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Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

New in Blue: 2016 K Quinn Nordin

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


Quinn Nordin(Taylor Ballek, MLive.com)

Quinn Nordin – K | 6-1, 200 | Rockford, Mich – Rockford
ESPN: 3-star, #9 K Rivals: 3-star, #1 K 247: 3-star, #1 K Scout: 4-star, #1 K
Other top offers: Penn State, USC, Baylor, Arizona State, Michigan State, Georgia, Iowa, Pittsburgh

He’s not the flashiest commitment in Michigan’s class, but Rockford, Mich. kicker Quinn Nordin pledged his commitment to the Wolverines on Wednesday morning, continuing Jim Harbaugh’s nice start to National Signing Day. And while he won’t draw the most headlines on this day, he’s an important piece of the puzzle.

Nordin is a three-star according to ESPN, Rivals, and 247, and a four-star per Scout. While Scout, Rivals, and 247 rank him as the top kicker in the class, ESPN has him much lower at ninth.

Nordin originally committed to Penn State last July, just before the Nittany Lions’ summer camp, but visited Michigan for back to back weeks during the season. When the recruiting dead period ended on January 15, Harbaugh made national headlines by showing up at Nordin’s house just after midnight and holding a sleepover with the kicker. Nordin decommitted from Penn State last Wednesday and visited USC over the weekend. But the Trojans accepted a commitment from Temecula, Calif. kicker Michael Brown, signaling Nordin’s commitment to Michigan.

This fall, Michigan returns fifth-year senior kicker Kenny Allen, who was a model of consistency, connecting on 18 of 22 field goal attempts with a long of 47. Sophomore-to-be Andrew David is the only other true kicker on the roster, so Nordin will battle with David and walk-ons for the kicking spot in 2017.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Feb. 2

Monday, February 1st, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Despite losing to Maryland, Iowa hangs on to the top spot, but the Terrapins gained ground and leaped Indiana. Michigan and Michigan State both also moved up a spot, while Purdue dropped two. The rest of the power rankings remained the same with the exception of Penn State and Illinois trading places for the second straight week.

1. Iowa (17-4, 8-1) – Even – 1.3 (Last week: 1.0)
Last Week: Lost to #8 Maryland 68-74, Beat Northwestern 85-71
This Week: Wednesday vs Penn State, Sunday at Illinois

“Iowa dropped a tight game on the road at Maryland but still looks to be in great shape for the conference crown,” said Sam.

“There aren’t many losable games remaining on Iowa’s schedule, and certainly none this week,” said Justin. “The Hawkeyes should hold onto the top spot for another week, but will then face Indiana next week.”

2. Maryland (19-3, 8-2) – Up 1 – 1.7 (Last week: 3.7)
Last Week: Beat #3 Iowa 74-68, Beat Ohio State 66-61
This Week: Wednesday at Nebraska, Saturday vs #18 Purdue

“Maryland had an immensely impressive week, knocking off undefeated Iowa and following it with a win in Columbus,” said Derick.

3. Indiana (18-4, 8-1) – Down 1 – 3.0 (Last week: 2.0)
Last Week: Lost at Wisconsin 79-82 (OT), Beat Minnesota 74-68
This Week: Tuesday at Michigan, Saturday at Penn State

“Indiana has a chance to really solidify itself as a contender with a win at Michigan, which is staring down the barrel of a gauntlet schedule,” said Derick.

4. Michigan (17-5, 7-2) – Up 1 – 4.0 (Last week 5.0)
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 68-57, Beat Penn State 79-72
This Week: Tuesday vs #22 Indiana, Saturday vs #10 Michigan State

“A couple more unimpressive wins from Michigan keeps them in the competition for now, but a tougher stretch beckons,” said Sam. “The Wolverines look to have the most to gain this week with monumental home matchups against Indiana and Michigan State – win one and they hold serve, win both and they are serious Big Ten contenders and will vie for a top-5 seed; lose both and things get interesting…in a bad way.”

“This is a make or break week for Michigan’s Big Ten title hopes,” said Justin. “The Wolverines are solidly in the NCAA Tournament, barring a complete collapse down the stretch, but won’t be able to win the conference if they lose to Indiana and Michigan State this week. Beat both and suddenly they’re one of the frontrunners.”

5. Michigan State (19-4, 6-4) – Up 1 – 5.3 (Last week: 4.3)
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 76-45, Beat Rutgers 96-62
This Week: Saturday at Michigan

“While MSU’s Big Ten title hopes were probably dashed two weeks ago, their shooting is coming along as the calendar turns to February,” said Sam.

6. Purdue (19-4, 7-3) – Down 2 – 5.7 (Last week: 4.0)
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 68-64, Beat Nebraska 89-74
This Week: Saturday at #4 Maryland
7. Wisconsin (13-9, 5-4) – Even – 7.0 (Last week: 7.0)
Last Week: Beat #19 Indiana 82-79 (OT), Beat Illinois 63-55
This Week: Thursday vs Ohio State
8. Ohio State (14-9, 6-4) – Even – 8.0 (Last week: 8.3)
Last Week: Beta Penn State 64-44, Beat Illinois 68-63 (OT), Lost to #8 Maryland 61-66
This Week: Thursday at Wisconsin

“Michigan State and Wisconsin are starting to round into form, while Ohio State keeps falling just short of a statement win,” said Derick.

“It’s becoming clearer by the week that this conference is poised to get six teams into the Big Dance, but Wisconsin and Ohio State could hypothetically play themselves in with incredible finishes in the back half of their conference seasons,” said Sam. “I wouldn’t put money on it, however.”

