If you're gonna go please be in the first round.
Hoops Opponent Watch: Everyone Loses
Chaos! This feature doomed Florida the moment it declared the Gators a one-seed lock, and then things got weird. Indiana blew a lead against Illinois. Kansas lost to TCU(!) and followed that up with a loss to Oklahoma to establish their first three-game slide since the Cretaceous. Michigan went down to Wisconsin thanks to a half-court shot. Duke is the only projected one-seed from last week to make it through unscathed, and they ended up beating 10-13 Boston College by one measly point.
The top teams are coming back to the pack, changing what seemed like a simple matter of four teams for three spots into a much more open battle. Kansas is probably done at this point. That TCU loss is an anchor. Miami, Gonzaga, Arizona, and Syracuse are now in the conversation. While The Bracket Matrix's one-seed projections are unchanged from last week, Crashing The Dance's formula has put Miami on the one line at the expense of Indiana; Kansas has actually fallen to a terrifying three-seed to go with terrifying three-seed Louisville*.
The common thread here is that the Wisconsin loss has only burned up some of Michigan's lead. They're the top overall seed at BM, and tied for second at CTD. So, #1 it remains. The gaps are narrow enough now that a loss at Breslin would put them on the fringe, I think.
*[If there's any debate about whether getting a one seed is a big deal or a non-deal, here are CTD's projected threes: Kansas, Michigan State, Louisville, New Mexico. Here are the fours: Butler, Kansas State, Minnesota, Georgetown. It's a big deal to get the latter group in a hypothetical Sweet Sixteen matchup instead of the former.]
Projected ones: Florida, Indiana, Duke, Michigan, still.
The Nonconference Folk
Last win for IUPUI: December 27th. Binghamton: January 19th. Central Michigan: also January 19th. Eastern is creating unwatchable .500 MAC basketball—they're 300th or worse in three of the four factors on offense—weekly. Cleveland State is 4-7 in the Horizon. Bradley is dipping a bit below a .500 MVC record.
Only Western seems to be a good low major at 7-3 in the MAC, though they lost to near KP300 opponent Ball State last time out. Kenpom still projects them to a 20 win regular season.
Big sorts of teams
Seton Hall: W 56-46, @ Cincinnati: W 62-52
The Panthers seem to have figured it out and are cruising down the stretch, picking up quality win after quality win. They're on a seven-of-eight streak with the only loss by three at Louisville; in that stretch they've taken out Villanova, Syracuse, and Cincinnati.
The most recent Cinci game was a lot like the first: all towers and rebounding and bricks from long range. The teams combined to go 3/26 from three in the first matchup; in this one it was 8/33. Twenty-five of those came from the Bearcats; the teams split the makes evenly.
Pitt has a big game at Marquette this weekend and then a relatively easy glide path to the finish. They're looking at a 13-5 conference season, 12-6 at worst. Good win: confirmed.
SEEDWATCH: Five on both the matrix and CTD, up one from last week.
ODDITY: Every five seed on the matrix is from the Big East.
Kansas State (19-4)
@ Texas Tech: W 68-59. Iowa State: W 79-70.
Texas Tech is a lot worse than Penn State and victory is expected no matter where you play them. The main event this week was the Wildcats avenging their loss to Iowa State. That game was an offensive outburst: both teams shot well from the floor and rebounded half their misses; Kansas State got to the line and cut down on turnovers.
The Wildcats go to reeling Kansas tonight; win that and they a couple of Baylor games and Oklahoma State are the only thing standing between them and a two-seed.
SEEDWATCH: Four on both sites.
North Carolina State (17-7)
@ Duke: L 98-85. @ Clemson: W 58-57.
@ RIGHT: YOU CAN'T CHECK HIM
McHobbit got bunches of minutes again with Lorenzo Brown still recovering from injury—Tyler Lewis is his real name, and even with Brown healthy enough to go 32 minutes in the Clemson nail-biter, Lewis still pulled down 27. I may be forced to admit that the McDonald's All American guys did not make a huge mistake.
