Month: January 2018

CBB Picks: 1/31

LSU (+11) over TENNESSEE

CINCINNATI (-9.5) over Houston

GEORGE MASON (+7.5) over St. Bonaventure

Pitt (+16.5) over MIAMI (FL)

IOWA STATE (+9.5) over West Virginia

GEORGIA TECH (+100 ML) over Syracuse

BOSTON COLLEGE (+2.5) over Virginia Tech

New Mexico (+2.5) over UTAH STATE

Wyoming (-4) over COLORADO STATE

NEVADA (-7.5) over Fresno State

YTD: 48-44-1 (-0.2u)

CBB Picks: 1/30

Rhode Island (-10.5) over UMASS

The Minutemen looked to have some life winning three A-10 games in a row. All of that momentum was snatched away by the Rams a couple of weeks in a game where Rhody got a big lead early and never wavered. UMass has now lost four straight. The Minutemen just aren’t really equipped to handle Rhody’s pressure, they’ve been terrible from the free throw line lately so they can’t capitalize on the fouls that will inevitably rack up, and the Rams won’t let UMass get their perimeter shooting going. Rhody is getting everybody’s best shot, but I’d expect them to be ready to go after a scare against Duquesne this past weekend.

North Carolina (pick) over CLEMSON

The Tigers can may hang around for a game or two or three before they really start to feel Donte Grantham’s absence, but it’s coming. And this particular game, his absence will really hurt them on both ends of the floor. Offensively, the way to make UNC pay is from the perimeter. Grantham is a 42% three-point shooter. On the other end, you absolutely have to keep the Heels off the glass. Grantham was one of their most productive rebounders at 6.9 per game.

TOLEDO (-8) over Ball State

Toledo and Buffalo are a cut (two cuts?) above everyone else in the MAC. It’s never a bad idea to lay the points with either team. Especially at home for the Rockets where they’ll be very comfortable. They’re one of the elite shooting teams in the country and Ball State gives up a ton from the outside. Not sure the Cardinals can stay in front of the Rockets if they stick to man, either.


YTD: 48-41-1 (+3.1u)

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 6


Five Stars From the Past Week:

Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards, Purdue – combined to average 49.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in two wins

Tony Carr, Penn State – averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in two wins

James Palmer, Nebraska – averaged 23.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in two wins

Vic Law, Northwestern – 18 points, 13 rebounds, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks in a win

Juwan Morgan, Indiana – averaged 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.0 steals in three games

Five Games to Watch This Week:

Northwestern at Michigan, Monday, 7:00 PM EST, FS1

Indiana at Ohio State, Tuesday, 7:00 PM EST, ESPN2

Penn State at Michigan State, Wednesday, 6:30 PM EST, BTN

Maryland at Purdue, Wednesday, 8:30 PM EST, BTN

Michigan State at Indiana, Saturday, 8:15 PM EST, ESPN

Power Rankings

1.Purdue (KenPom: 3 / BracketMatrix: 1 seed)

Purdue didn’t continue pounding opponents into submission, but they did score two big wins. The home victory over Michigan was quite a display of offense by both sides. The road win at IU was more a product of Isaac Haas low-post domination and key defensive plays down the stretch. It was another week of the Boilers showing that they can win in more ways than anybody else.

With that said, we did get a better glimpse of potential issues down the road for Purdue. Mainly pick-and-roll defense. It’s especially not great when Isaac Haas is on the floor. And it’s hard for them to get much better at it because they still don’t have the quickest backcourt and Haas will always be a plodder.

With that said, they’ve now won 17 games in a row. So still pretty good, IMO.

This week: home for Maryland, at Rutgers

2. Ohio State (KenPom: 15 / BracketMatrix: 4 seed)

Well we’re not going to get our Ohio State/Purdue 12-0 showdown. The perimeter defense for the Buckeyes finally caught up to them. They allow a lot of open looks out there and Penn State hit 11 of 14, including the 40-foot game-winner from Tony Carr.

It doesn’t knock the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten title race, obviously. However, they almost definitely have to win at Purdue now. OSU still has road games with the Boilers, Michigan, Penn State, and IU.

I feel like this got a little lost due to the end result, but it shouldn’t: Keita Bates-Diop hit three huge threes down the stretch. The Buckeyes were dead in the water before he hit those. It would’ve been a sort of defining moment for his POY candidacy had Tony Carr not one-upped him at the buzzer. He ended up with 25 on 13 shots in a game he was questionable for due to illness. He’s still my leader for the award.

