"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Michigan 59 Iowa 52, 2nd Round Big Ten Tournament
Michigan's game-to-game inconsistency has been the story of the season, and we got it gleefully wrapped into one package against Iowa. Of course, to truly represent the 2009-10 Michigan Wolverines it would have ended with a loss, so we're comin' out ahead already, baby. Michigan completely dominated at times, led by DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris. At other times, Cully Payne and Aaron Fuller made Wolverine fans tear their hair out by leading the Hawkeyes on runs to stay in the game. Still, past the first couple minutes, the outcome was rarely in doubt.
Michigan's ability to force turnovers was a big key, though they did get sloppy and commit some turnovers themselves. Giving it up eight times doesn't seem like too much, but considering they didn't turn it over once in the first 14 minutes, and it's clear play got a little sloppy.
Though nobody other than Manny (22 points) and Peedi (14 points) scored in double figures, Michigan got a little scoring from a few other guys, though the shooting woes of Zack Novak and Stu Douglass continued. Douglass and LLP showed a willingness to drive the ball a little bit, and if that had been available all year, this team might have been a little less disappointing. Speaking of disappointing, Darius Morris was practically invisible, and still has work to do before he can put together impressive performances every game.
And with the win, it's on to...
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
March 12th 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +9*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Ohio State controlled the game by owning the second half in Value City Arena just a week ago, eventually emerging with a 66-55 victory. No recap since I didn't get a chance to catch the game, but all five of Michigan's starters scored in double figures, and William Buford paced the Buckeyes with 24 points. Michigan won the turnover battle, like usual, but the shooting went cold in the second half, and Ohio State managed to capitalize for the victory.
Previously, Michigan upset the Buckeyes in Crisler Arena to kick off the New Year. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims scored 52 of Michigan's 73 points. The game also brought us the beginning of VOGRIT, as the freshman led the team in offensive rebounding and made a big block in the paint. I'm skirting around a key fact here though, which is that Evan Turner - winner of several player of the year awards - missed the game with broken vertebrae (spinal injuries what what). With Turner in the lineup, Ohio State has been dominant, sharing the Big Ten crown with Purdue and Michigan State.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy. Also, you'd better hide the women and children before they catch a glimpse of this chart.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||247||88||OO|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||211||4||OOO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||12||78||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||34||31||-|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||290||27||OOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||270||273||-|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||330||11||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||7||205||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||107||19||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||46||12||O|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
So, uh, thanks for the entertaining season, guys. Ohio State is clearly the superior team in nearly every category, and Michigan is going to be hard-pressed to find a way to beat the Buckeyes when they have Evan Turner in the lineup.
Michigan's defensive improvement over the course of the season is something of a silver lining, but this Ohio State team is on track for a 1- or 2-seed in the NCAA tournament for a reason. Michigan also has a bit more to play for, as Ohio State's season will carry into the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome, and the Wolverines are in a win-or-go-home situation for the rest of the year.
Kenpom likes Ohio State by 8, and Vegas makes the Buckeyes 9-point favorites. I think Michigan's sense of urgency might keep the game a little bit closer than the experts think. Still it's hard to pick against a squad that's rolling like the Buckeyes are.
Programming note. Since the basketball team has definitively disproven the idea that a liveblog around these parts is some kind of curse—the curse obviously exists, mind you, but goes wider than just this here blog—we're going to do one for the Iowa game today. Why? I don't really know.
Weekend note. Michigan State is desperately trying to sell CCHA playoff tickets:
To purchase tickets for groups of 15 or more, click here to receive discount pricing!
Let's help them out!
Deford and the Dream of Horses. Frank Deford sits down to briefly address this Ed O'Bannon thing before dozing off and dreaming of horses…
…and the headline goes for the gusto: "lawsuit threatens NCAA amateurism." That seems akin to those headlines about a 16-team Big Ten with outposts in Nagasaki and Atlantis, but Deford does a pretty good job of justifying it, all things considered:
So here's the nub for the NCAA: Explain the exemption that absolves the organization from compensating players for their labor.
So far, the NCAA, whose office is in Indianapolis, has spent a great deal of pretrial energy trying desperately to get the case shifted from San Francisco to its home court in Indiana. However, its effort did not pay off, as Federal Judge Claudia Wilken denied the request. Now, the discovery phase begins.
The outlook is bleak. The 2009 decision to award retired NFL players compensation for the use of their likeness in video games must surely hang over the NCAA's head. If old pros should be paid for the appropriation of their personages, why shouldn't old collegians?
