|WHAT||Michigan vs Minnesota|
|WHEN||6:30 PM Eastern, Today|
|LINE||M –4 (Kenpom)|
MINNESOTA BASKETBALL: HISTORY'S GREATEST MONSTERS.
(thank you, Minnesota basketball, for not making Michigan basketball history's greatest monsters.
With a Rodger-Sherman-murdering overtime victory over Northwestern last night, Minnesota earns the right to play Michigan in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. They've also killed an innocent man. I hope you're happy, Oto Osenieks (@ right, smiling abut DEATH DEATH DEATH). HIS BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS.
Ah, so, anyway. Minnesota is an incredibly balanced team. Only one player averages more than 66% of available minutes and no one dominates the ball enough to get into the "Major Contributors" category at Kenpom. Chip Armelin does put up a hefty number of shots when he's in the game, but that's only 36% of the time. Scoring can come from anywhere for the Gophers. As we all learned while screaming at the television late in their game against Michigan State, it can also come from nowhere.
Minnesota is down one Ralph Sampson with a knee injury of some variety. He dressed but did not play at all yesterday and is not expected to play tonight, leaving Minnesota with freshmen Osenieks and Elliot Eliason in the post. Mostly Eliason—Osenieks got one minute yesterday, which he used to stab Rodger Sherman in the heart.
Unfortunately for Michigan, you can make a case that Eliason is not a downgrade on Sampson. They're the same size and while Sampson has much higher usage Eliason is a significantly better rebounder on both ends of the floor and not far off when it comes to blocked shots. Eliason has two major issues: he's getting 5.9 fouls per 40 minutes and he's a horrendous free throw shooter (11 of 28 on the year). He was 2 of 5 against Northwestern with six offensive rebounds, a couple of assists, and four fouls in 29 minutes. Sampson's numbers from Minnesota's loss to Michigan earlier in the season were essentially identical.
Minnesota was content to go small against Northwestern when Eliason was out. During those 16 minutes the tallest player on the floor for the Gophers were a couple 6'7" small forward sorts. They'll probably do the same against Michigan.
With Sampson out the headliner for Minnesota was guard Andre Hollins, who blew up for 25 points by hitting five of ten three-pointers. He was at 39% before that and his two-point shooting (34%) is amazingly bad, so the prescription is obvious there: run him off the line, off the line, off the line. With Eliason the main post guy there shouldn't be much reason to sag off of him.
The other main cogs of the Gopher offense at this juncture are Rodney Williams, the aforementioned 6'7" guy, and point guard Austin Hollins. Williams can jump out of the gym.
He also did this to a Nebraska player:
If that looks familiar, you're probably thinking of Zack Novak getting MBAKWE'D last year. Tubby Smith may not be able to get his team to the tournament but by God he can find some freakish power forwards.
Williams reminds me of Brent Petway, except good. However, he's not totally un-Petwayish. His usage is basically the same as all other Gophers, he's another horrendous free-throw shooter (55%), and he's not a threat from deep. He depends on offensive rebounding and assists for his offense and doesn't generate much on his own. So while he shoots 60% from two, you can control his opportunities decently well. Zack Novak's no stranger to matchups against larger, more athletic opponents and should cope decently. There will be a couple of posterizations. As long as Williams isn't getting 15 high-quality attempts Michigan should be able to cope.
The other Hollins was the assist guy against the Wildcats; he was also the turnover guy. He ended with six of the former and four of the latter. He's an efficient shooter from all ranges (84/51/37 percent FT/2/3). Michigan is going to see a different version of him this time out; in Crisler Hollins got just 14 minutes off the bench and didn't score.
Joe Coleman and Julian Welch were the other guys soaking up minutes against Northwestern. Welch came off the bench but got a Stu Douglass-like 30 minutes despite that; he hit half his threes and had a couple offensive rebounds to go with some turnovers. On the season he has by far the highest assist rate of any Gopher and also shoots efficiently (83/50/43). Coleman is a freshman who is not a good offensive player at this juncture and is having more minutes piled on him lately for unknown reasons.
