MBB Conference Tournament, Day 3: Chatman Begins

MBB Conference Tournament, Day 3: Chatman Begins

For 39 minutes, Indiana let Michigan hang around, but with a minute left, the Hoosiers held a 3-point lead, surely enough for them to advance to Saturday's semifinals in what would have been the first of four straight wins for favorites. But Duncan Robinson hit his only three of the game to tie it, and when Kam Chatman forced a turnover on IU's next possession, the ball found its way back to him in the corner.

As if that weren't enough for Purdue fans (especially those born in Ann Arbor), Purdue rocked Illinois in the next game, only failing to break the tournament record for margin of victory the Illini set Wednesday against Minnesota because the Boilers didn't need to. 

I guess there were a couple of other games today too. Shall we?

Game Recaps

There are more than a few people who will point out that there are some types of teams for which conference tournaments are simply an annoyance. If you believe that you're locked into a particular seed, or that you can't improve your seed enough to make a difference, why play 3 (or more) straight games when you don't have to? (Is forcing a 4th OT really a good thing? Well, it is if you're on the bubble ...) Bob Knight said so openly, but there were other coaches who seem to have had that in mind. Maybe Crean did, or maybe he forgot that games have 40 minutes and this one was going to end. Who knows? If IU did decide to hold back in this game, it could cost them - as of 1:54 PM, the Bracket Project had the Hoosiers just two spots ahead of Purdue for the final 3-seed, with Kentucky right behind Indiana. It doesn't take much to imagine one team - or both - moving up and dropping IU to a 4.

It's hard to explain how Indiana lost this one. Michigan shot .464 from the field, .286 from three. Robinson was 1 for 6, Zak Irvin 1 for 4, Derrick Walton 0 for 3. Indiana outrebounded the Wolverines by 10 and managed to draw 20 fouls on Michigan (not the most they've committed - they had 22 against Elon and 23 against Xavier in November - but the only other time they topped 20 was with 21 at Purdue). Yes, the Hoosiers shot 4 of 17 themselves from three. Yes, they had 14 turnovers, including the costly one by OG Anunoby that set up the winning shot. Still, this is a Michigan team that nearly lost to Northwestern the day before, but thanks to 61 crazy seconds, they'll face a red-hot Boiler squad for a spot in the conference finals.

Here's the tl;dr version of Aneesh's recap:

In case you were wondering if perhaps the folks at Purdue Research Park had developed a shrink ray that causes ranked opponents in your path to disappear, you need worry no longer: it didn't work that well. Michigan State kicked off the second session by destroying Ohio State, 81-54, giving the Spartans a 5-1 record this season against the Buckeyes, 5-0 in 2016. (The women lost on 12/31 in Columbus and beat the Buckeyes in East Lansing and Indianapolis.) Denzel Valentine narrowly missed a triple-double in 31 minutes, with 19 points, 9 boards and 8 assists. It would probably have been the first in men's tournament play, only I can't tell because they don't track double-doubles in the record book either. The Spartans used a 14-2 run at the start of the second half to crush any hopes Ohio State had of pulling off the upset; another 14-0 run doubled their lead and gave Tom Izzo the opportunity to clear his bench. The Buckeyes will surely get an NIT bid (they're not even close to the bubble), while Michigan State gets to [ED: Hield's three was ruled to be after the buzzer] curse be thankful that a last-second three gave came too late to give probable 1-seed Oklahoma a one-point win over West Virginia and another chance to stay ahead in the race for the final spot on the top line.

They'll face Maryland, who ran up nearly 100 points on a Nebraska team playing its third game in three days and still found themselves within six points with 1:38 to play. If the Huskers hadn't dug themselves a 17-point first-half hole, they might well have had a shot at the Spartans Saturday. Then again, if they'd defended Maryland better, that might have worked, too. The Terrapins hit everything other than free throws - .603 from the field, .591 from three, .636 from the line - but were just +1 in rebounds and were -5 in turnovers. Shavon Shields put up 19 and 5, not quite double-double territory, and Andrew White III led the Huskers with 25 thanks to 5 for 10 shooting outside the arc, but Maryland's starters were just too much: all five scored in double figures, and they combined for 88 of the 97 points, led by Jake Laymen with 27 and Diamond Stone with 23. Melo Trimble had a Valentine-like game himself, with 16 points, 8 assists and 7 boards.

Maryland never trailed in the game, jumping out 4-0 and gradually stretching the lead to as much as 21 before Shields and Glynn Watson scored the last four points of the half, heading to the locker room down 54-37. The Terrapins led by 25 less than 5 minutes into the second half, but Nebraska ran off 8 straight to restore the halftime margin. The lead moved back up to 21 just before the under-8 timeout, and Maryland led 90-72 after a Trimble layup at 4:49. A 14-2 Huskers run capped by three straight White threes cut the lead to six, but Nebraska would not score again, and five Maryland free throws set the final margin at 11. 

