatment twice around these parts: Preview One, Preview Two. In their prior matchups, the Wolverines defeated the Nittany Lions by eight at home, then were upset by six in Happy Valley for their worst loss of the season.
Penn State finished the regular season 10-20 overall and 2-16 in the Big Ten, with their only conference wins coming against Michigan and Northwestern (the latter, surprisingly, on the road).
Four factors, conference only:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||42.6 (12)||18.9 (9)||28.9 (10)||34.2 (5)|
|Defense||49.7 (11)||16.9 (10)||28.9 (4)||55.3 (12)|
The numbers are still ugly despite Penn State's late-season surge from GopherQuest Hoops Edition to Respectably Crappy.
Box out. For the love of all things sacred and holy, put a body on someone.
Close out. In Michigan's loss to Penn State, the Wolverines allowed the Nittany Lions to hit 10/20 three-pointers—seemingly all blitheringly wide open looks from Jermaine Marshall—despite them shooting below 30% from downtown this season. Michigan's perimeter defense has lacked lately, but all they need to do it get a hand in the shooter's face and they should be able to keep Penn State from putting up big numbers—when contested, their shots tend not to fall.
Get to the paint. Penn State is an undersized squad that allows opponents to shoot nearly 50% from inside the arc despite fouling at an incredible rate (342nd nationally). Good things happen when teams get to the bucket against them.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 16. I continue to believe that Penn State is the team I've seen against every other member of the Big Ten, and not the upset-waiting-to-happen that they've been in their two games against the Wolverines. On a neutral court, with the chance to secure a first-round NCAA tournament game at Auburn Hills, expect Michigan to take care of business.
Woman with Cat|Pierre Bonnard
True Genius is Getting Away With It. Before I get into my self-indulgent emo crap about the Penn State game, go read consecutive Diarist of the Week Ron Utah's conclusion to the two-parter (Part I here) on Hoke vs. Saban recruiting and whether Michigan's at least following Bama's recruiting pattern toward future success. Money chart shows contributions from Saban recruits of various rivals ratings, with 1 (blue) the washouts, 2 (orange) the spot starters/useable depth, and 3 (maize) the starters & stars:
Yes, chartnazis he should have labeled that better. As I've mentioned before a lot of those sub-four stars (5.7 and lower) were down-rated against their apparent talent by Rivals and other sites because the kids were high-risk to meet NCAA academic requirements. Saban's strategy for tapping all of that talent was to oversign like a mother and let that the risk work to his benefit. Hoke's smaller classes have very few academic risks.
Diaries Etc.: LSAClassof2000 found the Big Ten has rushed for enough yards since 2000 to make two trips to the moon. I'll let GOLBOGM update his charts before diving too far into his comparison of the best NCAA hoops coaches. Here's his latest remaining schedule update. The Blockhams have a power outage and this is a metaphor for something. Marching On (the wallpaper by jonvalk). Marching on…
Best of the Board
So this week we learned a few hard truths. Like this basketball team isn't a 1 seed. And according to this thread there's a lot of people who come to MGoBlog for something other than cleverness and cats.
The "I only come for Brian" crowd got an inadvertent taste of that yesterday. Thursday content on the front page after a game with Penn State is supposed to be Ace's gifs, Brian's game column, the video highlights thing that keeps promising me they're upgrading their servers, UV, and This Week in Twitterverse. Instead you got Brian talking to cats and then nothing, because—raise of hands—after THAT who really wants gifs and highlights and links and tweets of Michigan defenders standing around while PSU's floppy walk-on drives for easy layups? If you weren't around for the game thread, or the postgame thread, I'll save you the trouble: it's 1200 comments alternating between calling our defense pathetic and the refs awful.
So cats. This isn't solely an internet phenomenon. The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats for their irreverence in the face of massive upsets to Hittites. The ancient Michigan fans used pictures of adorable kittens to make it through the aftermath of The Horror.
