Hoops Opponent Watch: Waiting Edition

Submitted by BiSB on March 13th, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Non-Conference Schedule


RPI Effect Only Teams

UMass-Lowell lost to… aw, screw it. GRIII things.


Big Sorts of Teams

Iowa State (23-7, 11-7 Big 12)

This week: Beat Oklahoma State (85-81 OT)

Based on a the interweb mock brackets, there’s a fair-to-moderate chance that Michigan might get another shot at Iowa State, this time outside the friendly magical confines of the Hilton Arena Convention Center thingy. The Committee generally dislikes rematches, but right now Michigan is a high 2-seed and Iowa State is a low 3 seed, so it could happen.

If they DO end up as a 3-seed, they can thank Oklahoma State’s failure to come over to #TeamFoul. OSU was up 3 when they missed a free throw with five seconds left. So, instead of fouling, they gave a 39% three-point shooter (Naz Long) an open look. He promptly tied the game. If you were curious, Long is a 62.5% free throw shooter.  FOUL, MAN. FOUL

Florida State (18-12, 9-9 ACC)

This week: Lost to Syracuse (74-58)


#7 Dook (24-7, 13-5 ACC)

This week: Beat North Carolina (93-81)

Like Iowa State, Duke is another possible Sweet 16 matchup for Michigan (they’re currently projected at around a 3 seed). Like Iowa State, a hypothetical rematch would be on neutral turf instead of a very hostile road venue. Unlike Iowa State, please don’t make us play these bastards again.

#4 Arizona (28-3, 15-3 PAC 12)

This week: Lost at Oregon (64-57)

Yeah, they lost to Oregon, but unless they lose their quarterfinal matchup to Utah, they’re a lock for a 1-seed. KenPom has them as 7 point favorites to get there, though Utah did play them close twice (including an OT game in February). And even if they lose that game they’re probably STILL a 1-seed.

Stanford (19-11, 10-8 PAC 12)

This week: Beat Utah (61-60)

They’re probably in. But I’m more concerned about KenPom’s description of their defense:


“Coach, can you explain your defensive philosophy in the second half?”

“Well, we didn’t think we were very effective in man-to-man, so we went with what we call our ‘shiny object’ set, which is sort of a hybrid man/zone concept where everyone just kinda guards the person near them until they see someone else open and then they guard that person for a while. Or if they get bored or want to be on the other side of the court for a while, they can do that too. The closest traditional comparison would be a triangle and one with a single-high safety.”


In Which I Rank the B1G According to KenPom


1) Michigan (23-7, 15-3(!) B1G)

This week: Beat Indiana (84-80)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 8
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 9-5
  • KenPom Rank: 10
  • RPI: 12
  • BPI: 22

Thing: Michigan is in a good position to receive a bid to the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament.

Evidence to support the above Thing:

Thing They Are Like: /queues appropriate Queen song.

2) Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6 B1G)

This week: Lost @ Nebraska (77-68)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 3
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 7-3
  • KenPom Rank: 12
  • RPI: 6
  • BPI: 10 Electoral Votes

Thing: Hate on Bo Ryan if you want, but… HEY WAIT GET BACK HERE I’M NOT DONE YET… but he did the Big Ten basketball community a huge favor by dropping that game to Nebraska. Of course, it didn’t matter much to Wisconsin because they didn’t have nearly as much to play for as the Fightin’ Cornfolk, but still, thanks. It took an uncharacteristically poor game from Frank Kaminsky (14 points on 18 shot equivalents), but hey. Those happen.

Other Thing: If Wisconsin reaches the Big Ten Tournament final, they probably stay above Michigan on the S-curve even if Michigan WINS the tournament. But there’s no way they get by a Finally HealthyTM Michigan State team, so we’re golden.

Thing They Are Like: That guy from your town who you hate and who you would love to see the crap kicked out of but you don't really want to fight yourself because you've got some work stuff coming up and you can't risk show up with a black eye.

3) Ohio State (23-8, 10-8 B1G)

This week: Beat Michigan State (69-67)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 43
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 5-4
  • KenPom Rank: 14
  • RPI: 23
  • BPI: 130 over 75

Thing: Michigan might actually prefer an OSU semifinal matchup to a Nebraska matchup. On paper, a win over Nebraska doesn’t have the same résumé cache as a win over Ohio State, despite Nebraska having a better record and having won 8 of their last 9 games. Plus it’s probably a better matchup from a basketball standpoint.

Other Thing: I’d say the OSU/MSU was the worst officiated basketball game I’d ever seen, but I watch the Big Ten on a regular basis, so it probably wasn’t. I’ve come up with a brief list of things I think would make calls more accurately than the current set of Big Ten refs:

  • The Wheel of Fortune wheel
  • A pair of 20-sided gaming dice
  • Applause-o-meter
  • Call-your-own-fouls, pickup game style
  • That octopus that picked World Cup winn… wait, he did? Damn.

I welcome other suggestions.

Thing They Are Like: The guy from your town who you hopes starts something because you would love another shot at beating up the guy again.

4) Michigan State (23-8, 12-6 B1G)

This Week: Beat Iowa (86-76); Lost @ Ohio State (69-67)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 13
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 6-7
  • KenPom Rank: 16
  • RPI: 21
  • BPI: Purple

Thing: Michigan State still has the best Vegas odds to win the NCAA tournament; they’re 10/1 on Bovada, while Wisconsin is 18/1 and Michigan is 20/1. They are also the Big Ten tournament chalk at 5/2.

The only problem is that both the NCAA and the Big Ten have gone to a quirky “you must win a series of games in a row to win the tournament” format. This could be a disadvantage to Michigan State, who hasn’t won back-to-back basketball games since January 21.

Other Thing: Sparty is having some serious turnover problems. Their last four games have been four of their worst five turnover rate games (numbers 1, 2, 3, and 5) of the conference season. If you remember last year, Michigan State had some serious turnover problems with pretty much the same starting five. Something worth keeping an eye on.

Thing They Are Like: That guy who you hate. That's about it.

5) Iowa (20-11, 9-9 B1G)

This week: Lost @ Michigan State (86-76); Lost to Illinois (66-63) (at home) (on Senior Day)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 49
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 4-8
  • KenPom Rank: 17
  • RPI: 39
  • BPI: Sagittarius

Thing: Boy, that escalated quickly. Three weeks ago, Iowa was 19-6, 8-4 in conference, and was tied for second in the conference. Now they’re staring down the barrel of a double-digit NCAA seed, and they’re playing on Thursday of the Big Ten tournament. If they lose that, they’re still in, but they’d probably creep closer to an 11 seed and would actually have to pay attention on Selection Sunday.

Other thing: The one thing Iowa has going for it is that they don’t have any really bad losses. Dropping games to Illinois and Indiana isn’t exactly happy-go-fun time, but they beat all of the cellar dwellers. They also had a relatively tough conference schedule; their single-plays were Nebraska, Indiana (at IU, with Assembly Hall throwing metal at them), Penn State, and Purdue.

Thing They Are Like:


6) Nebraska (19-11, 11-7 B1G)

This Week: Beat Wisconsin (77-68)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 18
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 3-7
  • KenPom Rank: 47
  • RPI: 35
  • BPI: Came in like a wrecking ball

Thing: Terran Petteway garners most of the kudos for Nebraska because he’s the conference’s leading scorer, but take a gander at Shavon Shields:

Nebraska was 3-6 in their first 9 games and 8-1 in their last 9. Correlation is not causation, yadda yadda, but Shields has been huge. He’s scored 50 points in Nebraska’s 7 conference losses (7.1 ppg) and 179 points in their 11 wins (16.3 ppg).

