Michigan should be in the NCAA tournament. For proof, let’s compare their resume to some other bubble teams. Warning: this is a REALLY long post.
First things first: who are those bubble teams? Well, among power 5 conferences, you have Vanderbilt, Syracuse, and South Carolina; among mid-majors, you have San Diego State, St. Mary’s, Monmouth, Temple, and Wichita State. Along with Michigan, that’s nine teams, with (currently) five spots available, four if UConn loses to Memphis. So if we can show that Michigan is more deserving than at least five of these teams, they should be in.
If you don’t want to read it all, here is a summary:
Last bye (for now): Wichita State.
Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan
Bubble spot: Syracuse
First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State
We are all familiar with Michigan’s resume at this point, but a quick recap:
· 4-11 against NCAA tournament locks, with the four wins against teams expected to be seeded in the 3-6 range in the NCAA tournament, and the loss to Connecticut being the only one of that group to a team expected to be seeded 8 or below.
· 0-1 against NIT-level competition, a loss at Ohio State
· 8-0 against teams 101-200
· 9-0 against teams 201+
We’ll start with Wichita State, a team that most bracketologists have in the field. The Shockers (giggle) have a 23-8 record in a solid mid-major conference, with an RPI of 49. While they have a very strong nonconference win at home against Utah (a probable 3-seed in the NCAA tournament), they lost their other three efforts against the RPI top 50. In addition, they are only 3-4 against teams 51-100, and two of those three wins are against #93 Evansville. To put it another way, Wichita State is 2-7 against the top 75 (NCAA/NIT teams), a good comparison point for Michigan, since all of our top 100 teams are in that range. Finally, Wichita State has a “bad” loss, at #114 Illinois St. To sum up:
· Both teams have approximately the same winning percentage against both the RPI top 50 and against NCAA/NIT competition. In both instances, Michigan’s opponents were, on average, of a slightly higher caliber, and they had a slightly better winning percentage.
· Michigan has a better “best” win, as Indiana and Utah are roughly equivalent, but Michigan’s win was at a neutral (road, really) site.
· Wichita State has a bad loss that Michigan doesn’t.
· Wichita State was the regular season champ in their conference (a conference which would have only had one bid had the Shockers won their tournament).
Verdict: Without the loss to Illinois State, these two profiles are pretty even. That loss should place them below Michigan, but I bet the committee has the Shockers higher (though not as high as Lunardi does). So we'll give Wichita State the nod.
Vanderbilt's resume is pretty similar to Wichita State's, but a little worse. The Commodores are 2-7 against RPI top 50 teams, versus Michigan’s 4-11. Granted, all of their games are against the top 27, so their competition was (very slightly) more difficult. Vanderbilt racked up five wins against three losses against NIT-level teams (and Stony Brook). They also have three bad losses. They played five non-conference games against the RPI top 50, but lost them all. Summary:
· Michigan has a better RPI, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.
· Michigan has a better record overall, and a better record against top teams.
· Michigan has no bad losses, while Vanderbilt has three.
· The only thing Vanderbilt has going for it is a better record against NIT teams, which will bode well for them in the NIT.
Verdict: Michigan should be ahead of Vanderbilt. 19-13 in the SEC, with no big nonconference wins and three bad losses, doesn’t deserve a bid.
Let’s stay with the SEC and discuss South Carolina. The Cocks (more giggling) have a weird resume for a power 5 team. They only have 2 games against NCAA locks: they were crushed at home by Kentucky and eked out a road win at Texas A&M. They were undefeated in their nonconference schedule, but the best teams in that schedule were bubble team Tulsa and NIT-bound Hofstra. The other 10 were composed of 4 against the RPI 101-200 and 6 against the RPI 201+. The Gamecocks also have two losses in the RPI 101-200 and one to #221 Missouri, who went 3-15 in the SEC (for comparison, think Minnesota). Summary:
· Michigan has a better RPI.
