Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I’ve been busy, OK! I was in Chicago for a weekend without my daughter (whom I love dearly) and it was amazing! My wife and I stayed out late and slept in and didn’t have to do anything we didn’t want to do. Then on Monday it was the CFP Championship game between Alabama and Georgia, and that shit was crazy. I really thought UGa was gonna win that one, but then #GeorgiaSports happened. It has really been a tough year for Falcons/UGa fans. It gives me hope that the Eagles will beat the Falcons in demoralizing fashion this weekend, but we all know the Falcons are owed one cosmically.
Before we get started on the festering dung heap that is the B1G basketball season, can we just clear something up real quick? Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes was really great. She’s an excellent orator and said many, many correct things but, and let me shout it for the people in the back, SHE SHOULD NOT RUN FOR PRESIDENT! While I think having a woman, and a black woman no less, president would be amazing and cause so many people’s heads to explode, we have to think about this rationally. Have we literally learned nothing in the last year from electing a rich, TV personality president? Does Oprah understand any of the problems you are facing? Has she thought of, literally once in her entire life, how she would deal with a G-8 Summit meeting? What about her economic policy? Or being in charge of our military? Or about being on the cover of your own magazine every month? Well, maybe she’d figure out that last one.
Let’s agree to stop making celebrities our elected officials. That’s as good of a New Year’s resolution that I’m going to up with. Anyways, let’s shoot some hoops! DISCLAIMER: Pretend this post came out on Tuesday afternoon!
KenPom rank: 88th AdjEM, 159th AdjO, 47th AdjD
Last week’s results: (L) at Minnesota 77-67; (L) at Michigan 79-69
Biggest strength: Kipper Nichols, which has to be a made up name, scored 17 points against Michigan. Te’Jon Lucas had six dimes against the Wolverines. Leron Black dropped 14 against Minnesota and Trent Frazier had six assists.
Biggest weakness: Missed their first 11 shots against the Gophers and then made one and then missed seven more. Coach Brad Underwood had these inspiring words to say after the loss to Michigan. “Open the game the other night 1 for 19, then we go 3 for a hundred today from 3,” Underwood said. “You’re not going to win in college basketball without making shots.” I’d recommend taking some shots from inside the arc, Brad. You aren’t the Houston Rockets. Maybe a couple of elbow jumpers would be good for this team.
This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. Iowa
KenPom rank: 91st AdjEM, 65th AdjO, 151st AdjD
Last week’s results: (L) at Wisconsin 71-61; (W) at Minnesota 75-71
Biggest strength: Collin Hartman lit Wisconsin up from deep, scoring a career-high 18 points and shooting 4-of-8 from distance. In their win against Minnesota they had an incredibly unbalanced score sheet with Juwan Morgan and Justin Smith scoring 20 points each, Robert Johnson scoring 28 (to go along with seven boards and seven assists) and the rest of the team scoring seven points. Total. The Hoosiers also grabbed 17 offensive boards against Minnesota.
Biggest weakness: So, here’s the thing about these columns. I write them every week (at least during football season, shut up) with basically a clean slate in my brain. I don’t remember what I wrote the week before nor do I care, because I deal in #TAEKS and #HOT ones at that. I don’t have the time to see what I said about Zach McRoberts last week (presumably nothing, because he blows chunks), but here is one thing I do remember...I had an award last season recognizing extreme incompetence in an irresponsible amount of minutes.
It is with great pleasure that I bring back the “What? How? Stat Line of the Week” to commemorate McRoberts’ game against Wisconsin. The youngster played 28 minutes had zero points on 0-of-1 shooting, collected two rebounds, had zero assists, zero blocks, zero steals, zero turnovers (!) and three fouls. As a bonus, he played 31 minutes against Minnesota and also scored zero points! I wonder what the longest scoreless streak for a starting B1G player is? This is the most exciting storyline of the season so far IMO.
This week’s schedule: Tonight vs. Penn State; Sunday vs. Northwestern
KenPom rank: 89th AdjEM, 59th AdjO, 144th AdjD
Last week’s results: (L) vs. Michigan 75-68; (L) vs. Ohio State 92-81; (L) at Maryland 91-73
Biggest strength: Tyler Cook had a great week, averaging nearly 19 points per game and six rebounds over the Hawkeyes three losses. Isaiah Moss scored 25 points against Maryland. Jordan Bohannon had 10 assists against aOsu.