9. Nebraska (12-10, 4-5) – Even – 9.0 (Last week: 8.7)
Last Week: Lost to #21 Purdue 74-89
This Week: Wed vs #4 Maryland, Saturday vs Rutgers
10. Northwestern (15-8, 3-7) – Even – 10.7 (Last week: 10.0)
Last Week: Lost to #12 Michigan State 45-76, Lost at #3 Iowa 71-85
This Week: Thursday vs Minnesota
11. Penn State (11-11, 2-7) – Up 1 – 11.0 (Last week: 12.0)
Last Week: Lost at Ohio State 46-66, Lost to Michigan 72-79
This Week: Wednesday at #5 Iowa, Saturday vs #22 Indiana
12. Illinois (10-12, 2-7) – Down 1 – 11.3 (Last week: 11.0)
Last Week: Lost to Ohio State 63-68 (OT), Lost to Wisconsin 55-63
This Week: Wednesday at Rutgers, Sunday vs #5 Iowa
13. Minnesota (6-16, 0-10) – Even – 13.0 (Last week: 13.0)
Last Week: Lost to #21 Purdue 64-68, Lost to #19 Indiana 68-74
This Week: Wednesday vs #21 Purdue, Saturday at #19 Indiana
14. Rutgers (6-16, 0-9) – Even – 14.0 (Last week: 14.0)
Last Week: Lost at Michigan 57-68, Lost at #12 Michigan State 62-96
This Week: Wednesday vs Illinois, Saturday at Nebraska

“Northwestern’s season has crumbled into irrelevance, and Minnesota and Rutgers are still winless,” said Derick.

“Rutgers seems set to maintain their cold spot in the gutter throughout the season while Minnesota has shown signs of life while still seeking their first win after losing by six or fewer at Michigan, vs. Illinois, vs. Purdue, and at Indiana over the last two weeks,” said Sam.

Michigan 79 – Penn State 72: Season low six threes can’t stop Michigan in MSG

Saturday, January 30th, 2016


Robinson vs PSU(Julie Jacobson, AP)

John Beilein’s Michigan teams have always gotten the “live by the three, die by the three” saying tacked onto them – but sometimes mistakenly so. In today’s matchup with Penn State at Madison Square Garden, an uninformed observer would have been forgiven if he thought the saying applied more to the Nittany Lions, as Michigan attempted only 20 triples (versus 35 two-point attempts) and made just six of them.

That’s in stark contrast to the Wolverines’ normal trend of taking nearly half of their field goal tries from distance – at 46.9 percent, they attempt more threes per field goal attempt than all but seven other teams in the country.

The Wolverines, however, still managed to get the job done with a 79-72 victory to bring their conference record to 7-2 halfway through Big Ten play.

With Penn State selling out to guard the deep shot, Michigan was content to drive inside and take what was left to them, led by Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s efforts, who combined to make 12 of their 19 (63.2%) attempts inside the arc. The duo paced Michigan with 35 total points on an array of hard takes to the rim while Derrick Walton and Mark Donnal added 13 and 10 points, respectively, and cleaned up the boards to the tune of 16 rebounds.

Four Factors
Michigan Penn State
51 eFG% 49
32 OReb% 36
11 TO% 17
56 FTR 24

Duncan Robinson was the odd man out as the only starter to not reach double figures, and the one Wolverine neutralized most by Penn State’s aggressive defensive tactics. The pure shooter only got one trey to fall – the first time he’s failed to make multiple threes since a late November loss to UConn – on a measly (for him) five attempts, which ties for his lowest triple tries in a single Big Ten game.

Throughout the first half, the two teams happily traded punch for punch as each seemingly scored at will after a couple quick steps into the lane. But an Irvin corner three at the buzzer put the “visiting” Wolverines up by 12.

Penn State would never get closer than five in the second half despite some beyond-NBA-range threes falling for sophomore Shep Garner late; Michigan pushed the lead to as many as 15.

As soon as it seemed that the Nittany Lions could threaten to take the lead following a 9-0 run late in the second half, Robinson made his biggest shot of the game on a beautiful drive and left-hand finish before Walton threaded a dime – one of his game-high seven assists – to Rahk on the fast break to bring the lead right back to nine points with just over four minutes remaining.

Penn State’s magic proceeded to run out and Michigan made nine of their 10 free throws over the final 1:49 to put the clamps on their third straight win.

The Wolverines continued to play without star senior Caris LeVert, as he was dressed in street clothes for the eighth straight game, but his left ankle is reportedly getting close to full strength.

His return over the next week would be a major boon for a Michigan team that has impressively navigated through the first half of their conference schedule but faces Indiana and Michigan State this coming Tuesday and Saturday, respectively.

Nonetheless, Beilein’s squad has held serve against the teams they’ve been expected to beat and has looked competitive in their two losses.

Today’s win in the first half of a basketball/hockey double-header in the heart of the Big Apple was another expected victory for Michigan, but perhaps a step in the right direction, complete with proof that Beilein doesn’t need to see his team drain everything from deep to remain in control.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
20 points (5-of-8 2pt, 2-of-4 3pt, 4-of-7 FT), two rebounds, one assist, one turnover in 34 minutes

**Derrick Walton Jr.**
13 points (2-of-5 2pt, 1-of-4 3pt, 6-of-6 FT), 10 rebounds (one offensive), seven assists, three steals, zero turnovers in 39 minutes

*Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman*
13 points (7-of-11 2pt, 0-of-2 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), three rebounds (two offensive), one assist, one steal, two turnovers in 35 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 23
Duncan Robinson – 16
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 10
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 4
Mark Donnal – 1
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 2-4 0-0 6-8 4 2 6 3 10 1 1 1 0 25
10 Derrick Walton* 3-9 1-4 6-6 1 9 10 2 13 7 0 0 3 39
21 Zak Irvin* 7-12 2-4 4-7 0 2 2 1 20 1 1 0 0 34
22 Duncan Robinson* 2-6 1-5 4-4 1 1 2 3 9 2 0 0 1 27
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 7-13 0-2 1-2 2 3 5 2 15 1 2 0 1 35
05 D.J. Wilson 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 2-5 2-4 1-2 1 1 2 2 7 1 1 0 2 19
32 Ricky Doyle 2-4 0-0 1-2 1 2 3 1 5 0 0 1 0 16
Totals 25-55 6-20 23-31 11 23 34 14 79 13 7 2 7 200
Penn State 26-62 9-29 11-15 13 23 36 23 72 13 11 4 3
200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Penn State

