25 January 2013

B1G Power Rankings

Yes.  The season turn around has inspired us to dust off the power rankings.  How long will it last? Stupid question.   Let's get to it.

1.  Michigan.  Trey Burke = tres bien.
2.  Indiana.  Cody Zeller = gaudy baller.
3.  Michigan St. Overachieving
4.  Minnesota.  Mbawke = Bantu for dominant.
5.  Wisconsin.  Bo knows coaching.
6.  Ohio St.   Thomas misses Sully.
7.  Iowa.  Poor man's Indiana 2011-12.
8.  Illinois.  Shots will start falling again.
9.  Purdue.  Doing it with defense.
10.  NU.  Doing it with defense?!?!
11.  Nebraska.  Saturday roadkill.
12.  Penn St.  Key injury + no depth = O-fer?

On the Big Ten Geeks


These guys need to either put an asterisk on their moniker or change it altogether.  Because to put Big Ten in the name connotes a fair and balanced approached to all things Big Ten, but their treatment for Northwestern is far from that approach.  When they do happen to mention Northwestern on occasion it is typically dismissive in tone and with negative bias.  Maybe it's the Illini coming out of them, but we have to wonder what they have against NU since the series was rather one-sided until the past few years.

Take this season for example.  Hardly any mention of NU except to say better luck next year and oh BTW Drew Crawford got hurt so Carmody may never get over the hump BLAH BLAH BLAH.  Color us SHOCKED that they didn't even mention the NU victory at Illinois last week.  Newsworthy game?  Check. Illinois bias shining through?  Check.

Finally NU did get mention in the aftermath of the victory of the Gophers.  But in typical BTG fashion it was more an indictment of Minnesota than any praise for NU.  In fact they went so far as to say 8-10 won't get the job done this year so cool the NCAAs bubble talk you silly purple koolade drinkers.  This is a ridiculous statement that conveniently glosses over a big road win at Baylor and a neutral court tournament title not to mention two wins over ranked opponents.  Last year NU learned that 8-10 wasn't good enough despite no bad losses because it lacked the big wins.  This year is different for NU which has already tallied some big wins to balance off a bad loss or two.  Anti-NU bias?  Check.  Lack of NCAA Selection Criteria Expertise?  Check.

Look it.  We realize that NU is far from the top of the list when it comes to Big Ten intrigue.  The NCAAs drought.  The B1G standings.  The small fan base.  Etc.   But NU is due more and positive attention from a purported Big Ten-oriented blog.  The past four years were decent (by NU standards), and the storyline of Carmody doing good work to rescue a season at risk due to injuries and suspensions is an easy writeup.  The more we see of BTG's coverage of NU the more apparent becomes their bias.  We know all about bias on this blog, but then again we don't purport to be an even-handed B1G blog.


24 January 2013

NORTHWESTERN 55 Minnesota 48 (F)

That was most certainly a Carmody Court kinda night.  Oh yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.  Payback is a beeeeeeyotchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Ain't that right Tubby????????????????

Northwestern (12-8, 3-4) took down kenpom #7 Minnesota last night.  Things started out ok for NU with barometer Jared Swopshire going off early on the offensive end.  Despite the nice start the game started to get away from NU for most of the first half.  Just like the game up in Minneapolis the Gophers enforced a no fly zone around both backboards.  And the tempo was too fast for Northwestern.  Yet somehow the first half ended with a beautiful Tre Demps step-back J that shrank the NU deficit to just three points.  Games like that usually have a way of the ending with the outplayed team storming back to victory, and that was most certainly the case here.

If you would be so kind as to allow us to ignore NU's continued woes from the charity stripe (please!!!!!!!!)  we shall say that the second half was exquisite.  During a pivotal 8+ minute stretch that began with about 13 minutes to play NU outscored Minnesota 18-4.  This huge run was sparked by Coach Carmody masterfully changing defenses between the 1-3-1 and man-to-man.  This switching defense took the starch out of the Gopher offense.  Suddenly NU points off of Gopher turnovers were abundant, and the Minnesota advantage on the glass mysteriously and miraculously vanished.  Perhaps NU was the fortunate recipient of a disproportionate number of rebounds caroming into NU hands, but we think it was more than that.  The way we see it NU's defense knocked Minnesota woozy which took the starch out of their rebounding aggressiveness.

