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Posts Tagged ‘Bo Ryan’

Big Ten power rankings: Week 10

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014



As the Big Ten regular season wrapped up on Sunday Michigan was able to sit back and relax having wrapped up the outright conference title by three games and the number one seed in this week’s tournament. The Wolverines will face the winner of the last two teams they faced to close the season, Illinois and Indiana, in the quarterfinals on Friday. The rest of the tournament bracket can be found here

As the conference heads to Indianapolis to battle it out for the automatic NCAA Tournament berth, we took another look at the power rankings.

1. Michigan (23-7, 15-3)  Even
Last week: Mar. 4 W at Illinois 84-53, Mar. 8 W vs Indiana 84-80
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (8) Indiana or (9) Illinois 12pm ESPN/ESPN2

Michigan finished off an incredible conference season by outlasting Indiana on senior night. Jordan Morgan went out with a bang, recording his first double-double of the season and keeping the Wolverines alive early with critical offensive rebounds. The Big Ten outright champions earned the top seed in the conference tournament after running away from the pack and finishing three games ahead of second-place Wisconsin and Michigan State. 

2. Nebraska (19-11, 11-7) • Up 1
Last week: Mar. 5 W at Indiana 60-50, Mar. 9 W vs #9 Wisconsin 77-68
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (5) Ohio State or (12) Purdue 2:25pm ESPN/ESPN2

In its biggest game of the season Sunday, Nebraska beat Wisconsin to finish the year with a league-best 15-1 home record. Incredibly, the preseason pick to finish dead last in the Big Ten earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament and landed just one game out of second place. 

3. Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6) • Down 1
Last week: Mar. 5 W vs Purdue 76-70, Mar. 9 L at Nebraska 68-77
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (7) Minnesota or (10) Penn State 6:30pm BTN

Bo Ryan’s Badgers had their eyes set on a prize outside the Big Ten: A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A nine-point loss to Nebraska seemingly eliminated Wisconsin from that discussion, but it still earned the second seed in the conference tournament after an 8-1 finish.

4. Michigan State (23-8, 12-6) • Up 3
Last week: Mar. 6 W vs #24 Iowa 86-76, Mar. 9 L at Ohio State 67-69
This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (6) Iowa or (11) Northwestern 8:55pm BTN

Michigan State looked like it was back on track after a win over Iowa on senior night. However, a loss to Ohio State in the regular season finale dropped the Spartans to just 5-7 in their last 12 games and 1-2 since sending a healthy starting lineup back on the court.

5. Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) • Up 3
Last week: Mar. 9 W vs #22 Michigan State 69-67
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (12) Purdue 2:25pm BTN

At the beginning of the conference schedule, Sunday’s Michigan State-Ohio State game looked like a potential shootout for the regular season championship. In reality, the game meant very little to the final Big Ten standings. But Aaron Craft did get a win on senior night, and the Buckeyes just barely managed to finish above .500 in the conference.

6. Illinois (18-13, 7-11) • Down 1
Last week: Mar. 4 L vs #12 Michigan 53-84, Mar. 8 W at #24 Iowa 66-63
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (8) Indiana 12pm BTN

John Groce’s team could’ve thrown in the towel after a nine-game losing streak planted it firmly in last place. Instead, the Illini rallied and won four of their last five games, all of which were against NCAA Tournament hopefuls (Minnesota is the only non-lock at this point).

7. Minnesota (19-12, 8-10) • Up 2
Last week: Mar. 9 W vs Penn State 81-63
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (10) Penn State 6:30pm ESPN2

Minnesota put itself into a very tough position heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Losses in nine of 14 games put Minnesota on the outside of the tournament bubble looking in with just a home game against Penn State left. The Gophers did what they had to do, blowing out the Nittany Lions 81-63, but it still may not be enough.

8. Iowa (22-11, 9-9) • Down 2
Last week: Mar. 6 L at #22 Michigan State 76-86, Mar. 8 L vs Illinois 63-66
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (11) Northwestern 8:55pm ESPN2

Near the midway point of the season, Iowa was ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll and competing for a Big Ten championship. After five losses in its final six games, this team is reeling at the worst possible time. Iowa drew a favorable matchup in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, facing a Northwestern team that it beat by 26 points — twice.

9. Indiana (17-14, 7-11) • Down 5
Last week: Mar. 5 L vs Nebraska 60-70, Mar. 8 L at #12 Michigan 80-84
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (9) Illinois 12pm BTN

The preseason top-25 Hoosiers know there’s only one route to the Big Dance now: winning the conference tournament. Indiana dropped its last two games to land in the No. 8 slot in Indianapolis and a matchup against the streaking Fighting Illini.

