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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Pitino’

Michigan 82 – Minnesota 74: Wolverines survive Gopher scare

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016


MAAR vs Minnesota(Brad Rempel, USA Today Sports)

After the roughest week of the season with back-to-back lopsided home losses, Michigan desperately needed a win at Minnesota to boost their confidence with the conference season coming to the final stretch.

Luckily for the Wolverines, the Golden Gophers looked like the perfect bounceback opportunity, having a still-winless Big Ten record. And for the majority of Wednesday night, it looked like Michigan would coast to the all-important victory to maintain their spot on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble behind Derrick Walton’s remarkable 19-point first half.

With 7:30 left to play, Duncan Robinson hit his second straight inexplicably wide open three-pointer to give Michigan a massive 70-53 cushion, and Minnesota seemed ready to call it a night.

Two minutes and 40 seconds later, however, and the Golden Gophers had scored 11 straight points – mostly at the free throw line – to cut the gap to just six points.

A little more than three minutes after that, Michigan found itself up a mere two points despite yet another timely triple from Robinson along the way. This time, Minnesota was simply slicing through the ever-porous Wolverine defense for uncontested layups – no fouls needed.

For those of you who struggle with math (and I’m one of them), that’s a 19-4 run that Minnesota managed to orchestrate in a less-than six minute stretch.

A loss tonight, and Michigan’s hopes of dancing would probably be toast.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman knew it, and decided to finally do something about the inexplicable comeback launched by a miserable team.

Four Factors
Michigan Minnesota
67 eFG% 50
10 OReb% 22
15 TO% 10
38 FTR 33

The sophomore received the ball in the right corner and, instead of settling for a jumper, drove straight along the baseline, lowered his shoulder, and drew an and-1 foul on senior Carlos Morris. Rahk finished the three-point play to give Michigan a bit of breathing room once again, and finished with 16 points on a perfect shooting night (2-of-2 2pt, 3-of-3 3pt, 3-of-3 FT).

Following a missed three on the other end, Michigan got the ball back with time to kill. But Walton and Robinson ran into each other, causing the ball to spill into the hands of Morris, who looked to be leading a two-on-zero break for the Gophers, giving them a chance to make it a one possession game yet again.

Yet again, though, Rahk wouldn’t have it, racing from behind to poke the ball away from a streaking Morris, then gathering it on Minnesota’s baseline and forcing up a pass before falling out of bounds. The pass was tipped by Nate Mason out of bounds, and Michigan would survive by making five of their six free throws to secure an 82-74 win, bringing their conference record to 8-4 with an 18-7 overall mark.

It’s a sigh of relief for a team that many thought was spiraling downward – and fast – after looking lifeless against Indiana and Michigan State last week. And though the defense is still far from fixed and a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over Minnesota is nothing to brag about, Michigan needed to answer the bell in an undeniably must-win situation.

This was the last matchup with one of the doormat teams in the Big Ten for John Beilein’s squad, and outside of a home tilt with Northwestern, the remaining games will not be easy.

Perhaps there is still reason for some optimism, with Michigan getting back on track from deep tonight to the tune of a 14-of-25 (56 percent) final three-point mark, led by Walton (5-of-8), Robinson (4-of-7), Rahk (3-of-3), and Aubrey Dawkins (2-of-4). That will be key moving forward, considering the Wolverines still lack a killer one-on-one threat with Caris LeVert having missed his 11th straight game tonight. And with Purdue coming to town Saturday in another monumental matchup, nothing will come easy inside.

For now, Michigan will take the win and continue to look for Walton and Robinson to carry the offense as they did tonight, with a career-high 26 points and 14 points, respectively.

From here on out, it’s one game at a time. After all, that’s the only way.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
26 points (4/7 2pt, 5/8 3pt, 3/5 FT), eight rebounds (one offensive), seven assists, two steals, three turnovers in 37 minutes

**Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman**
16 points (2/2 2pt, 3/3 3pt, 3/3 FT), one rebound, two assists, two steals, one turnover in 35 minutes

*Duncan Robinson*
14 points (1/2 2pt, 4/7 3pt), nine rebounds, one assist, one block, one turnover in 30 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 26
Duncan Robinson – 17
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 10
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 6
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
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* 4-8 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 4 8 1 0 1 0 19
10 Derrick Walton* 9-15 5-8 3-5 1 7 8 1 26 7 3 0 2 37
21 Zak Irvin* 1-8 0-1 2-4 0 2 2 2 4 3 4 0 2 36
22 Duncan Robinson* 5-9 4-7 0-0 0 9 9 3 14 1 1 1 0 30
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 5-5 3-3 3-3 0 1 1 1 16 2 1 0 2 35
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 3
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-5 2-4 0-0 0 3 3 2 8 1 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 1-1 0-0 4-8 0 1 1 4 6 0 0 0 0 20
Totals 28-52 14-25 12-20 3 25 28 17 82 17 10 2 6 200
Minnesota 27-58 4-19 16-19 7 26 33 14 74 14 7 3 6
200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Minnesota

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016


UM-Minnesota
Michigan at Minnesota
Wednesday, Feb. 10 | Minneapolis, Minn. | 9 p.m. ET | Big Ten Network
Line: Michigan -7
Offense
76.8 Points/gm 69.0
(653-1,354) 48.2 Field Goal % 41.1 (537-1,305)
(248-616) 40.3 3-pt FG % 31.6 (147-465)
(288-388) 74.2 Free Throw % 70.0 (367-524)
12.0 FT Made/gm 16.0
32.2 Reb/gm 33.7
15.5 Assists/gm 12.5
9.8 Turnovers/gm 11.0
Defense
66.0 Points/gm 74.2
(583-1,337) 43.6 Field Goal % 44.5 (602-1,354)
(175-503) 34.8 3-pt FG % 35.4 (164-463)
32.3 Opp. Reb/gm 38.8
5.8 Steals/gm 5.3
2.3 Blocks/gm 3.8
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Duncan Robinson (12.1) Points/gm Nate Mason (13.4), Joey King (11.4)
Derick Walton (5.6), Caris LeVert (5.4) Reb/gm Jordan Murphy (7.8), Bakary Konate (4.3)

Michigan is out of the Big Ten title hunt after a horrendous week that included blowout losses to Indiana and Michigan State, both at home. The good news is the Wolverines get a chance to bounce back against one of the conference’s cellar dwellers, Minnesota. Michigan beat the Gophers in the season’s first meeting, 74-69, on Jan. 20.

Since then, Minnesota has lost its last four, and is still winless since a Dec. 16 win over Chicago State. The Gophers were 6-5 at that point, but currently stand 6-17 overall and 0-11 in Big Ten play. They rank 12th in the Big Ten in both scoring (69 points per game) and scoring defense (74.2 ppg). Only Penn State shoots worse from the field (41.1 percent) and only Penn State and Rutgers shoot worse from three-point range (31.6 percent). Simply put, Minnesota is a bad basketball team.

Sophomore guard Nate Mason (6-foot-1, 185) leads the way with 13.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. He almost led the Gophers to an upset of Michigan three weeks ago with a season-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He almost did the same in a close loss at Indiana on Jan. 30 with 21 points.

Freshman guard Dupree McBrayer (6-foot-4, 175) has been the other starting guard as of late. He averages just 4.9 points per game on the season while shooting just 28.3 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from three-point range. He managed nine points against Michigan in the first meeting.

Freshman Jordan Murphy (6-foot-6, 230) and redshirt junior Charles Buggs (6-foot-9, 230) are the starting forwards, averaging 10.7 and 6.2 points per game, respectively. Murphy leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game. He scored 13 against Michigan the first time out on 6-of-11 shooting, but Buggs scored just two points and missed all four shots he attempted. Sophomore Bakary Konate (6-foot-11, 235) is the center, averaging 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He leads the team with 27 blocks, but was mainly a non-factor in the first meeting.

Senior forward Joey King (6-foot-9, 240) and senior guard Carlos Morris (6-foot-5, 185) are also heavy rotation players, averaging 11.4 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. Morris scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the first meeting. King has been hot and cold in Big Ten play with games of 22 against Penn State, 18 against Indiana, and 20 against Illinois, but has been held to five or fewer points in five of the last eight games. In the last three games, he has made just 2-of-9 shots from the field and 1-of-7 from three-point range for a combined seven points.

