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Big Ten Recaps and Bracketology: Should Michigan be the #1 overall seed?

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Staking the Wolverines’ claim as top dogs, recapping the Ohio State game, and setting up Illinois’s run at a #1 seed.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Lotta hoops! New writers! Bracketology! Let’s get to it.

Big Ten Basketball Recaps

Saturday

#5 Illinois Fighting Illini 94, Minnesota Golden Gophers 63

WSR: So Ryan Saunders is available, huh?

Michigan State Spartans 78, Indiana Hoosiers 71

Green Akers: MSU’s off the mat just in time to get pulverized by Illinois, Ohio State, and Michigan twice in the next two weeks. Can’t wait.

Could you talk yourself into the Spartans having found a couple solutions in a steadier Rocket Watts back at the point and Joey Hauser warming the bench until further notice? Maybe. But the next good team they beat this year will be the first, and there’s a lot of really good teams coming up in quick succession here.

Purdue Boilermakers 75, Nebraska Cornhuskers 58

No real thoughts from the gang, in part because this was about how a Purdue-Nebraska game should go. Our intrepid Husker and Boiler, BRT and BoilerBettor, did offer this in-game:

BRT: Yvan Ouedraogo is so hilariously bad at free throws!

BoilerBettor: Doesn’t make me feel so bad about some of my attempts at the Y.

UPDATE: THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND:

BB: With apologies to Eminem.

Sasha’s back. Back again. Sasha’s back. Tell a friend.

Other than that, I got nothing but 2 Covid positive co-workers, two more being tested, and a splitting headache. FUCK ME!

Sunday

#3 Michigan Wolverines 92, #4 Ohio State Buckeyes 87

We’ve got new Michigan and Ohio State writer/contributors! Please welcome RockyMtnBlue and Maximum Sam to the party! I’ll let you figure out which cheers for which.

RMB: Hang on. I’m confused. I saw the score. I watched the game. I looked up the score again. I checked the standings. All of these things indicate Michigan beat OSU in a sportsy-ball contest. No really. I think it might have actually happened.

What is this feeling? Is this happiness? After a Michigan/OSU game? I’m going to make a doctor’s appointment.

Both centers played out of their damned minds this game:

E.J. Liddell: 23 points on 18 shot equivalents, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
Hunter Dickinson: 22 points on 17 shot equivalents, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.

Duane Washington was even better with a preposterous 30 on 12 shot equivalents. Seriously. Fuck this guy.

This was a 50/50 game that probably turned on an unfortunate behind-the-back pass by OSU with 2:37 to play. I WILL TAKE IT!

Maximum Sam: Watching an instant classic is great. Twitter is abuzz, your friends ask you about it, your kids take some interest in sports. Instant classics are also terrible, because for ten years everyone remembers a game your team lost.

In any event, it was a fabulous game that was neatly broken down into two halves. The first half featured a beautiful brand of basketball where Michigan torched the nets with a lot of open threes, but also couldn’t find Washington or Liddell on defense, leading to an almost perfectly even half.

The second half turned much more physical, and Michigan remembered they were a bunch of Ents taking on a bunch of hobbits. I didn’t see Hunter Dickinson swinging a giant tree like club around the court, but I can’t rule it out, either.

#11 Iowa Lukagarzas 74, Penn State Nittany Lions 68

Stew: Iowa played an ugly as hell game against Penn State. Luckily, they’re not very good and Iowa was able to hang on. Iowa’s got a rough schedule down the stretch, and they’re not gonna win much playing like that. Joe Wieskamp had a really rough game, as did a lot of the Iowa bench. CJ Frederick continues to be a big difference maker for the team.

The biggest news from the game was that Luka Garza passed the late, great Roy Marble (R.I.P.) as Iowa’s all time leading scorer. It was thought that no one would come close to touching Marble. That any scorer would be gone before getting there. But here we are. It’s pretty amazing. And it’s also infuriating that it was in a mostly empty building. No, fans shouldn’t be there. I’m just bitter we’re still here.

Maryland Terrapins 68, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 59

Interested in a little blogging about Maryland or Rutgers? Drop me a line at minnesotawildcat [at] gmail [dot] com.

