Beilein has drawn up some easy layups for Wagner. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
I'm gonna try something new here with our hoops coverage. The Basketbullets posts have mostly been game column type things; I'm repurposing the name for what I plan to be a weekly or sometimes semi-weekly post with a couple regular staples—picture page play breakdowns and the KenPom Stat of the Week—and any other items of note. This is a work-in-progress; suggestions for regular features to include are more than welcome in the comments.
Kennesaw State Not-A-Recap
I took a rare weekend off, so I wasn't at the 82-55 Kennesaw State blowout on Saturday, and the time I set aside to go over the game today ended up dedicated to the next section instead. Dylan's recap and Five Key Plays should have you covered.
While rote destructions of teams ranked in the 300s on KenPom are to be expected, this one contained some encouraging signs. Moe Wagner scored a career-high 20 points, making all four his his twos and 3-of-4 three-pointers in 25 minutes; he had no turnovers and one foul. DJ Wilson avoided the foul trouble that plagued him against Virginia Tech and posted an efficient 15-11 double-double. Every Michigan player to see ten minutes of action posted an ORating of at least 106 except Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who continued a troubling stretch of poor games with an 0-for-5 performance. Highlights. Full box score.
[Hit THE JUMP for a seemingly unstoppable set, the KenPom Stat of the Week, and more.]
really should have used this for the bowl game post
That is a large spread. Michigan is favored by 6.5 against FSU. S&P+ has Michigan by 11.8 and with a 75% shot at victory. Other lines that are already up: Wisconsin –7.5 against WMU and PSU +7 against USC.
S&P+ lines for other Big Ten games:
- OSU-Clemson: OSU by 4.9.
- Wisconsin-WMU: Wisconsin by 8.
- Iowa-Florida: Iowa(!) by 4.6.
- USC-PSU: USC by 3.4.
- Nebraska-Tennessee: Nebraska by 1.1.
- Utah-Indiana: Utah by 1.9.
- Pitt-NW: Pitt by 5.1
- Washington State-Minnesota: WSU by 0.5.
- Maryland-BC: Maryland by 0.1.
- Michigan State-Dignity: Dignity by 35.
I thought a sure consequence of four Big Ten teams getting pulled up into NY6 bowls would be the rest of the conference getting set on fire, but S&P+—which was 56% against the spread this year—thinks almost everything is a tossup at worst. I did not know that the Big Ten would lose the Citrus (which is LSU-Louisville, yes please) if they got the Orange, but they rather sensibly do.
Good to see that the bowl revamp has added flexibility and created a bunch of good matchups.
Cole also plans to return. As of yesterday:
Center Mason Cole, speaking to reporters Sunday evening, suggested that he will return, though the junior was hesitant to commit to anything.
"Not right now," Cole said of thinking about the NFL. "I'm focused on this next game and getting the win. I'll take a look at everything, but as it stands now, I'm definitely leaning towards coming back."
Chris Wormley volunteered a return for Maurice Hurst as well. Both guys will be critical starters on next year's team should they follow through on those statements. (Hurst had previously said he'd be back.)
So we've got that going for us, part zillion. Per PFF Michigan is the best team left out of the playoff and one of the top four overall:
All four of the teams that will be in this year’s playoff rank in the top five of PFF’s cumulative grades for 2016. Alabama ranks first, Washington second, Ohio State fourth and Clemson fifth.
The No. 3 team in the country? The Michigan Wolverines. ...
In particular, when looking at a team that could match up best with top-seeded Alabama, the Wolverines appear to be one of the best candidates. They rank third in PFF’s run-defense grades, second in pass-rush and 12th in coverage – giving them a defense that could go toe-to-toe with Alabama’s and perhaps put enough pressure on Crimson Tide’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts (more on him in a bit) to spark an upset.
They seem to think that Clemson should be favored over OSU, with two bullets talking up Deshaun Watson and talking down OSU's pass protection. We've got that going for us, too.
Peppers stock. Also in PFF things, Jabrill Peppers took a tumble in their latest mock draft:
When targeted in coverage this season, he has yielded receptions on 20 of 26 targets and does not have a single pass defended when he is the primary defender (his lone interception against Ohio State was a case of him being in the right place at the right time off a pass tipped in front). He also lacks the size to consistently take on and shed blocks going forward, as the majority of his impact plays this year have come when he has been unblocked.
PFF has always had him in the 10-15 range right next to Lewis and not a top 5 pick, so this isn't a huge tumble. I'm still confused by those pass completion numbers. Namely where any of them came from. I'm sure Peppers has been targeted more than the two times I remember, but 26? I don't know where that comes from.
On the postseason. I've been saying this for ten years and will say it until they destroy the dream by going to 8 teams: a 6-team playoff is the best one available most of the time. Six teams emphasizes the regular season since there are home games and byes up for grabs; it keeps the field sufficiently constricted so that make-weights are extremely unlikely.
