|WHAT||Indiana at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||4:00 PM Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Indiana –2 (Kenpom)|
Michigan hosts Indiana on Sunday afternoon with a chance to grab a share of the Big Ten regular season title. Since the first time these teams met (original preview here), the Hoosiers have established themselves as the clear-cut team to beat in the conference and perhaps the best team in the country.
Indiana is led by not one, but two contenders for national player of the year honors. Center Cody Zeller is an excellent rebounder with deft touch around the basket, and he's easily the best big man in the country when it comes to getting points in transition. He scored 19 points on 8/10 shooting in the first matchup, though Jordan Morgan was limited to just two minutes and will have a much greater impact this time around.
The other big star is wing Victor Oladipo, a spectacular athlete and defender who's turned himself into a lethal finisher from both inside and outside the arc (67.0 2P%, 49.1 3P%). Oladipo didn't put up huge numbers in the first game (15 points on 5/9 shooting), at least by his standards, but Tim Hardaway Jr. had a tough time staying in front of him; there are going to be times that Oladipo gets into the lane, and if Michigan doesn't rotate on defense better than they have lately he's going to get his share of thunderous dunks.
What gives Indiana the best offense in the country is that they'll kill teams that collapse on Zeller and Oladipo. They boast one of the nation's best shooters in Jordan Hulls, who hits 48.3% of his threes—a number that seemingly rises to 100% when he's got a wide-open look—and power forward Christian Watford connects on 48.1% of his triples. Hulls isn't a strong defender and Michigan has to find a way to isolate and attack him on that end. Watford is the team's best defensive rebounder and gave Glenn Robinson III a lot of trouble with his size and skill set in the first game.
Rounding out the starting lineup is freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell, who's still figuring things out offensively—he's got a 42/32 2P/3P split and is prone to turnovers—but is a solid distrubutor and surprisingly good defender. The top backup is 6'7" wing Will Sheehy, a solid slasher who hits nearly 56% of his shots inside the arc, while reserve guard Remy Abell has hit 13/27 three-pointers this season.
Indiana is the #2 team in the country, with their only losses coming to Butler, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio State. Before Tuesday's nine-point home defeat against the Buckeyes, they hadn't lost a game by more than five points.
Four factors, conference only:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||53.4 (1)||19.1 (9)||37.3 (2)||48.6 (1)|
|Defense||44.8 (2)||20.4 (2)||34.8 (10)||29.0 (4)|
The only real weakness the Hoosiers have on the offensive end is a proclivity for turning the ball over; with their brutal shooting efficiency (49.1 2P%, 41.5 3P%) Michigan is going to have to capitalize on any chance they get to force an empty possession.
Defensively, Indiana doesn't allow a lot of three-point attempts, and as a result have ceded a somewhat-fluky 29.1 3P% in Big Ten play; Michigan hit just 7/23 attempts in the first game while desperately trying to dig themselves out of a big hole.
Get in transition. Indiana is perhaps the only team in the country that Michigan may not want to get into a track meet against, but the Wolverines are going to have to find a way to generate some easy points, and not a lot has come easy lately when Michigan isn't on the break. Farrell is a solid point guard but he's still just a freshman, and Trey Burke has really been turning up the heat lately with his on-ball pressure—expect more of the same in this one.
Get one of the big four in foul trouble. Indiana's pieces on offense fit so well together that it's nearly impossible to stop them when everything is clicking—Zeller posting up, Oladipo attacking the rim, and Hulls and Watford waiting to knock down open threes. Get one of those guys off the court for extended time, however, and it's a whole lot easier to keep up. Burke, Stauskas, and Hardaway should look to attack the basket and see if they can get a couple cheap ones, either on their man or on Zeller inside.
Don't make mistakes. I know, duh. But this is a game where the margin of error is razor-thin. Michigan can't afford to take bad shots, cough up dumb turnovers, or lose a key player to foul trouble—not to mention continue to blow defensive rotations and get beat off the dribble. Beating the best team in the country means playing like the best team in the country; Michigan's shown at times this year they can put it all together, and they need to bring a complete effort on Sunday.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Indiana by 2. I'm expecting a very close game, and having Morgan back for this one is huge, but I learned my lesson about deviating from KenPom the last time.
Fruits of the photoshop thread
The weekend respite from blasé hockey brought back a sorely missed tradition: goal-by-goal analysis. MGoBlueline picked up where Center Ice left off, and collects the Diarist of the Week; 200 points to Gryffindor. A sampling:
Copp makes a truly spectacular pass through Guptill that ends up right on the tape of Lynch's stick. Lynch is now all alone in the high slot facing a goaltender who is going to have to move side-to-side to stop a shot.
Lynch doesn't hesitate, roofing a shot over the goaltender's glove that makes his Gatorade bottle jump.
By now, yes, everybody knows that Ferris got a free breakaway when they put a 7th man on the ice and nobody noticed. I remind you that the Penguins once spent over 90 important seconds of an NHL Finals elimination game with too many men on the ice and didn't get flagged. I can only surmise that this is legal to do against teams I root for.
LSAClassof2000 has continued to put together short stats-based diaries with cats at the bottom. This week he went into Big Ten scoring offense since 2000. Since so many different coaches and systems have come through during this time, I'm not sure what aggregating by school really does—scoring offense is probably the most 'duh' statistic available to fans, and having Nebraska in a percent of total calculation is just fruitless. Break it up by seasons and tempo-free stats and we're talking—I'd like to know how good, say, 2010 was compared to 2012 Ohio State.
The Blockhams this week tried a little genetic experiment, which as an amateur evolutionary biologist I should warn you that you'd better isolate a lot of genes or else you're as likely to get a too-small, powerless, nerve-pinch-susceptible swimmer with the power to make Tennessee fans deranged by mere mention of his name.
Etc. A sense of entitlement fails you at Penn State and undersells beating MSU, however I caution not to underrate the benefits of that feeling like you can just trust your team will win because that is a low simmering awesome feeling that can make entire weeks happy, and expecting too little will just make you numb. THE LAST FINAL REMAINING SCHEDULES FINAL FINAL by GOLBOGM. Wallpaper by jonvalk.
Best of the Board
IT’S ALMOST LIKE THE SEC CAN ONLY WIN WHEN THEY BLATANTLY CHEAT
A decade ago ESPN realized the power of fan polls to drive passions and traffic when its Page 2 ran a sports-wide uniform contest. One by one the greats—Red Wings red, Tigers white, and finally the maize and blue went down to the ugliest Broncos uniform in history. How? Some fans found a way to game the system. Now a guy whose claim to fame is he’s the Heisman winner’s favorite receiver is doing the same through the college ranks, and again Michigan ends up the finalist they’re trying to screw. Video of how they do it? Actually yeah.
Credit mgouser dmoo4u for uncovering the plot in time. It seems if you create a new group that group gets to vote again. Much of this was going on in the wee hours of last night. I suspect they’ve been doing this all the way up the ranks.
Spring football at least but we are starving fans and we’ll take that. Before there was the Brian article on things to look for this spring, there was the thread of things to look for this spring. Eyes are on, in order, the offensive line, the receivers after Gallon, and the young defensive ends. Ojemudia gif appears:
While on the subject of the foosballs YoBoMoLloRoHo (name complaint: I get that Kipke, Crisler and Bump don’t have easily accessible o’s but what’s your excuse for leaving out Oosterbaan?) takes us down to Georgia to see how they’re developing football talent. I appreciate the effort but having followed high school football in the State of Michigan for some time, I think you’re overrating the difference. I felt that certain schools in the past didn’t do what they could to get their players into BCS programs, but year-long S&C training happens here and on better equipment. Take a tour of Farmington Hills Harrison’s program sometime. The biggest difference between the north and the south in the programs themselves is coach longevity, and I don’t see how that’s a bonus. The biggest difference between Midwest HS football and the South is they have more talent there.
STAUSKAS VS LEVERT:
Bryan Fuller | MGoBlog
Following the Penn State disaster the board starting asking whether a Stauskas who isn’t shooting 80% from behind the arc (and wasn’t defending so well) really ought to be starting over the LeVert sensation. Then we immediately got a chance to put this theory to the test when Stauskas was knocked out against MSU. Minutes in the last five games:
LeVert played well, Michigan beat its rival at home, and successful message recipient Stauskas’s defense was much better against Purdue. He drew Byrd and I don’t think that guy made a field goal until finally getting in on the parade of preposterous treys late. Competition is good. If LeVert establishes himself as a guy worth 15 minutes a game and the sum effect is to get Stauskas to play better I take. We’ll be watching what they do against Oladipo and Indiana.
The other question being mulled is whether B1G teams other than Michigan might struggle in the NCAAs when they don’t have Valentine et al. and the conference’s notoriously poop-flavored whistles protecting them. The theory goes that when Aaron Craft can’t mug people and MSU can’t send man-beasts with active elbows into the paint and Wisconsin can’t Wisconsin that those teams will lose a big part of their winning strategies. Answer 1: The rest of the NCAA isn’t the NBA. Answer 2: I don’t give a damn, because B1G officiating is a huge disadvantage for a team like Michigan, which hardly ever fouls and which often has a quicker undersized guy taking non-called charges. Michigan State has been going to Final Fours for over a decade with teams just like the one they have this year. Getting away from awful Big Ten refs won’t matter nearly as much as getting away from ridiculous Big Ten home court advantages.
BASKETBALL RECRUITING: LADIES EDITION
This would be a diary if it wasn’t for a demand by the OP that it remain on the board. Raoul put together an epic review of current recruiting targets for women’s basketball in the 2014, 2015, and yes even 2016. As in current high school freshmen. I’ve mentioned before that it’s quite common for the non-main sports to fill their classes years in advance (they have full and partial scholarships to give out so the athletes race to grab the few full rides available), so there’s a lot of pressure on the kids to commit before they can, you know, drive cars.
META: HELLO NEW MODS, NOT LIKE THE OLD MODS
Profitgoblue is stepping down from his longtime moderator chair in order to pursue his lifelong dream of getting a newborn to sleep through the night. Stepping into his place is LSAClassof2000. Better have some good, minable data in your posts from now on.
YOU MIGHT BE A THING IF YOU GET TAKEN IN BY THAT THING’S YOU MIGHT BE… LISTS
Buzzfeed is to Reddit as Flounder is to a group of fraternity brothers playing cards. That said, when Michigan fandom comes in for the “You might be a _____ if…” treatment anywhere, we bite. Here’s all the things from the Buzzfeed list you need to care about:
- Chipatis. Pizza House takes all the credit but Pizza Bob invented the thing, which makes sense when you consider the whole trick is to make the salad on a paper plate first and then stuff it into a pita, and Bob’s is the place that 1) serves everything on paper plates, and 2) uses pita dough for its pizzas because it’s cheaper.
- Not a Blimpy virgin. If you haven’t heard, it’s not going to be there much longer.
- “Constant Buzz” and Casa Dominicks.
I guess you need to at least have taken the orientation tour to know not to step on the M on the Diag, that the UGLI exists, and the stacks are for scandalous trysts (I only ever went there to do research and found other people doing research). The other 29 things are generic, stupid, or things you would discover if you’re from Los Angeles and Googled “Things to do in Ann Arbor.” DON’T BE TAKEN IN BY STUPID BUZZFEED LISTS.
The comments at least mentioned the first day of spring, when the North Face jackets disappear and everyone is outside in shorts throwing frisbees because it’s blessedly 49 degrees. And while the Fishbowl is known to all, the c. 2001 Fishbowl RIsing movement and the Brabbs for Heisman campaign that originated there shall ne’er be forgot.
