Hoops Opponent Watch: Dance Card Edition

Submitted by BiSB on March 20th, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Non-Conference Opponents

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Iowa State - #3 Seed, East

Other than the Raiders of the Lost Ark-style rolling boulder of death that is Michigan State, it’s a pretty favorable draw for Iowa State. They get North Carolina Central, North Carolina Classic, and Villanova (which is probably in North Carolina, but I don’t feel like checking). They have the horses to run with anyone (Melvin Ejim was the Big 12 player of the year over Andrew Wiggins). I’ve got them in the Final Four, despite none of these games being played at Hilton.

Dook - #3 Seed, Midwest


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If both survive, Michigan will meet Duke in the Sweet 16. This one will be in Indianapolis, which is a long way from Cameron. That should help. But Jabari Parker will be there. So that won’t help.

Arizona - #1 Seed, West

The tournament’s second overall seed, they might kind of have a cakewalk through their region. Wisconsin hasn’t been past the Sweet 16 in a decade. Neither San Diego State nor Oklahoma is particularly scary. Creighton has the potential to be an aerial death-bringer, but if Doug McDermott doesn’t have four good nights in a row it’s hard to see Creighton in the Final Four, and four good nights in a row is asking a lot.

I wouldn’t worry too much about late season losses to Oregon and to UCLA in the PAC 12 tournament; this is a team that seems to have found some balance and returned to form.

Stanford - #10 Seed, South

Stanford returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons, ensuring in the process that Michigan DID beat a tournament team in the non-conference schedule. Their opening round matchup with New Mexico features two of the biggest teams in the country. If they survive that matchup, they get also-tall (though Embiid-less) Kansas. Tough to see them making it to the Sweet 16, but they probably accomplished their goal for the season, so it’s house money from here on in.

Florida State #1-seed, NIT

Womp womp.

In Which We Look At Brackets

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To clarify, this is NOT A RANKING, and should not be deemed an attempt to supplant the wisdom of Angry Michigan KenPom Defiance Hating God. It is simply a rundown of tournament teams, and the natural way to list such teams is by seed order.

Again, for the avoidance of doubt: not a ranking. Just a list. Organized by seed.

Michigan - #2 Seed, Midwest

Opening Round: vs. #15 Wofford. The Terriers were 20-12 in the Southern Conference. They have one KenPom top-200 win this year… against #200 Elon. Ace has you covered with a preview, but sufficed to say that this one is not scary, which should scare you, because it is March.

The Draw: Gets the winner of Texas/Kansas Arizona State [ED: Must avenge bowl game...] in the second round, probably #3 Duke in the Sweet 16, and probably the winner of #1 Wichita State and #4 Louisville in the Elite 8.

Thing: It’s a rough draw to after the opening weekend, that’s for damn sure. My theory is that the Committee basically said that if they HAD to give Wichita State a 1-seed, they would. And they threw them in a region with their second highest 2 seed (a team that was in the running for a 1-seed like an hour before the brackets came out), and their highest-rated 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 seeds. Subtle, that.

Thing They Are Like: A team with some unfinished business.

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[AFTER THE JUMP: More teams playing in various tournaments. Also Indiana]

 

Wisconsin - #2 Seed, West

Opening Round: vs. #15 American. The American Eagles, (presumably led by point guard Eddie Bauer and junior wing J. Crew) are the 6th best eFG% team in the country, and had the highest assist/FG rate (65.7% of their field goals were assisted). Yet they were only the 199th most efficient offense. They managed that impressive feat by being 342nd in the country in turnover rate, which is worse than Indiana, which is by definition more terrible than terrible. They are also one of the slowest teams in the country.

The Draw: They get the Oregon/BYU winner in the second round, with the #3 Creighton McDermotts and the #1 Arizona Wildcats looming in the second weekend. 6-seed Baylor has been playing well and could beat Creighton (assuming the Bears get past #Nebrasketball).

Thing: Wisconsin has gotten past the Sweet Sixteen once in 13 seasons under Bo Ryan; they made the Elite Eight in 2005.

Thing They Are Like: As usual, the bug people… except this time I need to keep them around (like in a jar with some air holes punched in the lid) until they reach the appropriate place on my bracket. Only then may they be crushed.

 

Michigan State - #4 Seed, East

Opening Round: vs. #13 Delaware. The Blue Hens finished 14-2 in the CAA and 25-9 overall. They have a four-point loss to Villanova, a five-point loss to Notre Dame, and a two-point loss to Richmond on the resume, but no victories of the non-moral type over anyone better than Towson or Drexel. Delaware gives up a bunch of offensive rebounds they don’t shoot well, and they are not particularly large. And their football team has winged helmets. They are doomed against Sparty.

