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Michigan hoops preview: Michigan State

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015


UM-MSU
Michigan (13-12, 6-7) vs Michigan State (17-8, 8-4)
Tuesday, Feb. 17 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 9:00 p.m. EST | ESPN
Offense
63.8 Points/gm 72.0
(560-1,345) 41.6 Field Goal % 47.1 (668-1,419)
(192-549) 35.0 3-pt FG % 40.0 (191-477)
(282-376) 75.0 Free Throw % 62.2 (273-439)
11.3 FT Made/gm 10.9
30.9 Reb/gm 39.0
11.7 Assists/gm 17.4
10.0 Turnovers/gm 12.4
Defense
62.6 Points/gm 61.2
(581-1,319) 44.0 Field Goal % 38.7 (523-1,350)
(162-474) 34.2 3-pt FG % 30.0 (138-460)
34.0 Opp. Reb/gm 30.8
5.6 Steals/gm 5.8
1.8 Blocks/gm 4.6
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.9)*, Zak Irvin (13.4) Points/gm Travis Trice (14.5), Denzel Valentine (13.4)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7) Reb/gm Branden Dawson (10.0), Denzel Valentine (6.0)
*Out for season

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan is out of NCAA Tournament contention barring a Big Ten Tournament title, but the young Wolverines still have much to play for. As Drew Hallett pointed out, no current Michigan State player has won in Ann Arbor. Michigan has had the upper hand in the rivalry the past few seasons, and a win tonight would be five in a row at Crisler and seven of the past 11 overall for Michigan. Let’s take a look at Michigan State.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Denzel Valentine 32.0 14.4 44.1 43.3 84.0 6.0 4.3 2.6 0.2 0.9
Travis Trice 32.8 13.4 38.1 36.7 68.4 3.4 5.4 1.6 0.2 1.3
Branden Dawson 30.5 11.9 53.2 00.0 44.4 10.0 1.9 2.0 1.5 1.4
Bryn Forbes 28.6 9.4 47.0 45.5 80.6 1.4 1.2 1.0 0.1 0.8
Gavin Schilling 18.4 6.0 60.2 00.0 48.2 4.4 0.5 1.1 1.8 0.3
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Matt Costello 19.4 7.4 59.8 00.0 69.6 5.6 0.7 1.0 1.2 0.4
Marvin Clark Jr. 10.2 5.0 53.0 40.5 75.0 2.2 0.1 0.8 0.4 0.2
Javon Bess* 12.3 2.7 47.8 50.0 42.9 2.9 1.0 0.8 0.3 0.3
Lourawls Nairn Jr. 17.7 2.3 39.3 25.0 50.0 1.5 2.6 1.0 0.0 0.2
Alvin Ellis III 8.9 1.4 20.0 20.0 57.9 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.2 0.4
*Injured
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 at Navy W 64-59
Nov. 18 #4 Duke* L 71-81
Nov. 21 Loyola (Ill) W 87-52
Nov. 24 Santa Clara W 79-52
Nov. 27 Rider# W 77-45
Nov. 28 Marquette# W 79-68
Nov. 30 #11 Kansas* L 56-61
Dec. 3 at Notre Dame^ L 78-79 OT
Dec. 6 Arkansas-Pine Bluff W 85-52
Dec. 14 Oakland W 87-61
Dec. 17 Eastern Michigan W 66-46
Dec. 20 Texas Southern L 64-71 OT
Dec. 22 Citadel W 82-56
Dec. 30 #12 Maryland L 66-68 2OT
Jan. 5 Indiana W 70-50
Jan. 8 at Iowa W 75-61
Jan. 11 Northwestern W 84-77 OT
Jan. 17 at #14 Maryland L 59-75
Jan. 21 Penn State W 66-60
Jan. 24 at Nebraska L 77-79
Jan. 29 at Rutgers W 71-51
Feb. 1 Michigan W 76-66 OT
Feb. 7 Illinois L 54-59
Feb. 10 at Northwestern W 68-44
Feb. 14 #23 Ohio State W 59-56
Feb. 17 at Michigan
Feb. 22 at Illinois
Feb. 26 Minnesota
Mar. 1 at #5 Wisconsin
Mar. 4 Purdue
Mar. 7 at #22 Indiana
*State Farm Champions Classic, #Orlando Classic, ^ACC/Big Ten Challenge

While the previous meeting has set off a four-game losing streak for Michigan, the Spartans have won three of four including that game. The only loss was a 59-54 home loss to Illinois, who Michigan lost to in overtime last Thursday. On Saturday, Michigan State topped Ohio State thanks to a three by Denzel Valentine with 3.2 seconds remaining.

The Series

Michigan leads the all-time series 97-76 and has won three of the last five meetings and six of the last 10. Michigan leads in games played in Ann Arbor, 60-28, and has won the last four. Michigan State won this season’s previous meeting, 76-66 in overtime in East Lansing.

Notes

• Michigan State ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (72.0 points per game) and third in scoring defense (61.2)

• Michigan State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (47.1 percent) and second in three-point percentage (40.0). The Spartans defense leads the Big Ten in opponent field goal percentage (38.7) and against the three (30.0).

• Michigan State is the Big Ten’s worst free throw shooting team, shooting just 62.2 percent

• Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rebounding margin (plus-8.2) and assists (17.4 per game). The Spartans lead the conference in defensive rebounds (27.1) and rank tied for third in offensive rebounds (11.9).

• Branden Dawson leads the Big Ten with an average of 10.0 rebounds per game. He’s the only player averaging double-digit rebounds and leads the conference in both offensive rebounds per game (3.2) and defensive rebounds per game (6.8 – tied with Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky)

• Travis Trice ranks third in the Big Ten in assists per game (5.4) and leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3)

• Bryn Forbes ranks third in the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage (45.5)

Michigan State 76 – Michigan 66 OT

Monday, February 2nd, 2015


UM vs MSU(MGoBlue.com)

Michigan visited rival Michigan State on Sunday afternoon with its two best players sidelined and nearly came away with a win. With Caris LeVert out for the season and Derrick Walton Jr missing a second straight game, Michigan at one point in the first half had a lineup featuring two true freshmen, two walk-ons, and Zak Irvin. Ultimately, the Wolverines fell in overtime, 76-66.

Michigan got off to a hot start, taking a 15-8 lead eight minutes into the game. But Spike Albrecht, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Aubrey Dawkins each picked up a pair of fouls and were forced to the bench the rest of the half. That left walk-on Andrew Dakich to run the offense for the remainder of the half and Sean Lonergan to see extensive minutes.

