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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Crean’

Michigan 72 – #10 Indiana 69: Bench leads Michigan to upset win over top-seed Indiana

Saturday, March 12th, 2016


Chatman vs Indiana(MGoBlue.com)

When the day started Michigan was staring a second straight NCAA Tournament absence square in the face. Now, the Wolverines are being fitted for their dancing shoes.

It took a near miracle for Michigan to survive Northwestern on Day 2 of the Big Ten Tournament, but 24 hours later, John Beilein’s crew knocked off the outright conference champs to advance to the semifinals.

For Friday’s win, the Wolverines certainly took the route less traveled.

On a day when point guard Derrick Walton went without a field goal and scored just two points, a pair of rarely-used bench options stepped up to salvage the season.

Moritz Wagner gave Michigan a huge boost off the bench, scoring nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. He also ripped down a pair of offensive rebounds and played solid defense against an Indiana team that makes a living inside the paint.

Four Factors
Michigan Indiana
52 eFG% 49
29 OReb% 48
16 TO% 24
29 FTR 40

But Wagner’s effort may have been for naught without the last-second heroics of Kam Chatman, a former five-star recruit and starting forward turned bench warmer. Chatman, who forced his way back into the rotation with solid play down the stretch, found himself with the ball in his hands as the clock sped toward triple zeroes.

So he shot, and it’s a good thing he did.

Chatman’s contested three-pointer went in with 0.2 seconds left on the clock and gave Michigan a 72-69 lead.

His final line — 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal and 1 block — won’t jump off the box score, but the sophomore made the only play he needed to: The biggest shot of Michigan’s season in likely the program’s most important game since Aaron Harrison’s miracle shot bounced the Wolverines from the Elite 8 two years ago.

As fate would have it, Chatman was only in the game after Teddy ‘TV’ Valentine’s crew bounced Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman from the game with just over a minute to go. MAAR left the game with 15 points, second only to Zak Irvin, who scored 17 points on 5-13 shooting.

Irvin, a 61.8 percent free throw shooter, went a career best 6-of-6 from the line.

Walton, who made a field goal in all 28 of his regular season games this year, is without a bucket in 77 minutes during the Big Ten Tournament. Instead, he dished out a Big Ten tourney record 12 assists in the win over the Hoosiers, giving him 17 in the two games combined.

Duncan Robinson also had a tough shooting day — just 4 for 12 total and 1 for 6 from beyond the arc — but his last make was a big one, tying the game at 69 with under a minute to play. It was the second straight game Robinson hit a triple with Michigan trailing in the final minute.

Now Michigan will turn its attention to a Purdue team that obliterated Illinois by 31 points in Friday’s second matchup. The Wolverines split two meetings with the Boilermakers this season, but the inside trio of A.J. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Hass will give a much smaller Michigan team fits.

Michigan allowed Indiana to grab 15 offensive rebounds Friday. Beilein will need to shore up that aspect before Saturday’s 1pm tip.

Another upset victory over Purdue would almost guarantee Michigan a spot in the NCAA Tournament. As it stands, the Wolverines are right on the cut line, along with teams like Syracuse, Florida, UCONN and Saint Mary’s.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 6-6 0-0 0-1 1 3 4 4 12 0 2 2 1 20
10 Derrick Walton* 0-3 0-3 2-2 1 2 3 1 2 12 2 0 2 36
21 Zak Irvin* 5-13 1-4 6-6 0 5 5 2 17 2 2 0 1 35
22 Duncan Robinson* 4-12 1-6 3-3 0 1 1 3 12 3 1 0 0 34
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 6-13 2-4 1-2 2 0 2 5 15 0 1 0 1 34
03 Kam Chatman 2-3 1-2 0-0 1 0 1 2 5 0 0 1 1 8
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4
13 Moritz Wagner 3-3 1-1 2-2 2 0 2 2 9 0 0 0 0 16
24 Aubrey Dawkins 0-2 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 9
32 Ricky Doyle 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 4
Totals 26-56 6-21 14-16 9 16 25 20 72 18 10 3 7 200
Indiana 24-53 4-17 17-21 15 22 37 17 69 13 15 7 6
200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #10 (1) Indiana

Friday, March 11th, 2016


UM-Indiana
Michigan vs #10 Indiana
Friday, March 11 | Indianapolis, Ind.. | 12 p.m. ET | ESPN
Line: Indiana -6
Offense
74.8 Points/gm 82.7
(849-1,809) 46.9 Field Goal % 50.2 (910-1,811)
(314-803) 39.1 3-pt FG % 41.9 (312-745)
(383-520) 73.7 Free Throw % 72.0 (432-600)
12.0 FT Made/gm 13.9
32.4 Reb/gm 37.4
14.9 Assists/gm 16.1
9.8 Turnovers/gm 13.6
Defense
67.2 Points/gm 68.8
(791-1,788) 44.2 Field Goal % 44.1 (795-1,803)
(232-666) 34.8 3-pt FG % 34.5 (194-562)
32.6 Opp. Reb/gm 30.3
5.5 Steals/gm 7.0
2.2 Blocks/gm 3.9
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (16.5), Derrick Walton (11.9) Points/gm Yogi Ferrell (17.1), James Blackmon Jr. (15.8)
Derick Walton (5.7), Caris LeVert (5.3) Reb/gm Troy Williams (6.0), Thomas Bryant (5.8)

Michigan stayed alive with a 72-70 overtime win over Northwestern in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday afternoon. Their reward? A matchup with Big Ten champion Indiana, who beat the Wolverines 80-67 on Feb. 2 in the season’s only meeting to date.

The Hoosiers have high hopes of making a deep NCAA Tournament run after winning the outright Big Ten title and look to capture the Big Ten Tournament crown as well. Michigan can clinch an at-large bid with an upset of Indiana, but will likely have to settle for the NIT if they lose.

