Derrick Walton has stepped up in the latter half of B1G play [Bryan Fuller]
If you’re looking for Ace’s preview of tomorrow’s contest against Purdue, it’s linked here.
As an addendum to that, here’s how dominant Boilermaker big man and probable All-American Caleb Swanigan is on the glass:
Fortunately Michigan is indifferent to the offensive glass so Swanigan’s dominance in preventing second-chance opportunities isn’t quite as significant; still, he’s a phenomenal rebounder even though he’s not much of an above the rim player. His strength, positioning, and ability to go get the ball (even without a great vertical leap) is impressive to watch.
Swanigan’s player comparisons are pretty insane as well:
Swanigan is a Jared Sullinger who’s 30 pounds lighter, can pass the ball extremely well, and shoots 47% from three. Needless to say, Michigan needs DJ Wilson (and Moritz Wagner, probably) to somehow neutralize him – the Purdue big man is a much more physical player, so staying out of foul trouble is a major key.
Anyways, there are some graphs of Michigan’s scoring and efficiency trends after the JUMP:
#27 Michigan (18-10, 8-7 B1G) vs
#11 Purdue (23-5, 12-3)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||4 pm ET, Saturday|
Purdue -1 (KenPom)
Michigan -1 (Vegas)
PBP: Dave Flemming
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: Senior Day has arrived for Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton. [Marc-Gregor Campredon/MGoBlog]
Tomorrow is Senior Day for Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton, Mark Donnal, Sean Lonergan, and Andrew Dakich. For those heading to Crisler, the festivities begin at 3:40 pm, and it'd sure be nice to see seats fill in earlier than usual. Yes, Spike Albrecht will be back in the building, too—as a reserve for Purdue.
Michigan is holding strong as a ten-seed listed in every projected field comprising the Bracket Matrix. Purdue provides the Wolverines with one more shot at a top-25 RPI win, something that may be more critical than expected now that Wisconsin has dropped to 27th, leaving SMU (#18) as M's only win to fit that criteria. (Infuriatingly, Minnesota has risen to #15.)
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||11||PJ Thompson||Jr.||5'10, 185||70||12||132||Not At All|
|Very efficient, low-usage PG. Majority of shots are threes. Strong defender.|
|G||3||Carsen Edwards||Fr.||6'0, 190||59||24||95||No|
|Solid outside shooter, poor finisher. Can be turnover-prone.|
|G||31||Dakota Mathias||Jr.||6'4, 200||76||15||124||Not At All|
|Three-point sniper leads B1G in eFG%. Good assist rate but has turnover issues.|
|F||12||Vincent Edwards||Jr.||6'8, 225||68||21||118||Not At All|
|Does a bit of everything on offense, good defender.|
|F||50||Caleb Swanigan||So.||6'9, 250||79||28||114||Not At All|
|NPOY candidate. Beast in post, three-point range, great rebounder.|
|C||44||Isaac Haas||Jr.||7'2, 290||52||30||108||Very|
|Behemoth. Strong post scorer, rebounder, shot-blocker.|
|G||14||Ryan Cline||So.||6'5, 190||45||12||122||Not At All|
|Just A Shooter™, makes 43% of his threes.|
|G||55||Spike Albrecht||Sr.||6'0, 180||24||11||109||Yes*|
|Still not right after hip stuff. Tiny usage, only 4-for-22 on threes this year.|
*Man, that hurt to type.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
1. Brazen. Ole Miss's problem is that they made it blindingly obvious. People are dumb but they ain't stupid, and when a nobody with one year of college head coaching experience shows up in Oxford and acquires
- the #1 player in the country
- a five-star offensive tackle from Florida, and
- most egregiously, a five-star wide receiver from Chicago
it's just a matter of time before the walls cave in. Nobody in the history of Chicago has ever thought to themselves "Yes! Mississippi! Especially the bit where not having a plantation owner as a mascot is controversial!"
Meanwhile the players in question were barely trying to hide it.
Ole Miss was dumb and stupid and now they're going to be set on fire.
