Hoops Opponent Watch: Continuing Apace

Submitted by Brian on January 21st, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Note: due to creeping hacking lung death, this feature did not appear last week. We'll cover the last two weeks of games for everyone as a result.

image_thumb7_thumbThe Status

Michigan's split on the road against a tough pair of teams allows them to tread water at the top of the projections, as Duke suffered a loss to Michigan victim NC State and Louisville went down to Syracuse.

Michigan's actually crept upwards on RPIForecast, where they're now projected to finish seventh. They're down to fifth in actual right-now RPI. In 14 brackets updated since the Minnesota game, Michigan is a #1 in ten of them. They're up to third in Sagarin and fifth on Kenpom.

Projected ones: Michigan, Duke, Kansas, Louisville

The Nonconference Folk


dangit NC State

RPI-effect-only Teams

IUPUI, EMU and Binghamton continued losing to everyone, except EMU actually beat CMU. Those teams are KP300s, or almost, and will stay there. Cleveland State is muddling along at 2-3 in the Horizon. WMU opened conference play against the two best teams in the league (Akron and OHIO) by a wide margin, losing both; they rebounded to take out Toledo easily.

Bradley got blown out by Indiana State and Northern Iowa before rebounding to beat SIU narrowly. Disappointing week for them.

Big sorts of teams

Pitt (15-4)

@ Georgetown: W 73-45. Marquette: L 74-67 (OT). @ Villanova: W 58-43. UConn: W 69-61

Pitt's schizophrenic start to the year seems to have settled down into the profile of a decent team that won't threaten Syracuse and Louisville at the top of the league. They remain jarringly erratic.

The Georgetown blowout is worthy of a top ten team—GT took Indiana to OT earlier this year and beat UCLA; their only other loss was by a point at Marquette. Getting blown out like that cost GT 22 spots on Kenpom. So… yeah. Big Time.

Then Pitt goes out and loses to Marquette at home. OT, yeah, but I watched that one and it was grim. Back to back wins over Nova and UConn have them at .500 in the league with a couple of easy wins on the docket before 'Cuse and Louisville back to back.

There is a massive disparity between most bracket projections and Kenpom. Pitt's a top ten team on Kenpom; they're currently a ten-seed to bracketologists.

Kansas State (14-2)

@ West Virginia: W 65-64. @ TCU: W 67-54. Oklahoma: W 69-61.

We know West Virginia; they are not good, and scraping by them by a point is a bit of a warning sign. TCU is one of the worst major-conference teams in the country—Northwestern held them to 31 points in a 24-point beating—so beating them is expected, even on the road.

Beating Oklahoma is expected, but that's a decent team and winning will push their Kenpom projection up a bit. They could be in the 5-6 seed range. They've got Kansas next in what should be the game of the year in the Big 12, not that it's saying much. Bracketologits have them a weak six seed at the moment.

North Carolina State (14-3)

Georgia Tech: W 83-70. Duke: W 84-76. @ Maryland: L 51-50. Clemson: W 66-62.

The Duke win is obviously huge, both for NC State and Michigan. They'll probably be ranked at the end of the year, and a neutral-court win over a ranked team will catch the committee's notice. The next two games did not build on that accomplishment much, with a road loss against Maryland and an uninspiring win against a mediocre Clemson team. They're still a three seed to the bracket people.

MCHOBBIT UPDATE: Five minutes and four made free throws against GT, ten minutes over the next three games with no points.

Arkansas (11-6)

@ TAMU: L 69-51. Vandy: W 56-33. Auburn: W 88-80 (2OT). @ Ole Miss: L 76-64

Arkansas is not deviating from its path as a .500 SEC team that heads to the NIT.

West Virginia (8-8)

@ Texas: W 57-53 (OT). K-State: L 65-64. @ Iowa State: L 69-67. @ Purdue: L 79-52.

West Virginia had been playing somewhat better these days, beating a lame Texas team in Austin and then suffering two narrow losses, one to K-State that we're fine with. Would have been nice if they had managed to pull off a road win against The Hoiberg Home For Lost Big Ten Boys, which is also known as Iowa State.