#21 wisconsin badgers 68, Northwestern Wildcats 51

Kind of...but not really: Does handing an opponent their 13th consecutive loss tell you anything about the victors?

In UW’s case, probably not. By locking up a .500 conference record, the worst-case scenario of “season-ending seven game losing streak causing you to miss out on tournament bid” is probably off the table.

But nothing that happened last night signaled that this limited squad is any likelier to register a marquee win the rest of the way. UW has had worse offensive teams still manage to make noise in the Big Dance (2005, 2016), but this sure looks more like one of those years where a lower-seeded but more athletic opponent ends UW’s season in the first round (2013, 2019).

The last three regular-season games are vs. Ill, @ Pur, @ Iowa. Most Badger fans will be thrilled with 1-2 at this point.

Which begs the question: Are the defending conference champions underachieving this year, or is the top of the league that much better than last year? The answer is yes.

MNW: Boo-fucking-hoo. [Note: KOBNR is being perfectly gracious and is stepping up to fill a (temporary?) wisconsin content void, so I don’t actually hate him, it’s just the internet.]

Northwestern Basketball is underwhelming, undermanned, underperforming somehow, and just generally incompetent.

I noted this in the InsideNU gamethread, but it bears repeating here:

Since shooting 44% from deep against Iowa on December 29, Northwestern has shot: 27.8%, 30.0%, 26.1%, 27.3%, 30.4%, 42.3% (Penn State), 20.0%, 35.7% (Purdue), 33.3% (Indiana), 31.6%, 24.0%.

In the three wins, they went 47.6% (MSU), 36.8% (IU), 37.5% (OSU).

Miller Kopp is a shell of himself now that the tape is out there on his (slightly-improved) dribble-drive and his preferred three-point spots—teams lock him down in transition and harass him on the ball. Boo Buie found form last night, but Chase Audige spent most of the time looking lost against a team, like wisconsin, that actually plays defense and good team ball. Pete Nance drifts in and out of games, to the casual viewers. Robbie Beran...you were so hyped, man.

All these guys are still grinding and playing for Chris Collins. God love ‘em.

But they’re not a Big Ten basketball squad. This season’s over, and probably the next one as well. I’d kill for this to be pinned to a bulletin board in their locker room, because goodness knows I want them to win. But they are just plain bad, and it’s not getting better anytime soon.

Poll

Best weekend of Big Ten hoops?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Michigan. Easy.
    (99 votes)
  • 12%
    Luka Garza. (The Iowa Hawkeyes have ceased to operate as a team and now function as a Garza propaganda outfit.)
    (25 votes)
  • 20%
    ILLINOIS SMASH
    (42 votes)
  • 17%
    Maryland not quite dead yet?
    (36 votes)
  • 2%
    Other, somehow?
    (6 votes)
208 votes total Vote Now

Poll

More fun: WORST weekend of Big Ten basketball.

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Minnesota says au revoir to the Dance, maybe.
    (55 votes)
  • 20%
    Rutgers slipping from relevance.
    (32 votes)
  • 18%
    I wish to fault Ohio State for losing to #3 Michigan.
    (28 votes)
  • 24%
    I wish for a wellness check on MNW. (I’m fine, but thank you!)
    (38 votes)
153 votes total Vote Now

Big Ten Tournament Projected Seedings

Well it’s basically Michigan’s conference now, as the only other team in contention, Illinois, will need to make up games—including one at Michigan the last week of the season as part of three straight road games (at wisc, at Mich, at OSU) to close it out.

In other developments, holy moly on the Maryland-Rutgers tiebreak:

  • H2H: Tied, 1-1
  • Better record against best in the conference: Both are .000* against Michigan, 1.000 against Illinois, .000 against OSU, and .000 against Iowa, meaning it’s Rutgers’ 1-0 record against Purdue that trumps Maryland’s .500 record. And no, Rutgers won’t play Purdue again—both squads are done against those listed teams, so who do you like of Rutgers (IU, @UNL, @Minn) or Maryland (MSU, @NU, PSU)?
    *Win percentage, not total games, matters. (2-0 > 3-1, but 2-0 = 1-0 and 0-1 = 0-2)

(All that’s a lot to say “not much else changed.”)


