I did not make this headline up
You know what I was thinking? I was thinking "I wish someone would give me a college basketball schedule overview/viewing guide so that I would know what interesting games were coming up." Then I was thinking "I wish I had a platform—oh right."
Michigan is oh so pretty right now with wins over three quality programs headed to the tournament and a shortage of games against terrible opposition. They're second in the RPI to Duke, which is obvious because Duke has run a killer gauntlet so far. RPIforecast.com projects that Michigan will finish 11th, which is actually eighth-best nationally because that's how math works. He uses the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings to project how the games will turn out; those currently have Michigan 7th.
This week's Michigan seed projection: 2.
The Rock. Tray Woodall confronts the 1-3-1. And there is a large CJ Leslie over there.
With many more opponents it's not practical to go through each in detail, so let's group them.
Dreck (that doesn't impact RPI)
Slippery Rock. Well done, Rock. You are not D-I, which Michigan's RPI will appreciate.
Any hopes that IUPUI might be a decent low-major to have on the schedule (they were 118th in RPI last year) are out the window. After beating up on BG in their consolation game in the preseason NIT, the unholy combination of Indiana and Purdue lost their next five games against D-I competition. They lost to South Dakota by 20. That's not good. Their single victory is over something called Indiana East, with Indiana Northwest and Indiana State on the docket.
Filler that's not painful
On the other hand, Cleveland State is 6-2 and hanging around the Kenpom top 100. He projects CSU to go 19-11 and have a winning Horizon League record. Consistently okay teams like CSU are the sort of folks Michigan should be scheduling.
Bradley may or may not fit here as well. Pro: they are 5-2 with their only other loss against USF. Con: their best win is against… IUPUI. A Tuesday game against GW will be an interesting test.
After Michigan beat them in MSG the Panthers blew the doors off Delaware, Howard, and Detroit. They still don't have a quality nonconference win and won't get one—a Wednesday matchup against Duquesne is the closest they'll come to an opportunity left. Kenpom has them 11th and projects a 25-6 season—beating them at MSG was a potential look at a Sweet 16 matchup.
K-State's schedule has been sparse so far and is about to get heavy. They beat up on South Carolina Upstate to move to 6-1; they have big neutral-ish-court matchups with Gonzaga in Seattle and Florida in Kansas City before the Big 12 schedule. Kenpom has them going 22-9, 11-7 in the Big 12—that's probably good for a 5-7 seed.
North Carolina State
Has not played since losing at Crisler. Plays Connecticut Tuesday in a game Michigan fans will be keeping a close eye on. Has fallen to 29th in Kenpom and is in the same range K-State is, though they clearly have more upside if they can just figure out how to play some defense.
The Future (Nonconference)
at least we won this coaching switch derby
Dreck. Three of Michigan's seven remaining nonconference games are solidly in the dreck category: Binghamton, CMU, and EMU. EMU's actually 5-1 so far but the best win in there is against IUPU Fort Wayne and they're about to lose a billion straight. Upcoming: Syracuse, Purdue, UIC, Michigan, Oakland, Kentucky, UMass. Have fun storming the castle. Binghamton is a disaster. Central Michigan lost to Bradley at home by 17.
Filler, not painful.On the bright side, Western Michigan has rebounded from a season-opening loss at Cornell to run off six straight wins, two of which were against quality opponents USF and Oakland. They're now projected to be above .500 in the MAC; they were 6-10 a year ago.
Arkansas is not good but they weren't last year and Michigan still lost. They've got 3 wins over teams in the 300 club, a 15 point loss to Arizona State, a 7 point loss to Wisconsin, and a 9 point loss to Syracuse. At Crisler it shouldn't be a huge problem, you wouldn't think—especially with some extra ballhandlers to relieve pressure on Burke.
By the by, BJ Young has one of the weirdest statlines I've ever seen: incredible usage (39% of Arkansas shots, 33% of their possessions), incredibly few turnovers (he's 14th nationally), good assists and shooting and… he plays 58% of Arkansas minutes. That just about leads the team, but I'm just like man:
That is bizarre. The guy is 3 from 19 from three after being a 41% shooter last year, so that ORtg is artificially depressed and the guy is playing fewer minutes than he did last year. If I was Mike Anderson I'd tell Young to take it easy on the pressing, but I guess it doesn't work like that.
