"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
After a couple hectic weeks, this update is a more manageable. For all your recruiting needs, Don't forget about the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. It should be up to date, but if it's not, let me know. The technology has been acting wacky lately.
Demetrius Hart: The Saga Continues
The ongoing saga of FL RB Demetrius Hart (top right)continues, but this week's update brings an interesting quote from his teammate, FL S Hasean Clinton-Dix (bottom right):
"[I]f we feel like it's comfortable for both of us then that's what we're going to do," Clinton-Dix said of he and Hart attending the same school. "Like say we wanted to go to Florida. If he felt comfortable and I felt comfortable and that's where we want to be, then that's what we're going to do. But if I feel comfortable at Michigan and he feels comfortable at Illinois or somewhere, then we're just going to split up and keep in contact."
It's widely believed that Hart is the prospect with higher interest in Michigan (they're back in his top 3, for the record), so for Clinton-Dix to mention that the Wolverines have a chance to end up high on his list re-opens the possibility of a package deal for the pair, as long as Hart's spring game visit goes well. Of course, mentioning Michigan as a possibility is far different from saying they're one of his top schools: Clinton-Dix still maintains Alabama as his favorite.
I'm of the opinion that the spring game visit is not quite as important as how Michigan performs on the field this season. If they win, Michigan's shot is great. Otherwise, not so much. Hart is rumbling about a commit in the near future but also says he will take all five official visits, so that would be one of those soft commits.
Visits! Offers! Much, Much More!
MI DE Brennen Beyer plans to make a decision before the start of his senior season ($, info in header). Of course, Michigan fans are probably disappointed that he hasn't made a commitment yet, as he's been favoring the Wolverines and it seemed like a February decision was likely. However, I did see him at Michigan's practice yesterday, and he plans to be in Ann Arbor for the scrimmage on Saturday.
PA DE Deion Barnes plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Michigan Spring Game (April 17th, 1PM). Barnes attends Philadelphia Northeast High School, the alma mater of Michigan sophomore WR Je'Ron Stokes. Barnes is also firneds with Stokes' little brother, PA QB Malik Stokes.
FL WR Ja'Juan Story should be a bigtime prospect (as early offers from schools like Florida State and North Carolina imply), and both the Wolverines and Buckeyes have joined the fray.
The Buckeyes offered him a scholarship Tuesday and the Wolverines followed with an offer Thursday, Nature Coast assistant Robert Kazmier said. Story also received an offer from Georgia Tech last week.
"He's hot commodity," Kazmier said.
Michigan will probably take just one more outside receiver in this class with Shawn Conway already committed. MI WR DeAnthony Arnett is the elephant in the room, so to speak. It'll be interesting to see how the coaching staff manages all these offers to receivers.
mgoblog's own TomVH talked to FL QB Kevin Sousa, who's been hearing more from Michigan lately. His coach says that he's a perfect fit for a spread-option offense, and thinks that Michigan is Kevin's leader right now. If Michigan offers, there's a good chance he'd end up in Blue.
TX LB Anthony Wallace should be one of the top linebacker prospects in the nation, and he plans to make a visit to Michigan over the summer ($, info in header). He's a high school teammate of erstwhile Michigan commit Tony Drake, who ended up signing with (and qualifying at) Colorado State.
The Big Uglies
It should be very clear that Michigan's coaching staff understands that they have a pretty dire need for some offensive linemen, given the fact that I've had to devote a segment of the recruiting update to that position group in each of the past few weeks. No insult intended by the heading, by the way, I'm sure some of them are very handsome gentlemen.
Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu added: "He's very athletic. He has great foot speed and agility for a bigger kid. Plus he's tough as nails. He's a guy that plays the game 100 percent, full bore all the time. If there's anything he needs to do, it's adding some weight. He's about 260 and you'd like to see that number go up while also keeping his speed.
"I think he's a high level college prospect on both sides of the ball, but I like him a little more on offense. I think he's a top five player in the state."
Next on the recruiting agenda for Zettel is learning as much about as many of his suitors as possible in the coming months. His decision timeline calls for him to make a choice prior his senior season. That means it could be late summer before he selects a school.
He originally planned a quicker decision because he didn't want Michigan's class to fill up (which, hint freakin' hint), but the Wolverines have told him they'll be able to save a spot in the 2011 class whenever he's ready to decide. I imagine he'll still get a commitment over with (to Michigan or another school) before his senior season. He visited for Notre Dame's Junior Day over the weekend, but did not receive an offer.
