|WHAT||Michigan (14-8, 4-5 B1G) vs
OSU (13-10, 3-7)
Ann Arbor, MI
|LINE||Michigan –8 (KenPom)|
Coming off a disappointingly typical loss at Michigan State against a very much untypical MSU team, Michigan now faces a must-win against reeling Ohio State. Per Kenpom this is Michigan's most likely win left on the schedule, a 75% shot. (At Rutgers is only 69% despite Rutgers being almost 100 slots worse in overall ranking, if you want a stark indicator of how much home and away swing affect college basketball.)
It would be nice if Zak Irvin had a bounce back.
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||3||Kam Williams||Jr.||6'2, 185||77||16||104||No|
|PG-sized but tiny assist/FTs rates and low TO rate mark him as Just A Shooter. Do not send to line, not that he'll force the issue there much.|
|G||4||JaQuan Lyle||So.||6'5, 210||78||23||107||No|
|Main creator has #56 assist rate in country, but TOs limit efficiency. Still the #1 guy Michigan has to check.|
|F||14||Jae'Sean Tate||Jr.||6'4, 230||79||33||108||Very|
|Junkyard dog has seen rebound numbers drop thanks to teammate Thompson; highly efficient at the rim, no game elsewhere.|
|F||0||Marc Loving||Sr.||6'8, 220||83||20||100||No|
|Never quite put it together. Good outside shooter; rest of his game is weak, with a bunch of TOs and iffy efficiency.|
|C||35||Trevor Thompson||Jr.||7'0, 250||56||23||115||Very|
|Rebound machine 40th nationally in OREB rate and 9th in DREB rate, also racks up a ton of blocks. Good FT shooter, too|
|G||51||CJ Jackson||So.||6'1, 175||38||20||97||Yes|
|Backup PG has similar assist/TO rates as Lyle; weak shooter.|
|F||25||Micah Potter||Fr.||6'9, 240||32||16||101||No|
|Backup post is all-around worse version of Thompson, but can shoot threes a bit.|
|F||5||Andre Wesson||Fr.||6'6, 220||22||16||83||Yes|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
I have revamped my player database, and learned how to make gorgeous interactive charts. Wanna see where this class stacks up?
Mouse over the dots to see whom each belongs to. The orange ones are this year’s class (they limit free users to only a few colors and I was trying out a bunch of these).
[UPDATE: Didn’t see that they limit your views too. No more interactivity—if somebody knows a good site to build these let me know. In the meantime if you download this and open it in your browser I think it will work for you.
The spreadsheet still lives here and includes a ton of updated data thanks to some readers who helped me out. If you want to see the actual ratings and rankings that went into these numbers I’ve put that all on a separate tab. Behold:
I had some help. Reader David Moorhead pulled out all of his old recruiting issues of The Wolverine that had data going back to 1990. Much of the National Recruiting Advisor (ancestor of Rivals), Parade, Lemming, PrepStar, Street & Smith, USA Today, and SuperPrep (Scout predecessor) data came from his work. Also reader Jeff Alotta helped me play around with the math some as I tried to rebuild how I give out star ratings for regional and national position ranks.
SO, HOW DID WE DO THIS YEAR?
The receivers and front seven look amazing when stacked against the players who’ve come through here in the modern era. It’s also a very balanced class. And it’s huge. Getting to Best Class Ever™ would be tough. The Class of ’94 formed the basis of a national championship team and while not everyone stuck around almost everyone made it to the NFL. The next class then produced two guys in the conversation for greatest football player who ever lived in Woodson and Brady. On the other hand this class matches either of those in average quality, and then doubles the size.
AND STARS MATTER?
That appears to be the case, statistically, when I compare the star ratings of past players to how many games they started at Michigan. Note not just the trendline, but where the NFL players came from:
The average star rating (on my 5-star sliding scale) of a future NFL player coming out of high school was just under 4.25. That’s roughly equivalent to a top-125 player who’s the #2 player in Ohio or the 9th best cornerback in a deep year.
That r-squared is saying “they’re related but star rating is no guarantee.” Note however that lots of starts don’t necessarily mean quality, e.g. Ezeh. You should also note that the number of little diamonds bunched at zero starts gets thinned out considerably as it gets into the 4-star range. This is consistent with every other study that compares on-field performance to recruiting ranking, which always show you can get great players from the 3-star ranks but the higher-rated players are progressively more likely to contribute.
