and... i like them? I think I like them.
Remaining Games Chart:Difficulty calculated by averaging rankings and weighting for home/road/neutral game sites.
- MSU and Ohio are teams of indistinguishable difficulty albeit different playstyles. B1G is just brutal this year.
- Worst major conference record of a team that still made the NCAA tournament was 7-9. Illinois (3-7) has a good shot at breaking that record.
- Still have no clue what to make of upcoming series against MSU, hope for a split I think.
- Pitt and Arkansas both had big wins that don't so much help Michigan's SoS as it does help Michigan by keeping the 1-seed line a little bit more accessible.
- Michigan has 4 "tough" and 4 "winnable" games remaining.
- Upcoming Penn State games will be a welcome breather, should be able to get the team well rested for a strong homestand finish against MSU and Indiana.
- Michigan has the "best" losses among all of the top-10 teams in the country.
Path to B1G Conference Title:
- Beat Wisconsin.
- It's tough to envision a scenario given road game difficulty that doesn't land Indiana, MSU and Ohio all at 4 losses a piece.
- A big key will be getting Morgan healthy and back into game speed over the Penn State stretch.
- My earlier prediction was any team finishing 15-3 wins outright, 14-4 gives a shot at a split. This still looks to be precisely the case past the halfway mark in conference play.
- All of the top five teams in the conference are in the conference title race, it's any of those teams' to win.
- Beat Wisconsin. It will effectively knock them out of contention.
Special Feature - Path To The Most Wins In Michigan BB History:
In 1989 Michigan won 30 games en route to a National Title. In 1993 Michigan won 31 games (but later vacated the season).
Michigan sits at 21 victories with 8 regular season games remaining, a conference tournament that didn't exist twenty years ago, and a shot at a favorable seed for a deep NCAA run.
I'll let someone else run the win probabilities but eyeballing from the chart above Michigan can safely assume a worst case of 4-4 to end the year. They would then need to reach the BTT finals and the Elite 8 to tie for their best (non-vacated) win total in history. This is remarkably within reach.
If we assume a bit more optimism that Michigan will go .500 in their "tough" games and they finish out the season 6-2 they'll reach 27-4 and a shot at Michigan Basketball History will be well within reach.
The thing to take away from this Michigan team, about to face two more Big Ten contenders on the road, is that Michigan's only losses have come from the absolute best games from Top-10 rival teams on the road. And they kept it close both games despite absorbing (or allowing depending on your opinion) ridiculous runs to start each game.
Does Wisconsin (yielded 1.2ppp against Creighton and Florida) have an elite defender like Craft or Oladipo that can force Burke into an inefficient day? I personally don't think so.
I think Michigan wins for the first time in fourteen years up in Madison and carries the #1 ranking up into East Lansing playing with house money for the B1G Conference Title and a shot at their best season ever.
Duke fans chanted "how's your grandma" as Tyler Lewis (aka McHobbit), who just lost his grandma (with whom he was very close), shot free throws. Certainly not all the students were doing it, but sounds like at least 100 of them. I'm sure KG approves - everyone else should not be surprised.
I wonder if Grant Hill will write a sanctimonious op-ed blaming this on Jalen Rose.
Indiana @ Illinois, tipping off now 7:00 ET, ESPN
N.C. St. @ Duke 9:00 ET ESPN3 (WTF, this is really not on a cable network??!)
And for basketball enthusiasts here's a good night to catch the sneaky good Oregon team in action....Colorado @ Oregon 10:00 ET ESPNU
Go Illini! (Let's not hold our breath)
Specifically the last one?
Not surprisingly, Trey Burke has been named one of twelve midseason finalists for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Here are the twelve:
Keith Appling — Michigan State UniversityLorenzo Brown — North Carolina State UniversityTrey Burke — University of MichiganAaron Craft — Ohio State UniversityMatthew Dellavadova — Saint Mary’s CollegePierre Jackson — Baylor UniversityShane Larkin — University of MiamiPhil Pressey — University of MissouriPeyton Siva — University of LouisvilleMarcus Smart — Oklahoma State UniversityMichael Carter-Williams — Syracuse UniversityNate Wolters — South Dakota State University
There's a fan vote component, and you can vote for Burke here.
The player that receives the most fan votes will receive one vote toward the final committee vote. Fan voting will run one month – beginning February 7th and will conclude March 7th.
The five finalists will be announced on March 11.