2/5/2014 – Michigan 79, Nebraska 50 – 17-5, 9-1 Big Ten
A demolition that was into Kenpom time as fast as any game I've ever seen, so straight to various things about various things. Highlights:
So that's what it's like when the other team is like "take my threes, please." Generally, basketball teams playing Michigan make it a huge priority to limit open three point attempts. This is because Michigan shoots a lot of them (almost 40% of their FGAs) and is quite good at knocking them down—25th nationally. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't, but everyone really tries to limit Michigan from long range.
For whatever reason, Increasingly Dangerous (At Least At Home) Nebraska™ decided against that. Michigan launched a whopping 31 threes—60% of their shots—and until things got sloppy late just about every one was a great look. Some of this was transition hurting Nebraska's ability to contest, and some of it was what looked like an ill-advised reaction to Michigan's pick and roll game where Nebraska bigs would hedge super-aggressively, forcing wing defenders to dip their toes into the paint to compensate. The ensuing passes beat Nebraska's rotation on almost every possession, and the threes rained in. Serendipitously, Luke Winn's latest power rankings address the adjustment Nebraska made to neutralize Stauskas at the expense of a billion wide open threes:
Thus assists. Michigan assisted on 21 of their 26 makes.
And thus Irvin. This was an Irvin game what with all the open looks, and Irvin took advantage with three consecutive threes in the first half, including a heat check that got a friendly roll off the front iron. He even took a couple dribbles(!) and made a couple of twos.
He is very much Just A Shooter right now, as he didn't add anything other than buckets to his stat line until after halftime and even then the only things tacked on were three rebounds and a foul. He is an endpoint for possessions only. His statistical profile is instantly familiar to anyone who's previewed a bunch of basketball teams using Kenpom as a crutch: miniscule assist, TO, and FT rates of 5.6, and 9.8 and 6.2, respectively, bunch of threes, few twos: corner gunner, corner gunner, corner gunner.
And he might stay this way. By this time last year we'd applied "Game, blouses" to Stauskas. He was getting to the bucket with some regularity. Just look at the FTAs: Stauskas had 87 last year; Irvin currently has 8. Even if his role is to be that gunner, previous editions of guys in that role have shown more diversity than Irvin is right now.
This is completely fine. If Irvin just turns into Bruce Bowen, that's a nice thing to have on your team, and Walton and LeVert can drive play even in the worst case NBA pillage scenario.
Michigan is considerably more diverse from three than other teams with noted bombers. Via Luke Winn.
Not just a shoot—wait is he even shooting? Nine points on just three shots for Stauskas looks like a bit of a crisis even if that's really six shot equivalents with Stauskas going 6/6 from the line, but in this one Stauskas effectively found shots for other guys (eight assists) much like Trey Burke did in the first half of the Kansas game last March.
Four TOs is a bit steep, especially since he had another four in Michigan's previous home game against Purdue. Seems like teams are more cognizant of Stauskas's playmaking ability and are trying to jam passing lanes when he drives.They're trying to play him like Wisconsin plays everyone: two point jumpers for you.
LeVert had a similar issue or two on drives where the shot looked like the right move but his assumption was that someone was coming over; he got away with a couple deflections on passes that should have been shots.
With the way they're calling charges now, once either guy turns the corner they should be more aggressive, especially since picking up an offensive foul hardly sentences either to foul trouble 99% of the time.
Almost there. Michigan needs Caris LeVert to hit like 2/3 in Michigan's next game and have their other five guys hold serve, and then they will have six(!) guys hitting 40% from three. Robinson, at 29%, is the only guy on the roster who takes threes that are not obviously a great idea.
Walton has been crazy efficient in Big Ten play. [Fuller]
Quantifying Walton's improvement. At Michigan's 6-4 trough I noted that Michigan wasn't getting much out of either freshman and that turning that around was a major season key. Remember the brief period where people were wondering if Spike should be starting? It was around then.
Since, Irvin has established himself a shooter you have to reckon with; meanwhile, Derrick Walton has become a consistent double-digit scorer. He's doing this with much better efficiency. He went from bad 99 ORTG to 108 in the course of 12 games. While he is still the lowest-rated guy on the team in that stat, that's because Michigan's offense is bonkers. On a lot of teams—good teams, even—that's your #2 or #3 guy.
In Big Ten play, Walton's 18/31 from two and 12/23 from 3, a 66% eFG% that would place him third(!) nationally if that was his whole season. As it is he's now around 200th in both that stat and True Shooting %, which folds in free throws. Only Stauskas and the posts flushing excellent passes are above him in that department. The main thing holding him back is a TO rate that's a bit high for what you'd want, but a high TO rate for in a young guard is generally regarded a good sign as long as the rest of his game is solid.
Walton made a midseason leap; while he's still a complementary piece he's doing things that bode well for the immediate and long-term future.
Petteway could not get to the bucket like he did in the first game [Fuller]
Hey: defense. Michigan finally had a legit good all-around defensive game, holding Nebraska to 0.79 points a possession and 0.63 in the competitive section of the game. Terran Petteway entered the game the leading scorer in the Big Ten, scoring at least 15 in every conference outing and barely removed from a 35-point demolition of Minnesota. He ended up 2/10 from the floor and acquired five points, with four turnovers and one assist. That is locking a guy up.
Oddly, Nebraska did not do much of the pick and roll action that Petteway thrived on in the first matchup. Michigan was highly unlikely to provide the soft hedge they did in that game, but even so you'd think they'd poke around with the same thing that gave Michigan fits a month ago. Nope.
Our walk-ons need to get it together. In a game with some rich trillion possibilities, no one came through. Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich both turned the ball over; Brad Anlauf had a third TO and a couple of fouls. Cumong, men.
FWIW, Michigan's 13 TOs seems high for them but three of them came from the walk-on crew in the final four minutes, so ten over 36 isn't bad.
How did Walter Pitchford escape? The Nebraska big man seems like a great fit for Michigan what with his three point shooting (37%) and all-around offensive skill. He is also from Grand Rapids. He was a DePaul commit who opened it up when the coach there got fired and ended up signing with Florida after committing in April. Meanwhile, Michigan was in the process of adding a late signee in 6'6" PF/C Max Bielfeldt, who seemed like a bit of a weird fit then and is getting scant minutes now. A rare recruiting goof from this staff.
Spike Albrecht turnover watch. Albrecht's lone Big Ten turnover remains the held ball against Michigan State where he tried to call timeout for about ten seconds without actually getting one. In conference play his assist to turnover ratio is… 22.
RPI Effect Only Teams:
Let’s face it. UMass-Lowell (7-14), Houston Baptist (4-18), South Carolina State (8-14) and Coppin State (8-14) are all undeniably bad, were poor scheduling choices, and are really bad. Also they are bad. The details are irrelevant.
Long Beach State (9-12) beat Hawaii and Cal State Fullerton to move up to 124 on KenPom (they were well into the two hundreds at the end of December). Likewise, Holy Cross (13-10) is up from #187 in early January to #142 after a loss to American and a win over Colgate. Both are currently ahead of Charlotte (14-7), who beat Florida Atlantic and FIU this week.
Big Sorts of Teams
#16 Iowa State (17-4, 5-4 Big 12)
This week: Beat Oklahoma (81-75); Beat Oklahoma St (98-97 3OT)
Iowa State survived their seven game mega-gauntlet of Oklahoma twice, Kansas twice, at Texas, at Oklahoma, and at Oklahoma relatively unscathed, winning 3 of the 7. That included a crazy-ass, 90 possession, 195-point triple overtime win in Stillwater. They now move into the TCU/Texas Tech portion of their schedule, which should provide more fertile grounds.
For those who remember way back to the time before Trey Burke, Michigan offered two point guards at the same time for the same spot. One was Derrick Walton, and the other was a kid named Monte Morris. You probably recognize Derrick Walton from that game the other day, but Morris has likewise been great. Morris moved into the starting role at the 2-guard for Iowa State a few weeks ago, and has been a nice compliment to DeAndre Kane.
Florida State (14-8, 5-5 ACC)
This week: Lost to Clemson (53-49); Beat Virginia Tech (70-50)
FSU was in a bit of a post-BCS hangover recently. Losing to UVA and Duke happens. Losing to NC State and at home to Clemson probably shouldn’t.
#11 Dook (18-5, 7-3)
This week: Lost @ Syracuse (91-89 OT); Beat Wake Forest (83-63)
Despite losing in overtime to Syracuse, Duke has established itself as one of the most dangerous teams in the country. According to Bracket Matrix, though, they’re still only on pace for a 3-seed, along with Creighton and Michigan (and Cincinnati, but they don’t really help my point). If those three end up as 3-seeds, Warren Buffett will breathe a little easier, as brackets will be even more of a mess than usual.
If you missed the end of that Duke-Syracuse game, though, you should find it and watch it. With the sound off, obviously, because Dick Vitale is still a thing we’re doing. But it was great basketball.
#2 Arizona (21-1, 8-1 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Cal (60-58)
Tough week for Arizona. They lost their first game of the year, and in the process they lost starting wing/forward Brandon Ashley for the season with an ankle thing.
Stanford (15-7, 6-4 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Arizona St. (76-70), Beat Cal (80-69)
Stanford is slowly working its way onto quasi-firm bubble territory. Beating the team that just beat Arizona certainly doesn’t hurt. Stanford is up to #34 in KenPom, which is fourth in the PAC 12 and ahead of the likes of Minnesota.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Big Ten geology]
Shooter [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
After consecutive makes from beyond the arc, everyone in the building save one man within earshot of the press area knew Zak Irvin was putting up another one. "Shoot it!" implored the fan, who must not have caught a Michigan basketball game until today.
Irvin needed no such encouragement, firing away and getting a friendly bounce off the front of the rim for his third triple in as many possessions to give the Wolverines a 28-point lead over Nebraska—with 3:35 still remaining in the first half. Irvin had already scored all 16 of his points by that juncture, hitting four of his seven first-half 3PA (he missed two in the second).
It'd be one thing if Irvin's outburst stood out as particularly unusual; it's another matter entirely when the whole team plays at that level. Glenn Robinson III led the team with 23 points (5/7 2-pt, 3/7 3-pt) while adding five rebounds and two steals. Caris LeVert finished with 16 points (2/3 2-pt, 3/4 3-pt) after opening the game with an alley-oop pass to Robinson followed by consecutive three-pointers. Nik Stauskas only attempted three shots; he still finished with nine points, eight assists, and five rebounds.
Excluding the first four minutes of the game, Michigan peaked at 1.51 points per possession a couple minutes into the second half; they'd finish at an impressive 1.26 despite scoring four points in the final ten minutes. Their eFG% reached as high as 85.7 late in the first half before finishing at a mere 62.5. They led by 41 (41!) at two different points in the second half before slowly phasing out the starters.
On the other end, Michigan stymied Nebraska's offense, limiting them to 0.81 points per trip with a 39.8 eFG%. Until the extended wind-down period, the Wolverines were on pace for their best efficiency margin in conference play in the KenPom era. By halftime, this one was over, and attention could be turned to more important matters, like certain former players in attendance:
L to R: Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner, Will Campbell [Fuller]
It was a laugher, to be sure, and a great way to bounce back from the team's first conference defeat.
Derrick Walton continues to round out his game impressively. His eight points (1/2 2-pt, 2/5 3-pt) and three assists don't leap off the stat sheet, but Michigan didn't need him to do a whole lot tonight. In addition to hitting a couple spot-up shots from beyond the arc, he had a very aggressive fast break finish early in the first half—his improvement running the fast break is apparent and continues to pay dividends.
Glenn Robinson III had as close to a "quiet" 23 points as one is going to get; this is largely because he scored 12 in the second half when the game was no longer competitive. He got his outside shooting game going, hit his favorite free-throw pull-up jumper, and finished with authority on the break for the game's first basket. He also did impressive work defensively, helping hold Nebraska's leading scorer, Terran Petteway, to just five points on 2/10 shooting and matching Petteway's three defensive rebounds with three offensive boards.
Spike Albrecht didn't score, though he still made an impact with four assists, including an alley-oop toss to Jon Horford (7 points, 3/5 FG, 2 REBs) which marked the precise moment this game should no longer have been played. Jordan Morgan played 20 minutes without recording a point, hauling in four rebounds (all defensive) while helping limit the Huskers to a 22.5 OReb%.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Nebraska|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||6:30 pm Eastern, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -12 (KenPom)|
|TV||BTN (PBP: Eric Collins; Analyst: Stephen Bardo)|
Right: Terran Petteway led Nebraska with 16 points in their one-point home loss to Michigan this season (via)
THE PREVIOUS MATCHUP
Nebraska gave Michigan their closest conference game prior to the loss at Indiana, losing to the Wolverines 71-70 at home after a last-second putback attempt by Leslee Smith didn't find the mark. Full game column is here. First game preview is here.
These will be shorter now that Michigan is facing teams for the second time. Nebraska has one major personnel change since the first matchup: they kicked Deverell Biggs, a high-usage, low-efficiency guard, off the team for an unspecified violation of team rules. Given his stat line, this may be addition by subtraction.
