This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
After cruising for most of the game, Michigan found themselves against the ropes, up only five in the final minute on the road with the momentum suddenly on the side of host Minnesota.
Derrick Walton had the ball poked away from behind and Carlos Morris looked to cut the lead further with a 2-on-1 the other way. Out of nowhere, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman poked the ball out from behind, chased it down, and threw it off Nate Mason to retain possession. Walton iced the game at the line and the Wolverines escaped Minneapolis with a much-needed win.
Aside from that shaky moment late, Walton was masterful, scoring a career-high 26 points on 9/15 FG with eight rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. He had a hand in 15 of Michigan's 19 points over the final 5:50 of the first half, which culminated in a Rucker-caliber Walton crossover and three in the face of Joey King at the buzzer to give the Wolverines a 14-point lead.
Walton picked up where he left off early in the second half, and he started getting help from Abdur-Rahkman (16 points on a perfect 5-5 night from the field) and Duncan Robinson (14 points, 4/7 3P, career-high 8 rebounds). Michigan's lead reached as many as 19 points and stayed in double-digits until Nate Mason hit a one-handed runner while falling out of bounds with 5:46 to play.
Michigan found themselves unable to keep the Gophers guards out of the paint. Dupree McBrayer bulled his way to the hoop to earn two straight trips to the line. Walton tipped a potential defensive rebound back to Minnesota and Mason nailed a pull-up. A Robinson triple only temporarily stemmed the tide as McBrayer, Mason, and Morris answered with consecutive layups to cut the margin to two.
Then Rahk saved the day, first by putting his shoulder into Morris on a baseline drive for a tough and-one layup, then by cleaning up after Walton on Michigan's next possession. In the process, he may have saved the team's NCAA Tournament hopes.
Michigan (17-7, 7-4 B1G) at
Minnesota (6-17, 0-11)
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -7 (KenPom)|
PBP: Cory Provus
Analyst: Shon Morris
Right: Not even a poor shooting night could prevent Michigan from winning the first matchup. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
Caris LeVert is pain-free, practicing, and officially in control of his return to the court:
According to Michigan coach John Beilein, LeVert has been cleared to play and is the sole decider in when or if he will return to the floor for the Wolverines.
The senior star, an All-American candidate prior to injury his lower left leg in late December, is pain-free and still gradually returning to form.
"This is his call," Beilein said Tuesday. "This isn't my call. We'll see what he feels like after today's practice — how much he can go."
While LeVert could potentially return tonight, there's reason to believe he should wait a little longer; Beilein said LeVert has just worked his way up to an hour of practicing and he's yet to go 100% in a full-court setting. If he plays, it'll be in a limited role as he works his way back into game shape.
THE LAST TIME
Michigan beat Minnesota 74-69 a few weeks ago in Crisler in a strange and uninspiring performance. The Wolverines jumped out to a big first-half lead, then went ice-cold from the field and allowed the Gophers to cut the deficit to as little as three points in the second half; despite this, Michigan's win probability on KenPom never dropped below 90%—in large part because Minnesota is bad, but the Wolverines controlled the game and simply couldn't knock down open looks. They won anyway. Minnesota is bad.
Have I mentioned Minnesota is bad? They are bad. As such, this is a must-win game for a Michigan squad that needs to win at least three of their last seven regular-season games to feel half-decent about their NCAA Tournament chances—and four if they don't want to be under serious pressure in the Big Ten Tournament. Tonight's game is one of only two in which Michigan is outright favored; the other is February 24th against Northwestern. Those two are must-haves, and then the Wolverines have to defend home court against Purdue on Saturday or put themselves in the position of needing a tough road win or an upset in the finale against Iowa.
This game also has stakes beyond Michigan's postseason outlook. This is for history.
Real possibility there's an upcoming game between teams that are a combined 0-28 in league play. Can't be much precedent for that.
— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) February 9, 2016
Please don't screw this up. Yes, Minnesota-Rutgers could be a special kind of historic.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||2||Nate Mason||So.||6'2, 185||80||25||Kinda|
|Good assist:turnover, 79% FT shooter, inefficient from the field.|
|G||1||Dupree McBrayer||Fr.||6'4, 195||53||19||Yes|
|Role increasing, but shooting 35% on twos and 16% on threes.|
|F||23||Charles Buggs||Jr.||6'9, 230||51||13||No|
|Stretch four type who can shoot, but doesn't have much impact otherwise.|
|F||3||Jordan Murphy||Fr.||6'6, 230||60||24||Kinda|
|Top-15 rebounder on both ends in B1G, decent shot-blocker, 57% on twos.|
|C||21||Bakary Konate||So.||6'11, 235||51||14||Very|
|Good finisher/rebounder/shot-blocker, somewhat foul- and TO-prone.|
|F||24||Joey King||Sr.||6'9, 240||77||16||No|
|Deadeye outside shooter also getting to the line. Not great inside arc.|
|G||11||Carlos Morris||Sr.||6'5, 185||62||24||No|
|PT decreasing as he's been mired in a shooting slump.|
|G||4||Kevin Dorsey||Fr.||6'0, 185||42||26||Yes|
|Draws a lot of fouls and hits FTs. Mediocre finisher and terrible 3P shooter.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Crootin'. Here's a 35-minute video breakdown of the recruiting class from Scout.
Helen Lovejoy, commissioner. Obviously the SEC was going to get fusty about Michigan's plan to practice at IMG over spring break. They did not do so in a way that came off at all plausibly. Shot:
“Our primary reaction [is] that, in the face of the time-demand conversations, we've got one program taking what has been 'free time' away,” Sankey said. “Let's draw a line and say, ‘That's not appropriate.'"
“The net of that is to say the Southeastern Conference is not going to be outpaced in recruiting,” Sankey said. “If the national approach is that we want to have more aggressive summer camps and coaches touring around all summer, then we will not only engage in that behavior, we will certainly engage in that behavior more actively -- probably more effectively than others.”
Shorter Greg Sakey: we are concerned about the kids, but if we don't get our way screw the kids. Par for the course amongst lizard people. This is of course a conference that's completely fine with a baseball schedule that sees Northern teams literally spend a month straight in the South, but don't screw with a man's right to go to South Padre, brah.
Meanwhile, try not to burst out laughing at this one:
Sankey is also concerned Michigan would be at a “site full of prospects run by a business enterprise that has a lot of interests -- but one of those is sports agents. It seems like very much the wrong tone.”
The "wrong tone," says the comissioner of the League of Extraordinary Bagmen. I'm all for people getting whatever money they can out of college athletics but to turn around and wave the rulebook at Michigan's face while crapping on it daily is hypocrisy worthy of… well… a high-ranking NCAA official. I cannot top reality there.
Hello: Bush the Elder? Buzz has been building that Michigan would fill one of its open recruiting/analyst spots with Devin Bush Sr, who built the Flanagan program from nothing into a state champion. That had been constrained to subscription sites until this article:
Multiple sources have told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that Flanagan coach Devin Bush is on the verge of joining the staff at Michigan where three of his Falcons -- son and linebacker Devin Bush Jr. and safeties Devin Gil and Josh Metellus -- have signed.
An announcement is expected next week. Bush is obviously a natural for the spot Chris Partridge vacated when he got bumped up to linebackers coach. The two guys have very similar backgrounds. Both were/are HS head coaches who made previously lagging programs into powers by getting gents to transfer. Partridge was interviewed by the WSJ a few days ago, providing some insight into why his hire was so successful for Michigan's New Jersey recruiting efforts:
How much does your New Jersey background help you land recruits from there?
Shoot, some of these kids I’ve seen play football since the fifth and sixth grade. I know them, I know the guys that have coached them their whole lives, I know similarities in the styles that they play, you know people that know their families. Of course, it gives you an advantage because you’re just so familiar and because they feel comfortable. And ultimately, they know that I’m watching out for them.
