well that's just, like, your opinion, man
Initinal note: I don't know what the problem is with the line spacing below. Apologies. Also, posting this is a reverse jinx, so relax.
The dawn of time through 1984: There are no 15 seeds. The field is 53 teams in 1984. Play-in games made this number work.
1991: Richmond defeats Syracuse 73-69
The Richmond Spiders, presumably named by Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie fans, announced their existence to the basketball world in 1984, when they defeated 5th-seeded Auburn as a 12 seed. The Spiders repeated the trick in 1988 as a 13 seed, beating 4th-seeded defending champ (and future NIT non-qualifier) Indiana, whose coach no doubt berated his players for their pathetic and shameful failure, because tough love was the only kind of love a man could show at the time. In 1991, the Spiders outdid their past upsets, becoming the first 15 seed to win an NCAA tournament game by overcoming Big East Champ Syracuse and Big East Player of the Year Billy Owens. The world was stunned. Queen Elizabeth reportedly remarked, “Great, my fucking bracket is busted.”
Richmond started the game hot, making 16 of its first 26 shots from the field, and they outshot Syracuse 49% to 45.5% for the game. The Spiders also made 18 of 22 free throws, besting the Orangepersons’ (as they were still called) 14 of 19. Richmond more-or-less held even on the boards, losing the rebounding battle by only five. I cannot find the turnover numbers for the game, but the Baltimore Sun reported that the Spiders looked “well coached” while Syracuse was “undisciplined.”
Richmond’s coach, Dick Tarrant, reported after the game that he compensated for the talent discrepancy between the two teams by frequently switching defenses, which he believed caused Syracuse to be off balance. Tarrant was informed by Verne Lundquist that 25 million people were watching the game by the end, which caused Tarrant to think, “My God, if my guys knew that, they might have run off to the john with diarrhea.” (This quote is real.)
1993: Santa Clara defeats Arizona 64-61
Pac-12 champion Arizona began the 1993 tournament ranked No. 5 in the country. They were the 2nd seed in the West Regional behind Michigan. They would none-the-less lose to West Coast Conference Champion Santa Clara and a young Canadian guard named Steve Nash (who had ten points and four assists).
Santa Clara out-rebounded Arizona 50 to 36 and outshot them 37.7% to 31% from the field. Despite this, the Wildcats led 46-33 with 15:26 remaining in the game. At that moment, Arizona’s best player, Chris Mills, was whistled for his fourth foul. He sat for the next ten minutes. Santa Clara took advantage and managed to win despite missing several free throws that could have clinched the game (some of them missed by Nash).
Santa Clara gained the crowd as the game wore on. They were adopted by neutral fans and even Vanderbilt’s band. Said their coach: "Both teams had about 400 fans. The other 11, 000 became Santa Clara fans…It really began to build as our guys hung in there."
Wildcat coach Lute Olson said after the game, “My hair has gone white. I must answer to the name Lute. Yet still the gods torment me.” He would have to wait to 1997 to win a championship and proudly rename himself “Rodney.”
1997: Coppin State defeats South Carolina 78-65
I can find relatively little about this game, probably because the 2 seed in question was South Carolina. The Gamecocks were the regular season SEC champs and 30 point favorites. They’d defeated reigning national champ Kentucky twice. Coppin State, in turn, was the first MEAC member to make the Big Whatever (as it was dubbed in the ‘90s by Ethan Hawke). Coach Fang Mitchell none-the-less told his team that they could win. And they did win. And that’s so special! If you care about that sort of thing. I mean…it’s not important…do you have a cigarette?
CSU out-rebounded South Carolina by eleven (or ten depending on the source). They shot similar percentages from the field and from three, but CSU shot 34 free throws (making 26) to South Carolina’s 16 (of which they made 13). I can’t find the turnover numbers, so I’m chalking the victory up to the free throw difference. I hope you’re happy.
1998: Richmond defeats South Carolina 62-61
Okay, Richmond was a 14 seed that year. But its coach was John Beilein, so I snuck this in.
2001: Hampton defeats Iowa State 58-57
I didn’t find much on this game either. ISU won the Big 12 in 2001 and featured Big 12 Player of the Year Jamaal “guy who played for the Pacers” Tinsley. Hampton, meanwhile, represented a single island in an archipelago frequented during the summer by New Yorkers who own silk handkerchiefs.
