Author: eburling

CBB Picks: 2/23

Dartmouth (+11) over PENN

Getting a spread this big in the Ivy League is a rarity. The league has the highest percentage of close games (<4 points or OT) in the country and the lowest percentage of blowouts (>19 points), according to KenPom.

But Penn is currently winning the conference, Dartmouth is last, and the Quakers are at home. Schematically though, Penn’s defense is so good because they’re able to run people off the line and limit open three-point looks. That’s less impactful against a Dartmouth team that’s stopped settling quite as much and has seemed to emphasize getting to the rim. It’s allowed the Big Green to start generating more offense at the free throw line and 21-24 free throw shooting is what nearly allowed them to beat Penn a couple weeks ago.

Maybe the best reason to like this game though is the situational dynamics at play. Dartmouth’s confidence has to be at a high after winning two of their last three. They started 0-7 in Ivy League play, losing none of those by more than 10 points and five of those losses fitting in the “close game” category. Playing their best basketball of the season, they now get a shot at the conference leader. And from Penn’s standpoint, they have a one-game lead on Harvard with four games to go. Guess who they play tomorrow at home? The Fighting Zuckerbergs. They could be looking ahead.

YTD: 117-96 (+11.6u)

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CBB Picks: 2/22

Delaware (+4) over DREXEL

STANFORD (-4) over Washington

OREGON (-3) over Arizona State

Murray State (-9) over EASTERN ILLINOIS

TENNESSEE TECH (-2) over Tennessee State

MOUNT ST. MARY’S (-3.5) over Robert Morris

YTD: 111-96 (+5.6u)

CBB Picks: 2/21

GEORGETOWN (+6.5) over Xavier

PENN STATE (-2.5) over Michigan

North Carolina (-4) over SYRACUSE

Duquesne (+12) over ST. BONAVENTURE

EAST CAROLINA (+7) over SMU

Alabama (+8) over AUBURN

PITT (+9) over Wake Forest

MINNESOTA (-2.5) over Iowa

UNLV (-1.5) over Fresno State

SIENA (+2.5) over Fairfield

YTD: 107-91 (+7.1u)

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 9

 


Five Six Stars From the Past Week:

Cassius Winston, Michigan State – averaged 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in two wins

Tony Carr, Penn State – averaged 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in two games

Robert Johnson, Indiana – averaged 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in two games

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin – 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 steals in win over Purdue

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan – averaged 17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in two wins

Carsen Edwards, Purdue – averaged 24.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals in two games

Five Six Games to Watch This Week:

Indiana at Nebraska, Tuesday, 9:00 PM EST, BTN

Michigan at Penn State, Wednesday, 7:00 PM EST, BTN

Ohio State at Indiana, Friday, 8:00 PM EST, FS1

Michigan at Maryland, Saturday, Noon EST, ESPN

Michigan State at Wisconsin, Sunday, 1:00 PM EST, CBS

Penn State at Nebraska, Sunday, 5:15 PM EST, BTN


Power Rankings

Tournament Locks

1.Michigan State (BracketMatrix: 2 seed; 50/50 brackets)

The Spartans will be your outright champions of the league. The schedule was favorable thanks once again to unbalanced schedules and conference expansion, but you have to give them credit. They’ve avoided the slip-ups against lesser competition. Others did not.

In order to do so, the Spartans had to overcome a 27-point deficit on the road. It helped that they had more fans at the arena in Rosemont, but no one else in the league could do that. Their defense against Northwestern in the second half was incredible. The Wildcats literally could not get one open shot.

But it still begs the question: why are you down 27 to a Northwestern team without their point guard? Sure, the Wildcats were hitting some tough shots, but that doesn’t explain Sparty only scoring 16 points in the first 16 minutes. That’s an effort that won’t fly in their quest to win a national title.

 

This Week: home for Illinois, at Wisconsin

2. Ohio State (BracketMatrix: 4 seed; 50/50 brackets)

February was always a bit of a cloud looming over the feel-good story of the Buckeyes’ chase for a Big Ten title. They survived the first big hurdle of winning at Purdue, but they ran into a buzzsaw in Happy Valley this week and obviously Ann Arbor wasn’t much easier.

