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Preview: Ground Zero East Lansing

Ground Zero East Lansing

Ground Zero East Lansing (G0EL) is a blog dedicated to Michigan State Sporting events, and does not in any way condone or advocate burning East Lansing to the ground, no matter how flammable that couch looks on your porch.

Updated: 2018-03-06T16:37:53.923-05:00


This Blog Has an Expiration Date...


That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm going to be blogging more frequently once MSU ends its run in the NCAAs. Where? I can't say yet, there are details being worked out and such.

Just know that even though this blog is coming to end, I'll still be around, albeit somewhere else.

Now get ready for what might be the most unpredictable Big 10 tournament in years, which means that'll probably play out according to seed. That'd be fine by me.

Five Things...I Liked about the Minnesota Game.


That was refreshing. The score was 13-8 about eight minutes into the first half, MSU had turned it over a few times, and then...

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Hysteria. The only time I can recall a first half going that well for the Spartans was the Ohio State four or five years ago when they shot about 80% for the first half. Even then, the defense wasn't nearly as good. Here's five things I liked about the game.

5. The field goal defense
Minnesota's shooting: 3-12 from three, 15-52 total for a FG percentage of 28.8%. Yay to not being victimized by a red-hot shooter, and double yay for showing the Big Ten that the Spartans still have a defense.

4. The "WASH YOUR FACE" chant
Cruel to Colton Iverson? Yes. Unnecessary? Of course. Funny? Yup. The pressure must be causing him to breakout, because I don't know how your face goes from this in high school:

(image) To this (on the far left):

3. The remergence of Chris Allen as a shooting threat
13 points on 4-7 shooting for Allen, 2-3 FT, 2-4 on three-pointers. He's now out of the slump, which is more important since...

2. The ability to win big without Raymar
He'll be back over he gets over the walking pneumonia/Spanish Flu/Captain Trips that he has, but Final Four teams have to show that they can function at a high level without one of their best players.

1. Winning on the home court again
Self-explanatory. MSU needed a win at home after the Northwestern and Penn State debacles, and got one. They're still one game clear of the rest of the Big Ten, and that probably won't change against Indiana in a few days.

Tomorrow: Five reasons why we'll beat Indiana, which is about four more reasons than necessary.

This Blog's Direction + Bonus Minnesota Preview


Hey y'all, sorry about the delay. I was thinking about changing the direction of this blog into more of a place where I post daily, but shorten the length of the posts a bit to keep up with the demands Chemical Engineering places on me. In that scenario, I'd have something up by about 9:30-10 AM every day, but would just be a brief rundown of things that happened to MSU the previous day. I'll have the prototype post up tomorrow morning, let me know if it strikes your fancy.

As for the Minnesota game today, if Suton's healthy (he hyperextended his knee in Monday's practice, he says he'll play, but I still hyperventilated a bit when I heard), MSU wins. If not, we need two things:

- Roe to make up for the offensive boards we'll miss

- Blake Hoffarber not to pull a Kevin Coble/Talor Battle and hit everything within halfcourt.

Call it MSU by five, and we'll take it, especially with the Purdue loss @ OSU yesterday.

The 3x3 Preview: Oakland


Welcome to the way that I'll be doing most of my basketball previews from now, the 3x3 preview. In this segment, I'll state three strengths of the opposing team, three of their weaknesses, and three things State needs to do to win. That said, let's get to the preview.DOSSIER ON THE OAKLAND (MI) GRIZZLIESKenpom Rank: 149W-L Record: 8-6Conference Record (Summit League): 1-1Best Wins: @Oregon, @Wisconsin-Green BayNoteworthy Losses: @Syracuse (by 20), @ Iowa (by 9), Michigan @ the Palace (by 13)THREE REASONS TO SHOW A MODICUM OF CONCERN The Grizzlies are above average offensive rebounders. Anyone watching the Texas game knows that one of the main barriers to Michigan State blowing the game wide open was that they allowed Texas to get position inside and collect their missed shots at a high clip. I'm not saying that Oakland will show the same propensity to grab their misfires, but it is something to be aware of, as they rebound 36.4% of their missed shots, good enough to put them in the top quarter of Division I. This has helped them score more than a point per possession (Offensive efficiency of 107.2, which puts them in the upper tier of Division I teams).They can block shots, if given the chance. Oakland blocks 11.2% of opponents' shots, and that is good enough to put them 79th in Division I in that category. However, as we'll soon see, that's about the only aspect of their defensive game that is above average.They almost beat MSU last year. At the Breslin. The Grizzlies played Michigan State close last year when they lost 75-71 in East Lansing. These bears won't be intimidated by the Green and White.THREE REASONS TO NOT GO OVERBOARD AND PREDICT AN OAKLAND WINThe Grizzlies are a terrible, TURRIBLE defensive team. They give up 1.055 points per possession, which puts them on top...of the worst 25% teams in the NCAA. Their big Achilles' Heel is interior defense, where they allow 50.9% of twos to be made. Michigan State takes a great many more twos than threes (only 24% of MSU's shots are threes, that is extremely low), so look for this point to be heavily exploited.Goran Suton is back. No one should be better able to exploit the shoddy interior defense of Oakland than the Bosnian Bomber, who missed only one shot in the victory against Texas. Expect surprisingly graceful drives to the basket and 12-14 footers to drop from the big man.Did I mention the Grizzlies give up a lot of offensive rebounds. For as good as Oakland is in collecting rebounds, they're just as bad in giving them up, as they allow their opponents to rebound their misses about 39% of the time. I wouldn't worry about it if I were the Grizzlies, it's not like Izzo stresses offensive rebounds or anything like that.THREE THINGS THE SPARTANS NEED TO DODo not allow second chances. Oakland's been good at collecting offensive rebounds, and they have a couple of 6-10/6-11 players who can put those rebounds back in if need be. Take away those chances and see if Oakland can make the shots.Go inside, and keep going inside. Despite that height on the interior, Oakland still has weak two point defense. Suton, Morgan and Roe need to go inside and keep going inside.Make free throws. Going inside is going to translate to many trips to the foul line. Here's where Delvon can't have a repeat of the Texas game, when he made none of his foul shots in six attempts.WHAT WILL (BUT PROBABLY WON'T) HAPPENSuton and Morgan get inside repeatedly, but Oakland gets enough offensive rebounds to make it a game in the first half. In the second half, Michigan State starts to own the boards and pulls away.FINAL SCORE: MSU 82, OAKLAND 65[...]

