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2015 opponent preview: Oregon State

Monday, July 27th, 2015


2015 Opponent Preview_OREGON STATE

Gary Andersen(Scobel Wiggins, Oregon State Athletics)

Our season preview series continues today with the second of our opponent previews. We kicked off the series last week with a preview of the team we feel will be the easiest on Michigan’s schedule, UNLV. Today is the second easiest, the Oregon State Beavers, who come to Ann Arbor on Sept. 12 for Jim Harbaugh’s home opener.

Overview

Like Michigan, Oregon State is ushering in a new head coach this fall. Mike Riley took a step up at Nebraska after 14 seasons in Corvallis (10 as head coach), so Gary Andersen bolted Wisconsin for Oregon State after just two seasons. He inherits a team that has gone backwards in each of the last two seasons.

Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 4 Weber State
Sept. 12 at Michigan
Sept. 19 San Jose State
Sept. 26 Stanford
Oct. 10 at Arizona
Oct. 17 at Washington State
Oct. 24 Colorado
Oct. 31 at Utah
Nov. 7 UCLA
Nov. 14 at California
Nov. 21 Washington
Nov. 28 at Oregon

Andersen made no bones about the fact that Wisconsin’s academic standards pushed him out, so he took a major step down to get to a place that allows him to recruit who he wants. He voluntarily left a school that has been to more Rose Bowls since 1993 (six) than the school he left it for has conference championships in school history (five). In fact, Oregon State hasn’t won the Pac-12 since 2000, and while the Beavers have finished in the top 25 four times since then, it’s not a program with a rich history.

Riley was able to attain unusual success in Corvallis, averaging nearly eight wins per season since 2003 at a school that had only seven eight-win seasons in 110 years before that. Riley’s Beavers won at least nine games four times, including a 10-4 season in 2006. But he followed that up with back-to-back 9-4 seasons, then 8-5, 5-7, and 3-9. OSU rebounded with a 9-4 campaign in 2012, but again went downhill with a 7-6 2013 and 5-7 2014. If history repeats itself Andersen is on track for 3-9 this fall.

Andersen has a good track record. He inherited a very bad Utah State squad in 2009, and while it took a couple of 4-8 seasons to build his foundation, he got over the hump with a 7-6 season in 2011 and broke through with a 11-2 season, a conference championship, and a bowl win a year later. He left for Wisconsin and didn’t miss a beat, taking an 8-6 team and going 9-4 and 11-3 with a Big Ten championship game appearance.

When he jumped to Oregon State, Andersen brought in a solid pair of coordinators. Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin has been around the block, coaching at 12 different schools since 1978. He served as offensive coordinator at Cincinnati in 2001, Baylor in Michigan State from 2003-06, New Mexico from 2007-08, Utah State (win Andersen) from 2009-11, and most recently, Colorado State from 2012-14. He served as CSU’s interim head coach in the Las Vegas Bowl last December when Jim McElwain left for Florida.

Andersen’s hand-picked defensive coordinator is up-and-coming Kalani Sitake, who has run Utah’s defense since 2009. In fact, since 2005, Sitake has continued adding roles to his title, going from linebackers coach from 2005-08 to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2009-11 to associate head coach, defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach from 2012-14.

Let’s take a look at Oregon State.

Offense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2014 Stats
QB Seth Collins (Fr.) 6’3″, 186
RB Storm Woods (Sr.) 6’0″, 203 121 rush for 766 yds (6.3 avg), 5 TD; 26 rec, 179 yds, 1 TD
WR Hunter Jarmon (So.) 5’11”, 198 20 rec for 334 yds (16.7 avg), 1 TD
WR Victor Bolden (Jr.) 5’9″, 172 72 rec for 798 yds (11.1 avg), 2 TD
WR Jordan Villamin (So.) 6’4″, 235 35 rec for 578 yds (16.5 avg), 6 TD
TE Caleb Smith (Sr.) 6’6″, 263 20 rec for 202 yds (10.1 avg), 1 TD
LT Sean Harlow (Jr.) 6’4″, 298 12 starts (21 career starts)
LG Isaac Seumalo (RS Jr.) 6’5″, 310 Redshirt (25 career starts)
C Josh Mitchell (Sr.) 6’3″, 306 12 starts (15 career starts)
RG Gavin Andrews (Sr.) 6’6″, 343 10 starts (10 career starts)
RT Dustin Stanton (Jr.) 6’5″, 289 6 starts (6 career starts)

Baldwin has his work cut out for him with an offense that ranked 72nd nationally in total offense. While the Beavers ranked a very respectable 31st in passing offense last season, it was largely due to quarterback Sean Mannion, who was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. The Beavers’ running game ranked 110th nationally and second-to-last in the Pac-12, averaging just 118.1 yards per game, and that’s where Baldwin will have to apply his expertise. At Michigan State, he turned the Big Ten’s worst rushing offense in 2003 into the second-best in 2004. At Utah State, his rushing offense ranked sixth nationally in 2011 and 26th in 2012. In 2013, his Colorado State offense ranked 27th nationally in rushing.

Storm Woods is an experienced back with 2,183 career rushing yards and 932 receiving yards

Storm Woods is an experienced back with 2,183 career rushing yards and 932 receiving yards

The good news is he has a starting running back returning in senior Storm Woods, who averaged 76.6 yards per game last season with three 100-yard games. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Woods rushed for 940 yards and 13 touchdowns, so he has as much experience as any back on Michigan’s team. However, behind Woods is a bunch of nobodies. Terron Ward the second half of the one-two punch the past two yeas. He was second on the team with 696 rushing yards and lead the team with 10 touchdowns last fall. He also led the team in rushing in 2013, but now he’s gone, leaving Woods to carry the load himself.

The biggest loss, however, is quarterback Sean Mannion, who finished his career as Oregon State’s and the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer with 13,600 yards. By comparison, Michigan’s all-time leader, Chad Henne, passed for 9,715 yards in his career. With Mannion gone — as well as Luke Del Rio, who transferred to Florida — Oregon State doesn’t have a quarterback on the roster with game experience. That leaves Andersen with a choice of redshirt freshmen Nick Mitchell or Marcus McMaryion or true freshman Seth Collins. The latter is the presumed pick, but it will be worked out in fall camp.

Regardless of who wins the job, he’ll at least have experience to throw to. Junior Victor Bolden caught 72 passes for 798 yards and two scores last season, while sophomore Jordan Villamon was second with 35 for 578. He led the team with six touchdowns. And while Bolden stands just 5-foot-9, 172 pounds, Villamon is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. That’s a nice one-two punch to have back. Fellow sophomore Hunter Jarmon led all receivers with 16.7 yards per catch and also returns as a big-play threat.

The offensive line was a game of duck-duck-goose last fall, but by season’s end, a competent five was solidified. And the good news for Andersen is that four of the five return, in addition to Isaac Seumalo, who started 25 games in 2012 and ’13 before taking a redshirt last season due to an injury. Combined, the five have 77 career starts and should at the very least be able to improve on last season’s poor showing.

