“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
- Pip (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)
The 2017 Pre-season Ratings
With the missed opportunities of the 2016 football season fading into the rear view, hope springs eternal as Spring practice introduces a budding new crop of talented prospects. The first two full-Harbaugh recruiting classes have been elite, and their contributions on the field will soon be felt in full force. Meanwhile, venerated combatants return better, stronger, faster – and eager to seize the mantle of leadership for Team 138. It’s a team that follows consecutive 10-win seasons, a feat not accomplished since the Lloyd Carr era in 2002 and 2003. Can this team make it 3 in a row, something not seen in Ann Arbor since 1999, the year many of the new recruits were born? The departure of the core talent of the Brady Hoke era to the NFL leaves many openings for new stars to emerge and prove themselves on the field. Beloved coach Harbaugh has demonstrated tremendous acumen in his first two seasons in bringing playing talent to fruition, yet much remains to be proven in the struggle to realize a B1G Championship, and more.
So, now seems as appropriate a time as any to have a look at what lies ahead for the 2017 season, from the fancy stats perspective. To that end, this diary analyzes some of the preseason Advanced Stats-based ratings for Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten. Most readers are already familiar with the two principal resources that will feed this analysis: Bill Connelly's S&P+ Ratings (of FB Outsiders and SBNation FB Study Hall fame) and ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) Ratings. The rub with these initial, preseason ratings, both of which came out in early February, is that they apply a completely different set of metrics than do the in-season ratings. The way they differ is that these preseason metrics are leading indicators conceptually, and do not apply any aspect of in-game performance. To elaborate, the S&P+ preseason ratings are derived from the following three components:
- Returning offensive and defensive production (56% weight)
- Recruiting impact (25% weight, based on the last 2 years of recruiting rankings)
- Recent win-loss history (19% weight, counting 2 to 5 years back, but not including last year)
Similarly, ESPN makes its preseason FPI sausage using three components that are similar to those of S&P+, plus a fourth:
- Returning starters (with special consideration given to a team returning its starting quarterback or gaining a transfer quarterback with experience)
- Recruiting rankings (average rank among 4 systems: ESPN, Scout, Rivals & Phil Steele)
- Prior performance (counting the last 4 seasons)
- Head coaching tenure (is more better?)
Yet, in the end, both S&P+ and FPI provide ratings for all 130 FBS division teams, where the final rating is scaled to expected points better (or worse) than the average FBS division team at a neutral site. Simple enough. So without further ado, following is quick rundown of the ratings for your 2017 Big Ten football teams.
B1G S&P+ Rating
B1G FPI Ratings
Just to digest this a little, what is clear is that not only is OSU pretty much the highest rated team in all the land, it also has one of the easier schedules in the conference. What many may have imagined would be the alternate “easier” year for UM - with OSU and MSU at home - is not the boon it once was since now UM goes on the road to PSU and Wisconsin. That said, UM’s schedule challenges are still about average in-conference and toward the stronger side when considering the OOC segment. Alas, poor Maryland and Indiana. They have by both ratings the most difficult conference schedules. As for the B1GW, Wisconsin’s schedule could not be much easier, which is a far cry from the midseason gauntlet it faced last season. At this point you’ve got to like the Badgers chances of blowing through the season unscathed and returning to Indy for the B1GCG. That assumes Wisconsin can get past those sneaky Wildcats, who have also drawn one of the less challenging schedules both in the B1G and overall. More on that later.
Obviously, the win-or-lose nature of divisional standings does not discriminate between contests of evenly-matched opponents and ruthless clubbings of baby seals. A win’s a win. However, just consider for a moment that the top three teams in the B1GW have the 3 easiest overall schedules in the entire conference. Good for them, but it’s the level of competition between opponents - in the form of a point spread - that brings color, subtlety and nuance to the fore, particularly when the College Football Playoff comes into play. A point spread, of course, is just a reflection of the odds, or likely outcome, of a game. So, this is where the rubber really meets the road when digesting equivalent points-based ratings such as S&P+ or ESPN’s FPI. Is Michigan really just an 8 or 9-win team in 2017? That’s a lot of losses, but after dropping 3 games by a combined 5 points as we all witnessed in 2016, it doesn’t take much.
Schedules Matter … Big Time
At this point, a basic approach might be to just pull out the Big Ten teams and look at their respective ratings, as in table 1. Those more foolish than you might jump to the conclusion that the team with the highest rating would be expected to win its division and the conference. However, as Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast, my friend.” We all know by now, in the aftermath of the B1G moving to 9 conference games, that not all schedules are created equal, and that some provide more advantageous paths of glory than others. This is not just because of inter-divisional opponents drawn, but also because half the teams play 5 home conference games while the other half play only 4. That’s a 6-point year-to-year swing based on the scheduling constraint alone. Thus, the next step is to evaluate each team's schedule and respective matchups, and determine the point spreads therein using the S&P+ or FPI ratings, adjusting for whether games are played at home or on the road. Simple enough. So then, let’s just sum up the wins and losses and have look at the final standings. After working out tie-breakers, determining which teams should be meeting in the Big Ten Championship Game straight-forward. As a bonus, since the ratings of each team have already been scraped up, let’s just calculate the average rating of each team’s opponents, and call it something like the Quick-and-Dirty Strength of Schedule (SoS), and rank order them while we’re at it. Hmmm. The tables below don’t paint the prettiest of pictures, at least not compared to last season, but there you have it.
Projected Standings from S&P+ Ratings
|W||L||SoS||SoS Rk||W||L||SoS||SoS Rk|
|* winner of tie breaker|
|W||L||SoS||SoS Rk||W||L||SoS||SoS Rk|
Projected Standings from FPI Ratings
|W||L||SoS||SoS Rk||W||L||SoS||SoS Rk|
|* winner of tie breaker|
|W||L||SoS||SoS Rk||W||L||SoS||SoS Rk|
Turning Spreads Into Likelihoods
The next step then is to map the point spread into odds, or better yet, the percent likelihood of each opponent to win, with a 0-point spread being the logical (if not statistically validated), 50/50 boundary condition. Back in 2015, Daniel Griffith, a MiniTab Blog contributor, posted a tidy statistical analysis of the differences between the point spreads and actual results for all NCAA games from 2000 through 2014. Suffice it to say, the distribution of differences was found to be Normal with an essentially zero mean (if it isn't zero-mean, then the bookies aren't doing their jobs, yo!). Knowing a formula or two about the characteristics of a Normal distribution, one can then compute the likelihood that an actual result is greater (or less) than the point spread.