I'm coming up empty even when I approach the problem from the perspective of a slick-haired guy in a suit attempting to argue an obviously untenable position because that's how daddy gets a luxury car. I'm all for the collegiate spirit, but I'm also all for the vague semblance of fairness.
Remember how I used to rail about the ridiculous increase in head coaches' salaries? Good times. Also outdated times:
The trend of rapidly accelerating pay for major-college head football coaches is being replicated — and then some — for their top assistants.
With many contracts being negotiated or finalized, nearly a dozen schools in the NCAA's 120-school Football Bowl Subdivision have made deals under which they will be spending at least 38% more on their offensive or defensive coordinator in 2010 than they did in 2009.
This, like everything else in college football, is Lane Kiffin's fault.
Even so, every time a coordinator breaks a million dollars it's another blow to the idea that big time college sports programs can't afford to provide something to their players. If a BCS university's athletic department isn't profitable, it's because the university doesn't want it to be profitable. Period. You could hire a high school coach and fly coach and laugh as your terrible team gets a million billion dollars in TV revenue. You could drop the crew teams. You could become Donald Sterling, and laugh all the way to the bank. There is an unbelievable amount of money that could go to the players.
I can understand the point of view that you'd rather give someone else a scholarship and have another team or draw less from the general fund than offer something resembling fair compensation to football and basketball players, but that's not where the extra money goes, does it?
Conference du Gump. The Big Ten, as always, is slowwwww. John Gasaway gets a brief window to promulgate tempo-free whatnot in the Wall Street Journal and supplies a chart (chart):
The Tempo Index
Here are the fastest and slowest major-conference teams, based on their number of possessions per 40 minutes of conference play.
THE TORTOISES THE HARES 1 Wisconsin (57.6) 1 Providence (72.8) 2 Michigan (59.7) 2 Arkansas (72.3) 3 Iowa (61) 3 Texas Tech (72) 4 Penn State (61.3) 4 Villanova (71.6) 5 Northwestern (61.8) 5 Washington (71.4) 6 Pittsburgh (62) 6 Texas (71.4) 7 USC (62.1) 7 Kansas State (71.3)
Holy cold potatoes: Big Ten teams comprise the bottom five and Michigan is second only to Wisconsin.
Gasaway, by the way, confirmed for me that my previous instinct about Michigan's conference defense vis a vis its offense was correct. Tempo-free aerials are usually centered on 1.00 point per trip, and Michigan both averaged and provided just about one point per trip during conference play. Average at everything? Not so much. This was a twitter message, in case you're wondering about the terseness:
Assumption confirmed. In-conf defense 0.31 standard deviations better than Big Ten avg. Offense half an sd (.49) worse than avg. Zowie.
That latter won't surprise anyone given the Taj Mahal Michigan shooters have assembled over the past few months. The former, though, is one of the enduring mysteries of the Big Ten season. It may be one of the enduring mysteries of John Beilein's career: Michigan is currently 47th in the adjusted efficiency ratings at Kenpom. Barring John Lickliter going 12/12 from three in a couple hours, this will be the best defense Beilein has ever had according to Kenpom.
How in the hell is a team with basically one player over 6'5" (Sims and Gibson hardly ever play together) actually good at defense? Kenpom says it's a lot of forced turnovers and a Wisconsin-like aversion to giving up free throws making up for bleah eFG% defense and rebounding. That turnovers without fouling thing is a neat trick.
The thing is: that fingerprint is characteristic of the 1-3-1 zone Beilein is known for… and Michigan had to abandon midway through the nonconference schedule because mediocrities like Boston College and Alabama were treating it like a layup line. By the Big Ten portion of the schedule, Michigan had morphed into an almost exclusively man-to-man team.
This isn't like football where a terrible offense can sometimes make that team's defense look better than it is as opponents get their three point lead and play keep-away. The opponent's offense, or lack thereof, is of no relevance once you suck tempo out of the equation. So this appears to be a real positive that could last into next year. If anyone on the team can throw a ball into Lake Michigan, it could be relevant.
Default Big Ten expansion bits. Notre Dame rumbled a couple days ago, spawning panic across the Subway alums. I was doubtful that the "easy to construct" scenario in which Notre Dame is forced into a conference comes to pass—had a hard time constructing one at all—and this makes it even more doubtful:
A source within the Big Ten told the Tribune last month that given what transpired in 2003, when Notre Dame all but accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten before pulling back, "the only way they will be offered is if they first accept. The Big Ten went down that road and got burned. Fool me once, fool me twice."
On the flipside of that, Rutgers fans were almost nonchalant (which, certainly owed much to how frequently the topic has been debated to death on our side in recent years) and completely self-assured about it. ”Of course Rutgers was the most desirable option. How could anyone possibly think otherwise?”
Er… well, you see… it's just… nah. Never mind.
I said another piece on this in a Sporting Blog article yesterday and remain skeptical that Rutgers moves the needle enough in New York for the local cable companies to shell out for the BTN, but on WTKA today Ira made a good point: with a zillion Big Ten alums in the city, their combined might could be Captain Planet to Pollutin' Time Warner. Rutgers gets to be the fey South American kid whose special power is "heart".
Etc.: Jim Mandich has cancer, but it is apparently treatable. TOC puts together Big Ten efficiency graphs that show two things: holy God is the offense bad against teams not named Minnesota, and holy crap are they inconsistent.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Iowa|
|WHEN||2:30 PM EST
March 11th, 2010
|TELEVISION||ESPN2 (O'Brien, Lavin)|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan has defeated Iowa both times they've matched up this year, coming away with a comfortable 14-point win in Crisler Arena, and winning in overtime in Iowa City. Make no mistake: The Hawkeyes are a bad team. However, there are a couple reasons to expect Michigan to face some difficulty in knocking them off this afternoon.
As you'll hear an obnoxious number of times this week, it's difficult to beat one team three times in a single season. Considering that Michigan scraped by Iowa last time they met (after toying with the Hawkeyes in the first contest), that adage likely applies in this situation. Seeing as how both teams are playing to extend their seasons, however briefly that may be, and Iowa just may be able to bring more to the table than Michigan.
This first-round match is a throwback to the last two years, when Michigan has knocked of the Hawkeyes to open the Big Ten Tournament each season.
Michigan has been painfully inconsistent over the course of this season, alternating big wins (or near-misses) with demoralizing losses. At their best, they're probably capable of beating anyone. At their worst, well, you've seen it enough times this season to know. Is it possible for the Good Wolverines to come out and play enough games to make the postseason? Probably not, but it should be likely for them to beat the Hawkeyes.
Michigan has bounced back strong several times this year after suffering big losses, and they'll hope that the same thing happens today. It might be late in the season for this, but I hope that they also learn it's their responsibility to earn the bounceback; it's not just going to happen naturally.
"One game at a time" is a particularly annoying piece of coachspeak, but the way John Beilein describes it, there's no better description of the situation Michigan finds themselves in right now. There's now use in worrying about winning four straight games to keep the season going, because looking past one opponent can mean the untimely end of the season. The team simply has to focus on taking care of the next game (four times in a row), and if they're blessed to make it to the next round, they'll climb that mountain when they come to it.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Iowa: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Iowa Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Iowa Def eFG%||239||304||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%||221||163||I|
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%||12||309||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%||39||260||MMM|
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%||290||61||III|
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%||265||251||I|
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR||334||27||IIII|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR||8||308||MMMM|
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD||100||182||M|
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO||47||155||MM|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
Aaron Fuller has been a boss when Michigan has faced Iowa so far this year, and containing him is going to be priority number one. Shortly after that is "not allowing the Hawkeyes to shoot nearly 50% from behind the arc," a goal that goes hand-in-hand with keeping Matt Gatens in check. Michigan is a far superior team outside those two, and controlling the ball will be a major key to the game.
Having beaten Iowa twice this year is bound to give Michigan some confidence, which they've lacked all season. It also means that the Hawkeyes will play with a serious chip on their shoulder. That hopefully won't obscure the fact that MIchigan is a far superior team (underachieving though they've been this season). DeShawn Sims should be able to have a field day, like he has every recent time Michigan has faced Iowa.
Ken Pomeroy predicts a 7-point Michigan victory, but for some reason I'm confident enough to say they'll beat Iowa by (slightly) more than that, emerging 9-10 point winners to take on Ohio State in round 2.
Since there's nothing left that could possibly be cursed (if Michigan loses, the season is over. If Michigan wins, it's probably over tomorrow anyway), Liveblogs shall make their triumphant return this afternoon. We'll get started here around 2:15.
Last year you had a post on why Penn State wouldn't go varsity in hockey, and why a Big Ten Hockey conference would not happen. While the economics have gotten harder, one of the central tenets was all the conferences were full - but the CCHA will have an open spot that they didn't want to give to Alabama-Huntsville after UNO's departure. Would the CCHA welcome in Penn State (and why not)? How much does this improve the likelihood that Penn State's hockey program goes varsity?
On a related track, if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, would it spell doom for the CCHA?
