Posts Tagged ‘Iowa’
This week’s edition of the Big Ten power rankings features more movement than usual as the conference continues to deal surprise after surprise. With March upon us, teams that play well down the stretch often outperform teams with more impressive overall resumes in postseason tournaments.
While teams like Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa will certainly make the field of 68, playing poorly in late February and early March can really take the steam out of a potential deep run in the Big Dance. Meanwhile, teams that streak into the tournament on the final days of the season (Nebraska? Indiana?) represent extremely dangerous matchups.
So here’s how the Big Ten teams are playing with less than a week remaining before they head to Indianapolis.
|1. Michigan (21-7, 13-3) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 26 W at Purdue 77-76 OT, Mar. 1 W vs Minnesota 66-56|
|This week: Tuesday at Illinois 7pm ESPN, Saturday vs Indiana 6pm
The in-state rival Spartans lost just before tip-off in Ann Arbor on Saturday, and after Michigan took care of Minnesota, it officially clinched at least a share of the regular season Big Ten championship. John Beilein’s surprise team can seal the title alone with a win at Illinois tonight or against Indiana on Saturday.
|2. Wisconsin (24-5, 11-5) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 25 W vs Indiana 69-58, Mar. 2 W at Penn State 71-66
|This week: Wednesday vs Purdue 9pm BTN, Sunday at Nebraska 7:30pm|
History shows that no matter what happens early in the season, a hot team is dangerous in March. The Badgers are red-hot heading into the final week of conference play, riding a seven-game winning streak and tied with Michigan State for second place in the Big Ten. Wisconsin could represent the most dangerous team in the conference, but clinching a share of the title gave Michigan the nod at No. 1 for now.
|3. Nebraska (17-11, 9-7) • Up 4|
|Last week: Feb. 26 L at Illinois 49-60, Mar. 1 W vs Northwestern 54-47|
|This week: Wednesday at Indiana 7pm BTN, Sunday vs #9 Wisconsin 7:30pm|
Despite last week’s loss to Illinois, which looks slightly less egregious after the Illini won in East Lansing on Saturday, Nebraska finds itself contending for a first-round bye in Indianapolis. Tim Miles’s team held off Northwestern on Saturday and can secure a winning conference record with a win in either of its final two games (at Indiana on Wednesday or against Wisconsin on Sunday).
|4. Indiana (17-12, 7-9) • Up 4|
|Last week: Feb. 25 L at #14 Wisc. 58-69, Feb. 27 W vs #20 Iowa 93-86, Mar. 2 W vs #22 OSU 72-64|
|This week: Wednesday vs Nebraska 7pm BTN, Saturday at #12 Michigan 6pm|
Don’t look now, but Indiana is making the run that Big Ten fans were waiting for. Indiana knocked off two straight top-25 teams last week to keep its dim tournament hopes alive. They may not recover from the 3-7 stretch that plagued the heart of their conference schedule, but the Hoosiers aren’t going down without a fight. It may take a win in Ann Arbor in the season finale to put Indiana over the hump.
|5. Iowa (17-12, 6-10) • Up 3|
|Last week: Feb. 26 W vs Nebraska 60-49, Mar. 1 W at #18 Michigan State 53-46|
|This week: Tuesday vs #12 Michigan 7pm ESPN, Saturday at #24 Iowa 8:30pm|
John Groce waited nearly two whole months of Big Ten play for his team to show some life, and although it’s likely too late to join an already-crowded NCAA Tournament bubble, Illinois played spoiler three times in the past two weeks. A win over Michigan State in East Lansing proved the most impressive feat for Illinois on the season, but beating Minnesota and Nebraska the week before was more nationally significant, as both teams have tournament hopes that hang by a thread.
|6. Iowa (20-9, 9-7) • Down 1|
|Last week: Feb. 25 L at Minnesota 89-95, Feb. 27 L at Indiana 86-93, Mar. 2 W vs Purdue 83-76
|This week: Thursday at #22 Michigan State 9pm ESPN, Saturday vs Illinois 8:30pm|
When both Michigan and Michigan State faltered on their home courts on Feb. 16, Iowa climbed to within one game of the conference co-leaders in the loss column. The Hawkeyes responded by losing their next three games and falling completely out of contention. After struggling to beat Purdue at home, Iowa looks to take advantage of an equally-wounded Spartan squad on Thursday.
|7. Michigan State (22-7, 11-5) • Down 3|
|Last week: Mar. 1 L vs Illinois 46-53|
|This week: Thursday vs #24 Iowa 9pm ESPN, Sunday at Ohio State 4:30pm|
All season long Tom Izzo stuck to the same story: when Michigan State returned all of its injured players, the miraculous turnaround would begin. Well on Saturday Adreian Payne, Keith Appling and Branden Dawson all played against Illinois and the Spartans lost on their home court, and scored just 46 points in the process. The time to start worrying about Michigan State has arrived, as it has dropped six of its last 10 games, with half of those coming at home.
|8. Ohio State (22-8, 9-8) • Down 5|
|Last week: Feb. 27 L at Penn State 63-65, Mar. 2 L at Indiana 64-72|
|This week: Sunday vs #22 Michigan State 4:30pm CBS|
The last time Ohio State lost to Penn State, it responded by winning six of its next seven games. This time, the Buckeyes followed up with a loss to Indiana. Unfortunately for Thad Matta’s squad, the most glaring part of the statement is that the Buckeyes have lost to the 5-11 Nittany Lions twice.
|9. Minnesota (18-12, 7-10) • Down 3|
|Last week: Feb. 25 W vs #20 Iowa 95-89, Mar. 1 L at #16 Michigan 56-66|
|This week: Saturday vs Penn State 8:30pm|
Minnesota nearly punched its NCAA Tournament ticket for good Saturday when a furious second-half charge brought it to within two points of first-place Michigan. The visible frustration on coach Richard Pitino’s face as the game slipped away perfectly sums up the remainder of his team’s season. Minnesota will sit and watch the rest of the bubble teams play during the week before hosting Penn State in a game that does little to strengthen its tournament resume. As Joe Lunardi’s “last team in,” this stressful week could turn Pitino’s hair a few shades closer to his father’s.