This week: home for Indiana and Illinois

3. Michigan State (KenPom: 5 / BracketMatrix: 3 seed)

Quite the week. Quiiiiiiiiiiite the week.

It feels weird to talk about the basketball. I also don’t think I can say anything that hasn’t been written 100 times in the last few days, except maybe that I’ve seen one quote from Cassius Winston and it was much more impressive than anything his 62 year old head coach has said in many more opportunities.

This week: home for Penn State, at Indiana

4. Michigan (KenPom: 24 / BracketMatrix: 8 seed)

Only game for Michigan was the narrow loss at Purdue. It at least showed that the Wolverines have the potential to be as lethal offensively as they have in years past. It was their most efficient game against any D-1 opponent they’ve played this year. And it came against a team that was Top 5 nationally in defensive efficiency entering the game.

But as I’ve been saying ad nauseam, this Wolverine team goes as their defense does and they got lit up like a Christmas tree.

It was a missed opportunity, but another positive was the continued high-level play from Zavier Simpson. They’ll need similar performances in late February and all of March if this team is going to reach its ceiling.

This week: home for Northwestern and Minnesota

5. Nebraska (KenPom: 62 / BracketMatrix: ORV)

I’m still proceeding with caution with the Huskers. I can’t help it. I just can’t fully commit. They’re like an ex-girlfriend that’s cheated on you several times. Maybe this time she really has changed as a person, but it’s still in the back of your mind that she slept with that waiter from Chili’s named Chad.

That’s where I’m at with Nebraska. Afraid to get cucked.

But they just keep winning. At this point, I think you’d have to give strong consideration to James Palmer being a All-Big Ten First Team guy. Isaac Copeland’s not far behind. They’re still one of the better defensive teams in the league.

But I still see those two road games up north coming soon and I’m skeptical.

This week: at Wisconsin

6. Maryland (KenPom: 40 / BracketMatrix: Second Four Out)

It feels a little high for a team that’s lost five of seven, 4-6 in the league, and is missing one of their best players and another rotation player. But their six losses have come to Purdue, MSU (2x), OSU, Michigan, and a road game at IU.

Tough to knock them too much. While they’re all excusable losses, they’re also running out of opportunities to get big wins. It feels like the Terps are headed to the NIT.

This week: at Purdue, home for Wisconsin

7. Penn State (KenPom: 54 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Win of the week goes to the Nittany Lions. They were leading for the majority of the game, but it was starting to feel like Groundhog Day when Keita Bates-Diop started raining threes while the Nittany offense went cold. But in fitting fashion, Tony Carr kept the season afloat with the shot of the Big Ten season.

Carr can be Trae Young-like with his shot volume and his body language is sometimes less than ideal, but there are games where he carries PSU to even be in the game. Good for him in finally getting a win in one of those types of efforts. He scored 33 against Minnesota, 28 against IU, 29 against NC State, and 31 against Texas A&M and all four of those games resulted in losses.

Once again, I’m not a bracketologist, but I’d imagine that win at least vaulted them into the conversation for the bubble. And they didn’t ruin it by stubbing their toe against Rutgers.

This week: at Michigan State, home for Iowa

8. Indiana (KenPom: 88 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Tough to summarize the Hoosiers week in a couple of paragraphs. They drop two spots this week, but at the same time I came away more impressed with them than I was a week ago.

It feels like they’re getting a lot better defensively, specifically contesting shooters on the perimeter. The offense is really probably performing about as good as it’s gonna get. They only have two consistent contributors and the shooting is just brutal. After watching the Purdue game, maybe they should just run nothing but pick-and-rolls with Johnson and Morgan. And I mean every single possession.

I’d also like to use some of this space to talk about how dumb Big Ten scheduling has become. I’d imagine it’d be better if they didn’t sacrifice a week out of the season so that they could play the conference tournament a week early in New York City in front of 500 people, but still. That senseless sacrifice was made the same year that they decided to play games on every day of the week.

IU played three games this week. And they capped that week off by playing the conference leader (Purdue). Seems like a good time to give them a bit of a break, right? Nope, gotta go on the road to play at the league’s second place team (OSU) on Tuesday. They then get a few days off, but get to play the league’s third place team (MSU) on Saturday. Which is then immediately followed by a road trip to New Jersey the next day to dual with Rutgers on the following Monday. That’s four games in nine days, including two road trips the day after game day.

But as always, this is about “student”-athletes getting a proper education and not at all about Jim Delany and the Big Ten squeezing every single dollar out of their television contracts.

Anyway, IU is playing pretty well right now, but their schedule is brutal.

This week: at Ohio State, home for Michigan State

9. Northwestern (KenPom: 82 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Props to the Wildcats for kind of staying alive with a win at Minnesota behind a monster Vic Law performance. I barely remember the game. But I do remember watching the documentary made by BTN about their season last year and Bryant McIntosh – clearly in the offseason – mentioning that the Final Four “wasn’t out of the realm” of possibilities this year. That was a little awkward.

This week: at Michigan and Wisconsin

10. Wisconsin (KenPom: 85 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

It’s pretty tough right now. Good news for the Badgers: six of their remaining nine games are at the Kohl Center.

This week: home for Nebraska and Northwestern, at Maryland

11. Minnesota (KenPom: 84 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

What a debacle. They might be the worst right now. I don’t know. I don’t give much thought to the bottom of the league.

This week: at Iowa and Michigan

12. Rutgers (KenPom: 135 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

They still play really hard, but the offensive punch is lacking, to say the least.

This week: at Illinois, home for Purdue

13. Iowa (KenPom: 102 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

They won a game. Then decided to get back to their old ways and get absolutely shredded by Nebraska’s pretty average offense. Oh, and everybody found out it costs 10 figures to fire Fran. Great week in Iowa City.

Tuesday against the Gophers should be a great exercise to see who will quit sooner.

This week: home for Minnesota, at Penn State

14. Illinois (KenPom: 107 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

I feel bad for putting Illinois last because they do play with a lot of effort despite losing a lot, but I also don’t feel bad because every Illinois game is the new worst basketball game I’ve ever seen. It’s 40 minutes of fouls, sloppy play, and garbage buckets. There was like eight minutes of gameplay against IU where neither team made a field goal. It’s terrible.

Congrats on the W, though.

This week: home for Rutgers, at Ohio State

CBB Picks: 1/27

SOUTH CAROLINA (+3.5) over Texas Tech

Akron (+8.5) over BALL STATE

WESTERN MICHIGAN (-7) over Northern Illinois

DUKE (-3.5) over Virginia

BUTLER (-8) over St. John’s

LOUISIANA MONROE (-2) over South Alabama

UIC (-6.5) over IUPUI

FLORIDA STATE (-5) over Miami (FL)

LSU (+10) over AUBURN

WESTERN KENTUCKY (-9) over Marshall

Colorado (+10) over ARIZONA STATE

MISSISSIPPI STATE (-1.5) over Missouri

Pacific (+12) over BYU


YTD: 39-34-1 (+1.8u)

CBB Picks: 1/23

GEORGIA (-1.5) over Arkansas

The Hogs have fallen off a cliff since the calendar turned to 2018. Maybe not a cliff, but they’ve at least been rolling down a large hill. And it’s all tied to defense. They’re the worst in the SEC right now and they’ve been particularly bad on the road. They’re 0-4 in true road games this year (0-4 ATS also) and the MOST efficient game they’ve had defensively is 1.14 points per possession.

UGA has struggled offensively, in fact they’ve been the least efficient in the SEC. However their last five opponents have been in the Top 6 of the SEC on defense (the sixth team in that Top 6 is Georgia). The one time they have played a bad defense – Ole Miss – they were able to roll to an easy victory at home.

IOWA (-1.5) over Wisconsin

I’ve expressed my displeasure with Iowa on several occasions, but I think this is a decent spot for them. They’ve struggled at home in conference play, but they’ve been playing the few good teams in the league in Carver Hawkeye. Wisconsin’s had their own struggles this year and they’ve mostly come away from Madison. 7 of their 8 worst offensive performances have been away from home. Now, Iowa is truly awful defensively, but they’re not terrible at guarding the post. They did very well defending Isaac Haas over the weekend, but they gave up 20 threes. If they can limit Ethan Happ, the Badgers don’t have near the same firepower on the perimeter.

