BECAUSE IT'S ILLEGAL TO ENTER AN EMPLOYEE
Somewhere a Tennessee blog is posting a picture of Cato June chasing Jason Witten
So about that Kenpom rank. The good news for Michigan is that they've drawn an 11-seed in the Sweet 16. The bad news for Michigan is that they've drawn the incredibly rare team to have a Kenpom ranking well above their seed line—after their three-game run they are all the way up to sixth(!) in that rating system.
We talk a lot about Kenpom around these parts, but one of the things that's always seemed a little off about his rankings is how lopsided games have a disproportionate impact. Tennessee has had a lot of those. They've also lost 7 SEC games. They are 23-12. Is Tennessee really the sixth-best team in the country, or 11th as they were at the beginning of the tournament? Probably not. Ask Kenpom himself:
I'm not foolish enough to believe the Vols are the 11th-best team in the land (the Sagarin and Massey predictive systems both have Tennessee ranked in the mid-20s). But it's clear Tennessee, coached by Cuonzo Martin, is better than the typical No. 11 seed. It's also obvious the Vols are very difficult to evaluate based on the limited information available to us.
Tennessee is a weird team. It takes a weird team to blow out Virginia and outscore the SEC by 0.14 points a possession—Michigan, 15-3 Big Ten champ, only managed 0.09—and end up one of the last teams in the field because it went 11-7 in a conference that was fifth-best nationally and only had one team seeded above an 8.
When computers run up against weird teams, weird things get spit out. Kenpom's got an algorithm and he only changes it when he can find something that makes it more accurate over the ten seasons of data he's got, as he did when he tried out reducing the influence of blowouts in mismatches. (IE, he mitigated The Wisconsin Problem.) But there's not much you can do with a team that has a set of results as bizarre as the Vols.
Even if the algorithm is irrationally exuberant about the Vols it has to be given some credit for calling UT's outright domination of a higher-seeded UMass in the first round, and they would have given Duke all they would handle. Vegas, too, believes this is not a typical 11-versus-2 matchup, as they opened the line up at –1.5. Kenpom has the Vols by one. It's not a huge analytical difference. It's about which side of the coinflip you shade to. Tennessee may be an 11, but they're much better than their seed. Better than Michigan? Eh… we'll see.
And about that Texas comparison. It remains close. Similarities:
- Frontcourt size. Both Texas and Tennessee deploy two 6'8"+ guys at all times. The center is a widebody type, with a more athletic 4 man. Texas has way more post depth; Tennessee's starters are even better rebounders. PF Jarnell Stokes in particular is a McGary-level beast on the boards, 13th in OREB and 65th in DREB nationally.
- Board murderin'. Team OREB rates are near identical, with both teams acquiring almost 40% of their misses.
- Shooting issues. Tennessee is even worse from three than Texas is, but they shoot more. Go-to guy Jordan McRae is decent, as is Josh Richardson. Everyone else is bad. Tennessee's backups have combined to go 33/135 on the year; PG Antonio Barton is at 33%. Collectively the Vols are 282nd from deep.
- Passive defense. Texas and Tennessee both force few turnovers. Tennessee has a defensive profile a lot like a better Michigan: few FTAs, good rebounding, bad at forcing turnovers, Tennessee is a lot better at FG D.
- Backcourt size: Texas had no one who could reasonably contest jumpers from LeVert and Stauskas, with no one taller than 6'2" other than their posts. Tennessee goes 6'6", 6'6", 6'2" down the roster. They'll be a match for Michigan's size.
- Experience. Tennessee starts three seniors and two juniors. Texas starts three sophomores, a junior, and a freshman.
- Shot blocking. Tennessee doesn't do much of it, preferring to lock down the defensive boards and avoid fouls.
- Transition. Tennessee is a slow team, one that has fewer transition opportunities than Michigan and finishes them at a mediocre 55%. Texas tries to speed things up to help their bad half court offense.