Other Thing: Tim Miles remains a boss, who flies Icarus style very, very close to the KenPom sun:

Thing They Are Like:


7) Minnesota (19-12, 8-10 B1G)

This week: Beat Penn State (81-63)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 19
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 4-8
  • KenPom Rank: 52
  • RPI: 49
  • BPI: Extremely.

Thing: The thing about having Minnesota on the bubble is that people focus a lot of attention on Minnesota. This does not help the Big Ten. Or, really, anyone.

Other Thing: Minnesota got a little unlucky with their Big Ten Tournament draw. If they finished a little lower they would get a Thursday game that might actually earn them some credit. As it stands, they have nothing to win and everything to lose. But they probably also need to beat Wisconsin, so this is all just an intellectual exercise.

Thing They Are Like: The worst in-conference defense, probably because they give up 37.2% three point shooting in conference games.



8) Indiana (17-14, 7-11 B1G)

This week: Lost @ Michigan (84-80)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 62
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 4-7
  • KenPom Rank: 65
  • RPI: 87
  • BPI:

Thing: Indiana’s record away from Assembly Hall this year: 3-10. Their three non-home wins: Washington, Penn State, Northwestern.

It isn’t that their home court advantage was less than in previous years. It’s that the home court advantage couldn’t overcome the totality of the suck.

Thing they are like:

Once more, with feeling:


9) Illinois (18-13, 7-11 B1G)

This week: Won @ Iowa (66-63)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 24
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 3-8
  • KenPom Rank: 66
  • RPI: 62
  • BPI: Please stop chewing on that, Tim Beckman

Thing that will be a Thing all year: Illinois was ranked in the Top 25 this calendar year.

Other Thing: Illinois actually closed the year pretty strongly, beating four tournament teams or potential tournament teams. Which is pretty good for a team that is 309th in the country at shooting and 339th in the country in getting to the free throw line.

Thing They Are Like: I don't want to talk about Illinois anymore please.

Thing They Are Not Like Yet: Michigan.

10) Penn State (15-16, 6-12 B1G)

This week: Beat Northwestern (59-32); Lost @ Minnesota (81-63)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 26
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 4-7
  • KenPom Rank: 76
  • RPI: 105
  • BPI: $Texas

Thing: They happened.

Thing They Are Like: A thing that happened.

11) Purdue (13-18, 6-12 B1G)

This week: Lost to Northwestern (74-65)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 50
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 1-10
  • KenPom Rank: 105
  • RPI: 123
  • BPI: Storm cloud

Thing: Purdue finished dead last in the Big Ten in basketball and football. This feat was accomplished by Indiana in 2009, and again in 2011.

Thing They Are Like: Bad at basketball.

12) Northwestern (13-18, 6-12 B1G)

This week: Lost to Penn State (59-32); Won @ Purdue (74-65)

Tournament Resume:

  • Strength of Schedule: 28
  • Record vs. KenPom Top 50: 1-9
  • KenPom Rank: 147
  • RPI: 128
  • BPI: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Thing: Look, Northwestern has been bad. They’ve been really bad. And they have probably been the worst team in the Big Ten, standings… uh… notwithstanding. But they are among the best worst teams in recent memory. If the season ended today, they would be the #147th best team in the country. There have been lower-rated teams in the Big Ten in 10 of the last 11 seasons (with 2011 being the exception). Penn State, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska have all experienced worse seasons (as has Northwestern). Northwestern’s 6 wins would also be good for at LEAST third from last in the conference over that same time period. If you’re curious, Penn State’s run as #210, #218, and #215 from ’03-’05 are the three worst seasons on record, followed by Indiana’s ’09 season, which came in at #209.

