Get in your picks before 8:45 pm ET on Thursday. Please state your selection first thing in your comment. Overriding PTC principles are here. Good luck. (Note: Standings will be updated sometime this weekend.)
THE GOOD: RESOLVE.
Oh baby, what a win. With Mo Creek out for the season, and Indiana fans a bit down, a bit defeated, IU proved this afternoon inside Assembly Hall that your leading scorer does not an entire team make. Sure, Michigan isn’t that great a squad right now, and some dumb fouling kept Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims off the court for some time, but when Harris was in the game, Jeremiah Rivers did a good job keeping him in check.
Devan Dumes filled in great for Creek in the first half, hitting 3-of-5 threes for nine points, and flashing some defense as well. He was a big reason IU lead at half. Jay Bilas had the line of the afternoon when giving Dumes props for his first-half performance: “Sometimes a kid just needs to be needed.” Incredibly fitting for a player like Dumes.
And then there was everyone else filling in their roles as well: Verdell Jones continues to be a rock, and hit some big shots in both halves when IU needed them. He finished the game with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He played with purpose. He wanted this game. Bad. And Watford was right there with him, as he went 7-for-12 for 19 points this afternoon. If those two, along with Dumes can continue to lead the way on offense with guys like Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston and Rivers picking their spots and contributing as well, IU might be OK.
Get in your picks before 11:45 am ET on Thursday. Remember, please state your selection first thing in your comment. Overriding PTC principles are here. Good luck.
Rather than the traditional Know Thy Opponent format, where I attempt to sound intelligent discussing a team besides Indiana, today we’ve reached out to Dylan over at the excellent Michigan hoops blog, UMHoops, for the scoop on the Wolverines. Our e-mail Q & A exchange is posted below for your reading pleasure. (I answered questions over at UMHoops at this link.)
Michigan was ranked No. 15 in the preseason in both the AP and Coaches’ Poll. Looking back on that, was the ranking too high or has this team just not lived up to its capabilities?
It sounds like a cop out, but it’s almost certainly a mix of both. Michigan wasn’t the 15th best team in the country. They were a 2nd round NCAA tournament team that finished .500 in conference play and snuck into the NCAA tournament. However, their youth last year coupled with John Beilein’s coaching pedigree gave folks reason to overestimate their abilities.
That being said, this team wasn’t supposed to be this bad. The biggest problem is that they just can’t hit shots. They are shooting 28.3 percent from three-point range which ranks last among all major-conference teams. It’s tough to win with any offense when you can’t hit shots but when you are undersized and running John Beilein’s offense, it’s almost impossible.
Indiana released it’s 2009-2010 schedule earlier today and here’s a look at five of the toughest opponents on the docket.
5. Maryland (Assembly Hall, December 1, 7:30 PM, ESPN2): Senior guard Greivis Vasquez returns to lead a Terrapin team that went 21-14 a year ago, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and should be among the top 25 teams in the country. The Venezuela native averaged 17.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 5.0 apg as a junior and tested the NBA Draft waters before deciding to return. Besides Vasquez, Gary Williams returns three other starters. It will be the first trip for Maryland to Assembly Hall.
4. Michigan (Crisler Arena, January 14, 9:00 PM, ESPN/ESPN2): Year three of the John Beilein era in Ann Arbor could find the Wolverines square in the middle of the Big Ten race with Michigan State and Purdue. After winning one game in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, Beilein has the pieces in place to make a run deeper into March. The one-two punch of guard Manny Harris and forward DeShawn Sims is arguably the best in the conference and the supporting cast is strong with guards Laval Lucas-Perry, Stu Douglass and Zack Novak all returning.
3. Michigan State (Assembly Hall, February 16, 7:00 PM, ESPN): The Spartans knocked off a pair of No. 1 seeds in Connecticut and Louisville a year ago before falling to North Carolina in the national championship. Forward Goran Suton and guard Travis Walton are both gone, but Kalin Lucas returns as the front runner for Big Ten Player of the Year. Sprinkle in a healthy Delvon Roe with wings Durrell Summers and Chris Allen and the Spartans could be looking at Tom Izzo’s sixth Final Four appearance.
Hey, so that was fun, right?
Haha, just kidding! That wasn’t fun at all! That was precisely as much fun as a rusty ballpeen hammer to the eye socket, only less violent, so long as you don’t count “throwing an empty can of whatever stupid health drink I’m swilling these days across the f–king room” as violence. The only thing that could have made last night’s second half less fun was if Tom Hamilton and Shon Morris were screaming and rattling off stupid one-liners, respectively, throughout the entire godforsaken telecast. Oh, wait. They were.
I mean, really, where to start? With IU’s brilliant, peerless, unbelievable and unlikely first half? With Michigan’s inversely horrible one? With the Hoosiers’ slow descent in the second half? With the way Michigan gradually edged their way back in the game — not at all once, but with the methodical surety of a team absolutely confident of their superiority?
Instead I’ll start (this is sort of a start I guess; the actual start, as you likely noticed, was the angry diatribe at the top of the post) with halftime. Right in the middle, before the flood. IU was winning by a margin I’d honestly rather not recount. A few seconds after the buzzer sounded for halftime, I found myself doing something peculiar: clapping. To myself. This isn’t exactly rare; it happens every time I get even marginally excited about beating some snotty Brit in FIFA 09. But I did catch myself, and stop for a second, and pay attention to my computer again, and think, and that’s when it hit me: