WIN THE GAME!
|WHAT||Michigan (25-7, 15-3 B1G) vs. Michigan State (25-8, 12-6)|
|WHERE||Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana|
|WHEN||3:30 pm Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Kevin Harlan
Analysts: Greg Anthony/Steve Kerr
Right: Tom Izzo, in a rare moment of restraint. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Michigan can cap off the rare three-game season sweep of Michigan State with a win. Oh, right, and secure the Big Ten Tournament title and almost certainly the final one-seed in the Big Dance.
Michigan got a combined 63 points from Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, and Glenn Robinson III, turned the ball over just three times, and played MSU even on the boards in a 79-70 win at Crisler. State played some weird guys because Brandon Dawson went Hulk-mode on a table. Caris went running. Keith Appling's wrist prevented him from properly contesting a series of Stauskas jumpers. Or something.
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||11||Keith Appling||Sr.||6'1, 185||71.5||22.5||110.6|
|Averaging 5.5 points over last 8 games with 33 assists and 21 turnovers|
|G||14||Gary Harris||So.||6'4, 210||72.8||26.1||113.7|
|High usage and high efficiency, great defender, should match up w/ Stauskas|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||So.||6'5, 225||73.0||18.7||108.1|
|Point forward type, solid rebounder, error-prone, not a great shooter|
|F||22||Branden Dawson||Jr.||6'6, 225||47.9||19.1||119.8|
|Putback machine, also great on defensive boards, blocks shots, not a creator|
|F||5||Adreian Payne||Sr.||6'10, 245||53.9||26.8||111.6|
|Very effective near basket or outside, decent rebounder and shot-blocker|
|F||10||Matt Costello||So.||6'9, 240||35.3||13.9||126.6|
|Excellent shot-blocker and offensive rebounder, shoots 62% from field, foul-prone|
|G||20||Travis Trice||Jr.||6'0, 170||51.7||16.8||116.6|
|Excellent outside shooter, poor inside finisher, decent assist rate, not good at D|
|F||30||Kenny Kaminski||Fr.||6'8, 225||25.2||15.0||135.8|
|Pure stretch four gunner, great shooting numbers, tiny rebounding rates|
|G||3||Alvin Ellis||Fr.||6'4, 195||19.2||15.2||91.8|
|Role diminished since Appling's return, no points (0/3 FG) since February 20th|
Crap, I actually have to write this from scratch because the last one was all about Dawson's absence, Payne playing Michigan for the first time this season, and Appling's wrist.
Point guard Keith Appling has played a lot of minutes since returning from his wrist injury eight games ago, but his production hasn't been there—he's averaging 5.5 points per game in that span on 16/28 two-point and 2/9 three-point shooting. While he's willing to attack the rim—and still pretty effective in that regard—he hasn't shown much confidence in his outside shot. The opposite goes for his backup, Travis Trice, a 45% three-point shooter who hits just 38% of his attempts inside the arc. Appling is the superior defender; Trice is doing a better job of taking care of the ball of late.
Gary Harris is really good at basketball. You know this. While he hasn't had a huge game in the BTT, he's still been quite efficient, and he's also MSU's best perimeter defender. After what Stauskas did to Appling the last time out, Harris should match up with him for most of this game.
The proverbial wild card is Denzel Valentine, who does a little bit of everything as a 6'5" small forward who can also run the point. That includes a new-found outside shot (37% 3-pt) and a surprising number of defensive rebounds; it also includes Izzo-aneurysm-inducing turnovers. His versatility allows MSU to play small if they want—when they need shooting, they'll put out a lineup with him at the four.
For the first time this season, Michigan will face both Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne. Dawson is a beast on the boards, generating the majority of his offense on putback opportunities or open looks created by his teammates. Payne is equally threatening on the block or beyond the arc, though he's been inconsistent since returning from a foot injury that cost him seven games. Payne scored five points on 2/8 shooting with six rebounds in their quarterfinal win over Northwestern, then bounced back today with 18 points on 7/10 shooting—albeit with just four boards—against Wisconsin. His conditioning seems to be an issue.
