"It was a privilege," Gardner said Monday night at the Ufer Quarterback Club Banquet in Ann Arbor. "I don't think people understand how much of a privilege it was to not only be a quarterback at Michigan, but just to be a part of this university whether you're a student-athlete or not," "And I knew that as a sophomore in high school. I knew this was a special place."
Michigan versus Tennessee in something other than arguing about an award that was given to the most outstanding football player of 1997. Let's do this.
How we can do this: Our official fantasy game partner DraftStreet (hope you got in on the 40k thing in time) once again stepped up to support this. If you're getting bored between games today, head on over to their dashboard and sign up for any of their games. That link goes to the NBA one I just started.
How we shall do this. By following the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation rules.
Michigan (27-8, 15-3 B1G) vs.
Tennessee (24-12, 11-7 SEC)
Colts Location Stadium,
|WHEN||7:15 pm Eastern, Friday|
|LINE||Tennessee -1 (KenPom)|
Win or go home.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||2||Antonio Barton||Sr.||6'2, 178||63%||17%||Yes|
|Main redeeming quality is low TO rate. shoots 42/32, low usage.|
|G||1||Josh Richardson||Jr.||6'6, 190||76%||16%||Sort of|
|Efficient shooter until 3, where he's 34%. Good at twos of all varieties.|
|G||52||Jordan McRae||Sr.||6'6, 185||80%||29||No|
|Shoulders massive O burden, shooting meh, TOs low. Athlete.|
|F||5||Jarnell Stokes||Jr.||6'8, 260||81%||26||N/A|
|Board monster has a little range but not much. Box out at all costs.|
|C||34||Jeronne Maymon||Sr.||6'8, 260||71%||20||N/A|
|Cameron Ridley 2.0. Board monster 2.0. Not great except on putbacks.|
|G||4||Armani Moore||So.||6'5, 215||28%||13||Very|
|Offensive nonentity spots starters and tries to play D.|
|G||15||Darius Thompson||Fr.||6'5, 181||40%||15||Very|
|Offensive nonentity spots starters and tries to play D.|
|C||23||Derek Reese||So.||6'8, 215||16||15||Very|
|Generic large man. Massive downgrade from starters.|
Jordan McRae is from the Hardaway/Sullinger school of yellin'.
Tennessee is Texas after a power mushroom. Their bigs are more intimidating on the boards; their guards are literally a Super Mario version of the Texas backcourt.
The offense revolves around senior Jordan McRae, a 6'6" jack of all trades who is in fact listed at 15 pounds lighter than Caris LeVert, if you can believe that. Everything you need to know about McRae is encapsulated in this DraftExpress scouting video:
That is a preaseason video that is a bit pessimistic, as McRae has improved his A:TO a meaningful amount. The rest of his stats are static so it's reasonable to assume it is otherwise on point.
McRae is not much of an isolation creator. He's effective at the rim but doesn't get there much on his own volition and his assist rate is pretty mediocre for a guy who has such a large usage rate. LeVert will draw that matchup; it's a pretty good one for him. McRae is a guy he can stay in front of. Hopefully!
You probably know fellow wing Josh Richardson from an inadvisable statement made to the media about his upcoming defensive assignment against Nik Stauskas:
“It’s just another player,” Richardson said. “I’ve been guarding guys like that for a while now. It’s nothing new.”
Yeah, the SEC is just loaded with guys like Stauskas. Take, say, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. That's the ticket.
Anyway, Richardson is a relatively low-usage jump shooter who is effective on jumpers inside the line (43%) that he gets himself. He's decent behind the line at 34%, where he takes about a third of his shots. He is UT's designated perimeter stopper, as well.
Point guard and Memphis transfer Antonio Barton is the closest thing to a designated shooter Tennessee has, with about 60% of his FGAs coming from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for the Vols he hits those at a 33% clip. Inside the arc he's even less efficient at 42%, because he rarely gets to the rim and is a miserable two point jump shooter. Barton was a 40% guy in a reasonable number of minutes at Memphis, so maybe the best idea is to run him off the line and watch him try to pull up off the bounce. Things don't go well when that happens.
One thing these three gentlemen have going for them is a collective turnover rate that is super low. Tennessee's happy to pull up for a two pointer that's not the world's best look because of…
Stokes and Maymon are the best pair of rebounders in the country.