MINNESOTA (-2) over Northwestern

Minnesota stock is at an all-time low, but Amir Coffey is back and I think he’s going to be a problem for the Cats. One of the biggest reasons Northwestern has taken two steps back this year is how much of a regression they’ve had in protecting the paint. I don’t think they can keep Coffey, Nate Mason, and Dupree McBrayer contained. Coffey changes a lot of things for the Gopher offense. Not only is he capable of attacking the rim, but he’s another capable shooter, and his passing ability creates a lot of opportunities for better looks. Outside of a narrow win at DePaul, Northwestern has been dreadful on the road this year.

YTD: 32-25 (+4.7u)

Overvalued, Undervalued, or Properly Valued 1.0: 2018 NCAA Tournament

Welcome to the first installment of the 2018 Overvalued, Undervalued, or Properly Valued series.

If you’re new this year, this is all based on taking the current odds to win the national title of likely tournament teams and comparing them to the MLPPR. You can guess who created the MLPPR and here’s a little background.

I can’t remember much of what I wrote in that post, but TL;DR: the premise is ranking teams based on their similarities to the most successful tournament teams (those that reach the Final Four). The tournament is a different animal and the MLPPR measures teams in a tournament context and less so on a game-to-game basis like most analytical measures do.

For this first installment, I took the 40 teams seeded 1-10 in the current BracketMatrix and evaluated them. There are nine teams included in the “Irrelevant” section that have equal or better odds than our 40th rated team.

Image result for marvin bagley

Properly Valued

2. Duke +500 (MLPPR: 2)

Usually teams like Duke don’t rate very well. The Blue Devils are 80th in AdjDE, which does hurt them quite a bit, but it’s minimized by their ability to protect the rim. You really have to shoot well to beat them.

5. Virginia +1300 (MLPPR: 4)

Virginia’s excellent defensively and a decent enough offensive team that they’ll always rate well. However, I don’t think there’s enough easy scorers on the team to be confident they can actually win it all. This team is much more similar to last year’s group that got boat raced in the second round than it is to the team that got to the Elite 8 two years ago. The 2016 group was as good offensively as it was on the defensive end.

T9. Gonzaga +2500 (MLPPR: 9)

I was in deep with the Zags last year, but I’m having a much harder time buying this team’s chances. They’re still good defensively, but they really struggle to get out to shooters. Also, they probably have to win out just to be considered for a Top 4 seed.

T9. North Carolina +2500 (MLPPR: 11)

They’ll certainly be a tough out, but if they can’t get to the offensive glass, they struggle to score. With that said, it’s really difficult to keep them off the offensive glass.

T18. Texas A&M +8000 (MLPPR: 21)

They’re starting to play better, but it’s pretty rare that this poor of an offensive team is able to go on a significant run. They’re like a poor man’s UNC on that end.

T23. Louisville +10000 (MLPPR: 23)

I find the Cardinals interesting. They’ve got the typical long, athletic, stout Louisville defense that they seemingly always have and the offense seems to be getting better. Deng Adel is always going to score, but it’s always a mystery who’s going to join him. I think if they can get greater consistency out of Quentin Snider, the scorer, they’ll be dangerous.

T23. Miami (FL) +10000 (MLPPR: 16)

I pretty much always think Miami will do better than they do…but they do have a talented backcourt and that tends to win in March.

T23. Missouri +10000 (MLPPR: 17)

I think it’s very impressive what Cuonzo Martin has done with this group despite dealing with the loss of Michael Porter before he even got started and with the transfer of Blake Harris. With that said, I would never consider even playing them as a long shot.

T39. Butler +25000 (MLPPR: 35)

They’re capable of beating anybody when they get hot from the outside, but those games are too few and far between to sustain a deep run.

T39. Clemson +25000 (MLPPR: 7)

They’d be in the “Highly Undervalued” section, but with the loss of Donte Grantham for the year, the ceiling for this team drops significantly.

T43. Arkansas +30000 (MLPPR: 36)

If they ever start playing defense, they’ll be a team that can make a significant run. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that defense thing, though.

T30. Auburn +15000 (MLPPR: 29)

Ah, the feel good story of Auburn basketball. They’re not as good as their record indicates, but I’d still be a little nervous playing them. They have a lot of guys who can just go score.

T30. Texas +15000 (MLPPR: 31)

Hard to see them doing much without Andrew Jones. They needed more scoring BEFORE they lost Jones. Now they have a full-fledged dearth of scoring.

35. Rhode Island +17500 (MLPPR: 39)

It’s not a carbon copy of last year’s team, but…it’s pretty close.

T43. Marquette +30000 (MLPPR: 40)

If you bet on Marquette, you’re essentially betting that a team can hit 15 threes in six straight games because they’re definitely not defending for six straight games.