Hopefully Bush can have a similar impact in a bigger pond.
Meanwhile Flanagan is set to replace Bush with Pretty Much Devin Bush. DC Stanford Samuels, another Florida State legacy whose son is a major recruit, is expected to get a promotion.
Oversigning, the coda. The oversigning thing doesn't get brought up anymore because people mad about it more or less won. Get The Picture has a list of SEC signees per team before and after the Houston Nutt cap was implemented that shows a big dropoff for the worst offenders:
|SEC Average Signing Class Numbers|
|Team||Average Class 2007-11||Average Class 2012-16||Difference|
(He's using that to show that Georgia is now fighting with both arms instead of one.) Even if the LOIs foregone were mostly sign-and-place type deals where a guy who's going to JUCO signs a letter of intent for funsies that's still an improvement since no longer is that guy restricted if he does get eligible—and he isn't signed with a team that doesn't even want him to qualify.
The NCAA should still move to a yearly cap with no limit on overall scholarships to remove the incentive to get rid of a guy entirely.
I thought this was the entire point of dodgeball. If this was the standard for psychologizing folks in my time, whole dang middle school would have been in a line going out the door of the psychologist's office:
Harbaugh had to see the psychologist because he drilled a kid in the head during a game of dodgeball. In the fourth grade.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) February 5, 2016
Dude didn't dodge the ball. That's the name of the game, man. Can't hold Harbaugh accountable for that unless you're the SEC commissioner.
I want to see his review of Infinite Jest. Harbaugh went on a media tour at the Super Bowl, the highlight of which was this:
"You look like a writer!" Harbaugh says with enthusiasm as we shake hands.
Harbaugh saw a movie about a writer recently, on a flight a couple months back. It was calledThe End of the Tour. He loved it, loved the dialogue. And now he has just one question.
"Was that a real person, David Foster Wallace?"
I don't expect or even want my football coach to know the answer to that question because I expect that people who know the answer to that question are bad coaches. But I do think he should start with a Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again because it is the most accessible writing DFW did and that he'll probably think "oh, the NFL" after seeing the title.
Etc.: Shoe not effective when used as gun. Michigan is 6th in the post Signing Day S&P rankings. Austin Davis is tall. Children are not. Harbaugh has no unfinished business in the NFL. Wheatley in the Players' Tribune.
So please throw out the old one; I've re-jimmied my historical recruiting spreadsheets to create a new formula for reporting a consensus star rating, kind of like 247's composite rating except it's not just 247 who has one now.
What I mean by "STARs" We are all familiar (I hope) with the idea of a 5-star player and a 4-star player, etc. For a long time on this site we've also been talking about "consensus" 5-stars, versus maybe "4.5-stars" who were maybe 5-stars to half the scouting sites and 4-stars to the other half. Thing is that's not very useful either; a guy whom every site ranked 1 spot below the last 5-star and a guy whom every site ranked just above the first 3-star are both "consensus 4-stars" but should have very different expectations.
Besides the sites really use their own scoring systems, having a certain score equal star ratings just for the sake of comparison. Or even if they don't (Scout) they rank players against each other. That's a lot of data they're trying to tell us about our recruits, but difficult to access. Why can't we have just one number on a simple scale that says all that?
Oh right we do: the 247 composite. Well why can't we have another?
The idea was to take all the different recruiting scoring systems and have them fit a simple star rating system. My previous attempt had some problems, mostly with ESPN not syncing up with the others. So here's the new attempt:
|★★★★★||6.1 (Top 10)||Top 10||91+||99+|
|4.40||5.9 (t100)||Top 100||84||95|
|★★★★||5.8 (t250)||Top 250||81-82||92-93|
The one potentially confusing thing is "3.80" and not "4.00" is the baseline of a low-ish 4-star. Ditto "2.75" for a low-ish 3-star. I did that because the sites have up to 300 guys who get a 4-star ranking, and also have Top ~250 or 300 lists. Since what we think of as a "4-star" is usually the kind of guy who makes that list, I wanted the numbers to reflect it.
