The face on Stauskas in that picture is absolutely priceless.
My fellow Americans, the state of the union is lol. Abroad we have seen the greatest extension of three-point hegemony in our history. We have looked unto the face of Bo Ryan and lol'ed. Our troops deployed to the darkest reaches of Breslin, where the favored Izzo complained about every which thing, and we lol'ed. At home we have faced adversity and Hawkeyes, and won a great battle, and afterwards we lol'ed.
So I ask you, fellow Americans: how do we ensure the security of these lol's that we cherish?
- How long will Michigan remain atop the Big Ten standings?
- How long will the Big Ten remain the nation's best basketball conference?
- How long will the basketball team remain superior to the football and hockey teams?
Mathlete: With Michigan State's win at Iowa, this year has all the makings of a two horse race with Michigan State. In Big Ten play, anything is possible, but at least a share of the title is highly likely at this point. With McGary, Robinson and maybe Stauskas leaving early, next year could be a tough hill to climb, but Beilein has done more with less. Even though Michigan has been recruiting at a higher level, they've missed on several of their top targets and that will likely keep them from being a perennial elite, first tier team. But based on the track record of Beilein, this team isn't going to be far from the top of the conference any time soon.
|What's wrong, kitty cat? [Fuller]|
Last year's conference lineup was incredible, this year's may still be the best, but the teams do seem to be down a bit from last year. Last season the Big Ten had 7 of the KenPom top 26 and 8 of the top 40. This year the eighth best team is Nebraska at #74. Indiana is in the process of rebuilding, Illinois is wandering in the desert, Purdue has turned into a football sch-can't even finish typing that joke. The top of the Big Ten is outstanding but there is a little more breathing room in the mid and lower tiers than last season.
The ACC has 5 of KenPom's top 22 right now and next year they swap out Louisville for Maryland. Once North Carolina finds their way again, they might be good enough to keep Dicky V at home and out of Michigan. Even if the Atlantic Coast steps up their game, no sport is more dependent on coaching and the B1G's best aren't going anywhere. Izzo, Matta, Beilein, Ryan and Crean are all firmly established winners with no indication of jumping ship. Over the next five years, I would be shocked if any other conferences were close to as good as the Big Ten and ACC.
Now this is the tricky question. Football has the capacity to narrow the gap, possibly as soon as this year. The roster is finally in place, all signs point to a good defense getting better in 2014 and the offense has been written about enough at this point. I'm not going to go picking a Rose Bowl or anything, but this season is the first that's 100% on Hoke. The pieces will be there and the excuses will be gone. If the football team can't get to 9 wins this season, that's probably another 3-5 years of basketball superiority as Michigan would be facing another football coaching spiral. I'm not even qualified to write about random number generating playoff hockey, but my guess is that its going to be easier for Michigan to sustain the basketball success under Beilein than re-establish the elite level at hockey. So I guess the 2014 football season will write the story on whether or not we've become a #basketballschool.
[Jump: more answers, and then Ace and I argue for like 6,000 words]
BiSB: How long will Michigan remain atop the Big Ten standings? MSU only has one loss, and other than a trip to Madison they are 80% favorites or better in every game between now and their game at Crisler in a month. The odds are pretty good they come into the rematch at 12-2 in conference. Meanwhile, Michigan has road games at Iowa and Ohio State and a home game with Wisconsin between now and then. There's a pretty good chance that Sparty catches Michigan by then. They close with a home game against Iowa and a roadie in Columbus, but this thing ain't over. I say they split this year, and don't quite have the firepower to win it again next year.
|The Pac12's been improving on the heels of the Big Ten; everybody there except USC and Washington State is a tough out these days. [Fuller]|
How long will the Big Ten remain the nation's best basketball conference? The Big Ten is currently KenPom's highest rated conference for what would be the 4th year in a row. A couple of teams are due for a dropoff due to roster turnover (Sparty, I'm looking at you), but they'll be more than made up for by the rise of teams like Iowa and (blerg) Wisconsin. And while this year there is a pretty decent drop-off after the top 6 teams this year, there are a couple of teams that can join (or at least close the gap on) that group next year, like young and bound-to-be-less-hilarious Indiana and yes-that-Nebraska Nebraska. So they'll probably still be the best conference for the next couple of years, and after that we will move beyond conferences to Trust Circles and then the rankings get a little more convoluted.