Merry Christmas at Ground Zero


Thanks to all those who have read this blog this year, and have kept this little operation going. I was going to have a recap of Spartan Sports, but Fighting with a Vim did a good job of it at this post, and I am nothing if not an opportunist.

Also, it's going to be a great Christmas at Ground Zero.

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My gift to you will be a bit belated: before the turn of the new year, expect previews of the Oakland game and Capital One Bowl, as well as a recap of the Oakland game. Big Ten previews will start with the Northwestern game, as I will be in Chicago at an Ohio State bar of all places to ring it in.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and nothing but the best to you and yours this season.

Longhorn'd - The Texas Preview


The Dossier on Texas:

  • Win-Loss Record: 9-1
  • Best Wins: UCLA, Villanova (Neutral Court), Oregon
  • The Loss: Notre Dame (@ Maui)
  • #5 in both AP/Coaches' Polls
  • #22 in Kenpom ranking
  • Defend, especially on the interior. Texas is the #12 team in the nation in defensive efficiency; their opponents score 0.833 points per possession (anything under 1 is pretty good, get that number below 0.85 and we're talking national title contender). They're also one of the best blocking teams in the nation. Texas blocks 17.6% of all opponents' shots.
  • Shoot the dang three. Well, this item bodes well. Texas' leading scorer, A.J. Abrams, has been shooting 47% from behind the arc. He's also averaging about 36 minutes a games so expect to see him a lot. Texas also has two other players shooting above 38% on their threes (Damion James and Connor Atchley, the latter of which looks like he was kidnapped from the Bo Ryan Cloning Facility of Tall White Guys that Can Shoot), which will spell trouble for the Spartans if their three point defense stays mediocre.
  • Hold onto the ball. Texas only turns over the ball about 13 times a game, a little better than average. Don't expect to rip the ball away from Abrams, he only turns it over about once per game.
  • Anything involving the free throw line. The Longhorns shoot 61.2% from the foul line, 307th in Division I. They have four players in their main rotation that shoot under 60%, so if the game is close in the end, there should always be a favorable person to foul.
  • Their offensive percentage inside the arc is strikingly average. UT shoots 48% on their twos, and that percentage puts them at 171st in the nation.
  • But yet they still take many more twos than threes. Only 25% of Texas' shots are threes, despite how well they shoot the ball from 20 feet, nine inches.
  • Chris Allen becomes unconscious behind the arc. Texas has a very strong interior defense, so accurate perimeter shooting will be pivotal for extending the interior defense and creating cracks for passing lanes inside. Allen can help immensely if he makes Texas guard him anywhere inside 25 feet.
  • By being unafraid to foul anywhere inside the arc. This point is tailor-made for Raymar to excel. Make Texas earn a victory by hitting their foul shots.
  • HOLD ONTO THE CONSARNED BALL! Self-explanatory, no stats needed.

I believe that this game is going to be nip and tuck all the way through. However, I think MSU is going to create their own undoing with a few too many turnovers and a few too many Abrams threes.

Texas 73, MSU 65.

The Aftermath - The Citadel


Another day, another win, but this one was semi-close all the way through. MSU stormed out to an 18 point lead, but that lead was cut to eight by halftime. The second half was back and forth with MSU holding leads oscillating between 6 and 14 points until the game mercifully ended. What do we know?
  • The Citadel completed 40% (10-25) of their three pointers. This sounds bad, but if you saw a game, you witnessed the Bulldogs hitting a few threes from five feet behind the arc. If I saw this stat without watching the game I'd say that stat would be a cause for alarm, but watching the game, I would call it a cause for minor concern.
  • That Raymar continues to do two things - dominate teams with lesser talent and get in foul trouble. His 26 points and 10 boards were good, but once again, he had four fouls by about midway through the second half.
  • It didn't look like MSU shot many three pointers, but upon review, they were 2 for 9, with Chris Allen having a 1-6 off night. Perhaps the reason for this was that they were very successful inside the arc; they shot 52.9% of their twos.
  • Free throw shooting continues to be a point of mediocrity. 65% will not get it done during the Big Ten season. The main offenders once again are those who you would mainly suspect, as Gray and Roe combined to go 6 for 12.
  • The good news: Michigan State out rebounded the Citadel by 7. The bad news: The Bulldogs grabbed 15 offensive rebounds. Yikes.
  • I didn't notice the turnovers too much, but my eyebrows raised when I saw the number "5" in Travis's row for turnovers.
Here's where I insert the typical "an ugly win is still a win" sentiment, which is almost always followed by "they'll have to play a lot better to win against better teams" sentiment. Those thoughts are typical because they're true, and going down to Houston to play Texas will need an improvement in play. However, I'll wait until tomorrow to preview the Longhorns. As for now, be glad that this game can now safely be ignored and start getting pumped for Saturday.