[after the jump: how I did it, and free spreadsheets yay!]
Previously: the offense.
Joshua Kaindoh is a big-timer at DE
The Need. Defensive tackle is a major priority. Going into 2017 Michigan is down to Mone, Hurst, Dwumfour, and Pallante at a spot where four players are more or less starters these days. Gary can of course fold inside; even so Michigan should be hard after two or three DTs.
End is less of a numerical priority with four or five guys in the past two classes if Reuben Jones and Carlo Kemp have long term futures on the line. I expect that is the case; a couple ends should be expected.
The Prospects. Tackles:
- NJ DTs Fred Hansard and Corey Bolds are from New Jersey and thus obviously high on Michigan's target list. Despite being a Paramus guy, Bolds is reputed to heavily favor Clemson right now; Hansard is a realistic prospect but a guy who is getting a lot of attention from OSU and the like.
- UT DT Jay Tufele has an offer and is from an area of the country where Michigan has had some recent success. Oregon has a couple picks on the crystal ball that probably don't mean much.
- M is trying to get in with five-star TX DT Marvin Wilson but he's a major longshot.
Aaaand that's it right now. This is a bit of a worry, insofar as anything can be a worry in a recruiting class almost a year from signing. Michigan needs two or three guys and has limited priority options right now.
- Instate DE Corey Malone-Hatcher is ranked in the top 200 everywhere and generally expected to end up at M, though ND, OSU, and Alabama are also involved.
- Five-star FL DE Joshua Kaindoh is originally from Baltimore; he transferred IMG and maintains a top list with a distinctly Midwest flavor. Penn State was an early leader, and these days "Penn State leads" is a big red bullseye for Harbaugh.
- Five-star FL DE Jarez Parks is actually from Florida and will be a tough pull; Michigan is reruiting him hard all the same.
- MD DE Chase Young has the full suite of Midwest offers and a few Maryland predictions from the locals. Michigan will be after him; he has given no indication of a leader.
The Projection: Michigan should get Malone-Hatcher; Hansard is an increasingly good bet as OSU has already gotten two DT commits. Past that it's cloudy. Michigan should have a good shot at Kaindoh, especially if Michigan and PSU have the seasons it looks like they will. They'll take two DTs and two DEs.
Singleton seems familiar somehow
The Need. Michigan got plenty of numbers at linebacker a year ago and can take it easy in this class. They lack top-end prospects, however, so finding a couple potentially elite guys is an important goal for 2017.
The Recruits. This position seems pretty easy to peg. Paramus LB Drew Singleton has been on campus repeatedly; Michigan is a heavy favorite. MI LB Josh Ross is James's younger brother. Michigan is also a heavy favorite with him. Pioneer ATH Antjuan Simmons has offers from the world and is probably an OLB at the next level; he seemed a bit miffed that Michigan waited to offer and has been seeking the proverbial love. He released a top 11 without M in it; we'll see whether that holds up.
Michigan is also chasing a couple of big fish. One is five-star Baylor commit Baron Browning, whose brother played for Harbaugh at Stanford. 2017 #1 Dylan Moses, a linebacker out of Louisiana, has a top six that doesn't include M but…
The move to IMG could open a door to another top program, Michigan, which recently made headlines for announcing it would hold a portion of its spring practices at IMG Academy over the spring.
"That would be cool,” he said. "I’ve never really seen Michigan up close like that before and I’ve never visited the school either. It’s just a great opportunity and you know, hopefully I can get an offer from them, because I don’t have one yet.”
…will be around for Michigan's practices at IMG.
The Projection. Singleton and Ross and that's it.
The Need. You can never ever have enough corners; Michigan will pursue at least a couple. Safety is either a critical need or a modest one depending on where guys like Ahmir Mitchell and Brad Hawkins end up. In a large class they'll probably go with five or even six DBs. They are set to lose that many.
