I happened to go to an Ann Arbor bar last night. Readers may recall that Ann Arbor is where the University of Michigan -- often the focus of this blog's analytical endeavors -- is located. The basketball team of said University had a game last night against Utah State in the NIT, and there was indeed a basketball game on the various televisions scattered around the bar: Niagara-Florida A&M. At some point during the night a man in a Michigan hat approached the bartender, who nodded and went to the box-and-wire filled cabinet all bars that have televisions also have and fiddled with some stuff. Channels were being changed. The Niagara game blipped out of existence. In its stead was the Red Wings game.
If there had been no Wings game, the man would have asked for the Pistons game. If there had been no Pistons game, the man would have asked for NASCAR. If there had been no Wings game or Pistons game or NASCAR the man would have asked for the World's Strongest Man or bass fishing or possibly The View. At no point would the NIT flit across his neurons -- or those anyone with any sanity at all, really -- even to be dismissed with a short sharp burst of self-mocking laughter. The NIT does not exist. There is no NIT.
It's with some concern, then, that our athletic director hasn't announced anything in re: Amaker having honey smeared on his chest, a box taped above the sweetened area, and a rat placed in said box until he agrees to resign except "I won't announce anything until after the season." Does Michigan's performance in something that doesn't exist have an impact on Amaker's future? The implication is that it does, and therefore the implication is that a good performance can help Amaker's case. Furthermore, it implies that there is an Amaker case at all. There is no case. Michigan can win the entire freakin' Not Extant Tournament and it will matter not one bit. He should still have the rat thing happen to him, and if he's still recalcitrant we will connect small rocks to him with rubber bands and then hire dutch children to run away from him holding the rocks with predictable results.
This is the worst of all possible basketball worlds. If we had blown it against Minnesota earlier in the year or gotten swept by State or gone down to Six Guys With One Arm Between Them in the nonconference slate and finished the year a striking 12-20 and 6-10 in the league, at this very moment we would be doing the rat thing and the dutch children thing and if he still doesn't break we would be forcing him to drink just epic amounts of water and then providing only one possible outlet for the ensuing torrent, one that has a piece of paper on it that says "urination upon this contract constitutes a resignation from the Michigan Men's basketball head coaching job."
Instead, we wait. And if we can't find timbersports or the WNBA or Mind of Mencia, we might watch. But probably not.
7:06 PM. Yep... this paint is totally getting dry. Awesome.
Lester Abram is emo. He displays all the enthusiasm for life that Hunter S. Thompson has in this year's edition of Michigan NIT Newspaper Article:
"It's not like we're going to go out there and lose on purpose -- whatever happens, happens," captain Lester Abram said. "You're happy you're still playing, but nobody wants to play in the NIT.
"It's something you have to do, though."
Emphasis mine. I would find it helpful if they did, as then we would get some sort of final word on whether or not Amaker is gone. I regret to note that Abram seemed to have the same sort of can't-do spirit his last two years and that a lethargic, ennui-plagued Abram would be no surprise. You might as well break out the black eyeliner and horrible taste in music.
(Rosenberg: fire Amaker.)
Yeah... like... uh... Amaker on the NIT:
We're not apologizing for it," he said Monday. "We're honored to be a part of it, and we're going to do the best we can do.
"A lot of people would trade places with us, and I'm confident our players will approach it in that manner."
Complete list of noun phrases willing to trade places with the Michigan basketball program:
- Penn State
- anyone rushing puck against JMFJ
Math? Varsity Blue points out an interesting quote from Bill Martin:
"My goal in football, in the Big Ten, is to ideally play a complete round robin - 10 conference games and two non-conference (games). I've been fighting for that for four to five years. I'm not going to get it. But I think I'll get nine games, soon.
Loyal readers already know that having 11 teams play 9 games is mathematically impossible -- 99/2 is not an integer -- so that quote means
- They've decided "eff it, we'll go unbalanced,"
- We're getting a 12th team, or
- Martin's back on the applesauce.
More in a candid interview with the News.
TMFJ. Yost Built on last weekend. As everyone else has noted, when the seniors took a long moment before stepping off the ice for a final time Jack was amongst their number. Even Mr. MFJ's second-intermission dance had an air of finality to it.