Sitting at 2-3 with wins over Marist and VMI, WVU is headed for the NIT according to Kenpom. They opened the season by getting blown out by Gonzaga and then lost narrowly to Davidson and Oklahoma. They've got shots at Marshall, VT, and Duquense to establish some bonafides before the matchup in Brooklyn. Hopefully they sweep those to establish themselves potential bubble team.
The Future (Conference)
this is not your older brother's Big Ten
Well, it's pretty good you guys. The top four (M, OSU, IU, Minnesota) teams have two losses between them, both to Duke. Michigan State beat Kansas; while they've lost a couple times we're talking a fifth-best team here. Illinois is undefeated, albeit against largely shaky competition, and Kenpom loves Wisconsin because Wisconsin annihilates bad teams. They did just smoke previously-undefeated Cal, so there's that.
Iowa has disappointed—no D—and Northwestern is set to take a step back, but the only real "what happened there" going on is at Purdue, which is entirely too dependent on DJ Byrd jacking up threes and guys named Johnson who can't shoot. The three Johnsons who start for the Boilers are collectively 24% from three—freshman Ronnie has a Jan Jagla-like 2 of 22 line, except that was usually a season for Jagla. As a team, Purdue is shooting 25% from three. That does not win you many games. Beilein is in ur base, Matt Painter.
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 Indiana, #2 Ohio State, #2 MICHIGAN, #4 Minnesota, #4 Michigan State
Bubble no matter what Kenpom says
Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award
Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award
Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes.
Nebraska vs USC, BTN, 8 PM
Arkansas vs Oklahoma, ESPN2, 6PM
Northwestern at Baylor, ESPN2, 8PM
NC State vs Connecticut, ESPN, 9 PM
MICHIGAN vs Western Michigan, BTN, 8:30 PM
Pitt vs Duquesne, ESPN3, 7 PM
Nebraska vs Creighton, ESPN3, 8 PM
Iowa vs Iowa State, BTN, 8 PM
MICHIGAN vs Arkansas, CBS, noon
NC State vs Cleveland State, Fox Sports South, 1PM
Kansas State vs George Washington, CBS Sports Network, 2:30 PM
West Virginia vs Virginia Tech, ESPN2, 4PM
Wisconsin at Marquette, ESPN2, 6PM
Butler at Northwestern, BTN, 8PM
Illinois at Gonzaga, ESPN2, 10PM
Fullback Stephen Hopkins has left the team, according to all of twitter. That's unexpected. Hopkins had some injury issues early this season and was on the verge of getting Wally Pipped by Joe Kerridge but had seemingly fought his way back to starting before a pretty terrible outing against Ohio State. Seems like that was a breaking point but that's just speculation.
With Paul Gyarmati graduating, that leaves Kerridge and freshman Sione Houma the main options at fullback, which is fine. Kerridge seemed to be a better blocker than Hopkins anyway. Houma has played on special teams for whatever reason and seems like more of a run/catch threat from the spot if and when he sees playing time. In addition to those two guys Michigan is also bringing in Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman as H-back sorts*, so they're fine at the spot.
Hopkins leaving opens up a 24th scholarship in the class, with more attrition pending. Given the flurry of offers Michigan has issued in the past few weeks it's clear they're looking for another linebacker, preferably a SAM type**, and I would guess they go above 25 if they find enough players they like.
*[FWIW I bet a dollar Shallman is on defense by the end of his freshman year.]
**[I don't think this has anything to do with Cam Gordon or Jake Ryan. It's more about the freshman class. If Royce Jenkins-Stone isn't going to be a SAM, and it doesn't look like he will, then there is no one younger than Ryan on the roster who can play the spot. Even if they make the logical move and slide Mario Ojemudia over, they could still use another guy there before Michael Ferns arrives in 2014.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on David Dawson and Gareon Conley, new candidates to round out the 2013 class, the latest wave of 2014 offers, and more.
Guess Who's Back
Talk to me man
Yes, Brian stole my thunder on Friday, but here it is again: David Dawson was re-offered last week after having a "heart to heart"($) with Brady Hoke and will take an official visit to Ann Arbor on December 14th. This is, unequivocally, a good thing; Michigan needs one more offensive lineman in the class and Dawson is easily the best among the available options.
It's also a strike against critics of Hoke's nebulous "Policy"—one that's never been explicitly stated, mind you—as it's clear he deals with these matters on a case-by-case basis, as he should. A commitment taking visits doesn't necessarily mean he's gone from the class forever; it does mean he hold a spot while looking around. This ensures, as much as one can ensure with these things, that members of the class show the same level of commitment given to them by the school.
