Hockey. Michigan had a bye week as the bottom eight teams in the CCHA opened the playoffs. The top seeds all held so Michigan gets #8 Nebraska-Omaha, which is a significantly tougher draw than any of the potential matchups against teams 9-12. Despite finishing eighth, UNO was just a couple games below .500 in-conference and played Michigan tough in their series earlier in the year. Yost Built has details.
In PWR news, North Dakota finally cooled off with a pair of draws against St. Cloud and dropped behind Michigan, but Colorado College swept Denver and moved into first. Michigan remains second; third-place New Hampshire split with Vermont.
In practical terms Michigan is about a half-game behind CC and a half-game ahead of UND. I think UNH's loss means Michigan will hold the comparison against the Wildcats as long as they reach the Joe.
Operation "Let's Not Play Wisconsin" took the week off, as the Badgers had a bye. St. Cloud's split against UND did push them past UW, so the Badgers will have to travel to St. Cloud in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
Kolarik is skating around but still in pain; I highly doubt we see him this weekend.
Bracket. FWIW, the rejiggered brackets straight 1-16:
16 AH Autobid
8 St. Cloud
15 CHA Autobid
10 Michigan State
11 Minnesota State
4 North Dakota
BU is now the last team in the tournament; we still have 7 WCHA participants. Any time there are more than four teams per conference the NCAA will accept a first-round intraconference matchups, so we don't have to break the DU-Minnesota State or UND-UW games, but UNH and BU have to be split. If we flop UW and BU we break two intra-conference matchups and get an attractive bracket for Madison, but attendance nightmares in the East: Clarkson and BU are the only Eastern teams.
Does screwing Michigan help? (Remember, the committee loves screwing Michigan.) Maybe.
Option #2: If BU gets flopped with the CHA autobid, UNH can go to Worchester and Albany will have Clarkson and BU to go with the two Michigans. This scenario has an extra intra-WCHA first round game, though.
Option #3: flip Wisconsin into the M bracket, then flip BU into the UND bracket. This puts M in Madison against UW and allows UNH to stay home but creates an Albany bracket with 2 WCHA teams, Miami, and someone like Army.
Given last year's slavish adherence to their rickety system over attendance and logic, I think they'll go with the first option but swap the AH team into it for what marginal attendance and travel benefits it provides, leaving Michigan in this bracket:
4. Army (-ish)
3. Michigan State
I dislike the idea of Michigan State our bracket since they clearly know how to frustrate Michigan into a bad game; other than that, fairly appealing.
As always, this exercise was wholly useless.
Basketball. I did end up using those tickets that loomed in my drawer and was rewarded with a couple of wins and generally competitive basketball (fortunately, I was hundreds of miles away from Crisler during the Northwestern debacle), but the last ten minutes yesterday left a sour note. I can't summon the energy to construct a coherent column-thingy, but that's what bullets are for:
- Manny Harris had seven turnovers and no assists; nominal point guard Kelvin Grady had five and five. Twelve turnovers and five assist from the starting backcourt with nine points between them, all from Harris. Bleah, bleah, bleah. Did either of these guys improve as the season progressed?
To me, the key sequence in the game -- one that was emblematic of the entire season -- came midway through the second half. The score was tied and Purdue was inbounding from behind the Michigan basket. Harris and Grady got confused, leaving a soon-to-be red hot Purdue guard with a wide open three, which he nailed. Grady then took the ball out of bounds, panicked when he saw Harris being overplayed, and threw it directly to a Purdue defender instead of taking one of the 46 timeouts allotted. Result: layup, five point deficit that would quickly balloon to ten, lost game. It was strikingly reminiscent of the Boston College game earlier in the year, wherein Michigan hung around for approximately 30 minutes, then imploded in an Amakerian spurt of turnovers and stupidity.
He moves very well without the ball and also can create his own shot. But the thing that stood out the most was his passing ability, he is a very unselfish player for the high school level. I saw all those kids last year play that went to Purdue in this area and I would put him right up there with them.