|10. Penn State (14-15, 5-11) • Up 1|
|Last week: Feb. 27 W vs #22 Ohio State 65-63, Mar. 2 L vs #14 Wisconsin 66-71|
|This week: Thursday at Northwestern 7pm ESPNU, Saturday at Minnesota 8:30pm|
Though Penn State is unlikely to win its final two road games and finish the season with an overall .500 record, it did complete a sweep of the preseason No. 11 Buckeyes on Thursday. After losing their first six conference games, the Nittany Lions can settle for morale victories.
|11. Purdue (15-14, 5-11) • Down 1|
|Last week: Feb. 26 L vs #16 Michigan 76-77 OT, Mar. 2 L vs #20 Iowa 76-83|
|This week: Wednesday at #9 Wisconsin 9pm BTN, Sunday vs Northwestern 12pm|
Purdue played both Michigan and Iowa to the end last week, but the end result was two losses, bringing the streak to a total of four. The Boilermakers’ last chance to play spoiler against a tournament team comes on Wednesday, when they travel to Madison to battle the streaking Badgers.
|12. Northwestern (12-17, 5-11) • Even|
|Last week: Mar. 1 L at Nebraska 47-54|
|This week: Thursday vs Penn State 7pm ESPNU, Sunday at Purdue 12pm|
Northwestern crashed and burned after a strong start to the conference season, currently riding a six-game losing streak. The Wildcats do have an opportunity to finish on a positive note as the final two regular-season games come against fellow last place Big Ten opponents.
Michigan’s win over Minnesota on Saturday afternoon combined with Michigan State’s loss to Illinois clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title for the Wolverines for the second time in three years. With two games remaining — at Illinois on Tuesday and home against a surging Indiana squad on Saturday — Michigan needs just one win to secure its first outright Big Ten title since 1986.
Saturday also saw losses by the number four, five, seven, nine, 10, 11, 15, 17, and 24 teams in the nation (in addition to the 18th-ranked Spartans). On Sunday, No. 22 Ohio State became the 11th top 25 team to fall over the weekend. March madness has truly arrived, which makes for plenty of movement in this week’s polls.
Michigan moved up four spots to 12th in both polls, the highest the Wolverines have been since the first week in February when they stood 10th. Wisconsin is still the highest ranked Big Ten team despite needing two wins and two Michigan losses this week to earn a share of the conference title. The Badgers are ninth in the AP Poll and 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Michigan State dropped to 22nd in both, while Iowa remained just inside at 24th and 25th, respectively. Ohio State fell out of both after losing both games last week.
As far as Michigan’s non-conference opponents, Arizona remained third in both polls, while Duke moved up to fourth in both. Iowa State continues to hover in the middle, this week at 16th and 17th.
Nebraska’s loss to Illinois last week dropped the Cornhuskers out of the RPI and Kenpom top 50, which takes away two of Michigan’s victories over top 50 teams. The Wolverines now have seven instead of nine. If the ‘Huskers can top Indiana and Wisconsin this week they’ll likely move back in for the final revision of the regular season.
As far as individuals are concerned, Nik Stauskas’ was edged out for Big Ten Player of the Week by Indiana’s Will Sheehey despite another big week with 15 points against Purdue and 21 against Minnesota. The senior Hoosier forward, who averaged just around 10 points per game, scored 30 points against Iowa and 19 against Ohio State. Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors with 13 points against Nebraska and eight against Michigan State. This is notable because Michigan plays both of these players this week, Nunn on Tuesday and Sheehey on Saturday.
The full national rankings are below.
|AP Poll||Coaches Poll|
|1||Florida (27-2)||1||Florida (27-2)|
|2||Wichita State (31-0)||2||Wichita State (31-0)|
|3||Arizona (27-2)||3||Arizona (27-2)|
|4||Duke (23-6)||4||Duke (23-6)|
|5||Virginia (25-5)||5||Virginia (25-5)|
|6||Villanova (26-3)||6||Villanova (26-3)|
|7||Syracuse (26-3)||7||Syracuse (26-3)|
|8||Kansas (22-7)||8||Kansas (22-7)|
|9||Wisconsin (24-5)||9||Louisville (24-5)|
|10||San Diego State (25-3)||10||San Diego State (25-3)|
|11||Louisville (24-5)||11||Wisconsin (24-5)|
|12||Michigan (21-7)||12||Michigan (21-7)|
|13||Creighton (23-5)||13||Creighton (23-5)|
|14||North Carolina (22-7)||14||North Carolina (22-7)|
|15||Cincinnati (24-5)||15||Cincinnati (24-5)|
|16||Iowa State (22-6)||16||Saint Louis (25-4)|
|17||Saint Louis (25-4)||17||Iowa State (22-6)|
|18||Southern Methodist (23-6)||18||Southern Methodist (23-6)|
|19||UConn (23-6)||19||UConn (23-6)|
|20||Memphis (22-7)||20||Memphis (22-7)|
|21||New Mexico (22-5)||21||New Mexico (22-5)|
|22||Michigan State (22-7)||22||Michigan State (22-7)|
|23||Oklahoma (21-8)||23||Oklahoma (21-8)|
|24||Iowa (20-9)||24||Kentucky (21-8)|
|25||Kentucky (21-8)||25||Iowa (20-9)|
As February comes to a close and perhaps the greatest month in all of sports approaches, the Big Ten men’s basketball conference remains as unpredictable as ever.
Nearly two weeks ago, the would-be headliner battle between the two Michigan schools that topped the standings all season long suffered a major blow when Michigan fell to Wisconsin and Nebraska shocked Michigan State in East Lansing. Meanwhile, Nebraska put together a five-game winning streak to burst onto the NCAA bubble, only to lose to lowly Illinois and see it all slip away. Even the Iowa-Indiana game scheduled for Feb. 18 proved unpredictable, as an eight-foot beam that fell from the Assembly Hall ceiling postponed the game for over a week.
With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the standings usually provide a clearer picture of what the conference tournament will feature. But in the midst of such an erratic regular season, more surprises surely lie ahead, right?
Spoiler alert: This year’s Big Ten regular season championship is Michigan’s to lose.
|Remaining schedule for Big Ten title contenders|
|Saturday||vs Minnesota, 6pm BTN||vs Illinois, 4pm ESPN|
|Sunday||at Penn State, 12pm BTN|
|Tuesday, Mar. 4||at Illinois, 7pm ESPN|
|Wednesday, Mar. 5||vs Purdue, 9pm BTN|
|Thursday, Mar. 6||vs Iowa, 9pm ESPN|
|Saturday, Mar. 8||vs Indiana, 6pm ESPN|
|Sunday, Mar. 9||at Ohio State, 4:30pm CBS||at Nebraska, 7:30pm BTN|
After the victory to sweep Tom Izzo’s Spartans, Michigan firmly planted itself atop the conference with four winnable games remaining.
A trip to Purdue, which provided the most difficult remaining challenge, ended with a miracle in-bounds play for the Wolverines, who snuck out of West Lafayette unscathed, much to the chagrin of championship hopefuls Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Now the only teams standing in Michigan’s way are 5-9 Indiana, 5-10 Illinois, and a struggling Minnesota team with just two conference road wins against the league’s last place squads. John Beilein’s one-game lead should hold up and bring Michigan the long-awaited sole Big Ten title.
But outcomes rarely go according to plan in the 2013-14 edition of the Big Ten. If the first place Wolverines do drop any of their final three games, what does it mean?
Iowa’s loss at Indiana on Thursday night and Ohio State’s loss at Penn State made it mathematically official: the only two teams left to challenge Michigan are Michigan State (one game behind) and Wisconsin (two).
Let’s say Michigan finishes the season by winning two of its final three games. Regardless of what Wisconsin does in its final three games, the Badgers would fall short of the Wolverines, having already lost five times in the Big Ten.
A Michigan loss would, however, leave the door open for Michigan State, which could finish the season in a tie and, despite earning the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, boast a share of the regular season championship. But the Spartans face a one of the toughest stretch runs in the Big Ten.
Michigan State played sub-.500 basketball in the month of February, losing four of seven games. The Breslin Center lost some of its esteem after Nebraska came in and bullied the Spartans last weekend, so a matchup with the desperate Hawkeyes on March 6 could challenge Izzo’s battered team. Iowa’s current three-game losing streak compliment’s Michigan State’s struggles to set up a surprisingly important matchup in the final week of the season.
Days later, the Spartans travel to Columbus in what Big Ten officials probably expected to be a conference-deciding game against Ohio State. However, a sweep at the hands of bottom-feeding Penn State dropped Thad Matta’s team well out of contention, and barring a Michigan loss, this game provides little importance in the bigger picture.
If Michigan does lose, then Ohio State earns a chance to play spoiler for Michigan State and help its hated rival from Ann Arbor. Michigan State hasn’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 21 when a win over Indiana marked its 11th straight at the time. Michigan ended that streak.
Clearly, Michigan State’s quest for a Big Ten title remains an uphill battle.
Wisconsin, unlike the Spartans, plays a much easier schedule to finish the season. Penn State and Purdue, both tied for last place, figure to provide little resistance for Wisconsin next week, setting up an important trip to Lincoln on March 9.
Nebraska’s only loss in the new Pinnacle Bank Arena came at the hands of the first-place Wolverines, who snuck out of Lincoln with a 71-70 win on Jan. 9 after the Huskers missed three layup attempts in the closing seconds. Despite the loss at Illinois on Wednesday, Nebraska’s five-game winning streak puts it tied for fourth place in the loss column in the conference. With a Big Ten record that matches Iowa’s and a nearly-perfect home resume, Nebraska provides a real challenge for Wisconsin to finish the regular season.
Even the most unpredictable conference standings take shape near the end of the season. Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin played well enough through 15 Big Ten games to stay alive into March, but Michigan represents the clear-cut favorite with less than two weeks to go.
The Wolverines may win all three remaining games and leave no room for another contender to catch up. But even if the surprising Big Ten serves up another upset, the odds lie in Michigan’s favor.
|1. Michigan (20-7, 12-3) • Up 2|
|Last week: Feb. 23 W vs 13 Michigan State 79-70|
|This week: Wednesday W at Purdue 77-76 OT, Saturday vs Minnesota 6pm BTN
In the biggest game in the Big Ten this season, Michigan completed a sweep against conference co-leader Michigan State and regained sole possession of first place. The Wolverines then avoided disaster on Wednesday night at Purdue thanks to a last-second bank shot from Glenn Robinson III.
|2. Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5) • Down 1|
|Last week: Feb. 22 W at #15 Iowa 79-74
|This week: Tuesday W vs Indiana 69-58, Sunday at Penn State 12pm BTN|
The Badgers had another tremendous week, knocking off Iowa on the road and bouncing back from a poor 19-point first half performance to hold off Indiana on Monday. Wisconsin owns the longest current winning streak in the Big Ten at six.
|3. Ohio State (22-6, 9-6) • Up 3|
|Last week: Feb. 19 W vs Northwestern 76-60, Feb. 22 W vs Minnesota 64-46|
|This week: Thursday at Penn State 7pm ESPN2, Sunday at Indiana 4pm|
Sam Thomson and the Buckeyes have quietly reclaimed one of the top four spots in the Big Ten. With wins in six of its past seven games, Ohio State sits in position to earn a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
|4. Michigan State (22-6, 11-4) • Up 1|
|Last week: Feb. 20 W vs Purdue 94-79, Feb. 23 L at Michigan 70-79|
|This week: Saturday vs Illinois 4pm ESPN|
The Spartans continued their recent trend of losing every other game when they dropped another game to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Saturday. Michigan State is likely to get back on track Saturday against Illinois.
|5. Iowa (19-8, 8-6) • Down 3|
|Last week: Feb. 22 L vs #16 Wisconsin 74-79|
|This week: Tuesday L at Minnesota 89-95, Thursday at Indiana 9pm ESPN, Sunday vs Purdue 2:05pm|
For the first time all season, Iowa has lost two straight games and dropped to fifth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Wisconsin. The makeup game in Assembly Hall Thursday night could be a make-or-break game for Iowa’s hopes of earning a first-round Big Ten Tournament bye.
|6. Minnesota (18-11, 7-9) • Up 1|
|Last week: Feb.19 L vs Illinois 49-62, Feb. 22 L at #24 Ohio State 46-64
|This week: Tuesday W vs #20 Iowa 95-89, Saturday at #16 Michigan 6pm BTN|
Richard Pitino’s team found its back up against the wall on Monday after dropping eight of its last 12 Big Ten games. The Gophers somehow found a way to hold on against Iowa and move back on the right side of the NCAA bubble, for now.
|7. Nebraska (16-11, 8-7) • Down 3|
|Last week: Feb. 20 W vs Penn State 80-67, Feb. 23 W vs Purdue 76-57|
|This week: Wednesday L at Illinois 49-60, Saturday vs Northwestern 5pm ESPNU|
Just when it looked like Nebraska’s Cinderella story run to the NCAA Tournament could become a reality, it dropped a must-have game to Illinois. Now only a deep conference tournament run could put Tim Miles’s crew back in the conversation.
|8. Illinois (16-12, 5-10) • Up 3|
|Last week: Feb. 19 W at Minnesota 62-49|
|This week: Wednesday W vs Nebraska 60-49, Saturday at #18 Michigan State 4pm ESPN|
After losing 10 of 11 games during the heart of the Big Ten season, Illinois has no chance of earning an at-large bid into the Dance. But the Fighting Illini are bursting a few other Big Ten bubbles with wins over Minnesota and Nebraska in the past week.
|9. Indiana (15-12, 5-9) • Up 3|
|Last week: Feb. 22 W at Northwestern 61-56|
|This week: Tuesday L at #14 Wisconsin 58-69, Thursday vs #20 Iowa 9pm, Sunday vs #22 Ohio State 4pm|
It was a great week for Indiana basketball. Not only did the Hoosiers pick up a road win against Northwestern, but Assembly Hall has been repaired and deemed safe enough to play the previously-scheduled game against Iowa on Thursday.
|10. Purdue (15-13, 5-10) • Down 2|
|Last week: Feb. 20 L vs #13 Michigan State 79-94, Feb. 23 L at Nebraska 57-76|
|This week: Wednesday L vs #16 Michigan 76-77 OT, Sunday at #20 Iowa 2:05pm BTN|
Purdue missed a golden opportunity at a marquee win on Wednesday night after getting waxed in back-to-back games by Michigan State and Nebraska. Purdue’s schedule doesn’t get any easier after the overtime loss as trips to Iowa and Wisconsin loom.
|11. Penn State (13-14, 4-10) • Down 1|
|Last week: Feb. 20 L at Nebraska 67-80|
|This week: Thursday vs #22 Ohio State 7pm ESPN2, Sunday vs #14 Wisconsin 12pm|
Pat Chambers’s team is reeling after a 13-point loss at the hands of Nebraska. The Nittany Lions have a chance to sweep Ohio State when the Buckeyes visit State College on Thursday.
|12. Northwestern (12-16, 5-10) • Down 3|
|Last week: Feb. 19 L at #24 Ohio State 60-76, Feb. 22 L vs Indiana 56-61|
|This week: Saturday at Nebraska 5pm ESPNU|
Remember when four out of five wins put Northwestern in the top four spots in the conference? Now the only cause for celebration in Evanston is that the Wildcats get to host the proverbial last-place game against Penn State next week.
Michigan’s win over Michigan State on Sunday put the Wolverines in sole possession of their Big Ten title destiny, and as Drew described in this morning’s Inside the Numbers post, Michigan now has a 93.9 percent chance of earning at least a share of the conference crown.
Less than two weeks remain in the regular season, and beginning tonight we will have a rooting interest in the three or four games that each of the remaining contenders have left. Of course, if Michigan takes care of business and wins all four of its games, what Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State, and Nebraska do is irrelevant. However, since the Wolverines have split each of their last eight games we can’t count on that happening. So here’s the schedule for the next two weeks and who to root for and against.
Tuesday, Feb. 25
Iowa at Minnesota, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network
Iowa stands two-and-a-half games back of Michigan in the Big Ten hunt, so one more loss will virtually knock them out of the race. Of their five games remaining, three are away and this is probably the most winnable of the three. We might want some Iowa help next week, so let’s just go ahead and root for them to lose tonight and get knocked out of title contention.
Root for: Minnesota
Indiana at Wisconsin, 9 p.m., ESPN
It’s unlikely that Indiana can go into the Kohl Center and beat Wisconsin, especially with the way the Badgers have been playing lately, but with Wisconsin just two games back of Michigan our rooting interest is for the Hoosiers. One Wisconsin loss will essentially eliminate them from contention, so hope Indiana gets hot and puts Bo Ryan’s squad to rest.
Root for: Indiana
Wednesday, Feb. 26
Michigan at Purdue, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network
A Michigan win would guarantee the Wolverines a record of no worse than 12-6, which still isn’t good enough to clinch the Big Ten title just yet, but it would clear one of two remaining road hurdles out of the way.
Nebraska at Illinois, 9 p.m., Big Ten Network
Nebraska is the least likely of Michigan’s five title challengers to catch the Wolverines at three games back, and one loss would do the trick. Nebraska’s only loss in its last eight games was at Michigan, and with a win at Michigan State included in that streak the Cornhuskers are making a major push at an NCAA Tournament bid. Nebraska recently moved into the Kenpom and RPI top 50, which helps Michigan’s tournament resume, so since the Huskers aren’t really going to give Michigan a scare for the Big Ten title — barring a monumental Michigan meltdown — let’s root for Nebraska to continue its run.
Root for: Nebraska
Thursday, Feb. 27
Ohio State at Penn State, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Like Nebraska, Ohio State is on a bit of a streak with the only blemish in its last seven games being a loss to Michigan. The loss before that: against Penn State. The Buckeyes will likely correct that on Thursday in State College, and if they do, they’ll remain two-and-a-half games behind Michigan (assuming the Wolverines beat Purdue on Wednesday) with two games left. Ohio State isn’t likely to catch Michigan, but like mentioned above with Iowa, Michigan might need the Buckeyes to beat Michigan State next week, so let’s just go ahead and root for OSU to be eliminated now.
Root for: Penn State
Iowa at Indiana, 9 p.m., ESPN
If Iowa gets past Minnesota on Tuesday night, they’ll still be in contention for a share of the title, so we should continue to root for a loss. This will be the likely loss remaining on the schedule aside from next week’s visit to East Lansing, and we might need the Hawkeyes to win that one.
Root for: Indiana
Saturday, March 1
Michigan State vs Illinois, 4 p.m., ESPN
Michigan State is obviously Michigan’s main challenger for the Big Ten title. As long as the Wolverines take care of Purdue on Wednesday, Michigan will hold a one-game lead over the Spartans with three to play. Any Michigan State loss is welcomed at this point in case Michigan suffers a misstep. This is the least likely loss among State’s remaining games, but we can still root for Illinois to pull off the stunner.
Root for: Illinois
Nebraska vs Northwestern, 5 p.m., ESPNU
As mentioned above, Nebraska winning helps Michigan’s tournament resume at this point as the Wolverines are currently have nine wins against teams in the RPI top 50, the second most in the nation behind Kansas. If Nebraska falls out of the top 50, that number drops to seven. It’s not going to make a huge difference come selection Sunday, but it could keep Michigan squarely in the three-seed range.
Root for: Nebraska
Michigan vs Minnesota, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network
Assuming Michigan beats Purdue on Sunday, a win over Minnesota here would assure the Wolverines of at least a 13-5 record, moving them one win away from clinching at least a share of the Big Ten title. It would also eliminate Ohio State and Nebraska from contention regardless of whether or not they keep winning.
Iowa vs Purdue, 8:15 p.m., Big Ten Network
If Iowa can get through the Minnesota and Indiana road tests on Tuesday and Thursday, the third game in five days will be a reprieve back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. At this point, unless Michigan loses to Purdue or Minnesota, Iowa will have to win to have any hope of staying alive for a share of the title. But that would mean Michigan would have to lose both of its games next week.
Root for: Purdue
Sunday, March 2
Wisconsin at Penn State, 12 p.m., Big Ten Network
Assuming Wisconsin beat Indiana at home on Tuesday, they’ll still be mathematically alive for a share of the title. Penn State has lost four of five (five of six if they lose to Ohio State on Thursday), so beating Wisconsin is unlikely, but that’s what we want to happen anyway.
Root for: Penn State
Ohio State at Indiana, 4 p.m., CBS
Ohio State’s second to last game of the regular season won’t matter if Michigan wins on Wednesday and Saturday, but if the Wolverines stumble Ohio State will still be alive for a share. Winning at Assembly Hall is never an easy proposition, so pull for the Hoosiers.
Root for: Indiana
The stakes were set when Michigan and Michigan State took the floor at the Crisler Center this past Sunday. The victor would inherit sole possession of first place in the Big Ten and have the inside track to become the Big Ten regular season champion. Never before had the Wolverines and the Spartans played each other under these circumstances with so few games left in the conference season. It arguably was the biggest game in the history of this heated intrastate rivalry.
You already know what happened. The Spartans caught fire and sprinted out to an 11-point lead in the first ten minutes. But the Wolverines fought back to within two points at halftime and used a 21-4 run in a seven-minute span in the second half to pull away. Michigan bested MSU, 79-70, sweeping the season series and beating the Spartans for the sixth time in their past eight meetings.
With Michigan sitting atop the Big Ten standings, many U-M fans have wondered, “How likely is it that the Wolverines win the Big Ten regular season championship?” I have the answer, and Michigan fans will love it.
The Wolverines currently are 11-3 in the Big Ten. With four games left, U-M can end with no worse than an 11-7 record. Only five other Big Ten schools can post such a record, meaning only six teams still are mathematically in the hunt for a conference title. They are Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio State, and Nebraska. Here are the conference standings as of yesterday:
Big Ten Standings as of February 24, 2014
Ken Pomeroy, a proponent of advanced statistics in college basketball, uses a complex algorithm that provides the odds teams have to win in each of their upcoming games. These percentages can be found on the team pages at his website, Kenpom.com. For example, here are the odds that Pomeroy gives Michigan to win in each of its final four games:
Michigan’s Odds to Win in Each of its Four Remaining Games per Ken Pomeroy
Odds to Win
With these percentages, I can calculate the likelihood that Michigan will finish with a certain conference record. I also can conduct the same analysis for the other teams in contention for a Big Ten championship. Therefore, using this analysis, I determined the likelihood that the Wolverines will win the Big Ten.
Odds Michigan Finishes 15-3: 35.7 percent
Michigan controls its own destiny not only to win a Big Ten championship, but also to win it outright. U-M is the only Big Ten team with no more than three conference losses. Therefore, if the Wolverines win each of their four remaining games, they will be the sole Big Ten champion regardless of how the other contenders perform down the stretch.
The great news for Michigan is that it will be a significant favorite in each of its remaining contests. The Wolverines will have at least a 74 percent chance to win in three of their four remaining games. The only one with lower odds to be victorious is at last-place Illinois, but U-M still has a 66 percent chance to upend the Fighting Illini in Assembly Hall. Because these odds are so high, the Wolverines have a 35.7 percent chance to run the table. If they do so, they will have 15 conference wins for the first time since 1993 and their first outright Big Ten title since 1986.
Odds Michigan Finishes 14-4: 43.1 percent
Michigan does have room for error, though. A loss does not hurt U-M’s odds to win a Big Ten championship. No other team can earn a better Big Ten record than 14-4, so the Wolverines still are guaranteed to win at least a share of the Big Ten crown even if they drop one game. Therefore, because Michigan has a 35.7 percent chance to finish 15-3 and a 43.1 percent chance to finish 14-4, it has a 78.8 percent chance to win a share of the Big Ten title without any help.
Even if U-M loses one, it still is very likely to be the outright Big Ten champion. Only one other team can attain a 14-4 conference record: Michigan State. But, to do so, MSU will need to beat all three of its remaining opponents. Because the Spartans still must host Iowa and travel to Columbus to face the Buckeyes, the odds of doing so are low. In fact, Pomeroy gives MSU just a 15.9 percent chance to run the table and finish 14-4. Accordingly, the Wolverines still will be in great position to be the only Big Ten champion with a 14-4 record.
Odds Michigan Finishes 13-5: 17.9 percent
This is the territory where Michigan could see a Big Ten crown slip through its fingers. If U-M finishes the season with a 2-2 record, it opens the door for Michigan State to be the sole Big Ten champion. To do so, MSU would need to run the table and finish 14-4.
