Under The Microscope: Northeastern, South Carolina, and Michigan


Image courtesy of microscope.com

Welcome one, welcome all to another cool installment where I dig deep into certain school’s resumes–long before longtime CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg can utter out the phrase, the “eye test”.

I decided to utilize my key data from the Rivals site on Yahoo.com instead of my past site of CBSSports.com, since their mostly mobile friendly site is very difficult to read on most desktops and laptops.  But I still have the main crux of the data ready for your reading pleasure.

Between here and early March, I will chime in periodically with some names of schools that on the surface may sound tournament worthy, but after a second and third glance researching key numbers and statistics–these stats along with the much ballyhooed RPI ranking are some of the key criteria the Division One Selection Committee will be deciphering with their fancy spreadsheets heading into Selection Sunday.

Northeastern, Colonial Athletic Association

Current Record:  9-5, 2-0 in league play.

RPI:  87, tied with UNC Asheville, KenPom.com ranking:  113.

Key Win:  Michigan State.

Bad Stat:  3-3 against the RPI’s teams ranked 200-351.

Analysis:  Too early to tell, but it is a real dogfight shaping up, as they are tied at 2-0 in CAA play with North Carolina-Wilmington, James Madison, and the College of Charleston.

Percentage Chance of reaching the Big Dance:  50 percent, they would have to finish in at least the top 3 in conference play and win the CAA Tournament.  With having a 208 ranking in terms of overall strength of schedule, it would not surprise me at the least which team will be left standing in March as far as which school will be cutting down the nets to earn the automatic bid.

South Carolina Gamecocks, Southeastern Conference

Current Record:  11-3, 1-0 in league play.

RPI:  41, KenPom ranking:  34.

Analysis:  They are second in Defensive Efficiency at 88.9 points given up per 100 possessions.  Louisville is tops at 86.8, according to KenPom.

Key Wins:  November 23  vs. Michigan and November 26 vs. Syracuse.

Bad Stat:  1-2 against the RPI’s Top 50.

Analysis:  It comes down to their trip at Rupp Arena and top ranked Kentucky on January 21 before I call them a possible Tournament team.  With their current team stats in the lower half of the nation in points and rebounds, the defense is going to have to come up huge.

Percentage Chance of reaching the Big Dance:  33 percent.

Michigan Wolverines, Big Ten Conference

Current Record:  11-4, 1-1 in league play.  1-3 against the RPI’s Top 50.

RPI:  69, KenPom:  33.

Bad Losses:  November 23 at South Carolina and November 30 at Virginia Tech.

Analysis:  The Wolverines are 18th in Overall offensive efficiency per 100 possessions at 115.7.  Key games coming up include at Madison to face Wisconsin on ESPN’s “Super Tuesday”, January 17 (8 p.m. Eastern time tip) and hosting slumping Indiana on the 26th (8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2).  But the game I am looking forward to the most is when Crisler Arena will be jumping when they lock horns with their intrastate rival and Michigan State on Tuesday, February 7.

Percentage Chance of reaching the Big Dance:  65 percent.  I arrived at this number because Shannon Ryan from the Chicago Tribune recently pointed out that some schools in the last few years that had a final RPI ranking between 60 and 70 plus was victorious in at least one game in the Big Ten tournament earned one of the final NCAA bids.  One might recall Michigan used that one buzzer beater to sink Indiana and that catapulted them into the Big Dance.  But it is a mostly favorable schedule, provided that Coach Jon Beilein can divvy up the minutes between the starters and give the bench players some much added exposure if key players such as Derrick Walton and D.J. Wilson end up in foul trouble.





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