Let’s blow up that bottom corner to see the 5-stars who had fewer than 10 starts at Michigan:
It’s hard to look at that and make a claim that the scouts got it wrong. Five of the seven left with eligibility remaining to play with another Power 5 school or the Yankees—Fargas, Simmons, and Mallett would all play well as upperclassmen elsewhere and stick in NFL. Baraka couldn’t stay sober, so that wasn’t even a scouting issue. Henson is a special case.
That leaves Green and Grady. On review of every other consensus 5-star running back in recruiting database history up to when Green committed that seems to just be horrible bad luck. Grady and Green were overrated or undeveloped, which sucks since every other RB rated as highly was either awesome or lost his career to something not related to talent.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
The last two classes, like the 2012-’13 hauls under Hoke, are making up for the two smaller classes between. The 2016 class had to play a lot of guys right away to fill the depth chart and this year will be the same. There’s no way around having an incredibly young team this year. By next year however these hauls will start to show. I think we’re done with 30-man classes for the time being.
National championship teams have to get close enough for luck to do the rest. The 2016 team was that with terrible luck despite a lot more misses than normal for the quality and size of Hoke’s early classes that built it. Harbaugh’s found Michigan another one or two shots at it again down the road. That’s all you can ask.
[ed-Seth: Special thanks this year to Matt Gase, Michigan grad and CEO of Eat Well Embrace Life, for being a most excellent sponsor of Joe Pichey’s most excellent recipes. I don’t know if I’d have tried his stuff if he wasn’t a sponsor, but now that I have I freak out when my wife forgets to pick up more. He’s also got some plain ones out there now that I plan to try.]
I don’t know about you guys, but I am a strong believer that all Super Bowl grub should be of the FINGER FOOD variety. I need one hand for my beverage of choice and one hand filled with something smoked, fried or DIP-ABLE. Preferably with meat or cheese tucked away all up in there. These 2 recipes have been favorites for awhile and are really easy. I learned a new technique from my buddy Trace of ThunderBird Wings & Thighs Food Truck in Nashville and I’m passing it along. It’s my new favorite way to smoke wings and I’m sure you will love it. His Chicken Scratch rub is LEGIT and fantastic on Wing and Thighs.
- Chicken Wings (Leave em whole or separate them into dummies and midsections)
- Olive Oil
- Thunderbird Chicken Scratch Rub - (Please add link) www.thunderbirdwings.com
- Honey or Maple Syrup
Fire your smoker up to 225 - 250 degrees and add some PECAN wood to the coals. I know, I know!!! Only 225 - 250 degrees for chicken wings? What about the skin? That’s exactly what I said too. I have always smoked my wings at 325-350 degrees to make sure my skin was crispy at the end. This was more grilling than smoking, but It still produced good wings. Trust me, this method is better. As your smoker is heating up. separate your wings into sections or leave them whole. I did a little of each for this batch. I added all of these to a large bowl and added a little olive oil. Just enough to coat the wings. For these 20 wings, it was about 3 TBS.
[Hit THE JUMP to see how to get that gold. AND A BONUS RECIPE]
In the beginning, it seemed like things might change. Michigan’s defense has been giving up more shot attempts than their offense has been generating from the drop, but the freshman class seemed to inject a bit more tenacity into Michigan’s forechecking. Opponents held the puck for long stretches, but it seemed that the prime scoring chances ceded by defenses in years past, the ones right in front of the net, may have been corrected. At least, that’s what this writer naively believed.
We’re now a bit past the midway point in the season and, thanks to some meticulous stat tracking, we have data to lean on that suggests the unchecked-man-in-front-of-the-net problem has not been remedied. An idea that’s gained popularity over the last few years among NHL advanced stats wonks is separating out from which area a shot is attempted. Those analysts have found what one might expect: more goals are scored from the area in front of the net than from the edges of the zone. Below we have scoring chance by shooting location via a Chance article by A.C. Thomas:
Based on information like the above, analysts have started to call the area with the two darkest shades of green the “home plate” area. The success rate above is based on NHL data, but the idea can be carried over to college hockey. With that in mind, David has been tracking shot attempts (in the Corsi sense; shots on goal+misses+blocked shots) all season. (Special thanks to Orion Sang and Mike Persak of the Daily for frequently providing us with shot charts.) Now that we’re past the midpoint of the season and solidly into Big Ten play, it seems that there’s enough data to see how Michigan’s defense has fared. It’s, uh…well, there’s a reason I called myself “naïve” above.
[After THE JUMP: cheery fun stuff]
- Aubrey Solomon: We know what he says if he likes you; if he doesn’t like you he’ll let your quarterback know. James Hudson: Impressed that he was listed at 295 because that’s ready to go size.
- Best wide receiver class ever? Sam has some old recruiting stories and a lot of big receiver hauls going back to the early ’90s. Who’s the #2 receiver in this class?
- Drew Singleton calls in, talks about how he fell in love with Michigan, what position he’ll come in to play, and the New Jersey to Michigan Express.
- Who’s the viper? Could be Singleton, or JKP, or Jordan Glasgow. Position shakeouts will happen over the offseason.
- Are M-OSU running away with the conference? MSU always loses the battle to Michigan but who knows, maybe their 2-stars will be Cook, Waynes, Dennard and Conklin again.
- More around the conference: Maryland’s class: Durkin’s secret to recruiting. Diminishing Wisconsin, Penn State and Nebraska on the rise. But why are you sleeping on Wisconsin?
- Nationally? Tom Herman will be fine. Florida will not. How did USC do it? Stanford has just 14 players but they’re all really good. Odd that Clemson’s national championship didn’t result in more. Missing Ole Miss.
- The black hole of Mississippi
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
This year’s event seemed to be focused more on the internal stars, if you will—brining out the coaches, introducing the alumni, all that. What was the decision behind that and what do you think of this event compared to last year’s?
“Yeah, that was really it. It was just a thought that I had, we had, to make it more about Michigan, from the band, the cheerleaders, the drum line, coaches, players, parents. Just make it about the family, make it about the family that we are at the University of Michigan.”
Why did you want to make that change compared to last year?
“I just thought it’d be better. Not comparing the two; I think they’re both great. Just kind of the direction—it just felt right. That was the ‘why.’”
Does that reinforce the family atmosphere here at Michigan?
“It means so much to me. Never has that resonated more; brought home our seventh child yesterday. Came right out, gave it to Eddie McDoom on a fly sweep. They were giving it to us. Had to take it. There’s no better word in the English language to me than ‘family,’ this family of ours, the University of Michigan.”
/Ambry Thomas sneaks up behind Harbaugh
“Compete, Coach! Compete!”
JH: “Compete! Compete! Compete! Was that good? Good job, Ambry.”
You touched on it up there, but the combination of this receiving class you’re brining in and Pep Hamilton moving forward with that group.
“It’s a very dynamic group. Wonderful guys, you know. Really talented people, and just thankful. Today is a day I thank the guys. I thank ‘em for coming to the University of Michigan, for choosing Michigan. I thank the parents for trusting us with their children. So, it’s a day to be thankful. It’s a day to celebrate, and very happy. I mean, this is Michigan. I want just to come be great. I want them to take advantage of everything Michigan has to offer. So, a lot of emotions, but mostly joy.”
Can you talk about the trip to Italy and your reaction to the NCAA ruling that this is the last year of spring break camps?
“Yeah, we’re not going during spring break, so…[/smiles]. We’re going at the end of the term, so it’s compliant with all rules or new rules that have been made. And let’s talk about what mainly it is: it’s an unbelievable opportunity for all of us—youngsters and adults alike—to have an educational opportunity, to connect with the people from another country, to study in terms of study abroad. Most all our players are going to have that opportunity to study abroad, do internships, do service.
“We’re going to Italy, we’re gonna be there for a week, we’re going to practice, but from there all our players are going to be able to branch out all over the world. Thinking that the classroom—the world is our classroom. And they’re going to be going to Iceland, Belgium, Japan, Israel, South America, Puerto Rico, all over the world to do their classes in May. It’s so phenomenal that I can’t wait to get there.”
[After THE JUMP: Tom Brady, HC; loading the Jim Harbaugh Coaching Express; future trips abroad]