Also, TJ is now ten points clear of any competitor who isn't either playing in Atlantic Hockey or on his line. If the Hobey goes to a skater, it has to be him. There are a few goalies out there with a shot -- Jakatis, Brown, John Curry at BU, Goepfert at SCSU -- but without a single strong contender like a Miller, it seems likely that the goalie votes will get split.
Irritating. This AP article is dramatically titled "Ohio State graduates 10 percent of its basketball players, study reveals"; it's the standard article you get immediately after the NCAA tourney field is announced with alarmingly low numbers for various highly-seeded teams. But NSFMF:
Taking into account players who transfer, enter from junior colleges and are graduated late, 38 percent of Buckeyes basketball players earned degrees during that period, Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, said Monday.
38 percent is still not good but it is a more realistic picture of how many OSU basketball players are getting degrees. Does the story lead with this? No. It goes right for the sensationalism, probably because the "Institute for Diversity and Ethics In Sports" framed their press release like that. The perpetual disconnect between journalism and critical thinking amazes me.
PA has been good to us. If history is any indicator, Michigan will reel in at least one highly-rated prospect from Pennsylvania. Black Shoe Diaries has a look at Penn State recruiting through the dual lenses of geography and rivalry that includes Michigan. Net conclusion: PSU has to watch out for Weis and Schiano, who are raiding New Jersey, traditionally a Penn State stronghold.
Etc.: Enter Brendan Loy's NIT pool! Woo!
For context on the below, see Part I for an extensive discussion of what exactly is going on here (warning: math) and Part II for some examples of why I think this is a useful exercise. Note those posts are from last year. Which is 2005.
(Performance note: generating these graphs is a dynamic process, so they can take several seconds if no one else has looked at the requested data recently. Cached ones should come up immediately.)
First: Third down efficiency. The thick line in the center is the NCAA average (e.g., approximately 68% of third and ones were converted last year). There is a second line that represents an individual team's third down efficiency. Where there is a gap between the lines that gap is filled in with either red or green depending on whether it is "good" or "bad". Being above the line is good for offenses--you convert more often. Being above the line is bad for defenses--you are converted upon more often. You want to see a lot of green in these graphs.
Second: Third down distance distribution. Again, the line in the center is the NCAA average and the thinner line is the individual team's. Green is just "above"; red just "below," since there's no clear distinction on good or bad based solely on what side of the line you're on.
Third: the raw numbers. The following graph shows the underlying data used to construct the first two. Each bar represents one yard line. Blue segments are failed conversions. Red segments resulted in first downs.
(A note on reproducing these graphs: feel free. Right click and "Save As" to get a static copy that won't break if I decide to change the URL... which I might. Please drop a link. Also: if the idea of maize and blue on your site is revolting, you can give me two other colors (specified in hex--ie, #A30924--, please) and get pretty team-color-appropriate ones.)
Last weekend we crushed NMU. MSU is next at the Joe and then either Notre Dame or Lake Superior, depending on the outcome of the early game.
- Michigan State. We have to go 0-2 at the Joe and State has to go 2-0 for the Spartans to pass us. Otherwise we'll win a tied comparison by virtue of our higher RPI.
- Dartmouth & St. Lawrence. Both are in the same boat as MSU: must win their conference tourney and hope we go 0-2 to flip the comparison. We cannot lose comparisons to both these schools because one has to lose.
- UMass. [was: lock we won.] I underestimated the ability of UMass to fly up the RPI with games against high-quality opposition. We can lose this comparison if -- say it with me -- UMass wins their conference tourney and we go 0-2 at the Joe.
Locks: LSSU, UNO, MSU-Mankato, Cornell, Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan Tech, Maine [was: tossup... Maine got swept *again* by UMass], Miami [was: tossup... swept by Lake State], Denver [was: tossup... also swept.], Colorado College [was: solid win. They lost in three to MTU.]
- BC & BU. The two archrivals play in the Hockey East semis. If we win the CCHA, we will pass the loser of that game. If the winner of that game loses in the HE final, we will also pass them. A split at the Joe does nothing for us; we'll lose both comparisons.