The Volunteer posts both crush the boards at both ends and get to the line. "Fridge on wheels" Jarnell Stokes is in the Kenpom POY top ten thanks to a 15% OREB rate—huge for an individual—and a McGary-like 23% DREB rate. He gets half his shots at the rim thanks in large part to that offensive rebounding. He's a decent shooter from the post, as well. DraftExpress projects him as a second-rounder in the upcoming draft if he decides to enter, and praises his inside game:
He catches everything thrown his way, and has very good touch around the basket, which, along with his length, helps compensate for the fact that he's not a naturally explosive leaper and doesn't possess the most diverse post-arsenal at this stage of his development. … some ball-handling ability from the mid-post, and a decent looking mid-range jumper. … always been a phenomenal rebounder—and that held true in Colorado Springs. He has suction cups for hands and a terrific knack for pursuing loose balls out of his area, particularly on the offensive glass, where he was dominant at times.
Michigan has to figure out whether they're going to stick Morgan on this dude or Jeronne Maymon. Maymon is the more center-like of the posts in disposition—Stokes is about 50/50 between shots at the rim and two point jumpers, while Maymon is 75/25 and terrible at the jumpers—but Stokes is probably taller since he sometimes gets listed at 6'9" while Maymon sometimes gets listed at 6'7". Normally I'd say Morgan gets Maymon, but I guess I prefer the less brutal rebounding mismatch. If Maymon tries to post GRIII so be it.
FWIW, Tennessee folk are universally assuming Robinson gets matched with Maymon and Morgan takes Stokes.
And then the bottom drops out. Here is one dollar that says Tennessee has the worst bench of any team that made the tournament. All show up in the "limited roles" section of Kenpom and get slender minutes with which they do very little. All can be ignored on the perimeter, as they collectively shoot about 22% from three.
Derek Reese is the backup big; he hasn't taken a shot since March 8th. He hasn't made one in a game that was competitive since… uh… January 15th? He rebounds well enough on defense and that's about his only contribution. He gets about ten minutes a game giving the starters a breather.
Armani Moore and Darius Thompson are the backup guards. Thompson has the highest assist rate on the team… and a TO rate even higher. He's seeing about 16 minutes a game in the last couple months, and he takes about two shots on a average in that time. He does get a lot of steals; he'll be used as a defensive pest on Stauskas. Moore's role is similar; he gets in the game and plays D and passes it around the perimeter to someone who won't get shot by the coach if he tries to create a shot.
Tennessee had a weird nonconference split with Xavier, losing in Cinci to open their season and getting their revenge in their neutral-court tournament. They also lost to UTEP by eight on a neutral court, Wichita State by nine at Wichita, and at home to NC State. In opposition to this what-the-hell-are-they-doing-in-the-tournament nonconference schedule they place a 35-point blowout of Virginia. As we said, man, Tennessee is weird.
In conference Tennessee was no less weird, blowing out all manner of opposition and somehow dropping games to Texas A&M (twice), Vanderbilt, and Missouri to go along with more understandable losses to Florida (twice) and Kentucky. Tennessee has a tendency to absolutely pound face when they win a game. It's just that they've lost twelve of them already despite playing a not particularly challenging nonconference schedule and against a not particularly challenging conference. Go figure.
In the post season, Tennessee blew out South Carolina before losing for a third time to Florida in the SEC tournament. Then they won an OT game against Iowa before hammering Massachusetts and Mercer. It should be noted that Tennesse's only games against the Kenpom top 50 are the following:
- Wichita State: L 70-61
- Virginia: W 87-52
- Kentucky: L 74-66
- Three losses to Florida
- Iowa: W 78-65 (OT)
They're… just so weird.
Tennessee is a beast on the boards, rebounding almost 40% of their misses. They get to the line decently and are efficient once there—something they have over Texas—and take care of the ball. The main issue with their offense is a lack of three point shooting.
On defense, they look a lot like a version of Michigan that could keep guys away from the basket: few TOs forced, good rebounding, few fouls committed. But unlike Michigan they do a good job of defending shots—40th nationally. And as mentioned, the scariest thing about their statistical profile is what appears to be a sustained and effective emphasis on preventing opponents from getting threes off.
Tennessee is not a team that uses a lot of tempo. They get about 18% of their shots in transition and their shooting in those situations is barely better than the rest of their offense; a full 10% of their shots come with five or less on the shot clock. They don't have a dynamic guy to push the ball up the floor, they aren't a team to fear a transition three from much, and they're thin. They'll want to keep it slow.
