landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Michigan (20-9, 10-6 B1G) at
Wisconsin (18-10, 10-5)
|WHEN||6 pm ET, Sunday|
|LINE||Wisconsin -6 (KenPom)|
PBP: Jeff Levering
Analyst: Jon Crispin
Right: Nigel Hayes is a big presence for the Badgers. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Caris LeVert is doubtful for Sunday's game and even that might be optimistic; John Beilein said this afternoon he doesn't expect LeVert to practice the next two days. LeVert's availability for the rest of the season is in serious doubt. Beilein insinuated he could be shut down completely if he's not ready to play next week. This is depressing as hell.
Covered in exacting detail yesterday. A win would all but lock up a spot in the NCAA Tournament. A loss would keep Michigan on the bubble; they'd have one more shot at a bid-clinching victory in the regular season next Saturday against Iowa. If Michigan loses both, they'd need to win at least one game—and quite possibly two—in the Big Ten Tournament to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday.
This game also affects BTT seeding. Michigan sits a half-game behind Wisconsin in the conference standings. A victory would keep the Wolverines in contention for the #4 or #5 seed; a loss and they're more likely to be somewhere in the 6-8 range depending on the Iowa outcome.
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||3||Zak Showalter||Jr.||6'2, 184||77||13||No|
|Good role player. Low usage, leads B1G in eFG%, solid defender.|
|G||24||Bronson Koenig||Jr.||6'4, 193||86||20||No|
|Excellent outside shooter, takes care of ball, struggling inside the arc.|
|F||30||Vitto Brown||Jr.||6'8, 230||61||21||Kinda|
|Decent offensive rebounder, great midrange game, hits occasional three.|
|F||10||Nigel Hayes||Jr.||6'8, 240||90||27||Kinda|
|Not shooting well from field, but gets tons of FTs. Good post passer.|
|F||22||Ethan Happ||R-Fr.||6'9, 235||61||23||Very|
|Good rebounder, leads B1G in steal rate, draws lots of fouls, okay finisher.|
|G||21||Khalil Iverson||Fr.||6'5, 205||33||15||Yes|
|Minutes vary wildly from game-to-game. Coming off solid showing vs. Iowa.|
|G||11||Jordan Hill||R-So.||6'3, 178||31||13||No|
|Low-usage shooter hits 37% of threes, doesn't do much else.|
|F||25||Alex Illikainen||Fr.||6'9, 220||25||14||No|
|Stretch four makes 50% of twos, 38% of threes. Not a rebounder.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Random midweek instate visits, okay
Kelly-Powell plans multiple return visits
A bunch of instate folks showed up for the Northwestern game: Cass S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, and OL Jordan Reid all stopped in. They brought King CB Ambry Thomas along with them. OL commit JaRaymond Hall, OL offeree Phillip Paea, and the top recruit in the 2018 MI class, Marquan McCall, also stopped by.
You're going to have to get used to Peoples-Jones articles in which he says positive things about an assortment of schools without tipping his hand at all. We can probably fast forward to February with him. On Signing Day Michigan will be a hat on the table and we will feel either good but nervous or not so much and still nervous.
Kelly-Powell endorsed the spring break trip…
"It's an awesome idea," he said of the camp. "It's an amazing opportunity for the team to bond and enjoy some nice weather on their spring break. I don't really understand why people don't like the idea. It's really going to be something that helps the team this season."
…and announced tentative plans for two further unofficials over the next two months, one next month and one for the spring game, that he "should be able to make." There's been some chatter about MSU and OSU in his recruitment; if Kelly-Powell does end up on campus three times in little over a month that would bode well. As of a week ago MSU was "making up ground," FWIW.
Thomas is tough to read. He may be the longest shot of any of those visitors if he follows through with his desire to GTFO:
“I think I want to get away, go far (for college) and create my own path,” Thomas said this week.
He's got a visit to Auburn scheduled and is trying to see Oklahoma; he is still talking to M, MSU, and OSU. On the other hand, Wiltfong thinks Michigan is the eventual choice for Thomas and he was positive about Brown:
"This visit was different and went really well," Thomas said. "It was a good chance for me to just kick it and get to know the coaching staff a lot more. I met Coach Brown for the first time, and he was a really laid back guy."
He told Scout that he was going to be on campus again next month to "lock up some of their top guys, you know." Michigan still has to hire a replacement for Greg Jackson, and that will be a big part of where Thomas eventually ends up.
Paea (left) is a new name
"The coaching staff and facilities were just amazing. The moment you were on campus you just get this really great feeling."
Paea's transitioning from being a linebacker and running back(!) to being a two-way lineman as he fills out, and he's got a lot of promise on either side of the ball:
“They really like his hips,” Scaccia said of college coaches. “He has that innate ability to unlock his hips and play with leverage. He’s still learning but they definitely see the potential there. They like the change of direction for a kid his size. He’s pretty straight-line fast. He can run a little bit.”
Paea joins MI LB Antjuan Simmons as guys who have gone from unheralded to fielding national offers (Simmons has a zillion; Paea added Oregon and Miami), emphasizing what a good year it is for in-state talent. The state has a dozen guys who have or will likely acquire high level out of region offers.
Probably not named after Brian Eno but you never know
TX RB Eno Benjamin seems at least mildly serious about exiting the state. He's not naming favorites but he's got a couple favorites, as one does:
"I am not naming really any favorites, but Iowa they kind of grabbed my attention, Michigan as well," Benjamin reported.
Benjamin is taking trips to Texas and A&M so don't rule out the locals; he plans a spring break trip to various northern schools highlighted by Michigan and OSU and inexplicably including Kansas.
New Jersey… I have heard of this place
Steve Lorenz mentioned in a VIP note a week or so back that Michigan was going to go after NJ ATH Markquese Bell a major priority and now he reports that Bell will visit in the spring. Bell then confirms that Michigan is pushing hard for him:
"Michigan was my first really big offer," he said. Rutgers and Temple were Bell's first two scholarships. "They saw something in me early and I appreciate that."
He's an ATH; at 6'3" 190 he's most likely a WR or safety. He plans a summer decision.
Wisconsin is still steamed about Ben Bredeson
A couple of Wisconsin offerees, WI OLs Alex Fenton and Logan Bruss went off the board to the Badgers. Don't know how high up on Michigan's board either guy was, but I did learn that Wisconsin fans are livid that Ben Bredeson escaped their clutches last year. They assume every instate lineman is theirs. Not without good reason, but sheesh one guy with a bunch of M connections exit and all the voodoo dolls in the state are repurposed.
Michigan hopes to give a further boost to the Cheese State's witchcraft industries by snatching WI OL Tyler Beach. Beach moved around a bit as a kid and isn't born and bred, which means Michigan should have a shot. He's scheduled a visit to M and various other places:
"I'm going to go out to Northwestern, Oregon State and most likely Arizona," Beach noted. "I may try to visit Notre Dame as well, and I'm trying to set something up there as we speak. I've been to Wisconsin a couple times already, and then the Michigan visit."
That visit will be March 11th. He plans a commitment before football season. At 6'8" he is definitely a tackle, and seems on his way to being a consensus four star.
More Rivals ranking updates
Michigan's top two center prospects moved up about 100 slots each in the most recent Rivals 250 revamp, with CA OL Brett Neilon landing at #113 and FL OL Cesar Ruiz at #106. WI OL Tyler Beach also snuck into the tail end of the top 250.
- MI WR KJ Hamler says he hasn't heard from Michigan in a while, displeasing Ace. Says he's still very interested and that he's not going to end his recruitment any time soon.
- CA CB Deommodre "Clamp Clampington" Lenoir will visit for the spring game; his list of schools standing out is entirely out-of-state, with M, Oregon, ND, Washington, and Texas A&M amongst the main contender.
- CA WR Joseph Lewis is one of those LA kids everyone thinks will go to USC; while they're usually right he is listing Michigan and Florida along with the Trojans.
- Michigan and USC are also competing for CA RB Stephen Carr, a soft USC commit, and CA CB Jaylon Redd. 247's Ryan Bartow really does not think Carr's "soft" USC commit is in fact soft, FWIW. Redd is a guy who Michigan has a legit shot at; Redd is a two way athlete who likes the idea of being Jabrill Peppers. Surprise. He "definitely" wants to visit.
- MS RB Cam Akers tells Lorenz that Michigan is going after him despite his Alabama commit. He's buds with MS LB Willie Gay, who we mentioned on Tuesday as a guy who is a candidate to break Michigan's long dry streak in Mississippi. Lorenz mentions that "many are skeptical" that either Akers or fellow Bama RB commit Najee Harris actually signs with the Crimson Tide, FWIW. Michigan is pursuing both.
- Michigan offered IN LB Pete Werner, joining a parade of regional powers in doing so. He "definitely" wants to visit as well, and has been to a game already.
- FL DE Robert Porcher IV is indeed the son of the former Lion and is interested in M; no offer yet.
It appears Michigan has tapped Philadelphia Eagles asst LBs coach Brian Smith to fill the vacant secondary coach spot opposite Mike Zordich.
Sam seemed pretty certain last night:
Chip Viney & Aubrey Pleasant interviewed for U-M's vacant DB post, but hot name I'm hearing is former Philadelphia Eagles asst Brian Smith
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) February 25, 2016
And various media have picked it up this evening.
Quick bio: Don Brown brought in a familiar face. Smith played for Brown as a defensive back at UMass then coached linebackers under him before jumping to the NFL with Eric Mangini's Jets. Smith shifted around positions there under Rex Ryan (offensive quality coach, defensive quality coach, asst. DBs coach). Chip Kelly--who has a history of looking to the Northeast for his coachin talent--made Smith the Eagles assistant (to the) linebackers coach last year. He's only 36, which is very young I say. Quite young. Spring of his youth.
Quick react: Unlike the last time a linebacker coach moved to the secondary, at least Smith played defensive back (cornerback and safety) and has some history of coaching the position. This may be a return to his natural habitat. It does appear to be a Don Brown hire all the way--his former player (when Don was the DC at UMass), and a guy Brown as head coach elevated to coaching before losing him to the NFL.
M's narrow loss to Maryland leaves them with work to do. [Paul Sherman]
When we last checked in on Michigan's NCAA Tournament chances, the Wolverines needed to take care of business against Northwestern and perhaps add another quality win to feel secure about their standing heading into the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan accomplished part one last night, which has kept them on the right side of the bubble; they're still searching for that statement win.
The resumé as it currently stands:
Record: 20-9 (19-9 vs. D-I), 10-6 Big Ten
RPI Strength of Schedule: 68
KP SOS: 59
RPI Top-50: 3-8
RPI 51-100: 1-1
RPI 101+: 15-0
Since the last update, NC State has inched inside the RPI top 100 at #99, at least temporarily providing Michigan with a fourth win over such a squad. Northwestern (#105) and Penn State (#108) could give them three more top-100 wins with strong finishes to the season; while the cutoff is arbitrary, it stands out when committee members are sifting through a pile of spreadsheets.
[Hit THE JUMP for a look at updated brackets and your weekend rooting guide.]
The MGoRadio Show at Moe's 100th Birthday party last year.
This is not sponsored editorial, but it's editorial about a sponsor. I didn't tell Rishi I was even going to write this until like 10 minutes ago.
If you're not familiar with the history of collegiate sports apparel, here's a brief version: People used to go to sporting events in whatever their normal clothes were. Then in 1934 a sports apparel salesman walked into Moe's in Ann Arbor, and together they decided to sew big block M's on sweaters and sell them to Michigan fans.
When Moe retired he sold the store to Harold Trick, who had worked in the store for most of a decade, and adopted Moe's view that the campus sports shop should be part of the fabric of the Ann Arbor community. A generation later Trick sold it to Bud VanDeWege, who passed it on to his son, who was at that time the UM Women's Basketball Coach. Bud wanted to sell Moe's in 2010 to pursue other opportunities, but only to the right people who would continue that tradition of investment in the community as a whole.
If you're at all familiar with the history of MGoBlog you'll know it started as something Brian did in his spare time while holding down a "real" job, and that at some point in 2007-'08 that transitioned into his real job. A big part of that transition was Rishi Narayan and Ryan Gregg of Underground Printing coming on as a full-time sponsor of this site. They've been the difference ever since.
They are extremely good dudes who built UGP on the premise of if you help cool small businesses and charities around this town that everyone wants, people will buy shirts and stuff from you. When Bud Jr. was ready to sell the place where sports apparel began, the place that literally invented referee stripes, the place where Jim Harbaugh would spend all the money he'd saved raking leaves as a kid, the obvious guys to sell to were right there on everything from the local robotics competition, to Pear, to high school field hockey, and the local sports team's blogs.
From our t-shirt store, to our annual book, and even the short-lived radio show last year, all of these things were possible because Rishi and Ryan wanted them to succeed. If you spend enough time around Ann Arbor you can't miss them. They're the guy on a fold-out chair at a local gardening event who supplied the t-shirts to the volunteers. They're the guy with the glorious beard whose kid is dancing on the Crisler fan cam. They're our guys, and this site literally couldn't be our livelihoods without them.
So when this came in my email today:
I thought it as good a day as any to remind you that if you're going to buy Michigan stuff to wear to Michigan things, you should buy it from them.
By the way, our shirts are part of that "everything" that's 30% off this week. Use the same code— FEB30 —through Feb. 30 to stock up on whatever shirt you missed from this season. Like…
If you've ever got an idea for a shirt (and it doesn't violate copyright or NCAA rules) email me—Seth @ [this site].com—and if we got something I'll pass it on to Rishi. Either way, when you're next in Ann Arbor, stop in the store and tell the owners thank you for MGoBlog.
Tell me about this O'Korn future. [Eric Upchurch]
The Question: Five things you want to hear coming out of spring practices?
1. De'Veon Smith is not missing holes that do exist. After struggling most of the year with hitting holes with consistency, Smith appeared to get 'Lasik Surgery' before the Citrus Bowl. He definitely had his best game of the season in terms of vision. Hopefully, it was not just against a defense that was checked out and it will be obvious as Spring Practice picks up. Also, hopefully, the offensive line, who has mostly been together for a few years, will give him something to see.
2. John O'Korn's decision-making is ahead of schedule. With Gentry apparently moving to TE and Peters taking his first reps as a collegian, it should be O'Korn's job to lose. He's always had the arm and measurables. The only question has been his head. Making the right reads and understanding the offense early in Spring will be a great sign.
3. Devin Bush Jr's reactions are impressive. With Ben Gedeon being the only LB left on the roster to see significant playing time, snaps at LB are wide open. DBJ fits Don Brown's LB profile very well. He also enrolled early for a reason. There's a good chance Michigan will need him to play right away. Usually the main issue with young players is the speed of the game. If he's reading and reacting well from the get-go, that will be a very encouraging sign.
4. No new serious injuries. Injuries in football are usually unavoidable. Two of the past 3 seasons Michigan has had a devastating Spring injury (Ryan in '13 and Butt in '14). It was very nice to not have one of those in 2015 -although, Mone was lost in Fall Camp. I would be happy with a major injury-free Spring.
5. The attitude around the program is not winning but dominating. Time for my #hottake. In Spring Training of '86, Davey Johnson told the Mets that he didn't expect them beat teams but to dominate them. The Mets put some pieces together in '84 and '85, but they didn't put together final piece or have the experience of knowing what to expect down the stretch. After keeping things close initially, the Mets blew the doors off the league in the 2nd half and had one of the most dominating teams in last half century.
This is the attitude that I expect from Team 137. They played well last season but were just not good enough in a few crucial moments. If you think that multiple guys turned down the NFL just for a B10 title, you're crazy. This team is talented enough, they're deep enough, they have the experience, now. There is no reason to think that anyone they play is legit better. I don't want to just see them beat the opposition. I'd like to see them dominate the game play.
[Hit THE JUMP for what else we're ready to hear]