Great write up and excellent use of The Cure.
Hoops Opponent Watch: Them Apples Edition
RPI Effect Only Teams:
It was actually a pretty good week for the non-abysmal non-conference foes. Long Beach State (5-11) beat Cal Poly. Holy Cross (7-9) beat Lehigh. Charlotte (12-5) beat Tulsa and North Texas, and may actually compete in Conference USA. All three are in the mid-100s to KenPom (158, 156, and 138, respectively). It won’t matter much on the surface, but it could provide some RPI support to balance out the dregs.
The dregs, as their name would seem to indicate, did NOT have a pretty good week. UMass-Lowell (4-13) lost to Stony Brook and Hartford. Houston Baptist (4-14) lost to McNeese State to fall to 1-5 in the Southland Conference (and yes, the Southland Conference was named after the police drama on TNT) South Carolina State (6-12) lost to Florida A&M but beat Bethune Cookman. Coppin State(6-12) beat Hampton and lost to Norfolk State, but in doing so they moved into the top 300.
Big Sorts of Teams
#16 Iowa State (14-3, 2-3 Big 12)
This week: Lost @ Texas (86-76)
The Cyclones completed the first three rotations of the Ohio State Quadruple Salchow; that is, an effort to take an undefeated record into conference play and then rip off four straight losses. They go for the landing on Saturday, when they take on Kansas State at home.
|Still better than the sleeved jerseys the NBA has been wearing|
Florida State (13-5, 4-2 ACC)
This week: Lost @ Virginia (78-66), Beat Notre Dame (76-74)
The Florida State win isn’t as important to Michigan given the recent win at Wisconsin [ED: and the win over Iowa, because I obviously wrote this earlier on Wednesday], but they remain arguably Michigan’s
second third-best win to date. You could make a case for a road game at Minnesota over a neutral court win over FSU, but to the Bracketology folks Florida State is a 7- to 9-seed and Minnesota is barely hanging onto a spot. The Notre Dame game was fascinating; I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a two point win in which KenPom says the win probability never dipped below 76%.
#18 Dook (15-4, 4-2 ACC)
This week: Beat NC State (95-60); Won @ Miami (67-46)
Relatively drama-free week for Duke, especially considering they were playing two top-100 teams. Jabari Parker averaged 20 points and 11 boards.
#1 Arizona (18-0, 5-0 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Arizona St (91-68)
The other other other nice thing about the Wisconsin and Iowa wins is that they replace the Arizona loss as Michigan’s ‘best outing’ of the year. Both Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon are in the early KenPom Player of the Year Top 10, and Johnson is in the 25-man Wooden Award midseason whatever list.
Stanford (12-5, 3-2 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Washington (79-67)
Stanford has worked its way onto the bubble with wins over Oregon, Washington State, and Washington. Arizona is going to win the conference walking away, but the PAC 12 is good enough to warrant a 4th tournament team, so if Stanford gets to 10 or 11 conference wins, that should be good enough to grab an at-large.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Big Ten Country is surprisingly mitten-shaped]
In Which I Rank the B1G Based on KenPom’s Rankings
1) Iowa (15-4, 3-2 B1G) (up 1 spot)
This week: Beat Minnesota (94-73), Lost @ Michigan 75-68.
Thing: If Iowa could combine Melsahn Basabe’s first half against Michigan with Aaron White’s second half, they could probably cure cancer or overthrow the Ottoman Empire or something. Basabe was a beast inside early, and Aaron White singlehandedly kept Iowa in the game in the second half. The problem for Iowa was that they only got one productive half per guy, and they didn’t get much help beyond that.
Other Thing: Iowa kept their rotation unusually short against Michigan. Iowa has 11 guys who average 12+ minutes, but only 7 played double-digit minutes on Wednesday.
Thing They Are Like: Still a really, really good basketball team.
2) Michigan State (18-1, 7-0) (up 1 spot)
This week: Won @ Illinois (78-62); Beat Indiana (71-66)
Thing: Weirdly, Michigan State has struggled a little bit at home. They beat Kentucky and Oklahoma on neutral floors, and ran Texas, Indiana, and Illinois out of their respective buildings, but they lost to North Carolina at Breslin (a loss that is trending downward with UNC's subsequent play) and they played close games with Minnesota, Indiana, Portland, and Columbia at home. Their home win over OSU was nice (and shouldn’t have been NEARLY as close as it was), but there just doesn’t seem to be much energy in the Breslin Center these days.