NC State remains NC State. They tore up Duke's defense to the tune of 1.2 PPP and lost by double-digits because Duke put up 1.4, shooting 64% from two and going to the line a whopping 41 times. It would be very frustrating to be an NC State fan this year. You're telling me you have Richard Howell and CJ Leslie and you can't play a lick of defense? That's on Mark Gottfried.
The Wolfpack then went out and ground out an ugly one against Clemson. They actually trailed by four with 19 seconds left but managed to put up five points in the allotted time.
This isn't a great team, but if they slide to a seven seed or something there is going to be a pissed off two-seed.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: 39(!) minutes against Duke, 13 points on 7 shots, 6 A, 0 TO! Duke fans taunted him about his dead grandmother, which sucks for him but also means he's arrived.
News was less good against Clemson: 27 minutes, hit a couple threes, no assists, 1 TO.
SEEDWATCH: Five on CTD, 6 on Bracket Matrix.
Florida: W 80-69(!!!). @ Vanderbilt: L 67-49.
.500 SEC continues apace. Florida looms this week. They gon' die.
I meant they were going to lose by 18 to Vandy, a 3-7 SEC team with a loss to Marist. And that they would beat Florida. What a weird team. These guys are still headed for the NIT. Beating Florida might help Michigan move above the Gators on the S-curve, at least.
West Virginia (12-11)
Texas: W 60-58. @ TCU: W 63-50.
Completed ugly season sweep of Texas; beat up on one of the Big 12's two Penn States. They should not get used to this. They've got one game against Texas Tech left; the rest of it is brutal: Baylor, KState, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State.
SEEDWATCH: alternate universe maybe
CONFERENCE OF POWER RANKING POWER POWER
1. Indiana (21-3)
LAST WEEK led Illinois 70-62 with three minutes left; lost. Cruised away from Ohio State at the Schott.
THIS WEEK IN EVOCATIVE WIN GRAPHS lolwut
THING It was Indiana's defense that betrayed them in that game? Or something? I watched it and I still don't know what the hell happened there. But Indiana put up a 49%/53%/93% shooting night and lost. Illinois hit a lot of tough shots, and one really easy one.
OTHER THING On the other hand, coming off that disappointment and casually rolling the Buckeyes on the road is probably the most impressive win of the season in the league. Indiana had a 17 point burst over the last five minutes of the first half that gave them a halftime cushion they would not relinquish. Ohio State could get no closer than six points the rest of the way.
OTHER OTHER THING They did this by shooting 61% from two against Ohio State! Oladipo and Zeller had crazy, crazy nights. Oladipo was 7/9 from two, hit a three, and 9/10 from the line. Zeller was 8/11 from both two and the line. OSU's two point defense is the thing that they are best at. Yeesh.
THING THEY ARE LIKE pretty scary thing
2. Michigan (21-3)
LAST WEEK Won epic knock-down, drag-out overtime game against Ohio State. Lost grim overtime stomper against Wisconsin thanks to half-court heave.
THING Efficient scoring inside the line is something of an issue. They hit 39% against OSU, and only got to the line 11 times. It was 43% against the Badgers and two free throws on 53 attempts.
While the percentages aren't horrible, the inability to get to the line means when the threes aren't falling—and they weren't in Madison—the vaunted Michigan offense sputters to well under a PPP.
Michigan is now 340th of 347 in drawing free throw attempts, and things have only gotten worse in conference play. This is not because Michigan takes an extreme amount of threes: they're only slightly above average at launching from behind the line. Why can't a team with Trey Burke on it get to the free throw line?
OTHER THING Michigan's ceded the #1 offense in the country to Indiana, so previous theories about Michigan's hyper offense making up for their defense no longer apply quite as nicely.
OTHER THIS WEEK IN EVOCATIVE WIN GRAPHS
THING THEY ARE LIKE I don't even know man.
3. Michigan State (20-4)
LAST WEEK Revenge'd Minnesota at home; eased by Purdue on the road.
