With Michigan in the Not Interesting (To Blog About) Tournament and the long sports desert that is the summer rapidly approaching, it seems like a good idea to make up for the shameful lack of attention I've paid the hockey team in recent weeks.
So: with their sweep of Ferris State in the second round of the CCHA playoffs, Michigan is in the tournament and hoping to get shipped east. The worst result I can get after excessive futzing with USCHO's Pairwise Predictor tool is Michigan in a three-way tie for 12th, but Michigan wins the tiebreakers by taking the comparisons against UNH and UNO. The top 16 teams in the pairwise rankings get in minus whatever number of non-qualifying autobids there are -- usually two or three. It would take two Michigan losses and an unprecedented string of upsets for Michigan to be knocked out at this point.
Michigan's locked into a two or three seed; the only things left to determine are the where and who. For your edification, a trip through the NCAA seeding process...
...in which all higher-seeded teams win.
(Bold == Autobid)
|3||Boston University (BU)||27||.5695|
|5||Michigan State (MS)||25||.5643|
|6t||North Dakota (ND)||23||.5523|
|11t||Colorado College (CC)||18||.5435|
|11t||New Hampshire (NH)||18||.5391|
|11t||Holy Cross (HC)||18||.5353*|
|27||Bemidji State (BS)||3||.4943|
Three of the four hosts this year -- guaranteed to play at 'home' -- made the tourney: North Dakota, Wisconsin, and BU. So UW and BU are at home. Clearly the logical places for Minnesota and Miami are Grand Forks and Albany, respectively.
#1 Minnesota vs. #16 Bemidji State
#8 Harvard vs. #9 Michigan
#2 Wisconsin vs. #15 Dartmouth
#7 Cornell vs. #10 Maine
#3 BU vs. #14 Holy Cross
#6 North Dakota vs. #11 CC
#4 Miami vs. #13 UNO
#5 MSU vs. #12 UNH
Problems in bold: two intraconference first round matchups and North Dakota is not at home. Fixing the latter is fairly simple: the logical thing to do is to swap Harvard and North Dakota, officially giving Michigan a Bracket Of Death in which they face North Dakota at home followed by overall #1 seed Minnesota should they survive the first trial by ordeal. Swapping UNO out is a bit murkier, as I'd figure they'd leave Holy Cross as close to Boston as possible... they'd probably swap with Dartmouth. Final bracket, with seeds massaged down to the 1-4 scale the NCAA uses:
#1 Minnesota vs. #4 Bemidji State
#2 North Dakota vs. #3 Michigan
#1 Wisconsin vs. #4 UNO
#2 Cornell vs. #3 Maine
#1 BU vs. #4 Holy Cross
#2 Harvard vs. #3 CC
#1 Miami vs. #4 Dartmouth
#2 MSU vs. #3 UNH
Obviously, that's the worst possible bracket Michigan can find themselves in. I'll spare you the tedious details, but suffice it to say that the following bracket, which Michigan reaches under the same parameters as "chalk" but with an improbable run through MSU and Miami to win the CCHA tournament, is much preferable:
#1 UW vs. #4 UNO
#2 Michigan vs. #3 Maine
Still not exactly a field of frickin' poppies, but at least the defacto home game comes in the second round against a team that Michigan played fairly straight up earlier in the year (and thumped in the tournament a year ago).
- the chances of chalk occurring are vanishingly small and
- given the volatile nature of your stupid, stupid
mindspairwise the slightest deviation from said chalk will cause totally unpredictable swings,
so this has likely been an exercise in futility. But my futility needs to get off the couch anyway. The grim reality of the situation is that unless Michigan manages to snag a #2 seed -- which would require winning the CCHA tournament and having a selection of other games fall in the right way -- it will be hard to get away from the NoDak/Minnesota enjoy-your-lovely-parting-gifts combination.
But, hey, at least they made it.
And there's always next year. Packer487 has compiled stats for the dizzying array of recruits Michigan has committed over the next three years.
