Basketbullets: Still-Not-A-Bubble Watch, The Last Two Plays

Basketbullets: Still-Not-A-Bubble Watch, The Last Two Plays

Submitted by Ace on March 2nd, 2017 at 2:46 PM


Five days ago. [Bryan Fuller]

That wasn't a fun way to lose. I'll cede that point. The reaction to a one-point road loss, however painful it may have been, has still been borderline hysterical. Heading into last night, Michigan had won five of six—with the one loss a ref screw-job in Minneapolis—while moving off the NCAA tournament bubble. They have the best offense in the Big Ten by a wide margin and a defense that's steadily improving. They lost last night on a prayer of a play that was inches away from backfiring spectacularly; if Nathan Taphorn's pass flies another six inches or so, Michigan is inbounding under Northwestern's basket with a chance to win in regulation.

With a night to sleep on it, here's where things really stand: Michigan is still comfortably in the NCAA tournament field. Jerry Palm's latest bracket denotes 15 bubble teams, including Michigan State. Michigan, projected as a nine-seed, isn't one of them. Joe Lunardi dropped the Wolverines one seed line—to a nine-seed. Michigan is still an eight-seed on the Bracket Matrix, though they'll slide back to a nine as more projections are updates; that's still not on the bubble.

Illinois, a team that Penn State swept this season, has moved into the field on several projections, including Palm's. This year's bubble is really soft. If Michigan loses out, they're in danger of a nerve-wracking Selection Sunday. They have two very winnable games left: at Nebraska, a team that's never beaten Michigan since joining the Big Ten, and a neutral-site game in the BTT against a team that won't be seeded higher than ninth. KenPom gives Michigan a 63% chance to beat Nebraska. The most likely BTT scenario, a 7/10 matchup with Ohio State, gives M a 68% chance of picking up another win, per Bart Torvik's tourney simulator. That works out to a 12% chance of losing both games.

The rending of garments is premature.

[Hit THE JUMP for the final play and more.]

Hoops Preview: Northwestern

Hoops Preview: Northwestern

Submitted by Ace on March 1st, 2017 at 2:11 PM


WHAT #27 Michigan (19-10, 9-7 B1G) at
#37 Northwestern (20-9, 9-7)
WHERE Welsh-Ryan Arena
Evanston, Illinois
WHEN 7 pm ET, Wednesday
LINE Northwestern -1 (KenPom)
Northwestern -1 (Vegas)
PBP: Kevin Kugler
Analyst: Stephen Bardo

Right: McIntawwwww. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]


A Michigan team that suddenly finds itself on firm tournament footing faces a Northwestern team that suddenly finds itself back on the bubble. The Wolverines are an eight-seed in the latest Bracket Matrix. The Wildcats, losers of five of their last seven, have fallen to the ten-seed line after looking like a dead lock heading into February. They are, after all, Northwestern.

This game has significant implications for the NCAA bubble and Big Ten Tournament seeding. Both teams are 9-7 in the Big Ten, one game behind Michigan State and Minnesota, which are tied for fourth place. Michigan can still get the four-seed and a double-bye in the conference tournament by winning out and getting some help; you can play around with the various scenarios here. The only scenario I've found that gets Michigan to the four-seed requires Minnesota to lose out (Nebraska, @Wisconsin) and Michigan State to drop one of their last two (@Illinois, @Maryland).


The BTN helpfully laid out all of the various BTT seeding scenarios:

6. Michigan (9-7)
Can be as high as #4 seed with wins in its final 2 games (at Northwestern and Nebraska) + 2 Minnesota losses + 1 MSU loss OR wins in its final 2 games + 2 MSU losses + 2 Wisconsin losses
Can’t finish higher than #6 with a loss at Northwestern tonight
Could fall as low as #8 with 2 losses + tiebreakers


The line has moved to Michigan -2 after opening at Northwestern -1.


Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 30 Bryant McIntosh Jr. 6'3, 185 85 27 99 Yes
Good distributor. Takes lots of tough shots, occasionally makes them.
G 20 Scottie Lindsey Jr. 6'5, 210 67 23 109 Kinda
NW's leading scorer in slump since midseason bout with mono.
F 4 Vic Law So. 6'7, 205 81 21 104 Not At All
Solid defender, rebounder, and outside shooter. Only making 35% of twos.
F 34 Sanjay Lumpkin Sr. 6'6, 220 70 11 127 Kinda
Low-usage garbageman type. Iffy outside shot.
C 5 Dererk Pardon So. 6'8, 235 56 14 121 Very
Strong finisher, rebounder, and shot-blocker. Plays 70% of mins when healthy.
F 44 Gavin Skelly Jr. 6'8, 225 47 19 111 Kinda
Gets offensive boards and blocks. Struggling to finish, turnover- and foul-prone.
G 12 Isiah Brown Fr. 6'2, 175 41 27 90 Yes
Like McIntosh, but without the assists.
F 32 Nathan Taphorn Sr. 6'7, 215 28 16 127 Not At All
Just A Shooter™, hits 45% of his threes.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]

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]