Defense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2014 Stats
DE Jaswha James (Sr.) 6’2″, 264 16 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR
DT Jalen Grimble (Sr.) 6’2″, 291 6 tackles, 1 TFL
DT Lavonte Barnett (Sr.) 6’3″, 262 18 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks
DE Luke Hollingsworth (Jr.) 6’3″, 270 11 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack
LB Caleb Saulo (Jr.) 6’1″, 232 6 tackles
LB Rommel Mageo (Jr.) 6’2″, 232 23 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 FR
LB Darrell Songy (RS So.) 6’0″, 223 Redshirted
CB Larry Scott (Sr.) 5’11”, 192 43 tackles, 2 TFL, 11 PBU
CB Dwayne Williams (RS Fr.) 5’9″, 176 Redshirted
FS Cyrill Noland-Lewis (Jr.) 6’1″, 206 33 tackles, 2 PBU, 1 FR
SS Justin Strong (So.) 5’9″, 195 56 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 PBU

While Baldwin at least has some experience to work with on offense, Sitake is essentially playing with a blank slate. Only two starters return from a defense that ranked 74th nationally in total defense, 96th in scoring defense, 51st in rush defense, and 91st in pass defense. Only three Pac-12 teams allowed more points per game than Oregon State did (31.6). Sitake had Utah’s defense the second-best in the Pac-12 last fall behind only Stanford.

He’ll have a lot of work to do to replace its top six tacklers. The leading returning tackler is strong safety Justin Strong, who started just three games in 2014 and recorded 56 tackles, five for loss. He’ll be joined in the back by junior free safety Cyrill Noland-Lewis, who has bounced back and forth from outside linebacker. His 33 tackles last season are the third-most returning. The elder statesman of the secondary is senior cornerback Larry Scott, who brings back a team-high 11 pass breakups in addition to 43 tackles. The other corner spot will likely fall to redshirt freshman Dwayne Williams, a former high school national champion track star from Killeen, Texas.

The linebacking corps returns just 29 total tackles and no starters. Middle linebacker Rommel Mageo was the unit’s first reserve last fall and recorded 23 tackles, though he did start seven games in 2013. Junior Caleb Saulo has a lot of special teams experience, but not much game experience, while the other likely starter, Darrell Songy, redshirted last season.

The defensive line returns only senior end Jaswha James, who recorded 16 tackles and just one sack. The other end should be junior Luke Hollingsworth, a junior college transfer who started two games last season. Senior tackle Lavonte Barnett started four games last season and led the team with 4.5 sacks. The other tackle will likely be senior Jalen Grimble, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered against USC last season.

Special Teams

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2014 Stats
K Garrett Owens (So.) 5’9″, 181 11-of-13, Long 46
P Mitch Seeley (So.) 5’10”, 183
KR Chris Brown (Jr.) 5’10”, 205 1 ret, 27.0 avg
PR Rahmel Dockery (Jr.) 5’10”, 179 8 ret, 6.1 avg

Kicker Garrett Owens gets the job to himself after sharing it with Trevor Romaine last season. He made 11-of-13 field goals, five of which came in the season opener against Portland State, and four of which came against Washington State. Punter Keith Kostol is gone, leaving only sophomore walk-on Mitch Seeley and Snow College transfer Nick Porebski to battle for the job. Not much is known about either, but Seeley is the one currently on the roster.

In the return game, last season’s leading kick returner, Malcolm Marable, is gone, leaving the job to backup running back Chris Brown, who returned one kick last fall. Junior receiver Rahmel Dockery resumes his punt return duties after averaging 6.1 yards per return a year ago.

Outlook

The offense is sure to improve in the running game with experience along the line, the return of Woods, and Baldwin’s run-heavy system. But the passing game will take a major step back without Mannion, so it will likely net out pretty evenly. However, it will take mite for Sitake to transform the Beavers defense. In all reality, Sitake should be able to keep the defense at least even with where it was last year. But a schedule that finds Oregon State traveling to Michigan, Arizona, Utah, and Oregon, and hosting Stanford and UCLA, will be near impossible to produce a winning record in 2015.

What it means for Michigan

If Michigan can survive Utah in Week 1, the Wolverines will return home with a great chance to go 2-0 and give the fans hope for an exciting season. Since Michigan plays Utah on Thursday night, they’ll get an extra day to prepare for Oregon State, which opens with Weber State on Friday, Sept. 4. The Beavers will give Harbaugh’s squad a good test on the ground, as well as an opportunity to put up some points offensively. Michigan should cruise through Harbaugh’s home opener.

Comparing the Big Ten’s returning production from 2014

Monday, July 13th, 2015


Ohio State Navy Football(AP photo)

Less than eight weeks remain before Michigan football returns. Not only will the Wolverines kick off a new era of Michigan football, but they will open up the entire college football season on Thursday, Sept. 3 at Utah. Minnesota faces TCU that same night, while Michigan State and Illinois follow on Friday night. The majority of the Big Ten plays on Saturday as usual, but visits Marshall on Sunday and Ohio State caps the weekend with a trip to Virginia Tech on Monday night.

As we look forward to a new season, it’s time to take a look at one indicator of how the Big Ten might play out. A couple of weeks ago we reviewed how returning production factored into each team’s success in 2014. Maryland had the most but finished in the middle of the pack. Ohio State had the least but won the Big Ten and national title. So what does it look like as we enter the 2015 season? Let’s take a look.

Offense

Returning offense
Team Percent Returning 2014 Total Offense Rating
Ohio State 88% 9
Penn State 81% 111
Nebraska 69% 31
Illinois 63% 94
Michigan 62% 112
Wisconsin 60% 21
Rutgers 55% 73
Minnesota 54% 103
Michigan State 54% 11
Northwestern 51% 104
Purdue 48% 108
Iowa 41% 63
Indiana 40% 61
Maryland 29% 109
Returning scoring offense
Team Percent Returning 2014 Scoring Offense Rating
Ohio State 83% 5
Michigan 64% 109
Penn State 64% 110
Nebraska 61% 12
Illinois 58% 84
Northwestern 58% 98
Rutgers 55% 80
Minnesota 54% 66
Wisconsin 51% 27
Purdue 47% 95
Michigan State 44% 7
Maryland 36% 65
Indiana 35% 87
Iowa 31% 68

While Michigan has made the headlines all offseason thanks to the antics of Harbaugh, its chief rival, Ohio State, is the reigning national champions and looks to be even stronger this season. The Buckeyes return the most total offense and scoring offense of any team in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes lost just 112 total rushing yards and four of 41 rushing touchdowns. Receiver Devin Smith’s 931 yards and 12 touchdowns will need to be replaced, but that’s the only significant loss among offensive skill position players, and OSU returns four starting offensive linemen. With 88 percent of the nation’s ninth-best offense and 83 percent of the nation’s fifth-best scoring offense returning, it’s no wonder Ohio State is the hands-on favorite to win the Big Ten and play for the national title once again. And those numbers don’t even include two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year Braxton Miller, who missed all of 2014 with a shoulder injury. In other words, the Buckeyes are stacked.

Penn State returns the second most offensive production with 81 percent of its offense and 64 percent of its scoring. However, while Ohio State’s offense ranked among the nation’s best last season, Penn State’s was among the nation’s worst, ranking 111th in total offense and 109th in scoring offense. Eight starters return, most notably quarterback Christian Hackenberg who enters his third season as a starter. Leading rusher Akeel Lynch and the top two leading receivers, DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis, are also back. The offensive line, which was the source of most of Penn State’s troubles last season, returns four starters and brings in a couple of transfers to vie for the fifth spot.

