Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
This past weekend saw a few visitors on campus including LB Vince Biegel, DT Sheldon Day, and TE Devin Funchess. Visit reactions were minimal as they usually are this early in the process. This was the start of many, many visit weekends for Michigan though, so here's a look at some reactions, future visits, and other notes.
6'3", 210 lbs.
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Biegel and his father got a chance to take in Ann Arbor for the first time this weekend and it made a impression on the two.
We got there Friday, got to see the facilities and meet Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison. It was a good visit. We went over schemes with Coach Mattison, and he was showing us Ravens film. He showed me where I would fit in and where he thought I could play at linebacker.
Vince has a top three of Wisconsin, Michigan, and BYU. This visit helped Michigan's case... to a certain extent.
Wisconsin is probably still ahead of Michigan, but I will say that Michigan is definitely in my top three. I really liked Michigan and one thing that stood out was Coach Hoke. He's just a really good guy and a down to earth guy. I'm not really a big facility guy either but I was pretty impressed with Michigan's facilities.
He and his father both said they enjoyed the visit and had fun catching up with Coach Mattison, who recruited the elder Biegel out of high school as well. Vince's plan now is to visit BYU and take in a few spring practices. He said he will likely make it to a Michigan practice and then make his decision. I do think it will be hard to take over Wisconsin's spot at the top.
6'1", 182 lbs
The Michigan legacy was on campus on Thursday hoping to get an offer, but unfortunately came away empty handed. Gant wasn't offered but the coaches did tell him how they feel.
We basically talked about coming back up there for a junior day, so I'll be back up there on [March] 26th. I'm most likely going to their camp too. They were just telling me that they're really interested and that they see me playing at safety for them.
Gant took in the visit with his father, Tony, who played under Bo Schembechler in 1982.
[My dad] enjoyed himself and he thinks Michigan will be back the way it used to be. We got to talk to Coach Mallory, Mattison, and Hoke about everything. I feel a lot more comfortable now that I got to sit down and talk with all of them.
The Wolverines are making ground with Gant but still want to see him perform in person before extending the offer. He'll likely have to wait until his camp performance to hear anything new.
6'3", 290 lbs
Lee's Summit, Missouri
Boehm received an offer from Michigan this past week, which was followed shortly by offers from Auburn and Stanford. The offensive lineman-slash-wrestler was excited about all the new attention.
I just won a state wrestling championship and I was offered by Michigan, Auburn, and Stanford on Sunday so things are going well. I definitely want to get up to Ann Arbor for a visit, I've heard it's beautiful. I just need to talk to my dad about when we can take it.
Boehm's dad also happens to be his football coach which is probably the cause of some of Evan's success. No timeline or top list has been set yet and Boehm plans on taking some time to make his decision.
March 19th Visitors:
Here's the names that I have confirmed so far that will be in Ann Arbor this coming weekend.
Ohio OL Kyle Dodson (6'6", 315 lbs): Michigan is making up lots of ground with Dodson. He says that the history and the coaches have him excited.
Mass LB Camren Williams (6'2", 215 lbs): Making his decision in June so this visit will be big for Michigan.
Mass ATH Armani Reeves (5'11", 185 lbs): Teammate of Camren Williams, very excited about the visit.
Michigan LB Royce Jenkins-Stone (6'2", 215 lbs): This is good for Michigan to get Royce back on campus. He's seen his recruitment take off offer-wise and Michigan needs to solidify their position.
Ohio DE Pharaoh Brown (6'6", 220 lbs): It will be good to get Brown on campus this early. He could end up being a key prospect down the road.
Maybe Ohio TE AJ Williams (6'6", 260 lbs): Williams was trying to make it in this past weekend but couldn't. He's now trying to reschedule for the 19th, but doesn't have anything set in stone yet.
- Illinois OL Dan Voltz will be making his final decision tomorrow [Tuesday]. Since he didn't end up visiting, I'm sure you can draw your own conclusion from there.
in case you missed it, or in case you didn't
Assorted items off the top of the head.
Kenpom or conspiracy. The Big Ten got a wet sloppy kiss from the committee this year. While they scored the expected Sweet Sixteen seeds, where eyebrows cocked was about the other four teams. Michigan got an eight, Illinois a nine, Penn State and Michigan State tens. For all the bubble talk over the last month when it came down to it no Big Ten team was one of the last seven(!) in, and Michigan wasn't even on the bubble.
Talk radio in Boulder, Colorado will center around the fact that OSU's AD was the head of the committee, but I wonder if people in the room actually paid attention to how well the Big Ten represented in Kenpom and other computer rankings. They definitely didn't do this on a team level—Kenpom #17 Utah State got rewarded with a 12 seed, #19 Belmont a 13—so maybe it's just a coincidence and the conspiracy theorists are closer to right.
