this may be of some local interest
I'm sure we all agree on a few things around here. To wit: USA #1. Love it or leave it. What makes America great, though? I think we'll all agree on this too: America derives 90% of its strength the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It's a fact. I read it on Bleacher Report. (The other ten percent comes from engineers on H1B visas.)
I was having a conversation with War Blog Eagle proprietor and NCAA tournament fanatic Jerry Hinnen yesterday in which we discussed the various and sundry ways in which expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams was an Al Qaeda plot to ruin America. In this conversation, Jerry expressed a hope that the "done deal" post Sports By Brooks threw up was a diabolical trial balloon to gauge reaction. It is then the patriotic duty of everyone with a platform via which to react to react.
This has been everyone's reaction. I haven't seen or heard one person, even in the depths of the contrarian internet or the murky fog of sports talk radio—where one guy suggested that Brandon Graham was a "second or third rounder" yesterday—who thinks the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament is anything other than evil. (I just found some on the Google now, which only goes to show that the Murray Chass was right about everything.) Some guy tweeted that the mere consideration of 96 teams is a harsh blow to this site's pet playoff proposal because it suggests the people in charge of things are soulless mercenaries who care about nothing but short-term dollars. It's hard to disagree.
Where are the crotchety old men? Rose Bowl curmudgeons, where are you in our hour of need? Oh. USA Today. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, formerly the WTA commissioner:
"In professional tennis," he says, "the temptation to increase playing opportunities and go for the short-term economic value in adding tournaments led to significant dilution of value long term and other problematic side effects for the sport. One day, you wake up and realize that, while each expansion decision sounded good at the time, you have lost what was once so special. Once you go down that route, it's exceedingly difficult to put the genie back in the bottle."
Big Ten commissioner and college football playoff bete noire Jim Delany:
"I think nobody would disagree that the 65-team, three-week event … has worked," says Delany, a former chairman of the NCAA committee that runs the men's tournament. "You have David vs. Goliath. You have all sorts of internal story lines year in and year out. It's compelling. It's one of the great sports properties in the world.
"I have no problem with looking at expansion, whether it's small or big. I only say that issue is one that must be managed openly and transparently, (and) I have concerns that it's not." …
"We know, in the first round, you have a lot of David and Goliath (matchups)," Delany says. "What happens when it becomes largely David vs. David?"
What say you now, Orson, that it's Jim Delany taking up cape and shield to defend the nation from enemies within?
Finally, the Onion:
America #1. Love it or leave it. That means get out, men pushing for 96 team tournament. Get out.
Michigan 60 Iowa 46, Michigan 11-10 (4-5 Big Ten)
At times in the second half of Michigan's win over Iowa on Saturday, I was literally afraid I would fall asleep in press row. The game had long ago devolved into Michigan's players putting in about 50% effort, and more often than not, trying to make spectacular plays that ended in turnovers. There's almost nothing of value that we can take from that game.
I say almost, because it was a continuation of Michigan's improvement in defensive efficiency since conference play began. Here's a graphical representation of that, in terms of their rank in adjusted efficiency (which takes into account quality of opposition) since conference play began. Each data point comes from the preview for a particular game (so the first IU point is at the end of the non-conference season other than UConn):
The defense has gone from mediocre to quite good. Offensively, there has been some improvement since the Indiana game, but the poor offensive performance against Iowa was at least partially attributable to guys not taking the game seriously when it was clear Iowa couldn't score, at least from this observer's point of view.
- Tons of offensive rebounding for Michigan, but they aren't going to make their living by picking up their missed shots in most games.
- Dude, Iowa is so bad. Michigan could have won by about 40 if they'd played with intensity for the entire game. Yet the Hawkeyes have still managed to knock off Indiana and Penn State, both of whom gave Michigan trouble.
- DeShawn Sims could have dominated in the paint even more than he did. That's scary.
- John Lickliter. Just, wow. Props to the fans for cheering his made 3-pointer.
- Check out Dylan's postgame for a more complete breakdown.
The Wolverines travel to Evanston to take on the suddenly-competent Wildcats tomorrow night. Northwestern is gunning for their first NCAA tournament bid EVAR, and knocked of Michigan in Crisler Arena 68-62 last time these teams met.
Signing Day 2010 promises to be far less hectic than last year, when Michigan picked up Denard Robinson, Adrian Witty, and Je'ron Stokes but lost out on Pearlie Graves and Dequinta Jones, and far, far less hectic than 2008, when Michigan snake-oiled a half-dozen guys and Sam McGuffie went on a vision quest. But it's still going down, and we'll be here to answer all your questions six to ten times each.
An up-to-the-minute accounting of events that will go down tomorrow: [UPDATE: HA HA! I meant Wednesday.]
CA S Sean Parker announces at 10 AM on ESPN. National guru opinion is USC, Michigan insider opinion is Michigan.
FL S Rashad Knight could drop to Rutgers or Michigan at any time but since he's waited this long he'll probably have a signing day press conference of some sort. Time is indeterminate. This one is fuzzy.
FL S Demar Dorsey announces tomorrow. Florida State is the favorite; Michigan just put on the full-court press. USC is also involved. Florida pulled his offer once he started looking around.
OH DT Terry Talbott may end up elsewhere. Twitter du Tom:
Jay Minton, Terry Talbott's coach sent me an email: "Terry's head is spinning, I wish I could tell you what he'll do."
There is an article on Rivals($) to similar effect. Talbott visited North Carolina two weeks ago. Brother and OH CB Terrence Talbott did not go and has been adamant he will sign with Michigan and the brothers wanted to stay together, so Michigan should come out on top here. That quote is alarming, though.
Other decommits are unlikely. No other Michigan recruits have taken post-commitment visits and all of them have taken Michigan officials; it would take some Roy Roundtree-style subterfuge for a Michigan commit to end up elsewhere. MI RB Austin White, TX RB Stephen Hopkins, MI QB Devin Gardner, MI WR Ricardo Miller, MI WR Jeremy Jackson, OH WR Jerald Robinson, and OH OL Christian Pace are already on campus.
Things happening tomorrow:
- A potentially epic signing day liveblog kicks off at 9:30 to catch the Parker announcement. Depending on level of interest and how tolerant we are of answering the same questions fifteen times, this may extend until the Rich Rodriguez press conference scheduled for 6 PM.
- The most timely MGoPodcast in history will drop, though obviously it will not contain information on Parker, Knight, or Dorsey.
- The front page will update throughout the day with things that are occurring.
1/29/2010 – Michigan 2-ish, Michigan State 3-ish – 14-12-1, 9-9-1-0 CCHA
1/30/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 4 – 15-12-1, 10-9-1-0 CCHA
I feel kind of bad that when you google former CCHA referee Kevin Langseth's name the first three hits are:
- A post on this blog titled "People Better At Their Jobs Than Kevin Langseth" featuring Stephen A. Smith, Carrot Top, the FEMA director during Hurricane Katrina, William Henry Harrison and, most lethally, Nickelback.
- A duplicate of that post with some useless html doohickeys on the end.
- A duplicate of that post from the Notre Dame message board that reposts my RSS feed in full.
Thanks to me, Langseth is in need of some serious online brand management. Then I go back and click the link to the Yost Built post which I let stand as explanation and the red mist descends and all I remembered is mustachioed walrus incompetence and I shake my head. That post came in the aftermath of a game against Ohio State in which 1) an OSU player kicked a goal in* and 2) a goal that banked in off Louie Caporusso's chest was inexplicably disallowed by Langseth despite the fact that there was a senior official in an excellent spot to make a call. Michigan lost by a goal. It was the second important game that year—a game against Notre Dame was the first— in which Michigan had lost by a goal in a game where two blatantly incorrect decisions to allow or disallow goals had gone against them.
Langseth hasn't been seen around Yost this fall; I assume he decided having rabid bloggers seriously damage his online brand wasn't worth it and is now in the nascent stages of a lucrative career selling mustache grooming accessories. The senior official in an excellent spot was Matt Shegos.
So now Michigan has a man-advantage with just over two minutes to go and a chance to pull off a huge comeback on the road. Just after the penalty expired, Chris Brown was standing in the slot. The puck hit him and bounced down, through the legs of Drew Palmisano, and into the net. Like, straight through the legs of Palmisano. We're not talking pinballing. We're not talking the puck died between his legs but was still loose and someone jammed it in. It hit Chris Brown, bounced down, went right through Palmisano into the net.
Shegos somehow missed this and blew the play dead within milliseconds of the puck going underneath Palmisano. The whistle may not have gone until the puck was in the net (I'm not sure), but thanks to the most retarded rule in sports--the play is dead when it's dead in the referee's mind, not when he blows the whistle--you can't review it.
Son of a.