— Stanford Samuels III (@SSIII_) January 21, 2016
The Recruits. Three-star Canadian Benjamin St-Juste was a camp commit who got pushed back a year because of differences between the Canadian and American school systems.
- FL CB CJ Cotman was very excited about getting a Michigan offer; he immediately hit up every Michigan recruiting site for articles, fulfilling "who you talk to is important."
- FL CB Stanford Samuels III is another Florida State legacy out of Flanagan who Michigan will try to steal away from the Seminoles.
- FL CB Trajan Bandy, a high school teammate of Joshua Uche, has an offer and seemed pretty pumped about Michigan on twitter when Uche pulled the trigger. (He in fact jumped the gun with a celebratory tweet.)
- MI CB Ambry Thomas goes to King and has been hot and cold on Michigan depending on when you get him. Michigan has to repair some of the after-effect of the Swenson situation. After they do
- MI ATH Allen Stritzinger could be a corner or safety; we talked about him on offense.
- Michigan's trying to get involved with five-star TX S Jeffrey Okudah and did manage to slip into a top ten.
- Fantastically-named UT S Chaz Ah You picked up an offer in October.
- Instate safeties Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Scott Nelson are possibly the best bets to end up in the class; Kelly-Powell named Michigan his leader a while back and goes to Cass. Nelson is actually a MSU fan; we'll see if the Spartans get involved. Nelson is a Don Brown guy; he had a very early offer from BC.
The Projection. Nobody other than Kelly-Powell seems 50%+ to be in the class at this instant save St-Juste. They will take a pile of DBs, though.
Michigan is unlikely to spend a scholarship on a specialist this year. They picked up Quinn Nordin, the country's top kicker, and Camaron Cheeseman, the #2 long snapper, in the last class. They also added punter Will Hart. A Zoltan-level punter would be the only player Michigan goes after with a precious slot.
This instant's ridiculous class projection you should absolutely ignore
I mean do not pay attention to this at all. A confidence level of "high" means approximately a 50/50 shot they end up in the class. "Low" means this is more or less a placeholder.
|State||Position||Player||Approx. Stars||Confidence Level|
|CO||QB||Dylan McCaffrey||4.5||Very High|
|MI||RB||Allen Stritzinger||3.5||Very High|
|NJ||LB||Drew Singleton||4.5||Very High|
|CN||CB||Benjamin St Juste||3||Commit|
|MI||S||Jaylen Kelly-Powell||4||Very High|
[Bumped (and added some photos) because it's good and so is our softball team. --Seth]
Sprinkle the cheese
It’s hard to put the experience of Michigan’s 2015 softball season into words. It was totally unique in so many ways. Michigan fans were desperate for something to go right after hockey, basketball, and football all came up well short of pre-season expectations. Jim Harbaugh was making headlines, but concrete results were still months away, and the Michigan community was still convalescing from its long bout of Brandonitis. It was the perfect time for niche sport to make a bid for mainstream status, as fans needed something, anything to go right, to make things feel like Michigan again.
Into this void stepped a group of twenty young women, swinging bats and making pizza as they blasted their way through the country and the Big Ten, into the record books and Maize and Blue hearts nationwide. The team combined absurd offensive production and strong pitching with an unmatched rootability factor. Whether on TV or in person, this team was fun. When Lauren Haeger’s Gators bounced them in the last game of the season, it felt like an injustice, just like Trey Burke missing out on his crown or the Legend of Shawn Hunwick falling short against Minnesota-Duluth.
The difference between those crimes and this one, however, is that Michigan has a chance to put things right. Almost everyone is back from the 2015 squad, and there’s no question that they’ve been working harder than ever all offseason to earn what was denied them a year ago. It’s a new year with fresh faces and stiff competition, but this is a team on a mission. Below, we’ll break down roster changes, offense and defense, and the opposition Michigan will face in the season ahead. 2016 isn’t going to be 2015 all over again, and Hutch and her crew are smart enough not to try to make it that. It just might be a little bit better.
[Hit THE JUMP to see what that team lost and what to expect from this one]