Let’s see what did we discuss: Well this hadn’t happened yet but…
’Pete Finebaum, the unabashed SEC water carrier, really needs to get his facts straight. #AlternativeFacts— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 17, 2017
It was discussed.
- What do you do with trolls? Ignore them, or make them the joke.
- NCAA’s associated persons rule will lock IMG, other power school coaches out of college jobs. Legislating against capable people getting jobs because they may be good at those jobs is as petty as it is stupid.
- Harbaugh vs The World: Harbaugh is winning—how can the NCAA block him from showing it to his players. The world that is.
- Athletic departments and how they police themselves—Colorado example brought up because MSU is too near and too ugly for rivalry ha-ha’s.
- Wisconsin—Liked the man-to-man-ups and the chance to get a marquee win with Koenig not around to shoot the Badgers out of a hole.
- What gets Michigan into the dance? Is it 9-9? 10-8? Because Kenpom thinks we can go 10-8 now.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
The knockout blow. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Derrick Walton pump-faked, got Wisconsin's defense to collapse, and found Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman, who hit a corner bomb through contact for a four-point play that gave Michigan the lead. While perhaps not expected, it wasn't the least likely thing in the world.
Then came the following sequence: Mark Donnal blocked Ethan Happ, Michigan got out on the fast break, and Zak Irvin's three-pointer hit nothing but net. Suddenly the Wolverines were up seven.
A few minutes later, Irvin found himself one-on-one on Ethan Happ, who'd dominated every defender Michigan threw his way. Irvin held his ground, though, and Moe Wagner picked off Happ's attempt to kick the ball back out. Adbur-Rahkman rewarded his center with a feed on the ensuing fast break, and the force of Wagner's dunk knocked Wisconsin's Zak Showalter to the ground. Crisler got as loud as it's been all season.
"I've been guarding fours and fives since I was a freshman here," said Irvin. "I guarded [Frank] Kaminsky as a freshman when we played Wisconsin. So it's really nothing new. Ethan Happ is a great player, I give him all the credit, but I think we really just wanted to win more."
On the strength of that second-half run, Michigan got a much-needed victory over a ranked team, and it didn't come in a fashion anyone expected. Happ was unstoppable for most of the evening, scoring 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting and dishing out six assists. Walton, who'd carried the scoring load for much of the last month, had eight assists but only mustered five points. DJ Wilson helped erase Nigel Hayes on defense, but he was invisible on offense; the two seemed to cancel each other out.
Irvin's improbable banked-in three may have snapped his slump. [Bryan Fuller]
Coming to life after a couple midrange jumpers and a banked-in three from the top of the key, Irvin broke out of his slump at the perfect time. Irvin's 18 points were the most he's scored since dropping 20 in the first game against Wisconsin nearly a month ago to the day. His passing and defense were also critical components of tonight's win.
"I made the pull-up in the beginning of the first half," said Irvin. "That's usually my go-to shot, so I got to see that one go down, had a lot of confidence after that. The bank shot, you know, it's three points, so I'll take it any way I can get it, to be honest with you."
The win seemed unattainable only a few minutes into the second half. Wisconsin had fought off an 8-2 Michigan run to start the game, riding Happ to a one-point halftime lead. They stormed out of the gate in the second with a 7-0 run featuring a Happ assist and a bucket that brought him to 20 points with 17:35 to play. The Wolverines countered with six quick points, however, and after the teams traded a few buckets, Irvin found the bank open late and Happ committed his second foul. Irvin would score eight more points; Happ would go scoreless for the duration, harried by more frequent double-teams, and eventually foul out of the game.
MAAR's four-point play lit up the building. [Campredon]
Michigan got huge baskets down the stretch from Wagner, who drilled a late pick-and-pop triple over Happ to get to a team-high 21 points, and Rahkman, who needed only eight shots to net his 12. Even though the Wolverines missed a couple front-end free throws in the bonus, Wisconsin couldn't draw closer than five points after the final media timeout, and that only came after a comical five-shot possession that burned most of the remaining clock. Fittingly, it was Irvin who capped the scoring at the free-throw line.
"We knew our backs were against the wall going into this stretch that we have," said Irvin. "It still is. This helps us out, beating Wisconsin, but we can't let our foot off the gas. We've got to keep our foot on the gas. We know Minnesota is going to be a tough environment, and we'll be ready for it."
