Big Ten teams are 14-40 on the road this season. Undefeated Ohio State owns five of those 14 road wins and 11 of the 14 have come versus one of the league’s bottom four teams (Northwestern, Michigan, Indiana, and Iowa). Penn State, a team picked near the bottom of the conference, has made a name for itself in conference play by defending homecourt. The Bryce-Jordan Center doesn’t have the prestige of Assembly Hall or a raucous student section to match the Izzone but, somehow, Penn State just keeps on winning at home.
Road games for Michigan have been a mixed bag and it has been tough to project Michigan’s level of play. When expectations are lowest, Michigan seems to surprise with a strong performance (Clemson, Michigan State, Ohio State, etc.). When it looks like Michigan might have a chance to win one on paper, the Wolverines have fallen flat on their faces (Indiana or Northwestern). Now, Michigan heads to Pennsylvania for a rematch with a team that it knocked off a month ago at Crisler Arena. This game qualifies as one that Michigan could have a chance to steal.
With a short turnaround between games, we are keeping the Five Key Plays for the Ohio State game short and succinct. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.
If you haven’t noticed, we like to cheat and include montages rather than specific plays. Against Iowa it was Morris’ triple double, for this game we had Josh splice together film of all of Michigan’s missed layups. It looks like something out of a blooper reel that you would see at 2 AM on Fox Sports. Concentration and intimidation both play a part but you just can’t win on the road when you miss this many layups.
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Eric Gibson from Raise the Curtains, a tempo-free stat centric Penn State blog, answered some quick questions about the Nittany Lions and how they have seemed to turn their season around with a handful of marquee home wins.
Around Christmas it appeared to be a doomed season for Penn State. The Nittany Lions were sitting at 7-4 and wrapped up the non-conference slate with a home loss to Maine. Now Penn State sits at 5-5 with three big home wins over Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin. What changed?
I don’t think anyone really knows, even DeChellis. Taran Buie was suspended after the Maine game, but I don’t feel like he was a ‘cancer’ so to speak. I think most of this turnaround can be attributed to Andrew Jones’ emergence. If you don’t remember, he was a complete non-factor in the first PSU-UM game, which was pretty troublesome to me considering he’s a 5th year senior and UM’s frontline is pretty green. It looked like his senior year was going to be wasted, but since that game, he is averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds. His presence on the boards has been terrific. Penn State hadn’t been outrebounded in the last 6 games until Tuesday’s debacle (at Illinois). Brooks has also been key, but only because he’s been able to stay in games in conference (foul troubles limited him against Maryland, Maine, and Virginia Tech).
Due to the team’s hectic schedule, John Beilein was made available for a brief teleconference this afternoon. Here are some notes:
Matt Vogrich “should be able to practice with us.” Vogrich was sick for last night’s game, and the team isn’t sure if it was an allergic reaction to something he ate or a 24-hour bug.
“Since the Minnesota game we’ve been very consistent with a lot of things.” Difficult to maintain focus when you’re tired in a game, but it helps that a lot of guys are playing a lot of minutes. That’s one thing Beilein would like to improve: either using the bench more or maintaining focus through fatigue.
“The energy and the effort part has not been in question at all, recently.”
On officiating during last night’s game against Ohio State: “It’s hard to know what’s going to be called, how it’s going to be called in a particular game.” Still learning how to play physical without fouling, “not as good as others at that right now.”
On Jordan Morgan last night: “he did some really good things, especially in the second half, yesterday and provided us with some rebounding as well as boxing out.”
Will have to take some things away from Talor Battle’s supporting cast against Penn State. On Battle: “When he’s making shots, there’s no defense for him.”
On Jeff Brooks’ injury and is that affects the game plan going into Penn State: “We just go in assuming people are going to play.” On one-or-two day rest, it’s hard to get too specific about who they’re going to play.
On Tim Hardaway Jr.’s green light: “He knows his green light.” He’s very aware right now about what shot is a good shot for him. Mentioned during the game when OSU was making a small run and stretched the lead to nine points and then Evan Smotrycz hit a 3-pointer and Tim did the same. Loves seeing Tim put the ball on the floor and taking it to the rim as well. Trying to get him more involved with the ball in his hands than away from the ball.