that is nice bonus change
Rejoice, Michigan fans. Richmond (VA) Hermitage running back Derrick Green—the nation's top-ranked RB on Scout and Rivals—announced his commitment to Michigan this afternoon, choosing the Wolverines over Auburn and Tennessee. Green is Michigan's 27th commit of the 2013 class, joining DeVeon Smith and Wyatt Shallman among running backs.
With Green's commitment, feel free to dance on the grave of the "Brady Hoke can't close on elite skill position prospects" meme. It will not be missed.
5*, #1 RB,
5*, #1 RB,
4*, 87, #5 RB,
4*, 95, #8 RB,
According to The Mathlete's composite rankings, Green is the highest-ranked running back to commit to Michigan since 2002—narrowly edging out Kevin Grady—and sixth overall (the top five: Prescott Burgess, Ryan Mallett, LaMarr Woodley, Brandon Graham, Chad Henne). He's the first truly elite running back recruit Michigan has landed since Grady; going by Rivals, the top-ranked Wolverine RB commit since 2005 is Carlos Brown (#35 overall), then there's a significant drop to Justice Hayes (#85).
Both Rivals and Scout consider Green the top running back prospect in the country and a top-eight recruit overall, while ESPN and 247 are less bullish but still have him as one of the better backs in the country. He's listed between 5'11" and 6'0" tall and around 220 pounds, figures that should be accurate considering his multiple combine appearances.
If you're looking for a prospect in the mold of a classic Michigan tailback, Derrick Green is it. Scout lists his strengths as Power, Size, and Tackle-Breaking Ability, with Breakaway Speed, Elusiveness, and Hands as areas for improvement, and offers this scouting report [emphasis mine]:
A powerful running back who can blow through arm tackles and typically takes more than one defender to bring him down, Green has surprisingly quick feet for his size. He can clear traffic between the tackles, not getting tripped up because of his good balance. Not a conventional breakaway threat because of raw speed, but gets his share of long runs after breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage. Needs to catch more consistently - Scott Kennedy
Can you envision the MANBALL yet? Here's ESPN's evaluation:
Green is quick to get downhill and attack the hole and he gains momentum fast. He follows blocks well and cuts tightly off through the hole, but is not a real patient runner and can struggle to get thin through smaller seams. He lacks fluidity through the hips as a lateral runner but shows sharp, subtle cutbacks and deceptive pick-and-slide ability at times. While he can sidestep and avoid tacklers, he is at his best when squared up and given a heavy dose of Iso and Power plays. Even on outside tosses or stretch plays, he is quick to plant and get north finding the vertical crease. Not a lot of wasted cuts with this guy. He flashes the burst to get through tight in-line seams and into the second level quickly. Displays very good power to break tackles. He is an aggressive runner who drags tacklers and finishes runs falling forward.
Defenders are not going to tackle him high when he breaks free into open field, but he does have a tendency to get chopped down low and lose balance. We would like to see him run more behind his pads with better lean and knee pump.
ESPN's Dave Hooker profiled Green last May, discussing his transformation from a 268-pound offensive lineman into a 220-pound battering ram and his prowess in the weight room:
Green's dedication to diet and training hasn't just moved the scale. It has moved massive amounts of weight. Green bench presses 330 pounds, squats 600 pounds and dead-lifts 615.
"Everybody says that's not legit, but we have a legit trainer that came from UVa," he said. "He makes sure you get low [on squats] and all that."
Nope, no concerns there.
Mike Farrell handed out awards after this summer's Rivals/VTO Virginia camp, and you'll never guess who won "Physical Specimen" ($):
Derrick Green from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage looks like a man-child. If you put him in a Wisconsin uniform and helmet, you'd think he was a college senior coming off a 2,000-yard season. His legs are beyond strong and thick and he looks like a human bowling ball, ready to knock down pin after pin heading to the end zone.
Farrell also raved about Green's frame when Rivals bumped him up to five stars, also noting that he's a more well-rounded back than previously thought:
"Green looks physically like a college junior," Farrell said. "If you put him in any college uniform right now and told someone who had never seen him that he was a 1,500-yard rusher, they wouldn't blink an eye. Plus he's shown the ability to block and catch passes now, so he's gone from a two-down back to an every-down guy. He's the most physically impressive running back we've seen in awhile."
Green went to the Army All-American Game looking to prove he was the nation's best back. In the eyes of Rivals and Scout, he did just that, earning the East's #1 performer of the week honors from the former ($)...
Coming to San Antonio with a target on his back didn't seem to bother Green. The running backs on the East and West team tried to dethrone the nation's No. 1 back but were unsuccessful. In practices and in the game, Green ran with toughness and speed, cut very well and showed he has the vision to make an early impact at the next level. His signature moment was a 23-yard run in the game during which he broke at least two tackles.
...and top ten East in-game performer status from the latter:
Green finished the game with 49 yards on eight carries. A bowling ball style back with low center of gravity, he showed his burst and explosiveness at times today. He's not just a power guy. We didn't see the receiving skills he showed during the week in the game, but we know he can do it and that combination of skills has him as the nation's second ranked running back.
You get the gist: Derrick Green is a tank/bowling ball/Mack truck/beast/freight train/specimen/man-child who will run POWER, take it north-south, and attempt to imprint the nearest defender's ribs with the wings on his helmet. He's also got a little wiggle for a guy his size, decent speed, and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, but first and foremost this is a guy you hand the ball off to out of the I-form until the defense cries uncle.
Green chose Michigan over offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami (YTM), Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Tennessee, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and several others.
Per his 247 profile, Green rushed for 1,285 yards and 20 touchdowns on 185 carries in his senior season. He tallied 1,493 yards and 20 TDs as a junior and 800 yards and ten TDs in his sophomore year.
FAKE 40 TIME
There was a rumored 4.31 40 time floating around at some point, which gets ALL OF THE FAKES. 247 lists a far more reasonable 4.58, which is the number I'd put the most stock in, while Rivals goes with a 4.4. Green shows off good but not elite speed on film, and a 4.58 electronic time would fall in that range.
Clips from the Army All-American Bowl:
Scouts aren't kidding when they say Green runs north-south; he's heading upfield as soon as he gets a crease. He displays solid quickness and subtle-but-effective cuts, though there aren't as many long runs or brutal truckings of tiny high school safeties as one might hope.
While Green shows great burst through the line and decisiveness in his cuts, there's a clear need for improvement when he breaks into the open field. As ESPN noted in his scouting report, Green gets chopped down at the legs too easily, a product of running too upright and not getting his knees high when running through contact. If Green can improve in that area, he goes from a power back that consistently picks up chunks of yardage to more of a home-run threat. Overall, however, he's still quite impressive on film.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If Green lives up to the reports of solid pass-catching and blocking, he's the type of back that eliminates any need for a rotation; just trot him out there and hand him the rock 20-25 times a game. After Fitz Toussaint, who will be a senior when Green is a freshman—assuming he's recovered from a brutal leg injury—it's uncertain if there's another back on the roster you could say that about.
After an ugly 2012 for Michigan backs, Green should compete right away for a starting job, and he could be the odds-on favorite if Toussaint can't find his 2011 form (a difficult task given his injury). Al Borges has a stated preference for using a feature back over a committee approach, and Green could be that guy. Even if he doesn't land the starting job, it's hard to see him not being part of a rotation, and a redshirt seems out of the question.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Now that Green's recruitment is over, Michigan awaits the decision of TX TE Durham Smythe (currently planning to make his choice on signing day), and otherwise it appears they've wrapped up the 2013 class barring any late offers.
The real upshot, of course, is that Michigan now has the #1 running back recruit in the class, which is cause for celebratory dancing:
wit1/24/2013 – Michigan 68, Purdue 53 – 17-1, 5-1 Big Ten
Probably not many more of these for games not against Penn State, but I don't have any narrative for this one so let's just talk about stuff that happened.
Photos. Via Eric Upchurch:
It catches up in the end. The story of the first half was the normally deficient Boiler three-point shooting checking in at 54%, which was good enough to stake them to a one-point lead. In the second half they went 0-9 to finish almost exactly on their season average of 31.6%, and honestly it should have been worse what with DJ Byrd hitting one from 35 feet and banking in another. (As always, Death To Backboards.)
By the end of the game everything had averaged out to… averages and Michigan just about hit the Vegas line and Kenpom's prediction of a 17-point margin. If Ronnie Johnson hitting a three is the difference I'll live with it.
MY MAN RONNIE. That one make on three attempts pushed him to 14% on the year.
Purdue is kind of fun to watch. So you've got Ronnie Johnson's three-point futility plus his tendency to crash full-bore into opponents for charges that are so obvious the refs don't even get excited about them. Then you've got DJ Byrd hucking it up from anywhere, making a few and hilariously missing more. All other Purdue perimeter players are more or less versions of those two guys. The Johnsonbot named Terone adds a dash of circus shot to the stew.
The end result is balls flying all over the place. More than once last night I thought GO HOME PURDUE, YOU ARE DRUNK. This makes them significantly more entertaining than, say, Penn State or Nebraska. Nebraska does have Andre Almedia, I guess.
Does Michigan need to foul more? I think they might. There was a possession relatively late on which Burke extended pressure and harassed one of the many Boiler Johnsons into a near-turnover twice, and then Mitch McGary overplayed a passing lane to finally turn Purdue over. I'd like that to be a more frequent occurrence even if it comes at the cost of some additional fouls.
I can immediately think of some good counter-arguments:
- Michigan plays its starters a ton and there is a serious dropoff to the bench so foul trouble is to be avoided at all costs.
- Playing defense like that tires you out, bench thing again.
- Michigan likes games of HORSE.
But but but boy do I want this team to get out in transition and getting aggressive on defense seems to have some potentially large payoffs. Their transition numbers are nuts, in the 96th percentile nationally as of a few games ago according to Synergy and UMHoops. Anything they can do to push the pace is going to benefit them.
They only forced 12 turnovers in this one, limiting those opportunities. Their man to man seems a lot more passive than many teams'. This game in particular seemed to invite aggression: the Boilers have a very good eFG% defense and can't shoot free throws.
Specifically, I hope Caris LeVert can beast up over the next couple months. He's not going to foul out and if he gives up a couple of over-aggressive fouls on the perimeter it's not likely to end up hurting Michigan since they so rarely find themselves giving up the bonus. Stauskas, too—that man is still in the top ten nationally at avoiding fouls.
THEORY. It may be that Michigan's second-half surge is partially built on a lack of fouls in the first half? If they go into the locker room with everyone clean maybe they sit down and are like "okay guys now time to get aggressive"? I'll check the numbers on this to see if there's anything to it.
If I had to guess I'd say no. It feels more like Michigan's offense takes off right after halftime. But I'll check.
Throw out the rebounding record books when you play the Purdue Boilermakers. For the record, Michigan still won the battle on the boards against a team that looks damn good at that bit right now—22nd OREB, 64th DREB. They grabbed 12 of 30 opportunities; Purdue got 11 of 34.
And it was hard to be mad about many of Purdue's offensive boards anyway. Their misses were often so wild that attempting to get position was a futile project often ending with a ball heading directly at your head with hockey-puck speed. I hope no one on the team was in 'Nam. If anyone was they're having a seriously bad day today.
I definitely shouldn't mention this. Tim Hardaway was 3/5 from deep today, bringing his three point shooting in league play to a Stauskas-like 15/29.
Trey Burke yawn yawn. Save for an uncharacteristically poor night from three (0 of 4), Trey was himself: 6/10 inside the arc with 4 FTAs, 8 assists, one turnover. Oddity: he blocked two shots.
Burke has surged into the KPOY lead now, passing Russ Smith and Mason Plumlee. Smith may have a case—he's putting up 36% of Louisville shots and has a huge steal percentage—but is hurt by inefficient shooting; Plumlee's presence is largely due to a huge DREB rate that seems to exist because no one else on the Blue Devils even tries.
There's a team adjustment in the kPOY that probably explains much of the movement. Louisville and Duke have had a rough past couple weeks; as their teams fall back to the pack their numbers go down.
it was a fumbly kind of game for big guys (Upchurch)
Blank-headed center regains third head. With Morgan and McGary having some struggles early, Jon Horford saw eight minutes for his first extended playing time in a while. His impact was not enormous—three rebounds, 1/2 from the floor—but it's nice to have him available.
This Week in This Week In Stop Asking For Post Touches: the beginning of the first half for Michigan, in which Jordan Morgan ended up taking on AJ Hammons directly and went 0-3. Morgan and McGary did have one nice one-on-one bucket apiece against Hammons; overall their efficiency was significantly lower than the rest of the offense.
Another oddity: Michigan's three posts saw a total of 43 minutes and picked up no fouls. This was because…
Holy pants was AJ Hammons awful. I've been talking him up based on watching some Purdue and seeing some nice things in the box score; in this game he was total non-entity. In 24 minutes he had 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 turnovers. While I wasn't enamored with Michigan's center play in this one, they have to get some credit for that.
That over and back call. A couple folks pushed back on twitter when I broke out the traditional "lol big ten refs" for the over-and-back on Stauskas, but I am sure I'm right on this. For over-and-back to be in play the entire ball and the entirety of the player's body have to cross the halfcourt line. By the time Stauskas caught up to the ball Byrd had poked out it had already started crossing the halfcourt stripe. This was obvious on TV but not to the ref, since said ref was well behind the play.
In any case, he clearly did not regain control of the ball until he'd entered the backcourt, in which case the tip indicated by the ref closest to the play was still the determining factor. That call was mystifying.
Yes, I can find things to complain about even when Michigan is the #2 FTA/FGA team in the nation. It's a skill, what can I say?
Second-half adjustment watch. This one was even coming out of the locker room, with both teams picking up five points in the first five minutes. Then Michigan went away with a 14-2 run in the next five. You can add that to the bin or not; your discretion.
On deck: huge swing game. I dislike this Illinois game coming up. Michigan should win, but this is an Illinois team that beat OSU's head in at Assembly (Not That Assembly) and could at any moment heat up on their many, many three-pointers. They'll be desperate for another marquee win that can cover up blemishes like "losers to Purdue and Northwestern" when tourney time comes around; I can see things going very well or very badly.
There's a cap on how well Illinois can do when they can't grab a rebound to save their lives; I am still wary of a team at the bottom of three-point percentage rankings on both offense and defense. That could turn around and bite you. Ask Gonzaga, on the wrong end of an 11/26 night from the Illini.
Kenpom has Michigan by eight and with a 77% chance of winning—feels a little more random than that to me.
OK, I lied. These aren't really Gardner highlights as much as they are Gardner/Gallon/Roundtree/Denard highlights or Offensive Highlights In Which Gardner Touches The Ball. I wanted to split up the highlights so they wouldn't be as long as last year's. If you think it's too short, that's probably because I couldn't include the Nebraska game after Denard got injured, the second half at OSU or the Big Ten Championship.
A ho-hum home win versus Purdue doesn't quite register on the official Muppet meter, even if the No. 1 team lost on Wednesday and we're the No. 2. And we can't all be celebratin' an ultimately meaningless ranking that hasn't been posted yet. So I propose a compromise:
Finding a marquee road win on its dwindling schedule was imperative for Purdue's fading tournament hopes, and for much of last night you could tell the Boilermakers were stiffing it. Then Glenn dropped the family stone…
Soundtrack | Ace
Two epic gif dunks in two weeks and we've got ourselves a new Robinson to love. A top ranking may be academic from here with Duke falling to Miami, but just in case you don't trust the coaches to do right, Mmmm Hmmm has tracked the poll movement among B1G title contenders this season. He did the same with football earlier this week, and giving him the Diarist of the Week honors for it so he doesn't have to ask the mods to bump things anymore.
LSAClassof2000 has his own metric for comparing the top teams in the conference based whether you're above or below average on 18 stats he can pull from box scores. When he's done it looks thus (click embiggemates):
The things we're below average in are the usual things; the lack of an elite defender has Michigan last in the conference in blocks with only Penn State, Nebraska, and--oh okay--Indiana in the neighborhood. For what it's worth THE_KNOWLEDGE says we'll play Ohio State in the Big Ten tourney.
A Michigan Man will coach the 49'ers. Brian on Wednesday bumped the diary by stephenrjking pleading for people to forgive Harbaugh his academic comments in '07 because, like, we're blood. I'm whatever; the thing I don't like is when people say they're mad at Harbaugh because he was "disloyal." If there's something that makes Michigan different it's not that we stand by each other, in fact I can't think of any other family among major college programs that's as ready to criticize itself (we're still biased). We're not the school with a "Sacred Brotherhood" that you violate by complying with NCAA investigators and tell the truth.
Jim's crimes were the same as Snyder/Rosenberg's—being mostly inaccurate in his criticism, and being motivated by spite and personal gain—although to a far smaller degree. Harbaugh doesn't care about your grudge anymore than he cares that he currently employs four (Boone, Whitner, Grant and Ginn) Buckeyes who could be exempli gratias for how little our rivals care about educating players to do something besides football or work at a car dealership. He said the thing because he was competing for the same kids attracted by Michigan's academic/athletic combo pitch while being hamstrung by Northwestern-level requirements we don't meet.
If there's an exceptionalism to Michigan—the school and the sports—it's a focus on being exceptional over whether we appear to be so. That's what distinguished Bo from Paterno, it's what distinguished Carr from Tressel, and it's what made Hoke a great choice for Michigan's head coach in 2011.
Rutgers and Maryland Explained? Using a database published by USA Today, woomba found valuations for the pieces the Big Ten recently plucked in the current media environment by manually adding "Rights/Licensing" to "Other". Maryland ($22 million) was still just No. 6 among Big East and ACC teams in this metric, and Rutgers ($14.5 million) was 12th. For reference, Nebraska was at $35.8 million the year before they joined the Big Ten.
Things of interest not related to killing the conference to gamble on an outdated TV model: Michigan leads the nation in licensing but our "Other" is a relatively pedestrian $6 million (Ohio State's was a ludicrous $20.6 million last year but other schools at the top were all around $10 to $11 million). I'm almost sure this difference is in-stadium advertising but don't tell Brandon (I'm sure he already knows and that this grates him endlessly). The football ticket shakedown and replacing the coach raised contributions from $12 million in 2010 to almost $28 million last year. Ohio State's contributions dropped by almost $10 million after Tatgate.
Best of the Board
WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE?
A 2012 highlights/2013 hype video by MGomaha. All of the highlights and none of the "crap" Brady. If all of these are so good it'll be a pleasant offseason. Still nowhere close to a Better Son or Daughter or the Weapon of Choice/Dilithium spring reels.
STARS DON'T MEAN YOU'LL PLAY IN THE SUPERBOWL…
They just wink very suggestively. Discussion on Hinton's Superbowl starters by recruiting stars article linked. One thing I noticed was that most of the guys he listed as "N/A" because they were before the Rivals database were major, major recruits. Frank Gore, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anguan Boldin, Terrell Suggs and Bryant McKinnie were all among the top 10 high school players in their years (Moss and Boldin of all time). Carlos Rogers and Justin Smith were Superprep All-Americans, which is the equivalent of being a Top-50 player. Jonathan Goodwin you could call a 3- or 4-star; he had all the offers but went to a MAC school so he could play right away.
If you call the other "N/A" guys unranked you end up with a Superbowl roster made up of roughly a quarter each of five-stars, four-stars, three-stars, and lower. Some readers saw that and came away with "See it doesn't matter what you're ranked out of high school because half of the guys in the Superbowl weren't blue chips." This is because these readers don't know how math works.
Rivals this year lists 34 players who are 5 stars, and had 250 players get 4 stars or higher, and gave at least 3 stars to 1,650. That's out of 8,171 high school players profiled. So let's compare percents shall we?
|Rating||2013 Recruits||SB Starters|
|2 or less||76.33%||22.6%|
If stars didn't matter these two columns ought to be apportioned the same. Yes it's too small a sample size to scream correlation, but that's a very suggestive wink.
Your Moment of Zen:
Via mgovideo - Apparently he and I share an internal playlist.
EDIT: The title of this article was changed after posting because apparently it was causing Creed-related seizures. Please note that the title to the Sly & The Family Stone song where they say "Boom Shakalaka" is "I Want to Take You Higher." There is no reason to have any other song come to your head when you hear those words.
For 25 minutes, it had all the makings of an upset.
Purdue entered Crisler Center as a 16.5-point underdog despite winning their last three games handily, while the home favorites had to shake off the rust from a weeklong layoff. Michigan looked listless offensively and lost defensively as the Boilermakers built a one-point halftime lead on the strength of seven first-half three-pointers.
For the first five minutes of the second half, it was more of the same—Michigan and Purdue trading baskets as the home crowd's consternation grew. Then Glenn Robinson III, playing against his father's alma mater—not to mention a school that couldn't find a scholarship for the in-state high school star—drilled a three from the corner. After baskets by Nik Stauskas and Trey Burke, he bookended a 10-0 Wolverine run with a three from the same spot.
From that point forward, Michigan put it in cruise control, especially after Stauskas exterminated a last-gasp 6-0 Purdue run with a three of his own. The Wolverines, tested mightily on their home court by the team that ruined last season's Senior Day, had managed to survive.
Robinson finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, but unlike previous games those points didn't come quietly. Before sparking the second-half run, Robinson jolted a sleepy crowd to their feet with a huge one-handed slam over DJ Byrd late in the first half after beating two defenders to the baseline. Robinson denied having any extra motivation against Purdue after the game, but his actions said otherwise.
Trey Burke didn't knock down any of his four three-point attempts; otherwise, he was his usual All-American-caliber self, hitting 6-of-10 twos en route to 15 points and a 8:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Purdue attempted to pin Burke to the sideline when Michigan ran the pick-and-roll, but Michigan adjusted, often flipping the pick* to free up their point guard.
Stauskas and Tim Hardaway did their part, especially from outside, combining for 25 points and 5-for-9 three-point shooting. However, Stauskas struggled guarding Byrd, who hit some NBA-distance threes in scoring 11 first-half points. In the second half, John Beilein gave Hardaway the task of shutting down the Purdue sharpshooter; Byrd failed to score in the game's final stanza, and the Boilermakers as a team went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in the second half.
It wasn't the prettiest win for Michigan, but John Beilein—who was just 3-7 against Matt Painter's Purdue teams entering the game—was happy nonetheless with the effort. At halftime, he challenged his team to show more mental toughness.
"They responded really well. Really well," Beilein said, with a hint of a smile creeping across his face.
*having the screener set up on one side, then "flip" over to the other side of the defender
|WHAT||Purdue at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||7:00 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan –17 (Kenpom)|
Purdue came to Ann Arbor for last year's Senior Night and spoiled Michigan's chances at an outright Big Ten title. While this Michigan outfit has markedly improved from last year's version, the Boilermakers have gone in the opposite direction without Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson, and Ryne Smith.
6'2" guard Terone Johnson, Purdue's leading scorer, takes over 27% of the team's shots when he's on the floor, and they aren't all good ones: according to hoop-math, 52% of his shots are two-point jumpers, of which he makes just 33%. He's a decent finisher around the basket and can knock down threes (35.2%), but shot selection is obviously an issue, one exacerbated on a team lacking viable shot creators. His overall efficiency is salvaged somewhat by a healthy number of assists and a low turnover rate, at least.
Freshman starting point guard Ronnie Johnson has much the same statistical profile as older brother Terone—right down to 52% of his shots being two-point jumpers, of which he makes 33%—except with a high turnover rate. Oh, and he's shooting 3-for-26 on three-pointers this year. Efficient, he is not.
Rounding out the starting backcourt is 6'5" guard Raphael Davis, though he's only playing about 35% of the team's minutes. Davis is one of the team's most effective shooters, hitting 56% of his twos and going 5-for-13 from downtown, and he's also a solid defensive rebounder. For some reason, he doesn't play more—I'm guessing because he also struggles with turnovers.
6'5" senior DJ Byrd is listed as a guard/forward but spends nearly all his time on the perimeter—70% of his shots come from beyond the arc. After hitting 43% of his threes last year, Byrd is down to 36.5% this season as defenses are able to devote far more attention to him. He's not much of a rebounder on either end despite playing the four at times.
Seven-footer AJ Hammons has quietly put together one of the best freshman campaigns in the conference, averaging a hair over ten points in 23 minutes per game while doing solid board work on both ends. He's very effective around the basket, where he hits 75% of his shots, but like the Johnson brothers often settles for too many two-point jumpers—those comprise 56% of his shots, and he's hitting them at a 35% rate. On the defensive end, Hammons is a very good shot-blocker and a major reason why Purdue boasts the conference's best two-point defense (39.3 2P% allowed).
6'3" sixth man Anthony Johnson is not related to the two starters of the same name, but he joins the low-efficiency party anyway, connecting on 42.7% of his twos and 24.2% of his threes. Forwards Jacob Lawson, Donnie Hale, and Travis Carroll provide good size off the bench (all are in the 6'8"-6'9" range). Lawson is a stellar defensive rebounder and decent finisher around the hoop. Carroll doesn't hit the defensive boards hard but rebounds well on offense and has started the season 15-for-21 from the field. Hale doesn't rebound at all and has hit 27 of his 69 shots this year, so naturally he gets more minutes than Carroll and is a higher-usage player than Lawson.
The Boilermakers went just 7-6 in non-conference play, with their lone KP100 win coming on the road against #65 Clemson. Other games against KP100 teams didn't go so well, with losses to Bucknell and Xavier at home and Villanova and Notre Dame at neutral sites. They also lost at Eastern Michigan, a team Michigan destroyed to the tune of 39 points.
Purdue does have a 3-2 record in the Big Ten, including a seven-point win at home over Illinois, but wins over Penn State and Nebraska are nothing to write home about. Michigan State crushed them by 23 at Breslin, while Ohio State pulled away late at Purdue for a ten-point margin.
Four factors, now conference-only (small sample, yes, but numbers are equally skewed by various cupcakes on the non-conference schedule):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||45.4 (8)||16.3 (4)||35.6 (3)||30.4 (8)|
|Defense||43.7 (3)||15.7 (12)||32.5 (8)||24.8 (2)|
Offensively, Purdue doesn't shoot the rock well, but they manage a just-below-average offense thanks to offensive rebounding and not turning the ball over. They're hitting their threes in Big Ten play (37.7%) but the numbers inside the arc are ugly (42.6%) and they've been terrible from the line (54.4 FT%(!)).
Strong interior defense has been a constant for the Boilermakers, as their impressive 2P% against has held steady from non-conference to conference play. Big Ten opponents have caught fire from outside, but Purdue actually allows the second-fewest attempts in the conference, so that is likely a fluke.
Don't give Byrd open looks. The only way I see Michigan losing this game is if Purdue catches fire from downtown, and Byrd is their best outside shooter. He's seen his shooting percentage plummet (albeit from "ridiculous" to merely "quite good") now that defenses don't have to worry about Robbie Hummel and Ryne Smith lighting them up from the outside; if Michigan devotes the same level of attention as Purdue's previous opponents, they should be able to limit his output.
Forego post touches. Brian has covered in detail why Michigan doesn't need to try and establish their post players as back-to-the-basket scoring threats, and with Hammons patrolling the paint this isn't the game to try and do that, anyway. Expect the centers to spend much of the night setting picks as the Wolverines try to draw Hammons away from the basket—if they can get a few ticky-tack fouls on him, that's a bonus.
Cede the jumper to anyone named Johnson. The numbers speak for themselves. Michigan should be able to get their transition game going given the volume of jump shots that Purdue usually misses. Terone Johnson pulling up from 18 feet, as he is wont to do, is about as likely to result in a Michigan basket going the other way as it is one for Purdue.
Get Stauskas going again. Just for my own sanity, it'd be nice to see Mr. Swag crack 50% from downtown after struggling in the last couple games.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 17.
I'll stick to KenPom here with that kind of a margin. As stated above, Purdue's proclivity for taking—and missing—the worst shot in basketball should spark more than a couple fast break opportunities. If Michigan can find a way to score inside the arc—and we're talking about the nation's best offense by a decent margin here—they should be able to run away with this one.
As much as I would love to say I have a good feeling about this game (and I kind of do), realistically it is hard to see us winning this. Maybe later on in West Lafayette if everything goes right Purdue can stun them, but we're asking a team that is still very young to go into Ann Arbor and knock off one of the best teams in the country. I think it only happens if Hammons stays out of foul trouble while delivering a 20-10-5 game, Davis or TJ also has a big game, and Purdue hassles them into an uncharacteristically bad game.
BoilerTMill predicts a 15-point Michigan win despite the admitted optimism.