Hoops Opponent Watch: Road Warrior Edition

Submitted by BiSB on February 13th, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Non-Conference Opponents


RPI Effect Only Teams

Last night Seth and Ace embarked upon a great adventure to find a player on Kenpom whose % of minutes played is greater than his ORtg. This is incredibly hard to do since an ORtg under 90 is a black hole of offensive efficiency that a coach won't play unless he's forced to. They found one, and almost a second on Bowling Green, which is MAC-ese for "Northwestern". The next-closest: UMass-Lowell (8-15)'s D.J. Mlachnik. This is beautiful in its horror:

Player G %Min ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate
DJ Mlachnik 23 78.6 84.3 17 17.5 39.8 45.7 2.4 10.8 10.9 23.2

Michigan did their part for the Mlachnik Project: he played 32 minutes in which he was 0-5 from the field with 2 turnovers, but 6/6 from the line. %Min: 80, ORtg: 69.

UML is projected to finish at .500 in the fifth-worst of the 32 conferences, the America East. Last night they were creamed by AmEast leader Vermont. Houston Baptist (4-20) has lost eight straight games in the sixth worst conference, the Southland. South Carolina State (8-15) is below .500 in the second worst conference, the MEAC. Coppin State (7-13) is 6-5 in the second worst conference. I’m running out of ways to describe the badness of these four teams.

Long Beach State (10-13), on the other hand, is right in the thick of the Big West Conference race along with UC Irvine and UCSB, and Charlotte (12-7) is in the middle of the pack in Conference USA.

Big Sorts of Teams

Iowa State (18-5, 6-5 Big 12)

This week: Beat TCU (84-69); Lost @ West Virginia (102-77)

Iowa State… well, they had themselves a week. On Saturday, Melvin Ejim dropped 48 points (on 24 shots) and 18 boards on TCU, and the Cyclones beat up on the not-very-good Horned Frogs. They then proceeded to get absolutely musket-whipped by West Virginia.


Toward the end of the game in Morgantown, things got interesting. ISU center Dustin Hogue, perhaps fooled by Ejim’s one-guy-scores-all-the-points thing into believing they were now playing by NBA Jam rules, grabbed the rare offensive rebound/ribcage kick combo. The refs didn’t blow the whistle on the Cobra Kai, so West Virginia responded with a more traditional head-smash. The referees only called a goaltend, because as we all know that is the only illegal activity that can be whistled in NBA Jam.


Florida State (14-10, 5-7 ACC)

This week: Lost @ Maryland (83-71), Lost to Miami (YTM) (77-73)

The luster has fully worn off of Michigan’s win over FSU. The Seminoles are very much in danger of missing the NCAA tournament after a home loss to Miami. And this isn’t the Kenny Kadji/Shane “Barry Larkin’s Kid” Larkin/ Durand Scott Miami team. This is the don’t-have-a-single-starter-shooting-over-50.5 eFG% Miami. If FSU doesn’t sweep Wake and UNC this week, they are in much trouble.

Dook (19-5, 8-3 ACC)

This week: Won @ Boston College (89-78), Lost to Ice.

Duke’s offense has gone to plaid. Their current KenPom offensive efficiency of 128.6 would shatter the current record of 124.0. Two other teams remain within striking distance of that number: Creighton at 123.6 and Michigan at 123.7.

NC Snowfest
You’re not actually supposed to smoke Tobacco Road.

Their rivalry game with North Carolina was postponed last night because of the South's continuing adventures with ice and snow. The problem for Duke is that the game was moved back to February 20th, which means they will have a game at Georgia Tech on Tuesday, at UNC on Thursday, and against Syracuse on Saturday. Syracuse, on the other hand, has a cupcake home game on Wednesday, so they might be much fresher for the big showdown in Durham.

#1 Arizona (23-1, 10-1 PAC 12)

This week: Beat Oregon 67-65, Beat Oregon State 76-54

Arizona is adapting to life without Brandon Ashley, and they are decided favorites in every remaining game in the regular season. This is both a blessing and a curse, as they should cruise to a 1-seed, but they possibly won’t get many stern tests of their new rotation until the postseason.

