So the Playoff Committee put Michigan 5th, where the top four get a chance at a national championship and the top(-ish) 12 play in more prestigious bowls in and around New Year’s. Getting into the playoffs requires some help and sympathy. It’s good that two teams above us have a chance to lose, potentially dropping them back. It’s good that we beat teams 6, 7, and 8. It’s bad that two of those could be conference champions, including our own conference.
So where are we going? Probably the Orange, but if you’d like more detail here’s everything I could divine about Michigan’s potential destinations.
What are the Rules?
- The Playoff Committee will decide on 4 teams to compete in the playoff. This year’s playoff games are the Fiesta and Peach Bowls.
- New Years Six obligations are filled in. Unless they’re in the above the B1G and Pac12 Championship Game winners play in the Rose Bowl, the SEC and Big XII winners play in the Sugar, the ACC winner plays in the Orange, and one “Group of Five” (Western Michigan most likely) team gets a spot somewhere between the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Sugar Bowls.
- [UPDATED, h/t user Alton] Bowl contracts are filled in, specifically the Rose Bowl gets a Big Ten and Pac Ten team, and the Sugar Bowl gets an SEC and Big XII team, assigned by the committee.
- At-large teams are filled in, with contracts, rematches, distance, and “most compelling matchups” in mind. For example the Orange Bowl gets first crack at a Big Ten or SEC #2. Unofficially, conference affiliations matter somewhat, e.g. the Rose Bowl would take a Pac#2/B1G#2 matchup and FSU or Louisville would be projected to the Orange.
- Old bowl process takes hold once the New Year’s Six are figured out.
Where’s Michigan in the Playoff Race?
Behind: Alabama regardless, Ohio State, Washington if they win, Clemson if they win.
Worried about getting passed by: Wisconsin or Penn State if they win, Colorado if they win.
Probably not getting passed by: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State as Big XII champ. Florida as SEC Champ. VT as ACC Champ. Washington or Clemson if they lose. Loser of the Big Ten Championship Game. USC, FSU, Louisville, Auburn, Western Michigan, Navy.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) November 30, 2016
With Michigan the 5th team right now however this seems incorrect, particularly in light of Kirby Hocutt saying the committee needed two hours to decide to put Washington over Michigan for the 4th spot. The actual distinction matters little since a conference championship win for Washington would overcome whatever slim margin Michigan is ahead by at the moment.
That appears to put Michigan’s chances entirely dependent on one or two schools above them losing a conference championship game, then riding a head-to-head victory over a conference champ into the top four.
Even a loss to Florida probably doesn’t drop Alabama out of the Top 4, and Ohio State is obviously in before we are. The best, but hardly only shot of Michigan moving up is Colorado beating Washington (a 45% shot according to Bill C.) and Michigan (over the B1G CG winner) taking the Pac 12’s spot. If Virginia Tech upsets Clemson (20%), this also opens the door for Michigan. If both happen, Michigan still needs a head-to-head win to matter more than a B1G or P12 championship.
How the committee rates winning your conference championship game versus head-to-head is a mystery. They said they don’t consider margin of victory, so blowing out Penn State is probably seen the same as a one-score victory over Wisconsin, let alone two last-play losses on the road.
My guess is they’ll let the de jure Big Ten Champion jump definitely-not-Big Ten Champion Michigan, but not Ohio State. Michigan could end up above Colorado if both Washington and Clemson lose, but that’s a scenario with three Big Ten teams in the playoffs. That may be correct, but the committee created to avoid another LSU-Alabama rematch that everybody hates would probably take the B1G and Pac champs and leave Michigan out.
Likelihood of it: 10 percent.
[After THE JUMP: some NY6 destinations and worst case scenario]
A thousand words. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
This one is going to sting.
Michigan had every opportunity to put Virginia Tech away and get a quality home win only to squander it with poor defense, strange substitutions by John Beilein, and a hideous heroball play by Zak Irvin on the potential game-winning shot.
The first half went about as well as one could ask. The Wolverines jumped out to a quick lead and were up by double digits for most of the opening stanza, exploiting VT's matchup zone—something they'd seen already this season against Howard—for a series of open threes and layups. Irvin was especially hot, pouring in 15 of his game-high 23 in the first half, and solid offensive contributions from Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Moe Wagner combined with sloppy play from VT to give the Wolverines a nine-point halftime edge.
It was a different story in the second half. The Hokies stopped coughing up the ball, allowing them to attack Robinson and MAAR on the perimeter for blow-by layups and take advantage of Mark Donnal's interior defense seemingly every possession he was on the floor.
