I did not make this headline up
Volleyball final four tonight. 7 PM, ESPN 2.
Ace with the quick photoshop for the win:
You have the two triangles of hate plus Nebraska's desire to make one of them a parallelogram of hate plus everyone else in the other division. The balance is as fair as possible: M-OSU versus everybody. The straight East-West split is a lot less drivable and places the three teams with the most recruiting muscle in the same division.
They will release results for this on Monday at 6:30, FWIW, and then ignore everything so they can create the JUSTICE and BEATIFIC TOLERANCE divisions while introducing the league's new logo, which is a stained glass window of Jim Delany with a halo.
BONUS: "*Actual Division Names TBD"
Line of the week. From the MZone:
Thankfully, our pal Surrounded in Columbus is always good for a nugget or four from deep behind enemy lines. Today he sent the picture below with the following email:
Most people would be disappointed to be 12-0 & staying home. They're not most people.
No word yet on when Tressel Boned Us But We Still Hoisted Him on Our Shoulders Like Morons Lane is going up.
Ohio State hosts a "celebration of perfection against reason" Tuesday during which Galileo will be burned at the stake and the sun declared to revolve around the earth.
Tell me something I don't know. Maurice Clarett:
He was a hard worker in practice and in games. But off the field, he was living a completely different life. "I took golf, fishing, and softball as classes," Clarett says. "Away from class, anything you can think of I did in my 13 months at Ohio State." Drugs and women were two of the things. Cars were another—he owned three of them at a time, including a brand-new Cadillac and Lexus. "I was living the NFL life in college," he says. "I got paid more in college than I do now in the UFL.
Hey, guys who were interested in Marawatch: now is a high-leverage time for some private investigations of OSU.
Scorched-earth bombing of the week. From Patrick Hruby on the insane levels of subsidy thrown out to nonprofit entities like… the NFL.
In the eyes of the IRS, the National Football League is considered a nonprofit outfit. Just like the United Way. Read that again. The NFL -- a league that makes roughly $9 billion in revenue per season and will collected a guaranteed $27 billion in television money over the next decade -- enjoys the same tax breaks as, say, your local chamber of commerce, because both are classified as 501(c)6 organizations. Under federal law, 501(c)6 organizations -- essentially, business leagues -- are defined as associations of persons having some common business interest, the purpose of which is to promote such common interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit. Does that sound like the NFL to you?
It's been said before but the contrast between socialist NFL and the largely capitalist, competition-driven way European leagues are set up is kind of amazing. I envy soccer fans their league structure in which teams at the bottom are punished, not rewarded, and poor performers drop out of existence. Imagine a world in which the Lions are a fourth-division team and some other Michigan outfit is competing in the NFL. Mmmm. Justice.
Instead, William Clay Ford has been allowed to ruin pro football in Detroit for 50 years. Down with antitrust exemptions for sports.
Speaking of, OH MY GOD. This is from Bylaw Blog proprietor John Infante is… bizarre. Probably unworkable. It has a zero point zero percent chance of actually happening. And it was posted in February, at which point I missed it. But it's kind of amazing to think about:
The College Basketball Champions League (CBBCL) would be the premier college basketball competition. It would consist of the following stages:
- A qualifying stage of up to three rounds;
- A group stage over six weeks;
- A knockout stage of four rounds.
The CBBCL as currently configured would consist of 56–58 teams. All bids to the CBBCL would be automatic bids based on winning or finishing high in your conference. A rating or coefficient system would be used on the conference level, and would be based solely on a conference’s performance in the CBBCL.
Basically, throw over the current model in favor of a Euro soccer model, cups and all. Again, never never happen but thinking about it is pretty cool. No more Binghamton games for top teams as they compete in their conference and the Champions League, just wall-to-wall killer games.
Again, never happen in a million years but it's always fun to think of ways to make revenue by increasing the excitement level of the sport instead of just making fans more and more resentful. One way to do that is to add more silverware. Right now most American sports are structured so that there is one thing to strive for and that thing is determined by fairly random playoff at the end of a regular season.
The February NBA game is the quintessential example of the disease this leads to, and while I find complaints that no one cares about college basketball until the tournament to be unconvincing, people are thinking about goosing the rest of the year:
“Once the reforms to the college football postseason are complete, we have a responsibility to think long and hard about how we can improve the basketball regular season,” said Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pacific-12 Conference. “The game deserves it.”
