Category Archives: MSU

NCAA Hoops: Battle for the Mitten

NCAA Hoops: Battle for the Mittenflag

Forward and Questioning by M. Jones (The referee of this battle per se)

Responses Contributed by Z. Ficht (U of M), A. Fletcher (MSU) and T. Parnell (U of M)

In a Motown Meltdown exclusive, we brought together a few staff writers to provide their thoughts and predictions for the upcoming NCAA basketball game between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.  I collected the responses seperately in an attempt to prevent this from spirilng out of control.  As you may have noticed by now, some of our contributors are very passionate about their hometown teams, and specifically their love for either Michigan or MSU, but definitely not both.  Some would call them ‘homers’ but I will refer to them as die-hard fans who take no shit and give no mercy.

die hard

These guys draw a line in the sand so straight that GLAAD nearly started an investigation.

When the two teams battle on January 25th in East Lansing, they will be playing for first place in the big 10 and bragging rights as Michigan enters the game at 14-4 (6-0 in the Big Ten) while MSU is at 181 (7-0 in the Big Ten) and ranked high in the polls at #3 in the country.  Michigan also climbed back into the polls at 21 this week, after achieving a rare win in Wisconsin last weekend and following it up with  huge win vs. Iowa on Wednesday.  MSU has serious National Championship aspirations and Michigan has surprised nearly everyone with an extremely strong start in conference play after losing a few games early and also losing Mitch McGary to a back injury.  There is no doubt the fan bases (including the contributors to this post) will be drunk, loud and ready to fuck shit up on Saturday.  Probably the only thing this threesome can agree on is that all fans from the state of Wisconsin SUCK.

wisc

Game Information – Saturday on ESPN at 7 p.m. in East Lansing, MI

1 – Biggest surprise player this season:

ZF – Biggest surprise player from a Michigan standpoint has to be the evolution of Nik Stauskas.  I was one of his biggest detractors last year and always thought that Nik was a one trick pony.  But so far this season, the hard work that Nik put in this summer is really paying off. He’s currently the leading scorer in the B1G and has developed an all-around game that allows him to score from behind the arc or off the dribble all while being able to dish the ball down low, allowing easy buckets for Morgan and Horford.

As for state, it’s a no brainer: Sparty the mascot.

sparty

I mean this guy is working his ass off. Hyping up the crowd, making the kids laugh, Sparty is really the only Michigan State student doing anything positive for the basketball program. Branden Dawson is breaking his hand on tables and Denzel Valentine is deliberately widening the gap in his teeth for some reason. [MJ Editor Note: I never realized Dawson’s name was spelled Branden….they really need to install spellcheck at hospitals on the birthing floors.  This also applies to Adreian, Zak and Nik.] I’m surprised that Tom Izzo hasn’t murdered at least one of them at this point.  Even with these lackluster jabronies State is trotting out there each night, the Spartans somehow remain undefeated in conference play.

rock

Players and fans alike have that noble, sweaty kid in the Sparty suit to thank for their success.

TP – The biggest surprise for the Wolverines has been Caris Levert. The little talked about guard for Michigan has averaged just over 11 PPG in a starting role after hardly contributing until March last season. His defense is really his calling card but this kid is finding his stroke as well. Working out with Nik Stauskas over the offseason to add weight to his frame has done wonders for Levert. Word of advice for Sparty… don’t leave this guy open around the arc or he is going to make you pay on the offensive side of the ball.

For MSU I’m going to take a little different approach to this and say Branden Dawson, not because of anything he has done on the court though. This fucking moron got so mad at a film session that he slammed his hand on a table this week and broke his hand. This coming right before the biggest game on MSU’s schedule thus far, a game that they’ll most likely be playing without Adreian Payne as well. Way to completely fuck over your team. This surprised the hell out of me this week, but I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, because… let’s be honest, he’s a Spartan.

AF – Adreian Payne’s performance up until his injury has been a big surprise to me. MSU has been waiting for him to step out of his shell and play at that Big Ten Player of Year level. He won’t win that title as Gary Harris, his fellow teammate most likely will win it, but he has played at that caliber no doubt about it. State brings a different team to games when Payne is healthy. For Michigan, I don’t think they had any players that suprised anyone. They are a under mediocre team that had a bit of a hot streak… “had”.

2 – X Factor(s) in the game:

ZF – Is this the question? Glenn Robinson is the answer. In GR3’s two games he’s played in EL he has scored a total of 8 points. That’s beyond shitty, especially for a player that many consider a future NBA draft pick.  With that being said, the main cause for Robinson’s poor play was due in large part to Branden Dawson; whom as we just mentioned broke his hand fighting the ever dangerous film room table. The door is open Glenn, but don’t just walk through it; close it then kick it the FUCK DOWN! Nik is going to get his and it’s about time Robinson became the consistent dominant force that we all know he can.

For MSU, this one was hard for me.  I really wanted to say Sparty again, he’s just that influential. But for the reader’s sake let’s venture out a bit.  The X factor for MSU is the girlfriends of the players.  Both teams come in undefeated in B1G play and that can put a lot of pressure on the toughest of athletes. Give those same players blue balls and the results are horrific.  Ladies, I implore you give your man some lovin’.  I don’t care if it’s just a simple old fashioned, you gotta release those pipes!

If you want to be at that bitchin after party celebrating a W, I suggest getting to work.

TP – For U of M, the X factor is Zak Irvin. Coming into Michigan as a top level recruit, Irvin got off to a slow start. But he showed in the win over Iowa, that he does in fact possess the skill that made him Mr. Basketball in Indiana last year. He has the ability, skill set and size to compete with the best wing men in the conference. If Zak is on like he was on Wednesday night, Sparty might as well not even show up.

On the other side of the fence, I will go with any of the white boys coming off the Spartan bench. Let’s face it, none of these guys are good. But if for some crazy reason one of them decides to channel their inner Nik Stauskas, then I guess we might have to take notice.

AF – Michigan is the worst rebounding team in the Big Ten, State happens to be the 4th best. With Payne and Dawson accounting, on average, for just about half of State’s rebounds per game, MSU could really give this game away in their absence. As of right now, Branden Dawson is definitely out for Saturday, and we are about 95% sure that Payne is out as well. This changes the way State looks completely, it’s really not the same team. With that said, the X Factor for MSU is Kenny Kaminski and his ability to have an impact on the boards, where he is traditionally not very aggressive. He is averaging about 10 minutes a game but with Payne and Dawson out, he should get around double that, if not a bit more. Kaminski, being a freshman forward, can really prove something Saturday. Again, Michigan is an awful rebounding team, if State can capitalize on that as they would with Payne and Dawson, Green will be fine. In short, for both teams its the boards.

3 – Ceiling for each team this year (i.e. Can they cuts down the nets in April?):

ZF – The ceiling for the Wolverines is as high as that ladder in April will stand as Stauskas and company cut down the nets in Arlington.  Walton, needs to step up his game in order to accomplish this goal, but the way Derrick has fit into Coach B’s system so far anything is possible.

Michigan State however, is lucky to make the tournament. Yes, they currently only have one loss but fuck ‘em. You think I’d ever say anything positive about the green and white? Okay, that ridiculous, this team has the talent and focus to…wait I can’t….just…no.

TP – This current Michigan team is interesting to me and a little hard to read. If you asked me this question a month ago, I might have said, “Give me a tourney win and I’m good”. But with the emergence of some key role players filling in for the injured Mitch McGary, and a number of others outplaying their preseason expectations, I firmly believe this team can make a run at the Big Ten regular season title, tourney title and has a decent shot at a sweet 16 birth. After that, who knows, as we all saw what last year’s squad was able to accomplish when they got hot.

On the other side, the sky is the limit for this MSU team if they are healthy and can stop donkey punching tables. With Payne and Dawson, this is a top 5 team and is poised for a Final Four run. But if these injuries linger, I’d put the Spartans on upset alert going into round 2 of the NCAA Tourney.

AF – I think Michigan fans understand that last year they “captured lightning in a bottle” with Trey Burke. [MJ Editor Note: It is clear from the previous responses so far, that they have not fully accepted this] This year isn’t last year, and I understand that is hard for most Michigan fans to get, but there is absolutely zero chance that Michigan wins a championship this year. They couldn’t do it last year with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, how in the hell could they do it without them? For the record, I can even admit that Trey Burke was a beast, and also on the record, I wish the Pistons would have drafted him. That’s all you get though. MSU on the other hand, has a real chance of winning a championship this year, I believe toe to toe, they can hold court with any team in the NCAA; caveat, they have to be healthy. We will have to see how these injuries pan out and we will see where the seeds land on selection Sunday.

4 – Worst characteristic about the other team’s fans:

ZF – The “woe is me” fan base that takes it upon themselves to point out that there are fans who root for Michigan, but didn’t actually go there.  WHAT?!?!?! Those frauds must be killed! How dare they?! A program that actually generates statewide support must be full of assholes, or at least that’s what state would have you think.

TP – MSU basketball fans are the worst. I hate them as much if not more than Ohio football fans, and that is saying a lot. The worst part about them is that they think they still own this rivalry because of what happened in the past. In football, MSU fans always shit on Michigan because the typical Michigan fan will refer to history when speaking of the rivalry. Quit being fucking hypocrites and don’t act like you don’t pull that same shit in basketball. In the past 3 years (right when Michigan basketball started to come back to relevance), the rivalry is split with 3 wins for each team. This rivalry is renewed and no team has “owned” anyone. We’ve been back on your level for a few years now Sparty, so time to step it up and get on ours.

AF – Honestly, there are too many and I am not sure which is the worst. But in the past 5-6 YEARS, Michigan fans have this uncanny ability to still actually believe that they are a superior team in every sport, regardless of how many times State whips that ass. It’s almost like a bunch of crack heads all at once trying to explain to you why crack is the best drug on the planet, but they can’ t understand why more people buy heroin.

lower-class-bubbles

Well, apparently heroin is just better. But no one expects a crack head to understand much. Along with this crack head mentality, is the never ending argument of “but what has happened in for the past bazillion years?? hahahahaha”. Fucking morons… Look, Betty White used to be Hot, Goldie Hawn used to be Hot, only a god damn blind person could still think either could compete for a spot on the back page of a hustler or be relevant again. Betty White > Michigan.

BETTY-WHITE-HOT-DOG

5 – Best NBA Prospect on each roster:

ZF – UM – Stauskus. Dude can score from anywhere, he gets over half court and he’s in range. He’s added a great ability to get to the rim and score in traffic along with his defensive skill set. Nik will be an immediate help to an NBA team who needs a scorer.

MSU – Gary Harris.  Harris like Stauskas, can put the ball in the hoop from the parking lot. And he can score of the dribble and possesses great natural ability on the court.  Harris is the main focus for opponents every time they are forced up against the Spartans. Izzo got him to stay an extra year and it appears only to be helping his game become NBA ready.

TP – UM – I think it is a no- brainer here with Glen Robinson III. His athletic ability alone has NBA GM’s foaming at the mouth. He can score from all areas of the floor, and can jump out of the gym. He will be a lottery pick in next year’s draft no doubt. [MJ Editor Note: I am not so sure, I still think GR3 and Mitch will forever regret not entering the 2013 draft as I said at the time]

MSU – Gary Harris, hands down. I’ll be the first to admit, this guy is the real deal. He also wins the title for largest eyebrows, but he is going to have some competition at the next level (see Anthony Davis).

unibrow

Also a lottery pick, will go higher than GRIII based on his ability to shoot the 3 ball. Probably, a top 10 pick in late June.

AF – MSU – Adreian Payne, if he can remain healthy will be a first rounder. I think his skills transfer well to the NBA. But, I have this feeling that Keith Appling is going to have the better NBA career. PGs that can slash as good as most SGs and SFs are in demand in the NBA, that is Appling. He is definitely stronger than most PGs, but he seems to have committed to being more of a passer this year than in previous years, which is something he had to prove to scouts.

UM – Michigan’s best NBA prospect no doubt is Jon Horford….. sike.  Haha, for real though Mitch McGary is the real deal, he will play and be semi-successful to moderately successful in the NBA…a poor man’s Kevin Love if you will, a real poor man, maybe more like a Kris Humphries but hey that still qualifies you to pound some groupie poon.

khkk

6 – Player you dislike most on the opposing team:

ZF – Adreian Payne.  For the simple fact that he is universally loved by every single person who doesn’t root for Michigan.  The fact that he can now bang home the trey ball consistently only makes my disdain for him grow.  Also, I feel that Payne has been on this roster since 2002. It’s time that he gets to steppin.

TP – Adrien fucking Payne. God, he is such a piece of shit. I hope his injured vagina is still cramping tomorrow so I don’t have to look at his ugly mug any more than I should. Have fun clapping it up from the bench you schmuck.

AF – Glen Robinson III, or as the homers call him GR3. He might be the most overrated basketball player I have ever seen. If his dad wasn’t the first overall pick in 94’ draft, who went on to be a great NBA player, instead of playing basketball in Ann Arbor this kid would be playing the buckets outside of Ford Field. I’ve seen my 4 year old nephew get to hoop and finish better than this bUM.

7 – Which teams will finish in the top 3 in the Big Ten this season?

ZF – Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa – Don’t look down Sparty, it is a long fall.

TP – Is this a trick question? Who the hell do you think I am? This is MEEEEECCHHIIIGGAAANNNNNNNNN

1. Michigan

2. Michigan State

3. Wisconsin (Sorry Iowa, but I still feel like you are going to drop some stupid games like this one at Northwestern this weekend)

AF – Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa (which happens to be the present standings).

8 – Predictions for the game:

ZF – I predict that Michigan will capture the elusive win in East Lansing.  Stauskas will score 25 with 6 assists.  Glenn chips in 17 points of his own and Morgan cleans up the glass with an impressive 13 boards.  It will come down to the wire, but with ice in his veins Nik will bury the clutch free throws needed to get past the currently undefeated Spartans.

TP – With Payne and Dawson nursing sand in their respective vag’s, Michigan holds the clear edge here. Although MSU is definitely talented in the back court, the front court leaves a lot to be desired. I’m not sure where the rebounding is coming from with those guys out. The emergence of “Morford” (Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan’s nickname, I never said it was a good one) will create problems for MSU. Nik Stauskas is going to need to keep up with Gary Harris on the scoring end. But I don’t see Appling and the gang having enough to slow down Michigan’s other offensive weapons of GR III, Levert, Irvin and the PG duo of Derrick Walton and Spike Albrecht. All in all, Michigan will be too much offense for Sparty to handle and put a B1G fucking stamp on this rivalry. Michigan 78 Fuck-faces 67. Sparty off bitches…

AF – State wins 79 – 70 and covers the spread, which is currently MSU -5. FINAL NOTE: No matter what kind of nonsense these two turds spew out before me. Remember this, we are talking about #3 MSU vs. #21 UofM it is clear who the better team is regardless of this game. I want to get this out as well, Flint Stones > The Fab five…. Which one has a ring????

MJ – These guys clearly spit some venom, or should I say ‘hot fire’.

Enjoy the game and thanks for reading!

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Future Michigan State Quarterback Jayru Campbell Body Slams Security Guard, Gets Arrested.

Campbell is the star quarterback for Cass Tech High School in Detroit. He called the signals for  the state champion Technicians in 2011 and 2012. Campbell is verbally committed to play for Michigan state in 2015, following his final year in high school. He was already suspended for the opening game of his senior year after punching a player from Catholic Central after a defeat in the 2013 state semifinals.

Campbell was arrested in connection with the assault charges during the attack of the school security guard on Wednesday. The evidence is overwhelming here. He  was caught on a cell phone camera! His future playing football may be in jeopardy, but I’m sure the WWE could use his talent. The form of this body slam was flawless. I’m thinking he could actually be the next Curt Angle if football doesn’t work.  A decision looms for Michigan State. Should they move in another direction?

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week of 1.13.14

Contribution by: Zach Ficht

With the college hoops season in full swing we here at MotownMeltdown thought it was time to take an in depth look at what’s what in one of the nation’s most feared conferences: The B1G. I would like to say that we’ll have an updated version each week but come on, let’s be real the chances of that happening are about as good as Bo Ryan not scaring children when he walks down the street…not good. And for the record, each week (relative term) we will be unveiling the rankings from 12-1, because if TNT taught me anything it’s that I know drama. And the team limping to the barn this week is drum roll please….

12. NebraskaConf0-4 Overall (8-8)

Nebraska

The Cornhuskers are still trying to find their place in the bruising B1G.  Nebraska, led by third year head coach Tim Miles remain winless in conference play and have frankly played underwhelming ball so far this season.  To their credit, the start of conference play wasn’t kind to Big Red as they opened up on the road against the Hawkeyes and Ohio State.  It appeared that they might’ve eked out a win against Michigan but a last second effort fell short handing Nebraska its fourth straight loss. (Their losing streak currently sits at five.) They have some playmakers, in the likes of Terran Petteway a 6’-6” monster giving Miles 17 points and 5 boards a game, and 3 point shooter Ray Gallegos who’s already banged home 31 one trey balls on the year.  But the complimentary pieces are still missing. At this point, it appears that the fans in Lincoln will have to endure yet another rebuilding year as Nebraska tries to find its niche in this challenge conference.  But still look for this team to compete with and even knock off a top tier team or two in their newly opened Pinnacle Bank Arena which provides a rock solid college bball atmosphere despite a subpar product on the court.

Next Up: #11 Ohio State (Jan. 20) 7pm

TV-Big Ten Network

11. Penn StateConf0-5 Overall-(9-9)

Patrick Chambers

The Nittany Lions get the nod over Nebraska for the 11th spot based on the fact that, although their winless, Penn State has at least looked competitive during their five game skid.  Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill are doing all that they can for this squad but unfortunately it takes an entire team effort to win in this conference and while this team has shown flashes of that potential (two straight three point losses before playing Michigan) they have yet to put it into play for a full 40 minutes.  Head coach Pat Chambers needs to figure it out soon, because come June, Frazier might be taking his ball and heading to the NBA; not an ideal situation for an already razor thin roster.  A showdown will fellow cellar dweller Nebraska is set for January 23rd in the Bryce Jordan Arena. So if for nothing else, I’m sure Chambers will have his boys ready to play at least for prides sake.  A couple of wins and this team could get rolling however, as Penn State only has to play two more ranked teams away from Happy Valley. (Michigan State and Ohio State).  Confidence can go a long way, see Michigan game from last year. Don’t sleep on the Lions just yet.

Next Up: @Purdue (Jan. 18) 7pm

TV-ESPNU/WatchESPN

10. NorthwesternConf-1-4 Overall (8-10)

Northwestern

Former head coach Bill Carmody, was never quite up to the task of leading the Wildcats to the big dance and so far in his first year at the helm new Coach Chris Collins doesn’t seem to have the 2013-14 team any closer to achieving that goal.  Fresh off their upset of Illinois, an impressive confidence building win, the Wildcats ran into the buzz saw that is the Michigan State Spartans.  Senior leader Drew Crawford is finally healthy and playing some great ball (leads the team in points and rebounds) but there is just not enough talent in Evanston to compete in this conference. This is a Northwestern team that relies heavily on perimeter shooting which can be a dicey game to play when you don’t have the size down low to gobble up the rebounds on an off shooting night.  As we saw in their last game this is a team that can and will get pushed around by the stronger more physical teams in the B1G.

Next Up: @Indiana (Jan. 18) 2:30pm

TV-Big Ten Network

9. PurdueConf-2-2 Overall-(12-5)

Purdue

Purdue finds themselves right in the thick of the B1G ten race four games into conference play.  After dropping their first two contests, the Boiler makers appear to have found some solid ground; winning back to back games over Nebraska and Illinois.  The Johnson brothers (Terone and Ronnie) are continuing to lead the way for Purdue, anchored by the their 7’ sophomore center A.J. Hammons who is fresh off of his Big Ten All-Freshmen team selection a year ago. Purdue has looked tough in each of their two losses in B1G play, and the schedule appears to set up nicely for them (only have to play MSU once, bonus) in the second half of the year.  This team can score the rock and can rebound as evidenced by their nearly 40 boards a game average. That total trails only Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa in conference play respectively. As the season marches on, a trip up to West Lafayette looks less and less inviting.

Next Up:  Penn State (Jan. 18) 7:00pm

TV-ESPNU/WatchESPN

8. IllinoisConf-2-3 Overall- (13-5)

Illinois

The start of B1G play has not been kind to the Illini. A soft non-conference schedule helped John Groce’s squad race out to an 11-2 record but after a solid conference opening win on their home floor against Indiana, Illinois has dropped three out of their last four B1G games, including back to back choke jobs against Northwestern and Purdue (the latter in Champagne). The loss of both Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard to the NBA left a gaping hole on this roster but Junior transfer Rayvonte Rice who leads the squad in scoring (second in the B1G) will look to help right the ship before things gets too out of hand. However, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Illini as Illinois’s next five games feature four ranked opponents including trips to Columbus and Bloomington, while hosting perennial powers Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Next Up: #4 Michigan State (Jan. 18) 8pm  

TV-Big Ten Network

7.  IndianaConf-2-2 Overall- (12-5)

Indiana

Indiana is off to a better start to B1G play than many of their fans would like to admit. Coming in, this was somewhat of a “hybrid-rebuilding” year.  When you have to replace two first round NBA draft picks including the defending B1G defensive player of the year in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo it’s going to be a bit tough.  But to Tom Crean’s credit he has the Hoosiers playing some competitive ball as of late. A court storming worthy upset win over the Badgers earlier this week was backed by an impressive 25 pt performance from PG Yogi Ferrell. The in-game benching by Coach Crean for poor shot selection early in the second half really seemed to light a fire under Ferrell and the Hoosiers, backed by the raucous crowd that packed Assembly hall, IU was able to hand Wisconsin their first loss of the season. And don’t be mistaken; despite the losses of Oladipo and Zeller, plus Christian Watford and hometown favorite Jordon Hulls this is a Hoosier team that is still stacked with talent.  Senior leader Will Sheehey is IU’s spark plug that can hit the open jumper and also take it to the rack for the crowd pleasing slam. Ferrell is the sniper who can handle the ball in crunch time, but the stud of this group is the 6-10 freshmen forward Noah Vonleh. Vonleh is easily the most NBA ready player under Crean’s tutelage, averaging nearly a double double (12 pts/9 reb) so far in his first year in Bloomington.  There are still some questions that need to be answered, but as we’ve seen already this team has a flair for the dramatics so anything could be possible.

Next Up: Northwestern (Jan. 18) 2:30pm

TV-Big Ten Network

6. MinnesotaConf-3-2 Overall-(14-4)

Minnesota

 New Coach Richard Pitino appears to be following the blueprint left by former headman Tubby Smith, except this time the Gophers are winning in the non-conference AND in B1G play.  After losing a late lead to Michigan State and eventually losing in overtime in East Lansing last week, Minnesota was able to regroup and put together a complete game in front of their home crowd to knock off the #11 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Minnesota, in recent years has been a team that many perceived underachieved in both regular and postseason play, which ultimately led to the dismissal of Tubby. However, there’s a new sheriff in town with a familiar name in the college basketball scene. Richard Pitino, the son of legendary coach Rick, has brought with him a more fast paced offense and even some new pieces in the form of Junior transfer Deandre Mathieu (Central Arizona State) and freshman recruit Daquein McNeil (Vermont Academy).  It doesn’t hurt that, both Andre and Austin Hollins are still roaming the back court in Minneapolis chipping in 15 and 11 points a game apiece.  A more transition oriented offense has allowed Minnesota to position themselves in the middle of the B1G race. But we’ve seen this same story before; don’t go awarding them anything just yet. It only gets tougher from here.

Next Up: @Iowa (Jan. 19) 1:00pm

TV-Big Ten Network

5.  Ohio StateConf-2-3 Overall-(15-3)

Ohio State

After winning their first 15 games and ascending all the way to #3 in the country, the Buckeyes have since lost their last three game games; the latest at the hands of Minnesota after a woeful shooting (35% from the floor) and all around offensive performance. The loss of Deshaun Thomas to the NBA left this team without a true scorer and while the Buckeyes remain one of the stingiest defensive teams in the country; if they can’t score the basketball with any regularity it’s going to be a challenge each and every night in this conference.  Senior Aaron Craft is the undisputed leader of this team and continues to play his style of hustle basketball night in and night out. But so far in conference play that has not been enough. LaQuinton Ross is doing the majority of the scoring for this squad (14 ppg) and the recent disappearing act of Lenzelle Smith Jr. only compounds the problem.  Thad Matta needs to find his go to scorer before they tumble any further, but the good news for the Buckeyes is that a trip to Nebraska is next on the docket, and while there are no freebies in this league look for the Scarlet and Grey to get back on track with a dominating win.

Next Up: @Nebraska (Jan 20.) 7pm

TV-Big Ten Network

4. MichiganConf-4-0 Overall-(12-4)

Michigan

Despite losing the player of the year in Trey Burke and Junior guard Tim Hardaway oh and don’t forget about the loss of preseason All-American and NCAA Tournament beast Mitch McGary, the Wolverines remain undefeated in B1G play. Their 4-0 mark has a lot to do with their favorable conference schedule so far (biggest test being a road win over Minnestoa), but Big Blue has found ways to win and already has two conference road victories under their belt.  The emergence of Sophomore Guard Nik Stauskas and Freshman Derek Walton has been instrumental to their early success.  Stauskas has been able to find ways to penetrate and score from inside the three point line while, Walton has been learning how to run Beilein’s offense.  That offense preaches ball control and Michigan has been better than most in taking care of the rock averaging fewer than 10 turnovers a game.  When looking at this team’s production, the presence of both Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford can’t be ignored. So far both big men have been up to the task in replacing McGary and while they won’t be able to replace his energy or overall talent they can play their roles as needed. The defensive questions that surround this team are legitimate as can be seen from past performances like the Nebraska game; a 71-70 shootout where no one could stop anybody but so far they have skated by.  The true tests are coming and Michigan is entering a three game stretch that includes games against the likes of Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State.  When the dust settles, we’ll know if these defensive concerns are now fully fledged problems.

Next Up: @#3 Wisconsin (Jan. 18) 6:00pm

TV-ESPN/WatchESPN

3. IowaConf-3-1 Overall- (14-3)

Fran McCaffery

This Iowa team is rolling and unlike in previous seasons under Head Coach Fran McCaffery, moral victories are now becoming actual victories.  Led by Senior Roy Devyn Marble and junior guard Aaron White, Iowa currently leads the conference in points per game (86) and rebounding (44).  Even despite a rather embarrassing on the court tantrum directed at an official, Fran McCaffrey has got his boys playing top tier basketball.  The Hawkeyes have been so close to the big dance in recent years that they could taste it. Now with the development of Marble who’s contributing 16 pts per game they seem to be on the right track to finally cracking the field of 68. Their recent win over the Buckeyes in Columbus has this team’s confidence in a good place and with other complimentary pieces like senior Melsahn Basabe shooting a 56% clip this team could be scary good.  Success in conference play is new for this Iowa team, but from what we’ve seen already from McCaffrey I don’t think they are celebrating anything yet.

Next Up: Minnesota (Jan.19) 1:00pm

TV-Big Ten Network

2. WisconsinConf-3-1 Overall-(16-1)

Kansas State v Wisconsin

The Badgers are the epitome of B1G basketball. They are big, strong and will grind you down forcing you to play their brand of basketball: slow. Led by stellar head coach Bo Ryan, this year’s Badgers team has a bit of a different look to them.  The most glaring thing that stands out if you’re an opposing team is that while Wisconsin is still taking care of the basketball (leading the nation in fact with 8.3 turnovers per game), their offensive output is up 11 points from last season.  Beating Wisconsin just got a little bit tougher, not that it was ever easy. UW got out to their best start in program history starting 16-0 before losing at Indiana and currently sits at #3 in the country. That number will likely change when the new polls come out next week, but I don’t’ seem them dropping out of the top ten. This is a big lineup that frequently causes matchup problems with the undersized teams in this conference. And it should be noted that the Badgers aren’t just big, they can shoot and shoot well; all five starters are currently shooting at 35% or above from behind the arc.  Yikes. Losing anyone of the Badgers starters in transition will cost you dearly, and in the half court they are a patient club. They work to get the shot they want and as you’ve just found out, they will typically knock that shot down. The thing with Wisconsin is that dominating in conference play is what the Badgers do (under Bo Ryan UW has never finished worse than fourth in B1G play).  The trouble lies in tournament time and only time will tell if this is the year Bo and Co. is ready to make a deep run.

Next Up: Michigan (Jan. 18) 6:00pm

TV-ESPN/WatchESPN

1.  Michigan StateConf-5-0 Overall-(16-1)

Michigan State

There must be something in the water up in East Lansing, or it could just be that Tom Izzo continues to be one of the elite coaches in the country as he consistently gets the most out of his players.  State fields a veteran squad, led by the likes of Seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.  Payne has been battling a foot injury for most of the season but is still finding a way to get into the lineup and contribute.  He along with Branden Dawson make up two of the top five players in the B1G in defensive rebounding, a staple of any good Izzo led team. Sophomore guard Gary Harris has NBA level talent, and can score from anywhere on the floor, currently averaging 17 points per game.  Contributions from Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine have also been essential in the Spartans early season success.  Like Wisconsin, this is a team that can shoot the basketball from beyond the arc: Payne, Appling and Trice all post a shooting percentage of 42% or above. This team has the size and physicality to allow them to adapt their game plan on any given night.  Backed by their great home crowd that consistently fills the Breslin Center to capacity, this team is built to win now and that is exactly what they are doing.

Next Up: @Illinois (Jan. 18) 8:00pm

TV-Big Ten Network  

Down and Dirty on Upcoming NCAA Tourney Odds

2014 NCAA Championship Favorites

Contribution By: A. Fletcher

(Provided by http://www.bovada.lv)

Favorites                                             Vegas Odds

  1. Arizona                                                           11/2
  2. Michigan State                                          13/2
  3. Kansas                                                            15/2
  4. Kentucky                                                        15/2
  5. Syracuse                                                          9/1
  6. Blah
  7. Blah
  8. Blah
  9. Blah
  10. Blah
  11. Blah
  12. Blah
  13. Blah
  14. Blah
  15. Blah
  16. Blah
  17. Blah
  18. Blah
  19. michigan…                                          40/1

With the end of NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl right round the corner, March Madness, a basketball fan and a gambling junkie’s favorite sporting event is looming. I wanted to quickly talk about the favorites this year, most notably the overall second favorite, Michigan State, and then very little on the rather unexciting 19th favorite, THE University of Michigan Wolverines (fart noise). This article will beg the question, do I think MSU will win the NCAA tourney this year? The answer… I don’t know, do I think they have a chance? Yes, I believe they have a great chance. I won’t lie; anyone who knows me knows I can tend to be partial.

Getting Down To It:

Plain and simple, MSU is bigger, taller and stronger than Zona, Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse, and there is no illusion to that when these guys get on the floor. I know, a comparison of size can sometimes be over rated, especially when it is a comparison only against a small data set. This is just for arguments sake.  See below for a little table to illustrate what I mean.

Book3_001

Basketball has and always will be a game of inches. Men are made dunk by dunk, and boys go home crying from air balls (See 1983 NCAA Championship Game ending). Each half-inch of height or quarter ounce of weight can make or break you as a hooper. I believe that this little comparison gives MSU an edge.

Adreian Payne, Jordan Morgan

Historically who has the better shot of going deep into the tourney? Well, Kentucky has 48 Elite 8 appearances. Nobody else in the top 5 is worth mentioning against that number of elite 8 looks. Interesting enough though, when it comes to final four attendance, it starts to tighten up a bit, Kentucky comes in with 15, Kansas with 14, Michigan State with 8, Syracuse with 5 and Arizona has made 4 trips. Oh and Michigan has 5** (those asterisks mean that two of those final four appearances have been vacated by the NCAA for: 1. Money Laundering, and 2. Illegal Gambling, thought I should point that out – fucking cheaters). On to ships… Kentucky leads with 8, Kansas has 5, Michigan State has 2, Syracuse has 1 (courtesy of Melo’), and Arizona also has 1. Looking at that, Kentucky traditionally has an upper hand.

2013-2014 season stats are a different story. I looked at the standard PPG, FG%, 3P%, and then I added a couple of stats that I feel are very important in winning overall. Those being Offensive Rebounds (ORPG), Assists Per Game (APG), and Turnovers Per Game (TOPG). This is a lot to look at, but I would argue that these are the most important numbers when picking who has the best chance of winning this years championship.

Book32_001      

You see where I am going with this, State, hands down looks better on paper. That .400 3P% is just down right murderous. 18.5 assists per game (2nd overall in NCAA Div-1), is a great number for a team that likes to move the ball around, but they also pay for it in turnovers, although not the highest, there is room for improvement.

My Pre-Bracket and Pre-Selection Predictions:

1 seeds: Michigan State (obviously), Arizona, Syracuse, and Iowa State (these boys can ball).

2 seeds: Wisconsin, Wichita State, Villanova, and Florida (Ohio State could sneak in here).

Bold Prediction: UCLA makes it into the final four.

Not-So Bold Prediction: Syracuse will continue to be bracket wrecker for anyone who takes them past the second round, which 80% of the world does EVERY YEAR.

Quick Snap-Shot Into Michigan’s Tournament Outlook:

To put the 40/1 odds into perspective a.k.a. Michigan’s chances of winning an NCAA championship this year for someone who is not familiar with fractional odds. This is the same odds that Vegas gives the Brooklyn Nets of winning an NBA Championship this year, a team that is currently ranked 9th in the Eastern Conference, a conference that the Pistons currently are ranked 7th. So, long story short, NOBODY has confidence that UofM can win, or really do anything in the NCAA tourney this year. Maybe when McGary is healed from his back surgery (and injury that has been very secretive, my theory… meth addiction cover up), Michigan can crack the top 15 and be semi-relevant again.

Mitch McGary dunked on

I will touch down on this topic again as the tourney gets closer, and get into a more player specific analysis. This was just a quick and dirty look into the favorites for the 2014 tourney. Selection Sunday is March 16th, stay tuned, and let me know what your thoughts are.

–          Austin

Recruiting: Michigan & Michigan State

Contribution by: M. Pawlak

I will be touching on Michigan and Michigan State recruiting  for football and basketball. I plan on profiling new commitments to both of these great universities, as immediately as the news rolls in. I will entertain you with my thoughts on these athletes, and provide a small amount of metrics. I plan to explore as much data as time allows me to give you insight on what the future of these programs may (or may not) look like.