Stanford (15-8, 6-5 PAC 12)

This week: Lost @ Washington (64-60)

That one hurts Stanford’s tournament resume. They’re probably still in, but they’re sliding toward true bubble territory.

[in which a jump takes to you to the Big Ten stuff] 

In Which I Rank the B1G According to KenPom


1) Iowa (18-6, 7-4 B1G)

This week: Beat Michigan (85-67)

Thing: Roy Devyn Marble has worked his way into Big Ten Player of the Year conversation by actually being consistent (unlike his first 3.5 seasons). He’s scored double-digits in every conference game. Still… HE SHOULD NOT HIT 6 OF 7 THREES IN THE COMPETITIVE PORTION OF A GAME.

Other Thing: Despite the “don’t count Iowa out” talk, you can probably feel free to count Iowa out. They have a tough schedule left (at Indiana, Wisconsin, at Minnesota, and at Indiana depending on what the Yogi Ferrell random number generator says that day), and they’re already at 4 losses. It’s hard to see both Michigan and MSU falling to five losses, so Iowa would probably have to run the table to grab a share.

Thing They Are Like: The Olympic luger who crosses the line and people get all excited because they "move into first," but everyone knows the remaining competitors have a lead and are probably better.

2) Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)

This week: Beat Penn State (82-67); Lost @ Wisconsin (60-58)

Thing: Gary Harris is a phenomenal basketball player. He may be a lottery pick, and at worst will probably be a mid-first rounder. But on Saturday, he was… not… good. Harris was 3-20 from the field. Two of his makes were on breakaway dunks, and his other make was a long 2-pointer on his last shot of the game. In other words, he missed his first 17 shots which involved (a) a distance greater than 0 inches, or (b) anyone near him.

(As a side note, what I’ve learned from MSU folks this year is that Harris’s performance means he was hurt. Presumably he will be healthy when he takes on Northwestern tonight)

Other Thing: Keith Appling actually did miss this game with a continuing wrist thing, but it’s not clear how much State lost in his absence. Travis Trice was one of the few effective scorers MSU had on Saturday; he and Adreian Payne were the only Spartans with more than 6 points (Payne had 24, Trice had 13 on 9 shots). It was also pretty obvious that Payne is not in playing shape right now. He shot the ball well and was effective inside offensively, but he grabbed only 4 rebounds and turned the ball over 6 times.

Most Gavin Schilling Thing Ever: Gavin Schilling’s line: 1 minute played. 0 points on 0-0 shooting. 0 rebounds. 0 assists. 2 fouls. And the best part? It was in the first 5 minutes of the game.


3) Michigan (18-6, 10-2 B1G)

This Week: Something happened at Iowa but then something happened in Columbus so we’re good.


Other Thing: Michigan may already have already earned their spot in the NCAA tournament. Prior to Valentines Day. If you see John Beilein, do not stare directly at him, lest his awesomeness burn your retinas.

Thing They Are Like:

4) Wisconsin (19-5, 6-5 B1G)

This week: Beat Michigan State (60-58)

Thing: When it takes Gary Harris going 3-20 to beat a team by 2 at home, things are not going well.

Other thing: Wisconsin is returning to its soul-crushing pace/style of the days of yore. Through the Michigan game, they were playing at 64 possessions per game. Since then (excluding the Northwestern game that was inflated by Northwestern’s hilarious inability to handle the press), they’ve been playing under 61 possessions per game, and have visibly slowed down. And thus dies the one redeeming thing about Wisconsin this season.

Thing They Are Like: Wisconsin every year since Bo Ryan hatched.


5) Ohio State (19-6, 6-6 B1G)

This week: Lost to Michigan (70-60)

Thing: Pretty much standard for the Buckeyes. They _acked up _umper after _umper, shooting only 3 of 20 from deep. This isn’t much of a surprise, as their ad_usted offensive efficiency is 93rd in the country, and their 3Pt% of 34.5% is 165th in the country. Ohio State also did a terrible _ob on the defensive glass against Michigan, allowing the Wolverines to grab 42.4% of their own misses (including 6 by _ordan Morgan).