Then they got obliterated by Purdue. I should just move these guys into the category of limited attention.


1. Michigan(17-1)

LAST WEEK Fell down by a billion early against OSU, tied it up, lost their minds late, ended up losing by three. Worked way to six-point halftime lead at Minnesota, blew doors off with 20-7 run to start the second half, and held off Minnesota's comeback.

THING Well, yeah, they're still up here with that impressive road win against one of the other contenders and Indiana's inexplicable home loss to Wisconsin. Sorry.

OTHER THING In the battle of leaping force versus surprisingly resilient object, the force won. Michigan's defensive rebounding collapsed as Minnesota picked up 47% of their misses. Michigan mitigated the damage by doing pretty well on the offensive boards themselves and winning the turnover battle.

OTHER OTHER THING Yeah, I got a lot of crap for not even mentioning this in the game post so like HOLY PANTS MICHIGAN DOES THIS SORT OF THING ON THE REGULAR YO


OTHER OTHER OTHER THING Nik Stauskas has met severe resistance thus far at the three-point line in the Big Ten, but his teammates are picking him up in a big way. Michigan now has six guys shooting at least 38% from deep: Stauskas is at 50%, Levert 43%, Burke is 40%, Hardaway and Robinson 39%, and Albrecht 38%. That's everyone who's taken a three except Matt Vogrich, now relegated to the bench.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Momentarily staggered assassins.

Evens-Sandbag-bunker[1]2. Indiana (16-2)

LAST WEEK Clubbed Penn State. Ran out to huge lead against Minnesota and held on to win by seven. Lost to Wisconsin at home in a grim 59-possession game that inexplicably did not end with Indiana fouling the pants off Ryan Evans and seeing if he could make some free throws. Kinda sorta struggled with Northwestern, eventually winning by nine.

THING Northwestern's 1-3-1 discombobulated the Hoosiers to some extent. Early in the second half they mostly missed bunnies and often got offensive rebounds off those missed bunnies; late they had significant problems generating shots. They turned the ball over only six times in the game, though, so the 1-3-1's goal was not met. I'm not sure Michigan would be wise to duplicate that.

OTHER THING Keeping Cody Zeller off the offensive boards is going to be a massive task for Michigan when the two teams face off. He can go quiet from the field because he does not like taking iffy shots, but he has a tendency to go GRAAAGH three or four times a game and put a tip dunk back in.

OTHER OTHER THING I dismiss the relatively close score against Northwestern; eight points in a 54 possession game is like eleven in a 74 possession game, and then no one's wagging their eyebrows about potential weaknesses.


1027736[1]3. Minnesota (15-3)

LAST WEEK Participated in Big Ten's annual Illinois Dismemberment Potluck. Suffered brutally effective Indiana onslaught in first half of a game at Assembly, then damn near got themselves back in it. The Michigan game was a similar script, but less extreme: Michigan got out to a big lead, but not that big, and Minnesota came back, but not that much.

THING Man, Tubby Smith's line change thing is weird. Ten players got at least six minutes against Indiana; ten got at least four against Michigan. The backup brigade was brutal in the loss to Michigan, with seven turnovers and just two rebounds in 43 minutes. Given that

  1. Minnesota rebounds everything on the offensive end and
  2. Michigan scores everything in transition

Those turnovers were decisive.

Those guys were a little better against Indiana, at least. I still don't know what the hell Oto Osenieks is doing on the floor in Big Ten games.

OTHER THING As we're about to cover in This Week In Minnesota Intimidation Factor, a turnover for the Gophers is an unforgivable sin. If you're getting half of the shots that go up on the board, you might as well avoid turnovers and take longer, safer shots. In the context of their team, Minnesota's turnover rate of 22%—245th in the country—is pretty much the only thing keeping them from elite-elite.

In conclusion, jack it up, Gophers.

THIS WEEK IN MINNESOTA INTIMIDATION FACTOR 40% OREB against Indiana, 47% against Michigan. Mbakwe and Williams combined to block ten shots in those two games. Both of those OREB performances reduced their season average.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Super pissed off pogo stick superball men about to take it out on squirrels.

anchor[1]4. Ohio State (13-4)

LAST WEEK Beat Purdue at Mackey comfortably. Staved off slow-motion Michigan comeback to win by three at home. Dropped a narrow one at Breslin.