"[We were] just doing some strange things on defense, and it really cost us," said John Beilein.
"Sometimes we just lose that edge when you've got to get a stop, we lose that edge to get a stop. We've got to be a better defensive team than that."
Wagner had an efficient outing that left many wanting more. [Campredon]
Even though Wagner clearly outplayed Donnal throughout the game, they each logged 17 minutes, and the difference between the two was stark on both ends. VT's Zach LeDay got most of his 18 points when matched up with Donnal; he found the going tougher against Wagner and, for one possession before he fouled out, DJ Wilson. The Hokies couldn't stop Wagner, who hit 5-of-6 shots—most of them driving layups—for 11 points. Donnal did not score.
Michigan's ball movement petered out in the second half, too, and with it went their hot shooting; they shot only 12-for-30 and 3-for-13 from beyond the arc. Irvin embodied Michigan's struggles. After going 6-for-8 in the first half, making his shots within the confines of the offense, he hit only 4-of-12 in the second, forcing more of his looks. None were worse than his heroball chuck on Michigan's penultimate possession, which badly missed the mark with Michigan down one.
"We were trying to isolate him and they took him away a little bit. We know what to do when they take him away and we didn't do it," Beilein said. "It's that simple. So now we got isolated and we got all gunked up there, we couldn't call timeout, and we got a bad shot."
"I wish we had a timeout to really put something together. They blew it up and we didn't counter well."
After two VT free throws and a deflected inbounds pass, Michigan had one last chance on a sideline inbounds play with 3.7 seconds left. Wagner saved a long toss to Robinson, who got a half-decent look to tie it, but his shot rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.
"It's a great learning curve game for us, and we'll grow from it," Beilein said. "We didn't deserve the win the game the way we played those last ten minutes."
#25 Michigan (5-1) vs
#35 Virginia Tech (5-1)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -5 (KenPom)|
PBP: Jason Benetti
Analyst: Sean Farnham
Right: Star sixth man Zach LeDay plays much bigger than his listed 6'7". [Photo: Alex Brandon/AP]
Michigan bounced back from the ugly loss at South Carolina by jumping out to a 17-point halftime lead against Mount Saint Mary's on Saturday evening and cruising to the finish in an online-stream-only game watched by dozens. I was in a car on the way back from Ohio during that game, so I have little to add other than noting Moe Wagner hit 3-of-5 three-pointers.
This game is part of the ACC/B1G Challenge, which is tied up at four through eight games. The other games on tonight's schedule with KenPom lines:
Purdue at Louisville, 7 p.m., ESPN (Louisville -7)
Rutgers at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPNU (Miami -15)
North Carolina at Indiana, 9 p.m., ESPN (UNC -3)
Ohio State at Virginia, 9 p.m., ESPN2 (Virginia -10)
Nebraska at Clemson, 9 p.m., ESPNU (Clemson -9)
As you can see, it'd take a few upsets for the Big Ten to win their third straight Challenge.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||5||Justin Robinson||So.||6'1, 185||78||22||No|
|Pass-first PG with high assist and turnover rates. Decent outside shooter.|
|G||13||Ahmed Hill||RJr.||6'5, 205||74||18||Not At All|
|Just A Shooter™, 20-for-42 on triples this season.|
|G||10||Justin Bibbs||Jr.||6'5, 220||70||15||Not At All|
|Low-volume, high-efficiency scorer, especially from beyond the arc.|
|F||15||Chris Clarke||So.||6'6, 210||67||18||Yes|
|Good interior scorer, passer, and defensive rebounder.|
|C||2||Khadim Sy||Fr.||6'10, 240||34||19||Very|
|Starter playing backup minutes. Great rebounding and shot-blocking numbers. Foul prone.|
|F||32||Zach LeDay||RSr.||6'7, 235||75||26||Yes|
|Plays majority of C minutes. Good rebounder and inside scorer, draws lots of fouls.|
|G||4||Seth Allen||RSr.||6'1, 190||60||23||Kinda|
|Turnover-prone backup PG, decent finisher, iffy outside shooter off to hot start.|
|F||42||Ty Outlaw||RJr.||6'6, 220||28||18||No|
|JuCo transfer stretch four is 7-for-15 on threes, 0-for-5 on twos.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Friday, November 25, 2016
#16 Michigan 1, Lake Superior State University 3
UM 1 LSSU 0 PPG 11:51 Assists: Dancs & Martin
Pastujov is carrying the puck in while being hounded by a defender to his right. He’s far enough from the boards that he can spin and bank the puck back to Martin, who’s hovering near the blue line. This also causes the defender to come off of Pastujov and chase Martin. There’s plenty of space for Martin to survey, and with no high defender he passes to the opposite side of the offensive zone.
