at least it's not just us?
Friendly advice on a philosophy of watching college basketball from a Kansas grad:
Despite being a Michigan fan through-and-through, I attended KU as an undergrad. Why am I telling you this? Well, Mr. Spanish Inquisition, I am telling you this because it was while attending KU that I learned important lessons about following college basketball, lessons that I list below (and that you can of course take or leave). I've meant to post this at some point, and now seems as good a time as any given last night.
A quick note about KU: KU can lay claim to being the Michigan of college basketball. KU’s first coach, for example, was Dr. James Naismith himself, who course invented the game after the indoor dachshund fights that he had organized for his students led to the loss of a number of fingers and eyes. Kansas can also lay claim to Forrest “Phog” Allen (the father of basketball coaching), Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, and William S. Burroughs (the "Gentleman Junkie Jumpshooter"). More, KU has more than 2,000 college basketball victories, consistently dominates the Big 12 (and the Big 8 prior to that), has three national championships and numerous Final Fours to its name, and…you get the idea.
Naismith, moments before realizing that his over-sized ball fit into his basket:
KU fans have understandably high expectations for their team, and this is where the important point is for us: Hardcore Kansas fans are a largely joyless and unhappy bunch. The theory of hedonic adaptation posits (this is the short version) that humans will return to a certain baseline of happiness regardless of their circumstances, and, though hedonic adaptation is not universally recognized as a psychological reality, Jayhawk fans certainly seem exhibit it. They find little happiness in victories – even when those victories are in games that clinch a regular season conference championship or a conference tournament championship. These victories, after all, are expected. They happen most years. Kansas fans are accustomed to them, and what excitement is there in the status quo? The Kansas fan finds little to enjoy in the humdrum realities of simple excellence. Why should we clap when the sun comes up? It comes up every day.
KU fans suffer terribly, though, with almost any loss. Given that KU is supposed to win, it can only be the team’s own failures, the refs, or some cruel trickster god that could cause them to lose. Rarely is an opponent acknowledged as being better than the Jayhawks, and this leads to much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth among Kansas fans. Lose to Oklahoma State at home? How did that happen! Lose to Oklahoma? WTF – is this 1988? Lose to TCU? Is “TCU” even a thing?! These lows are rare, but they sting far more than the victories soothe, and they often last for the whole offseason. “There’s no success like failure,” Bob Dylan sang, “and failure is no success at all.”
Here is where my friendly advice comes to you, my fellow Michigan fans: Do not be like a Kansas fan. Think of every un-played game as a loss (it is, after all, not yet a win). Every game and every play must be won anew, and there is no guarantee at all that Michigan will win any of them. Remember that only five or six years ago Michigan was in the middle of a season that would see them lose to Harvard, Western Kentucky, and Central Michigan, all while winning only six Big Ten games. Remember that every team is like a snail walking on the edge of a straight razor, its destruction possible in any number of ways and its success possible in only a small few.
See this man for more on snails on straight razors:
Further, and for the love of all things holy, do not ever expect your team to make it to the Final Four. In 1996, Kansas fielded a 34-2 team that included Jacque Vaughn (2x consensus All-American), Raef Lafrentz (2x consensus All-American), and Paul Pierce (1x consensus All-American – and also Paul freakin’ Pierce). They promptly lost in the Sweet Sixteen. Kansas then went 35-4 the next year but lost in the second round to Rhode Island. Rhode Island! The tournament is chaos, and you cannot expect anything of chaos. Not even a juggernaut can expect safe sailing.
I imagine that someone will say, “We should expect nothing less than championships from Michigan, or we’ll never get them.” To this I say that we as fans don’t have to have those expectations. The players and coaches do, but we as fans are doing our part so long as we show up to all of the games and yell really loudly. No one will know it if we roll with the punches and savor even victories over the Penn States of the world.
I am not trying to comment here on the status of the Michigan basketball program or make any predictions about it. I am, though, encouraging Wolverine fans not to get caught up in Kansas Fan Syndrome, where success and the expectations that come with it lead to almost nothing but misery. Relish every win or even good play if you can and consider any defeat to be only a return to the likely state of things. Don’t suffer the pain of having your expectations torn down – instead have no expectations.
I should say one more time that I offer this as friendly advice (and I also don’t mean to imply that I’m always able to follow my own advice). And if you don’t find this helpful, well…that’s cool, man. Here are some of Naismith’s fighting dachshunds for your troubles:
So last night sucked, we all know that. But I am seeing a whole lot of negativity and despair from some people on here over one bad loss. So I feel we should look for the positives on this team and focus on the good things that are coming up ahead, rather than dwell on negativity and hatred.
Here are my silver linings in the wake of last night's loss, what are yours?
- We went 1-3 in a brutally tough stretch of the schedule, a stretch many were expecting us to finish 2-2 at best. In that stretch we faced 3 top 10 teams.
- We are still undefeated at home.
- We are still undefeated at neutral site games.
- We are not eliminated from B1G title contention.
- We can and will still win the conference tournament, because it is neutral site.
- The rest of the month should allow the team some time to rest, heal, and regroup with only 3 games in the next two weeks, two of which are against Penn State.
- We won't have to worry about road games in the B1G tourney or NCAA tourney, they're all neutral site, where we are currently undefeated.
- Last year's team lost on the road as well, and went 13-5 in conference.
- The past few games probably guaranteed that GRIII will be back next year.