#29 Michigan (16-9, 6-6 B1G) vs
#15 Wisconsin (21-4, 10-2)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Thursday|
Michigan -1 (KenPom)
Michigan -2 (Vegas)
PBP: Rece Davis
Analyst: Jim Calhoun
Right: Michigan must find a way to keep Ethan Happ from making his usual impact on both ends of the floor. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]
Michigan most likely needs to win one of their final two home games to make the Big Dance. At the moment, Wisconsin looks like the more vulnerable foe than Purdue, especially with the news that obnoxiously clutch guard Bronson Koenig will sit out tonight's game due to a calf injury.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. 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||0||D'Mitrik Trice||Fr.||6'0, 178||42||17||117||No|
|Travis' younger brother will start for Koenig. Good shooter on 6/22 3-pt slump in B1G play.|
|G||3||Zak Showalter||Sr.||6'3, 185||70||13||127||No|
|Barely shoots but very efficient when he does, low assist rate, good defender.|
|F||30||Vitto Brown||Sr.||6'8, 235||53||21||100||Kinda|
|Good defender and rebounder, really struggling with shot and turnovers.|
|F||10||Nigel Hayes||Sr.||6'8, 240||77||25||111||Kinda|
|Taken back seat to Happ as jumper has gone wonky. Still effective in post.|
|C||20||Ethan Happ||So.||6'10, 232||67||29||114||Very|
|Efficient, high-usage post scorer, passes well, dismal FT%, great defender.|
|G||21||Khalil Iverson||So.||6'5, 212||37||16||102||Very|
|Petway-esque jumping-jack swingman produces most of his offense at the rim.|
|G||1||Brevin Pritzl||Fr.||6'3, 195||9||16||114||Kinda|
|Low-usage bit player getting more time, only 3/11 from field in B1G play.|
|G||11||Jordan Hill||Jr.||6'4, 172||23||11||100||Kinda|
|Minutes tailing off but could see increased role with Koenig out.|
|F||15||Charles Thomas||So.||6'8, 252||10||25||81||Not really|
|Forward with some range type struggling with finishing and turnovers.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Braden invited; Magnuson not invited [Patrick Barron]
All the combine folks. 14 Michigan players will participate and even so there are a couple surprising omissions:
— Scott Bell (@sbell021) February 15, 2017
Braden but no Kalis or Magnuson is odd, and I thought Dymonte Thomas would be the kind of guy who could improve his stock significantly with impressive testing numbers.
That's a hell of a lot either way. Michigan's total is just four fewer than the entire Big 12. On the one hand, Michigan did not capitalize on that talent (by an inch, or a negative inch). On the other, Michigan's recruiting edits are going to be straight fire emoji in the immediate aftermath of the draft.
Speaking of the Big 12, Chris Vannini has an interesting article about the long term talent decline in the league. The state of Texas is getting raided hardcore:
The last factor is recruiting, and it doesn’t look better for the future. Only one Big 12 team signed a top-25 class in 247Sports’ rankings earlier this month: Oklahoma at No. 8. The next-closest Power 5 league was the ACC with four top-25 classes.
The league relies on the state of Texas, but Ohio State signed three of the top six players in the state. It was the first time since 2005 that an in-state school didn’t sign a majority share of the top 10 players in the state, as noted by the Dallas Morning News — and the third time since 2000 (the other two were Oklahoma). Only two of the top-10 players stayed in-state, and one of those left the Big 12 by going to Texas A&M.
Tom Herman should start turning that around—recruiting concerns about his finish at Texas should be mitigated by the fact that he landed Ed Oliver and a smattering of other four stars at Houston. It probably won't be enough to get back to parity.
"Offer" versus OFFER, part billion. I'm all for dumping on Nick Saban but this seems like a big bowl of nothing:
"LSU's welcome in my school anytime," Feaster said. "The only school that can't come to Parkway is Alabama. And there's a long story behind that, but it had to do with not being ethical in their recruiting.
"They can't come. Everyone else is 100 percent welcome."
There is a difference between an offer and a committable offer, something he found out the hard way in the recruitment of former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris.
Alabama "offers" Harris, his coach gets persnickety about it, and then Alabama says he has an OFFER, only for that offer to be back to scare-quotes status by june:
"Napier calls me the next day and says, 'Coach, I have some good news for you. Tell Brandon to call me on this phone during this period and I'll put Nick Saban on the phone,"' Feaster said. "We do that and Saban says, 'You have a scholarship at the University of Alabama.' So, they gave him a scholarship offer. It was a committable offer.
"By the time he gets to campus in June -- and I'm not saying Brandon was going to commit to Alabama -- it wasn't an option. Basically what they told him is that we got other guys that are going to come through here, and I promised them a shot. So we have to wait and see then."