· South Carolina has a better record, but played a ridiculously weak nonconference schedule.
· South Carolina has the better “best” win, and is 5-4 against NIT teams (Florida, Hofstra, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama)
· South Carolina has three bad losses, one of which is awful.
Verdict: South Carolina’s schedule is basically what you get if you take Vanderbilt’s schedule, take out all the losses to top 50 teams, and replace them with wins over tomato cans. I don’t think the Gamecocks deserve to be in the tournament based on their weak nonconference schedule. Had they beaten Missouri but lost to Texas A&M, they wouldn’t even be discussed. I don’t think that a single game should take them from middling NIT team into the tournament, and Michigan has better proven the ability to compete with good teams and has no bad losses. South Carolina is probably ahead of Vanderbilt based on head-to-head, but Michigan should be ahead of both.
Next: Monmouth. The Hawks got a lot of hype early this year from some high-profile wins over UCLA, Georgetown, USC, and Notre Dame. Unfortunately for Monmouth (and its entertaining bench), UCLA and Georgetown proved to be Penn State-level competition. This leaves their RPI just above Michigan’s, at #53. The Hawks are 2-2 against the RPI top 50, with all games against teams expected to be seeded around the 7-8 spot. They are 1-2 against Iona, the only team they played in the RPI 51-100. Critically, however, they have three losses in the RPI 201+. Those aren’t “bad” losses, they are “horrible” losses. By comparison, the teams on Michigan’s schedule closest to those three losses were Houston Baptist (an 82-57 home win) and Charlotte (a 102-47 win in the Bahamas). Summary:
· Monmouth has a better winning percentage than Michigan against the best teams on the Hawks’ schedule.
· Michigan is 4-7 against teams better than anyone Monmouth played.
· Monmouth’s three horrible losses should negate their best wins.
· Low- to mid-major teams with RPI’s above 50 never get into the tournament. By comparison, Akron has an RPI of 36, and they’re not getting in either.
Verdict: I understand the Bilas types saying that Monmouth did what the committee would ask by scheduling good nonconference teams away from home. However, the committee also asks teams not to lose to Army and Canisius. Maybe Lunardi is right, and the committee will let them in, but I don’t think so. Michigan should be ahead of Monmouth.
While we’re talking about mid majors with few big wins, let’s talk about St. Mary’s. The Gaels boast a gaudy 26-5 record, but against a schedule that includes 18 RPI sub-200 teams, five of which were on their nonconference schedule (by comparison, Michigan’s oft-maligned nonconference schedule included six such teams). The five losses include their only game against a top tournament team (California), going 2-1 against Gonzaga (who would have been a bubble team without the autobid), a split with NIT- or Vegas 16-bound BYU, and two bad losses, both to Pepperdine. The problem that St. Mary’s has is that their best nonconference results are wins over UC Irvine, Stanford, and Grand Canyon.
Verdict: Theirs is a hard resume to figure, and I like their resume better than Monmouth’s due to its lack of horrible losses. Also, Monmouth played just as many 200+ teams as St. Mary's, but St. Mary's at least beat them all. I’m going to put them just ahead of Michigan, and I think the First Four is a good place for a team like St. Mary’s that really hasn’t had a good enough chance to prove their worth.
Up next: Temple. The Owls are the regular-season champ of the American conference, a multi-bid league. They should be in, right? Well, they also went 6-6 in their non-conference schedule and got beat pretty bad by a Connecticut team that had just played a 4 OT game the day before. Temple played six NCAA tournament teams in their non-conference schedule – and lost all six games. Their next best nonconference win was against Fairleigh Dickinson, a sub-200 RPI team. While they finished with a 21-11 record (Michigan is 21-12), 14 of those games are against the RPI 201+, including six nonconference games. They also split with NIT teams Tulsa and Houston, and RPI #136 Memphis. Finally, they have a “horrible” loss at #217 East Carolina. Summary:
· Temple has a better record against NCAA teams, but four of their 5 wins were against bubble-ish teams Cincinnati and UConn. Against teams seeded 1-8 (and SMU), they are 1-6. Michigan is 4-10 against the same group, for double the winning percentage.