MI OL Bryan Bell has a top two of Michigan and Michigan State. He grew up a Wolverines fan, but doesn't yet hold an offer from the maize and blue. He plans to visit Ann Arbor for multiple spring practice sessions.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi gives a little lip service to academics:
"I want to be able to have a back-up plan if football doesn’t work out for me so education will always be key for me. I also want to go somewhere that I know I can get along well with the coaching staff and mix in well. The overall enviornment of the program will be key for me."
He also made similar comments to VolNation. Michigan is among his offers, but he hasn't stated whether Ann Arbor will be a stop on his summer tour. He has also been invited to participate in the Army All-American game, and will have to choose between that and the Under Armour game.
NM OL Matt Hegarty received a Michigan offer last week ($, info in header), and he was slated to visit Ann Arbor over the weekend, in conjunction with his junior day visit to Notre Dame. He didn't manage to make it, but may try for a return trip.
OH OL Michael Bennett has Michigan interest - and a timetable to make a decision ($, info in header). That likely means he'll be deciding sooner rather than later. He holds a Michigan offer, and wil try to visit Michigan sometime this spring.
Michigan is still one of the leaders for AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena.
Michigan has offered an offensive lineman from Indiana ($, info in header). Detective work says it's IN OL Joel Hale.
MI Ath/TE/LB Taiwan Jones committed to Michigan State.
The Wolverines have apparently offered FL RB/Ath DeVondrick Nealy. Michigan has offered SC WR Charone Peak. Michigan has offered FL CB Nick Waisome. MD Ath Deandre Scott visited for the Night of Champions ($, info in header). Michigan apparently offered FL LB Keith Lewis last week. FL LB Kent Turene is still hearing from Michigan, but they haven't extended an offer yet. FL RB Mike Bellamy has interest in Michigan ($, info in header), and is planning a visit. Rivals is now showing an offer for FL DE Giorgio Newberry. Brief Michigan mention on a Phoenix-area website talking about the Wolverines' presence in the area over the past couple classes.
Earlier in the year I took a cue from Michigan's odd announcement of Adam Braithwaite as an OLB/safeties coach to theorize that Michigan was adopting something half 3-3-5 stack, half 4-3. You can put whatever label you want on it, but it's apparently similar to what Virginia Tech runs. After yesterday's press conference, though, the prevailing opinion is that Michigan's defense is going to be half 3-3-5, half 3-3-5. This, for the Ohio State fans stopping by, is 100% 3-3-5.
Wha? Aigh! Justin Siller! No—
Evidence for the switch is plentiful. In this episode of "Inside Michigan Football," Troy Woolfolk talks about "the new defense":
In yesterday's press conference the players all made references to the 3-3-5. The usual array of practice reports coming from shadowy trenchcoated internet folk all say that not only is Michigan running the 3-3-5 in practice, that's all they're running. This is no longer in the realm of rumor.
Is it in the realm of sense? I don't know. The major reasons I and other tea leaf readers were banking on an aggressive 4-2-5 were threefold: it's basically what Michigan was trying to run most of last year, available bodies on the defensive line point towards an undershifted four-man front, and Michigan's latest recruiting class features a zillion guys who were told they would be "quick" ends a la Roh.
The 3-3-5 as a base set obliterates the quick. Michigan cobbles theirs together by dropping Roh back to one of the outside linebacker spots. The defensive end spot not occupied by Ryan Van Bergen is now going to be a Banks/Patterson platoon or a 294-pound Mike Martin. Since 3-3-5 defensive ends are not lumbering quasi-DTs like 3-4 defensive ends (more about this later), Martin seems like a questionable fit at end; the alternative is platooning Martin and Campbell, two of the most physically dominant players on the team.
The Unresolved Questions
Is this an alternate look or a base set? If it's a base set, how often will they deploy a four-man front?
Early indications are that Michigan will use it as a base set. One theory out there is that Michigan is running the 3-3-5 to the exclusion of other defenses because Mike Martin is out for spring. I don't think that makes sense. A team that spends all its time learning one set of responsibilities because one player is out for spring practice only to switch to a considerably different set in fall is a team that is going to get its coach fired at the end of the year. Teams don't devote the entirety of spring practice to a "new defense" that is then a changeup when the season comes.