Beilein still has two scholarships left for either '08 or '09; the general thought was he would take one more '08 kid and try to balance the classes somewhat but the Novak offer and commit when a couple higher-profile guys like Kyle Cassity are still out there implies that Beilein thinks he needs help now and will be taking a fourth '08 kid.
A dispiriting year for the basketball program. No one expected miracles but beating Harvard and Central and Northwestern shouldn't fall in the category of "miracle". From time to time the team showed a semblance of offensive organization not present under Amaker. Turnovers did fall dramatically. But a number of things did not change: Michigan was awful defending the three-pointer and on the boards, and for all the complaints about the Amaker offense consisting of 30 seconds of aimless dribbling and an off-balance three pointer, at no time did Michigan decide to launch so many ill-advised bombs as they did this year. After a 7 of 26 brickfest against Purdue, Michigan is now the 45th most three-happy team in the nation... and 310th in making 'em.
But, hey... free white guys!
Pryor... hasn't decided on a school, but has gotten in another fight after a basketball game. These red flags are reproducing like chlorine-fixing bacteria in an anaerobic environment.
Pryor. It's been quiet on the Pryor front of late, mostly because everyone's given up and assumes he's headed to OSU. A Mike Farrell story provides a glimmer of optimism in the form of a potential visit...
"I'd like my mom to see both places and Penn State," he said. "So we're talking about a day trip to both Ohio State and Michigan, and she'd come along with me on my Penn State trip."
...but not much of one. Pryor says he'll decide by April 1st.
I get this question a lot: "when does Pryor have to sign by?" The answer is "never." If Pryor is going to sign a LOI, he has to do it by the end of the month, but the LOI doesn't actually do anything for the player. If Pryor doesn't sign he can still show up on a college campus this fall and get an athletic scholarship.
In other Pryor news: weird guys make figurines, and there's no way to say it that doesn't sound like sour grapes, but... uh... I don't know if Pryor's much of a warrior-poet. You've probably seen the Bleacher Report thing about that near-riot at a basketball game, which was at least partially substantiated by a newspaper columnist:
That's when a Jeannette assistant exited the Jayhawks' locker and complained about the conduct of the South Fayette students. That's something he had a right to do.
One officer, however, did not appreciate the direction of the conversation. He was present when Pryor accosted the South Fayette fans.
"You're lucky we didn't take your kid (Pryor) in," the officer said. "He threatened to go into the crowd."
A Penn State friend mentioned that there was a pretty horrifying account of Pryor's behavior posted on one of the PSU premium boards by someone who was at the game, and sent it along. It's pretty convincing, especially because at the time Penn State fans were hopeful Pryor would pick them.
Then there's this Plain-Dealer piece Run Up The Score noted:
Sharon, Pa. â€” Day 28 since the Day of No Decision. Subject No. 1 â€” Pryor, Terrelle â€” seems aloof Wednesday night, at times disinterested. He applies himself only when necessary â€” and when a fast-break dunk appears possible.
"He plays as well as he needs to play," says his basketball coach at Jeannette High School, Jim Nesser. "I don't know if that sounds good, but if he needs to take it to another level, he can do that."
And then, like, uh...
"I'm a Pryor," he says. "My dad used to hit me when I lost at anything, at fights, anything. I mean, your dad is supposed to make you a man, right? That's what he did."
Not that this last quote reflects poorly on Pryor himself. It's just weird.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh... Iowa says CYA to a couple of the infamous Facebook guys, and others are pointedly not on the roster. It looks unlikely that any of the guys we've all seen 1) displaying lots of money, 2) putting lots of money on their head, or 3) eating lots of money will ever see the field at Iowa again. BHGP is, of course, crushed:
In other suspension-tastic news, Penn State tight end Andrew Quarless is probably hanging by a thread after a DUI charge, his second alcohol related run-in with the law in a year, and Indiana's Kellen Lewis has violated some team rules.
BONUS speculation on the Quarless incident can be found over at Black Shoe Diaries:
An insider on a message board has just indicated there is more to this story which will come out in time. And it's not good. He didn't give details so don't ask me what it is.
