Hoops Opponent Watch: Big Two Little However Many Edition

Submitted by BiSB on January 30th, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Non-Conference Opponents


RPI Effect Only Teams:

UMass-Lowell (5-14) Beat Maine, but lost to New Hampshire. I’m assuming this was hockey. Houston Baptist (4-12) had a rough Bayou-centric week, losing home games to New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana. At this point, you probably aren’t even reading this section because who cares. But I’m still writing. South Carolina State (7-13) beat Norfolk State, but lost to Hampton. I’m tempted to call this section “a tree falling on a blog when a 402 error knocks out the servers.” Coppin State (7-13) lost to North Carolina Central, but beat North Carolina A&T, and are a middle-of-the-pack MEAC team, which is probably best-case scenario.

Long Beach State (7-12) beat Cal State Northridge. Purple monkey dishwasher. Holy Cross (11-9) is on a four game winning streak, beating Lafayette and Navy. Inflammable and flammable mean the same thing. Charlotte (12-7) lost to Louisiana Tech and Rice, though given the last week, Michigan’s loss to the 49ers has shifted from “resume anchor” toward “amusing anomaly indicating the unpredictable nature of sports.” Resume. Résumé. Ah, better. Vive Napoleon! Allons enfants de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé.

Big Sorts of Teams

#16 Iowa State (15-4, 3-4 Big 12)

This week: Beat Kansas State (81-75); Lost to Kansas (92-81)

Somehow, the bracket gurus still have Iowa State as a 4-seed. You figure it out.

Florida State (13-6, 4-2 ACC)

This week: Lost to Duke (Many-Few); Lost @ NC State (74-70)

Yikes, this week. Florida State has fought its way down to the bubble. For some reason, they have been terrible on the defensive glass; they’re dead last in the ACC, losing 40.8% of rebounds to their conference opponents. I wonder if this will come into play against…

#23 Dook (17-4, 6-2 ACC)

This week: Splattered Florida State (78-56); Beat Pitt (80-65)

Duke is hitting on all cylinders, beating KenPom’s #13 and #22 teams by a combined 37 points, with the 15 point win over #13 Pitt coming on the road. In possibly the most amazing stat I have seen all year, Duke grabbed 27 OFFENSIVE rebounds (to FSU’s 24 TOTAL rebounds). That is an OR% of 61.4%. A Duke miss was way more likely to end in Duke hands than in Seminole hands. And FSU, as I have been reminding you weekly, is huge. Jabari Parker had 10 offensive boards. That is how you beat a quality opponent by 22 despite shooting 10-39 (25.6%) from INSIDE the arc. Mind: bottled.

#1 Arizona (21-0, 8-0 PAC 12)

This week: Beat Colorado (69-57); Beat Utah (65-56); Beat Stanford (60-57)

Arizona is going to walk away with the PAC 12, and could probably sleepwalk into a 1-seed. So nothing has changed.

Stanford (13-7, 4-4 PAC 12)

This week: Lost to UCLA (91-74); Beat USC (79-71 OT); Lost to Arizona (60-57)

Stanford is riiiiiiiight on the bubble right now, and a win over Arizona would have been worth an incredible amount to the committee. They’ve still got a shot, but their golden ticket may have just escaped.

[The Big Ten after the Jump]

In Which I Rank the B1G Based on KenPom’s Rankings


1) Iowa (16-5, 5-3 B1G)

This week: Won @ Northwestern 76-50, Lost to Michigan State 71-69.

Thing: The gagging sound you hear is coming from corn country. Iowa yakked up something fierce against Sparty on Tuesday night. They led most of the game, but didn’t hit a field goal for the last 10 minutes of regulation. And they somehow got to overtime on the strength of a bazillion (mostly legitimate) free throws. And then they didn’t hit a field goal until there were about 30 seconds left in overtime.

Other Thing: Iowa lost their two non-Michigan Big Ten games by the exact number of points surrendered on Fran McCaffrey technical foul-related free throws.

Thing They Are Like: The random Australian guy who leads the New York Marathon halfway through the race, and you think, "hey, he's really hanging with those Kenyan guys. Maybe he's got a shot."

2) Michigan (15-4, 7-0 B1G) (up 1 spot)

Thus Far: Won @ Michigan State (80-75)

Thing: Hey, Nik, look: 2014 is in the stands at Breslin! Tell her how you feel!

