hoops opponent watch
Iowa State - #3 Seed, East
Other than the Raiders of the Lost Ark-style rolling boulder of death that is Michigan State, it’s a pretty favorable draw for Iowa State. They get North Carolina Central, North Carolina Classic, and Villanova (which is probably in North Carolina, but I don’t feel like checking). They have the horses to run with anyone (Melvin Ejim was the Big 12 player of the year over Andrew Wiggins). I’ve got them in the Final Four, despite none of these games being played at Hilton.
Dook - #3 Seed, Midwest
If both survive, Michigan will meet Duke in the Sweet 16. This one will be in Indianapolis, which is a long way from Cameron. That should help. But Jabari Parker will be there. So that won’t help.
Arizona - #1 Seed, West
The tournament’s second overall seed, they might kind of have a cakewalk through their region. Wisconsin hasn’t been past the Sweet 16 in a decade. Neither San Diego State nor Oklahoma is particularly scary. Creighton has the potential to be an aerial death-bringer, but if Doug McDermott doesn’t have four good nights in a row it’s hard to see Creighton in the Final Four, and four good nights in a row is asking a lot.
I wouldn’t worry too much about late season losses to Oregon and to UCLA in the PAC 12 tournament; this is a team that seems to have found some balance and returned to form.
Stanford - #10 Seed, South
Stanford returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons, ensuring in the process that Michigan DID beat a tournament team in the non-conference schedule. Their opening round matchup with New Mexico features two of the biggest teams in the country. If they survive that matchup, they get also-tall (though Embiid-less) Kansas. Tough to see them making it to the Sweet 16, but they probably accomplished their goal for the season, so it’s house money from here on in.
Florida State #1-seed, NIT
In Which We Look At Brackets
To clarify, this is NOT A RANKING, and should not be deemed an attempt to supplant the wisdom of Angry Michigan KenPom Defiance Hating God. It is simply a rundown of tournament teams, and the natural way to list such teams is by seed order.
Again, for the avoidance of doubt: not a ranking. Just a list. Organized by seed.
Michigan - #2 Seed, Midwest
Opening Round: vs. #15 Wofford. The Terriers were 20-12 in the Southern Conference. They have one KenPom top-200 win this year… against #200 Elon. Ace has you covered with a preview, but sufficed to say that this one is not scary, which should scare you, because it is March.
The Draw: Gets the winner of Texas/
Kansas Arizona State [ED: Must avenge bowl game...] in the second round, probably #3 Duke in the Sweet 16, and probably the winner of #1 Wichita State and #4 Louisville in the Elite 8.
Thing: It’s a rough draw to after the opening weekend, that’s for damn sure. My theory is that the Committee basically said that if they HAD to give Wichita State a 1-seed, they would. And they threw them in a region with their second highest 2 seed (a team that was in the running for a 1-seed like an hour before the brackets came out), and their highest-rated 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 seeds. Subtle, that.
Thing They Are Like: A team with some unfinished business.
[AFTER THE JUMP: More teams playing in various tournaments. Also Indiana]
RPI Effect Only Teams
UMass-Lowell lost to… aw, screw it. GRIII things.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (23-7, 11-7 Big 12)
This week: Beat Oklahoma State (85-81 OT)
Based on a the interweb mock brackets, there’s a fair-to-moderate chance that Michigan might get another shot at Iowa State, this time outside the friendly magical confines of the Hilton Arena Convention Center thingy. The Committee generally dislikes rematches, but right now Michigan is a high 2-seed and Iowa State is a low 3 seed, so it could happen.