ETC. Softball has Wagner back. Also back: mercies. Possibly leaked Illinois alternate helmet that doesn’t seem to jive with the school’s attempts to get away from 1950s-‘how, white man’ Native American imagery [insert my usual spiel about how this is peanuts when there’s pro teams called Redskins and Indians].
Your Moment of Zen:
Last month on signing day I posted on the top classes looking at how they stacked up down the line, top to bottom. Several people requested a picture of Michigan’s classes and how each of the classes stacked up.
Carr’s classes definitely held their own throughout his final six years at the helm. From 2003-2006 Michigan’s classes were virtually identical through the top 12. 2004 was probably the lightest at the top but showed a tremendous level of depth through the top 20. 2003 was the opposite. Top of the line talent through the top 12 or so and then a fast drop off. 2005 is the most representative class of this range, with 2006 looking very similar to 2003.
Based on the narrative of Carr’s waning interest in recruiting at the end of his career, it looks better than I expected but there is solid evidence that a drop off was real. 2006 was solid at the top but had a poorly rated back half. In 2007 the dropoff occurred much sooner. Ryan Mallett and Donovan Warren were worthy headliners but from there the class was significantly lower rated than the previous Carr classes.
Of all the debatable aspects of the Rich Rodriguez era, his effectiveness as a recruiter was one of the most clear cut cases against him. 2008 and 2009 were very similar classes, but both were significantly below the Carr standard. Of the top 20 rated Michigan recruits from 2002-2010, only two RichRod recruits made the list. Darryl Stonum in 2008 and Will Campbell in 2009 came in at #18 and #19, respectively.
By the time the 2010 class signed, the pressure on the program was immense and the uncertainty produced a class significantly below anything in the internet era.
For all the ugliness of the 2010 class, the transition class was even worse. Justice Hayes was the most highly regarded in that class, and he didn’t even crack the top 50 of the prior 9 years. The transition class quickly became ancient history. Six players from 2012 would have been the highest rated for the 2011 class. From there things only got better. Last month Brady Hoke signed the highest rated player to the program since Ryan Mallett in 2007 and the class was across the board a step up from the already outstanding 2012 class.
The latest class is still in its infancy Michigan has received commitments from three players who are currently rated at levels consistent with the back half of the Top 10 of last year’s class.
Head to Head
Like any good recruiting battle, you have to be able to win the head to head matchups to take home the top spot.
Average recruit by Nth position
Hoke’s three year average is strikingly similar to Rodriguez’s low standard. However, when you remove the transition year things jump up considerably. Carr still holds the edge at the top range. Whether that is a reflection of Hoke versus Carr or just the emergence of the SEC that Carr came before, the top end is owned by Carr. The theme that seems to come through with Hoke’s classes so far, is their depth. Michigan’s 2013 class was one of the deepest in the country. When compared with very strong classes from Lloyd Carr, there is a clear separation from Hoke’s last two classes at from the tenth spot forward.
Meijer can make advanced analysis Michigan jokes, a made up Les Miles rumor, and what happens when you add Dakich to Jose Canseco...
Meijer Plus All the Points. Plus three. Twitter is like an echo chamber from Jerry Seinfeld's fondest dream. People make pithy, somewhat amusing observations about the news of the moment, and others respond in kind. If you follow the right people, it's worth a few chuckles every day, but rarely much more. But every now and then someone ties together the disparate strands of your universe and reminds you why you got into the game in the first place.
First, a little back-story. I was at Meijer this week, and when I reached into the dairy cooler, my hand made contact with the hand of a Meijer employee who was restocking the cooler. [Side note: I learned in that moment that I would not survive a horror movie. The hero who survives in a slasher flick is the one with the steely nerves and the cat-like reflexes. A masked psychopath bursts out of the Christmas tree, and our hero is setting him ablaze with a homemade flamethrower within a few seconds. I brushed another human being unexpectedly and it nearly cost me a pair of boxers.] I mentioned this encounter on Twitter, and had a couple of exchanges with people about the horror of this incident (insert #FirstWorldProblems here).