Just as an aside, the most interesting point from the Griffith analysis is the following (which bears repeating if you’ve read this before) in regard to the distribution of differences:
"The standard deviation ... is 15.5 points. That means that if a game shows a spread for your favorite team of -3 points, the outcome could be with high confidence within plus or minus 2 standard deviations of the point estimate, which is -3 ± 31 points in this case. So your favorite team could win by 34 points, or lose by 28!"
That, dear reader, is why they play the games.
The following two tables of tables show the schedules for each team in the B1G East & West divisions, including the S&P+ ratings-based point spreads and attendant win probability (links to the FPI results are also provided below). A green-yellow-red pseudo-colormap is also applied to quickly give a qualitative indication of where each team faces its greatest challenges, how those challenges stack up, and by comparison, which teams have a more or less difficult row to hoe. Green indicates a favorable point spread; yellow, a competitive matchup; and red, an unfavorable margin. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the divisional teams based on their expected in-conference win totals - it’s not a projection of conference standings based on projected wins, losses and tie-breakers.
B1GE Schedule Likelihoods
Here is a link to the same tabulation based on FPI results for the B1GE.
B1GW Schedule Likelihoods
Here is a link to the same tabulation based on FPI results for the B1GW.
Total Win Probabilities
After computing projected win probabilities for all the games in each team's schedule based on the ratings-based point spreads (including a +3 point rating adjustment for the home team), it's possible to compute the distribution of total expected wins at the end of the season. The one vagary in this analysis is in regard to FCS opponents. Since neither S&P+ nor FPI provide ratings for FCS teams, I've taken the liberty of assigning the lowest available rating of -30 and -24 to FCS teams, respectively. I can already imagine the comments on this nugget in light of NDSU’s upset of Iowa last season.
There are only three B1G vs. FCS games this season. They are as follows:
- Maryland vs. Towson
- Rutgers vs. Morgan State
- Minnesota vs. Indiana State
The B1G East Distributions
In the B1G East, the teams can be grouped into three classes: the Contenders (Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan), the Bubble (Michigan State and Indiana) and the Bottom Feeders (Rutgers and Maryland). The Contenders are those teams that by one rating or the other, are shown to be within 2 total expected wins of the top rated team. The Bubble consists of those teams within 2 total expected wins of being bowl-eligible (or not). The Bottom Feeders are the teams with few prospects of gridiron glory or post-season hijinks.
Below are the charts of the overall and in-conference total win distributions for the B1GE based on the S&P+ ratings (with links to the FPI charts), followed by a brief digest of each team’s results.
Here is a link to the same set of charts based on 2017 FPI B1GE overall results.
Here is a link to the same set of charts based on 2017 FPI B1GE in-conference results. Warning: this chart is not for the faint-of-heart.
What can be said about Rutgers? OK, how about this: they have newish coach with some OSU heritage who may be able to attract a few recruits with the prospect of early playing time. Otherwise, it's not a pretty picture for the Scarlet Knights. Basically, they're staring at a 7% (S&P+) to 10% (FPI) chance of not having a losing season, including a near freebie from Morgan State. These are worse prospect than last season. Their most likely record is about 4-8, or somewhere shy of 4 wins, and are double-digit dogs in six of their games. It still doesn't look like there's any chance that the '14 win over Michigan is going to be dislodged from the Pantheon of Rutgers Classics anytime soon.
Despite D.J. Durkin’s auspicious beginning by qualifying for a bowl game, it appears Terps will be backsliding in 2017. The Terps’ chances of not having a losing season stand at 10% (S&P+) and 17% (FPI), including an FCS freebie from Towson. Like Rutgers, Maryland’s most-likely record is 4-8, but on the high side of 4 wins, and are double-digit dogs in five of their games. Still, here’s where D.J. Durkin’s motivational skills may effectively put a shine on the Terds and continue to make progress on the recruiting trail.
The data says Indiana is still looking like the ultimate Bubble team - and the only one in the B1GE at that. However, the wholesale elimination of its coaching staff may send this team from chaos into the abyss. Still, the Hoosiers preseason numbers have improved over 2016, with most likely records of 6-6 per FPI and 7-5 per S&P+, with no FCS cupcakes on its schedule. With a solid shot at post-season glory, the Hoosiers will need to keep the fire in its belly stoked. The threat of chaos may have left with Kevin Wilson, but it would still be prudent to not take Indiana lightly.
If Indiana is the ultimate Bubble team, then that makes Sparty the penultimate Bubble team. Alas, things might otherwise be looking up in East Lansing if it weren’t sinking into a quagmire of ugliness. Yeesh. On the bright side, S&P+ gives Sparty a 94% chance of improving its regular season win total from last year, while FPI gives them a better than 88% chance. Sparty’s most likely record is looking to jump up to 6-6 (or 5-7) per S&P+ (FPI) with 5 (or 6) spreads less than one score. Sparty is a double-digit dog in 3 (or 4) games.
With the exodus of so much talent and experience from Team 137, it appears that the fancy-stats love affair with Michigan under Harbaugh has come to an end. The most likely records stand at 9-3 (or 8-4) per S&P+ (or FPI), but with a strong lean in the FPI distribution toward 9 wins. Michigan is favored by double-digits in 8 games by both S&P+ and FPI, and has margins of less than one score in 4 (or 2) games per S&P+ (or FPI). Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State at this point are favored by both S&P+ and FPI. UM is more than a one-score dog to PSU and by double-digits to OSU as per FPI, whereas S&P+ expects significantly closer contests in those games. The opener against Florida looks like the closest matchup on the season, and so will be critical from the standpoint of getting UM off the schneid and setting the tone for the remainder of the season.
Here are some sobering statistical observations:
- Chances of a Michigan losing season: less than 2%.
- Chances of Michigan not improving on last season’s win total (10 or fewer wins): 88-97%.
- Chances of Michigan going undefeated: less than 2%.