Begin rampant speculation now.
This might have something to do with the car Quarless was pulled over in: a white BMW.
Updated. Made a couple fixes to the depth chart by class: I miscounted the OL (there are 15, not 14) and erroneously asserted that Troy Woolfolk redshirted last year. He did not. Other assertion made that I believe is incorrect: Moosman, Zirbel, and Stewart are in their final years of eligibility. IIRC, all redshirted. Other assertion made that I can't confirm: Marell Evans didn't redshirt. Which would be, like, WTF.
Shamelessly reappropriated from Rocky Top Talk.
|MICHIGAN FOOTBALL DEPTH BY CLASS 2008|
|QB (3)||Justin Feagin||Steven Threet*||David Cone*|
|RB (7)||Sam McGuffie
|Avery Horn*||Kevin Grady*
|FB (1)||Vince Helmuth
|WR (6)||Darryl Stonum
|Slot (3)||T. Robinson
|TE (6)||Brandon Moore
|Steve Watson*||Martell Webb||Carson Butler*||Mike Massey*|
|OL (15)||Dann O'Neill
|DT (7)||Mike Martin||John Ferrara*
|DE (6)||R. VanBergen*||Greg Banks*||Brandon Graham
|LB (11)||JB Fitzgerald
|B. Herron*||Obi Ezeh*
|CB (8)||B. Cissoko
|S (5)||Brandon Smith||Mike Williams*||Artis Chambers||Charles Stewart*
|P/K (2)||Bryan Wright*||Zoltan Mesko*||KC Lopata (W)|
|returning starters in bold, projected starters in italics, redshirts denoted with *
Total allotted: 79.
Sorry for the slow day; I'm painstakingly assembling all the articles about 2009 recruits I have stored up so that the 2009 recruiting board can make a debut soon. Corrections appreciated.
At first glimpse: there are five unused spots, ten scholarship players see their eligibility expire, and there are two or three potential fifth years who probably won't be asked back. 18 or so scholarships are available right now and with normal attrition Michigan should again be signing close to a full class.
/strong> Miscounted the OL; there are 15. Troy Woolfolk did not redshirt last year. Yes, there are twelve starters on each side of the ball.
Update: Removed Boren, moved Evans to sophomore -- he did not redshirt.
Update: Removed Quintin Patilla, who transferred to GVSU.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. So this heavily rumored Carty bomb which may or may not be a dud is rumored to be coming out Sunday. There is a competing rumor that there is no definite timetable and the thing is still being worked upon. Informed sources are skeptical about the payload here, but everyone who's emailed me appears to be getting their info from the athletic department and may be predisposed to downplay the charges. To me, the competing rumors look like some internal conflict about whether they have an actual story here, a la the NYT on John McCain.
In any case, there will be two issues leveled:
- A sizable number of UM athletes have been taking spring and summer term independent study courses in kinesiology and sociology under a few specific professors.
- In the late 80s and early 90s, Michigan bent its admissions standards for athletes(!).
The second point seems so banal I can't see how anyone can spin it into a story. Since time immemorial, Michigan has accepted anyone who qualifies under NCAA guidelines. (JUCOs and transfers, however, are another matter.) I've heard from a couple different people that Carty's main source on at least the latter part is a disgruntled kinesiology lecturer who has job security issues or got passed over for tenure or some such thing who used to be on the admissions committee, so there's might be something embarrassing there. If the timeframe here is correct, any potential NCAA violations -- doubtful in any case -- are well outside of their statute of limitations, IIRC.
The first part sounds like the Auburn scandal that erupted last year, with one major difference: apparently these are real classes and an appropriate amount of work was done. We'll see if the article contests that at all. IMO, students with questionable academic credentials that universities have a powerful motive to keep in school shouldn't be taking independent study en masse. Like the Alabama oversigning thing, it looks and feels skeezy no matter what, and the potential for abuse is extreme. It's important to compare athletes to the progress of other students to make sure you're, you know, actually educating them.