Image result for trae young

Slightly Overvalued

1. Villanova +430 (MLPPR: 5)

I’ve never wavered on thinking Villanova is the best team in the country, but they do have some holes defensively. But not enough that the most efficient offense in the country can’t overcome.

3. Michigan State +550 (MLPPR: 8)

The Spartans are deep and talented, but I’m curious to see two things over the next month or so: 1) Will Tom Izzo keep playing 10 guys? and 2) How will they perform on the road? The Spartans have seven road games over the next five weeks.

8. Wichita State +1600 (MLPPR: 13)

I haven’t really watched Wichita enough lately to know what’s been going on, but I do know that they returned a ton from a very good team last year and they’ve seen quite the dropoff defensively. Something to watch.

T9. Oklahoma +2500 (MLPPR: 15)

I love Trae Young and I think the “problems” with their offense are overblown, but the best thing you can say about them defensively is that they don’t foul much.

T18. Michigan +8000 (MLPPR: 24)

I think their entire tournament success might depend solely upon how well Moe Wagner plays.

T18. Saint Mary’s +8000 (MLPPR: 37)

They’re just not good enough defensively to take seriously.

T18. Seton Hall +8000 (MLPPR: 30)

Well, you’re at least buying low if you buy now. There are worse bets to make.

T23. Alabama +10000 (MLPPR: 33)

Only chance they have of making the second weekend is if Collin Sexton and John Petty are both at their best in the opening rounds.

Image result for devonte graham

Slightly Undervalued

4. Purdue +1050 (MLPPR: 1)

I’m not gonna get into the MLPPR “scores”, but I’ll just say Purdue’s is in pretty elite company right now. Rebounding can be an issue, but otherwise it’s hard to find a lot of holes. I understand not wanting to bet on Purdue to win the natty because it’s Purdue, but they’re at a pretty good value right now.

T6. Kansas +1500 (MLPPR: 3)

I feel like the Jayhawks are kind of flying under the radar as much as a blueblood can fly under the radar. Frontcourt depth is obviously an issue, but it’s really only killed them in one area and that’s rebounding. It’s an important part of the game, but with their backcourt it’s not a death sentence.

T18. Texas Tech +8000 (MLPPR: 14)

They’re tenacious defensively, but it’s important to point out their recent three losses have all come without Zach Smith in the lineup and it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to come back at all this year. Even if he does, a lack of shooters might be another issue they can’t overcome.

T30. Creighton +15000 (MLPPR: 22)

Creighton is a team of extremes. They’re elite in quite a few areas, but also completely lacking in others. I think they’re a really good team, but they haven’t performed very well outside of Omaha.

T30. Notre Dame +15000 (MLPPR: 18)

It’s interesting that the Irish are so undervalued according to the data, when the data includes six games of Colson-less basketball and three games of Colson/Farrell-less basketball. I don’t know if you can expect Bonzie to return to his usual form when he gets back so late in the season – or how well Notre Dame can mesh when he does get back – but given the value now and Mike Brey’s recent success in March, it’s a pretty decent flyer to take.

T36. Nevada +20000 (MLPPR: 19)

It’s easy to brush off Nevada because it’s Nevada, but they have quite a few high-level players and they had a very impressive non-conference season. One issue: while they have high-level players, they still have mid-major size in the frontcourt.

T36. Tennessee +20000 (MLPPR: 25)

Scoring doesn’t always come the easiest to the Vols, but their athleticism and the physicality they play with makes them a tough opponent for just about anybody. Top 25 in efficiency on both ends of the floor is nothing to scoff at.

Image result for allonzo trier

Highly Overvalued

T6. Arizona +1500 (MLPPR: 20)

A bet on Arizona is strictly a bet on talent. I’m not saying that’s the worst strategy, but you’re also betting that they really start defending, which they haven’t done yet. I get that Rawle Alkins wasn’t playing the first month, but since he’s come back they’ve dropped six spots in KenPom. The Pac-12 stinks and they’re still struggling to win most games.

T9. Kentucky +2500 (MLPPR: 27)

They do absolutely nothing for me. I’ve always been a Coach Cal guy, but the one-and-done model starts to fall apart when you don’t get the best recruits.

