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Michigan State Basketball Weekly Power Rankings #2

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Spartans Surging and Iowa Struggling

Valentine had a nice day on Saturday
Valentine had a nice day on Saturday
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin still on top and Rutgers still at the bottom, or in other words just another week in the Big Ten. A few teams traded places but most teams are close to where they were last week. A new aspect of my power rankings will be an efficiency margin chart and graph.

(Wisconsin is not on the chart due to their offense being literally off the charts)

1. Wisconsin (23-2, 11-1 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #1): at Nebraska (W, 65-55), Illinois (W, 68-49)

Another week, another couple double-digit Wisconsin wins. They now have 9 double-digit victories in their 12 conference with one of being their lone loss coming against Rutgers when they didn’t have Kaminsky. They struggled a little offensively against Nebraska scoring just 1.05 PPP, but Nebraska does have the best AdjD in the B1G ranking 9th in the nationally. Sam Dekker had the hand scoring 21 points on 15 shot equivalents, but the team struggled as a whole shooting a season-low 39.1% from the field. On Sunday it was Kaminsky who led the way with 23 points and 9 rebounds where the Badgers scored a fantastic 1.39 PPP against Illinois. They are still favored in their remaining games this year and would likely receive a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament if they accomplish that feat.

This Week: at Penn State (Wed 2/15), Minnesota (Sat 2/21)

2. Michigan State (17-8, 8-4 B1G)

Last Week (Previously # 7): at Northwestern (W, 68-44), Ohio State (W, 59-56)

Am I overreacting by putting this high? Most likely, however, I probably overreacted by having them at only #7 last week. My teams ranked #2-6 last week either lost or weren’t impressive. The Spartans, on the other hand, looked great against Northwestern and were beating Ohio State pretty handily in the second half until Denzel Valentine was taken out due to foul trouble. Valentine’s clutch 3 at the end of the game was probably the biggest individual shot this year and did wonders for their NCAA resume (they were a last 4 in team in the Mock selection). They started Tum Tum Nairn in the last two wins and that might be the plan going forward. I still think Trice will get more minutes, but Nairn has really come on as a decent offensive threat as of late using his speed to push in transition and drawing contact in the lane.

This Week: at Michigan (Tues 2/17), at Illinois (Sun 2/22)

3. Ohio State (19-7, 8-5 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #3): Penn State (W, 75-55), at Michigan State (L, 56-59)

In the game against Penn State, D’Angelo Russell had 17, 6, and 7 while Sam Thompson set a career high in points with 22. Against MSU on the road, D’Angelo Russell really struggled with only 10 points on 4-13 shooting. The issue with them is that they aren’t a particularly deep team and their bench was outscored 20-3. Marc Loving was back from his suspension but still appears to be in Matta’s dog house as he played in only 5 minutes during the loss. Russell and Shannon Scott are currently #1 and 2 in assists per game among B1G players and if they finish the season that way they will be the first teammates to do so since Illinois’s Deron Williams and Dee Brown accomplished the feat in the ‘03-‘04 season.

This Week: at Michigan (Sun 2/22)

4. Purdue (17-9, 9-4 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #6): at Rutgers (W, 61-51), Nebraska (W, 66-54)

Purdue isn’t making headlines and they weren’t in the Mock Selection field, yet they’re still second in the B1G and won 2 games this week by double digits. They have no real stars and they have 5 guys averaging 9 and 11 points including AJ Hammons who blocks just under 3 shots a game in fewer than 24 minutes per game. Something interesting about them is that they have 4 of the top 13 Big Ten players in FG% including Issac Haas at #1. KenPom predicts they’ll go 2-3 to finish the season, but they’re definitely a team to keep an eye on.

This Week: at Indiana (Thurs 2/19)

5. Maryland (21-5, 9-4 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #5): Indiana (W, 68-66), at Penn State (W, 76-73)

Maryland won a nice game against Indiana at home in a very close game that had a game-winning Yogi three miss at the buzzer. They also won against Penn State thanks to some controversy, courtesy of Evan Smotrycz when Penn State was trailing 68-70.