If they DO end up as a 3-seed, they can thank Oklahoma State’s failure to come over to #TeamFoul. OSU was up 3 when they missed a free throw with five seconds left. So, instead of fouling, they gave a 39% three-point shooter (Naz Long) an open look. He promptly tied the game. If you were curious, Long is a 62.5% free throw shooter. FOUL, MAN. FOUL
Florida State (18-12, 9-9 ACC)
This week: Lost to Syracuse (74-58)
#7 Dook (24-7, 13-5 ACC)
This week: Beat North Carolina (93-81)
Like Iowa State, Duke is another possible Sweet 16 matchup for Michigan (they’re currently projected at around a 3 seed). Like Iowa State, a hypothetical rematch would be on neutral turf instead of a very hostile road venue. Unlike Iowa State, please don’t make us play these bastards again.
#4 Arizona (28-3, 15-3 PAC 12)
This week: Lost at Oregon (64-57)
Yeah, they lost to Oregon, but unless they lose their quarterfinal matchup to Utah, they’re a lock for a 1-seed. KenPom has them as 7 point favorites to get there, though Utah did play them close twice (including an OT game in February). And even if they lose that game they’re probably STILL a 1-seed.
Stanford (19-11, 10-8 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Utah (61-60)
They’re probably in. But I’m more concerned about KenPom’s description of their defense:
“Coach, can you explain your defensive philosophy in the second half?”
“Well, we didn’t think we were very effective in man-to-man, so we went with what we call our ‘shiny object’ set, which is sort of a hybrid man/zone concept where everyone just kinda guards the person near them until they see someone else open and then they guard that person for a while. Or if they get bored or want to be on the other side of the court for a while, they can do that too. The closest traditional comparison would be a triangle and one with a single-high safety.”
RPI Effect Only Teams
If you care, Michigan played the following teams: UMass-Lowell (10-18), Houston Baptist (6-23), South Carolina State (9-19), Coppin State (10-19), Long Beach State (13-15), and Charlotte (15-13). But while I don’t want to say these games didn’t MATTER, they didn’t, you know, matter. Except the Charlotte game, because blerg. Michigan’s fate will be determines by larger narratives. Not many people are going to hammer too hard on RPI when you’re talking the difference between a 2 seed and a 3 seed. So, let us move along.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (22-7, 10-7 Big 12)
This week: Lost @ Kansas State (80-73); Lost @ Baylor (74-61)
Michigan probably moved ahead of Iowa State for good by virtue of Iowa State’s rough week. Bracketmatrix has them as the last 3 seed, it’s unlikely a home win over bubble team Oklahoma State (side note: how did THAT happen?) would get them past Michigan.
Florida State (18-11, 9-8 ACC)
This week: Beat Georgia Tech (81-71); Won @ Boston College (74-70)
Florida State met two necessary conditions for an NCAA bid this week. Losing to either of those teams would’ve probably been the end of things for the Seminoles. The good news is that Syracuse also seems very beatable, so it’s possible for Florida State to close strong. The problem is that now a win over Syracuse wouldn’t bring the cache it would have two or three weeks ago, so they might still need to do some work in the conference tourney.
From a Michigan standpoint, though, FSU doesn’t really matter all that much anymore. No one cares about your 6th best win, and pretty much Michigan's entire seeding case rests in its conference schedule. So if you’d really like to see some more #Nebrasketball, you might be hoping they drop their last couple of games to clear some room at the bubble.
#4 Dook (23-7, 12-5 ACC)
This week: Lost @ Wake Forest (YTWF) (82-72)
This was a gift on a number of fronts. Duke’s loss potentially leaves some wiggle room for Michigan to move up to a 2-seed. Also, Duke’s loss was a loss for Duke, which is a win for Not Duke. We are Not Duke. So, let’s compare the two teams right now:
|Record||KenPom||Losses (KP ranks)||Best wins (KP)||Is Duke?|
|MICHIGAN||22-7||10||1, 8, 11, 12, 28, 69, 182||11, 12, 13, 17, 17||No|
|DUKE||23-7||8||1, 6, 14, 23, 51, 92, 113||2, 10, 14, 15, 25||Yes|
I dunno, that’s close.
