Big Ten Season Wrap-Up: Michigan

Posted by jnowak on April 25th, 2012

John Beilein continues to bring Michigan basketball back into the upper echelon of the Big Ten, and this past season was another major step forward. The Wolverines had a group that included important upperclassmen (Stu Douglass and Zack Novak), as well as steady, talented young players (Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Trey Burke). Things are only getting better for the Wolverines, who will be lucky enough to have Burke returning for another season (he flirted with the NBA Draft) and established a strong home-floor advantage this year during Big Ten play. A first-round NCAA Tournament exit is a tough pill to swallow given that the Wolverines were Big Ten regular season co-champions, but Ohio proved to be more than a flash in the pan. To take the next step, though, those postseason games have to be victories.  Before looking ahead to next year, here’s an evaluation of the year that was:

Trey Burke has been key in bringing Michigan to the upper echelon of the Big Ten. (AP)

  • In a nutshell: This was a talented Big Ten team that could give opponents inside or outside the conference fits with its style of play. The Wolverines had leadership, scoring and could defend. Their Achilles heel was consistent interior play and their play on the road never matched their performance in Ann Arbor. They didn’t have as difficult a schedule as co-Big Ten champs Michigan State and Ohio State, but the bottom line is that they did everything that was asked of them to share the title and that can not be taken away.
  • Overachievement: Burke was highly touted coming out of high school but few thought he could immediately become an All-Big Ten type of player who could take over late in games. He ran Michigan’s offense well and knew when to take it upon himself to create for himself. The Wolverines should consider themselves lucky he snubbed the NBA Draft, because they could be looking at a contender for Big Ten Player of the Year sometime in the near future.
Share this story

Four Tournament Thoughts: Wolverines Lose While Michigan State & Purdue Win

Posted by jnowak on March 17th, 2012

The Big Ten’s unblemished record took a hit on Friday night, as #4 Michigan was bitten by the upset bug in #13 Ohio in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Top-seeded Michigan State dispensed of LIU-Brooklyn and Purdue snuck by St. Mary’s, bringing the Big Ten’s record to 5-1 after the second full round of games. Here are a few thoughts on the night’s action:

Draymond Green Did It All For The Spartans On Friday. (Greg Bartram/US Presswire)

  1. Draymond Green is not slowing down — Well, it’s safe to say that Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson are some pretty fine company. The Michigan State senior recorded the second NCAA Tournament triple-double of his career — he finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists — to join Robertson (four triple-doubles) and Johnson (two) as the only players to accomplish the feat twice in the Big Dance. LIU-Brooklyn had no answer for Green and, for that, the Spartans advance to face St. Louis.
  2. One and done for the Wolverines – It was a wild day of upsets across the board, and Michigan was one of the high-profile victims. OhioBrady Hoke won’t get such a laugh out of this one — controlled pretty much the entire 40 minutes on Friday, shutting down Zack Novak (two points) and Matt Vogrich (zero) while holding Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to just 30 points combined. That’s a pretty good blueprint for beating these Wolverines, who put together one of the best regular seasons in program history but flopped under the bright lights.
  3. Purdue is riding high — There was a time during the season that the Boilermakers could have been left for dead — Kelsey Barlow had been kicked off the team, D.J. Byrd was suspended, and Purdue had lost three of five — but Matt Painter‘s crew battled through it and seems to be better for it. Purdue was solid through 40 minutes against a super-talented St. Mary‘s squad, and continues to demonstrate the focus it has shown over the last couple of weeks. This team is playing some of its best basketball and its balanced skill set can give Kansas a tough game on a neutral floor Saturday.
  4. The best in all the land? — As mentioned earlier, the Big Ten went 5-1 in the second full round of games, with Michigan as the only squad falling to defeat. How does that stack up against the power conferences and does the Big Ten maintain its reputation this season as the best in America? No major conference has gone winless, and the only major conferences with as few losses as the Big Ten — the SEC and the Pac-12 — had only four and two teams participating, respectively. The Big East has seven conference victories (USF has played twice, and won both games, thanks to a play-in), but also has three losses. The third round this weekend will be telling.
Share this story

NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: Second Round – Friday Evening

Posted by EJacoby on March 16th, 2012

RTC Region correspondents Brian Otskey (East), Kevin Doyle (South), Evan Jacoby (Midwest) and Andrew Murawa (West) contributed to this preview.

