Five Stars From the Past Week:
Derrick Walton, Michigan – averaged 22.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.5 steals in two wins
Jordan Murphy, Minnesota – averaged 21.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in two wins
Lamar Stevens, Penn State – averaged 23.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in two wins
Vince(nt) Edwards, Purdue – 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals in win at Indiana
Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern – averaged 23.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in two games
Five Seven Best Games to Watch This Week:
Ohio State at Michigan State, Tuesday, 9:00 pm EST, ESPN
Maryland at Northwestern, Wednesday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN
Indiana at Minnesota, Wednesday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN
Wisconsin at Michigan, Thursday, 9:00 pm EST, ESPN
Michigan State at Purdue, Saturday, 4:00 pm EST, ESPN
Maryland at Wisconsin, Sunday, 1:00 pm EST, CBS
Michigan at Minnesota, Sunday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN
The selection committee gave us an early glance at the Top 16 in their seeding on Saturday and it wasn’t favorable for the boys of the Big Ten.
Wisconsin fans were mad. Purdue fans were mad. All the others in the league on the bubble probably got a little more stressed out.
The B1G’s absence from the proceedings were the biggest takeaway from a largely meaningless process.
I don’t really know what people were expecting. If they put Wisconsin or Purdue at #16 would it have made you feel that much better? Both teams along with Cincinnati were mentioned by committee chairman Mark Hollis as being considered for that last spot.
Wisconsin’s best win of the year is…Minnesota? Michigan? Syracuse? Purdue lost to Iowa and Nebraska. The only team in the league besides Purdue that did anything noteworthy in non-conference was Indiana and they can’t stop losing now.
So what does anyone in the league hang their hat on at the moment? Leading/winning the Big Ten doesn’t carry the same weight and guarantee what it usually does because the Big Ten isn’t as good this year. That’s not a legitimate argument for being a higher seed.
And as was predictable, the committee still isn’t going to really use rankings like KenPom. Tigers don’t change their stripes. The committee is made up of a bunch of athletic directors. All due respect, I wouldn’t consider that group of people to be the most forward thinking. They all just pretty much copy each other and how successful they are largely depends on two things: who they hire to coach football and who they hire to coach men’s basketball.
Now they’re all going to break the mold that’s been established for decades and rely on some algorithms?
Not likely. It’s more of the same. More of the RPI. You know, a system that doesn’t have a single Big Ten team in the Top 16.
Wisconsin – 5 Seed (# of Brackets: 103/103)
Well, the Badgers played with fire one too many times and they finally got burned by a Scottie Lindsey-less Northwestern team at home.
Wisconsin just barely avoided another loss earlier in the week when it took overtime to put away Nebraska. It was their third overtime win in conference play. They’ve also played close games with Indiana and Michigan at home and both of those games occurred when those teams were playing some of their worst basketball.
The Northwestern game was really just the conclusion (hopefully for Badger fans) of what’s been a pretty lackluster stretch for this team.
So what happened? Well, let’s first start with something I wrote last week:
Naturally, this has coincided with Bronson Koenig going through a slump. In those three games, Koenig has gone 9-34 (5-20 from three) from the floor for a total of 30 points. This isn’t new. Happ is the steady rock of the offense, but how Bronson shoots is probably the most important aspect of this team when it matters most. Look no further than the program’s last four losses (three this year, plus last year’s season-ender against Notre Dame).
Opponent Date Points FGM/A FG% 3FGM/A 3FG% Purdue 1/18/2017 9 3/8 37.50% 1/4 25.00% UNC 11/23/2016 2 1/13 7.69% 0/5 0.00% Creighton 11/15/2016 21 8/19 42.11% 3/13 23.08% Notre Dame 3/25/2016 8 3/12 25.00% 1/6 16.67% Totals/Averages 10 15/52 28.85% 5/28 17.86%
I guess what I’m trying to say is that this team will go as far as Bronson Koenig takes them. No pressure.
In two games this week, Koenig scored 14 points total, going 5-21 from the field, including 2-11 from three. They were also only able to get 17 points on 17 attempts from Ethan Happ this week. The Badgers are never going to win many games with those two producing that little.
But still, it’s just one loss. However, they need to get it together really quick because they’ve got four tough games coming up.
This week: at Michigan, home for Maryland
Purdue – 5 Seed (# of Brackets: 103/103)
Indiana’s season is quickly going in the tank, but winning in Bloomington was still a really big win for the Boilers. Road wins are like gold, especially in a hostile environment playing a team that’s fighting for its life – although they don’t really act like it – right now.
I’d like to take another moment to pat myself on the back. From last week:
What’s becoming evidently clear with this team is that if they’re going to reach their ceiling, it’ll come down to the Edwards Brothers (not actually brothers) – Carsen and Vince(nt).
The Edwardses (just go with it) at Indiana: 39 points (13-22 from the field, 5-10 from three), 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 5 steals, 1 turnover
Pretty, pretty good from your third and fourth best players. (P.S. Mathias is second).
This week: Rutgers and Michigan State at home
Maryland – 6 (# of Brackets: 103/103)
You never really know what Penn State team you’re going to get and, unfortunately for the Terps, they got the one that’s pretty good. It’s certainly not a loss you’d like to have on the resume, but nothing catastrophic.
And they responded by leading wire-to-wire and cruising over Ohio State at home. It helped that they shot the ball significantly better in all three phases. It also probably helped that JaQuan Lyle didn’t make the trip to College Park.
This is the week for the Terps if they want to make a real push to be one of those Top 16 seeds. After this week, they won’t have any opportunities before the conference tournament to make real waves. They’ll get Minnesota and MSU at home, but while nice wins, I’m not sure they’re really going to capture the committee’s attention.
This week: at Wisconsin and Northwestern
Northwestern – 7 Seed (# of Brackets: 103/103)
Weird week for the Wildcats. They played without Scottie Lindsey again and they opened the week by losing to Illinois at home. Their offense was terrible outside of McIntosh and Law. I guess it wasn’t all THAT surprising without their top scorer. We had only seen them play at Purdue with that lineup and it was tough to gauge just how big of an impact Lindsey’s absence would be.
After Tuesday it appeared to be a “lose at home to a ‘can’t win on the road'” Illinois team type of impact.
Naturally they’d get smoked against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. Might as well not play the game. Don’t need anybody getting injured or spreading some more mono out there.
What a wild week. I’m not sure if there’s two more completely different outcomes in the Big Ten than the same team losing at home to Illinois and following that up by winning at Wisconsin.
Okay, okay, it’s definitely losing at home to Rutgers and then winning at Wisconsin.
That win in Madison may have saved the season for the Wildcats. Things could’ve gotten dark quickly in the most Northwestern way possible if they don’t win that game because Lindsey still hasn’t practiced.
This game: home for Maryland and Rutgers
Minnesota – 7 Seed (# of Brackets: 103/103)
The Gophers avoided potential disaster by clawing one out in double overtime over Iowa. You lose that and all of a sudden the conversation is being 4-7 in the league. People start remembering you didn’t beat a surefire NCAA Tournament team in the non-conference and that you played 11 of those 13 games at home.
But, crisis averted. You pulled it out, you won at Rutgers over the weekend, and the RPI still wildly overrates your strength of schedule. Life is good.
This week: Indiana and Michigan at home
Michigan State -10 Seed (# of Brackets: 101/103)
The Spartans started last week getting shellacked by Michigan, a game that was basically over as soon as it started. Say what you want about win probability percentage, but Michigan’s lowest win probability of the game was 65% and that was at tip-off time.
It would’ve been difficult for anybody to stop the Wolverine offense that night, but the trend of the Spartan offense not really showing up away from the Breslin Center continued.
Here’s a list of their games ranked in order of offensive efficiency:
They’ve played 25 games this season, 12 of them on road or neutral floors. Nine of those road or neutral games are in the bottom half, including the worst seven. Not surprisingly, when you rank the games based on 3P%, a similar trend is noticeable.
It’s not entirely unique to Michigan State. Naturally, a lot of teams shoot better at a place they shoot most often. But it’s very defined for this team and the gulf between the numbers is pretty wide.
Inconsistency is often a product of young teams, but I don’t know if you would necessarily call this team inconsistent. They often play really well in East Lansing and they often don’t play well at all anywhere else. That’s why it was no surprise that they handled business when Iowa came to town on Saturday.
Could it change? I suppose it could. Nothing is all that shocking in college basketball. But right now it doesn’t create a very promising view for this team when the postseason hits and the Spartans will have to say goodbye to East Lansing.
Well, unless they’re in the NIT.
This week: home for Ohio State, at Purdue
Michigan – 11 Seed (# of Brackets: 81/103)
The Wolverines are your team of the week. Nobody improved their postseason position in the league more than John Beilein’s crew.
Maybe beating MSU and IU aren’t necessarily the strongest wins in terms of the RPI, but I think optics matter, too. And the optics were Michigan destroying a rival and likely tournament participant and following it up with a road win over a national program, a game in which they were in control the whole way. Not to mention, the games occurred on ESPN and CBS, which naturally results in more eyeballs and ultimately leaves more of an impression.
Michigan was great on offense, no doubt, but make no mistake that their improved defensive play was their reason for success this week. Offense has never been a problem for this team. Think about this: the Wolverines carved up MSU on Tuesday for 86 points and a 29-point victory. They were incredibly efficient, but actually slightly less so than when they played UCLA this year, a game that they lost by 18 points.
But two games don’t quite make a trend and that means the Wolverines still have to improve their consistency when they don’t have the ball.
They’ll be tested again this week. Go 0-2 and it’s basically like last week didn’t even happen.
This week: Wisconsin at home, Minnesota on the road
Indiana – First Four Out (# of Brackets: 25/103)
Pretty much sums up the week for the Hoosiers.
Crean can get mad at his players and call them out publicly all he wants, but you recruited all of them, dude.
The obvious bad news for IU is that they’ve lost five of six and they’d probably be out of the tournament today. The good news is that they’ve got a lot of opportunities left in a short time frame to improve their resume.
This week: at Minnesota and Iowa
Ohio State – N/A Seed (# of Brackets: 0/103)
I know Lyle didn’t make the trip to Maryland, but he did play against Rutgers at home and I think one thing is very clear: Ohio State isn’t that good at being a basketball team.
But even still, it doesn’t take as much as you think it should to make the tournament and Ohio State might play themselves into the field with a win at Michigan State and another over Wisconsin at home, along with a Big Ten Tournament win or two.
I have no reason to believe they will, however. I’d love to be wrong.
This week: at Michigan State, home for Nebraska
Iowa – N/A Seed (# of Brackets: 0/103)
I can sympathize with Hawkeye fans and their frustration with a blown late-game call that may or may not have ruined their best chance to win a road game. It’s very frustrating.
These things tend to even out.
This week: home for Illinois
Penn State – N/A Seed (# of Brackets: 0/103)
The other team of the week. It was a great two games for the Nittany Lions and especially their freshmen. A look into the future, if you will.
I don’t care enough to really put any thought into teams’ NIT chances, but some guy that doesn’t do NCAA Tournament bracketology, but does do NIT bracketology has the Nittany Lions as a 5 seed. That would be cool.
This week: at Nebraska
Nebraska – N/A Seed (# of Brackets: 0/103)
Not being able to quite close out Wisconsin was a missed opportunity for what would have been a massive win for the Huskers. But at least Ed Morrow is back. His presence might be too little, too late, but at least it makes their very slim chances of going on a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament a little less slim. Guy was out a month, came back, and immediately grabbed 13 rebounds in only 26 minutes.
This week: home for Penn State, at Ohio State
Illinois – N/A Seed (# of Brackets: 0/103)
Even without Lindsey playing, winning at Northwestern was impressive. Very solid defensive effort.
I thought maybe I’d have to reconsider my statement that the Illini were clearly the 13th best team in the Big Ten.
LOL, 1.2 points per possession to Penn State at home.
This week: at Iowa
Rutgers – N/A Seed (# of Brackets: 0/103)
They’ve competed admirable on defense all year, but that offense is still a hot mess unless Corey Sanders scores 25.
This week should be fun.
This week: at Purdue and Northwestern