Minnesota is so balanced that anyone could go off; the main threat seems to be massive numbers of three-pointers. The Gophers matched Northwestern's 11 for 26 shooting yesterday; if they do that again Michigan is going to have to keep pace or exit early. Survey says…
The Gophers' nonconference schedule was abysmal. According to Kenpom the best team on it was #56 South Dakota State. They got by the Bison, lost to Dayton in their preseason tourney championship game, and scraped by Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC challenge. Thus concludes their nonconference games against Kenpom top 100 opponents.
When they hit the Big Ten they suffered four consecutive losses to start things and never really recovered. Their sole quality win was 77-74 at Indiana, which is pretty impressive. But all other Big Ten wins came against Penn State, Illinois, Northwestern, and Nebraska.
Conference four factors:
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||49.2 8||47.4 4||49|
|Turnover %:||21.8 12||18.1 8||20.8|
|Off. Reb. %:||33.4 3||31.1 10||32.5|
|FTA/FGA:||36.5 6||43.3 11||36.5|
This is the statistical picture of an athletic, unskilled, not-very-smart team. They're great on the offensive boards and it's tough to shoot over them (they're #1 in the conference at blocking shots) but they turn the ball over a ton, allow opponents to crash the boards despite their size, and foul like the dickens.
Other statistical bits of interest include steal percentage, blocks suffered on offense, and three-point shooting. Minnesota is last, 11th, and sixth, respectively. This means that 1) Michigan should have fast break opportunities off of turnovers, 2) Minnesota's shots are often heavily contested, and 3) a lot of the shiny numbers Kenpom shows for Minnesota's three-point shooting are artifacts of a poor nonconference schedule.
Timmah? TIMMAH. We've gotten to the point in the rejuvenation cycle where newspapers are appending narratives to potentially random events:
Left with no other choice, Hardaway eventually came out of his shell and began to look for help.
He spent time with Michigan Director of Athletic Counseling Greg Harden, a man former Wolverine football greats like Desmond Howard and Tom Brady have sworn by.
He began to take a look at the mental part of his game, analyzing it as much as any jump shot or free throw mechanic.
Is that why he's been playing better? God, I hope so. The alternative is that Hardaway is just experiencing a random fluctuation to the good and should revert to an established level of play just in time for that to suck hard. I don't know which is the case. Not enough data, so we make big.
Hardaway did add 13 points on nine shots against Penn State and is now hitting around 43% over his last seven games. This is getting pretty trend-y. His turnover rate is going up, which is fine to a certain extent but not so much when those turnovers are coming on dribbles he puts off his foot.
Smotryczah? Maybe. Michigan's other mercurial outside shooting talent also came to life against Penn State. That one basket Smotrycz had where he drove to the short corner and calmly pulled up for a jumper caused hearts to flutter. Can he build on that performance against a team that is not completely horrible on defense?
Don't let anyone taller than 6'4" have an easy basket. Williams, Eliason, Osenieks, and sub Andre Ingram are all are very bad free throw shooters. If they're in position for a dunk or layup, just foul them.
Convert on fast break opportunities. There will probably be a bunch of them; too often this year we've seen a Hardaway or Smotrycz rumble up the court and get the ball poked away.
Don't let anyone shorter than 6'7" take an uncontested three. Welch is at 43%, Hollins 39%, other Hollins 37%. I know these are inflated numbers but if that's a representation of what they do when half their games give them a lot of open threes because the opponents are bad, that's still not something Michigan wants to deal with. The only player on Minnesota who is a plus shooter from inside the line is Williams. Anyone else taking a two-point jumper is a win for Michigan.
Eliason foul watch. He's it as far as centers go for Minnesota and he picks up a ton of fouls. If he's out Michigan's path eases. This won't be a Shurna situation. No one who's playing the false five is a shooting threat and Morgan can just sag into the lane if Minnesota tries to play games with a small lineup.
