Remaining Basketball Schedule favors State, Ohio, Illinois

Submitted by StephenRKass on January 18th, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Last night's game vs. Michigan State was exciting and a great game to watch. However, this may be the high water mark for the year. Thankfully, Michigan has done well so far. There are three  ways, however, that our schedule was and continues to be very tough.

  1. Last five game stretch. Five games in thirteen days is pretty rough for college teams, as Beilein mentioned in the post-game interview, but we weathered this with a 3 - 2 record.
  2. Games vs. top 3 teams and bottom 3 teams. If you go through the schedule, Michigan and OSU play the other 3 front runners a total of six times, and the bottom dwellers four times. MSU & Illinois have a slight advantage, with playing the top 3 five times and bottom 3 five times.
  3. Home vs. Road games. This is perhaps the most significant gauntlet and challenge facing Michigan. From here on out, we have four home games and eight road games, only one home game for every two on the road. In contrast, MSU has seven at home, and five on the road (and Ohio six at home.)  With our four remaining home games, three (Indiana, Ohio, & Illinois,) are against teams ranked in the top 25.

Wins will be very difficult to come by from now through the end of the season. If we are going to finish well, it is critical that especially Hardaway and Smotrycz, along with Novak, Douglass, and Burke, return to form with the 3 point shot. This will completely open up the floor, and make back door cuts and the pick and roll much, much more effective.

We'll have to see what happens, but at this point, I hope we get at least six more wins. I can see winning at Nebraska, & Penn State, and beating Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue at home. If we win one of the other seven games, better yet, two, we would finish with a record of 21 - 10 prior to the Big 10 Tourney. Should we do better than that, this team will have exceeded my hopes and expectations.

Comments

nmumike

January 18th, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

were your hopes and expectations going into the season? My hopes were around 20 wins, my expectations might have been a little lower though with the loss of Morris...

StephenRKass

January 18th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

I was hoping for 20 wins. If we end up with 21 or more, that's better than expected. Burke's play as a freshman has been tremendous, and could not have been fully anticipated. With his emergence, and the incoming class, and the return of Horford next year, I believe we can go to the final four.

bigmc6000

January 18th, 2012 at 1:26 PM ^

At least for me:

Expectations: 7-9 or 8-8 in conference (I had no idea Trey would be this good this quick)

Hopes: 9-7 or 10-6 in conference (Trey not too bad, Hardaway pretty dang awesome)

Dreams: Anything better than that. (Trey awesome, Hardaway awesome, 3 point shooting at 35% + for the team)

Hardaway to this point is probably a little below my hopes/expectations but not by much. The 3 point shooting is probably around expectations but certainly not in the hopes category. The major factor has easily been Trey - he has taken this team from what I would say is probably a 7-9 B1G squad given the production from everyone else to tied for 2nd this far into the conference schedule.

At this point I don't even care about the overall record because 9-7 in the B1G this year will, at worst, get you a 7 seed and 8-8 will probably land you in the tourney give what has already gone down in the conference.

readyourguard

January 18th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

It's a tough schedule to close out the regular season but we'll be battle tested, that's for sure.  When tournament time comes around, I think Novak and Douglass will be primed for their final their swan songs.

PurpleStuff

January 18th, 2012 at 1:33 PM ^

@ Arkansas, 13-5, 2-2 SEC (only one loss at home, beat #18 Miss. St. in Fayetteville)

@ Purdue, 14-5, 4-2 B1G

@ #6 Ohio State, 16-3, 4-2 B1G

#11 Indiana, 15-3, 3-3 B1G (already beat us once this year)

@ #9 MSU, 15-4, 4-2 B1G (looking for revenge)

This is why the games against PSU, Minnesota, Northwestern, and (unfortunately) Iowa were so critical.  We could play well and still take quite a few lumps over the next few weeks.  And the schedule doesn't exactly get easy after that (Illinois twice, Purdue and OSU at home).

The team is in a great spot right now, but it could very well turn out that they had to be in this spot in order to finish out the season with a solid record and a tourney bid locked up.

ijohnb

January 18th, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

have been REALLY nice to have, but the Northwestern home game was an absolute must.  I was kind of freaking out a little during that game because I had that as a W since last season.  They had to pull that out.  I think they will close out a little better than expected.  I think they will get either State or tOSU or Purdon't on the road (maybe two of them).  I think we got a winner here.

joeyb

January 18th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

That's what I was just looking at. They need 4 more wins to finish 9-9 in the conference. I don't think they will win all 4 because those 4 are against the other 4 of the best 5 teams in the conference. That makes games like @Nebraska and @PSU absolutely critical wins. I could see them losing the next three with a letdown @Ark and having a hard time @Purdue and @OSU. That makes the Indiana game almost a must-win game. I don't think that they want to be going to EL with a 4-loss streak.

StephenRKass

January 18th, 2012 at 1:46 PM ^

The upcoming stretch is very rough, as you point out. I would very much like to see Michigan win a game on the road against a more or less equal team. I do believe that Michigan will play Indiana very tough.

I agree completely with you that Michigan had to be in this spot in order to finish the season with at least twenty wins and a guaranteed bid in the NCAA tourney.

One minor point overlooked is that I think Michigan will get at least one if not two wins in the Big 10 tournament. I don't know how much wins in the Big 10 tourney affect seeding in the NCAA tourney, but I think they make at least some difference.

Blue boy johnson

January 18th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

This team is going to be fine. When they get locked in like they were in the Wisconsin game they can beat anybody, anywhere. M's best basketball this season is still ahead of them. They will gut out some tough wins on the road. This is a team that has shown they can impose their will, plus their coach is undeniably brilliant. Good times.

93Grad

January 18th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

the home stretch of this season is BRUTAL.  .500 in conference and 20 wins garuntees us a conference birth, but I knew from the beginning that was going to be tough to accomplish and I still feel that way.  Not impossible, mind you, just difficult. 

O Fo Sho

January 18th, 2012 at 3:48 PM ^

is usually decided by who won the most road games.  Most of the top teams in the B10 do a great job of holding serve on their home floors. 

We lost to Iowa who State beat by 30 points on their own home floor.  Any win we get on the road is a bonus!