I’ve had enough requests for advice on the madness of tourney tickets to attempt a Ticket Watch on the subject, though I warn you a week’s worth of research yielded little in the way of fact. It did yield two themes, which were “buy late” and “choose your seats carefully.”
I also started tracking the secondary market for the Jerryworld game vs. Florida, which is looking not equally bearish but still quite buyer friendly.
Let’s address the more immediate event first:
Big Ten Tournament Tickets: Less Than Parking
Lower bowl for $6 is bottoming out. You can still buy tickets from the ticket office, and the building should be empty enough to move down close enough that Duncan Robinson can hit you in the face with a basketball 40% of the time.
You might as well use the sponsor’s site. I spent way too long refreshing Craigslist in hopes of running into a pair of “I bought too many” seats at center court or something, but keep just seeing this guy in section 405 with tickets to Northwestern vs. winner of Rutgers/Ohio State.
The championship game right now is running around $40. Via Ralph Garcia at TicketIQ:
“Saturday's Semi-Finals is currently the most in-demand session, averaging $180 per ticket with cheapest seats $69. Friday's Night Session featuring Maryland is close by, with a $166 average ticket price and cheapest seat clocking in at $74. Cheapest ticket for Sunday's Championship Game is $37.
As you might expect the Maryland side of the bracket is more expensive, since they’re the only contender in reasonable driving distance. Michigan’s on the other side of the bracket, so a Terp loss to Wisconsin can only help the championship game. Michigan has a sizeable DC contingent and Purdue doesn’t, so our side of the bracket will be mostly driven by Michigan’s success. I expect a weak secondary market since nobody is going to buy those unless we upset the Boilers.
Official advice is treat this like a GLI: for the opening rounds just show up and sit wherever you want for the price of a pint, then expect to pay $40-$50 for decent seats if Michigan makes the final game.
Also let’s all hope the Big Ten looks at a map next time they schedule one of these. At least the new Pistons/Red Wings arena is an opportunity to have it in Detroit, i.e. the geographic center of the conference, someday.
[Hit the JUMP for March Madness and the madness of King Jerry]
?? MGoBloggers serving bagels at the Alumni Association’s Welcome Wednesday.
@? The UM Alumni Association Building, 200 Fletcher Street.
ETA? Thing is 8AM to noon tomorrow.
Y? The bagels (+coffee, hot cocoa, tea, blue books) are free.
Here’s how you get a job after college. One day near graduation you will think of this brilliant tweet in the subject of your interest. It will get picked up and retweeted by some super highly respected person in that field, which will get hundreds of prospective employers to follow you. When you post your graduation photo they’ll all DM you, say they recognize your genius, and offer you your dream job on the spot, provided you’re willing to work from home and occasionally wear pants.
Here’s how you actually get a job after college. A good connection you made who saw you were super serious about going into their business will recommend you because you’ve stayed in touch. Then you have an interview, at which you will be judged in part on your selection of pants.
Here’s one way if you’re a student at Michigan to score connections to a ridiculous network of successful people. So the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan has this tradition on Wednesdays when school’s in session where you come to their main building on 200 Fletcher Street (like behind the Michigan League) and get free bagels, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Once you have your free food you’re welcome to talk to AAUM people, or sit on a couch with some friends, or meet other students, or just grab a table area and study.
Here’s the hook. Sometimes you get served by someone interesting, like the school president, or the women’s basketball team, or that time Big Jon Falk came with his favorite water bottle.
Other times they have to fill in with local football bloggers. Tomorrow is one of those times, when Brian, Ace and I will be on hand for the bagel-serving/schmoozing. It runs from 8AM to noon. We’ll have at least one of us there the whole time.
Also free blue books. I wish I’d learned of this before senior year: any time you go into their building you can walk out with free blue books. They will also make you a set of 30 business cards.
How do you tell a student from a vagabond blogger type? Only a student can look that exhausted yet carry a backpack so unaware of the treasonous nature of back muscles. But bring your M-Card in case they doubt you.
Why the Alumni Association? Very shortly you’ll be one, i.e. an old person like me who goes around answering “I wish I’d made more connections” to “what do you wish you’d done better in college?” At that point what you know won’t matter nearly as much as who you know, and the Michigan alumni network is so good at this that the football team makes it the centerpiece of their recruiting pitch. All those wonderful goodies that they give us to be members—game tickets, tailgates, local clubs and events, trips, scholarships etc.—are to keep that network engaged. The sooner you tap in, the more you can get out of it.
