Bracket Watch: Safely In For Now
Get pumped up for a tourney run? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
While they still have work to do to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament, Michigan made their way back into the vast majority of projected fields after their back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Indiana. The Wolverines are on 92 of the 110 brackets comprising the current Bracket Matrix (updated yesterday evening), putting them as an 11-seed and, critically, avoiding the First Four for now.
The projection for the remainder of the season has also improved. Following the Indiana win and Wisconsin's home loss to Northwestern (yes, that's a thing that really happened), KenPom's algorithm bumped Michigan from a slight underdog to a slight favorite in tomorrow night's game against the Badgers. With games at Rutgers and Nebraska still on the schedule, Michigan is the outright favorite in three of their last six games, and I'm still not sold on Minnesota being as tough an opponent as the numbers suggest.
Friendly neighborhood bracketologist CrislerSpidey ran the win probability numbers for the rest of the season a couple days ago. At that point, Michigan was more likely to finish with a winning conference record than a losing one, and the projections have become slightly more favorable since then:
Tomorrow night's game is, of course, a huge one for M's tourney chances. Wisconsin's offense has been in a statistical nosedive for the last five games, almost exactly coinciding with Michigan's (relative) defensive renaissance. They're vulnerable; Michigan played them close at the Kohl Center; it'd be a much-needed quality win.
[Hit THE JUMP for the bubble rooting guide, how to slow Ethan Happ, and more.]
Walton's game resembles that of a former IU star and Wolverine-killer. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
With 25 games played so far this hoops season, the statistical profiles of teams and players are pretty representative of the quality of those teams and players; by mid-February, the sample size of relevant information is definitely large enough. With that in mind, I took a look at the advanced stat profiles for Michigan’s four players who average double digit points: Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, Moritz Wagner, and DJ Wilson.
A few years ago, I came up with a way to compare a player’s statistical output to a database of former Big Ten players: by now, there are over 1,000 players that can be compared to a given player’s unique performance in various tempo-free numbers. A little more in-depth background can be found here. Basically the algorithm finds a player’s comparable precedents – over the course of the project (which spans players from 2008-2016, the Beilein Era), the outputs of the system have mostly passed the sanity test and frequently the group of similar players tells us something more about the style of a given player than their statistics would in and of themselves.
Usually these similarity score posts feature plenty of charts and graphs and this one is no different.
Derrick Walton: Close to a Legit Star
X-Axis: Usage Rate. Y-Axis: Offensive Rating. Bubble size: Minutes.
X-Axis: Usage Rate. Y-Axis: Offensive Rating.
[After the JUMP: Walton's comp, plus Wagner, Wilson, and Irvin]
Friday, February 10, 2017
Michigan State 4, Michigan 4 (Michigan wins SO)
MSU 1 UM 0 EV 00:36 Assists: Appleton & Cox
It’s worth noting that this starts after the second shot on goal, so we’re picking things up in the middle of play. Cecconi tries to hit the second shot-taker in front of the crease and immediately comes off of him to track the State player behind the net who gets the loose puck. Considering the number of other defenders behind the net, it’s surprising that Cecconi didn’t move laterally and stay in front of the net.
Appleton, who now has the puck in the corner, is defended by Slaker. Appleton drifts backward and loses Slaker by quickly changing directions and pushing toward the net. Cecconi peels off his circular path back to the front of the net and strides toward Appleton.
Switching defenders momentarily opens up a passing lane, which Appleton utilizes to pass to Hirose. Hirose one-times it and hits the near-side top corner, just a touch over the height to which Lavigne can shrug his shoulder. Warren sees that Hirose is going to get the puck (because he’s watching it in the corner), but that delay means he can’t get his stick into the shooting lane before the shot it away.
[After THE JUMP: Bill takes great photos]
An Actual Piece Of News
flex TE Brevin Jordan
Brice Marich reports that 4.5* NV TE Brevin Jordan and 4* NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson are in the process of scheduling an official in early April. Those gents are teammates at Bishop Gorman; Thompson-Robinson is of course Michigan's top QB target, and Jordan is actually a bigger deal than he is in early rankings. DTR said UCLA was the team to beat after they poached Jedd Fisch a few weeks ago; this unofficial will be Michigan's best shot to change that opinion.