Nebraska, Illinois, and Michigan each return about the same amount of offense. The Cornhuskers have 69 percent of their 31st-ranked offense and 61 percent of their 12th-ranked scoring offense coming back. However, they’ll have to replace running back Ameer Abdullah’s 1,611 yards and 19 touchdowns, as well as Kenny Bell’s 788 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Illinois brings back 63 percent of its offense and 58 percent of its scoring returning. The top four receivers and leading rusher are back along with quarterback Wes Lunt. However, leading receiver Mike Dudek, who topped 1,000 yards a year ago, will miss some time after tearing his ACL in the spring.

Michigan returns 62 percent of its total offense and 64 percent of its scoring offense. Like Penn State, Michigan’s offense was miserable a year ago. Devin Funchess is the big loss, accounting for 36 percent of Michigan’s receiving yards. Jehu Chesson will have to step into a larger role in the pass catching department. Quarterback Devin Gardner is gone, but Iowa transfer Jake Rudock brings 2,436 yards (540 more than Gardner) and 16 touchdowns (six more) to the table. While Michigan has the second most returning touchdowns percentage-wise, the 34 touchdowns are well short of Ohio State’s 102.

Of the group in the middle of the pack of returning production, Wisconsin had the best offense last season. The Badgers return 60 percent of the nation’s 20th-best total offense and 51 percent of the 27th-best scoring offense. Melvin Gordon’s 2,740 total yards and 32 touchdowns make up nearly all of the team’s lost production.

Michigan State, which was the only Big Ten team with an offense similar to Ohio State’s in 2014, returns 54 percent of the 11th-ranked offense, but just 44 percent of the seventh-best scoring offense. Thirty-seven of the Spartans’ 43 rushing touchdowns and 16 of 26 receiving touchdowns are gone. But with quarterback Connor Cook returning Michigan State’s offense should still be strong if it can find skill position players to step up.

Maryland, which entered last season with nearly its entire offense returning (97.5 of its total offense and 94.4 percent of its scoring offense), is on the other side of the coin entering this fall. The Terrapins return just 29 percent of their total offense and 36 percent of their scoring. Quarterback CJ Brown, who also led the team in rushing, as well as the top four receivers, will need to be replaced.

Defense

Returning defense
Team Percent Returning 2014 Total Defense Rating
Ohio State 74% 19
Illinois 71% 109
Northwestern 67% 53
Michigan State 67% 8
Michigan 63% 7
Minnesota 62% 39
Wisconsin 61% 4
Purdue 60% 80
Penn State 59% 2
Rutgers 57% 98
Nebraska 56% 52
Iowa 56% 22
Indiana 53% 93
Maryland 44% 95

Entering last season, the top three defenses in the Big Ten from 2013 had the least production returning. Still, those three teams – Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin – finished among the top six in total defense the Big Ten in 2014. Entering this fall, the top three defenses from last season — Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan — stand in the middle third of the conference in terms of returning production (tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and takeaways).

Penn State had the Big Ten’s best defense a year ago, allowing just 278.7 yards and 18.6 points per game. The Nittany Lions return 59 percent of last season’s production, which ranks ninth in the conference. Linebacker Mike Hull, who led the team with 140 tackles and ranked third with 10.5 tackles for loss, will have to be replaced, but the next five leading tacklers are all back. Head coach James Franklin will also have to replace both defensive ends, who combined for nine sacks, but he does have tackle Anthony Zettel, who led the team with eight, back.

Wisconsin featured the Big Ten’s second best defense and scoring defense last season and the nation’s fourth-best total defense. Despite losing two of their top three tacklers, linebackers Marcus Trotter and Derrick Landisch, the Badgers return 61 percent of last season’s proaction.

Michigan, meanwhile, ranked third in total defense and fifth in scoring defense last season and returns the fifth-most production at 63 percent. Leading tackler Jake Ryan is gone, but will be backfilled by fifth-year senior Desmond Morgan who recorded 229 tackles from 2011-2013 before missing last season with an injury. The defensive line lost a combined 21 tackles for loss and 10 sacks from ends Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer, but the core of the defense — especially the back seven — is back.

Michigan State had the conference’s fourth-best total defense and third-best scoring defense a year ago, and returns 67 percent this year. The top two returning tacklers, Kurtis Drummond and Taiwan Jones, as well as the best corner, Trae Waynes, are gone. The three accounted for 36 percent of MSU’s takeaways.

The team with the most returning production this season is the same team that also returns the most offensive production, the defending Big Ten and national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Seventy-four percent of the defense that ranked fifth in the Big Ten and 19th nationally is back in action this fall, including the top four tacklers and top two in sacks, Joey Bosa and Darron Lee. In fact, even though they lose 11 sacks, Ohio State returns 33.5 sacks, which would have ranked fourth in the Big Ten last season. The Bucks also bring back 72 percent of their takeaways from a unit that ranked second in that category in 2014.

Rutgers, Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana all return between 57 percent and 53 percent of their defenses, though they ranked between sixth (Iowa) and 13th (Rutgers) in the Big Ten in total defense a year ago. The Hawkeyes have to replace their top two tacklers and more than 50 percent of their tackles for loss and sacks. Nebraska has to replace four of their top five tacklers, including defensive end Randy Gregory who led the team with seven sacks. Rutgers has 71 percent of their sacks coming back from unit that ranked fourth in the Big Ten in that category, but behind the front four the Scarlet Knights have a lot of holes to fill. Indiana brings back just five starters from a defense that allowed the second most points in the conference last season.

Finally, the team that returned the most defense last season returns the least this year. Maryland is the only Big Ten squad with less than 50 percent of last season’s defensive production returning. The Terrapins return just 44 percent of last year’s 95th-ranked defense. Only four starters return, most notably corners Sean Davis and Will Likely, but nearly the entire front seven has to be replaced.

Conclusion

Ohio State is in the same spot Maryland was entering last season. The Buckeyes have the most returning production across the board. However, the Buckeyes are in a much better spot to allow that production to pay off. Whereas Maryland ranked 77th, 83rd, and 44th in total offense, scoring offense, and total defense in 2013, Ohio State ranked ninth, fifth, and 19th, respectively, last season. Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa just plugged in talent on defense and didn’t miss a beat last season, and all four return more this fall.

2014to2015 Returning Production Chart

According to the chart above, Rutgers is in the exact spot Ohio State was entering last season. Does that mean the Scarlet Knights will roll through the Big Ten and into the College Football Playoff? Probably not since the Buckeyes stand alone atop the chart. Last year, there was only one offense returning less than 50 percent of its production. This year there are four, so we could see a decline in offense across the league. Nine of the league’s 14 primary quarterbacks return, in addition to Rudock, who will likely start for Michigan, and Ohio State’s three-headed monster.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out this fall, but of course this is just one metric to use when predicting performance. Stay tuned for our individual team previews over the course of the next seven weeks as well as our Michigan position previews and other season preview content.

How returning production throughout the Big Ten translated in 2014

Monday, June 29th, 2015


Ohio State Sugar Bowl(AP)

Last summer we kicked off our season preview series with a look at the returning production from each team in the Big Ten from the year before. We’re going to do the same this summer, but we’ll begin with a review of how the returning production entering last season translated over the course of the season. That will lead into this year’s returning production, our opponent previews, and our Michigan position previews.