10. Penn State (15-16, 6-12) • Even
Last week: Mar. 6 W at Northwestern 59-32, Mar. 9 L at Minnesota 63-81
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (7) Minnesota 6:30pm ESPN2

Minnesota waxed Penn State in the final road game for the Nittany Lions, but they still managed to finish the conference season with a 6-6 record in the final 12 games after losing the first six. Penn State drew a rematch against the Gophers in the first round Thursday — a chance to strengthen its NIT resume.

11. Northwestern (13-18, 6-12) • Up 1
Last week: Mar. 6 L vs Penn State 32-59, Mar. 9 W at Purdue 74-65
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (6) Iowa 8:55pm ESPN2

Northwestern quietly earned a big road win on Sunday to stay out of the cellar and finish 11th in the Big Ten. The Wildcats held much higher expectations after a 5-5 start, but a seven-game losing streak put any hopes of contending quickly to rest.

12. Purdue (15-16, 5-3) • Down 1
Last week: Mar. 5 L at #9 Wisconsin 70-76, Mar. 9 L vs Northwestern 65-74
This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (5) Ohio State 2:25pm BTN

Matt Painter’s team sure hit rock bottom this season. After nearly dethroning the first-place Michigan Wolverines two weeks ago, Purdue had its heart ripped out and lost its three final games. The Boilermakers finished the season by losing 11 of 13 games, including the final six.

Badgered: Wisconsin 75 – Michigan 62

Sunday, February 16th, 2014


Michigan vs Wiscnosin 2-16-14(Scott Mapes, UMHoops)

All season, Michigan has been able to fall back on a nearly unstoppable offensive attack to make up for defensive lapses, and it has worked very successfully. In games at Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State, among others, the Wolverines simply outshot their opponents on the way to scoring huge victories.

But sometimes even the best of teams — the best of offenses — falter as well. Today, Michigan experienced a most frustrating first half that saw the Maize and Blue trail by as many as 18 points to Wisconsin en route to dropping their first home game of the conference season, 75-62.

Out of the gates, something seemed amiss for John Beilein’s team. Shots that seemed automatic didn’t fall, the Wolverines looked lethargic, and Wisconsin was able to jump out to an early 10-point lead. From there, it went nowhere but south before the break, and Michigan managed to put up some stunningly ugly stats including zero assists to seven turnovers, just two made threes — both by Caris LeVert — and a rebounding line that at one point saw the Badgers have as many offensive rebounds as Michigan had total rebounds (eight, about halfway through the first half).

Once the second half rolled around, many had already written off a Michigan team capable of putting on a fireworks show at any point. But the Wolverines wouldn’t quit. Within seven minutes of the second stanza, Wisconsin’s lead was cut to single digits, and with six minutes left in the game the Wolverines had managed to make it a one possession contest.

John Beilein can't be happy with Michigan's performance but chalked it up to Wisconsin playing better (MGoBlue.com)

John Beilein can’t be happy with Michigan’s performance but chalked it up to Wisconsin playing better (MGoBlue.com)

The crowd, dormant for most of the game, started to erupt as Michigan looked to take control. Caris LeVert, who had scored just eight in the first half, put the team on his back with 17 points in less than 14 minutes of second half play.

Enter Frank Kaminsky. The 7’0″, 234-pound Wisconsin junior from Lisle, Ill. had never been a thorn in Michigan’s side before today. In the first scuffle between these two teams Kaminsky grabbed four rebounds and poured in 14 points, but it took 12 shots to get there. Last season, Kaminsky totaled just eight points in two matchups.

But this afternoon, things were different. The giant was unstoppable down low after Michigan made a game of things, scoring three straight buckets in the paint in a two-minute span. No matter how or where Wisconsin got Kaminsky the ball, points were going to be scored, and in a variety of ways. Kaminsky repeatedly went one-on-one with Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, and even Glenn Robinson III, but successfully drove by with pretty moves or simply backed his man down.

Once Kaminsky had pulled Wisconsin out of the clutches of defeat and Josh Gasser hit a three to bring the lead back to double digits, it was Kaminsky with one final dagger of the afternoon — a step-back, fadeaway three at the top of the key to beat the shot clock.

In the first matchup with Bo Ryan’s squad, Nik Stauskas quite simply fueled a Michigan victory with 23 points, including a step-back dagger late, and four assists, but the Canadian has been largely held in check lately. In this one, he was able to muster just 11 points on 11 shots. For just the third time all season, Stauskas also came up empty from downtown, and his two assists left much to be desired.

But it wasn’t all Stauskas’s fault. As a team, Michigan made only 40 percent of its shots, managed only five assists, and turned it over nine times — each seemingly at a critical juncture.

LeVert, who has shown flashes of brilliance all season while battling some inconsistency himself, again kept the Wolverines alive, but his efforts were for naught. His 25 points on just 13 shots set a new career high, and his 5-of-6 mark from downtown (making all but one of Michigan’s threes) was huge, but even LeVert turned it over twice without handing out a single assist. Too often, the offense seemed to devolve into the Caris LeVert dribble around a while and fire up a shot show.