Tre Demps did not set the world on fire in his first start, but he picked his moments to make his mark.  The first half ending shot mentioned above.  Swishing a high-arcing rushed three point shot with the shot clock running down.  Making 3-4 free throws -- a minor miracle for NU last night.

And this game was a glaring example of Carmody Court's unearthed trend that the losing team from the first game nearly always closes the gap in the rematch.  In the first game NU lost 69-51; in the rematch NU climbed all the way back and then some (an amazing 25 point swing on net).

Next up is NU's first trip to the Land O' Corn for a B1G battle.  Kenpom has installed NU as a three point favorite.  Past seasons would suggest a heightened anxiety with NU playing as a road favorite, but this is a brave new world.  NU is an outstanding 3-1 on the road.  NU won at Penn State under similar circumstances.  Nebraska has a first year coach, and teams with relatively new coaches tend to have trouble with NU's schemes (see: Chambers, Patrick and McCarffery, Fran).  And as the old adage goes good defense doesn't take nights off, and NU has been playing good defense these past few games.

23 January 2013

This is a Carmody Court kinda night

We get to see if starting demps was another of our bonehead moments or a stroke of genius.  We also get to see if the trend that the losing team in the rematch closes the efficiency gap continues to hold.

Popcorn ready!  Lessgo.

18 January 2013

Northwestern 68 ILLINOIS 54 (F)

That was...errrr...unexpected.  Yes.  There were signs that the Illini were entering an all-too-familiar B1G swoon.  In that respect there was a fighters chance for Northwestern.  The listless manner by which NU turtled its way to a 20 point loss in the prior game against Iowa at the Welsh gave no hint that NU was in a fighting mood.

The tone was set early as four different players knocked down bombs on their first attempts.  Most noteworthy were streaky Marcotullio and Swopshire making their three pointers.  Suffice it to say that if Swop is making his threes it's going to be a competitive night for NU.  If Little Al follows suit and actually fills his marksman role then watch out!

NU played outstanding defense throughout.  The I-L-L---I-N-I offense was clicking on no cylinders and made it easy to be defended.  Hello?  Motion?  Passing?  These appear to be either foreign or outdated concepts to new Illinois head coach Mr Clean.

Our eyebrows raised in the second half when the lineup was primarily:  Sobo, Demps, Hearn, Swop, and Turner.  About a month ago after Crawford went out for the season for shoulder  surgery we proposed nearly this very lineup save Olah in the place of Turner.  You're almost there with the winning formula Coach.  Better late than never.

Next up is an overrated Indiana team coming to Evanston on Sunday.  NU has about a 12% chance ala kenpom, but we figure maybe a one in four chance since Tom Crean is tactically clueless against NU's schemes.  Indiana's talent will likely carry the day for the Hoosiers, but if the seniors are in a fighting mood again (Reggie Hearn scored 20 at Illinois for a repeat stellar performance at Ass Hall) then who knows.  Strangely enough NU has played better on the road than at home this year which is an odd trend that needs undoing (on the home front only --knock on wood).

10 January 2013

MINNESOTA 69 Northwestern 51

Northwestern tried the stall offense.  Led 13-11 at the 4:00 mark.  We were mostly bored as the game wasn't much different than a women's basketball game.  We were also a tiny bit excited about that slow down BS actually working and leading to an upset.

Then  Austin Hollins heated up from distance.  The lead grew unmanageable.  Carmody went to the 1-3-1 as a last ditch effort to salvage the upset bid.  Hollins torched NU some more.  The rout was on.

We hate to pile on poor Kale Abrahamson, but he gets tossed around like a rag doll on defense.  We still think he needs to be benched in favor of our man Tre Demps.  Or even Cerina to help counter physically imposing teams like Minnesota.

Anywho....tonight we get to see NU play one of the few B1G games this year that NU could win.  And it's on the road.  If Penn State easily handles NU tonight then the circling vultures will begin to land even though Carmody is still alive and kicking.  The vultures have waited patiently to get their meal, and patience is at its end for them.   It is sad to see the lack of perspective, but we've grown to accept it among fans more generally and Coach Carmody's detractors more specifically.  C'est la vie.

03 January 2013

Michigan 94 NORTHWESTERN 66 (F)

Throw out the game film Coach lest ye be tempted to unearth it for the Jan 30 rematch. 

This is shaping up to be a long year for the injury-riddled Wildcats.

Next up: at #9 Minnesota (13-1, 1-0).  Sigh.