This year, I assume that the committee made some changes to the rankings to give the appearance of deliberative thought when there was none. That makes the six-team playoff deeply weird:
1. Alabama vs 4. Washington / 5. Penn State
2. Clemson vs 3. OSU / 6. Michigan
Clemson jumped OSU, and that did not matter. PSU jumped Michigan, and that did not matter. The former was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference; the latter was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference. If Clemson or Washington did not win their title games I wonder if they would have had the cojones to put PSU in over a team with the same record who beat it 49-10.
Anyway, in a six-team world I bet a dollar the committee finagles it such that there is not an immediate rematch of M/OSU—or leaves a third Big Ten team out entirely.
This is bunk. There is an enormous Bloomberg article on officiating out there that I keep seeing, because it purports to show that there is a class of "protected blue bloods" that get favorable calls. Oddly, it leads with Florida State getting hosed against Clemson—which one is the blue blood?—and then hits their thesis statement:
“This is an incestuous situation,” says Rhett Brymer, a business management professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He spent more than a year parsing almost 39,000 fouls called in games involving NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the 2012-2015 seasons. His research finds “ample evidence of biases among conference officials,” including “conference officials showing partiality towards teams with the highest potential to generate revenue for their conference.”
Refs are partial towards teams "with the highest potential to generate revenue." In other words, good teams. They throw fractionally fewer flags on those teams:
Brymer’s data suggest something more insidious. Across the 3,000-odd regular-season and bowl games he studied, a bit less than half of the fouls called were what he terms “discretionary”—holding, pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct, and personal fouls like roughing the passer. Refs were on average 10 percent less likely to throw discretionary flags on teams that enjoy both strong playoff prospects and winning traditions. Brymer calls these teams “protected flagships.”
There is a less than insidious explanation: avoiding penalties is a skill. Flagship teams are more likely to have firebreathing truckzillas; Purdue is more likely to have a peasant wielding a pitchfork. In such situations the penalty scales are naturally out of balance; news that Purdue gets 14% fewer "discretionary" calls than OSU fails to move hte needle. That seems about right. This is immediately proposed by the NCAA's national coordinator for officiating and then largely ignored.
About 3/4ths of the way through the thing we get the big reveal:
While earning his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, he came to sympathize with Aggie fans who believed that all close calls favored the University of Texas. “I reached a breaking point,” Brymer says. Weary of fans whining about refs without empirical evidence, he decided to see if he could find any. “At least I’m bringing myself peace,” he says.
Yes, but think of all the bloggers you're forcing to write skeptical items in their link roundup pieces.
Prepare to be asked whether you went to Michigan. The Ringer's Kaite Baker got into Michigan football this year, which was fun until it wasn't.
Harbaugh isn’t for everyone, but to me, he’s like a combustible acquaintance: As long as you never get tooclose, you can sit back and just let the theatrics endlessly entertain you.
But it’s possible I’m getting too close. The past few weeks have been a rougher ride, a mere glimpse into the tumultuousness of a typical college football season. Winning the national championship seems like an impossibility: Just getting the chance to try requires a constantly evolving team of near-children remaining close to perfect over the course of a 12- or 13-game season. (NFL teams, meanwhile, can barely squeak past .500 and still win Super Bowls.) Even in a post-BCS world, the scope and sprawl of FBS football means that it will forever be hostage to subjective decisions by conflicted parties.
Having been kicked in all available places, Baker is probably hooked. Welcome! Here is your pillow to scream into.
Maybe he is Mark Ingram except fast. Thomas Rawls blew up:
He carried 15 times for 106 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns as the offense exploded, scoring on eight of 11 possessions. In the first quarter, Rawls found a cutback lane and hurdled into the end zone for an 8-yard score. In the second, he showed his big-play ability by outrunning defenders for a 45-yard touchdown.
On the one hand, Fred Jackson recruited the guy. On the other, he got three carries as a junior and transferred. Mike Cox getting drafted and having a cup of coffee was one thing; Rawls turning into Marshawn Lynch 2.0 is quite another. He's the most successful Michigan NFL running back since at least Tim Biakabutuka and he'll pass the effective but constantly injured Biakabutuka in a year or two if he remains hale.
Etc.: Purdue has apparently hired WKU coach Jeff Brohm, which isn't the worst idea. Here's this Pat Forde article on how Jim Harbaugh fits right in there I forgot to link two weeks ago. ND Nation never stops winning even if the team does. Punt John Punt on the Wilson firing.
“Hi, my name is Jim Harbaugh. Thanks, Mr. Wahl [Ed. A-Orange Bowl communications director]. Uh, sorry I wasn’t able to get on the call earlier. I was on a plane. Thanks for coming back at this time. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer.”
Being at the ‘86 game against FSU in Ann Arbor—I believe that was your senior year—you won by two. I just remember it being probably one of the worst officiated games I ever saw. What do you remember about that ballgame?
“What was the final score? I don’t remember the final score.”
20-18, you won.
“Oh, it was two points? Okay. I just remember how great Deion Sanders was. That was what stood out in my mind. And Coach Bowden, he was really cool. I remember running and scrambling, I scrambled left and went back to the right toward their bench and ended up having—probably ran almost eighty or ninety yards one way to the one side then all the way back to the other side, and I got thrown out of bounds. I just remember him being cool and giving me a smile, a pat on the back, and he said something. But my coach that year, Bo, and Coach Bowden were coaches in the Hula Bowl, so I got to know him a little bit better at that point, too. Those are the two things that stick out most in my mind from that game.”