· Temple beat SMU and was 2-1 against UConn, while Michigan lost to both.
· Temple has a bad loss to Memphis and a horrible loss to East Carolina, while Michigan has none.
Verdict: This is close, but I give a slight edge to Temple. This is a tough call, because Michigan has an excellent win over Texas and the near-road win against Indiana is at least as good as Temple’s home win over an SMU team that had recently lost its best player to a transfer. Also, the teams have almost the exact same record, but Michigan’s schedule is significantly harder. However, Temple has a better record against top 50 and top 100 teams, and against tournament teams, and the bad losses might not negate that.
Speaking of conference champs that lost in their tournament, Steve Fisher’s San Diego State appeared on the bubble with a loss to Fresno State. The Aztecs are 1-4 against the top 50, with a neutral site win vs. Cal, and losses to Kansas, West Virginia, and Utah (all top teams) to go with a home loss against Arkansas-Little Rock (Sun Belt champ, RPI 46, seeded around 12th if they win their tournament). They went 1-2 against Fresno State (RPI 66), won at #72 Long Beach State, and lost to #92 Grand Canyon at home. San Diego State also has a bad loss at home against Boise State, and a truly horrible loss against RPI 302 San Diego. That’s really bad, and easily the worst single loss by any bubble team. For comparison to teams on Michigan’s schedule, San Diego falls somewhere between Northern Kentucky and Bryant, and is worse than Rutgers.
· Michigan has a better record against the RPI top 50, and a better “best” win (Indiana > Cal).
· San Diego State is 2-3 against the RPI 51-100 (which is pretty weak for a bubble team). That puts their record against the top 100 at 3-7, and, unlike Michigan, half those games are against NIT-level competition.
· Their two bad losses include a truly horrible loss, while Michigan has no bad losses.
Verdict: The Aztecs should not be in the field. Like South Carolina, they have just one win over a top 50 team, but they had 5 tries to do it, one of which was a home game against Arkansas-Little Rock in which they scored only 43 points. Their record against the RPI 51-100 suggests that they would struggle in the NIT, and they have a horrible loss that negates their one good win. They shouldn’t be in, and, personally, I don’t think they should be close.
Lastly, Syracuse. This is a team that most bracketologists are leaving out, but I am not so sure. They are 5-9 against likely tournament teams (and Louisville), though five of those games are against near-bubble teams (including losing three to Pitt). They are 3-1 against NIT-type competition, and have two bad losses (one of which was at home) and a horrible loss by double digits at #245 St. John’s (The Red Storm’s next best win was over #184 Wagner). Summary:
· Their record against NCAA-level teams is roughly equal to Michigan’s. They have more wins, but had the benefit of playing more bubble teams than Michigan did.
· 3-1 against the NIT is better than what Michigan mustered, though Michigan only had one road game in that group.
· The two bad losses and the one awful loss more than negate that advantage.
Verdict: Slight edge to Michigan, but it’s close.
Overall, this bubble is a mess, and there will be people putting forth lots of combinations of these nine teams to fill the final four or five spots in the tournament. As for me, here’s how I see it:
Last bye (for now): Wichita State.
Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan
Bubble spot: Syracuse
First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State
We'll know how wrong I am by 7 pm.
March 1 – Wednesday
Unverified Voracity: Nothing to Hear Here. Sport Illustrated poll says Graham Brown is the dirtiest player in the Big Ten. Paul Davis is the most overrated. I think he still qualifies ten years later.
MI QBs Justin Siller and Steven Threet and California CB Michael Williams added to the Recruiting Board.
March 2 – Thursday
An article about APR numbers and how the NCAA isn’t going after those who fall under 925. This was before the “yikes our APR is in terrible condition” era.
March 3 – Friday
Brian gives an analysis of his football season preview of defense and special teams from the previous August. A few highlights:
Jamison is the official Ron English canary in a coalmine: if he starts over steady, lumbering Biggs and Van Alstyne, the defense is shedding the bellbottoms and buying itself an iPod.
The good bit: David Harris was a revelation at middle linebacker. He was one of the few players to receive less credit than he deserved:
Harris pushing him [McClintock] to the bench means that the coaching staff is willing to give a player who has little experience the nod over a senior who would normally have an unholy death grip on the position, which is not a vote of confidence in McClintock. The fact that neither player has asserted himself has to be a concern, especially since Harris is dinged up again. Average production from this spot would be great.
The instant Harris shook off that minor injury, he stapled McClintock to the bench and started thumping people far and wide. Though he faded somewhat late, Harris was a solid tackler who had surprising range for such a big dude. He was consistent and intelligent. He made plays in zone coverage. He was the best player on the defense not named "Branch" or "Woodley." Not bad for an in-state sleeper recruit.
March 6 – Monday
Unverified Voracity: Mostly APR Bitching is true to its name, following the arguments of a couple more articles about APR numbers and graduation rates.
A post about Reader Interaction Day. I can’t quite figure out what this was, but it mostly centered on the decision to bring DeBord back as OC. It’s interesting to see different perspectives about his first tenure.
In sum: On the surface, DeBord is a ridiculous choice for offensive coordinator. He was unimpressive during his first three years; he failed at CMU; he is not particularly exciting. But there are extenuating circumstances that provide hope that the second time will be better. Loeffler is more heavily involved with the game planning ever year. Lloyd Carr is adapting to college football's offensive renaissance -- with painful slowness at times, granted. The defense is not a rock to fall back upon. DeBord's made some noises in interviews the echo these sentiments, but we won't have a clear idea how meaningful those noises are until the Notre Dame game.
March 7 – Tuesday
Brian considers the recent football staff hires in light of a proposition that when in doubt you hire the fat, bald guy.
The chances of someone who looks like Stripling doing something other than plumbing or lounging around auto factories, destroying the Big Three one three-hour lunchbreak at a time, are astronomical. Bonus points for the Captain Picard-style 'do, which--unlike the shave-everything technique--emphasizes the lack of hair atop Stripling's grizzled pate. The overall impression: this man is probably killing polar bears with his bare hands right now.
Unverified Voracity: Must Play. The basketball team is still being talked about as a tournament team, but at this point that is looking doubtful.
March 8 – Wednesday
PA WR Toney Clemons and MI TE Martell Webb added to the recruiting board. Also, Mike Williams puts ‘M’ in a top two, probably with USC.
March 9 – Thursday
Brian gives a short tutorial on how to use a blog; he also talks about desiring to move to Wordpress.
A liveblog of the Michigan/Minnesota basketball game. A liveblog of the radio feed. Of the Minnesota radio feed? Not sure why this had to happen, but I guess that was life before BTN. Oh, and turnovers doomed this game and effectively move ‘M’ out of the tournament.
PBP: A ton of action with little significance.
Color: Sounds like my life.
March 10 – Friday
Are they in or not, no one is sure.
The overall impression is that Michigan is the bubbliest of bubble teams
March 13 – Monday
Posting/vacation update from Brian.
February 14 – Tuesday
Unverified Voracity: John Kerry breaks the news that ‘M’ will not be in the tournament. Also, there’s rumblings that Alex Legion might be transferring to a high school out of state.
Recruiting board update. Ryan Mallet is looking like more of a possibility with Texas picking up a commitment from John Chiles, plus with the situation in Texas…
Mallet would already be trying to unseat a sophomore with a year's worth of starting experience (either Colt McCoy or Jevan Snead); now he (likely) faces another highly regarded quarterback in his class.
March 15 – Wednesday
An obituary for Faz Husain.
Unverified Voracity: Not It shares some NIT coverage from Maize ‘n’ Brew talking about how important signing Patrick Beverly is to Amaker’s future.
March 16 – Thursday
A hockey tournament preview and a look at possible destinations for ‘M’.
March 17 – Friday
Actual football news! I’m as excited about this happening 10 years ago as I am now. Some highlights:
· Antonio Bass hurt his knee and is out for the year
· Mike Hart is healthy
I will sacrifice most of the population of Laos if this remains true for the duration of the season
· Jake Long is switching to the left side
· Carlos Brown is working at RB and DB
· Chris Singletary has been hired as recruiting coordinator
· Lots of praise for Kevin Grady
· Antonio Bass was supposed play more QB in the spring, but that’s not happening now
March 19 – Sunday
‘M’ did not get a good hockey tournament bracket.
March 20 – Monday
Unverified Voracity: Worst Blog in Scotland. Neither the Big 10 nor the CCHA are faring well in their respective tournaments. Also, it’s such a bad year for ‘M’ sports that a wrestler was robbed of a national title.
March 21 – Tuesday
The basketball team advances in the NIT in a double OT win.
Unverified Voracity: Yes Yes Oh Yes. NCAA issues seem about the same in 2006 as they do now. This comes from a glowing interview with Myles Brand by Dennis Dodd:
I've advised patience re: APR enforcement before and still think that it is a step in the right direction, but it's hard to not abandon that position in favor of radical fire-breathing when confronted with the torrent of corporate-speak that comes from the NCAA at all hours of the night and day. Such nonstop doublespeak is reminscent (sic) of campus activist groups who were incoherent but very, very angry and very, very noisy. Sensing that any cross-examination of their position would result in the swift and permanent loss of credibility and an awful lot of stammering, the bullhorn types flooded the zone with so much noise that actual thought was impossible. (Yes, sort of like the White House -- now I have bashed both Republicans and campus lefties and may continue unmolested, si?)
March 22 – Wednesday
Video of a Dion Harris buzzer beater from the previous night. I can’t believe there is content that still exists.
Announcement about a memorial service for Faz Husain.
March 23 – Thursday
A hockey bracket preview. Michigan is going into a bracket that included Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel.
Colin Cowherd steals material from The M Zone. Sounds about right.
March 24 – Friday
Recruiting Board Update doesn’t add any familiar names. However, there is a discussion about John Clay making favorable comments, but that might be hampered by a Brandon Saine (a lifelong ‘M’ fan) commitment. Also, it’s not surprising that Chris Forcier won’t be pursued because of Ryan Mallet.
Unverified Voracity: NIT Perspective with football pro day stats. Also, more articles about blogosphere vs. mainstream media, with Bill Simmons saying bloggers just sit back and attack people, but then complaining that he gets in trouble if he tries to attack anyone with ESPN. Ironic.
March 27 – Monday
The hockey team did indeed lose to North Dakota.
Unverified Voracity: Yip Yip Yip. Buena Vista High School basketball star and Notre Dame recruit Tory Jackson is not happy about not being Mr. Basketball (David Kool was the winner that year) and not signing with Michigan. Speculation on Jack Johnson’s future has begun.
March 28 – Tuesday
Things are not looking positive for Johnson returning.
Courtney Viney has been removed from the Recruiting Board. Ironic since he was reportedly just considered for a coaching job 10 years later. Also highlights of an article on Ronald Johnson and discussion on whether Chris Rucker and Ryan Van Bergen would receive offers.
March 29 – Wednesday
Have no fear. Jack Johnson is coming back!
Unverified Voracity: Ministry of Silly Analysis. Patrick Beverly is still looking like a strong possibility. Growing opposition to luxury boxes. And an updated roster!
A favorite pastime of the deranged is to read far too much into listed positions, heights, and weights, as getting information out of Fort Schembechler is harder than a contrived similie that references hilarious pop culture.
(Brian, it’s normal ten years later; read this Jimmystats post.) Highlights:
· Any worry that Michigan would senselessly put Alan Branch at DE should be put to bed: he's listed at 330 pounds. It should then be awoken: his position is listed as DE/DT.
· Redshirt freshmen James McKinney (279 lbs.) and Eugene Germany (ditto) are both bulking up to the point where DT may be a possiblity.
· McKinney, Tim Jamison, and Chris McLaurin are all listed at the anachronistic RLB position... as is Lamarr Woodley. Hopefully that does not imply those three guys get to watch Biggs and Van Alstyne play unsexy librarian at DE. Quiero dual headhunters. Also of note: both Jamison and McLaurin are up to that 240-250 range at which you're leery about every additional pound robbing them of explosiveness.
· Grady's down to 216. No word on whether he's gotten contacts.
· Wasn't Brandon Harrison listed at 5'10" last year? I seem to remember many jokes about lifts and such coming from OSU fans. Apparently that fanciful notion has been discarded: he's back down to a Bob Sanders-esque 5'8". Now if he could only play like Sanders.
· Marques Walton's problem was supposed to be mondo-overweightness, but he's listed at a (relatively) svelte 291.
Finally, Braylon Edwards is endowing a scholarship for the #1 jersey. In case you didn’t know.
‘M’ basketball beats Old Dominion to advance to the NIT final. Brian isn’t sure if this is a good thing or not.
Another Recruiting Board update with discussion on Mallet and John Clay.
March 30 – Thursday
Unverified Voracity: Clash of the Titans readies for the NIT final. Also some things never change:
A note: yes, I saw the Sharp article, and yes, it is beneath comment. If you subscribe to the Free Press, you support this man's salary. You should stop.
CA QB Lee Mondol commits. Likely as a walk on, also class of 2006.
Brian’s portion of a Blogpoll roundtable. I have no idea who else contributed, but only Brian’s answer to the questions are included here anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter. In response to the question: what things about your team are causing you anxiety during spring practice, Brian gives this response -
2. The offensive line
...was repulsive. Jake Long's moved to left tackle, which makes me nervous about
both tackles spots instead of just one.
A video of Mike Legg’s goal, for no reason particular.
March 31 – Friday
Someone decided to write a book about Bobby Williams.
Where to even begin? This can only be a book that attempts to convince the reader that Bobby Williams' tumultuous career as Michigan State's head coach was ended prematurely by insidious racism instead of
· losing your starting quarterback to cocaine or alcohol or weed or all of the above, depending on who you talk to,
· having your captain drag a cop down the street during what was, until then, a routine traffic stop,
· having two other contributors quit the team,
· taking a team thought to be a Big Ten contender and turning in a 3-8 record
· losing to your main rival 49-3,
· responding to the question "have you lost control of this team?" with a thrilling rhetorical gambit: "I don't know*," aaaaand
· looking likely to burst into tears at any moment.
Unverified Voracity: Redirect. The hockey team might manage to not lose anyone to the pros this off season; however:
Spath says '07 prospect Pat Kane -- the NTDP U17 team's leading scorer last year -- is leaning towards the OHL over Michigan.
(Also, Brian doesn’t mention it directly, but ‘M’ lost to South Carolina in the NIT the previous night.
Summary below for those that don't want the long version.
Yesterday, Brian discussed some Spring practice bits, within that, he talked about an assumption that Michigan was going to more of a quarters coverage base, similar to OSU and MSU.
I pretty adamantly denied that claim.
Brown has been a single-high base coverage throughout his career. A hybrid-SAM player has no relation to an Over front or a quarters coverage other than some teams use them in that way, just like Under teams and some 3-4 (3-3-5) teams do.
