In case you’re getting tired of staring at boxes of numbers . . .
I missed this last week: Devin, the winner of our nontraditional bracket contest, is also the proprietor of College Basketball Chronotope, an IU basketball blog. To reward him for his prognosticating acumen (unlike traditional pools, picking all four #1 seeds didn’t guarantee success in our contest), click through and read his thoughts on the national championship game and Tom Crean, among other topics.
Early on, it appears Tom Crean’s move to IU may actually be improving MSU’s recruiting outlook. The Spartans are now in the mix for 6’7″ junior Jamil Wilson of Racine Wisconsin, a top-ten recruit nationally. The article includes speculation that Izzo may have backed off previously since Crean was recruiting Wilson. (Hat tip: UMHoops.)
Lake the Posts pays homage to the “One Shining Moment” tradition, noting how it neatly encapsulates why college basketball’s postseason is superior to college football’s. On a related note, I was disappointed there were no Spartans in this year’s video. Neitzel’s shake-and-bake 3-point make against Pitt would have fit in nicely. Here’s the consolation prize:
Paging Jim S has been reviewing the Gopher basketball season. His latest post breaks down the Gopher defense under Tubby Smith, noting the increased turnovers. The tempo-free numbers indicate their defensive TO% increased a full 5.6 percentage points from 2007 to 2008–a sign that Smith’s system is taking hold even before he has the talent to go with it.
Wisconsin Badger Sports asks the opposite question of the one we Spartans are usually left pondering: Why do Bo Ryan teams perform so well in the regular season but seem incapable of making a long run in the Big Dance?
Badgercentric looks at Ryan’s use of the redshirt season, asserting that Brian Butch’s redshirt season proved worthwhile. I’m working on a spreadsheet to look at MSU’s roster trends over the course of the Izzo era. One preliminary note: He’s never redshirted a scholarship guard as a freshman, while’s he’s redshirted a majority of the big men. Ponder this; we’ll discuss it later.
In terms of how the Big Ten basketball scene will look next year, the first domino to fall wasn’t a surprise: Eric Gordon went pro. The remaining big question in terms of early departures is whether Koustos Koufos will bolt to play for money, either in the NBA or in Greece. Eleven Warriors speculates that recruiting developments may indicate Koufos’ departure is more likely than not. In other developments, Michigan’s Ekpe Udoh and Illinois’ Rodney Alexander may be considering transfers.
Last but not least, MGoBlog posted a sociological analysis of Spartan nation last week. I won’t do a full rebuttal here since (1) MGoBlog is an Official Benefactor of the Spartans Weblog due to the amount of readership he’s directed here and (2) a good portion of his commentary deals with things not related to the extremely narrow topic of, you know, sports. But I do want to comment on a couple of the items he says “Green and White people like.” The first item:
Basketball. This is natural when you’re the “state” — or, like, “commonwealth” in Virginia — school in any state with a flagship U-of that consistently beats the hell out of you in football, but State fans take it to a preposterous extreme. Anecdotal evidence from just last week: after Michigan took out Clarkson we decided to hang around the bar we were at for a while to catch a portion of the CC-Michigan State game, Michigan State being the one team Michigan did not want to face at any point during the tournament. At the same time, Derrick Rose and company were busy beating the everliving hell out of Michigan State.
Ann Arbor is the reluctant home of many Spartan fans and the owners of this place are alums, I believe, so the place was packed with brahs, all of whom looked like… well, probably a lot like I did during this year’s Ohio State game. They were purely miserable. Meanwhile, the hockey team was a huge underdog — a third place CCHA team playing the WCHA champs at altitude on an Olympic rink on their home ice — and scored. No reaction whatsoever from anyone except the Michigan fans still around. They scored again. No reaction. At this point we start pointing at the televisions carrying the hockey game and begging them to pay attention to their very successful hockey team that’s about to pull off a killer upset.
(Note: Apparently, I’m supposed to know what “brah” means.)
The implication of the paragraphs above is that the hierarchy of Division 1 sports looks like this:
2. Basketball, hockey, and all other college sports
In the real world, of course, the NCAA tournament is, arguably, the one American sporting event that captures the attention of any person living in this country with any sort of marginal interest in sports for a multi-week period every year (example: the secretary at your office who won $100 in the tournament pool last week). Yet somehow the level of interest we Spartans take in the sport is “preposterous.”
Brian is a big hockey fan, which is fine. I wouldn’t for a moment bash fandom of any particular sport (as it happens, both he and I are soccer fans). I would conjecture, though, that I fall into the category of the majority of people who identify themselves as MSU or Michigan fans: we don’t follow or care about hockey.
When Michigan falls behind in the Rose Bowl, do their fans go channel surfing for other Wolverine sports teams in action that day? Or do they stick it out and watch the team they really care about, hoping against hope for a miracle comeback?
Anyway, yes, we like basketball. And, yes, we probably like it to a “preposterous extreme,” in light of the fact we’re pretty good at it. But liking major sports to a “preposterous extreme” is a pretty standard activity in modern America, no? Without such activity, the sports blogosphere would, I dare say, not exist.
A second item we Spartans apparently like too much is the movie 300. Now, I’ll concede that, at some point, we should probably stop producing youtube videos interspersing clips from the movie with highlights from recent athletic seasons. Of course, the other extreme is to basically disown one’s mascot. Try this experiment: Go to a retail outlet carrying Michigan sports paraphernalia and see how many items you can find with a picture of a wolverine on them. I’ll bet if someone made a movie with a giant Block M as the hero, the Ann Arbor movie theaters would be packed.
At the end of the day, I’ll cut our friend at MGoBlog a little slack. He does concede this:
I’m not sure if this is a compliment or an insult or what, but at this point State basketball fans are basically Michigan football fans, except with more brah, brah.
(On the other hand, I’d say Michigan State football fans are a tad more passionate than are Michigan basketball fans . . .)