Saturday schedule

Game 11 - #8 Michigan (22-11) vs #4 Purdue (25-7), 1:00 PM on CBS
Previous meetings: 1/7 at Purdue (P 87-70), 2/13 at Michigan (UM 61-56)
NCAA status: Purdue 4-seed, Michigan 11-seed

It's easy to say that on a semi-neutral court, the Boilers should win this one easily, but conference tournaments are notoriously difficult to predict, and while it's hard to imagine Purdue giving away this game near the end, that's exactly what happened in Ann Arbor, as the Boilers led 56-50 with 3 minutes to play but couldn't finish the job. The Good Guys got inside play against Illinois that seemed good enough to beat any team, much less one with depth issues like Michigan (per mgoblog, Ricky Doyle was hurt against Northwestern, which doesn't leave many minutes behind Mark Donnal), but they've also shot poorly enough on occasion to lose to any decent team, and a team that can beat Indiana on a semi-neutral court is certainly a decent team.

Both teams have something to play for: Purdue wants to get off the 4 line that gives them Kansas, Villanova, Virginia or OU/MSU in the Sweet 16, while Michigan just wants to get in the dang thing. The Wolverines' defensive problems and depth issues are probably too much for them to overcome, and the triumvirate of Hammonster, BIGGIETIME and Chef against the worst two-point defense in the conference will build a Purdue lead that not even a second-half trap by Michigan can overcome. (Oh, you know it's coming, and you know it will force at least one turnover from PICKING UP THE DANG BALL AND WAITING.) But Michigan can still slip into the Dance, steal an 11 seed (UPDATE: as of the 10:36 AM update, they have one) and, I dunno, knock out Notre Dame in the first round or something, just because that would be funny.

Game 12 - #2 Michigan State (27-5) vs #3 Maryland (25-7), 3:30 PM on CBS
Previous meeting: 1/23 at Michigan State (MSU 74-65)
NCAA status: Michigan State 2-seed, Maryland 5-seed

The earlier meeting was the one that began the run that boosted the Spartans briefly to kenpom #1 before sliding back to their current #3 spot. MSU showed why they lead the country in rebounding margin by outrebounding the Terrapins 46-36; Denzel Valentine had a monster line (19/14/8), Matt Costello had a double-double (15 and 12), and Diamond Stone was held to 6 points in 25 minutes, while Robert Carter fouled out and Jake Layman ended up with 4.

The problem with that game is that the Spartans aren't good at shooting threes ... HAHA just kidding. They lead the nation in 3P% (.436), but they shot just .304 in East Lansing and still managed 1.14 PPP. Maryland's offense is turnover-prone (19.4% overall, 257th; 18.8%, 13th in conference play), yet they only had 9 turnovers in January. In other words, Michigan State had two areas of strength that didn't come into play and they still won by 9, and that was before they ran off 11 wins in 12 games. It's hard to see this Spartan team doing anything but rolling past Maryland for a chance to avenge their only loss in that stretch. Will it be Purdue and Michigan State in the Big 14 title game on Sunday? I think so.

Current NCAA Projections

  • Michigan State: up one spot to last 1-seed (ESPN: in St. Louis vs. UNC-Asheville and then Colorado/Temple winner)
  • Indiana: fourth 3-seed (ESPN: down to 4-seed in Providence vs Stony Brook and then Maryland/Yale winner?? Come on, Lunardi, you know it can't work that way)
  • Purdue: third 4-seed (ESPN: in Denver vs Northern Iowa and then Iowa State/Akron winner)
  • Maryland: fourth 4-seed (ESPN: in Providence vs Yale and then Indiana/Stony Brook winner - see above comment about WHY THIS CAN'T HAPPEN)
  • Iowa: down four spots to second 7-seed (ESPN: in Denver vs Gonzaga and then Utah/Hawaii winner)
  • Wisconsin: down two spots to third 7-seed (ESPN: down to 7 seed in Spokane vs Cincinnati and then Oregon/Weber State winner)
  • Michigan: last 11-seed (ESPN: third team out, up three spots)

UPDATE: The latest composite, from 10:59 PM last night, did not change, which means Michigan didn't get much of a boost yet from the Indiana win. Lunardi "fixed" the Indiana/Maryland problem ... by swapping Purdue and Indiana. Come on, man.

UPDATE 2: The 10:36 AM composite did change: MSU up to the last 1, Purdue down to the third 4 because of Texas A&M, Maryland up to the fourth 4, Iowa down to the second 7, and Michigan up to the last 11. Lunardi also moved Michigan up to the first team out.

And just for you, my friends, courtesy of dratings.com ... these have also been updated since my original post.

Current NIT Projections

  • Ohio State, third 5-seed

Note that they project Michigan to be the third 9-seed (!), which means no NIT projection. Obviously they would be a 1-seed if they don't make the NCAAs.

Boilers Rout UM by 17; Move to Conference Tourney Finals

Boilers Rout UM by 17; Move to Conference Tourney Finals

Boilers dominate Illini in the Big Ten Tournament, 89-58

Boilers dominate Illini in the Big Ten Tournament, 89-58