THING Happier than anyone about Indiana and Michigan missteps this week; now they're in serious contention. The issue: they are entering their inevitable Big Ten doom schedule, with five of the next six games against Michigan (2x), Indiana, OSU, and Wisconsin. If they make it through that on top of the league they'll have earned it.
ADRIEAN PAYNE THREE POINT SPECIALIST WATCH No attempts against Minnesota. 0/2 against Purdue. Still at 54% on the year.
OTHER THING Gary Harris seems fine, at least for now, but Travis Trice missed both of MSU's games last week, paving the the way for Russell Byrd playing time and Denzel Valentine backing up every spot between the one and the three. Byrd is now pushing into Ronnie Johnson territory after going 0/5 from three this week. Down to 18^. He's only taken nine threes.
THIS WEEK IN STOP ASKING FOR POST TOUCHES Payne and Nix tore Purdue apart, going 11 for 19 and 7/9 from the line with one TO. Minnesota was okay: 4/11, 9/10 from the line. Payne's free-throw shooting has taken off: 49% as a freshman to 70% to 79%.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Sneaky Bagginses.
4. Ohio State (17-6)
LAST WEEK Lost epic OT game against Michigan; lost not so epic game against Indiana.
THING Part of the reason Ohio State got blazed inside by the Hoosiers: Evan Ravenel fouled out in 22 minutes and Amir Williams picked up four fouls in 11 minutes, meaning for the vast majority of the game Ohio State was either playing with their bigs daintily trying to stay on the floor or fielding sophomore Trey McDonald. McDonald had DNP-CDs in seven of his previous eight games.
OTHER THING Deshaun Thomas KPOY Watch: up to seventh. TO rate has dropped under ten percent and he's still launching a third of OSU's shots; efficiency is only down a little over the last couple games.
OTHER OTHER THING I enjoyed Yogi Ferrell's line in his matchup with Craft: one shot, that a missed three, three assists, and a turnover. Clearly he was like "aw hell naw" and just dumped it to his teammates, and wisely so.
OTHER OTHER OTHER THING Craft fouled out, which I didn't even know was possible.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Still going with Deshaun of the Dead here, though LaQuinton Ross has been helping out more of late.
FACT. Via Ace.
5. Wisconsin (15-7)
LAST WEEK Close game at OSU until that late run put it away. Had a ludicrously-fast-by-their-standards game at Illinois (70 possessions!) and dominated it.
THING if you watch these people on purpose you should seek medical attention for a broken brain.
OTHER THING I don't even want to think about this team.
WISCONSIN PREVENTS THREE POINTERS WATCH Michigan was 5/18, which sounds like a relatively high number of attempts until you find out that they had 53 attempts inside the line. So, yeah.
RYAN EVANS FT WATCH One of five. Wisconsin is really benefiting from refs never calling fouls in any of their games, because they can't shoot free throws. In the Michigan game they met a perfect foil for their weakness. Michigan might have been better off fouling more on defense just to get the refs, like, paying attention.
THING THEY ARE LIKE bug people from Rigel.
6. Illinois (15-8)
LAST WEEK IT LIVES. Beat Indiana! Beat Minnesota! Totally going to the tournament with a sub-.500 Big Ten record, you guys!
THING If there was a hypothetical board for Most Justified Big Ten Court Rush Of The Decade, the post-Griffey layup hysteria slots in at an easy #2 behind Watford's three last year. Those two are so far ahead of the pack that I don't even know what #3 would be.
Peanut gallery: If I can get ten justified and unjustified court rushes, I will maintain these boards going forward. Help me out.
you too can have this happen for a reasonable fee
TYLER GRIFFEY WATCH I should sell STRUGGLING PLAYER WATCH spots to scufflers nationwide. Griffey not only set off the second most justified Big Ten court rush of the decade but added 12 other points against Indiana, including reasonable (2/6) shooting from three. (My favorite thing from the win over Indiana was Griffey's awkward hot-potato layup as he tried to get the ball out of his hand before the buzzer.) Then in the follow-up victory over Minnesota he put up 16 points on 4/7 shooting from three, hitting four FTs and acquiring three offensive rebounds.