Since the late '90s the nittany variety has been that cathartic release for Michigan. Whenever it looked like our program was about to atrophy, a kitten in a scarf would appear, dressed all up nice like a real national program of consequence and culture, and lose in a fashion that let us regain at least some plausible measure of being Michigan fergodsakes. It was their apparent strength that catapulted the 1997 team to a #1 ranking we'd never relinquish. My freshman year a theretofore underwhelming squad blanked a top ten Penn State team in what's still one of the most memorable games I've ever been to. Minnesota tripped up their title-bound team in '99 but Michigan traveled to Happy Valley the following week, went nose to nose with Arrington and Brown, and sealed Tom Brady as the comeback kid. There's 2002. 2005 when is seemed all we could do was lose 4th quarters. 2007.
I discovered MGoBlog during that whole '07 Comcast/Big Ten Network spat. The Midwest's least favorite company was having a hissy fit over putting another Fox channel on a basic tier, because the way cable works is you have to buy 150 channels you don't want before getting to the ones you do, and nothing drives the masses to move up like sticking the Michigan game just out of reach.
As a result I had to go to a local bar to watch the Northwestern game. Amidst a classic DeBordian display of zone left that made that game way too close I ran into my old fraternity brother Dave Malak, who informed me there's a website that responded to Appalachian State by turning pink and posting lots of cats. Phones didn't yet have the internet they have today so it wasn't until that evening that I got home, searched for "michigan blog cats the horror" and got the September archives starting with the newest on top. The first MGo article I ever read began thus…
9/22/2007 - Michigan 14, Penn State 9 - 2-2, 1-0 Big Ten
Adrift on a sea of bodies, legs gone, head yanked back, enemies all around and pawing, Mike Hart stretches for the inch he needs and gets it. When Hart is gone and I am old and my mind flips through the rolodex of players past, this will be the image that lingers. It's his career writ microscopic. He takes his natural ability, and stretches it to its breaking point, and Michigan has a season again.
Somehow Mike Hart still feels like a secret. In some extremely obvious ways he is not: one of Michigan's vaunted triplets going into this season, he is widely acclaimed as the best back in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. Anyone claiming the "no respect" card for Hart is going to have to make a strong case indeed. Everyone knows he is good. Maybe even great. But they don't know.
You can maybe forgive me and the other front-pagers if we try to sound like that sometimes. Writing is an impressionable craft; consciously or unconsciously we all imitate what we admire. I read Cook long before Foster-Wallace whom I've since devoured; prior to that my major sportswriting influences were Mitch Albom and Craig Ross. I adopted Brian's cheekiness because levity is the key to his genius for brevity and that's something I've always lacked; in turn he has little use for my themography or acoustic sensibilities. The advent of blogging sparked a new age of Impressionism in sports journalism, and I ask your patience as those of us who came after the vanguard fill in the white space of d'Orsay with our mimicry; we're all here for the Monets.
Contractually obligated highlight video
Board etc.: Denard catches footballs. MJ14 culled Twitter for some recruiting updates. Michael Scarn put together a handicapped 2014 recruiting board. M1817 explains Tom Brady's restructured contract so you can explain to people who question how/whether Tom could take less money.
Krzychawe Kryzewefski Coach K comments spark an interesting discussion on when it's appropriate to rush the court, situationally and in a "give the other team a second to get off the court" kind of way. The M's in the center of Crisler and Yost are "UNACCEPTABLE" according to M. Discover posters' super-secret double identities. Blackhawks fan tries to solicit mourning from Red Wings fans over the potential loss of that rivalry if Detroit moves East, receives a chorus full of "Yeah we'll miss you when we play Florida, maybe."
Your Moment of Zen:
From Marley Nowell.
As of this week for the first time in my adult life I have a front yard. I'm stoked for gardening and tossing various balls back and forth and stuff, but so far this is all I've done with it.