Other Thing: MSU’s injury concerns continue, as Keith Appling has been dealing with a bad back, and seemed to hurt his wrist against Indiana. They also have a quick turnaround this week, with Michigan on Saturday and @ Iowa on Tuesday, which is tough for a team trying to fight through injury.
Thing They Are Like Gavin Schilling is averaging 9.8 fouls per 40 minute. Alex Gauna is at 7.5 fouls, Matt Costello at 4.9 fouls, and Kenny Kaminski 4.7 fouls. I have obtained secret practice footage of MSU’s bigs working on their post defense:
3) Michigan (14-4, 6-0 B1G) (up 2 spot)
Thus Far: Won @ Wisconsin (77-70) (!) (Muppets), Beat Iowa (75-67) (Fireworks) (Corgis) (Other good things)
Thing: CANADIAN DAGGERS ARE MORE POLITE BUT EQUALLY STABBY
Thing They Are Like: A pride of Velociraptors, but with longer arms because you can’t drop ridiculous crossover stepbacks with those little arms.
4) Wisconsin (16-3, 3-3 B1G) (down 3 spots)
This week: Lost to Michigan (77-70), Lost @ Minnesota (XX-XX)
Thing: Wisconsin has ALSO been reading from the Thad Matta Book of Being Good at Things and then Being Bad at Things. a 16-0 start has led to a 16-3 start. Their schedule remains favorable, and being three games back, and with remaining games at Michigan and Iowa (and home games against MSU and Ohio State), that’s a big hill to climb
Other thing: Weirdly, Wisconsin is having serious problems with interior defense and defensive rebounding. Deandre Mathieu ripped them apart in the lane, and little used big man Maurice Walker scored 18 points on 11 shots.
5) Ohio State (15-4, 2-4 B1G) (down 1 spots)
This week: Lost @ Nebraska (68-62)
Thing: Three weeks into the conference slate, Ohio State trails Northwestern in the Big Ten standings. Your ‘math’ has no power in this place.
Other Thing: Ohio State’s scoring is reaching new depths. In their last four games, they are averaging 0.91 points per possession, and they haven’t exceeded 1.00 PPP in any of the four. That’s a problem. When Nebraska can beat you despite going 2-13 from deep… I don’t even know what that is, because it is impossible. Nebraska hasn’t won a game with two or fewer three pointers for more than a year.
Thing They Are Like: A panic room filled with bees. Solid defense, sure… but not set up for much success.
6) Minnesota (15-5, 4-3 B1G)
Thus Far: Lost @ Iowa (94-73), Beat Wisconsin (81-68)
Thing: Minnesota has been almost unbeatable at The Barn this year.
Other Thing: Minnesota has played its way from bubble team to a sorta-bubble team. They could still end up at home, but its looking like it’ll take a moderate collapse to get there.
Thing They Are Like: The entirety of the Big Ten bubble picture, with the POSSIBLE exception of Indiana (but probably not).
HENRI LINE OF ENNUI
7) Indiana (12-7, 2-4 B1G) (up 1 spot)
This week: Lost to Northwestern. At home. Gack. (54-47), Lost @ Michigan State (71-66);
Thing: Losing to Northwestern at home is bad. Scoring .73 points per possession against Northwestern at home is… I don’t even know. They shot 25% from the field. Their eFG% was 28.3. Kevinyogi Ferrell was 2 of 14. Evan Gordon was 3 of 12. Will Sheehey was 1 of 7.
Other Thing: Note to BTN announcers: sometimes you’re calling a clunker of a game. It happens even in a really good conference. But when that happens, you need to adjust your tone accordingly. There is a rational limit to how excitedly you can shout stuff like “and Indiana with FOUR STRAIGHT CONSECUTIVE UNANSWERED POINTS IN A ROW to cut the lead to three” in a game like this before it seems a little… oh, what is word… stupid.
Thing They Are Like: HAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Sorry, that isn’t a thing. But take a moment and remember everything you know about Tom Crean.