6'6" wing Terran Petteway remains the team's leading scorer and continues to take his game to new heights in Big Ten play, including a career high 35 point effort on 10/15 FG and 11/14 FT in last week's win over Minnesota. He dropped 16 on Michigan earlier this season, finding a good deal of success off pick-and-roll situations, though he also committed an uncharacteristic six turnovers.
Nebraska plays relatively small with 6'7" forward Shavon Shields manning the four spot. He's a decent finisher around the rim but has been plagued by a balky jumper that's dragged his eFG% all the way down to 43.8. 6'10" center Walter Pitchford is a much better finisher at the basket and he can also knock down outside shots (39% 3-pt). While his defensive rebounding his solid, he doesn't protect the rim well or pull down many offensive boards. Tim Miles makes up for this by playing 6'8", 255-pound Leslee Smith—ranked 50th in OReb% and 104th in DReb% with respectable block and steal rates—around half the team's available minutes.
6'4" freshman Tai Webster and 6'2" senior Ray Gallegos form the starting backcourt. Webster has a downright bad 82.0 offensive rating, as he's shooting very poorly from the field while committing too many turnovers. Gallegos has transformed this season from an inefficient chucker as the team's first option into a solid spot-up shooter and 3rd/4th option, hitting 38% of his threes while otherwise using very few possessions.
Two more backups see about 25% of the team's minutes. 5'9" point guard Benny Parker is, on paper, a much shorter version of Webster (Parker's ORtg: 83.4), which explains why he doesn't have much of a role. 6'7" forward David Rivers can play spot minutes at the four and the five, though he adds little offensively and he rebounding numbers are terrible. The starters (plus Smith) really carry the load now that Biggs isn't on the team.
The good news, for Nebraska, is they still haven't lost at home aside from the Michigan game; the bad news is they're now 0-6 in true road games. While losses at #3 Creighton, #21 Cincinnati, #11 Iowa, and #16 Ohio State are quite understandable, falling by six points at Purdue and four points at Penn State isn't a great look. The Huskers' only KP100 wins have been at home against OSU, #38 Minnesota, and #55 Indiana.
Now that we're partway into conference play, I'll start posting four factors charts for all the games and Big Ten games only, with sample size issues obviously coming into play on the latter for a while.
Four factors, all games (national ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||48.9 (197)||17.2 (91)||27.9 (286)||43.0 (115)|
|Defense||49.5 (169)||19.5 (105)||28.9 (67)||46.2 (279)|
Conference-only (eight games, Big Ten ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||47.9 (7)||19.8 (11)||26.9 (8)||35.0 (9)|
|Defense||52.7 (12)||17.5 (8)||24.5 (1)||44.7 (10)|
While Nebraska scored 1.19 ppp against Michigan in the first outing, that's stood as one of their best Big Ten offensive outputs—they're tenth in the league with a 97.1 offensive efficiency. They're solid (34.9%) at three-point shooting and otherwise below-average in pretty much every offensive category.
Aside from rebounding, the defense has been well below average despite getting a little lucky—teams ranking dead last in eFG% that foul a lot and don't force many turnovers tend to give up tons of points, but the Huskers are first in FT% against, a stat they have zero control over. Michigan should be able to get back into a rhythm against these guys.
Change up the pick-and-roll D. Petteway and Co. had a big offensive performance against Michigan thanks largely to their work off screens, which consistently led to good looks as the Wolverines played a soft hedge that proved very ineffective. Michigan hasn't shown that look since, sticking with the hard hedge from the big men, and that's been much better on the whole. Keeping Petteway away from the basket is the biggest key to stopping Nebraska.
Attack the rim. Nebraska doesn't boast a pure shot-blocker, aren't very deep up front, and they foul at a high rate. They also don't have a perimeter defender who can replicate what Yogi Ferrell did to Nik Stauskas in guarding him off the ball and preventing touches. Get Stauskas, LeVert, and GRIII going towards the rim and the points should follow.
Get the bigs going. Jordan Morgan had one of his best offensive outputs in the first game, scoring 15 on 7/9 shooting, with much of that coming off the pick-and-roll. Nebraska's interior defense has been poor, Michigan's already taken advantage of this once, and Morgan is due for an efficient, productive game after Indiana kept him quiet.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 12
UMHoops preview. Maize n Brew preview. DraftExpress video breakdown of Stauskas. UMHoops and Inside The Hall each look at Indiana's method of denying Stauskas. I look at Ferrell's three-point attempts in the name of masochism (and analysis, I guess).
