alternate headline: man does job
Derrick Walton had taken nine shots. None of them had gone in. With Michigan improbably within three points in the waning minutes against Purdue, however, he crossed over PJ Thompson and charged into the paint, laying his first bucket in off the glass as AJ Hammons knocked him to the floor.
While Walton missed his chance to tie the game at the line, he more than redeemed himself, pulling down two signature high-flying defensive rebounds and making 4/4 free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal the victory.
On the afternoon Caris LeVert finally returned to the court, only to play 11 scoreless first-half minutes before sitting out the second half, Zak Irvin also played out a redemption tale. Coming off an ugly 1/8 performance against Minnesota, Irvin went 2/7 in the first half and had his first shot of the second swatted by Hammons. Then he heated up from the outside and turned around his battle with burly Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the second half, including the winning points on a pull-up from the free-throw line with 1:09 remaining that barely crested over Hammons' fingertips.
Despite inconsistent performances from their stars, foul trouble for Mark Donnal, and Rapheal Davis once again eliminating Duncan Robinson (4 points, 0/1 3P) from the offense, Michigan found a way to win. To earn it, they had to lean on defense and rebounding.
Against the best rebounding team in the conference on both ends of the floor, Michigan won the battle of the boards, pulling down 28% of their misses to Purdue's 20%. While Swanigan (14 points, 6/9 FG) proved tough to handle, the bigs collectively slowed the two-headed center monster of Hammons and Isaac Haas (combined 21 points on 24 shots) with help from timely double-teams by the guards.
That's how Michigan could go 5/20 from three and still beat a team that presents major matchup issues. Purdue went 6/12 from beyond the arc but only 15/41 within it, and the second chances they normally rely upon weren't available very often. Days removed from one of the most demoralizing weeks in recent memory, Michigan is 9-4 in the Big Ten, all alone in fourth place and needing only two wins in their final five games—which includes a home matchup against Northwestern—to feel very good about their NCAA Tournament chances.
Perhaps—just perhaps—we were too quick to bury a John Beilein team. It wouldn't be the first time.
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Matt pinged me (Seth) this morning because rates are really good--like good enough that even if you refi'ed in the last couple of years it might save you some K's to do it again.
This was right after we got another one of these emails:
Brian -I just finished a refi with Matt. Fantastic service and mortgage. I'd love to plug the experience on the site but am not sure how. Don't want to look contrived or break any OT offseason rules. Getting such a great mortgage made my wife not mind my mgoblog usage so much this week.Thank you,Texagander
Ditto here, and ditto for Brian. Matt will get you a better rate, charge you less, then join you in going full Old Yost on the Michigan Tech goalie. He still has a deal going on for two tickets to a basketball game if you end up using him. We highly recommend you do.
Michigan (18-7, 8-4 B1G) vs
Purdue (20-5, 8-4)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||2 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Purdue -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: AJ Hammons will be on the floor. Will Caris LeVert? [Barron]
Caris LeVert's status had not been determined at the time I wrote this. If he does play, it'll almost certainly be in a limited role.
THE LAST TIME
After Michigan hung tough for the first half of their matchup at Mackey Arena on January 7th, Purdue blew the game open in the second and cruised to an 87-70 win. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 25 points on 10/16 FG; the rest of the team went 13/45. Full game recap is here.
Michigan has one game out of their final six in which they're favored on KenPom (home vs. Northwestern). Making the 77%-safe assumption they take care of that one, the Wolverines still probably need two more wins out of these games to feel comfortable about their NCAA Tournament hopes (KenPom Win Probability as of Thursday evening):
- Purdue (46%)
- at Ohio State (42%)
- at Maryland (15%)
- at Wisconsin (34%)
- Iowa (31%)
None of those look like particularly good bets; this game provides M's best hope of stealing a much-needed win for their resume.
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||3||PJ Thompson||So.||5'10, 188||56||12||No|
|Low usage, decent outside shooter, great assist:turnover ratio, high FT rate.|
|G||35||Rapheal Davis||Sr.||6'6, 217||59||18||No|
|Reigning B1G DPOY now hitting open threes. True lockdown guy.|
|F||12||Vince Edwards||So||6'8, 225||66||21||No|
|Inside-outside threat boasts team's highest assist rate.|
|F||50||Caleb Swanigan||Fr.||6'9, 250||62||24||Yes|
|Heralded freshman is beast on boards, struggling with shot and turnovers.|
|C||20||AJ Hammons||Sr.||7'0, 250||55||27||Kinda|
|Living up to his potential: monster rebounder and shot-blocker, shooting 60%.|
|G||31||Dakota Mathias||So.||6'4, 200||46||14||No|
|Just A Shooter™, hits 36% of his threes.|
|G||1||Johnny Hill||Sr.||6'3, 187||44||17||Very|
|Strong finisher for a PG, but lost starting gig due to TOs and lack of 3P shot.|
|C||44||Isaac Haas||So.||7'2, 282||37||29||Very|
|Production and playing time have dropped, but still huge and dangerous.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
This is the only correct recruiting strategy. [gif by Ace Anbender]
While I write this Michigan’s playing their first two softball games of the season, so excuse me if I get distracted. Freshman Alex Sobczak seems to have won the starting catcher position; so weird not to see Lauren Sweet back there. So far Betsa walked two and struck out three, and Sierra Lawrence reached on an error and Romero’s up.
Lol they walked Romero on 4 pitches. Scaredy-cocks!