Here's an idea: play every nonconference game at the same time on the same court. Yeah! /markhollis'd.
Here's a better idea: expand the preseason tourney exemption to move away from one-weekend events played on neutral courts to a mini-me version of a cup competition in which regular season champions from the previous year square off on randomly-drawn home courts until you get to a final four, which is at MSG or bid out. There are 33, so one play-in game, three weeks of Friday night games, and then a Final Four. Silverware that means something and packs out home floors. HOME FLOORS, people.
Consider your travel plans today. Not those travel plans. Joe Lunardi threw out an updated bracket because ten games into the season's as good a time as any. The bracket has Michigan a one seend(!), bringing forth a question and a statement.
The question: what does Joe Lunardi do nine months out of the year?
The statement: for the first time it looks like the NCAA tournament's decision to break everything into pods and try to get as many top seeds close to home will benefit Michigan, as they're slotted into Auburn Hills in this and any other bracket that bothers to list where people will be.
It will be hard for them to exit that territory since top four seeds usually get priority close to home and there aren't many teams projected to make the top four who would prefer to go to the Palace: MSU, obviously, and then Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and maybe Illinois. With Dayton as another outlet for any of those teams, three or four of them would have to pass Michigan to get that Palace spot. So, yeah.
If Michigan makes the Sweet 16, they'd probably get bumped out of Indianapolis unless they finish above the Hoosiers on the S-Curve. That might not be so bad since they're not playing the regional finals at the basketball arena, but rather the Colts' Stadium. While it will be funny to see Indiana basketball outdraw the Big Ten Championship game significantly, most of those seats are going to be terrible.
Aw man, the other travel plans make you feel baaaad. After hemming and hawing about going to the bowl game I finally did get a flight, and now I feel like a jerk for doing so:
8:54PM EST December 11. 2012 - No bowl game in college football pays more money to one person than the Outback Bowl in Tampa Bay.
His name is Jim McVay, the game's president and chief executive officer.
According to tax forms, the bowl paid McVay $753,946 in fiscal year 2010, $693,212 in 2009 and $808,032 in 2008. His pay has nearly doubled since 2002, when he earned $404,253. This year, his game matches Michigan (8-4) and South Carolina (10-2) on Jan. 1.
"He's done a fabulous job," says Mike Schulze, a spokesman for the game. "It's about being fairly compensated based on what the market dictates."
Dammit. This is why I don't go to bowl games. McVay made more than the CEO of the American Red Cross, which has revenues of $3.5 billion. The Outback Bowl brought in 10 million, of which they are paying this joker 7.5%. Also:
The median salary for the 15 bosses at the non-profit bowls reviewed by USA TODAY Sports is about three times higher than the $132,739 median for a nonprofit chief executive, according to a study of 3,786 mid-to-large charities in 2010 by Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog.
I mean seriously I feel bad for supporting this in any way.
Q for a non-Rose Bowl rookie: should I just scalp in Tampa? I assume that face value is for suckers, right?
Rutgers lollercoaster. The Big Ten is going to threaten cable companies in the newly expanded Big Ten footprint unless they cut the league the same deal the Midwest does, except this time this is their leverage:
The fact that Maryland and Rutgers are joining the Big Ten Conference doesn’t guarantee that their games will be on the Big Ten Network. In fact, several of their games may not be available locally at all — TV or broadband — when they kick off their Big Ten seasons in 2014.
Maryland and Rutgers face the possibility of having at least two football games and at least 15 basketball games go untelevised locally when they join the conference in a year and a half.
That’s because the Big Ten Conference is looking into a strategy that could keep all Maryland and Rutgers games — encompassing all sports — off of the Big Ten Network unless local distributors place the channel on an expanded basic tier. The Big Ten used that strategy successfully in Nebraska last year when the Cornhuskers joined the conference, and the conference is expected to use it again in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join.
I think that'll probably work in DC thanks to Maryland's lacrosse and basketball outfits but if it doesn't it is going to be delightful to see Comcast get into a fight because of the team that plays in the Comcast Center. I cannot wait for that standoff to go down.
I find it difficult to believe many—if any—New York area cable companies are going to look at the threat of not getting two Rutgers football games a year and cave; not having Rutgers basketball is probably a selling point. Here's to a decades-long ban on Rutgers content on the BTN.
