Hoops Opponent Watch: Edging Towards #1

Submitted by Brian on December 17th, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Tracking what Michigan's opponents are doing.

two1_thumb4The Status

The Big Ten took some hits this week and Michigan's expected RPI rank falls to about 10th. Michigan drops to third in current numbers behind Butler; they remain eighth on Kenpom and move up to fifth in Sagarin.

I'm still calling the seed a two here, as it will take more than an overtime loss against the #2 team in RPI to seriously dent Indiana. They've still got an edge on a Michigan team that may have beaten good teams in Pitt and NC State… or may have run through a meh nonconference schedule. The conference will tell the tale.

The Past


you will probably not be surprised to find out that BJ Young shot did not go in

I'm dropping Slippery Rock since their season won't impact how anyone looks at Michigan.


IUPUI beat a non-D-I team named "Indiana East" by six and then lost to Indiana State by 14. Binghamton enters this category now; they have not played since Michigan beat them 67-39.

Filler that's not painful

Cleveland State got blown out by St. Bonaventure by 32 and are in danger of slipping into the dreck category now. Western Michigan scraped by High Point by six. On the road, though. They have an interesting game against Duquesne Wednesday.

Bradley plays Georgia Southern tonight.

Pitt (10-1)

Bethune Cookman: W 89-40.

The Panthers continued annihilating overmatched opponents, shooting 74% from two and acquiring a stunning 75% of their misses. Bethune Cookman had a total of five defensive rebounds, two of which were credited to the team after the ball went out of bounds. Pitt moved up a spot in Kenpom. They've got two more blowouts on the docket before the Big East schedule kicks in on New Year's Eve.

Kansas State (7-2)

@ Gonzaga (in Seattle): L 68-52

Kansas State just could not maintain contact with the Zags thanks to excessive turnovers (18), poor defensive rebounding, and horrendous shooting from two—33%. They've got a walkover Tuesday and then take on Florida in Kansas City.

North Carolina State (6-2)

Norfolk State: W 84-62.

Typical MEAC blowout, and now the Wolfpack have a couple of interesting games. Tuesday night they take on 7-3 Stanford at home, which Kenpom has on the tourney bubble as a 20-11 Pac-12 team. On Saturday they get a home game against St. Bonaventure; they should win but the Bonnies provide at least some upset threat.

Arkansas (5-4)

Alcorn State: W 97-59

Blew out SWAC team. Four more home snackycakes await before the SEC. Robert Morris is up next; they could be a threat. They've already beaten OHIO and lost a narrow one to Xavier. They have also lost to Savannah State and got blown out by Rider and Lehigh, so let's not get too excited.

West Virginia (4-5)

Duquesne: L 60-56, Michigan: L 81-66.

You know what happened Saturday. WVU went stone cold from the floor, as teams that rely on tough running jumpers often do, against Duquesne. They've got three more home games against bad teams before the Big 12 schedule opens. They are not a tourney team.

The Future (Nonconference)

Dreck. Michigan's only got Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan left before the Big Ten schedule opens with a hugely depleted Northwestern. Eastern momentarily popped into the filler category after a win against Purdue; they drop back after losing to UIC 74-48. Eastern has not topped 48 points in the last 3 games, it's just that 47 was enough against a horrible Purdue team.

Central beat Pepperdine, which would have been impressive about a decade ago.


tumblr_lt9p63lWS81qfxv5io1_400[1]1. Indiana (9-1)

LAST WEEK did not win against Butler, by two, in OT.

THING On the deciding possession, well, Kenpom already said it:

Alex Barlow got the game winner for Butler. It’s probably a major indictment on Jordan Hulls’ defense when the opposing coach is willing to isolate a guy against you who has taken fewer than 8% of his teams shots when he’s on the floor.

The game winner was Barlow's 9th attempt of the year from two. Hulls is shooting exactly 50% from three after hitting 49% last year, so you've got to play him lots. Just maybe not then.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Enormous cobra-armed killer robot with big red button on the side that reads "DO NOT PUSH."

DEFENSIVE SECTION They remain #1 here because win over UNC is still more impressive than anything else that has happened this year and OT loss to Butler is like something that can happen.

Gordon Downie 14[1]2. Michigan(11-0)

LAST WEEK beat up on Binghamton, beat WVU in Brooklyn by 15.

THING Swag indicators reached nominal maximums when six-foot point guard got rim-hanging technical against Arkansas. Swag indicators started getting nervous when Jordan Morgan turned into Rasheed "BALL DON'T LIE" Wallace on missed WVU free throw in second half. Swag indicators gave up, went home, and looked for something to hide under after a freshman Canadian picked up a woofing technical foul.

Swag is at critical levels. Jalen Rose has been called in to help consult.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Gordon Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip and swaggiest Canadian ever.

300px-Hieronymus_Bosch_094[1]3. Ohio State (8-1)

LAST WEEK celebration of perfection against UNC-Ashville and Savannah State.

THING Sophomore PG Shannon Scott, to date mostly infamous for not being Trey Burke, is rounding into a good player after all: he's steadily adding minutes as the season progresses and has extremely high assist and steal numbers—11th and 4th nationally, respectively. Low turnovers and infrequent shooting give him a shiny ORtg.

Thad Matta may know what he's doing after all. That was in sarcasm font, Buckeyes.


4. Minnesota (10-1)

LAST WEEK did not play basketball for some reason

THING They have a man named Maverick Ahanmisi on their team, which is Cincinnati-football-worthy.


pogoboy[1]5. Illinois (10-0)

LAST WEEK continued tradition of looking like they could lose to just about anyone other than USC by beating Norfolk State by 10 and EKU by 13, because of course playing those teams at home is about as hard as playing Gonzaga on the road.