#3 Arizona (28-2, 15-2 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Stanford (79-66), Beat Arizona State (74-69)
It's hard to blame Arizona for a less-than-dominant performance against ASU. They'd clinched pretty much everything there was to clinch (PAC 12 title, #1 seed in the PAC 12 tourney, likely #1 seed, helped RichRod kill the 10 second rule), and sometimes it's hard to get up for games that don't much matter.
One potential cause for concern is depth. Arizona is really only rolling about 6 guys deep, which is working fine for them now, but if they run up against a team that draws a lot of fouls, it could be an issue. But no, Michigan isn't one of those teams.
Stanford (18-11, 9-8 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Arizona (79-66); Lost to Colorado (59-56)
According to Bill Walton (who called the Stanford/Colorado game), Stanford's loss is a lot like the Punic War if it was fought by Muppets; you're not sure where they got the weapons, but you can't expect them to be back in time for lunch.
I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that, but Stanford's bid is in real trouble. Bracketmatrix had them as a 10-seed before the loss to the Buffs, so they still have some work to do. And not that it matters, but it would be nice for Michigan to have at least ONE win over a tournament team from its non-conference schedule.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Michigan, and all the teams that finished behind Michigan because Michigan finished ahead of everyone who isn't Michigan]
RPI Effect Only Teams
RPI is dumb. It is overly simplistic, dumb, unhinged from reality, and stupid. But because the Committee looks at RPI, and this section is called “RPI Effect Only Teams,” We may as well look at RPI. Ugh.
Two teams are as bad in the RPI as they are in the bouncy shooty areas. Out of 351 teams, Houston Baptist (6-22) is #344, and South Carolina State (9-17) is #334. These are terrible teams in hindsight, and they were terrible when they were scheduled. UMass-Lowell (9-18) at #286 and Coppin State (9-18) at #254 are mildly ahead of their KenPom rankings, but is also remain very very bad. On the other hand, Long Beach State (12-14) at #150 is behind their KenPom ranking (110). Charlotte (14-12) is at #163, which you’ll probably see several times in the coming weeks because DAMN YOU, PUERTO RICOOOOOOOO.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (22-5, 10-5 Big 12)
This week: Won @ TCU (71-60), Beat West Virginia (83-66)
Michigan and Iowa State continue their bracketology pas de deux, duking it out for one of the final 3-seeds. Iowa State is still projected to lose two more games (trips to Kansas State and Baylor).
Florida State (16-11, 7-8 ACC)
This week: Won @ Pitt (71-66)
The Seminoles are going to be a bubble team right to the end here. A win over Pitt puts them back in the picture, but they probably need at least four more wins. They have Georgia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, and the ACC tournament left, so the clock is not their friend.
#6 Dook (23-6, 12-4 ACC)
This week: Beat Virginia Tech (66-48)
We ran into a serious glitch in the Matrix this week, when someone dared to pick against KenPom:
Like Norlander has a feeling about Bradley, I have a feeling about Virginia Tech tonight. Sorry, Dukies. #UpsetAlert
— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) February 25, 2014
I feared this would be one of those space-time continuum things, but just like in Back to the Future, those rules apparently don’t apply. Then again, I’m not sure there was much, even a KenPom-initiated KenPom jinx, that could have affected the outcome of a game between Duke (who is good at basketball) and Virginia Tech (who is okay at football). The lowest win probability Duke had all night was 97.5% when VaTech closed the gap to 3-2 about 90 seconds into the game.
#3 Arizona (26-2, 13-2 PAC 12)
This week: Won @ Colorado (88-61), Beat Cal (87-59)
Okay, so maybe I was a little quick on the "Arizona is dead" trigger. They plowed a couple of decent (like Minnesota/Nebraska-level) teams in Colorado and Cal. It appears they finally found a tactical solution to the absence of Brandon Ashley, and that solution is "have Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon and let them do things."
Stanford (18-9, 9-6 PAC 12)
This week: Beat UCLA (83-74) [EDIT: and lost to Arizona State in the middle of the night, (76-64)]
Bracket folks seem to have Stanford around an 8-seed right now, which probably means they’re going dancing barring an epic collapse.