I prefer the shot on the left. So does Beilein. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
After the Nebraska evisceration, I wanted to take a closer look at something we discussed on this week's podcast. Michigan generated 12 more three-point attempts than the Huskers, which added to the growing pile of statistical evidence that the Wolverines have undergone a fundamental shift—not on offense, but on defense. John Beilein gave the money quote on it after the Purdue game:
We’ve made a conscious decision to defend the three-point line, knowing that a tough two is much better to give up than an open three, which we were giving up like crazy in our earlier struggles.
The key number to look at is 3PA/FGA: the percentage of each team's field goal attempts that come from beyond the arc. The offense is shooting threes at the usual Beilein offense rate: 45.3%, 16th nationally. Before this year, Beilein's Michigan defenses haven't been good at preventing opponent three-point looks; his best finish in 3PA/FGA was 108th in 2014, and most of his M teams have been in the 200 range.
This season, Michigan opponents are attempting just 29.0% of their field goals from beyond the arc. That puts the Wolverines tenth in the country.
The shift in defensive philosophy, likely a product of adding Billy Donlon to the staff, has created a massive gap in points generated from the three-point line between Michigan and their opponents. Critically, the Wolverines aren't forcing shots to make it happen. I put together a video of Michigan's three-point attempts (two garbage-time attempts excised) against Nebraska with freeze-frames just before the point of release; there are only a couple questionable shots among the 25:
I did the same for Nebraska's shots. While they had a few wide open looks, Michigan did a much better job of closing out on Husker shooters than vice versa, and that's not even the most telling part of this video—that would be the length of the video itself. What's not in there is the number of times Michigan defenders ran potential shooters off the line, forcing them to take those tough twos instead.
Even if Nebraska had hit their open looks, they had little hope of keeping up with Michigan's offense. Their second three-point attempt of the game came with under five minutes left in the first half; by that point, M had opened up a 20-point lead while shooting 8-for-12 on triples.
As conference champion Purdue found out, it's hard to close the three-point gap on Michigan with two-pointers, even when they're going in at a relatively high rate. It helps, of course, that Beilein's offense also generates great looks inside the arc; Michigan is 12th nationally in two-point percentage. This leaves opponents in a bind. Do they try to match Michigan three-for-three, even though the Wolverines have superior shooters to almost any team they face? Or do they run their normal offense and hope to either hit twos at a remarkable rate or get an off game from Michigan's shooters?
I'm not sure there's a good answer.
[Hit THE JUMP to see the numbers behind the three-point gap.]
Obligatory Daniel Faalele section, now with content
FL OL Daniel Faalele gets his own SI profile complete with Vulcan Bill Brasky stories:
In one of Faalele's early practices Elder taught him to punch the pass rusher with both hands, then grab his chest. During a one-on-one drill that day, Faalele fired his hands to disrupt the lineman's charge. Then one hand disappeared inside the rusher's shoulder pads and the kid went limp. Sensing something wrong, Faalele let go and backed away. "He had grabbed [the defender's] collarbone," Elder says, shaking his head at the memory. Elder clarified: Seize the chest plate of the shoulder pads. "His hands are steel," Elder says. "If he gets them on you, it's over. Doesn't matter if he has good technique or bad technique, it's over."
Faalele's starting to put some steak behind the sizzle as well, impressing at a UA camp:
The massive Australian import created the most oohs and ahhs in the trenches Sunday with his power. He worked up and down the line but most at left tackle, where anyone trying to make a move on him inside felt his incredible punch and it was usually paired with what looked like a finishing move. Faalele buried more defenders than any other lineman on this day and it wasn't particularly close.
Hopefully Michigan's satellite camp appearance will put them ahead of the curve for a dude who can Vulcan nerve pinch guys accidentally.
No public leader for DTR
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) March 5, 2017
Since he was talking up UCLA previously, this is a good sign for Michigan in their pursuit of 4* NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson:
Dorian Thompson-Robinson maintains that the schools in his top 12 are all running even, but no doubt he's high on Michigan and UCLA, schools that are scheduled to get a spring visit.
Thompson-Robinson returns to UCLA this coming weekend and Michigan will get him to campus around April 11.