#8 Memphis vs. #9 Saint Louis – West Region Second Round (at Columbus, OH) – 6:50 PM ET on TBS

Nice to See Rick Majerus Back in the Dance (AP)

It may be an 8/9 game, but according to advanced metrics, this is anything but your typical 8/9 game. Both teams are among the top 15 teams in the country according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, outscoring opponents by about 0.2 points per possession over the course of the season. Still, looking back over the schedules, the Billikens’ only have four wins over NCAA Tournament teams (Vermont, St. Bonaventure and two over Xavier), while the Tigers have just three (Belmont, Southern Miss and Xavier) – not exactly stunning resumes. However, SLU head coach Rick Majerus is no stranger to NCAA Tournament success, and his ability to scout and gameplan for an opponent is legendary. And while Memphis is used to playing at a fast tempo, you can bet Majerus will effectively slow this game down, using 25 seconds or more on every offensive possession, mostly forgoing any attempts at offensive rebounds in an effort to get back on defense, and making Memphis score over a stingy SLU defense. While Memphis has been killing teams over the past month or so, the two games they’ve lost have been down-tempo affairs (UTEP and Southern Miss), and if they get frustrated against the deliberate Billiken pace, it could spell an early end to the Memphis season. Still, the Tigers will have a significant athletic advantage and while Majerus has a decent matchup for lightning quick guard Joe Jackson in the form of Kwamain Mitchell (and Jordair Jett), it remains to be seen how effective they will be against sophomore win Will Barton. If Barton can find space inside the SLU perimeter defense, he could create serious problems. Of course, that’s a big if.

The RTC Certified Pick: Saint Louis

#2 Duke vs. #15 Lehigh – South Region Second Round (at Greensboro, NC) – 7:15 PM ET on CBS

Located less than an hour’s drive from Cameron Indoor, Duke will do battle with Patriot League champion Lehigh in what is practically a home game for the Blue Devils. Duke is limping into the NCAA Tournament have lost two of their last three games, one of these losses coming in blowout fashion against arch rival North Carolina. Despite having many holes on the defensive end and Ryan Kelly uncertain for the game against Lehigh, Duke does have one of the more potent offensives in the tournament. Austin Rivers and Seth Curry can score from virtually anywhere on the floor, and the Plumlee brothers make for a formidable frontcourt. It is not often that a Patriot League team can put a player on the floor that has the ability to go shot-for- with one of the best teams in the nation, but C.J. McCollum will prove he belongs running side by side with Austin Rivers. The junior guard from Canton, OH ranks top ten nationally in scoring and has the ability to take over a game for long stretches. Although Duke will no doubt focus much of their effort on the defensive end on McCollum, it is no secret that the Blue Devils struggle guarding around the perimeter. McCollum will get his points, but it is just a question if his teammates will be able to follow suit. If Lehigh gets production from Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner, don’t be surprised if the Mountain Hawks hang with Duke for much of the game.

The RTC Certified Pick: Duke

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big Ten Tournament Preview & Season Wrap-Up

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 8th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

Conference Tournament Preview

After a thrilling regular season, it’s on to Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Despite being a three-seed, Ohio State has to be considered the favorite given how well they ended the regular season. If either Michigan State or OSU wins the Big Ten Tournament, they will get strong consideration for a one-seed. Teams like Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue can all improve their NCAA Tournament seeds with strong showings this weekend.

Northwestern is the only clear bubble team in the conference, and as such is under the most pressure to string some wins together. If the Wilcats can beat Minnesota in the first round, they’ll face a Michigan team that they only lost to twice this season, though both losses came in overtime. Two wins in the Big Ten tournament should make them a virtual lock for their first-ever tournament birth, but it’s much easier said than done with this level of competition.

A Look Back

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Seniors That Will Not Be Forgotten

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 4th, 2012

Senior Week is a big deal in the Big Ten.  “One and Done” is a rare term used around the 12 programs because the players typically stick around longer than 1-2 seasons. They embrace the conference and the fans bring them into their lives during the cold winters. As all the teams play their home games over the weekend, the seniors will be honored.  Some of the seniors already have well documented and recognized careers – Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor, Ohio State’s William Buford, and Northwestern’s John Shurna are just a few examples.

But Senior Night is not just about star players. It is also about the players who stuck with the program’s ups and downs over the years. It is about the guys that stuck through coaching changes and losing seasons. These kids played their last conference game with the same intensity as the first one despite their record or place in the standings. The seniors who are used to the spotlight will get their well-deserved dues this weekend but let’s take some time to recognize a few players who finish their careers after making an impact. The following are a few seniors that will be remembered as one of the toughest players over their careers.

