As Seth pointed out last week, my weekly columns tend to be written at a 9th or 10th grade level. At first I was surprised that the number was that low, as that is about nine or ten years (and $74 Million of student loans) worth of education less than I currently claim on my resume. But as I started to think about it, I became concerned that the number may be too high. After all, if there are 10th graders in this country who use sentences like “LULZ Indiana is teh suck” or “why doesn’t Indiana shoot good at shooting,” we as a nation are in serious trouble.
So, in light of this fact, we will try to be a little more informative and hifalutin this week. I understand that by doing this, we may put our children at a competitive disadvantage against other countries when it comes to cat meme knowledge and Seinfeld references, but these are the risks one takes when trying to advance knowledge.
RPI Effect Only Teams
UMass-Lowell (8-17) lost to Stony Brook. Given enough time, black holes eventually vanish into dispersed radiation. Houston Baptist (5-21) lost to Oral Roberts, beat Central Arkansas. An electric eel can produce a shock of up to 500 volts. South Carolina State (9-16) lost to North Carolina Central, but beat North Carolina A&T. One third of the MGoEditorial Staff are currently producing human beings. Coppin State (9-16) lost to Florida A&M. The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets. Long Beach State (11-14) lost to UCSB but beat Cal Poly. Quinoa is, scientifically speaking, the best of all the foods. Charlotte (14-10) lost to Marshall. Koalas sleep nearly 22 hours per day.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (20-5, 8-5 Big 12)
This week: Defeated Texas Tech (70-64); Defeated Texas (85-76)
As they say, you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer as long as they remain behind you in the mock brackets. Michigan may need to start cheering against Iowa State, as the Cyclones are right next to Michigan in the Bracket Matrix’s aggregate standings.
Florida State (15-11, 6-8 ACC)
This week: Vanquished Wake Forest (67-60); Succumbed to North Carolina (81-75)
Like Gulliver in a land of angry Lilliputians, these giants have been slowly felled by a series of tiny blows, none of which are fatal by themselves, but when added together leave a team clinging to the underside of the bubble. The latest strike was a squandered 15-point lead against North Carolina. Beating the Tarheels might have been enough to salvage things for the Seminoles, but as it stands it looks as if they might have to take down a Brobdingnagian Syracuse squad or make some serious noise in the ACC tournament to climb back into consideration.
#5 Duke (21-6, 10-4 ACC)
This week: Defeated Maryland (69-67); Defeated Georgia Tech (68-51); Lost to North Carolina (74-66)
For Michigan fans watching Duke take on Maryland, an image may has struck a dissonant chord.
Your eyes do not deceive, dear reader. That is Evan Smotrycz defending Jabari Parker. Less than two years ago it seemed possible that such a matchup may take place in a Michigan/Michigan State game, Parker bested Smotrycz for 23 points and 8 rebounds, though the Terrapins actually had a shot to win this game with under ten seconds left.
Duke then dropped the re-scheduled game to arch-rival North Carolina, and take on Syracuse on Saturday. Quite the stretch for Duke. I know you all shed tears.
#4 Arizona (24-2, 11-2 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Arizona State (69-66 2OT); Beat Utah (67-63 OT)
Arizona’s offense simply hasn’t been the same without Brandon Ashley. Of the five games they have played without him, four are among their eight worst offensive performances of the year. They’re probably still a 1-seed, but even that isn’t a lock at this point.
Stanford (17-8, 8-5 PAC 12)
This week: Defeated Washington State (69-56)
Some things in life cannot be adequately described on paper. The deeper meaning is lost in translation between deed and word. However, “defeated Washington State” is almost never one of those things.
In Which I Rank the B1G According to KenPom
1) Iowa (19-6, 8-5 B1G)
This week: Defeated Penn State (82-70)
Notable item of interest: Like the tortoise of fable fame, or Mike McDermott of bad Russian accent fame, Iowa just keeps hanging around. The hares in front of Iowa keep stopping to take brief naps, and the Hawkeyes continue to plug along.
Granted, this comparison is a little ill-fitting, as Iowa is more hare-like than most teams, as they play faster than the rest of the conference, and are very white. They even have a guy named White. And they're chasing the green team. But don't get too caught up in the visuals.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: The tortoise from The Tortoise and the Hare. Pay attention, class. We discussed this already.
2) Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5 B1G)
This week: Beat Michigan State (60-58)
Notable item of interest: If politics makes strange bedfellows, sport makes downright awkward one-night stands. Last weekend, Michigan State fans had the unenviable task of bedding Bo Ryan in the name of a shot at the outright Big Ten lead, and in their walk of shame they stumbled to an awkward defeat at the hands of the Cornhuskers. This week, however, it is the Michigan fan leaving the bar at closing time singing “On, Wisconsin,” as suddenly Iowa lurks as a potential usurper of at least part of the conference crown. Michigan State fans, of course, need an Iowa loss as much as Michigan fans, so they will be joining Michigan fans and Bo Ryan in… okay, this metaphor needs to end right now.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: Wisconsin is, as always, the Bug People from Rigel VII. We stepped on them once, but then we checked our shoes to see if they were dead and instead they were alive and crawled up our arms and we freaked out.
3) Ohio State (21-6, 8-6 B1G)
This week: Beat Illinois (48-39); Beat Northwestern (76-60)
Noteable item of interest:: 4x Gold Pants
Additional noteable item of interest: Scientists say that due to the asymmetry of time (the so-called "Arrow of Time"), we can move freely in three dimensions but our movement in the 4th dimension (time) is limited to one direction. Through the principles of relativity we can affect how we move forward in time, but move forward we must.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: A team that will be playing basketball in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.
4) Michigan State (21-5, 10-3 B1G)
This week: Beat Northwestern (85-70); Lost to Nebraska (60-51); Beat Purdue (94-79)
Notable item of interest: February is usually the time when good teams solidify who they are. The teams still searching for an an identity as the winter snows melt are the ones home watching Opening Day instead of preparing for a Sweet 16 game. So, of course, Michigan State went out and played a half of basketball in which they only attempted two shots inside the arc, and only one inside 12 feet (a missed layup by Gavin Schilling).
Now, granted, they hit 13 threes on their way to a school record 17 in the game, and they mostly took that many threes because Purdue made the strategic decision not to guard anyone, but still one must question the sustainability of such an offense.
Additional notable item of interest: Denzel has been more aggressive in transition of late... though his aggression has taken the form of transition jumpers from 18 feet. They have not gone well.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: Hate.
5) Michigan (18-7, 10-3 B1G)
This Week: Lost to Wisconsin (75-62)
Notable item of interest: Beat Staee.
Additional notable item of interest: Beat Staee.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: Beat Staee.
6) Minnesota (17-10, 6-8 B1G)
This Week: Beat Northwestern (54-48), Lost at Illinois (62-49)
Notable item of interest: Bubbles are generally spherical because of surface tension. The water molecules try to minimize the surface area of the bubble, and a sphere is the shape with the smallest surface area per volume.
Additional notable item of interest: When enough of the water molecules that make up a bubble evaporate, or if a disturbance causes the shape of the bubble to change in a way that breaches the surface or puts too much pressure on one portion of the bubble, the bubble will no longer be able to handle the surface tension and will burst.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team:
7) Nebraska (15-10, 7-6 B1G)
This week: Beat Michigan State (60-51); beat Penn State (80-67)
Notable item of interest: Like a member of the French rear guard in the Song of Roland, “mea culpa” full oft I cry. Last week, the Big Ten Network put up a graphic detailing Nebraska’s bubble resume, and I mocked said graphic heartily. My reasoning seemed solid; for all of Nebraska’s success at home, they had yet to defeat a top 100 team on the road, and they dropped road contests to Purdue and Penn State. So, of course, they promptly went out and led wire-to-wire at the Breslin Center. They are now firmly in the bubble conversation, and I make no excuses about my error.
Additional notable item of interest: Nebraska only shot 44.3 eFG% against Michigan State, but only turned the ball over 5 times. Of course, turnovers are easier to avoid when your offensive game plan is to shoot as soon as someone is physically close enough to the hoop to get the ball there on the fly. It also enabled them to get back on defense, which led to a game in which Michigan State scored zero transition points.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: A Terranosaurus (NOTE TO INTERNET: Engage Photoshop Gnomes, please)
[EDIT: Ace FTW]
HENRI LINE OF ENNUI
8) Indiana (14-11, 4-8 B1G)
This week: Lost @ Purdue (82-64), Lost to gravity.
Notable item of interest: LULZ Indiana is teh suck. Why doesn’t Indiana shoot good at shooting?
Additional notable item of interest: After sailing aimlessly on a Homeric journey for most of the year, Indiana seemed poised to pull ashore on the Isle of Bubbledom after their win against Michigan. Instead, they crashed with great violence upon the Cliffs of Derpdom, and their craft was torn asunder by the likes of Minnesota, Penn State, and Purdue. They are now doggie-paddling futilely towards an NIT bid. On a positive note, they temporarily avoided a likely defeat at the hands of the Hawkeyes when Assembly Hall began to crumble under the weight of Tom Crean’s jackassery, and literally started coming apart at the seams.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: Indiana is like an aging arena that, while once proud and gleaming, now simply tries to refrain from hurling projectiles into the stands at high velocities.
9) Illinois (15-12, 4-10 B1G)
This week: Fell in defeat to Ohio State (48-39); Defeated Minnesota (62-49)
Notable item of interest which has been of interest for a significant period of time: Illinois was ranked in the top twenty-five three scant fortnights ago.
Additional notable item of interest: Illinois finally burst out of their scoring doldrums against Minnesota, riding a 5-7 three-point shooting performance by Kendrick Nunn to 1.09 points per possession and a 51.1 eFG%. When all of life is a valley, even the ant hills seem like peaks.
Additional additional notable item of interest: Illinois scored a mere 0.66 points per possession on 33.8 eFG% shooting against Ohio State. The depths of such incompetence are hard to plumb, and such efforts will lead only to madness.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: Illinois is like a subterranean prisoner in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. People outside the cave can try to describe a world in which offensive competency is an option. They describe to Illinois a world in which shots can be taken inside the 18-foot mark. But understanding such a world is impossible when all one has known is a world of Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu.
10) Purdue (15-11, 5-8 B1G)
This week: Defeated Indiana (83-64); Lost to Michigan State (94-79)
Notable item of interest: Like the great alchemists of old, Purdue has searched all year in vain for a combination that would transform its pile of lead into gold. And finally, the Boilermakers discovered the key: have Sterling Carter, who entered the game against Indiana as a 26% 3 point shooter, hit 5 of 6 from deep in only 19 minutes.
In terms of repeatability, the alchemy may prove the easier task.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: Purdue is like a Type 1-A Supernova offensively; they suck on a massive scale for a long, long time, until they reach a critical mass, and then they explode in impressive fashion.
11) Penn State (14-13, 4-10 B1G)
This week: Lost to Iowa (82-70); Lost at Nebraska (80-67)
Notable item of interest: Penn State and Iowa combined to commit ten fouls in the first half of their contest. They combined for thirty-one fouls in the second half. It is possible that both teams decided at halftime that peace and civility were the ways of weakness and surrender, but Occam’s Razor suggests that the Big Ten refs just decided to grab the sumbitch by the genitals and change things up.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: I don't wish to speak ill of them. Sufficed to say James Franklin has his work cut out for him.
12) Northwestern (12-15, 5-9 B1G)
This week: Lost @ Michigan State (85-70); Lost to Minnesota (54-48); Lost @ Ohio State (76-60)
Notable item of interest: “Regression to the mean” is a statistical principle that states that if a trial produces an extreme result, subsequent trials will tend to produce results that are closer to the expected result. It is related to, but distinct from, the Law of Large Numbers, which states that as the number of trials increases, the average will tend towards the expected value. In other words, they are who we thought they were.
Items that bear a resemblance to this team: Northwestern is Charlie Gordon, the character from Flowers for Algernon. It was nice for Northwestern to become a high-functioning member of basketball society for a while, but at the same time, hope and self-awareness are simultaneously a gift and a curse. It isn’t clear how Northwestern will respond to its return to its previous station in life.
If Today Was Late March
Michigan State (#2), Michigan (#4), Wisconsin (#4), Iowa (#4), Ohio State (#6)
Nebraska Memorial “Wait, NEBRASKA is on the bubble?” Wrong-Side-of-the-Bubble Award:
Lovely Parting Gifts:
Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Penn State, Northwestern
As always, your greatest rooting interests is for sportsmanship, athletic excellence, moral fitness, and the general spirit of competition. However, should you be watching a game between the two teams equally matched in such measures and deserving of victory, then it would be better for the team in italics to emerge. Also, cheer against Ohio State because Ohio State.
- Wisconsin @ Iowa, 12:00, ESPN2
- Minnesota @ Ohio State, 6:00, BTN
- Indiana @ Northwestern,, 8:15, BTN
- Michigan State @ Michigan, 12:00, CBS
- Purdue @ Nebraska, 4:15, BTN
- I think there’s still some curling on the DVR
- Iowa @ Minnesota, 7:00, BTN
- Indiana @ Wisconsin, 9:00, BTN
- Michigan @ Purdue, 7:00, BTN
- Nebraska @ Illinois, 9:00, BTN