Saturday, January 30th, 2016


UM-PennState
Michigan vs Penn State
Saturday, Jan. 30 | New York, N.Y. | 12 p.m. EST | Big Ten Network
Line: Michigan -10
Offense
77.3 Points/gm 65.7
(575-1,179) 48.8 Field Goal % 41.3 (476-1,153)
(227-545) 41.7 3-pt FG % 29.9 (120-402)
(246-330) 74.5 Free Throw % 69.4 (308-444)
11.7 FT Made/gm 14.7
32.8 Reb/gm 34.6
16.1 Assists/gm 9.5
10.0 Turnovers/gm 11.2
Defense
64.0 Points/gm 68.5
(492-1,159) 42.5 Field Goal % 42.1 (482-1,145)
(142-422) 33.6 3-pt FG % 37.0 (153-413)
31.4 Opp. Reb/gm 35.6
5.6 Steals/gm 5.0
2.5 Blocks/gm 4.4
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Duncan Robinson (12.6) Points/gm Brandon Taylor (16.0), Shep Garner (13.5)
Derick Walton (5.7), Caris LeVert (5.4) Reb/gm Brandon Taylor (5.8), Payton Banks (5.1)

Michigan invades Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon for the final game of the “easy” portion of its schedule. It’s foolish to call any conference game easy, but compared to the final nine games this is one of the likeliest remaining wins. With Indiana and Michigan State on the docket next week, Michigan needs to take care of business against the Nittany Lions in New York on Super Saturday.

Michigan beat Penn State 79-56 in Ann Arbor on Jan. 2 with a balanced effort of 16 points from Zak Irvin and Mark Donnal, 14 from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and 13 from Aubrey Dawkins. Penn State, meanwhile, had just one player in double figures, senior forward Brandon Taylor (6-foot-6, 225), who scored 18. Taylor leads the team with 16 points per game. He scored a season high 29 points against Kent State in the final game before conference play and has scored in single digits just twice all season, not at all since Dec. 22.

Sophomore guard Shep Garner (6-foot-1, 185) is the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 13.5 points per game. He managed just six points — his second fewest in Big Ten play to date — on 2-of-10 shooting in the first meeting. He’s the team’s best three-point shooter at 35.5 percent, but has made just four of his last 21 attempts over the last five games.

Sophomore forward Payton Banks (6-foot-6, 220) averages 10.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He was held scoreless the last time these two teams played on 0-of-5 shooting and has had an up and down conference season. He followed up his goose egg with a 24-point outing against Minnesota, but then scored just five against Michigan State and two against Purdue.

Freshman guard Josh Reaves (6-foot-4, 190) scored six in the first meeting, which is right on his season average of 6.4, but is out with mono. Senior guard Devin Foster (6-foot-2, 205) starts in his place, averaging four points per game. He scored four in 20 minutes in the first meeting.

The fifth starter is senior center Jordan Dickerson (7-foot-1, 245), who averages just 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He leads the team with 1.7 blocks per game. Despite being a starter and despite his size, he averages just 17.7 minutes per game and hasn’t reached double figures yet this season.

Sophomore forward Julian Moore (6-foot-10, 235), senior forward Donovan Jack (6-foot-9, 210), freshman forward Deividas Zemgulis (6-foot-6, 220), and redshirt freshman guard Isaiah Washington (6-foot-3, 160) are the other contributors. Washington was the team’s second leading scorer against Michigan on Jan. 2 with nine points, but he hasn’t scored more than five in any other game this season. In fact, he hasn’t scored a point in his last four games.

As a team, Penn State averages 12 fewer points per game than Michigan and allows 4.5 more. Their offense ranks last in the Big Ten in points per game and 10th in scoring defense. Penn State is also the worst shooting team (41.3 percent) and three-point shooting team (29.9 percent) in the conference.

Michigan won the first meeting by 23 points and is favored by 10 in this one. With a big alumni base in New York, the crowd will be far more pro-Michigan than if the game was in State College, and Michigan typically plays well in Madison Square Garden. The Wolverines should win comfortably and move to 17-5 overall and 7-2 in the Big Ten.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Jan. 26

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Last week we introduced our Big Ten power rankings and this week we get on our normal schedule of posting them every Tuesday morning. We see a slight shakeup at the top with Indiana leap-frogging Maryland for the second slot. Four through six remain the same, but Northwestern tumbles three spots. The bottom four remain the bottom four.

1. Iowa (16-3, 7-0) – Even – 1.0 (Last week: 1.0)
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 90-76, Beat #22 Purdue 83-71
This Week: Thursday at #8 Maryland, Sunday vs Northwestern

“Again, there is really nothing to argue over the top two teams and the bottom four or so. I think Iowa is significantly better than Indiana right now despite the Hoosiers’ 12-game winning streak,” said Sam.

2. Indiana (17-3, 7-0) – Up 1 – 2.0 (Last week: 3.7)
Last Week: Beat Illinois 103-69, Beat Northwestern 89-57
This Week: Tuesday at Wisconsin, Saturday vs Minnesota

“It looks like the Big Ten title is a two-horse race, as Iowa and Indiana sit at 7-0 and two games ahead of the pack,” said Derick.

“ndiana is winning big when it should, but there’s no denying their insanely easy early conference schedule and really their conference draw overall (single plays against Purdue, Maryland, Michigan, and Michigan State),” said Sam.

3. Maryland (17-3, 6-2) – Down 1 – 3.7 (Last week: 2.0)
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 62-56 (OT), Lost at #11 Michigan State 65-74
This Week: Thursday vs #3 Iowa, Sunday at Ohio State

“Maryland, perhaps the most talented team in the conference, has suffered two disappointing road losses and thrown away any room for error if it hopes to be back in contention,” said Derick.

4. Purdue (17-4, 5-3) – Even – 4.0 (Last week 4.3)
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 107-57, Beat Ohio State 75-64, Lost at #9 Iowa 71-83
This Week: Wednesday at Minnesota, Saturday vs Nebraska
5. Michigan (15-5, 5-2) – Even – 4.3 (Last week: 5.0)
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 74-69, Beat Nebraska 81-68
This Week: Wednesday vs Rutgers, Saturday vs Penn State (in NYC)

“One more week of breathers before the final stretch begins. Michigan is still in the Big Ten title race and will need to take care of business against two cellar dwellers, Rutgers at home and then Penn State in Madison Square Garden.” said Justin. “Get through those and next week will be fun with Indiana and Michigan State coming to town.”

6. Michigan State (17-4, 4-4) – Even – 6.0 (Last week: 5.7)
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 71-72, Beat #7 Maryland 74-65
This Week: Thursday at Northwestern, Sunday vs Rutgers

“Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State are the only true fringe contenders who, with a long winning streak, could reenter the conversation,” said Derick.

