2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Wisconsin

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Wisconsin

Submitted by Alex Cook on November 17th, 2016 at 5:05 PM

nigel hayes

Nigel Hayes [Getty]

PREVIOUSLY: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers

Note: Wisconsin has played two games thus far, overwhelming a cupcake at home and losing to a solid Creighton team on the road, 79-67. Surprisingly, they allowed 1.20 points per possession to the Blue Jays and went 11-39 from three themselves. Turnovers, typically uncharacteristic of Wisconsin teams, were also a problem. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig led the Badgers in scoring in that game.

It’s hard to believe that Wisconsin opened up the 2015-16 season with a home loss to Western Illinois; they started out 7-5 (with only one of those losses to a tournament team) before Bo Ryan surprisingly retired midseason. Long-term assistant Greg Gard was given a trial run to secure the job permanently, and when the Badgers started conference play 1-4, it looked like the odds of that were slim. Three of those losses were to quality opponents but a loss to Northwestern was particularly tough. It looked like even an NIT bid would require a significant turnaround.

Fast-forward to this offseason and Wisconsin – which returns all five of its starters – is the consensus favorite to win the conference. They responded to that Northwestern loss with a home upset over Michigan State by a single point, and including that game, finished on an extended 11-2 streak to end the regular season – they beat every tournament team in the league except for Purdue. Even with a first round upset loss to Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament, they made it safely into the NCAA Tournament.

[Rest of the preview after the JUMP]

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Rutgers

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Rutgers

Submitted by Alex Cook on November 14th, 2016 at 5:05 PM

corey sanders

Corey Sanders [Jason Towlen – AP]

PREVIOUSLY: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue

NOTE: Rutgers defeated D-II Molloy College in their season-opener on Friday, 86-57. On Sunday, they faced their first D-I opponent and won easily against Drexel, 87-66. Six Knights scored in double figures.

Last year, Rutgers was more or less a running gag for Big Ten basketball – the Scarlet Knights went 7-25 on the season, started conference play with an 0-17 record (before beating a Minnesota team that was also terrible and decimated by suspension in the season finale), and finished 279th nationally in Kenpom’s algorithm, easily the worst of any Big Ten team in his website’s database, which starts in 2002. Eddie Jordan, an alum who’d spent time coaching in the NBA, was fired after the season.

[Preview after the JUMP]

MGoRadio 2.9: The Color of Corn

MGoRadio 2.9: The Color of Corn

1 hour 28 minutes

CxA9gDXUAAAAuLh

MGoRadio was recorded before a live retail audience at The Bo Store, 333 S. Main. If you haven’t checked out Rishi and Ryan’s latest venture, do so. Special guests: Dr. Sap, who has a Twitter finally.

Sponsors

The reason we can put out so much audio content now is it’s paid for. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and Ryan and their people have been huge MGoBlog supporters from the start.

Our other sponsors are also key in the expanding empire: thanks to Homesure Lending, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Deo Bookkeeping, Michigan Law Grad, Defensive Drivers Group, Tailgater Concierge, and Peak Wealth Management.

1. Maryland Defenestration After Review

The Speightening: 88% is the very best of downfield success ratings. Ben Braden at left tackle is surviving. Preview of this defense versus Curtis Samuel on the edge says ask again later. McCray has to take some better angles; Stribling still has those edge tackling issues. Taco supreme, Winovich is comin’, Hurst is a Dude.

2. Gimmicky Top Five: Things We Are Excited About for This Basketball Season. Also Crootin.

starts at 25:02

Iowa is corn. BTN stream-only has the game tonight so you probably can’t watch it. Looking forward to the Donlonation of the Defense and BIG PEOPLE!

The Aubrey’s Mom situation went as well as it can possibly go. Cramming 32 guys in this class will see some attrition from current commits. Not laughing at Willie Gay possibility anymore. Laughing at how good this class is likely to be though.

3. Dr. Sap and Hayden Fry’s Psychological Degree

starts at 51:53

Michigan historian Steve Sapardanis joins us for the story of the pink locker room and the 1985 team that had way more to be mad about than that. How to do the decals on the helmet correctly. Attention to details: snapping correctly, and the right blockiness of the Bo ‘M’.

4. Iowa is Everything That Was Offensive About the Carr Years

starts at 1:04:16

image

this is why that song, Brian.

Iowa fans trolled Bill Connelly for returning their 12-2 team, and they’re right back where they were last year except less lucky. Their offense is so so badly orchestrated that Ace was offended watching it. Challenging DeBord for how many drives can you start with a zone stretch? They run a lot of Akrum Wadley slip screens and high-lows.

They’ve got some really good defensive players—WDEs are going all out for pass rush and getting gashed for it. Their WLB is a big hole. Probably should have labeled both safeties as sore spots.

Also a reader’s question finally outs Brian’s bolded alter ego.

Bullshit.

Whatever dude.

MUSIC:

  • “Interstate 80 Iowa”—Sean and Jake
  • “The Fool”—Ramesh
  • “Ten Years”—Rev Theory
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Wrap

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Wrap

Submitted by Ace on November 11th, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Previously: John Beilein media day transcriptBilly Donlon media day quotesMGoPodcast 8.7Point GuardsWings (Part I)Wings (Part II), Bigs

Alex's team previews: IllinoisIndianaIowaMarylandMichiganMichigan StateMinnesotaNebraskaNorthwesternOhio State, Penn State, Purdue (last couple still to come)


New uniforms, new defense, same Beilein. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

You're forgiven for not feeling basketball fever this year. The football team is in the midst of a magical season. The hoops squad has followed an outstanding three-year run with KenPom finishes of 74th and 50th the last two years. Tonight's season-opener is against the #275 team in the country, isn't on television, prefaces a huge road game for the football team, and falls during a week in which basketball hasn't been at the forefront of many people's minds.

Yet there is reason to be very excited about this season. Michigan brings back the core of last year's tournament team, one which overcame the loss of their best player to come within a half (and, yes, a subsequent game against a 14-seed) of making the Sweet Sixteen. While the Big Ten has a number of decent teams, it's unclear if any are capable of dominance.

And, of course, the program has undergone its biggest offseason of change since 2010. That summer, John Beilein overhauled his coaching staff after a 15-17 season. In came Lavall Jordan, the point guard whisperer, and Bacari Alexander, who molded Jordan Morgan into an impact big man. This summer, both Jordan and Alexander moved up to head coaching jobs, and Beilein had an opportunity to mold the staff as he saw fit again.

[Hit THE JUMP for the Billy Donlon overhaul, info on tonight's opener, and Alex Cook's projected Big Ten standings and all-conference teams.]

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Penn St.

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Penn St.

Submitted by Alex Cook on November 9th, 2016 at 12:00 PM

shep garner

Shep Garner [Greg Bartram – USA Today]

PREVIOUSLY: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St.

Back in the 2010-2011 season, Penn State was forced to vacate its basketball facilities to accommodate preparation for a Jon Bon Jovi concert, and then a career fair – they had to practice at a rec sports facility commonly used by the volleyball team. This was part of the stretch run for a senior-laden team led by Talor Battle, which snuck into the NCAA Tournament after winning a few games in the Big Ten Tournament (the infamous 36-33 victory over Wisconsin during that tournament might have been the win to get them in). After the season was over, long-time head coach Ed DeChellis stepped down from the job to coach at… Navy.

Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the Sisyphean nature of Penn State basketball than those few months, a program routinely plays in near-empty arenas despite having the athletic department to accommodate a gargantuan football program. I mentioned this in the Nebraska preview, but Penn State’s unique challenges might be the most difficult in the Big Ten (beyond Northwestern’s, of course).

Pat Chambers took over for DeChellis and it seems like the boilerplate compliments given to Chambers teams are that they play hard and give a ton of effort. Typically, those types of comments are reserved for teams with decided talent disadvantages and the record has borne that out for Chambers in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lions have gone a combined 23-67 in Big Ten play since he took over. Needless to say, there was no momentum after that surprise tournament bid back in the spring of 2011 and the program has predictably struggled.

It will probably be more of the same for Penn State this year. They lost senior Brandon Taylor, a high-volume iso scoring forward who usually played the four, and adjusting to his absence will be a challenge. Chambers’s familiarity with the Philadelphia recruiting scene paid off in a big way, as he was able to sign a trio of players from Roman Catholic High School, two of whom were Top 100 prospects nationally. Even if the talent level has risen some, Penn State’s best players will be young and escaping from the bottom half of the Big Ten will be difficult.

[More on the Nittany Lions after the JUMP]

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Bigs

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Bigs

Submitted by Ace on November 3rd, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Previously: John Beilein media day transcriptBilly Donlon media day quotesMGoPodcast 8.7Alex's team previewPoint GuardsWings (Part I), Wings (Part II)


Moe Wagner can take M's center position to new heights. [Bryan Fuller]

Michigan entered last season hoping that Ricky Doyle would take full control of the center position and look the part of a reliable four-year starter. Instead, Doyle couldn't hold onto the ball or the starting job, and in March we learned he'd been suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea. Mark Donnal supplanted Doyle even though freshman Moe Wagner, in brief early-season appearances, looked like the better player. An uninspiring Donnal-Doyle rotation lasted all the way through Big Ten season; after barely playing, Wagner broke through in the postseason.

Entering this season, the starting job is Wagner's to lose. Donnal looks destined to finish his Michigan career in a backup role; while Donnal is a redshirt junior, John Beilein has been understandably noncommital about bringing him back for a fifth year. Two very large freshmen, Jon Teske and Austin Davis, will battle for spare minutes; in all likelihood, one will get their feet wet while the other redshirts.

Please stay out of foul trouble, Moe.

[Hit THE JUMP for player breakdowns.]

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Wings (Part II)

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Wings (Part II)

Submitted by Ace on November 2nd, 2016 at 2:16 PM

Previously: John Beilein media day transcriptBilly Donlon media day quotesMGoPodcast 8.7Alex's team previewPoint Guards, Wings (Part I)


Is this the year for a DJ Wilson breakout? [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]

The offseason transfers of Kam Chatman and Aubrey Dawkins have left Michigan surprisingly thin on the wing. After starters Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Zak Irvin, and Duncan Robinson, there are only two scholarship players who slot into the 2-4 spots: DJ Wilson and Ibi Watson, who have only 182 career minutes played between them, all belonging to Wilson.