Here’s a blazing take: maybe they’re better off without Kam Williams. Williams is a great shooter, but he provides little else and he clearly has some issues off the court. He scored 6 points on 9 shots this week and had 7 fouls. Fouled out in 12 minutes against Michigan. Basically every time he’s had a big game in his career, it’s been against bad competition. Musa Jallow and Andre Wesson aren’t world beaters, but they played pretty well in his absence. I just convinced myself that was actually a pretty good take.

Probably a bigger issue for the Buckeyes heading into the postseason is their over-reliance on Keita Bates-Diop. The red line one the chart below is the offensive efficiency numbers for OSU as a team, in order from best to worst. The gray line is KBD’s personal offensive rating in those games.

KBD

As you can see, the team numbers are basically a trend line for KBD’s personal numbers. You also might notice that the teams on the right-hand side are most of the tournament teams OSU has played this year.

Those teams are basically making KBD an inefficient high-volume shooter. Not quite Trae Young levels, but still. Below you can see the number of points relative to his field goal attempts in those ten games.

KBD2.png

It’s not rocket science to know that it helps OSU when KBD plays well, but these charts are basically telling you it’s a necessity. Of their seven least efficient games as a team, they’ve lost six with the only win coming on KBD’s tip-in with three seconds to go at Purdue. If the Buckeyes are going to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, it’s going to be on KBD’s back. No pressure.

This Week: home for Rutgers, at Indiana

3. Purdue (BracketMatrix: 2 seed; 50/50 brackets)

As Sunday night showed, it helps when you play with energy. Shooting will come and go, but Purdue’s biggest problem lately was the appearance that it didn’t seem to think playing hard was still necessary. I don’t know if they got full of themselves with all the national attention they were getting or it was February blues, but they finally played with a sense of urgency against Penn State.

Make no mistake, beating the scorching hot Nittany Lions without Vince Edwards was a big deal for this team.

Losing to Wisconsin was bad from a perception standpoint and a conference championship race standpoint, but it really probably only knocks them from a shaky 1 seed down to a 2. And I don’t think that’s the worst thing for this team, for a number of reasons.

Worth noting: Carsen Edwards is carrying this team right now. When Purdue was playing so well in December and January, it relied upon balance. The motto of the offense was “the go-to guy was the open guy.” That is not currently the case.

This Week: at Illinois, home for Minnesota

4. Michigan (BracketMatrix: 9 seed; 50/50 brackets)

Sunday was big for the Wolverines. I don’t think their tournament status would’ve been in grave danger (is there another kind?) if they lost, but a loss there with their tough schedule this week and things might’ve got a little dicey.

But Michigan was largely in control from start to finish against Ohio State. They made life difficult for basically every Buckeye except for Jae’Sean Tate.

There is something interesting going on with the offense, though. For most of the season they were in need of more consistency outside of Charles Matthews. They’ve gotten that from MAAR and Wagner. But now Matthews hasn’t scored 20 points in a game since December 21st. It’s been 15 games. Matthews scored 20+ six times in the first 14 games of the season. I’m not saying Michigan needs him to put up 20 every game, but they definitely need more than he’s giving them right now.

This Week: at Penn State and Maryland

Hanging On The Bubble

5. Penn State (BracketMatrix: “Others Receiving Votes”; 3/50 brackets)

It was almost a home run week for the Lions. They not only took care of business at home against Ohio State, they murdered the Buckeyes from the jump. Usually when Tony Carr is going for 30, it’s on 20+ shots and the Nittany Lions tend to lose those games. Not this time. He was 9-15 from the field and only turned the ball over once. I’d say it’s the best game of his career, but his game against the Buckeyes was equally exceptional.

The Purdue loss hurts. It’s obviously not a bad loss, but the Boilers were vulnerable with the way they were playing and with the absence of Vince Edwards.

The good news for PSU is that they still have two more opportunities for big wins this week and they’re still playing really well. The OSU win put them firmly in the conversation for one of the last NCAA bids. Their rankings in analytical measures like KenPom are a plus. They just need to strike while the iron’s hot this week.

This Week: home for Michigan, at Nebraska

6. Nebraska (BracketMatrix: “First Four Out”; 5/50 brackets)

The BracketMatrix data was gathered before the loss to Illinois. I don’t know how much that affects things for them, but I know it’s not good.

The Huskers put themselves in a difficult situation where they had almost no room for error and they erred. All the positivity around them is still true despite the loss, but now they absolutely have to win two games against teams that are also playing their best basketball right now. And after they do that, they’ll probably need to beat at least one of the Top 4 in the BTT.