[AFTER THE JUMP: The Big Ten picture becomes clearer]
As Seth pointed out last week, my weekly columns tend to be written at a 9th or 10th grade level. At first I was surprised that the number was that low, as that is about nine or ten years (and $74 Million of student loans) worth of education less than I currently claim on my resume. But as I started to think about it, I became concerned that the number may be too high. After all, if there are 10th graders in this country who use sentences like “LULZ Indiana is teh suck” or “why doesn’t Indiana shoot good at shooting,” we as a nation are in serious trouble.
So, in light of this fact, we will try to be a little more informative and hifalutin this week. I understand that by doing this, we may put our children at a competitive disadvantage against other countries when it comes to cat meme knowledge and Seinfeld references, but these are the risks one takes when trying to advance knowledge.
RPI Effect Only Teams
UMass-Lowell (8-17) lost to Stony Brook. Given enough time, black holes eventually vanish into dispersed radiation. Houston Baptist (5-21) lost to Oral Roberts, beat Central Arkansas. An electric eel can produce a shock of up to 500 volts. South Carolina State (9-16) lost to North Carolina Central, but beat North Carolina A&T. One third of the MGoEditorial Staff are currently producing human beings. Coppin State (9-16) lost to Florida A&M. The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets. Long Beach State (11-14) lost to UCSB but beat Cal Poly. Quinoa is, scientifically speaking, the best of all the foods. Charlotte (14-10) lost to Marshall. Koalas sleep nearly 22 hours per day.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (20-5, 8-5 Big 12)
This week: Defeated Texas Tech (70-64); Defeated Texas (85-76)
As they say, you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer as long as they remain behind you in the mock brackets. Michigan may need to start cheering against Iowa State, as the Cyclones are right next to Michigan in the Bracket Matrix’s aggregate standings.
Florida State (15-11, 6-8 ACC)
This week: Vanquished Wake Forest (67-60); Succumbed to North Carolina (81-75)
Like Gulliver in a land of angry Lilliputians, these giants have been slowly felled by a series of tiny blows, none of which are fatal by themselves, but when added together leave a team clinging to the underside of the bubble. The latest strike was a squandered 15-point lead against North Carolina. Beating the Tarheels might have been enough to salvage things for the Seminoles, but as it stands it looks as if they might have to take down a Brobdingnagian Syracuse squad or make some serious noise in the ACC tournament to climb back into consideration.
#5 Duke (21-6, 10-4 ACC)
This week: Defeated Maryland (69-67); Defeated Georgia Tech (68-51); Lost to North Carolina (74-66)
For Michigan fans watching Duke take on Maryland, an image may has struck a dissonant chord.
Your eyes do not deceive, dear reader. That is Evan Smotrycz defending Jabari Parker. Less than two years ago it seemed possible that such a matchup may take place in a Michigan/Michigan State game, Parker bested Smotrycz for 23 points and 8 rebounds, though the Terrapins actually had a shot to win this game with under ten seconds left.
Duke then dropped the re-scheduled game to arch-rival North Carolina, and take on Syracuse on Saturday. Quite the stretch for Duke. I know you all shed tears.
#4 Arizona (24-2, 11-2 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Arizona State (69-66 2OT); Beat Utah (67-63 OT)
Arizona’s offense simply hasn’t been the same without Brandon Ashley. Of the five games they have played without him, four are among their eight worst offensive performances of the year. They’re probably still a 1-seed, but even that isn’t a lock at this point.
Stanford (17-8, 8-5 PAC 12)
This week: Defeated Washington State (69-56)
Some things in life cannot be adequately described on paper. The deeper meaning is lost in translation between deed and word. However, “defeated Washington State” is almost never one of those things.
RPI Effect Only Teams
Last night Seth and Ace embarked upon a great adventure to find a player on Kenpom whose % of minutes played is greater than his ORtg. This is incredibly hard to do since an ORtg under 90 is a black hole of offensive efficiency that a coach won't play unless he's forced to. They found one, and almost a second on Bowling Green, which is MAC-ese for "Northwestern". The next-closest: UMass-Lowell (8-15)'s D.J. Mlachnik. This is beautiful in its horror:
Michigan did their part for the Mlachnik Project: he played 32 minutes in which he was 0-5 from the field with 2 turnovers, but 6/6 from the line. %Min: 80, ORtg: 69.
UML is projected to finish at .500 in the fifth-worst of the 32 conferences, the America East. Last night they were creamed by AmEast leader Vermont. Houston Baptist (4-20) has lost eight straight games in the sixth worst conference, the Southland. South Carolina State (8-15) is below .500 in the second worst conference, the MEAC. Coppin State (7-13) is 6-5 in the second worst conference. I’m running out of ways to describe the badness of these four teams.
Long Beach State (10-13), on the other hand, is right in the thick of the Big West Conference race along with UC Irvine and UCSB, and Charlotte (12-7) is in the middle of the pack in Conference USA.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (18-5, 6-5 Big 12)
This week: Beat TCU (84-69); Lost @ West Virginia (102-77)
Iowa State… well, they had themselves a week. On Saturday, Melvin Ejim dropped 48 points (on 24 shots) and 18 boards on TCU, and the Cyclones beat up on the not-very-good Horned Frogs. They then proceeded to get absolutely musket-whipped by West Virginia.
Toward the end of the game in Morgantown, things got interesting. ISU center Dustin Hogue, perhaps fooled by Ejim’s one-guy-scores-all-the-points thing into believing they were now playing by NBA Jam rules, grabbed the rare offensive rebound/ribcage kick combo. The refs didn’t blow the whistle on the Cobra Kai, so West Virginia responded with a more traditional head-smash. The referees only called a goaltend, because as we all know that is the only illegal activity that can be whistled in NBA Jam.
Florida State (14-10, 5-7 ACC)
This week: Lost @ Maryland (83-71), Lost to Miami (YTM) (77-73)
The luster has fully worn off of Michigan’s win over FSU. The Seminoles are very much in danger of missing the NCAA tournament after a home loss to Miami. And this isn’t the Kenny Kadji/Shane “Barry Larkin’s Kid” Larkin/ Durand Scott Miami team. This is the don’t-have-a-single-starter-shooting-over-50.5 eFG% Miami. If FSU doesn’t sweep Wake and UNC this week, they are in much trouble.
Dook (19-5, 8-3 ACC)
This week: Won @ Boston College (89-78), Lost to Ice.
Duke’s offense has gone to plaid. Their current KenPom offensive efficiency of 128.6 would shatter the current record of 124.0. Two other teams remain within striking distance of that number: Creighton at 123.6 and Michigan at 123.7.
|You’re not actually supposed to smoke Tobacco Road.|
Their rivalry game with North Carolina was postponed last night because of the South's continuing adventures with ice and snow. The problem for Duke is that the game was moved back to February 20th, which means they will have a game at Georgia Tech on Tuesday, at UNC on Thursday, and against Syracuse on Saturday. Syracuse, on the other hand, has a cupcake home game on Wednesday, so they might be much fresher for the big showdown in Durham.
#1 Arizona (23-1, 10-1 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Oregon 67-65, Beat Oregon State 76-54
Arizona is adapting to life without Brandon Ashley, and they are decided favorites in every remaining game in the regular season. This is both a blessing and a curse, as they should cruise to a 1-seed, but they possibly won’t get many stern tests of their new rotation until the postseason.
Stanford (15-8, 6-5 PAC 12)
This week: Lost @ Washington (64-60)
That one hurts Stanford’s tournament resume. They’re probably still in, but they’re sliding toward true bubble territory.
[in which a jump takes to you to the Big Ten stuff]