- Depth. Texas has two solid bench players in Lammert and Martez Walker. Tennessee has a bunch of no-usage guys who don't do much more than eat minutes without bringing the world to a screeching halt.
- Preventing threes. Perhaps the most worrying issue for Michigan in comparison to Texas is that Tennessee doesn't give up many threes. That's not a schedule thing, either, as they were second in the league in that department. Texas gives up buckets of threes. This is not a fluke. Tennessee gave up buckets of threes in Bruce Pearl's tenure (best ranking in last three years of Pearl: 289th). When Cuonzo Martin arrived that number immediately plummeted and stayed there (worst ranking: 33rd).
So, yes, a version of Texas that is bigger and a lot better at playing fundamentally solid, unspectacular defense that prevents Michigan from deploying their #1 weapon as easily as the Longhorns did. Do not expect a laugher.
Maybe don't let Jordan McRae run at the rim. Unless the ref is going to give him a ridiculous tech.
McRae and Stokes can get up. Seems likely that LeVert will get McRae as Stauskas matches up with Josh Richardson. If I was Michigan I would be tempted to sag off Barton, the PG, to give other guys some help. Keeping Tennessee away from the rim is a top priority. Easier said than done with this defense.
Zone? Michigan tried a 1-3-1 against Texas to little effect and then dumped it. Tennessee also fits the profile of a team that might be vulnerable to zoning, what with their dodgy three point shooting. Michigan's problem in the 1-3-1 is that it hasn't forced threes in the last few games, it's forced Spike Albrecht to guard 285 pound guys. It kind of feels like the 1-3-1 extends itself too far, or allows too many passes that don't loop over the defense. Its rebounding issues are exacerbated when it's generating short rebounds, too.
A 2-3 might be effective, but Michigan hasn't spent much time on it or played it at all. Seems like this will be a man to man affair unless Michigan gets itself in desperation mode.
YES DO IT YES. Oversigning for the win:
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) March 23, 2014
Knows Nussmeier, started four games for them a year ago, immediately eligible, Michigan has the room, just do it.
Are we sure he's not actually coffee dad? From John Beilein's favorited tweets:
Coffee dad. Also he favorited some random dude talking about his teams' rebounding derogatorily. John Beilein!
Thx to Mich fans for the support this week! Sweet 16 and on to Indy.Thinking about getting a nice Sub tonight. It could get crazy! Go Blue!
— John Beilein (@JohnBeilein) March 23, 2014
…is self-aware. So it's good he's not Skynet.
OH REALLY. Lost in the sea of March Madness last week was one statement from Brady Hoke that will hopefully prevent me from typing yet more spittle-flecked all-caps rants about how fifth year senior starting quarterbacks don't get benched except in the event of catastrophic injury, and sometimes not even then:
He's doing okay, (but) he's not ready to be the starter at Michigan," Hoke said Thursday. "Devin's got the most experience at that job. … But if we were starting today, (Morris) wouldn't be the guy out there."
All right then. That's settled.
"Two weeks from now? We'll see."
And the Crimson sea parted. It's that time of year again, where players either flee or are pushed from the Indiana basketball program. This time it seems more like a mutual flee/push, as two struggling players Indiana probably needs anyway are exiting. Jeremy Hollowell, one of the two large athletic Hoosiers who can't play basketball, is out the door. Austin Etherington is the other departure. Noah Vonleh already announced he's entering the draft.
With Luke Fischer's departure for Marquette in the middle of the season, Indiana has lost every player over 6'8" who saw time except for Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Meanwhile the biggest guy in their recruiting class is a 6'7" small forward.
Is it too late for James Blackmon to decommit again? Asking for a friend.
And then the other red sea parted. OSU takes a major hit with LaQuinton Ross's NBA draft declaration. They've got a terrific recruiting class coming in, and now they're really going to need it. They've lost Ross, who was 30% of their shots, Amedeo Della Valle, Aaron Craft, and Lenzelle Smith from a six seed and first-round exit.
And then everybody in the Big Ten laid out the red carpet. West Virginia shooting guard Eron Harris is transferring closer to home. Home is Indianapolis. Harris averaged 17 points a game as a sophomore, shooting 42% from two and 86% from the line. Scout's Brian Snow says Michigan will be involved($), and lord knows everyone in and around shooting-challenged Indiana will also make a run. Michigan's hoping that "closer to home" really means "away from West Virginia" since 250 versus 350 miles isn't much of a functional difference.
I'm in favor of Michigan trying to grab him. Think of him as a 2015 recruit who only gets two years before he has to go to the NBA, and oh right that just makes him like anyone else who ends up shooting the ball a lot under John Beilein.
Michigan has an open scholarship this year and it would be nice to have a couple of upperclass years to fill in those vacated by Michigan's NBA draft departure. After Harris sits out a year he would be competing on the wing with a senior Caris LeVert—maybe—and a junior Zak Irvin—maybe, along with Kam Chatman and any class of 2015 freshmen. Harris is a proven high-level player who will make a decision well before the 2015 kids will. And he'll have a year to get better under Beilein before he gets back on the court. If you can get him, get him.
Open to a return. Glenn Robinson was as noncommital as everyone is when asked about entering a professional draft, but this is something good to hear:
"There have been times this year when I thought about it and heard a lot of talk and everything," Robinson said. "I just want to make the best decision, the best decision for me, because I want to play this game for a long time. So if I'm not ready, I'm not ready."
While you can't begrudge someone their desire to get paid lots of money for their skill, it does grind my gears a tiny bit when guys leave early without the prospect of a first-round pick waiting. Robinson might have fallen into that boat; it would be really easy to ignore the stuff they're saying about you this year because you were supposed to be a first rounder last year. Hopefully one of these two things happens:
- Robinson annihilates Tokyo as he drags Michigan to a national title
- Robinson plays pretty well and follows the Tim Hardaway Jr model.
Open to stay. Please hold your nose at a reference to a Michael Rosenberg-gathered quote, but it's kind of a big deal:
Jordan is so admired within the program that Alexander, another rising coach, endorses him to be the next head coach at Michigan.
"In my mind, I think he would be a great progression, when and if the time comes, when coach Beilein decides to transition on," Alexander says.
Alexander is 37, and he set a goal for himself to be a head coach by age 40. But he looks at Jordan and thinks of the Michigan football team's defensive coordinator. Says Alexander: "I would be more than willing to be (Jordan's) Greg Mattison. We want to continue to work together. I just think the world of him."
If Jordan and Alexander are both around when Beilein hangs it up, I don't know how you don't give Jordan the job after his work with Morris and Burke and Stauskas and LeVert, plus the recruiting bonafides and possible huge long-term upside. (Beilein is 61, so if he goes another five years you'd be hiring a 39-year old guy who could be around for the next 25 years.) Especially if that would mean Alexander sticks with him.
They've really got to do something about this. Urban Meyer on the packaged play trend and its acceleration:
The second-level zone read has his attention. In the traditional zone read, the quarterback reads the defensive end to dictate whether he'll hand off or run. In this version, the quarterback is reading the linebacker.
“That's going to not disappear,” Meyer says. “It's even in the NFL now. The NFL doesn't give you three yards.”
College does -- as in, officials allow linemen to get up to three yards downfield before a throw. After following up with other coaches on this concept, one popular play is to throw a slant to the open space if the linebacker goes inside to cover the run, knowing linemen are already headed downfield to block.
This has started to become comical. Last year in the Michigan-Air Force game, two Air Force OL had in fact engaged defenders six yards downfield on a pass play without a call. Either get rid of the illegal man downfield rule or enforce it. But pick one.
Etc.: Glasgow's issue was a "driving-related offense," which seems pretty likely to be one particular driving-related offense unless they've got some really strict new rules about using your turn signal.
