"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Abbreviated recap since my laptop ate the first one and we're about to record a podcast.
Nik Stauskas scored 21 second-half points [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Just when they needed it most, Michigan's stars aligned to lead them to a 79-70 win over Michigan State, wresting control of the Big Ten from the Spartans in the process.
Nik Stauskas scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, including 11 straight for the Wolverines. Regardless of the defender, Stauskas shot over Spartans for a series of daggers, including the three-pointer that gave Michigan the lead for good with 10:04 remaining. Despite taking a series of shots that few other players in the country could even attempt without getting pulled, Stauskas finished the game 9/13 from the field, with a 3/5 mark from beyond the arc.
Michigan went on a 21-3 second-half run in which Stauskas and Caris LeVert (23 points) scored every Wolverine point. In addition to hitting huge shots in the second half, LeVert keyed the Michigan offense in the first, scoring 14 points and nailing a buzzer-beating triple to end the first stanza; before the shot even hit its apex, LeVert was already skipping back to the locker room.
Glenn Robinson III (15 points, 6/12 FG), the only other Wolverine to score in double-digits, made the most noise with his final shot from the field, a spectacular reach-back alley-oop finish on a feed from Stauskas to put the Wolverines up 11 with 2:33 to play. Not only did the dunk put the game out of reach, it nearly brought Crisler crumbling to its foundation.
Aside from the offensive heroics from Michigan's stars, the biggest contribution came from John Beilein, whose call to go to a 1-3-1 defense in the second half played a huge role in Michigan's big run. Not only did the Spartans commit seven second-half turnovers, they had difficulty getting the ball to Adreian Payne (12 points) even though Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford both dealt with foul trouble.
There were other contributions, as well. Spike Albrecht spearheaded a 10-0 first-half run when Keith Appling had to sit with two fouls. Horford and Morgan limited MSU's offensive rebounding. Derrick Walton threaded a gorgeous pass to Robinson for one of his three assists. Zak Irvin threw down a breakaway dunk to highlight the run started by Albrecht after Spike and LeVert forced a Payne turnover.
In the end, the extra possessions generated by Michigan's incredible ball control—just three turnovers all game—and State's inability to do the same made the difference. The Wolverines now stand alone in first place with a favorable schedule moving forward. The Big Ten isn't secured just yet; this was, however, the biggest hurdle remaining in the race for a banner.
Jordan Morgan will finish his Big Ten career 6-2 against MSU, Michigan now leads the Big Ten with four games left, and Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert had wonder twin powers unite. Muppet/muppet.
And you can't have one without the other…
Won the game!
This weekend’s basketball game has huge implications in the B1G standings and something like above would be marvelous. Taking advantage of the expectedly electred atmosphere in Crisler Arena, the coaches scheduled a junior day for the big game. A few younger prospects will also be on hand for the biggest recruiting event of the year thus far. I heard back from about 50 prospects and each one will be listed and labeled with information as I dig it up.
CB Shaun Crawford
K Andrew David
S Tyree Kinnel
ATH Brian Cole
CB Ray Buford Jr.
DE Dre’Mont Jones (maybe, basketball schedule may interfere)
LB Tyriq Thompson
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Troy Henderson
LB Asmar Bilal
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
TE Austin Ervin
TE David Edwards
TE/OL Harrison Moon
ATH Daelin Hayes
OL Thiyo Lukusa (commit watch)
RB Kentrail Moran
WR Desmond Fitzpatrick
OL Jon Runyan Jr. (will visit March 8 & 9)
CB Garrett Taylor (will visit for a spring practice)
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick
DE Darian Roseboro
DE Jake Pickard (will visit during the summer)
DE Josh Alabi
DE Jashon Cornell (visiting Ole Miss this weekend, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Josh Barajas (visited for Wisconsin game, may visit again for spring practice)
LB Jerome Baker (will visit for a spring practice)
LB Jake Cooper (has frequent contact with staff, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Justin Hilliard (would like to visit for a spring practice)
OL Drew Richmond (has no plans to visit at this time)
OL Sterling Jenkins (will visit for a spring practice)
OL Gabe Megginson (high interest, would like a Michigan offer)
OL Grant Newsome (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Nick Johns (will visit during his spring break)
QB Brandon Wimbush (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Ryan Willis (focusing more on schools that have offered, waiting on more interest)
QB Alex Malzone (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Riley Neal (not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
QB Jon Wassink (very interested, not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
RB Andrew Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
S Omari Stringer (would like to visit for a spring practice)
TE Chris Clark (will visit March 22)
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Austin Dorris (will visit March 1)
TE CJ Conrad (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Cole Chewins (has no plans to visit at this time)
WR David Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
|WHAT||Michigan (18-7, 10-3 B1G) vs. Michigan State (22-5, 11-3)|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -4 (KenPom)|
|TV||CBS (PBP: Verne Lundquist; Analyst: Bill Raftery)|
Right: "Hey, Tom, how many healthy players do you have at any given moment?" [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Are huge, obviously. Michigan is a half-game behind MSU in the Big Ten standings. A win gives the Wolverines the conference lead with a favorable schedule over their final four regular-season games. A loss means Michigan would require some help to win the conference. A look at the remaining schedules of the two teams gives hope for this.