2/27/2013 – Michigan 78, Penn State 84 – 23-5, 10-5 Big Ten
zero: searching "Penn State Michigan" on google image search gives you all stuff like this
ONE! Though I compared Penn State to Gopherquest, I did not start a NittanyQuest. Therefore I have not wasted a lot of effort and brought disaster on the basketball team with hubris.
TWO! Vegas lines will adjust to something that is more in line with reasonable expectations for the tourney.
FOUR! Now not making the Final Four will be okay, if it comes to that. We'll all be like "okay, Sweet Sixteen or whatever pretty good, program keeps moving in the right direction let's get some age up in here."
FIVE! Pat Chambers is having a pretty good day, and he seems like a nice dude.
SIX! why do i have these sores all over my body
SEVEN! If you don't remember what you did I'm pretty sure you can't be prosecuted for it. Michigan's defense in this game should start hitting itself on the head with mallets tout suite.
EIGHT! I was going to be out of town for that Indiana game anyway.
NINE! Kenpom stopped doing his weekly recaps so I don't have to see Michigan featured in both the "biggest upset" and "unlikeliest comeback" categories.
In related news, FUUUUUUU
That doesn't start moving off of 90% Michigan win until the game tied, at which point Kenpom thought Michigan was… 80% likely to win.
TEN! In this trying time I have discovered a terrific support group of people who will come through for me in the event that I become addicted to heroin to forget this game.
ELEVEN! that aint even close to true im just talking about my wifes cats one of whom is a dick
TWELVE! I am fulsome in the glow of life today. Yea, truly the miracle of my existence is made clear, because now I can compare that to something precisely as unlikely as random chemicals coming together in a self-sustaining, evolving process that leads to intelligent life in a empty, cold, hostile universe full of nuclear explosions and little else.
THIRTEEN! The team shot 66% from two!
FOURTEEN! I have a job that is rather flexible when it comes to hours kept, so I did not have to wake up at seven this morning to go into work. This would have been awkward because I was boxing a donkey at that time.
FIFTEEN! Allegedly boxing a donkey.
SIXTEEN! Officer, I have never seen that donkey in my life, nor did I kick its donkey ass six ways to Sunday at seven AM, but if I had I would like you to trust my judgment as to how necessary this alleged vicious beating was.
SEVENTEEN! It may have been Tom Zbikowski in fact.
EIGHTEEN! Basketball is stupid anyway, and is for stupids, and this is not at all a reaction to the events presented me. I am totally in control of my brain.
NINETEEN! also butt
So… that happened. The offense was basically fine except for some crappy three-point shooting and excessive turnovers. Kenpom shows Burke with six(!), which seems vastly wrong. As mentioned, they shot 66% from two, and against Penn State 1.13 PPP should be enough to win the game. /Northwestern 2000'd
The defense. Jebus. Even if you want to set aside the 50% three-point shooting, which you probably shouldn't since Jermaine Marshall didn't have a bad look, Michigan forced just nine turnovers and put Penn State on the line 27(!!!) times to their 20. Jordan Morgan's return did little to staunch the bleeding; it was in fact Morgan going gonzo trapping a guy who shoots 44%/25% that opened up many of the floodgates.
I'm sure that Morgan was told to do this. I don't have any idea why. Those traps did nothing except force Michigan to play 4 on 3 once they were broken, as they always were. This led to fouls and open threes. It's asinine. It is a Tubby Smith substitution pattern. Morgan is outside the three point line—way outside—and this unbalances the defense to such an extent that it's almost impossible to recover. The alternative is a softer hedge that maybe gives up a pull-up jumper more often but… this is Newbill we're talking about. That's a shot you're trying to get.
Meanwhile, Stauskas caused Beilein to channel Bo Ryan momentarily. As I've been saying for a while, Michigan's lack of fouling is actually a symptom of a passive defense that does not force the issue much. Stauskas is the king of not fouling, and that's to the team's detriment. He could have put a Penn State player on the line in transition; instead he just got out of the way and gave up the layup.
In this one we got the passivity (9 TOs for PSU) and put the opponent on the line.