As far as Michigan specifically, I also wonder if Michigan's narrow losses to Kansas, Ohio State, Syracuse, and Wisconsin were an influence. At first blush they look way overseeded. Narrow losses and a blazing finish might explain the difference between Michigan's resume and its seed.
The opponent. It's "hey, look at this coach who should definitely be fired" week on MGoBlog as Michigan draws dead man walking Bruce Pearl and his Tennessee probably-not-Volunteers.
Q: how many tournament appearances do you have left
A: plenty, ask Tim Floyd
Q: AT TENNESSEE SMART GUY
Despite seeming to be overseeded, Michigan caught an opponent that's equally, if not more, uninspiring on paper. Tennessee was 8-8 in the crappy SEC and had a violently mixed nonconference schedule that features wins over Pitt, Villanova, VCU, and Belmont (twice, albeit the second time by just one) and losses against Oakland, Charleston, and Charlotte. In the SEC tournament they beat Arkansas before losing to Florida.
Kenpom has them 55th. Michigan's up to 40th after splitting their pair at the BTT, so Michigan will be about a 60% favorite according to the system. Tennessee's most outlying statistical points are great offensive rebounding (12th nationally at almost 38%) and terrible three point shooting (30%, 315th). They're vaguely in the middle of the pack in everything else, above average at most things except getting their shots blocked.
crap, he can drive past white guys
The stars. Tennessee's offense revolves around SF Scotty Hopson and and PF Tobias Harris to about the same extent Michigan's revolves around Harris and Hardaway, except for the fact that Hopson and Harris actually get some time on the bench. They're kind of meh as far as efficiency goes; Hopson is a good three point shooter (38%) but no one else on the team is much of a threat.
The guy you're going to be screaming "AAAARGH REBOUND" at is Brian Williams (not that Bison Dele), who's ninth nationally in OREB%. He's a foul machine averaging 5.5 per 40 minutes and only gets about 20 per game but his backup is just a slightly worse version of him: John Fields is a foul machine averaging 7.2 per 40 who vacuums up offensive rebounds at only a slightly less monstrous rate.
The best team ever, for a given definition. Yes: right now this team is better than the Sims/Harris '09 team that slid into the tournament for the first time in forever by both Kenpom and tourney seeding metrics. This has been a remarkable job by Beilein; if he can build on it the next couple years Michigan will have an actual program again.
The big reveal:
8. Michigan vs
Hypothetical second round opponent: #1 Duke.
Eight seed is way high, no?
Not exactly Kansas in terms of blase but you don't have to act like you've been there when you haven't. At least not much.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
KenPom: OSU -11 (89% win)
Once more for good measure? Once more for good measure:
Ahem. Now that we have that out of the way, on to the game. The Wolverines lost the season series to the Buckeyes in a pair of close games (OK, that's a bit of a stretch for the second one, but the Wolverines led at half and were within 7 with a minute left on the road). I'm not sure if there's data to support the "can't beat a team three times in one season" meme, but I sure hope it's true.
As you're well-aware, the Buckeyes host two of the top three candidates for B1G freshman of the year in Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft, and they're surrounded by a host of senior contributors in sharpshooter Jon Diebler, prematurely bald guy Dallas Lauderdale, and Brooks Bollinger Memorial 8th-year Senior Award recipient David Lighty.
Let's get right into the...
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy:
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio (YTO) Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||46||139||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||156||3||OO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||16||22||-|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||252||8||OOO|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||327||24||OOOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||66||64||-|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||336||1||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||28||173||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||45||11||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||50||1||O|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
I've made this joke a hundred times already this year, but: Hide ya kids, hide ya wife. Ohio State is the best team in the country, and I don't care what Kansas, Duke, and Pitt have to say about it. In personal e-pinion (and e-pinion of one Ken Pomeroy), it's not really close.
So, what is the underdog strategy in college basketball? No easy baskets for the opposition (which also means don't allow offensive boards), make your shots when they're open, and don't turn over the ball. Getting the opponent's best players into foul trouble - while not getting into the same predicament yourself - certainly doesn't hurt. Easy, right?
Taking a look at the chart, the Wolverines should be able to get off some good shots against an Ohio State team that's not as good as Illinois in forcing opponent misses. They should also at least be able to stalemate in turnovers - though Darius Morris had more giveaways than assist last time against the Buckeyes. They should even have an OK chance to keep the Buckeyes from getting second-chance points.
It's the fouling that becomes an issue. Aside from the free-throw rates (in which Ohio State has an advantage still), Michigan's bigs have been known to get themselves into foul trouble early in games. Against Jared Sullinger, keeping Jordan Morgan in the game is going to be of the utmost importance. Northwestern learned in overtime yesterday that having a second or third option on Sullinger is going to spell your doom.
Dylan previews the game on UMHoops. Along the Olentangy previews the game and doesn't understand offensive rebounding, and Eleven Warriors doesn't so much preview the game as run down player stats from the last two games and yesterday's OSU/Northwestern contest.