Other Thing:

Thing They Are Like: A team that is missing something, but I _ust can’t seem to put my finger on what.

6) Minnesota (16-8, 5-6 B1G)

This Week: Beat Indiana (66-60)

Thing: Eh. It’s Minnesota. Despite the shiny new coat of Pitino, underneath they’re Minnesota.

Thing They Are Like: Tubby Smith's MInnesota, but with a more sane rotation, but a more sane rotation that doesn't produce better results.



7) Indiana (14-10, 4-7 B1G)

This week: Lost @ Minnesota (66-60); Lost to Penn State (66-65)

Thing: Look up, see otters.

Other Thing: Good job, good effort Indiana.

/tries to shake Indiana’s hand

/Indiana turns the ball over

The Hoosiers turned the ball over 20 times in their home loss to Penn State, including turnovers on back-to-back inbounds passes in the last 30 seconds of the game. One of them was triggered by Noah Vonleh because Tom Crean felt like Indiana needed an additional challenge or something. They are now 336th in TO%. They also managed to blow an 11 point lead with under 3 minutes to play, which is damn impressive.

Other Other Thing: How far will Indiana fall in the Conference standings? KenPom has them finishing 7-11, and I think the under is more likely than the over given that they already have 7 losses and they still have games against Iowa, Ohio State, at Wisconsin, and at Michigan. Could they finish tied for 10th? I would enjoy that.

Thing They Are Like: An anthropomorphic turnover. Someone needs to create this mascot. I think his name should be Travelly, the Walkin’ Hoosier. Internet, don’t let me down.

8) Nebraska (13-10, 5-6 B1G)

This week: Beat Ohio State (68-62); Beat Illinois (67-58)

Thing: This appeared on my television screen last night. On the Big Ten Network. For serious.

NCAA wha

In case you can't read the top bar, it really does say "NCAA Tournament Resume." If the question is, “does a 15 or 16 win team with a single top-100 non-conference win and a 7-11 or 8-10 record in conference make the NCAA tournament?” the answer is “Trololololo.”

Still, the fact that the BTN can even run such a graphic shows how far Tim Miles has taken this team. And how much peyote is apparently available in BTN Headquarters.

Thing they are like: An NIT tournament team, which, hey, that’s not terrible if you’re Nebraska.

9) Illinois (14-11, 3-9 B1G)

This week: Lulz

Thing that will be a Thing all year: Illinois was ranked in the top 25 in January

Other Thing: Illinois sucks at basketball.

Thing They Are Like: Bad.


10) Penn State (13-12, 4-8 B1G)

This week: Lost to Illinois (60-55), Won @ Indiana (66-65)

Thing: Penn State was 0.2% to win that game last night with 3 minutes left.

Thing They Are Like: I don't know, but they made Tom Crean sad so for now let us dance the Ewok dance.


11) Purdue (14-10, 4-7 B1G)

This week: Lost to Ohio State (67-49)

Thing: I don’t want to talk about Purdue

You did that Thing last week: Balls.

As if Purdue wasn’t painful enough to watch, they’ve apparently decided to SLOW DOWN. They are ranked as the 88th fastest-tempo team for the season at 68.8 possessions per game, but in the last two games they had 77 possessions in a triple-OT game (which works out to 56 possessions per 40 minutes) against Minnesota and 58 possessions against OSU.

On the plus side, we have to watch fewer possessions involving Purdue. On the minus side, we have to wait longer on every possession before watching Purdue do Purdue things.

Thing They Are Like: That part in a terrible romantic comedy where the love-lorn male lead takes a walk around town or goes on a trip or something in a way that is supposed to make you think he's thinking through the meaning of life but in reality it's just a guy walking around, and you're like DAMMIT GO RESOLVE THIS TERRIBLE PLOT SO I CAN TURN ON SPORTSCENTER.

