Preview: Northwestern

Preview: Northwestern

Submitted by Ace on March 3rd, 2015 at 2:30 PM

maar-nw

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (14-14, 7-9 B1G) at
Northwestern (14-5, 5-11)
WHERE Welsh-Ryan Arena,
Evanston, Illinois
WHEN 9 pm ET, Tuesday
LINE Northwestern -2 (KenPom)
TV BTN
PBP: Dave Revsine
Analyst: Jim Jackson

Right: Rahk had nine points on seven shots in the first matchup. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]

THE US

Derrick Walton is still expected to sit out, though he did at least travel to Maryland on Saturday.

THE LAST TIME

Thanks to a strong all-around performance by Caris LeVert and a missed layup by Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh on the game's final possession, Michigan escaped with a 56-54 win at Crisler back in mid-January. A solid outing from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman covered for the absence of a sick Spike Albrecht. The efforts of those two and Derrick Walton—who hit some timely threes—were just enough to overcome a 22-point game from Wildcats center Alex Olah.

On that fateful final play, LeVert came up limping. We'd soon learn he was out for the rest of the season. Michigan, 4-2 in the conference after the win, has gone 3-7 since.

THE STAKES

This is close to a must-win for Michigan if they want to get into the NIT. While a losing record no longer automatically disqualifies a team from making the NIT, no such team has been selected; Michigan would need to beat Rutgers and win the 8/9 game in the Big Ten Tournament just to get back to .500. (I don't believe the NIT counts the victory over Hillsdale, a D-II team.) That wouldn't necessarily guarantee Michigan gets in—they'd probably have to pull a huge upset over Wisconsin in the next round to lock down a spot.

Needless to say, the path to the NIT is a whole lot easier if Michigan wins the remaining two regular season games. At that point, they'd probably only need to win one game in the conference tournament to feel good about their postseason standing.

THE LINEUP CARD

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 SIBMIHHAT
G 30 Bryant McIntosh Fr. 6'3, 177 85 24 No
Decent scorer, high assist rate. Not remarkably efficient, but can create.
G 14 Tre Demps Jr. 6'3, 198 82 24 Not really
Takes a ton of shots but isn't a great shooter: 48/33/65 2P/3P/FT%.
G/F 20 Scottie Lindsey Fr. 6'5, 175 41 15 No
Low usage, mostly out there for defense. Struggling with shot.
F 34 Sanjay Lumpkin So. 6'6, 220 85 10 Not Really
Minuscule usage, efficiency has plummeted in B1G play. Meh rebounder.
C 22 Alex Olah Jr. 7'0, 270 72 25 Yes
Good rebounder, shot-blocker. Not a great finisher, but has range.
F 4 Vic Law Fr. 6'7, 185 53 20 Not really
Good defender, rebounder whose offensive game is still developing.
G 23 JerShon Cobb Sr. 6'5, 208 36 15 No
Spot-up shooter (36% 3P) missed last six games due to injury. Questionable.
F 32 Nathan Taphorn So. 6'7, 215 20 18 No
Hitting 59% of twos and 50% of threes in limited opportunities.

THE RESUME

Northwestern's loss to Michigan was their fourth defeat in what would become a ten-game losing streak—they didn't win a game between December 30th and February 15th. The Wildcats then ripped off four straight wins, beating Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State (60-39!), and Indiana; three of those came at home. Most recently, they got crushed at Illinois.

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

Preview: Maryland

Preview: Maryland

Submitted by Ace on February 27th, 2015 at 3:01 PM

testudo

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (14-13, 7-8 B1G) at
Maryland (23-5, 11-4)
WHERE Comcast Center,
College Park, Maryland
WHEN Noon ET, Saturday
LINE Maryland -8 (KenPom)
TV ESPN
PBP: Bob Wischusen
Analyst: Dan Dakich

Right: Testudo, circa 1942. Yes, that's intended to look like a turtle.

THE US

Once again, it doesn't look like Derrick Walton will be available. John Beilein said today that Walton underwent X-rays (negative) earlier this week, then tried to return to basketball activities on Thursday, but didn't complete the workout.