It is tough to make much of the stats in this game, but the Cyclones seem to have lost the game at the line. The teams were close to even in turnovers. ISU shot 40% from the field to Hampton’s 39%. ISU won the rebounding contest by nine. But the Cyclones shot only 6-16 from the line, while Hampton was 13-22.
The fans in Boise, the site of the game, apparently cheered on Hampton throughout the contest. One of Hampton’s players (Marseilles Brown) knew this might happen, because he’d played for Richmond when it beat South Carolina in 1998. He spent the rest of his life transferring from school to school, trying to be part of bigger and bigger upsets, but nothing would ever compete with that day in 2001 when Gatsby himself met him after the game against Iowa State, gave him a manly handshake, and said – with a twinkle in his eye – “Fine match, old sport!”
2012: Norfolk State defeats Missouri 86-84
Missouri was the Big 12 Tournament champ and the 3rd-ranked team in the country at one point during the season. Norfolk State, a school of 5,000, was the champ of MEAC Tournament. Missouri featured a four-guard offense, and Norfolk State was the (presumably) rare 15 seed that was bigger than its 2nd-seeded opponent.
6’10” Norfolk State senior Kyle O’Quinn scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, leading the way to a 35-23 advantage on the boards. The teams were otherwise very similar: field goals made and attempted, turnovers, and free throws made and attempted were close for both sides. NSU did manage to outshoot Missouri 52.6% to 44.8% from three.
The game took place in Detroit, where Kansas was also set to play. The KU fans present supported NSU both before and during the game, giving them a larger than usual fanbase.
2012: Lehigh defeats Duke 75-70
Duke was neither the ACC regular season nor tournament champion. But they were still a 2 seed, because they are Duke. Lehigh is called the Mountain Hawks, which is pretty cool.
Lehigh won the game at the line, making 25-37 free throws to Duke’s 16-23. The teams shot fairly evenly from the field, though Duke was only 6-26 from three, and the teams also rebounded at a fairly even clip. Lehigh won the turnover battle 8 to 12.
Lehigh was led by two-time Patriot League Player of the Year C.J. McCollum, who had 30 points and 6 assists while reportedly making it into the lane at will. Mason Plumlee (not to be confused with Miles, Mastodon, Mouse, or Manchester Plumlee) and Austin Rivers led Duke with 19 points apiece.
The game was played only 55 miles from Duke’s campus, but it was also the site of the first round game for UNC. Tar Heel fans gladly joined in rooting for the Mountain Hawks.
Coach K said after the game that McCollum was the best player on the court. He also added that it was “a real treat for Lehigh to play against our kids because our kids are so classy and they work so hard and they believe in each other and kids at Duke learn to be men and not just basketball players and I’m so proud of our kids.”
It is considered acceptable to still laugh about this game.
2013: Florida Gulf Coast defeats Georgetown 78-68
They called them the Dynamite Kids. They called them the Florida State Seminoles. They called them delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. But they were all wrong.
They were Dunk City, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, a team of junior Kenny Powerses. Georgetown was merely the co-champion of the Big East during the regular season.
The Eagles outshot the Hoyas 42.9% to 37.5% from the field and 40% to 25.9% from three. They largely held even in turnovers and rebounds. But mostly they played with the sort of yet-unearned confidence found in popular middle schoolers, rappers who start feuds with more established rappers, and dickheads generally. Their brashness, recklessness, and bravado carried them to the Sweet Sixteen, where they lost to Florida because they weren’t that good. I would have hated them if they’d played Michigan.
Don’t play in an arena where your rivals fans happen to be. Don’t be smaller than your opponent. Don’t go extraordinarily cold from the line or the field. Don’t have your star player get into foul trouble. Don’t let your opponent shoot a third more free throws than you. Don’t let your opponent’s star player have the game of his life. And remember to let it all hang loose, like the Dynamite Kids did.
