Showing posts with label Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Elsewhere in the B1G: Bo Ryan lands 300th win, Badgers win slugfest in Charlottesville

No. 8 Wisconsin 48, Virginia 38

Playing four of six games on the road last night, the Big Ten finished the first night of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge with a 2-4 record. Tonight, four B1G squads enjoy a home court advantage, but not the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers, who headed to Charlottesville for a tough matchup against Tony Bennett's UVA squad. 

As Michigan fans know from the Wolverine basketball team's trip to John Paul Jones Arena two years ago, that is a tough place to play, especially against a team as defensively sound as the Cavaliers. Many people, including myself, have made this observation, but the Cavaliers would be a perfect fit in the Big Ten. 

Despite losing a trio of important frontcourt players, the Badgers have jumped out to an 8-0 record, the best start UW's had during the Bo Ryan era. 

Although the Badgers have shown an ability to push the pace this season in a way that can only be deemed uncharacteristic of your average Ryan team, tonight's game against UVA would assuredly be a stereotypical Big Ten slugfest, neither fast nor aesthetically pleasing. 

Predictably, the first half was just that, as the two squad found themselves tied at 16-all with six minutes to play in the first half.

Somehow, the Cavaliers were down just 19-15 with 3:38 to play in the half despite not having scored a field goal in almost 10 minutes. It was that sort of half for both teams. On several occasions, the Badgers' swing offense failed to generate anything, resulting in a last second of the shot clock airballed three. 

Even so, Frank Kaminsky came to play, as has usually been the case for him thus far this season. In the opening frame, Kaminsky scored seven points and hauled in nine rebounds. UW went into the half up 25-20, a lead that felt positively insurmountable.  

Then again, UVA had to feel good about being down by only five given that they didn't make a basket for 10 minutes. With that said, another half like that for the Cavs would mean one more win in the Big Ten's Challenge total. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

NIT Season Tip-Off Final Observations: Arizona 72, Duke 66

Fouad Egbaria

For those with unrealistic expectations, Michigan's 5-2 start to the season could be considered a disappointment. However, when tethered to reality and understanding the difficulties of breaking in a new point guard --not to mention replacing a player of Trey Burke's caliber, not to mention Tim Hardaway Jr., who is having a solid start to his NBA career in New York-- then perhaps such a start is not so surprising. 

With that said, if Michigan is planning on entering the Big Dance with a decent seed, they will need to grab a big non-conference win or two before entering what should once again be a brutal Big Ten slate. Fortunately for the Wolverines, Duke and Arizona (and even Stanford, to a lesser extent), present the Wolverines with that opportunity. 

I was lucky enough to attend Friday NIT Tip-Off final between Duke and Arizona at Madison Square Garden, so I figured this would be a good space to kill two birds with one stone with some of my observations on both teams. 


First, a general outline of the game itself is probably in order. After sitting through the triple overtime Alabama-Drexel game, the first half of Duke-Arizona provided an enormous step up in the speed and level of play. The Blue Devils and Wildcats battled it out in what was an incredibly entertaining first half of basketball, one in which the largest lead was only five (11-6, Duke). 

Duke went into the half up, 36-33, with eight points from Jabari Parker in the half's final five minutes (he finished the first half with 10). Brandon Ashley led the Wildcats at the half with 11 points of his own. 

A Quinn Cook three six minutes into the second half gave Duke a 43-37 lead, its largest of the game. Sitting in MSG, however, you got the sense that if Duke got a stop and scored again, things might start to get out of hand. 

Luckily for Sean Miller U of A squad, a dunk and an Aaron Gordon three a minute later cut the lead to one, and it was back to being the tight game it had been all along. 

The Wildcats kept rolling, rattling of a 12-2 run that eventually gave them a 4-point lead with 8:16 remaining. The pressure was then squarely on Duke's shoulders, but especially Parker's, who had only scored two points in the second half to that point (from the free throw line). 

Rodney Hood, by far Duke's best player on Friday, pitched in an and-1 to cut the lead to one, but the Wildcats kept pushing, this time with an 8-0 run to gain a 57-48 lead, ultimately the knockout punch, with about six and a half minutes to play. 

Hood answered the call again, this time burying a shot from beyond the arc, but Duke couldn't defend the paint, allowing consecutive Arizona dunks. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Michigan-N.C. State: Showtime

"WE ON!"