Big Ten, NCAA Tournament Bracketology

  • Michigan closes by hosting #9 Iowa, traveling to Indiana, and hosting #5 Illinois. IF (and that’s a huge operating word here) the Wolverines go 3-0, they should be at least the second #1 seed, if not the #1 overall seed, over at least Baylor and maybe Gonzaga.
  • That said, the chatter now is whether Illinois can and should pass Ohio State for the final #1 seed—assuming both hold serve, do we make their meeting on March 6 (in Columbus) a play-in game for that spot?
  • The Iowa Lukagarzas (remember when we gave Northwestern shit for hyping the preseason candidacy of Dan Persa? goodness the slobbering over a one-way player) are a two-seed to Bracket Matrix but no one else of import—they’d be a fine 3-seed who I don’t know I’d tip over a 2-seed outside Houston. Villanova, by my mark, will shoot their way straight through the Lukagarzas.
  • KO...BNR summed up the wisconsin dilemma above—yes, this is a veteran team, but do they do anything well enough for a deep run? They look like a popular 12-over-5 upset pick.
  • Give me Purdue-Drake. Please. Give it to me.
  • Those are brutal matchups either way for Rutgers—though an Oregon Ducks matchup and the fun awkwardness of Eugene Omoruyi facing his old squad could be decent.
  • A reminder: Bracket Matrix, which is how I organize the seeds, is usually slow to catch up to crippling losses that drop a team 9 spots in Kenpom, 5 spots in Sagarin, and somehow 0 places in NET. Hey, Minnesota.
  • Palm is much more bullish on Maryland than...well, shit, even most Maryland fans? God knows I’d love ignoring a Maryland-Syracuse matchup in the First Four, though.
  • They’ve surely announced First Four sites...but those should get shunted to, like, Trine or Rose-Hulman or something, shouldn’t they? Maybe IU-Kokomo could host them?
  • Big ol’ “LOL” at Michigan State still being “on life support”, though it gave Dakich a chicken to fuck all broadcast, didn’t it? [I don’t actually know—no way I’m watching that shit.]

Poll

Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament NOW?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    7. Indiana, Minnesota, and Maryland all miss out.
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    8. Leave out Indiana and Maryland.
    (4 votes)
  • 24%
    8. Leave out Indiana and Minnesota.
    (37 votes)
  • 7%
    8. Leave out Maryland and Minnesota.
    (11 votes)
  • 7%
    9. Leave out Indiana.
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    9. Leave out Maryland.
    (2 votes)
  • 25%
    9. Leave out Minnesota.
    (38 votes)
  • 10%
    10. All of the above get in.
    (16 votes)
  • 10%
    11. All of the above PLUS Michigan State because it’s "better for basketball" or some shit.
    (15 votes)
  • 6%
    12. HERE COME THE WILDCATS.
    (9 votes)
150 votes total Vote Now

Basketball on TV Tonight

Some things I’d recommend if you, like me, are hiding in the basement while your wife watches The Bachelor. (It’s at least an excuse for me to get wine-drunk...)

Grambling Tigers at Jackson State Tigers

4:30pm | NBAtv | Jackson -6 | O/U 135

Cool Black History Month feature on NBAtv of two of the best in the SWAC. If I make it home, it’s on.

Evansville Purple Aces at Drake Bulldogs

6pm | ESPN+ | Drake -10.5 | O/U 134.5

Bad news for Bulldogs fans like me—star guard Roman Penn is out for the season with an injured foot. We’ll see if the Bulldogs’ efficient offense can replace him with sixth-and-a-halfth-men extraordinaire Joseph Yesufu and Garrett Sturtz. (I’m not sure who is the sixth and who is the seventh; don’t at me.)

Oregon Ducks at #19 USC Trojans

8pm | FS1 | USC -4 | O/U 139.5

Hey! Pac-12 basketball exists! Here are, like, the only two good teams in the conference. Enjoy.

New Mexico Lobos at Air Force Falcons

8:30pm | CBSSN | AFA -1 | O/U 126.5

These two teams are objectively terrible. Air Force has the 339th-rated defense in college hoops, New Mexico has the 324th-rated offense.

I cannot wait.


Here’s your thread for the night’s basketball—and if I don’t get to a preview piece tomorrow, use it as your open thread for Big Ten hoops. Enjoy, behave, etc.