How long will the basketball team remain superior to the football and hockey teams? If Stauskas has to stay in school because of concerns over his copious unpaid parking tickets (oops, I shouldn't have said that IGNORE THIS PART MR. NBA SCOUT GUY), the basketball team will be an Elite 8-type team. It's hard to see football stepping into that role next year. If Stauskas goes and Michigan can BLOCK SOMEBODY ANYBODY JESUS WHO DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO BLOCK THE 3-TECH WHEN YOU MOVED TO THE SECOND LEVEL TO CHASE A SAFETY LIKE A CURIOUS PUPPY, you might see the football team catch the basketball team in terms of rankings (bottom half of the top-25) by next year. And I no longer understand hockey so who the hell knows.
Atop the B1G: According to Luke Russert, President Obama wanted to watch the MSU-Iowa game while waiting in the Capitol hold room, but his staffers intervened and put the news on. Think about that, nation: we were THIS CLOSE to a State of the Union address on Big Ten officiating and how charges are called. Course Iowa is still in that spot we were last year against Indiana in re: making the foul shots.
How happy are you we learned that lesson now? SO HAPPY.
Yeah it seems more and more likely now that this year's conference championship will come down to Feb 23 game in Ann Arbor. Visits to Iowa and Ohio State might not be the Trohl Center and Breslin but remain likely spots to pick up conferences L's, and I expect Michigan to lose one of @Indiana, @Illinois, and a home rematch with the Badgers. State is likely to win 1/3 of visits to Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin and sweep the rest of their schedule. Lose to MSU at home and we're once again put in the position of rooting for Ohio State to knock 'em off. Win the Crisler rematch and "remember Penn State" and at the end of the day it'll be Michigan again.
|…and when one of those #15 team hits big on a few of those system guys they wind up 1 seeds.|
Atop the World: Ironically the one-and-done rule that was supposed to be a disadvantage for a league full of programs serious about education has been a boon. The reason is the O&Ds have been clumping at a few programs willing to toss aside all pretense of school, so you've got one monster in the SEC that drops games to LSU out of freshmanitude, as opposed a preponderance of Jabari Parkers spaced around the league and complementing already deep and established programs.
It's a competitive atmosphere that leaves ranks 15 through 50 wide open for any school able to regularly recruit 4-stars who are perfectly suited to their college system and not the NBA's ideal. Just a shooter? We can use you. Too skinny and clunky to join the Houston Rockets? Come learn Izzo ball. Never gonna join the Rockets? Come to Penn SHHHHTATE! Crean's Indiana is a set-reload thing at the start of its second such cycle. But Wisconsin and MSU and Ohio State and Iowa and Minnesota are all prime examples of that, Purdue and Illinois are reshaping themselves to be that, and to be honest we can't figure out why Northwestern isn't. Michigan got an entire, magnificent year from Trey Burke for the rather stupid reason that NBA teams won't draft a guy who can't guard Chris Paul until he proves that he's actually Chris Paul.
Success is built atop success. Mitch McGary has that "omigod everything is awesome youguys" brain that's a perfect fit for undergrad at a major research university, and a body built to play in the NBA: if you can make your college experience look more fun than the other guy's you can get this guy.
Atop State Street: My answer is an extension of the above: the NCAA is at the apogee of corruption, and since football is a nearly endless pit to store talent in and promises at least three seasons out of each player, that corruption will continue to favor any school willing to bite the bullet and allow their players to quietly receive from donors some of the money they probably deserve anyway. In basketball with so many little schools in the mix and so few roster spots, the system can absorb the few schools willing and capable of playing in the mud, and spits them right out again so fast they don't have the same impact.
