to play football, not to play trumpet
Reading between the lines not particularly necessary. After largely quieting Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl, Taylor Lewan has got to be out the door. Everyone expects it; latest bit to read into:
"I haven't addressed the team yet," Lewan said. "I'll address the team, then we'll do whatever (sports information director) Justin Dickens, Coach (Brady) Hoke wants to do and how he wants to let that out to the public.
"It's not fair to my team to tell y'all, then not tell them."
Why hold off for a formal announcement if he actually intended to stay for his senior season?
"Next question," Lewan said.
Hope for sanity. I'm still holding out for the Eye of Sauron but I'll take anything that gets Michigan and Ohio State in the same division. It sounds like that may in fact happen. Rittenberg:
Delany has said geography would be a bigger factor in the new division alignment than the first one, so expect several teams to be on the move. Several items to watch:
Will Ohio State and Michigan be placed in the same division? It would eliminate the possibility of a rematch in the Big Ten championship, but it might balance out the power between the two divisions.
Will Wisconsin move back to the "West" side of the league? The Badgers would like to play Iowa every year, and their rivalry against Nebraska packs plenty of potential.
I'm holding out a vague hope they'll add a ninth conference game.
Gallon checkup. The Mathlete was kind enough to run the numbers on my Gallon yards per target speculation from yesterday and came up with this:
Don't have bowl games in yet, but Gallon is 22nd in Yds/Target for players with 50+ targets. At 11.0 YPT, its the third best UM season, behind Hemingway last year (12.0) and Manningham in 2006 (11.1)
That is impressive. The bowl game may push Gallon above Manningham as long as Gardner didn't miss him too much, and Manningham was kind of good. I bet Gallon's final five games are even better. Bodes well for 2013, especially since Minnesota/Northwestern/Iowa/OSU/South Carolina is a pretty tough stretch relative to a full schedule with cupcakes and whatnot.
Of note: Gallon's 2011 was 10.8 on 42 targets, so you can tack that on to your sample size to increase your confidence he can play, and that Borges is a notch above previous offensive coordinators who did not desire to unleash the dragon as much.
MSU departures en route. Dion Sims is gone according to Joe Schad. LeVeon Bell is likely out the door after a bell-cow season at State. Will Gholston seems like he may be leaning to early entry as well:
"It's about the things I can do, and the other things in my life I have to take care of,'' Gholston said. "But I know I can graduate on time. I may have a year and a semester left (to get a degree).''
FWIW. Their defense should be fine without Gholston, but losing Bell would be rough. MSU has very little on their roster—just Nick Hill and a few not-so-touted freshmen. Unless they strike gold twice in a row that looks like a major dropoff.
[UPDATE: Bell declares.]
File under structure of the offense. Luke Winn charts Stauskas's threes to date:
Not much to read into that, I don't think, except when you play the 3 in this offense you end up on the left side of the floor mostly.
Winn also discovers a blocked three erroneously listed as a two from the Bradley game, which liessssss.
Hardaway status. Sounds like it's not going to be a big deal, but his availability for the Northwestern game is in doubt.
"Based on what I found out about the injury, it was something that needed a little bit of time (to rest) or it could nag him all year long. I do not know when he'll be back."
Burke had a sunnier take:
"They haven't told me, but it's not too serious," Michigan point guard Trey Burke said after the game. "I think it's just like a bone bruise. I'm sure he'll be back next game.
"But that's all I've heard, we just heard coach wanted to sit him for this game so nothing major could happen."
In the opposite of news, John Beilein desires Hardaway to be healthy.
Meanwhile, Northwestern's Reggie Hearn—their leading scorer—is out. The Wildcats are unlikely to pose a challenge even on the road that shorthanded.
Bonus loladidas moment. I forgot this one. Michigan wore alternate jerseys for the GLI, and on about half of them they screwed up the nameplates.
Here's hoping they're branding themselves "the apparel company for colorblind people."
Statement of slight annoyance. The kPOY suffers from Rebound Overrating Syndrome, as many basketball statistical measures do. Mason Plumlee is getting a lot of rebounds on both ends, but how important is that really when as a team the Blue Devils are sitting right on the national average on defense? And are poor on offense? If Plumlee's rebounding was truly a major asset Duke would probably be, you know, good at it. They are not, so he's probably just grabbing rebounds from teammates.
