Monday, February 3, 2014

Michigan LOSES...But Sparty TANKS!!!

I mean, not that I’m bitter and I absolutely KNEW that Michigan was going to lose a game somewhere.  It’s inevitable in today’s college hoop game.  Too much offense and not enough defense.  Hence the reason the much loathed and hated Green Slime of East Lansing are relatively successful every 4th year or so of the Izzo-troll’s existence:  They play systemic defense and that improves the longer a group stays together.  But last week, that didn’t work out so well for sparty..more on that in a minute.

With Stauskas completely removed from the game (Well done IU defensive game planning brain trust), someone else had to step up.  However, Michigan had way too many empty trips in the first half and Yogi kept raining in baskets like the ball had eyes or something…Assembly Hall is not an easy win no matter how you cut it, but jeez…when a guy goes and has a career day against you….
If you want a complete game run down, click here for the UM Hoops link that I believe does as good of job as anyone covering the details.  Mgoblog also has a nice wrap, but usually long after the game is complete.  (I’m talking days here).  So UM Hoops is more or less instant numbersand gets you what you need. (If you are into the numbers, of course).
So, psychologically, how damaging is this for the Wolverines?  Seeing as how Michigan didn’t beat Indiana once last year on its run to a Final Four and the Championship Game, I think you can read this loss 2 different ways:
  1.  Michigan is on the exact same glide-path heading into the final run of the B1G and into the B1G tournament and finally the NCAA Tournament.  So losing to Indiana wasn’t a Big Deal!
  2. Losing three in a row to IU sucks and it’s the worst thing that could have possibly happened….Ever!  Especially because IU is so BEATABLE this season!
Based on the experience from last year, my gut tells me that this team is not panicking and it will recognize when someone  (a 14 point average guy) has a BIG DAY and shoots the lights out (for 27 points) it’s going to be tough to win.  Not to mention that Michigan couldn’t hit a 3-pointer in an offense that’s more or less designed around the 3-pointer.  And they couldn’t make them from the charity stripe either.  So, yeah, it’s bad, but not the end of the world.  I’m leaning way towards number 1 here and Michigan gets a shot at the Hoosier’s in Ann Arbor in the last game of the regular season for a split….

However, I will call out one guy (And its NOT Nick Stauskas) and state here that Jordan Morgan as a 5th year senior needs to step up and win games like this.  He could have been dominant and if he would have just made a friggin’ free throw…Okay, enough.  They’re college kids…
Beating Purdue – Meh.  A necessary task on the road to a B1G title.  Purdue used to be a word I was deathly afraid of, as were many others when it came to B1G basketball, but Painter simply doesn’t have a scorer(s).  And, being in the middle of Indiana where you can’t swing a dead cat and without hitting a white kid who can shoot, it simply doesn’t make any sense.  Purdue should be able to field a competitive team…EVERY YEAR.
What’s Next for UM? - With Nebraska coming into Crisler looking for revenge and a trip down to Hawkeye land, the next two games of the final 9 are key and in my opinion, I’m going to call them as Must Wins” for Michigan - in order to stay in the B1G Title Driver's Seat.  Nebraska is better than when Michigan first played them (and the Huskers recently beat IU) and Iowa wants back into the B1G race….If Michigan can get those two under their belt, the remaining 7 games are a little more manageable. 
As for the REST OF THE B1G
Wiscy and ohio are on some sort of race to the bubble – the wrong way.  Seeing as how I’m writing this on Monday before anything comes out as far as bubble updates, ohio was “hanging on” with an 8 seed in the Big Dance and Wiscy had dropped down to a 5 seed before the game in Madison.  Based on Saturday’s result, Wiscy will probably drop to the 8th and ohio might move up to a 6-7.  But I don’t think they will swap spot for spot and the B1G is losing some overall Bracket Strength, which I hate. 

Sparty, thanks to the Michigan loss (Hail to the Victors!) dropped to a 2 seed as of Friday, so no real damage done, but losing to Georgetown, on the other hand, may have done a LOT of damage to sparty and the B1G overall.  There’s now an excuse to not give a 1-seed to a B1G school and the committee might just use that as the evidence they need…more on that in a minute (See Wichita State Below).  Sparty looked simply awful against a non NCAA Tourney team, much less a non-bubble and questionable chance to make the NIT Georgetown team (now 13-9 on the season)  coming off a 5 game losing streak.  Shame, sparty…shame.
I actually think the road to the Final Four can sometimes look a little more attractive from a 2-seed as you are usually looking at a very difficult 4-seed that you need to eventually knock off as a 1-seed in the NCAA. (Please refer to last year’s Michigan – Kansas game for proof).
In addition, I think the 3 seed can be a little like, “Well, we should have been a 2 seed…and we are pissed and therefore, we’re gonna play like a 1-Seed”  Last year, 3-seeds were a tough out in the tourney and really, anyone in the top 4 spots is going to be a potential to be in the Final Four.
Tournament Locks:  Michigan, sparty
Locked up, but Trying desperately to Break into the NIT or at least get on the bubble:  Wiscy, ohio
Last B1G Teams In – assuming they don’t go worse than 0.500 in the last 9 games:  Iowa, Minnesota
Wishing they had one or two more victories right now or hoping for a final 9 game run:  Nebraska, PSU, NWU, IU
Roaming around waiting for any other sport to start:  Illinois and Purdue

I love following this stuff even more than filling out the Bracket!  I can’t get enough of Kenpom and what’s happening  on the bubble. So many teams want in, but you can only invite 64(8) to the dance!
Right now, I believe the 4 number 1 seeds will be:
  1.  Arizona (Yeah, even with the loss)
  2. Syracuse  (Can you believe Michigan destroyed this team by 30 in the semi’s last year???)
  3. Wichita State
  4. Kansas
The 2-4 seeds, in no particular order because it doesn’t matter that much:
Michigan, sparty, Florida, Kentucky, Duke, Cincinnati, Villanova, Louisville, Creighton, San Diego State, Virginia and TEXAS!!!
What are the chances for any of the 2-4 seeds to sneak up and snatch a coveted 1-seed?  Well, sparty all but ruined their chances losing to Georgetown in the fashion they did.  That loss may hurt more than they realize due to the fact that even if they can get Payne and Dawson back and win the B1G, it might not be enough to secure a 1 spot (see Wichita State comment above).  Michigan, on the other hand, dealt themselves a blow but are still riding the “3 ranked teams go DOWN in 1 week” wave and could right the ship with a 7 or 8 out of 9 performance and win the B1G and sneak into a 1-seed.  But it’s doubtful.  Florida is a possible 1 if they win out, also.  But unless the top 4 totally crap their pants, I have a feeling things are starting to gel…
After that, just be glad you’re in the tourney.  Is there anyone out there sitting with a better than average chance to come off the bubble and make the tourney?  There’s so many ways to look at it, but the committee seems to think that a team with a decent record against TOUGH competition in the last 10 games is way better than an undefeated record against a bunch of cupcakes.  Hence is why so many 23 thru 26 win teams were omitted last year in favor of teams with worse records, but tougher schedules
Based on that observation, I’m going to venture a little out on a limb and say that, in the B1G anyway, based on what’s left the teams that have the best shot at sneaking in (And this is in order):
Indiana – Plays 4 Nationally ranked teams but has an unfavorable 5 away and 4 at home remaining on the slate.  That could be the Hoosiers undoing or the road into the tourney if they can defend home court and steal 2 or 3 on the road.
Nebraska- Too much damage may have already been done, but they play 3 Nationally ranked teams and have a favorable away-home schedule. They “NEED” Wednesday Night in Ann Arbor.
Nortwestern- Coming on strong, but see Nebraska.  They have 2 nationally ranked games and are home a bunch, but it might not be enough, even with the upset of Wiscy on the road.
PSU – Beating ohio was huge, and they, similar to IU, have 4 Nationally ranked opponents left, but play 5 on the road and 4 home.  They are in a worse boat than IU in that they need to probably win 8 of their last 9 or sweep to get in…
So, look for a minor “Surprise” if IU somehow makes the Big 10 field of 7 teams. 
As for the rest, well…more on that next week when the field thins itself a little more!


MsuperfanOrig said...


MsuperfanOrig said...

Hi Russ,

I, like you, knew we would suffer a loss or two between last week and the end of the reg season; however, that iu game should NOT have been it. We let one guy beat us out of laziness or stupidity or both. It is not as if Yogi was Trey Burke splashing in threes from 26 feet with in a guy in his face. His out-of-body play was from just outside the line and mostly unguarded. Yes, an impressive performance, but we could have done much more to stop it (see iu shutting down Nick).

In fact, it was our second strait performance of lazy and uninspired play. We got away with it against P at home, but I saw this loss coming, not because I feared iu, but because I feared our attitude.

Other thoughts:

When will the press start hammering GR3 for his underachievement like they used to hammer T. Mills? He also played selfish ay iu.
Will anyone criticize Belien for failing to make defensive adjustments when one guy is destroying you?
Why not more Spike and less Walton until the turnovers go down and assist go up?
Why not run more? Our half court O was stifled but our players can out-run iu’s; at least I think they can.
Can’t we get the shooters and the front court on the same page? I say, let the 3s fly but not with nobody under the rim to hit the boards. It seems like very often someone will launch a 3 and it seems like the other four players had no idea it was coming and there is nobody even near the paint??? IT IS A TEAM GAME!!!!!

MsuperfanOrig said...


MMQ said...

SuperFAN!!! Good to see your comments!!! In order:

1.Good Question. The Blogs beat him up pretty regularly and make mention of the fact that he will be part of the team next year!
2. Belien has NEVER made to many defensive adjustments except when in doubt, go to the 1-3-1....I don't know why we can't isolate one guy or put a hack on the hot shooter....
3. Spike went out there and was schooled...At least, that's what I saw. Spike only works in certain situations. And then, he's friggin' awesome....
4. IT was a painfully slow game and only 55 possessions. I think that was a season low...IU is now looking to slow the game down and has found success with that. Crean is no idiot.....When 1 team wants to play slow....what do you do?
5. Well, Long Shots = Long Rebounds. It seems like it has been working okay up till last two games. I agree that Purdue 1st half was shaky...IU 3 was simply it didn't matter.

I still stand by my Morgan Rant. Sooner or later, that kid is going to have to win a game for us. Plain and simple.