This can also be reversed, of course: Morgan/Smotrycz foul watch in effect. They've been less spastic than Eliason over the course of the season and there are two of them, so it's less of an issue for Michigan, especially given Eliason's apparent lack of post touches.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by four.
The Old Man is coming. The Old Man.
The Old Man is coming.
The McCrayken is alive. All of the internets to user mdoc, who responded to the winged-helmet-kraken request instantly:
This blog is rooting for Mike McCray to be a destructive force so hard.
Penn State's death has been greatly exaggerated. OR: look what we can do when we have a head coach! PSU's 2012 class was terrible. All their good recruits ended up with Urban Meyer and they replaced them with two stars snatched from the MAC. That's going to hurt for a while. Despite that, Nittany Lions fans are probably feeling more chipper than they thought they would about their program's intermediate-term prospects. They've recently swooped in on the following recruits:
- QB Christian Hackenberg, a consensus four star claiming offers from Alabama and Florida.
- DE Garrett Sickels, who is rated a lot like Mike McCray (ie: top 50 on Rivals, solid four-star elsewhere)
- CB Ross Douglas, a three/four star tweener.
They are almost certain to add five-star-ish TE Adam Breneman tomorrow. By doing so they've become the only Big Ten team kind of sort of keeping up with the big two when it comes to shiny stars next to high schoolers' names. The Sandusky effect is looking pretty short-lived.
All you have to do is look at OSU's last class to know that this is good for Michigan. A strong Penn State takes recruits from teams who play Michigan all the time and puts them on one that plays Michigan 40% of the time; also it would be really nice if there was someone strong enough in the East to prevent an annoying B10 championship game instant rematch.
I'm with Fitz, sort of. Pat Fitzgerald does not want 6-6 teams to be excluded from bowl consideration:
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald hopes the Big Ten does not support potential legislation to limit bowl games to teams with at least seven wins.
"The best part of bowl games is about the opportunities -- not just the teams, but for your students, your fans, your alumni, your fans in the area," Fitzgerald told the Tribune on Tuesday. "I'm not for limiting it."
Paging Captain Renault. I agree that if a couple teams want to play some football it's better than watching ping-pong, but I'm not a fan of goofs in blazers bleeding college tuition out of the system. Leave it at 6-6 and severely reduce ticket guarantees. That will cause a bunch of bowls to collapse and solve the problem organically.
And this is 95% of the reason I linked the article:
"I'm not for five-win teams even being able to receive a waiver," Fitzgerald said. "That's tough noogies. If you have a losing record, you are out. A .500 record should be the benchmark."
I love Pat Fitzgerald. May he coach at Northwestern for 30 years.
Al Borges and the interesting things. Borges was on the Huge show recently and the resulting conversation had an unusual density of interesting things said. Borges admits that the early-season (and Iowa) forays into a more pro-style offense were a mistake:
"I think had we had to do it over again, we would have been a little more spread offense early on and gotten better at that. We kind of weaned ourselves into more spread offense as we went. That's really what was best for Denard at the end of the day."
He also makes a great observation about where Denard is at his most dangerous in the passing game:
"Denard is better in the pocket than rolling out," Borges said. "The thing with Denard, where he scares the defense the most, is when he sits in the middle of the pocket, comes underneath the rush, and poses not just a passing threat to the defense, but a running threat too. If you roll him out all the time a lot of time what they did is they would pin us into the sideline where Denard's improv skills aren't used near as much."
Whole thing is recommended. Borges references the "drastic leap" from year one to year two in his passing game. If Denard can just set his feet regularly and not throw into double coverage, Michigan will be cooking.
Sounds good to me. Andy Staples has a fascinating article on the potential impact of full cost of attendance scholarships:
For years, doomsayers have predicted a scenario in which the wealthiest 50 or 60 schools compete only against one another. If such a scenario ever came to fruition, it would have its roots in the debate over the full-cost-of-attendance scholarship.
Doomsayers? As long as we're talking about football here that sounds like heaven.
The article goes into arguments both for and against, with the small schools making arguments that moving some of the money currently going to coaches and facilities to players exacerbates competitive inequity. They don't make the case that this isn't a good thing, and then Nebraska's chancellor just blows it up anyway:
"You can tell me that I can't give them bagels with cream cheese and I can't give them more scholarships and I can't do this and I can't do that, and I follow those rules," Perlman said. "But then what I do to recruit competitively is I spend the money on other stuff. So I build facilities where there is no limit on what I can do, and I make those facilities far beyond what normal students live in because there's no limit on that. There's a standard understanding about regulatory environments that if you regulate something, people will move to the part of their activity that isn't regulated."
At worst the proposal takes the middleman out of competitive inequity.
It sounds like the big schools are getting increasingly exasperated with small schools with no financial weight imposing restrictions on them because they like to pretend they're DI schools when they're really just Indiana State. Eventually some sort of split is coming.
BONUS WASHINGTON PRESIDENT MICHAEL YOUNG PROBABLY WORKS FOR ADULT SWIM ZINGER:
"The kids who are on solely need-based aid can basically work 20 hours a week or whatever and earn a little pizza money or earn a little money for tattoos or whatever they want," Young said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. "Our athletes, on the other hand, work 40-50 hours a week for the school, and they don't get anything except what these other kids get without having to work for it. It seems when one thinks about simple equity, from that perspective, it's hard to argue that these kids shouldn't get something."
You're all right, Washington president Michael Young.
Wat. Brady Hoke is going to loathe this:
Hoke, Beilein and Brandon —along with U-M softball coach Carol Hutchins and a handful of business professors— will host a six-day executive education program intended to teach business leadership through lessons learned in U-M sports. Those lessons, according to a recent U-M announcement, include the trick to "transformations in times of crisis," as well as how to teach people "new ways of doing things" and how to "take on fierce competitors and produce winning results."
Only $15,000! Some people have too much money.
Etc.: Possibly random Hardaway renaissance is retconned into narrative. Please be true, narrative. Mitch McGary's "defensive impact" draws high praise—that would be nice, wouldn't it? If you've got ESPN insider this Wolverine Nation piece in which recruits are anonymously surveyed on recruiting tactics they've faced is a must-read. Excellent Yost student section retrospective. John Beilein for everything.
Trade mag article on how Michigan Stadium amplified the band. Maybe next year they'll have a piece on how they made it sound better in section 44. : (
With three of the recruiting services releasing their initial rankings and over half the Big Ten now possessing at least one commit, it's time to debut to Big Ten Recruiting Rankings for the class of 2013. I give you zero guesses about who is number one. Congratulations. You somehow won anyway.
ESPN is not included for now since they haven't released anything beyond their Watch List and an unsorted top 100 that they don't link or acknowledge anywhere else on the site, including individual player pages.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the three recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as one-star players. This may be a bit unfair this early in the process, considering there are many unevaluated recruits out there at this stage, but that's life.
On to the full data, after the jump.
[Ed-Ace: Bumped on a slow day. I'm working on the initial Big Ten recruiting rankings for the class of 2013, which should be up later today.]
I have never played basketball at any level, outside of a few pickup games. I'm not all that good at statistics, so I apologize for any and all statistical errors. However, as a former actuary, I am good at finding trends and patterns in data. Last week, Maize N Brew had a good article on whether Michigan lives and dies by the three. The conclusion was that the offensive efficiency was not really dependent on hitting 3 pointers. When looking at it the data presented, it looked as though the more three point shots UM takes the worse the offensive efficiency. I decided to take a closer look.
3 point Attempts vs Offensive Effiency.