#3 Michigan 79 (6-0), #18 N.C. State 72 (4-2)

The Wolverines took the Crisler Center floor in the big game maize jerseys for an intriguing early season contest against N.C. State for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Play early on was a bit sloppy, with each team committing a pair of turnovers within the first three minutes of play. 

The Wolfpack jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but Nik Stauskas executed a masterful move to the basket, going behind the back and flying through the lane to lay it up on the left side while going right. 

On consecutive possession, THJ found the soft spot in the middle of the zone and calmly knocked in a free throw line extended jumper, and then, off of a block, Burke found THJ in the corner in transition. Again, THJ hit with a nonchalance that belied his 2011-12 shooting woes. 

At the 13:30 mark, the Wolverines were up 14-10, with THJ having already racked up nine points on 4-6 shooting. Shortly after, Nik Stauskas knocked in a trey, again with the 'Pack in the zone. Naturally, they went man on their next possession, where Michigan picked up an offensive board after a missed THJ three but eventually turned it over, again leading to a breakaway dunk for NCSU. 

With 23 points halfway through the first half, Michigan was well on its way to a prolific night on the offensive end against a shaky 'Pack defense. The zone was very clearly not working for them early on, as Dakich's constant admonitions of "you can't zone a Beilen team" echoed. Even worse for the 'Pack, C.J. Leslie picked up a pair of fouls, forcing him to sit at the nine minute mark. 

A beautiful pick and roll between Burke and McGary led to a McGary thunderdunk and a Gottfried timeout. Out of the timeout, Michigan went to the super secret weapon that is the 1-3-1; after knocking it out of bounds, however, they reverted to man after the inbounds. 

Yet another Stauskas trey put Michigan up 30-16. Mercifully, a tv timeout allowed N.C. State to gather itself again. Michigan racked up a 14-point lead with 7:54 to go in the half; with Trey Burke shooting 0-1 from the field and scoring zero points. It is a brave new world, indeed. 

With Eso Akunne taking a couple questionable shots, the 'Pack rattled off a 7-0 run, sticking with the zone on D, as Michigan started to cool off a bit from its previously torrid shooting pace. Luckily for Michigan, Howell had to go to the bench after picking up two quick ones, an unfortunate series of events for Gottfried, as Howell had basically single-handedly brought the 'Pack back during the aforementioned run. 

The 'Pack brought it down to five, but another Stauskas three stemmed the tide. I have to echo Rod Beard here: might need to just CTL+V that sentence for the next four years. 

A lapse in transition D brought Michigan's once sizable lead back to 5, at 41-36. The 'Pack continued to zone away out of necessity (foul trouble), and Michigan started to settle for low-percentage outside shots after eviscerating the middle of the zone earlier in the half.With the final offensive set of the half, Michigan pick and rolled up top and Burke penetrated all the way to the basket before a slick wrap around pass to GRIII for a layup. Michigan entered the intermission up 43-36, a solid performance but slightly unsatisfying after the aforementioned State foul trouble and a once 14-point lead.

Halftime Stats
Team PPP (points per possession): 1.33
  • Stauskas: 4-5 (3-4 from 3), 13 points
  • THJ: 5-10, 11 points, 1 block
  • Burke: 0-2, 0 points (!), 9 assists (!)
N.C. State
Team PPP: 1.16
  • Warren: 3-4, 8 points
  • Howell: 4-4, 8 points
  • Wood: 2-4 from 3, 8 points

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 5/15/2012

Attention, trolls. Via Auburn blog WarBlogle, here is a thing you can wear if you want to make Alabama fans get really angry and maybe let out a PAWL or two:

If you for whatever reason wanted to be a Michigan Man while simultaneously stylin' like Bear Bryant, there you go. 

Obligatory expansion/mo' money mo' problems-based sentiment: Before FSU AD Randy Spetman stated that there was no interest in moving to another conference (fresh on the heels of what many have very quickly realized that the ACC's recently inked deal with ESPN was not anything to write home about), FSU has of course altered its official position. Although, to be fair, the aforementioned about face came from FSU's Board of Trustees Chairman, not Spetman, which demonstrated the same sort of disconnect that seems to exist between the B1G presidents and Jim Delany. In the words of FSU BOT Chairman Andy Haggard: 
"How do you not look into that option? On behalf of the Board of Trustees I can say that unanimously we would be in favor of seeing what the Big 12 might have to offer," Haggard told the site. "We have to do what is in Florida State's best interest." 
So, there you go. It's sort of amazing how close the Big 12 was to going the way of the dodo; now, schools are looking to jump to the Big 12 and not out of it. Meanwhile, the WAC is gone, the Big East doesn't look far behind, and who knows about the ACC. Adding Pitt and Syracuse followed by possibly losing FSU is not a good look.

As with many things these days, it's a good idea to take what prominent figures say, discard it, and if it has remained static at least several days after the fact, then it is safe to logically consider. Otherwise, it's all just noise and posturing. 

 I have to agree with Zach; make fun of certain aspects of the BTN's programming all you want, but it's times like these--when other schools and even entire conferences are fighting to not get left out in the cold existential sinkhole that being without a conference affiliation or being forced to accept a Big East bid represent--that make me feel pretty comfortable that Michigan and the B1G are about as stable as financially and structurally stable as any conference can be these days. 

I sort of laughed to myself when Louisville basically dropped the mic and said "I'M OUT" to the Big East last week, but the transparency is somewhat admirable. If Ron Swanson was for some reason a university preparing to leave its athletics conference, that is probably how he would do it. Talking about your affairs in the way that FSU is currently doing is not unlike bowling like this in public. 

This type of realpolitik from FSU (and every other school involved in this big 'ol game of Risk) is expected but incredibly tiresome. Here is what Florida State--and every other school looking to head for greener pastures--should say: "Who has the most money ready to transfer to us, preferably not in Cracker Barrel gift certificates? That is where we will go. Thank you for your time." Cut out the fuss and the bureaucracy, just like Ron Swanson--actual Ron Swanson, not the Ron Swanson as inanimate university described previously--would support, insofar as said support doesn't involve actually doing any work. Fin. 

Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule: is set. It's early May, so news of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule being finalized will have to be considered "exciting" news. Still, there are some interesting matchups. Michigan will take on NC State at Crisler on November 27th; the Wolfpack roster merits a closer look at a later date, but on paper this should be a very good game. 

Although Mark Gottfried's squad has a somewhat mediocre regular season, the 'Pack did squeak their way into the Big Dance, only to make a run to the Sweet 16 as an 11-seed only to bow out after a 3-point loss against Kansas. Michigan's loss at UVA last year in the Challenge was one of the few moments that Trey Burke looked exceedingly mortal, but I would imagine that things will go differently this time around. 

Other matchups of note (for various reasons): 
  • North Carolina @ Indiana: Do I even need to say why? There will be quite a bit of talent on the floor for this one. 
  • Ohio State @ Duke: The dreaded "who do I root against" game. 
  • UVA @ Wisconsin: I'm fairly certain that the pace of this game will literally stop Time itself. Bennett and Ryan's respective offenses operating on the same floor at the same time will create a fissure in the space-time continuum from which nothing emerges but Rotel cheese and alternate realities in which Jared Uthoff transfers and ends up making Wisconsin/Bo Ryan pay for it with a game-winning basket. 
The Big Ten still has a long way to go if it wants to get to .500 in the Challenge, but winning it for the fourth season in a row would provide further evidence that the Big Ten is on the upswing. As far as I'm concerned, Nebraska and PSU are the only real gimmes in the conference, and even they pulled off conference upsets last season. 

Unfortunately, as Eamon Brennan notes in the article linked above, these games are 220 days away. 

Greg, not GERG. In news that isn't really news: Greg Mattison is pretty good at what he does, and you should be really thankful that Brady was able to bring him to Ann Arbor. Mike Martin on his transition to the Titans and the NFL game in general: 
It's really the same thing. A lot of the things we ran at Michigan, they run here. Really, it's just terminology and words that they use. It'll take some time, but that's a day-to-day thing.
 Sometimes I wonder: how many times has Greg Mattison said "son, I coached Ed Reed/Ray Lewis/Terrell Suggs, and that can be you" on the recruiting trail? It cannot be overstated how much of a coup Mattison's hiring was and will continue to be in the next few years. 

More? Maize n Brew kicks off its second week of team-by-team offseason B1G preview weeks with a look at Minnesota. MSC says hiring RR was the "wrong call", using the phrase "Midwestern ethos" to describe why Brady Hoke is better fit for Michigan. Brady Hoke is the greatest, obviously, but the aforementioned is simply gibberish in so many ways (I know she was prompted by some sort of question, but come on...there's really no need to give that anything other than a non-answer). Serious question: will Michigan fans/people associated with Michigan in any way ever stop talking about RR? They should.