It's made a better overall competitive environment for Big Ten schools especially to actually use the value of their degrees as a valuable commodity when recruiting the type of player who expects to need three or four years to work toward his shot at the NBA and wants a strong fallback if that doesn't work out. And as with everything in college sports, a little bit of success leads to more of it.
My sense with the hockey team is it's lost any claim to be part of a system; having the national development team living next door has been a windfall and a pitfall, turning Red's program into an early-aughts NY Rangers-like group of talented-enough guys who need more than one Andrew Copp to turn into a balls-out hockey player. Berenson still turns red (ha!) every time a player defects to the OHL or NHL, and they've been doing that with more frequency, to greater detriment to the program. One time their goalie did that and they lucked into Tiny Jesus, but that's hardly a repetitive solution.
Ace: Michigan: I believe Michigan is going to end up one game ahead of State, though it won't necessarily come down to the two teams matching up in Crisler. Between MSU's [Tom Izzo wailing sound] and occasionally disappearing offense and Michigan's three-point reliance and less-than-stellar defense, both of these teams are very likely to drop a game they shouldn't before the end of the season; this happens every year, as you all well know by now. Games at Iowa and Ohio State for Michigan are the primary concern—and should be—but trips to Indiana and Illinois also loom as potential trap games. MSU still has to go to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State; they also have to host Iowa and—the potential trap—an intriguingly decent Nebraska team. I have a hard time seeing Michigan not secure at least a share of the conference title; barring multiple collapses, they should win it outright.
|Nebrasketball needs to stop being viable so I can go back to captioning this a "jump shot" etc. [Upchurch]|
Big Ten: Covered extensively above, so I'll keep this brief. The emergence of Nebraska and re-emergence of Indiana—plus Northwestern has to turn this remarkable defense into a solid team eventually, right?—should bolster the middle of the conference, while Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin aren't going anywhere. (Michigan State needs a 'depth chart by class' feature so I can point and laugh. With Izzo, however, I expect them to remain no worse than a fringe NCAA team.) The Mathlete makes an excellent point about the ACC being in position to pass the Big Ten after adding Louisville; it looks like that will happen, though the Big Ten will remain among the nation's two best conferences and stay in that range for a long time with this lineup of coaches.
Football/Hockey: With football still trying to get on level footing with their rivals—I think it's a huge stretch to blame corruption here, Seth, unless the rest of the Big Ten has gone full Ess-Eee-See—and hockey's success winding down a bit in the late stages of Red Berenson's career, I'd be surprised if either program passes basketball in terms of success while John Beilein is the head coach. This is not something to be upset about; it just means basketball is really, really good and projects to stay that way for the foreseeable future. (Who had this year's team bettering last year's national runner-up's offensive efficiency by nearly three points per 100 possessions in late January?)
Seth: Clarification: I meant the Big Ten won't go ESS-EEE-SEE and that's damaging the lot of us except the one school that, well, yeah that's not a stretch. Independent of that, it's been rough. Every time they hit a proving year they hit some other horrible calamity, like having to play at ND, MSU, NWern and OSU in the same season, or losing David Molk for most of one, or having every defensive back spontaneously combust, or changing offensive identities like underwear, or MSU getting good in the most annoying way possible, or GERG. They've remained afloat because of the boost from 2011 and what Hoke's made of that, and they've managed to put some optimism back into a dismal offensive outlook with the Nussmeier hire, but everyone in Ann Arbor is looking at the 2014 team and saying "not yet unless Gardner Vince Young mode," and outside they're saying "now or never." Great.
Ace: Damaging the lot of us? "The one school" didn't even win the conference title this year. I know what you're getting at, but pointing to corruption—which, in my opinion, is still around the same level as it's always been, we're just more aware of it and it's more sophisticated—as one of the reasons the football team isn't doing so hot... I dunno, man. That's way down the list of issues for this program (playcalling, youth, development, and all that other good post-botched-transition stuff) and even the conference as a whole. (I'm a lot more worried about the Big Ten's coaching hires—hi there, Tim Beckman—than their presumed reluctance/refusal to throw cash at recruits.)
Seth: You look at where the Big Ten was in the late 1990s, and where it sits now. What's changed?
