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
Wichita St.’s Gregg Marshall [Getty]
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Yesterday, I took a look at the most overseeded teams in the NCAA Tournament – those who are worse than their seed line. Here are the teams who got boned.
As a reminder, this is the methodology:
In order to sort out which teams are better or worse than where they’re seeded, I took the list of teams sorted by the committee 1-66, and I compared it to a composite computer ranking of tournament teams based on the average of Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin, and Bart Torvik’s metrics. I then calculated the difference between where a team should theoretically be ranked given their strength according to that composite ranking and where they actually wound up.
The seven most underseeded teams are
- South #10 Wichita St.
- South #11 Kansas St.
- Midwest #10 Oklahoma St.
- West #4 West Virginia
- East #10 Marquette
- East #5 Virginia
- East #8 Wisconsin
No, no Michigan. Or at least if Michigan got boned in our seeding by historic standards it wasn't as bad as some other schools got it. True we have to play one of the most underseeded teams in the tournament in the first round, but it's not like Michigan played an Elite 8 seed kind of season and got put in a double-digit slot. Who's got it worse than us? See after the jump.
(James Coller) It was your night. Zach
FIRST: Well, it was better than last night's first period. But not by much. The Wolverines tallied a 9(2)...and not many were close to the HP, outside of those couple. Again, they took advatage of their one opportunity when Lockwood got into the slot and Jones coughed up a rebound. Winborg was right there to finish it. Penn State is a great high-possession team, so you're not going to have as many looks as they do...but still. You have to find a way into the slot more than once.
SECOND: Well, they got into the slot, anyway. Michigan only tallied 11 even strength attempts...but 6 did come from the HP. They had quality looks, just not many total looks. But...that's what happens when the puck is in your end the entire period and your goalie is doing cartwheel saves. I don't have much else to add.
- THIRD: Michigan's even strength came on a great tip from Adam Winborg, who got into the low slot and redirected Cecconi's centering pass behind Jones to seal the game. That made the game 3-0 with just over 3 minutes remaining. Once again, Michigan took advanatge of they few chances they scrounged up against an overwhelming Penn State attack. They ended the third with a 12(5). Keep PSU out of the slot, score on the power play, and finish your best chances. For the most part, that was what Michigan did. Michigan finished with a 32(13) and 41% of their even strength attempts coming from the HP. Low volume but high quality.
FIRST: This was reminiscent of last night. Penn State bombed away for 25 even strength chances but were only able to get into the HP for 6 tallies. Still, that's almost all of Michigan's total even strength chances of the period. Michigan did a decent (not great) job of keeping most of those chances to the points and boards, though. This is what Penn State does, though...fire away from anywhere, always. The only time they got one past Nagelvoort was after the whistle...after a Nagelvoort awful turnover. I predict a ton more attempts in the second.
SECOND: Well, I was right. Penn State ripped 24 more even strength attempts at Nagelvoort, including 9 from the HP. I can't say that the defense is playing well...because they're still not getting the puck out enough (or keeping PSU out of scoring areas), but Nagelvoort is more than making up for it. He is the story so far, tonight.
- THIRD: Michigan got bombed, again, in terms of volume. 26(7). That's a 75(22) and a 29% from HP. The defense did an ok job of keeping the puck as far from Nagelvoort as they could, but shots just rained all period (and game) long. Penn State just isn't a good matchup for Michigan in terms of skating and possession. The story here is Zach Nagelvoort who saved all 46 on frame to get his Senior Night shutout. It seems every game, whomever is in net is Michigan's best goalie. Zach seemed to channel J-Bart and live in the future knowing and seeing everything that came at him. The kick-stretch save (that I later pasted a video to) was just unreal. From his to 5v3 penalty kill to his crazy stretch save to always being in the right place, seeing the puck and control his rebounds...just a crazy impressive performance. Steve Shields seems to have pushed him to his very ceiling.
FIRST: Both team had two penalties in the first period. Each had a full power play and created a few looks. Penn State's Zach Saar ripped a great one-timer from the slot (unchecked) right into Nagelvoort's chest. Michigan had a few chances, as well, but nothing as good as Saar's. Both teams second power plays were shorter, as the penalties overlapped. Penn State's will carry into the second for about 30 seconds. Nothing earth-shattering to report here.
- SECOND: Michigan took two penalties in the course of a minute in the second period. Penn State spent the first 90 seconds in the zone on a 5v3 and had chance after chance after chance, but Michigan's scrappy three and Zach held on long enough for Cutler to come back from his first penalty. Finally, Michigan got their clear and turned it into a 2v1 shorthanded where Shuart ALMOST tapped one in. It would have been apropos for him, as he has a few of those this season. Michigan did get a power play with a minute left in the second. It will carry over into the third.
- THIRD: Griffin Luce took Michigan's two penalties in the third, but only one resulted in a man advantage.. Penn State threatened but didn't score on their lone chance. Michigan's penalty kill -which had not looked good for a while- was again great tonight, kill all five of PSU's man advantages. That means Michiga has killed all nine penalties they took, this weekend. That's rather impressive against PSU's strong power play. Michigan also tallied a power play goal. Tony Calderone poked one past Jones to double Michigan's lead. They had one other power play but did not score on that. Michigan ended the night 1/5 on the man advantage.
(James Coller) Thou Shall Not Pass
FIRST: Zach Nagelvoort gets the start on Senior Night. And he's playing like it's his last game in Yost. Penn State has given him plenty of chances to make saves and he's obliged, very nicely...stopping all 14 that have come on frame. He had one awful giveaway at the very end of the period that Sturtz managed to get by him (after Nagelvoort passed it right to him NHL 94 style), but Zach was bailed out by Trevor Hamilton losing his helmet behind Michigan's net...just before the shot crossed the goalline. Aside from that, he's been fantastic.
SECOND: Nagelvoort was unreal in the second. He had 22 saves. I don't even want to look at the corsi. There was a 1:05 stretch where PSU had a 5v3 and the puck didn't leave the zone for about a good 90 seconds. Nagelvoort had to have had 5+ saves in the stretch. He was literally everywhere. Sometimes a goalie just has a game where his mind is almost ahead of the play and just sees everything coming...this is that game. Nagelvoort is just out of his mind, right now.
- THIRD: https://twitter.com/umichhockey/status/840755721264279553
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: I saw no OMRs! This is three periods in a row!
SECOND: PSU got one OMR in the second period. It was a 2v1 and the shot went right into Nagelvoort's chest. To be fair, its hard to have many OMRs when you spend the entire period in the attacking zone.
- THIRD: No OMRs, again! One OMR in the last five periods. Perhaps, they are getting more disciplined?
(James Coller) A freshman finished on Senior Night
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Penn State 75(22), Michigan 32(13)
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Penn State 76, Michigan 32
(Bill Rapai) Tony Calderone provided the finishing, tonight
FIRST: So...Michigan tallied a 6(3). That's not very good. In fact, its pretty bad. It didn't seem as bad during live play because Michigan was able to create a few nice looks on both their power play and penalty kill. But six even strength attempts, man. That's about it.
SECOND: Michigan's offense was a little bit better in the second period. A little bit. They generated 12 even strength attempts with three coming from the HP. Unfortunately, a lot of their looks were from rather poor angles or from quite a distance. Their goal was a Calderone snipe on a 2v2 rush that he let go from the top of the circle. It was well-placed...but probably could/should have been saved. More chances from the slot, please! Lost in the numbers is Will Lockwood. He's made some supremely outstanding individual plays. He's worth the price of admission.
- THIRD: Michigan took 14 even strength attempts in the third period. They got into the HP for 4 of those 14 chances. Again, that's not the best. Most of their attempts came from quite a distance or a poor angle. Against a high pucl possession team, though, looks at the net seem to be at a premium, though. They did manage to take advantage of their quality chances, though. Tony Calderone came in on a 2v1 and ripped a flare over Jones's shoulder to tie the game. Brendan Warren hustled and outskated a PSU defenseman on a free-for-all and attempted to cross the puck through the crease to a waiting James Sanchez, but the Nittany Lion defenseman broke up the pass with his stick...and it slid right through Jones to give Michigan the lead. Sanchez would have had a tap-in from a few feet out if he doesn't deflect it, though. Very few teams are going to out-skate and out-possess PSU, so the way to beat them is to take advantage of your rushes and opportunities when they give them to you. Michigan did just that, tonight.
FIRST: There has yet to be a shot that a Penn State player has decided to pass up. They will literally shoot from almost anywhere at anytime. That's how you end up with even strength 22 attempts. Michigan only allowed three of those to come from the HP, though. So, my hottaeks say that Penn State just shot from anywhere inside th blue line. This period was probably more even than the stats say...at least in terms of quality looks. The PSU goal came with under five seconds left in the period as Kris Myllari heaved a puck at the net (because PSU shot) and it floated above Lavigne's blocker. Probably not on the defense, as much as Lavigne...but you just cannot surrender goals with just seconds left in a period. I would say that was borderline acceptable defensive period...until the last few seconds.
SECOND: Michigan constrained the trigger-happy Nittany Lions to only 15 even strength attempts...with 7 coming from the HP. It was odd, though, that almost all seven HP attempts were literally on the edge of my drawn HP shape. So, nothing from the slot, just the very fringes. PSU shooting 15 times is actually probably on their lower end...and giving up nothing TOO Grade A seems like a win. The goal was another fling from the boards that slipped through Lavigne's arm. That's not on the defense.
- THIRD: Looking back at the first couple periods, Michigan limited PSU's quality chances. They gave up a ton of looks but not many great ones. In the third, Penn State was able to conjure up 26 (!!) attempts on net in even strength...but again, they only got 6 from the HP. I'm going out on a limb and say that Michigan's defense was actually good, tonight. They did surrender a 63(16), which seems like a lot. However, due to the nature of PSU's offensive gameplan, you're just going to give up attempts. They seem to shoot just for the sake of shooting. To keep them to around 25% of their shots from HP, though? I think Michigan can live with that...especially with Michigan's goaltending being its strength. Its not fun to watch, per se...but when you have great netminding and limited offense, packing in the defenders and finishing your limited offensive chances is your best bet. Oh geez...we're Michigan State. :(
FIRST: Michigan drew one power play in the first period and looked very dangerous. They created about 3-4 really good looks at the net and hit the post. Not having the puck much doesn't allow you to draw many penalties, so the Wolverines are going to have to make them count, tonight. Michigan took two penalties and actually looked better offensively than Penn State did on their first. The Nittany Lions threatened a lot more on their second and Lavigne made a few outstanding saves to help kill of that PSU man advantage.
SECOND: Each team had a power play in the second period and both ended the same way: with just as many chances for the PK as the PP. Odd. I would not have expected that from either of these teams.
- THIRD: Michigan did not draw a penalty and took one penalty in the third period. Penn State had a couple decent looks, but nothing overwhelming. Michigan's penalty kill stoned four PSU advantages, tonight, and didn't really give up that many good looks...which is refreshing. That has not been the case, lately.
(James Coller) I'M BATMAN
FIRST: Hayden Lavigne started tonight. He played extremely well through the first 19 minutes and 50 seconds, stopping 13 shots on as many attempts. Unfortunately, a late chuck from the point/boards snuck over his blocker. Perhaps he was screened? Tough to tell. Either way, I think he's going to want that one back. Before that, though...Lavigne was fantatsic, including multiple stuffs from the low slot during some multiple skater scrums right in front of him. His positioning was very, very good, as well.
SECOND: Lavigne, again, had a similar period to the first. He made a few fantastic saves and kept Michigan in a tightly played game. The goal he gave us was another head-scratcher. The puck was thrown from the point/boards (again) and just seemed to leak through his blocker side arm. He seemed to be in the right spot, but...the puck just got through. Screen? Maybe. But...it also seemed kinda soft, even on replay. These couple of goals have been uncharacteristic of him...especially given how he's played the rest of the time.
- THIRD: Lavigne was great, again, saving all 13 shots he faced in the third. And...no fluky fluff goals! I've commented on his positioning before, but I really thought he was in the right places and saw the game develop in front of him very well, tonight. He had those two hiccups, but they were not for lack of being in the correct spot. I truly am thinking, now, that Steve Shields is the catalyst behind this goaltending resurgence. He transformed Racine into a dependable college goalie, and he's also pushing all three of Michigan's netminders to the top of their games. The Wolverines truly are getting elite play from all of their goalies. Hayden Lavigne is the latest piece of evidence.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: Michigan gave up 2 OMRs in the first period. The first came early on and the got lucky as the the shooter broke his stick and whiffed on the pass. The second was a tremendous break-out pass that lead to a 2v1. The shot was high and wide, but it was a great chance. M cannot skate end-to-end with PSU.
SECOND: I saw no OMRs in the 2nd. Yay!
- THIRD: Nothing. Yay! Hottaek: Michigan's defense got better as the game progressed.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Penn State 63(16), Michigan 32(10)
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Penn State 64, Michigan 31