Stemming largely from its late season push to the B1G Championship and a Rose Bowl berth, Penn State appears to have finagled its way into second banana status in at least the B1GE, if not the entire conference. The Nits are favored by double-digits in all but two of its games, plus they’re favored over UM at home by both ratings, including by more than one score by FPI. PSU is an underdog in only one game, at OSU, in which it is a one score or double-digit dog (S&P+ or FPI). Nevertheless, with a most likely record of 10-2 from both FPI and S&P+, PSU holds a 3% to 6% to win’em all, and should be 6-0 when UM shows up in Happy Valley for the first of its two toughest matchups of the season, which it has scheduled back-to-back. If the Nits can down the Wolverines, they will be flying high into Columbus with the B1GCG and a CFP invitation on the table. Statistically, despite its surprising over-performance last season, PSU still has a 23% to 29% chance of improving its record over last season's mark. This is founded largely on the strength of its returning production (ranked #4 in FBS by S&P+) in the form of 2nd-team All B1G QB Trace McSorley and B1G Offensive POTY RB Saquon Barkley.
Not many teams rank ahead of PSU in returning production, but one of them happens to be Ohio State, at #3. Indeed, this is no surprise since OSU was one of the youngest teams in the country in 2016 - the surprise was their coming off of 2015’s loss of talent to make the CFP. Looking ahead, OSU is poised to separate themselves from PSU and UM, with a most likely record of 11-1 overall. OSU is not only favored in all of its games by both S&P+ and FPI, but by double-digits in 9 and 11 games by those ratings, respectively. Its toughest opponent is Oklahoma in week 2, who is a touchdown underdog. Even so, an early loss to the Sooners would do little to hurt the Buckeyes’ CFP prospects. In conference, OSU shows a mode of 8 wins, which is incrementally greater than the 7-win modes of PSU and UM, making OSU the team to beat. What’s remarkable is the peakedness of the OSU distributions, which means the chances of variation from perfection are not as great as others’ variations from not-so-perfection. There’s not a great deal of solace in the fact that the Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor in 2017. They’re still favored by 3 or 12 points (S&P+ or FPI).
Other sobering statistical observations:
- Chances of tOSU improving on last season (i.e. going undefeated): 15-32%.
- Chances of tOSU losing 3 or more games: 6-19%.
- Chances of tOSU having a losing season: vanishingly small.
The B1G West Distributions
In the B1G West, only one team is classified as a Contender, and that team is Wisconsin. However, the B1GW Bubble is bursting with 4 teams: Northwestern, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. Meanwhile, the Bottom Feeders (Illinois and Purdue) pick up from where they were left for dead last season and carry on like zombies looking for something to bite.
Below are the charts of the overall and in-conference total win distributions for the B1GW based on the S&P+ ratings (with links to the FPI charts), followed by a brief digest of each team’s results.
Here is a link to the same set of charts based on 2017 FPI B1GW overall results.
Here is a link to the same set of charts based on 2017 FPI B1GW in-conference results.
It's just about the same story for Purdue as with Rutgers, except maybe even more godforsaken. S&P+ and FPI both show a most likely record of 3-8. That’s what not having an FCS team on the schedule does for you if you’re a bottom feeder. They’re chances of a losing season range from 95% to 97%, with the chances of going completely winless registering in the 1%-3% range. Suffice it to say, Purdue’s prospects for 2017 cover the entire gamut of losing.
Illinois is a half-step above Purdue with a mostly likely record of 4-8 as per FPI, versus 3-9 forecast by S&P+. To its credit, the Illini have no FCS creampuff this season. That said, the Illini are double-digit dogs in half of its games, with the remainder of its games being within about one score either way. The chances for Illinois to go bowl-ing range from 8% to 12%. In the aggregate, Illinois’ distributions are almost indistinguishable from Purdue’s, and together, they define the bottom of the B1G West, which is about one win less overall than the B1G East.
Iowa appears to be right on track for its continued regression from the millennial celestial alignment that took place in 2015. S&P+ estimates a 6-6 record for the Hawkeyes, while FPI puts them at 7-5, making the Hawkeyes one of the cluster of four Bubble teams in the B1GW. Iowa is also favored to hold onto Floyd of Rosedale in its trophy matchup with Minnesota. S&P+ and FPI both give Iowa about a 60% chance of 6 wins or more, but only a 3% chance of 9 more.
Next in the B1GW Bubble are the Cornhuskers, whose best chance to break back into the B1GCG again may have been last season. Both S&P+ and FPI numbers place them at a perfectly mediocre 6-6 record, with S&P+ tilting toward the over, and FPI, the under. As such, S&P+ gives the Huskers a 72% chance of reaching bowl eligibility and FPI, a 52% chance.
Like the Huskers, forecasts for the Gophers in 2017 have receded toward mediocrity with a most likely record of 7-5 from S&P+ and 6-6 from FPI. S&P+ gives the Gophers a 79.3% chance at bowl eligibility and FPI, a 67.1% chance. New Head Coach P.J. Fleck may be just the sort of high-character persona who can assuage the tumult that swept through Minny at the end of last season. Regardless, Fleck steps into a situation that is otherwise not nearly as dire as most of the others B1G teams that have changed coaches in the last year. He will just need to get the team to focus on its oarsmanship.
Meanwhile, the ultimate B1GW bubble-team - that is to say the team most likely to break out of the bubble - would appear to be Northwestern. S&P+ forecasts a most likely record of 7-5 overall, with a strong lean toward 8 wins. FPI kicks it up to the 8-4 mark, with a slight lean toward 9 wins. Either way, the Wildcats have a 89-97% likelihood of becoming bowl-eligible, a 71%-77% likelihood of having a winning season (improving on last season’s mark), and a 5%-15% chance of reaching 10 wins or more. Fitz is dutifully rebuilding this squad, and coupled with the return of 3rd-year starting Jr. QB Clayton Thorson and B1G R-OTY Austin Carr, the Cats will get their share of highlights.
What a difference a year makes! Of all the teams in the B1G, it would appear that Wisconsin will see the greatest benefit of the swing in both scheduling constraints and interdivisional draws. Not only do the Badgers have five B1G home games, but three of them are Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan - its strongest intra- and inter-divisional opponents. Add to that Maryland and Indiana, plus OOC’s Utah State, FAU and BYU, and it’s no wonder the Badgers’ most likely record is 10-2 (with both leaning toward 11-1). Wisconsin is the only team other than Ohio State (who is not on the Badgers’ schedule this year) that is favored in all of its games. Moreover, the Badgers are double-digit favorites in 11 of its 12 games. The only opponent within one score of them? Your ever-lovin’ Maize’n’Blue. By all accounts, Wisconsin looks to run away with the B1G West and may well have punched its ticket to Indy by the time the Wolverines shows up in Madison on November 18.