Entering last season, Maryland was far and away the most experienced team based on the previous season’s production. The Terrapins returned 97.5 percent of their offense, 94.4 percent of their scoring offense, and 82.6 percent of their defense. They led the conference in all three categories. But did it translate?

Maryland went just 7-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play in 2014, its first year in the Big Ten. All that returning offensive production resulted in the 12th-best (third-worst) offense in the Big Ten, though it ranked fifth in scoring. The offensive line that returned 51 starts from 2013 produced the third-worst rushing offense and allowed the second most sacks. All that returning defensive production resulted in a the conference’s 12th-ranked defense and 10th-ranked scoring defense.

Returning 2013 Production vs 2014 Results
Team Returning Total Off. Returning Scoring Off. Returning Def. Big Ten Finish
Ohio State 12th (59.8%) 13th (53.7%) 11th (60.3%) Champion
Wisconsin 13th (57.0%) 11th (57.7%) 13th (49.9%) 1st – West
Michigan State 3rd (90.9%) 2nd (91.3%) 12th (50.1%) 2nd – East
Minnesota 10th (65.9%) 12th (57.4%) 8th (66.1%) 2nd – West
Nebraska 9th (66.5%) 10th (59.5%) 9th (66.5%) 2nd – West
Iowa 2nd (92.8%) 3rd (89.3%) 14th (44.4%) 4th – West
Maryland 1st (97.5%) 1st (94.4%) 1st (82.6%) 3rd – East
Rutgers 6th (74.4%) 4th (86.9%) 3rd (77.8%) 4th – East
Illinois 14th (34.3%) 14th (40.0%) 6th (75.8%) 5th – West
Michigan 8th (68.6%) 9th (63.8%) 4th (77.6%) 4th – East
Northwestern 7th (71.9%) 8th (71.1%) 5th (76.1%) 5th – West
Penn State 5th (76.4%) 5th (84.4%) 7th (67.4%) 6th – East
Indiana 9th (67.3%) 7th (72.2%) 2nd (79.1%) 7th – East
Purdue 4th (82.5%) 6th (80.6%) 10th (63.3%) 7th – West

Iowa and Michigan State ranked second and third in returning offensive production, both at about 90 percent. It translated for the Spartans, who went 11-2 and possessed the Big Ten’s second-best scoring offense and total offense. Interestingly, the running game, which returned 100 percent of its 2013 production ranked just fifth in the conference, while the passing game, which lost 21 percent of its yards and 35 percent of its receiving touchdowns, led the conference in passing. Iowa, meanwhile, was middle of the pack, ranking sixth in total offense and seventh in scoring while matching Maryland’s record of 7-6 and 4-4.

Defensively, both ranked among the bottom three in returning production entering last season, but performed much better. Michigan State ranked fourth in total defense and third in scoring defense, while Iowa ranked sixth and eighth, respectively.

Michigan was in the middle of the pack in returning production with 68.6 percent of its offense and 63.8 percent of its defense returning. The Wolverines went 5-7 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play, ranking dead last in total offense, second to last in scoring offense. The defense fared much better, finishing third in total defense and fifth in scoring defense.

How about the Big Ten and national champions? Ohio State had the third-lowest total offense, second-lowest scoring offense, and fourth-lowest total defense returning. And that included Braxton Miller, who missed the entire season. All the Buckeyes did was bounce back from an early-season loss to Virginia Tech by running the table the rest of the way, taking down Michigan State, Wisconsin, top-ranked Alabama, and second-ranked Oregon in the process.

2013to2014 Returning Production Results Chart

Wisconsin followed a similar pattern, starting the season with the second-lowest total offense, fourth-lowest scoring offense, and second-lowest total defense returning. It translated into an 11-3 record, a trip to the Big Ten title game — which the Badgers lost to Ohio State 59-0 — and an overtime win over Southeastern Conference power Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

Minnesota, the surprise team in the conference last season, brought the fourth-lowest total offense, third-lowest scoring offense, and eight-most total defense back from 2013. The Gophers went 8-5, nearly ended Ohio State’s chances of a national title, and were a regular-season-ending loss away from a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

For the most part last season — with the exception of Michigan State’s offense — the teams that brought the least production back did the best, while those that had the most returning production suffered the opposite fate. Stay tuned for a look at this year’s returning production across the conference.

Michigan hoops preview: Big Ten Tournament vs #6 (1) Wisconsin

Friday, March 13th, 2015


UM-Wisconsin
Michigan (16-15, 8-10) vs #6 Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2)
Friday, Mar. 13 | Chicago, Ill. | 12:00 p.m. EST | ESPN
Offense
64.9 Points/gm 71.7
(707-1,672) 42.3 Field Goal % 48.0 (784-1,635)
(244-681) 35.8 3-pt FG % 35.1 (209-596)
(353-466) 75.8 Free Throw % 75.4 (445-590)
11.4 FT Made/gm 14.4
30.5 Reb/gm 34.0
11.9 Assists/gm 12.4
9.7 Turnovers/gm 7.6
Defense
63.7 Points/gm 55.7
(739-1,651) 44.8 Field Goal % 41.4 (669-1,615)
(201-587) 34.2 3-pt FG % 35.2 (151-429)
34.1 Opp. Reb/gm 27.9
5.5 Steals/gm 4.5
1.7 Blocks/gm 3.6
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.9)*, Zak Irvin (14.0) Points/gm Frank Kaminsky (18.4), Sam Dekker (13.1)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7)^ Reb/gm Frank Kaminsky (8.1), Nigel Hayes (6.9)
*Out for season, ^Injured

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan dominated Illinois on Thursday to avoid a losing season and keep its postseason hopes alive. The Wolverines are still in play for an NIT bid, although it’s far from certain unless the Wolverines beat Wisconsin on Friday. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is in the position Michigan was in a year ago, playing for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Frank Kaminsky (F) 32.6 18.4 55.9 41.0 75.2 8.1 2.6 1.6 1.6 0.7
Sam Dekker (F) 29.8 13.1 51.5 32.1 69.3 5.5 1.1 1.0 0.5 0.5
Nigel Hayes (F) 32.5 12.0 52.0 37.5 71.9 6.9 2.0 1.3 0.5 0.8
Bronson Koenig (G) 27.6 7.8 41.4 39.8 85.3 1.7 2.2 0.8 0.3 0.3
Josh Gasser (G) 32.1 7.0 42.8 37.7 85.7 3.5 1.6 0.5 0.2 0.7
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Traevon Jackson (G)* 27.4 9.4 45.6 28.6 85.4 1.7 2.9 1.6 0.2 1.1
Duje Dukan (F) 16.6 4.7 37.2 29.4 71.1 2.8 0.7 0.8 0.1 0.2
Vitto Brown (F) 6.8 2.1 45.6 00.0 58.8 1.4 0.2 0.4 0.2 0.2
Zak Showalter (G) 7.7 2.1 37.8 08.3 88.0 1.3 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.3
Riley Dearring (G)* 2.8 0.8 40.0 42.9 00.0 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.1
*Injured
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 Northern Kentucky W 62-31
Nov. 16 Chattanooga W 89-45
Nov. 19 Green Bay W 84-60
Nov. 22 Boise State W 78-54
Nov. 26 UAB* W 72-43
Nov. 27 Georgetown* W 68-65
Nov. 28 Oklahoma* W 69-56
Dec. 3 #4 Duke^ L 70-80
Dec. 6 at Marquette W 49-38
Dec. 10 at Milwaukee W 93-54
Dec. 13 Nicholls State W 83-43
Dec. 22 at California W 68-56
Dec. 28 Buffalo W 68-56
Dec. 31 Penn State W 89-72
Jan. 4 at Northwestern W 81-58
Jan. 7 Purdue W 62-55
Jan. 11 at Rutgers L 62-67
Jan. 15 Nebraska W 70-55
Jan. 20 #25 Iowa W 82-50
Jan. 24 at Michigan W 69-64 OT
Jan. 31 at #25 Iowa W 74-63
Feb. 3 #23 Indiana W 92-78
Feb. 7 Northwestern W 65-50
Feb. 10 at Nebraska W 65-55
Feb. 15 Illinois W 68-49
Feb. 18 at Penn State W 55-47
Feb. 21 Minnesota W 63-43
Feb. 24 at #13 Maryland L 53-59
Mar. 1 Michigan State W 68-61
Mar. 5 at Minnesota W 76-63
Mar. 8 at Ohio State W 72-48
Mar. 13 (9) Michigan#
*Battle 4 Atlantis, ^ACC/Big Ten Challenge, #Big Ten Tournament

