Jermaine Marshall, Mitch McGary

No. 4 Michigan upset by Penn State, how worrisome is their defense?


The good folks down in Lawrence, KS, can probably count themselves Penn State fans after Wednesday night.

The Nittany Lions erased a 15 point second half deficit to knock off No. 4 Michigan 84-78 as the Wolverines took over sole possession of first place in the “worst loss of the season” standings.

I’m not talking about point spreads. I’m not talking about upsets. I’m talking about worst losses, and it doesn’t get much worse than this. Penn State was 0-14 in the Big Ten. They were picked to finish at the bottom of the Big Ten before they lost a first team all-Big Ten player in Tim Frazier to a ruptured achilles tendon. Pat Chambers’ club entered the game 200th in the RPI.

In a vacuum, that’s ugly.

But what makes it worse is what the loss means for the Wolverines. They are now two games behind Indiana in the Big Ten standings, failing to capitalize on the Hoosier’s loss to Minnesota last night. Michigan hosts Indiana in the final game of the regular season. They would have had a chance to at least earn a share of the regular season title by winning that game. Not anymore.

This could also end up costing Michigan a No. 1 seed. The Wolverines were already trending in the wrong direction, and adding a horrific loss to their resume clearly does not help. Michigan still has a chance — they host Indiana and Michigan State at home and still have the Big Ten tournament to play — but can a team that blows a 15 point second half lead to Penn State really run the table in the Big Ten with that kind of schedule?

But all that is, in the end, moot.

College basketball is about the NCAA tournament which means that what people aren’t going to remember if Michigan gets a No. 1 seed or wins one of the two Big Ten titles; they’re going to remember whether or not Michigan makes the Final Four or wins the national title.

And as of right now, can we really trust Michigan to be good enough defensively to make the Final Four?

The Big Lead looked at teams that have made the Final Four in the last five seasons. Only two of them had a defensive efficiency that ranked outside the top 30: Butler and VCU in 2011. Michigan is 42nd in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. According to John Gasaway’s Tuesday Truths column, Michigan has a defense that would rank sixth in the Big Ten.

And all of those numbers?

They were determined before Michigan gave up 84 points — 84 points!!! — to Penn State — Penn State!!!

Those red flags just got a bit bigger.

( MORNING UPDATE: Penn State scored 1.22 PPP against Michigan’s defense last night, which dropped the Wolverines to 59th in Kenpom’s defensive efficiency ratings. This performance has been coming, however; UM has given up 1.10 PPP over their last seven games. This is becoming a huge issue.)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Carter leads No. 2 Maryland past Cleveland State, 80-63

Melo Trimble
Leave a comment

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Robert Carter had 17 points and eight rebounds to help No. 2 Maryland beat Cleveland State 80-63 on Saturday night.

Jared Nickens added 16 points, and freshman Diamond Stone had a season-high 15 points for Maryland (6-0), set for a showdown with No. 9 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

Demonte Flannigan scored 11 of his 20 points in the first half, and Rob Edwards added 14 points for Cleveland State (2-4), which was 3 of 12 (25 percent) from 3-point range. Vinny Zollo went 5 of 7 from the field and had 11 points for the Vikings.

Maryland led by just four at the break and took control by increasing the pressure to open the second half. A dunk by Stone capped an 8-0 run and the Terrapins led 45-33 with 17:06 left.

From there, the Terps used their size and depth to wear down the Vikings, who could not get closer than nine points the rest of the way. Nickens and Jake Layman hit 3-pointers and Maryland opened a 64-49 lead with 7:43 remaining.

The 6-foot-7 Flannagan picked up his fourth foul with just under 10 minutes left, hampering the Vikings at both ends of the court. A putback by Nickens and a pair of free throws boosted Terrapins’ margin to 70-53 with 5:18 left and they were never threatened the rest of the way.

Maryland was 15 of 18 from the free-throw line and had a 27-22 rebounding edge.

Maryland could not shake Cleveland State in the opening half and a jumper by Kenny Carpenter gave the Vikings their first lead, 25-24, with 8:03 left. Nickens responded with three straight 3-pointers that helped the Terps take a 37-33 lead at halftime

Maryland shot 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) in the opening half.


Cleveland State: The Vikings also lost their only other matchup against the Terrapins, 95-84, on Dec. 5 1984. … Maryland was Cleveland State highest-ranked opponent since Nov. 26, 1999, when it lost to No. 1 Cincinnati, 90-56.

Maryland: The Terrapins won their 29th consecutive game at home against an unranked team. … Maryland extended its winning streak in November to 16 games, having not lost since Nov. 17, 2013, against Oregon State (90-83).


Cleveland State is at Toledo on Wednesday night.

Maryland plays at No. 9 North Carolina on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Kris Dunn vs. Denzel Valentine; Two 6-0 teams from Ohio battle in Orlando

Kris Dunn
AP Photo
Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Michigan State vs. Providence, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Two Player of the Year candidates lock horns on Sunday night as Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine battles Providence’s Kris Dunn. Both players are strong threats to record a triple-double each time they take the floor and both are key reasons why their teams are 6-0. The Friars could probably use this game a bit more than Michigan State since they enter this game unranked and could use another confidence-boosting win for a team filled with newer players. As for the Spartans, winning the Wooden Legacy would mean another great accomplishment before December even started for a team that has national title aspirations.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 23 Xavier vs. Dayton, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

These two 6-0 teams from Ohio will meet in Orlando in the championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational. The Musketeers have six different players averaging at least 9.7 points per game this season as they’ve received great balance on the offensive end. As for Dayton, Charles Cooke as emerged as a go-to player early this season while guard Scoochie Smith has also been outstanding. This will be the first time these two schools have played since Feb. 16, 2013.


  • One of the fun teams to watch this week has been Monmouth and their amusing end-of-bench antics. On the floor, the Hawks knocked off Notre Dame and gave Dayton a scare and they’ll face USC for the second time this season to close out the AdvoCare Invitational. The Trojans won the first one 101-90, but this is a 12:30 p.m. EST tip, so that could benefit Monmouth the second time around.
  • Wisconsin visiting No. 7 Oklahoma is an intriguing Sunday matchup. The Badgers could certainly use a true road win here as they’re off to a 4-2 start. The Sooners get more of a real test after only playing Memphis as a notable opponent their first three games.
  • Also going on in the AdvoCare Invitational is No. 20 Wichita State facing Iowa and No. 17 Notre Dame battling Alabama. The Shockers are going without senior starters Fred Van Vleet and Anton Grady as they try to escape Orlando with a win. Notre Dame is hoping to close out the event strong after its surprising upset to Monmouth.
  • Action also continues in Anaheim at the Wooden Legacy as No. 11 Arizona will take on Boise State, while Boston College plays Santa Clara and UC Irvine faces Evansville. Arizona will look to get back on the right track after the close loss to Providence in the semifinals.
  • No. 6 Duke gets an afternoon tilt with Utah State at home before they face Indiana during the week. It’ll be interesting to see if Blue Devil freshman wing Brandon Ingram keeps his strong play going from earlier in the week.
  • UCLA returns home and could badly use a win against Cal State Northridge. The Bruins went a disappointing 1-2 in the Maui Invitational and need to get back on the right track before the face No. 1 Kentucky next week.


  • Brown vs. No. 25 SMU, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)


  • Jackson State at Marquette, 12:30 p.m.
  • Rider at Rhode Island, 1:00 p.m.
  • Savannah State at South Florida, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • South Carolina State at Kansas State, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Northern Colorado at Colorado, 2:00 p.m. (PAC12)
  • UC Santa Barbara at Arizona State, 4:00 p.m. (PAC12)