(Demographics are a red herring; not only do the transplants tend to produce fewer football players than the locals, but those they do produce often retain a preference for whence they came).
|I know it's around here somewhere.|
From the lips of guys recruited 20 years ago, it was always the Wild West somewhere, but those were the underdogs, not the usual suspects of the national championship. From the lips of the guys recruited 10 years ago, what used to be a thing guys heard about is now a thing everybody has seen. From these pages, the things that used to be investigated because everyone suspected them appear brazenly on the internet until every rival school's meme'd it, and not a gorram thing happens unless the NCAA is just feeling pissy that day. The well-meaning old farmers who never had complete control of the henhouse have given up the ghost and turned it over to the foxes. That is a lot of metonymy for one sentence.
As that talent has shifted, the talent that follows talent has shifted away too. Chris Perry came from Fork Union Military Academy. Anthony Thomas was the best high school player in Louisiana. These weren't coups at the time: why wouldn't a guy want to come up here to play Alvarez's Wisconsin and Paterno's Penn State in successive weeks, the Drew Brees Boilermakers the next, and Ohio State after that (not to mention Hayden Fry, Randy Walker's Spreadstravaganza, the Antwaan Randel El Show, Nick Saban's hateable Spartans, Glen Mason's Tight Ends, the Amazing Beujter...)
Michigan had those advantages in spades long before they were tracked, and used them to power right over its failings instead of dealing with them. Some of those advantages have gone now, and that leaves the program more exposed when it screws something up. I won't argue that they've had some boners; I'm arguing that they lost the veneer to survive them unscathed. And in context I'm arguing that the competitive environment favors Big Ten/Michigan basketball more than football.
...Also football ends with a playoff of four teams, up from two starting next year; basketball's is now up to 68. Maybe I could have just said that to make my point about there being room for niche teams to succeed.
Brian: How long will Michigan remain atop the Big Ten standings? (rest of this year? beyond?) I'd be a lot more confident in this answer if Iowa could hit their damn free throws, but yes probably the rest of the year. They still maintain a one-game lead over MSU in the imaginary Kenpom standings, and MSU has been flirting with losses much more than Michigan. M's only narrow escape was at Increasingly Dangerous Nebraska(tm); MSU has been in three overtime games already.
How long will the Big Ten remain the nation's best basketball conference?
Is it still? Everyone thought the conference would take a step back after its brilliant 2013-14 and it has; to me the degree of that step back has been larger than anyone anticipated. This is largely because offenses at Ohio State and Indiana turned into Atlanta roads with two inches of snow on them (topical humor == one point for me), robbing the Big Ten of tourney team #7 and the top ten outfit everyone thought OSU was. Bumps from Minnesota and Iowa don't offset that in my mind. Last year the conference had four or even five outfits you could plausibly claim as elite; this year it's two. On a per-capita basis you can argue the Big 12 is deeper and just as strong at the top end.
But they're at least in the conversation and should remain so for a long time. It's the coaches. Matta, Beilein, Ryan, Izzo, and Crean are established guys with track records of success; Fran is my man; Pitino and Tim Miles seem off to a good start. With talent not slanted heavily to the south and the ecosystem of college basketball providing tons of opportunities to pick off genuinely successful lower-level head coaches, the Big Ten can leverage their money much more effectively than they can in football by hiring and retaining quality coaches. No one's leaving a top-level Big Ten basketball program for Arkansas.
How long will the basketball team remain superior to the football and hockey teams?
The face on Stauskas in that picture is absolutely priceless.
Damnit Brian. That's not what I wanted to hear.
Why is that a bad thing? There is no reason that Michgian can't be the sort of program that only misses sweet sixteens in down years and makes occasional runs to the top. We've got a good coach, relatively solid local recrutiting ground (detroit, northern indiana, chicago, and ohio). It's tough to be better than that.
And it bears repeating: Michigan went to the national title game in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and '10s. Prior to the lost decade, we weren't that far from blue-blood status. Now we're getting back there again.