As aforementioned, those odds are slim. There is only a 3.4 percent chance that the Spartans finish 14-4 and the Wolverines finish 13-5 or worse. Further, Michigan has a 96.7 percent chance to finish with a 13-5 record or better. If U-M earns such a record, there is a 93.9 percent chance that U-M will be at least a co-champion.
However, if U-M settles for 13-5, it’s not likely to be the outright Big Ten champion. Three other teams can reach 13-5: Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. There is only a 19 percent chance that all three of them fail to have at least a 13-5 record. Accordingly, Michigan cannot expect to be the only Big Ten team to hang a banner in its home arena next season if it loses half of its upcoming games.
Odds Michigan Finishes 12-6: 3.1 percent
This would be an absolute collapse by the Wolverines. A 1-3 close to the conference season is very unlikely, but not completely out of the realm of possibility. Because Michigan is 10-2 against opponents ranked outside Pomeroy’s Top 50 this season and none of U-M’s final four foes are in the Pomeroy Top 50, no one expects U-M to win only once more in the regular season. But, if it does, the Wolverines can kiss away the crown. There is only a 0.6 percent chance that all four of Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa finish with not better than 12-6 records. One of these three Big Ten foes will do better, leaving the Maize and Blue to wonder how it all fell apart.
Odds Michigan Finishes 11-7: 0.2 percent
This is why Sunday’s game against the Spartans was arguably the biggest in the history of the rivalry. With the win, Michigan essentially has locked up at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship. The Wolverines are guaranteed a share if they finish 15-3 or 14-4, which has a 78.8 percent chance of occurring. And there’s a 93.9 percent chance that they have at least a 13-5 record and grab a piece of the crown. Given Michigan’s remaining strength of schedule, only an utter collapse will send U-M home empty-handed.
Should Michigan begin to plan a banner ceremony for next season? Not yet only because nothing is guaranteed, especially in the Big Ten. But the Wolverines would probably not hurt themselves by getting a head start on the paperwork to order a “Big Ten Champions” banner for 2014.
|1. Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5) • Up 2|
|Last week: Feb. 13 W vs Minnesota 78-70, Feb. 16 W at #15 Michigan 75-62|
|This week: Saturday at #15 Iowa 12pm ESPN2
After a difficult late January stretch in which it went 1-5, Wisconsin has rallied to win four straight conference games, including victories over each of the co-leaders, Michigan and Michigan State. A trip to Iowa on Saturday is a must win.
|2. Iowa (19-6, 8-4) • Up 2|
|Last week: Feb. 15 W at Penn State 82-70|
|This week: Tuesday at Indiana (postponed), Saturday vs #16 Wisconsin 12pm|
Iowa would be sitting atop the conference if it hadn’t dropped two home games late in the second half to Michigan State and Ohio State. However, losses by the two top teams on Sunday brings the surprising Hawkeyes within one game of first place in the loss column. Saturday’s matchup with Wisconsin will be big for both teams’ hopes of staying within reach.
|3. Michigan (18-7, 10-3) • Down 2|
|Last week: Feb. 11 W at #22 Ohio State 70-60, Feb. 16 L vs #21 Wisconsin 62-75|
|This week: Sunday vs #13 Michigan State 1pm CBS|
Michigan remains atop the Big Ten, but it has scuffled of late. After a magical 8-0 conference start, the Wolverines have dropped three of their last five games and the rest of the conference has chipped away at the gap separating the two Michigan schools.
|4. Nebraska (14-10, 6-6) • Up 1|
|Last week: Feb. 12 W vs Illinois 67-58, Feb. 16 W at #9 Michigan State 60-51|
|This week: Thursday vs Penn State 7pm ESPNU, Sunday vs Purdue 4:15pm|
Nebraska coach Tim Miles has done an incredible job with a team that looked years away from being competitive in the Big Ten. Now his team has won five of six games and moved onto the fringes of the bubble conversation. Sunday’s win at Michigan State was a huge hurdle cleared for a program that has struggled to win on the road the past few years.
|5. Michigan State (21-5, 10-3) • Down 3|
|Last week: Feb. 13 W vs Penn State 85-70, Feb. 16 L vs Nebraska 51-60|
|This week: Thursday at Purdue 7pm ESPN, Sunday at #20 Michigan 1pm CBS|
The Spartans dropped another shocker on Sunday when Nebraska picked up just its second road win of the season in East Lansing. Michigan State is now 3-4 in its past seven games, including a non-conference loss to Georgetown.
|6. Ohio State (20-6, 7-6) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 11 L vs #15 Michigan 60-70, Feb.15 W at Illinois 48-39
|This week: Wednesday vs Northwestern 7pm BTN, Saturday vs Minnesota 7pm|
Ohio State’s three-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt in Columbus when the rival Wolverines won there for the first time since 2003. The Buckeyes followed the loss with an ugly 48-39 win at Illinois.
|7. Minnesota (17-9, 6-7) • Up 2|
|Last week: Feb. 13 L at #21 Wisconsin 70-78, Feb. 16 W at Northwestern 54-48|
|This week: Wednesday vs Illinois 9pm BTN, Saturday at #24 Ohio State 6pm|
The Gophers are holding on for dear life, winning just two of their last six games, both by a mere six points. Minnesota has a tough remaining schedule with games in Ann Arbor and Columbus looming and home tilt against the hot Hawkeyes.
|8. Purdue (15-10, 5-7) • Up 3|
|Last week: Feb. 15 W vs Indiana 82-64|
|This week: Wednesday vs #13 Michigan State 7pm ESPN, Sunday at Nebraska 4:15pm|
While Purdue doesn’t figure to be much of a factor in the Big Ten down the stretch, it got a big moral victory on Saturday when it waxed rival Indiana by 18 in West Lafayette.
|9. Northwestern (12-14, 5-8) • Down 2|
|Last week: Feb. 13 L at #9 Michigan State 70-85, Feb. 16 L vs Minnesota 48-54|
|This week: Wednesday at #24 Ohio State 7pm BTN, Saturday vs Indiana 8:15pm|
A few weeks ago, Northwestern was shocking the conference by winning four of five and vaulting into fourth place. Now, the Wildcats have lost three straight games, including two winnable matchups at home, and dropped out of the picture.