Freshmen Derrick Walton, Jr. and Zak Irvin, both of whom have been coming on of late, combined to make just one of their 13 shot attempts — and even that one was a meaningless three by Irvin after the result was clear.

Following the tough loss, John Beilein seemed at ease and never questioned his team’s effort or hustle, but pointed to chance and the overall strength of the Big Ten.

“I was super impressed with Wisconsin today…We helped them in the first half with our seven turnovers, we can’t do that…(but) sometimes the ball’s not going to go your way…(they) were better than us today,” Beilein said.

Just a couple hours later, Michigan would come to find out that perhaps all hope is not lost in the Big Ten title race, however, as co-leader Michigan State dropped a home game to Nebraska to keep things even. Next Sunday, the in-state foes will face off at Crisler for a big leg up in the hunt for a conference championship.

And while Michigan let a big opportunity slip away today, the Wolverines still control their destiny. Wisconsin was the better team today, but there are many more days to be played.

Three Stars:

***Frank Kaminsky***
25 points (11-of-16 FG, 1-of-2 3PT, 2-of-3 FT), 11 rebounds (four offensive), one block, one steal in 29 minutes

**Caris LeVert**
25 points (7-of-13 FG, 5-of-6 3PT, 6-of-6 FT), six rebounds, two turnovers in 39 minutes

*Sam Dekker*
15 points (6-of-10 FG, 2-of-2 3PT, 1-of-2 FT), nine rebounds (three offensive), one block, one turnover in 31 minutes

Quick Hitters:

 One of the key improvements in Nik Stauskas’s game this season has been his ability to get by a defender, pin him to his hip, draw an inside defender, and dump off to Jon Horford or Jordan Morgan for an easy deuce. However, over the past three games, Stauskas has tallied just two total assists to nine turnovers despite a season average of 3.5 assists per game. While many teams are starting to face-guard the talented sophomore and deny him the ball, Wisconsin was content to let Stauskas touch the ball, but had a big man sag off a little bit when he did traverse into the lane, giving him less room to dump the ball off.

 Turnovers played a huge factor in today’s game, and while Michigan’s nine aren’t a huge number, Wisconsin scored seven points off the turnovers to Michigan’s zero points off two Badger cough-ups. Michigan continues to experience a little bit more difficulty than usual with protecting the rock and getting clean looks on every possession. The two turnovers are also a season low for Michigan opponents and seven fewer than Wisconsin recorded in the first meeting.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 5-9 0-1 0-0 1 2 3 3 10 0 1 0 0 32
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 0-6 0-0 0-2 1 3 4 0 0 1 2 0 0 33
11 Nik Stauskas* 4-11 0-2 3-4 0 3 3 2 11 2 3 0 0 32
52 Jordan Morgan* 2-3 0-0 1-1 2 3 5 2 5 2 0 0 0 29
23 Caris LeVert* 7-13 5-6 6-6 0 6 6 3 25 0 2 0 0 39
02 Spike Albrecht 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 8
15 Jon Horford 1-1 0-0 1-2 2 4 6 4 3 0 1 0 0 9
21 Zak Irvin 1-7 1-5 3-3 0 0 1 0 6 0 0 0 0 18
Totals 20-50 6-16 16-18 7 23 30 16 62 5 9 0 0 200
Wisconsin 26-58 7-17 16-21 10 24 34 16 75 10 2 2 5 200
Full Stats

Derick’s 3 thoughts: Wisconsin

Sunday, February 16th, 2014


Michigan-Wisconsin header2

After dropping two of three games on the road, Michigan righted the ship on Tuesday with its first win in Columbus since 2003. The 15th-ranked Wolverines look to turn that win into a memorable week with another top-25 win when the Badgers visit Ann Arbor this afternoon.

Michigan dumped Wisconsin on its own turf in January, when Nik Stauskas’ step-back three in the waning minutes sparked a downward spiral in which Bo Ryan’s team dropped four of five games.

The Wolverines expect to pick up win number 19 on Sunday afternoon, but they need to focus on a few key aspects to ensure that.

Crash the boards: Michigan’s win over Ohio State didn’t come easily. The Buckeyes’ lead hovered around eight points for much of the first half. If Michigan hadn’t crashed the offensive glass and earned so many second-chance opportunities, Ohio State’s lead would have been much more difficult to chip away in the second half.

While neither Ohio State nor Michigan boast an impressive rebounding resume, Wisconsin is near the bottom of the rankings as well, sitting at just 268th in the country with 33.2 rebounds per game. Glenn Robinson III’s ability to snatch offensive boards could change this game as long as he finishes the put-back attempts that he botched in Columbus.

During the meeting in Madison, Michigan narrowly out-rebounded the Badgers 31-30, and only a poor 7-of-18 performance from beyond the arc stopped the home team from overcoming Michigan’s big first half lead. If the threes start falling for Wisconsin in the Crisler Center, Michigan needs to rely on rebounding to bury the hopeful visitors in the second half.

Remind them who’s boss: Since the time of the last meeting between these two teams, Michigan and Wisconsin virtually flipped roles. Wisconsin, who previously sat at 17-1, needs a victory to stay afloat in the Big Ten standings. A loss would plant the Badgers four games behind Michigan with five games remaining.

Michigan, on the other hand, won five of seven games between the two meetings with Wisconsin and sits atop the Big Ten along with in-state rival Michigan State. The Wolverines spent time in the top 10 last week, while Wisconsin fell out of the rankings completely.

All signs point to Michigan as the top dog in the Big Ten, but much like they did in Columbus, the Maize and Blue may need to send a reminder. After dropping five of six games in January, Ohio State pulled off two road upsets and rode a three-game winning streak into Tuesday’s matchup. The newly-energized Buckeyes sought to ambush a Michigan team that suffered a terrible beating at the hands of Iowa last Saturday.

Despite a difficult first half, Michigan surprised the Columbus crowd by slamming the brakes on OSU’s momentum and reminded the Big Ten that the Wolverines are the team tied atop the standings.

Wisconsin needs a similar reminder on Sunday.

The Badgers ride a similar three-game winning streak into Ann Arbor, including a win over Michigan State last Sunday. Wisconsin stands at 7-5 in the Big Ten and needs just the slightest push towards elimination.

Protect this house: Michigan’s success on the road stands out among other Big Ten teams, and rightfully so. Victories over Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road dominate the Wolverines’ impressive resume, but they have quietly taken care of business at home all season.

Michigan owns a 10-1 record in the Crisler Center this season, with the lone loss coming to No. 1 Arizona by two points. But other than a January win over No. 10 Iowa, Ann Arbor lacks the signature home victory that seems to set the stage every season.

The chance to secure that victory presents itself next Sunday when Michigan State comes to town. Michigan knows that bragging rights, the Big Ten championship, and a top seed in the Big Dance hang in the balance next Sunday, but need to remember that Wisconsin comes first.

Wisconsin shattered the heart of John Beilein’s team three seasons ago when Josh Gasser’s three-point bank shot shocked the Wolverines at home.

An upset Sunday would set a poor stage for what figures to evolve into a top-12 matchup for the inside track to the Big Ten regular season title. Wisconsin comes to town desperate for a Big Ten win, and if Michigan jogs out of the tunnel and plays passively, it may surrender the opportunity to all but secure the Big Ten championship next Sunday.

Games in the Crisler Center spoil fans in Ann Arbor. Each contest begins with a confident atmosphere as Beilein protects his territory, no matter which team comes knocking. But if the Wolverines look too confident, Wisconsin will happily serve them some of their own medicine.

Beatdown in Badgertown: Michigan 77 – Wisconsin 70

Sunday, January 19th, 2014


(Mike McGinnis, Getty Images)

The last time Michigan won at Kohl Center, Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, and 98 Degrees were all vying for the top spot on the music charts. On Saturday evening, John Beilein’s squad put an end to that streak, topping the Badgers 77-70 to remain atop the Big Ten standings.

Holding a 68-67 lead with 1:14 remaining, Michigan was in desperate need of a basket. Wisconsin had gone on a 14-2 run over the previous six minutes and Michigan needed to stop the bleeding. That’s when Nik Stauskas took over. The sophomore dribbled the ball outside the arc on the left wing, started to drive towards the paint, but pulled back, brought the ball between his legs and pulled up from three-point range. Nothing but net.

Caris LeVert made all three of his three-point attempts en route to a 20-point night (Mike McGinnis, Getty Images)

Now with a four point lead, Jordan Morgan fouled Traevon Jackson, who hit one of two. From there on, it was a matter of hitting free throws and Michigan did just that. Stauskas was sent to the line three times and made all six attempts while Wisconsin was unable to make several desperation three-point attempts to seal the win.

Michigan started the game on fire, jumping out to a 15-8 lead in the first four minutes and maintaining a five-to-ten point lead the entire half. The Wolverines shot 60.7 percent and made 4-of-5 three-point attempts in the half and took a 43-38 lead into the locker room.

In the second half, Michigan’s shooting regressed back to the norm a bit, but the Wolverines were still able to widen the lead to 15 in the first eight minutes of the half. Then, Michigan went cold, leading to the Wisconsin run down the stretch.

For the game, Michigan shot 54.7 percent from the field and made 7-of-13 three-point attempts. Michigan out-rebounded Wisconsin 31-30 and blocked seven Badger shots.

Stauskas finished the game with 23 points on 7-of-17 shooting. He also added four rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal. Caris LeVert added 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, making all three of his three-point attempts. Glenn Robinson III was the only other Wolverine in double figures with an efficient 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford combined to score 12 points, grab 15 rebounds and block five shots.

The third-ranked Badgers became the highest-ranked team Michigan has ever beaten on the road. Michigan remains tied with Michigan State, the only two teams in the Big Ten still unbeaten in league play. The Wolverines host Iowa (14-3, 3-1) on Wednesday.

Three Stars

***Nik Stauskas***
23 points (7-of-17 FG, 3-of-9 3PT, 6-of-6 FT), four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, one steal in 37 minutes

**Caris LeVert**
20 points (7-of-15 FG, 3-of-3 3PT, 3-of-3 FT), seven rebounds, four assists, four steals in 38 minutes

*Josh Gasser*
16 points (4-of-7 FG, 4-of-5 3PT, 4-of-5 FT), one rebound in 38 minutes

Notes

Michigan’s 5-0 Big Ten start is its best since starting 6-0 during the 2002-03 season

Nik Stauskas has now scored 20 or more points eight times this season

Caris LeVert has now scored 20 or more points three times this season

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 6-8 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 3 14 1 2 0 0 31
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 2 2 0 2 2 0 0 0 31
11 Nik Stauskas* 7-17 3-9 6-6 0 4 4 2 23 4 2 2 1 37
52 Jordan Morgan* 3-3 0-0 0-0 1 7 8 4 6 1 1 3 0 21
23 Caris LeVert* 7-15 3-3 3-3 1 6 7 2 20 4 4 0 4 38
02 Spike Albrecht 1-2 1-1 1-2 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 1 10
15 Jon Horford 3-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 7 2 6 0 2 2 0 17
21 Zak Irvin 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 14
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 29-53 7-13 12-14 3 28 31 14 77 12 11 7 6 200
Wisconsin 26-60 7-18 11-14 8 22 30 15 70 11 9 2 4 200
Full Stats

Sam’s 3 thoughts: Wisconsin

Saturday, January 18th, 2014


It’s no secret that Michigan’s schedule to open the conference season has been a little bit misrepresentative of the Big Ten’s overall strength. So far, the Wolverines’ four conference foes are just 4-11 in Big Ten games outside of Michigan. Even so, a 4-0 start to league play is nothing to be ashamed of, as the Maize and Blue are now one of only two undefeated teams left.

The road will not remain so easy, however, and the first difficult stretch of games begins this afternoon with a trip to the Kohl Center and a date with the 16-1 Wisconsin Badgers (6 p.m. EST on ESPN). Wisconsin, fresh off their first loss of the season to Indiana, will certainly be playing inspired basketball on a home court that has not played host to a Michigan victory the last 11 times these two teams faced off in Madison. But the Wolverines should make it competitive if they play a complete game.

Here are my thoughts for Michigan on this classic Big Ten battle.

Maximize and Value Possessions: This short tip is one that defines John Beilein’s basic offensive philosophy, and something his Michigan teams have done very well. Wisconsin, however, is a unique beast. In today’s preview of the Badgers, Beilein, Nik Stauskas, and Jordan Morgan all alluded to the notion that Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin team simply does not beat itself, and to have a chance against it, Michigan must value each and every possession while trying to snag as many extra possessions as possible. It is not rocket science, and Beilein’s young Wolverines already do a tremendous job holding onto the basketball and scoring with great efficiency, but it deserves repeating for tomorrow.

To have a shot in the game, Michigan absolutely cannot hand Wisconsin the ball and cannot take bad shots. Certainly, a perfect zero-turnover, 100 percent shooting night will not happen, but every time Michigan does cough it up or miss an ill-advised look, Wisconsin will seize the opportunity and make them pay. Similarly, if Michigan does not take advantage of the few turnovers the Badgers afford them, the Wolverines will not win. An overall solid performance should keep it close, but a great showing may be necessary to get the win in the end.

Ben Brust put a dagger in Michigan's heart last season, something the Wolverines won't forget (David Stluka)

The one area of the possession battle Michigan may try to exploit is on the glass. Wisconsin is a relatively small team, and while they usually rebound well for their size, the Badgers’ second-, third-, and fourth-best rebounders measure in at 6’1″, 6’2″, and 6’3″, respectively, and Ryan’s squad has had some difficulty cleaning up the defensive glass over the past few games, as Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana were able to post a combined offensive rebounding rate of 41.3 percent. On the other end of the floor, Michigan will need to limit Wisconsin to one shot per possession as often as possible, and that should be doable – the Badgers have only grabbed 25.3 percent of their misses over that same three-game period.

Communicate Defensively: Michigan’s struggles of late have come on the defensive end of the court, and while it has yet to cost the Wolverines a game in Big Ten play, too many lapses this afternoon will do them in. Beilein noted yesterday that one of the biggest reasons this Wisconsin team is so difficult to play against is that they will start five guys who can shoot the ball from beyond the arc, post up, pass, and play defense. Three of those four traits are offensive, and for good reason.