As many local college sports fans know, the recruiting the brand of Michigan sells football, and the brand of Michigan State sells basketball. However, whoever has the upper hand in recruiting doesn’t always translate to success in wins and losses. Several examples are Dantonio rolling through the Big 10, and securing a Rose Bowl championship in 2013 with a fraction of the star rankings of their in-state rival. Down in Ann Arbor, coach Beilein has resurrected the Michigan basketball program, while missing out on a lot of elite talent to the Izzo-led Spartans. I will almost always argue that  coaching, and ability to develop talent trumps the raw talent. Most of the time time. Of course there’s the Kentucky basketball and Alabama footballs’ of the world. These schools don’t really apply because they serve as a pro-prep course, rather than four year academic institutions.

I will begin my spotlight on recruiting by taking a look at both Michigan and Michigan State’s current football classes of 2014. With national signing day approaching (February 5th) it seems to be the appropriate time to introduce you to your future Wolverines and Spartans. I will be using information from Scout.com, Rivals100.com, and 247sports.com (websites dedicated to covering recruiting full-time). (Note that there will likely be addition and attrition to both classes between now and NSD).

Michigan       

                                                                       

1. Jabrill Peppers  S/CB  Paramus, NJ. 6’1 / 205

*****  Scout (!)

*****  Rivals (!)

*****   247 (!)

The only  5*  to go to either team. Looks to make immediate impact, possibly on offense, defense, and special teams. An up and coming rapper. I could use a list of adjectives here, but just believe me, this guy is great.

2. Bryan Mone  DT  Salt Lake City, UT.  6’4 / 338

**** Scout

**** Rivals

**** 247

A 338 lb. DT from Utah. Evenly regarded by all recruiting services as a top tier DT.

3. Drake Harris  WR  Grand Rapids, MI    6″4  / 180

**** Scout

**** Rivals

**** 247

The best offensive skill position player the state of Michigan has to offer in 2014.

4. Michael Ferns  OLB    Saint Clairsville, OH.     6’3″ / 238

**** Scout

**** Rivals

**** 247

The first commitment for the Wolverines. Regarded by all sources as a solid 4* linebacker.

5. Mason Cole  OT  Tarpon Springs, FL.  6’4″ / 285

**** Scout

**** Rivals

**** 247

Another consensus 4*, Cole adds depth to a youthful Michigan offensive line.

6. Freddy Canteen  WR  Elkton, MD.    6’2″ / 180

**** Scout

**** Rivals

**** 247

Viewed as a do-everything WR prospect, and received an even 4*’s from all services. Along with Harris, he could see early playing time.

7. Lawrence Marshall  DE  Southfield, MI.   6’3 / 225

**** Scout

***   Rivals

**** 247

Marshall is an instate DE likely to be used as a pass rush specialist.

8. Ian Bunting  TE  Hindsdale, IL.  6’6″ /  210

***   Scout

**** Rivals

**** 247

At 6’6, Bunting will add a big target in the red zone to an already huge TE unit (Funchess, Butt).

9. Chase Winovich  OLB  Clairton, PA.   6’4″ / 215

**** Scout

***   Rivals

**** 247

Chase was a highly sought after LB by all the Big 10, who decided to ally with the Wolverines. He is known to have elite instincts and finishes tackles with authority.

10. Juwann Bushell-Beaty  OT  Paramus, NJ.  6’7″ / 310

***   Scout

***   Rivals

**** 247

Teammate of J. Peppers. At 6’7, 310 JBB is a large but raw offensive line prospect.

11. Wilton Speight QB  Richmond, VA. 6’6″ / 220

***  Scout

***  Rivals

***  247

The 6’6″ field general was hand-picked by Hoke & Co. Other highly rated QB’s were not offered to accompany Speight. Will need polishing, but has size and skill.

12. Brandon Watson  CB  Elkton, MD.  6’0″ / 185

***  Scout

***  Rivals

***  247

A high school teammate of  Freddy Canteen. Watson is an athletic CB with good size.

13. Maurice Ways  WR  Franklin, MI. 6’4″ / 195

***  Scout

***  Rivals

***  247

A tall, lanky product (this is getting repetitive) of the Metro Detroit Catholic League. Ways adds MORE size to Michigan on the outside.

14. Noah Furbush  OLB  Kenton, OH   6’4″ / 240

***  Scout

***  Rivals

***  247

Furbush adds good size to a very deep LB class. He also has a great name.

15. Jared Wangler  OLB Warren, MI.    6’1″ / 218

***  Scout

***  Rivals

***  247

Wangler is the second prospect out of Warren De La Salle in as many years (2013 5* QB Shane Morris). Another LB and another Detroit-area find for the blue.

16. Brady Pallante DT  Naples, FL.  6’1 / 255

***  Scout

**    Rivals

***  247

Pallante is an undersized DT, and is the only commit who fails to garner at least 3* from all sites. Likely gray shirt (glorified walk-on) here.

20th ranked class Scout

25th ranked class Rivals

14th ranked class 247

Observations:

Michigan has 16 current commits counting towards 2014. They will likely add to this number over the upcoming weeks. Of those 16 they have signed right now, only 4 are from the state of Michigan. The state is relatively weak this year as far as amount of top tier talent goes, forcing Michigan anf Michigan State to go outside the state to recruit talent. They added (1) 6’6″ pro-style QB in Speight. (0) RB. (2) large-framed offensive linemen. (1) Super tall TE in Bunting. (3) Big wide outs with Ways, Canteen, and potential star Harris (was recruited and offered by Izzo to play basketball at MSU). On the defensive side of the ball they received commitments from (2) DT  Mone having potential to see early reps. (1) DE Lawrence Marshall out of Southfield. (4) LB’s Ferns and Winovich could see snaps over the next 2 calendar years, Wangler and Furbush(!) will look to add depth. In the defensive backfield Michigan brings aboard (0) safety’s, and (2) CB’s Watson and all-everything Jabrill Peppers.

MVP: Jabrill Peppers: Hands down. Peppers could be the best prospect to wear a winged helmet in a decade or more. I’m 100% serious. Still don’t believe me? See clip below:

…yeah, he’s a running back too.