THE STAKES

Despite the win over Ohio State, Michigan is still on the NIT bubble. They're projected as a six-seed on three NIT bracketology sites. In all likelihood, the Wolverines are going to need to win two of their last three regular season games (securing a winning record) and perhaps one more in the BTT to secure a bid. Remember, that NIT bubble shrinks every time there's a surprise conference tournament winner that wouldn't otherwise make the NCAAs.

As Drew Hallett points out, there's another seeding watch: BTT seeding, which could become very important if Michigan loses two of their last three. If the season ended right now, Michigan would be the nine-seed, playing #8 Illinois in the second round for the right to face top-seeded Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. That scenario is far from ideal, of course, but Michigan likely has to win out and get help to rise to the #7 seed and avoid the Badgers.

Winning this game would have a small chance of helping out Michigan's BTT seeding; more importantly, it would clear a major hurdle towards securing an NIT bid.

THE LINEUP CARD

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 SIBMIHHAT
G 2 Melo Trimble Fr. 6'3, 190 86 25 No
Impressive freshman gets to line a ton, hits outside shots.
G 44 Dez Wells Sr. 6'5, 215 74 31 No
Handles ball a lot. Selective but very efficient 3P shooter. Draws contact.
G 20 Richaud Pack Sr. 6'4, 190 59 12 Kinda
Very underwhelming shooting numbers, but gets to the line.
F 10 Jake Layman Jr. 6'9, 205 73 22 No
Skilled stretch 4 who can shoot, attack the basket, defend, and play the 5.
C 35 Damonte Dodd So. 6'11, 245 36 14 Very
Good rebounder and shot-blocker, but very turnover- and foul-prone.
F 1 Evan Smotrycz Sr. 6'9, 235 50 17 Kinda
Fully grown Lobstrycz having a very down shooting year.
F 11 Jared Nickens Fr. 6'7, 200 45 14 No
Spot-up gunner hits 40% of threes.
F 25 Jon Graham Sr. 6'8, 230 30 14 Very
Low usage rebounding specialist. Especially good on offensive glass.

THE RESUME

Maryland has only lost one home game all season—to #2 Virginia, way back in early December. On Tuesday, they successfully defended their turf against Wisconsin, pulling off a 59-53 upset.

No, this won't be easy.

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

Preview: Ohio State

Preview: Ohio State

Submitted by Ace on February 20th, 2015 at 2:35 PM

russell

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (13-13, 6-8 B1G) vs
Ohio State (19-7, 8-5)
WHERE Crisler Center,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 1 pm ET, Sunday
LINE Ohio State -6 (KenPom)
TV CBS
PBP: Kevin Harlan
Analyst: Bill Raftery

THE FUTURE

Before diving into the preview, let's take a look at next year's Big Ten schedule breakdown, which was released by the conference today:

Michigan Men's Basketball 2016 Big Ten Opponents

Home/Away: Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue

Home: Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, Rutgers

Away: Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin

On the plus side, it's a relatively favorable schedule. Michigan's toughest home-and-home is, uh, Iowa? Maryland? While the road-only slate is rough, that's a schedule set up for making a run.

From a fan's perspective, however, it sucks that we won't see Ohio State or Nebraska in Crisler next year; ditto trips to the Breslin Center or Assembly Hall.

THE STAKES

At this point, it's NIT bubble watch time. DRatings dropped Michigan from a two-seed to a four-seed in their latest update. The Bracket Matrix had the Wolverines as a six-seed before the loss to MSU. A loss to the Buckeyes won't bump Michigan from NIT contention, but a victory would make the stretch run a lot less daunting.

THE LAST TIME

Ohio State wallopped Michigan, 71-52, in Columbus. The Wolverines couldn't slow down freshman phenom D'Angelo Russell, who tallied 21 points and six assists, and they only managed 0.83 PPP even with LeVert and Walton in the lineup.

THE LINEUP CARD

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 SIBMIHHAT
G 3 Shannon Scott Sr. 6'1, 185 79 20 Yes
Great defender, facilitates offense well, still not much of a shooter.
G 0 D'Angelo Russell Fr. 6'5, 180 90 29 No
Volume scorer. Great outside shooter, even off dribble. Solid passer, too.
F 12 Sam Thompson Sr. 6'7, 200 88 18 Yes
Ridiculous hops. Very good finisher. Not a good shooter.
F 1 Jae'Sean Tate Fr. 6'4, 190 59 21 Yes
Excellent on the boards, good finisher, active defender. Turnover-prone.
C 23 Amir Williams Sr. 6'11, 250 43 15 Very
Effective finisher, good rebounder, blocks lots of shots. Turnover-prone.
F 2 Marc Loving So. 6'7, 215 51 19 No
Losing role/PT to Tate, but still shooting above 50% from three.
G 15 Kam Williams Fr. 6'2, 175 32 13 No
Efficient scorer sticks mostly to spot-up threes.
C 55 Trey McDonald Sr. 6'8, 240 23 15 Very
Very good rebounder, especially on offense. Decent rim protector.

THE RESUME

While the Buckeyes have only won twice on the road—against Northwestern and Rutgers—since they last faced Michigan, they haven't been an easy out away from home; losses at Purdue and MSU came by a combined five points. They've easily handled all challengers at home since their Big Ten opener against Iowa. At 8-5, they're at the back of the group pushing for second place behind Wisconsin.

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

Preview: Michigan State

Preview: Michigan State

Submitted by Ace on February 17th, 2015 at 2:30 PM

irvin-msu

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (13-12, 6-7 B1G) at
Michigan State (17-8, 8-4)
WHERE Crisler Center,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 9 pm ET, Tuesday
LINE MSU -2 (KenPom)
TV ESPN
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich

THE US

While there's still hope that Derrick Walton will return before the season ends, he won't be back in uniform tonight. 

THE STAKES

Losing four in a row has put Michigan in danger of missing the NIT. The Bracket Matrix listed M as a six-seed when they updated at the end of last week; DRatings put them as the last three-seed; Big Apple Buckets placed them as a five-seed before the Illinois loss.

While Michigan finishes with two very winnable games (at Northwestern, Rutgers), they probably need to pull an upset in one of these next three much more difficult games (MSU, OSU, at Maryland) to feel comfortable with their postseason chances heading into the Big Ten Tournament.

As for pride, Michigan hasn't lost to State at Crisler since 2010, when the Spartans got away with murder on the would-be game-winning lob to Deshawn Sims.

THE LAST TIME

Led by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan almost pulled off a shocker in the Breslin Center, surging in the second half before going scoreless in overtime. The Wolverines haven't won since.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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 SIBMIHHAT
G 20 Travis Trice Sr. 6'0, 170 80 25 No
Disciplined, productive distributor. Dangerous outside shooter. Not great inside arc.
G 5 Bryn Forbes Jr. 6'3, 180 68 15 No
Spot-up gunner hitting 46% of threes.
G 45 Denzel Valentine Jr. 6'5, 220 75 28 No
Does a bit of everything: rebounding, passing, shooting, and hilarious turnovers.
F 22 Branden Dawson Sr. 6'6, 225 84 22 Very
Great athlete, monster on the boards, excellent defender. Not a shot creator.
F 34 Gavin Schilling So. 6'9, 240 45 18 Very
Solid rebounder and rim protector. Decent finisher.
F 10 Matt Costello Jr. 6'9, 245 48 18 Very
Very similar minutes and profile as Schilling. Eminently elbowable face.
G 11 Lowrawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Fr. 5'10, 170 41 13 Very
All-pass, no-shoot PG who's prone to freshman mistakes.
G 3 Alvin Ellis So. 6'4, 205 18 14 Yes
Getting minutes with Javon Bess hurt. Has been really bad this year.

THE RESUME

Since the last meeting, MSU dropped a home game against Illinois, blew out Northwestern on the road, and most recently staved off Ohio State at the Breslin Center on a game-winner by Denzel Valentine. The Spartans are currently on the right side of the NCAA bubble. Michigan can play spoiler.