Freshman guard Kevin Dorsey (6-foot-0, 175) is the only other Gopher averaging double digit minutes. He was held scoreless in nine minutes of action against Michigan the first time, but scored 21 points on 10-of-19 shooting against Indiana a week and a half ago. He has scored nearly as many points in the last two games (32) as he did in the first nine games of Big Ten play combined (34).

While Michigan is expected to win this one, Minnesota surely sees it as a great opportunity to pick up its first conference win of the season. Richard Pitino will tell his team that a team lacking confidence and reeling from back to back home blowouts is ripe for the picking. But Michigan could get a much needed boost if Caris LeVert returns. He likely won’t be in full game shape even if he plays, but at least it’s an option at this point after missing the last 10 games with a foot injury.

Whether or not LeVert plays, Michigan must come out of Minneapolis with a win if it wants any hope of making the NCAA Tournament next month. At 17-7 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten right now, Michigan may need to go at least 5-2 the rest of the way and pick up a win in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to earn a trip to the Big Dance. And with repeat matchups against Purdue, Maryland, and Iowa ahead, winnable games are few and far between.

Michigan 74 – Minnesota 69

Thursday, January 21st, 2016


Irvin vs Minnesota(MGoBlue.com)

After Wednesday night’s game that saw Minnesota visit Michigan, Golden Gopher coach Richard Pitino revealed that he’s been pleading with his hapless team to “win ugly”.

Unfortunately, his players only got the former half of that right.

The Wolverines, however, fully personified the phrase with a thank-goodness-that’s-over 74-69 victory to move to 4-2 in conference play and 14-5 overall. Minnesota left Ann Arbor still in search of their first Big Ten win after their seventh failed effort.

Once again without the services of senior leader Caris LeVert, whose fifth straight absence with a mysterious lower left leg injury continues to make fans increasingly nervous, Michigan’s juniors stepped up to the plate to lead the effort.

Zak Irvin, whose three-point shooting mark sat at a brutal 20 percent after non-conference play, continued to show off a more confident stroke – hitting three of his five triples – while mixing in a handful of comfortable drives, dishes, and finishes at the rim on his way to a 19-point, 11-rebound, three-assist performance. Since turning the calendar to Big Ten play, Irvin has flipped a switch, with a 46.4 percent mark from deep (13-of-28) and 23 assists in six games (3.8 per on a 21.2 assist rate – tops on the team since the New Year). And while his finishing inside the arc has actually been worse than from distance (40% in conference play), the Indiana native appears to be more aggressive driving to the rack without LeVert available.

He insists that it’s all simply part of the team’s “Next Man Up” mentality.

Derrick Walton, Irvin’s classmate, helped out with 22 points and six rebounds while playing nearly from tip to buzzer. Walton struggled from deep, converting on only one of his six triple tries, but he looked better finishing at the rim last night and made good from the charity stripe (11-of-12) despite coming into the game with an uncharacteristically low 73.8 percent conversion rate at the line (he made 79.3% and 83.3% in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, respectively).

Four Factors
Michigan Minnesota
44 eFG% 47
23 OReb% 19
8 TO% 17
37 FTR 29

No other Wolverine managed to reach double figures despite what seemed like a bevy of open looks, as the team finished with a rancid 29 percent rate from three and 43.8 percent rate from two for an effective FG% of just 43.7 percent.

Despite the shooting struggles, it never felt like Michigan was in serious danger of dropping the game – even if they did appear to be in hibernation for much of the contest. For what it’s worth, KenPom’s statistical win probability meter agreed, with the Maize and Blue never falling below a 90.8 percent likelihood of pulling it out – they were up by at least three points the entire second half.

Minnesota was paced by sophomore Nate Mason’s career high 25 points on 16 shots while Carlos Morris and Jordan Murphy combined for 27 points on 23 shots. As a team, the Gophers simply couldn’t hit anything from deep when it mattered – they didn’t make a three in the second half until there were 25 seconds left in the game – and finished with a poor 27.3 percent mark from distance. The visitors did, however, have some success driving and made 51.4 percent of their two-point looks, which Beilein attributed to a defensive focus on sticking with Minnesota’s perimeter shooters. And though Beilein said that strategy worked, citing the Golden Gophers’ shooting woes, Minnesota’s strength has always been getting to the hole and drawing fouls. Still, it was never going to be enough for Pitino’s squad, who also could not overcome then-leading scorer Joey King’s quiet three-point outing.

Fortunately, style points do not come into play in college basketball, and a lousy home win over Minnesota still goes into the proper column for Michigan, who has their sights set on competing for a conference title and jockeying for position in the Big Dance. It might sound a little far-fetched right now, and I’m certainly not arguing that the Wolverines are favorites in the Big Ten, but a 4-2 record with a slew of winnable games over the next few weeks is working just fine for now.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Zak Irvin***
19 points (5-of-12 2pt, 3-of-5 3pt), 11 rebounds (one offensive), three assists, one steal, one turnover in 37 minutes

**Derrick Walton Jr.**
22 points (4-of-7 2pt, 1-of-6 3pt, 11-of-12 FT), six rebounds, one assist, one steal, one turnover in 39 minutes

*Duncan Robinson*
9 points (0-of-2 2pt, 3-of-10 3pt), five rebounds, one steal in 36 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Caris LeVert – 15
Derrick Walton Jr – 15
Duncan Robinson – 14
Zak Irvin – 6
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Aubrey Dawkins – 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
34 Mark Donnal* 2-4 1-2 0-1 2 1 3 4 5 2 3 1 0 23
10 Derrick Walton* 5-13 1-6 11-12 0 6 6 2 22 1 1 0 1 39
21 Zak Irvin* 8-17 3-5 0-0 1 10 11 2 19 3 1 0 1 37
22 Duncan Robinson* 3-12 3-10 0-0 0 5 5 1 9 0 0 0 1 36
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 0-3 0-2 6-8 0 4 4 4 6 2 0 1 0 29
05 D.J. Wilson 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 5
13 Moritz Wagner 2-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 2 4 0 0 0 0 8
24 Aubrey Dawkins 3-7 1-4 0-0 1 2 3 2 7 0 0 0 0 15
32 Ricky Doyle 0-1 0-0 2-2 1 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 5
Totals 23-63 9-31 19-23 9 29 38 18 74 9 6 2 4 200
Minnesota 25-59 6-22 13-17 7 31 38 22 69 10 12 4 1 200
Full Stats
Beilein Tie Watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 6

Monday, February 2nd, 2015


Power Rankings_header
Wisconsin is on top for the first time since Week 2, but Ohio State has shot up the rankings to the number two spot after dominating Maryland last week. Purdue had the biggest rise, moving from eighth to third, while Iowa took the biggest plunge, dropping from second to ninth. The bottom four remained the same, but just flipped spots. Here are this week’s rankings:

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4

1. Wisconsin (19-2, 7-1) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Iowa 74-63 This Week: Tue vs Indiana, Sat vs Northwestern

A four-game winning streak, including two wins (and one 32-point thrashing) over Iowa has put Wisconsin firmly back on top of the Big Ten standings after a shocking loss to Rutgers. The Badgers are now two losses ahead of the pack and will likely cruise to a regular season conference title.

2. Ohio State (17-5, 6-3) – Up 4
Last Week: Beat #16 Maryland 80-56 This Week: Wed at Purdue, Sun at Rutgers

Don’t look now, but Ohio State is hitting its stride. The Buckeyes are on a mini three-game winning streak, including back-to-back home wins over No. 23 Indiana and No. 16 Maryland. OSU waxed the two ranked foes by a combined 36 points to climb into a second-place tie below Wisconsin.

3. Purdue (14-8, 6-3) – Up 5
Last Week: Beat #22 Indiana 83-67, Beat Northwestern 68-60 This Week: Wed vs #20 OSU, Sat at Minn.

At the midway point of the conference schedule, the greatest surprise in the Big Ten is clearly Matt Painter’s Boilermakers. With upset wins over Indiana and Iowa at home and a road victory in Evanston, Purdue is tied for second place.

4. Michigan State (15-7, 6-3) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 71-51, Beat Michigan 76-66 OT This Week: Sat vs Illinois

Michigan State’s offense is among the ugliest to watch in the entire conference, but the Spartans pieced together a couple of wins last week to improve to 6-3 in the Big Ten. MSU hasn’t won a home game by double digits in regulation since Jan. 5 against Indiana.