Biggest weakness: LOTS to go over here. The Hawkeyes gave up 90+ points twice last week and, uh, haven’t won a game in conference yet. Playing three games in a week is tough for college kids, especially a young team like Iowa, and the Hawkeyes clearly wilted against Maryland getting outscored 28-9 over the final quarter of the game.
Lastly, let’s talk about our old buddy Fran McCaffery. McCaffery had a classic Frantrum at the end of the first half against Maryland while arguing a traveling call (LOL, really?) against Bohannon.
Like a good leader he took responsibility afterwards and realized that he is a raving lunatic who should be institutionalized. “I think the important thing there is, when the second T comes you’ve got to go,” he said. “If you start asking for explanations and start running around, that’s when it becomes problematic for you.” At least his son has his back.
There is no way he should’ve gotten tossed for that. Wanted one. No way the second one was necessary.. not even close— Connor McCaffery (@connor_m30) January 8, 2018
See, you don’t realize that it’s a fine line between the raving lunacy that gets you ejected and allows the other team to score four free points during a close game and playing sixteen dimensional chess to motivate your team. McCaffery straddles that line brilliantly. Fuck outta here forever, McCaffery.
This week’s schedule: Thursday at Illinois
KenPom rank: 35th AdjEM, 35th AdjO, 45th AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) vs. Penn State 75-69; (L) at No. 2 Michigan State 91-61; (W) vs. Iowa 91-73
Biggest strength: Anthony Cowan averaged 19.7 points and five assists over the Terps three games last week. Portugese center midfielder Bruno Fernando dropped 21 on Iowa’s head and 17 on Penn State (to go along with 11 boards). The Terps also shot 30 (!!!) more free throws that PSU. Was Tim Donaghy officiating this game?
Biggest weakness: Like most teams, they got squashed by Michigan State, but there’s no shame in that! MSU is good! Otherwise a pretty good week for Maryland.
This week’s schedule: Thursday at Ohio State
KenPom rank: 32nd AdjEM, 46th AdjO, 22nd AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) at Iowa 75-68; (W) vs. Illinois 79-69
Biggest strength: Had six players score in double figures against Illinois and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman score 15, grab seven rebounds and dish out six assists against Iowa.
Biggest weakness: Who cares? They played well last week. I need to talk about something serious. This past week my restaurant group had a day-long hospitality training at the Minnesota Timberwolves facilities. They have a really sweet theater setup, that I can only assume is used for video game tournaments and boring, boring film study, which they graciously allowed us to use. After everything was over we went and took a group picture on their practice court. I noticed that on the sideline there were a bunch of bowls of candy. Is that the secret to their recent success on the court? Candy during practice???? Who do you think eats the most candy on the T-Wolves? I bet it’s Cole Aldrich.
This week’s schedule: Tonight vs. No. 5 Purdue; Saturday at No. 2 Michigan State
KenPom rank: 2nd AdjEM, 8th AdjO, 6th AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) vs. Maryland 91-61; (L) at Ohio State 80-64 (holy smokes)
Biggest strength: Miles Bridges had 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists against Maryland and Big Puddin’ Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson added 16 and 15 respectively. The Spartans also had 30 assists on 32 made baskets. That’s stellar.
Biggest weakness: Well, that game against Ohio State was certainly unexpected. Bridges and Joshua Langford each had 17 points but the Spartans got run out of the gymnasium against a good (???) Buckeyes team. MSU entered the game leading the country in field goal percentage but shot 14 percentage points lower than normal and coincidentally got smoked. Much like Super Genius Fran McCaffery, Tom Izzo took a silly technical foul which resulted in the opposition going on a 19-4 run. WAY TO FIRE UP THE TEAM, COACH!
This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Rutgers; Saturday vs. Michigan
KenPom rank: 48th AdjEM, 49th AdjO, 65th AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) vs. Illinois 77-67; (L) vs. Indiana 75-71
Biggest strength: Jordan Murphy has recorded a double-double in every game they Gophers have played so far, which is 17. That ties Tim Duncan’s record of double-doubles to start a season and that’s pretty cool. Murphy had 17 and 17 against Illinois and 18 and 10 against Indiana. Nate Mason had 22 points and nine assists against the Hoosiers and 17 and six versus the Illini.
Biggest weakness: Richard Pitino’s response to Reggie Lynch’s continued practicing with the team, and if that should even be allowed, after receiving a suspension, and recommended expulsion, for multiple student code violations that centered around alleged sexual assaults that Lynch is appealing.
“I’m just the basketball coach,” he said. “I don’t know.”
Who decides who plays for Minnesota then if it isn’t the head basketball coach? I bet Goldy Gopher gets to pick names out of a hat. Pitino, who can’t even figure out if he’s allowed to play or sit his own players, mentioned that the school did a bunch of background research on Lynch before bringing him in as a transfer from Illinois State and “never saw any red flags.” Apparently women who grew up with Lynch in Edina and Bloomington could have waved a couple of red flags for Pitino.
This week’s schedule: Wednesday at Northwestern; Saturday vs. No. 5 Purdue
KenPom rank: 81st AdjEM, 106th AdjO, 73rd AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) at Northwestern 70-55; (L) at No. 5 Purdue 74-62
Biggest strength: Glynn Watson scored 19 points and added six boards and six assists against Northwestern, while James Palmer tallied 18. Palmer scored 22 against Purdue and was basically the only Cornhusker with a pulse that game. Against NU, the Huskers defense had eight different players record blocks. Even the 6’ Watson!
Biggest weakness: While planning our weekend trip to Chicago I picked out a bunch of places to eat and drink that had opened since my wife and I moved, so we could be young and hip and cool again. (Writer’s note: we were never those things, well I guess we were young once.) One of the bars I suggested we go to was Bad Hunter, which is actually a restaurant with a great bar program, and we rolled in on Saturday night before our dinner reservations down the street. While sitting at the bar my wife noticed one of the bartenders had a pineapple tattoo.
As we all know, the pineapple is the international sign of hospitality, but it is also a tattoo you get if your were in the Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP) at Tales of the Cocktail, the world’s largest cocktail convention, in New Orleans. My boss has the same tattoo and so I told her that’s what it was. She didn’t believe me, because I have been known to make up wild lies about small things to try and trick her, so she asked the bartender. Once I was proven correct, it was discovered that both of the bartenders had participated in the program and had gone to the bourbon camp that I had attended and that we knew a bunch of the same people (bartending is a pretty small profession). While talking they asked us what our reservation was under for dinner that night and then one of the bartenders disappeared to send a text. While at dinner that night we were each presented with a cocktail that the two bartenders we had met earlier had bought for us. It was amazing hospitality and I can’t recommend highly enough that y’all go there if you’re ever in Chicago.
This week’s schedule: Tonight vs. Wisconsin; Friday at Penn State
KenPom rank: 74th AdjEM, 63rd AdjO, 101st AdjD
Last week’s results: (L) vs. Nebraska 70-55; (L) at Penn State 78-63
Biggest strength: Dererk Pardon, whose name I will never spell correctly on the first try, had 17 points (on 18 shots, woof) and 15 rebounds (11 offensive) against Nebraska. Bryant McIntosh had 18 points and four assists against PSU after sitting out the Nebraska game with a strained something or another, I can’t be expected to know these things. I just spent an entire section of this post talking about hospitality.
Biggest weakness: I keep looking at team’s records in the B1G this year and there aren’t any good teams at all in this entire conference. The SEC is way more exciting this year and full of good teams and players. Maybe I should start writing about them? Auburn is 15-1 this year! Coming off big wins over Tennessee and Arkansas they’re in the catbird seat this year in the SEC since Kentucky has already lost to that same Tennessee team. Also, uh, West Virginia is ranked second, UVa is ranked third and Wichita State is ranked fifth in the AP Poll this week. Who the hell let that happen? AND TEXAS TECH IS EIGHTH?!?! /turns off PlayStation and turns it back on in a fit of rage and cofusion
This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Minnesota; Sunday at Indiana
KenPom rank: 33rd AdjEM, 38th AdjO, 32nd AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) at Iowa 92-81; (W) vs. No. 2 Michigan State 80-64 (/thinking face emoji)
Biggest strength: Ohio State is good this year, huh? Keita Bates-Diop scored 27 and corralled 13 rebounds and that is definitely his best performance of the wee...what’s that? You say he scored 32 points and had seven boards and three steals against Michigan State? Well. I stand corrected!
Bates-Diop is finally delivering on the immense promise he showed in high school and the rest of the B1G should be very afraid. Jae’Sean Tate was his normal, glorious self, scoring 18 against Iowa and chipping in 13 against MSU. I love him like a son.
Biggest weakness: None. Absolutely zero. They aren’t just beating teams in the B1G, they are pounding them mercilessly. They beat Wisconsin by one million, they beat Michigan by nine, Iowa by 11 and Michigan State by 16. I’m excited for them to lose to Rutgers on Sunday.