Thing They Are Like: A dinosaur that can turn into a robot and chop the water like a karate ninja. You fear the day it takes a very large poop.

3) Michigan State (19-2, 8-1) (down 1 spot)

This week: Lost to Michigan (80-75); Won @ Iowa (71-69)

Thing: Keith Appling is apparently Wolverine. Asked on the Saturday after the game about his wrist, he said the following:

Several Sparty fans took to Twitter to attribute his poor shooting performances against Indiana and Michigan to his wrist, and not to, like, the variation that accompanies incredibly small sample sizes. Lo, THREE DAYS LATER, he goes 3-6 from deep and Michigan State beats Iowa. And herein lies the disconnect between Sparty fans blaming injuries and Michigan fans complaining about Sparty blaming injuries: you can be legitimately hurt and have that injury not be determinative of an outcome. Keith Appling’s wrist almost certainly hurts. He can almost certainly shoot notwithstanding.

Other Thing: Sparty’s floor-slapping defense actually got WORSE at Carver-Hawkeye. By my count they slapped the floor four times and gave up a two-pointer, two threes, and a split pair of free throws. That’s 2.25 PPFSP (points per floor slap possession). Mathematically speaking, it would be more effective to allow the opposing offense an uncontested layup than to slap the floor and then try to stop them from doing things.

Thing They Are Like: Johnny Lawrence from Karate Kid. Both he and Michigan’s Daniel-San have to get through some other opponents first, but you know they’re going to meet for the All Valley Karate Tournament title. It also explains why Branden Dawson tried to bust a table with his bare hand. Fortunately, when Michigan's offense done right, no can defend.

4) Wisconsin (17-4, 4-4 B1G)

This week: Won @ Purdue (72-58); Lost to Northwestern (LULZ – ROLF)


Other thing: Remember how we were making fun of Wisconsin’s easy schedule? Well, they haven’t hit the hard part of their schedule yet, and they already have 4 losses.

Thing They Are Like: A Norse creation myth, where the tears of the mighty god Boryan fell into the sea and created the lands where the inhabitants were mocked for all eternity.

5) Ohio State (16-5, 3-5 B1G)

This week: Beat Illinois (62-55); Lost to Penn State (71-70 OT)

Thing: To the extent a home 7-point win over the #86 team in the country can be considered “stopping the bleeding” for a team that was #3 in the country a couple of weeks ago, Ohio State stopped the bleeding by knocking off Illinois. But they promptly tore off the bandage and poked the injury with a fork to see if it was still bleeding, and… yep. Still bleeding.

Related Thing: An 11W member asked me to point out to the world thaht OSU had a three point lead with under 5 seconds left in regulation, Penn State was in the single bonus, and the Buckeyes didn't foul. #TeamFoul 4EVA.

Other Thing: In an amazing turn of events, Ohio State is on the verge of becoming a bubble team. In related news, happy things.

Thing They Are Like: God I love 2014.

6) Minnesota (15-6, 4-4 B1G)

Thus Far: Lost @ Nebraska (82-78)

Thing: In the absence of Dre Hollins (more on him in a bit), Malik Smith had himself a game against Nebraska. He scored 29 points on 15 shots, including 8 of 12 from deep. This was on the heels of scoring 14 points on 9 shots in their win over Wisconsin.

Other Thing: A couple of weeks ago, MisopoSeth mentioned Wisconsin’s occasional tendency to undercut every jump-shooter on every jump shot that was ever jump shot. And he suggested that someday, someone important was going to get hurt. Well, Seth was right. Take note of where the defenders are when Andre Hollins lifts off, and where they are when he lands on Josh Gasser’s foot.


You can see the video here. That’s a foul, and a dangerous play. And they do it ALL THE TIME. There’s “closing out,” and then there’s “being an unmitigated turd.” Wisconsin, I declare thee to be a turd sans mitigation. Dre Hollins was arguably Minnesota’s most important player, and he’s out for at least a couple of weeks.

Thing They Are Like: Bubbly bubble that bubbles.



7) Indiana (13-7, 3-4 B1G)

This week: Beat Illinois (56-46)

Thing: I know, I know. We tempt fate to an enormous degree by making fun of Indiana this week. I know Michigan plays at Assembly Hall this weekend, and that the last time I made fun of an upcoming opponent in an Opponent Watch, Akron… yeah.