As a team, Wisconsin shoots nearly 40 percent from downtown while individually the Badgers’ starters have each made at least 16 treys on the year at a clip of at least 35.1 percent. Big man Frank Kaminsky, listed at 7’0″, continues a Bo Ryan tradition by leading the team in three-point shooting at 47.7 percent (better than Nik Stauskas).

This afternoon, Michigan needs to know the defensive plan and execute it perfectly. As they have done almost the entire season, the Wolverines will likely once again switch every ball screen, but any miscommunication that leaves a man open from deep will be lethal. What makes Wisconsin so difficult to guard, though, is that as soon as their opponents get too caught up in stopping the three-ball, the Badgers will take it to the lane or post up for easy one-on-one buckets. Excellent man defense will be an absolute requirement for Michigan to fly back to Ann Arbor with an unblemished Big Ten record.

Bring the Energy: Last year, Michigan had all but sealed a win at Wisconsin until Ben Brust banked in a half-court shot at the buzzer to send the game into an ill-fated overtime, and a couple years before that, Josh Gasser hit a game-winning three off the backboard as time expired at Crisler Arena. Tomorrow, the Wolverines need to stick together, play hard on every possession, and not dwell on past misfortune.

Stauskas indicated yesterday that he still thinks about the heartbreaking loss at Wisconsin a season ago and that he wants to prove that Michigan belongs in the elite ranks of the Big Ten. If Michigan can withstand the crowd and a Wisconsin team that is equally good now in hurrying up or slowing down (they have scored 70-plus points in eight straight games), it should be a dog fight. Mitch McGary will again not make the trip as he recovers from back surgery, and his loss will certainly be felt on the bench where he provided so much energy, but the rest of his teammates know the task at hand.

Prediction: A game at Wisconsin always seems to be one that looks increasingly winnable on paper but feels impossible based on prior knowledge. Michigan has certainly played some competitive games at the Kohl Center recently and should again be able to make a contest of it tomorrow, but Wisconsin is so good at home that it is hard to see a Wolverine victory. I think the Maize and Blue carry a lead into halftime but fail to withstand a smooth-shooting, veteran Wisconsin squad and ultimately lose, 71-64.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 2

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014


1. Michigan State (15-1, 4-0) Even
Last week: Jan. 7 W vs #3 Ohio State 72-68 OT, Jan. 11 W vs Minnesota 87-75 OT
This week: Wednesday at Northwestern 7pm on BTN

The Spartans have remained undefeated in the Big Ten by winning their previous two games in overtime at the Breslin Center. Though the performance against Minnesota was less impressive, the victory over Ohio State is enough to make Michigan State the frontrunner through two weeks.

2. Wisconsin (16-0, 3-0) • Even
Last week: Jan. 8 W vs #23 Illinois 95-70
This week: Tuesday at Indiana 7pm ESPN, Saturday vs Michigan 6pm

As the highest ranked team in the conference, Wisconsin has taken down a couple of top 25 Big Ten teams in its past two games. A comeback win over Iowa was followed by a 25-point dismantling of Illinois in which Bo Ryan’s team scored an uncharacteristic 95 points. Wisconsin is dangerous in 2014.

3. Iowa (14-3, 3-1) • Up 2
Last week: Jan. 8 W vs Northwestern 93-67, Jan. 12 W at #3 Ohio State 84-74
This week: Sunday vs Minnesota 1pm BTN

Iowa has had a brutal early Big Ten schedule, travelling to both Madison and Columbus to play top 5 teams. After blowing a second half lead against the Badgers, the Hawkeyes came up with the best win in the conference so far by beating the Buckeyes on the road. Iowa’s offense ranking in the top 10 nationally in points, rebounds and assists per game.

4. Michigan (11-4, 3-0) • Even
Last week: Jan. 9 W at Nebraska 71-70
This week: Tuesday vs Penn State 8pm BTN, Saturday at #3 Wisconsin 6pm

The Wolverines have had a cakewalk of a conference schedule so far, playing three teams with a combined 3-9 Big Ten record. A close call in Lincoln proved just how deadly this conference can be in road games, so the 2-0 record away from Ann Arbor is a welcome start for a McGary-less Michigan team.

5. Ohio State (15-2, 2-2) • Down 2
Last week: Jan. 7 L at #5 Michigan State 68-72 OT, Jan. 12 L vs #20 Iowa 74-84
This week: Thursday at Minnesota 9pm ESPN2

After starting the season win 15 wins, the Big Ten schedule has hit Ohio State in the mouth. Michigan State won a hard-fought battle in East Lansing after Aaron Craft led a strong fourth quarter comeback to force overtime. Just five days later, Iowa walked into Columbus and stunned Thad Matta’s team, which now sits at just 2-2.

6. Minnesota (13-4, 2-2) • Up 1
Last week: Jan. 8 W at Penn State 68-65, Jan. 11 L at #5 Michigan State 75-87 OT
This week: Thursday vs #11 Ohio State 9pm ESPN2, Sunday at #14 Iowa 1pm

Minnesota has looked shaky since the start of Big Ten play, winning two games over Penn State and Purdue by three points each. On the other hand, both losses have come to undefeated Big Ten teams, one by just three points and one in overtime on the road. All signs point to the Gophers playing to the level of their competition, which makes this team dangerous late in the season, but will keep it from contending for the conference title.

7. Northwestern (8-9, 1-3) • Up 5
Last week: Jan. 9 L at #20 Iowa 67-93, Jan. 12 W vs #23 Illinois 49-43
This week: Wednesday vs #4 Michigan State 7pm BTN, Saturday at Indiana 2:30pm

Chris Collins’ team came from nowhere to upset No. 23 Illinois and get its first Big Ten win Sunday. After losing their first three conference games by 27, 23 and 26, the Wildcats held Illinois to just 43 points in Evanston.

8. Purdue (11-5, 1-2) • Up 1
Last week: Jan. 12 W vs Nebraska 70-64
This week: Wednesday at Illinois 9pm BTN, Saturday vs Penn State 7pm

Purdue has a losing record early in Big Ten play, but single-digit losses to Ohio State and Minnesota suggest that Matt Painter has his team of Johnsons ready to play this season. A 10-3 non-conference finish was a success, too.

9. Illinois (10-5, 0-2) • Down 3
Last week: Jan. 8 L at #3 Wisconsin 70-95, Jan. 12 L at Northwestern 43-49
This week: Wednesday vs Purdue 9pm BTN, Saturday vs #4 Michigan State 8pm

Through 17 games, Illinois ranks outside the top 290 teams nationally in both assists per game and field goal percentage. What does that mean? The team doesn’t make good decisions. Illinois seems to impress the country each year during the non-conference schedule only to struggle through the tough Big Ten slate. After being embarrassed by Wisconsin and losing a laugher to Northwestern, John Groce’s team appears to be heading down that same path in 2014.

10. Indiana (11-5, 1-2) • Down 2
Last week: Jan. 11 W at Penn State 79-76
This week: Tuesday vs #3 Wisconsin 7pm ESPN, Saturday vs Northwestern 2:30pm

Easily the most disappointing team in the Big Ten so far is Indiana. The Hoosiers have yet to put a complete game together after losing to both Illinois and Michigan State and squeaking out a three point win against the Nittany Lions. A home game against Wisconsin tonight offers a chance to turn things around in a big way.

11. Nebraska (8-8, 0-4) • Even
Last week: Jan. 9 L vs Michigan 70-71, Jan. 12 L at Purdue 64-70
This week: None (Jan. 20 vs #11 Ohio State)

Nebraska is much closer to being competitive than it was last season. Three of the four Big Ten losses so far have come by 10 or less points. Three missed layups in the final seconds against Michigan snatched away the chance to open the new Pinnacle Bank Arena with a Big Ten win.

12. Penn State (9-8, 0-4) • Down 2
Last week: Jan. 8 L vs Minnesota 65-68, Jan. 11 L vs Indiana 76-79
This week: Tuesday at Michigan 8pm BTN, Saturday at Purdue 7pm

Unfortunately for Penn State, the return of star guard Tim Frazier has done little to make the team more successful. Eight losses, including the first four of Big Ten play have Penn State sitting at 9-8 halfway through the season.

Michigan at Wisconsin preview

Friday, February 8th, 2013


#3 Michigan vs Wisconsin
Saturday, Feb. 9 | 12pm ET | ESPN
21-2 (8-2) Record 16-7 (7-3)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Iowa 95-67
Nebraska 62-47
#9 Minnesota 83-75
Purdue 68-53
Illinois 74-60
Northwestern 68-46
#10 Ohio State 76-74 OT
Wins SE Louisiana 87-47
Cornell 73-40
Presbyterian 88-43
Arkansas 77-70
California 81-56
Nebraska-Omaha 86-40
Green Bay 65-54
Milwaukee 74-53
Samford 87-51
Penn State 60-51
Nebraska 47-41
#12 Illinois 74-51
#2 Indiana 64-59
#12 Minnesota 45-44
Illinois 74-68
Iowa 74-70 2OT
#15 Ohio State 56-53
#3 Indiana 73-81
Losses #10 Florida 56-74
#14 Creighton 74-84
Virginia 54-60
Marquette 50-60
Iowa 66-70
#13 Michigan State 47-49
#11 Ohio State 49-58
77.7 Points Per Game 67.5
60.2 Scoring Defense 56.2
667-for-1,325 (50.3%) Field Goal % 562-for-1,317 (42.7%)
529-for-1,283 (41.2%) Def. Field Goal % 483-for-1,206 (40.0%)
193-for-469 (41.2%) 3-point % 176-for-512 (34.4%)
147-for-467 (31.5%) Def. 3-point % 89-for-291 (30.6%)
260-for-370 (70.3%) Free Throw % 252-for-405 (62.2%)
11.3 FT Made/Game 11.0
36.2 Rebounds Per Game 36.9
29.6 Opp. Reb. Per Game 32.3
15.5 Assists Per Game 13.2
9.4 Turnovers Per Game 9.2
5.6 Steals Per Game 5.9
2.9 Blocks Per Game 4.0
G – Trey Burke (18.1)
G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.0)
Leading Scorer F – Jared Berggren (11.8)
G – Ben Brust (11.0)
F – Mitch McGary (6.0)
F – Glenn Robinson III (5.7)
Leading Rebounder F – Ryan Evans (7.7)
F – Jared Berggren (6.8)