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

Preview: Illinois

Preview: Illinois

Submitted by Ace on February 12th, 2015 at 2:56 PM

dawkins

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (13-11, 6-6 B1G) vs.
Illinois (16-8, 6-5)
WHERE State Farm Center,
Champaign, Illinois
WHEN 9 pm ET, Thursday
LINE Illinois -5 (KenPom)
TV ESPN
PBP: Rich Hollenberg
Analyst: Dan Dakich

Right: The last time out, Illinois learned they should probably guard Aubrey Dawkins. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]

THE US

While Derrick Walton won't be in uniform tonight, there's hope he'll get back out there before the season is out:

"We fully expect to have him back," Beilein said. "We just don't know (when). When he can run pain-free, he's going to get back out there. Now obviously there's some rehab involved to just get his cardio back up. He can't do that yet. But when he can, two or three days later we'll put him in a game."

Beilein added that "he's been getting better every day, but certainly not ready yet." Unless he makes a very quick turnaround, it seems like the earliest he'd be available would be for the Feb. 22 game against Ohio State.

THE LAST TIME

Michigan took on Illinois at Crisler in the Big Ten opener, a game that feels like it took place decades ago. A torrent of threes from Aubrey Dawkins and a surprise changeup to the 2-3 zone led to a comeback, overtime victory on the day Jim Harbaugh was introduced as head coach.

THE STAKES

The Wolverines need a most unlikely run to have a shot at the NCAA tournament; they'd most likely need to win five of their last six regular season games and take at least one in the B1G tourney to earn an at-large bid. Maize n Brew's Drew Hallett took a look the odds using KenPom:

NIT eligibility is based on the assumption Michigan would need to finish with a winning record to make it—no team with a losing record has qualified even after the NIT eliminated that as a set-in-stone requirement. Per KenPom, this is the second-toughest game remaining on the schedule, so a win tonight would swing those odds more in Michigan's favor.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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 SIBMIHHAT
G 1 Jaylon Tate So. 6'3, 170 64 14 Very
High assist and turnover rates. Almost never shoots. Gets to line a ton.
G 25 Kendrick Nunn So. 6'3, 190 84 23 No
Very good outside shooter, less efficient inside arc, solid defender
G 21 Malcolm Hill So. 6'6, 230 88 24 No
Having a breakout season. Close to the rare 50/40/90 (2P/3P/FT%) club.
F 12 Leron Black Fr. 6'7, 220 40 21 Very
Very good rebounder. Not a great finisher. Foul-prone.
C 32 Nnanna Egwu Sr.  6'11, 250 75 14 Not really
Good shot-blocker, offensive rebounder. Can score in post or step out.
G 3 Ahmad Starks Sr. 5'9, 170 58 22 Not really
Nice assist:turnover, middling shooter, not a threat inside the arc.
G 24 Rayvonte Rice* Sr. 6'4, 230 15 24 No
Stocky, high-usage slasher now hits threes. Solid defensive rebounder.
G 11 Aaron Cosby* Jr. 6'3, 205 38 19 Kinda
Lost starting job to Nunn with eFG% hanging around 40.

*Rice and Cosby have been serving an indefinite suspension and it's unclear when they'll return. Both have been practicing with the team. Recent reports say Rice is expected to play while Cosby is not.

THE RESUME

Illinois got off to a rocky 2-4 start in Big Ten play, hampered by a road-heavy schedule and Rayvonte Rice suffering a broken hand that's sidelined him since early January. The Illini have bounced back with wins in four of their last five, including Saturday's upset in East Lansing.

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

Preview: Indiana

Preview: Indiana

Submitted by Ace on February 7th, 2015 at 5:10 PM

THE ESSENTIALS

crean-pants

WHAT Michigan (13-10, 6-5 B1G) at
Indiana (16-7, 6-4)
WHERE Assembly Hall,
Bloomington, Indiana
WHEN 1 pm ET, Sunday
LINE Indiana -8 (KenPom)
TV CBS
PBP: Kevin Harlan
Analyst: Clark Kellogg

THE US

Michigan has won just twice in Assembly Hall since the 1989 championship season, and they'll still be without the services of Derrick Walton this time around, though his prognosis has ever so slightly improved:

Walton, who has missed the last three games because of a foot injury, could return this season — a potential upgrade from last week, when coach John Beilein said that Walton would be out for "the foreseeable future" because of an injury compounded by a turf-toe issue. ...

"He's in that (walking) boot and when he can walk pain-free again, then we'll start looking at it. We're doing therapy in the pool and different things with him. We're very hopeful he can return at some point this year," Beilein told reporters Saturday.

