Are we going to recap it? No. I'm pretty sure Tim is methodically hammering nails into anything small and fluffy he can find. We're going to dig out something that hasn't been seen around these parts in a year or two. It is the Dead To Me board. It has two new additions, the second of which is relevant.
Well played, 2009-10. Well played.
Here's a kitten:
We'll see you next week. Jesus.
|WHAT||Michigan @ Michigan State
CCHA Second Round
|WHERE||East Lansing, Michigan|
March 12th/13th, 2010
7:05 PM EST March 14th
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday & Saturday: Comcast Local|
Record. I'm pretty sure that frequent commenter Spartan Dan put together a killer weekend preview at The Only Colors simply to shame me—it's even got this site's usual "you want this WCHA series to go this way because of the marginal effect it will have on our pairwise comparisons" section—and shame me it has done. It has also done a significant amount of the legwork, though, so we'll call it even.
Anyway: 19-11-6, 14-8-6 CCHA. Second place. Goal differential of +0.67 per game overall and +0.32 in conference. Bizarrely, Michigan's goal differential is considerably better in both instances (+0.85 and +0.5, respectively) despite being the seventh seed here. What's going on? Dan has a great chart that helps explain things:
Right away you can see more spread in Michigan's goal results. State scores three a lot, zero almost never, and six relatively rarely. Their goal curve somewhat approximates a normal distribution. Michigan has nights of wild success and nights like… well, you could name a dozen at this point. This dovetails nicely with a post I threw on mgolicious recently about a new method for reducing the error in baseball's Pythagoran prediction schemes*. It's kind of obvious:
Your actual win total doesn't just depend on runs scored and allowed -- it also depends on the consistency of each. If your scoring is less consistent than average, you should outperform [ed: I don't think this is good phrasing.] Pythagoras in terms of wins. For instance, if you score exactly the same number of runs as you allow, you should wind up a .500 team. But if you win more blowouts than average -- by scores of 15-2 and 16-6, for instance -- you'll finish at less than .500, because you've "wasted" your runs when you don't need them. And if you *lose* more blowouts than average, you'll win *more* games than 50 percent, because your opponents are "wasting" their runs.
A team that scores zero goals half the time and eight goals the rest of the time is going have the best goal differential in the world and be .500.
it's a little tough to parse this pattern out, but try to just consider the TUC games (blue and green). There the pattern is even more stark: State still scores three a ton, with one the next most popular and some other scattered numbers. Michigan's mode is two—ick—and the goal scoring is much more distributed. TUC teams are the top half of the schedule and more likely to score goals against you: here is the gap between Michigan's goal differential and its record.
Is this luck or something wrong with the team? Dan makes a case for the latter based on Michigan's style of offense this year ("chuck it at the net and see what happens") and I agree with him. The posterboy for this effect is Louie Caporusso, who has been on a tear of late against iffy goaltending and poor defensive teams but was totally stymied against the meat of the schedule. Michigan as a whole seems like TJ Hensick trying to make it in pro hockey: too good for the AHL (usually) but not good enough for the show.
This is a long and complicated way of saying that I wouldn't put as much into the goal differential as you might otherwise. I think it bodes well for Michigan next year, but maybe not this weekend.
*(For those less likely to have a collection of German board games: Bill James took a look at the numbers and found out that run differential was a better predictor of next year's record than last year's record. This finding is generally applicable and definitely applies to hockey. It's a major reason I think the hockey team will bounce back to its usual terrifying self next year. There's no place like home… no place like home… no place…)
Dangermen. Insert default complaint about Corey Tropp… no, insert a new one: it is totally ridiculous that the only punishment Corey Tropp received was missing the remainder of a season in which State had already checked out for good anyway. Michigan State had such deep respect for the idea that Corey Tropp should sit out games that they tried to stash him in the USHL so he wouldn't get rusty and only backed off that plan when someone in compliance said it would affect his eligibility. Rick Comley has permanently lost my respect, and the way this incident has played out makes me long for the day when Michigan can tell the league to GTFO and join a Big Ten hockey conference.
But anyway. Karma is busy with the Spartan football team at the moment and has ignored the above, so Tropp is Michigan State's leading scorer with a 20-22-42 line. Derek Grant has 11-18-31 and Andrew Rowe a 15-11-26, from there there's a significant dropoff. Expect Hagelin to get the Tropp line whenever they can manage it.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Drew Palmisano has developed into one of the country's best goalies—something you could see coming as he split time with Jeff Lerg last year—and has a .922 save percentage.
Earlier in the year I suggested that Michigan State's extremely young defensive corps might be an exploitable achilles heel, but I just looked at the year next to their name and not their birthdates. None of these guys is straight out of high school and some of them can already drink. (Drink legally, that is. These are hockey players.) "Freshman" Zach Josepher is a few months away from turning 22! So nevermind on that.
The key guy on the Spartan D is Jeff Petry, a second-round pick of the Oilers who had a terrible year last year beyond just having crappy teammates but has bounced back to be both the Spartans' best offensive defenseman—22 assists—and most reliable defender. Josepher and fellow freshman-type object Torey Krug (actually younger than 20) are the next two guys on the depth chart. Krug is a smallish puck mover, Josepher more of a defensive sort.
Michigan, meanwhile, is still rolling out pint-sized walk-on Shawn Hunwick. This is good for the profile-seeking newspaper writers of Southeastern Michigan, but maybe not so good for Michigan's chances this weekend. Both of the goals Lake State scored on Friday were super soft and I'm sure everyone else is as creeped out by how often he jumps at pucks as I am. On the other hand, the two Friday goals were the only on the weekend and Hunwick did make a couple of grade A stops on Saturday to preserve his shutout.
While it's not a foregone conclusion that Hunwick is outperformed, it's pretty likely.
As a bonus, senior captain Chris Summers is out. Lee Moffie draws into the lineup, and this might mean bad things defensively. It just goes to show that I don't know everything (or even much) about hockey that I thought he was killing it when this was going down:
But after he dressed in 13 consecutive games, Moffie was pulled for his defensive lapses. In the final five games of that stretch in late January, Moffie had a plus/minus rating of minus-five. He has played in just four of the last ten games.
“I’ve known from the start that the defense is my thing that will keep me out of the lineup, they made that pretty clear,” Moffie said. “I’m an offensive defenseman, if I’m not producing and I’m out there for goals, I’m not really worth a lot to this team.”
His defensive issues must be a lot more subtle than Llewellyn's tendency to pick up dumb penalties and get caught up ice.
Special teams. Your power plays per game stat:
|PP For / G||5.6||5.7|
|PP Ag / G||5.1||5.4|
Michigan's specialty units are more effective than State's. Michigan's penalty kill is borking along at a 87.6 rate. Michigan State is in the middle of the pack (20th) at 83.2. On the flip side, neither team is much good on the powerplay. Michigan is 29th, State 34th. That's basically a wash.
Since Michigan State has a better ratio of PPs for and against, this section is basically even.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Play like an underdog. Michigan's been playing a tighter, simpler game with Hunwick in net and the results have been fewer scary turnovers and few grade A opportunities. Michigan State is a step up from Hunwick's first four games, which were against 9th place Notre Dame and 10th place Lake State and will actually be able to generate scoring chances of their own. Michigan should play a conservative game in the hopes of protecting Hunwick.
Clone Carl Hagelin and put him on three lines.
Figure out why you are so inconsistent, especially against TUC opponents, and fix that season-long issue in a week. What? It could happen.
The Big Picture
The Pairwise still doesn't matter for Michigan. They're 25th right now: it's CCHA championship or bust. That requires winning this weekend and against Miami unless Ohio State pulls off the upset of the year in the CCHA, with Ferris State or Alaska or someone else the last hurdle. The pulse still remains faint.
On the other hand, the Pairwise implications of this series are huge for Michigan State. They sit 12th. With Bemidji State comfortably in the top eight, there is only one auto-bid that is definitely getting handed out. You could get in with a PWR as low as 15, but to be safe you'd like to get to 14 or, better, 13. If Michigan State loses this series they will take two TUC losses against zero or one wins. Depending on the results of other series, this could knock them out of the tournament entirely.
Michigan's playing for its life in this series and doesn't need anything else to motivate, but that's a nice little bonus.
Michigan 59 Iowa 52, 2nd Round Big Ten Tournament
Michigan's game-to-game inconsistency has been the story of the season, and we got it gleefully wrapped into one package against Iowa. Of course, to truly represent the 2009-10 Michigan Wolverines it would have ended with a loss, so we're comin' out ahead already, baby. Michigan completely dominated at times, led by DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris. At other times, Cully Payne and Aaron Fuller made Wolverine fans tear their hair out by leading the Hawkeyes on runs to stay in the game. Still, past the first couple minutes, the outcome was rarely in doubt.
Michigan's ability to force turnovers was a big key, though they did get sloppy and commit some turnovers themselves. Giving it up eight times doesn't seem like too much, but considering they didn't turn it over once in the first 14 minutes, and it's clear play got a little sloppy.
Though nobody other than Manny (22 points) and Peedi (14 points) scored in double figures, Michigan got a little scoring from a few other guys, though the shooting woes of Zack Novak and Stu Douglass continued. Douglass and LLP showed a willingness to drive the ball a little bit, and if that had been available all year, this team might have been a little less disappointing. Speaking of disappointing, Darius Morris was practically invisible, and still has work to do before he can put together impressive performances every game.
And with the win, it's on to...
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
March 12th 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +9*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Ohio State controlled the game by owning the second half in Value City Arena just a week ago, eventually emerging with a 66-55 victory. No recap since I didn't get a chance to catch the game, but all five of Michigan's starters scored in double figures, and William Buford paced the Buckeyes with 24 points. Michigan won the turnover battle, like usual, but the shooting went cold in the second half, and Ohio State managed to capitalize for the victory.
Previously, Michigan upset the Buckeyes in Crisler Arena to kick off the New Year. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims scored 52 of Michigan's 73 points. The game also brought us the beginning of VOGRIT, as the freshman led the team in offensive rebounding and made a big block in the paint. I'm skirting around a key fact here though, which is that Evan Turner - winner of several player of the year awards - missed the game with broken vertebrae (spinal injuries what what). With Turner in the lineup, Ohio State has been dominant, sharing the Big Ten crown with Purdue and Michigan State.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy. Also, you'd better hide the women and children before they catch a glimpse of this chart.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||247||88||OO|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||211||4||OOO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||12||78||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||34||31||-|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||290||27||OOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||270||273||-|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||330||11||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||7||205||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||107||19||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||46||12||O|
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.
So, uh, thanks for the entertaining season, guys. Ohio State is clearly the superior team in nearly every category, and Michigan is going to be hard-pressed to find a way to beat the Buckeyes when they have Evan Turner in the lineup.
Michigan's defensive improvement over the course of the season is something of a silver lining, but this Ohio State team is on track for a 1- or 2-seed in the NCAA tournament for a reason. Michigan also has a bit more to play for, as Ohio State's season will carry into the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome, and the Wolverines are in a win-or-go-home situation for the rest of the year.
Kenpom likes Ohio State by 8, and Vegas makes the Buckeyes 9-point favorites. I think Michigan's sense of urgency might keep the game a little bit closer than the experts think. Still it's hard to pick against a squad that's rolling like the Buckeyes are.
Programming note. Since the basketball team has definitively disproven the idea that a liveblog around these parts is some kind of curse—the curse obviously exists, mind you, but goes wider than just this here blog—we're going to do one for the Iowa game today. Why? I don't really know.
Weekend note. Michigan State is desperately trying to sell CCHA playoff tickets:
To purchase tickets for groups of 15 or more, click here to receive discount pricing!
Let's help them out!
Deford and the Dream of Horses. Frank Deford sits down to briefly address this Ed O'Bannon thing before dozing off and dreaming of horses…
…and the headline goes for the gusto: "lawsuit threatens NCAA amateurism." That seems akin to those headlines about a 16-team Big Ten with outposts in Nagasaki and Atlantis, but Deford does a pretty good job of justifying it, all things considered:
So here's the nub for the NCAA: Explain the exemption that absolves the organization from compensating players for their labor.
So far, the NCAA, whose office is in Indianapolis, has spent a great deal of pretrial energy trying desperately to get the case shifted from San Francisco to its home court in Indiana. However, its effort did not pay off, as Federal Judge Claudia Wilken denied the request. Now, the discovery phase begins.
The outlook is bleak. The 2009 decision to award retired NFL players compensation for the use of their likeness in video games must surely hang over the NCAA's head. If old pros should be paid for the appropriation of their personages, why shouldn't old collegians?
I'm coming up empty even when I approach the problem from the perspective of a slick-haired guy in a suit attempting to argue an obviously untenable position because that's how daddy gets a luxury car. I'm all for the collegiate spirit, but I'm also all for the vague semblance of fairness.
Remember how I used to rail about the ridiculous increase in head coaches' salaries? Good times. Also outdated times:
The trend of rapidly accelerating pay for major-college head football coaches is being replicated — and then some — for their top assistants.
With many contracts being negotiated or finalized, nearly a dozen schools in the NCAA's 120-school Football Bowl Subdivision have made deals under which they will be spending at least 38% more on their offensive or defensive coordinator in 2010 than they did in 2009.
This, like everything else in college football, is Lane Kiffin's fault.
Even so, every time a coordinator breaks a million dollars it's another blow to the idea that big time college sports programs can't afford to provide something to their players. If a BCS university's athletic department isn't profitable, it's because the university doesn't want it to be profitable. Period. You could hire a high school coach and fly coach and laugh as your terrible team gets a million billion dollars in TV revenue. You could drop the crew teams. You could become Donald Sterling, and laugh all the way to the bank. There is an unbelievable amount of money that could go to the players.
I can understand the point of view that you'd rather give someone else a scholarship and have another team or draw less from the general fund than offer something resembling fair compensation to football and basketball players, but that's not where the extra money goes, does it?
Conference du Gump. The Big Ten, as always, is slowwwww. John Gasaway gets a brief window to promulgate tempo-free whatnot in the Wall Street Journal and supplies a chart (chart):
The Tempo Index
Here are the fastest and slowest major-conference teams, based on their number of possessions per 40 minutes of conference play.
THE TORTOISES THE HARES 1 Wisconsin (57.6) 1 Providence (72.8) 2 Michigan (59.7) 2 Arkansas (72.3) 3 Iowa (61) 3 Texas Tech (72) 4 Penn State (61.3) 4 Villanova (71.6) 5 Northwestern (61.8) 5 Washington (71.4) 6 Pittsburgh (62) 6 Texas (71.4) 7 USC (62.1) 7 Kansas State (71.3)
Holy cold potatoes: Big Ten teams comprise the bottom five and Michigan is second only to Wisconsin.
Gasaway, by the way, confirmed for me that my previous instinct about Michigan's conference defense vis a vis its offense was correct. Tempo-free aerials are usually centered on 1.00 point per trip, and Michigan both averaged and provided just about one point per trip during conference play. Average at everything? Not so much. This was a twitter message, in case you're wondering about the terseness:
Assumption confirmed. In-conf defense 0.31 standard deviations better than Big Ten avg. Offense half an sd (.49) worse than avg. Zowie.
That latter won't surprise anyone given the Taj Mahal Michigan shooters have assembled over the past few months. The former, though, is one of the enduring mysteries of the Big Ten season. It may be one of the enduring mysteries of John Beilein's career: Michigan is currently 47th in the adjusted efficiency ratings at Kenpom. Barring John Lickliter going 12/12 from three in a couple hours, this will be the best defense Beilein has ever had according to Kenpom.
How in the hell is a team with basically one player over 6'5" (Sims and Gibson hardly ever play together) actually good at defense? Kenpom says it's a lot of forced turnovers and a Wisconsin-like aversion to giving up free throws making up for bleah eFG% defense and rebounding. That turnovers without fouling thing is a neat trick.
The thing is: that fingerprint is characteristic of the 1-3-1 zone Beilein is known for… and Michigan had to abandon midway through the nonconference schedule because mediocrities like Boston College and Alabama were treating it like a layup line. By the Big Ten portion of the schedule, Michigan had morphed into an almost exclusively man-to-man team.
This isn't like football where a terrible offense can sometimes make that team's defense look better than it is as opponents get their three point lead and play keep-away. The opponent's offense, or lack thereof, is of no relevance once you suck tempo out of the equation. So this appears to be a real positive that could last into next year. If anyone on the team can throw a ball into Lake Michigan, it could be relevant.
Default Big Ten expansion bits. Notre Dame rumbled a couple days ago, spawning panic across the Subway alums. I was doubtful that the "easy to construct" scenario in which Notre Dame is forced into a conference comes to pass—had a hard time constructing one at all—and this makes it even more doubtful:
A source within the Big Ten told the Tribune last month that given what transpired in 2003, when Notre Dame all but accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten before pulling back, "the only way they will be offered is if they first accept. The Big Ten went down that road and got burned. Fool me once, fool me twice."
On the flipside of that, Rutgers fans were almost nonchalant (which, certainly owed much to how frequently the topic has been debated to death on our side in recent years) and completely self-assured about it. ”Of course Rutgers was the most desirable option. How could anyone possibly think otherwise?”
Er… well, you see… it's just… nah. Never mind.
I said another piece on this in a Sporting Blog article yesterday and remain skeptical that Rutgers moves the needle enough in New York for the local cable companies to shell out for the BTN, but on WTKA today Ira made a good point: with a zillion Big Ten alums in the city, their combined might could be Captain Planet to Pollutin' Time Warner. Rutgers gets to be the fey South American kid whose special power is "heart".
Etc.: Jim Mandich has cancer, but it is apparently treatable. TOC puts together Big Ten efficiency graphs that show two things: holy God is the offense bad against teams not named Minnesota, and holy crap are they inconsistent.