This preview is a short-ish diary because the bowl game takes front page precedence and, well, it's Holy Cross, not Arizona. I'll be taking this one in tomorrow as a fan—for the first time in three years—and will post a recap either Sunday or Monday.
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Holy Cross|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||6:30 pm Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan –14 (KenPom)|
Right: Center Dave Dudzinski, the Crusaders' leading scorer, can operate from the post or step out and knock down threes.
Michigan must find a way to slow down 6'9" center Dave Dudzinski, the team's leading scorer (17.1 ppg) and rebounder (7.6). While he spends most of his time working inside the arc, where he hits 51% of his shots, he's also knocked down 11 of 24 three-point attempts this year. He also draws a good deal of fouls and hits 80% of his free throws.
Flanking Dudzinski are 6'6" forward Malcolm Miller, a solid defensive rebounder and the team's most efficient scorer—albeit in low usage—and 6'8" forward Taylor Abt, who's started every game this year but averages just 16 minutes; he's active on the glass and otherwise doesn't add much to the box score. In addition to his excellent shooting (57% 2-pt, 44% 3-pt), Miller is far and away the team's most disruptive defender with 19 blocks and 12 steals in 11 games.
5'9" point guard Justin Burrell and 6'4" two-guard Eric Green round out the starting lineup. Green will start his seventh game of the season; he leads the team with 22 steals—his rate is 75th nationally—and he's a very good finisher around the basket, though he's struggled with his jumper. Burrell's turnover rate (23.5) is higher than his assist rate (22.8) and he's been a woeful finisher inside the arc, hitting just 11 of 37 twos—to his credit, he's knocked down 7 of 17 threes.
6'7" freshman Malachi Alexander is the team's third-leading scorer despite being their sixth man. While he's not a great shooter (49% 2-pt, 19% 3-pt), he draws six fouls per 40 minutes and capitalizes with a 75% rate from the line; he's also a solid defensive rebounder. The other key backup is 5'10" freshman Anthony Thompson, a marginally better shooter than Burrell who draws a lot more fouls (6.6/40) and doesn't turn the ball over as much; so far this season Thompson and Burrell have essentially split the point guard minutes right down the middle.
With their best win coming by five points at home against KenPom #185 Albany, Holy Cross lacks a quality victory this season; their other five wins came against Sacred Heart, Fairfield, Hartford, New Hampshire, and NJIT. They have a couple respectable losses: a ten-point defeat at #30 Harvard and an eight-point loss at #19 North Carolina. Then there's the bad: a 12-point loss in their road rematch with #233 Hartford and a ten-point fall against #144 Canisius, John Beilein's former school. They also needed double overtime to finish off #280 Sacred Heart at home.
This team beats the teams they're supposed to beat—though sometimes by uncomfortably thin margins—and loses to the teams that should beat them. They haven't really given a favorite a serious scare, either; though they led the Tar Heels by three points early in the second half, UNC pulled away and held a 13-point lead with six minutes to go.
Four factors (national ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||50.6 (121)||19.6 (224)||28.5 (260)||49.8 (45)|
|Defense||49.7 (178)||19.8 (90)||27.6 (41)||40.4 (163)|
This looks to be a good matchup for Michigan, as Holy Cross relies on three-pointers, which the Wolverines have defended quite well this year, and free throws—which Michigan rarely allows—to generate more than half of their points. They're not a great shooting squad inside the arc and aren't very good at getting putbacks or taking care of the ball.
Defensively, the Crusaders are very average across the board with the exception of forcing turnovers and preventing offensive rebounds.
Bigs, stay out of foul trouble. Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan should be able to limit Dudzinski's offense—that is, as long as they're not putting on a repeat performance of the Stanford foul parade. Max Bielfeldt is a much better matchup for Dudzinski; also, any shooting foul is compounded by the fact that Dudzinski shoots 80% from the line. Horford and Morgan must show a better awareness for when to contest a shot, when to plant and hope for a charge, and when to pack it in and live for another possession.
Play your game. Michigan should be able to run their normal lineups/sets without much adjustment. Holy Cross doesn't provide any major size mismatches and their style of play—slow-paced, foul-reliant, not crashing the class, and turnover-prone—should work in Michigan's favor.
DIE, 2013. Self-explanatory.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 14
(6-5, 0-0 Patriot)
|Wins (RPI 150+)|
|337||Nov. 13||Sacred Heart||122-118|
|308||Nov. 20||@ Fairfield||63-49|
|330||Nov. 30||@ New Hampshire||63-52|
|328||Dec. 21||@ N.J.I.T.||74-55|
|Losses (RPI 1-50)|
|21||Nov. 15||@ North Carolina||54-62|
|Losses (RPI 51-100)|
|Losses (RPI 101-150)|
|Losses (RPI 150+)|
|295||Dec. 7||@ Hartford||78-90|
Starting Five Stats
Key Bench Players
I assume we will see little to no McGary on the floor, but I don't think will be a problem. Holy Cross doesn't really jump out to me as any threat to upset Michigan.