Michigan used the 3-3-5 from time to time last year, most prominently in the Ohio State game when it was an effective base set that shut down Ohio State's I-formation running:
This is actually more of a 5-3 since the DEs are lined up over the guards and the box safeties are rolled up tight to the line of scrimmage, FWIW, but that's a matter of alignment against a run-heavy team. Note that Roh is an outside linebacker here.
This forced OSU into some bunch formations that forced Michigan out of the stack; OSU also attacked it by running single-back formations that are inherently strong against single deep safety defenses because of old-timey football wonk stuff. Buckeye Football Analysis has a deeper analysis if you're in the mood.
When OSU went unbalanced, Michigan responded by putting Roh's hand down and going back to their usual undershifted four-man line. For Michigan the personnel will be exactly the same, allowing them to shift between fronts at will. So if the 3-3-5 isn't working in a particular game or just turns out to be a bad idea, they aren't totally screwed.
They would be at least partially screwed, however, since they're piling more and more on the plates of linebackers who spent a lot of time last year wondering what to do (or decisively doing the wrong thing). The way West Virginia ran a 3-3-5 allows linebackers to be blitzing players who have to do a minimal amount of reading, but if it doesn't work then all that time will be time that could have spent fixing what ails Ezeh and Mouton in a 4-2-5.
I'm not thrilled that Michigan seems to be changing its defense again, especially since I've been pitching defensive coordinator continuity as a major reason Michigan's defense will improve in 2010, but given what they ran most of last year the only players who will be making major changes are the linebackers. In the West Virginia version of the 3-3-5, defensive ends are basically the same as they are in a 4-3. The nose tackle is more of a two-gap player if you can make him one, but that's not something that requires a lot of reading. So… yeah. Maybe it will work.
First things first, the Michigan Spring Game will now serve as a fundraiser for Mott Children's Hospital. Though the event will still be free to the public, they will have the opportunity to donate money to Mott as they enter - with incentives!
- $5 Donation - "All in for Michigan Towel"
- $20 Donation - "All in for Michigan, All in for Mott" T-Shirt
- $250 Donation - 4 Passes to a pre-season scrimmage(!)
- $500 Donation - 2 pre-game sideline passes to a 2010 football game (BGSU, UMass, Iowa, or Illinois).
The Beam Family of Brighton, MI will also match every donation that is made during the Spring Game. This fundraiser continues Michigan football's long-standing relationship with Mott.
The Spring Game festivities kick off an April 17th at 11AM, with the Alumni Flag Football Game (gates open at 10AM). The team takes the field for warmups around noon, and the game itself starts at 1. Unfortunately, the team doesn't have enough healthy players to be able to do a full scrimmage with teams divided up, but they'll do more offense v. defense things. In future years, a game-like scrimmage will be possible.
- Injuries: Vladimir Emilien and Jared Van Slyke both sprained knees, and are out a few weeks. They're hopeful that Emilien will be back for the final week of spring practice. Je'Ron Stokes sprained his ankle and Anthony LaLota injured his elbow, both should be out about a week. David Molk is able to run a bit and snap the ball, but he won't participate in any contact this spring. Everyone who had surgery in the off-season is progressing on schedule or even faster.
- The team will have three scrimmages this spring. This upcoming Saturday will be the first one. There will also be one the week before the spring game, and the Spring Game itself.
- Offense: Last year's offense was decent, but there were times (especially with turnovers) that they missed opportunities due to poor execution. This spring, they're focusing on improving that, as well as becoming more physical.
- Quarterbacks: Denard Robinson hasn't played anything other than QB so far this spring, but if it becomes clear he's not going to get tons of snaps there, he'll play other positions in addition. Devin Gardner is behind the other two QBs, as he still needs to learn the offense. His throwing mechanics are looking good though.
- Running Backs: Even the guys who have some experience are pretty young. Mike Cox has a very good opportunity this spring, and he should contribute this fall.
- Offensive Line: Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge are the veterans at the tackle positions. Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield will push them. The freshmen have gotten bigger, and will try to prove themselves this spring. If multiple guys at a position are able to help the team win, they'll play at tackle.