13. West Virginia +3300 (MLPPR: 26)

They’re still pressing, so the MLPPR still hates them. At least they have a shorter rotation this year. The real problem for them is that they suck in the halfcourt offensively. They’re good enough to make the second weekend, but chances are they’re watching the Final Four from home again.

T14. Cincinnati +4000 (MLPPR: 28)

I mean, the defense is exceptional, but Cinci loses almost every time they play a great offensive team. And it’s really hard not to meet a great offensive team in the tournament.

T14. Florida +4000 (MLPPR: 32)

If they played as well defensively every night as they did at Kentucky, they’d be a much better bet. But they don’t and they’ve become a little too reliant on their perimeter shooting to win them games.

16. Arizona State +5000 (MLPPR: 34)

Tough to take a team seriously as a national title contender when they give up 90 to Colorado and 86 to Stanford, regardless of the number of possessions.

T23. TCU +10000 (MLPPR: 38)

Didn’t have much of a chance before they lost Jaylen Fisher and now they officially have no chance.

Image result for keita bates-diop

Highly Undervalued

17. Xavier +6000 (MLPPR: 10)

They’re an elite offensive team that relentlessly attacks the rim and is often rewarded with buckets and free throws. That’s the type of offense that plays in any venue. I wouldn’t say they’re a great shooting team, but they do have three guys who are a consistent threat from deep. I would say they’re a solid defensive team, but they’re prone to getting lit up from the perimeter every so often and that’s something they can’t afford later in the year.

T23. Florida State +10000 (MLPPR: 12)

I’m gonna be totally honest with you: I think I’ve watched maybe five minutes of Florida State basketball this year and it was against Rutgers like two months ago. I don’t remember being overwhelmed. But the numbers like them, so here you go.

29. Ohio State +12500 (MLPPR: 6)

Now, I have watched a ton of Ohio State. I don’t get the odds. I know they didn’t have a great non-conference and the Big Ten is down, but they’re not just scratching out games. They haven’t played a truly close game all month. They’ve got a potential All-American/first-rounder in Keita Bates-Diop. They’re solid-to-good in almost every aspect of the game. I don’t know if they can actually win it all. I just became convinced they could win the Big Ten like a week ago, after all. But those are great odds.



T30. USC +15000 (MLPPR: NR)

All flash, no substance. Perfect for LA

T36. SMU +20000 (MLPPR: NR)

They had a much better chance last year and they lost in the first round.

T39. Massachusetts +25000 (MLPPR: NR)

I swear I didn’t make this up. They’re 10-10. I have no explanation for why they have this low of odds besides there must be some group of people in the greater Amherst area that bet the Minutemen to win it all every year and 5Dimes just has to limit its exposure.

T39. Oregon +25000 (MLPPR: NR)

In order to win the tournament, it’s crucial to make the tournament. Big key.

T43. Baylor +30000 (MLPPR: NR)

As good as the Big 12 is, I do not picture the second-to-last place team running the table.

T43. Indiana State +30000 (MLPPR: NR)

Larry Bird is not walking through that door.

T43. Maryland +30000 (MLPPR: NR)

Juan Dixon is not walking through that door.

T43. Syracuse +30000 (MLPPR: NR)

Carmelo Anthony is not walking through that door.

T43. UCLA +30000 (MLPPR: NR)

Ed O’Bannon is not walking through that door (and he’s also the reason my life is made 10% worse because they stopped making EA Sports NCAA Football. You’re a selfish prick, Ed.)

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 5


Five Stars From the Past Week:

Carsen Edwards, Purdue – averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 steals in two wins

Nick Ward, Michigan State – 18 points, 13 rebounds in win over Indiana

James Palmer, Nebraska – averaged 21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in two wins

CJ Jackson, Ohio State – averaged 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.5 steals in two wins

Anthony Cowan, Maryland – averaged 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.5 steals in two games

Five Games to Watch This Week:

Maryland at Indiana, Monday, 7:00 PM, FS1

Nebraska at Ohio State, Monday, 8:00 PM, BTN

Michigan at Purdue, Thursday, 7:00 PM, ESPN

Michigan State at Maryland, Sunday, 1:00 PM, CBS

Purdue at Indiana, Sunday, 3:30 PM, FOX

Power Rankings

Legitimately Good Teams

1. Purdue (KenPom: 2 / Bracket Matrix: 1 seed)

Last week, this section was dedicated to discussing the multitude of ways that Purdue could win. Isaac Haas was featured in the very prestigious “Five Stars From the Past Week”.

