Tag Archives: Tom Izzo

College basketball stock report: 5 teams to buy, sell or hold

Illinois

SELL

The Fighting Illini started the season 12-0 and defeated No. 10 Gonzaga on the road by double digits. However, since Illinois’ victory over Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 16, John Groce’s squad is 3-5 and 2-4 in the Big Ten. The Illini lost to unranked Purdue, Wisconsin and Northwestern, which does not bode well since their schedule will only get tougher as the season progresses. They still have to play Michigan twice, Indiana and Michigan State for the first time, in addition to rematches against Minnesota and Ohio State.

Michigan State

BUY

It's a good time to be in East Lansing, Mich. as Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans sit atop the Big Ten standings with a 6-1 record. (Image courtesy of http://wkzo.com/news/articles/2012/sep/24/msu-basketball-coach-tom-izzo-guest-speaker-at-kalamazoo-benefit/)
It’s a good time to be in East Lansing, Mich. since Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans sit atop the Big Ten standings with a 6-1 record. (Image courtesy of http://wkzo.com/news/articles/2012/sep/24/msu-basketball-coach-tom-izzo-guest-speaker-at-kalamazoo-benefit/)

The Spartans were on the verge of dropping out of the AP Top 25 after three losses in the 2012 calendar year. Michigan State’s challenging non-conference schedule paid off; Tom Izzo’s squad is leading the Big Ten with a two game lead over Michigan and Indiana. Three of Michigan State’s Big Ten wins are by three points or fewer, which separates great teams from the good ones in March.

 Oregon

BUY

The Ducks sit alone at the top of the Pac-12 standings after defeating No. 24 UCLA last Saturday. Arizona and UCLA only appear once on Oregon’s schedule, which means there are no ranked opponents remaining on the Ducks’ schedule. Oregon is in the driver’s seat to win the Pac-12 now that the team’s biggest challenges are in the Ducks’ rearview mirror.

Wisconsin

HOLD

Bo Ryan’s Badgers are a very perplexing team. Wisconsin lost four of its first 10 games then rattled off seven consecutive wins, including victories over No. 12 Illinois and No. 2 Indiana. After defeating the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall, the Badgers dropped two games to Iowa and Michigan State by a total of six points. Wisconsin has the coach and the talent to finish in the top three in the Big Ten or the Badgers could end up sixth or seventh. They have been too inconsistent to determine how good they can be in college basketball’s toughest conference.

Xavier

BUY

The 2012-13 Musketeers are possibly one of the weakest Xavier teams in the past decade and most Atlantic 10 projections have Xavier as a middle-of-the-road team in the conference yet Semaj Christon & Co. have started to turn their season around in conference play. Don’t look now but Xavier is tied with Virginia Commonwealth for first place. The Muskies have pulled out close wins against Temple, St. Bonaventure and La Salle after losing four straight games in non-conference play. They don’t play VCU and Butler until late in the season, which means that Xavier has over a month to improve before it faces two of the A-10’s best teams.

Indiana’s non-conference schedule raises questions

The Indiana Hoosiers sat comfortably atop the preseason college basketball rankings with over double the number of first place votes than No. 2 Louisville in the AP ballot. Even though the 12-1 Hoosiers rank in the top eleven teams in the country in terms of points, rebounds and assists per game as well as field goal percentage, Indiana’s non-conference schedule raises questions about how the preseason No. 1 team will fare in the long run this season.

Indiana lacks a true road test and wins against high caliber opponents in its non-conference schedule.
Indiana lacks a true road test and wins against high caliber opponents in its non-conference schedule.

Through 13 games, Indiana’s best wins are a 24-point blowout victory against North Carolina, who is now unranked despite being ranked fourteenth at the time of the matchup, and a nail-biter against Georgetown in the Progressive Legends Classic Championship in which IU needed an overtime period to pull out the win.

Indiana’s lone loss was in an in-state matchup against Butler, who was unranked at the time but is now ranked eighteenth.

The Hoosiers have yet to compete in a true road test—their non-conference schedule was composed of 10 home games and three matchups on neutral courts. In those games on neutral courts, Indiana did not play like the best team in the country, as its rank indicated. IU was only winning by five points with nine minutes remaining in the second half against Georgia before winning by 13. In the game against Georgetown, there were nine lead changes and the Hoosiers’ largest lead of eight points was short-lived. Not much needs to be said about Indiana’s performance against Butler other than that the Hoosiers let a winnable game slip from their grasp in overtime.

The majority of IU’s home schedule was filled with “cupcake” teams that are incredibly unlikely to win their conference tournaments and make the NCAA Tournament because receiving at-large bids are probably out of the question. It is no surprise that Indiana University and Athletic Director Fred Glass scheduled games against opponents that the Hoosiers could score at least 100 points against in guaranteed blowout wins but Indiana had nine of those games instead of challenging itself against more formidable opponents.

Opponent

Opponent’s RPI (as of 12/30/12)

Score

Bryant

201

97-54

North Dakota State

345

87-61

Sam Houston State

227

99-45

Ball State

252

101-53

Coppin State

280

87-51

Central Connecticut State

133

100-69

Mount St. Mary’s

97

93-54

Florida Atlantic

232

88-52

Jacksonville

294

93-59

A few of these games may have been necessary in order to boost the team’s confidence and to give some of the guys towards the end of the bench in-game action but how much will nearly a dozen thirty-point blowouts help the development of a team with its sights on a national championship?

Indiana’s Big Ten schedule, which includes nine games against teams currently ranked, will certainly challenge the Hoosiers but they haven’t been tested enough to appropriately prepare for the difficult conference schedule that awaits them, beginning with a road game against Iowa on Monday, December 31st.

_______________________________

Duke and Michigan State are two schools that Indiana, and the rest of the country for that matter, should look to model themselves after in terms of the difficulty of their non-conference schedules. The Blue Devils have faced No. 3 Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, No. 2 Louisville, No. 4 Ohio State and Temple. While Duke lacks an away game on its résumé, the Blue Devils have half a dozen wins against tournament bound teams.

Michigan State is known for playing top-ranked competition and scheduling road games that most programs of its caliber would not. The Spartans kicked off their 2012 campaign with games against No. 23 Connecticut and No. 7 Kansas. Tom Izzo’s team then went on the road to play Miami (FL) and Bowling Green. It is no coincidence that since 1995 when Izzo became the Spartans’ head coach, Michigan State has won a national championship and has six Final Four appearances.