One thing you can say for the Michigan blogosphere: BALLS TO THE WALL NIT COVERAGE!!! And by "Michigan blogosphere" I mean "just Maize 'n' Brew, at least until the nice men in the white jackets show up." Dave of the aforementioned blog has busted out comprehensive predictions of every game. In two parts!
Meanwhile, Wonk commented on the Michigan situation before turning his attention back to the tourney-bound Big Ten teams:
If I'm a Michigan fan, my lament isn't only that my team hasn't been to the tournament for eight years and counting. (Though that's the elephant in the room.) No, my beef is precisely with the program that Martin says Amaker is building: my beef is with the way this team doesn't get to the tournament.
There's a significant bit more that is, as always, worth your time.
What future Amaker has rests largely in the hands of an uncommitted high school guard named Patrick Beverly, who has been discussed in this space before. The Victors poster MHoops1 caught Beverly over the weekend and has graciously permitted a reprinting of his scouting report post from the board:
He reminds me of Ben Gordon, in the good ways and the bad ones.
Positives are as follows: Very quick and athletic, hands like a wideout, gets in the lane effortlessly via crossover, spins or blow-bys, and can elevate on a dime. Lots of shooting range and can light it up in a hurry. Very good free throw shooter, ballhandler, and can drive and dish when he's playing that role. Quick hands on defense. Seems very coachable, and has good court demeanor. Tough.
Negatives are: Tends to force the action offensively and put up some tough shots, even when he's shooting badly. Not a set-up PG, as he looks for his own shot too much, though he has the skills for it. Team plays no man to man defensively, so he lacks defensive fundamentals. Needs to move better without the ball.
Bottom line: Will be inconsistent early, but, to quote Hubie Brown, has terrific upside. Needs coaching, but will likely accept same--from talking to people and watching body language, he's a leader and the other kids like him. I really, really want him to go to UM. At this time, it's UM and Arkansas in front of others, and we feel good about our chances, though it's not a done deal by any means. They like him enough that they're holding off the combo from Florida (Martavious Kee), whom they think they'd have if they offered (some pretty good offers already--FSU and Clemson to name two--but he really wants to get a Michigan offer) pending Beverley.
He plays Friday at 8:15 on TV for Chicago area Victards who want to tape or watch the game.
Michigan is competing against Arkansas, Wake Forest, UVA, and a few other schools for Beverly's services.
This isn't a major surprise, though it may be of minor importance to most: Michigan's three 2008(!) hockey recruits have all been invited to the USNTDP tryout camp. Clear evidence of "The CCHA Strikes Back" as regards the OHL: every one of the Midwestern kids is already committed to college --
- Michigan: Wohlberg, Czarnik, Jenks
- Ohio State: Steve West
- Northern Michigan: Justin Florek
- Michigan State:Justin Tibbett
- Miami-Ohio: Max Cook
-- except defenseman Ian Ruel, who's from Ann Arbor. These players are all two years away from college and some were closer to three when they committed. Imagine if the best football players in the country were all committed midway through their sophomore years. The Detroit Honeybaked AAA club has six players already committed to college(!).
I'll have more on the hockey team tomorrow. Due to a couple of weekend trips inconveniently placed during home games I haven't seen them in a while and have thus shorted the coverage shamefully... I'll try to make up for it over the last few weeks of the season.
This is only about sports insofar as your ardor about your college team is linked to the good times you had in college, but Hello Faz has died and I feel something must be said.
Faz Husain, 1952-2006
During the six year span of my career as a Michigan student, I must have seen hundreds of examples of a particular genre of grainy photograph. They were all alike at their core: one celebrity, face frozen in a rictus halfway between bemused and alarmed. One extremely hairy, beaming man impossibly overjoyed to be in the same photo as Muhammad Ali or Gerald Ford or Bob Hope or (yes, this is true) Ghandi. A caption: "CELEBRITY X says HELLO FAZ." Exhortations to pizza scattered around it.