Matt Costello provides shot-blocking and solid finishing at the rim off the bench. If MSU wants more of an outside shooting threat at the four, they'll bring Kenny Kaminski—35/71 on threes this season—into the game instead. Gavin Schilling is liable to play a few minutes and commit a few fouls—he had four in eight minutes(!) against the Badgers. Alvin Ellis sees spot minutes at guard; he's been a non-factor for the last month.
After losing to Michigan at Crisler, State closed out the regular season with a seven-point loss at home to Illinois, a ten-point home defeat of a reeling Iowa squad, and a two-point loss at Ohio State.
Michigan State is first in the conference in three-point shooting while taking the fourth-most attempts. This is real life. They're also a strong offensive rebounding team with Dawson back in the lineup. Turnovers are an issue for them, however, and they don't get to the line much at all.
The Spartan defense is giving up lots of three-point attempts themselves and seeing a solid chunk (36.3%) of those go in. What separates them from Michigan, though, is impressive defense inside the arc, ranking second in the league in 2P% against and first in block rate. They are very foul prone, though striking a balance between attacking their bigs and generating two-point looks that don't rely on bailout calls can be difficult.
Dare Appling to shoot. The biggest defensive adjustment for Michigan in their win over Ohio State was bringing a hard double-team onto LaQuinton Ross whenever he got the ball; they were able to do this because Aaron Craft can't shoot. Appling has been Craft-esque from beyond the arc—both in percentage and willingness to fire—since his injury. If Michigan can get away with sagging off of him while giving extra attention to Harris, they should do it.
Keep the rebounding close. Michigan managed to win the rebounding battle in the first matchup and keep it even in the second, though as every State fan/television announcer will tell you, they haven't had to face both Dawson and Payne yet. I don't expect Michigan to crash the offensive glass much at all; they're going to need some help from the perimeter players on the defensive boards to get this done.
Win the turnover battle. Here's how Michigan can make up for any extra possessions MSU generates with their rebounding: take care of the dang ball. They're much better at this than the Spartans on the average day, though they got a little sloppy today against the Buckeyes (admittedly, a better turnover-forcing squad than MSU). In a game that should be close, the Wolverines can't afford to waste possessions and give up easy buckets on the other end.
Michigan by 1
WIN THE GAME!
The game doesn't count, because they are fully healthy and we aren't and THAT'S NOT FAIRRRRRR!
Man, if MSU wins tomorrow, I shutter to think what my Facebook feed will look like...
But honestly, MSU is playing well, but they certainly didn't obliterate Wiscy like some would make you believe, and their defense certainly hasn't improved significantly even with everyone healthy. I sense Beilein has a plan, and it will be interesting to see how guys like Dawson and Payne handle a third game in 3 days given their noted conditioning issues.
73% from 3 was MSU this season. While he has had to good games this tourney, I think it is time for him to get around 25. Caris will do Caris things and if GR3 can keep playing well, we should have this.
Can't wait! Gonna be a lot of fun!
Keith "Still not 100%" Appling
Michigan by 1 in another game sure to take years off my life
Ace, you should consider adding a section to these previews where you predict which role player on the other team will inexpicably have a career game against us. It seems to happen every game.
draft choise tomorrow. . .
At risk of saying something pro MSU, Valentine has stepped up his shooting a lot in the past 6-8 games. He is draining a lot of 3s which when we played them in EL he was not. I think his turnaround started around the time they played UM In AA as I thought he was their best player on the floor. He has been draining 3s in both games this tournament (albeit one against a bunch of guys who will be working at Ernst and Young in 12 months). Looking at his last 7 games he is 24-44 (54.5%) from the field and 13-25 (52%) from 3. You have him listed as a "not a great shooter" - thats pretty impressive for the type of shots he takes which are not usually of the dunk or 5 foot variety like Dawson takes all game. He is sort of that age when guys begin to put it all together in college.
Trice is also playing probably the best Ive seen him this year right now. They have a lot of weapons when secondary guys like Trice start lighting it up. Kaminsky is like their Irvin - does nothing but shoot and also seems to be warming up lately.
What? Kaminsky? He plays for Wisconsin man and even then him and Irvin aren't comparable
Oh you meant kaminski. Sorry your miss spell made me sound like an asshole.