Zone. Michigan should have at least tried to go zone in the first half when Penn State was shredding that hedge. Penn State is not good at basketball and teams like that tend to have no idea what to do when they are faced with a different defense. Sticking with man to man seemed like a thing Michigan was trying to practice in the home game against Penn State; here it ended up costing them.
The wrong direction. Michigan's defense is definitively headed in it. That doesn't make sense given the youth of the team—they should be improving faster than more veteran outfits. The Morgan injury may have something to do with it, but he played 24 minutes in this one and Michigan still got torched. The problems are many.
|WHAT||Michigan at Penn State|
Happy Valley, PA
|WHEN||6:30 PM tonight|
|LINE||Michigan –15 (Kenpom)|
Pat Chambers's prayers have not, to date, been answered. Picture via Onward State.
Penn State remains Penn State, the worst team in the league by some distance thanks to Tim Frazier's exploded achilles and the fact that Trey Burke is not in Happy Valley—considering alternate universes where that is a reality and Frazier is not hurt is a mindblowing pastime.
Ace's preview covers the Nittany Lions in detail and reality has changed very little in the intervening week and a half. DJ Newbill is a huge-usage player who puts up a lot of bad shots because he has to; Jermaine Marshall is the Robin to his Batman and also takes a lot of bad shots because he has to; anyone else putting the ball up is a good idea unless it's on a putback or it's Nick Colella getting a good look at a three.
In the first game, Penn State put Michigan's defense to as much of a sword as they're capable, putting up 1.1 PPP thanks to decent shooting inside and outside the arc and a 15/17 performance from the line. Michigan struggled to contain center Sasa Borovnjak on the pick and roll; he ended up acquiring 17 points without having to create in the post much himself. Jordan Morgan's presence will help cut those opportunities down—if he's healthy.
Other than that, there's a reason Penn State finds itself where they are.
Penn State is still without a conference win but it's worth noting that they do seem to have turned a corner. They have left Depressing Blowout Street for Wrenching Close-ish Loss Avenue, sure, but it is something that their last three games have been defeats by two, eight, and five points with the latter two on the road against tourney-bound Michigan and Illinois.
The Illinois game was a slow-paced grinding in which Borovnjak again picked up 17 points on efficient shooting—checking him will be important.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||41.3 (12)||19.7 (11)||29.7 (9)||31.6 (7)|
|Defense||49.3 (9)||16.4 (10)||29.2 (5)||61.0 (12)|
Though still horrible, Penn State has picked up almost a point and a half in eFG% since the last preview post in this space—they are getting better. Sort of. Thanks to their epic hackathon at Crisler they've actually gone 2.5 points in the wrong direction when it comes to giving up free throws.
Ace covered most of the fun stuff in the first post, but to recap, this is a team that shoots 28% from three and 41% from two and is 345th nationally at avoiding opponent free throws. Yeesh.
Stop the pick and roll. Major issues with this fueled Penn State's competitive first half in Ann Arbor, and those issues continued into the Illinois game until Morgan came off the bench and ran around and did Jordan Morgan stuff. Having Morgan healthy will help; it would also be super nice to see Horford and McGary improving in this department.
Keep 'em outside. Jump shooting is just the worst for Penn State. I guess an uncontested three is kind of bad but given the way these guys put it up, a jump shot is about as likely to lead to a transition opportunity for Michigan as it is points for Penn State.
Hit your free throws. Oh, there will be free throws. So many free throws.
Don't, like, lose to Penn State. Yeah man.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 15!
2/17/2012 – Michigan 79, Penn State 71 – 22-4, 9-4 Big Ten
Y U NO PLAY DEFENSE (Bryan Fuller)
A home game against Penn State is supposed to be a laugher, and on one side of the ball it was. Michigan put up 1.2 points a possession even without the participation of their centers—literally. McGary, Horford, and Morgan combined for zero points in 43 minutes. No one really noticed because Glenn Robinson III spent most of the day playing NBA Jam and Nik Stauskas was so much more than a shooter that it took five or six drives before something akin to "Not Just A Shooter" got exhumed by the announcers. Michigan did what it does, on one side of the ball.
