|WHAT||Michigan v. Penn State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
Feb 20th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan -8.5*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network (Tom Hamilton & Greg Kelser)|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan was simply horrible to start the game, missing the first 14 three-pointers they took. The local dining establishment where I was watching the game decided to turn it off for several hours of BCS Championship pregame, and by the time I needled them into turning it back on, Michigan was... playing well? Penn State had a 19 point lead early in the second half, but the Wolverines didn't give up. Laval Lucas-Perry and Zack Novak drilled some clutch 3-balls, and Michigan scored 48 second-half points, tripling(!) their output from the first half.
DeShawn Sims scored 25 points on 17 shots for Michigan (and was subsequently named conference Player of the Week), though Manny Harris had an off game, scoring just 13 points and collecting 3 rebounds in 39 minutes. On the other side, the Wolverines were able to keep Talor Battle in check, holding him to 9 points. Chris Babb was the only Nittany Lion in double figures, putting up 14 points.
Since Last We Met
The loss dropped PSU to 0-3 in the conference, and if you had asked anyone if they thought it would be another 10 conference games before they'd finally win one, they probably would have laughed in your face. However, they managed to lose to both Iowa and Indiana (at home, no less!), and sat at 0-12 in the Big Ten until they effectively ended the tournament dreams of Northwestern in Evanston on Wednesday night.
Michigan, on the other hand, wasn't able to solve Northwestern at home or on the road, and has gone 5-6 since beating Penn State. They've made steady improvements with a couple shocking leaps backwards over the course of the season, and are just another middling Big Ten squad.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Penn State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Penn State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. PSU Def eFG%||196||243||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. PSU eFG%||216||148||P|
|Mich TO% v. PSU Def TO%||17||339||MMMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. PSU TO%||54||86||M|
|Mich OReb% v. PSU DReb%||258||2||PPP|
|Mich DReb% v. PSU OReb%||228||246||M|
|Mich FTR v. PSU Opp FTR||337||15||PPPP|
|Mich Opp FTR v. PSU FTR||12||276||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. PSU AdjD||85||129||M|
|Mich AdjD v. PSU AdjO||63||101||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.
The numbers are slightly more favorable to Michigan than they were the first time around, but they're still close enough that the Wolverines don't look like an overwhelming favorite by any stretch. Talor Battle is still the star for PSU, though the Nittany Lions' only win came when he stayed in the background and let his teammates do most of the work.
For the first time in a while (that I can remember), Michigan should have the slight advantage in their ability to shoot the ball. If Laval Lucas-Perry and Stu Douglass can continue the hot streak that started against Iowa, it could be a good day for the Wolverines. Michigan should be able to hang onto the ball, and they'll look to take it away from Penn State to turn defense into offense.
Penn State has finally shown they're capable of winning a Big Ten game, and doing so on the road. If Michigan tries to sleepwalk through this game, there's a good chance of allowing the upset. However, if the Wolverines get back to the disciplined defense they've played at times this year, they should be able to hold off Penn State. I still like John Beilein's ability to gameplan against an opponent he's already seen this year, especially on long rest.
Moderate ado about nothing. So some guy sued the regents for that "informal" meeting that went down a couple weeks ago that discussed either earth-shaking sanctions or lopping off the heads of the people in compliance who screwed up the logging, depending on which probably-baseless internet speculation you prefer. Many internet lawyers have weighed in on the suit. The consensus appears to agree with this university spokesman:
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told the Daily the regents meeting didn't violate any regulations set forth in the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
Fitzgerald said at the time the meeting did not fall under the act because it was an “informal” meeting of the Board of Regents, not a “closed” meeting as set forth in the act.
Additionally, Fitzgerald said the meeting was not even classifiable as a meeting as defined in the act. The Michigan Open Meetings Act defines a meeting as “the convening of a public body at which a quorum is present for the purpose of deliberating toward or rendering a decision on a public policy.”
Fitzgerald said because the meeting was not subject to the act, no meeting minutes were kept.
There's also an interesting thread on the board from a guy who just had an in depth conversation with a newspaper editor who recently filed a similar suit:
a winner in this lawsuit would get access to the information and reimbursement for attorney fees. However, these cases can last months (my contact mentioned legal fees had exceeded $40k for one case) and the reason a singular person may not pursue this for the “freedom of information”. Also, it is possible a judge may not rule in your favor due to opinion on if the procedures where properly followed and you are simply out the money with no access to the meeting minutes. Again, if I have other litigation pending, maybe I take the chance. If not, I would be an idiot since, even if I believe I am 100% right, I risk that a judge does not see my side of the case. I am also either representing myself or have a lawyer doing some pro-bono work since I would not want to bankroll this.
