Big Ten Game On: 02.25.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 25th, 2012

Six games this weekend in the Big Ten, and tonight features two of the conference leaders.  Let’s get to it.

Purdue @ #11 Michigan, 6 PM, BTN

Michigan's Senior Night against Purdue will be a big game for Zach Novak and Stu Douglass (US Presswire)

  • The Boilermakers need a win over a ranked opponent really bad.  Like, really, REALLY bad.  That’s because Purdue is 1-5 against teams in the RPI Top 25 and 4-7 against the Top 50.  A win would obviously help those stats out, and possibly put an end to the bubble talk surrounding the Boilermakers’ chances for an invite to the NCAA Tournament.  Robbie Hummel is doing his part, shooting 50% from the field and averaging 24.8 PPG over his last four contests. He also dropped a stat line of 16 points, five boards, and six assists the last time these two teams met, and will be expected to lead again.  Matt Painter will have to devise a plan to slow down the smoking-hot Wolverines, who have won five of their last six and have yet to lose at home this season.  It will be an emotional Senior Night in Ann Arbor, as fan favorites Zach Novak and Stu Douglass will be honored.  Douglass hasn’t missed a game in his Michigan career, while Novak was named the program’s first Academic All-American since 1984.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 02.23.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 23rd, 2012

  1. No one was surprised that Indiana was able to easily handle their non-league match-up with North Carolina Central last night.  Cody Zeller had another solid game, as the freshman dropped in 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the way.  The victory gave IU 21 wins on the year, and with their NCAA ticket punched, the fan base is one again rabid for Hoosier basketball.  There is no question that Indiana has great fans, but with some lean years in the first few seasons under Tom Crean, the Crimson and Cream faithful are glad that their program is once again back to meeting expectations.
  2. One team still looking for a guaranteed invite to the Big Dance is Purdue.  Matt Painter is trying to lead the Boilermakers to their 6th straight tournament appearance, but it will be more difficult after the recent dismissal of Kelsey Barlow.  The versatile Barlow often guarded the opposing team’s best scoring option, and now Purdue will have to adjust its defensive schemes.  One player who has picked up his game recently is Robbie Hummel, who torched Nebraska for 29 points in the team’s 83-65 win last night.  With 18 wins and three games left to play, Purdue has to win two of its next three to get to that magic 20-win plateau that many believe will get the team into the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Michigan’s rise to the top of the Big Ten has been a story worth watching this season.  But while young players like freshman point guard Trey Burke and sophomore shooting guard Tim Hardaway, Jr., have been getting the most press, the reason the program has been able to rise back up is also due to the efforts of two seniors.  Zach Novak and Stu Douglass were two unheralded recruits that have bought into the John Beilein system, and have made big plays and big shots throughout their careers.  The 6’4″ Novak has played out of position (at power forward) his entire career, and still has managed over 1,000 career points. Novak and Douglas also each rank in the Top 10 all-time in minutes played and three-pointers made in Michigan history.  They are a big reason why Michigan could win its first Big Ten title in 26 years.
  4. In a game that probably drew an audience of opposing fans as well as Michigan State fans, the Spartans were able to avoid an upset at the hands of Minnesota last night, 66-61.  The Gophers built a big second-half lead but were unable to hang on down the stretch, committing several turnovers and not finding good looks offensively.  For MSU, it was another example of being able to adjust and overcome in a difficult situation.  Keith Appling had two brutal fouls late in the game, sending a jump-shooter to the free throw line both times, but he atoned, going 6-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch to squash any Gopher comeback attempt.
  5. The Big Ten regular season has just a few games left and for seniors like Penn State’s Cam Woodyard that means only a few more guaranteed chances to play before the Big Ten Tournament.  Woodyard has experienced a lot of ups and downs in his Nittany Lion career; winning an NIT championship as a freshman, and also losing 12 games in a row his sophomore season.  He’s stepped his game up this season, and will be a key for Pat Chambers as Penn State tries to mount some late-season magic these next couple weeks.
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Michigan Bombs Away Toward a Big Ten Title

Posted by rtmsf on February 22nd, 2012

Bill Hupp is an RTC correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp). He filed this report following No. 13 Michigan’s OT win over Northwestern on Tuesday.

For as much as Michigan and Northwestern engaged in a classic Big Ten battle on Tuesday night in a rugged, seesaw affair, it was over with breathtaking offensive efficiency.

Point Guard Trey Burke Has Been Tremendous This Season (AP)

First, Trey Burke stepped into a three from the top of the key after a Wolverines offensive rebound to start the overtime period. Then Zach Novak buried one from the right corner. Finally, Stu Douglass turned out the lights on the Wildcats with a gut-punch from three feet beyond the left wing that sent the purple-clad faithful streaming toward the exits. The win means the Wolverines (21-7, 11-4 Big Ten) kept pace with Ohio State and moved to within a half-game of Michigan State for the conference lead, a place few could have predicted after Darius Morris left for the NBA and handed the reins to a relatively unknown freshman point guard.

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Night Line: Freshman Guard Trey Burke Keeping Michigan Afloat in Big Ten

Posted by EJacoby on January 18th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor and correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

If Michigan wanted to stay alive in the Big Ten conference title race, Tuesday night’s home game against in-state rival and top 10-ranked Michigan State was a must-win. The Wolverines came away with a one-point victory in a nailbiter thanks to another strong performance from their leader – Trey Burke. It’s not a typo or an overstatement to say that the Wolverines’ freshman point guard has already turned into their go-to guy and overall best player this season. The Wolverines have gone uncharacteristically cold from three-point range and talented guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. has not been the expected consistent star player this year, but Burke’s heady play at the lead guard spot has helped Michigan remain a threat in the Big Ten race.