|10. Penn State (13-13, 4-9) • Down 2|
|Last week: Feb. 12 W at Indiana 66-65, Feb. 15 L vs #16 Iowa 70-82|
|This week: Thursday at Nebraska 7pm ESPNU|
The Nittany Lions picked up a great win at Indiana last week, but couldn’t hold on to beat Iowa at home on Saturday. Unfortunately for this team, the rest of the games on the schedule look like tall orders.
|11. Illinois (14-12, 3-10) • Up 1|
|Last week: Feb. 12 L at Nebraska 58-67, Feb. 15 L vs #22 Ohio State 39-48|
|This week: Wednesday at Minnesota 9pm BTN|
Illinois has looked much more competitive since its win over Penn State on Feb. 9, losing to both Nebraska and Ohio State by just single-digits. But at the end of the day, Illinois has lost 10 of 11 games and sits in the cellar of the Big Ten.
|12. Indiana (14-11, 4-8) • Down 2|
|Last week: Feb. 12 L vs Penn State 65-66, Feb. 15 L at Purdue 64-82|
|This week: Tuesday vs #15 Iowa (postponed), Saturday at Northwestern 8:15pm|
About the only thing that could stop Indiana from losing happened on Tuesday — the arena started caving in. A large beam fell inside Assembly Hall, causing the game with Iowa to be postponed, signaling that the collapse of the 2014 Hoosiers has officially started physically affecting their stadium. Even Illinois’ losing streak can’t boast that.
|1. Michigan (18-6, 10-2) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 5 W vs Nebraska 79-50, Feb. 8 L at Iowa 67-85|
|This week: Tuesday W at #22 Ohio State 70-60, Sunday vs #21 Wisconsin 1pm CBS|
Michigan needed to stop the bleeding after a drubbing in Iowa resulted in its second loss in three games. The team that won 10 games in a row showed up in the second half in Columbus, leading Michigan to its first win there since 2003 and putting the Wolverines back atop the Big Ten standings.
|2. Michigan State (21-4, 10-2) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 6 W vs Penn State 82-67, Feb. 9 L at Wisconsin 58-60|
|This week: Thursday W vs Northwestern 85-70, Sunday vs Nebraska 3pm|
The Spartans are mired in a tough stretch in which they had lost three of their last five games. Last night’s win over Northwestern and upcoming games against Nebraska and Purdue should provide an opportunity to get back on track before the big showdown in Ann Arbor on February 23.
|3. Wisconsin (20-5, 7-5) • Up 7|
|Last week: Feb. 4 W at Illinois 75-63, Feb. 9 W vs #9 Michigan State 60-58|
|This week: Thursday W vs Minnesota 78-70, Sunday at #15 Michigan 1pm CBS|
Although a win over Illinois ended a streak of five losses in six games for the Badgers, beating first-place Michigan State hinted at a possible return of the Wisconsin that started the season ranked in the top 10.
|4. Iowa (18-6, 7-4) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 4 L vs Ohio State 69-76, Feb. 8 W vs #10 Michigan 85-67|
|This week: Saturday at Penn State 1pm ESPNU|
In its last six games, Iowa has rotated between wins and losses, making it difficult to gain any ground in the Big Ten standings. Its inconsistency was nowhere to be found on Saturday, though, as it dominated Michigan on national television.
|5. Nebraska (13-10, 5-6) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 5 L at #10 Michigan 50-79, Feb. 8 W at Northwestern 53-49|
|This week: Wednesday W vs Illinois 67-58, Sunday at #9 Michigan State 3pm BTN|
Tim Miles’s team finally picked up a road win last Saturday with a win over the streaking Wildcats in Evanston. Nebraska continues to protect its home court, moving to 11-1 with its second straight win on Wednesday night.
|6. Ohio State (19-6, 6-6) • Up 2|
|Last week: Feb. 4 W at #17 Iowa 76-69, Feb. 8 W vs Purdue 67-49
|This week: Tuesday L to #15 Michigan 60-70, Saturday at Illinois 8pm BTN|
Just when Aaron Craft and his crew began to look like the preseason top 10 team they were four months ago, Michigan went into Columbus and won for the first time since 2003. Ohio State had won three games before the loss to Michigan, and the schedule offers an opportunity to build another winning streak into March.
|7. Northwestern (12-13, 5-7) • Down 4|
|Last week: Feb. 8 L vs Nebraska 49-53|
|This week: Thursday L at #9 Michigan State 70-85, Sunday vs Minnesota 6pm BTN|
Northwestern’s magical stretch that brought it as high as fourth in the Big Ten came to an abrupt halt Saturday when it became the first team to lose to Nebraska at home this season. An extremely busy week lies ahead for Chris Collins’s crew, as it will host Minnesota in between trips to East Lansing and Columbus.
|8. Penn State (13-12, 4-8) • Down 2|
|Last week: Feb. 6 L at #9 Michigan State 82-67, Feb. 9 L vs Illinois 55-60|
|This week: Wednesday W at Indiana 66-65, Saturday vs #16 Iowa 1pm ESPNU|
The Big Ten’s last place team shook up the conference with a three-game winning streak last week, but followed up by losing twice in four days. Penn State got back on track Wednesday night by pulling off a shocker on the road against Indiana.
|9. Minnesota (16-9, 5-7) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 5 L at Purdue 74-77 3OT, Feb. 8 W vs Indiana 66-60|
|This week: Thursday L at #21 Wisconsin 70-78, Sunday at Northwestern 6pm BTN|
An outstanding non-conference performance by Minnesota evaporated during Big Ten play, in which it has lost five of its last eight. Before beating Indiana last Saturday, Richard Pitino’s team dropped three straight against teams with losing conference records.
|10. Indiana (14-10, 4-7) • Down 3|
|Last week: Feb. 8 L at Minnesota 60-66|
|This week: Wednesday L to Penn State 65-66, Saturday at Purdue 4pm ESPN|
Indiana got the enormous win it needed to turn its season around when it handed the first-place Wolverines their first conference loss. Unfortunately for this team, the next two games featured losses to Minnesota and Penn State, dropping the Hoosiers right back to where they were.
|11. Purdue (14-10, 4-7) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 5 W vs Minnesota 77-75 3OT, Feb. 8 L at Ohio State 49-67|
|This week: Saturday vs Indiana 4pm ESPN|
Fans in West Lafayette enjoyed a thrilling triple-overtime win over Minnesota last week, but Purdue’s struggles leave little reason for hope as the Big Ten season nears a close.
|12. Illinois (14-11, 3-9) • Even|
|Last week: Feb. 4 L vs Wisconsin 63-75, Feb. 9 W at Penn State 60-55|
|This week: Wednesday L at Nebraska 58-67, Saturday vs #22 Ohio State 8pm BTN|
In its last 10 games, Illinois does boast a win over 11th-place Penn State, but the other nine games are all loses. Chances of making the NCAA Tournament in 2014 have evaporated for this young team.