Having just heard a significant amount of information on this type of lawsuit from my newspaper editor contact, I am curious to understand the real motivations here. I struggle with the idea that a random person who reportedly loves the program and is only motivated by that he “…hopes and prays the university officials follow the rules…”.
Even if the suit has merit, the results of the investigation are due to be announced in a month or so, long before the thing could wind its way through the courts, and the only thing it would turn up would be records of the meeting-type object that evidently don't exist.
Folk interested in who this Very Concerned Alum is need only hop in the super-stalky thread on the message board. He's a litigation-happy Granholm political appointee currently mulling a re-election bid. Media reports consistently mention his status as an "alum," but he's not really:
Education: Graduated 1997, Renaissance High School, Detroit; BA in political science, University of Michigan-Dearborn, 2002; nearly two years at Thomas Cooley Law School, Oakland University
No offense to any satellite campus alums out there, but that's like claiming you're an Illinois alum when you went to UIC.
Would this be fake? Dolphins beatwriter Armando Salguero is advocating that Miami snatch Brandon Graham at #12—something that could actually give me an NFL team to root for if Ted Ginn gets deported—and runs a quote or two from BG. This would shatter the FAKE scale if accomplished, even at a combine:
He expects to run in the 4.5s at the Indianapolis Combine next week. And he loves the idea of playing 3-4 outside linebacker.
"Oh yeah, I feel real good," Graham says about dropping in coverage. "I've been working on my hips, working on my drops every day in practice for Michigan ... With a little coaching from the NFL guys, I believe I can get it done."
Stephen Ross now owns the Fins, so if he's as terrible an owner as Daniel Snyder this is definitely happening. In other BG news, New Era scouting says the similarities between Graham and Lamarr Woodley are "almost scary."
Aw, come on now. I like Andy Staples a lot but re-ranking recruiting classes after a few years and trying to pass this off is ridiculous:
2. Boise State
Analysis: Want to know why the Broncos are such a trendy pick to bust into the BCS title game next season? …
So how did the evaluators at Rivals -- and Scout and SI and everywhere else -- so badly underestimate this class? Simple. Boise State doesn't have a huge fan base. There aren't as many potential subscribers, so, from a business perspective, it doesn't make sense to spend as much time evaluating Boise State recruits as Alabama or Texas recruits. That's probably the biggest flaw in recruiting rankings; the teams outside the traditional power structure can be vastly underestimated. Because if you look only at the teams that traditionally finish in the top 15, the rankings are usually pretty accurate.
While I agree that bigger schools get a fudge factor Boise State doesn't*, it's virtually impossible to compare this class of Bronco starters to any other because all it's shown is vast superiority to the rest of the WAC. Boise has played one BCS schools the last two years, and while the Broncos beat pretty good Oregon teams both years that is nowhere near the sort of baseline you'd need to make that sort of assertion. If Cincinnati had played TCU and Boise State played Florida, are we having this conversation?
*(If Jake Ryan had committed to Boise State does he have three stars today? Probably not.)
Going back to the inconsistent and inconveniently-located well? UMHoops and the Wolverine Blog have a two-part basketball recruiting Q&A session that's required reading if you're interested in the future of Michigan basketball. There's a lot of Zeigler talk, and most of it has the same understated foreboding I've got: I don't think he ends up at Michigan. Given that and the lack of an official offer to Jon Horford, I thought this part was the most interesting:
Would Beilein potentially look to dip into Europe for another prospect?
This is an idea that I have seen thrown around. It makes sense because Beilein has looked across the pond for talent before. At West Virginia he brought in German forward Johannes Herber, who started every game in his West Virginia career and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. A couple years back he tried to bring in Robin Benzing, a 6-foot-10 German wing but he came up one question short on the SAT.
If you were wondering, Benzing is playing well in the professional leagues in Germany and is a member of the senior German national team. His video might make you weep when you imagine him in a Michigan uniform but here’s some additional ESPN draft hype for you masochists.
Seriously: do not look into Robin Benzing if you have a hammer handy. Trust me when I say that after he couldn't get eligible at Michigan, he suffered a series of improbable injuries and is now a librarian. Under no circumstances type his name into Google. If you defy these proclamations, you are required to immediately watch this.
I might be wrong about this, but my recollection of Benzing's recruitment was that the holdup wasn't academics but his amateur standing. Though he himself had not signed a contract, he had played on teams with professionals. At the time this was a no-no in the eyes of the NCAA and a major problem for coaches looking to extract talent from Europe. By August, however, the NCAA will abolish this rule for most sports, including basketball. This will make it a lot easier to grab European kids, and since Europe specializes in 6'10" guys who play like small forwards it's a place where Beilein could make some hay. We might see Horford in limbo until Beilein takes a trip to Europe in early April.
I seem to remember Dommanic Ingerson being more clothed, but I though I have sympathy for the guy can't say this is a huge surprise:
It's still a surprise. You never expect the next link to have a picture of a man who once played basketball at your alma mater emerging from a lake, naked and surrounded by cops.
If I had to pick one Ellerbe-era Michigan basketball player who would end up emerging naked from a lake surrounded by cops it would be Tractor Traylor—who is an exception to the "never expect naked lake emergence from" rule—but Ingerson would probably be second. He epitomized Ellerbe's weird focus on players who had obvious emotional problems. Ingerson was the sort of uncoachable nightmare who would launch a three the instant he crossed half court, get benched for it, and do the exact same thing the next time he got in the game. If you're being nice you might term him an "enigmatic sophomore," as the Wolverine Blog does, but there wasn't much enigma there. He was just a guy who thought a 20% chance at three points was a good gamble and could not be dissuaded.
Ingerson was the epitome of a bad risk on Michigan's part, a mistake one that Ellerbe repeated two or three times a recruiting class. Remember Kevin Gaines? Maurice Searight? Avery Queen? Michigan loaded their roster with naked lake guys in the Ellerbe era; program and player invariably failed each other. If it was one guy here or there that would be understandable. It's the frequency and lack of success that made the late-era Fisher and any-era Ellerbe tenure so loathsome. Even when your problem children turn out to be pretty good basketball players they were often Traylor and Taylor sorts who were hard to root for, to say the least.
The obvious comparison given hoopla over the past couple weeks is Demar Dorsey and possibly Justin Feagin. Since no one got to see Feagin do much more than run an Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw or four, it's hard to draw a comparison to the Ellerbe guys who Michigan fans got to be frustrated at over the course of a season, but he's a guy who showed up and promptly exited due to mutual failure.
It's in the numbers here. Michigan signed Demar Dorsey but they also signed Courtney Avery and a bunch of other guys who have shiny grade point averages and letters from Stanford. This Super Bowl featured Saints starting center Jonathan Goodwin, a starter around these parts several years ago who got into serious trouble for robbing a K-Mart and made it okay. It's about outcomes. Brian Ellerbe's were miserable. Under his guidance, the Michigan basketball program seemed like a misbegotten halfway house where troubled basketball players could come, make no effort at developing on or off the court, and spend a year of dorm luxury before that lack of care caught up to them.
That picture above says that Michigan deserved everything they got during their long period of basketball wilderness, not because of Ed Martin but because of Fisher and Taylor and Ellerbe and the list of guys from the mid-90s who could be in that shot, wondering how to keep his privates private when the cuffs go on.
Today, I'm reminded of a story.
It was during that  southern trek that he watched a University of Georgia baserunner try to score from second base on a single to center when a strong throw home seemed to beat the runner. When the umpire yelled “safe,” Michigan catcher Goodloe Rogers spun about and hit the umpire while players swarmed onto the field.
“Rogers was always getting into fights,” said Rickey later, in barely concealed glee. “I never could find out whether or not he started them, but he was always involved. We were down playing Georgia. I was on crutches as a result of a broken leg [a batted ball in practice had fractured a small bone in his foot]. Well, as usual, a fight started around home plate, and I hobbled off the bench and must have prodded several players with my crutches.”
Rogers, the team’s colorful, zany, and angry man - the sort of person Rickey always loved to have on his ball clubs - watched his coach in action.
“When the brawl was over, there lay B.R. flat on his back near home plate, his leg in a cast sticking straight up in the air. On of his crutches was found in the Georgia dugout. The other was in the stands.”
That came from an biography of Branch Rickey. It's been a rough year as a Michigan sports fan. Sure, volleyball was fun, but the last year has been one disappointment after another in the big sports that most of hang on to dearly.
Last year's opening day post at Varsity Blue came in a much different time. It had been a mild winter, and spring had already been starting to crack through to end the dreary season. Michigan was coming off 3 straight BigTen regular season titles. There was a warm feeling all around.
Every Opening Day, I have this tradition. I pray -- hard. One prayer for each loss in the previous season. It usually takes all day. But I think it's working. - Royals fan "Troy" in Liberty, Mo.