As far as malfeasance on the recruiting trail goes, this is small potatoes. Whether or not a kid is a "take" changes constantly for every school, including Michigan. Getting upset because Alabama changed their mind about a kid before he even committed is some special snowflake stuff. (Also that guy lost his job to a Purdue transfer, sooooo...)
MSU update. The gymnastics coach was forcibly retired and now faces three allegations that she downplayed sexual assault reports from Larry Nassar:
The allegation — the third made specifically against Klages — was first made in a court document filed Jan. 27 seeking to add the athlete to the federal lawsuit against Michigan State University, Nassar, USA Gymnastics and Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale.
Those documents, filed by attorney Jamie White, didn't identify Klages, but said it was "a member of MSU’s coaching staff."
White, the attorney for the gymnast who says Nassar sexually assaulted her during medical appointments, confirmed on Tuesday that it was Klages who spoke to his client's mother.
He also confirmed that it was Klages who told his client's mother that "Nassar’s digital penetrations of (the athlete's) vagina was a proven medical treatment."
If you believe the reports sufficiently to "retire" her you should be firing her for cause.
Michigan State has suspended Curtis Blackwell, a recruiting staffer. They won't say why, but it's not too hard to draw a line between that and this:
Blackwell's suspension comes as a criminal investigation into three Michigan State football players is ongoing. Michigan State announced last week that a member of the football staff also had been suspended pending the completion of that investigation.
The police have requested warrants for the three players in question.
Also Demetrius Cooper was charged with spitting on a parking enforcement officer. Oh and Malik McDowell fell out of Mel Kiper's first round for reasons other than his talent. In a normal year this would be part of the rivalry pointing and laughing. This year not so much. That whole athletic department looks to be in total chaos.
Stop with the video, fergodsakes. Interesting piece on the demise of Scout media, which was accelerated by a push towards making everything a video, even the things that should definitely not be videos:
Advertisers might also have been skittish because of where most of Scout’s traffic came from. Despite a costly thrust into video, part of a massive, costly overhaul of Scout’s CMS, nearly 80 percent of Scout’s traffic comes from visits to its message boards, which are reserved for subscribers. Though the developers team claimed the addition of video in 2015 drove tens of millions of views within six months of its launch, Scout’s traffic was relatively flat or declining year-over-year from 2014 to 2015, according to comScore data.
Almost all of those videos were worthless. They're still doing it. I can't tell you how many Scout tabs I open and then disgustedly close because they're a hundred words trying to induce me to watch a recruit get interviewed for five minutes—a video that would already be autoplaying if I hadn't sought out a Chrome extension to disable said feature. ("Disable HTML 5 Autoplay," FWIW.)
Autoplay video is a scam. Person opens page, video plays, person does not watch video, counts as a hit anyway, publisher tries to leverage those numbers into high CPM video ads that no one will ever watch.
Etc.: Here's a video with athletic directors, including Warde Manuel, discussing a potential student protest. I did not watch it despite having interest in the subject matter, because it is a video.
Bracket Watch: Safely In For Now
Get pumped up for a tourney run? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
While they still have work to do to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament, Michigan made their way back into the vast majority of projected fields after their back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Indiana. The Wolverines are on 92 of the 110 brackets comprising the current Bracket Matrix (updated yesterday evening), putting them as an 11-seed and, critically, avoiding the First Four for now.
The projection for the remainder of the season has also improved. Following the Indiana win and Wisconsin's home loss to Northwestern (yes, that's a thing that really happened), KenPom's algorithm bumped Michigan from a slight underdog to a slight favorite in tomorrow night's game against the Badgers. With games at Rutgers and Nebraska still on the schedule, Michigan is the outright favorite in three of their last six games, and I'm still not sold on Minnesota being as tough an opponent as the numbers suggest.
Friendly neighborhood bracketologist CrislerSpidey ran the win probability numbers for the rest of the season a couple days ago. At that point, Michigan was more likely to finish with a winning conference record than a losing one, and the projections have become slightly more favorable since then:
Tomorrow night's game is, of course, a huge one for M's tourney chances. Wisconsin's offense has been in a statistical nosedive for the last five games, almost exactly coinciding with Michigan's (relative) defensive renaissance. They're vulnerable; Michigan played them close at the Kohl Center; it'd be a much-needed quality win.
[Hit THE JUMP for the bubble rooting guide, how to slow Ethan Happ, and more.]