Etc.: Get out while you can, Catholic schools! form a sensible 10-12 conference from Milwaukee to DC and watch people like it! Maryland gets money up front to leave the ACC. Chesson and Darboh called out as impressive players early in bowl practice, which yes please. Burke declares M elite. Hardaway's recent shooting is the closest thing Michigan has to a concern right now. Surprise Michigan still doesn't run zone.
Today's (brief) recruiting roundup covers an intruiging new 2013 offer, this weekend's visitors, and more.
Delano Hill Offered
The onslaught of offers to committed 2013 prospects continues unabated; this time, Michigan offered Cass Tech safety Delano Hill, a longtime Iowa commit, per Allen Trieu ($, info in header). CT defensive coordinator Jermain Crowell told Trieu that Hill is likely to visit Michigan and has been talking to David Dawson about playing together in college—Dawson will take his official visit this weekend, and it's possible Hill joins him. Crowell also speaks highly of Hill's athleticism and ability:
The Wolverines have two corners, Delonte Hollowell and Terry Richardson, from Cass Tech on their roster, and a third, Jourdan Lewis committed. Hill may get a look at corner from the Wolverines and Crowell believes his size and speed will give him a real chance to compete.
"Delano's faster than all of them. He's a difference maker, that's why I didn't understand why they didn't recruit him."
I've seen Hill play several times now and like the offer. He's got good size (6'1", 190), very good closing speed, and he isn't afraid to come up and hit—Hill is very active against the run from his safety spot. While Hill doesn't always make eye-popping plays, he's usually around the football and always seems to end up with more than a handful of tackles. If he visits this weekend, that would be a very good sign for Michigan.
[For this weekend's visitors and more, hit THE JUMP.]
OR: GONE IN 0.6 SECONDS
One of the weirdest things about the recent Big Ten expansion—let me start over.
One of the least weird things that was still weird about the recent Big Ten expansion was a particular reaction from Maryland basketball fans deriding the Big Ten for being slow-it-down bore ball. Anyone who's listened to fans from conferences other than the Big Ten has probably heard the refrain about how the league is like watching Charles Oakley and Ben Wallace headbutt each other to death.
It's true that the Big Ten tends to have big burly defenses, but the Big Ten's long-held reputation for slowness has always been bizarre to me. Thanks to Michigan State bloggers' insatiable desire to scatterplot things, here's a visual representation of that. Rightward is faster, higher is more variation within the conference:
This is a tightly bunched random assortment on a scale that essentially goes from 65 to 69. Most of the conferences to the right are small outfits, and there's barely any differentiation to get worked up about anyway. The slowest major conference in the country is the Big Ten, yeah, at about 65.6 possessions. The fastest is the Pac-12 at about 67.6 possessions.
That difference is beyond negligible. The average Pac-12 fan sees a shot ending in a make, free throws, or defensive rebound every 17.7 seconds. The average Big Ten fan only enjoys this experience every 18.3 seconds. Take a fan from a Pac-12 team and give him a blind taste test between the two leagues and he won't comment on the pace, he'll ask "where is all the writhing incompetence?" and "why is this fun?" about one of the games before deciding he cannot possibly be watching the Pac-12. (Readers are not encouraged to try a similar experiment in football.)
For the Maryland fans still drunk on Gary Williams telling his guys to scream down the court, the difference was larger. Significantly so? Well. The fastest Terp outfit I could find in Kenpom roared up and down the court for 75.5 possessions a game, second in the country, which meant Maryland fans saw a shot go up every 15.9 seconds. (They did this en route to the NIT, FWIW). I'll grant that on a team level things can seem a lot different…
…but even there you have a couple of major outliers amongst a pack in which the differences in fast break opportunities are small enough to chalk up to chance. That looks like a normal distribution to me.
The differences here just aren't that large. Tempo free stats are excellent for parsing out the outliers like that Maryland team and correctly diagnosing things like rebounding that regular stats are hilariously wrong about, but when it comes to aesthetics, no conference pushes the ball up the floor enough for there to be significant differences. Except the WAC, because WAC is gonna WAC even if they don't play football anymore. Viva WAC.
Anyway, the next time someone garrumphs at you about how boring the Big Ten is, wait 0.6 seconds and scream at him, then tell him that's how much longer you have to wait to see a possession end. Bonus: he will probably stop being friends with you at this point so you won't have to have more annoying hot-sprots-take conversations with him.