This Week: home for Indiana and Penn State

 

7. Indiana (BracketMatrix: N/A; 0/50 brackets)

The resume isn’t there at all for the Hoosiers. They’re 0-8 in Quad 1 and they’ve got 3 bad losses.

But I feel like you have to include them just for the way that they’re playing and their potential to get big wins down the stretch. They have two opportunities for big wins this week and obviously the Big Ten Tournament as well.

IU hasn’t exactly been beating a murderer’s row during their current four-game win streak, but they were playing well against top competition before that. They’ve largely done it on the backs of their defense, but they found themselves in a shootout on Saturday in Iowa City. The Hoosiers won that too via 14-24 three-point shooting. Shooting has been a burden for them all year, but they’ve made 47% of their attempts from distance over this four game stretch.

This Week: at Nebraska, home for Ohio State

8. Maryland (BracketMatrix: “Others Receiving Votes”; 1/50 brackets)

Well the one guy who has the Terps appears to be a little misguided. It appears to be some formulaic apparatus he’s using that not only has Maryland in the field, but comfortably as a 9 seed. He also has Nevada as a 3 seed, so yeah.

The Terps essentially have the perfectly average NIT resume. They’re not a bad team, but they’re 0-9 in Quad 1 games and 1-2 in Quad 2. They’re a title contender next year.

This Week: at Northwestern, home for Michigan

Perhaps Next Year

9. Wisconsin

I thought there had been a lot of reasons for the Badgers to feel encouraged heading into next year with everybody in line to come back. That feeling is a little more tangible now with how they’ve played the past couple weeks.

This Week: home for Minnesota, at Northwestern, home for Michigan State

10. Northwestern

This Week: home for Maryland and Wisconsin, at Iowa

11. Illinois

This Week: at Michigan State, home for Purdue, at Rutgers

12. Iowa

This Week: at Minnesota, home for Northwestern

13. Minnesota

This Week: at Wisconsin, home for Iowa, at Purdue

14. Rutgers

This Week: at Ohio State, home for Illinois

CBB Picks: 2/17

UCF (-3) over SMU

LSU (-1) over Missouri

BALL STATE (pick) over Toledo

LOUISIANA MONROE (-2) over Texas State

BOSTON COLLEGE (pick) over Notre Dame

UNLV (+4.5) over SAN DIEGO STATE

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (-2.5) over Eastern Michigan

UAB (-2) over SOUTHERN MISS

KANSAS (-3.5) over West Virginia

UMass (+16) over DAVIDSON

DELAWARE (-1) over Elon

MISSISSIPPI STATE (-7.5) over Ole Miss

WAZZU (+8) over Utah

Furman (-8.5) over SAMFORD

Eastern Kentucky (+11.5) over TENNESSEE STATE

Weber State (-4.5) over SACRAMENTO STATE

YTD: 92-83 (+0.9u)

Overvalued, Undervalued, or Properly Valued 2.0: Post-Early Preview 2018

Here’s the first installment.

We’re once again evaluating teams that are on the 10 seed line or better from BracketMatrix, with a couple disclaimers. The data was compiled Friday, so the teams evaluated were from Friday’s BracketMatrix. Only a couple of teams have changed and they’re probably not contenders anyway.

Odds were gathered on Sunday from BetOnline. I was trying to keep consistent with 5Dimes, but the odds were off the board when I was trying to find some.

I did actually make a play today. I’m sure you can guess who it is.

 

Image result for keenan evans

Properly Valued

3. Virginia +700 (MLPPR: 3)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +1300 (MLPPR: 4)

Since the last edition of the rankings, the Hoos won three road games over Duke, Florida State, and Syracuse and tossed in a home win over Louisville. Extremely impressive.

But their most recent outing was basically 2+ hours of “Reasons People Don’t Like Virginia.” The game against Virginia Tech was slow, sloppy, and didn’t give many reasons to feel much better about Virginia’s scoring ability. In 60 offensive possessions, they attempted 38 threes (they made 11).

They still rate really well because of the dominant defense, but the lack of scoring is still a legitimate question.

4. Duke +800 (MLPPR: 2)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +500 (MLPPR: 2)

The make-up hasn’t changed over the past three weeks. They’re still overly-reliant on out-scoring people…but damn can they score. They’ve gone for 80+ in 22 of their 24 games this season.