Both will play—even with Derrick Walton covering a lot of minutes at the two with Xavier Simpson running the point, John Beilein will need to deploy both Wilson and Watson to keep the starters fresh. What the two will contribute is anyone's guess. Wilson is a big, athletic redshirt sophomore who's still figuring out how to function in Beilein's system; Watson is a true freshman without much in the way of recruiting hype. Both are intriguing players with potential; both have something to prove before they can be relied upon.

[Hit THE JUMP for player breakdowns.]

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Northwestern

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Northwestern

Submitted by Alex Cook on November 2nd, 2016 at 11:30 AM

bryant mcintosh

Bryant McIntosh [Nuccio DiNuzzo –  Chicago Tribune]

PREVIOUSLY: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska

After thirteen seasons with Bill Carmody at the helm, Northwestern decided to move in a different direction, bringing in Chris Collins – a Duke assistant and son of former NBA coach Doug Collins – to lead the program on its quest for its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. That drought is the overwhelming narrative of Northwestern basketball; the goal for Collins – or really for any NU coach – is very simple, though quite difficult. As the administration’s patience with Carmody shows, he’ll probably be given plenty of time to get the Cats to the dance before they turn to someone else.

Through three seasons, it’s hard to tell if Collins will be able to get the program there or not. The challenges of coaching at Northwestern are obviously much different than they were at Duke, and even though he’s improved NU’s recruiting and upped the general talent level of the program, they’ve struggled to develop an identity as Collins has had to learn to be a head coach on the fly. Last season, they had an incredibly easy non-conference schedule and went 12-1 (losing only to North Carolina, the national runner-up), but had a losing record in Big Ten play and didn’t even get an NIT bid.

Still, even if the wins came mostly against poor competition, Year Three was a step in the right direction for Collins and the Wildcats: they jumped to 68th in Kenpom’s rankings after finishing outside the Top 100 in the first two seasons of his tenure. Northwestern does lose two key seniors – chucker combo guard Tre Demps and the Great and Powerful big man Alex Olah – but they return their best player, point guard Bryant McIntosh, get Vic Law back from injury, and have a promising class of rising sophomores. At Northwestern, building is slow, but the NIT is a realistic goal for this season.

[More on the Wildcats after the JUMP]

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Wings (Part I)

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Wings (Part I)

Submitted by Ace on October 31st, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Previously: John Beilein media day transcriptBilly Donlon media day quotesMGoPodcast 8.7Alex's team preview, Point Guards


[Paul Sherman/MGoBlog]

After a hiatus for State Week, the hoops preview continues with a look at Michigan's starters on the wing. I'll cover the backups in a separate post later this week; Seth's been kind enough to take over the Maryland FFFF this week so I have time to get these posted before the season starts.

The starting wings will be the same as last year: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman mans the two while Duncan Robinson and Zak Irvin occupy the nominal forward spots. All three had their ups and downs in 2015-16; all have the potential to make a huge mark on the 2016-17 season if they can more consistently play to their strengths.

[Hit THE JUMP for the player previews.]

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Minnesota

2016-17 B1G Basketball Preview: Minnesota

Submitted by Alex Cook on October 24th, 2016 at 2:06 PM

nate mason

Nate Mason [Brad Rempel – USA Today]

PREVIOUSLY: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St.

After deciding to fire Tubby Smith after an underwhelming six years in the Twin Cities, Minnesota decided to go in a different direction with their next coach; Richard Pitino does have a famous basketball name, but he was very young, enthusiastic, and inexperienced when he got the Minnesota job – he’d only been a head coach for one season. It was a bold gamble and so far, it hasn’t worked out. In his first season (2013-14) at the helm, the Gophers barely missed the NCAA Tournament and their record slipped a little bit the next season, but Minnesota was at least a decent team.

The bottom fell out last season. In the month of November, Minnesota went 5-2 without any bad losses (and they even had a pretty good win over Clemson), but they were absolutely terrible for the rest of the season, posting a record of 3-21 after the calendar flipped to December. It took them until the 14th game of conference play to get their first win, upsetting Maryland at home in what was perhaps the most surprising result in all of Big Ten play last season. After a few key suspensions late in the season, they finished the year with a 23-point loss to Rutgers (who was previously winless in the Big Ten) and a 33-point defeat to Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament.

Usually by the time a coach gets to his third season in a new job, the program is pretty much his; holdovers from Tubby helped Pitino early on, but once the personnel was mostly recruited by him, the Gophers had a major slide. He retained his job and has a surprisingly high buyout, but unless last year was an extreme aberration, the long-term prognosis doesn’t look good. To be fair, they were a young team last season and there are signs of hope – junior guard Nate Mason is the best player Pitino brought in, Jordan Murphy was a pleasant surprise last year as a freshman, there are good transfers and a good recruiting class coming in, etc. – but there will need to be progress or Minnesota will be looking for a new coach fairly soon.

[More on the Gophers after the JUMP]