This year was something a little bit different. The Michigan athletics curse of 2009-2010 began to creep. After a dominant start in the BigEast/BigTen Challenge, Michigan started to struggle. Pitchers fatigued, players were injured, and ugly losses began to rear their head.
It ended up being a tough year, but as the saying goes, hope springs eternal. This spring is no different. Michigan has reloaded with the #18 overall recruiting class in the country, something nearly unheard of for a Northern program. The Wolverines return all but one major contributor to the 2009's best Big Ten pitching staff. Several key players have an extra year's experience.
This year we're hungry. Last season was a bad call by some crack-pot, home-cooking umpire from Georgia in 1912. This season is a fight for respect. Michigan is back at full health and they've got no other use for these crutches. Michigan is coming out swinging.
Weekend preview after the jump.
In Beilein's best season at WVU they played themselves into the tourney going 7-3 to close reg season then made BE final. Just sayin'...
The insinuation, of course, is that it may be possible for this Michigan team to make a similar run to sneak into the NCAA tournament themselves. Although Dylan himself isn't exactly sold on that idea, let's look at what this Michigan team has in common with those Mountaineers.
West Virginia 2005
The Mountaineers, led by Mike Gansey, Tyrone Sally, and Kevin Pittsnogle (pictured at right), finished the regular season with an 18-9 record, 8-8 in the Big East. They won 7 of their final 10 regular season games. In the Big East Tournament, they were the #8 seed, and ran through #9 Providence, #1 Boston College, and #4 Villanova before falling to Syracuse in the tournament final. They were 21-10 going into the NCAA tournament. They were awarded a #7 seed in the West Regional, and managed to make the Elite Eight, where they lost to Louisville in overtime.
For the sake of prediction we'll go with Ken Pomeroy's projections over the final five games. Kenpom gives Michigan wins over Penn State, Illinois, and Minnesota at home and road losses to Ohio State and Michigan State.
In that scenario, the Wolverines would finish the regular season with a 16-14 record, 9-9 in the Big Ten. They would have won 6 of their final 10 regular season games. They would be about the #7 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, facing off against #10 Iowa (the same 7/10 matchup as in last season's Big Ten Tournament). To reach the tournament final, they would have to beat Iowa, then the #2 seed (still up in the air at this point, but Ohio State if the season ended today), and the #3 or #6 seed (Purdue or Northwestern, respectively, if the season ended today). Falling in the tournament final, they would finish with a 19-15 record going into tournament selection.
Though both teams would end their season on a run of sorts, the "Last 10" metric for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is not available this season. Michigan's theoretical 6-4 mark over the final 10 regular season games (plus a 3-1 record in the Big Ten Tournament) probably wouldn't be the most impressive mark, anyway.
A key difference between the teams is their respective overall records. Though both would finish with a .500 mark in conference, the Mountaineers only dropped one game to a non-big East team, though it was a terrible Marshall squad. Michigan, on the other hand, struggled mightily outside the league. They've lost to Marquette, Alabama, Boston College, Utah, and Kansas.
jamiemac of Just Cover and the MGoPodcast points out that a strong close to the regular season would give the Wolverines a similar resume to the 2000 Wisconsin Badgers, who finished the season 16-12, but nabbed an 8-seed based on a strong run to end the year, and ended up making the Final Four. Of course, this Michigan team is almost certainly not Final Four material, but getting into the tournament is possible.
Can it be Done?
Michigan would need to finish the year much stronger than West Virginia did if they want to get into the NCAA Tournament. Like I've been saying for quite some time, the NIT is a much more realistic goal at this point. However, it's actually not impossible for the Wolverines to make the Big Dance. It's just a tall, tall task, especially for a team that has struggled with consistency through the entire year and doesn't seem to be making a final push. Edging by Iowa in overtime does not inspire confidence.
The most obvious way for Michigan to make the NCAA tournament is to win the Big Ten Tournament and get the conference's automatic bid. That requires a hot streak, of course, but the rest of the regular season won't play as big a role (of course, the better the record in the regular season, the higher the seed in the B10 Tourney, and the easier the path to a tournament championship). 3-point shooting teams always have a chance in single-elimination format, as long as they get hot from the field.
Without crunching any numbers, Michigan's only other likely chance to get into the NCAA tournament is to lose only one of the road games left (though a road win over Ohio State or Michigan State is highly unlikely), and make it to the tournament final. That would give them a winning record in the conference, with a 17-13 regular season mark. Adding the 3 victories from the Big Ten tournament would give a 20-14 record, with a number of quality wins at the end of the year. Sweeping the regular season games and making it to the tournament final would make the Wolverines a near-lock for the tournament, at 21-13 and an 11-7 mark in the Big Ten.
HOWEVA, all of these scenarios are pipe dreams. The realistic best-case scenario for the Wolverines is to go 3-2 to close out the regular season, take a victory or two in the Big Ten Tournament, and finish their year with a strong run in the NIT.
Captain Renault. So let's say you're an unemployed Cleveland man who spends two months constructing an igloo instead of, you know, attempting to find a job. What would be totally bitchin' for the wall of your igloo?
Score one for baseless internet speculation. According to Greg Banks, the internet-wide speculation about a Ryan Van Bergen position move is on the nose:
Banks is one of a half dozen or so Wolverines who’ll play an expanded and slightly different role on Michigan’s defensive front this fall.
He said he expects Ryan Van Bergen to take over Graham’s pass-rushing defensive end spot - “I think that’s the plan,” he said - while he plays both end and tackle.
Birkett follows that up with an assertion that Mike Martin "could see time outside" if Will Campbell progresses. I assume that means three-tech DT, not defensive end, because that latter would be plain nuts. To reiterate: the move is the best bet for Michigan to have an excellent defensive line next year. RVB isn't going to be Brandon Graham but he's far better than the alternatives and moving Mike Martin to three-tech will get him one-on-one with guards he's faster than, potentially paving the way for a ton of TFLs. He'll be more effective there, and NT should be decent with the Sagesse/Campbell platoon.
For his part, Banks is up to 278 pounds, 15 or so up from last year. LaLota also comes in for some praise, but I'm betting serious playing time for him is another year off.
Vincent Smith, meanwhile, is already jogging and should have no problems returning in time for fall practice.
And then they do nothing. Internet speculation has gone from "maybe the Big Ten will add Pitt" to "in ten years only four conferences will exist and football will be played by sexy robots." I'm not sure whether this Barking Carnival post positing a 14-team Big Ten, here previously deemed completely infeasible and then met with a crazy semi-relegation proposal*, is genius or mad. Or possibly both. Check the rationale here:
Powers knows that the Big 10 universities compete individually and as a region for its fair share of the federal R&D pie and that, despite the greatness of its member universities, the Big 10 region has not faired nearly as well as the coasts. Compared to numerous universities in California and Massachusetts, several of which don’t give a second thought about college football (MIT, Cal-Davis, Cal Tech, U of San Francisco, etc), there is a rather dramatic concentration of academic R&D that is not favorable to the Midwest or Southwest. Point being, there is room for growth here, and adding two powerful Senators from Texas to the sixteen Senators representing Big 10 states is not an insignificant addition. Without Texas, the CIC universities represent the best of the rust belt. With Texas, the CIC represents the best of the middle of the country.
Wha? I'm not sure how much I buy the idea that heartland universities will have a bigger lobbying block if they're all in the same conference. The CIC happens to have all Big Ten schools and Chicago, but is it really necessary to bring along Texas's athletic programs—not like that would exactly be a downside, though—to invite them to join the CIC? It's not like the Big 12 has any leverage over the Longhorns.
Elsewhere, 14 teams i the new 11 teams. and people are coalescing around a 16-team uber conference that comes with NCAA secession. Andy Staples's version may or may not be sarcastic, but I've seen plenty of other speculation to that effect. Most of it is Bleacher Report quality and not worth linking or anything, but it's out there.
To reiterate my previously expressed stance: a college football "conference" that has more than 12 teams isn't really a conference unless it adds promotion and relegation. Static divisions are separate conferences with a weird scheduling agreement and a wildly unbalanced schedule. It would be logistically terrible.
At this point it would be fantastic if no one did anything. Too bad Tradesports imploded.
BONUS. I don't remember where I saw this, but I believe it was some random message board: if the Big Ten comes down from on high with an end result that seriously damages the Big East, isn't the Big East's best move booting Notre Dame in an attempt to force the Irish into the Big Ten? If ND was cut loose by the Big East all their other sports (save hockey) would be adrift with basically nowhere to go. At that point ND might have to swallow hard and join up.
*(Which a commenter pointed out is mathematically impossible for the same reason you can't play nine conference games in an eleven-team conference. Shame.)
Etc.: Help this pickle get more fans than Nickelback. The second half of the recruiting podcast in which I do my best Mel Kiper. Michigan's putting on a camp thing on the 28th at Newsterbaan, plugging the presence of Rivals and Scout. Seems like a clever move to get an early camp experience, maybe unearth an instate prospect or three.