QED bit of this is that when Ben Wallace—who I love don't get me wrong—left the Pistons their rebounding changed in no way whatsoever. Rebounds just happen. They're important, but just because you get a lot doesn't mean someone else couldn't do as good a job if they were in your role. Meanwhile, on a team level the correlation between defensive rebounding and efficiency seems extremely weak. Exactly one of the top ten teams in DREB has a defense that ranks better than 77th in efficiency: Michigan, 39th. Three of the ten check in better than 100th. Hauling down monster boards is less important than any of the other four factors*, but it is the one defensive thing we have a stat for, so…
Trey Burke, obviously, is being robbed, and don't get me started on Russ Smith, whose main asset is huge usage on a team with the #1 D in the country. FIGHT ROS.
*[In the top ten in eFG%D you find one defense outside the top 100 and five top ten outfits. TOs have four outside the top 100 but also feature the top two defenses in the country, Louisville and Syracuse. FTrate also has four outside the top 100, but none very far outside and has six teams better than the 77th that DREB brings. Rebounding is the least important factor.]
Etc.: Canada, I know you gave us Stauskas but come on please refer to walk-ons as "Windsor's Kovacs" instead of "Windsor's Rudy." Lloyd Brady articles are epic, constant. Purdue beat Illinois last night; Nnanna Egwu DREB rate drops to an even 10.0. Free throws and luck.
Oh, hello you. You may not realize this, since your school isn't quite as, how do I say this without sounding rude, enlightened as the one in Evanston, but it seems you Michigan fans have been bequest yet another charitable opportunity to acquire the afore mentioned droll affectations for the simplistic publishing of an educated guess. So as not to parse words: a contest, in which you may win clothing that acclaims your allegiance to a particular company of sporting men, by accurately adumbrating the final numerical representation of the upcoming, barbaric contest of basketball prowess between your vulgar Wolverines and the Wildcats of the fair, genteel, and eminently more sophisticated Northwestern University.
For the boorish:
- 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 Time:
The Battle for Washtenaw County ended with the Eagles surrendering in five minutes and everyone getting drinks together at the Corner Brewery. In this the Michigan team out-drank Eastern 93 shots of Tequila to EMU's sad 54. I'm giving it to joeismyname for guessing 91-55, though I was momentarily tempted to give it to the guy who said 92-17. Also I've found it's hard to write an email to a stranger that says "congratulations you've won" without getting into spam folders so if you haven't heard from us after you win something, check the spam box of the account you use for the blog.
This Week's Game:
The Vainglorious Wildcats of Pretensiousestern, versus the High and Mighty Michigan Wolverines
And the Prize:
An exclamation that requires little explanation.
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.
1/1/2012 – Michigan 28, South Carolina 33 – 8-5, EOS
Well, it's over.
A confession: before yesterday I had attended one bowl game in my life, that the 2007 Rose Bowl in which Michigan was tied 3-3 with USC at halftime and got their doors blown off in the second half when Pete Carroll told his OC to stop running the ball, period. That was crushing despite the inevitability of the loss once Michigan's severe lack of corner depth was put to the test.
This game was far closer to even—South Carolina was in fact one yard better than M before their final drive, one which almost didn't get off the ground—and yet by the time I exited the stadium I was pretty much over it. This was weird for all sorts of reasons, foremost among them a sense that I would have cared more if I had watched it on TV. As the game reached its frenetic pitch I did reconnect, to my relief. Still, it took a lot to recover from finding out Michigan had been designated Team Coconut Shrimp, or something. There's just not that much difference between four and five losses.
In retrospect this season lost its urgency the moment Denard's elbow banged the Memorial Stadium turf and Michigan's offense died in Lincoln. That game staked the Huskers to a lead they would not relinquish no matter how they tried. Michigan was reduced to playing out the string without Senior Hero at quarterback, without a shot at the Big Ten championship, without the storybook ending every Michigan fan entered the year pining for.
There were moments of vitality when it looked like Nebraska might blow it, but Michigan wasn't playing those games. By the time the bowl rolled around it was exhibition time, with little on the line other than a few spots in a poll that would have Michigan 15th at best. A starting cornerback and the punter confirmed that analysis by violating team rules and being left home.
I went to see Denard for a last time, and ended up squinting to make sure he wasn't Vincent Smith. He ran 23 times, picked up 100 yards, ground out 4.8 yards a carry, and reminded me of that picture of Mike Hart in a Colts uniform Johnny put up in a post, where Hart looked old—erosion old—and like he was doing something as a job. It took about 20 open tabs to find it, but yeah.