Michigan: @Purdue, Minnesota, @Illinois, Indiana
MSU: Illinois, Iowa, @Ohio State
Iowa is also firmly in the picture, just one game back in the loss column, though they still have six games remaining as a result of Assembly Hall's disassembly.
THE HYPE VIDEO
THE PREVIOUS MATCHUP
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||20||Travis Trice||Jr.||6'0, 170||50.2||16.9||Not at all|
|Starter due to Appling's wrist, excellent outside shooter, poor inside finisher|
|G||14||Gary Harris||So.||6'4, 210||72.0||26.5||No|
|High usage and high efficiency, great defender, should match up w/ Stauskas|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||So.||6'5, 225||71.5||19.0||Kinda|
|Point forward type, solid rebounder, prone to facepalm-inducing mistakes|
|F||10||Matt Costello||So.||6'9, 240||37.1||13.1||Very|
|Most minutes among four-headed rotation w/ Dawson out, good interior D|
|F||5||Adreian Payne||Sr.||6'10, 245||51.7||25.9||Not at all|
|Very effective near basket or outside, decent rebounder and shot-blocker|
|G||11||Keith Appling||Sr.||6'1, 185||70.7||23.4||Kinda|
|Played 19+ mins in each of last two games, but only took 3 combined shots|
|F||30||Kenny Kaminski||Fr.||6'8, 225||25.8||15.2||Not at all|
|Pure stretch four gunner, great shooting numbers, tiny rebounding rates|
|G||3||Alvin Ellis||Fr.||6'4, 195||20.6||15.5||No|
|Role diminishing quickly with Appling back on the floor|
Starting power forward Branden Dawson was scheduled to have the pins removed from his broken hand Thursday night or Friday morning; he's also apparently dealing with the flu. Izzo won't rule him out of the game, though even if he plays it'll likely be in a limited role with a heavily taped hand. If he can't go, foulers par excellence Gavin Schilling and Alex Gauna will pick up minutes in the frontcourt.
As your Spartan friend is sure to remind you, Michigan will face Adreian Payne for the first time this season. The MSU big man has come back like gangbusters from his nagging foot injury, averaging 18 points and seven rebounds in the five games since his return. His post-up ability and 44% three-point shooting provide a major matchup issue for a U-M squad that couldn't handle Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky.
Assuming Dawson can't give it a go, four other big men will see time up front for the Spartans. Matt Costello is the presumed starter at the four; he's hitting 63.6% of his shots, all two-pointers, while providing solid offensive rebound and excellent shot-blocking. Kenny Kaminsky gets out there just to shoot threes, but he's darn good at it, knocking them down at a 47.6% clip. Gavin Schilling and Alex Gauna foul people a lot while playing marginally effective basketball otherwise.
In the backcourt, Keith Appling is back from a wrist injury that supposedly threatened his regular season as of a week ago. He's been distributing the ball well in the two games since his return; however, he doesn't look comfortable shooting just yet, attempting just three combined field goals over those two games. Appling should split minutes pretty evenly with Travis Trice, an outside shooting upgrade who's not the same quality passer or defender as Appling.
Appling's limitations and the absence of Dawson have put more pressure on Denzel Valentine to be a distributor and rebounder; he's done well with the latter and has mixed results on the former thanks to some questionable decision-making. While he's the least threatening shooter on the floor, he's solid in transition and provides good size and versatility.
Gary Harris is Gary Harris. This means lots of points, probably in an efficient manner, and excellent defense on Nik Stauskas. Harris had been mired in an outside shooting slump before hitting 6/9 threes against Purdue on Thursday.