“Purdue probably has a slight upper had on the third spot while Michigan, Michigan State, and Maryland appear to be very close right now,” said Sam. “If Caris LeVert returns healthy before an up-and-down closing stretch to the conference season, the Wolverines might even move up a couple rungs on the ladder, but it’s tough to see anyone catching Iowa and/or Indiana at this point.”

7. Wisconsin (11-9, 3-4) – Up 1 – 7.0 (Last week: 8.0)
Last Week: Beat Penn State 66-60
This Week: Tuesday vs #19 Indiana, Sunday at Illinois
8. Ohio State (12-8, 4-3) – Up 1 – 8.3 (Last week: 8.7)
Last Week: Lost to #22 Purdue 64-75
This Week: Monday vs Penn State, Thursday at Illinois, Sunday vs #8 Maryland
9. Nebraska (12-9, 4-4) – Up 1 – 8.7 (Last week: 9.3)
Last Week: Beat #11 Michigan State 72-71, Lost to Michigan 68-81
This Week: Saturday at #21 Purdue

“Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State have put their NCAA Tournament hopes on life alert, all hovering around .500 overall,” said Derick. “Those teams, along with an immensely disappointing Northwestern squad, have to be almost perfect the rest of the way to have any hope.”

10. Northwestern (15-6, 3-5) – Down 3 – 10.0 (Last week: 7.3)
Last Week: Lost at #7 Maryland 56-62 (OT), Lost at #25 Indiana 57-89
This Week: Thursday vs #12 Michigan State, Sunday at #3 Iowa

“Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska would need something approximating a miracle to play their way into the Dance, while Northwestern looks poised to once again miss out on its Cinderella shot for about the 214th straight season,” said Sam.

11. Illinois (11-8, 2-4) – Up 1 – 11.0 (Last week: 12.0)
Last Week: Lost at #25 Indiana 69-103, Beat Minnesota 76-71 (OT)
This Week: Thursday vs Ohio State, Sunday vs Wisconsin
12. Penn State (11-9, 2-5) – Down 1 – 12.0 (Last week: 11.0)
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 60-66
This Week: Monday at Ohio State, Saturday vs Michigan
13. Minnesota (6-14, 0-8) – Even – 13.0 (Last week: 13.3)
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 69-74, Lost to Illinois 71-76 (OT)
This Week: Wednesday vs #21 Purdue, Saturday at #19 Indiana
14. Rutgers (6-14, 0-7) – Even – 14.0 (Last week: 13.7)
Last Week: Lost to #22 Purdue 57-105, Lost to #9 Iowa 76-90
This Week: Wednesday at Michigan, Sunday at #12 Michigan State

“What’s hurting the Big Ten’s overall strength this season, however, is a brutal basement comprised of Illinois, Penn State, Minnesota, and Rutgers,” said Sam. “I would be surprised if we don’t see at least two of those four teams fire their coaches following such disappointing seasons (and my money’s on Pitino and Groce at this point).”

New in Blue: 2016 DT Michael Dwumfour

Monday, January 25th, 2016


Michael Dwumfour(Rivals)

Michael Dwumfour – DT | 6-2, 286| Wayne, N.J. – DePaul Catholic
ESPN: 3-star, #48 DT Rivals: 3-star, NR 247: 3-star, #75 DT Scout: 3-star, #68 DT
Other top offers: Penn State, Iowa, West Virginia, Boston College, Temple, Wake Forest

After a big recruiting weekend that gained commitments from defensive end Josh Uche and linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Michigan’s recruiting class continued to gain steam on Monday by flipping defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour from Penn State. The Wayne, N.J. native tweeted his decision just after noon Eastern, shortly after announcing his decommitment from the Nittany Lions.

Like Uchce, Dwumfour is a consensus three-star by the four major recruiting services. ESPN ranks him the highest as the 48th-best defensive tackle in the class. Scout has him at 68th and 247 at 75th, while Rivals does not have him ranked.

Scout lists Dwumfour’s strengths as body control and balance, change of direction, and hand quickness, while listing his areas to improve as backside pursuit and size. Scout’s Brian Dohn gives an explanation.

“Dwumfour disengages well and he is quick with his hands. He has explosion, but has a tendency to stand up quickly before accelerating forward. Once he explodes forward at the snap, he will become even more effective. Dwumfour has good strength and he plays with a low center of gravity, and he keeps his pad level low. He changes direction well and can make plays in space. At 6-foot-1, some schools make be hesitant to offer.”

Dwumfour committed to Penn State after attending their camp last June, but after visiting Michigan the weekend of Jan. 15, the 6-foot-2, 286-pounder decided to follow his New Jersey friends to Ann Arbor. He was a high school teammate of running back commitment — and early enrollee — Karim Walker and is also good friends with No. 1 recruit and fellow defensive tackle Rashan Gary, who Michigan hopes to land on National Signing Day.

His commitment may precede a decommitment from tackle Jordan Elliott, who officially visited Texas over the weekend and appears to be ready to stay in his home state. At the moment, Dwumfour is the 25th member of the class, but there will be more additions and subtractions in the next nine days.

With a stacked defensive line in 2016, Dwumfour will undoubtedly redshirt to bulk up. Once Ryan Glasgow graduates, he’ll have a chance to work his way into the rotation.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Jan. 19

Thursday, January 21st, 2016


Power Rankings_header

Rather than starting our Big Ten basketball power rankings at the beginning of the season or even the start of Big Ten play, we decided to wait until we had a few weeks of conference play to evaluate each team. That way we could take into account their whole body of work so far as well as their performance against each other.

Although this week’s rankings are being posted on Thursday morning, they do not take into account Tuesday and Wednesday’s games, as they were voted on prior to them. It just took a couple days to get them posted. Typically, these will be posted on Monday or Tuesday each week before that week’s games.

How it works: Each of our basketball writers (Sam, Derick, Justin) submit their rankings on Sunday night. They are averaged together and the teams are ranked based on average. While they’ll be ranked in order, one through 14, we will include their average ranking, which will show whether they are actually higher or lower than their place in the order.

1. Iowa (14-3, 5-0) – Even – 1.0
Last Week: Beat #4 MSU 76-59, Beat Michigan 82-71
This Week: Thu at Rutgers, Sun vs #22 Purdue

“Iowa is the clear front-runner while Rutgers is the clear bottom-dweller,” said Sam. “In between, there’s plenty of room for debate, but the big divide for me comes between the top six teams in the league and the bottom eight (which I also think will end up being the cut-off point to go dancing).”