A Brief Preview of The Citadel


What is The Citadel, you ask? The Citadel, aka the Military College of South Carolina, was founded in Charleston in 1844. Less than two decades later, Fort Sumter in Charleston was attacked, and the Civil War (or the War of Yankee Arrogance, depending on where in this country you were taught) began. I'm not saying the two are related, but I am heavily, heavily urging you to reach that conclusion on your own. Now, about 150 years later, MSU looks to score one for the Yanks. Here's the rundown of The Citadel's team.
  • The Citadel's record is 5-5 this season, with wins against schools you didn't even know were schools, such as Grace Bible, Cincinnati Christian, and Charleston Southern.
  • In other news, Charleston is apparently big enough to have a directional school.
  • And the losses? They lost to Iowa by 22 and Virginia Commonwealth by 23.
  • On, they're the 320th ranked team out of a total 344 teams (take that, North Carolina Central!), and their defense is ranked 332nd - worse than Alcorn State, who you last saw being depantsed in the Breslin Center.
  • The one thing they've done well so far - hit the offensive boards. They're the 44th ranked team in offensive rebounding percentage (measures how often a team grabs an offensive rebound off a miss). 40% of their shots are from behind the three point line (uh oh), but they make less than 30% of those shots (relief). predicts an 85-52 MSU win, with a zero percent chance of The Citadel winning. This game will mainly be a tune-up for the big game in Houston on Saturday against Texas. Suton has been practicing since Monday, and hopefully he gets a few minutes of playing time. That said, I expect this game to be a bit slower than the Alcorn State game, but still should be an easy win because the Spartans are playing a low-major team, and are playing at home.

Prediction: MSU 92, The Citadel 64.

I'm back, with a response to an MSU editorial


Well, finals kicked my butt, but I'm back, mainly in response to a post on Spartan Nation about MSU's lack of commitment to agribusiness in Michigan. My responses to selected portions of the post can be seen posted below; my main criticism is that the article smacks of oversimplification of the vast economic problems facing Michigan right now, and puts the onus on MSU to save Michigan. The excerpts from Spartan Nation's post is offset, I trust you'll be able to discern my responses.Sports-related content to come tonight, now that heat exchanger design is no longer my main concern.Ugh. As an MSU student right now, I believe that this article oversimplifies many of the problems facing Michigan today.I am not interested in rich oil barons sending their sons and daughters to MSU Dubai. I am interested in seeing Detroit turn around with a commitment to bioeconomy through education. I am not against the Dubai campus, it will open opportunity for agrieducation to a brand new corridor. I am asking if the emphasis is being placed in the right places?These ideas are not mutually exclusive.How many people from inner city Detroit would like a job that pays 25-30K? With all of the warehousing space and the access to shipping lanes, Detroit could be an economic power in food processing. Problem is that MSU doesn’t even have a program in food processing. This is particularly disgusting considering the diversified fruit and vegetable markets that continue to boom in our back yards.Detroit's problems go way past MSU not creating jobs there. In 2006, Detroit had an abysmal graduation rate of 21.7% for its high-school students. The problem isn't that MSU doesn't offer food processing, it's that the majority of kids from Michigan's largest city will fail to graduate high school, which presents more problems than one university can handle.So while society is brainwashed into believing that higher standardized test scores and GPA’s result in a higher quality graduate, does it benefit the state of Michigan? Are MSU graduates today better prepared to deal with the problems of tomorrow more than they were ten or even twenty years ago? Are MSU grads any smarter or more capable than they were ten or twenty years ago? I don’t think so.So what should MSU's criteria for admission be? Having each prospective student sign a statement vowing to stay in Michigan after they graduate? Should a 2.5 student who pledges to stay in Michigan beg given preference over a 4.0 out-of-state student? Like it or not, test scores and GPA are the best indicator we presently have as a society to predict a student's future success. Are MSU grads smarter than they previously were? I'd like to think so, due in part to the academic competition that has bubbled to the surface.I have heard numerous people talk badly about Ohio State because they “let everyone in.” Anyone think that OSU is less prestigious than MSU? How are OSU’s sports teams year in and year out? The truth is that OSU abides by the very principles that gave the university life. Unlike MSU, Ohio State sees that access is the most important thing.This is partly true. While Ohio State as a whole is open to any graduate from an Ohio high school, admission is only guaranteed to its satellite campuses (Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark). Admission to the Columbus campus is competitive and works exactly like any other Big Ten University. In fact, you praise Ohio State for admitting everyone, but the Columbus Campus' average SAT and ACT scores for the freshman class are higher than MSU's! The only reason Ohio State admits everyone is that some of those admitted students go to a regional OSU campus. Should MSU construct regional campuses like OSU's? I'm not sure where the money would come from for that.The luxury suites in Spartan Stadium are fit for kings and queens. They are truly a m[...]

A Concise PSU-MSU Preview


Three things MSU must do to win:
  • Someway, somehow, get turnovers while holding onto the ball. In the games against the better teams that they've won (Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin), the Spartans had a positive turnover margin. This'll have to happen again, and I give it about a 50-50 shot of happening.
  • Ringer must run successfully, especially to the outside. It seems to be every time Ringer tries to bounce it outside, he'll end up getting a couple yards, which is much better than running it straight into PSU's extremely capable front seven. Only Shonn Greene has been able to be successful running the ball this year against the Nittany Lions. However, Iowa has a better OL than MSU, and I'm just not sure the linemen can move fast enough to provide the necessary blocks. The chances that Ringer goes over 100 yards and averages over 4.0 YPC - 15%.
  • The defense cannot allow more than 2 plays of more than 20 yards. Penn State's offense may seem to be completing fewer big plays lately, and hopefully, that's the way that'll stay. However, with playmakers like Derrick Williams and Evan Royster on offense, one never knows when they'll bust a big play. Chances of this happening: 35%.
Multiplying 0.5*0.15*0.35 = A 2.63% chance of MSU winning this game. This seems about right. Hey, at least there's a chance, but it goes without saying that I'd feel much more comfortable if Anthony Morelli was behind center for Penn State. MSU will try their best, but fall short. A New Year's Day bowl is nothing to scoff at, and my only complaint is that the Outback Bowl starts at 10 AM Central Time.