On that note: Gareon Conley will also take an official visit to Michigan on December 14th, according to ESPN's Brad Bournival ($). He'll also visit Ohio State this Thursday, and all indications are this is a two-horse race between the Wolverines and Buckeyes—Conley wanted an Oregon offer before he took a visit to Eugene and one has yet to materialize.
It seems very possible that both Dawson and Conley could end up back in the class when all is said and done. Dawson seems to regret parting ways with Michigan—there were rumors he tried to talk his way back into the fold shortly after the coaches dropped him—and I'd be surprised if Hoke would re-offer without a pretty good idea of where Dawson is headed. Conley looks to be more of a toss-up, but Michigan has his father in their corner.
[Hit THE JUMP for new 2013 and 2014 offers, the updated 2013 Rivals100, and BAYLE WOLF.]
So, after shenanigans—there are always shenanigans—Michigan lands in the Gruesome Running Back Leg Injury Bowl against South Carolina. Appropriately, the game will be played in a pirate ship.
A new opponent requires knowledge. Here is the knowledge about South Carolina.
Haunting various dreams for the next month
like Will Gholston, except good at football, so not like Will Gholston
Hey look it's Jadeveon Clowney, a 6'6", 260-pound defensive end with the kind of size/speed combo that has made him so patently unfair in college from day one that the only comparison you can make is with Adrian Peterson, who doesn't even play on the same side of the ball. Clowney's coming off a 4.5 sack performance against Clemson, leads the nation with 13 of those, and has hit 21.5 TFLs. Nobody approaches him and says "lol you name clowney."
Clowney's parents should have kept changing his name to something more outlandishly mockable with every inch he grew, just to see if anyone would bite on "I have a butt on my face Clowney." No one would have.
Unsurprisingly, over a sack per game by that guy is a good head start on lots of sacks in general—South Carolina is fifth nationally with 3.3 a game. Nobody else leaps off the page but that's actually a testament to South Carolina's pass-rush depth. The next three guys on the sack list have 5, 4.5, and 3 sacks. This isn't that impressive… until you look them up and find out they're all defensive ends. Which means that from two-ish positions on the field—I bet at least one of those guys plays DT on passing downs—South Carolina has 13 and 12.5 sacks. Put another way, Michigan's entire team has 6.5 fewer sacks than South Carolina's DEs*.
So at least NFL scouts are happy with the matchup of Lewan and Schofield versus those guys.
*[Not entirely fair since Michigan faced 294 passes to South Carolina's 342, but… yeah still pretty much fair.]
Haunting various dreams last month
That would be the aforementioned gruesome leg injury to Marcus Lattimore, whose knee ligaments had a suicide pact gruesomely consummated in the Tennessee game.
The downgrade in the run game was severe and immediately apparent. Backup Kenny Miles came in to grind out 34 yards on 10 carries—2.5 YPC worse than Lattimore's efforts—against the Vols. The next week against Arkansas Miles and Mike Davis combined to average 3.3 YPC. After a breather against Wofford, the pair split carries against Clemson for 3.1 YPC.
Lattimore had not been astounding before the injury, FWIW. He had a couple of Toussaint-like lines against LSU (13 carries for 35 yards) and Florida (3(!) for 13), and only cracked 100 yards against Vandy, Kentucky, and Georgia. Issues with South Carolina's run game seem systemic.
COACHES WANT TO BE SPIES
@ Right: Thompson is apparently evangelical.
This will sound familiar: South Carolina announced that backup quarterback Dylan Thompson would start against Clemson one hour before the game last weekend, rendering headlines like…
Connor Shaw Is the Key to the South Carolina-Clemson Game
…teeth-gnashingly frustrating for blog folk. Shaw had been fighting foot/ankle injuries that sapped his mobility for much of the year and should reclaim the starting job with a month to heal up.
Thompson did put up 310 yards passing, 3 TDs, and an interception while also picking up 73 yards on the ground (of which he gave back 35 on sacks), so if Connor Shaw struggles early you know the OBC is just itching to swap quarterbacks.
Shaw has not given much indication that he will as long as he's healthy. Michigan's defense is good but it's not at the level of LSU and Florida, and those are about the only defenses to give South Carolina much trouble this year. Oh, and Vandy. Right.
I learned it from YOU, dad
If you have not watched Carolina play this year it may surprise you to know that the Gamecocks have moved to what is pretty much a full-on spread offense with QB running and whatnot. Shaw and Thompson have 118 non-sack rushing attempts between them, many of them on old-timey zone read pulls when defenses sell out on Lattimore or Guy Who Isn't Lattimore.
