Big Ten M5: 03.07.14 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 7th, 2014

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  1. Indiana more than likely saw their already slim NCAA Tournament hopes dashed by losing to Nebraska 70-60 on Wednesday night. Despite some flashes of quality play in some of their impressive wins they have gotten at home, this has really been a puzzling team to figure out through most of the season. Mediocre is a strong word to use for a team that lost two NBA lottery picks and two other senior starters, yet still has a 17-13 record. Inconsistent and unpredictable might be more apt terms to describe the 2013-14 Hoosiers. Their poor non-conference schedule hasn’t done them any favors as far as their resume goes, and it’s also lead to a team not being prepared for Big Ten play.
  2. Minnesota unexpectedly is losing a player who started 23 of their 30 games this season. Oto Osenieks is ending his basketball career after it was determined that a knee injury that he’s had multiple surgeries on simply is too damaged for him to continue on. Joey King has taken over the starting power forward spot, so look for he and Charles Buggs to continue getting the majority of the minutes at that spot.
  3. Ohio State faces a crucial test Sunday afternoon when they take on Michigan State. The game is significant because it’s Senior Day for Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. But Shannon Scott says that it’s more important to get the win “to get (us) into the best situation we can for the tournament.” Scott also said in the interview that he likes his role coming off the bench due to the fact that he can “fit in where (he) can and figure out what the team needs at the time and try and do it.” With Keith Appling of Michigan State having his best game in quite some time last night against Iowa, the Buckeyes will need big efforts from both Craft and Scott on Sunday night to make Senior Day a memorable one.
  4. Michigan’s sophomore class- especially Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, Glenn Robinson III, and the injured Mitch McGary- garner most of the headlines and publicity for the recently-crowned Big Ten regular season champions. But you can’t overlook the contributions of freshmen Derrick Walton Jr, and Zak Irvin. They both have showed much more consistency as the season has gone along, and Coach John Beilein believes their improvement has been the key to turning things around after a shaky non-conference part of their season. Both have had played really well and they have both blended in seamlessly as the season has gone along. Michigan has had some outstanding players make substantial jumps between their first and second seasons in Ann Arbor, and if this trend continues, Walton and Irvin will be Big Ten mainstays for as long as they are donning the maize and blue.
  5. Switching over to the other Michigan school in the league, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling played their last game in East Lansing for Michigan State last night when they beat Iowa 86-76. The pair are victims of the program’s past success, as they and fellow senior Dan Chapman will have been the first senior class under Tom Izzo to have not played in a Final Four. It hardly seems fair that many will view their time with the program to have been unsuccessful unless they advance four spots into the bracket without taking a loss. The Spartans took a small step toward that goal however by impressively beating the Hawkeyes. Appling looked to be much more comfortable, and if he really is healthy finally, this team can be just as good as everyone thought in the preseason.
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Set Your TiVo: 01.31.12

Posted by bmulvihill on January 31st, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Conference battles are heating up across the country as we head into the last month of regular season play. A lot will happen from not till the beginning of March, so it’s more important than ever to get a glimpse of as many teams as you can before tourney time. Let’s take a look at tonight’s action.

Tom Izzo and Michigan State need to prove themselves on the road.

#8 Michigan State at Illinois – 7:00PM EST on ESPN HD (****)

  • As of Sunday, there are only three teams that rank in the top ten in KenPom’s adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency ratings – Kentucky, Syracuse, and Michigan State. In Big Ten play, Michigan State is lighting it up on the offensive end, ranking number one in both two-point and three-point shooting percentage. The Spartans face a true road test tonight against Illinois and it is on the road where Tom Izzo’s club still needs to prove itself. Michigan State is 2-2 on the road in conference and 4-4 on the season away from the Breslin Center. Michigan State has only allowed 5 teams to shoot over 50% eFG all season and each time it was on the road. They are 1-4 when a team goes over 50% eFG. Izzo and company has to play strong defense against 7’1” Illini center Meyers Leonard, who is hitting 60% of this two-point attempts. Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne are Michigan State’s tallest regulars at 6’9” and 6’10″, respectively. That’s a tough match-up for them individually, so look for the possible double team to prevent Leonard from taking over the game. If the Spartans get beat, it will be because the Illini two-pointed them to death.
  • Illinois started the season off at a promising 10-0. They have since gone 5-6 and dropped their last three games and are in danger of dropping completely out of contention in the Big Ten. While Illinois has maintained its mediocre shooting in Big Ten play, their downfall has been an increase in turnovers and poor offensive rebounding. More turnovers and less second chance points equals empty possessions. For a team that has shot under 50% eFG in over half of its games, that’s a losing equation. However, the Illini has two saving graces on their side, they are playing at home where they are 11-1 (3-1) and they have the tallest guy on the court who happens to be very skilled. Illinois needs to feed the big man to have a chance in this one.
  • The game hinges on Leonard’s ability to establish himself on the interior and Michigan State’s defensive strategy to deny him the ball. The winner of that chess match is likely to win the game. Also, keep a close eye on turnovers. Michigan State leads the Big Ten in steals, while Illinois gets the ball stolen more than anyone else in the league. Empty possessions for Bruce Weber’s squad will spell doom.

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NCAA Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

West Virginia (#6, Midwest, Minneapolis Pod)
vs. Dayton (#11)
Fri. 3/20 @ 3:00 PM
Vegas Line: West Virginia, -8.5

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Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile
Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
Conference: Big East, at large
Coach: Bob Huggins, 47-21
08-09 Record: 24-11, 10-8
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: 74-60, Pittsburgh, 3/12/2009
Worst Loss: 65-61, Cincinnati, 2/26/2009
Off. Efficiency Rating: 115.3, 15th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 88.0, 7th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Players: Da’Sean Butler – 17.3 ppg/6.0 rpg; Alex Ruoff – 15.9 ppg
Unsung Hero: Devin Ebanks – 10.4 ppg/7.7 rpg
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Devin Ebanks – 8th overall in 2010; Da’Sean Butler – 41st overall in 2010
Key Injuries: Joe Mazzulla – out for season (shoulder)
Depth: 25.5% (289 nationally); percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Inconsistency. WVU is the most inconsistent at-large team in the tourney, and 325th out of 344 in NCAA Division I. Since the start of conference play, their longest win streak is three games.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Freshman Devin Ebanks continues to post personal bests in points and rebounds like he did in the Big East tournament.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: The Mountaineers keep up this hot-then-cold phenomenon that plagued them during the season.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2008, Sweet 16
Streak: This is WVU’s 3rd straight trip.
Best NCAA Finish: 1959 Final Four
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): Not enough data (requires 8 bids in the period).

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Before hiring current head coach Bob Huggins, the WVU basketball team was under the charge of John Beilein. Beilein now coaches at Michigan, and his star player, Manny Harris, is a Detroit native.
Distance to First Round Site: 936 miles.
School’s Claim to Fame: The man on the NBA logo, Jerry West, is WVU’s greatest basketball alum, holding the school records for points and rebounds.
School Wishes It Could Forget: When football coach Rich Rodriguez left Morgantown for the University of Michigan, many Mountaineer fans were not pleased. Rodriguez and his family were the target of hate mail, vandalism, and death threats from fans angered by his departure.
Prediction: On paper, West Virginia looks like a team that can beat Kansas and Michigan State to make it to the Midwest Regional Final. However, the wild inconsistency that characterized the regular season will show up in the tournament. WVU loses in the Sweet 16, just like 2008.
Major RTC stories: Where 2008-09 Happens: Reason #20 Why We Love College Basketball and Huggins Takes the Fall

Preview written by Matt the Intern of Rush the Court

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