- Defense: They'll tweak defensive packages for the various offensive schemes they'll see this fall. The challenge is to have a wide enough variety of packages to be able to play every offense, while keeping the overall defense simple enough for the players to be able to learn it well.
- Defensive line: There isn't a lot of experienced depth on the offensive line, but that just means guys who need lots of reps this spring will be able to get them. Will Campbell is improving, he added a lot of strength to go with his weight this offseason. The coaches are excited to see what Anthony LaLota can do when he returns from injury, as he had a good offseason as well.
- Linebackers - Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh have impressed this spring, as has Mark Moundros, who is moonlighting at linebacker since the fullback doesn't play that many downs in this offense. Rodriguez thinks Mouton played well last year, but Obi seemed to falter down the stretch. One of the big factors in lackluster LB play last year was a lack of depth - the D would play well for a couple downs or even a few drives, then opposing offenses would have their way with them.
- Safeties - With Emilien and Van Slyke out, a number of younger guys are getting a chance to play this spring. Cameron Gordon is playing well at safety. Brandin Hawthorne will play both safety and hybrid.
- Corners: JT Floyd has been playing well this spring. The coaches are putting some real pressure on him, and he's responding well. Justin Turner is also getting a lot of reps.
- The offensive line intensity has been good in the first few days. There is a lot of depth, and the young guys are ready to prove themselves. The guys are ready to hit.
- Schilling is excited to be a leader on the offensive line. He has lots of experience, and the rest of the guys who have been around a while are helping the young offensive linemen come along for the future. Stephen is up to about 305 pounds, after playing last year around the 295 range.
- Taylor Lewan, Quinton Washington, and Michael Schofield are three of the hardest workers on the offensive line. Lewan and Washington in particular seem ready to prove they can contribute on the field. They're hoping to push for some playing time. Lewan has a nasty streak in the way he plays.
- The defense has been playing primarily a 3-3-5 this spring. Typically, Michigan's offensive front only sees odd front in passing situations, but Schilling thinks they'll be able to do a lot of good things out of this formation.
- Patrick Omameh is very comfortable at guard (from the way Schilling was talking, it sounds like this move is probably permanent). When Molk comes back from his injury, the interior of the offensive line will be very good. Molk played very well before getting injured, and Patrick finished the year very strong.
- The running backs got some reps last year, but Schilling is excited to see what they can do, especially with all the depth in the backfield. Michael Shaw is a good speed back, Cox and Toussaint can pound the ball well, and when he comes back, Vincent Smith can do it all - including catch out of the backfield.
- Schilling is bummed he won't be around for the first night game in Michigan Stadium. It's especially exciting for a game against a rival like Notre Dame. He'll try to make it back for the game if he can.
- This is Troy's first time in a 3-3-5 type of defense. It's the best formation for the personnel that this team has right now. Troy has built up a comfort level with Greg Robinson's coaching after being a bit skeptical at first last year. He likes the way GERG coaches, and believes in what he says. The coaches are working to make sure the players - especially the younger ones - are learning well.
- Switching positions all the time last year hurt him a bit, but for the long-term, it's actually been a help. At corner, he now understands what the safeties will be doing, and can trust in the scheme a bit more. He still has to work on his technique at corner a bit.
- Cameron Gordon has lots of natural ability, and is very good at reading his keys. JT Floyd has been looking really good lately, and understands the game a bit better. He had a nice interception the other day. Justin Turner is still young, but is coming along well. Mike Williams and Jordan Kovacs both like the positions they've moved to. For both of them, there's an emphasis at the new positions on coming up and making tackles, rather than playing in deep coverage. That plays to both of their strengths.
- With all the 3-3-5 talk, I've been assuming Craig Roh would mostly play with his hand down for more of a 4-2-5 look, but that wasn't the case. He was practicing with the other LBs, on the first unit with Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton.
- Tate Forcier is still clearly the best passer of the QBs. Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson were about even, with Devin maybe a liiitle more accurate (except on the longball, which he overthrew quite a bit). Denard probably has a much deeper understanding of the passing game, and would be more able to contribute.
- Looked like they might be preparing the throw it to the RBs a bit more this season. They went away from it a bit when Carlos Brown went out, but Vincent Smith did have a few catches last season.
- Mike Martin isn't practicing in the spring (shoulder surgery), but he was running laps around the indoor field. I guarantee you he's faster than me, despite being 300ish pounds and looking like the Hulk.
- MI DE Brennen Beyer was visiting practice today.
Insanely too long, but I fell down the rabbit hole on this one.
There is an annual complaint against the Pairwise when Team X is passed over in favor of considerably less deserving team Y. This is an exercise in pointlessness, but I was curious as to what a tournament that's selected by eyeballing it would look like. Let's pretend I'm the committee and put 16 teams together.
Boston College, North Dakota, Cornell, Michigan, Alabama-Huntsville, and RIT.
Denver and Miami have the top two records in the country against the #8 and #14 schedules. Wisconsin and St. Cloud are 3 and 6 in RPI and have top ten records against top ten schedules.
THE EXCESSIVELY LARGE BUBBLE
|TEAM||Record||RPI||TUC||Record Rank||SOS||Conference finish||Conference tourney|
|Bemidji State||23-9-4||0.543||6-2-1||6||34||1st CHA||Third place tie|
|Yale||20-9-3||0.537||4-1-2||8||40||1st ECAC||First round|
|Ferris State||21-13-8||0.533||6-10-3||13T||30||3rd CCHA||Fourth place|
|Minnesota-Duluth||22-17-1||0.533||11-14-5||18||9||4th WCHA||Fifth place|
|UNH||17-13-7||0.533||7-10-6||19||12||1st HE||First round|
|Alaska||18-11-9||0.530||6-7-6||16||26||5th CCHA||Round of eight|
|Michigan State||19-13-6||0.525||8-10-2||17||27||2nd CCHA||Round of eight|
|Colorado College||19-17-3||0.524||8-14-3||25T||7||6th WCHA||First round|
|Union||21-12-6||0.523||2-4-3||11||39||3rd ECAC||Second place|
|Minnesota||18-19-2||0.519||9-17-2||34||2||7th WCHA||First round|
Those are the next ten teams in the RPI, the shiniest record remaining after that, and the team KRACH says should be in the tourney that isn't anywhere near these teams in RPI.
Of the above teams the first one off the board is Northern Michigan. The Wildcats have the best TUC record by far of any team with a significant number of games played, a strong RPI, and the best combination of record and schedule strength. NMU is 7-2-5 against this cohort.
Bemidji State is next with their excellent RPI and 7-5-2 record against a 14-game slate of WCHA and CCHA opponents that included a three-point weekend against Northern, a sweep of UMD, and a win over Miami.
And we will take Yale as a 20-9-3 ECAC champ even if KRACH thinks they are worse than eight WCHA teams.
Now we get down to the tough decisions. Three spots left for eight teams. They come in three sets:
- High RPI: Ferris State, UMD, UNH.
- Low RPI: Vermont, Michigan State, CC, Union, Minnesota
- Straddling: Alaska
Minnesota is mostly included to show how broken KRACH is as a real world selection device. In its world, an under .500 WCHA team that finished seventh in its conference, went 5-3 OOC and has a horrible TUC record would be a three seed. There is an NCAA rule prohibiting teams under .500 from getting at-large bids after Wisconsin pulled that trick off a couple years ago. They're dropped.
Next, we shoot down Michigan State. There are two CCHA teams with big RPI advantages on them. Both have better records against basically equivalent schedules. Taking them would mean taking the other two CCHA teams and having six in the tourney, something that can't be justified given the relative nonconference results.
We also shoot down CC, which didn't do anything in the nonconference or playoffs to disprove the idea it's a below average WCHA team. CC's nonconference consisted of a split against Northeastern, the ninth place team in HE, a win against Cornell, a loss against Maine, and four games against an assortment of AH and CHA teams. KRACH, of course, has them ninth nationally because they're almost .500 in the WCHA.
Union is the next to die with their ugly SOS and nonexistent TUC categories. That's something that can be overlooked when you have a nice RPI, but there's no reason to look at Union's schedule and think they're somehow underrated.
The Real Bubble
|TEAM||Record||RPI||TUC||Record Rank||SOS||Conference finish||Conference tourney|
|Ferris State||21-13-8||0.533||6-10-3||13T||30||3rd CCHA||Fourth place|
|Minnesota-Duluth||22-17-1||0.533||11-14-5||18||9||4th WCHA||Fifth place|
|UNH||17-13-7||0.533||7-10-6||19||12||1st HE||First round|
|Alaska||18-11-9||0.530||6-7-6||16||26||5th CCHA||Round of eight|
The only low RPI team we can't dismiss is Vermont, which went 3-3 in six games against RPI #2 Denver and #4 Boston College. They also beat Yale and UMD in single games and went 2-3-1 against UNH. Their TUC record is the most impressive of any team not already selected. They finished eighth(!) in Hockey East, yes, but they were three points from third. Going 6-1 in the nonconference and beating league champ UNH in the first round of the playoffs means they're worth a look.