No, this has not prevented them from finishing 12th in total defense, 15th in rushing D, and 13th in scoring defense. Yes, it is a crazy old world when Steve Spurrier is piloting a spread offense and winning with defense.
Further upping the sense Michigan is playing a weird alternate universe version of itself: Ace Sanders is a Gamecock Jeremy Gallon, except way better on punt returns. He's a slot dude, like all South Carolina receivers, and is a frequent target on screens. About which more later.
South Carolina practices are races to the quarterback
So I'm pretty sure the Gamecock offensive line is a shambles. There's the Lattimore numbers, which are depressing against superior defenses and grindingly okay against the Vandys of the world, where he'd pick up like 4.8 YPC because he gets one or three after contact every time. Without him the Gamecocks are a team that rushes for 4.1 YPC against Wofford.
Now add in the OL yielding 2.9 sacks a game on a relatively modest 329 attempts and this is not a good offensive line. It is a very bad offensive line, which helps explain why…
The Gamecock passing game is a betrayal of everything Steve Spurrier has ever believed in
Gamecock WRs: shorter than cornerbacks. Which cornerbacks? All cornerbacks.
Here's every attempt from the USCe-Missouri game:
Purdue. Before Lattimore's injury he was Carolina's leading receiver with 26 catches for 173 yards; Miles has 16 more catches. The top three receivers are all 5'9". That clip reel has about three passes past ten yards and given the YAC machines these guys are that is a season-long trend. The leading receiver, Bruce Ellington, is averaging about 15 yards a catch.
The two tight ends are frequently featured. Justice Cunningham is the large guy you see catching a half-dozen dumpoffs in the clip reel above; South Carolina will also go to Rory Anderson in the redzone—five of his 13 catches are touchdowns.
It works well enough, though: Spurrier's dink and dunk is 21st in passer efficiency. They spread the ball around, get lots of yards after the catch, and have kept the interceptions that plagued Stephen Garcia down.
Men who might tackle Denard Robinson
If Michigan can get to the second level, the guy most likely to be making the stop is fifth-year senior Shaq Wilson, who's a 5'11, 226-pound WLB sort who leads South Carolina in tackles. #2 is safety DJ Swearinger, which may or may not betray a tendency to get blocked on a second level that the defensive line covers up frequently.
This is probably not thecase. South Carolina is 15th nationally despite facing an absolute ton of rushing attempts. On a YPC basis they are better than OSU by 0.4 yards and better than MSU by 0.2 yards. They are essentially equivalent to Notre Dame, who Michigan did actually run on some—with Denard Robinson playing QB.
The over-under on Thomas Rawls YPC is set at one.
Well what about the air?
More plausible. Michigan's pass efficiency D slots in just behind South Carolina and I think we know Michigan can be had. The Bray went nuts against them with 368 yards on 43 attempts, 4 TDs, and one INT. On the other hand, Aaron Murray had 109 yards on 31 attempts and an INT, Tajh Boyd 183 on 24 attempts and a 1-2 TD-INT ratio.
As someone who saw the Bray live in a game where Jarvis Jones was made to not exist, I think that game does indicate that if you can protect your quarterback the secondary will yield open guys and chunks of yards. Every time you drop back, though, you're playing with fire, as that clip above demonstrates. Sooner or later I have a butt on my face is going to get you.
If Michigan can move the ball against this defense it's going to be great news for Mike Schofield as Michigan's left tackle next year, because Lewan will take the money and run after sending his stock skyward. Also everyone will all be like WHERE WAS THAT AGAINST OHIO STATE because I tell you what running up the middle on third and short is going to have the same result.
Off the cuff first impression
10-6 South Carolina.
Lots of changes in this week's rankings as we have a completely new order to the top four—one you may not like too much—as well as the debut of future B1G members Rutgers and Maryland. Changes since the last rankings:
11-4-12: Purdue picks up Ra-Zahn Howard.
11-13-12: Wisconsin picks up Tyler Foreman.
11-16-12: Illinois picks up Zane Petty.
11-17-12: Illinois picks up Evan Panfil. Nebraska picks up Adam Taylor.
11-18-12: Wisconsin picks up Marcus Ball and Tiquention Coleman.
11-21-12: Parker Cothren decommits from Purdue. Penn State picks up Parker Cothren.
11-25-12: Indiana picks up Darius Latham. Kyle Shortridge decommits from Purdue.
11-29-12: Gareon Conley decommits from Michigan. Minnesota picks up Berkley Edwards.