Dancs gets the pass from Martin cleanly. He doesn’t have to look far for his next move, as Calderone sees the pass coming across and starts to skate across the slot and almost out in order to get himself into position for a pass from Dancs.
The defender nearest Calderone makes a mistake, jutting his stick out to take away a passing lane to the front of the net when the puck’s far more likely to go to the guy who’s wearing white and right next to him. Dancs passes, and Calderone gathers it on the forehand. The defender who was on Pastujov and then was chasing Martin at the point is now doing his best to get his stick out and break up the pass (to no avail).
Calderone settles the puck and fires relatively quickly, and I don’t think the goaltender was expecting this. Calderone’s able to get the puck from almost behind him to right in front really quickly, and though the goalie’s attempting to butterfly it appears as though he’s a half second off; in the screen cap below you can see the puck’s more than halfway there and his five-hole is still open.
[After THE JUMP: winning Corsi, more goals, and looking ahead to Penn State]
[Upchurch – MGoBlog]
A decade after Ohio State and Michigan met as the top two teams in the country, they faced off again with similarly high stakes – and again, Ohio State emerged victorious in a hard-fought classic. The playoff picture isn’t necessarily any clearer, though Michigan is probably now eliminated.
Onto the week that was:
--- The Game, which featured the two best teams in the conference, lived up to the hype, even though it was a game marred by critical mistakes on both sides. MICHIGAN gave up two regulation touchdowns on interceptions from deep in its own end of the field: one was returned by Malik Hooker for a touchdown, another was taken deep into the red zone and punched in on one play. OHIO STATE missed two field goals in regulation, including one from inside Michigan’s five-yard line (the Wolverines fumbled away a sure scoring possession earlier in the game from near the same spot), and JT Barrett was an ineffective passer all game. Still, the game went to overtime after the Buckeyes marched down the field for a game-tying field goal in the waning moments of regulation. In overtime, Michigan responded to an easy OSU touchdown with a tough completion into the end zone on fourth down; in the second overtime, Michigan settled for a field goal and managed to force Ohio State into fourth-and-one – of course, a controversial spot gave the Buckeyes a first down and they scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play. Wilton Speight was available to play for Michigan and, aside from the critical interceptions (one came on a bad read, another on a play where he was hit when he threw), he was capable and helped compensate for an ineffective UM rushing attack. Ohio State struggled with Michigan’s excellent defensive front and they were unable to get much-needed explosive plays, but the Buckeye defense provided just enough scoring to get the game to overtime.
[More on the week that was after the JUMP]
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + SLOT.
PREVIOUSLY: 137 post-spring.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Hurst's burst takes him from off the board (which could be considered worst) to first. Absence more circumstance than talent; Hurst produced in bunches. Tracking towards high NFL draft pick as an explosive interior pass rusher. "Get in my belly" TFL celebration is a winner.
Despite somewhat disappointing year at C a holy lock to be somewhere on the line. Could be anywhere; will be somewhere. Bet here is M will try to keep him at C for continuity and line calls, which he seems to be clearly the best option for. Goal for next year: get stronger, get more push, be more of a factor against 3-4 NTs, get drafted in the middle rounds.
Omar comin', except his name is Rashan and he is not little. Like Hurst, stuck behind future pros in 2016. Still flashed freaky ability; year two should be a breakout year so enormous it shatters windows across the Midwest. #1 overall prospects are in fact guarantees, and Gary showed plenty to indicate he would not be an exception.
Sole returning member of the front seven had some edge issues last year. Tackling in space was an Area For Improvement, as they say. Positives outweighed negatives, though, as McCray was an outstanding blitzer and reliably in the place he was supposed to be. Probably moves to MLB to help mitigate those edge problems.
Route artisan figures to have role explode as he hits upperclass years and he becomes the primary safety blanket. Best game against OSU when Butt was doubled and tripled all game, and he came through with a productive day. Red-zone weapon will dust some guys, a la Dileo. Don't sleep on him as an outside guy, either. He might play both spots as Michigan decides he's one of their best two.