Verdell Jones III helped Tom Crean put Indiana back in the right direction.

Verdell Jones III

Eight. That’s how many wins Jones had in conference action during his first three years. If you are reaching out for your calculator to check the winning percentage, that ends up being approximately 15%! Jones knew that his career in Bloomington would not be a walk in the park after the mess created by Kelvin Sampson, but he didn’t expect it to be that bad, especially considering Tom Crean’s ability to recruit quality talent. Jones averaged 11 points per game as a freshman and 14.9 during his sophomore season. The Hoosiers expected him to lead early in his career and he did not shy away from the responsibility. Jones had to do everything during games because of the lack of talent around him. Tom Crean remained positive and tried to keep the team’s spirits up but he couldn’t have done it without mature leaders such as Jones. Jones easily could have transferred after an excellent sophomore campaign, but he stayed with the team through the rough times. He could have been demoralized after Maurice Creek got hurt last season, but he continued to play hard. Creek was supposed to be a running mate for Jones but that never materialized.

All the patience paid off for Jones this season. Indiana beat three top 5 teams at home and they could not have done it without his leadership. He has taken a lesser role with the emergence of Christian Watford and the star freshman, Cody Zeller. But the numbers are the only aspect of his game that went down in his fourth year because he continues to be the strong pillar on the young squad. Indiana basketball is back and Jones has been an extremely key piece of the rebuilding project along with his head coach. Crean and the Hoosiers fans are thankful for his contributions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking In On… the Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 28th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter at @Bill_Hupp for his thoughts on hoops, food, box fans and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • Spartan Success: Despite losing guys like Korie Lucious, Kalin Lucas and Delvon Roe, the Michigan State express rolled on. Perhaps no other coach in the country teaches a system and its principles quite like Tom Izzo. Surprise losses on Sunday by both Ohio State and Michigan, however, meant that MSU’s weekend destruction of Nebraska clinched them of the at least a share of the Big Ten title. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • Chicago (Evanston) Hope: That wind you felt coming from Chicago might have been a collective sigh of relief from Northwestern fans after senior leader John Shurna sank two free throws with mere seconds to play to help the Wildcats escape Happy Valley with a 67-66 win. Two straight gut-wrenching losses in one week might have been more than Northwestern could have overcome as they sweat out life on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
  • Lousy in Lincoln: It’s no secret that Nebraska has struggled on offense this year. But not since 1961 has Nebraska been so putrid on offense as they were when they were embarrassed by Michigan State, 61-34, at home over the weekend. The Huskers shot under 30% for the game and the loss of leading scorer Bo Spencer to an injured ankle near halftime only hampered their scoring efforts.

The Perennial Lesson In College Basketball 101 Is To Never Count Out The Michigan State Spartans.

Power Rankings

  1. Michigan State (24-5, 13-3) – As good as Michigan State has been this season, how would the Spartans be if Delvon Roe hadn’t been forced to drop basketball due to chronic knee problems? Roe’s presence would have given them more depth and would have taken the load off of Draymond Green at certain points. But it also forced youngsters like Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne to grow up quickly. While they’ve struggled with consistency, those guys are a big part of why the Spartans are Big Ten champs.
  2. Ohio State (23-6, 11-5) – Strange times in Columbus. After riding a 39-game winning streak and destroying most visitors who dared enter Value City Arena, the Buckeyes have now lost two of their last three games at home. Jared Sullinger has seemingly disappeared in big games and crucial moments this season. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Set Your TiVo: 02.17.12 – 02.19.12

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 17th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

While BracketBusters is always solid, the overall slate over the next few days is full of good, but not great, games. Still, tune in to these games as conference races head down the stretch and the NCAA Tournament field begins to take shape.

#13 St. Mary’s at #24 Murray State – 6:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN (****)

  • Since losing to Tennessee State, Murray State has rebounded with two wins over Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State. On Saturday night the Racers will get their chance to show the nation they are for real. Playing at home in front of a juiced up crowd on national television, there is no excuse for Murray State to come out anything less than fired up. The three point line is this team’s best friend on both ends of the floor and it will be important against St. Mary’s. Murray State shoots 41% from deep (#8 nationally) and defends the arc very well. Against a St. Mary’s team that ranks a putrid #305 against the triple, that’s a huge advantage for the Racers at home. Steve Prohm should do everything in his power to ensure Isaiah Canaan (47.3%) and Donte Poole(39.3%) get quality shots from the arc against the porous Gaels’ defense. Defensively, the Racers must lock down the arc as they usually do. St. Mary’s shoots a lot of threes and while they don’t make a great percentage they do get just a shade under 30% of their total points from the arc.