I went throught the game by game box scores and looked at the 3-point attempts and plotted it against the offensive efficiency. [I removed Ferris St. since they aren't a D-I opponent.] What I found was slightly disappointing. The correlation was -0.15 (the negative means the higher the number of 3-point attempts the lower the offensive efficiency) and the R-squared was a low 0.02. However, when I took a closer look, I noticed that two of our lower offensive efficiency numbers came against Ohio and MSU, which is no surprise considering that they are the #1 and #2 best defensive efficiency teams in the country.
So to adjust for that I looked at the amount the offensive efficiency exceeded the opponents average adjusted defensive efficiency from Kenpom. The result was more in line with what I expected. The correlation drops to -0.49 and the R-squared rises to 0.24.
Looking at the results, when U-M shoots 20 3-pointers or less, Michigan is 10-0 (4 of them RPI Top 50 wins, 5 more Top 100 wins). Shooting more than 25, Michigan is 6-3, but those wins came against Arkansas Pine Bluff, Oakland, 2 overtime wins against Northwestern, Bradley and Iowa St (the only quality win in regulation). The 3 losses were the 3 worst performances of the season, @Iowa, @Arkansas, and the loss to Purdue.
So is this unique to Michigan? I looked at Northwestern, a team I think is most similar to Michigan's style of play (in the B1G). They spread the floor, shoot a ton of 3s and look for back door cuts. And I found they have a positive correlation between 3 attempts and offensive efficiency. A correlation of +0.17 (after adjusting for defensive effiency). The R-squared is a pathetic 0.03, but I think it is important to note that the correlation is the opposite sign.
I also looked at Wisconsin. Ohio relies on Sullinger and MSU relies on the offensive rebound so much that I didn't think that they would be good comparisons to Michigan. For them it doesn't seem to matter if they shoot a lot of threes or not. A correlation of -0.1 and an R-squared of 0.01.
One of the 4 factors is Free Throw Rate. I think this may be the most important of the 4 for Michigan. Michigan is 10-0 vs RPI Top 100 competition when their FT Rate is greater than 25%. Michigan is 2-7 vs RPI Top 100 when the FT Rate is at or below 25%. How does this relate to 3-pointers? My theory is that Michigan is at their best when driving the basket and drawing fouls and not settling for jump shots of the 3-point variety (I'm looking at you THJ). It might also explain why Northwestern gives us fits. Their zone forces us to take a bunch of 3 point shots (like 38 of them).
So as we go into the post season:
- Cackle with knowing glee if Michigan is driving the basket
- Worry if we draw a zone team that forces us to shoot a lot of 3 pointers.
If anyone has a team they would like me to look at, let me know. I'm going to try to figure out how to add graphs so you can see the dramatic downward slope of Michigan's efficiency against 3 point attempts.
A while back I posted on an athletic department initiative to reclaim maize from the vast sea of generic (and increasingly bright) yellow that has slowly enveloped everything from t-shirts to the uniforms themselves.
This is the part where very serious people leap in to note the effects of lighting, your monitor, your mood, and your brain on your perception of color. When I asked for an official RGB conversion of the pantone colors the University recognizes as official to deploy here, helpful users came up with a hilariously diverse gamut of possibilities.
In response to this I threw up my hands and didn't change anything, because it's not like there's a right answer. The one useful thing we can draw from this is that all of these shades are darker than than the current deployments in basketball and football:
Gordon chosen for maximum soul-offensiveness; I was at that game and that seems like an accurate reproduction. Hardaway uniform an approximate median from the first couple pages of Google Image Search.
Insert usual disclaimers about pictures—the famous Desmond Howard picture I brought out for the original post is almost orange because of things not related to the actual uniform color—but I've been there in person, I've scanned the student section and had the lack of pop from an actually-maize shirt pop out at me: this is correct insofar as these things can be correct.