The Draw: 5-seed Cincinnati awaits, though Tommy Amaker will probably knock them out somehow and then reprise his previous role as Sparty Piñata. Elsewhere in the region, #1 Virginia, #2 Villanova, #3 Iowa State and #6 UNC (who beat MSU earlier this year) all exist.

Thing: Let’s level-set a bit, and see if we can’t find some common ground here:

  • Yes, Michigan State had injury problems. Yes, they are now healthy. Yes, they played better during the Big Ten Tournament than they have in some time. Yes, they are a dangerous 4-seed. Yes, given their draw, they have a better shot at a Final Four than one (read: I) would have expected a week ago.
  • No, they did not get jobbed as a 4-seed. Seeding is based on resumes, and Michigan State has the resume of a 4 seed. If you start seeding based on Vegas odds, what would be the point of the regular season?
  • No, they should not be the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament. Even with their flourish they finished the year losing 7 of their last 15, many of those while “healthy.” Of course they had to “gel,” but unless Lou Brown is your manager you don’t gel your way that quickly from a team that loses to Illinois and Ohio State to a team that should be expected – nay, presumed – to beat Villanova and Virginia and Arizona and Florida and whomever else.

COULD they win it? Sure. But there is no time period you can point to in which Michigan State was the best team in the country. Even if you’re just looking at the last week, Louisville and Virginia were probably more impressive. Hell, UCLA beat Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona (which is about as impressive as beating Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Michigan), and no one is giving them a second look. YEAH I know, the Steve Alford Effect. You get my point.

FWIW, I’ve still got them meeting their seed expectation. If that makes me a hater, so be it.

Thing They Are Like: Sidd Finch

Ohio State – #6 Seed, South

Opening Round: vs. #11 Dayton. The Flyers could give Ohio State a game; they are #53 in KenPom, and come in winning 10 of their last 12, including wins over George Washington, UMass, and @ St. Louis. They produce a lot of live ball turnovers. If Ohio State has an off-night shooting (which to Ohio State is known as a “night”), it could get interesting

Draw: Should they survive, they’ll probably face Syracuse in the 2nd round. Ohio State DID beat Syracuse in the Elite Eight a couple of years ago, but that was when they had Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas and an offense. A team that defends the baseline, cuts off dribble penetration, and forces wing jumpers? Find me a worse type of defense for the Buckeyes to face, and I’ll buy you a lollipop. Should they survive, #2 Kansas probably awaits (with an outside shot at #7 New Mexico), with #1 Florida the prohibitive favorite to emerge from the top half of the bracket

Thing: You catch a lot of crap for stuff you didn’t bring on yourself, sir. Dan Dakich owes you a fruit basket. But some things might be, as the kids say, your bad:

Thing They Are Like: A team playing its last weekend of basketball.

Nebraska – #11 Seed, West

Opening Round: vs. #6 Baylor. The Bears have been hot, but this isn’t the worst matchup for Nebraska. Baylor is tough defensively at the rim, but they are a zone team that is not very good at defending jumpers. Nebraska IS jumpers (Nebraska are jumpers? Nebraska am jumpers?).

Draw: #3 Creighton awaits, and the Terran Petteway/Doug McDermott matchup would be interesting. Oh, the possessions they would use. Doug McDermott has the second highest usage of any player in the tournament at 33.1% (behind only NC State’s T.J. Warren at 33.6%). Petteway is fifth in the field at 31.5%. If Nebraska somehow gets through that, a possible rematch with #2 Wisconsin would be worth a couple of hours of your time.

Thing: No matter what happens from here on out, your season was a helluva lot better than Indiana’s. So we’ll call that a win.

Thing They Are Like: Once more, with feeling:

Iowa – Half of an #11 Seed, Midwest

Opening Round: Lost last night to the other half-#11 seed Tennessee.

Draw: There isn't really a draw at this point. Such is the nature of a single elimination tournament. In truth, these two teams probably shouldn't have been in the play-in game anyway, at least not when BYU and Colorado get to waltz to the second round.

Thing: I'm the father of approximately 1.4 children. No snark from me here this week.

Thing They Are Like: Get well soon, Patrick McCaffrey.

Henri the Otter of enNIT

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Minnesota – #1 Seed, Upper Right Region.

Opening Round: defeated #8 High Point, 88-81.