Some enviable statistical observations:
- Chances of Bucky going undefeated: 9%-13%.
- Chances of Bucky improving on last season (win 11 or more): 35%-43%.
- Chances of Bucky losing 3 or more games: 26%-33%.
- Chances of Bucky having a losing season: vanishingly small.
Just to wrap things up with a quick visual summary, here are the combined overlays of the total wins probabilities broken out by division.
And, here is a link to the same pair of charts based on 2017 FPI B1GE & B1GW results.
Yours in football, and Go Blue!
Part 2 of the Livers detailed scouting report and film. This time, we'll take an in-depth look at the defensive side.
Like yesterday, I broke the film up into segments:
a) Perimeter Defense - beginning to 1:47 mark
b) Post Defense - 1:48 to 2:09 mark
c) Rebounding/Box Out/Ball Pursuit/Motor, etc - 2:10 mark to end
Isolation Defense on Wing
Fluid defender that turns hips and moves feet well for a prospect of his size. Has ability to beat wings of similar and larger size to the spot when taking multiple dribbles. Has potential to be above aveage/good perimeter isolation defender at next level with continued development
Switching on Screens
Makes hard, quick hedges and shows ability to stay with smaller guards for 2 and perhaps 3 dribbles depending on quickness.
Conistently communicates with teammates when getting screened so that offensive player is always accounted for.
Inconsistent. Shows ability to make proper rotations at times, but too often is caught stagnant and doesn't rotate at all. Needs to improve reaction time on helpside rotations, has ability with athleticism and size.
Does a good job of playing 3/4 defense and moving his feet in order to deny the post entry pass from the guard. Also jumps passing lanes when entry pass has air on it to get steals and deflections. Sample size too small to make evaluation for post defense once he actually has to defend the post upon entry pass being completed.
Will box out when already engaged with another player in the post or the perimeter and then pursue the ball. Rarely finds a man to box out when not engaged with a particular player, far too much standing around and lack of ball pursuit in those situations. Often caught flat footed and staring at the action as teammates pursue the ball. Rarely grabs rebounds outside of his frame. Does not give multiple jumps for rebounds. Not nearly physical or energetic enough on the glass for a prospect of his size and athletic ability. Motor and reaction time needs a lot of work when rebounding and pursuing the ball.
As we look toward the future of basketball with the departures of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, I figured now would be a good time to examine one of our 17 incoming recruits in Isaiah Livers in the context of scouting/analysis as opposed to highlights.
This is similar to what I provide for college coaches in terms of depth, but perhaps not volume (this is a 2 game sample size from state playoffs, would likely provide coaches 4).
I broke this 4:23 clip into 4 segments:
a) Shooting - beginning to 1:14 mark
b) Ballhandling/Passing/Creating in Half Court - 1:15 to 2:58 mark
c) Post Offense - 2:59 to 3:50 mark
d) Transition Offense - 3:51 to end
3 point shooting numbers
Raw Numbers: 5/10 for 50%
Off the Catch: 2/5 for 40%
Off the Dribble: 3/3 for 100%
Off the Handoff Going Right: 0/1
Off the Jabstep/Isolation: 0/1
Midrange shooting numbers
Raw Numbers: 2/3 for 67%
Off the Dribble: 2/3 for 67%
Mechanics - True jumpshot with good elevation. Good mechanics on shot overall, but displays a slight kick in his legs at times that makes taking a balanced shot difficult. Good upper body mechanics, but release point is a bit late, causing shot to lack enough arch at times.
Off the catch - good shooter off the catch, difficult to block his shot based on elevation in conjunction with height/length. Will usually take a quality shot off the catch with a good chance of connecting
Off the Dribble - excellent shooter off the dribble going left. His ability to hit a stepback jumpshot off 1-2 dribbles from either midrange or 3 rates among the very best in the country for prospects of his size. Not as fluid as a shooter going right (common to many right hand prospects).
BALLHANDLING/PASSING/CREATING IN HALF COURT
Average to above average ballhandler for a prospect of his size. His dribble is hard enough to control the ball without threat of losing it when he has space to operate. His head is often down when he dribbles against pressure defense though, mitigating his ability to create for others because he doesn't see the entire floor. Doesn't have good enough first step acceleration to create separation off the dribble against guards/wings in a straight line. Doesn't display ability to change direction with the basketball when his defender beats him to the spot or helpside defense cuts off his initial straight line. Does not get all the way to the rim off the dribble based on lack of accelertaion and change of direction ballhandling. Prefers to go left with much more volume because that is where he is comfortable getting off his shots. Can get off his own shot going left off 1-2 dribbles. Not a real turnover risk when handling because he generally kicks the ball out when defender cuts him off or helpside cuts off drive after 2 dribbles. Not a high volume isolation/pick and roll prospect off the dribble at this point in his development in half court settings.
Very good passer from the top of the key and the free throw line area when he has space to operate and see the floor for a prospect of his size. Does a great job of leading teammates to open areas and gaps where they are in position to score. Better passer from stagnant position as opposed to off the dribble because his head is up and he can see over the top of the defense based on his size/height. Off the dribble, he is almost strictly a kick-out type prospect as opposed to a creator that will find bigs for easy dumpoffs once the helpside defense commits. Doesn't see the floor as well off the dribble. Would likely thrive as a passer at the FT line area against a 2-3 zone.
Post game not really developed or fluid at this point. Does not effectively use pivot foot to create separation for clean looks. Slow movements in post area, fails to make aggressive moves in a straight line toward the middle or quick baseline spins moves that should be relatively easy for a prospect of his size and athletic ability. Fails to use size and strengh advantage to his benefit at the high school level. Consistently takes fadeaway jumpers/hooks after taking 2 dribbles to get closer to the basket. Does not embrace contact in paint area when receiving post entry passes. Tendency is to take 2 dribbles to get himself within 8-10 feet of the basket and then settle for fadeaway jumper or hook.