MSU has alternated wins and losses since they last played U-M. Wins came over Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern, and Purdue. Losses came against Georgetown, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. If the pattern holds, Michigan is in line for a win.
MSU is now second in the Big Ten in eFG% behind Michigan after bombarding Purdue; they also rank second in 3P% while taking the fourth-highest percentage of the field goals from beyond the arc. Yes, a Michigan State team could be called perimeter-oriented. It's a weird year.
The Spartan defense is giving up lots of three-point attempts themselves and seeing a solid chunk (35.3%) of those go in. What separates them from Michigan, though, is impressive defense inside the arc, ranking first in the league in both 2P% against and block rate. They are very foul prone, though striking a balance between attacking their bigs and generating two-point looks that don't rely on bailout calls can be difficult.
Keep track of Payne. Should be self-explanatory. If Michigan lets Payne spot up or slice through the defense like Frank Kaminsky, it'll be a long afternoon. Jordan Morgan has to do a better job of keeping track of his man out on the perimeter; losing Payne beyond the arc is likely to result in three points, as Purdue found out OVER and OVER and OVER again on Thursday.
Keep the rebounding close. Michigan managed to win the rebounding battle in the first matchup, which never happens in this rivalry. Even with Dawson likely sidelined, it's unreasonable to expect a repeat, but keeping this close is still a big key to winning. This is all about getting help on the boards from the perimeter players—Caris LeVert's eight defensive rebounds at Breslin made a huge difference.
Find an offense with LeVert. Gary Harris did an excellent job guarding Nik Stauskas in the first game despite Stauskas's eventual 19 points; that took 5/6 shooting from three on looks that weren't easy, as he was limited to 2/6 on two-pointers with no free-throw attempts. If Michigan can't free up Stauskas off the ball, they have to figure out a way to run an offense through Caris LeVert that isn't just LeVert weaving his way towards the basket. Either that or Derrick Walton needs to come up big once again.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 4
A number of role players have gotten some quality playing time with all of Michigan State’s injuries, who is one player that will make a difference either on Sunday or in March?
Kenny Kaminski has been the biggest revelation as the season has gone on. He’s played 15 to 25 minutes per game since Payne and then Dawson went down with injuries. And he keeps knocking it down from deep; he’s still at 48% on three-pointers for the season. He’s also started grabbing a few offensive boards and scoring a bit in the lane. Overall, he’s still a pretty one-dimensional player, but it’s a dimension that can be a major factor in games. With Payne back, Tom Izzo can now put a lineup out there where all five players are threats to shoot the three.
I'm going to skip the user-generated content column, since there wasn't very much of it this week, and talk about the position swaps. The top two diaries at right are new this week.
Something completely different. Brady Hoke attended the Detroit alumni association's annual event yesterday and went on WTKA this morning, leaking out some position changes and player updates, as well as explaining the thinking behind the defensive position coach shakeup. News via nickbob:
Jake Ryan moving to MIKE
Chris Bryant to take medical
Magnuson will miss "most" of spring, will do some individual stuff, surgery went well
Tuley-Tillman had hand surgery
Drake Johnson and Darboh are limited and working their way back
Some other odds and ends related to the D coaching moves
Also Taco Charlton will be moving from WDE to SDE. Let's discuss.
|More Ryan is a good thing. [Fuller]|
Moving Ryan. This, like the coaching changes, is a response to college football going mostly spread. Hoke said that Ohio State effectively neutralized Ryan against the run by spreading out, thus moving him out of the box. Here's your matchups for strongside linebackers on Michigan's 2014 schedule:
- Vs tight end/manball: MSU, Minnesota, PSU*
- Vs slot receiver, spread-to-run: App State, Utah, Ohio State
- Vs slot receiver, spread-to-pass: ND, Miami(NTM), Maryland, Indiana, NW'ern
The * for PSU is because Franklin's offense is a bit of a hybrid; when adapted to Penn State's current roster I'm guessing it ends up a zone-blocked, tight-end-heavy passing offense that moves at warp speed. Northwestern will be a lot more passy with Trevor Siemian instead of Colter. Only two games will heavily feature a SAM taking on tight end blocks.
Upside: anyone who's watched Te'o or Bullough against us in recent years can attest how much of a difference a great middle linebacker can make. The downgrade from Demens to last year's linebackers in deep zone coverage was probably the defense's biggest liability, and Ryan to date has been a plus zone defender.