I think Johnny was maybe projecting his own thought processes onto Hart a little when he wrote this…
But he’s more mechanical now; he doesn't smile like he used to, he isn’t as self-indulgent. His cuts aren’t as risky – more just graceful, cautious lunges. He’s a professional now, measured and stoic and less eccentric. He looks stronger, and too focused. It used to just be a playful resentment for the institution, but now he seems like he respects it. It’s like the NFL has tranquilized him.
…because I know that Denard hasn't changed much since he made everyone laugh and caused me to bolt upright when he ran through two Ohio State tackles at the end of the first half of The Game.
It is the end, though, and Denard looks like this
and I'm a little disoriented. This season was not supposed to end with Peter Pan becoming an accountant.
He was good. He seemed like a plausible NFL running back once he learns how to block. He joins LSU's Jeremy Hill as the only running back not from Wofford's triple option to crack 100 yards against Clowney and company. For him there is still a lot at stake, and yesterday was important. It is a fine career that awaits him.
But I just keep thinking of that throw he made, and what it represented. How those moments where he'd go to the sideline holding his hand built up and finally washed over the levee. If his arm had held up, or Rich Rodriguez had recruited some OL, or Devin Gardner had stayed at quarterback… if.
That's a burden now: what if Denard dot dot dot. Instead of an exclamation point, we end with an ellipses. Unspoken thoughts, trailing off. Re-carving a rock-hard past into something more pleasing. What could have been, etc.
I don't understand why I felt disconnected. I guess it was because this thing I was at was not what I thought it would be, and for once someone managed to keep Denard from obliterating all doubt.
Well okay. No real complaints about Borges this time around, but it was really odd how South Carolina reacted to the Denard plays at QB, all predictable runs save the attempted screen. They still dropped a safety 20-30 yards deep, sometimes two guys at 15 yards, and while they tended to blitz they did not sell out like Ohio State did in the second half, even after Denard's lame duck of a throw.
I'm still a little disappointed that Denard wasn't used more as an attention-grabbing decoy. Despite that Michigan had a solid day on offense that would have verged on excellent if Gardner's accuracy had been better.
Wither Northwestern/Iowa Devin? With five games under his belt I think we can say that Gardner's accuracy leaves a bit to be desired. The Minnesota game was effective but shaky; he blew through Northwestern and Iowa, and now he's had a couple of games where some bad decisions and awkward throws hurt him against quality defenses.
In this one he hit 18 of 36 for 214 yards, 3 TDs, and an interception. 5.9 YPA is poor. There were throws to make there, and he just missed them. He made up for that with a couple scrambles, I guess.
WR corps 2013: not a problem maybe? Jeremy Gallon may be small in stature, but he is his own imaginary 11-foot-tall friend made of dreams. This is not quite the rocket boots touchdown from the Minnesota game, but I mean come on pretty nice:
Meanwhile, his other touchdown came on a post route on which he got open one-on-one a play after he smoked that same corner crispy on a corner route that Gardner actually threw a split second too early, before Gallon had even made his break. The TD:
Gardner trusts the guy to get open, that's clear.
His 9 catches and 145 yards push him up to 49 and 825 on the year, which is impressive production given that he caught a lot of screens that would normally make achieving a 16.8 YPC impossible and that the quarterbacking for much of the year was erratic.
Gallon's season totals are now in a virtual dead heat with Kenny Bell and Jared Abbrederis for second in the league behind thousand-yard-guy Allen Robinson of Penn State, and he made an array of tough catches without more than a drop or two all season.
As a senior is he a quality #1 option? I think the answer there is clearly yes. Take his production in the Gardner era and extrapolate it across as season and you get 81 catches for 1329 yards—ie, one of the top ten receivers in the country.
I'll be interested to see what his yards per target is if Football Study Hall updates those numbers that showed Junior Hemingway was probably the most underrated player at Michigan in a long time. While Gallon's small stature doesn't hurt him in the UFR catch numbers, the simple fact that he's not 6'4" turns balls that Devin Funchess could nab easily into uncatchable zeroes. I think he'll come out well—last year he was top five in yards per target with a per-catch average of 14.6.
Add in Dileo—an excellent underneath option—with a maturing Funchess and you only need one of Darboh/Chesson to step up to have a solid set of options.