T6. Ohio State +1400 (MLPPR: 7)

Jan. 23: “Highly Undervalued” +12500 (MLPPR: 6)

A big change in odds for the Buckeyes since I told you the oddsmakers weren’t giving OSU near the respect they deserved. After losing on a buzzer-beater to Penn State, they’ve rattled off four straight wins, including a road victory at Purdue.

Keita Bates-Diop continues to be one of the best players in the country and there’s not many teams out there equipped to defend him 1-on-1.

T8. North Carolina +2000 (MLPPR: 12)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +2500 (MLPPR: 11)

The Heels seem to be a team of peaks and valleys, switching between the highs and lows about every two weeks.

I wasn’t a believer last year and they won the title, so I’m not going to dismiss them again…but I’m pretty skeptical that they can repeat.

T8. Tennessee +2000 (MLPPR: 13)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Undervalued” +20000 (MLPPR: 25)

Another previously undervalued team that’s seen their odds reduce greatly. The Vols still have an outside chance of winning the SEC. As well as they’ve played for the majority of SEC play, I mentioned last time that this team sometimes really struggles to score. That was on full display against Alabama over the weekend and remains a concern against teams that can match their athleticism.

T8. Texas Tech +2000 (MLPPR: 14)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Undervalued” +8000 (MLPPR: 14)

The Red Raiders have done nothing but win the past three weeks. It appears that Zach Smith isn’t coming back, but a few weeks ago I also questioned whether Tech had enough shooters to keep them alive in tournament play. The question still remains, but they have hit 44% or higher of their three-point attempts in four out of their last six games.

In a lot of ways, they remind you of a better version of last year’s South Carolina team that went on the miracle run.

T13. Wichita State +2500 (MLPPR: 11)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Overvalued” +1600 (MLPPR: 13)

The complaint the past couple years has been that the Shockers were underseeded due to their conference. Now, it appears it might be the opposite. Wichita hasn’t won many games that make you think they’re capable of a serious run.

T17. Auburn +3300 (MLPPR: 22)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +15000 (MLPPR: 29)

The Tigers keep winning and are actually in great position to win the SEC. Obviously that’s an accomplishment in a deep league, but there aren’t any elite teams. Couple that with Auburn’s rather weak non-conference and it’s hard to tell exactly how good they are.

T17. Texas A&M +3300 (MLPPR: 17)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +8000 (MLPPR: 21)

The offense has come alive for the Aggies in a big way. All of a sudden they’re back to a similar form they held in November. The injury to Duane Wilson against Kentucky didn’t appear encouraging. He had already partially torn his ACL. But that injury might not be as impactful if TJ Starks can keep playing like he has recently.

21. Oklahoma +4000 (MLPPR: 26)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Overvalued” +2500 (MLPPR: 15)

It was never gonna work. Very excited to see Trae Young in desperation mode in the tournament, though.

T22. Kentucky +5000 (MLPPR: 29)

Jan. 23: “Highly Overvalued” +2500 (MLPPR: 27)

They’re not terrible, but they’re definitely not good.

T22. Saint Mary’s +5000 (MLPPR: 31)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Overvalued” +8000 (MLPPR: 37)

They’re just going to get murdered on the interior defensively at some point.

T22. Michigan +5000 (MLPPR: 24)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Overvalued” +8000 (MLPPR: 24)

I guess you could say Charles Matthews is their go-to guy, but I don’t think he’s good enough to carry them when their inconsistent offense hits the skids.

T28. Seton Hall +6600 (MLPPR: 21)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Overvalued” +8000 (MLPPR: 30)

For a team that starts four seniors, I feel like they should be a lot more reliable.

T32. Texas +8000 (MLPPR: 25)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +15000 (MLPPR: 31)

There are glimpses of Matt Coleman being exactly the lead guard that thrives in tournament settings, but it’s not consistent enough right now. Way too much Osetkowski for my liking.

T35. Nevada +10000 (MLPPR: 30)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Undervalued” +20000 (MLPPR: 19)

Their score’s been hurt a lot recently because they’ve been shredded a few times on the inside, which also is going to hurt the efficiency numbers. They’re a better version of themselves from a year ago, but I don’t know if it’s good enough to get them to a Final Four out of the 7-10 seed range that they’re likely to fall in.

T35. Arizona State +10000 (MLPPR: 35)

Jan. 23: “Highly Overvalued” +5000 (MLPPR: 34)

They’re fun to watch, but they’ve been quite a bit less efficient offensively since their wild non-conference run.

T40. TCU +12500 (MLPPR: 36)

Jan. 23: “Highly Overvalued” TCU +10000 (MLPPR: 38)

Sucks they lost Jaylen Fisher. It’s hard to even come up with anything to say about them without him.

T45. Arkansas +15000 (MLPPR: 37)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +30000 (MLPPR: 36)

Still not guarding anybody away from home.

T49. Providence +25000 (MLPPR: 39)

Jan. 23: N/A

They’re a hair above Indiana in KenPom rankings. The only difference between them and Indiana is that the Friars have a lot more opportunities to play quality opponents in the Big East.

T49. Washington +25000 (MLPPR: 40)

Jan. 23: N/A

All the good feels after they beat Arizona on that buzzer-beater were washed away after getting swept by the Oregon teams.

Image result for miles bridges

Slightly Overvalued

1. Michigan State +500 (MLPPR: 5)

Jan. 23:”Slightly Overvalued” +550 (MLPPR: 8)

Sometimes I feel like I’m taking crazy pills when I hear people talk about Michigan State. They’re really good, but they’re still barely winning a lot of games they’re supposed to win. It’s the middle of February now, I feel like if they had some other gear they would’ve hit at some point by now. There’s three Big Ten teams that will for sure make the tournament – other than MSU – and the Spartans are 1-2 in those games. They led for a total of less than 24 out of a possible 120 minutes in those games.

They’re good, but I think this is pretty poor value for a team that hasn’t really given a reason why it should be the favorite to win the title. Besides Izzo.

2. Villanova +600 (MLPPR: 6)

Jan. 23: “Somewhat Overvalued” +430 (MLPPR: 5)

It’s tough to judge them without Phil Booth and Eric Paschall. I still think – when healthy – they’re the best team in the country, despite what the data might say.

T8. Xavier +2000 (MLPPR: 16)

Jan. 23: “Highly Undervalued” +6000 (MLPPR: 10)

Well, they were “Highly Undervalued”, which was another win for the MLPPR since they’ve now won eight games in a row and the odds have greatly been reduced. However, despite that winning streak…they’ve dropped in the MLPPR.

I don’t know what happened. I do know that the data used doesn’t include the weekend games and X went up 12 spots in the defensive efficiency rankings in that time.

They still have room to grow in that department, but it hasn’t prevented them from racking up five Quadrant 1 road wins.

Given Chris Mack’s success in March, it’s hard not to like the Musketeers when tournament time rolls around.

 

T22. Rhode Island +5000 (MLPPR: 38)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +17500 (MLPPR: 39)

I like the Rams, but I don’t know if their style really translates to going on a deep run. They’re capable of beating almost everybody, but teams in the tournament are more likely to be able to handle their pressure, which is kind of the key to all of Rhody’s success.

Image result for isaac haas

Slightly Undervalued

5. Purdue +1000 (MLPPR: 1)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Undervalued” +1050 (MLPPR: 1)

There’s no doubt Purdue is very good, but I think it’s reasonable to question how they match up with the top competition. They haven’t had many opportunities and this past week didn’t inspire much confidence, despite leading for the majority of each game. They just don’t look like the team we saw for the majority of December and January.

T13. Gonzaga +2500 (MLPPR: 8)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +2500 (MLPPR: 9)

I’m still not a Zags believer this year, but the way they manhandled St. Mary’s was undeniably impressive. I think I’m still in the sell category, though.

T22. Florida State +5000 (MLPPR: 10)

Jan. 23: “Highly Undervalued” +10000 (MLPPR: 12)

I feel like Florida State is never on national TV. I assume they were on Wednesday against Virginia, but I was at Purdue-Ohio State, so I don’t know. Either way, I really need to watch a Florida State game soon. This is getting ridiculous.

T32. Miami (FL) +8000 (MLPPR: 15)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +10000 (MLPPR: 16)

They’re still playing pretty well without Bruce Brown in the lineup, which means I’m inevitably picking the Canes to the Sweet 16 this year and they’ll likely get bounced in the first round. Can’t wait.

T32. Missouri +8000 (MLPPR: 19)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +10000 (MLPPR: 17)

I love Missouri. It feels like they lose a point guard every week and yet they’re on a four-game winning streak. I love that they’re winning behind huge plays from guys like Kevin Puryear who had to suffer through the Kim Anderson years. I’ll love them even more if MPJ comes back.