 

Michigan State

1. Montae Nicholson    S   Monroeville, PA.   6’3″ / 200

****   Scout

****    Rivals

****   247

Nicholson has NCAA ready size, and instincts that match. Could contribute early for the Spartans. Once thought of as a Michigan lock, a Rose Bowl championship has him believing.

2. Enoch Smith Jr.    DT     Chicago, IL      6’2″ / 275

***   Scout

**** Rivals

***   247

Smith has a reputation as a mean player. He is just the type of space-eater Narduzzi likes in the middle of his front 7.

3. Vayente Copeland   RB   Dayton, OH.   6’1″ / 185

****  Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

Copeland is a tall RB prospect who also has ability as a defensive back. Has potential to contribute as a starter or depth at some time during his tenure.

4. Deon Drake   LB   Detroit, MI.   6’1″ / 220

***   Scout

***   Rivals

****  247

Deon Drake comes from Cass Tech High school in Detroit. Cass Tech is a known Michigan pipeline, but filled with LB’s, he received no offer. Hoke will regret this. Dantonio may dance to this to the tune of “some type of way”.

5. Byron Bullough   S   Traverse City, MI.     6’1″ / 190

****   Scout

***     Rivals

***     247

Does this name sound familiar? Byron is the next in what seems to be an endless line of Bullough’s to wreak havoc in the Big 10 while representing MSU.

 6. Chris Frey   LB   Columbus, OH.      6’3″ / 215

***   Scout

***   Rivals

****  247

Frey is a tall LB prospect who Michigan state will develop into a future starter in their linebacker unit.

7. Brian Allen     C     Hindsdale, IL.     6’1″ / 290

***   Scout

***   Rivals

**** 247

Allen is rated as no lower than the 5th best Center this class has to offer by all three  sites. Allen looks to develop into a multi-year starter in East Lansing.

8. Gerald Owens   FB   Westville, NJ   6’1″ / 250

***   Scout

***   Rivals

**** 247

Owens is the type of fullback that will open up holes in the running game for MSU. He is rated as a top 3 fullback by all sites, and 247 views him as the #1 (1) FB in the nation.

9. David Hedelin   OT   San Fransisco, CA   [JUCO]

***   Scout

***   Rivals

**** 247

Hedelin is a junior college transfer from the left coast. With only 2 years of eligibility, he could provide ready depth up front for this offensive line.

10. Matt Sokul   TE     Rochester, MI.     6’5″/ 225

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

A local product of Rochester Adams High School. Sokul chooses MSU over Illinois, Wisconsin and most MAC schools.

11. Robert Bowers   DE     Columbus, OH     6’6″ / 215

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***    247

Bowers is a tall defensive end prospect that will have to add weight to withstand the punishment of Big 10 offensive lines. He has high upside, and could be developed into a multi-year contributer off the edge.

12. David Beedle    DT    Clarkston, MI      6’6″ 285

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

Beedle led Clarkston High School to a division 1 state championship in 2013. He has the size and athleticism to have a good career for the Spartans.

13. Madre London   RB   Fort Lauderdale, FL.  6’1″ / 205

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

Madre London had a strong list of offers including national champion Florida State. He brings play-ready size and a 4.5  40-yard dash to the table.

14. Matt Morrissey    S   Lincolnshire, IL.    6’3″ / 180

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

Morrissey is a lanky defensive back that could contribute on special teams early. He is a developmental prospect with an average ceiling.

15. Chase Gianacakos   OT   St. Charles, IL.   6’6″ 280

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

Chase has good size and is most known for his toughness at the tackle position. Will likely redshirt to develop the strength needed in the Big 10.

16. Jalen Watts-Jackson   CB   Bloomfield, MI   6’0″ / 170

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

Another Cathloc League standout from Orchard Lake St. Mary Prep. Watts-Jackson is a project cornerback who may see the field later in his career.

17. Nick Padla   OT   Berrian Springs, MI   6’6″ / 280

***   Scout

***   Rivals

***   247

Padla hails from the west side of the state. He has size to one day be crafted into a good depth player for the Spartans.

18. Montez Sweet   TE   Stone Mountain, GA.   6’6″/230

***   Scout

**     Rivals

***   247

Sweat is the definition of a sleeper. Could be a big time playmaker over the middle or on the outside at the next level. Holds offers from Florida, Florida State, Wisconson, South Carolina and a list that goes on.

19. Jake Hartbarger   K/P   Whitehouse, OH.   6’4″ / 195

***   Scout

**    Rivals

***   247

Hartbarger brings a strong leg to the Spartans. Can kick and punt.

32nd ranked class Scout

34th ranked class Rivals

33rd ranked class 247

Observations:

Michigan State adds a lot of versatile prospects to the 2014 football class. They acquire 6 of their 19 prospects from the state of Michigan. They added (0) QB’s. (2) RB’s in Copeland and London. (1) FB in Owens, who could get early reps. (0) WR. (4) OL prospects, including Center Brian Allen, who could be molded into an all Big 10 player.On the defensive side of the ball they add (2) DT Beedle and Smith, who will battle for playing time. (1) DE Bowers. (2) LB’s in Frey and Drake who should start multiple years. (1) project CB in Watts-Jackson. (3) Safety’s in Bullough, Morrissey, and star-to-be Nicholson.

MVP: Montae Nicholson. Nicholson was targeted by a number of Big 10, ACC, and SEC schools. He has the size at 6’3 / 200 to contribute early. His football instincts are high end. Expect to know who he is early in his career.

 

…yeah, he plays WR too.

Summary:

Michigan scores better star rankings so far, but Dantonio doesn’t seem to care. He has owned the Wolverines on the field for the better part of a decade despite being out recruited. Dantonio has a reputation of finding, developing, and turning 3-star recruits into all-conference players. In recent years, including 2014 Michigan has recruited well nationally, but have watered down significantly talented players. Whether it’s a changing system, or poor player development, they will look to get back on track moving forward.  I will be taking an deeper look at new commitments to both schools as national signing day approaches. I also will be doing several similar entries looking at basketball recruiting in the future. Thanks for reading!