Downsides: SAM just went from Michigan's strongest position on defense to a huge question mark, since Cam Gordon graduated and Beyer was moved to SDE, leaving just unheralded Spur (i.e. safety)-like object Allen Gant and neophytes.
The obvious thing would be for Beyer to switch back, though Hoke told Sam Webb that isn't happening. Rather James Ross may swap to SAM, and Morgan/Bolden/Gedeon will compete/rotate at WILL and backup MIKE. Weight Watch 2014 just became how big will James Ross be watch. If Ross seizes the position this spring I think things will work out fine, though this has to be a comedown from our hype going into last year. McCray or one of the freshmen could factor in.
The other downside is the most consistent generator of pass rush is no longer on the pass rush.
[Jump: moving Taco, OL damage, coach position switches]
As Seth pointed out last week, my weekly columns tend to be written at a 9th or 10th grade level. At first I was surprised that the number was that low, as that is about nine or ten years (and $74 Million of student loans) worth of education less than I currently claim on my resume. But as I started to think about it, I became concerned that the number may be too high. After all, if there are 10th graders in this country who use sentences like “LULZ Indiana is teh suck” or “why doesn’t Indiana shoot good at shooting,” we as a nation are in serious trouble.
So, in light of this fact, we will try to be a little more informative and hifalutin this week. I understand that by doing this, we may put our children at a competitive disadvantage against other countries when it comes to cat meme knowledge and Seinfeld references, but these are the risks one takes when trying to advance knowledge.
RPI Effect Only Teams
UMass-Lowell (8-17) lost to Stony Brook. Given enough time, black holes eventually vanish into dispersed radiation. Houston Baptist (5-21) lost to Oral Roberts, beat Central Arkansas. An electric eel can produce a shock of up to 500 volts. South Carolina State (9-16) lost to North Carolina Central, but beat North Carolina A&T. One third of the MGoEditorial Staff are currently producing human beings. Coppin State (9-16) lost to Florida A&M. The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets. Long Beach State (11-14) lost to UCSB but beat Cal Poly. Quinoa is, scientifically speaking, the best of all the foods. Charlotte (14-10) lost to Marshall. Koalas sleep nearly 22 hours per day.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (20-5, 8-5 Big 12)
This week: Defeated Texas Tech (70-64); Defeated Texas (85-76)
As they say, you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer as long as they remain behind you in the mock brackets. Michigan may need to start cheering against Iowa State, as the Cyclones are right next to Michigan in the Bracket Matrix’s aggregate standings.
Florida State (15-11, 6-8 ACC)
This week: Vanquished Wake Forest (67-60); Succumbed to North Carolina (81-75)
Like Gulliver in a land of angry Lilliputians, these giants have been slowly felled by a series of tiny blows, none of which are fatal by themselves, but when added together leave a team clinging to the underside of the bubble. The latest strike was a squandered 15-point lead against North Carolina. Beating the Tarheels might have been enough to salvage things for the Seminoles, but as it stands it looks as if they might have to take down a Brobdingnagian Syracuse squad or make some serious noise in the ACC tournament to climb back into consideration.
#5 Duke (21-6, 10-4 ACC)
This week: Defeated Maryland (69-67); Defeated Georgia Tech (68-51); Lost to North Carolina (74-66)
For Michigan fans watching Duke take on Maryland, an image may has struck a dissonant chord.
Your eyes do not deceive, dear reader. That is Evan Smotrycz defending Jabari Parker. Less than two years ago it seemed possible that such a matchup may take place in a Michigan/Michigan State game, Parker bested Smotrycz for 23 points and 8 rebounds, though the Terrapins actually had a shot to win this game with under ten seconds left.
Duke then dropped the re-scheduled game to arch-rival North Carolina, and take on Syracuse on Saturday. Quite the stretch for Duke. I know you all shed tears.
#4 Arizona (24-2, 11-2 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Arizona State (69-66 2OT); Beat Utah (67-63 OT)
Arizona’s offense simply hasn’t been the same without Brandon Ashley. Of the five games they have played without him, four are among their eight worst offensive performances of the year. They’re probably still a 1-seed, but even that isn’t a lock at this point.
Stanford (17-8, 8-5 PAC 12)
This week: Defeated Washington State (69-56)
Some things in life cannot be adequately described on paper. The deeper meaning is lost in translation between deed and word. However, “defeated Washington State” is almost never one of those things.