My excuse to post the Trey Burke GIF
Last season, as the Michigan basketball team entered the NCAA Tourney as a four seed, we took a look at historically how the fours have fared in tournaments past. The analysis produced this incredibly scientific chart (since adjusted to include 2013 tourney results).
|1 Seed||2 Seed||3 Seed||4 Seed||Other|
|Final Four Appearances||47||25||14||13||17|
* - this 14% represents all Seeds higher than 4 that have made it to the Final Four, so while this number appears high, it's coming out of a much larger pool of participants. When you factor in the total pool, only about 1% of Seeds higher than 5 make it to the final weekend, with only about 0.1% of those teams winning it all (1985 Villanova, 1988 Kansas)
Yes, the answer was discouraging and as it turned out, almost irrelevant as Michigan proceeded to go on an epic run that saw them become just the 3rd four seed ever to make it to the Finals and then came damn close to winning the whole shebang. Through that assessment though, we came across a strange statistical anomaly that this season proves presciently relevant.
|Final Four Appearances||25|
What’s up with that? While 2 seeds make the Final Four at about half the rate of the one seeds, they win titles at less than a quarter of the rate as the ones. If you like nice, statistical symmetry, you’re probably experiencing one of those involuntary facial tics right about now. Why have 2 seeds historically fallen flat in the Final Four? Let’s have a look.
Diving deeper into the numbers the winning percentage for the Top 4 Seeds in the past 29 tournaments since 1985 for the Semi-Finals and Finals break down like this.
So in the Semi-Finals, the 2 Seeds don’t do too poorly; batting around .500. Plus, of the thirteen 2 Seeds that didn’t advance to the Finals, 10 of them lost to a 3 seed or higher, so it’s not like there are upsets galore grinding them up. Still, when we look at their winning percentage in the Finals? Woof. 2 Seeds have not fared well in the title game of years past. The big reason for this seems obvious, 6 of those 8 losses came against a 1 Seed. The other two losses were delivered by a 3 Seed, which judging by the numbers we’re showing, the discrimination between 2 and 3 seems to be much finer than 1 and 2.
As for those lucky four winners, 3 of those wins all were earned by defeating a 3 Seed. Only one 2 Seed since 1985 has taken home the Championship by defeating a 1 Seed (1986 Louisville over Duke)
So the math here draws some pretty reasonable conclusions. First, the Final Four is averaging just under a 2 Seed per season, so that’s nice. Year-to-year, you can expect at least one 2 Seed to advance to the final weekend. Second, if you are a 2 Seed, hope that the tournament gods deliver you from the evil of the 1 Seed, because you just don’t beat them much. The good news for Michigan this year is that there seems to more parity amongst the Top 16, which means 1 Seeds could be ripe for falling. Of course, that parity affects the entire Top 16 equally, and Michigan’s path seems particularly difficult with Duke sitting out there at the 3 Seed.
Still, compared to last season, the data delivers better news. It’s much better to be a 2 Seed than a 4 Seed (LOLSparty), so here’s to hoping we get to enjoy another deep and entertaining tourney run.
BIG TEN TOURANMENT STUFF: THOSE THREE GAMES
You can’t really get a whole lot out of three games in the conference tournament that you probably didn’t figure out during the course of the regular season, but for those interested, I thought at least a brief mention of the statistics from those games might be in order. I don’t think I will get terribly comprehensive because, well, Big Ten Tournament basically, but my hope is that you at least know some of the numbers from the tournament.
The four factors in those three games (I know, averages…..sample size…three games….season…grumble grumble):
Average eFG% - being a pretty good 3-point team saves you on this statistic typically, but we only bested our opponents by a slim margin. Michigan averaged 52.77% and those we played averaged 52.11%
OREB% - we’ve talked about this one a lot this year, and it didn’t improve much in the conference tournament. We don’t get a lot of offensive rebounds, it seems. Our offensive rebound percentage, as is typical for this team, lagged behind at 24.78%, compared to 35.62% for our opponents
Free Throw Rate – playing a typically clean game helps us keep this low whereas we enjoy more opportunities at the line on average, and that was the case in the Big Ten Tournament. Our free throw rate was 33.99%, whereas our opponents managed 24.57%
Turnover Rate – this battle was more or less a draw in those three games with the slight nod going to the teams we played actually. Our TOV% was 14.55% and our opponents averaged 14.22%. That’s despite having fewer total turnovers, but also one or two fewer possessions in a couple games.
We also averaged 1.13 for an assist / turnover ratio, which again – sample size – but it is significantly below the conference season average of 1.68, and indeed, our average points per possession, which typically sits around 1.20 or so, was 1.10 in the tournament.