2. There are only two options for Hugh Freeze. Option A, which is by far the more likely, is that he was fully aware of what was going on from the drop and is a brazen liar. The alternative is that he is so impossibly naïve and delusional that he thought his very presence was sufficient to turn around the history of Ole Miss football. The Machiavellian interpretation is kinder, but this is a guy who compared Ole Miss's struggles to Jesus's trials on the cross so it certainly could be the latter.
3. The more pay-for-play scandals that happen the faster this edifice crumbles. If your main interest in the future of college athletics is dismantling amateurism that no longer makes anything resembling sense, the best case scenario here is that Ole Miss goes nuclear on the rest of the SEC and anyone else they have dirt on. This may be in process already:
Ole Miss, per multiple sources, possesses a recording, and has given the SEC a copy, of (Leo) Lewis’ mother asking Ole Miss for money and detailing incentives she received from other programs, including Mississippi State.
The fact that college football players get money and cars and whatnot is an open secret, but "entire SEC and half of ACC caught violating NCAA rules that everyone thinks are dumb" is the kind of thing that might finally bring the sham of amateurism—both its motivations and the NCAA's current ability to enforce it—down.
4. Dumb and stupid, for real. Ole Miss publicly challenged members of the public to provide evidence that they had violated NCAA rules. They had assistant coaches and associate athletic directors involved in direct cash payments to players and recruits. They ruined their credibility with the media by floating a bunch of outright lies that the more credulous people covering the team related uncritically:
Last year before signing day, Ole Miss leaked to several media members that the allegations weren’t serious, mostly not football. https://t.co/EVWyRGcHuj
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) February 23, 2017
(The same point from #2 stands for those who related it: they can either be hopelessly gullible or bought and paid for by their access.)
These days it takes a school standing up and begging to be punished for that to happen. Ole Miss volunteered. It might have been worth it, but don't be surprised when people dance on your corpse even if you got killed for something that should be legal.
5. Almost everyone does it. I have seen group texts between members of a previous Michigan recruiting class discussing the sudden shift of a player they thought they would get to a Southern school. "They bought his mom a house," per those texts. That revelation was followed by a variety of exclamations. Another recruit simply texted "money talks" when asked about his sudden change of heart.
I've talked to a bunch of people close to the program and heard some pretty astounding things, mostly about the dying days of previous regimes. These people were willing to tell me about players nearly getting in fistfights with coaches after the Gator Bowl that ended Rich Rodriguez's tenure. They've also asserted that Michigan recruits are consistently flabbergasted by the amount of money being thrown around to their compatriots, and that was one reason Brady Hoke's no visit policy could not stand: it was costing Michigan commits thousands of dollars.
Again, I don't think it's wrong that players take a life-changing amount of money in exchange for a valued skill that could cease to exist at any time. I don't think it's wrong that boosters gave him that money. The player in question has a shot at the NFL with some value already banked. He made the right choice.
I do think that everyone would be better off if the system was exposed for what it is and we could all be adults about it. Recruits currently have access to an unofficial and constrained pool of secret money that is far less than they would have if the doors were thrown open, and it's long past time to do so.
6. What grinds the ol' gears. You've got pinhead Pete Finebaum ranting in the national media about how Jim Harbaugh is doing something unethical by attempting to hire a decade-long NFL veteran coach because they may or may not get a 2019 quarterback out of it. Finebaum says nothing at all about the rampant under the table payments in the SEC.
You've got sanctimonious ass Hugh Freeze going on about how Jim Harbaugh is making him take time away from his family because Harbaugh wants to run some satellite camps. At the same time Freeze's program is overwhelming any satellite camp advantage that may exist by simply handing people checks.
If you're Harbaugh how do you not fire back?
MAAR been at the lembas bread? [Patrick Barron]
- Rutgers is a bunch of Michael Currys. Wagner offense worked, Michigan took ton of open threes that missed. Free throw misses becoming a thing?