Swing lineman regarded as Cole 2.0 had Cole's freshman season, a bit delayed. Barely lost LT job to Newsome; jetted past the entire roster to start once Newsome went down. Like Cole, Things could have gone better; they could have gone worse. Like Cole, position uncertain but place amongst the starters absolutely not. Like Cole. Like. Cole. LIKE COLE DO YOU GET IT.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
On the cusp of a lock after a 63%, 8.1 YPA, 17-5 TD-INT sophomore year; sometimes-erratic play leaves a tiny crack for Brandon Peters. Emphasis on "tiny." Impressive pocket presence, plus—but not perfect—accuracy, and increasing command of the offense will be tough to compete with. If he improves like Harbaugh quarterbacks always do you're looking at an All Big Ten player. (And an ugly shirt.)
Got more playing time last year than any other secondary backup, and played well. Defense did not miss a beat when he was in for extended periods. Used as a dimeback, mostly, for a four-safety look. Recruiting rep suggests he fits what Brown wants in his safeties—man coverage capable hitters. Old-ass-looking-man game strong. M needs to fill that role w/ Hill to the NFL.
Ebullient pass rusher produced five sacks despite playing time often measured in single-digit snaps. Did most of his damage with a serious edge rush and relentless approach. This had downsides. Tendency towards wild overpursuit needs to get tamped down; additional weight necessary; on track to be Jake Ryan as a WDE.
Still trying to scale hype mountain; unclear how badly he was affected by injury last year. Big time third down stuff against OSU hints at promise, and there's very little behind him that isn't coming in this recruiting class. Could be third best player on line, could be third best lineman in conference. One thing's for sure: Bryan Mone has the meats.
Got meaningful playing time when starters were dinged, making a few plays along the way. Fast and short thumper well suited to the vertical attacking Brown wants from his linebackers. NFL player and coach's son should be ready to hit the ground running as a starter. Brings a much-needed infusion of dreads to the starting lineup. Has no idea how to draw a Wolverine.
#1 kicker in the country, which means he'll either be an Aguayo or go 0/20 before returning to his home planet. 2/3(!!!) on field goals as a senior in HS. Data basically nonexistent outside of camps, where he killed it. Committed to Penn State w/ ridiculous video, which we 1000% approve of.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
Main uncertainty here is sixth-year eligibility. If eligible very strong bet to start, as 6'4" corners are a rare treasure. No shame in losing out to future NFLer Channing Stribling last year and was strong in the first three games with Lewis out. Better in run support than Stribling; thought most of the completions on him in 2015 were bad luck. Brings experience that the rest of the back four is largely devoid of.
You know Harbaugh is itching to roll out lines mostly comprised of 350-pound giants; Onwenu figures to be the first to come online. Played well in limited time a year ago, and has a long term future on O per his coach. Still kind of wonder if he's got the mobility to play as a pulling guard, but we'll see. Made of adamantium, or possibly degenerate neutrons. Likes grapes.
Ol' Skillet Hands did not have the breakout season many anticipated thanks in part to injury; with Jake Butt taking up a lot of targets and the second half of most games spent running the ball with huge leads there was not much opportunity. Should be plenty next year as Butt heads to the NFL. Decent blocker; retains monster receiving upside. Must look out behind him.
Quick-twitch athlete emerged into clear #2 behind Smith by season's end. Capable of nasty short-area jukes; doesn't break many tackles; home-run hitter. Receiving upside unexplored last year but will emerge as his career wears on. Will split snaps with Isaac, Higdon, and others in crowded backfield. Should be allowed to wear a helmet that has his hair on it.
Emerged as clear #3 option on the outside thanks in large part to terrific blocking. Had one bad drop and one badass catch to go with some more routine events. Most X-shaped of the 2015 guys and slid in front of Hoke-era recruits immediately upon arrival. As a recruit, touted as a high polished player who could step in relatively quickly.
Existence of mean ol' Josh Metellus has Hudson's spot somewhat in doubt but if you thought this space would bet against Hudson, you have not been paying attention. Blocked two punts in 2016 and had about as much garbage time as Metellus. If Hudson gets beat out here look for him at SAM or nickel.
This slot could easily read "pick a Kaiju." Both Asiasi and Wheatley will be a year stronger, abler, and meaner; one or both should break out into true stars. Asiasi gets the tentative nod here because he got a majority of Kaiju PT and did very well with it, repeatedly blowing LBs and DBs yards away from where they desired to be. Don't mess with his dad. For real.