I don't know where to go with this prediction. Ohio State has looked vulnerable, and Michigan (in fits and starts) has been playing some of their best ball all year of late. Still "looking vulnerable" is not the same thing as "losing basketball games," and the Buckeyes have only done the latter on the home court of some really good basketball teams.
Kenpom and Vegas aren't keen on Michigan's chances... and there's a reason for that. I think Michigan is capable of beating Ohio State, but I'll believe it actually happens as soon as the clock hits all zeroes. Ohio State wins a closer-than-expected battle, and the Buckeyes emerge with a 69-67 victory.
PLAYOFF TIME IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
|WHAT||Bowling Green @ Michigan|
|WHERE||Yost Ice Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/Sat
7:35 PM Sun if necessary
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday: Comcast Local
Saturday: Comcast Local
Record. 10-25-4, 3-21-4 CCHA. That CCHA record does not include last weekend's shocking upset of Northern Michigan. Despite getting outscored 41-87 over the course of the conference season the Falcons managed to squeeze out a 2-0 and 2-1 wins—the second in double OT—to pull out a series win after getting smacked 6-3 in the opener. Those wins were Bowling Green's first since January 29th.
So… yeah, Bowling Green is not good. Their –46 conference goal differential is almost two goals a game to the bad. They had better luck in the nonconference thanks to three games against Alabama-Huntsville—they're actually +4 against teams outside of the conference.
Previous meetings. Michigan swept 4-1 and 4-2 in early October. Shots were 33-18 in the first but 20-18 in the second.
Dangermen. BGSU is dead last in goals per game at 1.85. So as you can imagine, there aren't a whole lot of names that jump off the stat sheet for BGSU. Jordan Samuels-Thomas is their leading scorer with 9-12-21; he's also their only draft pick. IIRC, he's a black guy with dreads so if you find yourself inexplicably fond of him people will understand. Chances at a "Denard's better" chant are pegged at 50-50.
Freshman Brett Mohler has 7-10-17 and then there's a few more guys with 15 or so. BGSU gets nothing from its defense; top scorer has nine points and one goal.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. BGSU has split the season between senior Nick Eno and sophomore Andrew Hammond. Hammond has more games and a vastly better save percentage (.885 vs .918). He started all three games last weekend despite getting pulled midway through the Friday game, so it's safe to say he'll be the guy in net this weekend.
BGSU is considerably better at keeping the puck out of their own net than they are at putting into their opponents', but they're still not that good. They're 34th, giving up 2.92 goals per game. BGSU is, like, you, now, the kind of team you would expect to have three conference wins.
Special teams. Power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.5||4.1|
|PP Ag / G||4.9||4.4|
Whatever, as per usual. I should probably stop tracking this fairly useless stat. One point to emphasize how unusual this edition of Michigan hockey is: they're 36th(!) nationally in penalty minutes after years of hanging out in the top ten, punching people.
As far as results when on special teams, Michigan maintains its persistent mediocrity (33rd) and BGSU is no better at scoring with an extra guy than they are at even strength (56th). Both teams are meh at killing penalties (25th and 29th).
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Be vaguely interested. Score three and this Bowling Green team is done. Michigan should dominate this game, but you could say that about a dozen games this season that they didn't, including the second game against the Falcons way back in October. You'd think they'd be on for the playoffs, last place opponent or no.
Clear rebounds. BGSU isn't going to have a ton of grade A chances. They'll throw pucks at the net and hope to get bounces. They might. Shawn Hunwick's so small he can't kick pucks out to the corner regularly, resulting in a wide array of pucks in that sit in the slot to terrify/tantalize. Last year's playoff run featured Michigan zooming into their own slot to bat these away; if they're going to replicate their performance that's going to be a bellwether.
Don't lose. Very very bad things happen if they do.
The Big Picture
Michigan has locked up a tourney spot with their strong finish and is playing for seeding. If they somehow manage to lose this series their RPI will implode, falling into the 10-12 range, and they'll be facing an uphill trudge as a three seed. Losing one will probably be enough to chuck Michigan out of the last one-seed, at least temporarily. Paradoxically, since BGSU is not a TUC losing to them is actually not as bad as losing to a team that's totally mediocre.
If they can make up the RPI damage at the Joe they could withstand a loss, but I'm pretty sure that's unrealistic given how RPIs can implode even when you're losing to good teams. So… Michigan can't do anything but tread water this weekend. Root against Denver, Denver, and Denver. Also UNO.
That locks up an NCAA bid no one saw coming, and possibly the title for most over-achieving Michigan team in a long, long time (seriously, does anyone know what the last Michigan team like this was?). Muppets:
Because you can't have one without the other.
I think they were in either way but it would have been harrowing on Selection Sunday; now they've probably played themselves out of Dayton. I have no idea how. Does anyone know how that happened?