- TV Teddy had a dream where Michigan’s bench was too demonstrative. Big Ten really has to address Valentine. His crew may be worse.
- Don’t drift back onto the bubble.
- Free DJ on the offensive glass?
- Purdue matchups: Swanigan has no answer for “How is Michigan going to keep you from dominating this game?”
- Sam’s segue to Ole Miss. They went too hard too fast: Tunsil, Treadwell, etc., to put them under the microscope—may not be any different than how the rest of the SEC operates (nv). Brian outs the story behind my Stormtrooper cover last year to demonstrate how on the ball Michigan’s compliance department is. NCAA has to make it not be worth it.
- Best M hoops coach ever? Orr had fun/small teams. Frieder had a Romulus rule. Give Coach B that year with McGary or whatever and it’s a slam dunk.
- Old Man Craig remembers the good old days/bad old days. Mo gets a historically bad whistle.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Game on in-state
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) February 20, 2017
Hutchinson vs 5* 2019 MI OL Devontae Dobbs
Michigan of course picked up a commitment from MI DE Aidan Hutchinson a couple days ago. I was chatting off air with Sam Webb today and we settled on Ryan Van Bergen with a bit more edge rush as a comparable for Hutchinson, FWIW. As a bonus, Harbaugh story:
Harbaugh paid a visit to Divine Child last month and was greeted by school pastor James Bilot.
“The priest meets him when he walked in and Harbaugh said, ‘Give me your top three,’” Hutchinson said, laughing. “The priest didn’t know what he was talking about. ‘Give me your top three saints. You’ve got to have a top three!’ My son’s school was like, ‘Whaaat?’”
I hope Harbaugh has a board on which he has his top saints ranked that he regularly rearranges. Tough day for St. Francis of Assisi, but St. Thomas More is really picking it up lately, etc.
Hutchinson, the #4 player in Michigan per the composite, is a legacy widely expected to end up in Ann Arbor; the rest of the instate crop is far less locked in to any particular school. Of the top ten in state, two are committed to ND already and #8 Jason Whittaker is headed to Northwestern; aside from Hutchinson everyone else is open.
That includes Traverse City West OL Ryan Hayes, who just picked up a Michigan offer and plans a visit next month. Trieu describes him as "Jake Fisher 2.0," referring to the instate lineman who decommitted from Michigan after Rich Rodriguez was fired and went on to have a successful career at Oregon. Fisher was a second round draft pick a couple years back. Per Trieu, Greg Frey recruited both Fisher and Hayes's older brother Connor, who ended up at Pitt. The younger Hayes is up to the #2 player in the state after a significant bump from 24/7.
#1, OL Marquan McCall, was widely regarded a Michigan lean but recently Lorenz said he might not be as high on Michigan's board as that would imply and there might not be room for him in a tight class. #5, OL Tyrone Sampson, is a legit four star but there is one complicating factor. Trieu:
Strong, great balance and base and technically very sound. True center and a potentially elite one.
Michigan took #1 C Cesar Ruiz last year. One or the other could play guard but if Sampson believes his best spot is C Michigan is not likely to be the destination. They haven't offered yet in any case.
File under crootin
GA OL Jalil Irvin, who was briefly a commit, took an unofficial to Ann Arbor and returned saying very positive things:
“I love Michigan after today,” Irvin, a former Michigan commit, said. “Just the campus, coaches, academics, and everything.”
Meanwhile, IN OL Emil Ekiyor, who is currently a commit, has visited multiple schools recently. A trip to Indiana is decidedly unthreatening:
"My main priority right now is Michigan. I'll look at other schools, but I'm pretty focused on them."
Going down to Tallahassee is considerably more alarming, especially considering his recent trip there was his second. That it's part of a southern swing through Georgia, Alabama, and the Noles is... not better, but not worse. Ekiyor, FWIW:
"Just exploring, making sure I am making the right decision," Ekiyor said. "But I am locked into Michigan right now. Nothing has changed with that. I'm just looking."