I hate this play. I hate it so very much. It was called an offensive foul and I have no explanation as to why. The ref was in decent position to see it and really should have seen Smotrycz wrap his arm around Dickerson. Pat Chambers (rightfully) complained about the officiating and I sincerely hope he doesn’t get fined for it. On a closer look Smotrycz may have tripped over Dickerson’s foot, however, if it was intentional it was a dirty and cheap play.

This Week: Nebraska (Thurs 2/19)

6. Indiana (18-8, 8-5 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #4): at Maryland (L, 66-68), Minnesota (W, 90-71)

Indiana had a chance to get a big win at Maryland but Yogi’s 3 didn’t go down even though he went 6-9 from deep prior to that shot. Freshmen guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson had really bad nights going a combined 5-27 but both bounced back big time (alliteration) going 15-24 for 43 points against Minnesota.Troy Williams had a bit of injury scare in the first half against Minnesota, but came back okay in the second half and even his second 3 of the season on his way to 19 points on 11.5 shot equivalents and 9 rebounds. Oh yeah, and Indiana made 18 3-pointers along with shooting splits of 59.3/56.3/88.9. They’re exciting and have the makeup of a team that can either get blown out or pull a big upset.

This Week: Purdue (Thurs 2/19), at Rutgers (Sun 2/22)

7. Iowa (15-10, 6-6 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #2): Minnesota (L, 59-64), at Northwestern (L, 66-61)

I am so glad I didn’t buy actual stock in the Hawkeyes. I had them #2 in my rankings last week because I thought they were talented and they had very understandable losses.

It has two losses to Wisconsin where the Badgers scored >1.3 PPP in both games, a close road loss to a decent Purdue team when Aaron White got hurt, and a loss to Michigan State where the Spartan shot 70% (12-17) from 3.

They had a nightmare of week losing at home to Minnesota and on the road to Northwestern in OT. Minnesota uses a trapping/pressure defense leading to Iowa turning it over on 26.2% of their possessions. They did, however, care of the ball next game against Northwestern (a team that is 2nd worst in the country in Steal%) with just 4 TO’s in a losing effort. Uthoff had a huge game against the Wildcats with 25 points (including a tough contested 3 that sent it to overtime), but Aaron White and Adam Woodbury really struggled shooting the ball combining just 1-17 for the game. They were listed as an 8 seed in the Mock Selection earlier this week (before the NW game but after the Minn game), but a loss to Northwestern really might hurt come them come selection Sunday.

This Week: Rutgers (Thurs 2/19), at Nebraska (Sun 2/22)

8. Illinois (17-9, 7-6 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #8): Michigan (W, 64-52), at Wisconsin (L, 49-68)

Illinois went to overtime at home to a depleted Michigan team and then took a beating from Wisconsin in Madison. Kendrick Nunn played great against Michigan (21 points on 14 shot equivalents) but struggled against the Badgers going just 2-10 with 4 TO’s. Rayvonte Rice is back from his suspension yet he struggled this week going just 6-19 from the field for 14 points. They don’t turn it over and they don’t foul, however, they don’t shoot it well and are last in the B1G in 2P%. They’re another team that is somewhat on the bubble garnering an 11 seed in the Mock Selection.

This Week: Michigan State (Sun 2/22)

9. Minnesota (16-10, 5-8 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #9): at Iowa (64-59), at Indiana (L, 71-90)

Minnesota did a great job of turning Iowa and Indiana over. The difference between a nice win and 19 point loss? They give up an eFG% of 75.9% to Indiana who just used their smaller guards to exploit the pressure defense for easy baskets. Minnesota is better than they played in that game but they still have to get wins. They have a rough stretch coming up playing Wisconsin twice and a road game against MSU. They should be happy if they end up going 3-2 in their last 5 games.

This Week: Northwestern (Wed 2/18), at Wisconsin (Sat 2/21)

10. Michigan (13-12, 6-7 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #10): at Illinois (L, 52-64)

It’s rough to be a Wolverine fan this season knowing your team is headed to overtime. They’ve had 3 overtime games since losing Caris LeVert and have been outscored 36-9 in those 15 OT minutes. They don’t have depth or much talent with LeVert and Walton being out so having to go those extra 5 minutes is just hard to do for them at the moment. Spike Albrecht has been a nice player recently yet despite that he shouldn’t be your go-to player when you need something on offense. MAAR has come back to earth after scoring 18 against MSU a couple weeks ago going 3-12 from the field with 8 TO’s in the past 2 games. Not much of an update on Derrick Walton who has missed the last 5 games but John Beilein "fully expects" to have him back by the end of the season but "he’s certainly not ready yet."

This Week: Michigan State (Tues 2/17), Ohio State (Sun 2/22)

11. Penn State (15-11, 3-10 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #12): at Ohio State (L, 55-75), Maryland (L, 73-76)

As I mentioned earlier Penn State lost at home to Maryland in a close game where DJ Newbill had another great game scoring 25 (on 21.5 shot equivalents) and using 33% of his team’s possessions while he was on the court. The problem was their defense which gave up 1.12 PPP to a mediocre Maryland offense that’s only scoring barely above 1 PPP in conference play. Earlier in the week, they didn’t play nearly as well losing by 20 to a very good Ohio State team.

This Week: Wisconsin (Wed 2/18), at Northwestern (Sat 2/21)

12. Nebraska (13-12, 5-8 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #11): Wisconsin (L, 55-65) at Purdue (L, 54-66)

This is a sequence of events I saw in the Nebraska-Purdue game: Benny Parker had a catch and shoot 3 opportunity, took a dribble just inside the arc, shot a long 2 pointer that missed, Nebraska got the offensive rebound to Shavon Shields who airballed a 3. The problem with Nebraska is that they don’t shoot 3’s well despite shooting them quite a bit and they play way too much hero ball (301st in Assist rate) for a team that doesn’t have talented enough players to do that.

This Week: at Maryland (Thurs 2/19), Iowa (Sun 2/22)

13. Northwestern (11-14, 2-10 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #13): Michigan State (L, 68-44), Iowa (W, 66-61)

Northwestern got blown out at home by Michigan State trailing by 24 at halftime. After shooting 12-25 from 3 in the first matchup, Northwestern made just 3-15 in the second and allowed MSU to make 13 of 25 of their own attempts from deep. In some better news for Wildcat fans, congrats to Northwestern for winning a close game. It’s been rough for them losing a ton of close ones but pulling it out against Iowa despite Uthoff making a couple demoralizing 3’s down the stretch to send it to overtime. Tre Demps was the big hero with a couple clutch 3’s in the last 5 minutes and Bryant McIntosh continues to be a very good freshman despite a poor performance against MSU.

This Week: at Minnesota (Wed 2/18), Penn State (Sat 2/21)

14. Rutgers (10-16, 2-11 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #14): Purdue (L, 51-61)

Rutgers lost to Purdue this week marking their 9th loss in a row and they have lost by an average of 13.1 points during that span. They’ve scored over 1.0 PPP just three times in conference play and they have the worst offense in the conference scoring a paltry .89 PPP in league play. Next week they have a couple tough games that will most likely keep their streak going.

This Week: at Iowa (Thurs 2/19), Indiana (Sun 2/22)

My All-B1G Team (not taking positions into consideration):

F Branden Dawson

G Yogi Ferrell

C Frank Kaminsky

G DJ Newbill

G D’Angelo Russell

My All-Dunk Team:

Branden Dawson

Sam Dekker

Jae’Sean Tate

Sam Thompson

Troy Williams

(Note: if you have any ideas of some stats/charts/graphs you would like to see, feel free to share in the comments below)