Draw fouls, all the fouls. Ace talked about this in his post earlier this week: when Tennessee gets in foul trouble they collapse.
Maymon's had 4+ fouls in eight games this season. Tennessee has lost six of them.
Both wins were against Auburn. Tennessee has a veteran, intimidating starting five and zero depth behind it. Precisely zero depth.
Tennessee can sustain a hit to Richardson or Barton, who don't command large roles in the offense. If McRae, Stokes, or Maymon is saddled with foul trouble, Tennessee's chance to win goes through the floor.
Go to the rack. A corollary to the first bullet. Tennessee's depth and style of play means the balance of power between shooting hilariously accurate long range shots and going to the bucket shifts. Go to the rack.
If Stauskas or LeVert gets hit with a charge, that is 1) not likely to mean anything in terms of their playing time and 2) even if it does it paves the way for Zak Irvin to rain on people. If Stauskas or LeVert draws a foul on one of Tennessee's big three, orange collars start getting tight.
Michigan should make a concerted effort to go at the basket, especially given the fact that Tennessee is committed to preventing threes and doesn't block shots.
[@ right: Bryan Fuller]
Cope on the boards as best you can. Part of the overwhelming Texas surge in the second half was Longhorn desperation. In a more normal first half, Texas was content to send their two bigs to the board and see what happened. They got about 30% of their misses. In the second, they inserted a third 6'8" guy and sent everyone who wasn't the shooter to the board because they felt they weren't stopping Michigan anyway and needed every bucket. They got 70% of their misses
Michigan needs to get out of dodge with a 30% Tennessee OREB rate, not 70% or 52%. Unless Michigan has just rained it on the Vols to the point where they're as desperate as Texas. Failing that, Maymon versus GRIII on the boards is a big chunk of the game. Morgan will probably get beat by Stokes, but not so badly Michigan can't weather it.
Push tempo. They are thin. Maymon may be listed at 260 but let's be real people. Play like MSU in this one, with their irritating go go go go even after makes. If you don't have it, fine. You've discombobulated them a bit.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Tennessee by one.
…which team has had the most success in the last five minutes of a game, regardless of whether it was leading or trailing?
One way to do this would be to use win probabilities. If a team had a 99 percent chance to win with five minutes left and ultimately won, its play in the last five minutes would be worth .01 wins. This method rewards the teams that make big comebacks or win games that were effectively tossups with five minutes remaining over the ones that coast in with big leads, which any team could do given the chance.
Here’s that list, using my win probability model, and wins gained over the past five seasons as the ranked statistic.1 Massachusetts +11.8 2 Colorado +10.9 3 New Mexico +10.2 4 Robert Morris +9.8 5 Western Kentucky +9.2 6 Louisiana Tech +8.9 7 Loyola MD +8.9 8 San Diego St. +8.8 9 Mississippi +8.6 10 Michigan +8.6
Michigan finishes a respectable 30th in the last minute, and then ninth in wins added in the second half. It doesn't matter what frame of reference you want to look at. Michigan performs better as the game goes along and is outstanding at closing games out. Why? Well, they hit a lot of free throws and don't turn the ball over and when they're down late they can get back in a hurry with a three.
Site note: Be here for the Liveblog tonight. Mods to your stations at 6:45; we'll get started at 7.
I'll make this one quick.
Things to know about basketball
1. The defense has maybe taken a small step forward, and other observations about how basketball is like pro wrestling, from who else?
2. Michigan's offensive deviation isn't very large says LSA; they generally manage to keep their pace and score with relatively stable frequency. Score one against "defense wins championships because it's more consistent."
4. Purdue and Rutgers are not going to be good at it next year. Padog has begun a preview series for next year's conference teams, starting from the bottom. Northwestern is probably next followed by Penn State, but I'm looking forward to an Indiana preview sooner rather than later.
Best of the Board
QB BATTLE: THIS IS KNOWN
For those not still hitting snooze on football right now, BlueMooner went to the private dinner last week with Nussmeier and came back with generalities that amount to Gardner/Morris/Speight are who we thought they were. Also this:
Audience members posed questions about the comparison of recruiting in the SEC versus the B1G; Coach Saban compared to Hoke; and his intent to stay at UM over the long haul. He adroitly dodged those with a splendid sense of humor. The crowd was really enthusiastic about Coach Nussmeier in control of our offense.