Nope, but pretty much anyway. Denard bludgeoned out 100 yards on 23 carries as basically a tailback, which was quite good against a quality run defense behind an offensive line that couldn't get anyone else an inch. It, however, dropped Denard's season YPC to 7.2, a tenth behind Ty Wheatley's 1992 campaign. If we take out sacks Robinson suffered he would pop back above Wheatley, but that's not how it looks in the record book.
Of course if we're going to start poking around at sacks we might as well take a larger view. This line versus to Michigan's 1992 outfit featuring future longtime pro Steve Everitt, three other All Big Ten linemen (Joe Cocozzo, Rob Doherty, and Doug Skene) plus future first-round NFL draft pick Trezelle Jenkins*? There is no comparison. Four of those guys were drafted, two in the first round. Lewan will go high and I bet Schofield works his way into mid-round consideration, but there's no comparison between the interior lines.
AN IMPORTANT OPEN LETTER FROM MICHIGAN TAILBACKS TO FUTURE GAME SCHEDULES
Dear future Michigan game schedules,
Please endeavor to exclude South Carolina.
Michigan running backs but especially Thomas Wilcher and Vincent Smith
[South Carolina lost that '85 game 34-3, FWIW.]
On the demolishing. Lewan was frank about what happened. Via Andy Staples:
Meanwhile, Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges had called a Power run to the left side. Wolverines offensive tackle Taylor Lewan -- whose play against Clowney on Tuesday further solidified his place near the top of the NFL draft if he chooses to turn pro -- noticed something amiss about Clowney's alignment. "The end lined up on me in such a gray area that I had to call a Deuce to the inside," Lewan said. Lewan explained that a Deuce call ties the tackle to the guard, and their responsibilities are the lineman nearest the guard and the backside linebacker. By making the Deuce call, Lewan had untied himself from tight end Mike Kwiatkowski, who had anticipated working in tandem with Lewan on the play. Lewan said Kwiatkowski didn't hear the Deuce call, and video replays make that quite obvious. Kwiatkowski fired off the line at an angle that would have been perfect had he and Lewan been working a combo block. But Lewan was working a combo block with guard Ricky Barnum. Clowney, the owner of one of college football's quickest first steps, shot the gap before Kwiatkowski could realize what happened. "He's got that little slip move," Spurrier said. "When they come at him, they get nothing but air." Smith never had a chance. "That miscommunication," Lewan said. "Those are the plays that can lose games."
Just a miscommunication that got Smith decleated—de-everythinged.
Terry Richardson, Delonte Holowell—thanks for playing. Disclaimers about young players improving apply.
That said, Michigan was so opposed to putting those guys on the field that even after four verts blew them to pieces several times in the previous three quarters Michigan still stuck with a nickel package featuring Jarrod Wilson at free safety and Gordon/Kovacs moving down over the slots, with the subsequent events we all know and are slightly depressed about.
Don't click play if you are still depressed.
Kovacs should never have been put in that position, covering South Carolina's leading receiver, and Jarrod Wilson seems super super late—he should not have been on the field.
That's not Kovacs's game, everyone knows that's not his game, there's a reason he was a walk-on, and for Michigan to resort to that indicates that the two small guys from Cass Tech basically can't see the field, period. As a true freshman Richardson still has some hope of finding his way as a nickel corner down the road; as a redshirt sophomore, if Holowell can't see the field in that game he's never going to. Since spring practice Michigan lost four corners (Floyd, Countess, Talbott, Carter) and still not a sniff. Bad news.
Also, WTF was with moving Norfleet then? At least give the guy a chance to be a third down back—Michigan is now in the market for one.
JT Floyd: guh. Michigan wins this game if they can go to the Avery nickel package with confidence; they couldn't because JT Floyd got left home for the final game of his career. I hope it was worth it, man.
Kenny Demens coverage: missed. I assume that Bolden can get there in time, but not all of the seam bustage was on safteies/corner folk. For one, I blame no one on that Ace Sanders touchdown that was in by about a millimeter—that'll happen. On the tight end completion I bet that was a linebacker not carrying that guy. It's still pretty great that Michigan went much of the game with true freshmen at LB and performed very well against the run.
Beyer will win the WDE spot next year. The huge South Carolina QB run was Frank Clark ignoring backside responsibility and chasing a tailback without the ball as two other guys tackled him. This is a full year after he was biffing these things against Scheelhaase; to make a mistake that momentous on a basic, basic play is a good indication that he's just not getting there mentally. If he was making big plays to repair his mistakes, maybe that's one thing, but the pass rush he adds is minimal. If he doesn't figure it out, he's going to fall off the two deep quickly with Ojemudia and Charlton pressing from behind.
Oblig. game theory bits. Plenty to chew on in this game.
ONE: Fake field goal on which Dileo runs around and stuff for a first down.
The box score has this a 4th and 6 from the 27; in the stadium they had it 4th and 9. Assuming that Everybody Loves Raymond Stadium was wrong, that's a push according to the Advanced NFL Stats calculator. The break even point is 53%; given how Michigan's fake field goals have gone I'd say that's a coin flip. Since M was down 11 at the time, increasing that variance is probably to your advantage.
TWO: Fake punt on which 9.9 yards is basically a first down, man.
This was fourth and four from the Michigan 37.
Loved this. Michigan was up one with around eight minutes left. If you can go on a drive, rip four or five minutes off the clock, and even get a field goal you've tipped the scales in your direction massively. If you fail, you are in a bit of a bad spot but a South Carolina score allows you time to respond. As it happened, Michigan got the first down (sort of) and still felt the sting of what failure would have been like—then they responded with a touchdown drive. Love Hoke going for the jugular there.
THREE: Unsportsmanlike conduct on South Carolina's second-to-last TD.
My initial instinct was to take the penalty on the two-point conversion (argh), which would have put that at the 18 and all but forced a one-point attempt. South Carolina didn't get it and subsequently kicked from the 20; Michigan got it out slightly over the 35.
I still think the play there is to take it on the two-point conversion, as you're significantly reducing the chance that is successful. That seems well worth the ten yards Michigan picked up.
FOUR: Spurrier is not Ferentz.
Michigan's ultimate demise came on another four verts play on which the seam came wide open as a Michigan seam defender—in this case Jordan Kovacs—got smoked. That was pure OBC, and won them the game.
The setup: South Carolina's kicker was 11 of 15 on the season but had missed a moderate length field goal and had another blocked. They had a timeout left, it was second and ten from the 32, and the Gamecocks had been pounding the seams all day. Spurrier gets Kovacs lined up over Ace Sanders, ballgame. Tip of the cap. This was a game in which both coaches went for the win.
THEY S'POSED TO BE NFL
Everyone Hates Raymond Stadium. If you're ever on the fence about going to an Outback Bowl in the future, don't. I imagine the scoreboard situation is going to get repaired in the near future, but until then that stadium has the worst I've ever seen. They're useless. They're tiny, 40% of them are given over to ads during replays, and you can't see anything on them anyway. They're worse—much worse—than the boards Michigan just replaced. It was flabbergasting. I mean, it's an NFL stadium. I hear they're doing fairly well for themselves.
Meanwhile, the stadium itself has an incredibly shallow rise, which means if you're unfortunately positioned in what purports to be a good seat*, you spend large chunks of the game looking around beer vendors or Only Guy In The Section Standing Up Guy. The sidelines are huge; the field is not that far below seat level. The end result is a lot of very bad seats, and not much recourse when you can't figure out what happened immediately.
In addition, the area around the stadium is run-down and amenity-free. There's nothing within walking distance. It is the opposite of stadium districts in Detroit, Denver, Columbus, Minneapolis, Pasadena, etc. Unless it is geographically convenient or your favorite player(s) are entering their last games ever you probably shouldn't go. The guy who makes 800k for running the thing probably deserves it for keeping such a crappy venue high up in the pecking order.
Tampa is everything it's reputed to be, as well. Most Tampa thing: all the police cars advertise their website located at www.tampagov.net.
*[This reminded me of Wrigley, actually. A fan of the blog with access to nice tickets threw us a couple a few years back and I spent literally an entire half-inning looking into the paunch of a beer vendor since Wrigley's rise is minuscule. Vertical stadiums are the best.]
Everyone Hates Adidas. I mean, who could have known that putting light yellow numbers on a white jersey would make it impossible to tell who was who? It's almost as if these uniform stunts aren't well thought out.
I was skeptic in re: guys on message boards proclaiming that Nike was the best and that moving to Adidas was a mistake despite the fact they would give Michigan all of the money. I was wrong.
Two things have finally torn it:
- This uniformz debacle. Completely impossible to tell who was who. Didn't figure out Demens wasn't playing much, if at all, until second half, and that was because twitter was talking about it. I had no idea which DB got burned on the first touchdown until twitter told me, as well. Idiotic.
- Hockey third jerseys. You have to see these in person to fully appreciate how awful they look. It's not just the weaselferret. It's not even sort of the weaselferret. It's that they look like they came straight off the rack from the Walmart replica section.
Once this contract is up Michigan should flee. They will just take whoever offers them more money; after what Underarmour did with Northwestern this year I am rooting my ass off for those guys. Yeah, Maryland, whatever. That's on the AD. If M screws it up as much as the Terrapins we'll know what the problem is.
WE DIDN'T LISTEN
WE DIDN'T LISTEN
I'll collect game reacts later; this is tough to do in a day now that it's ballooned into a 5000 word monstrosity.
Hey guys. This isn't on Monday because of obvious reasons, and then a bunch of teams played important games because of similarly obvious reasons. We soldier on.
Okay you guys. Okay. With Florida's loss to a team Michigan already beat fairly easily and Indiana looking mortal, I am moving M above the Gators—who will be hurt by the lack of basketball teams of note they play in the SEC—and thus it is happy snake of #1 seed time, at least temporarily.
Projected ones: Michigan, Indiana, Duke, and one of Kansas/Louisville/Syracuse.
The Nonconference Folk
why u no score second half points, Pitt?
We will further compress this section into teams whose individual performance may help or hurt Michigan when seeding time comes around (ie, potential "quality wins" considered by the committee) and those who will only matter insofar as their performance pushes Michigan's RPI hither and thither.
IUPUI and Binghamton continued losing to everyone. Unfortunately, Cleveland State is quickly dropping to their level after a 30-point blowout at the hands of Akron on the 23rd. WMU blew out Mount St. Mary's and lost to NC State. EMU lost to Oakland by two and beat something called Siena Heights. Central has not played.
On the somewhat good side of the ledger, Bradley beat a couple of low-majors, lost to VT by one in OT, blew those good feelings by losing to Portland, and then beat Drake. Kenpom projects them a .500 MVC team.
Big sorts of teams
Delaware State, Kennesaw State: diabolical annihlation Ws. Cincinnati: L, 70-61.
Pitt finished out its ritual pounding of minor teams, then entered Big East play on New Year's Eve against top-ten Cincinnati. They led by eight at halftime, and then decided they had enough points. They were not correct in this assertion. Cincinnati could match them huge guy for huge guy and freshman seven-footer Steven Adams got beat up on the boards when he wasn't on the bench with foul trouble.
That's a loss to a good team, but at home. Pitt should still get to 12 or 13 Big East wins, but they're probably not the top ten team Kenpom currently thinks they are thanks to the ritual poundings.
Kansas State (11-2)
Texas Southern: W 78-69. Florida: W 67-61. UMKC: W 52-44. South Dakota: W 70-50.
Though Kenpom isn't particularly impressed after the Wildcats sorta struggled with a couple of bad teams—UMKC is a 300 Club member—the win over Florida is a huge boost for them and a nice indirect bump for Michigan. Hopefully that's more of an indication of how they'll play in the Big 12 than the meh wins over minor opposition.
The Florida win was mostly offensive rebounding. Neither team shot well; Kansas State got to the line 29 times to Florida's 15 and rebounded almost 40% of their misses.
North Carolina State (11-2)
Stanford: W 88-79. St. Bonaventure: W 92-73. WMU: W 84-68. NC-Greensboro: W 89-68.
The Wolfhuskers have established themselves as a mini-me version of Michigan: lightning on offense and iffy on defense. The win over Stanford is good stuff to Kenpom, but defensive struggles against minor teams are keeping them down over there. They're on pace for a 5-7 seed, or thereabouts, and are the proverbial Team No One Wants To Play in the tournament because they're going to score in bunches against anybody.
Robert Morris: W 79-74. Alabama A&M: W 95-68. Northwestern St: W 79-61.
The Hogs avoided an upset bid by fringe KP100 team Robert Morris and beat up on some bad teams. They've got one more before SEC play starts; they're still projected as an NIT team.
West Virginia (7-5)
Oakland: W 76-71. Radford: W 72-62. EKU: W 74-67.
WVU actually dropped from 73 to 90 on Kenpom after three uninspiring victories against meh teams. They're moving backwards as conference play approaches, and things could get ugly. At some point we might move them into the RPI miscellanea category. They bad.
