The objective. [Fuller]
The Big Ten unveiled the complete conference schedule for the 2014-15 basketball season, so we can now take a look at Michigan's season in full. It is as follows (almost all game times and broadcast information are TBA):
|Michigan Basketball 2014-15 Schedule|
|11/10||vs Wayne State (ex)|
|Progressive Legends Classic (Regional Round)|
|Progressive Legends Classic (Brooklyn, NY)|
|11/25||VCU/Villanova||TBD/ESPN2 or ESPN U|
|11/29||vs Nicholls State|
|Regular Ol' Non-Conference Games|
|12/9||vs Eastern Michigan|
|12/22||vs Coppin State|
|Big Ten Schedule|
|1/6||at Penn State|
|1/13||at Ohio State||7pm/ESPN|
|2/1||at Michigan State|
|2/17||vs Michigan State||9pm/ESPN|
|2/22||vs Ohio State|
|B1G Tournament (Chicago, IL)|
Thanks to WolverineDevotee for putting this in table form.
Now that the Big Ten has expanded to 14 teams, single-plays are a lot more prevalent in conference play. Here's the breakdown of how many times Michigan plays each conference opponent and where:
Home-and-Home: Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rutgers
Single-Play (M Home Game): Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin
Single-Play (M Road Game): Indiana, Maryland, Penn State, Purdue
The single-plays work out relatively well for the Wolverines; the tougher opponents have to come to Ann Arbor, while two of the three worst teams in the conference last year—Penn State and Purdue—comprise half of Michigan's single-play road games. All four teams Michigan will host in single-plays have very tough home environments, as well; even after last year's win, nobody's going to mind not having to go to the Kohl Center.
While Michigan must play two favorites for the conference title twice—MSU and OSU, and I don't think anyone is complaining about getting as many of those matchups as possible—they get very winnable home-and-homes against Northwestern and Rutgers. The Wolverines also get to ease into the conference slate; the January schedule, especially early, isn't too hard, then the difficulty really turns up early in February. For a young team, that's probably ideal.
[Hit THE JUMP for the new B1G Tournament bracket and one reader's in-person impressions from Michigan's third game of their tour of Italy.]
With two additional teams comes a new conference tournament format; the Big Ten released the new bracket last night (click to embiggen):
Securing a top-four seed makes the path to the title game a whole lot easier, as that guarantees a bye for the first two days of the tournament.
That about wraps up the overview of Michigan's schedule, at least for now; this will be revisited once it's time to preview basketball season instead of football. Meanwhile, reader Kyle returns with his impressions from the third game of Michigan's tour of Italy—you can find highlights, stats, and quotes from another blowout win in this diary.
Pregame thoughts from Coach Beilein: He had hoped for better competition in Italy but this isn't the kind of team that needs a wake up call. This team will work hard no matter what. The opponent for Game 4 will be much better than the first three teams. He also used the word 'intelligent' to describe his squad. The game:
1. The most impressive player to me (compared to expectations) was Aubrey Dawkins. This kid is for real. He is extremely athletic. He knocked down two 3’s, got an ‘and 1’, threw down an amazing reverse two-handed slam, and had another dunk. His first step with the ball is quick and I could see him being a defensive stopper as the 6th man.
2. Caris LeVert showed no signs of injury. He was quick on defense and looks physically stronger than last year.
3. Spike and Derrick Walton only played 1:30 together in the two games. I thought coming into the year the duo would be put out there together more to get Spike more playing time. I guess Spike will just continue in his role as everyone’s favorite back-up point guard. Walton looked good and his explosion off the ground is better than last year. He missed a few bunnies that will surely fall during the season.
4. Spike did get the game MVP. trophy and a hug from the giant fuzzy tiger, which actually made more sense than strength and conditioning coach John Sanderson getting a trophy for…I don’t know, man. There were a lot of strange things afoot in the Palace of Vecenza.
5. Michigan played no zone defense in this game or last. This probably won’t stop announcers from praising Beilein for his 1-3-1 zone.
6. Facts on the 5: Donnal started. Michigan was down 7-2 to start the game before winning by a bajillion. Doyle started the second half. Donnal played the final 4 minutes of the game with Sean Lonergan, Andrew Dakich, Austin Hatch, and MAAR. Their playing time was about even.
7. Opinions on the 5: The start wasn’t Donnal’s fault. Repeat: ‘It’s not your fault.’ He needs confidence which is part of the reason you hear a lot of positive things about him from the coaches. He did drain a fluid baseline jumper but mishandled a few passes in traffic. Donnal is quicker than Ricky Doyle. Doyle caught a few tricky passes in the paint and finished. The Petrarca ‘All-Stars’ didn’t have anyone over about 6 foot 6 and neither of the big guys dominated. Starter? Doyle (still) rules.
[Ed-Ace: I'm not so sure about this part of the analysis, especially after the last game. Donnal keeps getting the starting nod and he put up 20 points (8/10 FG) and 11 boards (7 off.) in this game; Doyle had 9 and 8. Extrapolating too much from these preseason exhibitions is dangerous.]
8. The ‘All-Stars’ are bad. Not one of these guys could start at D-I. They played together and played hard, but when the scoreboard shows them ahead 52-16 you can safely assume it’s because the ‘hundreds’ light bulb doesn’t work.