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Michigan State Basketball Weekly Power Rankings #4

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The dust is settling for the Big Ten Tournament matchups

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, the last week of the regular Big Ten season is here. Everyone plays two games and we finally see who gets the double byes and who has to play on Wednesday. Our very own SpartanDan had a fantastic post about the scenarios that would decide those and updated it last night to show the percentages of each team’s chances at the available seeds based on his ranking system. Click here for the link to that article. Without any further ado here are the Conference Efficiency Margins.

(Once again Wisconsin is not on here due to the offense being so good)

Also, here is a chart illustrating the differences between conference home games vs. away games for each team (with the caveat that SOS is not taken into account).

1. Wisconsin (26-3, 14-2 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #1): at Maryland (L, 53-59), Michigan State (W, 68-61)

The two main reasons that Wisconsin is still above the team that just beat them are:

1) It was on the road

2) They’ve been dominant for almost the entire conference season

They lost to a very good Maryland team on the road and there’s not much shame in that. They scored less than 1 PPP for just the 3rd time this season with the other 2 coming against Oklahoma and Rutgers. They really hurt chances of getting a one seed in the NCAA tournament and it appears that they no longer control their destiny in that regard. On Sunday they bounced back from that loss and came out and were in control basically the entire game despite the final score and at one point led by 22. Frank Kaminsky had a huge day on his senior scoring a season-high 31 and really dominated throughout. I said it last week but I will say it again: he has been the best player in college basketball and is deserving of National Player of the Year honors. This week they have a chance to tie the record for most conference wins with 16 along with 2008 Wisconsin and 2011 Ohio State.

This Week: at Minnesota (Thurs 3/5), at Ohio State (Sun 3/8)

2. Maryland (24-5, 12-4 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #4): Wisconsin (W, 59-63), Michigan (66-56)

I ranked Maryland at 4 last week because they hadn’t been playing well recently. They were beat badly on the road three times, and they won close games against teams that aren’t particularly good. They’re an odd team that wins close games (not caring that there’s supposed to be randomness) largely due to their great one-on-one playmakers in Melo Trimble and Dez Wells. They’re two excellent players that you can rely upon to go and get you a bucket when you’re in crunch time. They beat the best B1G team at home and senior Wells had a Herculean effort on senior day with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. In the Michigan game later in the week, Trimble led the way with 19 and which was also his 6th game in a row with at least 16 points. HOME VS AWAY

This Week: at Rutgers (Tues 3/3), at Nebraska (Sun 3/8)

3. Ohio State (21-8, 10-6 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #6): Nebraska (W, 81-57), Purdue (W, 65-61)

Ohio State had a good week with two wins and getting back into the race for a double bye in the BTT. They started off with a win over Nebraska where freshman Jae’Sean Tate shot 8-9 from the field for 22 points and added in 7 rebounds. Next they had a huge win over Purdue where D’Angelo Russell dropped 28 and hopefully ended his recent shooting slump. Right now the Buckeyes really need to get Marc Loving going again as he’s shot just 2-10 from 3 since returning from his suspension as opposed to 42-79 (53%) before. As a team they have one of the most athletic starting lineups and really can be a dangerous team going forward. They get Wisconsin at hometo finish out their season and could really make a statement with a win on what seed they should get for the NCAA tournament.

This Week: at Penn State (Wed 3/4), Wisconsin (Sun 3/8)

4. Purdue (19-10, 11-5 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #3): Rutgers (W, 92-85), at Ohio State (L, 61-65)

How did Rutgers score 85 against Purdue? Much of it had to with the fact the game had 77 possessions, but also Purdue had a decent lead for much of the game. Rapheal Davis had a good stat line of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists as the Boilermakers had 6 players in double digits and shot 55% from the field and 47% from 3. They lost a big one against Ohio State as they could’ve created a lot of separation in the conference race while simultaneously ensuring both a double bye in the BTT and getting off the NCAA bubble. They have a huge game coming up against MSU which could help determine both of their postseason fates. While AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas are no Kaminsky, it’ll be interesting if they can use their 7 foot frames to their advantages against MSU’s centers who both only stand 6’9".

This Week: at Michigan State (Wed 3/4), Illinois (Sat 3/7)

5. Iowa (19-10, 10-6 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #5): Illinois (W, 68-60), at Penn State (W, 81-77 OT)

Iowa is a little under the radar at the moment but have won 4 straight after dropping the previous 2. Aaron White had a fantastic day against Illinois with 29 points and had a career high three 3-pointers on four attempts despite being a 26% career 3PT shooter. In his past 3 games he’s averaged 22.7 points and 11.3 rebounds with 58.8/71.4/88.5 shooting splits. They then had a win in overtime at Penn State where it was a one possession game for the last 7 minutes of regulation; Mike Gesell had a good game with 14 points, assists and 5 steals. With that win, they are also still in the running for getting a double bye in the BTT. They’ll have a nice test this week with a game in Assembly Hall and then they finish their regular season with Northwestern at home.

This Week: at Indiana (Tues 3/3), Northwestern (Sat 3/7)

6. Michigan State (19-10, 10-6 B1G)

Last Week (Previously # 2): Minnesota (L, 90-96 OT), at Wisconsin (L, 61-68)

This was just a very disappointing week for Spartan fans. A week ago MSU was sitting tied for second place at 10-4 with their easiest remaining game (Minnesota) coming up. They ended up losing that game on a wild series where they led by 6 with 30 seconds remaining. While Travis Trice did end up with 21 points and 10 assists, he required 24.5 shot equivalents to do so. He played more than 30 minutes for the first time in 6 games and the fatigue showed as he shot just 6-13 from the FT line. As for the Wisconsin game, all there really is to say is that it wasn’t as close as the final score. Bryn Forbes was fantastic but the frontcourt of Wisconsin was just too much offensively. The interesting thing about this game was that losing by a small margin was actually very good for MSU.

Whether it comes from Purdue, Indiana, or in the BTT, MSU really does seem safe if they can get one more win.

This Week: Purdue (Wed 3/4), at Indiana (Sat 3/7)

7. Illinois (18-11, 8-8 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #8): at Iowa (L, 60-68), Northwestern (W, 86-60)

Illinois really struggled in containing Aaron White in their loss to Iowa and four of their players had at least 4 fouls including freshman Leron Black who picked up 4 fouls in just 9 minutes. On the plus side, Rayvonte Rice is back to his usual self with averages of 19.5 points and 9 rebounds in the last week. The Illini scored 1.34 PPP against Northwestern because they shot 14-29 from deep (48.3%) and collected 44% of their own misses. They had 5 players in double-digits who combined for 75 of the 86 points. They are locked in as a middle team in the BTT who won’t have to play on Wednesday, but also cannot receive a double bye.

This Week: Nebraska (Wed 3/4), at Purdue (Sat 3/7)

8. Indiana (19-10, 9-7 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #7): at Northwestern (L, 65-72)

After both teams had scorching starts in the first half with 40 points each, the Hoosiers’ offense stalled in the second half with a 10 minutes scoring drought where they shot 0-11 from the field. Their effort on the defensive end was downright awful allowing the offensively inept Northwestern to score 1.24 PPP which was their best in conference play. That was their big chance to compete for the double bye and they missed it. While both of their remaining games are at home, they’re against two very good teams in Iowa and Michigan State.

This Week: Iowa (Tues 3/3), Michigan State (3/7)

9. Minnesota (17-12, 6-10 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #11): at Michigan State (W, 96-90 OT)

Last week I wrote this about Minnesota:

This team is too reliant on that style of play which frankly doesn’t work against well-coached teams or against teams with very good ball-handlers.

I was referring to their style of pressure defense and it honestly didn’t have that much of an effect on MSU. The few times they applied pressure, it seemed MSU broke the pressure and had good transition offense opportunities. They only forced turnovers on 15.8% of MSU possessions but MSU’s average is 18.3%. The reason they won was because of their offense, they scored 1.26 PPP which was the highest MSU has given up this season. They trailed by 6 with 30 seconds remaining, but came back due to 3 consecutive possessions which each resulted in 3 points for the Golden Gophers. Carlos Morris hit two 3’s in that span and finished with 20 points on just 12.5 shot equivalents. While I don’t think Minnesota will beat Wisconsin this week, Maurice Walker is one of the few bigs in the conference with both the size and strength to defend Frank Kaminsky (if he can stay out of foul trouble).

This Week: Wisconsin (Thurs 3/5), at Penn State (Sun 3/8)

10. Michigan (14-14, 7-9 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #9): at Maryland (L, 56-66)

I feel like a broken record talking about this team in that the #autobench of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman most likely hurt them for the 3rd week in a row. Against Maryland, Michigan was +1 with him on the court and -11 with him off it. While autobench on a normal team isn’t always that much of a problem, the issue with it on this particular team is that there’s a huge drop-off when you have to sit someone for so long. You have to play Andrew Dakich rather than MAAR who has looked like the best Michigan player many times since Derrick Walton and Caris LeVert went down. The Wolverines have a good shot to finish out their season with a .500 record in conference play with Northwestern and Rutgers up next.

This Week: at Northwestern (Tues 3/3), Rutgers (Sat 3/7)

11. Northwestern (14-15, 5-11 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #10): Indiana (W, 72-65), at Illinois (L, 60-86)

The big story that everyone heard about after Northwestern beat Indiana was that its four consecutive Big Ten wins was its most since 1967. That was very surprising in that I thought they would’ve strung 4 wins together at least once in 48 (!) years. Northwestern beat Indiana because they held Indiana scoreless for 10 minutes. For the second straight game, Vic Law shot very well from the field and has shot 10-17 (58.8%) from 3 in the last 4 games after shooting 13-52 (25%) in the previous 25 games. After they got win, I don’t think anyone told them they can keep winning games after four. They got blown out by Illinois and were never within 10 after the first quarter of play.

This Week: Michigan (Tues 3/3), at Iowa (Sat 3/7)

12. Nebraska (13-15, 5-11 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #12): at Ohio State (L, 57-81)

Other than the loss to Maryland and the win against Northwestern, Nebraska hasn’t really shown any real grit to win games since they beat MSU on January 24th. They’ve lost 8 of 9 including 6 straight with 7 of those losses coming by double digits (average MOV in those losses was -17.6). Their style of hero ball offense hasn’t been efficient and as a result they’ve been really bad. Their two remaining games aren’t easy and they will likely to have play on Wednesday for the BTT.

This Week: at Illinois (Wed 3/4), Maryland (Sun 3/8)

13. Penn State (15-14, 3-13 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #13): Iowa (L, 77-81 OT)

After a terrible 21-point loss to Northwestern, Penn State played a competitive game against Iowa where the Nittany Lions with 3 and a half minutes left in the game. DJ Newbill didn’t have a particularly efficient game but he’s been the latest in the line of good Penn State guards who have had very little help. He’s second in both usage% and shot% in B1G play behind only Terran Petteway. Unlike Petteway, however, Newbill has a ORtg greater than 100 and he’s a guy that would most likely work in a system offense. They’re a team that’s locked in as playing on Wednesday so any chance of getting into the tourney will have to go through winning 5 games in 5 days.

This Week: Ohio State (Wed 3/4), at Minnesota (Sun 3/8)

14. Rutgers (10-19, 2-14 B1G)

Last Week (Previously #14): at Purdue (L, 85-92)

Rutgers didn’t lose by that much this time around, but it was in vain as they never were closer than 6 points in the second half. They scored above 1 PPP for the 4th time in conference play and even had 5 players in double digits. This was the fastest regulation game in conference with a total of 77 possessions. Frankly, thank goodness Maryland is good this year, otherwise the two new additions to the conference would’ve looked awful. Why did we add Rutgers again? Something about a footprint in the East. Maybe Rutgers can turn around in the same way Nebraska did after its first year in the B1G, but they’re losing their best player in Myles Mack so it seems unlikely.

This Week: Maryland (Tues 3/3), at Michigan (Sat 3/7)