On the other hand, football players have enormous demands on their time and I can see why they might need the flexibility afforded by independent study. A few credits here and there seem reasonable.
eeeeee Nystrom. A kindly(?) reader forwarded along this video of Eric Nystrom, now of the Quad City Flames in the AHL, reprising the saucy striptease from Slapshot. No, ladies, it's not Jack Johnson, but whatever. Beefcake incoming!
This video posted, I reserve the right for one cheesecake picture on a future date of my choosing, for gender balance.
On-ice. Chad Kolarik had a gimpy practice with the hockey team yesterday, leading the Daily to speculate on his potential return:
Still, Kolarik may have a chance to be back in the lineup when Michigan hosts a second-round CCHA playoff series next Friday.
"The deadline for him in my mind is next Monday," Berenson said. "Can he practice with the team, and compete and take contact and the whole bit? Because there's no time for players that aren't 100 percent when you get in the playoffs."
If Kolarik gets up to speed with his teammates during the first three days of next week, then he'll probably be in the lineup for the weekend, Berenson said.
That's great, awesome, terrific, unexpected quasi-news, though I doubt we actually see Kolarik for the first round playoff series. Said series will be against a team that finished eighth or worse in the CCHA and Michigan should be able to handle them without Kolarik; risking an aggravation seems imprudent. But if Kolarik could be 100% for the games at the Joe and knock the rust off before the regionals, that would be a major boost to Michigan's national title hopes.
One other injury note: during the senior day festivities after the Ferris game on Friday I noticed that Matt Rust is sporting a hard cast on one arm.
(Via Michigan Tailgate.)
There is also an enormous article in USA Today about how wicked sweet Yost is.
The voting is finished and it's time to present this year's College Football Blogger Awards. Where possible, last year's winner, ineligible to win this year, will be presenting the award to this year's winner. Please check in at Rocky Top Talk and EDSBS for a schedule of all the awards to be presented over the next two days.
The next award presentation - for "Best National Blog" - will be around 4 at SMQB
AWARD PRESENTATION: "Best non-BCS Blog"
(Before we start it should be noted that this category was incredibly close. The runner up was a point behind the winner, and the fourth-place blog was a mere four points adrift.)
Hawaii was this year's chosen amongst the non-BCS brethren, and though it all ended in tears and broken little island dudes against Georgia, an undefeated romp through the WAC and reaching the BCS is nothing to sniff at. Chronicling it all was the somewhat confusingly named "The Warriors Will Throw (You Off The Pali)", a news-aggregator sort of blog that comprehensively assembled anything related to Colt Brennan & Co for your Hawaii-fan edification. Just click on a random month in the archives, say November, and then be prepared to scroll. Lo, everything written about Hawaii every day in one convenient spot, along with a heap of video. Any team could use something so comprehensive.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
2007 WINNER: Temple Football Forever
A one man-shame factory for any moderately beleaguered school without a dedicated blogger (Michigan State and Arizona, I'm looking at you), TFF is an actual, frequently updated, serious blog about Temple Football and, as such, is a permanent Job Award Nominee until such time as it actually wins the thing. Need ten reasons to attend Temple? Check. Anger about the UConn fiasco? Check. Various other things about Temple? Temple's football team? You know, the one you pick in NCAA so that you don't win a national championship for at least three years? Check.
Here is an award. Long may it last.
I think Michigan hockey is in one. There's so much jitter in the PWR -- one indication that it's not the world's most reliable system -- that the weekly "bracketology" columns that are all the rage are essentially useless, but we do know a few things: M, NoDak, CC, UNH, and Miami will be the top five seeds. Wisconsin and CC are both hosting regionals.
So I'm fiddling around with brackets and if you just set things up straight 1-16, you get this:
16 AH Auto
15 CHA Auto
This is pretty smooth, considering there are sixty WCHA teams in the field, but CC and Wisconsin absolutely can't be matched up against each other because they're both hosting and UW has to be in Madison. The switch with the most bracket integrity is to flip UW into the UNH bracket and send that to Madison, but that would strip Worcester of a #1 seed that plays its home games something like 25 or 50 miles from there and would probably send the M/Clarkson/SCSU/CHA bracket there, which would be attendance death.