Runs the floor extremely well for a prospect of his size. Really fluid as a ballhandler in transition and consistently looks to get the ball in the middle of the floor to open up finishing lanes for teammates. As a transition ballhandler, he's much better as a passer than a fnisher. He finds the middle of the floor and generally finds teammates for good looks once the defense commits to cutting off the middle. He's a good finisher as the trailer in transition and displays the ability to finish with either hand with good elevation and body control. Great ability to be a rebound and go type at the next level with his combination of athleticism, size, ballhandling and passing.
Above average to good verticality. More fluid jumper off 1 leg but still gets good elevation off 2 legs.
Average to above average lateral agility for a prospect of his size. Displays ability to stay with guards/wings for 2 dribbles and will beat larger wings to the spot on defense at times. Ability to be above average perimeter defender with continued strength/conditioning and development at college level.
Average strength, not weak by any means, but doesn't necessarily use his strength advantage to his benefit at the high school level. Does not embrace contact in tight spaces at this point. Will need to develop more aggressive mentality in that regard
Straight Line Speed
Above average speed for a prospect of his size. Not a blazer, but can transition from defense to offense in hurry on a functional basis, either with, or without the ball.
Good athlete in space, but doesn't display quick-twitch athleticism in tight spaces when being defended. Generally needs space/running start to utilize athletic abilities
HIGH LEVEL SUMMARY
Likely Position in College
A small power forward that can stretch the defense with his shot and take advantage of bigger defenders on the perimeter off the dribble, at least early in his college careeer. After a few years of development, he has the potential to be more of a true small forward based on his lateral movement, athletic abilities, and ballhandling/passing skills. There are definitely some tools present in terms of being a playmaker in the half-court, but will need a bit of development to get to the desired level.
Definitely a very good shooter first and foremost. Will likely thrive in pick and pop action where he can catch and shoot from distance. Can also thrive in isolation situations occasionally against bigger defenders where he can utilize the midrange stepback off the dribble to get clean looks. Passing from the top of the key is a tremendous asset - has really good vision and leads teammates to open areas for clean looks. Good handler in transition that will find the middle of the floor and get the ball to teammates for easy layups. Above average/good athlete now with potential to be very good athlete with proper strength and conditioning development.
Areas for Development
Needs to develop ballhandling while keeping the head up and develop change of direction dribbles in order to become more of an on-ball playmaker. This will help him see the floor better to create easy looks not only for himself, but more importanly teammates. Will also help him get all the way to the rim off closeouts or when bigger defenders are checking him. Need to adjust release point slightly so that arch is consistent. Need to develop pivot/footwork in order to become post option in the paint. Need to embrace physicality and and contact rather than settling.
The bigs delivered a spot in the Sweet 16 [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Discussing Michigan’s Sweet 16 team
1. In Michigan’s last five games, they’ve defeated five straight NCAA Tournament teams at neutral sites, taking what had been a rather average season and making it one of John Beilein’s very best in Ann Arbor in a span of two weeks. March rules everything in college basketball and the Wolverines have already cemented a successful season with the potential to do even more.
In these past five wins, Beilein has tightened the rotation: seniors Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin are playing over 90% of available minutes; Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and DJ Wilson are playing over 80%; Duncan Robinson over 50% and Moritz Wagner right at 50%. Xavier Simpson and Mark Donnal play spot minutes as necessary to spell the starters, but it’s pretty much a six-man rotation.
2. Walton and Irvin spend as little time on the bench as possible, and for good reason. Plenty has been written about Walton: over the last half of his senior season, he’s become an elite point guard, commanding Michigan’s 5-out ball-screen offense with aplomb, draining threes and venturing on tough forays to the basket.
Walton’s ability to set up his teammates – marshaling the Wolverine offense into taking advantage of Wagner’s mismatches against Louisville’s wings in the mid-post, for example – to maximize Michigan’s offensive ability is uncanny. Overnight, he became something approximating a Nik Stauskas (or even a Trey Burke, honestly). Walton came in as a well-regarded recruit and was a starter on an Elite 8 team as a freshman, and even though his career was sidetracked by injuries, he’s fulfilling his potential, having become a star – capable of carrying Michigan on his back.
3. Irvin’s story is a little more complicated. The former five star wing was an unrepentant three-ball gunner with indifferent defense as a freshman, and morphed into a solid distributor as his shot abandoned him. He took leadership in a lost sophomore season after injuries to Caris LeVert and Walton; Michigan often rode with Irvin in late-game situations to mixed results and eventually found that it was better to run the offense through Walton instead of Irvin, especially during a February cold stretch. To his credit, Irvin has morphed into an excellent role player as of late – occasionally taking long jumpers, but deferring more and more. His ability to conjure a shot from nothing is still useful, and he’s a good passer.
Irvin’s work ethic really shows up on the defensive end: he works hard to get skinny over ball-screens, switches one-through-four, and he tracks shooters around the perimeter, working to deny them the ball. The improvement he’s made on that end of the floor over the course of his career has been remarkable. Michigan wouldn’t be in the Sweet 16 without him.
4. Walton and Irvin are program cornerstones: hyped prospects who were rotation players for a great team from day one, guys who have played so many games in a Michigan uniform, not quite talented enough to make a leap to the NBA but good enough to win at the college level. This team was built around Walton and Irvin, and now that the squad is exceeding expectations, full credit should go to those two foundational players – classmates who have grown into excellent leaders for Michigan. Beilein’s previous best teams (2012-2013 and 2013-2014) were led by youngsters. Not this season.
5. It’s too early to talk about Walton and Irvin’s legacies – as they still have games to play (and hopefully win) in the tournament – but, needless to say, they’ll be remembered more fondly because of their Big Ten Tournament title and Sweet 16 appearance as seniors. Of course, they could still carry the team even further in the NCAA Tournament. In Beilein’s tenure, there have been a few notable leadership tandems: Manny and Peedi, Zack and Stu, Trey and Tim – and Derrick and Zak. It will be extremely sad to see them go.
Rest of the post after the JUMP:
Nobody asked for it, the people aren’t chanting for it, probably nobody’s going to read it, but here’s an (abbreviated) Best & Worst for this crazy Sweet 16 team.
Best: The Ultimate Beilein Team
This is what basketball is supposed to look like under John Beilein, with a couple of the rough edges ground down by Billy Donlon on defense. It’s an experienced, heady PG capable of driving to the hoop, dropping absolutely dimes on the run or in the half court, and (as an added bonus) being a crack shot from outside. It’s having athletic bigs with 3-point range and good handles. It’s about having 5 guys on the court who range from “Not at all” to “No” on the SIBMIHHAT scale. And while it may be a bit cliche, it’s about the sum being a bit more impressive than the parts.