This week Haas scored a grand total of five (5) points and the Boilers won their two games by an average of 25.5 points.

Iowa and Wisconsin are hardly the defensive stalwarts Purdue needs to be able to score against in March, but it’s yet another example of their ability to generate points in a variety of fashions. It helps when you hit 20 three-pointers.

I’m not saying they’re unguardable, but there’s definitely a major “pick your poison and hope they miss” element to them.

And as potent as their offense has appeared lately, they rank higher nationally (3rd) in defensive efficiency than they do offensive (5th). Pretty good team.

This week: home for Michigan, at Indiana

2. Ohio State (KenPom: 11 / Bracket Matrix: 6 seed)

I was still kind of wary of the Buckeyes for one real reason and that was not knowing how they’d play as a team when Keita Bates-Diop wasn’t dominating the game.

I’ve referenced his streak of 11 straight KenPom MVPs in Buckeye games. That ended this week. Heading in, OSU was 3-3 in games KBD didn’t win the MVP. The best win was Stanford. The losses included two blowouts and a choke job against Butler.

This week, KBD didn’t win either MVP and they got a road win over Northwestern and rolled Minnesota (with Amir Coffey) on a neutral site.

That’s a really good sign for a team that already had everything going for them lately.

Also good: their next four games are at home and KP gives them a minimum of 85% of winning each of those games. We’re one week closer to an OSU/Purdue game where they have a combined record of 24-0 in the league.

This week: home for Nebraska and Penn State

3. Michigan (KenPom: 27 / Bracket Matrix: 7 seed)

Not a great week for Michigan. They ended it with a home win over Rutgers, but, ya know.

The Wolverines got run out of the building in Lincoln. The Huskers sliced and diced them by scoring a bunch of points around the rim and at the free throw line.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about this being maybe John Beilein’s best defensive team ever. And that’s a crucial point because it’s not only the best defensive team he’s had, but there has been a direct correlation between defensive performance and winning/losing with this team. Their five least efficient defensive performances have resulted in their five losses.

Conversely, three of their four worst offensive performances have resulted in wins, including the road game at Texas and home games with UCLA and Rutgers.

Also at play in that Nebraska game: the Mo Wagner disappearing act. It’s gotta stop happening at some point, right? Especially after two big performances?

This week: at Purdue

4. Michigan State (KenPom: 5 / Bracket Matrix: 3 seed)

I’m sure a lot of people would/will move MSU up after UM’s week and the Spartans rolling over IU in their only game this week.

I’m gonna leave Sparty here for the time-being. After all, it’s still only been a little over a week since the Wolverines won in East Lansing.

There’s not a lot to say about MSU this week. They played well against the Hoosiers, but IU isn’t really designed to give them problems and especially so if Juwan Morgan isn’t playing, which he didn’t in the second half.

This week: at Illinois, home for Wisconsin, at Maryland

Confirmed Decent

5. Maryland (KenPom: 36 / Bracket Matrix: First Four Out)

On the surface, I guess it was a fine week for the Terps. Avoided a damaging loss and played pretty well.

But for a team that’s likely to be flirting with the bubble until Selection Sunday, the narrowest of losses at Michigan may haunt them. Maryland was up by 14 with less than a minute to go before halftime. They then gave up the entire lead and doubled down by actually trailing by 10 points with six minutes to go.

And they fought through all of that to recapture the lead with 3 seconds to go. Only to lose it by a pair of MAAR free throws because they let him catch it 50 feet down the court.

That’s gut-wrenching and a big missed opportunity for their tournament resume.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that they’ve got another opportunity against Michigan State this weekend in College Park.

This week: at Indiana, home for Michigan State

6. Nebraska (KenPom: 67 / Bracket Matrix: N/A)

Probably the biggest win of the week belongs to the Huskers. I’m not a bracketologist, but I’d have to think Nebraska has at least a bubble-worthy resume at the moment. All of their borderline “bad losses” have come on the road. The problem is the wins. They have the Michigan one now. But it’s also important to point out that they beat Minnesota back in December before the Gophers completely fell apart due to “roster issues”.

Either way, the Huskers need to keep winning, which has been a problem for them in February/March over the last few years.

Last year, they were 9-6, 3-0 in the Big Ten (with several quality wins) before losing 13 of their next 16.

In 2016, they were 12-8, 4-3 in the Big Ten and fresh off a win at Michigan State, who would go on to be a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They finished the regular season by dropping 9 of 11.