11-30-12: Minnesota picks up Hendrick Ekpe.
12-1-12: Northwestern picks up Tommy Fuessel.
12-2-12: Illinois picks up Eric Finney and Abens Cajuste. Northwestern picks up Marcus McShepard.
Also added all of the Rutgers and Maryland commits, obviously.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^||POINTS*|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
*The product of number of Commits and Average Average
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
The Big Ten doesn't actually care what you think about the destruction of longstanding rivalries so they can have more NYC/DC viewers in the duration of tiered cable's death throes. However BTN has put up a survey for the purpose of discussion points on their Monday show that represents the first crack I've yet seen in the conference's apparent immunity to public opinion on its expansion plans. This, like the survey when they announced the division names, will of course be duly ignored; I say let's tell them anyway.
Call your friends and family and that girl you studied abroad with what's her name, and make them take it too. Whatever you answer in the rest, say "VERY IMPORTANT" for Question 9, and use 17 to ask they put Michigan and Ohio State in the same divisions.
The questions, and opinions:
1. What is your favorite B1G school?
This one is thrown in there to weed out the hardcore fans when they break their mouse by clicking on this SO HARD.
2. My favorite school is in which division?
???? I think it says "Leaders" in the song; I'm guessing that one. Also I'm guessing if everybody says "I have no idea" that can become a talking point against the division names.
3. As the conference expands beyond 12 teams, should the new teams be added to an existing division or should new divisions be drawn from scratch?
Start from scratch please.
4. What do you think of the "Legends" and "Leaders" names? (Strongly Like to Strongly Dislike.)
Again, this is put here to make you break your clicking device. Gently. Gently.
5. Should the B1G change or keep the current division names?
6. If you think the division names should be changed, what should they be changed to?
This is an input box; write what you want. Like most old timey NHL fans I prefer divisions named for historical guys, so Yost-Stagg or Bo-Woody. Brian likes East-West. North-South. Plains-Lakes. Big Ten-Little Four. Persistence-Perseverance. Wait no not that last one, they might actually go for that.
7. If divisions were to be changed, what criteria should be used to determine them? (Rank by importance Competitive balance, geography, protect traditional rivalries.)
I suggest putting "Protect traditional rivalries" first because they're all important but at least that might put M-OSU in the same division.
8. How important is it for IN-STATE rivals to be in the same division? (Very important to not important.)
Irrelevant. Every in-state school is already traditional rivals with the other one.
9. How important is it for TRADITIONAL rivals to be in the same division? (Very important to not important.)
VERY important. Rivalries need something at stake, and beating your divisional rivals counts as virtually two wins if you're against them for the championship invite. If we're not with Ohio State the game becomes a "protected" rivalry, which means we'll see them every year while our division rivals face them maybe twice a decade.
10. Currently, the number of conference games the B1G plays is 8. Should this increase?
The answers they give here include "Yes, increase to 10 games (2 non-conference games; 5 home conf games and 5 road conf games)" which, hell yeah (now that ND is gone I think 2 games is plenty to have a warm-up and an interesting matchup) except it will never happen because they make their money off of home games and more conference games means more losses at the end of the season and fewer bowl-eligible teams.
11. What is your preference on a B1G Basketball Tourney? (Every team qualifies, or 12 of 14 teams qualify.)
They don't let you go less than 12. So 12, obviously.
12. Currently, the B1G has no divisions for basketball. Should this be changed?
I'd go for a tiered system before divisions. Don't care either way; if I knew they wouldn't screw it up I might be more inclined.
13. If yes, why should there be divisions for basketball?
Text entry. Share your opinion; mine is above.
14. If no, why shouldn't there be divisions for basketball?
15. When people reference "B1G", do you recognize that to be the Big Ten Conference?
Obviously you do, but think about what this could mean in context: if everyone is saying "no" then the talking point becomes "Nobody even knows what B1G means." I'm all for talking points that hurry along the demise of that embarrassment of a logo.
16. With 14 teams currently, should the B1G remain the "Big Ten", or should its name be changed?
I don't have a better name for it; we should have sued the Big XII and the Big East when we had the chance because "Big" is the nickname that grew up organically and should be the qualifying piece of information in the name, not the number.
17. Do you have any further thoughts on B1G expansion?
PUT MICHIGAN AND OHIO STATE IN THE SAME DIVISION! Also don't add Maryland and Rutgers, name the divisions from whatever's on the motivational poster in your boss's office, make another stupid looking logo, etc.