You would have been in the NFL, but did you watch that ‘91 game?
“Yeah, I remember not seeing the entire game. I do remember watching it. FSU won that one. Back-and-forth, intense game.”
It was 51-31, I think.
We just talked to a few of the players and they were bringing up the Christmas Camp you guys did last year and doing that again this year. Given the fact that you guys were aiming for the playoff spot and came up a little bit short, is there any concern making sure those guys are still motivated and still willing to put in the work here for a few more weeks?
“Um…well, I know I am. I know I’m motivated and ready to put in the work, and looking forward to it.”
[After THE JUMP: Florida State, one last statement on officiating, and great memories of coconuts]
I wanted to get this up ASAP for you guys since it tends to fill up: the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan just finalized this year’s bowl tour, and let us announce it here at the same time so we can fill it with MGoReaders. Deets:
You’ll be gone Wednesday, December 28 - Saturday, December 31, it starts at just under $2k, and they offer both an air-inclusive and land-only options. Pricing (per person) based on double occupancy is $2,949 for the Champions Tour (air) and $2,049 for the Victors Tour (land only). They offer other options for single, triple, quad and child, as listed on their website.
The CHAMPIONS TOUR is everything below (including the charter airplane). The VICTORS TOUR is land-only, and includes everything below except the flight and deluxe motor coach transfers.
- Round-trip charter air service from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Round-trip deluxe motor coach transfers from the airport to your hotel
- Luggage handling and porterage at the airport and at the hotel
- Three nights’ deluxe accommodations
- Welcome reception
- Daily buffet breakfast
- University of Michigan Orange Bowl Pep Rally (tentative)
Plus the complete game-day package:
- Escorted deluxe motor coach transfer to and from the pre-game party and game
- Game ticket
- Pre-game tailgate party
And other goodies:
- Optional tours, outings, and excursions
- Custom Alumni Association souvenir package
- Document packet, official bowl tour name badge, and lanyard
- Alumni Association hosts and escorts
- Dedicated alumni information and hospitality desk at the hotels
Get ye to http://www.umalumni.org/athletics/michigan-bowl-tour-tailgate/orange-bowl/ as soon as possible. Like…yes, let your spouse know you’re doing it first, but harangue until you get an answer. It’s not like you get to see this team again.
Zero surprise here once the championship games fell the way they did. Game is on the 30th, not the 1st, since the 1st is a Sunday this year; it's at 8 PM at whatever they're calling the place the Dolphins and Hurricanes play this week.
FSU is 9-3, 5-3 in the ACC, with wins over Ole Miss (which had a terrible record but was still top 20 to advanced metrics, USF (10-2), Florida, and Miami. They lost to Clemson and UNC narrowly, and Louisville somewhat less narrowly.
S&P+ has them 9th in the country, with the #6 offense and #18 D. An adjusted sack rate of 85th projects to be a problem for the FSU offense against Michigan. On the other hand, monster DE DeMarcus Walker and his 15 sacks rather loom on the other side of the ball. S&P+ has Michigan a 12-point favorite on a neutral field; dunno how neutral the Orange Bowl is given this context.
M's best post defender? It's, uh, in the eye of the beholder. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
After Wednesday night's Virginia Tech game, I sat in on John Beilein's postgame presser, attempting to fill out my game recap by transcribing quotes as Beilein talked. I stopped dead, however, at this quote, because I had just watched the same game and came away with a very different take:
“Scoring points wasn’t as big as trying to stop them. Right now, Mark [Donnal]’s a better defender. In defense of Moe [Wagner], Moe’s been sick all day, didn’t feel good. He was doing alright taking the ball to the basket."
What follows is a more thorough examination of Michigan's post defense against Virginia Tech than is necessary or easily digestible, but I spent an entire day compiling these numbers and video clips, so you will read this and like it*, dammit.
*you will probably not like it, sorry.
I began by looking at the points per possession numbers on both ends of the court with each center on the floor. The results:
OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 30 pts (1.07 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 29 pts (1.07 PPP)
OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 33 pts (1.18 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 36 pts (1.33 PPP)
OFFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 7 pts (1.00 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 6 pts (0.86 PPP)
DJ Wilson had two defensive possessions at center: a post stop and two free throws allowed after one of his fouls going for an offensive rebound.
While small sample size caveats abound, this matched the eye test both from this game and this season. The defensive numbers stood up to further scrutiny; the offensive numbers, which surprised me, did not. Non-Donnal Wolverines shot 6-for-13 on three-pointers when he was on the floor; Donnal added a three-point miss himself and didn't assist any of the six makes. Michigan made only 3-of-10 threes when Wagner was out there, and he assisted one of the makes. There wasn't a difference in the quality of the attempts; if M had shot 30% from three with Donnal on the floor like they did with Wagner, Donnal's offensive PPP in this game would've been 0.96.
[Hit THE JUMP for video and analysis, if you dare.]