I think one of the main keys is keeping Jordan Morgan in the game and out of foul trouble. With Dawson and Payne (and Costello) they are going to have 3 guys who rebound big time, and if Morgan is out the dropoff to Horford has been significant. I would not like to see Horford in other than when Costello is in frankly at this point. If we see Morgan with 2 fouls early in either half its going to diminish our chances significantly as the rebounding situation will get dire. Not to mention what little interior defense we pretend to play.
Think GR3 and Walton needs to have a big games as Nik and Harris will offset, Caris and Valentine offset, and Morgan will have hands full with Payne. Irvin with 10 pts would also help.
This is Michigan's game to win. No excuses. Come out with a passion and kick their asses. WIN THE GAME
I was intially bearish on this matchup. In the last hour or so, I'm feeling better about it. We have more guys playing better offensively than they do with GRIII and Lavert contributing more as of late.
They have two guys that really worry me - Payne and Harris. And Payne finally had his first good game today (against bad interior defense). Dawson still isn't right. We fucking own Appling - shit, he's practically an embedded Wolverine over the course of his career. Staee may go off on us, but I'm feeling pretty zen about the matter.
It's LeVert, not Lavert - he's a man!
Tough to chase their shooters and protect the paint when they are at full strength. Got to crash all 5 on D-boards, must hit our FT's and have to hope our bigs can stay out of foul trouble. On that last one I really feel they're going to come right at us in the post and driving to the well and why not OSU was getting to the rim at will. I want to say M with the W and I know we're capable of dong this but this one's a toss up if I've ever seen one. Could you imagine ever beating Staee and ohio 5x in one season? If I had a magic lamp/3 wishes I may have wasted one of my 3 on the very scenario these guys are in a position to pull off. Amazing.
Our three games in this BTT have been with the team we 'better' match-up with (I think that we would have rather played Illinois/OSU/MSU than Indiana/Neb/Wisconsin). Obviously it's not going to be easy as evidenced by our first two games but I think I would much rather we play state than Wisconsin.
If we come out shooting like we did against Ohio, I like our chances...if we start cold and slow they will smell blood and I fear a blow out and a 2 seed. I know they say this game means a lot to us because it's a tourney championship, but it means sooooooo much more to Sparty right now...don't have a good feeling.
Sadly I agree with you. For a lot of reasons they need to win this game and they are as close to full strength as they've been all year. I watched them beat the shit out of a very good Wisconsin team yesterday and thought about the match-ups being not our friend today.
They are going to come out with something to prove to themselves and the rest of the country. For us to win we're going to have to match that energy early and then hope like hell our shooters stay hot for the whole game (a repeat of Illinois #1 would be nice) and not just for short stretches of time.
And i dont care what anybody says - if we lose this game we're a two seed.. No 8 loss team that got beat in the Conference final has EVER been put on the one line and we wont be the first today. If we want a one seed (and I'm in the camp that thinks that's still a bit of a longshot) we need one more win. And that last regular season win might be the toughest game we've played all year.
Due to the timing if the game and the committee, we're a one seed regardless. This is a game with little meaning to michigan beyond the pride in beating Izzo and his funky bunch (again again). For State the game means everything (again again). Just play well, no injuries and someone please run over Izzo when he's on the court.
I beg to differ. We are most certainly not a "one seed regardless" and the committee will wait till the game ends to slot us. My guess is that there will be two open slots for us and Villanova and depending on what happens this afternoon we will get either the one or the two seed and they will put Nova in the other opening.
I will bet anyone a million-billion-trillion-bazillion-katrillion rubles that we are not the first 8 loss eam in NCAA history to get a one seed with a loss today.
You could be right but I'm inclined to trust Lunardi, who does this for a living. And if we're the #2 seed...eh, not much difference.
Just to be clear I trust Lunardi too (especially now near the end) but it's my understanding he has us on the #1 line as of this moment - not independent of what happens this afternoon. I agree that if the season was over we'd be on the one line.....but it's not over so there is still work to be done.
BTW....for an interesting read spend a few moments on RCMB. Based on the posts and comments it looks like we'll be lucky to keep the game with 20 points.