The committee's other option: screw over either M or NoDak and bracket one of the top two seeds in Madison against a home team. Michigan is #2 and likely to remain there (at best) unless both CC and UND go belly-up. There's a long way to go and Wacky Things will no doubt occur, but I have a bad feeling that if Wisconsin is a four seed, we're going to play them in the first round no matter what.
Side note: All of these projections are overlooking the possibility of conference-tourney interlopers. With just two Hockey East teams and one ECAC team in the tourney right now, one or both of those conference tourneys is likely to be won by teams currently out of the field, so Wisconsin is about one slot away from being out of the tourney altogether, which is the best option for Michigan.
Side note #2: Western College Hockey takes issue with the WCHA-flood concerns expressed by Elliot Olshansky and Yost Built like so:
The Blog that Yost Built took a look at the WCHA's OOC performance. He brings up a ton of evidence against the WCHA, though all of it is still anecdotal. Wouldn't it be great if there was a system that took into account *every* game and objectively measured the quality of every opponent? Oh wait, you mean there already is a system like that? Ultimately, the beef here is with the ranking system that was agreed upon before the season started, not with the WCHA itself.
No one has questioned the WCHA's position as the preeminent college hockey conference, but I think it's fair to say that any system that says eighty percent of a particular conference should be in the tournament is broken. WCH cites the RPI as a system that "objectively measure[s] the quality of every opponent" -- and I guess you could cite KRACH as a similar system -- but RPI is a jerry-rigged ranking that gets fiddled with on a regular basis. The NCAA has changed the OOP percentage, win percentage, tough roadie bonus, and exclusion of RPI-hurting wins in the time I've been following college hockey. And they've done the same to the PWR, first increasing the length of the "L10" component to 16, then dropping it entirely, changing the TUC cutoff from a .500 record to a .500 RPI to the top 25 in RPI, and making the TUC record not count when you have less than ten games registered on top of all the fiddles with the RPI. College hockey is constantly dissatisfied with its system, and for good reason: like the BCS it regularly spits out nonsensical results.
Despite the NCAA's implicit acknowledgment that the PWR is unreliable, every year they hew to this rickety thing down to the letter, which makes no sense.
Another thrust from WCH:
I think we can all agree that North Dakota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Colorado College, and Miami are all solid tournament teams. If those six teams had formed their own conference prior to the start of the season, one of two things would have happened: Either everyone would have finished .500, or somebody would have had a losing record. Should they be excluded from the tournament because of that? The same is true in the WCHA, though to a lesser extent. If somebody wins a game, that means somebody else has to lose, even if both teams are good hockey teams.
Elliot said he'd rather see Notre Dame, Providence, and Princeton in the tournament than Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, and Wisconsin. But what is there, other than overall record, to suggest that any of those teams belongs in the tournament more than the three WCHA teams? If you're going to take that step, why even bother with strength of schedule at all?
I think there's a terrific argument for including strength of schedule, but what we're talking about here is overrating SOS to the point where a team ten games over .500 in one of the top three conferences is in a position to be passed over by a team below .500. Does that make sense? Is there any evidence that the WCHA is so far superior to the CCHA that we should prefer the eighth-place WCHA team to the fourth place CCHA team, especially when that CCHA team has a split against #6 seed Denver?
The problem: the NCAA vastly overrates the importance of nonconference games. They form the basis for virtually all the SOS rankings and the COP category. Then they double-count SOS in a terribly arbitrary way by declaring games against the top 25 teams to be a special category all their own (thus eliminating UNO, NMU, and BGSU from consideration because each is three points adrift of the top 25!).
It's common sense: if you are one of the worst teams in your conference, you are not one of the best teams in the country and should not be afforded the opportunity to win a national title in a nigh-random pinball machine like a single-elimination hockey tournament.