On the other side of the ball, raise your hand if DJ Newbill's umpteenth only vaguely resisted drive to the basket in the first half caused you to exclaim a variant on "you have got to be kidding me." That's everyone.
Now raise your hand if that exclamation included a swear word you invented on the spot. That's probably just me, but it got bad. Michigan turned to Matt Vogrich in the second half. Since Stauskas was going off this was presumably a move to shore up the defense; Vogrich promptly lost his guy and gave up open corner threes on consecutive possessions. The first one was a reaction to a bad McGary gamble, sure. The second… dot dot dot. At many points Penn State should have been down 15, and the scoreboard said they were down by 3 or 5.
This felt bizarrely familiar to me, and I figured out why: I've watched a lot of NC State this year. This game was disturbingly reminiscent of watching the Wolfpack play. This is not good. You get a window into the psyche of another fanbase when you adopt them as Michigan-by-proxy, and I think NC State fans are pretty pissed off that their combination of players is barely over .500 in a weak ACC. I kind of hate them myself because they combine some breathtaking talent with total indifference on defense. They can beat Duke; they can give up 86 points to Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.
Finding a shadow of that team in this Michigan outfit that was until recently cruising towards a one-seed is not fun. This is analysis! This is Thunderdome!
Oh, but that shadow is there. Click the conference-only checkbox on Kenpom and you get a shocking splash of red:
Michigan is easier to shoot against than anyone in Big Ten play. Easier than Nebraska. Easier than Iowa. Easier than Penn State. Easier than Illinois despite Illinois playing with big men that may in fact be ghosts. Easier than the crippled husk of Northwestern.
Northwestern is the Rasputin of the Big Ten: shot, stabbed, poisoned, shot again, trampled by horses, chucked in the river. Finally dead and bloated, they are aimlessly floating towards the next life. It's harder to shoot against them than Michigan.
It gets worse when you consider the low number of transition opportunities Michigan provides since they're so responsible with the ball on offense. It has nothing to do with possibly-meaningless three-point shooting, at which Michigan is perfectly average at defending. It is entirely because they are also dead last at keeping twos out of their basket. It's repeatable stuff that the stats are probably not fully encapsulating. It is Not Good. (This is analysis this is Thunderdome.)
Earlier in the year a few people sounded the alarm about Michigan as a national contender, citing its defense. I said "but look at the outlying offense and wait for the defense to maybe move up a bit, Michigan is for real." That's a tough case to make right now. The offense has given up its massive lead and slid back to third; the defense has gone the wrong direction.
When DJ Newbill has a band in ten years they will be called The Unresisted Forays Into The Crisler Lane, man. Sound the alarm. It's time for a hard look at drastic actions, whatever those might be. Waving your hands in the general direction of a shooter is a start.
From Bryan Fuller:
Threes. They feel not random. The numbers say they are. Opponents' three point shooting since the start of Michigan's brutal stretch:
- Indiana: 7/18, 39%. Season average: 42%.
- OSU: 7/16, 44%. Season: 37%.
- Wisconsin: 10/24, 42%. Season: 34%.
- MSU, 7/20, 35%: Season: 35%.
- Penn State: 6/18: 33%. Season: 30%.
It has felt like Michigan is giving up open look after open look and is getting scorched from deep. The result of this feeling: approximately three extra makes across five games, so far within the province of random noise that Autechre is jealous.
Way back in the ur-blogging days when Big Ten Wonk was an anonymous man with a large vocabulary and not John Gasaway we had a conversation about whether or not the fact that Michigan's opponents were raining in threes at a hellacious clip during a particular Amaker campaign was luck or not. I said yes, he said yes but only partially, and I eventually came around to his point of view. Any short-term blazing above 40% will regress.
