Monday, March 3, 2014

Gophers Dig a Hole and Someting Special 1 Victory Away!!!

The Gophers came into Crysler fired up and looking to add to their resume by taking a Wolverine pelt home with them on Saturday.  However, as daunting as the Gophers looked early, they were no match for a jacked up Michigan Wolverine squad that had just learned that their arch nemesis Jolly Green Giants who were nipping at their heals for a tie of the B1G championship just lost…(More on that in a minute). 

Michigan realized, with a win, that they would at least assure themselves of a share of the B1G Championship with a victory over the Gophers.  And from that moment on, while there would be rallies and Gopher comebacks, I think everyone watching kind of knew it was over.  Spike Albrecht sank a long three and saw to it that the Gophers were not going to come into his house and do anything silly.  With lots of help from GRIII literally invoking his will on people and Jordan Morgan there to assist, those guys and the rest of the Woverines took care of business.
If you are Michigan fan and you aren’t or haven’t been watching for the last three seasons, I believe that we are witnessing something that is truly incredible.  Coach JB has brought something to the Men’s Basketball Team that Michigan used to have in Football:  Consistency, Excellence and an attitude that “Losing is simply unacceptable.”  Three years, a B1G Shared Championship – A trip to the Final Four and Championship Game and now, chances for a B1G Championship OUTRIGHT!
When that finally sunk in Saturday, my thoughts, and I hope the thoughts of some more “Mature” fans, went back to the last time Michigan had won a Big 10 Championship outright.
Ronald Regan is the president of the United States.  Pixar Animation Studios is established by Steve Jobs and others….The Space Shuttle Challenger launched and explodes less than 73 seconds after lift-off taking the lives of all 7 astronauts, including Christy McAuliffe.. “Out Of Africa” was the year’s Best Picture...Geraldo Rivera opens Al Capone’s Vault.  Shia LeBouf and Lindsay Lohan are born and Cary Grant died… And there was this group of 4 High School Seniors two years earlier in 1984 (Thanks for the blast from the past CK!!)

Not to mention a group of Sky-Divers out in Tecumseh…(BTW – The young looking female to the right of the young-looking MMPG is actually my mom!  The three guys to the left are all Knights - Back when they had hair and a guy name KB in the middle) - Again - Thanks CK!

