March 10, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA: Members of the Ohio Bobcats celebrate after defeating the Akron Zips 64-63 in the finals of the 2012 MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE
Continuing our look at innocent victim No. 1 in Michigan's quest for eventual college hoops domination, Maize n Brew tracked down Matt Sussman, proprietor of SB Nation's Mid-American Conference blog Hustle Belt, for some answers about tomorrow's big game. Matt chatted with MGoBlog earlier in the week (link), and eventually sauntered over to MnB headquarters to wrap up his tour of the UM blogosphere in grand fashion.
Maize n Brew's beloved KenPom.com gives Ohio a 30% shot at victory. What chance are you giving the Bobcats to pull the upset?
MS: 31 percent. I am an optimist and scholar of Price is Right win theory.
On a national level it seems like the MAC is often overlooked. How do you think this league stacks up against more celebrated 'mid-majors' like the Ohio Valley and Missouri Valley from a quality standpoint? Is the perception of MAC basketball skewed in some ways?
MS: It's overlooked for a reason -- it's not where it was in the late 90s. When Akron was slotted as a 15-seed last year, that was about as low as it got. The MAC focused on football for six years and basketball got neglected. I think they're much more top-heavy than in previous years, the MAC East especially, so they're fighting for more attention nationwide, and I think they're doing a good job of it.
The Bobcats busted most everyone's bracket two years ago when they knocked off Georgetown. Give Michigan fans three good reasons why we should be deathly afraid of a repeat performance.
, John Groce, and circumstance. There may be better point guards in the country but I think any MAC fan would have nobody but Cooper running the show, especially since he dropped 23 points on Georgetown in that game. Groce is a wonderful schemer of offense even though he prides himself on defense, which they also do well. And the matchup slightly favors OHIO in that the guards defend well especially around the perimeter and UM doesn't have anybody that can bully their way inside.
Ohio's two most important games of the season (at Louisville in November and against Akron in the MAC title game) were also its two slowest (56 possessions in each). What type of pace do you believe gives the Bobcats the best chance at taking down the Wolverines?
MS: That's very odd to see, since the Bobcats are the fastest-paced team in the MAC. I'm guessing the pace was helped by their defense making it tough for the opposition to set up a shot? But I'd wager that whether it's 50 possessions or 80 the outcome would be the same.
Bobcats coach John Groce is 40 years old and has now been to a pair of NCAA tournaments in four years with the school. Any chance he bolts for greener pastures in the near future? Do you think another upset win or two could make him a hot commodity on the coaching carousel, and do you think he would leave Ohio so soon?
MS: He already is there. He's famous for helping recruit Greg Oden and Mike Conley at OSU and writers are already throwing his name out there with Nebraska. Not sure if they need a win for him to be gone, although other ADs put stock in deep tournament runs. Last MAC guy to do it was Stan Heath/Kent State to the Elite Eight and the next year he was at Arkansas. Although do consider that the Bobcats have ZERO seniors, so maybe Groce's best chance at winning in 2012-13 is to come back to Athens and clap and stomp some more.
In two words, please explain D.J. Cooper in a mankini.
MS: "Real" and "spectacular."
Everyone on the Maize n Brew staff is pumped about the later time slot (7:00 pm EST) for obvious reasons. What is your brew of choice for the game?
MS: I homebrew! But it's Sodastream diet cola. I am not a drinker by trade and staying caffeinated throughout my awake hours usually helps me tweet out insane thoughts during the games.