2. Maryland (16-2, 5-1) – Even – 2.0
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 67-70, Beat Ohio State 100-65
This Week: Tuesday vs Northwestern, Saturday at #11 Michigan State

“Iowa and Maryland are two of the best teams in the country, but after that, the Big Ten has looked very up and down,” said Derick. “Several of the teams near the bottom are already inching toward disaster.”

“I think Maryland is still the #2 team despite looking a little shaky here and there,” said Sam.

3. Indiana (15-3, 5-0) – Even – 3.7
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 70-63
This Week: Tuesday vs Illinois, Saturday vs Northwestern
4. Purdue (15-3, 3-2) – Even – 4.3
Last Week: Beat Penn State 74-57
This Week: Monday at Rutgers, Thursday vs Ohio State, Sunday at #9 Iowa

“Indiana is on fire and one of the few teams that can truly out-score anyone in the country, while Purdue’s defense is still rock solid,” said Sam.

5. Michigan (13-5, 3-2) – Even – 5.0
Last Week: Beat #3 Maryland 73-67, Lost to #16 Iowa 71-82
This Week: Wednesday vs Minnesota, Saturday at Nebraska

“Michigan just got out of a brutal three-game stretch with an acceptable 1-2 record and will now look to run off four or five straight despite still waiting on Caris LeVert’s return,” said Sam.

“After facing three straight ranked teams, two of them on the road, Michigan has a great chance to put together a solid winning streak with Minnesota, Nebraska, Rutgers, and Penn State coming up before an important two-game stretch against Indiana and Michigan State,” said Justin.

6. Michigan State (16-3, 3-3) – Even – 5.7
Last Week: Lost to #16 Iowa 59-76, Lost to Wisconsin 76-77
This Week: Wednesday vs Nebraska, Saturday at #7 Maryland

“Michigan State is sputtering a bit despite the return of Denzel Valentine, but the loss of Tum Tum Nairns could hurt more than expected – they don’t really have a true backup point guard,” said Sam.

7. Northwestern (15-4, 13-3) – Even – 7.3
Last Week: Beat Wisconsin 70-65, Lost to Penn State 62-71
This Week: Tuesday at #7 Maryland, Saturday at #25 Indiana

“Northwestern will probably have played itself out by the end of this month after a brutal home loss to Penn State, a teaser of a loss at Maryland, and a three-game stretch upcoming of at Indiana, home versus MSU, at Iowa,” said Sam.

8. Wisconsin (10-9, 2-4) – Even – 8.0
Last Week: Lost to Northwestern 65-70, Beat #4 Michigan State 77-76
This Week: Thursday at Penn State
9. Ohio State (12-7, 4-2) – Even – 8.7
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 94-68, Lost to #3 Maryland 65-100
This Week: Thursday at #22 Purdue

“Ohio State still has a big uphill climb to make the Tournament,” said Sam.

10. Nebraska (11-8, 3-3) – Even – 9.3
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 84-59, Beat Illinois 78-67
This Week: Wednesday at #11 Michigan State, Saturday vs Michigan
11. Penn State (11-8, 2-4) – Even – 11.0
Last Week: Lost to #24 Purdue 57-74, Beat Northwestern 71-62
This Week: Thursday vs Wisconsin
12. Illinois (9-9, 1-4) – Even – 12.0
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 67-78
This Week: Tuesday at #25 Indiana, Saturday at Minnesota
13. Minnesota (6-12, 0-6) – Even – 13.3
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 69-84, Lost to Indiana 63-70
This Week: Wednesday at Michigan, Saturday vs Illinois
14. Rutgers (6-12, 0-5) – Even – 13.7
Last Week: Lost to Ohio State 68-94
This Week: Monday vs #22 Purdue, Thursday vs #9 Iowa

Michigan 66 – N.C. State 59

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015


UM vs NC State(North Carolina State Athletics)

In a season that has not exactly started off on the right foot for the Big Ten, Michigan did its part tonight in helping the conference along in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge by knocking off North Carolina State by a 66-59 margin in Raleigh.

After a slow, turnover-riddled start against the Wolfpack in which the Wolverines managed only one made bucket in the first eight minutes of game time, John Beilein looked to his bench to get things going. And they did just that.

Trailing 11-7 nearly halfway through the first half, Michigan needed a spark, which newcomers Moritz Wagner and Duncan Robinson ably provided. Robinson, sporting a jumper that’s as quick and clean as ever, swished a triple to cut the lead to one with 10:15 to go in the opening stanza, while Zak Irvin followed suit with a nifty layup to put Michigan ahead by one, then assisted Wagner on another layup to re-take the lead.

Wagner followed that up with a beautiful pass-fake, split-the-defense dunk and Robinson put in his second three of the evening shortly thereafter to give the Wolverines a 21-18 lead, which they would not relinquish.

Robinson would go on to pour in 17 points on five triples and a mid-range jumper, while senior stalwart Caris LeVert led the team with 18 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists on a bevy of nifty dribble-drives and passes that we’ve come to expect from him in his final season.

Four Factors
Michigan N.C. State
57 eFG% 36
8 OReb% 30
17 TO% 11
27 FTR 41

Unfortunately for the visitors, the victory came with a tinge of pain, as Derrick Walton went down late in the first half with what appeared to be a lower left leg injury and did not return for the remainder of the evening.

Still, this is a very welcome win, a win that perhaps seemed highly unlikely after Michigan got run out of the gym in consecutive losses against Xavier and Connecticut in the last couple weeks. North Carolina State, which returned a few starters from last season’s surprise Sweet 16 squad, has also started slow this year, with early losses to William and Mary and Arizona State.

But make no mistake about it: this was a very encouraging performance from a short-handed Michigan team, a win that will certainly boost their RPI (road wins count more than home or neutral court wins) and give them their second straight semi-quality, non-home non-conference victory after they downed Texas to close out the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday. The Longhorns sit within the top 50 on kenpom.com while NC State is just outside at 65.