5. Michigan (13-9, 6-3) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 58-44, Lost to MSU 66-76 OT This Week: Thu vs Iowa, Sun at Indiana

The Wolverines came within one hideous overtime performance of landing in the No. 2 spot on this list. Without its two best players, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, Jr., Michigan crushed Nebraska by 14 and took Michigan State to overtime in East Lansing. If John Beilein’s team had scored one more point in regulation against Wisconsin and MSU, it’d be alone atop the Big Ten at 8-2.

6. Maryland (18-4, 6-3) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to Ohio State 56-80 This Week: Wed vs Penn State, Sun at Iowa

Maryland’s rise through the national rankings hasn’t officially ended, but it did seem to stall last week after two blowout losses on the road. Mark Turgeon’s team fell by 19 in Assembly Hall and 24 at Value City Arena on either side of a one-point home win over Northwestern.

7. Indiana (16-6, 6-3) – Down 4
Last Week: Lost to Purdue 67-83, Beat Rutgers 72-64 This Week: Tue at #5 Wisconsin, Sun vs Michigan

Indiana limped through the end of January after racing out to a 5-1 start in Big Ten play. A two-game losing streak came to an end against Rutgers, but the lowly Scarlett Knights nearly knocked off the Hoosiers at home. The road doesn’t get an easier as an upcoming home date against Michigan is sandwiched between trips to Wisconsin and Nebraska.

8. Illinois (14-8, 4-5) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Penn State 60-58 This Week: Tue vs Rutgers, Sat at Michigan State

Illinois did just enough to stay afloat during the first half of the conference season, alternating losses and wins in its last eight games after dropping the opener in Ann Arbor. Four of the five Illini losses have come by 10 points or less.

9. Iowa (13-8, 4-4) – Down 7
Last Week: Lost to #5 Wisconsin 63-74 This Week: Thu at Michigan, Sun vs #17 Maryland

Remember last season when the Hawkeyes fell from the top 10 to the bubble during the final weeks of the season? A three-game losing streak lands Iowa on the brink of another collapse, but an injury to Aaron White and a tough schedule shoulder much of the blame. With a trip to Ann Arbor and two home games on the horizon, the Hawkeyes have a chance to halt the slide this week.

10. Nebraska (12-9, 4-5) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 44-58, Lost to Minnesota 42-60 This Week: Tue vs Northwestern, Sat at PSU

Is it possible to be both a fan of Big Ten basketball fan and not disappointed with Nebraska’s first 21 games? Tim Miles’ team got waxed by Michigan’s bench squad Tuesday before losing by 18 to 3-7 Minnesota.

11. Northwestern (10-11, 1-7) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Purdue 60-68 This Week: Tue at Nebraska, Sat at #5 Wisconsin

As the last-place team in the Big Ten, Northwestern looks much closer to competing than the rest of the conference bottom feeders. The Wildcats have lost each of their last six games by single digits, including an overtime loss in East Lansing. If Chris Collins can teach his team to close, Northwestern will play spoiler down the stretch.

12. Minnesota (14-9, 3-7) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Penn State 58-63, Beat Nebraska 60-42 This Week: Sat vs Purdue

Richard Pitino’s team is slowly gaining a pulse after starting Big Ten play 0-5. Minnesota is 3-2 in their last five games with two losses by a combined eight points.

13. Penn State (14-8, 2-7) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 63-58, Lost to Illinois 58-60 This Week: Wed at #17 Maryland, Sat vs Nebraska

Penn State came within one bucket of notching a three-game winning streak Saturday, but fell 60-58 in Illinois. Like Northwestern, Penn State has struggled to finish close games, losing six conference games by single digits.

14. Rutgers (10-13, 2-8) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to MSU 51-71, Lost to #22 Indiana 64-72 This Week: Tue at Illinois, Sun vs #20 Ohio State

Rutgers’ struggles since knocking off Wisconsin on Jan. 11 continued Saturday as it dropped a sixth straight game.The Scarlett Knights have been one of the few uncompetitive teams in the Big Ten, losing by 18, 20 and eight in their last three games.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 4

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
Conference newcomer Maryland has taken over the top spot in the rankings this week for the first time, supplanting Michigan State thanks to a 75-59 win over the Spartans. Iowa shot up four spots to the second spot, while Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, and Penn State all held steady. This week, we get several top 25 matchups, beginning on Tuesday when 25th-ranked Iowa visits 6th-ranked Wisconsin and then on Thursday when 13th-ranked Maryland visits 23rd-ranked Indiana.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

1. Maryland (17-2, 5-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 73-65, Beat MSU 75-59 This Week: Thu at #23 Indiana, Sun vs Northwestern

Nobody saw this coming, but Maryland has taken Big Ten basketball by storm in 2015. The Terrapins just completed a season sweep of perennial power Michigan State and sit alone atop the conference standings.

2. Iowa (13-5, 4-1) – Up 4
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 77-75, Beat Ohio State 76-67 This Week: Tue at #6 Wisconsin, Sat at Purdue

Iowa delivered another punch in the gut to the Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday, riding a nine-point win to a season sweep of Thad Matta’s team. Iowa could really gain the early inside track with a win in Madison on Tuesday night.

3. Indiana (14-4, 4-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Penn State 76-73, Beat Illinois 80-74 This Week: Thu vs #13 Maryland, Sun at Ohio State

Tom Crean’s Hoosiers are slowly putting together a solid resume after another 2-0 week moved them to within a half-game of the Big Ten lead. Nationally, Indiana climbed into the top 25 for the first time this season with No. 13 Maryland coming to town Thursday.

4. Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1) – Down 2
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 70-55 This Week: Tue vs #25 Iowa, Sat at Michigan

Wisconsin rebounded nicely from an unthinkable loss to Rutgers last Sunday by waxing Nebraska 70-55 at home. Now the Badgers face a meeting with Michigan in Ann Arbor sandwiched between two games against Iowa to end the month.

5. Michigan State (12-6, 3-2) – Down 4
Last Week: Lost to #14 Maryland 59-75 This Week: Wed vs Penn State, Sat at Nebraska

The Big Ten has little to hang its hat on after the top four teams, as the rest of the conference has struggled to show any signs of stability through the first third of the schedule. Michigan State is a perfect example of that, having lost five of their six games against quality opponents, with one good win in Iowa City.

6. Ohio State (14-5, 3-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Michigan 71-52, Lost to Iowa 67-76 This Week: Thu at Northwestern, Sun vs #23 Indiana

Perhaps the only team with fewer quality wins than MSU is the Buckeyes, who’ve lost all five games against teams with a pulse. They’ll get another shot Sunday against a solid Indiana squad that beat OSU on Jan. 10.

7. Michigan (11-7, 4-2) – Even
Last Week: Lost to OSU 52-71, Beat Northwestern 56-54 This Week: Tue at Rutgers, Sat vs #6 Wisconsin

After being manhandled in Columbus on Jan. 13, Michigan returned home and eked out a last-second win over Northwestern Saturday. But the cost of the victory was steep as Caris LeVert, the team’s leader in scoring, rebounding, assisting, stealing, and blocking, went down for the season due to a foot injury suffered on the final defensive play.

8. Purdue (11-7, 3-2) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Penn State 84-77 OT This Week: Wed at Illinois, Sat vs #25 Iowa

Purdue is staying afloat early in the conference season after pulling out a miracle overtime win in Happy Valley over the weekend. Now the road gets much tougher for the Boilermakers as they travel to Illinois before hosting nationally ranked Iowa and Indiana.

9. Nebraska (10-7, 2-3) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #7 Wisconsin 55-70 This Week: Tue vs Minnesota, Sat vs Michigan State

Nebraska’s modest two-game winning streak came to screeching halt in Madison as the Badgers manhandled Tim Miles’ team by 15 points. The Cornhuskers will need a scorching finish reminiscent of last year’s stretch run to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2015.

10. Illinois (12-7, 2-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 72-67, Lost to Indiana 74-80 This Week: Wed vs Purdue, Sat at Minnesota

A 2-4 Big Ten record doesn’t tell the whole story for Illinois, which has lost by 10 or less three times in six games. John Groce’s team is facing another disappointing conference season if it can’t find a way to win some of those toss-up contests.