John Beilein is Pleased with his Freshman Point Guard's Development (AP Photo)

While improving to 5-2 in the Big Ten and 15-4 overall with Tuesday’s win, the Wolverines experienced the same troubles that they’ve been having in conference play, but it was again the strong play of the freshman Burke that carried the team to victory. Michigan, shooting 29.5% from deep in Big Ten action, shot 6-21 from three and Hardaway, Jr., scored only 10 points on 3-9 shooting without contributing much else to the game. But Burke had a game-high 20 points on 8-11 shooting with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks, and made nearly all the key plays down the stretch of a tight game. Coming off a bad 16-point loss to Iowa, Michigan needed this win and now sits tied for second in the conference standings.

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NCAA Preview: Utah State Aggies

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Utah State (#11, West, Boise pod)

vs. Marquette (#6)

Fri. 3/20 @ 12:10 pm

Vegas Line:  Utah St. +4.5
General Profile

Location: Logan, Utah

Conference: Western Athletic Conference, Tournament Champion

Coach: Stew Morrill

08-09 Record: 30-4, 14-2

Last 12 Games: 9-3

Best Win: vs. Utah, 66-64, 12/22

Worst Loss: @ St. Mary’s, 64-75, 02/21

Off. Efficiency Rating: 116.8, 13th

Def. Efficiency Rating: 101.3, 169th
Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Gary Wilkinson (17/7/4 assts); DeShawn Sims (16/7)

Unsung Hero: The freshmen corps of Laval Lucas-Perry, Zach Novak and Stu Perry

Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None

Key Injuries: None

Depth: 23.9% (#313)

Achilles Heel: Turnovers, In two of their four losses this season they committed 17 or more turnovers. Holding onto the ball is the key to their efficiency

Will Make a Deep Run if…: They can get Cornell to upset Mizzou.

Will Make an Early Exit if…: Gary Wilkinson has an off night.
NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2006, lost 1st round to 5th seed Washington 75-61

Streak: 1

Best NCAA Finish: 2001, 2nd round

Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.38 Ws per appearance


Six Degrees to Detroit: None.

Distance to First Round Site: 291 miles to Boise.

School’s Claim to (Dis)Fame: Currently… mascot Big Blue accepting a $100 bribe from a Nevada fan to steal New Mexico State mascot Pistol Pete’s fake mustache.

School Wishes It Could Forget: The 2003 season when they finished 25-3, tied for the regular season title but did not get an at-large bid after losing in the semifinals of the Big West tournament.

Prediction: Utah State is a dangerous 11 seed playing close to home in a familiar arena and facing a team that has lost five of its last six since losing a key player to injury.

Major RTC stories: n/a

Preview written by… Sam Wasson,

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NCAA Preview: Michigan Wolverines

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Michigan (#10, South, Kansas City pod)

vs. Clemson (#7)

Thurs. 3/19 @ 7:10pm
Vegas Line:  Michigan +5

General Profile
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Conference: Big 10, at-large
Coach: John Beilein, 30-34
08-09 Record: 20-13, 10-10
Last 12 Games: 6-6
Best Win: vs. Duke, 81-73, 12/06
Worst Loss: @ Iowa, 60-70, 2/22
Off. Efficiency Rating: 111.4, 41st
Def. Efficiency Rating: 95.5, 67th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Manny Harris (17/7/4 assts); DeShawn Sims (16/7)
Unsung Hero: The freshmen corps of Laval Lucas-Perry, Zach Novak and Stu Perry
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 35.3%, 72nd nationally (Percentage of minutes played by reserves)
Achilles Heel: The really good Beilein teams can shoot it from deep.  This team can’t (33%, 10th in the Big 10).
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Harris and Sims both play well and getting help from their freshman teammates.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Either of the two has an off game and the threes aren’t dropping.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 1998, lost 2d round to UCLA 85-82
Streak: 1
Best NCAA Finish: 1989, National Champions
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): +0.38 Ws per appearance

Six Degrees to Detroit: Umm… other than the fact that Ford Field is only 38 miles away, both Harris and Sims are from the Motor City.
Distance to First Round Site: 751 miles to Kansas City.
School’s Claim to Fame: UM is a world-class academic institution and, of course, the Fab Five.
School Wishes It Could Forget: The whole sordid Ed Martin scandal surrounding the aforementioned F5.
Prediction: Befitting a young team, Michigan has been terrible on the road (3-8); there’s really no reason to believe that they’re going to win a neutral site game against a more experienced team like Clemson.
Major RTC stories: The Fraud Five or Fab 5?

Preview written by Rush the Court

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Checking in on the… Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2009

Josh & Mike of Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.

Looking Back

Conference play is underway, and it appears we’re going to be in for a wild one.  There were very few blowouts, and two of them involved Minnesota (dishing it out against Ohio State, and taking their lumps against Michigan State).  For the most part, the home teams held serve, but there were 3 road victories (2 of them belonging to the Spartans).  Even Indiana gave Iowa a scare in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.  It just isn’t safe to take a night off in this conference.

For our money, Michigan State looks like the early frontrunner.  Twelve or thirteen wins might be enough to win this thing, which can be boiled down to the two-step formula of winning at home, and going .500 on the road.  MSU stands at 2-0 with both wins being road wins.  That means they would need 9 home wins and 4 road victories to seal this up, and assuming they don’t falter at Indiana, they’re very close to winning all the road games they need to.

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