    Isaiah Canaan And Company Could Have A Big Day From Behind The Arc Against St. Mary's Average 3-Point Defense (Getty)

  • St. Mary’s has lost two of its last three games after starting the season 22-2. The Gaels are still a likely NCAA Tournament team, but a win here would ensure their place in the field of 68 for sure. In order to win on the road in a tough environment against a good team, St. Mary’s must use its edge on the offensive glass, make threes and get to the foul line. With strong rebounders like Rob Jones and Brad Waldow, St. Mary’s has a clear size edge over Murray State. Only Ivan Aska and Ed Daniel see significant minutes for the Racers inside, two of only three players on the roster who are at least 6’7” tall. While the Gaels have a huge edge inside, they’re going to have to overcome Murray State’s strong perimeter defense. Matthew Dellavedova and Clint Steindl are going to have to hit threes for Randy Bennett’s team to come out on top. Thirdly, St. Mary’s should look to take advantage of a Murray State defense that ranks in the bottom half of Division I in defensive free throw rate. The Gaels get to the line fairly well and make 71.9% of their free throws. It’s so important to control tempo and keep the crowd out of the game and getting to the charity stripe while controlling the boards definitely helps in achieving that goal.
  • This should be a very close game but the edge has to go to the home team. St. Mary’s is struggling a bit right now and Murray State seems to have righted the ship since suffering its first loss. One concern for the Racers is their turnovers (14 per game). If Murray State controls the ball, plays well on the perimeter and gets to the free throw line at its usual clip, this will be the Racers’ game to lose.
Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 02.04.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 4th, 2012

  1. Breathe easy, Michigan State fans — it looks like senior captain Draymond Green will be able to go on Sunday against rival Michigan. The Spartans are coming off a one-point loss at Illinois this week (Green left the floor with a knee injury with just under four minutes remaining and did not return), and dropped a one-point contest in Ann Arbor on January 17. It’s a must-win for the Spartans if they want any chance at a share of the Big Ten title, and it seems improbable that they’d be able to do it without Green. In addition to unquestionably being the heart and soul of the group, Green also currently ranks in the top 15 among Big Ten players in nine categories.
  2. Good news for Big Ten basketball fans: Game tickets are in extremely high demand. Bad news: They’re in such high demand that scalpers have gone to lengths to reproduce counterfeit tickets. According to Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State officials have warned fans that there are a number of counterfeit tickets circulating, particularly for Ohio State’s February 11 game against Michigan State and late-February game against Wisconsin (both are sold out).
  3. In much more uplifting conference news, four Big Ten players were honored as an NCAA Division I Academic All-District selection by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Michigan’s Zack Novak, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Northwestern’s Drew Crawford were recipients out of District 5, and Wisconsin’s Jared Berggren was a recipient out of District 6. Craft is second in the conference in assists and first in steals, Crawford is averaging 17.4 points per game, Novak averages 33.6 minutes per game and Berggren is averaging 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
  4. They say it’s not how you start, but how you finish. If that’s the case, Indiana has some work to do on both. The Hoosiers fell victim to a disastrous beginning and end of their game against Michigan this week, resulting in yet another Big Ten road loss for Tom Crean. Michigan led by as much as 20 before Indiana snapped out of it and eventually narrowed the margin to two. But Michigan controlled the late stages of the game, as well, resulting in the double-digit margin of victory. One thing is for sure: If Indiana is to start closing road games, a fully efficient 40 minutes will be necessary.
  5. There was an important change at the top of the Minnesota athletic department this week, as Joel Maturi announced his retirement as athletic director. But fifth-year Golden Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith told the Star Tribune that he doesn’t expect the shift at the top to affect his job status as head coach. “Oh, I’ll be back here,” Smith told the paper. “[University President] Dr. [Eric] Kaler and I have visited some early in the year. Certainly this is the right place for me and my family. … We’ve had our share of mis-steps and disappointments, losses, injuries and departures. All those things go into play when you start to make decisions, but I expect to be back here.” Smith, who won the national championship in his first year at Kentucky in 1997-98, is 96-56 in a somewhat tumultuous tenure at Minnesota. The Gophers are 16-6 this season, but have been without double-double machine Trevor Mbakwe since November 27.
Share this story