THING NNANNA EGWU WATCH: DREB rate of 11.3 is still seventh on the team. 6'3" DJ Richardson has a 13.9. Spike Albrecht has an 11.2 DREB rate.

THING THEY ARE LIKE they are like a team of pogo stick gazelle men who play the same basketball game against everyone in the world

6. Michigan State (9-2)

LAST WEEK Had a Mark Hollis Creates The Future thing at their old stadium against D-II Tuskegee, struggled to seven-point halftime lead, blew doors off after. "An absolute stink bomb of a game," declareth The Only Colors.

THING Might be a concern that the only efficient offensive player for MSU against Tuskegee was Keith Appling and that MSU turned it over 22 times. Branden Dawson continues to chuck the ball anywhere that is not on the floor: six turnovers bring his TORate to 28, a ten-point increase over last year.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Tom Izzo's face after Dawson's sixth turnover.

frangraphs_niu_medium[1]7. Iowa (9-2)

LAST WEEK became Iowa state champs with 80-73 win over Northern Iowa, which might not sound like much but UNI almost got Louisville and Memphis and is a top 100 team on Kenpom so it's something.

THING Iowa's three point shooting picked up significantly, which was good because they were 9 for 24 from two. Roy Devyn Marble was 14 of 19 from the free throw line.

THING 2 Melsahn Basabe continues to regress. For the second straight year his minutes and ORtg are down.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Michigan under Beilein until this year.

8. Wisconsin (7-4)

LAST WEEK had reasonable win over UW-Green Bay, which dropped them three spots on Kenpom.


THING THEY ARE LIKE i don't even want to talk about it

henri-the-otter-of-ennu9. Northwestern (7-3)

LAST WEEK didn't play but still managed to have something devastating happen to them when Drew Crawford was shut down for the year with an injury. He should get a medical redshirt, at least, and return for a fifth year.

THING At least you won't be heartbroken this year, Wildcats, except in a total universe-spanning sense.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Henri The Otter Of Ennui's favorite basketball team.

10. Nebraska (6-3)

Remains_Found_in_Juarez_Were_Girls,_Women_-_Only_Half_Identified[1]LAST WEEK Oregon reclaimed the Pac-12's honor with a 22-point win in Eugene.

THING Nebraska plays Central Michigan this Saturday… in El Paso. This is part of the "Sun Bowl Invitational," which must be the lowest nonconference tourney on the planet. Other participants are UTEP (obviously) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and there does not appear to be any television.

THING THEY ARE LIKE A man headed into Juarez against his will.

11. Purdue

LAST WEEK Followed up rousing loss to EMU with 13-point loss to ND on a neutral court. Scored four points over the course of 13 minutes during this game.

THING Ronnie Johnson three pointers holding steady at 2/23. He was 6/14 from inside the arc against ND en route to an ORtg of 86, which is actually a large improvement on his season numbers.

THING THEY ARE LIKE The real life version of that Larry Bird-Magic Johnson HORSE commercial.

tumblr_m2a26r5TJj1qb8tbp[1]12. Penn State (5-4)

LAST WEEK Beat Baby Seal U by four, in overtime. Delaware State was down 21-5 after ten minutes and recovered to force OT. This caused Black Shoe Diaries to say… "things seem to be changing for the better around here."

THING Penn State has a three point specialist shooting 29%. Introducing Nick Colella, who shot 24% last year(!) on 70 attempts and has seen his minutes go from 30% to 57%. He has no free throws and four two point attempts on the year.

THING THEY ARE LIKE Delaware State. And still better than Rutgers.

Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion

projected seeds included

#1 Indiana, #2 Ohio State, #2 MICHIGAN, #4 Minnesota, #5 Illinois

Probably In

#8 Michigan State (down from lock/7-seed)


#11 Iowa (up from 12-seed)

Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award


Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award

Northwestern (down from wrong side of bubble), Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue

497294952_c06a81d93b1_thumb1Viewing Guide

Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes.

It's a thin week what with finals going on. Things pick up on Saturday… sort of.


Michigan State at Bowling Green, 7PM, ESPNU
Stanford at NC State, 9 PM, ESPN2


Western Michigan at Duquesne, 7 PM, NBC Sports


Eastern Michigan at MICHIGAN, 8:30 PM, BTN


Stanford at Northwestern, 9 PM, BTN


Texas at Michigan State, 2 PM, ESPN2
St Bonaventure at NC State, 3PM, ESPN3
Kansas at Ohio State, 4PM, CBS
Illinois vs Missouri, 6PM, ESPN2
Florida at-ish Kansas State (in KC), 8 PM, ESPN2


New Hampshire at Penn State, 11 AM, BTN



December 17th, 2012 at 2:53 PM ^

I believe the HORSE commercial was a McDonald's ad featuring Larry Bird and Michael Jordan - not Magic. I remember Bird's instructions to Michael before they started: "No dunking."


December 17th, 2012 at 3:32 PM ^

I'm still calling the seed a two here, as it will take more than an overtime loss against the #2 team in RPI to seriously dent Indiana.

I'm not sure if you are implying that it's impossible for two schools from the same league to be #1 seeds, but if so, that isn't the case. It happens from time to time. In 1993, both Michigan and IU were #1 seeds, and I imagine it's happened a bunch of times with ACC teams.


December 17th, 2012 at 11:39 PM ^

was an All-American swimmer for Michigan and won a bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics for Great Britain. (I assume a different Gordon Downie than the Tragically Hip fellow you mention.)