Game 19: Michigan at Northwestern Open Thread

Here’s an interview with Bacari Alexander from David Merritt discussing Michigan’s state of mind and how the Wolverines can continue to improve going forward.

Tip off is 9 p.m. eastern on the Big Ten Network, join the discussion during the game in the comments below. .

[More Pre-Game: Preview / Pick to Click]

Game 19: Michigan at Northwestern Preview

Who: Michigan (11-7) at Northwestern (11-5) northwestern-logo
Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, IL
When: January 18th, 2011, 9:00 PM ET
Radio: MGoBlue / WWWW 102.9 FM / Sirius 121 / XM 141
Pick to Click

This was the season that Northwestern was finally going to make the NCAA tournament. With a senior point guard, talented and skilled power forward, and a sophomore wing guard that was last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, this had to be the season that the streak was snapped.

Two months into the season it’s clear that Northwestern has a lot of work to do if it wants to cash in on those NCAA Tournament hopes and dreams. More than anything, the Wildcats have been damaged by their own schedule. Northwestern played just one RPI top 100 team in non conference play, an 85-69 loss to St. John’s, and is 0-5 against top 100 teams. With 12 games left on the conference slate there is still a lot of basketball left to be played but it is now or never for Northwestern.

On the other hand, expectations couldn’t have been lower for this year’s Michigan team. Most predicted the team to win around 10 games and finish dead last in the Big Ten. After an encouraging 10-3 non conference performance that included narrow losses to Kansas and Syracuse, Michigan is gasping for air in conference play with a 1-4 record. Suddenly the Big Ten schedule looks treacherous and it has left Michigan fans searching long and hard for games that the Wolverines have a decent shot at winning in conference play.

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Pick to Click: Michigan at Northwestern

Pick to Click is sponsored by Moe Sport Shops.

Because Darius Morris won the first two rounds rather convincingly, we are going to limit today’s selections to a specific pool of players. For tonight’s game choose one of the following five players as your Pick to Click:

Stu Douglass, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jordan Morgan, Zack Novak, and Evan Smotrycz

If you don’t know what’s going on, check out the rules here. Please remember to use the same name and e-mail address as you have in previous weeks or your selection will not be counted toward your overall tally. You are welcome to participate if you haven’t participated in previous weeks but you might have some catching up to do.

Big Ten Roundup: January 17th, 2011

Team W L PossPG Off. Eff Def. Eff Eff. Margin
Purdue 4 1 66 1.18 0.96 0.22
Ohio State 5 0 62 1.17 1.06 0.11
Illinois 3 2 64 1.14 1.04 0.1
Wisconsin 3 2 59 1.13 1.05 0.08
Michigan State 4 1 65 1.02 0.98 0.04
Minnesota 3 3 61 1.07 1.08 -0.01
Northwestern 2 4 69 1.08 1.11 -0.03
Penn State 3 3 61 1.07 1.1 -0.03
Indiana 1 4 62 1.12 1.2 -0.08
Michigan 1 4 60 1.03 1.22 -0.19
Iowa 0 5 66 0.99 1.2 -0.21

Purdue had a rough week, picking up a pair of losses, but the Boilers only played one Big Ten game and remain well ahead of the pack in efficiency margin. One close loss at Minnesota was not enough to demean the handful of blowout victories that the Boilers have already picked up in Big Ten play.

Ohio State and Illinois make up the next tier. Ohio State keeps winning close games — 5 points over Iowa, 3 points over Minnesota, 4 points over Michigan, and 3 points over Penn State — but the bottom line is that wins are wins. Ohio State’s defense in conference play could be an issue as it ranks 6th and is behind all of the teams regarded as conference title contenders. Michigan State is 4-1 but the Spartans have posted an efficiency margin of just .04 points per possession. Michigan State is playing its trademark defense but has struggled to score the ball, with the second worst offensive production in the league. Freshman guard Keith Appling could remedy some of the Spartans problems as he appears to be coming into his own.

The picture is glum for Michigan fans. Michigan has the worst defense in the Big Ten and is 10th in efficiency margin, much closer to Iowa at 11th than Indiana at 9th. The Wolverine offense has been mediocre but it’s the defense that is cause for major concern at this point. -Dylan Burkhardt

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Video: Jordan Hare vs. Sexton

Scouting video of Jordan Hare versus Sexton in the Mr. Basketball MLK Classic. We also posted a collection of scouting reports from the event as well as video interviews with Michigan targets.

Jordan Hare, Sherron Dorsey-Walker, and Steve Haney Jr. discuss their recruitments at the Mr. Basketball MLK Classic. The full scouting report from the event lives here and we’ll be posting some game footage shortly.

The Dorsey-Walker and Haney videos are after the jump.
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