Hooray.

THE STAKES

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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 SIBMIHHAT
G 11 Yogi Ferrell Jr. 6'0, 178 93 21 No
Dangerous outside shooter and great distributor.
G 4 Robert Johnson Fr. 6'3, 195 64 19 No
Sharpshooter takes half his shots from 3-pt. A bit turnover-prone.
G 1 James Blackmon Fr. 6'4, 190 69 26 No
Excellent shooter, good athlete, can help on boards. Dealing w/ ankle injury.
F 5 Troy Williams So. 6'7, 206 68 25 Very
Outstanding athlete, solid finisher and rebounder, not a shooter.
F 30 Collin Hartman So. 6'6, 210 62 13 No
Low-usage stretch F hitting 59%(!) of threes in B1G play.
G 2 Nick Zeisloft Jr.. 6'4, 205 49 14 No
Almost exclusively a 3-pt shooter, hits 41% of them.
F 25 Emmitt Holt Fr. 6'7, 215 33 14 Very
Low usage. Solid rebounder who tends to finish his chances at rim.
G 22 Stanford Robinson So. 6'4, 193 31 20 Very
Slasher who hits just 38% of twos and is 0/9 from three on the season.

THE RESUME

Indiana looked pretty solid in nonconference play, beating #28 SMU and #18 Butler before taking #23 Georgetown to overtime; their loss to #11 Louisville was quite understandable, not so much a defeat at the hands of #125 Eastern Washington in Assembly Hall.

In Big Ten play, it's been all about the home/road splits: they're 4-0 in Assembly Hall and 2-4 away from it, with the road wins coming against Nebraska and Illinois. They've dropped three of their last four, though the most recent game, a road blowout at Wisconsin with James Blackmon Jr. sidelined due to an ankle injury, is hard to hold against them.

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

Preview: Iowa

Preview: Iowa

Submitted by Ace on February 5th, 2015 at 11:22 AM

THE ESSENTIALS

levert-iowa

WHAT Michigan (13-9, 6-4 B1G) vs
Iowa (13-8, 4-4)
WHERE Crisler Center,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 7 pm ET, Thursday
LINE Michigan -2 (KenPom)
TV ESPN
PBP: Rece Davis
Analyst: LaPhonso Ellis

Right: Last year was fun, unless you were Roy Devyn Marble. [Fuller]

THE US

Derrick Walton is out for a while, which Dylan points out robs Michigan of their best individual defender by Synergy's numbers. (Aubrey Dawkins grades out slightly better, but in a much smaller sample size.)

The dropoff is particularly large between Walton (93rd percentile in points per possession against) and Spike Albrecht (16th); expect Michigan to continue utilizing a liberal dosage of zone defense to compensate.

THE STAKES

At this point, all home games are must-wins for those still holding out hope for an NCAA bid.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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 SIBMIHHAT
G 10 Mike Gesell Jr. 6'2, 190 60 23 Yes
High assist rate offset by too many TOs. Solid inside arc, iffy outside shooter.
G 3 Peter Jok So. 6'6, 200 53 22 Not really
Lanky, disruptive defender still developing offensive game.
F 20 Jarrod Uthoff Jr. 6'9, 210 80 23 No
Solid outside shooter, rebounder, passer, and weakside shot-blocker.
F 30 Aaron White Sr. 6'9, 228 74 22 Yes
Slasher who finishes well, gets a ton of points at the line. Good rebounder.
C 34 Adam Woodbury Jr. 7'1, 240 50 21 Very
Very good rebounder. Not very skilled. Royal pain in the ass.
G 2 Josh Oglesby Sr. 6'5, 200 56 9 Kinda
Tiny-usage three-point gunner who's been awful from field this season.
C 0 Gabriel Olaseni Sr. 6'10, 237 49 26 Very
Athletic big. Great offensive rebounder. Solid shot-blocker. High FT rate.
G 5 Anthony Clemmons Jr. 6'2, 195 46 15 No
Low-usage backup PG. Relatively low assist rate, somewhat turnover prone.