Michigan from 2012 until 2014 was some weird Upside Down world where Beilein had multiple NBA first-rounders on the roster every season and didn’t have to make due with Mike Gansey, Kevin Pittsnogle, J.D. Collins and guile. And outside of that one glass headlined by GR III and McGary, it wasn’t really portended by the offseason. It was grabbing future NPOY Trey Burke because he missed on Aaron Craft, or beating out Dayton and Ohio for future lottery pick Caris Levert. It was turning the #232 player in the country into Jordan “UnderChargeTaker” Morgan, the backbone of two Elite 8 teams. And while it was great, it was never sustainable; you can’t rely on sifting dust for diamonds, because the pickings are slim, and with the vagaries of recruiting and how difficult it is to extrapolate 16- and 17-year-olds in college, even guru-approved commits can seemingly sputter and flame out.
This senior class, on paper, was supposed to keep Beilein’s surprising recruiting prowess going, a top-15 outfit headlined by 2 top-50 players in Irvin and Walton. It wasn’t quite “reloading” with the departure of Burke and Hardaway, but these players were expected to carry on that tradition under Beilein. At least in the part, the most optimistic of Michigan fans assumed that if Beilein could do go toe-to-toe with Kentucky and come within a room full of not-dead hookers (sorry Craig James) against Louisville for the title with relatively unheralded recruits, could you imagine what he’d be able to do with a couple of elite players?
And yet, while they showed glimpses of this promise for the past 3.5 years, it is safe to say they had been underwhelming overall. Walton was a PG who struggled to get his shot at the rim and Irvin was trying to be the offensive identity for a team that works best when that role is undefined. They weren’t bad players as much as fine players tainted with outsized expectations. Coming out of HS, Walton was a 6’ PG with okay athleticism, and Irvin was Just a Shooter who had a great frame but needed to both bulk up and refine his game on both sides of the ball. They were solid prospects, the type Beilein molded into good players as upperclassmen, but people expected much more much sooner, and the exodus to the NBA, injuries to them and others (especially the last 2 Levert years), plus some recruiting misfires forced them into more prominent roles than they were probably ready for.
The rest of the roster, though, was more in line with Beilein’s previous stops. He has supreme confidence in his ability to fix a guy’s wayward shot; witness MAAR going from sub-30% as a freshman to 40% from 3 this year, and Xavier Simpson hoping to see a similar trajectory over the years. Similarly, he knows that a good shot can offset a number of other deficiencies, as both DJ Wilson, Moe Wagner, and Mark Donnal were recruited because of their size and outside stroke even though they clearly needed some help in the weight room. Duncan Robinson was a transfer from D-III Williams College with a lights-out shot and serious questions about athleticism and defense.
They’re all guys with strengths to their games but also enough negatives that many of them would have been buried on other clubs. And yet, with Beilein, they aren’t just contributing, they are thriving. It’s why when the anonymous coaching quotes came out about this team a month ago, the money line was “[t]hey get guys eight or 10 points who don’t deserve to score.” It sounds like an insult, but it’s more a compliment to Beilein’s philosophy. It’s how he got WVU to have 3 straight top-25 offenses per Kenpom with mostly cast-offs, or how he’s had exactly 2 teams (2010 and 2015) finish outside the top-40 in offense the past 9 year.
And yes, his willingness to bring in Donlon to overhaul the defense, while initially rocky, has paid off in spades, with one of the best 3pt defenses in the nation and a team that forces turnovers at a top-100 rate. Those are new wrinkles to the Beilein formula. But the rest of this team remains true to form, and that’s probably what’s most encouraging to me. He doesn’t need NBA-ready players at every spot, he just needs guys who don’t turn the ball over, can spread out the court, and make teams defend them everywhere. It sounds simple but it’s not, and credit needs to go to Beilein for getting this team to get where it needed to be at the perfect time.
Best: Get Down with Your Beilein Self
You hear about certain coaches that are synonymous with a “type” of team, squads composed of players seemingly pulled from the primordial ooze destined to be cogs in a particular system. We usually hear this in relation to football, though; I say “Rich Rodriguez” or “Urban Meyer” and you just see a QB taking off down the field with an entire defensive staff clenched on the sideline, you hear “Mike Leach” and it’s a billion receivers streaking down the sidelines, or you hear a fullback led his team in TDs and called the Hammering Panda and “Jim Harbaugh” immediately jumps to mind. I say “Robotic” and you see Nick Saban, “Oregon” and you think of a million variations on highlighter colors bombing teams out of existence, or “Fun ‘n’ Gun and it’s just Steve Spurrier shirtless with a sun visor. Hell, whole conferences take on a certain identity: without looking, does Oklahoma 66, Texas Tech 59 sound more like a basketball score or a football one? And it helps that football let’s you “do” football in so many different ways because of the specialization on both sides of the ball, where the strengths of a player on offense don’t play into your defense and vice-versa.
In basketball, you don’t see this as often, for a plethora of reasons (limited roster size, massive player turnover especially at the top each year, the need for players to be passable on both ends of the court, etc.), and those teams that do have identities tend to become personifications of the perceptions (true or false) people have of their coaches.* So with Coach K and Duke, it’s talented “villains”, your JJ Redick’s, Christian Laettner’s, and Grayson Allen’s. The best MSU teams are like Tom Izzo, mean-mugging guys with equal part talent and “grit” that play like Bill Laimbeer’s fever dreams.
John Beilein’s defining characteristics (at least publicly) are being incredibly nice/genuine and being a bit, how do you say, hokey. In 2013, he celebrated going to the Sweet 16 with crazy subs, and this year has taken to ambushing players with water guns after big wins. It’s notable when he freaks out on the sidelines about the officiating because (a) it almost always means he’s getting a technical, and (b) he’s almost always right, and has held his tongue for untold transgressions up to that point. Maverick Morgan called Michigan “white collar” this year as a pejorative about their toughness, and more than a few fans felt the Wolverines reflected Beilein’s temperament. Both Louisville and Okie St. outrebounded Michigan this weekend, and a common refrain was that the team didn’t play tough enough on the glass.