You are welcome to read this as "Nussmeier wants to be a head coach someday" and "the SEC cheats more in recruiting." This too is known.
ATTENTION WAL-MART SHOPPERS
There are 394 items on walmart.com licensed from Michigan Wolverines and 369 for Michigan State Spartans. This should be a thing.
This is more of a link but Bacon addressed "Walmart Wolverines" on his blog this week. If you are an alumnus who has a problem with non-alumni rooting for your alma mater then you should read it.
My sense is that is next to none of you, and "Walverines" is a thing mostly generated by Sparties who don't like how people who didn't get into MSU bring up Michigan's marginal academic superiority. So Bacon is addressing the wrong crowd; on the other hand I'm not sure I want to advocate speaking sense to Spartans, because that totally works.
THE END OF COLLEGE SPORTS AND EVERYTHING
The CAPA decision touched off heated debate on the board, so heated that a second thread was warranted to exclude the money part that the Northwestern players aren't talking about. The debate came down to "better helmets and covering medical expenses down the road for athletes is good" versus "but schools that pretend to be D-I won't be able to live that way."
Congrats are due to Justin Dickens, the guy who granted Heiko that interview with Borges and oversaw a dramatic shift in how bloggers are treated relative to other football media. He's not only an MGoBlog reader; he's now Director of Football Operations. This site's had a lot of criticism for Fort Schembechler but I have zero for Justin, who was given the impossible job of keeping both Dave Brandon and Brian Cook happy, and who despite that always made protecting the players his highest priority. I expect he'll succeed; I'm more anxious about who will succeed him.
Your Moment of Zen:
UPDATE 3/27: There's about 500 spots left in the 40k.
Last week we debuted our first 40k Tourney with DraftStreet. Fun was had, money was won, and you're all lucky I didn't take Adreian Payne (a steal at <$13k) out of pure rivalric spite because otherwise I'd be pocketing all of it. Since Michigan has advanced to another weekend, we figured we'd do the same with the game.
Let's roll again!
First we hail these victors. First to announce the actual winners. Not of the stupid moneycash, but the real prize: MGoBlog gear, and the chance to design the next round of it:
Designs next MGoshirt +
Three free ones
Those are the names they used on Draft Street. 814EastU you still need to send me your address for your shir…nevermind.
Moneycash. MGofantasy partner DraftStreet is letting us enter/run a mini-game within their $40,000 March Madness fantasy contest. The top 250 finishers, i.e. those who make it to the 4th and final round (there are max 2,000 entries in a pool so one in eight entries wins) will split the
$40k in prize money, and those who enter through us also get a shot at designing the next MGoShirt or free MGoStore loot.
Last week we filled the $40k tourney so they opened a $20k one with the same prizes and chance of winning (just with fewer people). I imagine if we fill again they'll do that again.
The Game Explained: For those of you who've rolled our games before you know the drill. For those who haven't, the way it works is you "draft" a team on a salary cap basis: every player has a pre-assigned value based on their production, and you get $100,000 to fit three forwards, three guards, and a pair of stretch players onto your roster.
The Contest: As with last week, it's a Survivor-style league so if you finish in the top half on the first day (and "survive") you move on to the next one and draft a team of players from that day, etc. The difference this time is it's three rounds (three days of tourney games) instead of four. It runs through the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, i.e. Friday 3/28 through Sunday 3/30.
After Friday's games the top 1,000 advance. After Saturday's games, the top 500 of those advance. Then the Elite 8 games will determine the top 250 finishers to split the cash.
The official name is the CBB $40,000 Blowout II. Your team(s) will be competing among up to 2,000 entries. There's a $22 entry fee, OR each day before it begins, if you can catch one, you can enter a side game for $2 or $5 and win your buy-in.
The MGoContest: Entries from MGoBlog get double-entered into our mini-pool, wherein the Top 5 finishers get to pick any shirt from the MGoStore. The champion gets to help us design the next MGoShirt (must keep to rules of propriety, licensed property, and NCAA rules, e.g. profiting from specific players). You come up with the concept and we'll turn in into a shirt, put it in the store, and send you three of them to give out to friends/family/enemies.
To be in our pool you don't have to do anything extra; just use the links from our site to get to the contest site and I'll track it. If the 40k one fills and we have to run a second pool again, you're all still in the same MGoPool.
Is there a button I should press or something?