THE RESUME

The Hawkeyes have had an up-and-down year, and they're currently in a down period after blowouts at the hands on Wisconsin's unstoppable offense sandwiched a narrow loss at Purdue. Iowa boasts a road win over UNC and a season sweep against Ohio State; they've otherwise struggled against quality competition.

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

Preview: Michigan State

Preview: Michigan State

Submitted by Ace on January 31st, 2015 at 2:50 PM

THE ESSENTIALS

walton-state

WHAT Michigan (13-8, 6-3 B1G) at
Michigan State (14-7, 5-3)
WHERE Breslin Center,
East Lansing, Michigan
WHEN 1 pm ET, Sunday
LINE MSU -8 (KenPom)
TV CBS
PBP: Ian Eagle
Analyst: Bill Raftery

THE US

This is ominous:

This is more ominous:

If that's on the table, it doesn't sound like Walton will play; even if he does, he'll still be quite limited. At this stage, it might be best to shut him down for a while.

THE STAKES

This isn't a must-win for Michigan's tournament hopes, but a victory would help their prospects quite a bit. KenPom currently projects M to finish with a 10-8 conference record, and they'll need that to be at least 11-7 to have a good shot of grabbing a bid, in all likelihood. Of the remaining games on the schedule, this is the one KenPom least likes M to win—his numbers give a 17% chance at victory. Pulling this off would change the outlook dramatically.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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 SIBMIHHAT
G 20 Travis Trice Sr. 6'0, 170 82 25 No
Disciplined and productive distributor. Dangerous outside shooter. Not great inside arc.
G 5 Bryn Forbes Jr. 6'3, 180 69 14 No
Spot-up gunner hitting 47% of threes.
G 45 Denzel Valentine Jr. 6'5, 220 70 28 No
Does a bit of everything: rebounding, passing, shooting, and hilarious turnovers.
F 22 Branden Dawson Sr. 6'6, 225 82 22 Very
Great athlete, monster on the boards, excellent defender. Not a shot creator.
F 34 Gavin Schilling So. 6'9, 240 45 20 Very
Solid rebounder and rim protector. Decent finisher.
F 10 Matt Costello Jr. 6'9, 245 45 18 Very
Very similar minutes and profile as Schilling. Eminently elbowable face.
G 11 Lowrawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Fr. 5'10, 170 37 13 Very
All-pass, no-shoot PG who's prone to freshman mistakes.
G 2 Javon Bess Fr. 6'5, 215 29 16 Kinda
Good rebounder, defender earned starting job before spraining ankle. May be limited.

THE RESUME

While MSU has come close to a marquee win a few times—a five-point loss against #12 Kansas, overtime losses to #13 Notre Dame and #34 Maryland—they've yet to beat a team ranked higher than #44 Iowa on KenPom. With the exception of losses against Texas Southern and Nebraska, they've beaten the teams they should and lost to the teams you'd expect.

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

Preview: Nebraska

Preview: Nebraska

Submitted by Ace on January 27th, 2015 at 1:54 PM

THE ESSENTIALS

tim-miles-toilet

WHAT Michigan (12-8, 5-3 B1G) vs
Nebraska (12-7, 4-3)
WHERE Crisler Center,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 7 pm ET, Tuesday
LINE Michigan -3 (KenPom)
TV ESPN
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich

THE US

John Beilein hinted during his Monday presser that we could see a shakeup of the starting lineup:

Playing its second game without LeVert, Michigan used the same starting lineup of Walton, Albrecht, Irvin, Doyle and Aubrey Dawkins that it fielded against Rutgers last week.

That could change against the Huskers. Asked Monday if his shadowy comment about being "pretty banged up right now" could equate to a change in the starting lineup, Beilein responded, "There could be, yes."

Given how little Spike Albrecht played down the stretch against Wisconsin—and how well Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman performed in his stead—it wouldn't be surprising for MAAR to get his second career start.