Anyway, about all that reader-generated content:
Crootin. For some reason I guess recruiting was on diarists’ minds last week, so we got a lot of articles looking at it from different sides. Alum96 broke up top recruits by the major states that produce them. Among conclusions, Michigan’s home advantage is a lot like that of Clemson, IE we have an okay state but have to share it with another school with recent success. Ohio State, LSU and USC/UCLA have the most local talent with the least competition. Alum also had a primer on interested players for 2017, which has a lot more interesting players in Michigan, and still little interest in Michigan in Ohio.
Speaking of 2017 Alum96’s daily “Swim Lanes” were highly useful contributions during the stretch run (LSA Superstar jumped in to usurp his format once as well). Let’s see that thread go up for next class, man.
[Betsa’s shaky today. Hit a batter with bases loaded, then worked back from a 3-0 count for an inning-ending strikeout.]
Is it being addressed? NOLA Blue suggested an interesting method for analyzing recruiting: line up each position and call them wins or losses, though I couldn’t quite understand how his “eyeball” rating system worked. Anyway it gave me the idea to visualize the classes and STAR ratings I’ve been going on about by position.
Guys are listed by the final position they played (though now I’m wishing I moved Uche to SAM). I probably ought to have broken them out further for positions where you play more than a guy. The red balls are 4.5 or higher, the yellow ones are 3.8 to 4.4 stars, the green ones are that 3.5 to 3.7 range and the blues are the lower 3-stars and 2-stars and such. Ball size is scaled by the actual STAR rating squared.
Champswest also did a crootin comparison diary using total number of 4-stars and above (according to 247’s composite) acquired. The most interesting thing therein was the dichotomy between the Big Ten East (189 4- and 5-stars over the last 4 classes) and Big Ten West (39 total). Remove Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, and the Big Ten East STILL has three more 4+ stars than the West. Good job, good effort Big Ten West.
Suggestion: Let’s make the B1G West a relegation division. Following last year’s performance Rutgers can move down to the West and Iowa jumps up to the East.
[Hit the jump for Beilein in context. Meanwhile Michigan’s already up 11-2 in the 4th, South Carolina just walked the bases loaded, and guess who’s coming up to bat? Hint: she’s the NCAA record-holder for career grand slams.]
Two quick mailbag questions for you during this recruiting season.
1 - How would you describe Harbaugh's recruiting philosophy?
I think Hoke's was pretty easy to understand. If you got an offer from Hoke, it was a commit-able offer. If you wanted to take visits after accepting an offer, then you were no longer considered committed and they would consider you just a recruit competing for a spot in the class.
Rodriguez was somewhat similar to Harbaugh i think, but there are some subtle differences. Rodriguez would fire off a ton of offers and sort out how "official" they were as they learned more about grades, etc. I think he had less consideration for class distribution by position and that may have gotten him in trouble, but he also chased some of the top players regardless of fit.
Harbaugh seems to be something along the lines of this:
-- An offer is conditional upon certain requirements (curious your opinion on those)
-- If you commit, that doesn't mean that either you or Michigan is married to another. Visits are still allowed and Michigan may still explore options for your spot.
-- Until you sign the LOI or enroll, consider things a soft commitment.
Harbaugh sends out "offers." Hoke did not do that. If you had an offer from Michigan under Hoke you could commit to it. Harbaugh does the thing most people do these days and fires out offers in name only. To date he's been less than circumspect when it comes to allowing kids to commit to those offers (though sometimes that's not his call; some kids announce commitments to uncommitable offers).
A commitment is still mostly a commitment. Of the guys who left Michigan's class only two, Swenson and Weaver, were instances where Michigan flat out didn't want a guy because of their perception of his talent level. It's been more or less directly stated by guys like Steve Wiltfong that other players who decommitted had academic benchmarks they didn't reach or were 100% the player's choice. And Swenson was a unique situation since he was a highly-rated commit who was offered before his sophomore year by Brady Hoke. Michigan evidently made it clear they wanted to see him in action to confirm but didn't make it CLEAR, if you know what I mean. That's an error Harbaugh admitted to and hopefully won't be as much of a thing going forward.
I expect that Michigan will continue to have a few speculative commits who may or may not end up in the class for reasons academic and otherwise. Their offers will continue to keep pace with the state of the art in mangling the English langauge for marketing purposes. Some guys will take those offers. Michigan will make things clear to them, and some of them will end up in the class while others either use their status as a springboard, as Weaver did, or end up where they were going to end up anyway.
[After the JUMP: a graph, 2017 DL worries, 2016 LB worries, and HOW INSANE WAS THIS COACHING HIRE]
It kind of looked like he was out given a couple tweets he sent, but they were vague enough to wait for some confirmation. Confirmation:
Newton (GA) 2017 three-star wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman has reopened his recruitment, Dawgs247 analyst Kipp Adams confirmed on Friday morning.
Insert your own Swenson joke here.
Holloman is a three star guy who seemed poised to move up if he could maintain a strong camp performance over the rest of the t-shirt season; no idea if Michigan will keep after him or not. One of the tweets indicated he didn't feel like a priority, so maybe not.
Holloman's decommit leaves M with four in the 2017 class, including teammate and GA RB Kurt Taylor.
SEC probably still mad gymnastics wrecked Georgia [Bryan Fuller]
On the roundtable this week:
- Sam's out
- Ira says the words "Greg Sankey" and lets me rant for an hour
- That's about it