New Michigan offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has made a fast impression and the opportunity to play in a pro-style offense under Jim Harbaugh is advantageous.
Meanwhile UCLA wants to talk to him about being a dentist, because death by electrocution's like life under Jim Mora. The pro-style/dentist statements are not quotes but they do seem like things that DTR told Steve Wiltfong, because ain't nobody else know about dentistry plans.
FWIW, Wiltfong expanded on that short note with a full article. DTR says he's "really built a relationship" with Hamilton in the last couple months; he also repeats the fact that UCLA picking up Jedd Fisch is "huge."
Actual (mostly) scheduled visits
- 4* GA CB Myles Sims has locked in a visit for this weekend. Lorenz previously reported that he was very high on Michigan's board, so this might be a situation to keep an eye on.
- 4* MI OL Ryan Hayes will visit "sometime this month" per Lorenz after being forced to cancel a planned official last weekend. Lorenz implies this is likely to come down to Michigan and Notre Dame, with Greg Frey a major asset since Frey recruited Hayes's older brother at Indiana.
- 4* NJ DT Tyler Friday has set a visit for the 26th, which will be his first trip to AA since a camp appearance last summer.
- 4* NY TE Jeremy Ruckert says he's "going to try" to see Michigan again that same weekend. He's not planning to take his recruitment out much longer than that; with Jay Harbaugh moving away from TE he hasn't met his actual position coach yet. Adam Friedman says OSU is "clearly in the driver's seat," but Adam Friedman.
Obligatory list of new names
- 4* WA ATH Tre'Shaun Harrison grabbed an offer, says he'll visit in the spring or summer, says he's considering academics heavily, and he doesn't care about distance.
- 4* OR ATH Talanoa Hufanga: offer, interest, vague visit plans.
- 3* NC DE/DT Alim McNeill grabbed an offer, says he's focused on a "forty-year decision," and that he has vague plans to visit AA over the summer. He told Rivals that Michigan "will be in it to the end."
- 5* FL CB Patrick Surtain Jr says he wants to visit Michigan, but it sounds like he's got a number of other visits locked in and Michigan is currently up in the air; he does not list Michigan in a group of six leaders.
- 3* NY WR Aron Cruickshank is a slot type who has an offer type substance; trying to set up a visit, Brown reports that he's a "mid-tier target" who interest might ramp up in later.
- 4* FL ATH Amari Burney apparently got an offer back in May; he reports that he doesn't hear from Michigan offer but they are still a "very big player" for him.
Grudging 2019 section
FL RB Cesare Mellusi fields an offer, speaks highly of Michigan. This section exists mostly because of his name.
GA ATH Javonni Cunningham gets an offer; it's his second and Howard is the other so naturally he declared Michigan his leader. Vague visit plans. 2019 CA RB Charles Mincy Jr says Michigan leads amongst his four offers. One of the others is Oregon, so that's not bad.
MI CB Marvin Grant, who's at King, was offered by Iowa. He told Allen Trieu he will be visiting Michigan today. Big Ten offer this early for Grant probably means he'll join the Belleville kids amongst the most sought-after players in the 2019 class.
FL QB Joe Milton, who's the entirety of the Michigan QB board other than DTR at this moment, also impressed at that UA camp:
From drills to one-on-ones even through seven-on-seven work, Milton was the creme of the Orlando crop on Sunday. He is physically impressive on the hoof, tall and well put-together, but his arm was fluid with a quick release through the afternoon.
Scout lists him at 6'4.5", so he's definitely a pocket guy.
MO CB Mario Goodrich reiterates a tentative lead for Michigan early in the process, saying they're "probably at the very top right now." Vague visit plans.
CA CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart says Michigan is a possibility for an official, but doesn't really mention any unofficials and says he might commit in late summer if he's ready.
Former commit and OH LB Antwuan Johnson lists Michigan amongst a number of schools he'll be visiting over the summer. Looks like a team tour kind of thing since there are a wide range of schools on the list, ranging from Georgia and Michigan at the top end down to Toledo and Purdue on the bottom.
CA OL Tommy Brown says he's trying to get money together for an unoffical to Michigan, possibly at their Big Man camp.
Michigan begins to fade for FL DE Nik Bonitto.
We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other
We get to make audio content because we can afford the studio time and equipment to make it happen, and that’s thanks to the people running ads between segments.
