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.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.