8) Nebraska (9-8, 1-4 B1G) (up 2 spots)
This week: Beat Ohio State (68-62)
Thing: Nebraska’s two home conference games have been a one point loss to Michigan and a 6 point win over Ohio State. They are undefeated at home on the year, and they have an 11 point win over Miami (YTM) in there. It’s possible the new arena will provide a disproportional home court advantage for the Huskers. My theory: it’s the crapper-visions:
Thing they are like: A way more likeable poor man's Indiana, circa every year but this year. Disproportionately good at home, very beatable on the road. hen
9) Illinois (13-6, 2-4 B1G) (down 1 spot)
This week: Lost to Michigan State (78-62)
Thing that will be a Thing all year: Illinois was ranked in the Top 25 in January.
Other Thing: Memo to Nnanna Egwu: you are shooting a cool 33.3% on jump shots. 70.6% of your shots are jumpers. You are 6’11” and 250 pounds. I recommend trying things that are different from what you are doing.
Thing They Are Like: The house of straw built by the three little pigs. Seems functional for a while, but ultimately you know its fate.
10) Purdue (13-6, 3-3 B1G) (down 1 spot)
This week: Beat Penn State (65-64); Lost to Northwestern (63-60 2OT)
Most Important Thing: Everyone’s thoughts are with Purdue in light of the shooting on campus on Tuesday. Boiler up.
Far Less Important Thing: I’m willing to bet the FCC got some calls about that Purdue/Northwestern game. In fact, I placed a couple myself. Are we as a society really going to crack down on the occasional fleeting f-bomb or wardrobe malfunction and yet allow this kind of indecency to go unchecked? They went to overtime tied at 46. They went to double overtime tied at 51. Purdue shot 27.6%, including 21.6% on two-pointers.
Am I maybe just grumpy because I got tricked into staying up late to watch this slap-fight? Maybe a little.
Other Far Less Important Thing: AJ Hammons continues to confound. Northwestern plays a rotation of 7 guys, and 3 fouled out against Northwestern, including their only big men (Cerina and Olah). By the end of the game Hammons was matched up with 6’6” freshman Sanjay Lumpkin. And yet Hammons didn’t make a shot from the field in the last 13 minutes of regulation or in either overtime. Sure, he got hacked (he took 17 free throws), but only going 3-10 under those circumstances for a guy as immensely talented as Hammons has to be frustrating for Matt Painter.
Thing They Are Like: The house of sticks. They’re more stable than Illinois, sure, but ultimately just as prone to huffing and puffing.
11) Penn State (9-10, 0-6 B1G)
This week: Lost @ Purdue (65-64);
Thing: Aw, man, you HAD ‘em. Penn State had a 3 point lead with 16 seconds left, and they lost in regulation. They gave up a Terone Johnson 3-pointer with 8 seconds left, DJ Newbill turned the ball over with just under 2 seconds left, and a lob to AJ Hammons earned him two free throws. He made one, and thus continued the pain of Penn State’s season.
Other Thing: Looking forward, Penn State has 4 realistic chances to grab a conference win: tonight against Nebraska at home, home games against Purdue and Illinois, and a late-season game at Northwestern. They’ve been SO close lately that I’d guess they grab a couple of those games.
Thing They Are Like:
12) Northwestern (10-10, 3-4 B1G)
This week: Won @ Indiana (!?!?!!?!???)(54-47), Beat Purdue (lolwutisgoingon) (63-60 2OT)
Thing: On January 23rd, Northwestern is ahead of Ohio State, Indiana, and Illinois in the Big Ten standings.
Other Thing: It’s hard to overstate how scrappy that Purdue win was. Northwestern didn’t lead at any point in regulation or the first overtime. They literally had fewer regular rotation players available than there are positions on the basketball court. And… and I say this with love… they aren’t good even under ideal circumstances. Good on you, Chris Collins.
Thing They Are Like: Monkey Rodeo
If Today Was Late March:
As mentioned above, the bubble picture now consists of exactly one team. We have adjusted the categories accordingly.
Michigan State (#1), Wisconsin (#2), Iowa (#3), Ohio State (#4), Michigan (#4)
Bubble teams that are either Minnesota or no one:
Wrong-side-of-the-bubble teams that are either Minnesota or no one:
Lovely Parting Gifts:
Indiana, Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue, Penn State, Northwestern
· Illinois @ Ohio State, 7:00, ESPN
· Nebraska @ Penn State, 8:00, ESPNU
· I’m in love
· Iowa @ Northwestern, 12:00, BTN
· Wisconsin @ Purdue, 5:00, BTN
· Michigan @ Michigan State, 7:00, ESPN
· Illinois @ Indiana, 3:00, BTN
· Minnesota @ Nebraska, 6:00, BTN
· You could fall apart
· Michigan State @ Iowa, 7:00, ESPN
· Penn State @ Ohio State, 7:00, BTN
· Northwestern @ Wisconsin, 9:00, BTN
Iowa is 15-4, 3-2 B1G good sir!
I think all of the Big Ten records are off... I also imagine the FSU section was written before the Iowa win.
This is what happens when the Big Ten plays evening games on writin' day.
that NW v. Wisc game on Wednesday will end up like 46-44 after 2OT?
Remember when Matt Painter was one of the leagues best coaches and Purdue was a tough opponent? Yeah, glad those times are behind us.
Yeah, that one is a bit of a mystery. I thought they were headed for big things under his watch.
Looks like you wrote this prior to last night's games?
seeing as how Nebraska is still listed as 0-4 in the B1G.
Though Nebraska is also listed as undefeated at home, which they haven't been since Michigan beat them there whenever that was.
KenPom rankings are slightly off (and Charlotte's is definitely off). Great write-up, as always!
Could dregs be the word you meant to use?
I hate it when people screw up idioms.
Nebraska "undefeated at home on the year" - except against Michigan!
Can the Big 10 still be consider a "tough" conference if they end up with 8 teams with records between 8-10 and 10-8?
UM/MSU >>>>>>>>>Iowa/UW/OSU/Minn/Indiana/Ill./Pur./NW >>>>>>>>> Neb/PSU
No way that Iowa and Wisconsin get to 8 losses. Also no chance that Northwestern gets to 8 wins. At worst there will be 5 teams in that 8-10 win range.
did minny's win last night help our win at the barn as much as it diminished our win at the troll?
But It moves us another game clear of Wisconsin and their very favorable schedule, so I'd call it a win. Also, Bo Ryan's tears are a plus.
What's the Over/Under for Big10 teams in the tourny? I'm thinking 6 possibly 7...Michigan,Staee,Wisc,Iowa,ohio,Minn and possibly Ind. or Purdue or Illinois if any one of those three can gain some consistancy.
I'm thinking six, with Indiana the likeliest of the other teams to get a bid.
A stat I think is pretty damn cool...Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska are a combined 30-3 at home. Those 3 losses were all against Michigan. I don't know this for sure, but I would imagine that Michigan is the only team in the country to give 3 different teams their only home loss of the season.
Hilarious and spot-on as always.
Some of the stated conference records are out of date, though.
- Iowa is 4-2
- MSU is 7-0
- Michigan is 6-0
- Wisconsin is 3-3
- Minnesota is 4-3
- Nebraska is 1-5
EDIT: Never mind, inaccurate conference records have already been addressed. Previous point about level of hilariousness stands.
I wait until after the Wednesday games to update records for teams that play on Wednesday. And sometimes I forget because I am not smarts.
Thing: CANADIAN DAGGERS ARE MORE POLITE BUT EQUALLY STABBY
I agree Ace does fine work but so does BiSB, the author of this article.
...the title of third worst team in the Big Ten. Brownie points from me for beating OSU. I'm expecting big things (improvement to mediocrity) for Nebraska around 2020.
I think I'd argue that FSU is still the second-best win. Iowa is a KenPom superstar, but FSU has the better RPI by about 12 spots and that was a neutral site vs. at home.
Pedantic note: The FCC only regulates broadcast content, not cable. So the BTN is free to show as many f-bombs, wardrobe malfunctions, or Purdue-Northwestern games as they want.
The way Ohio is playing they would be lucky to make the tourney. Absolutely horrible. Oh, and Dawson is out for Sparty this Saturday.