If I had a Panda / I'd hammer in the morning / I'd hammer in the evening / but only in the endzone. Impact Fullback Khalid Hill specialized in two-for-one edge blocks, one yard touchdown runs, wide open flare routes, spectacular catches, and self-nicknaming that was so amazing people just ran with it.
IN A BATTLE
Peppers's backup last year, and well-liked by the coaches. But how does Furbush replace a safety? Because that's what Peppers is, a safety. Most Don Brown SAM top out at 215, and Furbush is much bigger than that. Wouldn't be surprised to see him move inside, or reprise his backup role behind a Hudson type.
Anyone's guess who the second outside receiver is. Harris gets a tentative nod as he was repeatedly targeted downfield starting at about midseason. His only catch on those bombs was called back thanks to a fairly weak OPI call, but aside from that it was slick, and promising. People forget that he was an uber-hyped recruit with 2000 yards as a high school junior. Nice hamstring. Good hamstring.
Eases ahead of David Long here thanks to late-season playing time; that may be artifact of opportunity to redshirt Long after a midseason injury. Jourdan Lewis 2.0 is the rep, and he had a couple of PBUs that hinted at his ability. Will be seriously pressed by Long and Ambry Thomas. 27 Tickets needs a bow tie, even a sloppy one.
Watson got more PT than any other non-starting corner after the Clark injury, but he'll be pressed hard to keep that spot. Last year this was Peppers; this year it is a conventional third corner. This could be Metellus, as Brown added Kinnel when he needed an extra guy. This is a real classy section of 27 Tickets, you'll agree.
He's a punter, and he's on the roster. So I guess he'll probably punt, unless someone else does. Nordin a possibility, as he is reputed to have a big leg. Picture at left actually of Jordan Glasgow, because I couldn't leave that out. It's Jordan Glasgow wearing a bear shirt. I mean. Cumong.
Unfortunate OL tradition to list a guy who's not even committed as a starter but the OT depth chart looks like tumbleweeds and Wilson is an immediate impact guy. Dude looks like a 30-year old All Pro. JBB is a possibility but after major struggles in pass pro knocked him out of the lineup I'm not feeling that.
Devastating knee injury saw Newsome spend 38 days in the hospital afterwards. Long term prognosis much better than that would imply, but 2017 availability still very much in question. If fully healthy, starts at tackle. Worried chatter about his ability gave way to play that made you wonder what all the bother was about.
TECHNICALLY NOT STARTERS BUT CLOSE ENOUGH
RB Drake Johnson—Michigan will apply for sixth year, but do they have the room?
RB Ty Isaac—spring hype petered out into decent play.
RB Karan Higdon—Impressed with his quick cuts and low pad level. Will continue to see snaps.
FB Henry Poggi—less dynamic Michigan fullback, and one who had some issues getting his hat on someone last year.
WR Eddie McDoom—MCDOOOOOOOOM
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.—developed his blocking late in the year, coin flip whether it was him or Asiasi.
C Patrick Kugler—most likely reconfiguration of line has Kugler drawing in at C and Cole going to a trouble spot.
CB David Long—going to be a very good player and should push to start. Coinflip w/ Hill.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Brandon Peters—first Harbaugh-selected QB on the roster comes with massive expectations.
QB John O'Korn—iffy Indiana outing was a win, at least.
RB Kareem Walker—academic redshirt out of the way and time to start displaying that talent.
RB Kingston Davis—some transfer chatter.
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Moe Ways—passed by Crawford and Harris. Getting late early.
TE Sean McKeon—did not redshirt for some reason grumble.
G David Dawson—Doesn't seem like it's happening.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—sixth OL after the Newsome injury so there's probably some chance, but played poorly.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most likely ILB backup given roster.
SAM Josh Uche—Don Brown dude could be chaos generator.
SS Josh Metellus—spent second half of Rutgers game ending dudes.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Alex Malzone—not really in the race, it seems.
TE Nick Eubanks—Funchess 2.0
TE Zach Gentry—actually played WR for much of last year. Development will be fascinating.
C Jon Runyan Jr.—right bloodlines at least.
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader needs seasoning.
T Nolan Ulizio—some playing time he seemed iffy in.
SDE Lawrence Marshall—again disappeared when the season rolled around.
SDE Carlo Kemp—played for some damn reason
WDE Ron Johnson—hyped edge rusher could be Winovich's backup.
WDE Reuben Jones—worker popular with teammates.
NT Michael Dwumfour—ideally he's Hurst 2.0, but probably needs another year.
CB Keith Washington—did not find PT last year, will try again.