THING Shannon Scott may not perceive the passing of time accurately.

OTHER THING No, they have no secondary scoring still. A couple guys managed to get to nine points against Michigan; their top scorer outside of Thomas against Michigan State was Lenzelle Smith with six.

OTHER OTHER THING I'm still placing them above MSU due to the tendency of close winners of home games to lose the return trip; if we call that game even would you rather beat Michigan and get blown out by Illinois or get blown out by Minnesota and beat Iowa? Seems obvious to me.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Four anchors, one of whom is really good at defense, and a boat.

5. Michigan State (16-3)

LAST WEEK Came back to beat Iowa at CHA; had uninspiring wins against Nebraska and Penn State; squeezed it out against OSU.

THING It looks like State is going all-in on the dual-big lineup they scrapped earlier in the year. Payne had 32 minutes against OSU, Nix 35(!), and both played well. The major cost was a flurry of good three-point looks for Deshaun Thomas when Payne and Nix either could not communicate or could not get through screens effectively. Thomas was 6/11 from deep.

If MSU does the same thing against Michigan, GRIII's ability to match that production will be crucial. That and forcing the 20-ish turnovers MSU had been providing in games earlier this year.

THIS WEEK IN STOP ASKING FOR POST TOUCHES Not the best week for this one. Even if you set aside the Penn State game as meaningless, against OSU Nix and Payne absorbed 13 possessions with shots from the block and came away with 19 points; they had two assists and one turnover between them. As mentioned, they did have some difficulty guarding Thomas as a result.



girl_robot[1]6. Wisconsin (13-5)

LAST WEEK Participated in the Big Ten's annual Illinois Dismemberment Potluck. Beat Indiana! On the road! Lost to Iowa, also on the road.

THING It's time for the annual obeisance to Kenpom after Wisconsin turns out to be pretty okay. We're sorry, Kenpom. You probably have Wisconsin too high but our bitching is less accurate than Beats Indiana On The Road.

OTHER THING Preventing three-pointers is a skill, and Wisconsin has it. In their win over Indiana they held Jordan Hulls to a single missed attempt. As a team Indiana launched just 12 attempts, five of them from Yogi Ferrell, a 24% shooter. In their loss to Iowa, the Hawkeyes hit just 2 of 10 attempts, with fully half of those coming from 29% shooter Mike Gesell.

On the year, Wisconsin is allowing just a quarter of their opponents' shots to come from behind the line—top ten nationally—and they're hitting just 30%. That is the biggest difference between Michigan and Wisconsin's Ds—Michigan cedes a lot of threes, and even though they're not going in that much they're still more effective than the foul-free twos Michigan allows.

OTHER OTHER  THING On the other hand, conference opponents are shooting 21% from three against these guys. Even if you're good, you're not that good. Regression to the mean will burn the Badgers here. Probably. I mean, if you can keep getting sub-30% shooters to launch half of your opponents' attempts you're going to be fine.

THING THEY ARE LIKE whatever robots find uncontrollably sexy.

7. Iowa (13-5)

LAST WEEK coughed up the lead late against Michigan State, crubberated Northwestern on the road, finally acquired that elusive victory over a tourney-level team by running out to a big lead against the Badgers and hanging on.

THING Bet they're pretty ticked off that Roy Devyn Marble had a really ill-timed ankle injury that held him out of the narrow MSU loss.

OTHER THING Aaron White may have put up the unlikely statline of the year. Against Wisconsin he got to the line 15 times (he made 13). I would like to know the last time Wisconsin gave up 15 free throws to one dude.

That's a big strength for White, BTW: his FTRate is top ten nationally and he hits 76% at the line. Anything they can do to get his usage up will help this team—he's a low-turnover guy, too. Good, good player.

OTHER OTHER THING Man, this is not a good shooting team. They've got two guys over 30% from three, Marble and freshman Anthony Clemmons. They've got just about everything else in the green on Kenpom, but hitting 30% as a team is 286th.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Evidence for Quintessential Beilein Bubble Outfit continues what with the near miss at quality win and current projection of a 20-11, 9-9 season that would have them squarely on the bubble—but probably the right side of it.