Final Score: PSU 27, MSU 13.

The Aftermath - IPFW


On a game which MSU was expected to win, they did...but getting to the win was a bumpy, bumpy ride, which the 70-59 score might not indicate. MSU's points per possession (OP^3) was good (70 points for 63 possessions = 1.11 points per possession, anything above one is good), and their defense was...meh, as 0.95 points per possesion (DP^3, the inverse of OP^3 - here, anything below one is good, but I was expecting more against IPFW) were allowed. As I was listening to the game online, I kept asking myself, how could the game be this close? I went through the usual suspects:
  • Turnovers? Surprisingly, turnovers aren't the main culprit. MSU turned the ball over a lot in the first half, but finished the game with 10 total turnovers, three less than IPFW's 13.
  • Free Throw Shooting? Slightly out of the norm, with Spartan players going 19-28 from the line (67.9%). If MSU shoots their typical 75-80%, they win by 13 instead of 11. Still, the shaky performance is not solely the fault of below average foul shots. Point to take completely out of context on message boards: Delvon Roe was 1-4 on free throws.
  • Rebounding? Back to normal after getting outrebounded against Idaho. MSU recovered 38 rebounds to IPFW's 28, with 16 of those 38 coming on the offensive glass.
  • Bad three point shooting night? Now we're starting to get somewhere. MSU shot 27% on their threes. Compared to their 37% 3-point percentage from last year, that percentage fell off a bit. Let's consider those misfires the secondary cause.
  • Bad shooting defense? I didn't see the game, but according to the stats, this would appear to be the main cause of struggles tonight. IPFW shot 46% overall and 39% from three. Those values are much greater than the 40% and 31% respectively allowed last year. Hopefully this was just a hot shooting night for a couple players from IPFW; the stats show this to be the case as Ben Botts and David Carson were a combined 7-11 from three, all other IPFW players were 0-7. I hope the three-point defense isn't a trend, as Idaho shot 46% (6-13) from behind the arc.
What was good about this game? Raymar completely took over the game in the second half, making most of the key baskets to put IPFW away. Lucas was solid as well, chipping in 17 points, and three assists against one turnover. Delvon Roe scored his first points as a Spartan, putting in nine points on 4-7 shooting, and contributing a couple of blocks.

In conclusion, this game could've been disasterous, but it wasn't. For that, I am thankful, but let's hope that this game isn't a sign of things to come.

Big Ten Basketball Preview: The Dregs


Big Ten Basketball has already started in earnest yesterday, with Michigan defeating an over matched Husky team from Michigan Tech. Since I will not start paying heavy attention until MSU's season premiere against Idaho on Sunday, I figured I would start my preview now. Here are the dregs of the Big Ten, for which making the College Basketball Invitational at the end of the season (finally, an answer to the question: which Division 1 team is 98th best?) would be an accomplishment.One more note - If you want thought-out, statistical analysis of College Basketball, I cannot recommend Spartans Weblog highly enough. That said, he was not going to do an in-depth Big Ten preview, so hopefully I can fill that void with a little bit of thoughtful analysis and a lot of guessing. Without further ado:11. NorthwesternI toyed with putting Indiana with this spot, but then Northwestern lost their first exhibition game to Robert Morris, an NAIA school, and that was the last brick that sealed Willie Wildcat in his tomb, crying for his cask of Amontillado.Player to know: Kevin Coble - Probably most well known for taking part of last season off to take care of his mother stricken with cancer, the 6-8 forward would have most likely been All Big-Ten Preseason if he had played in more games last season. That said, if Northwestern has any chance this season, he'll have to average 30 ppg, 15 rebounds per game, and make the special 10 point basket from Rock 'n Jock 20 feet above the hardwood.This season will be a success if...They have a winning record this season.This season will be a failure if... It's Northwestern. How much worse could it get.10. IowaIowa, Iowa, Iowa. Two years ago you were upset by a 14 seed in the NCAAs, and in the past year, they turned the ball over every one in four times they had possession (thanks College Basketball Prospectus!). They'd have hope if their two top scorers didn't leave this past season (Justin Johnson to graduation, Tony Freeman to transfer), and the young Hawkeyes look to spend another year in the dregs. They shouldn't be down long though, not with Todd Lickliter (the previous mastermind at Butler) as their head coach.Player to know: Jake Kelly - He's an anomaly in the shell of a 6-6 wing, as in his three-point FG percentage (43.5%) last year was better than his overall FG percentage (40.8%). If Iowa has any shot at a competitive season, he'll have to maintain his clip from beyond 20 feet, nine inches, and improve his shot within the perimeter.This season will be a success if... The Hawkeyes get a few upsets in Carver Arena (not like the 42-36 abomination MSU suffered. Watch that game, and you can literally see the rims replaced by peach baskets.), and set themselves in position to win a first-round Big Ten tournament game.This season will be a failure if... Iowa doesn't progress, and the lengthened three-pointer affects shooting more than thought. If that occurs, look for fans to pine for the days of Steve Alford.9. IndianaIndiana's postseason could be defined in two words: scorched earth. Goodbye Kelvin Sampson, goodbye everyone who played meaningful minutes. Senior wing Kyle Taber was the sole survivor, and now under Tom Crean, the Hoosiers hope to reach to the stars and grab ten wins by the tail. The new talent isn't anything to write home about; none of Tom Crean's seven recruits for this year were ranked over three stars by Rivals. Still, I'm intrigued. Crean's a good coach, and with no expectations, this team might pull a couple surprises. Then again, it might duke it out with Northwestern for 10th place like two hobos fighting over a bindle.Player to know: Kyle Taber - As in if you're an Indiana fan, he'll be the only player you know from last year (and no, I didn't forget about Br[...]