In graphic form (we are the blue line, of course):
Romero continues to lead the way with her bat.
So I have grad school stuff to work on, but I don’t want to do that. Consequently, you all get more softball coverage! Hopefully that’s what you wanted…
In any case, with the postponement of today’s game against BGSU, the scheduled home opener, the bulk of the softball team’s non-conference schedule has come to an end. They still have a mid-week match-up against Western Michigan on April 8th as well as the make-up game for today, whenever that might be [update: this will be next Tuesday, March 25], but all the most serious opponents are behind us, and we can take a look at where things stand heading into Big Ten play. (All this comes with the caveat that I have yet to watch the team play, so I’m working off of stats & recaps. I’d love to hear some more comments from those who have gotten the chance to take in a game or two!)
Record, Postseason Outlook
As usual, the team put itself through the wringer, playing in six different tournaments/invitationals/etc., traveling to Florida, California, Louisiana, and Kentucky to take on many of the nation’s best teams. Michigan’s 19-6 record could have been a little better, but not much. The only bad loss was against an unranked and mediocre Houston outfit, and that came in the middle of the Judi Garman Classic where Michigan was facing a murderer’s row of top-ten teams. A little loss of focus is perhaps understandable. All the other losses came against ranked teams, and except for one loss to Louisiana-Lafayette at ULL’s home ballpark, they were all against top-ten teams. Two of those losses came in extra innings, including a heartbreaker in the season opener, when Michigan lost a 4-run lead in the 7th against Florida. When you play teams of this caliber, you’re going to take some losses, but it’s worth it for the wins you do manage and for the experience the players gain.
With the bad out of the way, let’s take a look at the positives from the non-conference slate. The Wolverines have accumulated five wins against ranked teams, including three against top-ten teams (Kentucky, UCLA, and Arizona). The UCLA win is definitely the crown jewel in Michigan’s resume right now, as the Bruins have torched their non-conference slate to the tune of a 26-1 record. After pushing the Bruins to extras before falling 4-1 on March 4th, the Wolverines came back the next day and torched UCLA to the tune of a 9-4 pounding which remains their only loss. Heading into Big Ten play, Michigan finds itself ranked #6 in the nation in the most recent poll. As long as the Maize & Blue stay in the top 16, we’ll have a regional in Ann Arbor, and if we stay in the top 8, we could end up hosting a super-regional as well, should we be fortunate enough to get that far. This is where Michigan wants to be at this point in the season.
From the start of last season, conversations about individual player performances on Michigan’s softball team have begun with one player: Sierra Romero. She has not disappointed this season, leading the team with an absolutely absurd .493 batting average, good for ninth in the nation, with only a couple other major-conference players ahead of her. She has done this despite being walked more than a quarter of the time (24 walks to 67 at-bats), showing great plate discipline, only striking out 9 times thus far. While her six home-runs are a little off last year’s record-setting pace, this is to be expected, as terrified pitchers do everything they can to stay out of her way. At the end of the day, Romero is following up her Big Ten Player of the Year campaign in grand style (she has also improved defensively, with a .015 improvement in fielding percentage over last season).
While the conversation starts with Romero, it certainly does not end there. Eight different Wolverine batters are hitting over .320 (two of those have under 30 at-bats, the other six all have more than 60). Colie Sappingfield has been doing great work in her usual lead-off spot [edit: batting second], betting on-base over 40% of the time and batting just shy of .400. She even managed a home run, which for a pure slap-hitter must have come as quite the surprise! The highest-impact freshman on offense has been Abby Ramirez, hitting .324 in 67 at bats. She could use a little more plate discipline, having struck out 9 times to only 6 walks, but that’s the sort of thing this coaching staff can easily handle. That kind of hitting right out of the gate as a freshman shows a lot of promise. Overall, Michigan boasts the #18 team batting average (.329) in the nation and the #46 scoring offense (5.56 runs per game). Both of these numbers may very well go up as the Wolverines head into a weak Big Ten slate (more on that in a moment).
Unfortunately, Lauren Sweet hasn’t quite been able to match her play from late in the season last year, batting only .224. However, last year she did much worse in the non-conference schedule, and then turned it on once Big Ten play hits. If she makes a similar leap in conference play this year, she could quickly find herself as one of the top offensive threats in the conference. The bigger disappointment has been the pitching of last year’s ace, Sara Driesenga, which has really tailed off from last season. Her ERA currently stands at .319 [edit: 3.19] and she has yet to find her first win on the season. I haven’t heard any injury news (others may know something I don’t), so I’m not sure how to explain it. She has been playing better of late, however, and has found some success in a relief role, notching 3 saves on the season. Hopefully she too will make some improvements in Big Ten play.
Driesenga’s struggles have been offset by the rest of the pitching staff, however. Freshman Megan Betsa has faced a true baptism by fire, having pitched against many of the nation’s elite teams. While she has struggled at times, she has managed a respectable 2.27 ERA with 63 Ks to 23 BBs. The 63 Ks are especially impressive, and she leads the team in that category, despite having pitched more than 25 innings fewer than Wagner. She will certainly be an important piece going forward.
The biggest factor defensively, however, has been the resurgence of southpaw Haylie Wagner. After struggling through injuries last season as losing her role as the ace of the staff, she has reclaimed that spot with a vengeance. There are currently only 20 D-I pitchers with ERAs under 1.00, and Wagner clocks in at #17 in this crowd, currently holding opponents to a stingy .93, more than 1.5 better than she managed last season. She currently boasts a 13-0 record with 8 complete games, and leads the team in almost every pitching category. If she keeps up anything like this level of play, she stands a great chance of reclaiming her Big Ten Pitcher of the Year crown.
Big Ten Outlook
As usual, the Wolverines come into the Big Ten as the favorites to win the conference. Competition may be stiffer this year than usual, however, with Nebraska and Minnesota both joining the Maize & Blue in the top-25. The Huskers & Gophers haven’t taken on as challenging of non-conference slates as Michigan has, but both have notched Ws against at least one ranked team and stand to give Michigan a run for their money in the Big Ten.
Despite these challengers, I expect Michigan to take the crown, if for no other reason than that the schedule sets up much more easily for Michigan than their challengers. A mid-April home series against the Golden Gophers is Michigan’s only test against the top third of the conference, and a road series against Illinois represents the only time Michigan will travel to face a team with a winning record in the non-conference schedule. The Fighting Illini have managed a 14-7 record, but have yet to beat a ranked team. Other than 12-10 Wisconsin, whom the Wolverines get at home to close out the season, the rest of Michigan’s schedule is comprised of teams with losing records, some of them truly dismal.
Without a doubt, the Minnesota series is the key point in the conference slate. If the Wolverines can take care of business against the teams they should beat and take at least 2 out of 3 from the Gophers, the road to a seventh straight Big Ten Championship should be fairly clear. I can’t predict a perfect conference record, because that has never been done in Michigan history, but I have a tough time picking out more than 2 or 3 potential losses.
If that can be managed, the Wolverines will be well-positioned to head into post-season play with plenty of momentum and experience. Weather-permitting, Big Ten play begins at the Wilpon Complex this Friday at 4 PM, as 8-17 Indiana comes to town. I wish I could be there; for those of you in Southeast Michigan, get out and support the team!
It's that magical time of year when the weather seems poised to thaw the cold of a brutal winter and March Madness is on the brink of wiping out all productivity I hoped to achieve at my job. At home, I spend my time trying to beat last year's wallpapers for the tournament. Here's a hint: I don't think (outside of another Final Four run) I can even come close to topping last year's bevy of well-crafted work I pulled out of my ass at 2 am. But, hey, I can try to at least give you something decent to work with. That being said, these are just some generic wallpapers I've been working on this week (yes, I know it's Monday...THIS WEEK...it's a sad obsession). Hopefully, you will enjoy at least one of these until I get a tournament-flavored treat ready for you. That is, if I don't collapse from sleep-deprivation before uploading them. Also, my keyboard and mouse are dying on me...
"We Focus" Desktop (1920x1080)
"Win the game!" Desktop (1920x1080) [Comic-style panel #1]
"How are we going to play?" Desktop (1920x1080) [Comic-style panel #2]
"Not just a shooter!" Desktop (1920x1080) [Comic-style panel #3]
Ok, so these were quick and fun. I enjoyed putting the three panels together to form one super widescreen set-up at home. As I mentioned above, hopefully you will find one or two to hold you over until the real wallpapers arrive with the tournament. As always, constructive criticism and/or suggestions for future wallpapers are welcome.
[EDIT: Normally, I don't dabble in making decisions about diary-worthy stuff, but I definitely think this is worthy - LSA]
Wofford – A First-hand preview - I didnt realize how much I wrote until I was done... If this should be a Diary or something, I am so, so, sorry.
I made the drive from Atlanta up to Charlotte for a Davidson game about a month or so ago. We chose the Wofford game, as they seemed to be one of the more competitive teams in the conference, and were close enough to the end of the schedule that Davidson would be playing with something on the line. I had signed to play athletics at Davidson back in November (humble-brag alert!), but had not attended any athletic events, as my recruiting trip was on a Friday-Saturday when the football team was out of town. So we wanted to go see a game to get the feel of the campus on a big weekend, and watch some good basketball. It was a great time, Davidson ended up prevailing in what was a low scoring affair, 59-49. At the time I would have thought that Davidson would be playing Michigan in a hypothetical tournament game, not Wofford. But that is not how it all worked out, as Davidson was bounced by Western Carolina in the semifinals of their conference tournament.
Here are some general facts to know about Wofford:
Name: Wofford College
Type of School: Private, Liberal Arts
Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina. About 45 minutes east of Greenville.
Size: 1,600 students (approximately)
Conference: Southern Conference (from here on referred to as the SoCon)
Wofford has a very nice, tree-filled campus, and is very academically challenging. I visited there, and was very impressed with the nice, small campus feel, and the mix of old and new buildings. They have a great student body, and a spirited and devoted alumni base.
Athletically, Wofford has been very competitive in the major sports within their conference, and nationally, especially within the last few years. Their football team is always a tough game in the SoCon (the conference that produced Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, who are now going FBS), and won conference championships in 2003, 2007, and 2010.
Their best sport is by far baseball, where they have put a good deal of players in the MLB.
Wofford was never good in basketball until very recent. In the ’09-’10 season, they won the SoCon, and made the NCAA tournament for the first time. They got a 13 seed, and almost knocked off Wisconsin, losing 49-53. The next year, in the ’10-’11 season, they made the tournament once again, this time losing by 10 to BYU. This year will mark their third appearance all time.
The game: To truly understand the Davidson-Wofford game, a little background is needed. Wofford came into that game (at Davidson) having won 9 straight games, all of them in-conference. It must be noted that the SoCon was particularly horrid this year, with 3 or 4 decent teams, and then just a bunch of horrid teams for those 4 decent ones to feast on. Davidson entered that game equally hot, having won 12 of their last 13 games (the lone loss being in OT against Elon). This game also held conference championship impliactions.
The atmosphere was pretty hyped up, as this was one of the best home games of the year for Davidson. Davidson has a small lineup this year – they run a 4 guard lineup, and their starters are by height: 6-7, 6-7, 6-6, 6-4, and 5-11, with nobody with any significant height on the bench. They have a bunch of 3 shooting stretch 3.5 types. The only exception is senior De’Mon Brooks. At 6’7”, 230lbs, De’Mon won the SoCon player of the year award. He absolutely dominated inside all year, and the Wofford game was no exception.
The first half started out great for Davidson, with a couple of threes bookended around some layups and dunk, and Wofford was forced to call a timeout at the 13:00 mark, down 13-3. The Terriers had no ball movement, and would often get the ball “stuck” on one side of the court without moving it around. They relied almost solely on individual creation by their guard Karl Cochran, as he started off cold from the field. On the defensive end, they left a couple trailing shooters open for good looks, which Davidson capitalized on. Most of the buckets Davidson made early were either off turnovers, in transition, or just off of transition before the Wofford defense could get set. Davidson runs an offense with 4 guards around the perimeter and De’Mon down low, but with hardly any ball screen action from the big, unlike Michigan. After that timeout, Davidson made a few more buckets, and then began to get sloppy, and a lid went on the basket. Wofford did three things with the score at 6-19:
1: They went right at De’Mon Brooks three straight trips down the floor, got him with two fouls, and forced him to the bench
2: They began foregoing offensive rebounds in order to get back in transition, and
3: started running Davidson off the three point line. Davidson doesn’t have superior athletes to drive the paint a lot, and their offense sputtered.