8. Illinois (14-2)

Ten Men Basketball Tournament Day 4 5zAxvVibFZPl[1]RIGHT: I THOUGHT YOU LEFT BUDDY

LAST WEEKs Followed up thumping victory over OSU with 17 point loss to Minnesota, 23 point loss to Wisconsin, and 14-point loss to Northwestern. The first and last there were at home.

The Champaign Room:

What was a bigger hoax? Manti Te'o's girlfriend or the Illini starting out the season 12-0?

Is it happening again?

THING yes, it's happening again

OTHER THING It's die by the three time for the Illini: they're hitting just 23% in conference play; opponents are hitting 43%. This means they are nowhere near as bad as they have seemed so far, because that is unsustainable at both ends.

NNANNA EGWU WATCH Probably had best rebounding outing of the year against the rampant Gophers, picking up nine (three on offense) and helping hold Mbakwe and company to just seven OREBs of their own.

The next game he was limited to 11 minutes with foul trouble, picked up one offensive rebound, and largely watched Wisconsin grab 55% of their misses. He only had 4 rebounds in 25 minutes against Northwestern, but Northwestern only had four rebounds anyway.

His DREB rate is now 11.1, still second-to-last on the team. The guy in last place? Sam McLaurin, his 6'8" backup.

THING THEY ARE LIKE last year's Illinois team


henri-the-otter-of-ennu_thumb1_thumb[2]9. Purdue (10-8)

LAST WEEK never really threatened OSU in a ten point loss at Mackey; beat up fellow Henri Division participants Penn State and Nebraska, put the spurs to West Virginia in one of those weird late nonconference games.

THING The Boilers and Wildcats have clearly separated themselves from Penn State and Nebraska. The former two teams are inside the Kenpom 100; the other two teams are nowhere near it. Purdue easily swept those guys and Northwestern has a win over a tourney aspirant.

That might not do them much good over the rest of the year, but it's something.

OTHER THING You guys might as well get used to me pumping up AJ Hammons. The seven-foot freshman has 14 blocks in his last three games and is a major reason the best part of Purdue's team is their defense on twos. He's not very efficient on offense yet; if that comes, he'll probably be the league's best center next year as long as Zeller departs for the NBA.

RONNIE JOHNSON THREE POINTER WATCH 0/2 the last three weeks.

THING THEY ARE LIKE The kid picked third from last at kickball.


10. Northwestern (11-8)

LAST WEEK Cruised past Penn State at Bryce Jordan, got blown out by Iowa, participated in annual Big Ten Illinois Dismemberment Potluck, kinda gave Indiana a game at Assembly… kinda.

THING I'm not really seeing it for the Wildcats next year either. Crawford will be back; Hearn and Swopshire are out the door. So take the Northwestern team that played Michigan and add Crawford plus a year for the other guys. Is that a bubble team? Probably not. And that would probably be it for Carmody.

THING THEY ARE LIKE A ghost that would like to give you a quest.

11. Nebraska (10-9)

LAST WEEK lost by 15, 10, and 9 against Michigan, MSU, and Purdue in slow-it-down grind games; went to Bryce Jordan and stuck their flag in the ground with a 68-64 win. Congratulations, Huskers: you're not the worst team in the Big Ten.

THING Nebraska joined a sad, and ever-growing club of schools: We Were Already Gonna Die And Now Our Best Player Is Gone For The Season. Brandon Ubel is gone, joining Tim Frazier and Drew Crawford on the shelf. Hammons should be sleeping in bubble wrap.

THING THEY ARE LIKE pancakes of doom


12. Penn State (8-10)

LAST WEEK Annihilated by Indiana, Northwestern, and Purdue. Played relatively tight game against Michigan State, aided by their punchin' suspensions. Went down against Nebraska at home, and that's about it for their chances to win a Big Ten game this year.