Detail-like substances: You can't play if you're registering from from Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Vermont, or Puerto Rico, because of some anti-gambling internet laws in those places. Must be 18+. Amount of people advancing is predetermined so if <2,000 entries are in the league the top 1,000/500/250 still advance each day. DraftStreet is running the show under their rules.
3/20/2014 – Michigan 1, Penn State 2 (2OT) – 18-13-4, season over
I already wrote up what this hockey team was before the Penn State game: chaos. February it had become clear that Michigan was a hockey equivalent of Indiana's football outfit, a team capable of doing literally anything on any given night. Beat BC? Ok. Lose to Penn State? Ok ok ok.
In the aftermath of a third loss to one of the worst teams in the country and the subsequent failure to reach the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, Michigan's season went from just good enough to absolutely not good enough. If they had beaten Notre Dame in the CCHA final last year, their season would have been just good enough instead of absolutely not good enough. If Michigan gets one more game this year they have an opportunity to do something of note.
Instead they're just a 10-8-2 Big Ten mediocrity that went out in the first round of the tournament. If that seems harsh, it's probably not harsh enough if you ask Red:
“Not yet, but I’m getting closer [to retiring]. I can’t handle losing. I can’t handle a team underachieving -- that’s the most disappointing part, and this team definitely underachieved during the second half of the season.
“But, yes I’ll be back.”
The last two years are wearing on Red Berenson, the rock of Saskatchewan. Red told the NHL to wait until he had his degree, leapt directly there, played for 16 years, scored 6 goals in a game, was the NHL coach of the year, and revived a moribund Michigan program. He's almost more crag than man these days, a living monument, and this is eroding him.
I'm not sure he can get it back before the timer goes off. More distressingly, it kind of sounds like he's not sure either. I look down the roster, though, and Copp and Compher and Motte and Hyman seem like they are the kind of guys to pull where others need to be pushed. I hope to God they get it together this offseason and say there's no way the old man is going out like that.
[After THE JUMP: a look at the recruits coming in versus what Michigan lost and a wild-ass guess at what the future holds.]
Welcome: Garrett Taylor
Michigan gained their fifth commitment of the 2015 class on Monday in VA CB Garrett Taylor, the third prospect from the talent-rich Richmond area to commit to U-M in the last three classes (joining Derrick Green and Wilton Speight). Sam Webb has a lengthy (and free) post-commitment feature on Taylor that covers his relationship with Roy Manning, scouting quotes from his coach and a Scout analyst, and the visit that drew him to Michigan:
“We got to go to the school of business… the Ross School of Business, which is really great,” Taylor reported. “The professor toured us around, which was really great. I’ve never had that before. So we toured around, saw the classrooms and stuff like that. It was really personal. We obviously toured all the facilities and the football facilities are great. We got to see all the resources they have in terms of their Glick Fieldhouse. That was big to see a full indoor field, especially with the weather. They go over there sometimes and to have that as a resource is really good. We got to see the weight room. Then we met with Shari (Acho), the head lady of all the academic support so that was great to see. We got a tour of the academic side. You’ve definitely got the support of the tutors and everything like that to make sure that you’re on track academically. It was awesome. It was awesome! It really felt like they wanted me to be up there.”
After reading that quote, it probably shouldn't surprise you that Taylor tweets things like "properly equipped for the SAT tomorrow" with a pencil-on-paper emoji and photo of his already-laid-out TI-83, pair of sharpened Ticonderoga #2s, and pack of old-school erasers. Coaches and reporters alike laud Taylor for being a great, personable kid; Michigan's landed another prospect who fits the proverbial Pattern™.
As for how his commitment affects the class moving forward, Scout's Michael Clark provides some details ($):
After landing Taylor, the Wolverines are done at cornerback in the 2015 class. Now, the staff will turn their focus towards landing one more safety. Top targets include Whitehouse (Texas) and Texas A&M commit Justin Dunning, Dallas (Texas) South Oakcliff’s Prentice McKinney and Evans (Ga.) Lakeside’s Rashad Roundtree.
Many have asked how Taylor's commitment impacts Michigan's pursuit of five-star NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick. It already looked like Fitzpatrick would end up elsewhere before Taylor's commitment—Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State are the three schools currently generating the most noise in his recruitment, and Michigan hasn't been mentioned in a while. With a small projected class containing two blue-chip prospects already slotted for corner, I doubt U-M is a serious player in Fitzpatrick's recruitment going forward.
[Hit THE JUMP for details on a couple recent offers, an update on Justin Hilliard, and more.]