The show was recorded in the Michigan Room of the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown. It is presented by the Bo Store, UGP & Moe's, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we probably would have jobs we might lose for googling the things we google for work sometimes.
1. That Basketball Season
starts against 1:00
Why doesn’t Kenpom let us sort stats by before and after an Illinois player calls the team “white collar”? Since then Michigan’s been legitimately the 4th best defense in the conference, the 6th best offense in the country, and the second-best team in the Big Ten. Other than Zak Heroball what’s the worst shot Michigan takes?
2. Maverick Morgan Memorial Bracketology
Big Ten MVP is the poker of the bear. Graham Couch’s plan to get MSU to stop gaming RPI to get on the bubble despite an atrocious season is a brilliant one. BTT: Get past Purdue and it’s four games in four days versus the short bench for a B1G title. Will it take that to get off that 8-9 seed line?
3. Gimmicky Top 5: Upside Down BTN Personalities
starts at 50:55
Stephen Bardo set a new record for worst sports broadcast by a sober person, inspiring our top five list of worst BTN commentators.
4. Harbaugh vs Everybody
starts at 1:10:40
We catch up on an offseason’s worth of Jim Harbaugh at the business end of some of the dumbest national media takes in the history of sports hot takes. Why is Pete Finebaum mad about Harbaugh trying to hire an NFL WRs coach? Why is Stewart Mandel hyperventilating about Michigan having exactly 85 players for exactly 85 scholarships? Basically there’s nothing that unethical cheating hypocrites hate more than a competitive, ethical, authentic, rule-abiding innovator.
- "Sabotage"—Beatie Boys
- “All Our Songs”—Built to Spill
- “It’s Raining Men”—Weather Girls
- “Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
Livers has a smooth, consistent release. [Bryan Fuller]
My trip last Thursday to Kalamazoo didn't quite go as planned. 2017 hoops commit Isaiah Livers and Kalamazoo Central lost an overtime thriller to 2017 MSU commit Xavier Tillman and undefeated Grand Rapids Christian. I spent the game filming from the stands and planned to deliver a detailed scouting report once I had a chance to go back over the video; the bulk of the video got corrupted.
So this is going to be a little shorter and lighter on detail than I hoped. Maize & Go Blue's Sam Sedlecky, who was also in attendance, helpfully jotted down stats while I was too busy working the camera to take notes. Livers tallied 10 points (2/7 2P, 2/4 3P), 5 rebounds (with one impressive offensive board), 2 blocks, 3 steals, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 4 fouls.
Livers got off to a hot start, scoring seven points in the first quarter. He picked up his second and third fouls in quick succession in the second quarter, however, and never fully regained his rhythm in the second half.
It was still easy to see what John Beilein likes in Livers. He played within the confines of Central's offense; his one assist doesn't fairly represent his court vision and willingness to share the rock—if anything, he was too deferential at times. He displayed a fundamentally sound, consistent shooting form; his release is a touch long, but his size and elevation on his jumper helps cover for that, and he can shoot both spotting up or off the bounce.
Livers didn't get much going towards the basket in this game, likely due to his foul trouble and the interior presence of Tillman, who had five or six blocks and altered several other shots. While he's a good ballhandler for a 6'8" forward, he couldn't consistently get past opposing defenders off the dribble—he had the ball swiped away a couple times, including on a critical turnover in the late stages. He looks like he'll be a three-and-D player initially while he refines his offensive skill set.
His defense looked like a strength, especially in transition and on weakside help—those two situations are how he accrued his two blocks, one of which was an impressive chasedown on a fast break. He's got active hands, which had good and bad results in this game; he can be very disruptive but has to be better at picking his spots, especially once he has a foul or two. He showed the ability to stick with smaller players on the perimeter, which will be important—his best shot at contributing as a freshman is to show he can guard threes and stretch fours.
I'd like to see more of Livers before coming to a conclusion about his chances of cracking the rotation next year. Based on what I've seen of him so far, I like his chances of doing so. He looks like a natural spot-up shooter and he possesses the athleticism to develop into an excellent player on both ends. While he's not quite as big, he's got a similar skill set to DJ Wilson. Like Wilson, he's going to need to gain the strength to hold up inside and resist the temptation to float around the perimeter. Unlike Wilson, I think he can be a year-one contributor as a backup 3/4 so long as he shows some comfort in the offense.