Big Ten Roundtable - Antepenultimate edition


It's been a while since there's been one of these. Here we go...1) With two weeks left in the season, it's safe to say that most schools have reached the point where the year has been a success or a disappointment. How has your school fared this year in your opinion? Or, is the jury still out?Needless to say, this season has been a rip-roaring success for MSU, with the high points being the game-winning kick to beat Wisconsin and the first win in Ann Arbor since 1990. The only black mark on Michigan State's record is that they've lost to the two best teams they've faced (debatable depending on whether you believe Iowa is better than Cal), but on the other hand, the Spartans have beaten every team they should have beaten, and when is the last time that happened? Now they get to play Penn State in a de facto Big Ten Championship game. I'm not too excited for the Spartans to go to Happy Valley, and I'm going to give this point its own paragraph to hammer it home.The last time MSU beat Penn State in Happy Valley, Joe Paterno was an assistant coach (1965).A young Joe Paterno teaches the intricacies of the flying wedge.Now that's perspective. Despite what is an almost sure loss, a 9-3 record is better than what anyone predicted (I hinted at it, but didn't have the balls to predict nine wins). 2) Is your school heading to a bowl? If so, which one? And if not, WTF? Hell yes MSU's going to a bowl. The most likely destination is the Capital One Bowl, against a team that will most likely be Georgia. However, MSU has a small chance at the Rose Bowl if:Ohio State loses one of the next two games (@Illinois, Michigan, both unlikely losses for the Buckeyes) ANDMichigan State beats Penn State in Beaver Stadium (more unlikely).Thus, Michigan State is guaranteed a New Year's day bowl. Whether it's the Rose, Capital One or Outback (if OSU and PSU both don't receive BCS bids) remains to be seen.3) The Big Ten has recently had a hard time getting respect among the national media as a top conference. Has the Big Ten taken a step forward or a step backward in this debate this season? Well, to have taken a step forward, the Big Ten would've needed its best nonconference win to be better than Penn State crushing Oregon State. Take that fact and combine with the four losses the Big Ten has suffered at the hands at MAC teams (granted, three of those losses were suffered by Indiana and Michigan, BUT STILL), and that totals a step backward for the Big Ten. However, I state that opinion with the caveat that a great bowl record can put the Big Ten on solid ground again.If all else fails, repeat after me: "We're still better than the Big East and ACC."4) Would the Big Ten benefit from adding another school to create two divisions like the SEC, Big 12, ACC and MAC? And if so, which school should be added? Or, should we drop one school?The Big Ten should absolutely not drop a school, all of the others (with Penn State being the exception) have had at the very least a half-century in the conference, and one shouldn't mess with that kind of tradition. That said, the Big Ten should add a university. Pitt and Missouri seem to be the choices du jour, but I have a modest proposal: make Miami of Ohio the 12th team.First, the RedHawks are a great fit academically; they're a first tier public university. That leaves only the athletic aspect, which many might consider to be shaky, and for good reason. They're 2-7 in football this season. However, they made the NCAA tournament in 2007, and once they entered the Big Ten, I expect their recruiting to be elevated to the point where they could be on par with a Northwestern - a middle of the pack team with great academics. There's no reason not to believe that they c[...]

The Aftermath - General Thoughts about Week 11


  • MSU 21, Purdue 7, and the Spartans are playing for a share of the Big 10 title this year. Purdue had several chances to get back in the game (two Rex Grossman-like picks thrown by Hoyer, fumbles by Leggett and Ringer), but the defense was swarming today, and Purdue only scored a pity touchdown at the end to prevent the shutout.
  • I think that first interception affected Hoyer, and one could see him attempting to learn from the mistake, as he took off for 3-4 yard runs when no one was open. Sadly, he did not do this in the second half when he overthrew Cunningham (?) for the second pick.
  • Explanation for Michigan's suckitude the past 10 weeks: they've been saving up all the good plays to win the Little Brown Jug, which I'm sure Michigan fans will now hold higher than all those Rose Bowl victories. As for Minnesota, no explanation exists for their failure, the interception that Northwestern returned for a victory last week might have been the event that sends them into a tailspin where they finish 7-5. Still though, much improved after last year.
  • The only comment I have about the OSU-NU game is that the result was completely, utterly expected.
  • The other WTF of the day: Western Michigan beating Illinois at Ford Field. That does worry me slightly for next year. MSU has the same deal with Western @ Ford Field, but hopefully MSU can fill up the stands.
  • I was only slightly surprised that Iowa beat Penn State yesterday. If you've watched Iowa all year, you know that the only team that could stop Iowa was Iowa, and they only shot themselves in the foot once or twice compared to the five or six times in their losses. Congratulations to Iowa, even though...
  • The PSU loss has made it harder for MSU to get to the Rose Bowl. Now the Spartans need an OSU loss either @ Illinois or against Michigan, and MSU needs to beat PSU in Happy Valley, which last happened on the fifth of never. At any rate, MSU's most likely bowl destination is the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, and I'm elated about that.
Also, basketball? Starting? Like, next week? Hopefully a preview will be up next week, but no promises.

Vote, Consarnit!


The purpose of this post is two-fold:

1. To urge you to vote today, because it is mandated by law that all blogs must have some post regarding this topic on election day.

2. To prove I am not dead.

Big Ten picks later this week.



That's all I have to say. It feels so good to finally get a win in Ann Arbor. Javon Ringer, let no one say that you can't come through in the clutch ever again. Hoyer, if someone wants to bench you again, I will kick said person in the nuts.

That's all for now. More tomorrow, but I'm going to drink in downtown EL in a penguin suit.

Penguin suiting up,

G0EL Pete

Big Ten Picks, Week Nine


Michigan State 27, Michigan 13
See here for a complete explanation. In other news, Varsity Blue believes MSU has a turnover problem, citing the OSU game as evidence. Yet he completely forgets that MSU had a +10 turnover differential before that game, and that turnovers greatly aided the Iowa and Northwestern victories. Two words for ya buddy: statistical and outlier.

