The Michigan women's basketball team has an important home game today vs. #25 Purdue, tipping off at noon and televised on the BTN. The Wolverines beat the Boilermakers in convincing fashion earlier this year in West Lafayette, 65-49. A win today would translate into Michigan's first season sweep of Purdue since the 1997-98 season. Purdue is now playing without their leading scorer, KK Houser, who suffered a torn ACL a week ago. Despite the loss of Houser, the Boilermakers beat OSU on Thursday, 74-58.
Michigan is currently tied for fourth in the Big Ten, and I think any run at the conference title is unlikely given the team's youth and inexperience and a very tough schedule down the stretch. That schedule, though, provides the team with four golden opportunities to pick up signature wins to enhance their NCAA tourney resume. In addition to today's game, the remaining schedule also include matchups against three other top Big Ten teams (and teams with top 50 RPIs)—Nebraska, Iowa, and Penn State.
If the Wolverines can win two of those four games and win the other two upcoming games (road tilts against Indiana and Illinois), that might be enough to get them in. That would put them at 19-10 overall, give them a couple more signature wins, and boost their RPI. They really need to improve their RPI to have a chance at a berth, as it currently stands at around 80. Winning four of the last six would give them a 10-6 Big Ten record and probably put them in fifth or sixth place. That would mean a first-round BTT game against one of the lesser teams, giving them a good shot at 20 wins.
Massey has today's game as a close one, with Purdue predicted to win 72-69. The win probability for Michigan is 43%.
I figure people are pretty tired of the basic "this is unacceptable, ______ is playing terrible" stuff. Not that I'm innocent of it, but I feel like it's worth talking about what's actually going on.
So: this topic is for substantive discussion.
Similarly to last year, the Big Ten has come up with a solid way to beat us. Basically, it looks like this: make Stauskas work on every catch, which throws him out of rythm. When he tries to use a pick, blitz him with both guys - you either get a turnover or a reset back to the point. Nik is the only guy who can get Morford involved, but he's struggling to find them when he gets blitzed. And even if he could, catching mid-post isn't ideal for either of them.
This is where we miss Mitch so, so much. He can catch in the mid-post and distribute in a way Morford will never be able to do. Moreover, he's actually a tiny bit of a pick-n-pop threat, which is the best way to beat teams that double on the ballhandler. When you roll every time, like we do, these teams can double with impunity.
When you eliminate this part of our game, it becomes a slog. Walton is so talented, but still uncomfortable with taking the reins. Caris can go solo, but that's not a viable long-term offense, even within a single game. Glenn needs to be fed in good positions, pure and simple, and that doesn't happen without ball movement.
I can't emphasize the number of ways we miss Mitch McGary. You can't switch 1-5 with him on the court like Indiana did with Morford, because throwing it in to him against a point guard is actually a viable strategy. And his high post passing is fantastic: that doesn't even touch on what he does for our rebounding and energy.
What to do moving forward - all I can think of right now is start running pick-n-pop action with two wings. For example, have Stauskas handle with Caris or even Walton/Spike setting the pick, and have them pop out instead of rolling. If you try to double Nik with that action, you're gonna be playing 4 on 3. That can't be an every time thing, obviously, but the threat needs to be there or Nik is never going to get a clean look the rest of the Big Ten season from the halfcourt.
Good news is that the Big Ten has really good coaches and really good defense, and they know us inside and out. We're almost always surprisingly look in March against teams who aren't as ready.
Chime in, folks, I'm curious what people think
Definitely a disappointing game, but games like this sometimes happen. They can't miss a 3 and we cant buy one. Beilein is a great coach, and our players have been stepping up all year. Nobody thought we'd be tied for first in the Big Ten after Mitch went down. Sometimes, you just have to try to get better and make the best out of a game like this.
Instead, we have embarassing posters all over the game thread calling specific players awful, embarassing, sucking shit -- one guy said Michigan should just get off the court about 3 minutes into it. When did this board turn into RCMB? I sort've understand the angst in football since we haven't been consistently good in years (one good year, not consistently good) but our basketball team won a Big Ten title in 2012 and went to the Championship Game last year. We have a bad first half during a regular season game and suddenly our kids are all shit and an embarassment to the University? How fucking spoiled is this board? Michigan Basketball has performed well above expectations for 3 straight years, stop acting like you are entitled to win every game played and if we don't that means the kids can go to hell.
Hey guys - I made some predictions at the beginning of the year for the Big Ten season and I've been tracking the results versus the expected outcomes... Here's the link:
And here's the current standings along with the deviations so far from expected:
Go Blue! And don't forget to watch right now on ESPN!
There was some debate a few days ago over whether McGary's Twitter message meant that he was rehabbing. We need debate no more. He recently started doing what Coach Beilein guesses must be "very, very" light work with the team's doctors.
A couple years ago I posted something about the effect of a new arena on a MBB team -- it dramatically and demonstrably increases that team's winning. I had studied the annual records of Staee, OSU, and Wiscy. Each of them had middling records prior to each of their new hoops arenas, then within 2-3 years of opening Breslin/VCA/Kohl, a dramatic uptick in annual wins occurred. Staee was the perfect test case -- Heathcote was the coach for years before and after Breslin opened, so the difference certainly had a lot to do with the new arena. OSU was the opposite; I think Ayres was let go right about the time VCA opened. But there was no question, the new arena really helped the overall record for each team.
UM could be said also to benefit from the "remade" new arena, as our team's competitiveness has increased around the same time as the "new" arena. Obviously Coach B's growing influence has a lot to do with that. But you can sell your team to recruits based on the soon to be opened arena, and I would think Mitch and GRIII could well be part of the benefits of the remodeling (at least indirectly -- a recruit can have confidence in a program's legitimacy by having a spankin' kickbutt arena). Another team you can say also is benefitting from remodeled arena is Iowa -- had been really bad for years, Carver-Hawkeye got a multimillion remodelling job in 2011, and now a couple years later the team is getting much more competitive. Again, however, the contemporaneous coaching change makes this a less-than-perfect test case.
So now we have Nebraska as the new example. Last year, watching them, I said that they were 2 years away from being ranked, given their new arena opening and their new coach. I'm still thinking I was right. They are a BITCH to play in Lincoln now; they just can't play on the road, yet. But at some point next year, they could well be 10-1 or 11-2 or something and get ranked, and then end up 9-9ish in the B1G.
Am I making this up, or would anyone agree that the new arena in Lincoln is going to help create a Minnesota-ishly quasi-dangerous MBB team over the next few years. And what's that say about the future competitiveness of Illinois, Purdue, PSU, etc., who are stuck in old arenas.