An 10-2 Michigan State run over the next seven minutes gave the Spartans the lead. Then Denzel Valentine took over, hitting a pair of threes in the final two minutes of the half, and Michigan State took a 29-24 lead into the locker room.

Michigan opened the second half with a 10-4 run to regain the lead less than four minutes into the half on an Irvin steal and breakaway dunk. But MSU’s Bryn Forbes answered right back with a three. Albrecht countered with a circus layup in which he was fouled, and he converted the three-point play. And so the rest of regulation went, back and forth.

Four Factors
Michigan Michigan State
48.4 eFG% 53.4
18.9 OReb% 37.1
15.9 TO% 17.4
16.1 FTR 37.9

Michigan held a 45-40 lead at the 13:19 mark, but Michigan State scored the next six. Michigan State went up 51-48, but Albrecht tied it with a three. An Aubrey Dawkins three-point-play gave Michigan a 61-57 lead with 5:06 to play, but four straight Branden Dawson points tied it up. After Dawkins’ basket and free throw, Michigan went scoreless for four minutes and 24 seconds, allowing MSU to seize a 66-61 lead with a minute left.

Albrecht nailed his third three-pointer of the game with 42 seconds remaining to pull Michigan within two. Michigan then sent Valentine to the free throw line and he missed the front end of a one-and-one. Albrecht missed a layup, but Max Bielfeldt was there to tip it in and tie the game with 20 seconds left. A Travis Trice three-point attempt at the buzzer missed and the game went to overtime.

Valentine opened the extra period with a layup and Bielfeldt turned it over, leading to two more Spartan points. Bielfeldt missed a three on Michigan’s next possession and Matt Costello made a layup putting MSU up six. At that point, Michigan was in desperation mode, but the Wolverines were unable to score in the overtime period, falling 76-66.

Albrecht and Abdur-Rahkman each scored 18 points on a combined 14-of-27 shooting and 5-of-8 three-point shooting. Irvin was the only other Wolverine in double figures, finishing with 11 points, but he made just 1-of-6 three-point attempts. Bielfeldt scored seven points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Dawkins added seven points.

As a team, Michigan shot 43.5 percent overall and 30 percent from downtown, while Michigan State shot 46.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range. MSU dominated the boards, out-rebounding Michigan 43-29 and shot 12 more free throws than Michigan, converting those into eight more points.

Michigan (13-9, 6-4) returns home to face Iowa (13-8, 4-4) on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
32 Ricky Doyle* 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 1 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 15
02 Spike Albrecht* 6-13 3-6 3-3 0 2 2 4 18 2 1 0 0 37
12 M-A. Abdur-Rahkman* 8-14 2-2 0-0 0 3 3 2 18 1 1 0 0 32
21 Zak Irvin* 5-14 1-6 0-2 0 4 4 3 11 3 2 0 2 41
24 Aubrey Dawkins* 3-5 0-2 1-1 2 2 4 5 7 1 1 0 1 35
03 Kameron Chatman 1-4 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 0 2 0 0 11
04 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 3 0 0 1 0 0 16
20 Sean Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
30 Austin Hatch 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
44 Max Bielfeldt 3-10 0-1 1-3 2 7 9 1 7 1 2 0 2 33
Totals 27-62 6-20 6-10 7 22 29 19 66 8 11 0 5 225
Michigan State 27-58 8-22 14-22 13 30 43 13 76 19 12 7 10 225
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Michigan State

Saturday, January 31st, 2015


UM-MSU
Michigan (13-8, 6-3) vs Michigan State (14-7, 5-3)
Sunday, Feb. 1 | East Lansing, Mich. | 1:00 p.m. EST | CBS
Offense
64.8 Points/gm 73.5
(448-1,087) 41.2 Field Goal % 47.5 (574-1,209)
(163-461) 35.4 3-pt FG % 39.5 (156-395)
(238-321) 74.1 Free Throw % 63.1 (239-379)
11.9 FT Made/gm 11.4
31.9 Reb/gm 39.6
12.2 Assists/gm 17.4
9.9 Turnovers/gm 12.6
Defense
62.0 Points/gm 62.1
(459-1,050) 43.7 Field Goal % 38.2 (437-1,143)
(132-383) 34.5 3-pt FG % 30.4 (119-391)
33.8 Opp. Reb/gm 30.9
5.9 Steals/gm 5.8
1.9 Blocks/gm 4.2
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.9)*, Zak Irvin (13.6) Points/gm Travis Trice (14.0), Denzel Valentine (13.9)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7) Reb/gm Branden Dawson (10.1), Denzel Valentine (6.1)
*Out for season

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan picked up its sixth conference win on Tuesday, beating Nebraska 58-44. Now, the Wolverines travel to East Lansing for the first of two meetings with rival Michigan State. A win would keep Michigan in second place in the Big Ten, just a game behind Wisconsin. A loss would drop Michigan into the middle of the pack. Let’s take a look at the Spartans.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Travis Trice 33.1 14.0 38.8 37.3 69.6 3.5 5.5 1.6 0.1 1.3
Denzel Valentine 31.5 13.9 43.6 41.7 86.0 6.1 4.1 2.6 0.3 0.8
Branden Dawson 29.2 11.6 51.4 00.0 46.9 10.1 1.9 2.0 1.1 1.4
Bryn Forbes 28.9 9.8 50.0 47.3 83.3 1.4 1.2 1.1 0.1 0.8
Gavin Schilling 18.3 6.9 65.2 00.0 48.1 4.5 0.4 1.2 0.9 0.3
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Matt Costello 19.0 7.6 60.4 00.0 70.5 5.6 0.7 1.1 1.0 0.3
Marvin Clark Jr. 11.2 5.4 52.6 37.1 73.1 2.5 0.1 0.9 0.5 0.2
Javon Bess 12.5 2.9 50.0 50.0 42.9 3.0 1.1 0.7 0.2 0.4
Lourawls Nairn Jr. 17.3 2.0 33.0 00.0 50.0 1.3 2.6 0.9 0.0 0.3
Alvin Ellis III 8.5 1.4 20.8 18.2 60.0 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.2 0.5
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 at Navy W 64-59
Nov. 18 #4 Duke* L 71-81
Nov. 21 Loyola (Ill) W 87-52
Nov. 24 Santa Clara W 79-52
Nov. 27 Rider# W 77-45
Nov. 28 Marquette# W 79-68
Nov. 30 #11 Kansas* L 56-61
Dec. 3 at Notre Dame^ L 78-79 OT
Dec. 6 Arkansas-Pine Bluff W 85-52
Dec. 14 Oakland W 87-61
Dec. 17 Eastern Michigan W 66-46
Dec. 20 Texas Southern L 64-71 OT
Dec. 22 Citadel W 82-56
Dec. 30 #12 Maryland L 66-68 2OT
Jan. 5 Indiana W 70-50
Jan. 8 at Iowa W 75-61
Jan. 11 Northwestern W 84-77 OT
Jan. 17 at #14 Maryland L 59-75
Jan. 21 Penn State W 66-60
Jan. 24 at Nebraska L 77-79
Jan. 29 at Rutgers W 71-51
Feb. 1 Michigan
Feb. 7 Illinois
Feb. 10 at Northwestern
Feb. 14 Ohio State
Feb. 17 at Michigan
Feb. 22 at Illinois
Feb. 26 Minnesota
Mar. 1 at #5 Wisconsin
Mar. 4 Purdue
Mar. 7 at #22 Indiana
*State Farm Champions Classic, #Orlando Classic, ^ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Michigan State has been up and down this season, playing Duke, Kansas, and Notre Dame tough in the non-conference, but also losing to Texas Southern and Nebraska at home. The Spartans also lost both meetings with Maryland and are still looking for a resume-boosting quality win. Beating Michigan won’t earn that, but it’s an important game for both teams’ postseason hopes.

The Series

Michigan leads the all-time series 97-77 and has won three of the last four meetings and six of the last nine. Michigan State leads in games played in East Lansing, 48-37, but the teams have split the last four meetings at the Breslin Center. Last season, Michigan won the two regular season meetings, topping State 80-75 on the road on Jan. 25, and winning 79-70 on Feb. 23. Michigan State got revenge in the Big Ten Tournament championship game with a 69-55 win over the Wolverines.

Notes

• Michigan State ranks tied for fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (73.5 points per game) and fifth in scoring defense (62.1)

• Michigan State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (47.5 percent) and second in three-point percentage (39.5). The Spartans defense leads the Big Ten in opponent field goal percentage (38.2) and is tied for first against the three (30.4).

• Michigan State is the Big Ten’s worst free throw shooting team, shooting just 63.1 percent

• Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rebounding margin (plus-8.7) and assists (17.4 per game). The Spartans lead the conference in defensive rebounds (27.5) and rank tied for second in offensive rebounds (12.1).

• Branden Dawson leads the Big Ten with an average of 10.1 rebounds per game. He’s the only player averaging double-digit rebounds and leads the conference in both offensive rebounds per game (3.3) and defensive rebounds per game (6.8)

• Matt Costello ranks second in the Big Ten in shooting percentage (60.4)

• Travis Trice ranks second in the Big Ten in assists per game (5.5) and leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5)

• Bryn Forbes ranks second in the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage (47.3)

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.

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 two

Thursday, October 30th, 2014


2014-15 B1G BBall Preview-Part2

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 two of our Big Ten preview. Although there are no divisions in basketball, we split up our preview into the Big Ten West and Big Ten East divisions for the sake of organization. Part one (the Big Ten West) was posted earlier 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.

Indiana Hoosiers Indiana logo
Head Coach: Tom Crean (7th season)
2013-14: 17-15, T-8th in Big Ten (7-11), No postseason
Returning starters: 3 (Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Yogi Ferrell)
Recruiting class rank: #17 (James Blackmon, Jr., Robert Johnson, Emmitt Holt, Max Hoetzel, Tim Priller, Jeremiah April)
Key non-conference games: Dec 2 vs Pitt, Dec 9 vs Louisville, Dec 20 vs Butler, Dec 27 vs Georgetown

Indiana was surprisingly mediocre last season coming off two straight 27-plus win seasons under Tom Crean. As a sophomore, Yogi Ferrell took over the team and averaged 17.3 points and 3.9 assists per game to lead the offense. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, dominant freshman Noah Vonleh declared for the NBA draft and senior leader Will Sheehey graduated, leaving Ferrell without much help on the offensive side of the ball.

As Ferrell continues to lead Indiana as a junior, the team will have to solidify itself on defense without that dominating presence inside. The roster is small and turnover-prone, which is a formula for disaster in a difficult Big Ten conference. If strong defensive teams lock up on Ferrell and force the rest of this group to make plays, it could be another empty March for the Hoosiers.

Player to watch: Yogi Ferrell. This guy is really fun to watch, as he is quick and creative off the dribble but also accurate from the outside. As one of the most dangerous offensive players in the Big Ten, Ferrell can explode and give Indiana a chance to win on any given night.

Best-case scenario: Indiana sees even more growth from Ferrell and freshmen James Blackmon and Robert Johnson make a quick transition to the college game, landing Indiana a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Worst-case scenario: Last year’s mess leaks over into this season and Indiana hovers around .500 all season, giving the players plenty of time to study for exams in March.

Projected finish: 9th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 72.2 5 108
Scoring Defense 67.6 8 96
Field Goal Percentage .448 6 132
Field Goal Percentage Defense .412 4 59
3-pt FG Percentage .344 6 173
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .299 2 8
Free Throw Percentage .730 7 66
Rebounding Margin +7.6 1
Assist/Turnover Ratio 11.5/15.1 = 0.8 12 321
Steals 5.9 7 179
Blocked Shots 4.3 6 82

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Maryland Terrapins Maryland logo
Head Coach: Mark Turgeon (4th season)
2013-14: 17-15, 9th in ACC (9-9), No postseason
Returning starters: 1 (Evan Smotrycz)
Recruiting class rank: #14 (Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens, Michal Cekovsky)
Key non-conference games: Dec 3 vs Virginia, Dec 21 at Oklahoma State

Maryland will make the move to the Big Ten and find itself in uncharted territory as a grueling conference schedule offers challenge after challenge during the winter months. Despite battling to stay relevant over the past few seasons, Maryland brought in a top 10 recruiting class to counter its first Big Ten slate, including Melo Trumble, who will join the team’s top returner Dez Wells in the backcourt.

Though the Big Ten is much deeper than the ACC, Maryland is no stranger to tough games and atmospheres. The Terrapins lost to eventual champion UCONN by just one point last season and even knocked off the conference champion Virginia Cavaliers.

Player to watch: Evan Smotrycz. Michigan fans will remember the curly-haired senior well from his two seasons in Ann Arbor. The 6 foot 9 forward averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game in 2013-14, both better than his totals in the Big Ten. He will miss at least the first month of the season after breaking his foot in October.

Best-case scenario: Maryland surprises the Big Ten and finishes in the top half of the league behind elite backcourt play from Wells and Trumble. Finishing with just over 20 wins earns the Terps a late invite to the Dace.

Worst-case scenario: The Big Ten proves to be much more difficult than the ACC and Maryland wears down early in 2015, finishing with a losing conference record and missing the tournament once again.

Projected finish: 11th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank* National Rank
Scoring Offense 70.9 8 157
Scoring Defense 67.7 9 103
Field Goal Percentage .430 8 218
Field Goal Percentage Defense .417 7 78
3-pt FG Percentage .342 7 172
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .341 9 154
Free Throw Percentage .679 12 253
Rebounding Margin +3.3 5
Assist/Turnover Ratio 11.7/12.8 = 0.9 11 243
Steals 6.3 6 138
Blocked Shots 4.3 6 81
*Where Maryland’s stats would have ranked in the Big Ten last season

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Michigan Wolverines Block M - Maize
Head Coach: John Beilein (8th season)
2013-14: 28-9, 1st in Big Ten (15-3), Elite Eight NCAA Tournament
Returning Starters: 2 (Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton, Jr.)
Recruiting class rank: #28 (Kameron Chatman, D.J. Wilson, Ricky Doyle, Aubrey Dawkins, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Austin Hatch)
Key non-conference games: Nov 24 vs Oregon, Dec 2 vs Syracuse, Dec 13 at Arizona, Dec 20 vs SMU

John Beilein has certainly turned the Michigan basketball program around. After leading his team to the National Championship game in 2013 and losing stars Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. to the first round of the NBA draft, Beilein simply reloaded and came within one miracle heavy by Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison of returning to the Final Four. Now the team is hoping to recover from major losses once again as Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III left for the NBA, Jordan Morgan graduated and Jon Horford transferred to Florida for his final year of eligibility.

It’s no secret that Beilein needs to continue developing his players to maintain Michigan’s recent success. Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, Jr. weren’t the most highly-rated recruits, but they will be asked to lead the offense from the backcourt this season after shouldering a big load last year. LeVert, who was named to the 2014-15 preseason All-Big Ten team, set the precedent for sophomore Zak Irvin, who is the popular choice for Michigan’s third straight breakout star.

As the former Mr. Basketball in Indiana, Irvin should welcome lofty expectations. He gave the offense a shot in the arm in a lesser role last season, and will hope to become a more versatile scorer as a starter, much like Stauskas and LeVert did last year.

Michigan also brings in a trio of talented freshmen in D.J. Wilson, Kameron Chatman and, perhaps most importantly, Ricky Doyle. While Wilson and Chatman figure to join a deep rotation of talented guards, Doyle will join redshirt freshman Mark Donnel as the top options at center for Michigan. The two freshmen stand at just 6 foot 9, so Michigan will have to hide that weakness with another elite offensive season.

Player to watch: Derrick Walton. Michigan figures to get great production from the wings while struggling down low because of a size disadvantage. If Walton can build off of an impressive freshman season, he could give Michigan enough of a backcourt to make another run at the Big Ten

Best-case scenario: John Beilein does it again, and the revamped Wolverines improve throughout the nonconference season and emerge as one of the top teams in the Big Ten. After a top-3 finish in the conference, Michigan enters March with a return to the Final Four in mind.

Worst-case scenario: The exodus of centers from last season bites Michigan, and the Big Ten exposes a lack of size and experience in the paint. Michigan finishes the conference season in the middle of the pack and approaches Selection Sunday with a nervous twinge of doubt about their status.

Projected finish: 3rd

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 73.9 3 70
Scoring Defense 65.1 5 48
Field Goal Percentage .477 1 18
Field Goal Percentage Defense .445 12 196
3-pt FG Percentage .402 1 4
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .318 6 46
Free Throw Percentage .763 1 10
Rebounding Margin +0.2 10
Assist/Turnover Ratio 14.2/9.3 = 1.5 2 7
Steals 5.2 9 273
Blocked Shots 2.4 12 301

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Michigan State Spartans MichiganStateLogo
Head Coach: Tom Izzo (20th season)
2013-14: 29-9, T-2nd in Big Ten (12-6), Elite Eight NCAA Tournament
Returning starters: 2 (Denzel Valentine, Branden Dawson)
Recruiting class rank: #51 (Lourawls Nairn, Jr., Javon Bess, Marvin Clark)
Key non-conference games: Nov 18 vs Duke, Dec 3 at ND

Michigan State battled through some regular-season adversity to emerge as one of the favorites to reach the Final Four last March, but fell short when eventual champion UCONN sent the Spartans home. In the following weeks, head coach Tom Izzo said goodbye to his three top players: Adreian Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling.

This season, a variety of role players will be asked to fill the void left by those starters, as the incoming freshmen are far from elite. Branden Dawson will be asked to finally embrace his full potential and anchor the starting lineup alongside streaky Denzel Valentine. Travis Trice and Matt Costello will be asked to step into bigger roles this season and give the Spartans a chance to contend for another Big Ten title.

Izzo’s teams often start slowly during the nonconference season, but they will always improve enough to offer a challenge as the calendar turns to March. With all the new faces in East Lansing, this team will likely follow that same script.

Player to watch: Branden Dawson. Will Dawson finally turn the corner and become the dominant inside presence Izzo recruited him to be? He’s no longer in the (exceptionally large) shadows of Derrick Nix or Payne, which means this is his team now.

Best-case scenario: Though this group may not be one of Izzo’s more talented teams, the best-case scenario for Michigan State is always to be in contention for a Final Four run. If Dawson has an All-Big Ten season and the role players progress significantly, no coach in the country will want to match up with MSU in the NCAA Tournament.

Worst-case scenario: A loaded Big Ten proves difficult for the Spartans during a transition year and the team lands somewhere around .500 in the conference and barely squeezes into the Big Dance.

Projected finish: 5th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 75.5 2 49
Scoring Defense 65.6 7 57
Field Goal Percentage .474 2 21
Field Goal Percentage Defense .397 1 18
3-pt FG Percentage .392 2 16
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .332 8 103
Free Throw Percentage .707 9 151
Rebounding Margin +5.1 3
Assist/Turnover Ratio 16.8/11.6 = 1.4 3 18
Steals 6.8 5 85
Blocked Shots 4.6 4 63

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Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State logo new
Head Coach: Thad Matta (11th season)
2013-14: 25-10, 5th in Big Ten (10-8), Second Round NCAA Tournament
Returning starters: 2 (Amir Williams, Sam Thompson)
Recruiting class rank: #8 (D’Angelo Russell, Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Dave Bell)
Key non-conference games: Nov 18 vs Marquette, Dec 2 at Louisville, Dec 20 vs UNC

Remember when Ohio State was 15-0 last season and ranked in the top five? Not many do, because the Buckeyes finished the season 10-10 with a loss to 2014’s Cinderella, the Dayton Flyers, in their first tournament game. Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. graduated, and LaQuinton Ross signed with a team in Italy, so things can only get worse for Than Matta’s group, right?

Wrong. Matta countered the loss of three starters by welcoming a top-five recruiting class into Columbus for the 2014-15 season. Top-ranked shooting guard D’Angelo Russell offers a much-needed shot in the arm for what was a terrible Buckeye offense last season. Shannon Scott will take over as the defensive anchor in wake of Craft’s departure, as OSU tries to match last year’s 59.8 points allowed per game (12th in the nation).

In the paint Ohio State will rely on two potential studs to mask an otherwise thin roster. Amir Williams is a beast on the defensive end and will have to stay out of foul trouble. Anthony Lee joins the Buckeyes after transferring from Temple and will partner with Williams to compose a duo that has to grab all the rebounds for this team.

Player to watch: D’Angelo Russell. He’s the top-ranked recruit joining the Big Ten this season, and Matta has a way of getting the most out of his guards. He has to be the go-to man on offense right out of the gates.

Best-case scenario: Matta turns Russell into one of the top players in the country and pairs him with a dominant defense led by Scott and Williams to win the Big Ten and enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the favorites to reach the Final Four.

Worse-case scenario: A talented trio of recruits suffers growing pains and fails to live up to sky-high standards in Columbus, while foul trouble exposes a thin inside presence on defense. Ohio State struggles in the conference season and finishes sixth in the Big Ten, earning a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament

Projected finish: 2nd

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 69.5 9 190
Scoring Defense 59.8 1 11
Field Goal Percentage .450 5 124
Field Goal Percentage Defense .406 2 34
3-pt FG Percentage .324 9 263
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .293 1 5
Free Throw Percentage .689 11 211
Rebounding Margin +0.3 9
Assist/Turnover Ratio 12.0/11.3 = 1.1 6 161
Steals 7.7 1 21
Blocked Shots 4.5 5 85

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Penn State Nittany Lions Penn State Logo
Head Coach: Patrick Chambers (4th season)
2013-14: 16-18, T-10th Big Ten (6-12), CBI Quarterfinals
Returning starters: 4 (Jordan Dickerson, D.J. Newbill, Brandon Taylor, John Johnson)
Recruiting class rank: #86 (Shep Garner, Isaiah Washington, Devin Foster)
Key non-conference games: Dec 3 vs Virginia Tech

It might be another tough year for Pat Chambers and Penn State, especially now that Tim Frazier’s rein of terrorizing the Big Ten is finally over. But five of Penn State’s Big Ten losses came by five points or less last season, which means the Nittany Lions were reasonably within reach of finishing 11-7 in the nation’s top conference. That would have put PSU in fourth place with an overall record of 20-12 at the end of the regular season, a resume that almost exactly mirrors the one that put Nebraska in the NCAA Tournament.

Frazier’s departure hurts the Nittany Lions, but D.J. Newbill quietly took over much of the leadership from the senior last year, leading the team with 17.8 points per game and finishing second in rebounds, blocks and steals. Newbill won’t be alone as the team returns each of its top six scorers from last season, with the exception of Frazier.

Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor will start in the frontcourt for Chambers, who will have no shortage of veteran depth across the board.

Player to watch: Devin Foster. The junior college transfer quietly chose Penn State during the offseason and should take over as the starting point guard right off the bat. Foster averaged 12.2 points and 4.8 assists per game last season with Vincennes and gives Chambers a much-needed distributor on offense.

Best-case scenario: A host of returning players continues to improve under Chambers and Penn State wins half of its Big Ten games, threatening fellow bubble teams in the race for a NCAA Tournament bid.

Worst-case scenario: While Newbill performs much like he did last season, the loss of Frazier turns Penn State into the team it was two years ago, when its leader missed the entire season with a ruptured achilles. If so, the Nittany Lions could end up near the bottom of the league.

Projected finish: 10th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank National Rank
Scoring Offense 70.9 8 158
Scoring Defense 70.2 10 172
Field Goal Percentage .428 8 228
Field Goal Percentage Defense .414 5 63
3-pt FG Percentage .319 10 284
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .352 12 222
Free Throw Percentage .741 4 38
Rebounding Margin +0.7 6
Assist/Turnover Ratio 11.3/10.6 = 1.1 8 144
Steals 4.5 11 327
Blocked Shots 4.7 3 58

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights Rutgers logo
Head Coach: Eddie Jordan (2nd season)
2013-14: 12-21, 7th in AAC (5-13), No postseason
Returning starters: 2 (Kadeem Jack, Myles Mack)
Recruiting class rank: #66 (D.J. Foreman, Mike Williams, Ibrahima Diallo)
Key non-conference games: Dec 3 vs Duke, Dec 6 at Marquette, Dec 22 at California

Rutgers has battled controversy in its basketball program over the past couple of years, and the looming Big Ten schedule could make the winter just as ugly on the court for the Scarlett Knights. Eddie Jordan’s team failed to knock off a ranked opponent last season and now faces a conference slate that could feature as many as eight ranked teams over the course of the coming months.

Last year’s 20-loss team returns only three of the seven players that averaged more than five points per game. Luckily for Jordan, top playmakers Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack will lead the offense after averaging a combined 29.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and five assists per game last season. Jack is a slightly undersized center who will battle more physical defenses in the Big Ten, and his transition will be a major factor for Rutgers.

Player to watch: Kadeem Jack. His special 2013-14 season was masked by the team’s struggles, but the 6 foot 9 forward put up 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field. His 68.8 percent free throw rate will be a number to watch as Big Ten centers bang with him in the paint.

Best-case scenario: Rutgers fans are treated to another version of the Mack and Jack show, carrying the team out of the Big Ten cellar in its first go-around.

Worst-case scenario: Rutgers finished 1-11 on the road last season with the lone win coming over last-place South Florida. With that in mind, Rutgers could realistically lose nearly every single Big Ten game if the players don’t make a smooth transition from the American.

Projected finish: 14th

2013 Stats & Rankings
Category Number Big Ten Rank* National Rank
Scoring Offense 71.1 8 185
Scoring Defense 76.2 13 298
Field Goal Percentage .426 11 270
Field Goal Percentage Defense .447 13 232
3-pt FG Percentage .336 7 230
3-pt FG Percentage Defense .371 13 302
Free Throw Percentage .706 10 163
Rebounding Margin -0.6 11
Assist/Turnover Ratio 12.7/12.6 = 1.0 9 194
Steals 5.8 8 209
Blocked Shots 4.2 7 114
*Where Rutgers’ stats would have ranked in the Big Ten last season

Third time’s the harm: Michigan State 69 – Michigan 55

Sunday, March 16th, 2014


MSU BTT win 3-16-14(Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

With the Big Ten regular season title under its belt and a possible one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan faced off with Michigan State for the Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday afternoon. But instead of running the table and pulling off a three-game sweep of the Spartans, Michigan was outplayed and handed a 69-55 defeat.

Nik Stauskas started the game just as he left off the previous two meetings. His first shot of the game was good for three, and after a pair of Adreian Payne free throws, Derrick Walton Jr added a three to give Michigan an early 6-2 lead. The Wolverines widened it to 9-4 before Michigan State scored 12 straight to take a 16-9 lead.

After a Michigan time out, Stauskas hit another three to stop the run, but Michigan State kept the foot on the pedal. The Spartans’ game plan was clear from the start: get the ball inside and take it to Michigan’s big men. It worked as Jordan Morgan and Jon Hoford both picked up several fouls in the first few minutes, forcing John Beilein to turn to Max Bielfeldt for major minutes.

Keith Appling made a layup to put Michigan State ahead 23-14 and Beilein received a technical foul — his second in the last four games. Travis Trice made both free throws, but Stauskas responded with a four-point play to negate the whole sequence. Michigan State took a 38-29 lead into the locker room.

The second half started out as badly as possible for Michigan as Michigan State scored eight straight and Michigan missed its first six shots. Suddenly, a nine-point halftime deficit was 17 just three minutes into the half. Morgan ended the Spartan run, but Dawson answered with a jumper of his own. Michigan was never able to get closer than ten the rest of the way and Michigan State captured its fourth ever Big Ten Tournament crown.

For the game, Michigan shot just 31.5 percent and 26.1 percent from three-point range. Michigan State, meanwhile, shot 50 percent from the field despite making just 2-of-17 from downtown. Michigan had no answer for the Spartans’ inside game without Morgan and Horford for most of the game.

Stauskas led Michigan with 17 points on just 4-of-14 shooting. He hit 3-of-5 three-pointers, but often struggled to find an open shot, especially in the second half. Walton was the only other Michigan player in double figures with 11 points, while Caris LeVert scored just seven on 2-of-10 shooting and Glenn Robinson III just six on 2-of-8 shooting.

Three Stars

***Adreian Payne***
18 points (6-of-13 FG, 1-of-4 3PT, 5-of-5 FT), nine rebounds (one offensive), one assist, one block, two turnovers in 29 minutes

**Branden Dawson**
15 points (7-of-8 FG, 1-of-1 FT), six rebounds (one offensive), one assist, one block, in 24 minutes

*Gary Harris*
15 points (7-of-13 FG, 1-of-5 3PT), two rebounds, two assists, three steals, one turnover in 30 minutes

Quick Hitters:


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Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 2-8 0-3 2-2 1 2 3 2 6 0 0 0 1 31
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 3-6 1-4 4-5 1 3 4 3 11 1 0 1 0 30
11 Nik Stauskas* 4-14 3-5 6-6 1 1 2 1 17 1 3 0 0 39
52 Jordan Morgan* 4-6 0-0 0-0 4 2 6 4 8 0 2 0 0 20
23 Caris LeVert* 2-10 0-4 2-3 0 1 1 0 7 4 3 0 1 34
02 Spike Albrecht 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 11
05 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
15 Jon Horford 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 4 0 0 1 1 0 5
20 Sean Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
21 Zak Irvin 2-5 2-5 0-0 0 1 1 0 6 0 0 0 0 15
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-2 0-2 0-0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 13
Totals 17-54 6-23 15-16 13 15 28 15 55 7 9 3 3 200
Michigan State 27-54 2-17 13-15 14 24 38 19 69 14 10 6 7 200
Full Stats

Justin’s 3 thoughts: Michigan State

Sunday, March 16th, 2014


Michigan-Michigan State header_BTT

Michigan staved off an Ohio State comeback on Saturday afternoon to beat the Buckeyes for the first time in seven tries in Big Ten Tournament play and advance to its first championship game since 1998. Michigan State, meanwhile, held off Wisconsin to reach its fourth championship game and first since winning it in 2012. Thus, it set up a third meeting between the two intrastate rivals, but just the first ever meeting in Big Ten Tournament play.

In the Jan. 25 meeting in East Lansing, Michigan State was without the services of both Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson and Michigan capitalized with a 80-75 victory. In the return meeting on Feb. 23, the Spartans had Payne back but were still without Dawson and Michigan once again pulled out the win, 79-70. This time around, with the championship on the line, Tom Izzo’s squad is healthy and out of excuses.

Can Michigan beat MSU for the third time in less than two weeks and become the seventh Big Ten team to win both the outright regular season title and the tournament championship in the same season? Or will the Spartans exact revenge for the first two matchups and steal the tournament trophy? Here are my three keys to the game:

Branden Dawson is eager to face Michigan for the first time this season and try to shut down Stauskas (Michael Conroy, AP)

Branden Dawson is eager to face Michigan for the first time this season and try to shut down Stauskas (Michael Conroy, AP)

Get off to a hot start

Michigan State is sure acting confident in the lead up to this winner-take-all battle. Izzo likened it to ‘Fourth of July on Christmas,’ whatever that means, and Gary Harris reportedly texted Zak Irvin earlier in the week, saying ‘see you on Sunday.’ The reality is they’ve lost six of the last eight meetings, so the pressure is on them.

Michigan was able to survive a big Spartan lead at the beginning of the game in Ann Arbor and come back to win, but a big Michigan State lead on Sunday will only give them more confidence. Conversely, if Michigan is able to jump out to a big lead early on it will cause the Spartans to force their play and doubts will start creeping in.

The game won’t be won or lost in the first ten minutes, but — aside from Saturday’s hot start — Michigan has had a propensity for slow starts over the last month. They can’t afford to do so on Sunday and give Michigan State the confidence it needs to take control of the game.

Make sure Stauskas gets his shots

In the first two meetings Stauskas scored a combined 44 points on 16-of-25 shooting and 8-of-11 three-point shooting. With Dawson out, Stauskas was able to get off good looks over the smaller Keith Appling. But now the 6’6″ Dawson is back and has the ability to guard Stauskas on the perimeter or make it tough for him to get open looks.

This adds a new dynamic for Michigan than the first two meetings, so expect John Beilein to have something ready to free up Stauskas or use the Canadian sharpshooter as a decoy to get open looks for others. No, Beilein doesn’t have a week to prepare for this one, but he’s shown time and again that he’s able to design effective offensive schemes.

In the first meeting Michigan State was guarding the perimeter hard and coming over the top of ball screens. In the second meeting, Beilein had the offense look for back cuts and was able to get some easy buckets. Expect something similar on Sunday.

Make free throws

It sounds like a lame key to the game, but this one is going to come down to the wire and every point will be crucial. Michigan was the Big Ten’s best free throw shooting team all season, making 76.3 percent. In the first two meetings, Michigan went a combined 42-of-55 — an identical 76.3 percent.

In Saturday’s win over Ohio State, however, Michigan wasn’t able to capitalize on its trips to the charity stripe, making just 10-of-19. Fortunately, it didn’t cost them the game, but rest assured if there’s a repeat performance on Sunday Michigan won’t win.

Prediction: Michigan 73 – Michigan State 71

Big Ten power rankings: Week 9

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014



This week’s edition of the Big Ten power rankings features more movement than usual as the conference continues to deal surprise after surprise. With March upon us, teams that play well down the stretch often outperform teams with more impressive overall resumes in postseason tournaments.

While teams like Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa will certainly make the field of 68, playing poorly in late February and early March can really take the steam out of a potential deep run in the Big Dance. Meanwhile, teams that streak into the tournament on the final days of the season (Nebraska? Indiana?) represent extremely dangerous matchups.

So here’s how the Big Ten teams are playing with less than a week remaining before they head to Indianapolis.

1. Michigan (21-7, 13-3)  Even
Last week: Feb. 26 W at Purdue 77-76 OT, Mar. 1 W vs Minnesota 66-56
This week: Tuesday at Illinois 7pm ESPN, Saturday vs Indiana 6pm 

The in-state rival Spartans lost just before tip-off in Ann Arbor on Saturday, and after Michigan took care of Minnesota, it officially clinched at least a share of the regular season Big Ten championship. John Beilein’s surprise team can seal the title alone with a win at Illinois tonight or against Indiana on Saturday. 

2. Wisconsin (24-5, 11-5) • Even
Last week: Feb. 25 W vs Indiana 69-58, Mar. 2 W at Penn State 71-66
This week: Wednesday vs Purdue 9pm BTN, Sunday at Nebraska 7:30pm 

History shows that no matter what happens early in the season, a hot team is dangerous in March. The Badgers are red-hot heading into the final week of conference play, riding a seven-game winning streak and tied with Michigan State for second place in the Big Ten. Wisconsin could represent the most dangerous team in the conference, but clinching a share of the title gave Michigan the nod at No. 1 for now. 

3. Nebraska (17-11, 9-7) • Up 4
Last week: Feb. 26 L at Illinois 49-60, Mar. 1 W vs Northwestern 54-47
This week: Wednesday at Indiana 7pm BTN, Sunday vs #9 Wisconsin 7:30pm

Despite last week’s loss to Illinois, which looks slightly less egregious after the Illini won in East Lansing on Saturday, Nebraska finds itself contending for a first-round bye in Indianapolis. Tim Miles’s team held off Northwestern on Saturday and can secure a winning conference record with a win in either of its final two games (at Indiana on Wednesday or against Wisconsin on Sunday).

4. Indiana (17-12, 7-9) • Up 4
Last week: Feb. 25 L at #14 Wisc. 58-69, Feb. 27 W vs #20 Iowa 93-86, Mar. 2 W vs #22 OSU 72-64
This week: Wednesday vs Nebraska 7pm BTN, Saturday at #12 Michigan 6pm

Don’t look now, but Indiana is making the run that Big Ten fans were waiting for. Indiana knocked off two straight top-25 teams last week to keep its dim tournament hopes alive. They may not recover from the 3-7 stretch that plagued the heart of their conference schedule, but the Hoosiers aren’t going down without a fight. It may take a win in Ann Arbor in the season finale to put Indiana over the hump.

5. Iowa (17-12, 6-10) • Up 3
Last week: Feb. 26 W vs Nebraska 60-49, Mar. 1 W at #18 Michigan State 53-46
This week: Tuesday vs #12 Michigan 7pm ESPN, Saturday at #24 Iowa 8:30pm

John Groce waited nearly two whole months of Big Ten play for his team to show some life, and although it’s likely too late to join an already-crowded NCAA Tournament bubble, Illinois played spoiler three times in the past two weeks. A win over Michigan State in East Lansing proved the most impressive feat for Illinois on the season, but beating Minnesota and Nebraska the week before was more nationally significant, as both teams have tournament hopes that hang by a thread.

6. Iowa (20-9, 9-7) • Down 1
Last week: Feb. 25 L at Minnesota 89-95, Feb. 27 L at Indiana 86-93, Mar. 2 W vs Purdue 83-76
This week: Thursday at #22 Michigan State 9pm ESPN, Saturday vs Illinois 8:30pm

When both Michigan and Michigan State faltered on their home courts on Feb. 16, Iowa climbed to within one game of the conference co-leaders in the loss column. The Hawkeyes responded by losing their next three games and falling completely out of contention. After struggling to beat Purdue at home, Iowa looks to take advantage of an equally-wounded Spartan squad on Thursday.

7. Michigan State (22-7, 11-5) • Down 3
Last week: Mar. 1 L vs Illinois 46-53
This week: Thursday vs #24 Iowa 9pm ESPN, Sunday at Ohio State 4:30pm

All season long Tom Izzo stuck to the same story: when Michigan State returned all of its injured players, the miraculous turnaround would begin. Well on Saturday Adreian Payne, Keith Appling and Branden Dawson all played against Illinois and the Spartans lost on their home court, and scored just 46 points in the process. The time to start worrying about Michigan State has arrived, as it has dropped six of its last 10 games, with half of those coming at home.

8. Ohio State (22-8, 9-8) • Down 5
Last week: Feb. 27 L at Penn State 63-65, Mar. 2 L at Indiana 64-72
This week: Sunday vs #22 Michigan State 4:30pm CBS

The last time Ohio State lost to Penn State, it responded by winning six of its next seven games. This time, the Buckeyes followed up with a loss to Indiana. Unfortunately for Thad Matta’s squad, the most glaring part of the statement is that the Buckeyes have lost to the 5-11 Nittany Lions twice.

9. Minnesota (18-12, 7-10) • Down 3
Last week: Feb. 25 W vs #20 Iowa 95-89, Mar. 1 L at #16 Michigan 56-66
This week: Saturday vs Penn State 8:30pm

Minnesota nearly punched its NCAA Tournament ticket for good Saturday when a furious second-half charge brought it to within two points of first-place Michigan. The visible frustration on coach Richard Pitino’s face as the game slipped away perfectly sums up the remainder of his team’s season. Minnesota will sit and watch the rest of the bubble teams play during the week before hosting Penn State in a game that does little to strengthen its tournament resume. As Joe Lunardi’s “last team in,” this stressful week could turn Pitino’s hair a few shades closer to his father’s.

10. Penn State (14-15, 5-11) • Up 1
Last week: Feb. 27 W vs #22 Ohio State 65-63, Mar. 2 L vs #14 Wisconsin 66-71
This week: Thursday at Northwestern 7pm ESPNU, Saturday at Minnesota 8:30pm

Though Penn State is unlikely to win its final two road games and finish the season with an overall .500 record, it did complete a sweep of the preseason No. 11 Buckeyes on Thursday. After losing their first six conference games, the Nittany Lions can settle for morale victories.

11. Purdue (15-14, 5-11) • Down 1
Last week: Feb. 26 L vs #16 Michigan 76-77 OT, Mar. 2 L vs #20 Iowa 76-83
This week: Wednesday at #9 Wisconsin 9pm BTN, Sunday vs Northwestern 12pm

Purdue played both Michigan and Iowa to the end last week, but the end result was two losses, bringing the streak to a total of four. The Boilermakers’ last chance to play spoiler against a tournament team comes on Wednesday, when they travel to Madison to battle the streaking Badgers.

12. Northwestern (12-17, 5-11) • Even
Last week: Mar. 1 L at Nebraska 47-54
This week: Thursday vs Penn State 7pm ESPNU, Sunday at Purdue 12pm

Northwestern crashed and burned after a strong start to the conference season, currently riding a six-game losing streak. The Wildcats do have an opportunity to finish on a positive note as the final two regular-season games come against fellow last place Big Ten opponents.

Big Ten title race down to three

Friday, February 28th, 2014


UM crowd vs MSU 2-23-14

As February comes to a close and perhaps the greatest month in all of sports approaches, the Big Ten men’s basketball conference remains as unpredictable as ever.

Nearly two weeks ago, the would-be headliner battle between the two Michigan schools that topped the standings all season long suffered a major blow when Michigan fell to Wisconsin and Nebraska shocked Michigan State in East Lansing. Meanwhile, Nebraska put together a five-game winning streak to burst onto the NCAA bubble, only to lose to lowly Illinois and see it all slip away. Even the Iowa-Indiana game scheduled for Feb. 18 proved unpredictable, as an eight-foot beam that fell from the Assembly Hall ceiling postponed the game for over a week.

With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the standings usually provide a clearer picture of what the conference tournament will feature. But in the midst of such an erratic regular season, more surprises surely lie ahead, right?

Spoiler alert: This year’s Big Ten regular season championship is Michigan’s to lose.

Remaining schedule for Big Ten title contenders
Michigan Michigan State Wisconsin
Saturday vs Minnesota, 6pm BTN vs Illinois, 4pm ESPN
Sunday at Penn State, 12pm BTN
Tuesday, Mar. 4 at Illinois, 7pm ESPN
Wednesday, Mar. 5 vs Purdue, 9pm BTN
Thursday, Mar. 6 vs Iowa, 9pm ESPN
Saturday, Mar. 8 vs Indiana, 6pm ESPN
Sunday, Mar. 9 at Ohio State, 4:30pm CBS at Nebraska, 7:30pm BTN

After the victory to sweep Tom Izzo’s Spartans, Michigan firmly planted itself atop the conference with four winnable games remaining.

A trip to Purdue, which provided the most difficult remaining challenge, ended with a miracle in-bounds play for the Wolverines, who snuck out of West Lafayette unscathed, much to the chagrin of championship hopefuls Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Now the only teams standing in Michigan’s way are 5-9 Indiana, 5-10 Illinois, and a struggling Minnesota team with just two conference road wins against the league’s last place squads. John Beilein’s one-game lead should hold up and bring Michigan the long-awaited sole Big Ten title.

But outcomes rarely go according to plan in the 2013-14 edition of the Big Ten. If the first place Wolverines do drop any of their final three games, what does it mean?

Iowa’s loss at Indiana on Thursday night and Ohio State’s loss at Penn State made it mathematically official: the only two teams left to challenge Michigan are Michigan State (one game behind) and Wisconsin (two).

Michigan's last-second win over Purdue on Wednesday kept the Wolverines on track for the outright Big Ten title (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Michigan’s last-second win over Purdue on Wednesday kept the Wolverines on track for the outright Big Ten title (Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Let’s say Michigan finishes the season by winning two of its final three games. Regardless of what Wisconsin does in its final three games, the Badgers would fall short of the Wolverines, having already lost five times in the Big Ten.

A Michigan loss would, however, leave the door open for Michigan State, which could finish the season in a tie and, despite earning the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, boast a share of the regular season championship. But the Spartans face a one of the toughest stretch runs in the Big Ten.

Michigan State played sub-.500 basketball in the month of February, losing four of seven games. The Breslin Center lost some of its esteem after Nebraska came in and bullied the Spartans last weekend, so a matchup with the desperate Hawkeyes on March 6 could challenge Izzo’s battered team. Iowa’s current three-game losing streak compliment’s Michigan State’s struggles to set up a surprisingly important matchup in the final week of the season.

Days later, the Spartans travel to Columbus in what Big Ten officials probably expected to be a conference-deciding game against Ohio State. However, a sweep at the hands of bottom-feeding Penn State dropped Thad Matta’s team well out of contention, and barring a Michigan loss, this game provides little importance in the bigger picture.

If Michigan does lose, then Ohio State earns a chance to play spoiler for Michigan State and help its hated rival from Ann Arbor. Michigan State hasn’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 21 when a win over Indiana marked its 11th straight at the time. Michigan ended that streak.

Clearly, Michigan State’s quest for a Big Ten title remains an uphill battle.

Wisconsin, unlike the Spartans, plays a much easier schedule to finish the season. Penn State and Purdue, both tied for last place, figure to provide little resistance for Wisconsin next week, setting up an important trip to Lincoln on March 9.

Nebraska’s only loss in the new Pinnacle Bank Arena came at the hands of the first-place Wolverines, who snuck out of Lincoln with a 71-70 win on Jan. 9 after the Huskers missed three layup attempts in the closing seconds. Despite the loss at Illinois on Wednesday, Nebraska’s five-game winning streak puts it tied for fourth place in the loss column in the conference. With a Big Ten record that matches Iowa’s and a nearly-perfect home resume, Nebraska provides a real challenge for Wisconsin to finish the regular season.

Even the most unpredictable conference standings take shape near the end of the season. Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin played well enough through 15 Big Ten games to stay alive into March, but Michigan represents the clear-cut favorite with less than two weeks to go.

The Wolverines may win all three remaining games and leave no room for another contender to catch up. But even if the surprising Big Ten serves up another upset, the odds lie in Michigan’s favor.