But a tournament berth will be a huge success and anything past that point is gravy.

T35. Louisville +10000 (MLPPR: 18)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +10000 (MLPPR: 23)

Haven’t got the scoring from Quentin Snider I was hoping to see, but there’s still time.

T40. Creighton +12500 (MLPPR: 23)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Undervalued” +15000 (MLPPR: 22)

Still not doing much outside of Omaha to inspire a lot of confidence.

T49. Butler +25000 (MLPPR: 32)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +25000 (MLPPR: 35)

They still lack the consistency to inspire much confidence that they can sustain a run, but the flamability of Kelan Martin should make any top seed nervous. He hit 14 threes on his way to 64 points against Xavier and Villanova this week.

Image result for jacob evans cincinnati

Highly Overvalued

T6. Arizona +1400 (MLPPR: 27)

Jan. 23: “Highly Overvalued” +1500 (MLPPR: 20)

Considering the talent level involved, the team pretty much stinks. DeAndre Ayton might be the most physically imposing college basketball player I’ve ever seen. And he’s agile. A mutant, if I’ve ever seen one. AND HE CAN SHOOT. AND HE’S SURROUNDED BY VARIOUS OTHER HIGHLY RECRUITED/MCDONALD’S ALL-AMERICAN TYPE PLAYERS.

And I don’t think I’d even be slightly surprised if they got swept on their Oregon trip next week.

Team stinks.

T8. Cincinnati +2000 (MLPPR: 20)

Jan. 23: “Highly Overvalued” +4000 (MLPPR: 28)

Still have quite a few doubts about the offense. They’re extremely reliant on second-chance points. I’m not saying they won’t be able to rebound in the tournament, but it’s a lot tougher to do against top competition. The one game they’ve played against a team likely to get a Top 5 seed (Xavier), was the least productive game they’ve had on the glass and they got blown out of the building.

A good indicator will be how they fare in their two matchups against Wichita State coming up. The Shockers are the only other elite defensive rebounding team that the Bearcats will play this season, outside of the Musketeers.

T13. West Virginia +2500 (MLPPR: 28)

Jan. 23: “Highly Overvalued” +3300 (MLPPR: 26)

Not sure how their odds have lowered considering that WVU has felt like a team on the verge of unraveling the past few weeks. Esa Ahmad is a welcome punch to the scoring, but the defense has gone backwards.

T17. Florida +3300 (MLPPR: 33)

Jan. 23: “Highly Overvalued” +4000 (MLPPR: 32)

The Gators are a rollercoaster. They’re a team that started out 8th in KenPom, still held that position in early December, dropped to 35th a month later, rose back up to 21 by the end of January, were 37th at the time I collected data last Friday, and are 26th at the time I write this on Monday.

Needless to say, I don’t think that’s a team you can trust to play great basketball for three straight weeks.

T17. Alabama +3300 (MLPPR: 34)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Overvalued” +10000 (MLPPR: 33)

Speaking of rollercoasters. At least Florida can shoot sometimes.

Image result for marcquise reed

Highly Undervalued

T13. Kansas +2500 (MLPPR: 4)

Jan. 23: “Slightly Undervalued” +1500 (MLPPR: 3)

If you’re gonna go down with a ship, I feel like a Kansas ticket at 25-1 is a worthy ship.

I’m not saying they’re a carbon copy or even as good, but there are some comparisons to be made between this Kansas team and the Villanova team that won the national championship in terms of things they do well and areas where they’re weaker.

Kansas on the left. ’16 Nova on the right. Keep in mind that Nova’s numbers are after they went through the tournament and obviously played very well. They entered the tournament with an AdjO slightly worse than Kansas, but the AdjD was still quite a bit better.

The Jayhawks still have a pretty decent chance of at least winning a share of the Big 12, which is undoubtedly the best conference top-to-bottom in the country. They have a slew of dynamic guards/wings that are always so valuable in March. They’re probably not going to fall below the 2 seed line.

I’m not saying they should be title favorites, but they’re the best value on the board.

T28. Clemson +6600 (MLPPR: 9)

Jan. 23: “Properly Valued” +25000 (MLPPR: 7)

I understand how the disparity between their classification three weeks ago and now looks without context. The last version of this blog was shortly after they lost Grantham for the year. I thought they’d fall off a cliff. They have not. I don’t know if they were ever good enough to actually win a championship and I’m even less sure now, but they’ve still only played two or three games poorly all year. They beat UNC without Grantham two weeks ago. I don’t think they’re among the nation’s elite, but they’re probably your best flyer option if the tournament turns into chaos.