Comparing individual classes of recruits can be a very challenging exercise. Due to each school’s different position each year and internal standards, classes can vary from mid-teens to over 30 signees for a given class at a given school. Last year I introduced my best take on the subject with the Nth best recruit approach.
Nth best recruit takes each player in a class and gives them a rating from 0-99 and then places those rankings in order, high to low. This way you can see how one class compares to another at each level. With Jabril Peppers in the mix, Michigan is going to compete with everyone at the top of the class but then drop into very good range as the recruits progressively move from high four star territory (Drake Harris) to high three star (Brandon Watson) with former gray shirt candidate Brady Pallante pulling in the final spot.
One change for this year is that I have normalized the classes so that they all show how the class is dispersed as if they were a 25 person class. You lose the quantity estimate, but over time, the spread of recruit’s rankings are more indicative of a team’s recruiting prowess than the number of offers they have in a year. If Michigan had five more offers, the odds are their curve would look very similar to what it does now.
*All signee lists were updated as of late Tuesday night and don’t reflect any signing day action
Michigan Under Hoke
Michigan’s last three classes have been highly consistent in terms of recruit quality from top to bottom. Last year’s class was the strongest through the top half and this year’s class is nearly identical in ratings to 2012’s class with Pepper’s the welcome exception.
On an average basis, Michigan’s classes have landed them roughly in lower part of the top 10 nationally. The improvement in these classes will begin to show up this year as my prior studies have shown that player in their third year or more on campus are far and away the biggest predictors of success. The 2012 class enters that zone this year and Michigan should move near the top 10 in terms of overall roster talent+experience this season and move into the top 10 indefinitely beginning in 2015.
The Big Ten
Leaders Legends East!
After a very close comparison last season, Michigan’s 2014 class is clearly lower rated than Ohio State’s. Michigan’s class falls behind immediately after Peppers and maintains a similar gap until the final few players.
Michigan sill is quite a bit ahead of the rest of the division. Penn St and Michigan St are in the next tier. There is a consistent gap between them and Michigan and Penn St’s class is currently slightly higher rated than Sparty’s across the first few spots.
The top third of Maryland’s class is in line with Michigan St and Penn St but they quickly fall into line with the bottom tier of Rutgers and Indiana.
The Race For #1
The five teams rated highest on most services
The bottom half of all the great classes this year are virtually in distinguishable from each other, except for Tennessee. While the Volunteers have put together a really nice class, this chart helps expose the formulas used by all the major services for team rankings. Tennessee is rated no lower than sixth overall by any of the four major services and although they have a very good class, you can see the separation between the great classes and theirs. Getting a giant class isn’t about being better at recruiting, it’s about having a fluky roster situation. Almost all coaches are going to recruit to their 85 (or more) roster spots so having more commitments is vastly overrated.
Ohio State has the weakest top end of all the four serious contenders but the middle third of their class is as good as anyone’s. Texas A&M’s class shows a big drop after the marquee headliners. LSU is strong throughout but Alabama, once again, clearly has the class from top to bottom. If you take any spot along the line of 25, the Alabama point is rarely behind any other team and no one is as consistently strong as they are.
Michigan’s Hall of Highly Touted
In the past two classes, Brady Hoke has inked eleven players that made the first or second team for Michigan’s Hall of Highly Touted.* After two loaded classes, this year’s smaller class was also lighter on top rated talent. Drake Harris cracked the second team as a wide receiver while all-everything signee Jabril Peppers was a no-brainer first team defensive back.
Peppers scored a 96.5 out of a possible 99 (unanimous #1 rated recruit) which makes him the highest rated recruit at Michigan in the internet era of recruiting. When you expand the field beyond Michigan to the whole Big Ten, Peppers comes in at #2 behind Terrelle Pryor (97.9) for highest rated Big Ten signee over the last 12 classes.
*The top players based on composite recruitindg rankings
Gonna start around 10 a.m.
“I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or god, convince a thousand cats to do read the liveblog chaos mitigation post before entering.”
― Neil Gaiman
About Go Blue Then and Now:
GBTAN's mission is to support the foundations and philanthropic endeavors of Michigan legends. Some of the organizations they support include Mott Children's Hospital, UM Hospital, the Charles Woodson Foundation, the Jalen Rose Leadership Foundation, Marlin Jackson's Fight for Life Foundation, Phil Brabb's CancerKicker.org, Tai Streets's Meanstreets AAU basketball team, David Merritt's Give Merit, Cato June's June Family Foundation, and many Michigan local alumni group scholarship funds. Like them on Facebook, or if you hate your eyes, follow along on their website to find events and opportunities in your area.