"I'm locked in ... I'm just looking" is a hefty slab of grade A crootin for you right there. Ekiyor decommit DEFCON is currently at 3, and will move up to 2 if he camps at FSU, like he told 24/7 he was "thinking about."
On the other hand, 4* GA LB Otis Reese seems totally solid. He's planning an April unofficial and Lorenz reports that Michigan has not let their pursuit flag despite the fact he is committed.
Large class complaints will be minimal this year
Per Lorenz, Michigan is currently done(!) at DE and LB with one guy at each spot (Hutchinson and GA LB Otis Reese), and there's some circumstantial evidence to back that up from 4* CA DE Jeremiah Martin, a weakside type:
“(I’m) not really (hearing from them),” said Martin. It just same with some other offers like offered then don't really communicate. I mean mail that's about it.”
Martin still wants to visit but feels like the interest is more on his end than theirs at the moment.
That seems a bit shortsighted to me since there's always attrition even when you don't want there to be attrition (see: Asiasi, Devin). But the depth chart is pretty stocked at both spots now, which was emphatically not the case a year ago.
Anyway: any class with just two guys at DE/LB is going to be pretty small. Especially if they're not going to push for FL DE Nik Bonnito as a result, as Lorenz asserts.
Obligatory Faalele section
FL OL Daniel Faalele checked in at 6'8", 400 pounds at the Orlando Nike Camp. Apparently Mike Onwenu convinced them to get bigger scales at these things. This news was the impetus for that rarest of birds: a Good Tweet.
— Henry Stark (@HRussellStark) February 19, 2017
Extremely grudging 2019 stuff
MI OL Devontae Dobbs is an early five star on 24/7 and continues tracking that direction after an impressive Elite Big Man camp:
— Allen Trieu (@AllenTrieu) February 14, 2017
Trieu asserts that he's "a blue chipper without a doubt."
FL LB Anthony Solomon took an unofficial last week and returned saying Michigan was his new leader, displacing Alabama. Solomon is at St. Thomas Aquinas, which is now Harbaugh's favorite saint. STA sends a lot of guys to ND and various northern schools, so it's not out of the question Michigan hangs on. Solomon told Sam Webb that he's very close with Devin Bush—"their family and my family grew up together"—and that can't hurt.
Another recent visitor who Michigan leads for is KY DE Stephon Herron Jr, per Lorenz. Here is the default sentence about vague leaders two years out.
Brice Marich reports that Michigan is keeping tabs on 3* MI OL Michael Furtney. 4* IL OL Verdis Brown was "super excited" to get a Michigan offer, has vague visit plan. 3* AL DT Timaje Porter very much wants a Michigan offer. Michigan offers GA ATH Quindarious Monday, and yes I just mentioned this because of the name.
Well that's a new one. pic.twitter.com/sudwY5dEl6
— Due# (@JDue51) February 23, 2017
Let's review the keys to the game:
Win the game. A bubble team playing Rutgers has but one goal.
Mission accomplished, at least.
Whether due to the soporific venue, their fourth game in 11 days, the proximity to Rutgers basketball players, or simple bad luck, Michigan couldn't get their shooting going all evening. Only Zak Irvin managed to hit 50% from the field among the starters, and the Wolverines went only 10-for-31 from beyond the arc. Free throw shooting was an issue down the stretch for the second straight game.
Other than Rutgers also shooting poorly, this game didn't follow the script. Michigan outrebounded the Scarlet Knights, which entered the game as the Big Ten's best offensive rebounding team. Rutgers outscored the Wolverines 15-7 off turnovers. Irvin was Michigan's most reliable scorer. Derrick Walton struggled with his shot.
The final Rutgers possession was sufficiently Rutgers—an airballed three, a missed putback, and a Michigan rebound—for the Wolverines to survive. It's a conference road win, so the ugly nature of this game won't hurt Michigan in the eyes of the tournament committee. The Wolverines will get one last chance at a statement win on Saturday in the home finale against Purdue. Let's hope their shots are a little more homed in at the friendly confines of Crisler.