- We won't have to deal with B1G refs after March 17th.
- MSU still sucks as a school.
- Both Duke and Florida, two other teams that may be one seeds, suffered embarrasing losses as well, to Miami and Arkansas respectively.
Cheer up people, it's just a bad loss, it's not the end of the world!
Tonight sucked and if I didn't do this, I'm not sure I would have been able to talk myself off the bridge. Today’s game was an atrocity, but Brady Hoke said it best: “The number one goal is to win a Big Ten Championship.”
Luckily it was only one game and only counts as one loss. If we can somehow put the pieces back together (a major IF after the past 4 games), we can still be in a position to win a B1G championship.
Humor me for a moment with this. Here are the current standings:
TEAM CONF GB OVR
#8 Michigan State 10-2 -- 21-4
#1 Indiana 9-2 0.5 21-3
#20 Wisconsin 8-3 1.5 17-7
#4 Michigan 8-4 2 21-4
#13 Ohio State 7-4 2.5 17-6
Minnesota 5-6 4.5 17-7
Purdue 5-6 4.5 12-12
Illinois 4-7 5.5 17-8
Iowa 4-7 5.5 15-9
Northwestern 4-7 5.5 13-11
Nebraska 3-8 6.5 12-12
Penn State 0-11 9.5 8-15
After pulling up the remaining schedules of the top 5 B1G teams, I ran predictions on each matchups and labeled each matchup by 3 categories: Likely Win, Possible Win, Possible Loss (there were no Likely Losses). I then assigned three final conference records: Predicted Record, Worse Case Record and Best Case Record. Predicted basically assumed all Likely and Possible Wins Resulted in Wins, all Possible Losses resulted in Losses. Worst Case means the team only won the "Likely Wins", and Best Case means the team basically ran the table the rest of the season.
Obviously this isn’t a science, but I basically gave the benefit of the doubt to most of the good home teams (and was a little tough on Michigan). Even so, after seeing what other teams have to go through the rest of the year, I still see that championship in the distance if we win big games down the stretch.
*big games in bold
MSU (Currently 1st)
2 Likely Wins, 3 Possible Wins, 1 Possible Losses
Predicted Conference Record: 15-3
(Worst case 12-6, Best Case 16-2)
Feb 16 - @ NEB – Likely Win
Feb 19 - vs #1 IND – Possible Win
Feb 24 - @ #13 OSU – Possible Loss
Mar 2 - @ #4 MICH - Possible Win
Mar 7 - vs #20 WIS – Possible Win
Mar 10 - vs NW – Likely Win
Indiana (Currently 2nd)
3 Likely Wins, 3 Possible Wins, 1 Possible Loss
Predicted Conference Record: 15-3
(Worst case 12-6, Best Case 16-2)
Feb 13 - vs NEB - Likely Win
Feb 16 - vs PUR - Likely Win
Feb 19 - @ #8 MSU - Possible Loss
Feb 26 - @ MINN - Possible Win
Mar 2 - vs IOWA - Likely Win
Mar 5 - vs #13 OSU - Possible Win
Mar 10 - @ #4 MICH - Possible Win
Wisconsin (Currently 3rd)
4 Likely Wins, 1 Possible Wins, 2 Possible Losses
Predicted Conference Record: 13-5
(Worst case 12-6, Best Case 14-4)
Feb 14 - @ MINN – Possible Loss
Feb 17 - vs #13 OSU – Possible Win
Feb 20 - @ NW – Likely Win
Feb 26 - vs NEB – Likely Win
Mar 3 - vs PUR – Likely Win
Mar 7 - @ #8 MSU – Possible Loss
Mar 10 - @ PSU – Likely Win
Michigan (Currently 4th)
2 Likely Wins, 2 Possible Wins, 2 Possible Losses
Predicted Conference Record: 12-6
(Worst case 10-8, Best Case 14-4)
Feb 17 - vs PSU - Likely Win
Feb 24 - vs ILL - Possible Win
Feb 27 - @ PSU - Likely Win
Mar 2 - vs #8 MSU - Possible Loss
Mar 6 - @ PUR - Possible Win
Mar 10 - vs #1 IND - Possible Loss
Ohio (Currently 5th)
2 Likely Wins, 3 Possible Wins, 2 Possible Losses
Predicted Conference Record: 12-6 (Worst case 9-9, Best Case 14-4)
Feb 14 - vs NW - Likely Win
Feb 17 - @ #20 WIS – Possible Loss
Feb 20 - vs MINN – Possible Win
Feb 24 - vs #8 MSU – Possible Win
Feb 28 - @ NW – Likely Win
Mar 5 - @ #1 IND – Possible Loss
Mar 10 - vs ILL – Possible Win
What say you MGoPeople? We ready to do this, or what?
EDIT: Typos have been fixed
It is probably not too early to start this up. I love the team and the success they have had this year so far, but in order to go far in the tournament they've got to step it up.
The lack of physicality on this team is a noticeable issue - they have gotten eaten up inside by teams with a halfway decent big man.
Trey Burke is the only one who can create offense for others. No other players can penetrate to the hole with regularity. You slow Burke down and Michigan suffers.
You're not going to get very far on jump shots alone. Take it to the hole.
EDIT: The defense is average at best. Get in front of someone and cut off drives to the hoop...PLEASE.
Let's hope for a strong second half showing to close the gap.