It looks like four teams are racing for three spots on the one line. Those four teams are Duke, Kansas, Michigan, and Indiana. The reason there are only three spots: Florida. At this point I consider Florida in the barn with 0 SEC losses—maybe one. They'll be a one-seed. They're #1 overall on Crashing the Dance already and their path to a gaudy end-of-season record is considerably easier than anyone else's. Also they are destroying everybody.
On the good side of the ledger, the Big East continued to eliminate itself with Syracuse's loss to Pitt—a loss that happens to help out Michigan quite a bit—and Kansas dropping a game at home to Okie State drops them from the realms of the stone-cold lock.
Those four teams are neck and neck right now; Duke's scheduling edge is evaporating as they trudge through an ACC that is a three-or-four bid league and lose to the other teams headed for the tourney. Kansas has relatively few big wins—OSU, and then K-State is probably their best—and won't be finding many more down the road. Michigan and Indiana are probably in the best shape as long as they can avoid being hewed down excessively by the Big Ten.
I'm keeping M on the one line since that seems to be the consensus. CtD has them third overall; the Bracket Matrix has them first. RPI remains steady at 7; their forecast is down to 9th. They've fallen behind Indiana in Kenpom. Indiana replaces Kansas by a nose.
Projected ones: Florida, Indiana, Duke, Michigan
The Nonconference Folk
NC State why u no clutch, other than clutch maybe not existing
Last win for IUPUI: December 27th. Binghamton's win against Maine was followed up with three losses; they're 3-19 on the year. Cleveland State beat UIC their last time out; before that they'd lost four straight. Central is 2-6 in the MAC. Eastern had that famous game against Northern Illinois last week; they lost against Kent State—with Ohio one of two teams within the KP100 in the MAC—this week.
On the good side of the ledger, Western lost to the top two teams in the MAC to kick off their conference schedule and haven't lost since. They're now 6-2 and approaching the KP100. Bradley continues on their path towards a .500 MVC record.
Big sorts of teams
@ Louisville: L 64-61. Syracuse: W 65-55. Seton Hall: W 56-46.
Pitt was four points away from a monster week (and day) but could not pull it out at the most ridiculously named arena in the entire universe. Instead they pick up a needed signature win and hold off an upset attempt from Seton Hall. The various seeding projection whatnots have generally moved Pitt up two to four lines, into the six-seed range. Amazing what one win can do for you when you've got a shiny record.
SEEDWATCH: Last six on CTD; a six on Bracket Matrix.
Kansas State (17-4)
Texas: W 83-57. @ Oklahoma: W 52-50.
K-State bounced back from a couple losses against the top end of the Big 12 with a blowout of Texas and a narrow win against Oklahoma. I saw most of the Oklahoma game, and it was the usual: ugly. Kansas State blarted out 0.87 PPP and found victory.
The difference was, uh, turnovers? Or something. Kansas State is not a very fun team to watch. I get mad at their point guard lots.
SEEDWATCH: Five on CTD and Bracket Matrix.
North Carolina State (16-6)
@ Virginia: L 58-55. Miami: L 79-78.
Glabdangit, NC State. Virginia is the Wisconsin of the ACC. They have in fact beaten Wisconsin in a 56 possession game that I recommend not watching should you come in contact with a copy of it. It is the Basketball Ring.
Anyway, they're a pretty tough out, especially on the road. NC State performed about as expected, and lost narrowly. Then they had a home game against surging Miami that they were winning until a tip in with under a second left. NC State has now lost four ACC games by a total of 7 points. The difference between the Wolfpack being the good win they are now and being a good win that looks like a great win is not much.
A game at Duke looms next; after that it's clear sailing, except this is a team that has lost to Wake Forest.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: McHobbit renaissance yo.
Lorenzo Brown, NC State's starting point guard, got injured, and now I can't talk nearly as much crap about McHobbit. His 15 minutes against Virginia were suboptimal—three shots, two assists, NC State collapsed to 0.87 points a possession. ORtg superficially high thanks to low usage in a low-scoring game; bad overall.
Against Miami it was a different story: dude was on the floor for 36 minutes, put up 16 points on 8 shots, and had 5 assists to 1 turnover. Well done, McHobbit. Well done.
SEEDWATCH: Six on Bracket Matrix, five on Crashing The Dance.
@ Alabama: L 59-56. Tennessee: W 73-60.
.500 SEC continues apace. Florida looms this week. They gon' die.
West Virginia (10-11)
Kansas: L 61-56. Texas Tech: W 77-61.
WVU had a surprisingly good outing against Kansas and then did what everyone does to Tech. Status quo.