Ferris has the best record of any remaining team other than ECAC foe Union but they have an ugly TUC record that's made uglier by the details: four of Ferris's six wins are against UNO, the #21 team according to RPI. The others are wins against Michigan and Michigan State.
New Hampshire… same boat, but they are 3-2-1 against Vermont for whatever that's worth.
Alaska swept Ferris, split a trio with Michigan, and tied three of six against Northern.
UMD is in a similar boat: eight of their eleven TUC wins are against #18 CC (who they played an improbable seven times) and #22 Minnesota. However, Duluth has a better record, RPI, and SOS than UNH and Vermont. They have slightly worse records by a much higher SOS than either of the CCHA teams. Minnesota-Duluth is in.
We have to kill two of these teams. I don't know. Maybe goal differential?
- Ferris State: +0.65
- Alaska: +0.45
- New Hampshire: +0.21
- Vermont: +0.05
That does not help at all. This is why they went with the Pairwise. Okay. You cannot possibly put Vermont in the tournament over UNH when UNH has a better record, RPI, SOS, conference finish, and beat Vermont head to head. And I don't think you can leave out UNH without a good reason when they proved themselves vastly superior to all HE teams not named Boston College. So New Hampshire's in. Then you have three teams.
TEAM A has the best record and RPI but weakest schedule.
TEAM B swept team A but has a meaningfully worse record and a worse league and conference finish.
TEAM C beat more really good teams than the other two but lost to more bad teams and finished in eighth place in its conference.
I… I guess I'm going with Ferris State and validating all the complaints. But it's not like this is obvious.
Working backwards since those should be the easiest:
Small conference autobids for teams with bad metrics.
14. Ferris State
13. New Hampshire
Last three in.
Michigan gets ahead of UMD and Ferris by virtue of common opponents. The other metrics are so close as to be nearly indistinguishable, but Michigan has a major edge in COP against a conference opponent in Ferris and a 10-2 to 8-6 advantage against UMD. The comparison with UNH is basically a push in all categories, so Michigan gets the edge for the strong late-season run.
9. Bemidji State
I guess this is where strong records against weak competition go.
8. Northern Michigan
Clearly the best of the bubble-ish teams.
6. St. Cloud State
They've separated themselves from the below; it's a coinflip as to which is 6 and which is 7.
5. Boston College
4. North Dakota
Three teams for two one-seeds. Wisconsin has a major edge in comparisons against BC; North Dakota narrowly loses TUC but actually has a much more impressive record since they played 15 games against RPI top ten opponents (and another five against #12) to BC's one. The COP category is BC's mostly because North Dakota went 1-4 against Denver. Since RPI is basically equivalent, I give the nod to North Dakota's SOS.
These are the obvious top two teams in the tournament. Picking between them is not a big deal since the last two teams are by far the least impressive and both should go meekly. Miami does have all three points in the PWR comparison so we'll go with them.
That sets us up with one intra-conference matchup in the first round: Cornell versus Yale. We'll swap Yale and BSU.
1. Miami vs 16. UAH
8. Northern Michigan vs 9. Yale
2. Denver vs. 15. RIT
7. Cornell vs. 10. Bemidji State
3. Wisconsin vs. 14 Ferris State
6. St. Cloud State vs. 11. Michigan
4. North Dakota vs 13. UNH
5. Boston College vs. 12. Minnesota-Duluth
Attendance will be shaky in Fort Wayne, but there's no way to swap Michigan in since Northern is holding down the 8 seed unless you want to swap the entire matchup. If Northern and St. Cloud had comparable metrics, I'd do it but there's a big enough gap that the bracket integrity is more important.
Minnesota-Duluth probably should have been in easily, but was left out in favor of Vermont. If you put a gun to my head, I'd say Ferris is more deserving than Alaska. Apparently, in my Northern is slightly underseeded; other than that it's not much different, at least not this year.
