The Big Ten Geeks published their updated conference tempo free aerial yesterday.
John Gasaway points out that Michigan’s efficiency margin in conference play (+0.01) is actually better than last year’s (-0.02)*. Michigan finishing with the same 9-9 record in conference play doesn’t seem like out of the question. Remaining home games versus Penn State, Illinois, and Minnesota appear winnable on paper (Pomeroy takes Michigan in all three).
That being said, Michigan’s non-conference performance has already sealed their fate for the worst. Michigan just lost too many games before Big Ten play even tipped off. That being said it would be nice to see them finish the season by winning the games that they should.
Last ditch bubble hopes require a ridiculous hypothetical situation. Michigan would probably have to win out, which means winning at Ohio State and Michigan State. If they could manage to win one of those games and take care of business at home, they might leave the possibility of playing themselves into the tournament with a Big Ten tournament run.
In Beilein’s 2004-05 season that saw the Mountaineers make a run to the Elite 8, West Virginia played their way into the tournament. They finished the regular season on a 7-3 run and then won three games in the Big East tournament to make the final. So it’s not like Beilein has never been in this situation before. That was a miracle run though, and it’s tough to duplicate something like that especially when you remember that we are talking about a team on the NIT-bubble and not the NCAA tournament bubble.
However, winning their final three games at home for a 9-9 conference record and an NIT berth would certainly be a respectable way to finish the season.
*These stats are before the Iowa game.
The Big Ten Race
Things are heating up in the Big Ten championship race. Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue sit at the top of the standings with 3 losses each, with Wisconsin and Illinois one back with 4 losses.
Ballin’ is a Habit points out that several teams have the opportunity to seize control of the race this week.
Ohio State hosts Purdue tonight before heading to East Lansing on Sunday. A sweep would put them alone in first and give them the tiebreaker over Purdue and Michigan State.
Purdue plays at Ohio State and hosts Illinois on Saturday. A sweep would put them in great shape but the next week features a road game at Minnesota before a huge home rematch with Michigan State.
Michigan State hosts Ohio State this weekend before having a week to prepare for their rematch with Purdue. If they can win both of those games they are in great shape with a pair of home games with Penn State and Michigan remaining.
Wisconsin gets their leading scorer Jon Leuer back tomorrow night for a game versus Minnesota at The Barn. The Badgers play at Minnesota, vs. NW, at Indiana, vs. Iowa, and at Illinois. That’s by far the easiest remaining schedule of any Big Ten contender.
I don’t think Illinois plays into the equation. They were just waxed by Ohio State on their home floor and still have trips to Purdue, Michigan, and Ohio State with home games versus Minnesota and Wisconsin. They are playing to try to make the tournament at this point with an RPI of only 70.
We’ve got a four team race that should be fun to watch going down the stretch. It’s probably too early but I say that the winner of tonight’s Purdue/Ohio State game ends up winning at least a share of the crown.
The Big Lineup
Michigan went with their “big” lineup with DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson both in the game at the same time for the first time in ages. This is because Anthony Wright was apparently unavailable but it gave fans a chance to see one of the lineup combinations that has been endlessly debated for the past two years.
Sims and Gibson played together for a 3 minute shift in both halves around the 8 minute mark where Beilein tries to rest his front court starters (Sims, Novak, and Harris). It wasn’t a huge sample size but it was noticeable.
- 1st half: 10:11 to 7:10 — Allow 8, score 9 = +1. 1 block for Gibson.
- 2nd half: 10:00 to 7:10. – Allow 3, score 2 = -2.
It’s obviously tough to take much from two three minute segments of a basketball game but I thought it was clear that neither Sims nor Gibson seemed to feel too comfortable in their roles playing together. Michigan scored a lot of points in the first shift but that was because Laval Lucas-Perry hit three consecutive threes more than anything that Sims or Gibson did.
Overall I’d probably give it an incomplete at this point but certainly not a passing grade. It’s important to note that Manny Harris missed a portion of both stretches. Vogrich played the three in the first half and Novak in the second. Here’s the full game plus/minus from StatSheet.
- The Pulse, Part 2
Yet Another Basketball Blog breaks down what teams are hot or not going into the last month of the season before March Madness.
- College Basketball Plus/Minus Part I
Stat Sheet is rolling out +/- stats so we haven’t been updating them here. Robbie has all sorts of cool stuff there with more to come. I’ll try to get an update together soon.
- Amir Williams posted a triple double in a blowout win over Davison. 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.