11. Minnesota (12-7, 1-5) – Up 4
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 75-77, Beat Rutgers 89-80 This Week: Tue at Nebraska, Sat vs Illinois

After losing four of their first five conference games by a combined 13 points (and the other by 12 in Maryland), Minnesota finally got on the right side of a Big Ten matchup Saturday against Rutgers. Now five straight winnable games offer Richard Pitino’s team a chance to get back in the race.

12. Northwestern (10-8, 1-4) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Illinois 67-72, Lost to Michigan 54-56 This Week: Thu vs OSU, Sun at #13 Maryland

Last week was a heartbreaking one for Northwestern, as it dropped three straight games by single digits. The Wildcats had a chance to beat Michigan State in East Lansing before being blown out in overtime, then fell at home 72-67 to Illinois, and finally missed a wide open layup that would have forced OT in Ann Arbor. Next up: Ohio State and Maryland.

13. Rutgers (10-9, 2-4) – Down 4
Last Week: Lost to #14 Maryland 65-73, Lost to Min 80-89 This Week: Tue vs Michigan, Sat at Penn State

New Brunswick, New Jersey is still buzzing about last weekend’s upset win over Wisconsin. But in the meantime, the Scarlett Knights have dropped two straight Big Ten games. Rutgers will look to get back on track at home against Michigan on Tuesday evening.

14. Penn State (12-6, 0-5) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Indiana 73-76, Lost to Purdue 77-84 OT This Week: Wed at MSU, Sat vs Rutgers

After gifting away a win to Purdue Saturday, Penn State remained the only winless team in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions failed to rebound a free throw with seconds remaining and allowed a game-tying long ball at the buzzer. Remember Penn State’s 12-1 nonconference start? Neither do they.

Comeback: Michigan 62 – Minnesota 57

Saturday, January 10th, 2015


B7BLldVCEAAiXhx.jpg-large(Teresa Mathew, UMHoops)

With the game slipping away midway through the second half, Michigan turned to the 1-3-1 zone. It was enough to hold Minnesota at bay and allow the Wolverines to turn a nine-point deficit into a five-point win over the final nine minutes.

Michigan trailed just 27-25 at the half, but after hitting three of their first four shots in the second half, the Wolverines went cold. Over a seven minute span, Minnesota outscored Michigan 17-8 to take a 49-40 lead with 8:56 to play.

But Minnesota went scoreless for nearly three minutes, turning the ball over four times in the process as Michigan pulled within two. Michigan finally got over the hump when Derrick Walton Jr hit a three-pointer with 3:24 remaining to give the Wolverines a 54-52 lead.

After a pair of missed free throws by Minnesota big man Maurice Walker, Caris LeVert was fouled on a three-point attempt as the shot clock ran out. He converted all three and suddenly Michigan had a five point lead. Minnesota responded with a three by Andre Hollins.

Four Factors
Michigan Minnesota
44.2 eFG% 46.9
31.3 OReb% 41.7
14.9 TO% 28.1
38.5 FTR 40.8

The teams traded turnovers and Zak Irvin missed a three-point attempt. LeVert stole the ball right back with less than a minute left, and still holding onto a two-point lead, John Beilein called a time out to set up a play. Walton drove into the lane off of a Ricky Doyle screen. Doyle rolled to the basket and Walton flipped the ball up in front of the rim where only Doyle was to reach it. He caught it mid-air and slammed it home to put Michigan ahead by four with 26 seconds to play.

From there, it was just a formality as Irvin converted 3-of-4 free throw attempts down the stretch and Michigan picked up a 62-57 win.

For the game, Michigan shot 40.4 percent overall and just 22.2 percent from three-point range. But after going 0-of-8 in from three in the first half, Michigan made 4-of-10 in the second. Michigan’s defense held Minnesota 23 points below their season average and their lowest scoring output of the season. In addition, Michigan forced 17 turnovers compared to only nine turnovers themselves.

Walton and LeVert led the Wolverines with 15 points apiece. Walton made 3-of-4 three-point attempts and grabbed five rebounds, while LeVert shot 5-of-13 and missed all three of his three-point attempts, but grabbed four steals. Doyle scored 12 points and led the team with six rebounds, while Irvin also added 12 on 3-of-9 shooting. Spike Albrecht contributed six points, two assists, and two steals, and Kameron Chatman scored the only two points of the game for Michigan’s bench.

Minnesota, which has four players averaging in double figures, had just two on this day. Hollins led all scorers with 18 points, while Carlos Morris tallied 16. Walker, the team’s leading scorer, was held to just five on 2-of-7 shooting, though he did tally 10 rebounds. DeAndre Mathieu, who averages 9.9 points per game, was held scoreless.

Michigan has now won four of its last five and stands 3-1 in Big Ten play, but the schedule is about to get tougher. The Wolverines visit Ohio State (13-4, 2-2) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Three Stars:

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
15 points (4-of-7 FG, 3-of-4 3pt, 4-of-5 FT), five rebounds, three assists, one steal, two turnovers in 35 minutes

**Ricky Doyle**
12 points (5-of-8 FG, 2-of-3 FT), six rebounds (four offensive), one steal, one turnover in 26 minutes

*Caris LeVert*
15 points (5-of-13 FG, 0-of-3 3pt, 5-of-6 FT), three rebounds, two assists, four steal, one block, one turnover in 38 minutes

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
02 Spike Albrecht* 3-8 0-3 0-0 0 1 1 4 6 2 3 0 2 33
32 Ricky Doyle* 5-8 0-0 2-3 4 2 6 3 12 0 1 0 1 26
10 Derrick Walton Jr* 4-7 3-4 4-5 0 5 5 2 15 3 2 0 1 35
21 Zak Irvin* 3-9 1-5 5-6 2 2 4 2 12 1 2 0 1 35
23 Caris LeVert* 5-13 0-3 5-6 0 3 3 0 15 2 1 1 4 38
03 Kameron Chatman 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 2 2 1 0 1 0 7
12 M-A. Abdur-Rahkman 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 10
34 Mark Donnal 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 11
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-1 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Totals 21-52 4-18 16-20 10 21 31 14 62 9 9 2 9 200
Minnesota 19-49 8-22 11-20 15 22 37 15 57 10 17 1 6 200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Minnesota

Friday, January 9th, 2015


UM-Minnesota
Michigan (9-6, 2-1) vs Minnesota (11-5, 0-3)
Saturday, Jan. 10 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 1 p.m. EST | ESPN
Offense
67.3 Points/gm 79.9
(347-815) 42.6 Field Goal % 48.2 (469-974)
(129-348) 37.1 3-pt FG % 39.9 (121-303)
(186-258) 72.1 Free Throw % 64.8 (219-338)
12.4 FT Made/gm 13.7
31.8 Reb/gm 35.3
13.3 Assists/gm 18.6
10.1 Turnovers/gm 13.4
Defense
62.6 Points/gm 65.8
(347-788) 44.0 Field Goal % 41.5 (366-881)
(102-285) 35.8 3-pt FG % 33.7 (103-306)
33.4 Opp. Reb/gm 36.6
6.3 Steals/gm 11.7
1.8 Blocks/gm 4.1
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.8), Zak Irvin (14.7) Points/gm Maurice Walker (12.9), Carlos Morris (12.7)
Caris LeVert (5.1), Derrick Walton Jr (4.4) Reb/gm Maurice Walker (6.1), Andre Hollins (3.9)

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan picked up its first Big Ten road win of the season on Tuesday with a 73-64 win over Penn State. On Saturday afternoon, the Wolverines look for their first conference winning streak when they host Minnesota. Let’s take a look at the matchup.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Maurice Walker 21.9 12.9 63.2 00.0 69.1 6.1 0.6 2.3 1.6 1.6
Carlos Morris 27.9 12.7 44.0 34.0 75.0 3.8 2.6 2.1 0.2 2.3
Andre Hollins 28.3 12.4 42.3 42.4 75.8 3.9 2.6 2.3 0.0 1.2
DeAndre Mathieu 29.6 9.9 49.6 47.1 73.2 2.9 5.7 2.1 0.0 2.6
Joey King 27.8 9.3 45.8 40.4 78.3 3.3 1.9 1.4 0.5 0.6
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Nate Mason 24.0 10.0 44.1 45.3 61.5 3.4 2.8 0.9 0.1 2.2
Elliott Eliason 14.0 4.7 70.5 00.0 46.4 3.8 0.7 0.6 0.8 0.4
Charles Buggs 11.2 4.1 44.9 36.0 54.2 1.9 0.8 0.3 0.2 0.2
Bakary Konate 9.1 2.4 47.1 00.0 54.2 2.2 0.3 0.8 0.6 0.6

The same five players have started each game this season and Minnesota has four players averaging double figures. Fifth-year senior forward Maurice Walker is the leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. At 6’10”, 255-pounds, he has the size to give Michigan trouble inside. He’s coming off great performances against two of the better teams in the conference, Maryland and Ohio State, against which he combined to make 16-of-29 shots, score 38 points and grab 19 rebounds.

Junior guard Carlos Morris is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 12.7 points per game. Believe it or not, at 34 percent, the 6’5″, 175-pounder is the worst three-point shooter among the top five on the team. Part of that is due to a 2-of-10 three-point performance against Maryland. The most he has even attempted in any of the other 15 games is four. He has a season high of 24 points scored against UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 27, and scored 18 in that Maryland game. But he followed up that 21-shot outing by attempting just five shots against Ohio State on Tuesday and finishing with just six points.

Senior guard Andre Hollins (6’2″, 195) averages 12.4 points per game and is the most dangerous three-point shooter, leading the team with 36 made threes and 85 attempts. By comparison, Zak Irvin has made 40 on 111 attempts. Hollins has three 20-plus point games this season with a high of 27 against Wake Forest, but his scoring has fallen off a bit lately. He has averaged just 7.6 points per game in the last five. In the first three games of Big Ten play, he is shooting just 18.8 percent (6-of-32) from the field and 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from three-point.

Senior guard DeAndre Mathieu (5’9″, 170) is just under double digits at 9.9 points per game, but he fills the stat sheet in other ways as well. He leads the Big Ten with 5.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game and is shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from three. He delivered his best scoring output of the season against Ohio State on Tuesday, scoring 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

The fifth starter is 6’9″, 235-pound junior forward Joey King. Like Hollins and Mathieu, he’s shooting over 40 percent from downtown (40.4 percent). He’s averaging 9.3 points per game, but after a 19-point game against Furman, he managed just three and five against Maryland and Ohio State, respectively.

Freshman guard Nate Mason (6’1″, 185) is the top man off the bench, averaging nearly starter minutes and 10 points per game. He ranks second on the team with 2.8 assists per game and third with 2.2 steals. He had a four-game stretch at the end of December in which he averaged nearly 15 points per game, but Maryland and Ohio State held him to a combined 3-of-14 shooting (0-of-5 three-point) and nine points.

No one else plays more than 14 minutes a game. Fifth-year senior Elliott Eliason (6’11”, 245) spells Walker down low, but averages just 4.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. While his season high is eight points, he scored 10 and eight in the two games against Michigan last season, including a 10-point, 10-rebound performance in the first one.

Redshirt sophomore Charles Buggs (6’9″, 220) and freshman Bakary Konate (6’11”, 225) also provide frontcourt minutes off the bench. The pair combine for 6.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in about 20 minutes per game.

The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 #8 Louisville# L 68-81
Nov. 18 Western Kentucky W 76-54
Nov. 20 Franklin Pierce W 109-57
Nov. 22 UMBC W 69-51
Nov. 26 St. John’s* L 61-70
Nov. 28 Georgia* W 66-62
Dec. 2 at Wake Forest^ W 84-69
Dec. 5 Western Carolina W 84-64
Dec. 8 North Dakota W 82-56
Dec. 10 Southern W 85-57
Dec. 19 Seattle W 92-57
Dec. 22 Furman W 86-76
Dec. 27 UNCW W 108-82
Dec. 31 at Purdue L 68-72
Jan. 3 at #12 Maryland L 58-70
Jan. 6 #22 Ohio State L 72-74 OT
Jan. 10 at Michigan
Jan. 13 Iowa
Jan. 17 Rutgers
Jan. 20 at Nebraska
Jan. 24 Illinois
Jan. 28 at Penn State
Jan. 31 Nebraska
Feb. 7 Purdue
Feb. 12 at Iowa
Feb. 15 at Indiana
Feb. 18 Northwestern
Feb. 21 at #4 Wisconsin
Feb. 26 at Michigan State
Mar. 5 #4 Wisconsin
Mar. 8 Penn State
#Armed Forces Classic, *NIT Season Tip-Off, ^ACC-Big Ten Challenge

The only common opponent Michigan and Minnesota share so far this season is Purdue, and both lost to the Boilermakers on the road. Purdue came back from 11 points down in the second half to beat Minnesota by four, and then came back from an eight-point halftime deficit to beat Michigan by 13.

The Series

Michigan leads the all-time series 88-65 and carries a six-game winning streak over the Gophers into Saturday’s matchup. Michigan has won 10 of the past 11 meetings and leads the series 53-20 in Ann Arbor with the last home loss coming on Jan 22, 2011. Last season, Michigan beat Minnesota 63-60 in Minneapolis on Jan. 2 and 65-56 in Ann Arbor on March 1. John Beilein is 11-3 against Minnesota since becoming head coach at Michigan.

Notes

• Minnesota just missed the NCAA Tournament last season, but earned a No.1 seed in the NIT and won the whole thing, defeating fellow No.1s Florida State and SMU, in the process. The Gophers finished the season 25-13 overall and 8-10 in Big Ten play

• Minnesota has started the same five players in all 16 games this season

• Minnesota leads the Big Ten with 11.7 steals per game. Guard DeAndre Mathieu leads all Big Ten players with 41 steals (2.6 per game), while Carlos Morris (2.3) and Nate Mason (2.2) rank third and fourth, respectively

• Minnesota ranks third in the conference in scoring, averaging 79.9 points per game, and three-point shooting at 39.9 percent

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 2

Monday, January 5th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
A week into Big Ten play and each team has played at least one conference game. The top two teams stayed the same while everyone else shuffled up and down. Iowa and Purdue were the biggest risers while Illinois took the biggest plunge.

Previous: Week 1

1. Wisconsin (14-1, 2-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 89-72, Beat Northwestern 81-58 This Week: Wed vs Purdue, Sun at Rutgers

Wisconsin kicked off the conference season with a couple of blowout wins, smashing Penn State by 17 and Northwestern by 23. The Badgers will carry their seven-game winning streak into very winnable pair of games this week.

2. Maryland (14-1, 2-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat MSU 68-66 2OT, Beat Minnesota 70-58 This Week: Wed at Illinois, Sat at Purdue

Maryland’s resume is incredibly similar to that of Wisconsin, as the Terps have only lost their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game to a top-three opponent. Maryland picked up a huge win in their first Big Ten matchup, knocking off the Spartans in East Lansing.

3. Iowa (10-4, 1-0) – Up 5
Last Week: Beat #20 Ohio State 71-65 This Week: Mon vs Nebraska, Thurs vs Michigan State

The Big Ten season got off to a great start for Iowa, which went into Columbus and knocked off the No. 20 Buckeyes. The Hawkeyes are facing a gauntlet of a schedule over their next five games.

4. Ohio State (12-3, 1-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 65-71, Beat Illinois 77-61 This Week: Tue at Minnesota, Sat at Indiana

Thad Matta’s team quickly recovered from a stunning home loss to start the conference season by thrashing Illinois 77-61 Saturday. Now Ohio State hits the road for matchups with Minnesota and Indiana.

5. Indiana (11-3, 1-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 70-65 This Week: Mon at Michigan State, Sat vs #22 Ohio State

An overtime loss to Georgetown soured the end of Indiana’s non-conference season, but they bounced back to beat Nebraska on the road in their Big Ten opener, something only the conference-champion Wolverines did all of last season.

6. Purdue (10-5, 2-0) – Up 6
Last Week: Beat Minn 72-68, Beat Michigan 64-51 This Week: Wed at #4 Wisconsin, Sat vs #11 Maryland

The most surprising team through one week of Big Ten games might be the Boilermakers, who beat two teams that figured to be among the league’s leaders at the beginning of the year. If Purdue wins in Wisconsin Wednesday, that’ll turn some heads.

7. Northwestern (10-5 1-1) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 51-47, Lost to #4 Wisconsin 58-81 This Week: Sunday at Michigan State

The Wildcats were on a roll to finish out the non-conference season before hitting a brick wall at home against Wisconsin. Chris Collins might feel the wrath of an alarmingly easy schedule now that Big Ten play has started.

8. Penn State (12-3, 0-2) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to #4 Wisconsin 72-89, Lost to Rutgers 46-50 This Week: Tue vs Michigan

Penn State was expected to lose its Big Ten opener to Wisconsin, but when it dropped Saturday’s showdown with Rutgers, the 12-1 non-conference record started to look a little fluky.

9. Minnesota (11-4, 0-2) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to Purdue 68-72, Lost to #12 MD 58-70 This Week: Tue vs #22 OSU, Sat at Michigan

Richard Pitino’s team has only played three tough games, and Minnesota lost all three of them by at least nine points. The Gophers will carry an 0-2 conference record into a matchup with Ohio State.

10. Michigan State (9-5, 0-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #12 Maryland 66-68 2OT This Week: Mon vs Indiana, Thu at Iowa, Sun vs NW

After righting the ship against The Citadel following an unthinkable loss to Texas Southern, Michigan State dropped its Big Ten opener at home to newcomer Maryland.

11. Michigan (8-6, 1-1) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Illinois 73-65 OT, Lost to Purdue 51-64 This Week: Tue at Penn State, Sat vs Minnesota

It looked like Michigan might start to turn its season around with a win over Illinois in the Big Ten opener, but a horrific offensive display in the second half against Purdue has dropped Michigan near the bottom of the league in contention status.

12. Rutgers (9-6, 1-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to NW 47-51, Beat PSU 50-46 This Week: Thu at Nebraska, Sun vs #4 Wisconsin

Rutgers has struggled to put together a consistent stretch all season, never winning more than two games in a row. The trend continued in the conference opener, when the Scarlet Knights fell at home to Northwestern.

13. Illinois (10-5, 0-2) – Down 7
Last Week: Lost to Mich 65-73 OT, Lost to #20 OSU 61-77 This Week: Wed vs #11 Maryland, Sun at Neb

No, this week’s Illinois games were not re-runs. For the third straight season, Jon Groce’s team put together a strong non-conference season, only to drop the ball at the beginning of Big Ten play.

14. Nebraska (8-5, 0-1) – Down 3
Last Week: Lost to Indiana 65-70 This Week: Thu vs Rutgers, Sun vs Illinois

Nebraska may be the only team more disappointing than Michigan in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers have no great wins and three ugly losses with a loaded conference slate on tap.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 1

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014


Power Rankings_header
Welcome to our first Big Ten basketball power rankings of the season. We waited until the non-conference season was over so we could get a more complete picture of each team without preseason expectations impacting our rankings. These will be re-ranked each week for the remainder of the season. Also, please note that this week’s rankings were done before Tuesday’s games and was meant to be posted at the beginning of the week, but a little football news happened (you may have heard), so this got pushed. It will be posted Monday or Tuesday the rest of the season.

1. Wisconsin (12-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Cal 68-56, Beat Buffalo 68-56 This Week: Wed vs Penn State, Sun at Northwestern

Wisconsin’s nonconference season lacked a major splash after it lost to Duke, the only ranked team on its schedule, but the Badgers are still 12-1 with a national championship as their ceiling.

2. Maryland (12-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Oakland 72-56 This Week: Tues @ MSU, Sat vs Minnesota

Here’s the best surprise in the Big Ten so far: The Maryland Terrapins. Maryland won 12 games before the start of its first Big Ten schedule, including an upset victory over Iowa State in November. Now the Terps will start the conference season with a bang in East Lansing.

3. Penn State (12-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Dartmouth 69-49 This Week: Wed @ #4 Wisconsin, Sat @ Rutgers

Penn State looks ready to take another step in the right direction this season, winning all but one of their nonconference games. An overtime loss to Charlotte is overshadowed by quality wins over Virginia Tech and USC.

4. Indiana (10-3, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat New Orleans 79-59, Lost to Georgetown 87-91 OT This Week: Wed @ Nebraska

Though they dropped three games during the nonconference season, Indiana played one of the toughest schedules in the Big Ten and picked up wins over SMU, Butler and Pitt.

5. Ohio State (11-2, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Miami OH 93-55, Beat Wright St 100-55 This Week: Tue vs Iowa, Sat vs Illinois

It’s tough to judge the new-look Buckeyes at this point in the season, as they weren’t very competitive in either of their marquee matchups, falling to both Louisville and North Carolina.

6. Illinois (10-3, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Kennesaw State 93-45 This Week: Tue @ Michigan, Sat @ #20 Ohio State

John Groce’s team was one rough stretch away from having an incredible nonconference season, as it dropped three of four games in early December. Nonetheless, Illinois is 10-3 and carries one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses into Big Ten play.

7. Minnesota (11-2 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Furman 86-76, Beat UNCW 108-82 This Week: Wed @ Purdue, Sat @ #12 Maryland

Louisville and St. John’s knocked off the Gophers early in the season, but Richard Pitino’s team has won eight straight games heading into the Big Ten gauntlet.

8. Iowa (9-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat North Florida 80-70 This Week: Tue @ #20 Ohio State

Iowa’s preconference season was filled with ups and downs, including a major road win over North Carolina in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and last week’s loss to Northern Iowa.

9. Michigan State (9-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat The Citadel 82-56 This Week: Tue vs #12 Maryland

Tom Izzo teams always seem to struggle early in the season and improve as the tournament draws nearer, but an offseason with four losses, including one to an awful Texas Southern team, has raised concerns in East Lansing.

10. Northwestern (9-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat UIC 63-46, Beat N. Kentucky 76-55 This Week: Tue @ Rutgers, Sun vs #4 Wisconsin

The Big Ten isn’t expecting much of Northwestern this season, but the Cats did with nine games before the conference schedule and have a chance to play spoiler like they did in 2014.

11. Nebraska (8-4, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Hawaii 58-66, Beat LMU 50-42 OT, Beat Ohio 71-58 This Week: Wed vs Indiana

What a disappointing start for Nebraska. A team that entered the season with heightened expectations has fallen to four unranked teams and sits near the bottom of the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers won’t play their first ranked team until Jan. 15 against Wisconsin.

12. Purdue (8-5, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Gardner-Webb 84-89 This Week: Wed vs Minnesota, Sat vs Michigan

Purdue battled through another mediocre nonconference season in 2014, winning eight games but entering conference play on a three-game losing streak. It did make a nice three-game run in November-December, topping Missouri, BYU and N.C. State in a row.

13. Rutgers (8-5, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Sacred Heart 79-54, Beat Monmouth 59-58 This Week: Tues vs Northwestern, Sat vs PSU

Rutgers was a punching bag for much of their for Big Ten nonconference season, losing four games by double digits and scoring just 26 points in a loss to Virginia. Now the school’s first Big Ten schedule looms, starting at home against Northwestern.

14. Michigan (7-5, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Coppin State 72-56 This Week: Tue vs Illinois, Sat at Purdue

The Wolverines were the talk of the nation for the latter part of the offseason, losing four straight games to N.J.I.T., Eastern Michigan, Arizona and SMU. Michigan suffered through the worst offseason of any contending team in the country, and will have to make a huge splash in the conference season to earn a tournament bid.

2014 Big Ten basketball preview: Part one

Monday, October 27th, 2014


2014-15 B1G BBall Preview-Part1

Over the past few years an incredible change has passed over the Midwest, which was long praised for elite football programs like Michigan and Ohio State and largely uncompetitive on the hardwood with Michigan State taking the cake nearly every season. Now, the sports landscape has been turned on its head, as Big Ten football struggles to keep three teams ranked in the Top 25 while the basketball conference continues to solidify itself as the best in the nation.

Last season was another great campaign for the conference as a whole. Wisconsin fought its way through a tough West regional to reach the Final Four, while Michigan and Michigan State were just seconds away from doing the same, eventually losing to the two National Championship competitors. Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska were also selected for the Big Dance, giving the Big Ten six teams that made the cut. Minnesota also had a successful postseason, winning the NIT championship.

The Big Ten has climbed to the top of the basketball world by featuring a deep slate of teams led by a few legitimate Final Four contenders. This season will be no different, even as the conference welcomes two new teams that have struggled in recent years.

Below is part one of our Big Ten preview. Although there are no divisions in basketball, we’re splitting our preview up into the Big Ten West and Big Ten East football divisions for the sake of organization. Part two will be posted later this week.

Note: In the 2013 Stats & Rankings tables for each team, the darker the shade of maize, the better that team was in that category; the darker the shade of blue, the worse that team was in that category.

Illinois Fighting Illini IllinoisLogo
Head Coach: John Groce (3rd season)
2013-14: 20-15, T-8th in Big Ten (7-11), No postseason
Returning starters: 4 (Nnanna Egwu, Rayvonte Rice, Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn)
Recruiting class rank: (according to 247 Sports): #47 (Leron Black, Michael Finke)
Key non-conference games: Dec. 2 at Miami, Dec. 9 vs Villanova, Dec. 13 vs Oregon

Jon Groce took a major step backwards in his second season in the Big Ten, missing the NCAA Tournament and falling to Clemson by one point in the second round of the NIT. Illinois received a major blow during the offseason when Tracy Abrams tore his ACL, putting the senior point guard out of commission for the entire year.

Despite the loss of Abrams, the Illini offense will have to improve on an average of 64.6 points per game last season, which was good for 311th in the nation. Drake transfer Rayvonte Rice joined Illinois and led the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game last year, but he’ll need help from young players like Kendrick Nunn to give the team a chance to play deep into March in 2015.

Player to watch: Rayvonte Rice. He led the team in scoring in his first Big Ten season, shooting 43 percent from the field and grabbing six boards per game.

Best-case scenario: Rice continues to improve his offensive game, and Nnanna Egwu becomes a defensive force in the paint, leading Illinois to an NCAA Tournament berth.

Worst-case scenario: The team feels the loss of Abrams and lets that set a defeated tone for the season, which carries into the gauntlet Big Ten schedule and Groce’s team ends up in a second straight NIT.

Projected finish: 8th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 64.2 11 303
Scoring Defense 62.2 2 19
Field Goal Percentage .411 11 303
Field Goal Percentage Defense .421 9 94
3-pt FG Percentage .317 11 292
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .343 11 164
Free Throw Percentage .733 6 59
Rebounding Margin +0.5 8
Assist/Turnover Ratio 10.0/10.4 = 1.0 10 209
Steals 6.1 6 155
Blocked Shots 3.6 9 164

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Iowa Hawkeyes Iowa logo
Head Coach: Fran McCaffery (5th season)
2013-14: 20-13, 6th in Big Ten (9-9), First round NCAA Tournament
Returning starters: 3 (Adam Woodbury, Aaron White, Mike Gesell)
Recruiting class rank: #72 (Brady Ellingson, Trey Dickerson, Dominique Uhl)
Key non-conference games: Nov. 20 vs Texas, Dec. 3 at UNC, Dec 12 vs Iowa State

Iowa returns most of a team that put together one of the most confusing resumes in the country last season, ultimately finishing with 20 wins and squeaking into an NCAA Tournament first-round game. The only major loss is that of Roy Devyn Marble, who was the most dangerous offensive player for Fran McCaffery last season.

On offense the Hawkeyes ranked in the top 15 in points, rebounds and assists per game a year ago. At the same time, the defense ranked 12th in rebounds, 37th in blocks and 54th in steals per game, combining to form one of the most impressive statistical resumes in the country. But a 1-6 finish to the regular season set up the overtime loss to Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and sent Iowa home as an afterthought.

This year the team will rely heavily on do-it-all man Aaron White and an athletic backcourt of Mike Gesell and junior college All-American transfer Trey Dickerson to lead a lethal offense. Center Adam Woodbury will be asked to anchor the defense as a junior.

Player to watch: Trey Dickerson. McCaffery brought in Dickerson to give the offense an element of speed, which helped him earn All-American honors in junior college. He could be a huge addition to this deep Iowa rotation.

Best-case scenario: With a balanced offense returning, the Hawkeyes learn from their late-season collapse and put together a complete season, finishing near the top of the Big Ten and priming themselves for a deep NCAA Tournament run.

Worst-case scenario: The loss of Marble puts too much of the load on White and the offense takes a step back, exposing an overmatched defense. Iowa fights through an inconsistent conference season and lands on the wrong side of the bubble in March.

Projected finish: 6th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 81.5 1 8
Scoring Defense 70.3 11 175
Field Goal Percentage .463 3 51
Field Goal Percentage Defense .415 6 68
3-pt FG Percentage .350 5 135
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .317 5 47
Free Throw Percentage .735 5 52
Rebounding Margin +7.0 2
Assist/Turnover Ratio 16.1/11.2 = 1.4 4 20
Steals 7.1 3 53
Blocked Shots 5.0 2 35

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Minnesota Golden Gophers Minnesota-Logo
Head Coach: Richard Pitino (2nd season)
2013-14: 2013-14: 25-13, 7th in Big Ten (8-10), NIT Champions
Returning Starters: 4 (Maurice Walker, Joey King, Andre Hollis, Deandre Mathieu)
Recruiting class rank: #71 (Nate Mason, Jr., Carlos Morris, Josh Martin, Bakary Konate, Gaston Diedhiou)
Key non-conference games: Nov 14 vs Louisville, Dec 2 at Wake Forest

Minnesota put together quite a run to end the 2014 season, winning five straight games by single digits to take home the NIT crown. As the best of the teams that didn’t make the tournament, Minnesota proved that it probably should have received an invite to the Dance.

Now, Richard Pitino returns three of his four leading scorers, including the explosive Andre Hollins, to an offense that must improve on its 71.2 points per contest from last season. Top rebounder Elliot Eliason is also back, and joins Hollins and Deandre Mathieu to form a solid core in Minnesota.

Pitino will have to fill the void left by Austin Hollis, who did a little of everything for the Gophers, averaging 12.4 points, 2.4 assists, five rebounds and two steals per game. Minnesota should be back on the bubble for an NCAA Tournamnt berth, if it can finish .500 in the Big Ten.

Player to watch: Deandre Mathieu. The Morehead State transfer burst onto the Big Ten scene last season, averaging 12 points and 4.2 assists per game for the Golden Gophers. If he can improve on his numbers as a season, he could become an even better version of Austin Hollins.

Best-case scenario: Mathieu clicks, Andre Hollins makes smart decisions as an upperclassman, and Pitino leads his team to double digit conference wins in his second year with Minnesota.

Worst-case scenario: The consistency and playmaking ability of Austin Hollins is sorely missed and the committee of talented guards in Minnesota struggles to fill that gap. Minnesota ends up back in the NIT with a chance to defend their bittersweet title.

Projected finish: 7th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 71.1 7 149
Scoring Defense 67.7 9 106
Field Goal Percentage .447 7 121
Field Goal Percentage Defense .426 10 110
3-pt FG Percentage .352 4 118
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .343 10 170
Free Throw Percentage .742 3 45
Rebounding Margin +0.6 7
Assist/Turnover Ratio 13.9/11.7 = 1.2 5 71
Steals 7.6 2 36
Blocked Shots 4.1 7 115

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Nebraska Cornhuskers Nebraska logo
Head Coach: Tim Miles (3rd season)
2013-14: 19-13, 4th in Big Ten (11-7), Second Round NCAA Tournament
Returning starters: 5 (David Rivers, Terran Petteway, Walter Pitchford, Shavon Shields, Tai Webster)
Recruiting class rank: #87 (Jake Hammond, Tarin Smith)
Key non-conference games: Dec 1 at Florida State, Dec 7 vs Creighton, Dec 13 vs Cincinnati

After an 0-4 start to the Big Ten season landed Nebraska at 8-8 on the season, rumblings of a tournament bid completely died in Lincoln as the team featured no quality wins and two terrible losses. But then, in perhaps the most unlikely turnaround in the country, the Cornhuskers won 11 of their last 14 regular season games before being bounced out of the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament on consecutive Fridays.

The X-factor for Nebraska was obvious: Tim Miles’ team simply didn’t lose in the brand-new Pinnacle Bank Arena. In 16 games at home, Nebraska went 15-1 with a last-second loss to the conference champion Wolverines in early January. With that type of home court advantage this season, the Cornhuskers should be well on their way to another tournament appearance.

Of the nine players that averaged over 10 minutes per game for Miles, seven of them are returning, including two of the top offensive players in the conference: Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields. The two forwards make up perhaps the most dynamic duo in the Midwest and figure to lead this team as it enters the season with something new surrounding the program: Expectations.

Last season it was a miracle for Nebraska to sneak into the NCAA Tournament, but this year it will be a massive letdown if they don’t return.

Player to watch: Terran Petteway. This guy is a legitimate contender for conference player of the year. He averaged 18.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season while leading the underdog Cornhuskers to fourth place in the best conference in basketball.

Best-case scenario: Nebraska returns with all the magic from last season and puts together a complete campaign, winning 25 plus games and challenging Wisconsin for the Big Ten crown.

Worst-case scenario: Shields and Petteway can’t match their 2013-14 level of play and the team spends the whole season searching for a leader. In March Nebraska sits near the middle of the pack in the Big Ten and on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble.

Projected finish: 4th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 66.8 10 263
Scoring Defense 65.2 6 50
Field Goal Percentage .427 9 235
Field Goal Percentage Defense .420 8 88
3-pt FG Percentage .333 7 210
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .315 3 42
Free Throw Percentage .717 8 117
Rebounding Margin -1.9 11
Assist/Turnover Ratio 9.5/10.9 = 0.9 11 284
Steals 6.9 4 72
Blocked Shots 3.1 11 213

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Northwestern Wildcats NorthwesternLogo
Head Coach: Chris Collins (2nd season)
2013-14: 14-19, T-10th in Big Ten, No postseason
Returning starters: 4 (Alex Olah, Sanjay Lumpkin, JerShon Cobb, Tre Demps
Recruiting class rank: #54 (Vic Law, Bryant McIntosh, Scott Lindsey, Gavin Skelly, Johnnie Vassar)
Key non-conference games: Dec 3 vs Georgia Tech, Dec 6 at Butler

The hire of Chris Collins from Duke University sparked a buzz around the Northwestern program last season, and the team did show signs of competing within the Big Ten. In fact, with a 5-5 conference record on the first day of February, the Wildcats were in fourth place in the conference with just 10 games to go. Unfortunately, those 10 games didn’t go well.

Northwestern lost their next seven games and eight of their last 10 to finish just a game out of the cellar. Now Collins has to move forward without his best all-around player Drew Crawford, who has taken his talents to the NBA. Crawford led the team in scoring and rebounding and was among the top three in assists and blocks last season.

The team will feature much of the same core in 2014-15, with guards JerShon Cobb and Tre Demps leading the charge from the backcourt. Seven-foot center Alex Olah is back after a solid sophomore season, and Dave Sobolewski will have to step up as a senior coming off the bench. Vic Law was a top 100 recruit and should give the team a future to build around going forward.

Player to watch: Vic Law. The freshman forward should grow into a significant role this season and play a big part in what Collins hopes to do at Northwestern. The team is deep in the backcourt, but could really use a breakout season from Law on the wing.

Best-case scenario: Northwestern’s starting lineup gels and keeps them in most of their games, thanks to career seasons from Cobb and Demps and a solid freshman campaign from Law. The Wildcats enter the final weeks of the season with an opportunity to put themselves on the bubble.

Worst-case scenario: Big Ten defenses no longer have to worry about Crawford, so the host of Wildcat guards are slowed by more focused defenses.

Projected finish: 12th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 59.5 12 347
Scoring Defense 63.4 3 30
Field Goal Percentage .396 12 335
Field Goal Percentage Defense .411 3 55
3-pt FG Percentage .306 12 318
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .315 4 45
Free Throw Percentage .700 10 177
Rebounding Margin -4.5 12
Assist/Turnover Ratio 11.0/10.9 = 1.0 9 175
Steals 4.3 12 335
Blocked Shots 3.7 8 162

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Purdue Boilermakers Purdue logo
Head Coach: Matt Painter (10th season)
2013-14: 15-17, 12th in Big Ten (5-13), No postseason
Returning starters: 3 (A.J. Hammons, Kendall Stephens, Rapheal Davis)
Recruiting class rank: #34 (Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, Dakota Mathias, P.J. Thompson, Jacquil Taylor)
Key non-conference games: Nov 24 vs Kansas State, Dec 2 vs NC State, Dec 20 vs ND

It took a truly impressive collapse from Matt Painter’s team to finish with a losing record last season, as Purdue stood at 13-5 midway through the season. A 2-12 finish certainly wasn’t what Painter had in mind, and losing his top two scoring threats for this season won’t help.

When two-time MVP Terone Johnson graduated and moved on to play professional ball in Greece, his brother, Ronnie decided to transfer and take his talents to Houston. With the loss of the Johnson brothers Painter waved goodbye to a total of 22.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game. The only saving grace is that starting center A.J. Hammons is ready to take over the team as a junior, much like JaJuan Johnson did under Painter as a sophomore five years ago.

Hammons will be joined by returning guards Kendall Stephens and Bryson Scott, who played major roles for Purdue last season. Transfer Jon Octeus could be the most important player for the Boilermakers this season after he averaged 13.4 points and 4.7 rebounds out of the backcourt for Colorado State last season.

Player to watch: A.J. Hammons. When Purdue was a Big Ten powerhouse under Painter, the centerpiece was a dominant big man inside. Now Hammons looks like the team’s only chance to get back to that level of success following a last-place finish.

Best-case scenario: Hammons takes the reins and runs with them, drawing double and triple teams to help out the trio of potential breakout guards. Purdue fights its way into the top 10 in the conference and gives the top teams headaches in February and March.

Worst-case scenario: Purdue continues to trend downward and finishes at the bottom of the league once again. Hammons isn’t ready to be a go-to scorer and Painter’s seat gets ever hotter.

Projected finish: 13th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 72.2 5 109
Scoring Defense 71.7 12 208
Field Goal Percentage .427 10 239
Field Goal Percentage Defense .419 7 83
3-pt FG Percentage .327 8 239
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .326 7 77
Free Throw Percentage .671 12 271
Rebounding Margin +3.5 4
Assist/Turnover Ratio 13.1/12.3 = 1.1 7 140
Steals 5.6 8 229
Blocked Shots 5.3 1 28

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Wisconsin Badgers Wisconsin logo
Head Coach: Bo Ryan (14th season)
2013-14: 30-8, T-2nd in Big Ten (12-6), Final Four NCAA Tournament
Returning starters: 4 (Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser)
Recruiting class rank: #108 (Ethan Happ)
Key non-conference games: Dec 3 vs Duke, Dec 6 at Marquette, Dec 22 at California

Wisconsin has finished in the top four of the Big Ten standings each year since 2001, but this season, the Badgers are the favorites to land on top and return to the Final Four. Bo Ryan’s returns Big Ten preseason player of the year Frank Kaminsky along with fellow starters Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser.

The Badgers used an eight-game winning streak near the end of the Big Ten season to position themselves as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A one-point overtime win against top-seeded Arizona sent Wisconsin to Arlington, where a one-point loss to Kentucky ended a 30-win season.

Now Ryan enters the 2014-15 season with lofty expectations, thanks to a team that lost little more than Ben Brust during the offseason. Wisconsin should be one of the top teams in the Big Ten and battle for a No. 1 seed in March.

Player to watch: Frank Kaminsky. The seven-footer averaged just 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season, but his strong second half was enough to earn him preseason player of the year honors heading into his senior season.

Best-case scenario: Wisconsin picks up where it left off, blazing through the Big Ten and storming back to the Final Four behind Kaminsky and a more mature Dekker.

Worse-case scenario: Wisconsin’s veteran players take a step back and the team ends up in the fourth or fifth spot in the conference, earning a middling seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected finish: 1st

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 73.5 4 77
Scoring Defense 64.0 4 36
Field Goal Percentage .459 4 73
Field Goal Percentage Defense .429 11 118
3-pt FG Percentage .376 3 57
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .341 9 152
Free Throw Percentage .746 2 27
Rebounding Margin +1.5 5
Assist/Turnover Ratio 12.3/8.1 = 1.5 1 8
Steals 4.8 10 302
Blocked Shots 3.3 10 195