You read that right. Minnesota gave up 81 points to the Zeniths, who were #248 to KenPom entering th game. The Apexes had the #169-rated offense in the country. The only D1 school against whom the Local Maxima had scored more than 81 points was Longwood,* who has one of the ten worst defenses in the country.**

*hehehe

**I will not make joke about Longwood being soft… I will not make joke about Longwood being soft…

Draw: Having defeated the Pinnacles, Minnesota gets St. Mary’s out of the WCC, who beat Utah 70-58. Fellow bubble-burstee Missouri will probably be waiting in the round of whatever comes after that.

Thing: The committee didn’t seem to think Minnesota was one of the first four teams out, so I guess it was worse than we thought. But yeah, it was Tubby Smith’s fault. We weren’t sure how, but Richard Pitino tells us how: Tubby made the non-conference schedule, which was too tough. Pay no attention to the fact that they lost ten games in conference play, including games to Northwestern (at home) and Purdue. Or that they went 11-2 in the non-conference but only played 4 top-100 teams, and had a non-conference SOS of #248. Nope, they faced a gauntlet that destroyed their record. DAMMIT TUBBY.

Thing They Are Like: All Minnesota everything.

Illinois - #2 Seed, NIT Lower Left Region

Opening Round: They trailed Boston for most of the game (by as much as 11), but survived. Hurray, more Illinois basketball.

Draw: They get Clemson next. Elsewhere in the LLR, perennial giant-killer Robert Morris knocked off 1-seed St. Mary’s, and will face Belmont who nuked Green Bay. Illinois may have a decent road to the Final Four. Hurraaaaay Illinois.

Thing they are like: A team that could actually be kinda good next year. Of course, I said that last year. And the year before. And the year before.

Penn State – Yes the CBI is a real thing

Opening Round: Played Hampton for the right to play Siena. Won.

/tiny flag

Draw: Penn State is probably the best team in the field. That should tell you what you need to know about the field.

Thing: Helluva career, Tim Frazier. A tip of the cap to you. But it’s time to make way for the John Johnson era.

/John Johnson immediately takes a bad shot, fouls opponent on rebound.

Thing they are like: The kid playing Score-O at Yost. Sure, he isn’t as good as the other guys playing, but you have no reason to root against him, and succeeding might make him happy, so what the hell. Go kid.

(Somewhat related note: reports indicate Michigan may have killed Score-O. You bastards)

 

Double-Henri, the Otters of So Much Ennui

 

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Indiana – None. Nada. Zilch.

/cracks knuckles

/taps microphone

“Is this thing on?”

“Good.”

/Inhales deeply …

“ha”

Indiana, it seems, is too good for your CBI invitation. If you’ve ever wondered what the potential risk of the “This is Michigan Fergodsakes” stuff is, it’s that. That right there. There is a fine line between aspiring to a standard and just flat-out failing to recognize reality when it smacks you in the face like a Yogi Ferrell pass in the fourth row.

Indiana finished 17-15 (7-11) this year. They had the 339th hardest non-conference schedule, and they finished 1-3 against the top-150 teams. It wasn’t like Indiana was being invited to the prom by the nerdy guy because the nerdy guy was living out his Can’t Hardly Wait YOLO moment. The nerdy guy asked you to prom because NO ONE COOLER WANTED TO TAKE YOU. And if you don’t want to go, that’s cool. But you don’t get to lay the superiority complex like that.

Other Thing: Consider this your Twitter update for the year: Tom Crean has taken to Twitter. Kind of.

I encourage you to give his recent screeds a read(s). Among the high points:

  • His feed is a combination of random coaching points, inspirational-type stuff, and requests for someone to find his lost car keys.
  • Crean is a big fan of Jesus, as well as random capitalization
  • I think he thinks Jim Irsay died, instead of just getting nailed for a DUI and felony possession.

Long story short, Tom Crean is not Tim Miles. But we already knew that.

Thing they are like: A team in the position to receive CBI offers.

Teams Who Dance Not

Northwestern and Purdue are done with basketball for now, which basketball appreciates. Both already started the off-season with a kerplunk, as Ronnie Johnson is rumored to be out the door at Purdue, and Kale Abrahamson will be transferring out of Northwestern. The race for the 11 seed in the Big Ten Tournament next year between these teams will be ferocious.

None of Michigan’s lower-conference opponents reached the tourney. Happy trails, UMass-Lowell, Houston Baptist, South Carolina State, Coppin State, Long Beach State, and Charlotte.

 

VIEWING GUIDE

Thursday:

  • Basketball

Friday

  • Basketball

Saturday

  • Basketball

Sunday

  • Basketball

Monday

  • Collapse in a heap
  • Complain about your bracket

Tuesday

  • Hey there’s a game on never mind it’s the NIT

Wednesday

  • Okay we’ll watch the NIT

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