But yes, Northwestern’s #319-rated offense was the worst in the KenPom era. By 51 spots. Which brings us to…

Other Thing: Northwestern beat Purdue to stay out of last place in the conference, which is all well and good, but we have to discuss their 59-32 loss to Penn State on senior night. They shot 10-43 from the field for an eFG% of 26.7%. They were 3-22 from deep. Only two players made multiple shots. Only one player scored more points than he had shot attempts. And, as I mentioned earlier, this was against PENN STATE, the second-worst defensive team in the conference. No other team this year failed to score 52 against Penn State, including the non-conference cupcakes. Northwestern wouldn’t have gotten to 52 if you’d given them a 3rd half.

Thing They Are Like: So, how does Trevor Siemian look?

It’s Getting Close to Late March


Michigan (#2), Wisconsin (#2), Michigan State (#4), Ohio State (#5), Iowa (#8)


Nebraska (#11)

So you’re saying there’s a chance

Minnesota (First 4 out)

You can’t spell “Indiana T” without NIT:

Indiana, Illinois

CBI, CIT, OPP yeah you know me.

Purdue Penn State, Northwestern



BIG TEN (tournament)!!!!



  • #8 Illinois vs. #9 Illinois, 12:00, BTN
  • #5 Ohio State vs. #12 Purdue, 2:25-ish, BTN
  • #7 Minnesota vs. #10 Penn State, 6:30, ESPN2
  • #6 Iowa vs. #11 Northwestern, 8:55-ish, ESPN2


  • #1 Michigan vs. Indiana/Illinois, 12:00, ESPN/ESPN2
  • #4 Nebraska vs. Ohio State/Purdue, 2:25-ish, ESPN/ESPN2
  • #2 Wisconsin vs. Minnesota/Penn State, 6:30, BTN
  • #3 Michigan State vs. Iowa/Northwestern, 8:55-ish, BTN


  • Michigan/Indiana/Illinois vs. Nebraska/OSU/Purdue, 1:40, CBS
  • Wisconsin/Minnesota/PSU vs. MSU/Iowa/Northwestern, 4:05-ish, CBS


  • You-Pick-Two from the teams above, 3:30, CBS


  • The waiting is the hardest part.
  • Every day you see one more card.


  • You take it on faith.
  • You take it to the heart.


  • The waaaaiting is the haaaaaaardeeeeeest
  • part



March 13th, 2014 at 11:05 AM ^

I hate being that guy (well actually, sometimes I don't mind), but under the JMo net-cutting gif it should be "cues" and not "queues."  Detailed explanation here.

Also, in the OSU writeup, you mean cachet and not cache.  Explanation for that is here.



March 13th, 2014 at 11:21 AM ^

Man I don't know about Wisconsin remaining above us on the S-curve if we do better in the BTT. I think we're dead even right now (their Florida win is a tad inflated as Florida was without the SEC POY in Wilbekin) as their non-con was much more impressive, but our con was much more impressive. I think if it's a BTT final between us, they'll just flip whoever wins the game into the higher spot. 


March 13th, 2014 at 11:54 AM ^

I've had the same thought.  I think our overall resumes are similar enough that it would be really hard for them to ignore that we won the toughest (or second toughest) conference by 3 games and did it playing the tougher conference line-up than WI.   I would think in a close call they would defer to both who won the conference and who has been better down the stretch both of which favor Michigan.

I also wonder how they ignore the part where we lost our pre-season All-American during the stretch where we were worse than WI.  If they are willing to penalize teams like KU that are going into the tournament potentially weaker than they appeared during the season you would think they would look at teams that had early injury issues and put them behind them positively.

Let's just win the tournament and find out!  If Mbeats WI in the final I find it even more unlikely they'd ignore that we won 2/3 from them and won both championships.  That to me would be a crazy slap in the face.


March 13th, 2014 at 11:49 AM ^

Can't discount all RPI effect only teams. Charlotte's win last night brought their RPI up to 146 to keep us from having a loss from a RPI 150+ team. Now if they lose today to Louisiana Tech they could go back under, but if they win they could win the whole tournament! 

EDIT: The Conference USA tournament that is, definitely not the NCAA tournament.