You know what they say: as Tyler Griffey goes, so go the Illini.
NNANNA EGWU WATCH Four points and five rebounds as he fouls out in 19 minutes against Indiana, paving the way for Griffey's monster night (eight rebounds from him, too). Three rebounds in 21 minutes against Minnesota, but that DREB rate is hovering around 13 these days, ahead of several guards on the team.
OTHER EGWU WATCH Sam McLaurin is a statistical marvel even outstripping Egwu. He started and played 28 minutes against Indiana, acquiring one offensive rebound. In 24 against Minnesota, one of each variety. DREB rate: 6.6%. Kenpom, I need anti-leaderboards. I need to know if Sam McLaurin has a lower rebound rate than any player 6'8" or taller in the country.
THE ENNUI QUESTION Ennui? What ennui? With back to back wins over tourney-bound Indiana and Minnesota the Illini have five impressive scalps. They're not even on the bubble anymore.
They could get back on it—this is Illinois we're talking about here—if they lose to Purdue and Northwestern this week. Go 1-1 there and all they need to do to get to the magic 7-11 mark is not blow it in home games against Penn State and Nebraska. Assembly (Not That Assembly) is going to be bonkers for Wednesday's game against Purdue.
THING THEY ARE LIKE
Michigan finds out it's in the tourney, 2009
7. Minnesota (17-7)
LAST WEEK Lost at Michigan State by double-digits thanks to five-minute second-half scoreless streak and five-minute first-half scoreless streak; edged by Illinois at home.
THING Tubby Smith's substitution patterns drive me nuts. At one point in the Michigan State game he had all five starters off the floor. Twelve guys played against State, and hey surprise they were all awful. Elliot Eliason makes sense; he's your backup five. The other six players combined to post 40 minutes, 2 points on 1/4 shooting, 5 rebounds, one assist, and two turnovers.
If your bench is that terrible, it is insane to not have at least two of your high-usage guys out there at all times.
OTHER THING Remember when Minnesota seemed like a fun, interesting, uptempo outfit with a good offense? Since their loss to Michigan they've bested 62 points once, against Nebraska, and have lost games by scoring 48, 44, 50, and 53 points, all in games that featured fewer than 60 possessions. Keep them out of transition and you're good.
THIS WEEK IN MINNESOTA INTIMIDATION FACTOR Rebounded 47% of their misses against Illinois, held Illini to 27% two-point shooting. Rebounded 34% of their misses against Michigan State and held Spartans to 16% OREB.
NOBODY EXPECTS THE HOLLINS INQUISITION Four of five Minnesota blocks against Illinois were from Austin Hollins.
THING THEY ARE LIKE
8. Iowa (15-9)
LAST WEEK Another crippling Amakerian defeat in a two-OT loss to Wisconsin at the Trohl Center*; bounced back to handle Northwestern at home.
*[HT: some guy on twitter I don't remember]
THING Iowa not getting in this year would be brutal on a level approximating Northwestern's Shurna-led near-misses except for the whole Northwestern Has Never Been To The Tournament thing. Iowa losses include this week's 2OT agony, an OT loss to Purdue, two games Iowa led at the one minute mark against State and Minnesota, and a near-ish miss versus Indiana.
THIS WEEK IN WHERE'S ROY DEVYN WALDO Where's Roy Devyn reached epic levels in the Wisconsin loss. In a 50-minute game Marble got 18, mostly early. He went 1-10 from the floor with no free throws, and ate bench. Iowa's offense couldn't do anything whatsoever in OT—a total of six points before the late flurry of free throws and free twos—and Marble stayed glued on the bench with the exception of one defensive possession… on which Marble lost a Wisconsin cutter and the Badgers got an easy two. Brutal.
Marble then went off for 21 points against Northwestern's get-healthy defense. The Hawkeyes have to be hoping that performance gets him settled.