Lately, Kenpom has been on a crusade to declare three-point shooting defense to be totally random. I entered this section planning to write that I felt streaks like Michigan's recent one were earned, and now I don't know what to think.
- Michigan is average at defending three pointers (7th in the league, 99th nationally) but gives up a lot (10th in the league, 293rd nationally)
- Their eFG% on threes is 50.4, which is in fact worse than their horrible 2-point defense, so the combination of these two things does make their eFG D worse.
Inside the line or out, pick your poison.
Another thing that doesn't seem right. Newbill ended up 3/10 from two. The guy who hurt Michigan was Sasa Borovnjak at 7 of 9, mostly on uncontested rolls to the basket. Michigan's rotations were late and sometimes the pick and roll guy was making the dump inside, which is a big no-no. When Michigan hedges, they play it such that if the guy getting the ball screen can toss it to the big, they're done. Too much of that in this one.
Trey. Dang man, 29 points on 16 shots—and four extra possessions with free throws, something we actually have to adjust for after this one—five assists, and zero turnovers. A couple of shots bugged me, as they were taken with no hope of an offensive rebound, but the efficiency speaks for itself.
Stauskas. Not Just A Shooter was in full effect as Stauskas picked up 12 points inside the line on perfect shooting—3/3 from the floor and 6/6 at the line, though IIRC one of those trips to the line was a non-shooting foul at the end of the first half. He also added four assists. The only thing he didn't do well was shoot the J, going 2/6.
I did have further frustrations with him on defense, and it seems like Beilein did too since we got to see Vogrich unearthed. That was the equivalent of a frustration foul.
GRIII: hello again. A series of highlight-reel dunks against a porous defense and Robinson is back. His success in this one only highlighted the reasons he'd disappeared in the previous few games: he's a top-quality finisher who rarely takes a bounce to get a shot. If put in a situation where he has to make his own shot, he defers. Once or twice a game he will go at the basket himself. That's all.
That's fine, but after the tough stretch it seems like far too much of Michigan's shot creation is on Burke's shoulders. Stauskas does a good amount for a third option; Hardaway not so much and then Michigan gets almost none from the 4 and 5 aside from putbacks.
Not so good: Hardaway, centers. Hardaway didn't shoot well. Okay, it happens.
The centers were a little bit more alarming. The shooting is one thing. They went 0/5 in 43 minutes. The rebounding is another: just 3 and 3 as Penn State outrebounded M 31% to 22%. Defensive rebounding is the only thing that Penn State actually does well (5th in conference; they have no other above-average factors) so I guess that's expected. But combine those numbers with Penn State's frequent dump-ins to Borovnjak—which are usually the hedger's fault for providing a passing lane or not getting back once the ball screen recipient tosses it to another perimeter player—and it was rough day.
I'm torn on Morgan. On the one hand, I'm hoping that Morgan's ankle is still bothering him extensively and he shouldn't be playing because then the fact that he seems like he's not offering any help to the beleaguered defense has an explanation. On the other, I'd really like him to be full strength posthaste. At least Michigan doesn't have a midweek game coming up. Hopefully he'll be ready by Illinois.
End of half heroball update. Burke was forced into the backcourt by his man, then trapped as he crossed the line, causing him to dump the ball with time running out and getting Michigan another terrible shot. Because Burke wasn't taking it, it did not go in.
What is the point of those end of half timeouts? All of them seem to consist of "Trey, go do something" and 28 seconds of staring at each other. I would prefer something with a second option like "Nik, go do something" or "Tim, go do something."
This week's refereeing outrage! Er, it actually went in Michigan's favor as Newbill picked up a critical third first-half foul on something that was not even close to a charge.
How do you fix charges? I don't know. Newbill's first charge was legit, as he plunged his shoulder into Stauskas and knocked him back with an arm, but this caused Pat Chambers to have a conniption fit because Stauskas didn't collapse into a Duke-like pile of flop and shame. His second was not, but did feature a guy getting bowled over. I think I'd change the rule so that feet had nothing to do with it except when it comes to getting outside the circle. It's a charge if the guy nails you directly in the chest, and a block if it's to the side. Expand the no-charge circle a bit and make the reform that Jay Bilas is always on about where if you move under a guy who's already in the air it's a block. And explicitly make simulating a charge a foul.