As promised earlier this year, John Beilein has begun to significantly cut down on the rotation. At this point, it’s very clear that the five spot is a two-man platoon with Ricky Doyle and Wagner going forward while Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman will command the most minutes off the bench at the guard and wing spots. Depending on the severity of Walton’s injury and the length of Spike Albrecht’s recently announced recovery period, Rahk could be in for a major uptick in minutes, and while he’s not a big-time scorer, he’s one of the better defenders on this team and one of the few players that displays strong confidence in driving to the hoop. Robinson, for his part, looks to be more Jon Diebler than Matt Vogrich early on – he didn’t even hit the rim on his first three treys tonight and is now shooting an absurd 60.6 percent from deep through seven games in Division I, with three nights of at least 14 points.

Also encouraging tonight was the resiliency that the Wolverines displayed midway through the second half when the Wolfpack looked primed to turn a double-digit deficit into a lead of their own with a 12-1 run that took a comfortable 45-30 Michigan advantage down to 46-42 in just over four minutes of action.

Irvin once again came through in the clutch, however, with a beautiful assist to Doyle for an uncontested layup and a corner three – his first and only made three of the night (1-of-6) – to bring Michigan’s lead back to 10 on an otherwise tough shooting night for the junior. Robinson also sandwiched five points in that 10-4 spurt.

Caris LeVert would go on to ice the game away late with six straight made free throws.

NC State was paced by sophomore Caleb Martin’s game-high 19 points and 16 from lightning-quick junior Cat Barber, who made an array of tough midrange jumpers. Star sophomore Abdul-Malik Abu was limited to just two points – only the second time he’s failed to reach double-digits this season – on an 0-of-6 mark from the floor despite averaging 12 points per game heading into tonight.

The Wolverines will now travel back to Ann Arbor for their first home game in two weeks this Saturday against a hapless Houston Baptist squad. Derrick Walton’s status is perilously in question – Michigan fans are hoping it is not a recurrence of last season’s foot injuries – but the rest of the team looks to be taking strides in the right direction. And that’s something many teams are not able to say.

Quick Hitters

• Moritz Wagner is quickly becoming Michigan’s best option at center despite an insistence from John Beilein before the season that the young German was destined for the four and had a lot of learning left to do. Ricky Doyle once again got the start this evening, but his play does not seem to have evolved from last year, and his hands appear to be getting more slippery by the minute. Wagner once again displayed the all-around skillset that makes his potential so high with a pair of nice finishes around the hoop, a couple of solid defensive plays, and a near coast-to-coast take on a rebound. His turnaround, defender-splitting dribble-drive-to-dunk finish was the highlight of the night. D.J. Wilson dropped out of the rotation this evening with only one minute of playing time while Mark Donnal did not see the floor. On the wing, Kameron Chatman’s playing time appears to be diminishing, as he saw only five minutes of time along with Spike Albrecht, who is now being limited in practice and games while continuing to recover from a pair of off-season hip surgeries.

• North Carolina State easily won the rebounding battle, grabbing 13 of 43 available offensive rebounds (30.2% OReb) while dominating the defensive glass – Michigan was only able to get two second chances for a measly 8% OReb rate (2 of 25). Beilein has never stressed crashing the offensive glass in order to better limit easy fast break points and run outs, but he certainly will not like this continuing disparity. During the Wolfpack’s second half run, a number of their offensive rebounds saw two NC State players closer to the ball than any Wolverine. Michigan will continue to work on limiting those second chance points for their opponents, but I don’t see them being one of the better defensive rebounding teams during conference season with another guard-oriented offense that almost never has more than one guy over 6-foot-7 on the court at a time. The Wolverines were able to make up for that disparity by connecting on five more shots despite taking 10 fewer attempts (50% to 32.8% from the floor).

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Caris LeVert***
18 points (3-of-6 2pt, 1-of-4 3pt, 9-of-10 FT), nine rebounds, seven assists, one block, two turnovers in 37 minutes

**Duncan Robinson**
17 points (1-of-1 2pt, 5-of-7 3pt), three rebounds, one steal, zero turnovers in 23 minutes

*Moritz Wagner*
8 points (4-of-6 2pt, 0-of-1 3pt), two rebounds (one offensive), two turnovers in 23 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 7
Duncan Robinson – 6
Derrick Walton – 3
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
32 Ricky Doyle* 3-4 0-0 0-0 0 4 4 2 6 0 3 1 0 16
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 1-1 0-0 2-2 0 2 2 0 4 2 2 0 1 13
21 Zak Irvin* 3-11 1-6 0-0 1 4 5 2 7 4 1 0 0 37
23 Caris LeVert* 4-10 1-4 9-10 0 9 9 2 18 7 2 1 0 37
24 Aubrey Dawkins* 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 3 2 0 1 0 0 15
02 Spike Albrecht 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 5
03 Kameron Chatman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 5
05 D.J. Wilson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman 2-4 0-2 0-0 0 4 4 1 4 0 0 0 1 25
13 Moritz Wagner 4-7 0-1 0-1 1 1 2 4 8 0 2 0 0 23
20 Duncan Robinson 6-8 5-7 0-0 0 3 3 3 17 0 0 0 1 23
Totals 24-48 7-20 11-13 2 30 32 20 66 15 11 2 3 200
N.C. State 19-58 4-17 17-24 13 23 36 17 59 8 7 3 6 200
Full Stats

Michigan’s College Football Playoff rooting guide: Nov. 28

Saturday, November 28th, 2015


Cardinals Stadium

Michigan’s College Football Playoff dreams took an enormous hit Saturday night when Michael Geiger’s 41-yard field goal split the uprights and cracked the Buckeyes in Columbus. The Wolverines not only lost a chance to control their own destiny in the Big Ten race, they also missed out on perhaps two opportunities to play against undefeated, top-five opponents.

Now everything falls into the hands of a Penn State that doesn’t look capable of keeping its star quarterback upright, let alone pulling off a monumental upset. Barring something insane, Michigan will have to settle for a nine or 10-win season, which is pretty incredible, considering the direction the program was trending the last seven years.

But until the final game clock hits zero, we’ll keep pursuing those slim championship hopes.

“I really, really need you”

In honor of Sanka Coffie from Cool Runnings, these teams completely hold Michigan’s fate in their hands. These are the teams that Michigan absolutely needs victories from on Saturday in order to keep the Wolverines’ CFP hopes alive. If even one of these teams falls, Michigan’s CFP dreams die.