Something else happened in 1986:  The UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN Men’s Basketball Team wins the Big 10 Regular Season Championship OUTRIGHT!
Over a quarter of a century ago, a team wearing the Maize and Blue won the Big 10 Championship.  That’s way too long, but in some ways, it’s fitting in that an outright Big 10 Championship should be something that is prized, cherished and celebrated.  It’s not an easy thing to come by and to do it solo, well, it just doesn’t happen that often. 
Yeah, Michigan shared it 2 years ago and should have probably shared it last year. But, that’s the way the little orange leather ball bounces.  And Michigan is now one victory away from an outright Title.
It won’t be easy.   The Illini, a proud basketball school, really don’t want to let that happen on THEIR court come Tuesday.  And the Hoosiers seem to be racking up wins over ranked opponents like they still have some sort of shot at the NCAA tournament or something.  They aren’t going to come into Ann Arbor and lay down for anyone…
So, while some big hurdles have been overcome, there’s still one hurdle left.  Win one of the last two and the banner is Michigan’s alone.  Figure out a way to steal on in Champaign or keep the Hoosiers in check at Crysler.  Just one more.
It’s close….
Wiscy:  With Sparty’s loss, will probably get 2nd place solo if they take care of business this week.  Michigan’s biggest threat to win the B1G championship will be the Cheeseheads.  Is there a Michigan – Wiscy Rubber game coming in the B1G Tourney? 
Sparty:  SOS….Same Ole’ Sparty.  I know that Spartan fans don’t want to hear that, but what other excuse is possibly left?  I watched the game against the Illini.  Get off the zebras’ backs.  There were not any “terrible” calls that didn’t go your way.  If anything, you got a couple of calls you probably shouldn’t have got.  The game was there for the taking, albeit the Illini played well enough to win, Sparty just couldn’t figure out a way, or worse, simply didn’t have the will to win.  Apple and Payne missing free throws at the end in the final minutes are a bad omen for things to come with this team…IF THEY DON’T FIX THEIR SH!#$^% RIGHT NOW!
Sparty is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma shrouded in a mystery.  THEY SHOULD be in the driver’s seat of the B1G.  Senior leadership, court presence, excellent coach…what gives?  Everyone is healthy, right?  OR as healthy as they can be, I guess.  I really don’t want to write Sparty off at this point as we know that Izzo-Troll can make very special things happen in March.  But, as I stated earlier, Izzo finds a way to win that game they just played in Breslin.  At this point…unless there are literally “miracles” performed between now and the NCAA’s…Well, Sparty is toast.  You know, SOS…SH!@#$ Onna' Shingle.
But, if there is one coach that can do it, it’s the Izzo-Troll.  So the MMPG isn’t going to count them out, not yet.
Iowa: Stops the losing streak at three games, but its hard to believe that this team is going to get the bye come the B1G Tourney….
NEBRAKSA:  How weird is the B1G this year?  With a win in the regular season that’s left, Nebraska could be looking AT A BYE in the B1G Conference Tourney (1st through 4th spots) where they could really use an additional game to pad their resume for the NCAA’S!!!! It’s totally, completely insane what is happening in the B1G this year.  If Nebraska DOESN’T make the NCAA’s, someone should call the police and file charges with the NCAA….
ohio:    Talk about a team limping sideways into March…They looked simply awful in Dis-Assembly Hall and they are not taking charge like the Suckeyes of last year.  I hate to say that this could be a 1 and done team come the NCAA’s, but right now…I got nothing else.  Except, well, I hate to go here..But if you could show up against Sparty, I might, MIGHT root for you!  Either way, I’ll watch cause somebody I hate is gonna lose next Sunday! 
Minnesota:  RPI and big wins against non-conference opponents in the pre-season is going to let Minnesota more than likely be the last B1G school into the NCAA’s…and they will have a LOSING B1G record to go with it!  Sad….
Indiana:  As the Hoosier fans keep saying – you keep ranking them and we’ll keep beating them.  I bet the Hoosier’s really wish they had a couple of those losses to Northwestern and Illinois back.  Can they make a run in the B1G tourney?  Could they win it and get into the NCAA’s?
NCAA Tournament Locks:  Michigan, Wiscy, Sparty, ohio, Iowa,
SHOULD BE Locked up, avoiding Dayton and needing a couple of wins:  NEBRASKA
Last B1G Teams In:  Minnesota – with a B1G losing record…
Wishing they had one or two more victories right now or hoping for a final  3-4 game run or B1G Tournament Victory:  NO ONE!!!
Roaming around waiting for any other sport to start:  PSU, NWU, IU, Illinois and Purdue
Big Shake Ups this week in the ole top lines of the brackets!
Right now, the 4 number 1 seeds will be:

  1.  Florida (My new “first 1 seed to lose in the tournament” team)
  2. Wichita State (Haven’t lost since last year’s Final Four)
  3. Arizona – Another 1 seed that might not make it out of the first weekend to the Sweet 16….
  4. Kansas  (Who else???)
The 2-4 seeds, in particular order because it DOES matter as we get closer:
2 Seeds:        Dook, Wiscy, Syracuse(1-3 in last 4 loses you the 1 seed – And Maryland should have beat you), Louisville
3 Seeds:        Virginia (I don’t know how you keep ACC reg-Season Champ off the three seed line), Creighton, San Diego State, Michigan
4 Seeds:        St. Louis, Villanova, sparty, Kentucky
Others:  Cincin, ISU, UNC (as a 4) and U-Mass
So, a LOT of movement this week.  Syracuse is out of the 1 seed.  I moved Kansas up, even with the loss, simply because they haven’t lost the last 3 out of 4 like someone else (ORANGE).  I moved Virginia up and finally introduced Wiscy into the top 4 and based on their RPI (which someone is REALLY GOING TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO ME ONE DAY!) makes them a higher seed than Michigan.  Michigan up to a 2 seed, also with Creighton and SDSU down to the three line.  I left St. Louis up on the 4 seed, but when everyone loses, well, its tough to make a move of someone lower to a higher seed.  Kentucky drops to a 4 seed (and maybe lower later) and Sparty is tight at a 4 right now.  IF they win out, I move them back up to a 3 and probably knock down SDSU.  But B1G overall weakness at the moment difficult to ignore…ohio losing to Hoosier’s yesterday hurt the B1G a lot.
The State of the Game
I hope that all Collegiate level AD’s and administrators are watching what is happening at Kentucky right now.  For those that are not as in tune with College Hoops and the shenanigans surrounding it:  Kentucky Basketball and its aura are kind of like Michigan, ohio, and Alabama Football and their auras  - BUT ALL ROLLED INTO ONE!  The fanbase that calls themselves “Kentucky Wildcat Basketball Fans” is one strange and whacky group.  And not just on the fringes, but in the big time donor area, also.  They pull the strings and make things happen, for real.
Pitino tried there and got canned.  Tubby Smith was in this blogger’s opinion, relatively successful.  But the Kentucky faithful simply said, “No – Not good enough.”   Which, when you ask any of them, “Well, what is a successful season and coaching goal?”  The answer you get is that the only thing good enough is an undefeated season with an NCAA Title….EVERY SEASON!
Now, even the realists who are Super Fans at other schools know that there’s no way you can win the NCCA Title in this day and age every year (Alabama in Football is finally figuring this out).  One and dones – Freshmen who come in and leave for the NBA after a single season, parody, the three point line  and overall balance in the game of college hoops has made a “dynasty” difficult to maintain.  There’s always going to be someone who’s going to come in and light someone up from the 3-point line and shoot 60% from the field.  It happens.  It happens in the tourney, too.  And, more than anything…It’s College Basketball!
So, why the diatribe on expectations?  Coach Calipari was the “Self-Proclaimed King” of recruiting the 1 and done specialists out of high school.  These are the next LeBron James type players that think they can forego college and head right to the pro’s.  Calipari’s 2011 team was of the 1 and done variety.  And that season it worked. 
This year, Kentucky’s freshmen are playing like, well….Freshmen.  Even after Calipari stated that he thought a 40-0 season was possible!!  Granted….They’re good, but they are not a cohesive unit.  And they lost to a very bad South Carolina team over the weekend.  That prompted ole John to opt out of the press conference and send in his assistant with some players.
So, is Calipari a good coach or a snake oil salesman that simply knows how to pan to the lowest common denominator of young men and say, “Hey, come play for me and you are following guys just like you that won an NCAA and then went pro!”  And if you’re the young kid that buys into that, just don’t expect to get a lot of help from your head coach.  He’ll put all of you together and throw you to the wolves…You are going to have to figure the winning part out buy yourselves…even though he’s making $5.2 million annually to watch you lose!
Domers @ North Carolina (7:00)

ISU @ Baylor (7:00)
Michigan @ Illinois (7:00)
Florida @ South Carolina (7:00)
GTU @ Syracuse (7:00)
Alabama @ Kentucky (9:00)


Louisville @ SMU (7:00)
Texas Tech @ Kansas (8:00)
Memphis @ Cincinatti
IOWA @ Sparty (9:00)

Rest and get ready for the Conference Tourneys!

Kentucky @ Florida
ISU @ Okie State
Indiana @ Michigan (6:00)
Illinois @ Iowa (8:30)

Sparty @ OSU (4:30)

Wiscy @ Nebraska (7:30)

No comments: