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.
1988: M 28, Alabama 24
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
NOW ON THE ROAD!
PUNT/COUNTERPUNT TRAVEL DISPATCHES
12/30/12 – Dateline: Chattanooga
No two words make a vacation more festive than “Chattanooga, Tennessee.” Punt and I settled here last night into a hotel, after a mere 600 miles of driving, abbreviated by two social visits and swirling Kentucky snow. We lulled ourselves to sleep watching Sparty in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and awoke early for the 570 remaining miles to Tampa, with a breakfast stop at the Marietta (Ga.) Diner, a destination recommended by “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” Nothing like a Greek omelette with grits, especially when served by Bulgarian beauty Tatyana, prompting Punt to comment, “Isn’t immigration wonderful?”
Punt occasionally converses with me, but directs most of his comments towards other drivers, offering insightful observations about their lane usage, lack of turn signals, and general inattentiveness to the roadway. I am in the passenger seat, my mobile office cluttered with laptop, jet pack, Blackberry, iPod, and our GPS companion (Sari), who did not even bother with a “good morning” before brusquely directing us back to I-75 from the hotel. Car travel has its own rhythm, the hum of the tires over the undulating highway, sunlight and shadow through the Georgia Pines. We are then rudely interrupted by Sari’s snappish direction to turn right on South Marietta Parkway, Southeast – then sending us in a pretzel-shaped series of turns before landing in the parking lot of the diner. I suspect Sari’s irritation stems from her resentment over the success of her much more famous sister Siri, the voice of the iPhone, but who am I to psychoanalyze the disembodied female voices of electronica.
Far more genial is our UM talisman, “GnoMie,” content to be wrapped in a UM blanket in the back seat for most of the trip. We had been planning to arrive in Tampa by late afternoon, but after Punt’s expansive tour of the Atlanta metropolitan area in search of a car wash, I have revised that to evening. In the meantime, we roll down I-75, the sun continues to shine, Sari is blissfully silent, and even Punt seems momentarily content with his fellow drivers.
On to the predictions.
[ED: hey guys congrats on purchasing one of the most embarrassing things you can own as a Michigan fan look forward to your ski-jumping wolverine dispatch soonest.]
It’s been many a year since Counterpunt and I have taken to the roads to attend a Michigan bowl game. Not since the ’84 Sugar Bowl vs. the Auburn “War Eagles.”
When Counterpunt propositioned me with the prospect of attending the Outback Bowl, I figured, why not? Unfortunately it was too late to get a reasonably priced airfare, so this became a true road trip—me gassing up the Rav 4 for the 1000+ mile trip to Tampa.
After many miles, stops to see friends of Punt and Counterpunt, associates of Counterpunt, and attempts to see “clients” of Counterpunt—vetoed by yours truly—and getting served breakfast by a Bulgarian bombshell named Tatyana - we finally arrived at our destination. It now time to turn to the reason for our travels.
I’m having a hard time deciding how this game is going to go down. Some people are of a mind that Michigan has little to fear, that South Carolina is a predictable offense, and that Mattison will have had time to come up with the defensive scheme from Hell. But the Gamecocks are ranked #10 in the nation, are a top tier team in the all-powerful SEC and have the “Old Ball Coach,” Steve Spurrier, running the show. Hmm, who do I pick?
I think it’s clear that Michigan has more to gain from a win than South Carolina. They need to keep their momentum and return the Wolverines to the upper echelons of college football. My heart bleeds Maize ‘n’ Blue, but my head says:
MICHIGAN 26, SOUTH CAROLINA 31
My mind is still boggled at Seth’s detailed analysis of this contest (“Hokepoints Previews South Carolina” 12/27/12), fueled by six hours of watching Gamecock football, which is about 5 ½ more hours than my total bowl viewing thus far. I come at this game with a far less scientific mindset, tending to break down in adolescent laughter every time I see the word “Cocks.” But here goes my take on Michigan’s noble battle with the evil SEC and cocky Steve Spurrier.
On the offensive side of the ball, I trust Al Borges about as much as Ronald Reagan trusted Mikhail Gorbachev; but if Borges utilizes Gardner and Robinson to maximum effectiveness, we should be able to neutralize Clowney’s disruptive domination. The Lewan/Clowney matchup is much anticipated, but even an All American will need some help against that beast, and Borges may have to utilize a blocking back to assist in this regard.
Defensively, without J.T. Floyd in the lineup, we may have some difficulty handling Carolina’s speedy Smurf-outs; but on the whole, I am less concerned with our ability to contain the ‘Cock offense than I am with intangibles like turnovers and special teams.
On the whole, I believe the circumstances are ripe for Michigan to go out on the winning side, which will certainly make the ride home a lot more pleasant. Who knows; if Punt is sufficiently elated, he may be inclined for a return to the Marietta Diner, and ask Tatyana if she wants to come live with him in the melting pot of Ann Arbor.
MICHIGAN 23, ‘COCKS 13
Hit 'escape' on your non-Chrome browser to stop animation.
I'm assuming #25's New Year's resolution involves never again being in the same zip code as Glenn Robinson III.
[Trey Burke doing good basketball things and Nik Stauskas hitting all the threes after THE JUMP.]
|WHAT||Michigan vs South Carolina|
Everybody Loves Raymond Stadium
Tampa Bay, FL
1:00 PM Eastern
January 1st, 2013
|THE LINE||South Carolina –5.5|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, mid-70s, minimal chance of rain|
Again this preview assumes that Denard Robinson is basically a wildcat guy when he lines up at quarterback now. Hoke just reiterated that Gardner will start and Robinson will play "some quarterback," and by "some quarterback" he means "wildcat guy."
Run Offense vs South Carolina
This was two things against Ohio State: Denard Robinson and disaster. Stripped of the one back with any credentials to his name by a gruesome injury to Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan all but abandoned any thought of running the ball with the men misnomered "running backs" in the first half, and then proved the wisdom of that decision—if not the wisdom of their second-half playcalling—by getting stuffed almost literally every time they touched the ball after halftime.
The results were grim. Vincent Smith and Thomas Rawls had ten carries between them for a total of 14 yards. Rawls gained a total of two yards on five carries while turning in this career lowlight:
That is likely the point at which we remember Rawls hype deflating entirely as he's relegated to Kevin Grady duty for the rest of his career.
It's not like Rawls is alone in that department. Toussaint followed up a breakout 2011 (1041 yards on 187) by dropping almost two yards from his per-attempt average, going from 5.6 a pop to 3.9. Vincent Smith managed 2.8; Rawls is actually at the top of the heap with 4.2 thanks to a couple of garbage time runs against Purdue and Illinois. When Rawls was forced into the lineup in earnest this November, the results were ugly: 32 carries, 57 yards, less than two yards an attempt. I'd be more receptive to the argument that Rawls saw a lot of short yardage carries that artificially depressed his YPC if he wasn't a major reason he saw so many of those carries by failing to get any YAC on the goal line.
Anyway. The failure of the Michigan running game is comprehensive. The interior line can't block, the tight ends are too young, the tailbacks miserable. Except…
In this context Denard Robinson's season is nothing short of miraculous. His historic season has been obscured by injury and interceptions, but here it is: 1166 yards on 154 carries, an average of 7.6 per despite missing games against Minnesota and Northwestern. That will be a record dating back to at least 1948 (100 carry minimum) if he keeps it above Ty Wheatley's 7.3.
Meanwhile no other player on the roster can grind out half of that outside of garbage time. It is time to shake our fists at the fickle whims of injury and Rich Rodriguez's offensive line recruiting, with a bonus shake at the motley collection of tailbacks on the roster.
ok one more
Ok. Now, the opponent.
South Carolina's got shiny numbers that are a bit distorted by their rampant sackage. They're 16th nationally, giving up 119 yards a game. Removed 40(!) sacks for 253 yards and opponents do get up to 4.0 yards a pop. This is a good run defense, yeah, but it's not on the same level as Alabama, Notre Dame, MSU, or OSU (when OSU isn't giving up 70-yard touchdowns). The defensive tackles are not pocket-crushers, the safeties like to shoulder-block people down after they get first downs and stand over them like idiots, which might be an asset when Denard breaks into the secondary if any of them have the chutzpah to try that against 16.
Is it going to matter? Probably not. In the game of "can Michigan run a football with Not Denard," bet on "no." Can Michigan effectively integrate Denard into a 20-carry presence if he's not playing quarterback? Well…
Key Matchup: I wonder if two months is enough time for Borges to figure out how to put Denard and Devin on the field at the same time. Denard's great; he can't beat out 10 guys going for him on the snap; just Percy Harvin the guy already and stop holding up a huge sign that says RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN when Denard is at QB. Also you can probably run Gardner some since it's the last game of the year.
[HIT THE JUMP for CLOWNEY THE DRAGON]