Well Played, Purple Stuff
Happy trails to MI CB Kalon Gervin, who committed to Notre Dame a few days ago. That continues a bizarre trend: 4-8 Notre Dame and their coach on the hot seat snatching up various propsects of interest to Michigan. They've got eight early commitments and fully five of those are mutual targets: Gervin, IN RB Markese Stepp, NJ twins Jayson and Justin Ademilola, and MI LB Ovie Oghoufo.
This is quite a turnaround for ND, which had a bit of an MSU-like scramble to fill some spots at the tail end of the last cycle. (It was not nearly as bad as MSU's, because obviously.) Whether these guys will stick with Purple Stuff if Notre Dame spirals towards 4-8 again is currently an open question—I left Stepp off the recruiting overview but Michigan is pushing pretty hard for him.
Paramus braces for influx of Rutgers magnets
4* NJ DE Dorian Hardy has transferred from St Joseph-Montvale to Paramus Catholic. This is good for Michigan's chances, though the Montvale coach wasn't one of those who was super cheesed off by Harbaugh during SATELLITE CAMP DEATHMATCH last year. HC Augie Hoffman:
St. Joseph Regional High coach Augie Hoffmann said he has no issue with the invitation.
“Not at all,” he said. “I got to meet Jim. He is a dynamic person. You can tell he’s passionate about football, and his love for the game and love for the team and work ethic is really at the top of the list.”
Hoffmann himself spoke at Michigan’s camp last month.
So this isn't getting a Bosco kid to transfer to Paramus or anything. Still, Michigan's long-standing relationship with the school means Michigan will get to make its best pitch. Hardy is currently fielding many crystal balls to Alabama, FWIW.
The Big List Of Guys Expressing Vague Interest
It's the beginning of a new cycle so there are a billion articles out there about kids with Michigan somewhere on their list of five to twenty schools; in these articles players express an interest in scheduling a visit and say everyone is even. Maybe a third of these kids will actually end up on campus, but here is the nebulous list of possibilities yet unearthed:
- 3.5* NJ RB Iverson Clement will be on campus Thursday, per Lorenz. Michigan's in an early top six.
- 4* CA WR Andre Hunt wants to visit, etc.
- 4* OH WR L'Christian Smith told Land of 10 that he will visit in the near future.
- 4* TX TE Malcolm Epps decommitted from Bama and listed Michigan in a top three with the Tide and Texas A&M. Says he doesn't like cold weather.
- 4* FL TE Will Mallory says Michigan has 'kind of been in his blood' and is 'kind of his dream school' but maintains no public leaders.
- 4* IMG OL Verdis Brown is originally from Chicago. He tells Scout's Jeremy Werner that Michigan is in his early top five, that he misses the cold, and that he's likely to return to the Midwest for school. OSU, UF, Miami, and Illinois are the rest of his early contenders.
- 4.5* VA OL Nana Asiedu put Michigan in his top ten. Clemson is a heavy favorite.
- 4* GA OL Jalil Irvin, who was briefly a Michigan commit before backing off, is making a swing through Michigan and OSU this weekend.
- 4.5* MO DT Michael Thompson says he's interested in Michigan, vaguely plans unofficial.
- 4* TX DT Keondre Coburn is high on Michigan's board per Lorenz; Michigan intends to pursue him heavily. Naturally the instate schools are currently favored. Coburn did tell Scout that he likes Michigan "a lot" and "really want[s] to go see them."
- Michigan offered 3.5* OH DT Aeneas Hawkins. Hawkins is out of Cincinnati and this is a Greg Frey area, so it'll be interesting to see how that develops.
- 4* OH DE Tyreke Smith fielded an offer, now has the full set from the Midwest, says he will visit.
- 4* OH LB Dallas Gant has his Michigan offer at long last and Michigan "will be a factor" per Lorenz.
- Unranked OH LB Brian Asamoah has scheduled an unofficial for March 18th per Lorenz. Asamoah is unlikely to be unranked for long since he's got M, PSU, and UCLA offers already.
- 5* VA LB Teradja Mitchell tells Land of 10 that he "loves" Harbaugh because he's "one of a kind" and will visit Michigan, along with a bunch of other schools, during the spring.
- 5* TX S BJ Foster named Michigan and Ohio State as offers that stick out early, following that with a number of local schools.