The main reason Huntsville was rejected from the CCHA application is that the small schools in the league are already in a financially precarious position and adding a trip to Alabama would have been a net loss. At least, that's my reading of the boilerplate:
“The CCHA will remain focused on maintaining and strengthening our existing members to ensure the conference’s continued success and long-term viability.”
Penn State is closer—about four hours by car for most CCHA sites—but not close enough that anyone is going to drive, so the financial drain is about the same. However, it's bleeding obvious that PSU brings a lot more cachet to the league than UAH. Would Ferris sell out for a game against Penn State even if PSU was terrible, as they likely would be for the first few years? Maybe or maybe not, but they'd probably draw better than any other mediocre-to-bad CCHA team. The Big Ten Network would televise more games and maybe the smaller CCHA schools could extract some money from that in exchange. Financially, it seems feasible for the existing members.
I assume Penn State's varsity hockey outlook is considerably improved by the opening, but that just means it goes from "no way in hell" to "very small chance."
Your Notre Dame question is sort of a question about a Big Ten hockey conference, which I don't think we'll see in the near future even if ND joins. You have to have six schools to call your conference the Big Ten, but you don't have to play in a Big Ten conference once you get to six.
HOWEVA, this offseason is going to be the most interesting one in a long time for college hockey. Some sort of Big Ten quasi-conference has moved past the realm of rumor and into things coaches are talking about directly. The announcement that the College Hockey Showcase was kaput actually came with the notion that Michigan and Michigan State would end up playing their WCHA Big Ten brethren more often, not less:
"We have one more year after this and that's it,'' MSU coach Rick Comley said. "I think it's run it's course. Wisconsin did not want to extend the Showcase. They want to get Ohio State involved and they prefer a Big Ten Conference.'' …
"My preference would be to play (Minnesota and Wisconsin) twice (each season),'' said Comley, who is not in favor of a Big Ten league at this point. "I think we could declare a Big Ten champion. It would require a reduced number of CCHA games, which I'm in favor of.''
Whenever I talk to the Big Ten Network people, which has been a few times now, I ping them about hockey and their response always is "we are interested in televising games between Big Ten schools." The network needs content but doesn't want Lake Superior; the BTN money then gives the big schools a huge incentive to play each other.
With the CCHA headed to 11 teams and the WCHA to 12, both conferences are going to have to adjust their schedules. I don't know how you could possibly make an 11 team conference work with the unbalanced schedule the CCHA has been running since they went to twelve, so a reduction to 22 conference games seems inevitable. If Michigan is going to play Wisconsin twice and Minnesota twice and maintain their four games per year against State, they might as well throw in a bonus series with Ohio State and call that a Big Ten schedule, right? If the WCHA goes down to 24, UW and Minnesota can do this too, but that will eat up every nonconference game in years they don't travel to Alaska or manage an exempt tournament.
How come our band goes to so few road games? It seems like the MMB only goes to MSU, ND, and OSU. The Purdue band and their big drum managed to make it to the big house. It seems like at every SEC game the visiting band is always there. How come our band never travels to non-rivals games?
I pinged someone formerly in the band and they pinged someone closer to the situation and this is what I got back:
More than money, I think it's logistics. It's hard to convince schools to give up 230-280 seats so that Michigan can have more of a presence in their stadium; that was the deal with PSU before. They'll give us like 90 tickets, or enough for a big pep band, but not enough for pregame or a meaningful halftime performance. At the time, the directors decided that it was better not to go than to send a group too small to really represent the MMB, and nothing's changed, more or less.
This seems sort of unlikely to me since Northwestern and Indiana aren't going to sell out when Michigan comes to down, and if opponents were unwilling to fork over seats for the MMB Michigan could retaliate by not allowing opposing bands to come. That's not the case: there might be one home game a year where the opponent band does not show, and that's homecoming. Virtually every band in the Big Ten shows at Michigan Stadium.
I’ll go on the record as being opposed to our new AD making comments that RR will be the coach for this season insomuch as it could be construed that RR could be done if they do not improve this season. With the sharks already circling the program, I see this as an unwise move by Brandon. Why give legs to the notion that RR is on the hot seat? If Brandon does not see the impending doom and downward spiral that awaits us if we push out RR too fast, then shame on him for not learning from the Notre Dames and Nebraskas of the world.
