Opponent Watch: Hoops Edition

Submitted by Brian on December 3rd, 2012 at 4:13 PM

You know what I was thinking? I was thinking "I wish someone would give me a college basketball schedule overview/viewing guide so that I would know what interesting games were coming up." Then I was thinking "I wish I had a platform—oh right."

Two[1]The Status

Michigan is oh so pretty right now with wins over three quality programs headed to the tournament and a shortage of games against terrible opposition. They're second in the RPI to Duke, which is obvious because Duke has run a killer gauntlet so far. RPIforecast.com projects that Michigan will finish 11th, which is actually eighth-best nationally because that's how math works. He uses the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings to project how the games will turn out; those currently have Michigan 7th.

This week's Michigan seed projection: 2. 

The Past

Rocky07070643810488909-large[1]Miami Ohio NC State Basketball

The Rock. Tray Woodall confronts the 1-3-1. And there is a large CJ Leslie over there.

With many more opponents it's not practical to go through each in detail, so let's group them.

Dreck (that doesn't impact RPI)

Slippery Rock. Well done, Rock. You are not D-I, which Michigan's RPI will appreciate.


Any hopes that IUPUI might be a decent low-major to have on the schedule (they were 118th in RPI last year) are out the window. After beating up on BG in their consolation game in the preseason NIT, the unholy combination of Indiana and Purdue lost their next five games against D-I competition. They lost to South Dakota by 20. That's not good. Their single victory is over something called Indiana East, with Indiana Northwest and Indiana State on the docket.

Filler that's not painful

On the other hand, Cleveland State is 6-2 and hanging around the Kenpom top 100. He projects CSU to go 19-11 and have a winning Horizon League record. Consistently okay teams like CSU are the sort of folks Michigan should be scheduling.

Bradley may or may not fit here as well. Pro: they are 5-2 with their only other loss against USF. Con: their best win is against… IUPUI. A Tuesday game against GW will be an interesting test.


After Michigan beat them in MSG the Panthers blew the doors off Delaware, Howard, and Detroit. They still don't have a quality nonconference win and won't get one—a Wednesday matchup against Duquesne is the closest they'll come to an opportunity left. Kenpom has them 11th and projects a 25-6 season—beating them at MSG was a potential look at a Sweet 16 matchup.

Kansas State

K-State's schedule has been sparse so far and is about to get heavy. They beat up on South Carolina Upstate to move to 6-1; they have big neutral-ish-court matchups with Gonzaga in Seattle and Florida in Kansas City before the Big 12 schedule. Kenpom has them going 22-9, 11-7 in the Big 12—that's probably good for a 5-7 seed.

North Carolina State

Has not played since losing at Crisler. Plays Connecticut Tuesday in a game Michigan fans will be keeping a close eye on. Has fallen to 29th in Kenpom and is in the same range K-State is, though they clearly have more upside if they can just figure out how to play some defense.

The Future (Nonconference)

Iowa Michigan Basketballp1_huggins_all[1]

at least we won this coaching switch derby

Dreck. Three of Michigan's seven remaining nonconference games are solidly in the dreck category: Binghamton, CMU, and EMU. EMU's actually 5-1 so far but the best win in there is against IUPU Fort Wayne and they're about to lose a billion straight. Upcoming: Syracuse, Purdue, UIC, Michigan, Oakland, Kentucky, UMass. Have fun storming the castle. Binghamton is a disaster. Central Michigan lost to Bradley at home by 17.

Filler, not painful.On the bright side, Western Michigan has rebounded from a season-opening loss at Cornell to run off six straight wins, two of which were against quality opponents USF and Oakland. They're now projected to be above .500 in the MAC; they were 6-10 a year ago.


Arkansas is not good but they weren't last year and Michigan still lost. They've got 3 wins over teams in the 300 club, a 15 point loss to Arizona State, a 7 point loss to Wisconsin, and a 9 point loss to Syracuse. At Crisler it shouldn't be a huge problem, you wouldn't think—especially with some extra ballhandlers to relieve pressure on Burke.

By the by, BJ Young has one of the weirdest statlines I've ever seen: incredible usage (39% of Arkansas shots, 33% of their possessions), incredibly few turnovers (he's 14th nationally), good assists and shooting and… he plays 58% of Arkansas minutes. That just about leads the team, but I'm just like man:


That is bizarre. The guy is 3 from 19 from three after being a 41% shooter last year, so that ORtg is artificially depressed and the guy is playing fewer minutes than he did last year. If I was Mike Anderson I'd tell Young to take it easy on the pressing, but I guess it doesn't work like that.

West Virginia

Sitting at 2-3 with wins over Marist and VMI, WVU is headed for the NIT according to Kenpom. They opened the season by getting blown out by Gonzaga and then lost narrowly to Davidson and Oklahoma. They've got shots at Marshall, VT, and Duquense to establish some bonafides before the matchup in Brooklyn. Hopefully they sweep those to establish themselves potential bubble team.

The Future (Conference)


this is not your older brother's Big Ten

Well, it's pretty good you guys. The top four (M, OSU, IU, Minnesota) teams have two losses between them, both to Duke. Michigan State beat Kansas; while they've lost a couple times we're talking a fifth-best team here. Illinois is undefeated, albeit against largely shaky competition, and Kenpom loves Wisconsin because Wisconsin annihilates bad teams. They did just smoke previously-undefeated Cal, so there's that.

Iowa has disappointed—no D—and Northwestern is set to take a step back, but the only real "what happened there" going on is at Purdue, which is entirely too dependent on DJ Byrd jacking up threes and guys named Johnson who can't shoot. The three Johnsons who start for the Boilers are collectively 24% from three—freshman Ronnie has a Jan Jagla-like 2 of 22 line, except that was usually a season for Jagla. As a team, Purdue is shooting 25% from three. That does not win you many games. Beilein is in ur base, Matt Painter.

Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion

projected seeds included

#1 Indiana, #2 Ohio State, #2 MICHIGAN, #4 Minnesota, #4 Michigan State

Probably In

#8 Illinois

Bubble no matter what Kenpom says

#11 Wisconsin

Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award

Iowa, Northwestern

Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award

Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue

Viewing Guide

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


Nebraska vs USC, BTN, 8 PM


Arkansas vs Oklahoma, ESPN2, 6PM
Northwestern at Baylor, ESPN2, 8PM
NC State vs Connecticut, ESPN, 9 PM
MICHIGAN vs Western Michigan, BTN, 8:30 PM


Pitt vs Duquesne, ESPN3, 7 PM


Nebraska vs Creighton, ESPN3, 8 PM


Iowa vs Iowa State, BTN, 8 PM


MICHIGAN vs Arkansas, CBS, noon
NC State vs Cleveland State, Fox Sports South, 1PM
Kansas State vs George Washington, CBS Sports Network, 2:30 PM
West Virginia vs Virginia Tech, ESPN2, 4PM
Wisconsin at Marquette, ESPN2, 6PM
Butler at Northwestern, BTN, 8PM
Illinois at Gonzaga, ESPN2, 10PM


Blue Hokie

December 3rd, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

Having just graduated VT this past spring, I lived through the last 4 years of Greenburg's tenure. I had student tickets all 4 years and watched in pain as Tech looked clueless on the floor and didn't seem to know what a play was or how to rebound. Johnson has proven early what a good coach he is just by getting his team to do those two simple things.


December 3rd, 2012 at 5:49 PM ^

I went to the Okie State-VPI game this weekend as a casual fan and left an avid support of James Johnson. Like Hoke in 2011, he's motivated the same kids to excel on the court. It's still early but I'd like to see how they fare at WVU.


December 3rd, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

is called IPFW. The other 3 people with Fort Wayne connections will also be on their way to pointing this out in the comments below when they see this one. So...first!


December 3rd, 2012 at 4:36 PM ^

Completely off topic but did anybody else get this ad down the sidebar on this post?

I know I'm mGrowOld and all that but for me a hot chick becomes a lot less hot wearing that particular shirt.  Yuck.



December 3rd, 2012 at 4:40 PM ^

at espn.com reveals that michigan being good is "tremendous for the Big Ten and the sport." That's right people, us being good is somehow good for the sport of basketball. The Michigan Difference.


December 3rd, 2012 at 4:49 PM ^

Dumb question:  If Michigan is #2 in RPI and #3 in polls, why do they not qualify for a #1 seed in the tournament? 

Also, hypothetically, could there be three B1G teams as #1 seeds?  That would be pretty cool.


December 3rd, 2012 at 5:08 PM ^

To reiterate that point, look at this month-long stretch starting in mid January:



Sun.Jan. 13 at Ohio State+ (7) Columbus, Ohio  1:30/4:30 CBS Tickets
Thurs. Jan. 17 at Minnesota+ Minneapolis, Minn.  7 p.m. ESPN/2 Tickets
Thurs. Jan. 24 PURDUE+ Ann Arbor, Mich.  7 p.m. ESPN/2 Tickets
Sun.Jan. 27 at Illinois+ Champaign, Ill.  6 p.m. BTN Tickets
Weds. Jan. 30 NORTHWESTERN+ Ann Arbor, Mich.  6:30 p.m. BTN Tickets
Sat. Feb. 2 at Indiana+ (8) Bloomington, Ind. 9 p.m. ESPN Tickets
Tues. Feb. 5 OHIO STATE+ Ann Arbor, Mich.  9 p.m. ESPN Tickets
Sat. Feb. 9 at Wisconsin+ Madison, Wis.  Noon ESPN/2 Tickets
Tues. Feb. 12 at Michigan State+ East Lansing, Mich.  9 p.m. ESPN Tickets


That's a 9 game stretch in which we play the teams currently ranked 1, 7, 13, 14, and 19, away, plus Wisconsin, whom Michigan's never beaten at the Kohl Center, plus the #7 team at home. If we get through that stretch with 3 losses or fewer, it will be incredibly impressive. In fact, getting through it with fewer than 3 losses would probably pave our way to a #1 seed.


December 3rd, 2012 at 4:57 PM ^

I think it has to do with us not being projected to be ranked at #2 or 3 by the end of the year.

Plus, Indiana, OSU and Michigan will all beat each other up throughout the season/BTT. If Michigan wins out, we'll be the 1 seed. If not, we'll still have looked good enough to be a 2. But M, OSU, and Indiana won't all have good enough records to be 1 seeds.


December 3rd, 2012 at 5:48 PM ^

he meant they'd be undefeated heading into the tourney.  Indiana is the last team to make it through the regular season and tourney undefeated.  Indiana St in '79 and UNLV in '91 were both undefeated heading into the tournament - not sure if there are others.


December 3rd, 2012 at 8:58 PM ^

I was trying to think, if IU and Purdue copulated, which would be on top and which on the bottom.  Since Purdue is a train, that would seem to put them on top.  And then I thought about Indiana's logo, which is basically hermaphroditic.  So, I guess that means IUUI is one of those congenitally defective children with one X and two Y chromosomes.  


December 3rd, 2012 at 10:55 PM ^

But don't sleep on Eastern. They were picked to duke it out with Toledo for the MAC West(before anyone had a look at Western's freshmen). They just might win a couple of the games you listed, and they will do well in the MAC.