THE STAKES

This is essentially a must-win if Michigan wants to keep their already thin tournament hopes alive. They need to hold serve in their five remaining home games and steal at least one on the road to have a realistic shot of playing their way in during the conference tournament.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. 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 SIBMIHHAT
G 3 Benny Parker Jr. 5'9, 172 75 10 No
Almost nonexistent usage. Solid shooter, knack for getting to line.
G 5 Terran Pettaway Jr. 6'6, 215 87 34 No
Extreme high volume shooter, decent passer, makes his share of tough shots.
F 31 Shavon Shields Jr. 6'7, 221 89 29 Yes
Also takes a ton of shots. Advanced midrange game, struggling from beyond arc.
F 35 Walter Pitchford Jr. 6'10, 237 68 13 Kinda
Stretch four type only shooting 31% from three. Solid defensive rebounder.
F 21 Leslee Smith Sr. 6'8, 255 23 16 Very
Working way back from ACL injury. Good rebounder, active defender.
G 11 Tarin Smith Fr. 6'2, 175 47 17 Yes
Wing who's much better attacking basket than shooting from outside.
G 0 Tai Webster So. 6'4, 199 25 16 Yes
Turnover-prone tall PG. Decent finisher, poor shooter.
F 12 Moses Abraham Sr. 6'9, 252 18 16 Very
Good rebounder, decent finisher, quite foul-prone. All-Biblical Name First-Team.

THE RESUME

Nebraksa has a couple quality home wins this year, a double-overtime triumph over #33 Cincinnati and Tuesday's two-point victory over Michigan State—the latter had added difficulty due to Walter Pitchford's early ejection for elbowing Matt Costello in the face. Their only road win on the season, however, came at #134 Florida State; while they took #60 Rhode Island to overtime they were handled easily by Iowa, Wisconsin, and even #155 Hawaii.

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

Preview: Wisconsin

Preview: Wisconsin

Submitted by Ace on January 23rd, 2015 at 5:00 PM

bo-ryan-past-life

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (12-7, 5-2 B1G) vs
Wisconsin (17-2, 5-1)
WHERE Crisler Center,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 7 pm ET, Saturday
LINE Wisconsin -8 (KenPom)
TV ESPN
PBP: Dan Shulman
Analyst: Jay Bilas

THE SCARILY ON-POINT EMAIL

From a reader, who attached the photo on the right:

Bo Ryan is some sort of evil immortal god, who took the identity, for a time of a masochistic German psychiatrist, Johann Christian Reil, who was into, among other things, pouring hot wax on mental patients, placing them in tubs of live eels, and playing the cat organ.

Yeah, this checks out.

THE STAKES

Beating Wisconsin would qualify as an upset, even at home. Should Michigan pull it off, they'd move ahead of the Badgers by virtue of having an extra win in hand, and could take first place in the Big Ten if Indiana falls at Ohio State on Sunday.

THE LINEUP CARD

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 SIBMIHHAT
G 24 Bronson Koenig So. 6'4, 190 55 14 No
Low usage, very efficient PG. Has been on fire in B1G play (70% eFG).
G 21 Josh Gasser Sr. 6'4, 192 74 12 No
DEATH TO BACKBOARDS
F 15 Sam Dekker Jr. 6'9, 230 69 23 No
Improved as shooter, now very efficient as #2 option.
F 10 Nigel Hayes So. 6'8, 235 79 20 No
Excellent rebounder, nice touch around hoop, now has 3-pt range.
C 44 Frank Kaminsky Sr. 7'0, 234 72 28 No
1st in KenPom POY race. Nightmare matchup, can score in post or bomb threes.
F 13 Duje Dukan Sr. 6'10, 218 42 20 No
Solid inside/outside threat. Not nearly as good a rebounder as Kaminsky.
F 30 Vitto Brown So. 6'8, 237 21 20 Very
Good rebounder, not a huge offensive threat.
G 3 Zak Showalter So. 6'2, 185 14 21 Yes
Not much of a shooter or passer, but bizarrely good rebounder for small G.

THE RESUME

Wisconsin has lost just two games this year, one at home to Duke on a night when the Blue Devils looks unbeatable, the other on the road to... Rutgers. In fairness, the latter occurred while Frank Kaminsky was briefly sidelined, but it's still one of the strangest results of this season.

The Badgers have tallied nine wins against top-100 KenPom squads, including a 13-point neutral court handling of #10 Oklahoma. Eight of their wins have come by 20 points or more, including Tuesday's 82-50 thrashing of #44 Iowa. They've ranked in between #4 and #6 on KenPom the entire season, and currently sit at #5.

In short, they're really good.

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