This was the Hello Faz flyer, which neatly summarized why people protest Wal-Mart stores in their neighborhood. No corporate chain could approximate a hundredth of Faz's charm; any attempt to do so would either be lame or offensive. Because when you're the type of person I am, the idea of a half-deranged pizza magnate who stalks celebrities and regards spelling and grammar as a peculiar anality of Daniel Webster (e.g., "WE TAKE ALL PIZZA PLACES COUPONS WITH EXTRA $1.00 DOLLAR OFF") is one of the most delightful things conceivable. As a result, Hello Faz got a lot of orders for pizza with chicken and pepper rings from 1331 Geddes.
Every time we called, we hoped we would get Faz himself instead of one of his dour employees, as we had learned that the wide-eyed ardor displayed in the photographs was no act. Faz was a bouncy, generous man who loved being Faz. At one point we called in our usual order -- three large pizzas, two toppings, twenty bucks -- only to find that the price had been raised. When we brought up the discrepancy between the sheet and the price quoted, Faz
- lamented the increasing price of business,
- immediately cut the price back to the previous level,
- excitedly inquired as to whether we were regular customers, and
- invited us to drop in the restaurant any time for lunch on him.
This was odd enough. But when the knock on the door came it was Faz himself. Hello, Faz. He swept into the room like an extremely specialized Indian Santa, radiating facial hair and joy. He smiled. He laughed. It was delightful. The whole thing lived up to our impossible expectations. When he departed he left behind three pizzas and a picture of my friends in that college house I'll remember fondly the rest of my life. In the center of that photo was Faz, a man who made that year better. So, yeah, we've taken the death of a guy we met for all of five minutes irrationally hard. That was Faz, though: he left an impression.
My cellphone has slowly obliterated all knowledge of phone numbers from my mind. I couldn't begin to guess at the actual digits via which I reach my best friends. I do know this number: 741-7777. But Faz won't pick up any more, and life is in some small way poorer.
Update 3/15: Linked to IL OL Miles Stroter article. Added FL OL James Wilson and MI TE Cameron Joplin. Linked to Josh Oglesby article that is sure to cause conniption fits. Linked to Toney Clemons article. Linked to Rivals piece with content on MI QBs Stephen Threet, DeMarcus Grady, and Justin Siller, plus an initial top five for NC WR and blue-chippah Greg Little that does not include Michigan. Added VA QB Pete Lalich, who has been offered. Added AL CB Phelon Jones.
Editorial Opinion: Here's the quote from Oglesby that might make you twitch momentarily before you remember that you're not one of those people:
"I you press me to name a top seven right now then I'd have to say it would be Wisconsin, Notre Dame, USC, Florida State, Ohio State, Iowa and probably Nebraska over Michigan.
"Nebraska because when they offered me a scholarship, they had every single coach send me a hand-written letter and that meant a lot to me, Wisconsin did the same thing.
"I don't want to seem cocky or ungrateful but Michigan just isn't recruiting me as hard as these other schools."
Revised Oglesby-in-blue predictions are now hovering in the single digits. I don't seriously believe that Michigan is somehow shorting Oglesby the proverbial "love" -- and he doesn't seem like the kind of kid who requires that sort of thing anyway -- but often one's perception of attention is a reciprocal enterprise. Alas, it would seem that we just aren't Oglesby's type.
Also on the not-likely list: Greg Little. Not surprising, as every school in the country appears to have their woo on as regards Little, and not critical, since Michigan is reportedly looking good for South Carolina WR Junior Hemingway and liked 6'5" Michigan sleeper Martell Webb enough to offer at this early date.
On the bright side, 6'7" robot/artillery piece/quarterback Ryan Mallet appears to be dangling ever closer to Scot Loeffler's clutches. Texas, Michigan's main competition for Mallet, is on the verge of picking up a commitment from QB John Chiles, a dual-threat type who's probably going to end up in the top 50 when Rivals releases its first actual rankings.
That wouldn't remove Texas from the running entirely, but it would probably hurt. Mallet would already be trying to unseat a sophomore with a year's worth of starting experience (either Colt McCoy or Jevan Snead); now he (likely) faces another highly regarded quarterback in his class. Mallet would probably have to wait until his redshirt junior year to start unless both McCoy and Snead fall on their faces. Michigan's situation in 2007 is a senior Henne plus two unheralded recruits. Mallet would have the opportunity to redshirt and then start.