I believe that UM is playing at their ceiling (or near it) right now and probably can't maintain it. They don't have the luxury of defense to fall back on and carry them through the off games.
Until the football staff shows that they can develope the talent that they recruit, they will continue to chase the basketball team. Beilein knows what type of player he wants and he doesn't have to have the 5* because he can develope them. He is pretty good with the Xs and Os, too.
The B1G has slipped a little this year, but may still be the best.
Bonus: Izzo better pick up the recruiting pace or he is going to be left behind. This may be a make-it or break-it year for his program.
Outside of Madison and Ann Arbor it's hard for me to see any more losses on MSU's schedule this year. They're unfortunately a super good team with an even higher ceiling with Payne.
Can Michigan finish out the conference 8-3 to share the conference title? That's a tall order.
MSU is certainly very good, but three teams have already taken them to overtime in conference play (two of them in Breslin) and IU played them close, also in Breslin. They could drop one unexpectedly.
(This is where I miss Carmody at Northwestern. He seemed to upset MSU a lot.)
I don't think basketball will ever fully eclipse football, but next year should be interesting. I do think the team will be semi-competitve for a conference title next year, and the football team should be a bit better. It will be neck-and-neck for the foreseeable future, though one has to wonder if Beilein will get a bit of a jolt in recruiting after the championship game run last year. Probably won't mean he'll be getting the Parker-types, but one or two top-100 guys a year plus some nice pieces keeps the trains running on time.
Chatman, what a great get for M and that came out of no where. Could be a GRIII type, hopefully more aggressive. Also the guards for 2015(a long ways away I know) that are showing interest are a nice group. Belien will continue to win because his system doesn't need super stars, but hey super stars want to play for winners. Football school or basketball school? Why not both?
Oh, absolutely. I couldn't remember his name off the top of my head, but that's kind of my point. He only needs to get 1 or 2 top guys a years to stay competitive, as opposed to Calipari who needs to bring in 3-4 McDonald All Stars a year because everyone leaves after a year.
but it'll be great if you can re-format this a bit to make it more clear that it's the different writers having their own sections answering the same questions vs them asking the questions to Seth who then writing all the responses back.
I was a bit confused until I was half down the article :|
I thought the same thing.
In the Spring of 1966.
Three straight top-10 seasons, two Final Fours. We'd just missed out on signing Alcindor the year before. Sure, Cazzie was graduating, but there was a skinny kid in Hamtramak who would be enrolling and after a year of freshman eligibility, he looked like Things were looking up, and Strack was looking like a championship machine as a coach.
The football team had a string of sub-500 seasons until the 64 Season Big10 title and 65 Rose Bowl, but that looked at the time to have been an even bigger fluke than the ride to the 2012 Sugar Bowl.
Things didn't turn out that way. Football was to an elite level within a couple of years and stayed there the next 40. It was nearly a decade before the basketball team got back to being ranked and competing for the Big 10 title. But wow, once it did there weren't many colleges in the country with a run like Michigan had in both FB and BB for a 25-or so year run.
Things can change.
In a hurry.
I watched the replay of Walton's second and most timely and1, I must say it's next to impossible to count the fans in the crowd with two hands clasped over their faces/heads in disbelief. Now that is priceless, more slapping please. Oh, and we don't need a safety word keep em' coming.
A Ken Pom comparison shows the Big 10 > Big 12 in the top 1/2 and the Big 12 > Big 10 in the bottom half.
As Seth points out we have ND, MSU, NW, and OSU on the road next year. We have exactly zero remotely impressive road wins under Brady Hoke. I think 9 wins will be tough.
I hope Nussmeier turns that around (or helps turn that around) but I wouldn't go so far as to predict it.
Is NW supposed to be good next year? I thought they were going to lose a lot.
Haven't you heard, they're professionals now! /s
Northwestern was very injured last year. They get back a lot of that this season, lose Kain Colter, will now start UNSTOPPABLE THROW GOD TREVOR SIEMIEN. They also get back Venric Mark, who's one of the best RBs in the league and probably the best KR and PR in the conference.