This has been your list of guys saying things about stuff.
2019 stuff? I guess
So you've probably heard about CA QB Michael Johnson Jr by now: he is the son of new Michigan employee Michael Johnson and 247's #1 dual threat QB in the 2019 class. If Michigan does get Thompson-Robinson and Johnson that'll be an interesting, Kaepernick-esque shift in Michigan's QB recruiting. I'm so down to see what a Harbaugh-coached Devin Gardner looks like, so bring 'em on.
Also of note is early five-ish star KY DE Stephon Herron Jr, who visited Ann Arbor last weekend. The quotes he offered Steve Wiltfong are highly encouraging:
"The family factor, today I felt like I've been there hundreds of times before when it was only my first. ...
"They were down to earth you don't get to see that side of coaches very often and today it was amazing," Herron said. "Michigan showed me a lot of things other schools haven't and it really stuck out."
Too early to tell whether Herron is like Jay "Everything Is Awesome" Tufele in the last cycle; looks like that will be a recruitment to monitor.
BONUS: Trieu's article on Herron has another interesting quote:
"The entire place stood out," he said. "The coaches welcomed me and all the players did as well. The academics and the fact that the team goes to study abroad every year."
I bet they're hammering that.
Slight connection between CA CB Isaac Taylor-Stewart and Jay Harbaugh: Harbaugh's alma mater is Taylor-Stewart's high school. In "not even saying he'll take a visit" news, Michigan offered LA DT Dare Rosenthal, who's 6'7" and therefore makes me think of Pat Massey.
There are usually two or three plays in a given Michigan game in which DJ Wilson makes his NBA potential strikingly apparent. This was one such play, and there were more than a couple others as the Wolverines finished an authoritative season sweep of Indiana.
Yes, the Crean GIF is after the jump.
[Hit THE JUMP for Wagner trucking Crean, lots of Walton and Wilson, and more.]
Suddenly it’s happening [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Best/favorite/memorable senior-year breakout?
Brian: I surmise this is in honor of Derrick Walton?
Brian: We should point out that Walton's breakout is not merely a senior year breakout but the ultra-rare midseason senior-year breakout. After being called softbatch.
Ace: Yeah, I don’t really remember anything quite like what Walton has done over the last month, at least with Michigan basketball players.
Brian: I could kiss Maverick Morgan.
Ace: The senior-year breakout that comes to mind for me hopefully won’t have too many parallels to Walton. When I was a senior in high school, my parents got me a ten-game ticket package for Michigan basketball that covered the conference portion of the schedule. This was 2005-06, when it looked like this could finally be the year that Tommy Amaker’s squad snapped the tourney drought.
Senior Horton nearly got an Amaker team to the Dance. [MGoBlue.com via Holdin the Rope]
Up to that point in his career, Daniel Horton had been an enigmatic player: obviously talented, usually the best player on some mediocre teams, but clearly hamstrung by the system and surrounding talent. His ORating never cracked 100 in his first three years at Michigan, and after a junior season cut short when he pled guilty to domestic violence, it looked like his promising freshman year may stand as his peak.
It all clicked in his senior year. Horton took a Walton-esque leap with his finishing around the rim, hit 39% of his threes, and played remarkably efficient ball for someone shouldering such a huge load (111.4 ORtg on a 28% usage rage). He had several notable performances, most of which came down the stretch: 32 points in a win at Minnesota, 23 and five assists in a win over MSU at Crisler, 21 and five in the home rematch against the Gophers, and a masterful 39-point game to beat Illinois and get Michigan to 8-6 in the Big Ten and on the precipice of a tourney bid. (Someone, please, get that game on YouTube. That was as loud as I’d ever heard Crisler until the Final Four squad.)
Horton’s heroics weren’t quite enough to propel Michigan into the tournament. The Wolverines went 2-7 down the stretch, with Dion Harris’ ankle injury against Ohio State wiping out much of Horton’s scoring support; Horton’s 34-point game against Indiana still wasn’t enough to get M the final win they would’ve needed to get a bid. They instead had to settle for a run to the NIT final. Horton’s magnificent play to close out his career, however, remains one of my fondest memories from a relatively dreadful era in Michigan hoops.
[Hit THE JUMP for Seth just rocketing off answers before anybody else can]