Anyway: Michigan got to the line a whopping 35 times after games of 2 and 6 FTAs. This is because Penn State is not at all subtle in their hackathon, for which I commend them. Unmissable foul perpetrators of Happy Valley, the honesty in your illegality is award-worthy.
Here is an award.
Uniforms. I liked them.
|WHAT||Penn State at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan –25 (Kenpom)|
Right: Yeah, it's been that kind of year.
Last year, Penn State was about as close as it's going to get to a one-man team—point guard Tim Frazier had one of the top ten usage rates in the country and dragged the Nittany Lions to a 12-20 record (4-14 B1G). The good news for PSU was that Frazier would return for his senior season. The bad news was that they were still expected to finish at or near the bottom of the conference.
Then, just four games into this season, Frazier was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Penn State still managed to get by with an 8-4 start fueled by a soft nonconference schedule, but since then they've lost all 12 of their Big Ten games, half of them by double digits.
Two of Penn State's guards will almost never leave the court—both D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall play over 85% of available minutes. Newbill has taken over Frazier's role of primary ballhandler and playmaker, averaging over 16 points and four assists per game, but with poor shooting numbers (45% from two, 20% from three) and a decent number of turnovers. Marshall spends more time on the perimeter but isn't exactly a sharpshooter, hitting 43% from two and 31% from three.
Rounding out the starting backcourt is 6'3" guard Nick Coletta, who joined the team as an open tryout walk-on after spending parts of his first semester on campus as a practice player for the women's team. Coletta is extremely low-usage and barely goes inside the arc, attempting just 11 two-pointers all years (he's made three); he's mostly a spot-up shooter, connecting on 32% of his threes.
6'6" forward Ross Travis is the team's best rebounder on both ends. He's also having a brutal season on offense, hitting just under 40% of his twos while going a Ronnie Johnson-esque 5-for-38 from downtown. He's joined in the frontcourt by 6'9" forward Sasa Borovnjak—the only Nittany Lion with an offensive rating above 100 aside from Frazier—who hits 51% of his shots (all twos) and has remarkably low rebounding numbers for a post player.
You get the picture. There's a reason this team hasn't won a conference game and isn't projected by KenPom to have better than a 14% shot at any of the remaining games on their schedule.
Mostly covered above. Penn State's has just two wins over KP100 opponents, one in overtime at a neutral site against #59 Providence when Frazier was still healthy, the other by three points at home against #64 Bucknell. Their next-best win came against #182 Army, and their last win of any kind came in 2012.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||39.9 (12)||19.2 (10)||29.1 (10)||31.6 (7)|
|Defense||49.1 (10)||16.9 (9)||30.4 (5)||58.5 (12)|
Those numbers paint a clear enough picture of a terrible team—I'm having a difficult time even fathoming how a team can foul that much on defense—but here are some others:
- Shooting (offense): 40.4 2P%, 25.7 3P%, both dead last in the Big Ten.
- Shooting (defense): 47.9 2P%, 34.4 3P%
- Opponents score 29.2% of their points at the free throw line, far beyond the D-I average of 20.3%. When non-conference games are included, they're third in the country in that stat, and that's not one where you want to be at the top.
As a result, Penn State has an offensive efficiency of 86.9 and a defensive efficiency of 106.3 in conference play. They lost at home to Nebraska. I feel mean just talking about Penn State basketball.
Don't embarrass yourselves. Please.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 25
Losing this game would redefine "debacle" and make Michigan fans pine for the days of getting merely humiliated in East Lansing. This seems very unlikely to happen.
Nobody else has posted a preview yet. Given the opponent and the fact that I'm writing this on a Saturday, that makes a certain amount of sense.