THING they in da process of dyin'

OTHER THING oh man that is some viscera

OTHER OTHER THING i don't even know how you fit that much gore in a hamster

THING THEY ARE LIKE the butter of shame


Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion

projected seeds included

#1 MICHIGAN, #2 Indiana, #3 Minnesota, #4 Ohio State, #5 Michigan State

Probably In



#9 Wisconsin, #10 Iowa, #12 Illinois (currently in the midst of Illinois-2011-style implosion)

Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award


Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award

Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue

497294952_c06a81d93b1_thumb1_thumb_t[1]Viewing Guide

Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …

1) helping M win conference title
2) best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding

3) greatest number of tourney teams from league
4) eff Michigan State
5) also Wisconsin




Iowa at Ohio State, 6:30, BTN
Michigan State at Wisconsin, 7 PM, ESPN
Pitt at Providence, 7 PM, ESPN2
NC State at Wake Forest, 7PM, ESPN3
Kansas at Kansas State, 8PM, ESPN3(!!! What may be the game of the year in the Big 12 is streaming only.)
Illinois at Nebraska, 8:30, BTN


Penn State at Indiana, 7 PM, BTN
TCU at West Virginia, 7:30, ESPN2
Minnesota at Northwestern, 9PM, BTN
Mississippi State at Arkansas, 9PM, ESPN3


Purdue at MICHIGAN, 7 PM, ESPN




Ohio State at Penn State, noon, ESPN2
Arkansas at South Carolina, 1:30, ESPN3
Kansas State at Iowa State, 1:45, ESPN3
Minnesota at Wisconsin, 2PM, BTN
Northwestern at Nebraska, 3PM, ESPNU
Depaul at Pitt, 4PM, ESPN3
North Carolina at NC State, 7PM, ESPN
West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 7:30, ESPNU


Michigan State at Indiana, 1 PM, CBS
Purdue at Iowa, 3:30 PM, BTN
MICHIGAN at Illinois, 6 PM, BTN


Sac Fly

January 21st, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

I will always remember Oto Osenieks as the guy who got fooled badly by a Jordan Morgan pump fake nowhere near the basket. The same Jordan Morgan who has never attempted a jump shot.

Blue boy johnson

January 21st, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

Good thing for Minnesota they rebounded their misses so well or they would have lost by a hundred.

I expect Trey's assist numbers to remain high. Opponent misses shot, Trey receives outlet, and either throws ball to the rim for a dunk, or finds a wide open Stauskas for a three point  layup. This formula is good for 3-5 assists a game.


January 21st, 2013 at 2:50 PM ^

I disagree that we want MSU to win at Indiana. IU has already lost at home. We want these teams to split which is most likely if each team wins at home.


January 21st, 2013 at 7:22 PM ^

I would've agreed with you that Indiana was a bigger threat, but now that we're about a third of the way in I see them being equal threats. Indiana has lost a home game and has road games remaining at Purdue, Illinois, OSU, MSU, Minny and Michigan. MSU has held serve at home and has road games against Wisky, Indiana, Purdue, Nebraska, OSU and Michigan. I see IU losing three of those games and MSU also losing three of those games. Assuming they both win out at home (big assumption that I don't actually believe will be true, but just for conversation sake) they're equal threats that would both finish 14-4 in the league. Either way, it's going to be quite a race to the finish line and I really think we've got the horses to get there ahead of everyone else.


January 21st, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

I know this is said pretty much every year...but I think northwestern will make the tourney next year. They have 7 freshman on the roster - arguably the best of which, Sanjay Lumpkin, has been hurt the whole year. Along with returning star player Drew Crawford next year, they will return another starter in JerShonn Cobb, who has been suspended for the season. Plus they are bringing in a top 100 recruit, which like never happens for Northwestern.


January 21st, 2013 at 5:40 PM ^

And you've got to figure at some point that the selection committee will feel sorry for them.  

Bill Carmody's job status is an interesting topic.  He's easily the most successful NW coach in forever, so firing him could backfire, Glen Mason-style.  At the same time, how many times can you keep falling short of making the tourney before you conclude that it's just not going to happen with the guy?  Six years of Amaker's near-misses felt like an eternity.  I can't imagine what it must be like for NW fans.