If I was the king of college hockey I'd have the committee hand select the last couple at large bids but then use the Pairwise for seeding.
"A fertile ground for dangerous upstarts lately." That's the accurate, expected, still painful knife Doctor Saturday gently slips between Michigan's ribs in his latest premature assessment, this of the UConn team that will inaugurate Michigan's luxury boxes and possibly clock year three of the Rodriguez era on the head before it can even kick over some MAC team's sand castle.
The assessment doesn't exactly live up the DocSat's foreboding tweet, which said he would be the first person to jump on the bandwagon of a "serious contender in the Big East." That sounds bad. It's not quite that bad in the final analysis, though:
The Huskies are a couple playmakers away from standing out as a conference favorite, and one of those guys may emerge on one side or the other. Unless they come up with more firepower on both sides, though, the existing talent level makes it hard to forecast anything better than 8-4. That's not a breakthrough, exactly, but it is a more generous guess than they've ever gotten before at this time of year.
UConn suffered through a series of painfully close losses before a breakthrough-ish game against Notre Dame launched them on a four game win streak. Syracuse, USF, and South Carolina were the other victims. In any case, UConn returns a crap-ton of starters from an 8-5 team that saw the breaks go against it last year. I don't think they'll end the year #2, but the specter of that Utah game has been duly raised.
Hypothesis damage. It's not like losing Manny Harris is going to help the team, especially if it continues to shoot zero point two percent, but I can't be the only person who has glanced at Harris's relatively meh efficiency numbers (47.7 eFG, basically equivalent to Novak) and thought that replacing him might not be the mountain it appears to be.
Here is a chart that slaps that idea in the face and tells it to sit in the corner. Presenting the top ten Big Ten players in John Hollinger's comprehensive PER stat:
|1||Evan Turner, OSU||28||35.4||22||15.5||26.8||6.6||24.8||15.7||31.3|
|2||Robbie Hummel, PUR||27||30.3||12.9||6.5||19.6||6.5||21||13.7||28.31|
|3||Draymond Green, MSU||32||25.4||22.6||12.8||18.1||10||22.1||16.1||25.85|
|4||Damian Johnson, MINN||34||25.5||18.6||10.7||16.6||6.8||12.5||9.6||25.36|
|5||DeShawn Sims, MICH||32||32.1||5.2||8.4||23||12.7||18.6||15.6||25.2|
|6||Manny Harris, MICH||31||36.1||17.3||12.1||24.4||6.8||15.4||11.1||24.76|
|7||JaJuan Johnson, PUR||32||31.1||4.6||11.4||19.7||9.3||18.1||13.7||24.66|
|8||John Shurna, NW||33||36.3||12.7||9.9||21.8||6||16.1||11.1||23.68|
|9||Zack Gibson, MICH||32||10||6.8||13.5||15.1||12.1||16.2||14.1||23.66|
|10||Trevon Hughes, WIS||31||32.5||14.2||10.4||23.5||4.6||13||8.8||23.3|
One-grunt observations on the three bolded folk: obvs, guh, wha?
Okay. I think that Michigan playing super small at all times skews this towards the players on the team who actually haul in rebounds. Still, this is one statistical measure that passes the sniff test—check out the top of the national leaderboard for Enter Samhan, Some UNI Guy, and Argh Running 40-Footer—that disagrees with the various Kenpom measures that declare Manny Harris a prolific but inefficient scorer.
Also… holy jeez maybe we could have figured out a way to put Gibson on the floor a bit more.
(HT: Inside The Hall.)
Money money money. Bleed Scarlet shouldn't feel too bad about missing USA Today's most recent FOIA rampage, a January database of revenue and expenses at public division I schools. It seems like the entire blogosphere whiffed on. I certainly hadn't seen it.
Anyway, this perked my ears up:
The vast majority of sports programs — even those that purport to support themselves — receive significant financial backing from their institutions to operate. Of the 99 institutions in the table below, all but four — Louisiana State, Ohio State, and Purdue Universities, and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln — reported receiving at least some revenues in the 2007-8 fiscal year from one of four categories of “allocated” revenues: student fees, direct state or government support, direct institutional support (general fund money), or indirect institutional support (facilities, energy costs, etc.).