Irrelevant At This Point

T22. NC State +5000 (MLPPR: NR)

They’d be a threat if they only had to play in Raleigh.

T28. UCLA +6600 (MLPPR: NR)

A poor man’s version of last year’s team that also didn’t have a chance.

T28. Baylor +6600 (MLPPR: NR)

I’d much rather see Baylor make the tournament than these Pac-12 teams, but maybe that’s just my Middle America bias kicking in.

T35. Oregon +10000 (MLPPR: NR)

There are 95 brackets on BracketMatrix right now and Oregon doesn’t make a single appearance.

T35. USC +10000 (MLPPR: NR)

I find them very easy to hate.

T40. Indiana +12500 (MLPPR: NR)

They’d have to win like 10 straight games.

T40. Maryland +12500 (MLPPR: NR)

Maybe the NIT.

T40. Houston +12500 (MLPPR: NR)

Houston’s actually in the new group of 10 seeds on BracketMatrix, but I’m not about to re-do everything for the third best team in the American.

T45. Mississippi State +15000 (MLPPR: NR)

I love to bet on the Bulldogs, but only to cover, like, three points at home against another mediocre team.

T47. Virginia Tech +20000 (MLPPR: NR)

Also now in the new group of 10 seeds. But I’m also not about to re-do everything for a team that might not be in the top half of their league.

T47. Middle Tennessee +20000 (MLPPR: NR)

Not a national title contender, but definitely a heavy favorite to pull another 12-5 “upset” over an overseeded Power 5 team.

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 8

 


Five Stars From the Past Week:

Miles Bridges, Michigan State – averaged 22.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in two wins

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State – averaged 16.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in two wins

Lamar Stevens, Penn State – averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in two wins

Juwan Morgan, Indiana – averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals in two wins

James Palmer, Nebraska – averaged 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.5 assists in two wins

Five Games to Watch This Week:

Maryland at Nebraska, Tuesday, 7:00 PM, BTN

Ohio State at Penn State, Thursday, 8:00 PM, BTN

Michigan State at Northwestern, Saturday, 2:00 PM, FOX

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

Penn State at Purdue, Sunday, 8:00 PM, BTN


Power Rankings

1.Ohio State (KenPom: 11 / BracketMatrix: 4 seed)

The Buckeyes rightfully take the crown, as they’ll finish 2-0 against Purdue and Michigan State. I thought they were outstanding defensively, disrupting a lot of the free-flowing motion offense that Purdue likes to run.

The offense didn’t come easy, but the Buckeyes got some key contributions from unlikely places. I pointed out last week that Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow would be getting increased minutes with Kam Williams’ suspension and that would hurt the perimeter shooting. Wesson and Jallow were a combined 5-23 from three-point range  in Big Ten play heading into the contest at Purdue.

In a sick and twisted turn of fate given my Boilermaker fandom, those two went 6-9 against the Boilermakers for 18 very important points. The rest of the Buckeyes went 0-9. Of course Wesson and Jallow went 1-5 against Iowa on Saturday.

But it’s a recurring theme for Ohio State. They seem to get big contributions from at least one of their smaller role players every game. Andrew Dakich has had his big moments, including a couple very important plays late in that Purdue game. Micah Potter is due for double figures once a month. It’s something Purdue’s not getting right now and it may ultimately be the deciding factor when the Big Ten championship is settled.

This week: at Penn State and Michigan

2. Purdue (KenPom: 4 / BracketMatrix: 1 seed)

We’ll start with that bench for Purdue. It’s the thing that stood out to me most this week in two games that were decided in the final minute.

It was not a good week for Vincent Edwards, Dakota Mathias, and PJ Thompson, at least in scoring production. But that’s going to happen. They’ve certainly earned their share of the victories this year.

That’s when you need the bench. And they did not show up this week. Ryan Cline, Nojel Eastern, and Matt Haarms are the three guys Purdue relies on every game and the three of them combined for S-E-V-E-N (7) points all week. And all seven of those points were scored by Haarms against Michigan State. That’s hard to fathom.