SEEDWATCH: alternate universe maybe
CONFERENCE OF POWER RANKING POWER POWER
LAST WEEK We need to invent a new word for what they did to Purdue, at Mackey. Something with connotations including flaying alive and evisceration. Then they had a solid home victory over Michigan.
THING About the last thing Indiana opponents need is to deal with yet another scoring threat. Unfortunately for them, Yogi Ferrell's early-season shooting woes are disappearing rapidly. While he still doesn't put it up much, in Indiana's five-game win streak he's 9/13 from 2 and 9/17 from three. He was nails at the free throw line late in the Michigan game, not that he really had to be.
OTHER THING It kind of goes without saying that Victor Oladipo continues his reign of terror. After assembling all of the hype machines after his dominating performance on national TV against Michigan State he put up 17 points on 12 shots against Purdue and 15 on 12 against Michigan. In those two games he added five more steals against just two fouls, and a couple of his misses against Michigan turned into spectacular Cody Zeller tip dunks after Oladipo drew help defense.
Even though Tim Hardaway Jr had a pretty good night against the Hoosiers it was clear Oladipo was on another level.
OTHER OTHER THING No, Jordan Hulls can't really check Nik Stauskas, but Stauskas couldn't shoot on Saturday night.
THING THEY ARE LIKE The Constructicons. Their powers have united and now they cannot be stopped moooohahaha.
LAST WEEK Routine 20-point win against Northwestern; could not defy Kenpom or Vegas at Assembly Hall in aforementioned game.
THING If you had to point to one thing that doomed Michigan it was three-point shooting. Before a late flurry after the game had been decided but for the ritual of fouling, Michigan was 4/18. Most of those were excellent looks from good shooters, but pre-flurry Hardaway and Stauskas were 1/8. Against a similarly elite outfit, ballgame.
OTHER THING Mitch McGary cracked 20 minutes for the first time in his career against Indiana and put up a great box score, but it's hard not to look at the early Horford foul that saw him eat bench and correlate it with IU's scoring blitz to open the game. While Michigan got their defense kind of figured out after the first ten minutes, maybe not having to throw the freshman out there at the beginning of the game would have helped.
OTHER OTHER THING If there was heroball from Burke against Indiana, it was necessary heroball.
THING THEY ARE LIKE The Autobot version of Destructor minus a leg or arm or something. I forget. There was one, right? Here's a picture of a damaged Optimus Prime.
3. Ohio State (17-4)
LAST WEEK Blew open a close game against the Badgers with a 13-0 run spanning a third of the second half. A 13-0 run against Wisconsin is the equivalent of a 20-0 run against human teams. OSU was then mildly threatened by Nebraska. Andre Almedia missed a putback that would have brought the Huskers within three points late.
THIS WEEK IN EVOCATIVELY CORRECT WIN PROBABILITY GRAPHS. Ohio State vs Wisconsin:
A dead heat until Ohio State decided to stop missing shots at the 13 minute mark; over seven minutes later when Wisconsin finally broke their run. No 1-3-1 turning point here, just a period of blazing heat.
THING A pattern emerges with that secondary scoring bugaboo: against bad defenses other guys get involved—Lenzelle Smith had 21 against Nebraska. Against good ones, it's Deshaun of the Dead again. He had 25 points in the low-possession Wisconsin outing; only Aaron Craft made it into double digits with him and the other three starters combined for seven points.
OTHER THING Deshaun Thomas KPOY Watch: up to ninth. Had a bad game against Nebraska (15 points, 20 shots, 0 A, 2 TO); had a great one against Wisconsin (25 on 17, 4 A, 1 TO).
THING THEY ARE LIKE Stupid Saturday morning cartoon theme continued:
I expect several iseewhatyoudidthere.gifs in the comments.
4. Michigan State (18-4)
LAST WEEK Followed up last week's analyst-tizzy-inducing road loss to Indiana with home game against Illinois. Found themselves down ten at halftime, ruthlessly pulled it back right after halftime, and escorted the game to the finish.
THING That Illinois game was one of the weirdest of the year. Illinois shot their way to a ten-point halftime lead, and then MSU scored on almost literally every possession they had in the second half. They shot 16/18, rebounded both misses, and ended the game with a whopping 34 free throws to their credit, scoring 80 points in a 65 possession game… and winning by five.
Did Illinois annihilate from three? Not really: 9/25. It was hard to figure out how the game was close watching it live, and it's equally hard figuring it out in the box score afterwards.
ADRIEAN PAYNE THREE POINT SPECIALIST UPDATE. Just 1/3 against Illinois, bringing his recent spree down to… uh… 7/10. Had a relatively quiet game outside of that, with just eight points in 38 minutes.