 

The Series

Michigan leads the all-time series 91-68. In this season’s only meeting between the two, Michigan took the Badgers to overtime in Ann Arbor but fell short, 69-64. Michigan was without Caris LeVert at that point, but did still have Derrick Walton, who led the team with 17 points. Michigan had no answer for Frank Kaminsky, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.

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.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 9

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
Despite being posted on Wednesday, these rankings only take into account last week’s results, through Sunday. Wisconsin holds onto the top spot, while Purdue and Michigan State make big leaps into the top three. Ohio State is this week’s biggest tumbler, falling five spots thanks to a seven-point loss at Michigan. The bottom five remain the same in a slightly different order.

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

1. Wisconsin (25-2, 13-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Penn State 55-47, Beat Min 63-53 This Week: Tue at #14 Maryland, Sun vs Michigan State

Wins in two of its final four games would wrap up sole possession of the Big Ten title for Wisconsin, which is riding a 10-game winning streak. With a strong finish, Wisconsin has a shot at the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Kentucky.

2. Purdue (18-9, 10-4) – Up 4
Last Week: Beat Indiana 67-63 This Week: Thu vs Rutgers, Sun at Ohio State

Purdue is no longer a nice surprise in the Big Ten. At 10-4, the Boilermakers are playing for a double bye in the conference tournament and all but locked into an NCAA bid. Matt Painter’s team has ripped off seven wins in eight tries, including a 3-1 record on the road.

3. Michigan State (19-8, 10-4) – Up 5
Last Week: Beat Michigan 80-67, Beat Illinois 60-53 This Week: Thu vs Minn, Sun at at #5 Wisconsin

Less than two weeks ago Michigan State was a bubble NCAA Tournament team. Now, after four straight wins, including back-to-back road wins over Michigan and Illinois, MSU is closing in on a second-place Big Ten finish.

4. Maryland (23-5, 11-4) – Even
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 69-65 This Week: Tue vs #5 Wisconsin, Sat vs Michigan

Mark Turgeon has steadied the ship after a rocky 2-3 stretch put Maryland’s position in the top 20 in question. Three straight wins have the Terrapins positioned for a strong finish in which they should win three of four.

5. Indiana (19-9, 9-6) – Up 2
Last Week: Lost to Purdue 63-67, Beat Rutgers 84-54 This Week: Wed at Northwestern

The middle of the Big Ten has really taken a hit over the last few weeks. Indiana, which has dropped five of its last nine, falls in at No. 5 as the rest of the Big Ten battles to stay off the bubble in the NCAA Tournament. Indiana’s last impressive win came over a month ago, on Jan. 22 against Maryland.

6. Iowa (17-10, 8-6) – Down 3
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 81-57, Beat Nebraska 74-46 This Week: Wed vs Illinois, Sat at Penn State

About the only thing Iowa has done right since back-to-back blowout wins over Michigan and Maryland is pounding Nebraska to the point where Tim Miles banned his team from its own locker room. Luckily for the Hawkeyes, a moderate finish of Illinois, Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern offers a great chance to reach the crucial 20-win plateau.

7. Ohio State (19-8, 8-6) – Down 5
Last Week: Lost at Michigan 57-64
This Week: Thu vs Nebraska, Sun vs Purdue

The last two games were not a good look for the previously resurgent Buckeyes, whose stay in the top 25 was as brief as Wisconsin’s struggles after a loss to Rutgers in January. OSU responded to a loss in East Lansing by falling to Michigan, which was riding a five-game losing streak in the conference.

8. Illinois (17-10, 7-7) – Down 3
Last Week: Lost to Michigan State 53-60 This Week: Wed at Iowa, Sat vs Northwestern

Illinois’ four-game winning streak hit a brick wall against conference-leading Wisconsin last week, as the Illini fell by 19 points in Madison. A home loss to Michigan State dropped John Groce’s team to No. 8 in the Big Ten, a dangerous place for teams hoping to avoid the Badgers in the third round of the conference tournament.

9. Michigan (14-13, 7-8) – Even
Last Week: Lost to MSU 67-80, Beat #24 OSU 64-57 This Week: Sat at #14 Maryland

If any team in the Big Ten needed a big morale boost, it was the battered, quickly sliding Wolverines. On Sunday, a start-to-finish waxing of the rival Buckeyes ended that streak and gave Michigan a realistic chance to finish the conference season with at least a .500 record.

10. Northwestern (13-14, 4-10) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Minnesota 72-66, Beat Penn State 60-39 This Week: Wed vs Indiana, Sat at Illinois

A quick glance at some of the final scores during Northwestern’s 10-game conference losing streak would take some of the shock out of the Wildcats’ current three-game winning streak. Chris Collins’ team is finally finishing games, and has emerged as the top spoiler in the bottom half of the league.

11. Minnesota (16-12, 5-10) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Northwestern 66-72, Lost at #5 Wisconsin 53-63 This Week: Thu at Michigan State

Can the rest of these Big Ten teams all tie for last? Besides Northwestern’s modest winning streak, the bottom of the conference has completely gone up in flames. Minnesota checks in at No. 11 because they still appear to have a pulse, losing by just 10 points to Wisconsin Saturday, which is a small victory in itself.

12. Nebraska (13-14, 5-10) – Even
Last Week: Lost at #16 Maryland, Lost to Iowa 46-74 This Week: Thu at Ohio State

What happened to Nebraska’s vaunted home-court advantage? A team that lost only one game at home by a single point last season has dropped two straight at Pinnacle Bank Arena, including a 28-point thrashing at the hands of Iowa.

13. Penn State (15-13, 3-12) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #5 Wisconsin 47-55, Lost at NU 39-60 This Week: Sat vs Iowa

Penn State dropped three straight games against ranked teams before running into the buzz saw that is Northwestern Saturday. A 21-point pounding in Evanston put an early exclamation point on a disastrous conference season for the Nittany Lions.

14. Rutgers (10-18, 2-13) – Even
Last Week: Lost at Iowa 47-81, Lost to Indiana 84-54 This Week: Thu at Purdue

Rutgers is really bad. A 30-point loss to Indiana rounded out an 11-game losing streak with more tough games ahead. In their first Big Ten season, the Scarlett Knights are failing the test.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 7

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015


Power Rankings_header
Wisconsin remains on top, having won six in a row, and that should continue at least for the next couple of weeks. Everyone else is chasing the Badgers, but with time running out it looks to be a battle for second place. Ohio State remains second, while Iowa jumped six spots to grab the third spot thanks to blowout wins over Michigan and Maryland. Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan each tumbled four spots, going a combined 1-4 last week.

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

1. Wisconsin (21-2, 9-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Indiana 92-78, Beat Northwestern 65-50 This Week: Tue at Nebraska, Sun vs Illinois

Since their slip up against 13th-place Rutgers on Jan. 11, Bo Ryan’s Badgers have won six straight games and put a choke hold on the conference. Wisconsin is three games ahead of the pack and will coast to the regular-season title.

2. Ohio State (18-6, 7-4) – Even
Last Week: Lost at Purdue 58-60, Beat Rutgers 79-60 This Week: Wed vs Penn State, Sat at Michigan State

A two-point loss in West Lafayette snapped Ohio State’s modest three-game winning streak Wednesday, but the Buckeyes bounced back with a blowout win against Rutgers to climb into a second-place tie behind Wisconsin.

3. Iowa (15-8, 6-4) – Up 6
Last Week: Beat Michigan 72-54, Beat #17 Maryland 71-55 This Week: Thu vs Minn, Sun at Northwestern

Iowa made a strong statement this week after dropping three straight games in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes dominated Michigan in Ann Arbor and roughed up 2nd-place Maryland to get back on track.

4. Maryland (19-5, 7-4) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Penn State 64-58, Lost to Iowa 55-71 This Week: Wed vs Indiana, Sat at Penn State

Mark Turgeon is learning that road wins don’t come easily in the Big Ten, as Maryland was blown out for a third straight time away from home Sunday. The Terps are 2-3 in their last five games and are showing signs of wearing down in their first Big Ten season.

5. Illinois (16-8, 6-5) – Up 3
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 66-54, Beat MSU 59-54 This Week: Thu vs Michigan, Sun at #5 Wisconsin

Just when Illinois looked like it would never get over the .500 mark, three straight wins have brought the Illini back to the pack in the Big Ten. A win against Michigan this week would match Illinois’ conference win total from last season.

6. Purdue (15-9, 7-4) – Down 4
Last Week: Beat #20 Ohio State 60-58, Lost to Minn. 58-62 This Week: Thu at Rutgers, Sun vs Nebraska

Purdue knocked off three ranked opponents during their four-game winning streak, but fell to Minnesota in the Barn Saturday. With three of their next four games coming against Rutgers and Nebraska, Matt Painter’s team has a real shot to hang around in the battle for second place in the conference.

7. Indiana (17-7, 7-4) – Even
Last Week: Lost at #5 Wisconsin 78-92, Beat Michigan 70-67 This Week: Wed at #19 Maryland, Sun vs Minn.

The last two weeks have been rocky for Indiana after a strong start to the conference season. But the Hoosiers did hold on for a home win over Michigan Sunday to move into a 2nd place tie in the Big Ten.

8. Michigan State (15-8, 6-4) – Down 4
Last Week: Lost to Illinois 54-59 This Week: Tue at Northwestern, Sat vs #23 Ohio State

MSU picked up another puzzling home loss Saturday when the suspension-riddled Fighting Illini won in Breslin for the second straight season. Win its best win coming at Iowa and a couple of ugly losses on the resume, the Spartans are battling for an 18th straight NCAA Tournament bid.

9. Michigan (13-11, 6-6) – Down 4
Last Week: Lost to Iowa 54-72, Lost at Indiana 67-70 This Week: Thu at Illinois

February has been an unkind month for Michigan, which is playing without its two best players in Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, Jr. Iowa blew out the Wolverines in the Crisler Center Thursday, and a late comeback fell a few inches short in Bloomington Saturday. Michigan will carry its three-game losing streak into Illinois Thursday.

10. Minnesota (15-9, 4-7) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Purdue 52-68 This Week: Thu at Iowa, Sun at Indiana

Minnesota is trending sharply upwards after an embarrassing 0-5 start to the Big Ten season. Now, with three wins in their last four games, the Golden Gophers are clawing their way out of the conference cellar.

11. Penn State (15-9, 3-8) – Up 2
Last Week: Lost at #17 Maryland 58-64, Beat Neb. 56-43 This Week: Wed at #23 OSU, Sat vs #19 Maryland

After losing two straight road games in the 40th minute, Penn State finally closed out a game, beating Nebraska by 13. The Nittany Lions have had a chance to win their last 10 games, and their 3-2 record since Jan. 24 means they’re learning how to close.

12. Nebraska (13-10, 5-6) – Down 2
Last Week: Beat Northwestern 76-60, Lost to PSU 43-56 This Week: Tue vs #5 Wisconsin, Sun at Purdue

A home win over last-place Northwestern was the only bright spot for Nebraska last week, as it lost in blowout fashion once again, this time at the hands of Penn State. The Cornhuskers’ offense, which was so dynamic late last season, has been held under 45 points in three of its last four games.

13. Northwestern (10-13, 1-9) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost at Nebraska 60-76, Lost at #5 Wisconsin 50-65 This Week: Tue vs MSU, Sun vs Iowa

The race for 13th place in the Big Ten in basically a toss-up, but we’ll go with the slight underdog this week. Though the Wildcats’ nine-game losing streak is one longer than Rutgers’, Chris Collins has brought his team within two points of a win three times during the streak. With four of their next five games coming at home, Northwestern has a chance to play spoiler in February.

14. Rutgers (10-15, 2-10) – Even
Last Week: Lost at Illinois 54-66, Lost to #20 Ohio State 60-79 This Week: Thu vs Purdue

Rutgers will celebrate its one-month anniversary of beating Wisconsin on Wednesday, but unfortunately the Scarlett Knights haven’t won a game since. Rutgers was blown out by 19 points on Sunday, and the final six games of the season will likely yield a similar result.

Big Ten hoops power rankings: Week 6

Monday, February 2nd, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Near upset: #6 Wisconsin 69 – Michigan 64 OT

Sunday, January 25th, 2015


Michigan vs Wisconsin(Teresa Mathew, UMHoops)

ESPN’s College Gameday was in Ann Arbor for Michigan’s matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean anyone was really expecting a good game between the two teams at opposite ends of the experience spectrum.

The Badgers, led by the eccentric but outstanding Bo Ryan, came in as the 6th-ranked team nationally, boasting a lineup replete with size, experience, talent, and cohesiveness. Frank Kaminsky, a preseason All-American 7-footer, is arguably one of the three best players in the country, but he’s joined by fellow senior Josh Gasser, junior (and surefire first-rounder) Sam Dekker, and experienced sophomores Nigel Hayes — a skilled big man — and Bronson Koenig. Coming off the bench, Ryan prefers another senior and another pair of sophomores being weaned into a handful of minutes per game. On Saturday night, not a single visiting freshman checked into the game.

Wisconsin returned just about everyone coming off a trip to the Final Four last season, and they’ve looked the part so far this year, with their only losses coming to Duke and a puzzling fall at Rutgers, where Kaminsky sat out and point guard Traevon Jackson injured himself in the second half.

Compare that to this season’s Michigan outfit, which is now down to nine scholarship players and starts two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior – along with a bench full of more freshmen and walk-ons – and you see why the Badgers entered the evening as double-digit favorites. And though the Wolverines were just one round away from dancing in Dallas with the Badgers, injuries and NBA attrition have forced coach John Beilein into playing multiple lineups with almost no experience; on Saturday night, five freshmen and two sophomore walk-ons logged minutes for the home Maize and Blue.

For much of the night, the inklings of the Badgers’ superiority proved accurate, with Wisconsin jumping out to an early seven-point lead, enduring Michigan’s first-half run, then bringing it back to seven at the break before opening the lead up to 11 four minutes into the second half.

Dekker used his 6’9″ frame and athleticism to shoot over and drive past the defense on his way to eight first-half points, Koenig knocked down three of four shots for seven, and bigs Hayes and Kaminsky pitched in six a piece before the break. Michigan also displayed some nice balanced scoring, with six different players getting on the board in the first half, but no one scored more than Max Bielfeldt’s six. The Wolverines stuck in the game by taking advantage of an uncharacteristic six first-half giveaways from the Badgers – prompting Bo Ryan to quip that he was pondering opening a bakery because of so many turnovers in one of the more bizarre jokes I’ve ever heard in a press conference – and an even more surprising five offensive rebounds, including three for Bielfeldt that were all put back up and made.

The sloppy play for the Badgers wouldn’t continue forever, though, as the visitors turned it over just once in the second half, allowing them to use their full possessions and dominate with their size. A couple times, Spike Albrecht was comically caught trying to body up Kaminsky, who had his way in the post for much of the game to the tune of 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting without a single triple attempt.

Four Factors
Michigan Wisconsin
49.1 eFG% 53.9
36.7 OReb% 29.0
15.4 TO% 13.7
22.2 FTR 37.3

Despite the odds, Michigan still fought back as they have so many times this season. Missing leader Caris LeVert for just the second game, the Wolverines seemed to move the ball a little better around the perimeter with less reliance on the three. After falling down early in the game, Bielfeldt stepped up down low for three offensive boards and buckets to help the home squad take a 17-16 lead before fellow big man Mark Donnal checked in to score four more quick points, including one bucket on a pretty 15-foot turnaround fadeaway baseline jumper to keep Michigan up two with 3:13 remaining.

The Maize and Blue wouldn’t score the rest of the half, however, while Wisconsin quickly reeled off nine points courtesy of a Hayes and-one and buzzer-beating three and a ferocious dunk from Dekker, who had to leave the court after converting the three-point play due to a sizable amount of blood coming from his hand.

Early in the second half, it looked like Wisconsin would finally escape the ties of Michigan’s dizzying array of defenses and run away with it, but four straight buckets from four different Wolverines and a pair of Derrick Walton free throws tied things up at 38 midway through the second half. A Bronson Koenig three finally halted Michigan’s 11-0 run, but Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman stepped right up and nailed a three of his own to knot it up again.

With a veteran savvy that is becoming increasingly rare in college basketball, however, the Badgers remained unfazed and immediately scored seven in a row to go up 48-41 with just 7:33 remaining. It looked like the book would finally be closed on the evening, but Michigan fought back valiantly with five straight from Zak Irvin and a huge pair of makes from Rahk and Walton to cut things to two with 22 seconds left right after Josh Gasser missed the front end of his 1-and-1 try.

Michigan, with no choice but to foul, sent Koenig to the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity, and happily saw the second miss. Walton quickly got fouled, drained a pair to cut the lead to one, then Aubrey Dawkins put Koenig back to the line for two.

This time, the sophomore made good on both to give Wisconsin a three-point lead with just 10 seconds remaining.

The Wolverines would have one chance to send it to overtime, and with Bo Ryan electing not to intentionally foul, Dawkins caught a pass from Walton on the left wing, went up to shoot – drawing two defenders – and deftly laid it back off to an open Walton on the left.

The shot hung in the air for a few memorable moments before finding nothing but net, causing Crisler to erupt in a deafening roar as Michigan took it to OT.

Unfortunately for the terrific crowd and the scrappy Wolverines, the dream comeback died shortly after. Frank Kaminsky started off the extra period with an incredible and-one finish over Ricky Doyle, then Josh Gasser hit a three after a Michigan turnover to put Wisconsin up six before Beilein’s team knew what hit them.

And although the Wolverines had mustered up comeback after comeback all night long, this lead proved insurmountable. Kaminsky would finish the overtime period with eight of his game-high 22 while Gasser pitched in the three and Dekker made one free throw, giving Wisconsin the 69-64 win.

After the epic battle, Beilein said there would be no moral victories taken despite the encouraging performance, but that Michigan will certainly learn from the loss and continue to key in on what they did well.

It’s hard to not see this game as a positive for Michigan performance-wise, though, even if they let another potential season-changing win fall through their grasp.

Nine different Wolverines scored, led by Derrick Walton’s 17, while only Wisconsin’s starting five got on the scoreboard. Particularly encouraging for Michigan also was the collective output of bigs Doyle, Donnal, and Bielfeldt, who combined for 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds, including six offensive, while doing about as well as you could hope against the likes of Kaminsky and Hayes down low. That pair scored 32 points, but it took them 23 shots to get there.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Rahk) was another bright spot, as the freshman scored nine points on four shots and showed positive signs for the third straight game, according to Beilein. Rahk continues to display a better grasp of the offense and greatly increased confidence, but perhaps most impressive has been the drastic improvement in his outside shot. The knock on the Philadelphia native coming in was his inability to provide a deep threat, and he certainly struggled shooting earlier this year, but his shot looks terrific right now, and he has not been afraid to take the big ones.

The Wolverines will now face a Nebraska team this Tuesday coming off a home win over Michigan State before a gauntlet of games awaits in February.

At this point, Michigan has lots of catching up to do in order to have even an outside shot at making the Big Dance, but if they can play like this on a nightly basis, there should be a few reasonable opportunities for big wins in the near future.

The first step has been taken. Now the effort must be sustained.

Quick Hitters:

• In his press conference, Beilein confirmed that Michigan was fouling on purpose at the end of the first half, but that, looking back on it, they executed very poorly. The Wolverines had two fouls to give, but the confusion started when Walton, who already had one foul on the night, picked up a second foul some 30 feet from the hoop with 19 seconds on the clock. Michigan fouled again with nine seconds remaining, but that still gave Wisconsin plenty of time to score, which they capitalized on with a corner three from Nigel Hayes.

The controversial strategy from Beilein is designed to take advantage of “free” fouls at the end of the half in order to give the other team very little time to get set up and finish with a bucket, but in order to work, Michigan would like to leave the team with four seconds or fewer to operate. By fouling with 19 seconds left, the strategy was destined to fail, as Michigan couldn’t possibly utilize just one more foul to give effectively with so much time left.

Three Stars:

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
17 points (4-of-12 FG, 2-of-5 3pt, 7-of-8 FT), five rebounds (two offensive), two assists, one steal, one turnover in 39 minutes

**Max Bielfeldt**
9 points (4-of-6 FG, 1-of-3 3pt, 1-of-2 FT), five rebounds (three offensive) in 13 minutes

*Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman*
9 points (3-of-4 FG, 1-of-1 3pt, 2-of-2 FT), two rebounds in 23 minutes

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
21 Zak Irvin* 5-15 2-6 0-0 1 1 2 0 12 2 1 0 1 40
24 Aubrey Dawkins* 1-3 1-3 0-0 0 3 3 4 3 2 0 1 0 24
32 Ricky Doyle* 1-3 0-0 2-2 1 4 5 3 4 0 0 0 0 23
02 Spike Albrecht* 1-4 0-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 2 1 0 0 25
10 Derrick Walton Jr* 4-12 2-5 7-8 2 3 5 4 17 2 5 0 1 40
03 Kameron Chatman 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 22
04 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2
12 M-A. Abdur-Rahkman 3-4 1-1 2-2 0 2 2 4 9 0 0 0 0 23
20 Sean Lonergan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
34 Mark Donnal 3-5 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 0 6 0 0 0 0 11
44 Max Bielfeldt 4-6 1-3 0-0 3 2 5 3 9 0 0 0 0 14
Totals 23-54 7-20 11-12 11 22 33 20 64 8 9 1 2 225
Wisconsin 24-51 7-21 14-19 9 21 30 12 69 12 8 1 4 225
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #6 Wisconsin

Saturday, January 24th, 2015


UM-Wisconsin
Michigan (12-7, 5-2) vs #6 Wisconsin (17-2, 5-1)
Saturday, Jan. 24 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 7:00 p.m. EST | ESPN
Offense
64.9 Points/gm 73.8
(425-1,033) 41.1 Field Goal % 48.9 (494-1,011)
(156-441) 35.4 3-pt FG % 35.8 (132-369)
(227-309) 73.5 Free Throw % 74.2 (282-380)
11.9 FT Made/gm 14.8
31.8 Reb/gm 34.4
12.4 Assists/gm 12.9
9.9 Turnovers/gm 7.8
Defense
61.6 Points/gm 54.6
(435-999) 43.5 Field Goal % 40.9 (399-976)
(125-362) 34.5 3-pt FG % 34.9 (90-258)
34.1 Opp. Reb/gm 27.6
6.1 Steals/gm 5.1
1.9 Blocks/gm 3.9
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (14.9)*, Zak Irvin (13.7) Points/gm Frank Kaminsky (16.9), Sam Dekker (12.6)
Caris LeVert (4.9)*, Derrick Walton Jr (4.7) Reb/gm Frank Kaminsky (8.2), Nigel Hayes (6.9)
*Out for season

___________________________________________________________________________________

Although Michigan’s postseason is hanging on by the thinnest of threads, the Wolverines stand just a half game out of first place in the Big Ten one-third of the way into conference play. Tonight, when Michigan hosts sixth-ranked Wisconsin in front of a nationally televised ESPN audience, it gets a prime opportunity to seize the quality win its resume lacks. Let’s take a look at the Badgers.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Frank Kaminsky (F) 30.4 16.9 53.4 40.4 75.6 8.2 2.4 1.4 1.8 1.1
Sam Dekker (F) 27.4 12.6 52.7 35.6 69.0 4.9 1.2 1.2 0.5 0.3
Nigel Hayes (F) 31.4 12.5 55.3 36.8 69.6 6.9 1.9 0.9 0.6 0.7
Josh Gasser (G) 29.4 7.2 45.2 40.3 85.4 2.7 1.5 0.5 0.1 0.8
Bronson Koenig (G) 22.1 5.6 43.5 37.0 87.5 1.4 2.1 0.5 0.2 0.3
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Traevon Jackson (G)* 27.4 9.4 45.6 28.6 85.4 1.7 2.9 1.6 0.2 1.1
Duje Dukan (F) 18.6 6.5 43.5 35.4 66.7 3.2 0.8 0.9 0.1 0.4
Vitto Brown (F) 8.8 2.8 48.8 00.0 58.8 2.1 0.2 0.4 0.3 0.3
Zak Showalter (G) 7.3 2.7 40.7 14.3 85.7 1.3 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.4
Riley Dearring (G) 3.1 1.0 40.0 42.9 00.0 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.1
*Injured
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 14 Northern Kentucky W 62-31
Nov. 16 Chattanooga W 89-45
Nov. 19 Green Bay W 84-60
Nov. 22 Boise State W 78-54
Nov. 26 UAB* W 72-43
Nov. 27 Georgetown* W 68-65
Nov. 28 Oklahoma* W 69-56
Dec. 3 #4 Duke^ L 70-80
Dec. 6 at Marquette W 49-38
Dec. 10 at Milwaukee W 93-54
Dec. 13 Nicholls State W 83-43
Dec. 22 at California W 68-56
Dec. 28 Buffalo W 68-56
Dec. 31 Penn State W 89-72
Jan. 4 at Northwestern W 81-58
Jan. 7 Purdue W 62-55
Jan. 11 at Rutgers L 62-67
Jan. 15 Nebraska W 70-55
Jan. 20 #25 Iowa W 82-50
Jan. 24 at Michigan
Jan. 31 at #25 Iowa
Feb. 3 #23 Indiana
Feb. 7 Northwestern
Feb. 10 at Nebraska
Feb. 15 Illinois
Feb. 18 at Penn State
Feb. 21 Minnesota
Feb. 24 at #13 Maryland
Mar. 1 Michigan State
Mar. 5 at Minnesota
Mar. 8 at Ohio State
*Battle 4 Atlantis, ^ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Wisconsin began the season as the favorite to win the Big Ten and opened with seven straight wins, capturing the Battle 4 Atlantis crown before falling to Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Another winning streak carried the Badgers into Big Ten play before Rutgers of all teams stopped the streak at eight just two weeks ago. But Wisconsin responded with a 15-point win over Nebraska and a 32-point thumping of 25th-ranked Iowa.

The Series

Michigan leads the all-time series 91-67 and 56-21 in Ann Arbor. Last season, the teams split their matchups, each winning on the road. Michigan beat Wisconsin 77-70 at the Kohl Center and Wisconsin returned the favor 75-62 in the Crisler Center. John Beilein is 2-12 all-time against Wisconsin.

Notes

• Senior guard Traevon Jackson broke his foot in a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 11 and will miss tonight’s game. He had started 84 consecutive games

• Wisconsin ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring (73.8 points per game) and first in scoring defense (54.6). The Badgers’ plus-19.2 scoring margin also leads the conference

• Wisconsin ranks second in the Big Ten in shooting percentage (48.9) and seventh in three-point shooting (35.8)

• Wisconsin ranks 12th in the Big Ten in three-point shooting defense (34.9 percent), ahead of only Northwestern and Purdue

• Senior Frank Kaminsky ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (16.9 points per game), second in rebounding (8.2), fifth in blocked shots (1.8), and first in defensive rebounds per game (6.6)

• Sophomore Nigel Hayes ranks fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding (6.9 per game)