CBB Picks: 2/10

DUQUESNE (-7.5) over Fordham

Mississippi State (+5.5) over MISSOURI

IOWA STATE (+4) over Oklahoma

NC STATE (+3.5) over North Carolina

DRAKE (-2.5) over Northern Iowa

UMass (+6) over ST. JOSEPH’S

BYU (-11) over San Francisco

Texas State (+8) over UT ARLINGTON

MICHIGAN STATE (-3) over Purdue

Florida Atlantic (+11.5) over MARSHALL

UTAH STATE (+3.5) over Boise State

OREGON STATE (-4) over Washington

WEBER STATE (-2) over Northern Colorado

 

YTD: 80-71 (+2.1u)

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CBB Picks: 2/8

ELON (-1.5) over Hofstra

TULSA (-7) over Tulane

GEORGIA SOUTHERN (-10.5) over Louisiana Monroe

North Texas (+10.5) over UAB

TROY (-8.5) over Arkansas State

Wazzu (+9) over OREGON STATE

SIUE (-2) over EIU

MONTANA (-8) over Portland State

JACKSONVILLE STATE (-8.5) over Tennessee Tech

YTD: 77-65 (+5.7u)

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 7

 


Five Stars From the Past Week:

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State – averaged 24.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks in two wins

James Palmer, Nebraska – 28 points and 8 rebounds in a win over Wisconsin

Vincent Edwards, Purdue – averaged 13.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in two wins

Charles Matthews, Michigan – averaged 13.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in two wins

Bruno Fernando, Maryland – averaged 13.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games

Five Games to Watch This Week:

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

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

Ohio State at Purdue, Wednesday, 8:30 PM EST, BTN

Purdue at Michigan State, Saturday, 4:00 PM EST, ESPN

Michigan an Wisconsin, Sunday, 1:00 PM EST, CBS


Power Rankings

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

Not the prettiest week of basketball, but the streak lives on for the Boilermakers. They’ve now won 19 in a row.

But they’ve certainly come back down to Earth a bit the past couple of weeks. And I think it’s fair to have some questions. Was most of January just a product of some unsustainable shooting against vulnerable competition? Did they peak too soon? Are they wearing down after basically starting the season in August with their trip to the World University Games?

Let me answer my own questions. First of all, there was a five game stretch in there where Purdue was hitting 55% of its threes and they were shooting a lot of them. They’re a great shooting team, but not even the Warriors could keep that going.

I don’t know that peaking too soon is a real thing. There are peaks and valleys in every season, for every team, everywhere.

It’s possible that they are wearing down. It’s also possible that they’re one of many teams that have been struck by the flu bug and it’s temporarily hindering their play.

Maybe it’s a team adjusting to playing with a target on its back the size of Texas. I don’t know

It’s all tough to figure out, but we’ll all get some answers this week.

This week: home for Ohio State, at Michigan State

2. Ohio State (KenPom: 14 / BracketMatrix: 5 seed)

The scheduling gods (the Big Ten office) set up Indiana like a fat hog waiting to be slaughtered by the Buckeyes, but credit to OSU for taking a commanding early lead and never letting up. They took advantage of the Hoosiers lack of a frontcourt and held a parade around the rim.

Sunday was not as businesslike. First of all, it was announced a couple hours prior to the game that Kam Williams had been suspended for a violation of team rules.

They followed that announcement up with an incredibly sloppy first 10 minutes against Illinois at home, falling behind by as many as 15 points. However, they did go on a 19-0 run to finish off the first half before ultimately pulling away in the second.

But even with the feeling of a win, you have to be concerned about Williams. His shooting is an important piece for an offense that has quite a few players that do a lot of operating 15 feet and in. With Kam’s absence, you now get increased minutes for Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow, who have combined to go 5-23 from three-point range against the Big Ten.

I don’t know what Williams did (although “violation of team rules” isn’t usually hard to figure out), but either way it’s a bad look for a senior. Especially a senior that’s playing on a team in contention for a league title and has a game this week that’s going to go a long way in determining the winner of said league title.

This week: at Purdue, home for Iowa

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

The Spartans notched two wins this week, but much like the two teams ranked above them, it wasn’t always pretty.

Wednesday’s victory over Penn State can only be described as a “Breslin Center Win”. The Nittany Lions thoroughly outplayed the Spartans 25-30 minutes until MSU made a couple of plays. At that point the Spartan faithful took over and created a tsunami of noise that ended with a sudden 15-point lead late in the game for the home squad. Very few teams can withstand such things on the road and the often discomposed Nittany Lions aren’t one of them.

MSU was largely in control for all 40 minutes of their trip to Bloomington, but the outcome of the game was still very much hanging in the balance in the last few seconds. And it really all boiled down to one issue: defensive rebounding. It was the second time this season the Spartans have given up 25 offensive rebounds in a game, with the other being Duke at the start of the season.

As bad as it was on Saturday night, I don’t think it’s a huge issue moving forward. They’ve had a few outlier games like that, but they consistently do it to opponents on the other end.

This week: at Iowa, home for Purdue

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

A couple Thursdays ago, Michigan shredded Purdue’s defense in a narrow loss at Mackey Arena. This week, they barely managed a point per possession against the two most disappointing teams of the Big Ten.

But they ultimately won both games, further reinforcing their need for defense to lead the way.

It’s weird. With Jaaron Simmons and Eli Brooks getting less minutes, the Wolverines play with four capable shooters on the floor at all times and five when Jon Teske isn’t on the floor. Yet they’re only a slightly above-average shooting team. They’re just as likely to shoot 20% out there as they are 50%.