Remember when Adriean Payne had tiny lungs that prevented him from playing more than 20 minutes a game? Yeah. That may not have been true.
OTHER THING Russell Byrd notched a seven-minute trillion. Alex Gauna and Matt Costello were single missed two pointers away from joining them.
These events (rather, non-events) happened after Travis Trice went out with a concussion in the first half; Gary Harris was somewhat limited with back spasms. If either condition persists there's going to be a guy on the floor who doesn't do much except pass it around the perimeter.
THIS WEEK IN STOP ASKING FOR POST TOUCHES This isn't going to work out when Illinois is dead set on fouling everything that moves. Payne and Nix combined for 4/7 shooting with 6 FTAs, 3 A, 3 TO.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Bald Bull: a challenge but extremely fragile.
artist's impression of Michigan State in the event of persistent Gary Harris back spasms
5. Wisconsin (15-7)
LAST WEEK Close game at OSU until that late run put it away. Had a ludicrously-fast-by-their-standards game at Illinois (70 possessions!) and dominated it.
THING Don't be fooled by the relatively close final score of that Illinois game. The Badgers had a 15 point lead when fouling time kicked in with two minutes left. Illinois whittled it down against the worst free-throw-shooting team in the conference but had already flatlined on the Kenpom win graph.
Note that the extended foul time is a major reason for all the possessions in that game.
OTHER THING Little-used backup guard Frank Kaminsky had his first outing of more than ten minutes since December and was Wisconsin's go-to guy down the FTA stretch. He had 14 attempts from the line, almost doubling his season total. He hit 12.
WISCONSIN PREVENTS THREE POINTERS WATCH This goes beyond skill and enters the realm of creepy: Illinois, the three-jackingest team in the conference, was 2/13. Ohio State was 3 of 5. Five!
Conference opponents are getting threes off at a 21% clip. That's #1, obviously. They're third nationally.
RYAN EVANS FT WATCH None against Ohio State. He shares this distinction with his teammates: Wisconsin acquire even one measly free throw. It was a different story in the extended Illinois game: Evans went 5 for 11.
THING THEY ARE LIKE A congressional bill banning gun scopes.
6. Minnesota (15-5)
LAST WEEK Clubbed Nebraska. Edged a narrow home game against Iowa.
THING You can do this every week in this league, but wow Minnesota has a rough road coming up: @ MSU, Illinois, Wisconsin, @ Iowa, @ OSU, Indiana. All of those are losable and if you escape that .500 you're high-fiving each other.
OTHER THING I know Trevor Mbakwe is more of a garbage man than a guy you can go to in the post but man it seems like a huge waste when he's 2/5 from the floor in consecutive games. He just doesn't take many shots but it's weird that he was at 20% during his last healthy season and has dropped almost two and a half points this year.
THIS WEEK IN MINNESOTA INTIMIDATION FACTOR Had more offensive rebounds than Nebraska had defensive rebounds. Held the Huskers to four OREBs themselves. Rebounded 41% of their misses against Iowa but actually lost the board war thanks to a heroic effort from Team, which secured a whopping six OREBs for the Hawkeyes. Go Team.
Minnesota did acquire seven blocked shots against Iowa, though.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Sludge.
I think, anyway. The powerful dumb one.
7. Iowa (13-7)
LAST WEEK Amaker bubble team status: locked in. First it was the uninspiring win over Penn State to keep hopes alive, then a strong game against a good opponent (Minnesota) that still ends in defeat.
THING The rims scream for relief from your frequent three-pointers, Iowa. Have you no decency, at long last?
THIS WEEK IN WHERE'S ROY DEVYN WALDO Wow: 17 minutes, 0 points for Marble against the Gophers. He didn't even do much against Penn State other than miss a bunch of threes.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Turtleneck sweaters.
8. Illinois (15-8)
LAST WEEK Continued stellar impression of 2012 Illini with losses against Michigan State and Wisconsin. Now 2-7 in the league.
THING Dying by the three continues apace. The Illini are dead last in three point shooting in conference play at 25%; they're third in launching them. They are dead last in eFG% D, tenth from two and tenth from three.
TYLER GRIFFEY WATCH Did not attempt a three. Doesn't even want to be around a basketball right now.
NNANNA EGWU WATCH One rebound in 25 minutes against Michigan State, and he fouled out. To be fair, the Illini only had 14 defensive rebounds for the game because Michigan State was hitting everything they threw up. Against Wisconsin, seven rebounds in 33 minutes, one offensive. Egwu also fouled out in this one.