But behind that gentile veneer is the heart of a killer. Okay, maybe not “killer”, but as Ace noted, quite evil. He knows what his offense can do to other teams. Matt Painter was exasperated trying to explain the difficulties defending Michigan, the harsh realization that your center has to defend a guy who shoots over 40% from three and can also shake-and-bake you behind his back on the way to the hoop. That even when the outside shot isn’t falling, Beilein will tax your team the entire time they are in the half-court offense, probing for breakdowns. And when they are firing from outside at a good clip, ooohhh. Oklahoma State scored 91 points and didn’t hold a lead after the 10-minute mark of the second half because Michigan shot 11-15 from 3 in the second half, a performance so scarring that OSU’s head coachg Brad Underwood left the Cowboys…for Illinois. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The old Harbaugh quote from his time at Stanford was “[w]e're going to win with character but we're also going to win with cruelty.” That’s been Michigan since that Ohio State game; just efficiently beating the tar out of teams unless they get eleventy billion more free-throws or the basketball gods smiling down upon them. Louisville had the #9 defense coming into this game; Michigan torched it for 1.2 ppp, and that included a relatively mediocre 6/17 from 3 and Walton going 3/13 overall.
* That’s not to say there aren’t styles; you have teams that love to press (Rick Pitino- and Shaka Smart-led teams jump to mind), or load up on bigs and grind down smaller clubs (Purdue and Minnesota most recently), or bomb away from outside (like Michigan, UCLA, Oregon, etc.), but because college basketball is such a recruiting arm’s race, and you usually are dealing with so many young players, it can feel so “generic” at times.
Best: Mobile Towers
In today’s basketball, it isn’t uncommon to see a team with a “stretch” 4 – a big who can handle the ball a bit and has a decent enough shot from 20+ feet to pull a defender out to him. It’s quite another thing to have 2 such players on a team, especially when both of them are above-average athletes capable of picking a guard’s pocket or breaking the press by himself. And yet, in Wagner and Wilson Michigan has two prototypical Beilein bigs capable of taking his man off the dribble, banging (a bit) inside, or spinning out to the 3 point line. Wagner scored a career-high 26 points in the win over Louisville, repeatedly getting his shot in that second half regardless of what the Cardinals threw at him. And when he was saddled with some early fouls and it was clear Michigan was going to be in a footrace with OSU, Wilson effortlessly slid over to the 5 and Michigan was able to rotate in Wagner, Robinson, and Donnal without upsetting their offensive flow. Plus, Wilson somewhat quietly collected 7 blocks this weekend, giving a little bite to the defense in key spots.
I want to say both guys come back next year; I know they’ve been moving up some draft boards but it still feels like they’re a year away from consistently playing like this, and in a loaded draft the first round isn’t a given. But regardless, it’s been great watching these two guys evolve over the year.
Best: The Old Guys
I’ve said quite a bit about Walton and Irvin already, but they’ve continued their stellar play into this first week of the tournament. Walton was the MVP against OSU, recording a 26-11-4 with 2 steals, but Irvin was nearly as efficient offensively and did a decent job defending the Cowboy’s hyper-aggressive attack. And against Louisville, where Walton struggled with his shot for much of the game, Irvin hit a couple of long jumpers to start that second half to keep the offense going and keep the deficit manageable until Wagner and co. got going. It took a little longer than everyone had hoped, but this is the type of senior play Beilein teams thrive on, and it’s a testament to their leadership that this team hung together even through the struggles.
Worst: This Seeding
After a grueling 4-day run to the BTT, Michigan was “rewarded” with a 7 seed against a top-25 Kenpom team in Okie St. and then the #9 team Louisville. This continued a trend of Michigan just facing a murder’s row of teams.
Michigan's 5 wins in last 9 days have come over eventual 4, 5 8, 10 & 2 seeds. Equivalent to a champ game appearance run. Bonkers. @mgoblog
— Blake Burman (@BlakeBurman) March 19, 2017
Per Kenpom, that corresponds to the #12, 36, 21, 23, and 9 teams in the country. The 2013 run to the national title game? #96, 18, 8, 2, 9, and 1. And Michigan isn’t going to get a gimme going forward; Oregon is #15 and then they’re looking at either the #12 or #7 team in the country waiting for them in the Elite 8.
And as you’ve probably read, this seeding “weirdness” isn’t limited to Michigan. Dayton had to play #8 Wichita St. as a 10 seed, while #42 Miami got to play #39 MSU, and #2 Villanova had #21 Wisconsin waiting for them in the second round while Gonzaga had #37 NW and UNC #35 Arkansas. Minnesota, the 35th team to Kenpom but a top-18 team to RPI and a 5 seed, and Maryland, #46(!) (behind Indiana and Texas Tech!!) were seeded at 6 while their opponent, MTSU, was actually ranked higher at #41.
Now, Kenpom, Sagarin, and similar metrics are not the be-all, end-all for determining the quality of a team. Both have Michigan as a top-20 outfit largely because of early-season struggles; right now it’s hard to imagine them not being considered one of the trop 5-10 teams in the country. But using RPI because it sorta looks like tough math isn’t remotely better, and it’s (somewhat) hurting the overall quality of the tournament because the seeding doesn’t reflect reality to a degree that stacks certain draws far too heavily.
Best: Shameless Plug
I’ll make this quick. I work for a company (Shoowin) that lets fans purchase tickets at face-value for a variety of sporting events if your team makes it to that game. You put down a small deposit, and if your team wins, you get those tickets at face value. During football we had deals with the NCAA for the Sugar Bowl and the National Title game, and with the B1G for the championship game. We’re running a similar program for the NCAA tournament. Michigan is a hot ticket, as you can imagine. Give it a look if you’re interested.
Best: Revenge Tour Rolls On
Michigan have been on an Inigo Montota-esque streak this month. First it was Illinois, the team that called Michigan soft and was then demolished by a team blown off the tarmac and wearing their practice gear. After beating Purdue, Michigan avenged their loss to the Gophers by apparently not fouling them 28 times. Then they beat Wisconsin, avenging so many shots that at the end of games and halves. Then their first NCAA opponent was a team with initials “OSU”…which is enough for me. Then they took down Lousiville, because “block don’t lie” even 4 years later. And now they wait for Oregon, the team that absolutely put the nail in Lloyd Carr’s coffin and set Michigan on a near-decade long trek into the abyss of college football. Sadly, they don’t have much lingering beef with Kansas or Purdue (though maybe the Jayhawks would disagree), but if they see UNC in the Final Four…let’s just say we might see a couple of Fab 5 members in the stands.