Here is a section of the press release:
Michigan to Face Notre Dame in Primetime, Honor Tom Harmon as Michigan Football Legend
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The University of Michigan football team will face the University of Notre Dame in a nationally-televised primetime game at Michigan Stadium, it was announced Tuesday (Dec. 11) in a joint announcement with ESPN. The athletic department will honor 1940 Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon, installing him as a Michigan Football Legend during a pre-game ceremony.
“Our athletic department is looking forward to recreating the night game magic from two years ago,” said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. “We have more in store for this game than the initial night game and will work hard to create many WOW moments. One of those magical moments will be the honoring of Tom Harmon. He is one of the greatest athletes in school history and we are excited to celebrate all that he accomplished at Michigan. Having Tom’s ‘Old 98’ back on the field will be special. This will be a memorable evening for everyone at Michigan Stadium or watching the game on TV. This will be the final match-up with Notre Dame at the Big House for the foreseeable future.”
Rumor is they will retroactively change Denard's number to 98.
Ace stole my joke so I guess I have to write something longer. /shakes fist at ace
@mgoblog Beilein is friends with Binghamton's coach -- not sure if that makes it OK, but there it is.
"Yeah, Binghamton Guy?"
"Could you do me a favor?"
"Anything, Binghamton Guy."
"I need you to punch me in the face really hard."
"Love to, Binghamton Guy."
I guess Binghamton gets a check for the one-off game. In all other ways that's a weird way to do a guy a favor.
Seriously though. I'd rather Michigan played a string of Bradley-type games where they play decent competition in home-and-home situations and just inflated the ticket price the dollar or whatever that they'd have to to compensate.
For one, it's more fun for everyone. For two, you get an RPI bonus for playing on the road, a relatively big one:
A home win now counts as 0.6 win, while a road win counts as 1.4 wins. Inversely, a home loss equals 1.4 losses, while a road loss counts as 0.6 loss. A neutral game counts as 1 win or 1 loss. This change was based on statistical data that consistently showed home teams in Division I basketball winning about two-thirds of the time. Note that this location adjustment applies only to the WP factor and not the OWP and OOWP factors.
You can futz with the system to give yourself an edge by playing a team that you should beat on the road like Bradley, and in doing so you prep yourself for playing in hostile environments a bit. I'd like Michigan to have a couple mid-major road tests a year.
Unfortunately the Bradley home-and-home is also a Beilein's buddy sort of thing—probably not a coincidence that this series was scheduled after Bradley hired Beilein's son. It's not a thing we can expect to continue. Michigan decided to stop playing Oakland because they were too good, which like… mmph.
That's unfortunate since that game in Peoria was a lot more interesting than this one. It's a lot better to see your team beat an opponent in front of a packed house of upset-demanding Peorians than a deservedly half-full Crisler. It will also be a relative asset come tourney time. I'd like it if Michigan made a habit of going on the road to MVC and A-10 schools. I mean, what if Michigan made a habit of playing at Calihan Hall? That's some branding activity right there.
Ah, that's not going to happen. I know I know incremental revenue is more important than anything that does not provide incremental revenue. As far as the actual game…
Idle Kenpom thoughts. It seems like the way to solve a problem like Wisconsin is to discount games between heavily mismatched opponents. You could feel Michigan just shrug in the second half as they launched uncontested three after uncontested three, and does it really matter that they weren't as good at annihilating a team that plays like that as Wisconsin is?
The problem with this theory is that I bet Kenpom tried it and it didn't work. When he makes changes to his formulas he checks them against previous seasons to see if the changes make them better or worse at predicting things, and I'm sure he's tried something obvious like lessening the importance of mismatches.
It is worth noting that Kenpom took a lot of heat for having Wisconsin second as of January ninth last year, when the Badgers were 1-3 in the Big Ten and had nothing positive on their record save wins over UNLV and BYU. Wisconsin won 11 of their final 14 regular season games and came within a point of upsetting Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Were they overrated? Yeah. Did Kenpom probably have Wisconsin rated better than people complaining about them? Yeah.
But maybe it's just time to throw your hands up at the Badgers and say computers can't rank them well. Last year:
For instance, one of the most respected ratings systems in the nerd world is the LRMC ratings. They had Wisconsin fifth before yesterday’s games. Last year, heading into the tournament, they had Belmont fourth, and their system outperforms mine! The Sagarin predictor, also deservedly respected, had Wisconsin second heading into yesterday’s games.
As always, this is the right attitude to take:
Q: Your work is flawed. (Not really a Q, either, I guess, but I get this all the time.)
A: Ugh, I hate it when people say this. Of course it’s flawed. The thing is, your knowledge is flawed, too. If you are ignoring potentially useful tools because of a single issue, then your judgment is flawed as well. And I’m guessing you’ve never tracked the quality of your knowledge so you don’t even know how flawed it is. If you’re like most people, you think you’re knowledge is great because you remember the predictions you made that worked out and you forget about the ones that didn’t. It’s human nature. …
I would say there’s still enough value in the work here to provide a useful reality check on your own knowledge. Used together, your flawed knowledge and my flawed tools can be more powerful than used separately.
Just mentally account for the fact teams that annihilate low-majors can get overrated and that Wisconsin is currently benefiting from some amount of preseason expectation that is keeping them loftier than they otherwise would be.
No seriously this time I'll talk about the actual game…
Hardaway shooting alarm going off. Baumgardner wrote an article before this one mentioning that Hardaway's shooting had been falling off and that this was okay because he was doing other stuff. I'm on board, but at some point the shooting woes become problematic. In this one he was 2/9 from three, 1/4 from two, and the vast majority of those were wide open looks he just missed. His three point percentage has dipped to 33% and the number of threes he's taking is accelerating rapidly.
He started the year off going to the basket over and over again; he should resume that activity. I'd rather have the guy commit a charge per game than camp out at the three point line. We've got a guy for that now.
The inevitable decline continues. Stauskas was 4-8 from three and was saved a ninth miss on his record because he had a toe on the line—must have, anyway. He got hacked on a couple of short attempts, and this was ignored as the refs must have had DVRed a House marathon and couldn't wait to get back to watch it.
I am still in favor of Stauskas shooting all of the threes. Surprise.
Albrecht still pretty good. Perhaps less impressive against this outfit than Arkansas but in ten minutes he canned a three and had a 2-0 A:TO ratio. He keeps things moving when Burke's out.
Also Horford. Horford is Michigan's most active and impactful defender. McGary keeps sucking in huge rebound numbers (10 in 17 minutes in this one with four offensive rebounds) and will probably keep his place in line. I'm not sure I can detect any dropoff from center #1 to center #3. All of them bring different things to the table.
I'll be interested to see what happens when Cody Zeller comes to town. Eyeballing it, it seems like Horford is the best matchup against him. Will he get extended minutes or will Michigan roll with their current lineup?
The 1-3-1: too aggressive? I may be remembering this wrong but it seems like the 1-3-1 is now extending itself all the way to half-court, which seems like a problem. I recall Horford getting all the way out to the three-point line on one of the 1-3-1 possessions when a driver tried to take it between the trappers, and I recall that happening a couple feet closer to the hoop when I watched WVU.
The thing has not been particularly effective against teams other than Pitt and I wonder if they're just giving up too much space by extending it all the way out. I know a conservative 1-3-1 is a bizarre concept, but… yeah.
Opponent watch update! West Virginia lost to Duquesne for the first time since 2003 despite going up 25-10; they closed the game 9 of 32. Michigan should not have much trouble in Brooklyn.
Remember the last time Michigan was this good? Remember the last time there was a class of freshmen who arrived to dominate college basketball? Remember how fun they were to watch, and how much fun they had playing? This team isn't at all like that team. But then what was?
How this works again:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
About Last Week:
GRIII had 17, Burke had 16 and seven assists, Hardaway had 14 with nine rebounds, Jordan Morgan recorded the double-double and Stauskus finished the all-double-digit-starter-a-thon with 12. User mm92 took home the prize despite overestimating the Hogs' scoring output by 1 point.
This Week's Game:
West Virginia didn't believe us when we assured them that their staff will indeed be leaving with them this time, so this Saturday Michigan will be meeting them in Brooklyn on neutral territory. Hipster disguises recommended for all.
And on the Line…
Best if worn with long shorts, black socks, and swagger.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Jeeves. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. Rutgers is from Jersey. Holy shit guys Rutgers is in the Big Ten. BIG TENNNNN! The algorithm constantly finds Jesus.This is not the algorithm. This is close.