This is progress! Egwu has passed point guard Tracy Abrams in DREB rate and has tied DJ Richardson.
OTHER EGWU WATCH Egwu backup and Coastal Carolina grad-year transfer Sam McLaurin has a DREB rate of 6.9. He is 6'8".
THE ENNUI QUESTION They can still make it to 7-11, 20-12 with wins over Butler, Gonzaga, and OSU. They just have to beat Purdue, Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, and Iowa, and then they've got four more swings at quality wins. They can do it. They'll get at least one more week above the line as games against Indiana and at Minnesota are not must-wins. Then they will probably lose to Purdue by 60, at which point I'll move them under the line.
THING THEY ARE LIKE WHO WATCHES THE WATCH WATCHERS
HENRI LINE OF ENNUI
LAST WEEK Beat up by Michigan; beat up on Purdue.
THING The Michigan box score looks like Ohio State minus Deshaun Thomas: one guy over ten points, that Alex Olah with ten.
OTHER THING The Purdue box score looks like Ohio Stat with Deshaun Thomas: Reggie Hearn went off scoring 26 points on 17 shots. Some other guys helped marginally.
OTHER OTHER THING It's probably not good for Purdue's defense that 24 of Northwestern's 26 baskets were assisted. Or Northwestern's offense, honestly.
THING THEY ARE LIKE King of the Dwarves.
10. Purdue (11-11)
LAST WEEK Destroyed by Indiana. Destroyed by Northwestern.
THING AJ Hammons played about as well as it is possible to in a 37-point loss on your home floor: 30 points on 14 shots and five blocks in 28 minutes. Rebounding may have been an issue. He also played about as well as you can in a 15-point loss to Northwestern: 19 points on 19 shots, okay, but 7 OREB and 6 DREB plus three assists to two turnovers.
Hype about Hammons being the All Big Ten center next year: buying.
OTHER THING I know that hitting 9 of 19 twos doesn't seem that impressive but consider it in context: Purdue shot 33% from two against Northwestern. No one other than Hammons even approached 50%, and even though Purdue rebounded half its misses and had just eight turnovers they could only get to 1 PPP.
OTHER OTHER THING Purdue players other than AJ Hammons are bad at basketball.
RONNIE JOHNSON THREE POINTER WATCH One of two against Indiana brings him up to 16%.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Ohio State if Deshaun Thomas was a center and Aaron Craft was a small dog named Wuffles.
Vetenari's hand… Indiana? This is getting strained.
LAST WEEK Blown out by Minnesota. Kept it interesting against Ohio State.
THING Ray Gallegos is the Annoying Ole Miss Guy of the Big Ten, except he's not a polarizing GIF machine with emotional problems. He put up 30 on Minnesota, taking just 17 shots to get there. He then put up 11 on Ohio State on 14 shots.
He's taken double-digit three pointers in five games this year, has not launched fewer than four, and is averaging over eight attempts a game. He's hitting 31%.
THING THEY ARE LIKE what if Ole Miss played in the Big Ten
12. Penn State (8-12)
LAST WEEK Fairly competitive at Iowa, and was mercifully given the weekend off.
THING Penn State has a guy shooting 18% from three and a guy shooting 14 % from three who collectively have 80 attempts.
OTHER THING they're 340th at giving up free throws
OTHER OTHER THING they're pretty good at rebounding though!
THING THEY ARE LIKE a really depressing basketball team
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 Indiana, #2 MICHIGAN, #3 Michigan State, #4 Ohio State, #6 Minnesota
Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award
Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award
Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue
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
was yesterday. Pitt beat Seton Hall by 10.
Purdue at Penn State, 7PM, BTN
Florida at Arkansas, 7PM, ESPN
K-State at Texas Tech, 8PM, ESPN3
Ohio State at MICHIGAN, 9PM, ESPN
Minnesota at Michigan State, 7PM, BTN
Iowa at Wisconsin, 9PM, BTN
Indiana at Illinois, 7PM, ESPN
NC State at Duke, 9PM, ESPN3 (wow, lame)
MICHIGAN at Wisconsin, noon, ESPN
Arkansas at Vanderbilt, 1:30, ESPN3
Kansas at Oklahoma, 4PM, ESPN
Northwestern at Iowa, 4:36(?) PM, BTN
Pitt at Cincinnati, 6PM, ESPN
Iowa State at K-State, 6PM, ESPN2
Michigan State at Purdue, 7PM, BTN
Penn State at Nebraska, 9PM, ESPNU
Indiana at Ohio State, 1PM, CBS
NC State at Clemson, 1PM, ESPN3
Illinois at Minnesota, 6PM, BTN
Duke at Boston College, 6PM, ESPNU