(James Coller) Thank you, Red
FIRST: Michigan produced a 12(5) in the first period. That's...ok-ish. Its not great, but at least they are getting a couple good looks. They have not gone in, though...something that happened last weekend. Also, given their defensive play in the first period (spoiler alert), they're definitely going to need to create A LOT more offense. They cannot get into an end-to-end game with Penn State, but if this keeps up, they're going to have to try. Then, it could get really ugly.
SECOND: So, this could be Fool's Gold, similar to the third period of the second Minnesota game from two weekends ago...but Michigan had an 18(10). That's not good...its great. I will take that in any/every period. Penn State was up 4-0 very early in the second, though. Michigan almost had a couple of even strength goals. One was overturned as Kile took a Winborg-induced rebound and lifted it over Jones, but on review, it was determined a Michigan skater was about 5 inches offside. The second was a tremendous strip from Kile who quickly hit Shuart in the low slot but he could not get a shot off. If both of those go in, its 4-3 and the period corsi makes sense.
- THIRD: Michigan turned up the heat to start the third period. Jones almost gave away a goal by miscovering the puck, but Marody hit the post. Later, Dancs walked into the slot and Jones made a great save to deflect his shot high. Michigan really needed those to go in to change the game and make PSU extend themselves to open up their defense. Alas, they did not go in and PSU could be content to repulse attack after attack. We talked last week about Michigan needing to limit PSU's quality looks and then convert on their own few quality chances. After the first period (and giving up too many good look goals), Michigan was forced to have to score on every one of their golden chances and they did not. That is hockey (and sports). They are high percentage chances, not guarnateed chances. When those don't go in for a team that does not get a lot of them, it is borderline impossible to win. When you have to be perfect in all aspects of the game...and you are not...you're just not the better team. That is what happened tonight. Michigan had a 23(6) in the third.
FIRST: The defense was bad. Two of the three goals resulted from terrible defensive play. The second goal was a nice rush from PSU but two M defenders covered the same guy and the winger got a great centering pass through the low slot and Sucese was right at the back post to tap it into the net. Also, just as the period was closing, M had a awful DZTO at their blue line that enabled PSU to rush in on a 2v1 and Goodwin placed a shot neatly below Nagelvoort's blocker. Nagelvoort has by no means been amazing, but he has not been able to clean everything up like he did last Saturday. Looking at the numbers shows Michigan give up a 19(8). That's a lot of chances...and a lot of good chances. The next couple periods could be tough to get through.
SECOND: Michigan gave up a 15(5) against PSU in the second period. I will take that every time from this team. Nagelvoort made a couple nice stops, but the defense was a little better. It also probably had a bit to do with PSU being up enough that they didn't want to overextend themselves and give away free goals. Even on the goal, its hard to fault skaters going for a shot block and potentially getting in the goalie's line of sight.
- THIRD: Being up by 3 goals and having another game tomorrow (and potentially a third the following night), Penn State conserved energy and mostly sat on their lead and allowed Michigan to come at them. Therefore, Michigan's defense didn't have much to do. This game was won for Penn State in the first period. Penn State had a 15(3) in the third.
FIRST: Michigan took one penalty and Penn State scored on it at the very end. It really was just a smooth play to create and open shooter in front of the net. Biro skated behind the net and stopped like he was going to reverse. Folkes was right behind him and he popped out and spun around as he crossed the goalline and positioned himself in the crease. Biro hit him in the stick blade and Folkes one-timed it behind Nagelvoort as Zach left his post, assuming Biro was reversing. Very nice play. Will be interesting to see Adam's GBGA on this one. Michigan did not get a power play.
SECOND: There was one penalty in the second and it was against Penn State. Michigan took advantage of their lone opportunity and broke the shut out! Yay! The puck was batted around in front and was lifted into Sanchez's chest and he batted/bumped it over a prone Jones (rhyme intended) and into the net. Scrappy goal, but that's how it is down low.
- THIRD: Michigan took one penalty in the third. PSU didn't try to do too much with their man advanatge and didn't really come close to scoring. Michigan drew a couple of power plays late in the third but never really mustered much of a threat. That's pretty much it. M finished 1/3 and PSU finished 1/2.
FIRST: So...Nagelvoort maybe had a chance on the third goal? But not really. He got square to the shooter but the puck went under his blocker. He was visably upset that he didn't stop it, but it was a bad DZTO and became and OMR...I'm not blaming a goalie for that. You save that and you're just awesome. The previous two goals he had zero shot at stopping. He's played well and let in three. Ugh. 10 saves in the first period.
SECOND: So, we can kinda put the fourth(this is getting high) goal on Zach. It was a faceoff won back to the point and fired at the net; however, TWO Michigan skaters stood to block the shot and it somehow went between them. Nagelvoort reached with his glove and deflected it into the post and behind the line. So, I guess he was kinda screened...but it appears he saw it late and got a glove on it. He was frustrated after that one. He also made about 2-3 more saves that coulda/shoulda been goals. So...whatever, I guess. He's playing fine, not amazing, getting no bounces or offensvie help. <Insert Shruggie Here>
- THIRD: Nagelvoort had a boring final period in a Michigan uniform. Michigan made some early pushes and Penn State was comfortable to just sit back. He's had a great senior season and its been awesome to watch him develop. He's still a draft pick and hopefully he'll get a chance at the next level!
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: Michigan gave up 1 clear OMR. It was a 2v1 after a great stretch pass. Nagelvoort made a tremendous 5 hole save. There were a couple other 'almosts' and one bad DZTO that became an OMR but I'm not calling it because it originated at the defensive blue line.
SECOND: There were a couple more OMRs for Penn State in the second. The first was a 2v1 that the defenseman broke up, not allowing an attempt on net. The next was a 3v1 that PSU set up perfectly with two passes and Nagelvoort made an amazing save. OMRs are a thing, tonight.
- THIRD: There were no OMRs in the third. But PSU was also not that aggressive...as they did not need to be, given the score.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Michigan 53(21), Penn State 49(16)
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Michigan 52, Penn State 47