Screw that. Indiana’s offense is just awful. They spent their third straight game scoring less than 1 point per possession, accreting 56 points on 64 possessions (0.88 PPP). How does one do that, you may ask? By shot-putting an eFG% of 37.8%. This was the game of beer pong that your friends get impatient with because both teams suck and no one is making anything and you’re hogging the table, dude. Add in 26 turnovers between the two teams, and c’mon, guys. This is getting ridiculous.

Other Thing: This is going to be another game with copious amounts of Derrick Walton. Indiana’s only real scoring threat is Yogi Ferrell, and he does most of his scoring and creating through dribble penetration. I would question whether Spike can stay in front of him.

Thing They Are Like: Taylor Swift trying to dance to Kendrick Lamar. You do realize you’re on TV, right?

8) Nebraska (10-9, 2-5 B1G)

This week: Lost @ Penn State (58-54); Beat Minnesota (82-78)

Thing: Nebraska remains (almost) unbeaten at home, and they are favored in every remaining home game until their finale against Wisconsin.

Other Thing:  Nebraska booted high-usage, low efficiency guard Deverell Biggs from their team this week. Terran Petteway will have to take even more shots, which scientists are moderately confident is possible. They aren’t sure, though, as this kind of experiment can’t be done in any civilian-controlled lab, with the possible exception of CERN.

Thing they are like: Northwestern basketball circa all of the Bill Carmody years, where they are really intriguing and should make a run at a tournament bid next year but probably won’t but should.

9) Illinois (13-8, 2-6 B1G)

This week: Lost @ Ohio State (62-55), Lost @ Indiana (56-46)

Thing that will be a Thing all year: Illinois was ranked in the Top 25 in January.

Other Thing: You know how we said Indiana’s offense was bad? Well Indiana outscored Illinois by 10 points. Illinois’ offense is actually WORSE than Indiana’s. Illinois has not put up over 1 point per possession in any game in their last SIX games. They’re averaging .93 PPP in conference play. And even that looks juggernaut-like when compared to their output against Indiana: .71 PPP.

Other Other Thing: In addition to their terrible efficiency, Illinois is terrible at getting to the free throw line. They are last in the conference, and 340th out of 351 D1 teams. They may not shoot a single free throw against Michigan. If negative free throws are a thing, they will have that. I can’t even think what a negative free throw would look like, other than trying to poke the ball out of the basket, and that would never …


Thing They Are Like: Nnanna Egwu poking at a basketball with a stick and failing the first four or five attempts. Even when he eventually succeeds, it is with a sense of "that's the best you could do?"

10) Penn State (11-10, 2-6 B1G)

This week: Beat Nebraska (58-54); Won @ Ohio State (71-70)

Thing: Penn State is on a damn roll. Adjust your jaw accordingly.

Other Thing: Spot the Wooden Award semi-finalist in this clip:

Thing They Are Like: They defeated Aaron Craft in a grit fest, so they are now Team Desire Hustle Determination Winning. 

11) Purdue (13-7, 3-4 B1G)

This week: Lost to Wisconsin (72-58)

Thing: AJ Hammons picked up two fouls in the first 90 seconds against Wisconsin and sat down for about 10 minutes, returned to the game, and promptly went over-the-back on a rebound attempt. So much talent…

Other Thing: Again, Michigan plays Purdue tonight, and I can’t say anything nice, so


12) Northwestern (11-11, 4-5 B1G)

This week: Lost to Iowa (76-50), Won @ Wisconsin (65-56)

Thing: According to KenPom, Northwestern has the 11th best defense in the country... and the 320th best offense in the country. That is like attaching Syracuse's defense to Grambling State's offense, and having that hybrid exist in the world.

Other Thing: Northwestern has to be the worst team in the country when it comes to dealing with the press.  They had 6 turnovers in the first 35 minutes of the game. Wisconsin then started pressing, and Northwestern had 8 turnovers in the last 5 minutes. I suppose this raises the question of why it took Wisconsin 35 minutes to give it a shot.


Thing They Are Like: A mermaid, with the top half being a beautiful woman and the bottom half being the rusted frame of a 1972 Ford Pinto.