Northwestern 34, Indiana 13
Northwestern continues its march for a bowl game below the Mason-Dixon line. Its fan goes wild.

Illinois 24, Wisconsin 10
After this game, Bo Ryan makes his play to be the first football/basketball coach of this era. Expect to see a bunch of fundamentallly-sound white guys go up and down the field at a plodding pace. In other words, nothing will change.

Minnesota 41, Purdue 20
Purdue fans continue to count the days until Tiller makes his exit.

Ohio State 31, Penn State 27
Penn State remembers that they haven't played anyone with a pulse on the road this season. The Spread HD's flaws are spotlighted, and JayPa is sent to his bedroom without dinner.

On the MSU-UM Rivalry: an Admission, a Realization, and a Continuation.


I'll admit it - I grew up a Wolverine fan.My dad's buddies all went to MSU. My father, feeling the need to play the role of spoiler in their get-togethers, started to cheer for UM. Like his love for all of Detroit's pro teams (and that's not a reference to Ed Martin, unless you want it to be. Which I do.), that love spread to me, and I saw soon cheering for Desmond Howard, Tim Biakabatuka, the Fab Five, and the like. I became less of a college football fan in high school, when every weekend brought a new cross country invitational to attend, and thus my love for the college game waned. However, my fandom of Michigan did not, and when my ACT score came in the mail the summer before my senior year, I knew the application process would be all but a formality. I filled out the application and sent it in, along with Michigan State's, because I wanted to cover all the bases in case the Ann Arbor one fell through (make all the safety school cracks here you want Wolverines, it may be your only chance).My visit to Ann Arbor that November of my senior year was what I expected. The sky was gloomy, I viewed all the buildings, went inside a few, had lunch at Zingerman's with my Dad, and then headed home. A few weeks later, I received my acceptance letter for Michigan, and for some reason...I didn't turn it in immediately. I'm still not sure why to this day. I'm not implying this story is going to take a supernatural turn, I attribute my tardiness more to the laziness that creeps into a high school senior's life exponentially during the year.In February, I received an invitation from MSU to attend the Alumni Distinguished Scholarship competition. I accepted, mainly for the fact that I wanted a day off from school (once again, laziness creeping up on me). My parents drove me down to East Lansing and dropped me off at the Kellogg center to check in while they gallivanted around the Capital area for a day and a night. The first course of action was a bus tour of campus, and I was immediately struck by its beauty. The dorms of North Circle had a gothic charm like nothing I'd ever seen, and there were trees everywhere. During the evening, all the invitees were free to talk amongst themselves, and I found the people were just as amazing as the campus - funny, laid-back, and all-around awesome. I woke up in the morning, took the strangest test I'd ever taken in my life (if you've ever taken a test that includes Calculus, Greek and Roman Architecture, Literature Intrepretation and Biology on a single test, let me know), and headed for home. The main thought running through my head was this: "I had a great time at MSU, it's just too bad I won't be going there."Fast forward a month and a half later. I had done so well in the competition that I had a full tuition scholarship offer to MSU. I thought about the experiences I had with all the people, the beauty of the campus, and the opportunities there...and I decided to attend MSU. I realized that, yes, U of M had the greater academic reputation, but I felt I would be happiest at MSU, and since my future plans at that point in time were to enter medical school, I felt that where I attended school for my undergraduate studies had little credence compared to my academic results. I also wanted to go to a school where I could see my classmates as people who would help me in my studies, rather than attend a school with mostly overachievers, hellbent on going to the best graduate school or landing the best job at the expense of their classmates. That was my impression about some Michigan students at the time, and I know that's not true for all stu[...]

Big Ten Round Table, Week Nine


This week's Big Ten Round Table is brought to Nittany White Out.1. We're approaching week 9 now, are you pleasantly surprised or already waiting for basketball season?Can't I be both? I am very excited that the Spartans are 6-2, but that loss against OSU is the type of loss that usually sends MSU into its much proclaimed season-ending slide. That said, I don't think it'll happen this year, I believe that the next three games are all winnable (@ Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, tell me you don't see at least two wins in there) before the death march to Happy Valley to end the season. As for basketball, I cannot wait until the November 16th Idaho game to start the season. Even though Neitzel isn't around anymore, Kalin Lucas is a more than capable point, and a front court of Suton, Morgan, Gray and Roe is one I'm anticipating to see on the court. In short, I like the football season so far, but c'mon, I'm an MSU blogger, I'll always be waiting around for Basketball to start.2. Describe one specific play from this season you would alter for a different outcome if you had the chance to. The play just happened last week, in the 1st quarter of the OSU game. Keshawn Martin had just caught a screen from Hoyer, passed the first down marker, and promptly got hit by an OSU player. Martin fumbles, another Buckeye picks up the ball and returns it deep into MSU territory. This is when I started to get a feeling that luck wasn't on the Spartans' side, and if I could change it, I'd have Martin bust through for a TD, tying the score at seven, and staving off OSU momentum for at least a little longer.3. How could it (#2) possibly impact the way your season is going? Seeing as how I'm talking about MSU, if this were the past, it's completely in the realm of possibilty that the Spartans could lose all their games from here on out, going 6-6. However, if one saw the Purdue and Penn State games from last year, previous results exist that state that MSU won't throw the season in the crapper just because a few bad breaks hit. The play could start a tailspin, I'm betting that it won't.4. Big Ten player you just can't stand, why?I'm going to go to basketball for this one, and I'll say it's Purdue guard/forward/catchall Robbie Hummel. This feeling is more out of respect than anything else; he has little effect the whole game, and when the late second half rolls around, he starts making threes, getting every defensive rebound, and getting to the foul line. If Marquise Gray ate him (assuming there's enough meat on his bones to constitute a full meal), I'd be a happy man.5. Boo'ing your own team (we've seen quite a lot of this across the Big Ten this season), your feelings on this. The only time this could possibly be considered kosher is if the team is visibly dogging it on the field. Don't give me that tired "We're booing the coaches" line, do you possibly think anyone can possibly know that (Unless, of course, said coach decides to take the ball first in OT. Then you may flame away.)? These are college kids we're talking about here, they've got class obligations on top of football. They're not professionals, so cut them some slack if they screw up. Even if they turn over the ball five times in what was called the biggest game in a decade. I'll cry over here now.BONUS ROUND!!!!!11!!!!!!!1. Number of beers or alcoholic drinks consumed by week 8 (or a good estimate).This probably will still be a bad estimate. But let's see...5 tailgates + 1 wedding attended as groomsman + currently in MSU with tough major...I'm guessing it's over 100, and 125 would b[...]



