"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
And lo, the Sparty Bros chanted "Little Sister," for they had survived the onslaught from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Spike Albrecht, and Max Bielfeldt. The resilient Spartans nearly covered the spread in overtime, and this outstanding effort was well worth reinforcing their massive inferiority complex and questionable-at-best views on gender.
With this signature victory, MSU improved to 1-0 against Michigan in 2014-15, and 3-6 against them over the last five regular seasons.
Michigan (13-8, 6-3 B1G) at
Michigan State (14-7, 5-3)
East Lansing, Michigan
|WHEN||1 pm ET, Sunday|
|LINE||MSU -8 (KenPom)|
PBP: Ian Eagle
Analyst: Bill Raftery
This is ominous:
Beilein: Walton is limited in what he can do. Questionable for tomorrow.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) January 31, 2015
This is more ominous:
Beilein was asked if there's any concern he may have to sit Derrick Walton Jr for "an extended period of time." Beilein: "That's an option."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) January 31, 2015
If that's on the table, it doesn't sound like Walton will play; even if he does, he'll still be quite limited. At this stage, it might be best to shut him down for a while.
This isn't a must-win for Michigan's tournament hopes, but a victory would help their prospects quite a bit. KenPom currently projects M to finish with a 10-8 conference record, and they'll need that to be at least 11-7 to have a good shot of grabbing a bid, in all likelihood. Of the remaining games on the schedule, this is the one KenPom least likes M to win—his numbers give a 17% chance at victory. Pulling this off would change the outlook dramatically.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||20||Travis Trice||Sr.||6'0, 170||82||25||No|
|Disciplined and productive distributor. Dangerous outside shooter. Not great inside arc.|
|G||5||Bryn Forbes||Jr.||6'3, 180||69||14||No|
|Spot-up gunner hitting 47% of threes.|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||Jr.||6'5, 220||70||28||No|
|Does a bit of everything: rebounding, passing, shooting, and hilarious turnovers.|
|F||22||Branden Dawson||Sr.||6'6, 225||82||22||Very|
|Great athlete, monster on the boards, excellent defender. Not a shot creator.|
|F||34||Gavin Schilling||So.||6'9, 240||45||20||Very|
|Solid rebounder and rim protector. Decent finisher.|
|F||10||Matt Costello||Jr.||6'9, 245||45||18||Very|
|Very similar minutes and profile as Schilling. Eminently elbowable face.|
|G||11||Lowrawls "Tum Tum" Nairn||Fr.||5'10, 170||37||13||Very|
|All-pass, no-shoot PG who's prone to freshman mistakes.|
|G||2||Javon Bess||Fr.||6'5, 215||29||16||Kinda|
|Good rebounder, defender earned starting job before spraining ankle. May be limited.|
While MSU has come close to a marquee win a few times—a five-point loss against #12 Kansas, overtime losses to #13 Notre Dame and #34 Maryland—they've yet to beat a team ranked higher than #44 Iowa on KenPom. With the exception of losses against Texas Southern and Nebraska, they've beaten the teams they should and lost to the teams you'd expect.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
This appears to be an effective hedge. [Fuller]
Brian directed me to an excellent Vantage Sports article detailing how NBA teams defend the on-ball screen earlier this week and suggested it would be a good idea to take a closer look at how Michigan does it. Before getting into the Wolverines specifically, a look at the three basic ways to defend this:
- Hard Hedge — The way M's done it the most under Beilein. The defender guarding the screener (usually a big man) aggressively slides out on the ballhandler to cut off a drive to the basket and make quick passes more difficult. This temporarily commits two defenders to the ballhandler and usually requires quick rotation from the other defenders on the court.
- Soft Show — A less aggressive approach that still briefly commits two defenders to the ballhandler, in this case the defender guarding the screener moves next to the screener, cutting off a drive directly to the hoop; he doesn't move all the way out on the ballhandler, however, and dives back to the screener after cutting off the initial drive. This still requires some weakside rotation.
- Drop Back — The conservative tack. The defender on the screener drops back (surprise!) into the paint, discouraging the ballhandler from driving while also lessening the burden on other defenders to rotate onto the roll man. This does require the defender on the ballhandler to fight over the screen well, otherwise there's room for a pull-up three.
As best I can tell, college teams favor the more aggressive approaches. This is likely due to two things: pro point guards are really damn good, and there's less space inside the arc to cover in college, making it easier to recover after a hard or soft hedge.
I went through the last three games—Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Nebraska—to see how Michigan defended the pick-and-roll. I found nine instances in which Michigan was in man defense against a P&R*; six times they hedged hard and three times they played a soft show. The results:
A few takeaways with picture pages after THE JUMP.
Also via his instagram. Like Bellomy and Hayes, Heitzman has a degree and fifth year to play elsewhere. He moved to tight end last year in an effort to get some blocking at that position but didn't play much; with the rest of the TE corps returning plus one or two recruits and Bunting coming off a redshirt he didn't figure to get more playing time this year.
Current scholarship count remains fuzzy since there are a number of walk-ons who may or may not have earned a full-time gig. Our current assumption is that both Glasgows are on scholarship but Joe Kerridge and Kenny Allen are first-in-line types who aren't figuring in Michigan's recruiting plans. If that's the case, Michigan currently stands at 15 slots.
Via Bellomy's instagram:
I will receive my degree at the end of this semester and have decided to sign my release that enables me to play my 5th year as a graduate student at another university.
Bellomy was well down the depth chart at QB.
His departure brings Michigan to 14 scholarships for the incoming class plus any additional attrition; this is the bit where I remind you that Brady Hoke said he expected a couple of OL to not return and project that Michigan will sign 16 or 17 players in this class.
|WHAT||Michigan (15-7, 7-1 B10)
MSU (9-11-2, 3-3-2 B10)
|WHERE||Joe Louis Arena,
|WHEN||7:30 pm ET, Friday|
|TIX||the box office will have lots|
|TV||Fox Sports Detroit|
I haven't done a hockey preview for a while because I've never had much to say other than "this guy has a lot of points and this guy is drafted," but I guess it's better than nothing.
Michigan State is in their Nth consecutive year of mediocrity or worse, their fourth under former CCHA commissioner and non-hockey-coach Tom Anastos. After an opening year a few games above .500, Anastos's teams have lingered in a territory above terrible but below average; this year they are still that at 9-11-2. They're coming off a sweep of a drastically undermanned Ohio State team, so they've got that going for them.
Anastos teams tend to be defensively responsible and hopelessly dull, and this year is no exception. State is 45th of 59 in scoring and 25th in defense. They stay out of the box, kill penalties well, and struggle on the power play. They have a couple guys with a modicum of skill and a bottom six that tries to grunt their way towards goals. They have a couple of high draft picks on the defensive end and play a conservative system that tries to shut down space in the neutral zone, so at least that hasn't changed.
This is a Ron Mason team without an NHL top line or, you know, Ron Mason.
THE GENTLEMEN OF NOTE
Matt Berry. The diminutive senior is State's most skilled player. He leads the team in points with 16 despite missing several games due to injury earlier this year and is the only MSU player on a PPG. He's in the little puck wizard mode.
Mackenzie MacEachern. MacEachern is a rare breed indeed, drafted in the third round out of Michigan high school hockey. Reminiscent of Justin Abdelkader minus the dumb penalties, MacEachern is the most physically imposing opposition forward.
Villiam Haag. Is named "Villiam Haag." (Try-hard Swede is also active defensively and has established a spot on the top line thanks to two-way play. Think Matt Rust.)
Junior Jake Hildebrand has seen every minute of MSU's season; his .918 save percentage is middling but significantly better than Michigan's platoon.
THE LAST TIME
Michigan won the GLI final 2-1 with Zach Hyman and Andrew Copp scoring; Michigan was actually outshot 29-32. MSU was missing Berry; Michigan was down their four WJC participants (Werenski, Larkin, Compher, Motte). They skated seven defensemen in that game, in fact.
Michigan has played itself into an at-large bid for the tournament and must keep winning to stay there. The Big Ten offers no favors to Michigan's schedule strength.
Michigan State has no hope of an at-large bid. At this point Anastos has to be on the verge of losing his job if anyone in East Lansing still realizes the hockey team exists. It's been four years of mediocrity with no light at the end of the tunnel and a retiring Red Berenson is kicking MSU's ass on the recruiting trail.
It's time for Michigan State to get a real coach and start winning some games—crappy MSU was fun for a while but I'm over it. If Anastos wants to keep his job winning against Michigan is the best way to do it.
THE GUY WHO HASN'T CHANGED
Kampfer-assaulter Andrew Conboy was just dropped by his ECHL team for cross-checking a dude in the teeth. Stop hiring this man, hockey teams.
Hockey predictions are dumb, but whatever: Michigan is still vulnerable to turnovers and WTF defensive play but if this was an even game last time they should have a major advantage now that they've got four of their six best players back in the lineup versus just Berry for MSU. Stay out of the box and get solid goaltending and this train should keep rolling.