If Today Was Late March:


Michigan State (#1), Michigan (#3), Wisconsin (#3),  Iowa (#5),

We Had To Add a "Should Be In" Category Because LOLhio State:

Ohio State (#7?)

Bubble teams that are either Minnesota or no one but might be Ohio State soon:

Minnesota (#9)

Wrong-side-of-the-bubble teams that are either Minnesota or no one:

[No one]

Lovely Parting Gifts:

Indiana, Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue, Penn State, Northwestern




  • Indiana @ Nebraska, 8:15, BTN
  • Purdue @ Michigan


  • You’ve gotta be a stupid motherf***** to get fired on your day off


  • Ohio State @ Wisconsin, 12:00, ESPN
  • Northwestern @ Minnesota, 2:00, BTN
  • Michigan State @ Georgetown, FS1
  • Iowa @ Illinois, 7:30, BTNC


  • Purdue @ Penn State, 11:30 AM, BTN
  • Michigan @ Indiana, 1:00, CBS


  • sucks but lasagna is delicious


  • Ohio State @ Iowa, 7:00, ESPN
  • Wisconsin @ Illinois, 9:00, BTN


  • Nebraska @ Michigan, 6:30, BTN
  • Minnesota @ Purdue, 8:30, BTN



January 30th, 2014 at 11:51 AM ^

You have Arizona as beating Arizona 60-57 when you meant to say they beat Stanford. Not trying to nit pick but intrigued by the fact that Arizona is the only team that can beat itself.

EDIT: WindyCity beat me to the punch by what looks like a minute on the time stamp but I submit it was nothing more than seconds. Surely he came in at 11:39:57 and I posted at 11:40:01


January 30th, 2014 at 11:58 AM ^

I'm intrigued by this. Are your dishes actually washed by a purple monkey? If so, I'm sensing either a reality TV show (Animal Planet vs TLC) or a buddy comedy movie.


January 30th, 2014 at 12:00 PM ^

But I am aware that we are now only about 1/12 of the way through. We're riding high but I just keep waiting to get dick-punched by something, like maybe losing to Purdue, Indiana and Nebraska in succession, followed by a discovery that Nick Stauskas bet his buddy $10 he'd beat him at HORSE when they were in tenth grade, Mark Emmert getting a raging erection and vacating all of Michigan's wins over the past two years. 

Call it 2013 PTSD.


*except, you know, Gibbons.


January 30th, 2014 at 12:09 PM ^

3 games before the next opponent watch?! 

Awesome week packed full of Michigan Basketball COMMENCE!
#2014  #2014IsTheRealDeal  #PartyLikeIt's199...FuckIt...2014!


January 30th, 2014 at 12:21 PM ^

They aren't really hard to figure out. They lost two competitive games to Kansas and lost two competitive games on the road against Texas and Oklahoma. They beat KSU, Michigan, Baylor and Iowa. No bad losses, No great wins but some good ones. The schedule eases significantly now with KU out of the way and away games against just OkSt and KSU. They probably project to be a 6-7 loss team with a decent chance at just 5 losses. 


January 30th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

Contre nous de la tyrannie,

L'étendard sanglant est levé !

"La Marseillaise" is my favorite national anthem.  Incredibly graphic and generally as un-PC as it gets.  Plus it's a catchy tune.

Evil Empire

January 30th, 2014 at 2:00 PM ^

Calling a personal foul on a play that could be anything from carelessnes to a deliberate attempt to injure seems pretty uneven.  Hollins wouldn't have been able to shoot the FT anyway.  Kick the offender out of the game?

El Jeffe

January 30th, 2014 at 2:09 PM ^

Indiana’s offense is just awful. They spent their third straight game scoring less than 1 point per possession, accreting 56 points on 64 possessions (0.88 PPP).

I believe you misspelled "excreting." Pls make a note of it kthx.

oriental andrew

January 30th, 2014 at 3:43 PM ^

that nanna egwu (or whomever or however you spell it) gif looks like a candidate for a perfectly looped gif that would see him poking fruitlessly at the ball for all eternity.  someone make it happen!


January 30th, 2014 at 8:26 PM ^

The Wisconsin undercutting tactic is just dirty. There is no reason for Gasser to walk under Hollins after shooting the ball like that. Straight douchenozzlery. Bo Ryan is a turdboss for teaching his players to do that.