ENNUIWATCH I thought about moving them below the line and did not. Kenpom still has them with a 50-50 shot at a .500 conference record, and you have to imagine that'll be good enough. They've got a quality win over Wisconsin and a bubble win over Iowa State. If they get to 9-9 they'll add one over Minnesota, Indiana, or Illinois. That would probably be enough.
They must have Thursday's game at Penn State, and then if they can beat Minnesota at CHA they'll be cooking. Kenpom has that one 68-67. Set a block of time from 2 to 4 aside for that one.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Probity.
9. Northwestern (13-10)
LAST WEEK Lost solidly at Iowa.
THING it's about to get ugly for the Wildcats. A home game against Penn State is the only game Kenpom has them winning.
THING THEY ARE LIKE A sad otter.
10. Purdue (12-12)
LAST WEEK Beat Penn State on the road; didn't really stay in contact with Michigan State.
THING Oh for pants sake, Purdue: 0/10 from three against Penn State, 1/5 against Michigan State. They won that Penn State game because Purdue went 2/20.
AJ HAMMONS WATCH Kid has started to pile up free throws. In his last four games he's shot 12, 3, 12, and 9, hitting 81%. He's at 69% for the year thanks largely to one ugly outing against MSU. If he can keep this pace up, he… well, he can kick it out to wide open but completely hapless three-point shooters next year when DJ Byrd is gone.
RONNIE JOHNSON THREE POINTER WATCH nyet. Did go 2/8 from the line against Penn State.
THING THEY ARE LIKE
11. Nebraska (12-12)
LAST WEEK Beat Penn State handily to claim the crown of second-worst team in the league.
THING Andre Almedia blocked three shots against the Nittany Lions, and set off earthquake alarms in Tokyo doing so.
RAY GALLEGOS BOMBS AWAY WATCH A sixth game with more than ten 3PA, going 3/11 against Penn State.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Not Penn State, that's for sure.
12. Penn State (8-12)
LAST WEEK Lost to Purdue by 9, Nebraska by 14.
THING It's over. The two best shots the Nittany Lions had at a Big Ten win came and went this week without so much as a vaguely competitive game. Kenpom has two more Penn State games with a better than 10% chance of victory: Thursday against Iowa and the penultimate game at Northwestern. Chance of winless record now at 57%, and that seems low.
THING The only Penn State player with an ORTG greater than 100 is Tim Frazier.
THING THEY ARE LIKE GopherQuest.
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 Indiana, #1 MICHIGAN, #3 Michigan State, #4 Ohio State, #5 Wisconsin, #6 Minnesota
Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award
Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award
Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …
1) helping M win conference title
2) best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding
3) greatest number of tourney teams from league
4) eff Michigan State
5) also Wisconsin
K-State at Kansas, 9PM, ESPN
Kentucky at Florida, 7PM, ESPN
MICHIGAN at Michigan State, 9PM, ESPN
Nebraska at Indiana, 7PM, BTN
Syracuse at UConn, 7PM, ESPN
Miami at Florida State, 7PM, ESPN2
Purdue at Illinois, 9PM, BTN
North Carolina at Duke, 9PM, ESPN
Northwestern at Ohio State, 7PM, BTN
Wisconsin at Minnesota, 7PM, ESPN
Iowa at Penn State, 9PM, ESPNU
Arizona at Colorado, 10PM, PACTEN
Gonzaga at St. Mary's, 11PM, ESPN2
Pitt at Marquette, 1PM, CBS
Purdue at Indiana, 2PM, ESPN
Virginia Tech at NC State, 2PM, ESPN2
Duke at Maryland, 6PM, ESPN
Baylor at K-State, 7PM, ESPNU
Missouri at Arkansas, 7PM, ESPN2
Michigan State at Nebraska, 8PM, BTN
Penn State at MICHIGAN, noon, BTN
Ohio State at Wisconsin, 1PM, CBS
Minnesota at Iowa, 2:06, BTN
Miami at Clemson, 6PM, ESPNU
Illinois at Northwestern, 7:30 PM, BTN