What's the story of the weekend when Michigan claws back from 3-0 down to tie and manages to blow its own 3-0 lead only to charge back with a season-rescuing win at Joe Louis? "Hey, maybe we can do this thing." What's the story now? Yost Built, let your graphic stylings roam free!
That's inescapable. Michigan split the weekend and ended up dropping a slot in the pairwise. If we're looking at RPI, as we usually do this far out, the #14 team has a 0.5385. Here's what they have to do to approach that:
Win seven and a half of nine.
I don't even know what to say. Shegos is clearly the best ref in the league. He still made a huge, game changing error that was so far beyond plausible that I'd rather have the rotating cast of drafted linesmen and guys I've never seen before—the pool Langseth was taken from—in charge.
*(Since this rule changes every two months and is different in every league across the continent, let me clarify how egregious this was: at this moment in history the NCAA rule on kicking the puck in was "anything that touches an offensive player's skate and goes into the net as a result is disallowed." Intent, kicking motions, all that stuff: irrelevant. Skate –> net –> disallowed.)
Holy God was Michigan bad on Friday. Even getting in a position to tie that game was a minor miracle after two and a half periods had yielded maybe three or four scoring chances and probably double or triple that number for Michigan State. It was the reverse of the Ferris weekend, where Michigan played an excellent game Friday and a totally gross one Saturday. The Saturday Ferris and Friday State games were identical down to the final-ish score and the late, ultimately unsuccessful (-ish) Michigan comeback.
Hogan's save percentage speaks for itself. I've been arguing with people about how much culpability Bryan Hogan has for Michigan's crappy record all year, and I think the soft shortie against Ferris and the fat rebounds he kicked out all weekend against State are evidence enough that the reason Hogan has a .902 save percentage—54th nationally of 77 qualifying goalies—is mostly that he's not playing well.
The other idea was that Michigan gives up a small quantity of high quality shots. That may have some truth to it, but every study that serious hockey bloggers have undertaken suggests that relative save percentage is a seriously meaningful way to compare goalies, and Hogan is not doing well in that.
Persons of note. I don't think Chris Brown's at the point where he could pull a Pacioretty and leave just as he turned into a ninja, but I am a little concerned the NHL will look at his corner-friendly frame and willingness to take a beating in front of the net and scoop him up before his time. Except—hey—he's a Coyotes draft pick. The 'Yotes are either cheap or patient or wise or all three and have left their last three Michigan draft picks in school for all four years. That might not be a huge surprise with Kevin Porter or Chad Kolarik, both mid-round picks, but Chris Summers was a first-rounder. First round picks who play four years at Michigan are rare indeed.
Anyway, the reason to fret is that Brown's been the most effective freshman forward on the team in a way unfamiliar to Michigan fans: by being huge and ornery. The last Wolverine to score so many dirty crease goals was Brandon Kaleniecki. Kaleniecki was a highly effective player over the course of his career at Michigan despite not having the talent Brown does—Kal was never drafted and never made it out of the ECHL post-college—and a huge version of him seems like a nice player to have around for four years. He's already displayed more scoring touch than Eric Nystrom ever did, if only because he'll put his nose in wherever it needs to go and is handy with a deflection.
Summers, meanwhile, finally put his speed to good use on a rush that got AJ Treais an easy tip-in goal. I don't think he's lived up to expectations as a senior captain—he's been good, but seems far short of the All-American level you'd expect a senior first-round pick would reach.
Weekly Oh My God, Are We Going To Miss The Tourney update was actually covered above in the midst of near-weekly If I Was As Bad As My Job As CCHA Referees Are I Would Be Drew Sharp rant: Michigan's split with Michigan State did zero for them. They are basically where they were before the Ferris State series with four fewer opportunities to drag themselves out of the muck.
This week: must sweep BGSU in the weird split series and a win over Wisconsin would be a huge help.
Coach Rodriguez briefly talked to the media at halftime of the basketball game against Iowa (Michigan leads 29-17 at the half). Relevant notes from coach:
- Michigan is looking to sign 26-28 recruits in the class of 2010.
- Rodriguez talked to a few coaches about Michigan's open linebackers coaching position at the coaches' meetings a couple weeks ago. They won't worry about hiring somebody until after Signing Day, but should have the new coach hired within a week of that date.
- All the players who have had offseason surgery (Mike Martin, Vincent Smith, et al) are progressing on pace with their rehab. They'll still be out for spring, but should be ready to play in the fall.
- As long as Kelvin Grady can manage his academics with playing basketball, Rodriguez has no problem with him re-joining John Beilein's squad. There shouldn't be too much interference between football spring practice and the basketball season, but if there is, the coaches will let him continue playing basketball.
- In spring practice, the slots and running backs are overlapping duties a bit, because many of the guys who play slot are used to the running back position from their high school days.
- The coaches are still trying to find guys who can help on defense. Cameron Gordon is one guy who is looking at a potential switch to the other side of the ball.
Rodriguez will have a formal press conference on Wednesday for the signing of the Class of 2010. More details on MGoBlog's Signing Day coverage coming later.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Iowa|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||4:30 PM EST
January 29th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan -13*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
After the heartbreaker against Michigan State, Michigan's tough 3-game stretch in the Big Ten Conference has come to an end. The Wolverines will have to go on quite a run to have a chance at the NCAA tournament, and will have to go better than .500 in their final 10 contests to even qualify for the NIT.
I'm still of the opinion that, since conference play has kicked off, Michigan has been a pretty good team. Despite chokes against Indiana and Northwestern, they've been steadily improving on both ends of the court, but primarily on defense (more on this following the weekend). Facing a team like Iowa, Michigan's defense should be able to shut down the opponent, creating opportunities on the other end of the floor, and hopefully leading to a blowout.
Not of particular relevance to this game, but still important to the program, is that Beilein announced yesterday that assistant coach Jerry Dunn, who has been on a leave of absence for family reason since late December, will rejoin the team following this weekend.
The Hawkeyes are a lot like the 2007-08 Michigan team, or last year's Indiana squad: They're undermanned, and kinda terrible. The key difference is that Iowa is in year three of the Todd Lickliter Experience, not year one like those other squads were. Of course, Penn State may prevent Iowa from even finishing last in the conference, but the Hawkeyes are pretty bad.
Iowa started the year with losses to college basketball luminaries Texas-San Antonio and Duquesne, but has actually not been that bad since. They've lost to every opponent that Ken Pomeroy ranks better than 100, and beaten everyone below that line (including #108 Penn State and #135 Indiana). They currently sit at 8-13 on the season, with a 2-6 record in Big Ten Play.
Iowa is a very young team, with only two players, forwards Jarryd Cole and Devan Bawinkel, upperclassmen (a result of major attrition over the first couple year of the Lickliter era). Sophomore Matt Gatens and freshman Cully Payne play the lion's share of available minutes, but don't really excel in any one skill except not fouling opponents and dishing the ball (the only categories in which either is ranked in Ken Pomeroy's top 500 players). Gatens will play today on a sprained ankle he suffered prior to the Ohio State game. Sophomore Anthony Tucker is one of the team's most talented players, using the most possessions and shooting the ball among the best on the team when he's on the court, but he's been suspended since December for a public intoxication infraction, and will not play against Michigan.
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%||195||276||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Iowa eFG%||174||111||I|
|Mich TO% v. Iowa Def TO%||19||277||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Iowa TO%||58||278||MMM|
|Mich OReb% v. Iowa DReb%||278||46||III|
|Mich DReb% v. Iowa OReb%||234||247||M|
|Mich FTR v. Iowa Opp FTR||330||25||IIII|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Iowa FTR||16||320||MMMM|
|Mich AdjO v. Iowa AdjD||91||175||M|
|Mich AdjD v. Iowa AdjO||43||134||M|
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.
For the first time in quite a while (since the home contest against Indiana), the Wolverines have a significant advantage by the numbers. The only things Iowa looks to do well are prevent Michigan from making a lot of shots, prevent the Wolverines from coming down with those misses, and not send them to the free throw line. In terms of shooting, Michigan has struggled this year, but against an overmatched team like Iowa figures to be, Deshawn Sims can likely have a field day from midrange, and the 3-balls that so often miss might not even be attempted.
One thing that the Hawkeyes have managed to do when holding opponents to lower scoring outputs (on a per-possession basis) is turn them over, but unfortunately for them, they haven't been able to do it that frequently, and it should be no difference this afternoon, as the Wolverines are exceptional at holding onto the rock.
Ken Pomeroy predicts an 11-point Michigan win, and gives the Wolverines an 89% chance of emerging victorious. I think the margin will actually be a little wider, and Michigan pounds the overmatched Hawkeyes by a score of 70-52.
Dylan previews the game at UMHoops. Black Heart Gold Pants talks a number of basketball issues, including idiotic newspaper columns and the absence of Anthony Tucker. AnnArbor.com's Michael Rothstein previews the game.