12) Northwestern (12-12, 5-6 B1G)

This week: Lost to Nebraska (53-49)

Thing: Okay, Northwestern returns to their bottom-dwelling status, and the more I think about it, the more I’m okay with it. Sure, Northwestern is 5-6 in conference. But their 6 losses are by 27, 23, 26, 14, 26, and 4. That 4-point loss was a home loss to Nebraska, which was Nebraska’s first road win of the year and their third conference road win since joining the conference three years ago. Throw in a 6-point home win over Illinois and a 3 point double-OT home win over Purdue, and you don’t get the visage of a team of destiny.

Are they dangerous? Sure. But so is quicksand or a dumpster full of medical waste. That doesn’t make them good.

Thing They Are Like: Quicksand or a dumpster full of medical waste.


If Today Was Late March


Michigan State (#2), Michigan (#3), Wisconsin (#4), Iowa (#4), Ohio State (#6)

Bubble teams

Minnesota (#11)

Lovely Parting Gifts

Indiana (welcome back, you were missed), Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue, Penn State, Northwestern



As usual, cheer for little guys over big guys. Always cheer for MSU and Iowa to lose. Also Ohio State, not because they are a threat in the conference but because they are Ohio State. Also, where it doesn’t matter for conference standings, you may as well start cheering for teams Michigan plays twice over their four single-plays (Northwestern, Illinois, Penn State, OSU).


  • Northwestern @ Michigan State, 7:00, BTN
  • Minnesota @ Wisconsin, 9:00, ESPN


  • Curling


  • Iowa @ Penn State, 1:00, ESPNU
  • Indiana @ Purdue, 4:00, ESPN
  • Ohio State @ Illinois, 8:00, BTN


  • Wisconsin @ Michigan 1:00, CBS
  • Nebraska @ Michigan State, 3:00, BTN
  • Minnesota @ Northwestern, 6:00, BTN


  • Curling if curling is still going on, otherwise probably some skiing thing.


  • Iowa @ Indiana, 9:00, ESPN


  • Northwestern @ Ohio State, 7:00, BTN
  • Illinois @ Minnesota, 9:00, BTN



February 13th, 2014 at 11:51 AM ^

They're an interesting case.  They're ranked 63rd in RPI and according to RPI have the 17th toughest schedule.  With a remaining schedule of: @MSU, Penn St, Purdue, @Illinois, Northwestern, @Indiana, Wisconsin, if they could get to 9-9 in what is deemed one of, if not, the toughest conference, I'd think they might be in the bubble conversation.


February 13th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

If they get to 18 wins plus a first round win in the BTT I think they have a chance. They did at least play some good competition in the non conference even if they lost most of the good games. They certainly wouldn't be a lock but would at least merit consideration especially since a record above .500 in the Big Ten is pretty impressive.


February 13th, 2014 at 4:07 PM ^

Look at it this way: they're already close to .500 in conference play (and they're not just a win over Penn State away from consideration) and they're not even the "next four out."  Teams with that low of an RPI don't make the tourney without an autobid.  If Nebraska finishes at 9-9 I'll be shocked if they even show up in the next four out.  They're not in the conversation.

To this point:

They did at least play some good competition in the non conference even if they lost most of the good games.

They lost all the good games, not most, and the committee has a history of not particularly caring how tough a schedule you played if you didn't win any.

snarling wolverine

February 13th, 2014 at 11:53 AM ^

Nebraska has a good chance to finish .500 in conference play.  Here's their remaining schedule:










Very favorable.  MSU is the only one where they look to be a big underdog.  If they can hold serve at home and pick off Illinois, they'll actually be 10-8.  Now, that would be against a weak conference schedule (only one game against UM and MSU) but still, they could be in the conversation for a tourney bid. 




February 13th, 2014 at 12:10 PM ^

BiSB - great work as always, especially the missed J's for the OSU section. However, one error, on the Iowa's remaining schedule section, you mentioned Indiana twice, but forgot @Sparty 3/6/14. I'd want Iowa to win that one, just to help keep Sparty back behind us.


February 13th, 2014 at 12:20 PM ^

i just noticed craft's reaction to his airball. i.e. no reaction. it's perfect. he just stands there holding his follow-through, presumably thinking "aw, come on, what the hell". i will also assume immediately after this gif he simply drops his head (and continues to hold his follow through).