Derrick Green getting slimmer. Jim Tressel's CV doesn't include anything about sweatervests. Bo bracket. Pistons to chase Izzo because owner is MSU grad. No idea why MSU NBA owners want to wreck their alma mater's program but fine by me.
Tourney face. [Fuller]
Beilein teams go further in the tournament than their seeds. This is known. We've repeated it so often that smart bracketeers even calculate it into their expectations. I've saved the "why" and "wherefore" of this effect for a roundtable question since that gets into the basketball strategy stuff that I'm weak in.
What I can do is build a pivot table out of multiple bits of data; in this case it was lots of schmearing and pasting, column breaks, and vlookups from sports-reference.com's bracket history and annual coaches records. The important lesson here is you're supposed to know it was hard.
UPDATE: Here's the raw data.
The first thing I tried was straight-up expectations by seed: top seeds are expected to get to the Final Four, 2-seeds to the Elite Eight; 3- and 4-seeds to the Sweet Sixteen; 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-seeds to the round of 32. The results had Beilein #5 after Brad Stevens of Butler, Sean Miller, and some Mizzou coaches who often had 9 seeds. That suggested there's a problem with my figuring:
I'm expecting 9 and 10 seeds to never advance so they're always in the positive; every time an 8 loses to a 9 it's a hit. The actual distribution is, unsurprisingly, progressive:
With over 1300 teams in my study there's very little deviation from the logarithm. It suggests, for all our complaining, that the committee does a pretty good job.
|Seed||Exp Wins||Seed||Exp Wins|
Since I'm a history major who had to re-teach himself exponential functions this morning (if predicting basketball games required encyclopedic knowledge of Plantagenets I'd have Ken Pomeroy's job) please go easy on me if I dispense with the other stuff and just use the values Excel returned as a base expectation of tournament victories for each seed (at right). The formula according to Excel:
y= 1.1634Ln(x) + 3.2127
With an expectation for victories now I can get a reasonable comparison versus that, for example a 2-seed that advances to the Sweet 16 has 2 victories minus 2.41 expected = 0.41 fewer wins than they should have. The last thing was to remove coaches who've been to fewer than five tournaments. We're ready to rename March after a coach. But which one?
[Don't act all surprised; you knew I'd make you jump for it.]
Name: Daelin Hayes
Position: Outside Linebacker
Ht/Wt: 6'3" / 225 lbs.
Location: St. Mary’s Preparatory – Orchard Lake, MI (2016)
Offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee
The Michigan coaching staff decided to offer 2016 LB prospect Daelin Hayes over the weekend while he was in town for a photo shoot and an unofficial visit. At 6’3” and 225 lbs. Daelin passes the eyeball test with flying colors and while most recruiting sites list him vaguely as an athlete or a LB/RB combo, the Wolverine coaches see him purely as an athletic outside linebacker. Daelin is the younger cousin of current Wolverine, Justice Hayes, and that proved to be advantageous while Daelin was in Ann Arbor. I asked Daelin about that connection to the program, the overall feel of the weekend, and the moment he was offered.
I got there around 9 am for Tom Lemming’s magazine photo shoot which was in Michigan Stadium. So then after that we just went straight to the scrimmage, a few of us, Mike Weber and Tyriq Thompson. We went to the Michigan practice and Coach Jackson actually called me over when they were practicing and he told me to stay after practice, like stay for the entire time because Coach Hoke wanted to speak with me. So practice ended and Coach Hoke calls me over onto the field with Coach Mattison and said, “We want you to play linebacker for the University of Michigan.” I really just thought that this was them saying that they were interested, like they just say that and then an offer might come later or whatever. Then Coach Hoke was like, “You know what that means right? You have an offer from the University of Michigan” I just came in, gave him a huge hug, gave all the coaches hugs. It was just a great day. My mom was very excited, she was tearing up a little bit. Then I was at Michigan all day on Saturday, I was able to stay with Justice. I hung around the other players and stuff. I was able to spend a lot of time with the team, in the players lounge. Justice was telling me a lot about what it’s like. He also just told me to take my time and make sure I make the right decision. He told me that offers are going to come so just be patient and take my time.
Michigan has joined the Spartans and the Volunteers as the only schools to offer Daelin thus far, a list that is surely going to grow, but now Daelin is focusing on other potential visits in the future.
I will definitely be up at Michigan again soon. I’m going to be at State sometime possibly this week and I will be at Penn State’s spring game.
With three solid offers already on the table I asked Daelin to disclose what other schools he might be interested in hearing from on a more official basis and he singled out Notre Dame, UCLA, and Penn State. Those three schools along with the offers from Michigan, Michigan State, and Tennessee round out his current top six with all of them providing something special.
I like certain things about each school. With Michigan State, my relationship with Coach Dantonio and Coach Salem that I’ve had since I was in the 9th grade. That was my first unofficial visit and I’ve been up there maybe six times so it’s familiar.
Going down to Tennessee, being in SEC country, football is like a religion down south. They took everything very seriously. They were the only school that actually went over what they would do with me on defense. They were trying to quiz me on what I would call if I was on the field. It was very hands on and they got to the point very quickly.
Then something like the degree from Michigan. It’s such a prestigious school, on the field and off the field. The degree to fall back on if football doesn’t work out is unbelievable. Every player wants to play in the NFL but we all know that’s not the reality. Being able to do both, being able to be a great student in the classroom and a great player on the field at a place like Michigan is special.
Hayes understands that he’s just a sophomore and that his offer list will continue to expand so right now he’s just enjoying the process and letting it all sink in. He is working out and training very hard, along with participating in track to stay in shape and improve his speed.
Hayes and I spoke for a few minutes off the record and let’s just say he really likes Michigan. He’s definitely not in a hurry to commit, but Michigan will absolutely be in it for him until he makes his decision. He speaks with Coach Singletary once or twice a week and will continue to do so throughout his process. Having an older cousin on the team isn’t hurting either.
0 - Passing interest or none
1 - Let's see if he visits before we talk
2 - Among large (8-15) group under consideration
3 - Contender in a top 3-7
4 - Tentative lead or solidly in a top 2-3
5 – Trending Blue
If Daelin was closer to a decision date I think he could be a 5 on The Vibe scale. He won’t commit for a while and because of that I expect a lot of big time players to get involved in his recruitment. That being said, I still believe Michigan will remain at or near the top of his list.
— Jordan Morgan (@JustJMo) March 23, 2014
Discussion about whether cakewalk is appropriate. Cakewalk eventually approved. Jordan Morgan had a man's game. Texas rebounded everything else. Stauskas giggles. Michigan and making you zone because you're out of ideas.
We cannot believe we didn't pick Dayton to do things given that we laughed at the idea of OSU as tourney sleeper and openly plead for Syracuse to be bracketed with Michigan. Otherwise, kind of on point: UConn, Baylor, and Tennessee outperform seeds and Wichita State is victimized by the loaded half of their bracket.
"Across 110th Street."
"It Could Be Sweet," Portishead (I see what I did there)
"Surf Wax USA," Weezer
The usual links:
After going without a commit since November, Michigan reeled in a big one today when four-star Richmond (VA) St. Christopher's CB Garrett Taylor announced his pledge to the Wolverines on Twitter. It appeared Taylor favored Stanford as recently as a month ago, but a subsequent Michigan offer and campus visit—which he called the best of any he'd taken—sealed it for the Maize and Blue.
— Garrett Taylor (@gtaychillin) March 24, 2014
Taylor is the fifth overall commit in the 2015 class and the third defensive back, joining CB Shaun Crawford and S Tyree Kinnel.
[So as not to step all over the basketball post, hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]