Now, to the main event. I was having a conversation with @cjane87 (who, FWIW, is a highly recommended follow for Michigan fans) about the generally terrifying nature of Jadeveon Clowney, when this happened:
That is Meijer's official Twitter account. That is Meijer's official Twitter account making a Michigan football reference. That is Meijer's official Twitter account making a Michigan football reference that accurately recounts the details of a SPECIFIC LINE CALL FROM TWO MONTHS AGO. It continues, because somewhere in a past life I held the door open for someone or something.
A little birdie informs me that the individual who runs the @Meijer feed is a former writer from a well-known Michigan athletics blog (not this one), which makes sense, because (a) Meijer is a Michigan-based company, and (b) holy crap read that thing, that HAS to be a Michigan blogger.
ATTENTION CORPORATE TYPES: THIS is how you do "that viral social media relations thing the kids are talking about." Meijer's handle wasn't linked in any of these tweets, yet within five minutes they had responded in the most amazing and appropriate way imaginable. We don't need Harlem Shake videos. Your jingles are annoying. No one cares about your hashtag. Just find this dude and hire him. Unless you're Meijer, in which case you already hired him, but probably for way too little money. PAY THIS MAN.
[JUMP here. But not early Taylor Lewan vs. Iowa in 2010 --@Meijer]
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's visitors, the latest word from Da'Shawn Hand, Wheatley on Wheatley, and more.
Guess Who's Back?
The visitor list for this weekend isn't quite as star-studded as it was two weeks ago, but it still features a top tight end target and some marquee in-state prospects.
One such Michigander is WR Drake Harris, who'll be making his third visit to Ann Arbor in three weeks. Harris told Scout's Sam Webb this week that Devin Gardner receiving his medical redshirt "did help out" Michigan's chances, though he maintains that he's committed to Michigan State... for now ($) [emphasis mine]:
The Wolverines have clearly made up substantial ground in a very short period of time, and they’ll have an opportunity to further improve their position when Harris returns to Ann Arbor Sunday for his third visit in as many weeks. That said, Harris made it clear that anyone suggesting that Michigan has unseated Michigan State as the team to beat is off base. Many have questioned whether he still considers himself a Spartan commit, and hasn’t hesitated in offering them an answer.
“Yeah, right now I am,” he said regarding his commit status. “It’s a solid verbal. I said that I don’t have a list right now, but if I did have a list (Michigan) would be somewhere around the top.”
In my opinion, Harris will maintain that Michigan State leads as long as he's still considered a commit—frankly, I'm not sure he has much of a choice in that regard. The Spartans could very well be leading at this juncture, too. The trend of his recruitment, however, points towards an eventual decommitment, with Michigan in a very strong position to take over that top spot sooner or later.
Here's the full visitor list for this weekend, culled from multiple sources, including WolverineNation ($) (2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- MI OL Tommy Doles — Doles is likely the only prospect who could be thinking about a commitment this weekend, though that's been the case for a while now and he's yet to pull the trigger.
- MI CB Jalen Embry — Embry is a cornerback prospect out of Detroit King who currently holds a handful of MAC offers. He's making the trip with high school teammate...
- MI LB Carl Fuller — Fuller is one of the better linebacker prospects in the state, though his chances of getting an offer are hurt by what should be a very small Michigan class at the position.
- 2015 OH S Tyree Kinnel — Kinnel, a rising junior from Dayton (OH) Wayne, doesn't hold any offers but has early interest from both the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — The top player in the state will be in Ann Arbor for the second time in three weeks, but he's still a long way off from a decision.
- IL TE Nic Weishar — The four-star tight end also took an unofficial to Ann Arbor last August, but Michigan may have some ground to cover to catch Notre Dame.
2015 Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell is also a potential visitor, though he's yet to confirm.
[Hit THE JUMP for Da'Shawn Hand's thoughts on his upcoming visit and more.]