The result of those six guys largely playing like garbage was Carsen Edwards and Isaac Haas scoring 85 of their 129 points scored as a team. That’s never going to be a winning formula for this team.

With all that said, Purdue still led for more than 80% of the two games this week and the committee still put them as a #1 seed in their early bracket preview. They’ll be fine, but there’s still improvement to be made.

This week: at Wisconsin, home for Penn State

3. Michigan State (KenPom: 6 / BracketMatrix: 3 seed)

You saw two different versions of the Spartans this week. The star power was on full display at Iowa, scoring 96 points in a fast-paced game. I thought the Purdue game was more a reflection of their depth. Miles Bridges led the way, but Kenny Goins, Matt McQuaid, and Gavin Schilling all played starter-like minutes and each gave them key contributions in the process.

I do think this week you saw what can happen if teams are able to spread the Spartans out. Iowa was able to rack up 93 points. Purdue was less successful, but it was really just due to them missing shots. MSU had similar problems earlier in the year against Michigan and Duke. In less publicized games, Stony Brook and Oakland were able to do the same thing. The Spartans pulled away from both late, but they were much closer games in the second half than you would hope for.

This week: at Minnesota and Northwestern

4. Nebraska (KenPom: 54 / BracketMatrix: Second Four Out)

For much of the year, the Big Ten was labeled as having four good teams. Not an unfair label, by the way. At some point you figured one of those interchangeable teams from 5-14 would distinguish itself from the rest of the pack. That’s been Nebraska.

The Huskers haven’t done anything flashy – aside from the 20-point romp over Michigan – but they’ve just kept beating all of the teams that they should. They have an established eight-man rotation. They know their roles. They play defense collectively.

They’re just a really consistent group. So consistent that I think they’ve passed Michigan at this point. They’ve got four semi-challenging games coming up, but with three of them coming at home, I’d be kind of stunned if they lost any of them.

This week: home for Maryland, at Illinois

5. Michigan (KenPom: 26 / BracketMatrix: 9 seed)

I feel like we’ve seen Michigan’s ceiling. It’s good, not great. They just fluctuate so much offensively. I can’t really add more than what I’ve already said a thousand times. They’ll go as far as their defense takes them.

This week: home for Iowa and Ohio State

6. Penn State (KenPom: 41 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

All eyes are on Nebraska right now, but Penn State has put themselves in a position to make a push for the tournament. I’m not a bracketologist, so I don’t have a great frame of reference for the competition they’re up against for those last couple spots. I know the Wisconsin and Minnesota home losses aren’t great. I know the non-con SOS is also not great.

But I also know that Penn State is playing as well as they have all season right now and their next four games are all resume-building opportunities. They’ve been playing great offense lately and it’s coming from everybody on the court.

Thursday is a huge opportunity and kind of feels like the season for the Nittany Lions.

This week: home for Ohio State, at Purdue

7. Indiana (KenPom: 75 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

After losing five of six – including four against the Top 3 – the Hoosiers took out their frustrations this week with annihilations of Rutgers and Minnesota. The team has made huge strides defensively over the course of the season and if you’re a Hoosier fan you have to feel pretty encouraged with the progress Archie Miller is making on that end. After some embarrassing performances against smaller in-state schools during non-conference play, they’ve been the second most efficient defense in Big Ten play.

This week: home for Illinois, at Iowa

8. Maryland (KenPom: 39 / BracketMatrix: Others Receiving Votes)

They’re still hanging around the NCAA Tournament conversation, but it feels like they almost have to win at Nebraska to be seriously considered. Not only would it be a big win for the Terps, but the Huskers are also one of the teams they’re competing with to get one of the last bids.

This week: at Nebraska, home for Rutgers

9. Northwestern (KenPom: 77 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

They get a big win over Michigan and then basically no-show the first ten minutes of their game at Maryland. I’ve had enough Northwestern basketball this season.

This week: at Rutgers, home for Michigan State

10. Wisconsin (KenPom: 93 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Happ’s putting up some numbers. That’s all I got.

This week: home for Purdue and Minnesota

11. Illinois (KenPom: 112 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

I think I’m ready for the Big Ten season to be over.

This week: at Indiana, home for Nebraska

12. Iowa (KenPom: 98 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

This week: at Michigan, home for Indiana

13. Minnesota (KenPom: 97 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

This week: home for Michigan State

14. Rutgers (KenPom: 154 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

This week: home for Northwestern, at Maryland