Well, if you're trying to shake off the "Little Brother" moniker, you definitely don't want to ape Big Brother in the Football vs. Hockey = Sharks vs. Jets department, which is exactly what happened around Center Street in East Lansing early Sunday morning. Reports have it that about 15-20 athletes were involved, mostly in Football and Hockey (surprise, surprise). Not a lot of info is known yet; personally, my favorite untruth coming out of this story so far is that (quotation marks for emphasis on frivolous nature of untruth) "Jeff Lerg took down an MSU linebacker". Now, I know that Lerg's tough, but seeing a 5'6" goalie take down a 6'2", 220 lb beast...that's something I'd like to see sometime.

Apparently, this all started over a girl (surprise, surprise, surprise). One side loses, that side brings back a posse, melee ensues. Names have not been named yet, but they'll be out soon enough. Hopefully, the fight didn't involve Trevor Anderson throwing someone off a roof, but that has yet to be seen. Suspensions will be handed out soon, no doubt, but it has yet to be seen whether it'll affect the Michigan game.

All right, glad that's out of the way. Big Ten Round Table coming up.

My feelings on the OSU game


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Yup, that about sums it up. I thought MSU would lose, I just never believed it would be this bad, marking the first time in the Dantonio era has lost a game by more than a touchdown. It's not hyperbole to state that the only phase of the trip the Buckeyes were unsuccessful in was their ability of their fans to pick up ladies at The Landshark Saturday night. The Spartans couldn't force turnovers as they have in the past this season, they turned the ball over unusually, and gave Terrelle Pryor yet another defining moment on his ascent to the throne as King of Columbus. As if that wasn't enough, MSU now has a burgeoning QB controversy on its hands, as Kirk Cousins did quite well (18-25, 161 yards, 1 TD). The only saving grace about this game was that it was a "guillotine" kind of loss - the end comes quickly, so that you have no time to think, process the defeat or feel pain, your head just lies detached from its body, blinking until you can't blink no more.

Whatever, it's on to Michigan for HATE WEEK. If you think that MSU won't get up for a team that has beat them the last six times, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. Lastly, on a more cheerful note, Midnight Madness was Friday, and if this image doesn't make your heart smile with glee, I feel sorry for your black, joyless soul.


Big Ten Picks, Week Eight


In brief, mainly because I just got back from Chicago...

Ohio State 13, Michigan State 7
I answered some questions about this game for The Only Game that Matters. In brief, I believe in game between two very similar teams, give the edge to the side with the best unit. In this game, it's OSU's defense. I do hope I'm wrong on this one.

Northwestern 27, Purdue 14
Good news for you Boilermaker fans - Purdue will score a couple of touchdowns this week! The bad news - C.J. Bacher keeps the ball in the hands of the purple and scores more.

Iowa 20, Wisconsin 13
Don't let the record fool you, Iowa is a very good team that suffered a few brain farts that caused the three losses. As for the Wisconsin fans, if you haven't started drinking yourself death by now, Saturday around 3ish might be a good time to start.

Illinois 42, Indiana 28
Illinois gets its frustrations out the only way how - by scoring bunches of points while allowing them. Indiana, meanwhile, continues to stay in the two-pony race for worst team in the Big Ten.

Penn State 42, Michigan 7's going to go down like this:

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What Was Your Best Day as a Spartan? With much thanks to Spartans Weblog


Stolen shamelessly from Spartans Weblog's post about the same topic. If you've got a favorite memory about the Spartans (if you're reading this blog, you most likely do), go over there and post it in the comments section, and feel free to post it here as well. However, if you post it at Spartans Weblog, you'll be in the running to win a copy of College Basketball Prospectus for this season. And free things are always awesome, unless they cause cold sores.

There’s no doubt about my best day as a Spartan; it was the day of the Elite Eight MSU-Kentucky game. I remember yelling at the refs, telling them that Pat Sparks’ foot was on the line as he shot the three at the end of the regulation. I remember cheering as Abezuike (spelling?) was late on his shot at the end of OT. I remember holding my breath as Alan Anderson shot his free throws towards the end of the second OT to seal the Final Four.

Most of all, my favorite moment is running down Oakhill into downtown EL. I was in a mass of people screaming “FINAL FOUR! FINAL FOUR!” at the top of my lungs at the corner of Charles and Albert. There must of been at least hundreds of students on Albert, screaming GO GREEN! GO WHITE! chants at the top of their lungs from one side of the street to the other. I walked down to Cedar Village, there were just as many people there cheering. Exchange students were calling back home, trying to explain what was going on. Most of all though, the crowd as a whole did not misbehave. Tear gas didn’t need to be shot into the masses. Sure, the loss against North Carolina six days after hurt, but nothing could take away from the sheer exuberance in East Lansing that day. That, more so than my first day on campus, and even more so than my graduation, was my favorite day as a Spartan, because for one day, we weren’t 44,000 students with over 100 majors. We were all Spartans, one, high-fiving and patting each other on the back as we celebrated a victory few thought we could achieve.

