Wrapping up the weekend that was in the Land of 10 in football and hoops…
The Point After
In honor of the Big Ten’s spring football season landing, like spring temps in the upper Plains, earlier than usual — Illinois began the first of 15 practices last Tuesday; Michigan State starts Saturday; Purdue on Feb. 27 — we wanted to circle back to an item in the recruiting notebook from a few weeks back.
When we gathered up Land of 10’s recruiting experts for a round table to pick their brains on the class of 2017, we also asked them this little nugget:
What recruiting stunt do you think Jim Harbaugh is going to try next, and why? And what do you think will be the NCAA/Power 5 autonomy group’s response to said stunt?
Here were their replies …
He will buy a house next to a key recruiting target for the 2018 or 2019 class. Every time Harbaugh visits and is drinking his milk in the backyard, the recruit will be reminded about the Wolverines. When Harbaugh helps the recruit’s mom bring in groceries, it will be a subtle reminder of the lengths Michigan will go to land a player. Coaches across the country will decry the stunt, but someone, possibly Lane Kiffin, will consider following suit with a future recruit.
I mean, Nick Saban lands helicopters on football fields to see recruits. So I feel like Harbaugh is going to have to top that by either 1) flying the helicopter that lands on the field; or 2) becoming the first person to attempt teleportation to visit a recruit in lightning speed.
This question always comes up, and it’s always fun to answer. A simple, and honest, answer: I have no clue what that guy is going to do next. But I’m not going to leave you with that dry answer. He’s going to push some buttons. Whether it be SEC buttons, or what have you, he’s going to push some buttons. Last year, interim athletic director Jim Hackett publicly noted that current freshman Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary was offered incentives. Might Harbaugh elaborate on more of those situations again in a news conference this year? Like anything Harbaugh does, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
Who’s dancing in the NCAA tourney this week, according to BracketMatrix.com
As of Feb. 19:
Purdue (22-5) — 5 seed
Wisconsin (22-5) — 5 seed
Maryland (22-5) — 6 seed
Minnesota (20-7) — 7 seed
Northwestern (20-7) — 7 seed
Michigan State (16-11) — 9 seed
Michigan (17-10) — 10 seed
Noses pressed against the bubble:
Indiana (15-12) — listed on 3 of 92 mock brackets
Ohio State (15-13) — listed on 1 of 92 mock brackets
One man’s rolling Big Ten Player of the Year ballot
- Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue (18.9 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 5.4 Win Shares on Sports-Reference.com)
- Ethan Happ, F, Wisconsin (14.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 5.0 Win Shares on Sports-Reference.com)
- Derrick Walton Jr., G, Michigan (14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.9 apg, 4.5 Win Shares on Sports-Reference.com)
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (Poetry Slam edition)
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) February 14, 2017
One man’s All-B1G NBA first team as of the All-Star Break
G: Mike Conley, Memphis (Ohio State) — 19.5 ppg, 6.22 apg
G: D’Angelo Russell, LA Lakers (Ohio State) — 14.2 ppg, 4.7 apg
G: Eric Gordon, Houston (Indiana) — 17.2 ppg, 2.8 apg
F: Draymond Green, Golden State (Michigan State) — 10.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg
F: Zach Randolph, Memphis (Michigan State) — 14.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg
The Hot Seat
John Groce, Illinois
Gutsy road wins at Northwestern and Iowa have slowed the Let’s-Fire-John train a bit. But sandwiched in between, the Illini (15-12, 5-9) lost at home to Penn State by 13 and have dropped three straight contests at the normally raucous State Farm Center.
Whitman can be pleased with the win but the season is still a loss. Basketball used to rule at Illinois, source of pride. Need to trust him.
— Dan Reb (@DanRebecca1) February 19, 2017
Groce is likable and capable, but the diminishing returns of the past four seasons — two NIT bids in Years 2 and 3, then no postseason bid in Year 4 — are also indisputable. Assuming Tim Miles is given a little more rope at Nebraska and Tom Crean finds a similar (if temporary) reprieve from Indiana, no coach in the loop might be more desperate for a surprise run at the Big Ten tourney than Groce, who’ll likely miss the NCAA Tournament for a fourth straight year without snatching the automatic berth that’s up for grabs. All of which turns the heat up for new athletic director Josh Whitman, too.
Illinois, Missouri and Rutgers are the only Power 5 schools that made neither a bowl nor March Madness in the last two seasons.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) November 27, 2016
3 games coming up we’d absolutely pay to watch
- Nebraska at Michigan State (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU). The Huskers have more RPI top-100 wins away from home (four) than Michigan (three) or the Spartans (three). With guard Eron Harris out of the picture, could they steal another?
- Wisconsin at Ohio State (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Buckeyes (15-13 overall, 5-10 Big Ten) haven’t lost more than 10 league tilts in a season since 1997-98 — Jim O’Brien’s first campaign.
- Purdue at Michigan (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2). With three of its last four regular-season tussles on the road, the Wolverines could stay on the right side of the bubble conversation if they can snatch another top 25 scalp at home.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (We Call It ‘Thursday’ edition)
I also call it “Tuesday” https://t.co/ZmyNOw2fOr
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) February 16, 2017
The takeaway number(s)
As in the double-doubles this season for the Boilers’ Caleb Swanigan, the most in Division I (Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado is next with 21). It’s the highest double-double count for a Big Ten player since Ohio State’s Brad Sellers posted 26 in 1985-86.