A couple of threes later, and Wofford’s offense was clicking. They channel their offense through three main players: guards Spencer Collins, Karl Cochran, and forward Lee Skinner. These three players played 35, 35, and 36 minutes respectively, which was 10 more than any other player on the team. Those three accounted for 13 of the next 20 points for Wofford, who went on a 20-2 run. Davidson was able to beat the buzzer with a three to keep it tied at the half, 26-26. Davidson had several good looks from the outside, but was unable to knock them down. If the Michigan big men go out or aren’t playing well, our ability to stretch the floor and shoot will be crucial, as Wofford ran both man-to-man, and a 2-3 zone. They ran kind of a sagging man to man that didn’t switch a lot. It was definitely a man defense with some zone elements incorporated. They did not display a tendency to pressure the ball on the way up until late in the game, which is something everyone does.
In the second half, with De’Mon Brooks back in the game, Davidson was able to play their game. The went inside out, throwing it into Brooks, and letting him shoot or kick. He is much better finishing version of Jordan Morgan. I can’t help but think that Mitch could tear this team up if he was healthy, with his distribution skills out of the post position. Davidson started on a 20-10 run over the first 10:00 of play in the second half. Brooks was the key here, registering at least 4 “hockey assists” on passes out of the post.
But with 5:00 to play, Wofford brought it back to a 3 point game, down 45-48. A key block inside by Brooks fueled a Davidson run, and they would hold Wofford to only one point for the next 4:30, with the final score being 59-49. Down the stretch, Wofford turned into a “Karl Cochran go do something while we stand here” team, and after a lot of late shot clock attempts didn’t go in, the game was all but over.
Key Stats and Notes:
· Guards Karl Cochran and Spencer Collins are the guys for Wofford. Wofford’s success goes as those two go.
· Cochran is 6-1, 175, but looks bigger. Collins is an accurate 6-4, 195, but plays most of his game on the perimeter. Cochran, while smaller, is a much better rebounder.
· In this particular contest, Cochran and Collins went a combined 11-29 from the field.
· Karl Cochran had a particularly bad night from three, hitting only 1/8, while Collins hit 3/5.
· Wofford isn’t a particularly big team- the rest of their starting lineup is 6-8, 6-6, and 5-11. Their most used benched players are 6-6, 6-6, 6-2, and 6-3. Not tiny, but no dominating force.
· Davidson’s De’Mon Brooks finished 6-6 from the field, 6-7 from the line, and with 18 pts, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
· Wofford shot free throws at a 67% clip (10/15)
· Davidson was able to take 14 threes, and make 6 of them. These were mostly wide open looks.
· Wofford is well coached, doesn’t turn it over or foul a ton, and their coach isn’t afraid to make adjustments.
· Wofford doesn’t have names on the back of their jerseys.
The tips for Michigan:
· Penn State is the closest comparison I can make to Wofford on Michigan’s schedule with two good guards that run the show and not a lot of size and skill on the inside. Granted, Wofford is a worse version of Penn State. A slightly worse version of Penn State that’s won 11 of their last 13 games.
· Morgan, GRIII the keys. GRIII will be matched up against someone he can physically take to the rim and push around a little. Morgan will have to play a role of rebounding and distribution- not looking to score. This is something he can do.
· Put LeVert on Cochran. Let LeVert guard him. Davidson had a slow, Albrecht-esque defender on him, and time and time again had to rely on a double team because he was blowing past the defender. LeVert shouldn’t have an issue.
· Unleash Irvin/Stauskas. Let it rain from deep! Death from above! Let the threes happen! Both of these guys will have plenty of opportunities especially if Michigan is able to
· RUN! Get out in transition! Davidson did that very well until Wofford shut it down, and they are a relatively slow team.
· Finally, let Walton use his speed. I was not impressed by the Wofford point guard, a guy named Eric Garcia. They let Cochran run the show most of the time, but Walton should be able to take Garcia to the hoop and finish/distribute. Also would like to see some of that extended 1-3-1 to harass these guards.
I hope this covered it! I wrote literally everything I could remember. If anyone in the comments has questions about this game or anything else, please ask, and I’ll be happy to respond! I probably missed something. Go Blue!!! (and go Davidson in the NIT. Yaaaay!)