This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. Maryland; Sunday at Rutgers
KenPom rank: 41st AdjEM, 82nd AdjO, 16th AdjD
Last week’s results: (L) at Maryland 75-69; (W) vs. Northwestern 78-63
Biggest strength: Mike Watkins and His Mustache (his full, Christian name) had 17 & 17 in a loss to Maryland and had 18 & 17 against Northwestern. Pretty consistent if you ask me. Lamar Stevens scored a career-high 30 points on a Bryce Jordan Center record 14 made field goals my sources (the Associated Press) tell me.
Biggest weakness: Tony Carr scored 16 points against Maryland. Wait a second, you’re saying, isn’t that good? Well, fair reader, usually it would be good but it took Carr 23 shot attempts to reach 16 points and that is, as we say in the business, ghastly. He did have eight assists in the game, so that’s good. Maybe pass a little more, Tony?
This week’s schedule: Tonight at Indiana; Friday vs. Nebraska
KenPom rank: 5th AdjEM, 9th AdjO, 9th AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) vs. Rutgers 82-51; (W) vs. Nebraska 74-62
Biggest strength: Rebounding. They have two players who are taller than 7’1” and those two players can grab rebounds before other players can even jump to reach them. Doesn’t seem fair to me tbqh. Anyways, the Boilermakers had 45 rebounds against Rutgers while the Scarlet Knights only had 27. Purdue also had twice as many assists. Rutgers didn’t really stand a chance. Vincent Edwards had 21 points, 10 boards and six assists (and no turnovers) against Nebraska. Filling up the ol’ stat sheet, Vinny is.
Biggest weakness: They only beat Nebraska by 12 which ended a three-game streak of demoralizing teams by 30+ points. Good work, Huskers!
This week’s schedule: Tonight at Michigan; Saturday at Minnesota
KenPom rank: 123rd AdjEM, 256th AdjO, 30th AdjD
Last week’s results: (L) at No. 5 Purdue 82-51; (W) vs. Wisconsin 64-60
Biggest strength: Deshawn Freeman had four steals against Purdue? That’s about the only good thing I can say about that game for Rutgers. Against Wisconsin, however, there were plenty of good things for the Scarlet Knights! Freeman had 15 points and Corey Sanders had 23 points. They, uh, also beat Wisconsin. Again. Jesus Tapdancing Christ.
Biggest weakness: Whatever. Basketball is dumb.
This week’s schedule: Wednesday at No. 2 Michigan State; Sunday vs. Ohio State
KenPom rank: 77th AdjEM, 76th AdjO, 88th AdjD
Last week’s results: (W) vs. Indiana 71-61; (LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL, emphasis on the “L”) at Rutgers 64-60
Biggest strength: Ethan Happ had a monster game against Indiana, scoring 28 points, hauling in nine boards (six offensive), four assists, four steals and two blocks. And, uhhhhhh, that’s about it.
Biggest weakness: The Badgers hadn’t really had a “bad loss” yet this year. All of their previous losses were to teams ostensibly more talented than them. The loss to Rutgers is a “Bad Loss” with capital letters. The Scarlet Knights are much improved, but they still stink. They stink like their actual home state stinks and trust me New Jersey smells terrible all of the time.
If Happ isn’t going to be the best player on the court most nights, the Badgers are going to struggle to win many more games (KenPom predicts they’ll win four more all year, GOODY!). Seven turnovers from Happ against Rutgers isn’t going to quite cut it. Four-of-ten shooting from a guy who won’t/can’t shoot outside of the paint isn’t going to quite cut it. No blocks or steals from a guy who usually gets a couple of both.../looks at crowd expectantly as the chant in unison “ISN’T GOING TO QUITE CUT IT!”
I really want to get behind this team because they are way behind the eight ball in terms of who they have to play (‘sup Walt McGrory and TJ Schlundt and Aaron Moesch) due to injuries and general suckiness (‘sup Charles Thomas and Andy Van Vliet and Alex Illikainen) but I’m finding myself struggling to do so. We as Badgers fans have been spoiled over the last few years with excellent teams, but also excellent personalities. This team is certainly not excellent and they are devoid of the second part. There is no Nigel Hayes or Frank Kaminsky or Zak Showalter on this team to at least make you laugh while we stare into the abyss.
Every school is allowed a down year. Hell, Kentucky lost in the first round of the NIT somewhat recently! Wisconsin fans and players have grown accustomed to a certain level of success in basketball over the last two decades and it’s ok if there is one year that is a “rebuilding” one. I don’t expect anything out of this team come March, and that’s fine, but if the same thing is happening next year it is probably time to seriously reevaluate some things.
This week’s schedule: Tonight at Nebraska