John Beilein loves to have the interchangeability 1-5 on his offense. It makes them very difficult to guard, but this group doesn’t seem to have settled into roles offensively, at least in terms of production. Charles Matthews is still the only guy that you know is going to score double figures, but he’s also not quite potent enough to go get 30 when others aren’t performing.

It’s the best defensive team Beilein has had, but it’s still difficult to trust this team. For better or worse, his teams have always been at their best with potent offense. And those teams have always been led by a Trey Burke, or Nik Stauskas, or Derrick Walton, or even a Kevin Pittsnogle. Matthews is a very good player, but he seems at least a year away from that status.

This week: at Northwestern and Wisconsin

5. Nebraska (KenPom: 60 / BracketMatrix: ORV)

The Big Ten’s Great Hope for a fifth tournament team scratched one out in Madison in their only action of the week. The situation was dire midway through the second half, but they responded to a monster dunk by Khalil Iverson in an incredibly mature way for a team without a ton of experience together. The Huskers kept attacking the basket and turned some defense into offense and ended the game +20 in the scoring column over the last 10 minutes of the second half.

It’s easy to feel good about the Huskers right now. The bad news? They almost have to be perfect the rest of the way. I suppose they could afford a slip-up along the way, provided that they compensate with a victory over one of the Top 4 during the conference tournament. While their play warrants consideration for the dance, the lack of quality wins is deservedly under a microscope.

Tuesday is big. Minnesota has been a disaster and it won’t be a quality win for the Huskers, but the Gophers are one of the few teams in the league who can match the Huskers’ quickness and athleticism.

This week: at Minnesota, home for Rutgers

6. Penn State (KenPom: 44 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

After winning at Ohio State, it looked like the Nittany Lions might be in line to knock off another of the Big Ten’s elite when they held a 12-point lead in the second half at Michigan State. But the Lions quickly reverted back to their old ways after the Spartan crowd got going. They were a -27 over the next 14 minutes.

It’s a common theme for Penn State. They often lack the composure they need in late-game situations and it’s ultimately going to be the difference of whether they make the NCAA Tournament or not. Even in their big win against the Buckeyes they let a nine-point lead vanish in the blink of an eye.

They still have a semi-decent chance to make the tournament, by the way. They’ve got home games with Ohio State, Michigan, and Maryland remaining and road games against Purdue and Nebraska. It’s hard to put much faith in the young group, but they’re capable of beating anybody.

This week: home for Maryland, at Illinois

7. Maryland (KenPom: 39 / BracketMatrix: Second Four Out)

Despite the injuries piling up, the Terps gave it a run at Purdue this week, but ultimately fell short. They’re going to have to win a couple road games down the stretch here if they want to hang around in the NCAA Tournament conversation.

This week: at Penn State, home for Northwestern

8. Northwestern (KenPom: 76 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

They’ve won three out of four now, which keeps the season alive. However, it’s far from enough. The lack of scoring punch doesn’t feel like it’s going to change and they haven’t had an identity defensively all year.

This week: home for Michigan, at Maryland

9. Indiana (KenPom: 92 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Jan. 19th to Feb. 3rd was the time frame where Indiana had the chance to change their season. Despite some admirable efforts, it still ended with a 1-5 record. The effort is there. The offensive skill level is not.

This week: at Rutgers, home for Minnesota

10. Illinois (KenPom: 94 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Two solid efforts this week. Still not worthy of discussing.

This week: home for Wisconsin and Penn State

11. Wisconsin (KenPom: 98 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Still playing with a lot of effort. Still losing.

This week: at Illinois, home for Michigan

12. Iowa (KenPom: 103 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Still can’t/won’t guard a soul.

This week: home for Michigan State, at Ohio State

13. Minnesota (KenPom: 90 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Isaiah Washington is getting to play again – and playing well – but Amir Coffey is out again and the Gophers just keep losing games. Only suspense left to the season is if Richie Pitino gets to keep his job when it’s over.

This week: home for Nebraska, at Indiana

14. Rutgers (KenPom: 138 / BracketMatrix: N/A)

Great effort from Corey Sanders and Geo Baker on Saturday, but if you lose by 31 to Illinois, you get the cellar.

This week: home for Indiana, at Nebraska

CBB Picks: 2/3

WAKE FOREST (+3) over Clemson

VIRGINIA TECH (-4) over Miami (FL)

LOYOLA (IL) (-6.5) over Missouri State

LOUISIANA MONROE (+10.5) over Louisiana Lafayette

UTSA (+7.5) over Western Kentucky

FLORIDA (-7) over Alabama

PORTLAND (-1) over Loyola Marymount

TEXAS STATE (-6) over App State

MISSISSIPPI STATE (-3) over Georgia

Wright State (-7.5) over YOUNGSTOWN STATE

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (-6) over Valpo

FULLERTON (-1.5) over UC Irvine

UCLA (-2) over USC

BYU (+11) over GONZAGA

Montana (-9.5) over NORTH DAKOTA

Weber State (-7.5) over NORTHERN ARIZONA

YTD: 60-52-1 (+3.0u)

CBB Picks: 2/1

Towson (-8) over DELAWARE

UAB (-10.5) over CHARLOTTE

OLD DOMINION (-2.5) over MTSU

TEXAS STATE (-2.5) over Coastal Carolina

WISCONSIN (-2.5) over Northwestern

San Diego (+19.5) over GONZAGA

PORTLAND (-3.5) over Pepperdine

SAINT MARY’S (-13) over San Francisco

Belmont (-10.5) over EKU

Murray State (-10.5) over SEMO

YTD: 54-48-1 (+1.4u)

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