Eh? Really? No Michigan? A quick zip over to the database provides an answer. It is not earth-shaking:
As of 2008, six hundredths of a percentage point of Michigan's athletic department funding comes from the university. This is not a one-time fluke, as direct support went from zero in 2005 to about 30k the next year and 50k the year after before landing at its current totally insignificant amount. What is it? I asked SID Bruce Madej:
This is how we are required to report when we receive funds to pay for work study students who assist us during the year.
That mystery solved.
Now let us ask the eternal question: why does Eastern Michigan have a football program? 86% of athletic department "revenue" comes as a subsidy.
Etc.: Hidden in the night game announcement is a two-year break in the M-ND series in 2018 and 2019, which an mgoblog user picked out and MVictors confirmed was a new development. DocSat on the "cult of the bracket."
Your humble author at around 8PM on Wednesday
So, right. I didn't want to harsh the hockey buzz earlier and mention it then, but I will mention it now: Spirit Airlines sucks. I waited long enough that I am no longer a spittle-flecked FFFFFFUUUUUU-bot about the whole thing and can now relate to you my story without having it devolve into fantasies where I chop off their heads. Instead I will rationally explain to you why Spirit Air is an exceptionally bad choice for anyone looking to use a plane to change their location.
Event #1: I am flying to New York for Blogs With Balls 1.0, the first ever sportsblogger convention-type substance. Due to crazy weather things, the flight is cancelled. Okay, fine, out of their control. I am then told that I can get on the next available flight. The flight is on Sunday. It is Thursday. BWB is on Saturday. I am attempting to get to New York City, which is a large and notable place with no fewer than three major airports if you count Newark.
It turns out I cannot explode the heads of people who are talking to me on the phone. I cancel. I do manage to Priceline a flight for less than one zillion dollars, but I have to get up at 4 AM to catch it. That day is fun.
Event #2: I purchase tickets to head out to Las Vegas for the NCAA tournament's opening weekend in order to see my friend who moved to Nowhere, Arizona, and spends the first weekend of the NCAA tournament running around like one of those little dogs whose blood is 90% cocaine. Because MGoSignificantOther has to TA classes, we have a tight window. It only makes sense to fly out Wednesday night and come back Sunday and unfortunately in that window Spirit is about 300 bucks cheaper than the alternatives. I grit my teeth and buy.
When we arrive at the airport more than an hour before the flight, our boarding passes have no seats. I know this is very bad. It turns out they have oversold the flight by a whopping six people and we are all totally screwed. We are given the option to fly out later… 24 hours later. This totally destroys the sense in going. We cancel. Spirit offers us exactly nothing in compensation.
I FFFFFFUUUUUUU my way out of the airport and fall into a funk that only magically delicious Shawn Hunwick can cure.
A Totally Non Spittle-Flecked Reason You Should Avoid Spirit
I have been caught in the throes of airline fiascoes a few times before, and have been pissed off. But in those instances the delays have been on the order of hours because other airlines have reciprocal agreements where they will reduce FFFUUUU as much as possible by letting you on their flights.
Spirit does not have these agreements—my Priceline flight is proof of that—and if anything goes wrong with your flight, or you are one of the unfortunate folk who Spirit says "psyche!" to when you say "you sold me a ticket", you will be waiting at least a full day and possibly up to, like, forever, before you can actually get on a plane. If getting somewhere at a particular time is important, avoid Spirit Air at all costs. If you have a wedding or a holiday or a space ninja convention or have made any plans whatsoever, Spirit Air is a terrible choice.
I understand that sometimes the flight is going to be ridiculously cheaper and you'll want to roll the dice, but trust me: if it's anywhere under a couple hundred bucks—which most of them are—they'll extract most of that from you in hidden fees for booking a seat or checking luggage or breathing funny and you'll be exposing yourself to greatly increased risk that your plans will just evaporate.
Also, when you try to email them you will have to jump through sixteen hoops to do so and then you will be all FFFFUUUU again when you send them a link to your post.
A Side Note
Is there any other industry that will promise you something, take hundreds or thousands of dollars from you, and then say "sorry, we were just kidding?" I can hardly believe this "oversold" bullcrap is legal. Two would be one thing, but six? Seriously?
Obligatory Planes, Trains, And Automobiles Embed
The most NSFW 53 seconds that does not involve nudity can be:
For the record, I did not do this. For the first time in my life I did pull the "DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO?!?" card, though. They did not.