Week 7 Big Ten Picks


If you're looking for an in depth preview, the Enlightened Spartan has a good one on his site here. As for me, here are my Big Ten picks in brief.

Michigan State 26, Northwestern 17

If you're like me and will be at the game in Evanston this weekend, drink everytime you hear a Wildcat fan say this: "We're going to stop Ringer and let Hoyer beat us." First off, I think Ringer's going to have a game like he did in Bloomington - decent YPC with about 30-35 carries and a run over 30 yards somewhere in there. As for Hoyer, if you're going to go single cover the wide receivers, expect three of his passes in the game to go for more than 20 yards. His throws deep are underrated. Northwestern's been good at capitalizing on teams' mistakes this season. Michigan State doesn't make enough for the Wildcats to win.

Iowa 20, Indiana 10

This Hawkeye team is much better than its 3-3 record indicates. Their problem? A propensity for shooting themselves in the foot, as they turned the ball over four times within the MSU 30 yard line last week, be it on downs, fumbles, or interceptions. My guess is that if a bad defensive team such as Minnesota can hold the Hoosiers to seven points (and yes, I realize what that says about MSU if they let IU gain 29 points), Iowa should be able to hold them to enough points for the offense to put up the usual 17-24 points. That'll be enough.

Michigan 27, Toledo 7

My guess is that Michigan holds onto the ball more than usual, and only turns it over three times. The Wolverine defense won't be playing Juice Williams this week, so Michigan should win comfortably.

Illinois 38, Minnesota 17

All thoughts of Minnesota's defense having improved will be confirmed this week, as they hold Illinois to under 40 points.

Ohio State 27, Purdue 20

Call me crazy, but I think this game may be close. For all the good he's shown so far, Terrelle Pryor is still a freshman, and that means he's going to have some mediocre performances this season. After a comeback victory in Madison, I'm guessing this game will be one of those times. Also, I can't believe Purdue only put up six points against Penn State in West Lafayette. Their offense is better than six points, and this game will show that opinion. However, the Boilermakers will still lose...but it'll be tight.

Penn State 17, Wisconsin 13

The first crack in the Spread HD appeared last week, as the Nittany Lions put up a "good enough to win" 20 points on the Boilermakers. Now they travel to Wisconsin to face an above average Badger defense. They'll be held to about 14-17 points. However, I believe that with Evridge at the helm, the ceiling for the offense is 13 points at home. That total will fall just short of a victory.

That's it for this week. I'll be down on the O'Malley's West bus trip to be in person for the Northwestern game. Take it easy, and have a good weekend.

What is Big Ten Round Table?


This week's Round Table, hosted by The Only Game that Matters. This week's Round Table is being done Jeopardy-style (you'll see how it's done in a bit), and as for TOGtM...I would not be surprised at all if they were telling Trebek to put the lotion on his skin in a well in their basement. Anyway, on with the show. 1) Jay Paterno and the Spread HD Who is Jim Carrey? Much like Carrey's career, Jay and the HD were once thought to be a joke, but through a few legitimate performances (vs. Oregon State, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), are now taken seriously. Of course, chances to fall remain (evidence in favor: lackluster performance against Purdue, The Number 23). 2) Joe Tiller's MustacheWhere is Mr. Belvedere? The Wilford Brimley comparison is worn out. If you add some color to Tiller's mustache, it looks verrry similar to one carried around by a famous butler.The evidence is damning: Joe Tiller, guilty of Grand Theft 'Stache, and kidnapping Purdue's offense from last year. 3) The Color Purple What is, for the first time ever, the color that will fill up more than half the seats at Ryan Field next week? (Cue outraged "NO ONE EVER RESPECTS NORTHWESTERN!" from Lake the Posts in 3...2...1...just kidding. Seriously, if you need a primer on Northwestern football, go to Lake the Posts now. It's all good stuff.)4) BrainsWhat is the missing ingredient from the Hawkeyes? They outgunned MSU at the line of scrimmage on both ends last week, but turnovers and a couple of unfortunate 4th down calls flushed a win down the drain. Also, Big Ten Blogger by-laws state that whenever brains are mentioned, a picture of JoePa must be shown: 5) Hawkeye State Where is the place that manufactures Hawkeye vodka? Hawkeye vodka is the #1 vodka on my "liquors to taste" list, mainly to take in its poor quality. Will it be worse than Crystal Palace? Will I go blind? I don't know, but I'll have fun getting there. 6) Rudy Who has gotten more mileage out of one sack than anyone in history? Many stories of walk-ons are worthy of mention. Take for instance, a Spartan who walked onto the football team, played his way into a scholarship, and graduated with a 4.0 average in Kinesology with his Masters (not University of Michigan Kinesology, this degree's legitimate). This man's name? Cole Malatinsky. Scholarship, hard work, and kicking that's a story.Do not look into his eyes. You will get pregnant. 7) Knee Ligaments What are things that if you're going to tear, tear awesomely? In other words, don't break them like this kid did: 8) Terrelle Pryor What is the reason I'm happy MSU doesn't play Ohio State for the next two years after this year? If he can lead the Buckeyes to a win by orchestrating a drive in the 4th quarter - IN WISCONSIN, NO LESS -it's scary to think how good he'll be in a year. 9) Mark May Who is the biggest benefactor of the "Ugly Friend" effect? You know the theory - all sets of girls have one ugly friend that makes the others look better by comparison. Who is Mark May's ugly friend? You guessed it... 10) Rich Rodriguez Who will be the #1 selling effigy in Ann Arbor after a 5-7 season for the Wolverines? If they go to a bowl this season, they will overachieve. The best news about that is the fans will save on gas by going to Detroit for their bowl game.Big Ten picks tomorrow? I'm leaving early for Chicago tomorrow, for this Saturday I'll be on the O'Malley's W[...]