For the third weekend in the past five, Michigan has a chance to grab the No.1 spot in the national rankings with a win. Whether the Wolverines actually want the ranking and the curse that comes with it is debatable, since it seems to be the poison pill the past few weeks. But no one doubts whether the Maize and Blue want or need the win in Madison on Saturday afternoon.

With Indiana’s loss to Illinois on Thursday night and Michigan’s overtime win over Ohio State on Tuesday, the Wolverines are back in control of their own destiny in the Big Ten race. There’s still a long way to go with two games against rival Michigan State and a home bout with Indiana remaining, but a win tomorrow in one of the conference’s toughest venues would be big.

Nobody expected Wisconsin to be among the Big Ten’s title contenders, but with a win over Indiana and narrow losses to Ohio State and Michigan State, the Badgers have shown how feisty they can be. In essence, they’re a classic Bo Ryan team based around relentless defense and a ball control offense.

Saturday’s early showdown (tip is 11am local time) will be a clash of styles as the Big Ten’s top defense that prefers to play the game at a snail’s pace will try to slow down Michigan’s ultra-efficient offense that relies on a dynamic transition game.

While Arkansas and Virginia managed to beat Wisconsin in Madison early in the season, the Badgers have proven that doing so in conference play is a much tougher proposition. They beat Illinois and Minnesota in the Kohl Center and took Michigan State to the wire. But it was the win at Indiana three weeks ago that let everyone know they’re for real. Wisconsin’s defense held the Hoosiers 24 points below their season average thanks to a defense that limited Indiana to just 37 percent from the field.

A trio of Badgers score at roughly the same clip, led by 6’10″ big man Jared Berggren’s 11.8 points per game. He scored 27 earlier in the season against Creighton, but had a string of five out of six games in which he was held to single-digits beginning with the IU game. Since that game, he has shot just 32 percent from the field. He has the ability to step out and hit the three, but over that span, he has made just 4-of-22. He’s also the second-team’s leading rebounder, which you would expect from a guy his size.

Guard Ben Brust averages 11 points and just under three assists per game and is coming off back-to-back solid performances. He scored 20 and 18 points against Illinois and Iowa, respectively, and shot 52 percent in the process. He’s a dangerous three-point shooter as well.

Senior forward Ryan Evans is also hot after consecutive 15-point, nine-rebound performances. He leads the team with 7.7 rebounds per game, but is not a threat from three, and if there’s a guy you need to foul down the stretch, he’s the guy with a 42.5 percent free throw clip.

The Kohl Center hasn't been kind to Michigan

Sam Dekker is a freshman who averages 8.7 points per game and is the team’s best three-point shooter at 42.1 percent. Traevon Jackson is the other guard, but has had his share of struggles this season. He turns the ball over nearly twice a game, which is uncharacteristic of the typical Bo Ryan guard, and is shooting just 28 percent from three-point range.

The other big man that plays a lot is Mike Bruesewitz. You might know him as the big white guy with the red afro. He averages 7.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 27 minutes per game and is the hustle guy that plays a similar role as Mitch McGary. He’s shooting 45.1 percent overall and a smidgen over 30 percent from downtown, but he’s also the guy most likely to bank in a three at the buzzer (yes, I’m still bitter about what Josh Gasser did to us a couple years ago).

The main key for Michigan in this one is to not let Wisconsin dictate the tempo, which is exactly what the Ryan will want his squad to do. The Badgers are not very good offensively, so Michigan wil need to turn up the intensity on defense to force some turnovers and get out on the fast break where the Wolverines are deadly. If the entire offense revolves around Trey Burke taking step-back threes at the end of the shot-clock, Michigan likely won’t win. Push the tempo in the early going, get out to a good lead, and make Wisconsin win with its offense.

Michigan hasn’t won at the Kohl Center since 1999, and with a trip to East Lansing looming on Tuesday, will need to end that streak. Sam says Michigan will do just that with a 68-58 win to regain the No.1 ranking come Monday.