In 2015, they were 12-7, 4-3 in the Big Ten and once again fresh off of a win against Michigan State, who would go on to the Final Four. They finished the season by losing 11 of their last 12.

So we’ve been in this spot with the Huskers before. It was a great performance against Michigan and they’ve been trending upward. But recent history suggests that we’re still on a wait-and-see approach.

This week: at Ohio State and Rutgers, home for Iowa

Could Be Decent, Could Be Terrible

7. Indiana (KenPom: 97 / Bracket Matrix: N/A)

Not a lot to say this week. They lost big on the road against a very good team, which was not at all helped by losing the one guy they couldn’t afford to lose. That’s a terrible sentence, but, yeah, they need Juwan Morgan. And they need him now.

It’s a big week for IU. The tournament doesn’t seem likely, but it’s still in the realm of possibility. And this week they have home games against Maryland and Purdue. If they can get one of those in the win column and pick up a victory in Champaign, they’ll have some nice momentum going into another big week.

This week: home for Maryland, at Illinois, home for Purdue

8. Wisconsin (KenPom: 79 / Bracket Matrix: N/A)

It’s hard to lose a game by 28 points and move up a spot in the rankings, but that’s just the league we’re dealt with. FWIW, the Badgers did play really well against Illinois.

This week: at Iowa and Michigan State

9. Penn State (KenPom: 62 / Bracket Matrix: ORV)

They’re crippled without Josh Reaves and generally still haven’t figured out how to close out games. Won’t be a threat for the postseason until they do. I wouldn’t hold your breath.

This week: at Ohio State, home for Rutgers

10. Northwestern (KenPom: 90 / Bracket Matrix: N/A)

What a disappointing group. Couldn’t have picked a worse year to be playing games off campus. I don’t really have anything against them, but I really just don’t enjoy watching them. Especially when they’re playing in a dark, empty, lifeless arena. It’s depressing.

This week: at Minnesota

Confirmed Bad

11. Rutgers (KenPom: 119 / Bracket Matrix: N/A)

I think for the first time in their Big Ten history, the Scarlet Knights took somebody to the woodshed. And they did it without Mike Williams. Geo Baker is a candidate for the All-Freshman team. More Big Ten-level players coming in next year. Corey Sanders will be completing his unprecedented ninth year of eligibility. Things keep getting better in Piscataway.

This week: home for Nebraska, at Penn State

12. Minnesota (KenPom: 80 / Bracket Matrix: ORV)

Amir Coffey came back. He looked good, but it didn’t help the results for the Gophers. They’re a tire fire. Seems like a good time to get your talented freshman some more minutes. Jamir Harris has found more, but Isaiah Washington has essentially been cut from the rotation. With no inside knowledge, I’d be surprised if Washington came back next year.

This week: home for Northwestern

13. Iowa (KenPom: 100 / Bracket Matrix: N/A)

At least pretend to care, fellas. (directed at everyone except Luka)

This week: home for Wisconsin, at Nebraska

14. Illinois (KenPom: 105 / Bracket Matrix: N/A)

They had 18 offensive rebounds in a game, the other team went 5-23 from three, and they still lost. They can’t stop turning the ball over and they apparently haven’t figured out that they can’t shoot yet.

This week: home for Michigan State and Indiana

CBB Picks: 1/22

Michigan State (-11.5) over ILLINOIS

Michigan State is still working through some things, but I think this one is set up nicely against the Big Ten’s only winless team. If you have a concern, it would be Sparty’s troubles on the road. They’ve only played two true road games and haven’t played well in either one of them. It’s only two games, but that was an issue for them last year, as well.

However, defense travels and I don’t know how you can expect Illinois to generate much scoring against the Sparty defense. MSU has the best interior defense in the country. You can beat that in two ways: hitting perimeter shots or being exceptionally great at scoring around the rim. The Illini are currently 324th in three-point percentage, only making 31.2% for the season. They’ve been even worse in Big Ten games, only hitting 26.5%.

And although they do generate a large percentage of their scoring around the rim, it’s not because they’re great at it. You have to score somehow, after all.

On the other end, I don’t see how Illinois limits the frontcourt of Bridges, Ward, and Jackson. The Illini have zero rim protectors and give up a ton of offensive rebounds. As long as the Spartans don’t settle for jump shots, they’ll have a lot of success.

YTD: 31-25 (+3.7u)