Michigan 84 - Holy Cross 56
THE GIFT OF MGOBLOG
Now that we have perhaps received the best gift of 2013 – the return of the voting system – and in the spirit of the holiday season, I wanted to share some thoughts on what I like to think of as “The Gift Of MGoBlog”.
In a way, the space in which many of us share our daily musings about the state of Michigan’s varsity sports is a gift, one provided free of charge and one provided so that a diverse group of people with one unifying interest can come and discuss their Wolverines. We may not always have our best face on while doing so, as this past football season indicated, but at no point did we really check out even if some threatened to do so. For those of us whose spouses look strangely at us when we jump out of our seats during significant plays, we get from MGoBlog the gift of people who totally understand that behavior and connect with people who share in the emotion of those moments.
Like many gifts, it is an incredibly practical one with multiple uses. Looking at it this way, I don’t know if anyone could ask for a better gift. Many of us have more than just one purpose for this blog. We get information, we get entertained and we get to know other Michigan fans and we begin to appreciate just how wide the reach of the fanbase really is. These three things combine, in my opinion, to provide what might be the best gift that MGoBlog can give to us – it makes us better Michigan fans for the knowledge, the entertainment and the sense of community. I have always believed that if we walk away from here at the end of the day having learned something about our favorite team and school, or we walk away having gotten the chance to understand a fellow fan and their insights, then the gift has been imparted.
At least in my case, I know that my three years here have made me a better, more informed fan and a more connected one. I have learned so much that I didn’t know about my alma mater, learned things about football and other sports that I didn’t know and learned that there are fans out there as obsessed as I am about Michigan and Michigan things. The chance to become a moderator in March gave me the opportunity to give back for all the site has provided me as well, and I like to think that the greatest gift we can give to the site would be positive contributions and being a responsible member of the community here.
As we trudge on through the holiday season, sliding into the final hours before Christmas, remember that here, we’ve been given a gift and one that expands and becomes more significant each day as we add our insights and personality to it. For those of us who are more than a casual fan, it is one of the most thoughtful gifts we could get as well, a place where we can have the discussions that we might not be able to have with many of those around us on a daily basis.
With that in mind, I would like to thank Brian and the MGoBlog staff for another year of great insights, informed content and allowing us to be part of this community. This fall may have been trying for many of us, but the gift of MGoBlog remains as vibrant and popular as ever (especially since voting has returned).
Have a safe and excellent holiday season!
After watching a December basketball game paint Brooklyn Maize, I was inspired to pass along a thank you.
It’s well known that Michigan has the largest living alumni base of any university. There are many of us who are proud alums and who never have to “justify” our fanhood. Being a Michigan fan came easy to me. The son of two alums (and native Michiganders) I was almost pre-destined to head to Ann Arbor after I graduated high school, despite having grown up outside Chicago. I was lucky and worked hard and managed to go to Michigan and graduate in 2009. There are many who aren’t as lucky as I was. To those of you who are fans of Michigan despite not having a degree: Thank you. You may have been questioned, demeaned even for supporting College Football’s most winning program.
Some may call you “Walmart Wolverine” in a derogatory manner because you choose to support Michigan. But guess what – Michigan doesn’t succeed without the support of everyone: Students, Alumni, Faculty, and (as Fielding Yost called them) “Friends of the University”. It’s true. Michigan Stadium doesn’t get built without non-alumni fans.
From page 190 of Soderstrom’s The Big House* “No one: no student, no alumnus, and no friend of the university would be “giving" anything to the athletic department. Rather, the athletic department would sell a bond at a given amount of interest and pay back all the money over time… it had always been a Michigan athletic tradition that no attempt would be made to secure funds from the state, like the school in East Lansing had done for its new stadium.” Yost needed investors to build the Big House, and it turns out that the first bond letter had provided a “disappointing alumni response” (Page 318)
After bonds were extended to anyone who wished to buy them, not just alumni, “by early 1927, the whole initial issue, 2000 bonds, was sold.” Yost actually angered some alumni (and students, who felt that their seats were terrible even then) by making sure that there were new seating blocks in Michigan Stadium that were specifically NOT for alumni. Yost’s appeal was as such: “’This is a State University – not a privately endowed institution. Ownership of this institution is vested not in our students, faculty, and alumni – but in the people whose taxes make it possible’ Yost would never tire of making this point” (Page 194). I’ll take Yost's point one step further – It’s not just the taxes or the tuition, but ANY support of Michigan makes you a “real” fan. Maybe you can’t afford tuition and thus aren’t an alum. Maybe you don’t live in Michigan and don’t pay Michigan state taxes. Maybe you can’t afford season tickets (which are no longer $2.50 per game like they were in the 1920s), maybe all you do is own some apparel and visit MGoBlog – both of which provide support to Michigan no matter how small. The next time someone asks you if you went to Michigan, just remember that it was fans like you (not just alums!) who gave us the greatest football stadium in the world. And remember that there can be a little inferiority complex around East Lansing, after all they needed money from the state to build their stadium.