Senior guard Yogi Ferrell led Indiana with 17 points and nine assist in the first meeting, while sophomore guard Robert Johnson added 16 points. Ferrell is the Hoosiers’ unquestioned leader, averaging 17.1 points per game, but Johnson has missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain he suffered against Purdue on Feb. 20.

Freshman forward OG Anunoby came off the bench to match his season-high of 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and senior guard Nick Zeisloft — a three-point specialist — scored eight.

Michigan made just 7-of-23 three-point attempts in that first meeting and will need to do better than that if they want a chance of winning. More importantly, Michigan must play with the same defensive intensity that it did against Northwestern on Thursday. Indiana made 33 shots in that first meeting — only 10-of-30 from downtown — and if Michigan can’t hold the Hoosiers below 27 field goals today they’ll find themselves in the NIT next week.

After a horrid week for Michigan hoops, is it time to panic?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016


Beilein vs MSU(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

I didn’t write about Michigan’s two basketball games this past week; I simply couldn’t bring myself to. We all know what happened – Michigan got romped twice in their own gym and looked lifeless outside of about five minutes against Indiana and a few moments when the Wolverines’ bench warmers made some brutal losses look just a little better on the final stat sheet.

I’ve never tried to hide that I’m a very passionate Michigan basketball fan first and a Michigan basketball blogger second. After all, I used to be the president of the Maize Rage and have been going to games at Crisler since some time around the turn of the century.

So when the Wolverines suffer a gut-wrenching loss (think Josh Gasser’s banked three at the buzzer in 2011 or Evan Turner’s last second heave in the 2010 Big Ten Tournament) or get their asses flattened like pancakes pounded by a spatula after being removed from the griddle (think, well, both those “games” last week), I usually struggle to bring myself to settle my emotions enough to bring fingers to keyboard.

But I thought I should ramble a little about how I feel now after digesting those losses, throwing them up, and taking some antacid.

By the way, the final deficits against Indiana and Michigan State were 13 and 16, respectively, but probably would have more accurately reflected the nature of the games if those numbers were doubled.

Hopefully the Selection Committee takes a look at the final score of each game and says “well those are bad losses but not that bad!” and then proceeds to put Michigan somewhere other than Dayton, Spokane, or Oklahoma City (if they make it, I’m hoping to go to their first round game, but I would rather it not actually be a First Round game, if you know what I mean).

In reality, we all know that those losses were that bad. Like really that bad.

As Rafiki says, however, “it doesn’t matter, it’s in the past!” Michigan can’t change the disaster that happened last week, but they can hopefully learn a bit from them and pave the way for a brighter future.

So what’s to learn about those two games that people are certainly, definitely, NOT AT ALL panicking about?

Well, let’s rationalize a bit to begin. Indiana and Michigan State are two very good teams that played excellent games (I’m not going to reference many stats in this column because of how skewed the numbers are over the stretch, but any time two teams combine to make 56 percent of their shots in a given week, that’s some good play). They have combined to win 81.3 percent of their matchups so far this season and have beaten some good teams. They are both shoo-ins for the Big Dance, and they’ll probably embarrass a couple other teams not named Michigan going forward (do not pay any attention to Indiana’s game at Penn State).

For those rough games, Michigan still does not have a bad loss to show on their record – and I honestly don’t expect margin of defeat to come into play on Selection Sunday. They also have a couple very good wins on their resume and could add to their two top-100 RPI wins with victories they have already acquired earlier this season, should Penn State or North Carolina State climb up a few spots. For now, the Wolverines still look like relatively safe bets to make the Tournament.

If you are one of the many Michigan fans teetering on the edge right now, please take a step back, then another. It’s not time to panic just yet. If Michigan comes home from Minneapolis with a loss on Ash Wednesday, though, I give you full permission to run forward and jump.

Bench vs MSU(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

Anyway, about those games.

The Wolverines actually came out looking very good against Indiana last Tuesday, jumping out to an early 11-point lead and threatening to run away from the Hoosiers. Things quickly erupted though, and before the halftime horn mercifully blew in a dead silent Crisler Center, Michigan found itself on the wrong end of a 25-0 run and a 21-point deficit.

Before they could throw a counter punch, the Wolverines were knocked out by a savage Indiana offense. So what happened? Ultimately, the Hoosiers took advantage of Michigan’s poor transition defense, the Wolverines panicked and began turning the ball over and missing ill-advised shots so bad that they may as well also have been turnovers, and by halftime, the Wolverines were in a complete state of shock. Effectively, it was game over. To rub salt in the already gaping wound that caused the knockout, Tom Crean quickly mentioned former Michigan player Max Bielfeldt as a reason for Indiana’s terrific play. That, of course, was mostly garbage – Bielfeldt finished with just five points on 2-of-8 shooting (the worst percentage for any Hoosier that attempted a shot) in 18 minutes – but stung nonetheless. The stated reason Crean praised Bielfeldt was for his excellent first half plus/minus rating, which was absolutely comical given that just about every Indiana player had a through-the-roof first half plus/minus.

As soon as that panic set in, Michigan’s offense – which, again, came out firing on all cylinders – devolved into what looked like a typical eighth grade offense, with guys trying to play hero ball and failing miserably. Indiana capitalized, with six of their buckets (good for 15 points) down the stretch in the first half coming within 10 seconds of a Michigan miss or turnover, and a couple others coming off of terrible looks or turnovers as well.

Michigan is simply not good enough to overcome a shocking run like that, and Indiana simply could not miss for quite a long stretch. Further, the Wolverines are lacking their best individual playmaker, their primary facilitator, and their presumed leader. That recipe, combined with a seeming lack of confidence once things get bad for the Maize and Blue, is a recipe for disaster, and disaster is what descended upon Ann Arbor. In my opinion, it was one of those games where you almost have to say “it happens” and move on. Obviously it was a poor, poor result and an even worse performance, but I don’t place too much blame on the coaching staff.

I can’t say the same for the Michigan State loss. Coming off the tough-pill-to-swallow beatdown against Indiana, Michigan was certainly going to be a bit wary and perhaps high-strung or nervous with their in-state rivals coming to town playing much better than them (as an aside, players will never admit to paying close attention to other teams, or to keeping track of their ranking, or to listening to talking heads’ opinion of their team, but they absolutely do).

Unfortunately, I do not believe the coaching staff put the Wolverines in position to win.

Now don’t get me wrong. Michigan State is a very good team, and has been for many seasons. They are a tough, physical team, and perhaps not the best matchup for a Michigan team that usually plays with more finesse than physicality.

But the Spartans are also fairly easy to gameplan for in my opinion. This year, Michigan State has one guy who can do it all on offense and is dangerous any time he’s on the floor. That player, of course is Denzel Valentine. He’s an All-Everything senior that is a phenomenal passer, a very good shooter, and an excellent rebounder for his size as well. There is one other player, Eron Harris, who is fairly multi-dimensional, with the ability to drive, pass, shoot, get fouled, etc. But Harris is also prone to fits of erraticism and is not quite the shooter, finisher, or passer that Valentine is, and turns the ball over more than Valentine while handling the ball less.

Meanwhile, the Spartans also boast some excellent offensive complementary pieces that, while key to their success, are a little more one-dimensional. Bryn Forbes is an outstanding spot-up shooter that doesn’t do much more than shoot the three-ball. Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis are a load to handle down low, but neither is a threat to score from more than 12 feet away. Matt McQuaid is a plus shooter but does not shoot much while big men Kenny Goins and Gavin Schilling are basically the same players as Costello and Davis but both significant downgrades.

How do you beat, or at least challenge, the Spartans then? If Valentine proves too difficult to handle, so be it – you have to grin and bear it. He’s one of the best players in the country and can break down any defense. If Harris drives his way into some fouls and knocks down a couple deep shots, shrug your shoulders. But you absolutely CANNOT let Bryn Forbes get wide open and kill you from deep.

And that’s exactly what happened. Forbes had 23 points – seven triples and another long two – by halftime to Michigan’s 28 total. Of his eight makes, Forbes may have had a Wolverine within three feet of him once or twice.

Bryn Forbes(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

That is a lack of effort, a lack of effective defense, and also a lack of a competent defensive gameplan. Michigan came out in a soft man defense that showed little urgency in sticking with Forbes – again, one of the more lethal shooters in the country – and paid dearly for it. Duncan Robinson was a primary culprit, running under screens and getting completely stone-walled by picks, but the coaching staff deserves equal blame for allowing Michigan State to come out and drain 10 very mildly contested threes in a single half.

About midway through the first half, when it was clear that the Wolverines had completely missed the mark on the scouting report, Beilein switched to a 1-3-1 zone in an attempt to keep another game spiraling quickly out of control within striking distance.

It was fine for a change of pace, and it even managed to flummox the Spartans into making a couple dumb mistakes. But Michigan went back to it after those couple mistakes, which Michigan State was ecstatic to see. The Spartans promptly drained a triple, and when the Wolverines inexplicably went back to the zone yet again, they made another. And another. And another.

I have never seen Beilein look so helpless, but the answer in slowing Michigan State’s offense was never going to come by playing zone for an extended period of time. Michigan State is simply too good of a shooting team to fall prey.

Perhaps most frustrating about the decision to play zone for so long is that the 1-3-1 zone is not designed to limit shooting whatsoever. Rather, it’s designed to confuse the offense, create turnovers, and prevent easy driving buckets. Michigan State was not killing Michigan with easy buckets at the hoop; they were killing the Wolverines from beyond the arc. So instead of switching up the gameplan and sticking the best perimeter defender Michigan has – probably Derrick Walton at this point – onto Forbes and instructing him to not let the senior transfer touch the ball, Beilein inexplicably switched to a zone that is prone to giving up wide open shots from deep. And give up shots the zone did.

By the time halftime arrived – again again by the grace of God – Michigan was pretty much out of the picture and sapped of any confidence that once existed. Of course, the Wolverines moved to a more aggressive man defense in the second half, with Walton face-guarding Forbes, to open the second half. But it was too late. The lack of a first half adjustment failed the team.

In the aftermath of the second straight embarrassment at home, Michigan fans across the blogosphere at Twittersphere began (yet again) calling for Beilein’s head.

To that, I merely say this: stop it. Yes, Michigan got beat bad twice in a row. And yes, perhaps it could have been mitigated by some better coaching decisions.

But if you want people to take you seriously, you must first think and act rationally. John Beilein is one of the best things to happen to the Michigan basketball program in quite a long time. I don’t need to run through his list of accolades and accomplishments since taking over the program in the 2007-’08 season.

So I pray that many of those calling for his firing are uninformed tweens that have known nothing but success over the majority of Beilein’s tenure in Ann Arbor, and expect Michigan to be dominant each year. Unfortunately, those are unrealistic expectations for all but a few fan bases in the country.

It’s even more unrealistic to expect that when a team is missing their unquestioned best player and a key secondary piece. Both of those guys, of course, are seniors – Michigan’s only seniors heading into this season. And if you don’t understand the value of seniors in this day of overhyped freshmen in college basketball, I suggest you listen to what Tom Izzo had to say after his team’s triumphant victory on Saturday.

Take a look at any top team in the country and you’ll likely find that a senior (or two or three) is the driving force behind the success. Guys like Buddy Hield, Isaiah Ryan Arcidiacono, Daniel Ochefu, Jared Uthoff, Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello, Bryn Forbes, Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jake Layman, Perry Ellis, Sheldon McClellan, Angel Rodriguez, and so many more are guys that make teams tick.

Michigan’s two seniors are currently watching from the bench. Hopefully they get one of them back soon, but in the meantime, patience and understanding are highly advised.

Crappy performances happen in college basketball. Shots fall and don’t fall, players make mistakes and lose confidence. Teams lose, sometimes badly, and coaches make mistakes too.

Still, Michigan is probably going to be okay. They had a couple big hiccups and they have some recovering and rebounding to do, but it’s not the end of the world, and it’s certainly not time to overreact after losing two games in which the projected outcomes were pretty much coin flips.

There are more opportunities on the way, and I believe that John Beilein will have an answer.

I, at least, have a good feeling about the two games this week.

The past is over. Let’s play on.

Indiana 80 – Michigan 67: Hoosiers overwhelm Michigan in Bielfeldt’s return

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


Irvin vs IU(MGoBlue.com)

Michigan started strong, racing out to a 17-6 lead, but went ice cold over the final nine minutes of the first half. Indiana closed the half on a 25-0 run and added a three to start the second half. Michigan couldn’t stop the bleeding. The final score of 80-67 doesn’t reflect how wide a margin the game really was.

After cruising through the easy portion of the conference, Michigan clearly missed its star, Caris LeVert, against perhaps the best team in the conference. A celebrity cast in the crowd — on hand for Wednesday’s Signing of the Stars — wasn’t enough to will Michigan to victory and Max Bielfeldt got revenge over his former team.

Indiana shot 50 percent from the field despite making just 10 of 30 three-point attempts. Michigan had no answer for the Hoosiers’ offense as they made 23 of 36 from inside three-point range. Michigan, meanwhile, shot just 28.1 percent in the first half, digging a hole that was too deep to crawl out of.

Michigan looks to bounce back against rival Michigan State on Saturday.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 2 3 3 2 1 1 1 0 30
10 Derrick Walton* 3-10 1-3 0-0 0 3 3 1 7 3 2 0 2 28
21 Zak Irvin* 6-16 3-6 1-3 1 3 4 1 16 4 3 0 0 37
22 Duncan Robinson* 6-11 1-5 1-1 0 4 4 3 14 0 3 0 0 31
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 3-8 1-3 0-2 0 4 4 1 7 1 0 0 0 34
03 Kameron Chatman 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 2
05 D.J. Wilson 3-4 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 0 6 0 0 0 0 5
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 1 1 1 2 2 1 0 0 4
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 2-7 1-5 0-0 0 3 3 1 5 0 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 2-3 0-0 2-2 2 0 2 1 6 0 0 1 0 8
Totals 27-62 7-23 6-11 7 23 30 13 67 11 10 2 2 200
Indiana 33-66 10-30 4-8 14 30 44 17 80 18 12 5 6
200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #22 Indiana

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016


UM-Indiana
Michigan vs Indiana
Tuesday, Feb. 2 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 9 p.m. EST | ESPN
Line: Michigan -3
Offense
77.4 Points/gm 85.2
(600-1,234) 48.6 Field Goal % 51.7 (667-1,291)
(233-565) 41.2 3-pt FG % 43.2 (220-509)
(269-361) 74.5 Free Throw % 71.8 (321-447)
12.2 FT Made/gm 14.6
32.8 Reb/gm 38.2
16.0 Assists/gm 16.7
9.8 Turnovers/gm 14.6
Defense
64.4 Points/gm 68.5
(518-1,221) 42.4 Field Goal % 43.4 (558-1,287)
(151-451) 33.5 3-pt FG % 33.3 (125-375)
31.6 Opp. Reb/gm 30.0
5.7 Steals/gm 7.4
2.5 Blocks/gm 4.3
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Duncan Robinson (12.5) Points/gm Yogi Ferrell (17.5), James Blackmon (15.8)
Derick Walton (5.9), Caris LeVert (5.4) Reb/gm Troy Williams (6.5), Thomas Bryant (5.5)

After sweeping its easiest four-game stretch of the Big Ten season, Michigan returns home Tuesday to kick off a much more difficult second half of the conference slate against Indiana. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers come into the game after a pretty worry-free first half of their own.

Seven of Michigan’s last nine games will come against teams with a winning conference record, and none will be bigger than Tuesday’s matchup against an Indiana team currently tied at the very top. The Hoosiers, though they’ve yet to play any of the Big Ten’s top six teams, are 8-1 and winners of 13 of their last 14 games.

With top-five duo Maryland and Iowa setting the pace, Michigan will have to put together a string of quality wins in February to earn a double bye in next month’s Big Ten Tournament. That journey begins Tuesday night.

Here are three keys to the game.

1. Bielfeldt is back

It’s been a wild ride for former Michigan forward Max Bielfeldt over the last 12 months, going from bench warmer to rotation center to starting big man at Indiana.

Calves came out of nowhere in 2015, playing more than 20 minutes in eight of Michigan’s final 14 games. The redshirt junior topped 20 minutes only once in the team’s first 18 games: A four-point effort against Detroit.

But now Bielfeldt is a major contributor for the Hoosiers, averaging 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. He’s also raised his field goal percentage by more than 10 percentage points, shooting a stellar 58.2 percent from the floor.

As a graduate transfer, this will be Bielfeldt’s last game at the Crisler Center, but Michigan fans will see a much different player than the one who came off of John Beilein’s bench with a minute left in blowouts. Bielfeldt is more involved on both ends of the floor with the Hoosiers and has scored in double figures nine times this season.

Beilein said on Monday that he didn’t agree with the NCAA allowing Bielfeldt to transfer to another Big Ten school. That quote alone will tell you Bielfeldt’s old coach understands the veteran’s value on the court.

2. To Caris, or not to Caris?

While the mysterious absence of Caris LeVert in Michigan’s backcourt continues to drag on, both sides of Tuesday’s matchup are focused squarely on one question: Will he play?

But regardless of LeVert’s status, the more appropriate question for Michigan fans might be, “Should he play?”

That’s no knock on LeVert. The senior guard is clearly the team’s most valuable player, leading the way in points, assists and rebounds before his “lower leg” injury. But it’s worth wondering if such a big stage is the right time for Beilein to pull the trigger.

Since LeVert hit the bench, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton have really stepped up their play. Irvin is making a concerted effort to drive to the basket and find his teammates while Walton is filling LeVert’s absence on the defensive boards.

With the offense starting to click in its current rotation, is it the right time to reinsert a player like LeVert, who not only demands the basketball in his hands on most of the team’s possessions, but also might be knocking off a month’s worth of rust?

The obviously problem is that, with Michigan’s upcoming schedule, there’s really no good time to make the transition. The Wolverines only have two opponents left on their schedule — Northwestern and Minnesota — that they can beat without playing a solid game. With having LeVert ready by March as Beilein’s primary goal, he might have to bite the bullet and accept the growing pains that’ll come from putting LeVert back on the court.

Would the future first-round draft pick agree to come off the bench? If so, that might be a good way to ease him back into the flow of things. LeVert has never suggested to be a player with a huge ego, but coming off the bench would definitely be a transition for the third-year starter.

Michigan has been very vague about the nature of LeVert’s injury, so we probably won’t get an answer to our questions until he trots onto the court.

3. Protect this house

Michigan will play perhaps the most difficult second-half schedule in the Big Ten, but it can at least watch its destiny play out on its own turf.

Over the next five weeks, Michigan will host Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern and Iowa at the Crisler Center. That means before the conference title is decided, four of Michigan’s five greatest competitors for the conference crown will take a trip to Ann Arbor.

If the Wolverines can take care of business on their home court, the path to the Big Ten championship will run along Stadium Boulevard.

The Hoosiers didn’t make the trip north last season as the only meeting between these two teams came at Assembly Hall. In fact, last time Indiana saw Crisler, Michigan was cutting the nets and getting ready to raise another banner.

Michigan’s 84-80 win over the Hoosers on March 8, 2014, put the cherry on top of another Big Ten title for Beilein’s squad. Michigan polished off a 23-7 regular season with a 9-5 run in the final minute to hold off Tom Crean’s upset attempt. After a Stanford Robinson bucket tied the game at 75 with under 90 seconds to go, a Glenn Robinson 3-pointer and six perfect free throws sent Michigan into the conference tournament with a No. 1 seed.

Tuesday night’s game will begin with a much different feel. Michigan, for one, is unranked and expected to be a middling seed when it heads to Indianapolis. Meanwhile Indiana, at 18-4 overall, has its eyes set on a top-three seed in the Big Dance.

But those differences don’t change the importance of this game. Michigan can’t afford to drop home games like this if it hopes to emerge as a true contender. This appears to be a bit of a validation game for two teams hoping to keep pace with loaded rosters like the Hawkeyes and Terps.

Michigan’s guards will have their hands full with Ferrell on defense, but Indiana’s athleticism in the front court might be the biggest deciding factor in this contest. With eyes on LeVert, Bielfeldt, Crean and Ferrell in his last trip to Crisler, it should be an entertaining matchup to kick off February in the Big Ten.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Pre-Big Ten Tournament

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
The Big Ten regular season came to an end on Sunday with Wisconsin retaining the top spot and conference newcomer Maryland grabbing a distant second. There wasn’t a lot of movement in the final power rankings as Indiana took the biggest drop of three places and Iowa had the biggest climb of three. The Big Ten Tournament began tonight, though those results are not reflected in these rankings.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 6, Week 7, Week 9

1. Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2) – Even
Last Week: Beat Minn 76-63, Beat #23 Ohio State 72-48 This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs Mich/Illinois

The undisputed flagship team in the Big Ten finished the regular season with a flourish Sunday, pounding Ohio State by 24 points in Columbus. Wisconsin enters the conference tournament with a No. 1 seed on its mind.

2. Maryland (26-5, 14-4) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 60-50, Beat Nebraska 64-61 This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs NU/Indiana

Mark Turgeon couldn’t have hoped for a better inaugural season in the Big Ten, as his team cruised to a second-place finish and enters the postseason on a seven-game winning streak. Maryland already took down Wisconsin once, and doing so again would earn the Terps a Big Ten championship.

3. Iowa (21-10, 12-6) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Indiana 77-63, Beat Northwestern 69-52 This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Penn State

On Feb. 15 the Hawkeyes had lost five of their last seven games and stared down the barrel of another late-season collapse. Instead, Iowa blazed through its final six games and picked up the No. 5 seed in Chicago.

4. Michigan State (21-10, 12-6) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Purdue 72-66, Beat Indiana 74-72 This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs Minn/Ohio State

Tom Izzo and the Spartans were shaky through 31 games this season, but closed with wins over two lesser opponents to snatch the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

5. Purdue (20-11, 12-6) – Down 3
Last Week: Lost at MSU 66-72, Beat Illinois 63-58 This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs Iowa/Penn State

Purdue is kicking itself heading into the conference tournament after it dropped two road games in the first week of March that would have solidified its NCAA resume. Instead, the first-round bye may actually hurt the Boilermakers, who will likely miss out with a one-and-done showing in Chicago.

6. Illinois (19-12, 9-9) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 69-57, Lost at Purdue 58-63 This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Michigan

Illinois came within five points of finishing the season on a three-game streak that may have been enough to put them on the right side of the bubble. Instead, an 8-6 record down the stretch with five of those losses by eight points or less may not be enough for John Groce’s team.

7. Ohio State (22-9, 11-7) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 77-67, Lost vs #6 Wisc 48-72
This Week: Thu (B1G Tournament) vs Minnesota

A 24-point loss to Wisconsin on Senior Day put an exclamation point on Ohio State’s tremendously disappointing season. The Buckeyes finished with only one win over a team ranked in the final AP poll: a home victory against Maryland. Ohio State was uncompetitive against each of Louisville, North Carolina and Wisconsin and will struggle to make a tournament run, barring a complete D’Angelo Russell takeover.

8. Indiana (19-12, 9-9) – Down 3
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 63-77, Lost to MSU 72-74 This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Northwestern

The last six weeks of the season were awfully unkind to Tom Crean and the Hoosiers. After finally cracking the Top 25 with a 15-4 record, Indiana dropped eight of its last 12 games, putting its tournament status and coaching future in question. Indiana probably needed to win three of its last five games, but instead beat only Rutgers, the Big Ten’s junior varsity team, and lost three home games and a trip to Northwestern.

9. Northwestern (15-16, 6-12) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Michigan 82-70 2OT, Lost to Iowa 52-69 This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Indiana

Despite finishing the season with a losing record, Northwestern is trending sharply upwards, having won five of its final seven conference games. The Wildcats looked destined for a last-place finish after a 10-game losing streak, but flipped the switch in mid-February. Tom Crean’s collar is feeling a little tight heading into this Big Ten Tournament matchup.

10. Michigan (15-15, 8-10) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost at NU 78-82 2OT, Beat Rutgers 79-69 This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Illinois

As strange as it may sound, Michigan is one of the better teams in the Big Ten… in the first 40 minutes of games. The Wolverines lost four overtime games, and had they finished those wins, they’d be sitting in the No. 4 seed with a double bye in the tournament.

11. Minnesota (17-14, 6-12) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #6 Wisc 63-76, Lost to Penn State 76-79 This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Rutgers

Minnesota just couldn’t get rolling during conference play this season, mustering just one winning streak (three games) but following it with losses in five of its last six games.

12. Penn State (16-15, 4-14) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to #23 OSU 67-77, Beat Minnesota 79-76  This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Nebraska

A road win to finish the season snapped a six-game winning streak for Penn State, but it’ll still be one of four teams playing in the first round of the conference tournament Wednesday.

13. Nebraska (13-17, 5-13) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost at Illinois 57-69, Lost to #10 Maryland 61-64 This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Penn State

Die-hard believers in what Nebraska accomplished last season considered Tim Miles’ team a legitimate contender heading into the 2014-15 campaign. Instead, Nebraska was the league’s greatest disappointment, finishing in 12th place and losing eight straight down the stretch.

14. Rutgers (10-21, 2-16) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #10 Maryland 50-60, Lost at Michigan 69-79 This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Minnesota

Rutgers’ first year in the Big Ten was an absolute bloodbath. The Scarlett Knights will play Wednesday, on the two-month anniversary of their last win, carrying a 14-game losing streak on their shoulders.

Just short: Indiana 70 – Michigan 67

Sunday, February 8th, 2015


Irvin vs IU(Jamie Owens, UMHoops)

Still shorthanded, Michigan ventured into Bloomington, where it has won just once since 1995 and twice since 1989, and took Indiana to the wire, ultimately falling three points short, 70-67, despite a career-high 23 from Zak Irvin.

Aubrey Dawkins hit a three-pointer on Michigan’s first shot of the game, but Indiana jumped out to a 11-5 lead and then widened it to 20-11 by the under-12 media timeout. But Kameron Chatman made one of two free throws and Mark Donnal scored five straight to keep Michigan in the game. Four free throws by Ricky Doyle and Spike Albrecht pulled Michigan within three, but Indiana responded and took a 36-29 lead into the half.

Four Factors
Michigan Indiana
56.5 eFG% 56.1
26.9 OReb% 48.1
19.0 TO% 24.1
43.5 FTR 40.8

Doyle opened the second half with a layup, and after a steal, Dawkins made two free throws to get back to a three-point defect. But eight straight Indiana points prompted a Michigan timeout. Irvin made a layup and followed with a three, but Indiana pulled back ahead by 11 with 14 minutes to play.

Once again, Irvin responded with a jumper, and Dawkins Doyle followed with back to back dunks to pull Michigan within striking distance. Indiana answered with a  Troy Williams dunk, but Irvin hit another three. Every time Michigan threatened to tie the game, Indiana had an answer, and every time Indiana threatened to run away with it, Michigan responded with a run of its own.

Three times in the final eight minutes of the game, Indiana widened its lead to nine, but even without its two leaders, Michigan refused to die. A three-point play by Albrecht brought Michigan within three at 65-62 with 1:18 to play. Indiana’s Collin Hartman and then Albrecht traded a pair of free throws.

With an eight-second difference between the game clock and shot clock, John Beilein chose to let Indiana play instead of foul, but Yogi Ferrell shredded the Michigan zone with a dish to Williams for a dunk. Irvin answered with a three to pull Michigan within two and the Wolverines sent Hartman to the free throw line. He missed the first but made the second, giving Michigan a chance to force overtime with a three. But Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s attempt from the left corner at the buzzer was all iron and Michigan suffered its third straight loss.

Irvin tied a career-high with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 3-of-5 three-point shooting. Doyle scored 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting and made 5-of-6 free throws in addition to pulling in six rebounds. Albrecht was the only other Wolverine in double figures with 12.

As a team, Michigan shot 50 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from downtown. Michigan held Indiana, the Big Ten’s best scoring team, 10 points below its average. The Hoosiers shot 49 percent overall and 41.2 percent from three-point range. Indiana out-rebounded Michigan 32-21.

Michigan, now 13-11 overall and 6-6 in the Big Ten, visits Illinois (16-8, 6-5) on Thursday. The Illini have won three straight including a 59-54 victory at Michigan State Saturday.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
32 Ricky Doyle* 5-5 0-0 5-6 3 3 6 4 15 0 1 2 1 27
02 Spike Albrecht* 3-5 1-2 5-5 0 2 2 1 12 7 3 0 1 39
12 M-A. Abdur-Rahkman* 1-7 0-2 0-0 0 2 2 2 2 3 4 0 3 34
21 Zak Irvin* 9-16 3-5 2-5 0 2 2 4 23 2 1 0 3 39
24 Aubrey Dawkins* 2-6 1-3 2-2 1 2 3 0 7 1 2 0 0 34
03 Kameron Chatman 0-1 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 10
04 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
20 Sean Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
34 Mark Donnal 3-4 1-1 0-0 1 2 3 3 7 0 0 1 0 10
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 3
Totals 23-46 6-13 15-20 7 14 21 16 67 13 11 4 7 200
Indiana 24-49 7-17 15-20 13 19 32 17 70 11 14 4 5 200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Indiana

Saturday, February 7th, 2015


UM-Indiana
Michigan (13-10, 6-5) vs Indiana (16-7, 6-4)
Sunday, Feb. 8 | Bloomington, Ind. | 1:00 p.m. EST | CBS
Offense
64.6 Points/gm 80.2
(497-1,195) 41.6 Field Goal % 47.9 (644-1,345)
(175-495) 35.4 3-pt FG % 40.9 (209-511)
(252-339) 74.3 Free Throw % 72.7 (347-477)
11.5 FT Made/gm 15.1
31.8 Reb/gm 36.5
12.0 Assists/gm 13.8
10.0 Turnovers/gm 11.7
Defense
61.8 Points/gm 72.9
(501-1,157) 43.3 Field Goal % 45.3 (638-1,409)
(144-424) 34.0 3-pt FG % 32.3 (136-421)
33.9 Opp. Reb/gm 33.2
5.7 Steals/gm 5.1
1.8 Blocks/gm 3.2
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.9)*, Zak Irvin (13.5) Points/gm James Blackmon Jr. (16.5), Yogi Ferrell (16.0)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7) Reb/gm Troy Williams (6.3), James Blackmon Jr (5.2)
*Out for season

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan held up well after losing Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, taking Wisconsin and Michigan State to overtime, but it was hard to believe they would be able to keep that up. On Thursday night, the other shoe dropped and Michigan was dominated at home by an Iowa squad that entered riding a three-game losing streak. Now, Michigan has the unenviable task of visiting the Hall of Horrors where, as MGoBlog’s Ace Anbender pointed out, they have won just twice since 1989. Let’s take a look at the Hoosiers.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
James Blackmon Jr (G) 30.1 16.5 43.3 40.5 84.6 5.2 1.3 1.6 0.0 0.6
Yogi Ferrell (G) 34.4 16.0 43.8 42.1 87.9 3.2 4.7 2.0 0.0 0.7
Troy Williams (F) 26.2 13.0 57.1 16.7 74.3 6.3 1.9 2.2 0.3 1.1
Robert Johnson (G) 26.0 9.4 47.9 42.3 63.2 3.3 2.3 2.0 0.1 1.0
Nick Zeisloft (G) 20.0 6.5 44.1 40.8 73.3 2.3 0.8 0.6 0.1 0.3
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
H Mosquera-Perea (F)* 20.9 7.4 62.0 00.0 58.8 5.0 0.3 1.1 1.6 0.3
Collin Hartman (F) 19.9 5.3 53.3 52.4 65.5 3.6 1.0 0.8 0.5 0.4
Emmitt Holt (F) 12.2 4.1 67.4 00.0 58.8 2.8 0.2 0.5 0.8 0.2
Stanford Robinson (G) 11.5 3.7 33.3 00.0 57.8 2.0 1.2 0.9 0.2 0.6
Max Hoetzel (F) 9.3 3.0 44.9 37.5 70.0 1.8 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.2
*Injured
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 Mississippi Valley State W 116-65
Nov. 17 Texas Southern W 83-64
Nov. 20 #22 SMU W 74-68
Nov. 22 Lamar W 85-72
Nov. 24 Eastern Washington L 86-88
Nov. 28 UNC Greensboro W 87-79
Dec. 2 Pittsburgh^ W 81-69
Dec. 6 Savannah State W 95-49
Dec. 9 #4 Louisville* L 74-94
Dec. 13 Grand Canyon W 94-66
Dec. 20 #23 Butler# W 82-73
Dec. 22 New Orleans W 79-59
Dec. 27 Georgetown! L 87-91 OT
Dec. 31 at Nebraska W 70-65
Jan. 5 at Michigan State L 50-70
Jan. 10 #22 Ohio State W 69-66
Jan. 13 Penn State W 76-73
Jan. 18 at Illinois W 80-74
Jan. 22 #13 Maryland W 89-70
Jan. 25 at Ohio State L 70-82
Jan. 28 at Purdue L 67-83
Jan. 31 Rutgers W 72-64
Feb. 3 at #5 Wisconsin L 78-92
Feb. 8 Michigan
Feb. 11 at #17 Maryland
Feb. 15 Minnesota
Feb. 19 Purdue
Feb. 22 at Rutgers
Feb. 25 at Northwestern
Mar. 3 Iowa
Mar. 7 Michigan State
*Jimmy V Classic, ^ACC/Big Ten Challenge, #Crossroads Classic, !Indeed Invitational

Like Michigan’s losses to NJIT and Eastern Michigan, Indiana dropped a game it had no business losing to Eastern Washington on Nov. 24. The Hoosiers didn’t play a single true road game in the non-conference schedule, but did pick up decent wins over SMU, Butler, and Pittsburgh. They also lost in overtime to Georgetown and got beat by 20 by Louisville. In Big Ten play, IU has quality wins over Ohio State and Maryland — both at home — but the four losses have been by an average of 15.5 points. They have yet to lose a conference game at home this season.

The Series

Indiana leads the all-time series 104-57 and is 65-13 against Michigan in Bloomington. The last time the Wolverines won in Assembly Hall was a 72-66 overtime victory on Jan. 7, 2009. Each team won at home last season with Indiana winning 63-52 on Feb. 2 and Michigan winning 84-80 on March 8. John Beilein is 5-7 in his career against Indiana.

Notes

• Indiana is the Big Ten’s best scoring offense, averaging 80.2 points per game. The Hoosiers also have the worst scoring defense in the Big Ten, allowing 72.9 points per game

• Indiana ranks third in the Big Ten in shooting percentage (47.9) and first in three-point percentage (40.9). The Hoosiers defense ranks last in shooting percentage (45.3) and sixth against the three (32.3)

• Indiana ranks fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding margin (plus-3.3)

• Indiana ranks 13th in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game (3.2), ahead of only Michigan (1.8)

• Indiana ranks 11th in the Big Ten in turnover margin (minus-0.83)

• Indiana ranks fourth in the Big Ten in both offensive rebounds  per game (11.7) and defensive rebounds per game (24.9)

• Freshman James Blackmon Jr ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 16.5 points per game, while Yogi Ferrell ranks seventh at 16.0

• Yogi Ferrell leads the Big Ten in free throw shooting (87.9 percent)

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.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 3

Monday, January 12th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
Conference play is now two weeks in and there were plenty of moves up and down the rankings. Wisconsin finally relinquished the top spot as Michigan State shot up nine spots with a three-win week. Michigan joined their rivals as the only teams not to lose a game last week. The rest of the top five slid down one spot. Purdue, Northwestern, Penn State, and Minnesota each fell five spots and make up the bottom four as we head into Week 3.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2

1. Michigan State (12-5, 3-1) – Up 9
Last Week: Beat IU 70-50, Beat Iowa 75-61, Beat Northwestern 84-77 OT This Week: Sat at #14 Maryland

After a surprising home loss to start the conference season, Michigan State has bounced back with three straight wins to jump to the top of the standings. It hasn’t been pretty, as the Spartans have trailed for much of those three games, but Tom Izzo’s team is making strides.

2. Wisconsin (15-2, 3-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Purdue 62-55, Lost to Rutgers 62-67 This Week: Thu vs Nebraska

Wisconsin’s eight-game winning streak came to a shocking end Sunday, when Rutgers pulled the massive upset at home to hand the Badgers their first Big Ten loss of the year.

3. Maryland (15-2, 3-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Illinois 57-64, Beat Purdue 69-60 This Week: Wed vs Rutgers, Sat vs Michigan State

The Big Ten season got off to a great start for Maryland with wins over MSU and Minnesota. A loss to Illinois brought the highly-ranked Terrapins back down to earth, but they bounced back Saturday with a win in Purdue.

4. Indiana (12-4, 2-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Michigan State 50-70, Beat #22 OSU 69-66 This Week: Tue vs PSU, Sun at Illinois

Tom Crean’s team took a double-digit lead into halftime at the Breslin Center on Jan. 5 before falling apart in the second half and dropping its first conference game by 20 points. Then the Hoosiers bounced back in a big way, beating the Buckeyes at home Saturday.

5. Ohio State (13-4, 2-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 74-72 2OT, Lost to Indiana 66-69 This Week: Tue vs Michigan, Sat at Iowa

If there’s one team in the Big Ten that needs to prove itself, it’s the Ohio State Buckeyes. Thad Matta’s team has played just four games against teams with winning records in power-five conferences, and the Buckeyes are 0-4 in those games.

6. Iowa (11-5, 2-1) – Down 3
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 70-59, Lost to MSU 61-75 This Week: Tue at Minnesota, Sat vs Ohio State

Iowa kicked off the Big Ten season with big wins in Columbus and against Nebraska, but got trounced at home in the second half against Michigan State. The slate doesn’t get any easier for the Hawkeyes as Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin are up next.

7. Michigan (10-6, 3-1) – Up 4
Last Week: Beat Penn State 73-64, Beat Minnesota 62-57 This Week: Tue at Ohio State, Sat vs Northwestern

The defending Big Ten champs haven’t played the toughest conference schedule through two weeks, but the Wolverines have gutted out three wins and boast a share of the top spot at 3-1.

8. Nebraska (10-6, 2-2) – Up 6
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 59-70, Beat Rutgers 65-49, Beat Illinois 53-43 This Week: Thu at #7 Wisconsin

Nebraska was one of the best stories in college basketball last season after overcoming an 11-10 start to finish 19-12 and earn an NCAA Tournament bid. At 8-6, the Cornhuskers needed to turn on the gas to make another push in 2015, and two straight wins have them on the right track. A trip to Wisconsin is up next.

9. Rutgers (10-7, 2-2) – Up 3
Last Week: Lost to Nebraska 49-65, Beat #4 Wisconsin 67-62 This Week: Wed at #14 Maryland, Sat at Min

Just four games into its first season in the Big Ten, Rutgers has already knocked off the conference’s best team and potential Final Four candidate Wisconsin. The Scarlett Knights are off to a nice 2-2 start heading into another tough stretch of games.

10. Illinois (9-5, 0-1) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat #11 Maryland 64-57, Lost to Nebraska 43-53 This Week: Wed at Northwestern, Sun vs IU

A disappointing 1-3 start for Illinois’ Big Ten season is largely due to a brutal road schedule through the first two weeks. Illinois has lost in Ann Arbor, Columbus and Lincoln, three of the toughest places to play in the country. In its only home game, Illinois knocked off No. 11 Maryland 64-57

11. Purdue (10-7, 2-2) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to #4 Wisconsin 55-62, Lost to #11 Maryland 60-69 This Week: Sat at Penn State

Purdue has dropped two straight games, but Matt Painter has to be pleased with the team’s effort early in the conference season. Home wins against Minnesota and Michigan precluded single-digit losses to No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 11 Maryland to land Purdue at 2-2.

12. Northwestern (10-6, 1-2) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to Michigan State 77-84 OT This Week: Wed vs Illinois, Saturday at Michigan

After a week off to prepare for the Spartans in East Lansing, Northwestern pushed MSU into overtime but ran out of gas to fall short of a major upset. The Wildcats aren’t one of the stronger teams in the Big Ten, but Chris Collins clearly has them trending in the right direction.

13. Penn State (12-4, 0-3) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to Michigan 64-73 This Week: Tue at Indiana, Sat vs Purdue

Penn State basketball was picking up steam for the first time in years after a 12-1 nonconference season. But a blowout loss to Wisconsin and two close shaves with Rutgers and Michigan have dropped the Nittany Lions to 0-3.

14. Minnesota (11-6, 0-4) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost to #22 OSU 72-74 2OT, Lost to Michigan 57-62 This Week: Tue vs Iowa, Sat vs Rutgers

A weak resume of wins in the nonconference season has been exposed during the first two weeks of Minnesota’s Big Ten schedule. The Gophers are struggling to finish games and have fallen into last place at 0-4.