Set Your TiVo: 02.01.12

Posted by EJacoby on February 1st, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC correspondent and regular contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Two previously Top 10 teams (UConn and Indiana) are in major slides right now and have a chance to regain confidence with road wins tonight, though both are in very difficult spots. Also, perhaps the biggest game of the C-USA season takes place this evening. Here’s what to look for:

#22 Indiana at #20 Michigan – 6:30 PM ET on Big Ten Network (****)

Can Indiana Stop Trey Burke's Dribble Drive Tonight? (AP Photo)

  • The Hoosiers have lost four of six games and are rapidly descending in the rankings. However, they are coming off a 103-point scoring performance in a win over Iowa and they hung tough at Wisconsin in their previous game before coming up short. If Tom Crean’s team is really turning the corner in the Big Ten, then they need to prove it tonight with nothing other than a victory. Cody Zeller has been outstanding in conference play and will be the go-to man tonight against a suspect Wolverines interior defense that allowed the freshman to go 8-10 with 18 points in their first meeting, a slim Indiana win at home. IU has been efficient offensively lately without being overly reliant on the three-point shot, which is a good formula on the road. But their chances at winning tonight really boil down to  their ability to stop Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s penetration, as both players have the ability to carve up soft defenses. Indiana has an insanely high 110.4 defensive efficiency in conference, which will not cut it tonight. An improved defensive effort, however, will give them a great chance to win.
  • The Wolverines have held serve at home this season at 12-0 and will look to feed off the Ann Arbor crowd. As discussed above, this game is all about Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. for Michigan. The two guards are the only players in double-figure scoring (14.1 PPG and 15.2 PPG, respectively) and should have plenty of opportunities to penetrate a weak Indiana half-court defense. If they are making plays and setting up Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, and Evan Smotrycz for open threes, UM is right where they want to be. Michigan has played much better defense at home this season and should not allow Indiana to shoot the lights out like they have been able to in some games.
  • It’s probably getting repetitive, but this game completely comes down to Indiana’s defensive intensity in the half-court. Michigan has the advantage at home and is a four-point favorite, but this would be no upset if Indiana won. If early in the game you see Burke bouncing the ball for 20 seconds during possessions and struggling to get into the paint, you’ll know IU is doing a good job on the perimeter. Prediction: Michigan comes through with a slim victory.

Connecticut at #15 Georgetown – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (****)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking In On… the Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 3rd, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp) for his thoughts on hoops, food, Russian nesting dolls and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • B1G is the Country’s Deepest Conference: With nine teams ranked 52nd or higher in the RPI, the Big Ten is the deepest and best conference – top-to-bottom – in the nation this season. The depth of the conference was never more evident than on Saturday, when Iowa hung 75 in a win at Wisconsin and Nebraska hung close with Michigan State deep into the second half. If you don’t come to play on nightly basis in this conference, even the league’s bottom-feeders can pop you with a loss. Expect the conference’s lofty records (and rankings) to diminish some over the next couple of months as the league beats each other up in Big Ten play.
  • Michigan State – So Hot Right Now: Few teams in the country are rolling like Michigan State. The Big Ten leaders sit atop the standings and are currently riding a 13-game winning streak after opening up conference play with an emphatic win over Indiana and a resilient effort at Nebraska. They have their normal interior size and strength with Draymond Green, Derrick Nix, and Adreian Payne, but Keith Appling – a player that Tom Izzo has called “the fastest point guard he’s ever coached” – is really starting to assert himself. The 6’1’’ sophomore had 25 points and seven assists against Indiana then contributed 14 point and six dimes against the Huskers.
  • Giant Killers: For the first time in its illustrious program’s history, Indiana has defeated the No. 1- and 2-ranked teams in the country in the same season. Assembly Hall has always been an intimidating place to play for opponents, with its combination of raucous fans and rich tradition. The key for the Hoosiers to make this a special season will be to duplicate that success on the road.

Tom Crean Tells Us How Many Wins His Hoosiers Have Over Top Five Teams This Season.