*As an aside if you need a stocking stuffer or just a great read on Michigan’s history, I couldn’t recommend Soderstrom’s book more. Click through the MGoLink to Amazon and order it!
(8-2, 0-0 Pac-12)
Key Bench Players
Basically none, very starter oriented. BUT:
When I first saw Stanford on the schedule, I assumed this was going to be an easy win and look decent as far as quality wins go because they are in a power conference. Well, I was only half right. These teams numbers are very similar and Stanford has that quality win that Michigan is lacking. One thing that will really pop out to you is that their starting five is all upperclassmen. There is no doubt we are the more talented team, but they have the experience on their side.
Michigan had a much needed week off to prepare for this game and get healthy. Stanford is coming off a huge road win for them, but won't have as many days to prepare for Michigan.
Michigan 72 - Stanford 64
Back a few years ago, Seth put together a really neat FEI-based analysis of the bowl games. He not only picked winners in the games, he also created a "watchability index," which looked at how "good" the games would be in terms of quality and evenly matched the teams were. This allowed him to make the most of his limited CFB watching time over the holidays, an objective I shared. So, I stole his idea last year and put together a similar but much less sophisticated analysis, and got 69% of the picks correct while not having any one too mad at me for wanting to watch a select set of games.
I did a similar analysis this year, while adding FEI * in to the mix (full analysis here). In essence, I compared all the teams in terms of Sagarin and FEI, and using the difference between them picked the winners and the confidence in the picks. That is, a huge difference in the ratings of the teams suggests a lock, a difference of zero is a push.
Here's what I came up with for picks. The the two pick columns are who Sagarin and FEI predict will win the games, and the confidence ranks represent the picks about which each metric is "most confident," i.e. the biggest difference between the two teams, with higher numbers indicating more confidence. I then added the two confidence rankings up, which provides the following results. There were a few games where Sagarin and FEI's predictions did not line up - those should be some of the more closely contested games. Good luck in your bowl pools and happy holidays.
|Pinstripe||12/28/2013||Notre Dame||35||Notre Dame||35||70||0|
|Holiday||12/30/2013||Arizona State||33||Arizona State||33||66||0|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||12/23/2013||East Carolina||28||East Carolina||34||62||0|
|GoDaddy||1/5/2014||Ball State||27||Ball State||31||58||0|
|Las Vegas||12/21/2013||Southern California||26||Southern California||26||52||0|
|Heart of Dallas||1/1/2014||North Texas||16||North Texas||30||46||0|
|BCS Championship||1/6/2014||Florida State||34||Florida State||12||46||0|
|New Mexico||12/21/2013||Washington State||32||Washington State||9||41||0|
|Little Caesars||12/26/2013||Bowling Green||17||Bowling Green||16||33||0|
|Chick-fil-A||12/31/2013||Texas A&M||20||Texas A&M||13||33||0|
|Orange||1/3/2014||Ohio State||5||Ohio State||23||28||0|
|Liberty||12/31/2013||Mississippi State||15||Mississippi State||10||25||0|
|Belk||12/28/2013||North Carolina||11||North Carolina||4||15||0|
|Capital One||1/1/2014||Wisconsin||8||South Carolina||5||13||1|
|Hawaii||12/24/2013||Oregon State||10||Boise State||3||13||1|
|Music City||12/30/2013||Georgia Tech||2||Mississippi||8||10||1|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||12/28/2013||Kansas State||9||PUSH||1||10||1|
|Poinsettia||12/26/2013||Utah State||3||Utah State||6||9||0|
* I will admit that I am not 100% confident in the interpretation of FEI here. I have not yet been able to find a good explanation of what this represents beyond the standard explanation that Brian Fremeau provides on his website, "...the baseline possession efficiency expectations against which each team is measured." If you have a statistical-minded explanation, I'd be very interested to hear it.