We're never going to get anywhere doing this. I'd like to put aside the hard science of color and play a little feelingsball, if we can. Here's an email I received a couple weeks back after a guy tweeted at me about the differences between the Crisler floor (a darker shade I associate more strongly with maize) and the team's uniforms (YELLOW YELLOW YELLOW):
I saw your RT of some guy's tweet referencing the "maize" on the Crisler Center's floor and the "highlighter yellow" of the bball uniforms. I fall more on the highlighter side of the argument, as I remember as a kid watching teams in the late 70's and early 80's crushing opponents with maize pants that were far closer to the highlighter than the Crisler M border that reminds me of the maize used by t-shirt street vendors.
Bored, I dug around and found this article from 1996. Interesting read, but it seems that the author concludes that the maize we see in the uniform is closer to the 1912 approved colors than the border around the M. The last two pics are interesting in that the one on the right:
looks more like the bball floor than the approved:
Love the blog.
And now the background color of block quotes is really bothering me. We must forge on.
Here is the feelingsball: that strip on the bottom is wrong. It's Second-Great-Awakening-preacher wraoooong, at least as far as athletic teams are concerned. In other contexts I'm sure it's fine. If a Michigan team came out in a blue that light, though, there would be a riot. It would be a genteel Earl Grey kind of riot in which people hop on the internet to demand the email address of Dave Brandon, but it would be a riot nonetheless. I question the validity of applying the yellow from the official colors when the blue is clearly not right.
I bring it up because I've gotten a moderate amount of pushback on the idea that Michigan's current yellow is bad and ahistoric and should be hit with a shovel and buried in an Iowa cornfield. Like the guy above there's a group of Michigan fans out there that sees the lighter shade as the right one. I think they're in the minority, but they exist.
I'm with the darker shades mostly because I find them more aesthetically appealing. They're also more distinct and remind me less of the Seattle Sounders's increasingly neon kits.
Even if you're on the other side of the divide, we can all agree that this…
…is not good. Those are the actual helmet decals Michigan used this year compared to an actual Michigan helmet. MVictors acquired them from Helmet Hut, the manufacturer Michigan uses, and reports that Helmet Hut does have colors that match the helmet but Michigan wanted the darker shade.
Dave Brandon's all about uniformity of branding. This aggression will not stand, and on the thing Michigan could change immediately they went with a darker, maiz-ier color. That's the direction we're headed. When Michigan isn't wearing their commemorative flamenco-inspired jerseys against Notre Dame or their special Save the Marsupials outfits for the Big Ten opener, Michigan will take the field against a MAC team looking more like Rick Leach is piloting things. In this, we can take comfort.
SEE ALSO: Maize 'n' Blue Nation.
I'm sorry to descend on you with this but this makes me utterly livid. They are the all-CCHA teams:
Position Name, Year, School First Totals
F - Reilly Smith (JR, Miami) 10 50
F - Tyler Gron (SR, No. Michigan) 7 42
F - T.J. Tynan (SO, Notre Dame) 5 40
D - Torey Krug (JR, Michigan State) 10 50
D - Chad Billins (SR,, Ferris State) 9 48
G - Taylor Nelson (SR, Ferris State) 6 34
F- Justin Florek (SR, No. Michigan) 4 34
F- Cody Kunyk (SO, Alaska) 2 23
F- Jordie Johnston (SR, Ferris State) 3 22
D- Dan DeKeyser (SO, W. Michigan) 2 20
D- Matt Tennyson (JR, W. Michigan) -- 20
G- Shawn Hunwick (SR, Michigan) 2 24
Hunwick got two first place votes at goalie and lost out to Taylor Nelson of Ferris State. In CCHA play Hunwick had a .937 save percentage to Nelson's .927, had a 1.93 GAA to Nelson's 2.08, and played about 430 additional minutes.
You know what they say about the Gong Show and the CCHA: one is an unfunny joke begging to be put out of its misery, and the other was a syndicated 1970s amateur night featuring absurd prizes. It's no wonder that the competent teams all fled as soon as they could find a way to.