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (13-2, 1-1) – It might not have seemed like much at the time, but the dubious call that wiped out Jared Sullinger’s lay-up and sent him to the bench in the first half with his second foul against Indiana proved to be enormous. That early foul trouble limited the OSU center’s playing time (nine minutes) and production (five points, two rebounds) in the first half. William Buford was as absent against the Hoosiers (eight points and four rebounds) as he was dominant against Northwestern (28/9) in the conference opener.
  2. Michigan State (13-2, 2-0) – How do you respond when you’ve built a 19-point lead at home, only to watch it disappear after a 25-2 run by your opponent? You go on a 20-0 spurt of your own to regain control of the game. Coming off an emotional victory against Indiana in East Lansing on Wednesday, it’s no surprise that Michigan State came out flat against Nebraska and trailed at halftime. They righted the ship in the second half though, and ended up beating the Cornhuskers by 13. When Michigan State is on their game and playing the kind of hard-nosed, physical brand of basketball that Tom Izzo loves, they are as good as anyone in the Big Ten. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Set Your TiVo: Maui Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on November 21st, 2011

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

ESPN kicks off Feast Week with a trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.  The field is loaded and things get started today with several recent national championship teams.  Let’s dig into the action.

Memphis vs. Michigan – 3:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (***) (simulcast on RTC Live)

John Beilein will Loosen Up His Tie Against Memphis to Tip Off the Maui Invitational

  • Memphis dominated an experienced Belmont team in their first and only game of the season thus far.  The Tigers shot a blistering 64.7% eFG, and they will be facing a Wolverine team that is allowing over 50% shooting from inside the arc.  Look for Josh Pastner’s team to take the ball to the hole frequently with sophomore guards Will Barton and Joe Jackson leading the way.
  • While Michigan’s field goal defense is allowing teams to shoot over 50% from inside, they are forcing teams to turn the ball over on a superb 36.8% of their possessions (first in the nation).  However, Memphis only turned the ball over nine times against a tough Belmont team that is known for creating turnovers.  Like Memphis, the Wolverines have gotten off to a hot shooting start inside the arc (60.8%).  Unfortunately nearly half of their shots are coming from three-point land and they are only hitting 28.9% of them.  Wolverine guards Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Zack Novak, and Stu Douglas are going to have to hit some threes to prevent Memphis from just packing the lane on defense.
  • This game hinges on Michigan’s ability to extend the defense and grab offensive rebounds.  Memphis allowed Belmont to grab too many of its offensive rebounding opportunities.  If the Wolverines can pull the Tiger defense out with a few made three-point shots and open up the lane, look for Michigan to cash in on the offensive glass.  If John Beilein’s team continues to miss from outside, though, it will be difficult to pull the Memphis defense away from the lane, which will allow the more athletic Tigers to own the inside.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Conference Primers: #2 – Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

John Templon of Big Apple Buckets is an RTC contributor. You can find him on Twitter at @nybuckets.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • Mid-Majors Newcomers Will Make Major Impact – Two graduate student transfers from mid-major schools are going to make an instant impact in the Big Ten. Brandon Wood could start in Michigan State’s backcourt after scoring 16.7 points per game last season for Valparaiso. Sam Maniscalco averaged 9.7 points per game for Bradley last season and might end up scoring even more for Illinois. Both players give their teams veteran pieces at positions that would’ve otherwise been dominated by youth.
  • Healthy Living – Robbie Hummel returns for Purdue and has the opportunity to make a big impact for the Boilermakers now that his former classmates have graduated. While Matt Painter couldn’t get Hummel on the court with JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, he does get the added bonus of having an All-America caliber forward to help shepherd this team into the postseason. Injuries also delivered a blow to Indiana, as Maurice Creek is going to miss the entire 2011-12 season. That’s after missing all but 18 games last season, and it’s a big blow to the Hoosiers’ NCAA hopes.
  • A New Head Coach In University Park – After leading Penn State to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, and falling to in-state rival Temple, Ed DeChellis saw the writing on the wall and left PSU for a more stable job at Navy. His replacement is former Boston University head coach Pat Chambers, who has a big rebuilding job on his hands after graduation of star guard Talor Battle.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Ohio State (16-2) 
  2. Wisconsin (12-6)
  3. Michigan (12-6)
  4. Michigan State (10-8)
  5. Purdue (10-8)
  6. Illinois (9-9)
  7. Minnesota (9-9)
  8. Northwestern (8-10)
  9. Indiana (8-10)
  10. Iowa (6-12)
  11. Nebraska (4-14)
  12. Penn State (3-15)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story