The cagers fell to 2009 NIT champion Penn State tonight. Right. The turning point came when the student section began chanting "WE OWN PENN STATE" in Zombie Nation fashion when Penn State had the lead. Never underestimate the stupidity of an arena DJ. That improves the Nittany Lion's record to 10-16 on the season overall, and a glorious 2-12 on the year in the Big Ten. It was also Penn State's first victory in Crisler since 1999. It moves the Wolverines to 13-13 (6-8) on the season, and increases both the number and severity of the questions surrounding this team. There seemed to be some momentum gained in the past week with the two road wins...that's all gone now.
Following 12 straight losses to start the Big Ten season, the Penn State men's basketball team has its first conference winning streak of the season, as it beat Michigan, 55-51, at Crisler Arena.
Prior to this embarrassment, there was a little buzz floating around on the internet about Beilein's magical West Virginia team that finished strong, made their way into the tournament as a 7 seed, and ended up in the elite 8...and how if Michigan just finished strong, if they just...ya, no. We just lost to Penn State, the remainder of the schedule is brutal with road trips to MSU and Columbus. The season is over. And in reality, it was over before the Big Ten slate began. I mean, Boston College, Alabama, and Marquette...in a row? Done. The problem is this whole conference tournament thing, which allows for shitty teams to continue to control their own destiny. With about a month to go until the NCAA tournament, every school in the country still has a chance to win their conference championship...and then of course the National Championship. The combination of these auto-bids and George Mason has given hoards of college basketball fans false hope...it's made us all delusional.
Each game I listen to announcer after announcer, and the analysts at halftime, talking about how Michigan needs to "go inside" more, that their troubles reside in their systemic rigidity. They say less 3's are the answer. I think they should just make 1 or 2 more of them each game. (Note: 2 more made threes each game would give us 5 more wins, and force 2 more overtimes) The hard truth is that Michigan Basketball, not unlike Michigan Football's defense, is simply not very talented. Â There is not a single player that checked in for the Wolverines on Saturday night that will ever check into a NBA game. Now, that doesn't mean that I love those fellas any less, or that they are not exceptional Big Ten basketball players, it's just that I know the Detroit duo's future is likely to be played out in Europe. Manny should stay. He should stay as long as he can. Peedi's game doesn't translate to the next level for his size. And really, all of that is fine for our purposes here. The problem with Michigan really resides in the supporting cast of a player (or two) that seems to be losing his talent with each passing day and each missed three-pointer, and a couple of kids that wouldn't be on the scout team for most teams in the top 25. Outside of that, all we have is a Freshman guard that seems to be progressing well. That's not enough.
We simply don't have the horses for this race. That is why, on selection Sunday, you will probably be learning what the name of "that other tournament" is...the one that is not the NCAA or NIT...the one that takes under .500 teams.