CONFERENCE OF POWER RANKING POWER POWER
LAST WEEKs Blew out some minor teams. In Big Ten opener, edged Iowa by four on the road.
THING File under "happens to everyone sometimes": Jordan Hulls was 0-10 from the floor against Iowa. That's not going to happen again this season, I don't think.
OTHER THING I would normally go all rapture on Victor Oladipo's defense but Indiana went to zones for big chunks of the game because Iowa just couldn't hit a shot. Oladipo did have a double-double, snatching a tenth rebound on the offensive end for a key putback late.
THING THEY ARE LIKE a momentarily discombobulated Ogre with a big spiked club
LAST WEEK Blew out Eastern and Central to complete domination tour of Directional Michigans. That this is even a little bit cathartic is all you need to know about Michigan basketball.
THING With Tim Hardaway Jr sidelined with an ankle injury, freshman Caris LeVert got his first extended playing time against Central and looked like he could be a functional backup for big ten play—important since Michigan's wing depth has been minimal to date.
OTHER THING Nik Stauskas has pushed his three-point shooting up to 57% boggle boggle boggle
OTHER OTHER THING Trey Burke has the #1 ORTG for any player using at least 24% of his team's possessions.
He is less than a percentage point away from cracking 28% that represents the highest-volume ORTG leaderboard on Kenpom. If he was eligible, he would be eleven points(!!!) clear of Doug McDermott.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Five Datas playing basketball. They do not understand love or cats; they do understand ruthless efficiency.
3. Minnesota (13-1)
LAST WEEKs Beat KP100 team NDSU by 13, blew out Lafayette, fooled around with MSU before blowing the doors off late to establish themselves a true Big Ten contender.
THING Minnesota alternates between pure intimidation and dumb play. Like, why does Rodney Williams ever take a jumper, let alone an off-balance 15-footer? You are a pogo stick man. Go pogo stick it.
OTHER THING Great grobbly gravy, here's the intimidation part: against Michigan State (Michigan State!) the Gophers shot 60% from 2 and rebounded 47% of their misses. Mbakwe and Williams had 9 of Minnesota's 14 OREBs.
They turn the ball over a lot and eschew threes—Michigan may pull out the 1-3-1 against them if it seems necessary.
THING THEY ARE LIKE thousands of superballs assembled into a basketball team
4. Ohio State (10-2)
LAST WEEKs celebration of perfection against Chicago State. Not so much Kansas in an eight-point loss at home.
THING Do not extrapolate OSU's horrible shooting against Kansas to future Michigan games. Jayhawk center Jeff Withey has lead his team to the #1 two-point D and #2 block rate in the country. Michigan has nothing approximating him. That performance is just not relevant, sadly.
OTHER THING Aaron Craft is decidedly not stepping up as a scoring option. He's hitting just 41% of his twos and his three point accuracy is slightly down. He's turning it over a lot less, though.
THING THEY ARE LIKE a Big Ten football team except competent
LAST WEEKs struggled at Bowling Green before pulling away late; beat Texas rather solidly; trailed by about 6 points for most of game at Minnesota, tied it up, got doors blown off late.
THING Jordan Morgan complainers, take heed: Michigan State's two-headed center not only allowed the boggling numbers listed above for Minnesota's offense but turned in a 7 of 21 line themselves, with only one FTA. Derrick Nix picked up a shot clock violation when he missed everything but the backboard from four feet. Jordan Morgan is in the conversation for best center in the league, non-Zeller/Mbakwe division. Srs.
Does this say more about a relative paucity of centers in college basketball than Jordan Morgan? Ah yup. But like he's okay man.
OTHER THING Keith Appling had six steals against Minnesota. Beware lazy perimeter passes against this man.
THING THEY ARE LIKE a poor man's Jordan Morgan
LAST WEEKs lost to Missouri not-that-competitively, scraped by a terrible Auburn team by two.
THING NNANNA EGWU WATCH: DREB rate has dropped(!!!) from 11.3 to 10.2. Illinois DREB rate is now in the 200s. Every Illinois player save Sam McLaurin is beating him out. Spike Albrecht now full point ahead of him. There are literally no pictures on GIS of Egwu bringing in a rebound in college. IlliniHQ does bring us the shot at right of the dude nearly decapitating some other dude, though.
The only possible explanation for this is that a secret CIA experiment is ongoing in which Jeremy Gallon and Egwu switch bodies without anyone knowing.
THING THEY ARE LIKE what if pogo stick gazelle men could not find basketballs
7. Iowa (11-3)
LAST WEEKs clubbed a couple of KP300-ish teams, narrowly fell to Indiana.
THING I'm actually tempted to move them above the Illini after they gave Indiana a game despite Roy Devyn Marble going 1-14 from the floor. He did acquire 15 FTA, so… not the worst thing ever. Still, comparisons to previous Beilein teams where too often games come down to one shot creator putting up tough shots over and over remain accurate.
OTHER THING The best thing is always calling Roy Devyn Marble by his full name. More people should do this.
OTHER OTHER THING. Basabe watch: 9 minutes, one shot, one TO, one block against Indiana. What happened to that guy?
THING THEY ARE LIKE Dion Harris-era Michigan teams except with Aaron White.
LAST WEEKs Blew KP300s out.
THING I HOPE YOU DISINTEGRATE INTO ATOMS
THING THEY ARE LIKE something that has not yet disintegrated into atoms like they should, what are you Vincent Smith or something
HENRI LINE OF ENNUI
LAST WEEKs scraped by near-KP300 Texas State by six; lost to Stanford by 2; blew out near-KP300 Brown.
THING Hard to see how this team keeps pace in the Big Ten minus Crawford unless Reggie Hearn and Dave Sobolewksi keep up their 43 and 48 percent shooting on threes, respectively. Those are lower sample sizes than Stauskas, FWIW. Sobocop is yet more evidence that Beilein should try to pick off the best kid in any particular NW class.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Northwestern basketball minus its best player.
10. Purdue (6-6)
LAST WEEKs Iffy wins versus Ball State by 10, William & Mary by 7.
THING Ronnie Johnson has stopped flinging up threes with a less than ten percent chance of going in, unfortunately. I am disappoint, Ronnie.
OTHER THING Actually, the whole team has quit shooting it from deep. In the two games since last we visited with the Boilers they've put up a total of 20 threes, hitting six. That's 18% of their shots; extrapolated to a season, that would put them 346th, ahead of only Lamar. That is a recipe for death in the Big Ten.
THING THEY ARE LIKE blindfolded men asking for a cigarette.
LAST WEEKs Scraped it out against Jacksonville State, handily beat CMU, handily beaten by UTEP, beat KP300 Nicholls State by 9.
THING Things are about to get uuuuuugly for the Huskers. Next four games: @ OSU, UW, @ Michigan, @ MSU.
OTHER THING Guard Ray Gallegos is a black hole. He has a post-like 6.4 assist rate and manages to get classified a "role player" despite taking more shots than any Husker save Dylan Talley. He mostly puts up threes at a 34% clip.
THING THEY ARE LIKE Vincent Smith
12. Penn State (8-4)
LAST WEEK whipped New Hampshire, took out Duquesne by ten.
THING Joining Ronnie Johnson in the Jan Jagla club is Ross Travis, who is 2 for 21 from three this year. He hit four of 24 last year, and has decided that what Penn State needs is more threes from him.
OTHER THING Travis shrunk two inches last year according to Kenpom.
THING THEY ARE LIKE also Vincent Smith
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 Indiana, #1 MICHIGAN, #3 Ohio State, #3 Minnesota, #6 Illinois
#8 Michigan State
Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award
Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award
Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …
1) helping M win conference title
2) greatest number of tourney teams from league/best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding
3) eff Michigan State
4) also Wisconsin
Nebraska at Ohio State, 6:30 PM, BTN
Illinois at Purdue, 8:30 PM, BTN
Northwestern at MICHIGAN, 7 PM, ESPN2
Penn State at Wisconsin, 8:30 PM, BTN
Pitt at Rutgers, 11 AM, ESPN2
Purdue at Michigan State, noon, BTN
Oklahoma State at KState, 1:30, nonexistent Big 12 Network (streaming only, I think)
Oklahoma at West Virginia, 4 PM, ditto
NC State at BC, 4 PM, ESPN2
Northwestern at Minnesota, 7PM, BTN
Wisconsin at Nebraska, 4:30 PM, BTN
Iowa at MICHIGAN, noon, BTN
24 minutes of Denard Robinson's finest work, courtesy of WolverineHistorian:
It's been an honor and a pleasure.