This is going to sound strange coming from someone who has previously stated
- Michigan probably didn't deserve to be in the tourney and
- I didn't really want to see Michigan in the tourney,
but... um... we got screwed. Statement A was based largely on ignorance of the motley crew of middling mid-majors we were competing with for bids at the tail end of the field. Statement B went out the window in a fit of pique. I won't go into the details since fellow curling aficionado Matt Glaude has already lacerated the committee extensively for including Air Force and then (oops, he) did it again in regards to Utah State and an amazing graph from a Katz column:
One of the last teams not to make the field was another mid-major: Western Kentucky. The committee looked strongly at the Hilltoppers, regular-season champs of the Sun Belt. Western Kentucky, which lost to South Alabama in the conference title game, had an RPI of 55, a strength of schedule of 116, a 1-2 record against the top 50, a non-conference SOS (strength of schedule) of 29, and a 7-4 road record. Meanwhile, the NIT placed Western Kentucky as a 6-seed in the South region.
Yeesh. Suffice it to say that a lot of dumb words are being used to justify some dumb decisions. I mean, when Ken Pomeroy -- who's not exactly known for being a raving loon -- says this:
Having said that, this seems like the most bizarre bracket ever. I'm not going to break down all of the questionable decisions this committee made. It's over and done with and it's time to move on. But this year's committee has set a precedent that even if you think there is no logical case for your team getting a bid, you better tune in to the Selection Show anyway because logic may not necessarily apply.
... you done bad.
Anyway, we still have to fill out brackets -- we're pissed off, but we're still Americans. Midwest Bias offers up a heap of good advice, including "Don't pick Texas Tech," which should be easy this year.
Compounding the joy in basketball Mudville is a recent article in the News on 2007 SG commitment Alex Legion featuring more creepy "we"-speak from Legion's AAU coach:
Legion's AAU coach, Tim Green, said Legion's unhappiness might spark a change of schools, possibly to Oak Hill Academy (Va.), at the end of this school year.
"We'll keep our options open," Green said.
... though he's still committed:
Whether or not Legion transfers, he and Green, with whom Legion lives in Southfield, said Legion will honor the commitment he made to Michigan.
"As long as (Michigan coach) Tommy Amaker is there, Alex is going there," Green said.
Said Legion: "No matter if I stay at Country Day or leave, I'll stay committed."
Emphasis mine, because that arrangement is frighteningly reminiscent of the Jamal Crawford situation. For those who don't remember the brief flicker of relevance during the Brian Ellerbe era, Crawford was yanked off the court midway through his freshman year because he lived with some benefactor who happened to be a coach or a shoe dude or something. The NCAA decreed he had to repay the benefactor some $12,000 dollars before being allowed to resume his collegiate career; Crawford entered the draft. No doubt there's some obscure technicality that permits Legion's arrangement, but it still gives me the heebie-jeebies.
We know! ClevelandBrowns.com has a pseudo-blog that's posted an interesting article on designated whipping boy Pat Massey with depressing confirmation of the educated Michigan fan's conventional wisdom:
... he fits the prototype of a 3-4 defensive end. And that opens the possibility â€“ however small it may be â€“ that Massey will eventually land with the Browns, the team he grew up rooting for.
Massey said Michigan played a version of the true 3-4 defense at times â€“ "just a couple of games" â€“ and that he embraced his role, playing head-up over an opposing tackle.
"Those were far and away my best games," he said.
Aye, that they were, which makes Michigan's decision to throw him inside and roll the highly effective Alan Branch outside all the more puzzling. Hopefully the new coaching regime ceases jamming square pegs into round holes.
...I believe I forgot to mention that I wasn't going to blog due to another vacation-type thing. It will be on and popping, as they say, tomorrow.
For edification from the Michigan blogosphere, Maize 'n' Brew has some reaction to the NCAA's (likely justified) decision to spurn Michigan. Schembechler Hall also chips in. Y'all already know what I think.