No. 10 Michigan (home) over No. 8 Ohio State (12pm, ABC): As always, Michigan has to take care of its own business for any of this to even matter. Jim Harbaugh’s team has done nothing but improve all season and looks like it can compete with almost any team in the country. A win over Ohio State would make the 3:30 kick in East Lansing worth a glance.

Result: Ohio State 42 – Michigan 13

Penn State (away) over No. 5 Michigan State (3:30pm, ABC): This one probably isn’t happening. Michigan State looks to have really hit its stride heading into the final weeks of the season, and Penn State is just limping toward the finish line. If the Spartans win, it’ll be a Big Ten East title for Mark Dantonio.

Result: Michigan State 55 – Penn State 16

“It could happen!”

In honor of JP from Angels in the Outfield, this is the “It could happen” group. These are the teams Michigan is rooting for that have a legitimate chance to win on Saturday. Wins by these teams either help the Wolverines move up in the rankings or improve their resume (in order of kickoff time).

No. 4 Iowa (away) over Nebraska (3:30pm, ABC, Friday): On the off chance that Michigan does get into the Big Ten Championship game next week, it needs an undefeated Iowa, ranked in the top four, to boost its resume. A title game of that magnitude would really propel Michigan into the conversation during the final rankings.

Result: Iowa 28 – Nebraska 20

No. 19 TCU (home) over No. 7 Baylor (8pm, ESPN, Friday): This might be Michigan’s last chance to jump Baylor, as the Bears have only a home date with an awful Texas team remaining. A loss to TCU would put three of the four Big 12 contenders behind Michigan.

Result: TCU 28 – Baylor 21 (2OT)

No. 23 Utah (home) over Colorado (2:30pm, Pac12): Utah has been killing Michigan the last two weeks. Back-to-back losses to Arizona and UCLA has the Utes clinging to the edge of the top 25 and threatening to turn Michigan’s opening loss into a weak one. They cannot afford a loss to Colorado.

Result: Utah 20 – Colorado 14

No. 16 Northwestern (away) over Illinois (3:30pm, ESPNU): The Wildcats have done nothing but help Michigan since being blown out in back-to-back games to the Wolverines and Hawkeyes. Northwestern needs only a win over Illinois to cap off a 10-win regular season and give Michigan one of the best wins (considering the 38-0 score) of the entire football season.

Result: Northwestern 24 – Illinois 14

No. 13 Florida State (away) over No. 12 Florida (7:30pm, ESPN): Since Florida State’s resume pales in comparison to Michigan’s I don’t think a win over Florida would propel the Seminoles into the top 10. Florida, on the other hand, still has the slim chance to jump Michigan if it somehow knocks off Alabama in the SEC title game. A loss to FSU would take care of that worry.

Result: Florida State 27 – Florida 2

No. 9 Stanford (home) over No. 6 Notre Dame (7:30pm, FOX): This is a tough one, because Michigan should pass the loser no matter what if the Wolverines knock off Ohio State. But if Stanford beats Notre Dame, there’s still a chance the Cardinal might lose to UCLA or USC in the Pac-12 title game. That would lift Michigan over both teams if it wins out. Also, Stanford has no business being ranked above Michigan in the first place.

Result: Stanford 38 – Notre Dame 36

No. 11 Oklahoma State (home) over No. 3 Oklahoma (8pm, ABC): There’s definitely a chance Oklahoma State would jump Michigan with a win over vastly over-ranked Oklahoma, but there’s also a chance the Wolverines would hold serve with a win over Ohio State. This is the only scenario that gives Michigan a legitimate shot to shoot above all four Big 12 contenders.

Result: Oklahoma 58 – Oklahoma State 23

“It’s just not believable, Cotton”

In honor of Pepper Brooks, from Dodgeball, these are the true underdog stories. These teams have almost no chance to win, but if they do, it would really help Michigan.

South Carolina (home) over No. 1 Clemson (12pm, ESPN): Hey, it’s the last week of the regular season, why not root for some chaos? It’s not likely that Clemson can do anything to fall below Michigan at this point, but in a rivalry game, on the road, to a team coming off a loss to The Citadel, anything can happen.

Result: Clemson 37 – South Carolina 32

Auburn (home) over No. 2 Alabama (3:30pm, CBS): The Iron Bowl is one of the biggest crapshoots in college football, and a loss to a bad Auburn team would really put pressure on the committee to (finally) punish Alabama. Would the Crimson Tide fall below Michigan? It would certainly have to be under consideration if Michigan beat Ohio State.

Result: Alabama 29 – Auburn 13

North Carolina State (home) over No. 14 North Carolina (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2): Despite two FCS games and a laughable loss to South Carolina in the nonconference season, North Carolina has ridden a 10-game winning streak over unranked opponents right into the top 15. If the Tarheels did the unthinkable and won the ACC, they might vault Michigan in the rankings. A loss to rival N.C. State would erase any chance of that happening.

Result: North Carolina 45 – N.C. State 34

2015 Big Ten power rankings: Week 12

Thursday, November 26th, 2015


Power Rankings_header

Well, the biggest week of the Big Ten season so far has come and gone, leaving two clear contenders with a direct path to Indianapolis. Barring a massive upset, Iowa and Michigan State will play for the Big Ten crown.

But as a whole, the Big Ten has emerged as the top conference in college football. LSU and much of the SEC has been exposed as overhyped and the Big Ten put four teams in the College Football Playoff top 10.

Now the microscope shifts from the top of the league to the middle, where four teams need a victory to get to six wins. Will the Big Ten send only seven teams to the postseason? Or could it be as many as 11? All 14 teams will hit the turf Saturday (or Friday) for six meaningful games (and one Maryland-Rutgers pillow fight).

East Division
1. Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat #3 Ohio State 17-14 This Week: Sat Penn State (7-4, 4-3), 3:30pm, ESPN

Mark Dantonio did it again. Nobody gave Michigan State a chance to win in Columbus, especially when star quarterback and future first-round draft pick Connor Cook was ruled out. If the Spartans knock off Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 5, they should be a top two seed in the playoff.