Thoughts? I am really concerned that we’ll jump the shark on this one. I don’t see a scenario out there that does not put us into a tailspin. Hire Les Miles/Harbaugh and you’ve got the revamp the offense to more of a traditional attack and we’re looking at least another year or two of development and recruiting. Yes, a Miles hire would be an uptick on your recruiting trail, but would it be enough to overcome the current perception of the program? Hire another spread guy and you’re limited to a crop of guys who are descendant from the guy who wrote the book and that you just got rid of. Where is the win in that scenario. Our best bet is to go on the offensive in support of our guy. Let’s not lay out there for interpretation anymore lame-ass ambiguous quotes for the Sharp’s, Snyder’s, and Rosenberg’s of the world to run wild with. Let’s go on the offensive with the media and boot the Free Press and their Guerilla journalism tactics out in to the cold and make an example out of them. Let’s go get these supposed Old Guard or Moles or whatever the message boards are calling them today and let it be none that you’re either on-board or off the ship, even if it means returning checks to donors.
I think leadership like that is what we need now and not the comments I read this morning, which are not the comments of someone convinced we’re headed in the right direction.
I mentioned this in UV yesterday about Brandon's stay on message moments in the press conference and with Generic Fox Business Jerko, but to reiterate: I think the explicit "Rich Rodriguez will be our coach next year" is not so much a threat that Rich Rodriguez won't be the coach in 2011 as a way to remove any ambiguity about Rodriguez's job security right this moment.
Unfortunately, Brandon has to live in reality, and in reality there is a chance that Rodriguez doesn't make it to 2011. If Michigan doesn't make a bowl this year it may be impossible to keep him even if you think he is a good coach just because of the brand damage. I sort of kind of felt that way about Tommy Amaker: even if he'd been extremely unlucky to barely whiff on NCAA tourney bids and suffer through that one year where the team was so injury-wracked that Dani Wohl started against Michigan State, after six years you can't really justify keeping him on. I was way less enthused about Amaker in general since his history was one Sweet 16 season followed by an implosion.
"Going on the offensive" with the media never works out. The hive mind perceives a threat and releases single-sentence pheromones that scurry to their defense. Why do you hate freedom, Mr. University of Michigan? Censorship, Mr. University of Michigan? For shame. Etc. The best thing is to be as explicit and boring as possible. And from what I've seen elsewhere, outside of the shrill yelpers in the local media the end result here is regarded as nothing. Self-imposed sanctions will be announced and then everyone will forget about it unless they're creating a spittle-flecked case to fire Rodriguez.
As far as a hypothetical new coach in 2011 resulting in a tailspin, I actually think there could be something of a Ron English effect going on here. After years of clamoring for Jim Herrmann's head, Michigan fans finally got it in the 2006 offseason. Ron English walked into Lamarr Woodley, Alan Branch, David Harris, Leon Hall, Shawn Crable, Prescott Burgess, Terrance Taylor, and so on and so forth, and promptly went on an all-crushing tear until Ohio State and USC realized that Morgan Trent was Michigan's second-best corner and linebacker Chris Graham was their third-best. English seemed like a frickin' genius… and then promptly went out the next year and got nuked in The Horror and the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon game.
It's evident now that English is not a frickin' genius, but getting back a huge number of excellent players disguised that. Jim Herrmann probably would have had a lights-out year, too.
This is what Hypothetical New Coach is going to walk into in 2011: 20 returning starters (including specialists). Everyone except Steve Schilling, Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, and Troy Woolfolk will be back. If there is a hypothetical new coach, Michigan will probably have had six or fewer wins in 2010. Bouncing up to 9-3 or whatever is going to be child's play, and Hypothetical New Coach will get carried around on a palanquin.
I'd much, much rather Rodriguez stick around because the last thing the program needs is another bowlless season, round of transfers and decommitments, and general inefficiency where square parts meet round holes. Obviously. But the roster agony Michigan suffered through the past two years (Nick Sheridan! Four scholarship defensive backs!) is not coming back in anything approximating that level of pain.
And now some Terry Foster pile-on:
wondering if you had heard this rumor that i just read on terry fosters facebook page:
Terry Foster I heard a rumor Michigan coach John Beilein was looking to leave for Rutgers or North Carolina State. The Michigan mafia swears it is not true. He still has their support.
i wanted to ask you first about this before i even thought about posting it on the site. but i wanted to put it on there before 2pm when his radio show starts and he leads off with it.
one more question, how the hell is this "michigan mafia"??? foster always references them when he talks about michigan.
Everything you need to know about Terry Foster's totally awesome rumor skillz can be found in this old post. Key graph from 16-year-old (who is now 21!):
Jayborne23 posted on 8/23/2005 9:53:28 PM
HOLY S***, WAS I RIGHT?
Is Sheed for Chandler and Nocioni a real deal? Cause I sincerely made that s*** up. That hoopsworld article mentioned it. WHAT THE F***?