Two minutes into the Michigan-Iowa contest on Saturday, Roy Devyn Marble found himself open on the left wing behind arc. Marble rose, and with the flick of his wrist, buried a three-pointer jumper for Iowa’s first points of the game. Fifty-seven seconds later, Marble drained another three-pointer. Then he did it again. And again. And again. And, unbelievably, again.
Flames emanated from Marble’s right hand as he shredded the Wolverines at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In the first half, Marble scored 22 points and converted eight of his 13 shots — six of which were three-pointers. It was an extraordinary shooting display from Marble, who had made a slightly-above-average 35.5 percent of his three-pointers prior to Saturday’s game, and it helped Iowa cruise to an 85-67 win against the Maize and Blue.
But this is not the first time Michigan has seen its opponent explode offensively while on the road. If anything, it has become somewhat of a concerning trend. In its last three road games, Michigan has allowed Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa to score a total of 223 points in 182 possessions for an average of 1.225 points per possession. This is in stark contrast to the 1.082 points per possession U-M allowed in its first five road contests.
So what has changed? Why, in the past three weeks, did Michigan have its two worst defensive performances of the season against Iowa and Michigan State on the road and also allow Indiana to score a hefty 1.310 points per possession in the second half? A comparison between Michigan’s defensive “Four Factors” from its previous three road games with its first five road games indicates that it has been a little bit of everything.
In his book “Basketball on Paper,” Dean Oliver identified what he called the “Four Factors of Basketball Success” for how teams win basketball games. Those factors are effective field goal percentage (eFG%), offensive rebounding percentage (OReb%), turnover percentage (TO%), and free throw rate (FTR). To have the best chance of winning, a defense wants its opponent to have a low eFG%, OReb%, and FTR, and a high TO%.
Unfortunately, for the Wolverines, they were unequivocally worse in all of the “Four Factors” defensively in their past three road games than in their first five. Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa shot better, rebounded better, committed less turnovers, and made their way to the free-throw line more often. Therefore, at first glance, it appears that Michigan needs to completely retool its defensive approach in road contests.
Yet that is not the case. While Michigan has allowed its opponents to snatch too many offensive rebounds and shoot too many free throws, those are not what is haunting U-M’s defense in hostile environments. The Wolverines’ main issue defensively was that they were the victim of an incredible shooting spree by Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa — one that was out of the Wolverines’ control.
According to Oliver, eFG% is by far the most valuable of the “Four Factors.” Teams that make a higher percentage of their shots than their opponents are more likely to win than teams that have a higher percentage of offensive rebounds than their opponent. Surprise! In Michigan’s first five road games, its opponents recorded a 52.5 eFG%. But that percentage has spiked in U-M’s previous three road games, with the Spartans, Hoosiers, and Hawkeyes notching a 56.9 eFG%.
Michigan’s Shooting Defense on the Road
3PA / FGA
First 5 Road Games
Last 3 Road Games
Do not blame Michigan’s interior defense for this spike. Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa failed to convert half of their two-point tries at home against the Wolverines after U-M allowed opponents to make 54.2 percent of their two-point attempts in its first five road games. The Wolverines have protected the rim much better and will need to continue to do so if they want their field-goal defense to improve.
Michigan did not see this improvement in its past three road games because the Spartans, Hoosiers, and Hawkeyes did not miss from downtown on their home courts. In U-M’s first five road contests, its opponents made a tad-below-average 33 percent of their three-pointers. Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa blew that figure out of the water, knocking down an absurd 53.2 percent of their shots from three-point territory against the Maize and Blue. For context, on average, an NCAA D-1 basketball team makes 34.3 percent of its three-pointers.
But, for the most part, this incredible display of three-point shooting by Michigan’s opponents was the result of bad luck, not poor perimeter defense. Ken Pomeroy, one of leading proponents of advanced statistics in college basketball, has theorized that defenses have little control over the percentage of three-pointers that an opponent makes. His data suggests that the best indicator of three-point defense is a team’s ability to prevent opponents from attempting three-pointers, not making them.
If Pomeroy’s theory is correct, Michigan actually has improved its three-point defense away from the Crisler Center. In U-M’s first five road games, 35.8 percent of its opponents’ field-goal attempts were three-pointers. That ratio was only 29.6 percent in U-M’s prior three road games. Therefore, Michigan’s perimeter defense limited the number of looks that Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa had from beyond the arc, but this improvement was disguised by some extremely unlucky hot shooting from deep.
To be fair, the Wolverines’ perimeter defense is not without blame. In each of these three past road games, there have been multiple instances where Michigan failed to contest three-pointers by not placing a hand in a shooter’s face, not switching a pick and roll properly, or not finding shooters in transition. The Maize and Blue cannot afford to continue to make these mistakes because open three-pointers are more likely to hit the bottom of the net than contested three-pointers.
Nonetheless, opponents will not continue to make more than half of their three-pointers within the confines of their home arena against the Wolverines, even if they are wide open. This type of shooting luck from the outside cannot last forever. Opponents will begin to cool down from three-point land. Guaranteed. Regression to the mean is undefeated. But Michigan needs to continue to limit opponents’ three-point attempts if it does not want to be burned from downtown.
Michigan will not have to wait very long to see if its opponents’ shooting luck from three-point range will regress. The Wolverines travel to Columbus tomorrow to face their bitter rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State has been feeling it from long range recently, too. In its past three games, OSU drained 20-of-44 three-pointers — 45.5 percent.
If the Buckeyes continue that trend tomorrow, and start making it rain from the perimeter, Michigan likely will lose back-to-back games for just the third time since January, 2011. But if the Buckeyes do not experience the same shooting luck that the Spartans, Hoosiers, and Hawkeyes each had while hosting U-M in the past three weeks, the Wolverines likely will earn their first win in Columbus since 2003.