- North Dakota. [was: tossup we lost.] NoDak did indeed sweep Minnesota State right out of TUC status, opening the door for us. Here's a weird math thing for you: since we have fewer games against TUCs, if we win the CCHA we will flip NoDak no matter what they do. We're currently winning COP but are behind on RPI and TUC, but our 8-7-1 becomes a 10-7-1 with a CCHA tourney win and NoDak's 12-10-2 can't win that race even if it becomes 14-10-2.
- Clarkson. We have to win the CCHA and have Clarkson go 0-2 this weekend to pass them.
Locks: SCSU, Minnesota, Notre Dame, UNH.
We are in. I have fiddled with every nightmare scenario available at TBRW -- 0-2 at the Joe, UMass and St Lawrence doing well, UNO's TUC status evaporating in a puff of smoke -- and the worst case appears to be #12. On the other side of the coin: believe it or not, with the right set of results Michigan can vault all the way to #5. Only four comparisons are completely gone, mostly thanks to UNO hanging on to TUC status by .0008 over RIT, Minnesota State, and a bunch of other teams. You might expect UNO is safely in the barn since all the teams near the TUC cliff are done for the season, but you would be wrong. Since RPI is 75% opponents' and opponents-opponents' schedule there will be some jitter down there and it's possible we could lose those two TUC wins. The above projections assume that this does not happen. If it does we cannot win the BU, BC, or Clarkson comparisons; North Dakota requires us to pass them in RPI; the rest of the comparisons still in play are unaffected.
Assuming UNO remains a TUC, Michigan controls its own destiny and can play themselves into 5-6-7 by winning the CCHA tourney. Michigan will hold all of the comparisons it currently does and will take at least two comparisons from NoDak, BC, and BU, escaping the dread Minnesota zone.
If Michigan splits they are locked into the 8-9 game and a bracket with the #1 overall seed unless they get swapped out because of an intra-conference conflict.
If Michigan gets swept at the Joe things will depend on how the other games go. Figure State is slightly less than 50-50 to win the CCHA tourney in that situation and that Dartmouth and SLU are collectively about 50-50 to win the ECAC tourney. UMass may be 10-20% to win HE, so we figure to lose slightly more than one comparison on average. That would put us either #10 or #11.
So the good news is that you can show up at the Joe and root for the Wolverines without any nagging concerns about Michigan getting boned by winning. A CCHA title probably means a two-seed in Grand Rapids, possibly with a Notre Dame team we (hypothetically) just beat.
Others of Note
Michigan State is on shakier ground than we are but is in with a split and is probably in even if swept. Miami is currently hanging onto its bid by the skin of its teeth at #14. They must root against LSSU, Wisconsin, MTU, Dartmouth, and Quinnipiac in their respective conference tourneys. Any autobid handed out to a team currently behind them dumps them from the tourney. The Redhawks dodged an enormous bullet last night when Minnesota and St. Cloud got late goals -- in St. Cloud's case, really really late: the third OT -- to boot UAA and UMD from the WCHA tournament.
Bruce Weber: major-league dick? Illinois' head basketball coach flew off the handle in an attempt to defend himself from accusations that he's running a loose ship at UI in the wake of Jamar Smith's under-the-influence crash:
Weber also pointed out that "a kid in a program got arrested a couple weeks ago and he played in the next game." Without naming him, Weber was referring to Michigan's Lester Abram, who was stopped for speeding, then arrested for an outstanding warrant. That happened two days before Abram played for the Wolverines at Illinois.
"I don't know if anything was talked about with him," Weber said, his voice rising. "I don't think so because I get a lot of feedback. You're going to hold us to high standards, but that kid got arrested and he played."
When asked who he was talking about, Weber blurted, "I'm not going to get into it. But there was a kid you know who got arrested and he played a game. If you can't figure it out, maybe you're not doing your job," which seemed to be a veiled reference to columnists who have suggested he's not doing his job as effectively as he could.
The "outstanding warrant" was for a suspended license; essentially, Lester was arrested for not paying a traffic ticket. Jamar Smith got drunk, hopped in a car, and put someone in critical condition. He's charged with two felonies. There is no comparison between the two.
(Via Nate Fenno.)
Etc.: Wonk interview @ FanIQ.
All I've got at the moment. Coming monday: third down stuff for every team in the country. w00t.