2. Michigan (9-2, 6-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 28-16 This Week: Sat vs #8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1), 12pm, ABC

Saturday was a perfect representation of how far Michigan has come under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines dominated Penn State in Happy Valley, electing to take a knee inside the five instead of winning the game by 19 points. The victory gave Michigan a perfect 4-0 road record in conference play and a fourth straight win since the crushing defeat against MSU. If Michigan played Utah or Michigan State today, it would probably win both games. Instead, the Wolverines have a chance to clinch a New Year’s Six bowl game if they can take care of Ohio State at the Big House.

3. Ohio State (10-1, 6-1) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #9 Michigan State 14-17 This Week: Sat at #10 Michigan (9-2, 6-1), 12pm, ABC

You don’t really find out about the character of a team until it faces some adversity, and the Buckeyes didn’t handle it well. After their first loss in over a calendar year, Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott unceremoniously declared for the NFL Draft and Elliott blamed the entire loss on play calling. Then, Urban Meyer seized control of his team by…basically cowering at Elliott’s feet during his weekly press conference. Elliott does not deserve to miss game time for his comments, but the way he attacked his coaching staff created a crack in the seemingly impenetrable wall Meyer built in Columbus. Now that the Buckeyes have a loss, the rest of their resume is fair game for criticism. Ohio State’s best win came at home against a mediocre Penn State team and then it lost its only competitive game to a team with two backup quarterbacks. I think Michigan is going to see an angry, ultra-motivated Buckeye team in Ann Arbor this weekend.

4. Indiana (5-6, 1-6) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Maryland 47-28 This Week: Sat at Purdue (2-9, 1-6), 12pm, BTN

Indiana has been the anti-Ohio State this season: Losing close games against very tough competition. The Hoosiers have played five of the top six teams in the conference and nearly knocked off four of those teams. But now it’s time to give Indiana some love. Despite falling behind Maryland 21-3 in the first quarter, Kevin Wilson’s team didn’t fall apart, instead scoring the next 27 points and running away with a 47-28 win. That first conference victory gives the Hoosiers a great chance to clinch a bowl Saturday in West Lafayette.

5. Penn State (7-4, 4-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #12 Michigan 16-28 This Week: Sat at #5 Michigan State (10-1, 6-1), 3:30pm, ESPN

Is Penn State any good? I’m really not sure. James Franklin heads into the final game of the season without a single win over a winning power five team. PSU’s best win came against Indiana and it hasn’t won a road game on the year. Christian Hackenberg missed some open receivers by a wide margin Saturday against Michigan and looks beaten down by a terrible offensive line’s ineptitude.

6. Rutgers (4-7, 1-6) – Even
Last Week: Beat Army 31-21 This Week: Sat vs Maryland (2-9, 0-7), 12pm, BTN

Rutgers won at Army by 10 points to snap a four-game losing streak on Saturday. Luckily, the Scarlett Knights get to close out the season against Maryland this weekend.

7. Maryland (2-9, 0-7) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Indiana 28-47 This Week: Sat at Rutgers (4-7, 1-6), 12pm, BTN

It seems like some strong head coaching candidates are strongly considering that Maryland job, which is the first good news the football program has heard all season. Luckily, the Terrapins get to close out the season against Rutgers this weekend.

B1G East Week 12

 

West Division
1. Iowa (11-0, 7-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Purdue 40-20 This Week: Fri at Nebraska (5-6, 3-4), 3:30pm, ABC

With a foot of snow piled on every row of bleachers, Iowa looked like it would give fans an excuse to watch the second half from the warmth of their living rooms Saturday. But a 20-point lead was trimmed to just seven early in the second half after a 13-0 Purdue run. The Hawkeyes woke up just in time to win 40-20 and jump into the top four of the playoff rankings. Iowa already clinched the Big Ten West Division, but it’ll need a win in Nebraska on Friday night to stay alive for the playoff.

2. Northwestern (9-2, 5-2) – Even
Last Week: Beat #25 Wisconsin 13-7 This Week: Sat vs Illinois (5-6, 2-5), 3:30pm, ESPNU

Another week, another reason Northwestern should be ranked much higher than it actually is. The Wildcats went into Madison and held Wisconsin to seven points to add another quality win to a loaded resume. It’s a shame that losses to a pair of top 10 teams took a very deserving Northwestern team out of the New Year’s Six conversation.

3. Nebraska (5-6, 3-4) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 31-14 This Week: Fri vs #4 Iowa (11-0, 7-0), 3:30pm, ABC

It’s been a season full of shock for Nebraska fans: Shocking losses, shocking wins and, most prominently, shocking endings. Mike Riley is two-thirds of the way through the 3-0 finish he needed to make a bowl game. It’s fitting that the Cornhuskers will need a shocking win over undefeated Iowa to polish it off.

4. Wisconsin (8-3, 5-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #20 Northwestern 7-13 This Week: Sat at Minnesota (5-6, 2-5), 3:30pm, BTN

Wisconsin played three games against teams without losing record this season and lost all three, scoring an average of 10 points. All eight of Wisconsin’s wins came against teams with five or fewer wins. That makes an SEC non-conference schedule look almost respectable.

5. Minnesota (5-6, 2-5) – Even
Last Week: Beta Illinois 32-23 This Week: Sat vs Wisconsin (8-3, 5-2), 3:30pm, BTN

Coming off three straight losses to current top-10 teams, Minnesota got its first win under Tracy Claeys Saturday against Illinois. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Golden Gophers knock off Wisconsin at home to sneak into the bowl season. Minnesota is one of those pesky teams you don’t want to play in the postseason.

6. Purdue (2-9, 1-6) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to #5 Iowa 20-40 This Week: Sat vs Indiana (5-6, 1-6), 12pm, BTN

This is going to sound strange, but Purdue might be the best 2-9 team in the country. The Boilermakers have come within a possession of knocking off three teams with at least nine wins and gave Iowa a bit of a scare in the 3rd quarter Saturday. A rivalry win against bowl-hopeful Indiana would end the season on a positive note.

7. Illinois (5-6, 2-5) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Minnesota 23-32 This Week: Sat vs #16 Northwestern (9-2, 5-2), 3:30pm, ESPNU

Illinois had a perfect opportunity to clinch a bowl win Saturday in Minnesota, but laid an egg in a 32-23 loss. Now it’ll take an upset over an excellent Northwestern team on Senior Night to extend the season for Bill Cubit’s group.

B1G West Week 12