On espn last night, Lunardi was saying that the timing will give us the 1-seed as long as we are in the game. I guess if we were getting trucked, they'd have time to consider that, but that's not happening.
It's funny that State fans think it'll be a blow out. I heard the same in the first game and then the second game ("we're gunna kill you with Payne back").
My interesting side note, if Brendan Gibbons played basketball at Michigan, would he not be the big story? If so, what about Payne and Appling playing ball when the Feds investigate MSU's response to old rape allegations?
That's not what he said.
This morning on ESPN he said that Michigan will be a 1-seed. He said he believes we'll be a 1-seed win or lose, but he definitely phrased to so that it was clear that it is possible a loss could drop us, he just thinks a loss won't drop us.
The timing has nothing to do with it.
As been said (with evidence) a million times, the comittee will have several brackets ready to go that correspond to the possible outcomes of the final couple games.
Huh? You're telling me that "not what he said" last night...because you watched a different segment this morning? Good for you. Last night (the segment I mentioned), he very specifically said that the timing is such that we'll be the #1 regardless of outcome, "as long as we're in the game". You have an issue, call Joe.
All that said, It makes almost no difference. We're likely looking at being in the same bracket either way.
Villanova has no chance at a 1 seed. Your logic is flawed. You say MIchigan can't get a 1 because they may lose to MSU in the finals but you say Villanove may get a 1 seed while losing to powerhouse Seton Hall early in their tournament.
Am I the only one who doesnt care if they are the 4th #1 seed versus say the 2nd #2 seed? or any #2 seed that goes to Milwaukee? If they are a #1 seed their 1st round games are farther away for travel purposes and the difference between playing a #4 (as a #1) or a #3 (as a #2) in the Sweet 16 are quite immaterial assuming the #4 or #3 even advance in that bracket.
I think fans obsess a bit too much about seeding (first world probems) - the only legit thing I would obsess so much about is avoiding a 4 seed so you dont have a tough #5 in the 2nd round and then a potential #1 in the 3rd round (and yes i am using old school "rounds" rather than the new fangled ones)
I think it would be cool from just a perspective standpoint. Look at where we were 5 years ago and now we may get a 1 seed. Tweet from Valenti below:
The fact michigan might be a 1 seed is amazing. Incredible coaching job and development. Sickening but respect it.
1-seed is important for many reasons, but all obvious. A game against an 8-seed is better than a game against a 7 seed. A game against a 4 seed is much better than a game against a 3 seed.
It only "doesn't matter" if you assume they'll make that 1v2 game, which of course is a huge assumption.
but feeling better now...
...in the present tense, at least.
I do think it's important to beat Staee & shut up their "injuries" whining (tho they'll still whine). Not so much just to shut them up, but b/c the press seems to eat it up.
I'm not so much worried about a #1 or #2 seed -- I do think rest in between will be important, so a #2 seed in the Midwest would have advantages -- but doesn't Kansas have that spot p. much lockup up?
My reaction to today's set up is like "eff, another game we have to take care of", rather than being able to put in minimum effort & concentrate on getting ready for the Big Dance.
But for sure, we CAN take care o' business -- it'll take everything, to be sure -- but we can do it. Our defense is tightening up -- makin' balls slippery n' all -- GRIII is awake, as are LeVert & Stauskas, and we've enough talent that blooms at different times.
Speaking of... go Walton! Go Irvin -- you're our secret weapon. Use that Indiana magic to neutralize your nemesis-for-this-game!
Today we are going to beat these guys for a third fucking time, cement our standing at the top of the state, and come home with a BTT championship.
I expect Spartan hearts to be broken today.
After reading a couple of MSU fans prattle on about how this time it's "different" because MSU is "finally" at full strength (ignoring the Mitch in the suit, mind you), I just want this game to be over. I care less about who wins (UM won the regular season; congrats to MSU for winning a whole 3 games in a row for the first time since January), only that their fans can stop being idiots and finding even more excuses why their super-team underperformed.
Don't sweat it. Regardless of result, State will have to play by non-B1G rules soon enough, so Izzo will have a whole new thing to complain about from his couch.
What will Izzo's excuse be this time if they lose?
For what it’s worth, as of now, Crashing the Dance projects Villanova as the fourth number one seed, with Michigan getting a two seed. The comparisons:
A win today makes Michigan 26-7 and 11-4 vs. the RPI Top 50 (15-5 vs. Top 100); a loss today changes that to 10-5 (14-6). Their worst loss is to 149th Charlotte by two on November 24 in the final of the Puerto Rico Tip Off when Glenn Robinson III played only nine minutes and Mitch McGary with his bad back played 30 minutes and scored only six points, but had nine rebounds and four steals. Charlotte’s win made them 5-1; Michigan dropped to 4-2.
Villanova is 27-4 and 4-3 vs. the RPI Top 50 (15-3 vs. Top 100). Their worst loss is by one point to 132nd Seton Hall on the buzzer beater in the Big East quarter finals at Madison Square Garden on March 13.
In the "how the mighty have fallen" category, one-time, projected top seed Syracuse (2-5 in their last seven games, with two of the losses at home to teams ranked 157th and 207th in the RPI) is now projected as a four seed. Yet Syracuse is still 14-3 vs. the RPI Top 100 and 7-2 vs. the RPI Top 50.
Undefeated and projected one seed Wichita State is a great team, and many are expecting them to return to the Final Four; but they’re only 3-0 vs. the RPI Top 50, 11-0 vs. the RPI Top 100 and 14-0 vs. teams ranked above 150. Their best win is on the road over St. Louis (RPI 26) on December 1. Are they NCAA tournament tested? They last faced an RPI Top 50 team (42nd ranked Tennessee) on December 14. Their three conference tournament games were against the teams ranked 212, 85 and 72 in the RPI.
...to win today, there would have won both the regular season and tournament in the undisputed (Kenpom, RPI, Sagarin) top conference. There is little doubt that Michigan would be the last 1 seed.
That's why I prefaced my comments with the words "as of now."
Beating Michigan State three times in one season (and Ohio State twice to make it 5-0 against Michigan's top rivals) while winning the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament championships after having lost a pre-season All-American due to a serious back injury for most of the season, and having had to replace two NBA first round draft choices who were instrumental in leading the team to the NCAA Championship Game in 2013 -- that all adds up to a number one seed in 2014.
Coach Beilein takes players and makes them better. Didn't get the 4 and 5 star recruits? No problem, we'll make some. Look at LeVert and his improvement. Incredible. Probably the best coach hire since Bo in football.
I love me some Beilein and think he's amazing with talent identification and player development, but let's remember that he has done a great job with recruiting. GRIII was a 5*, Mitch a 5* (though injured, which doesn't count because he doesn't play for State), Stauskas a 4*, Zak Irvin a 5*, Derrick Walton a 4*, etc.
We've got the best of both worlds - an awesome coach who develops players, many of whom are high level recruits.
Imagine if the Tournament Committee seeds the East Region (with Sweet Sixteen games at Madison Square Garden) with Villanova (1), Michigan (2), Louisville (3) and Syracuse (4). If those seeds held up, they’d be getting the Michigan and Syracuse NYC area fanbases, plus bringing in three teams from the Old Big East (and a head coach who used to run an Old Big East team) and three of last season’s Final Four teams.
They'd have Jay Wright, John Beilein, Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim manning the dais at the Sweet Sixteen media day and four of the 15 Wooden Award finalists (Nik Stauskas, Russ Smith, C. J. Fair and Tyler Ennis.) That might make for an interesting postscript to ESPN’S 30 for 30 documentary tonight, Requiem for the Big East. And Manhattan’s ticket scalpers would rejoice.
We all want Michigan to win but, IMO, it's gravy if they do. If they get last 1 seed, they won't be in Midwest. Perhaps they still will as the 2. Beating a good team 3 times in a season is not easy. It doesn't diminish Michigan's accomplishments if they don't. However, it would be pretty devastating emotionally to State to lose 3x to Michigan. Hopefully, Michigan is playing loose and MSU is a little tight.
Question: because we're playing today, while most other college teams are off, are we more likely to get a Friday first-round NCAA game instead of Thursday? Does the committee take that into account?
The answer is no but there have been a few coaches advocating such rule be put in place.
Were gonna have our hands full.