Brown has always been a 4-3 Under/One-gap 3-4 guy. It appears he's running something closer to an Under because of the personnel he has, but even then, I wouldn't be surprised to see Taco in a 2-point stance (though he'll nominally rush the passer 95% of the time). That's Brown's deal.
Peppers will play some SAM. He'll cover some TEs and the safety over the top of him will rotate to deep center field (the far safety will have SKY support in Cover 3 and will have man coverage in Cover 1 over the slot or on a back, and may help check a TE crossing the formation). I would be flat out shocked if Michigan came out running a 4-3 over quarters base, as what I described has been Brown's recent MO and the quarters thing has never been.
However, while I still stand by that being Michigan's base coverage, I wanted to clear up a few things.
Don Brown does have match-up concents within his defense, in particular, two-high safety match-up concepts. He also have Cover 2 concepts in his defense. Brown will play two-high safeties in certain situations. It likely won't be the base, and it won't be the standard coverage throughout games more often than not.
As far as his formations of choice, I did mispeak there in a way. His standard, from what I've seen, is a one-gap 3-4 or 4-3 under principles, but he has often run an over front with what I've called a "Jam" adjustment (it's MSU terminology), but he uses what he calls an anchor. I've also used the term "anchor" in the past as a technique, that technique essentially being that you "anchor a gap". I've used it in terms of anchoring the outside gap or anchoring against zone blocking schemes, Brown uses "Anchor" for the SDE that is needed to anchor a gap in his defense. You'll also notice that the WDE is often in a two point stance.
Here's where Brown uses a different tactic than most.
Here's standard over and under formations from my preview of Brown
Here's how Brown typically runs an Over front, from James Light's blog (which has been linked on the front page several times). This is what Brown calls a "72" formation
This is Brown's "Eagle" coverage, which is essentially a Cover 2 Trap. The CB has no responsibility for the #1 WR, his eyes are in the backfield looking for someone to run a route to the flat. He'll sink to a deep quarter if no one threatens the flat, and he'll essentially bait a throw to the flat by being a bit more flat footed in his technique and breaking down hard on any throw there.
But also notice the "Over" front with the anchor position. The SDE lines up in a 6i technique, or inside the TE. This provides more cover to the SAM, such that blockers cannot get out to him. The SAM is aligned on the inside hip of the SDE. Just as often, the SAM will line up on the outside shoulder of the TE or even wider, in a 5x5 to 3x3 technique. But it is an Over front, because of the shades of the DTs.
This is the formation handling a detached WR, with the SAM playing in an apex position
Note that this coverage is Cover 6. One side is playing "Cloud" leverage ("Side" above) in which he stays in the flat no matter what. The other side is playing the "sight" technique (trap technique in most terminology I've come across) which results in a Cover 2 or a 1/4-1/4-1/2 Cover 6.
This is a formation for handling a knob, in which the SAM plays a "tilt" position (essentially a Under front SAM technique)
And in almost all these instances, unless the Anchor is slanting outside, the SAM has responsibility for that outside gap. The point being, that Peppers, from the SAM position, would not nominally be a box defender (as in, inside the tackle box). He's playing outside the TE as much as anywhere.
As I said, Brown does have two-high safety coverages. He essentially winnows it down to a single coverage, but there are various techniques he runs (from MEG and MOD Cover 4, to trap and 1/4-1/4-1/2). He also has Cover 3 and Cover 1 coverages, which tend to be his base. And he'll have some combo coverages. Why does he prefer single-high looks? Because it's easier to bring multiple pressure looks with a single high safety. The run fits are easier (you rely less on DBs, who are typically limited in their run fits), you can bring pressure from more places, etc. It allows them to stay in their base coverage while doing something different with the front. And much of these pressure games come from his Under front or 3-4 front.
But at the end of the day, he is a "multiple" coach, which Michigan has almost always been dating back a long time. This, in and of itself, makes it very different than what MSU and OSU are doing. Those teams have vastly simplified their coverage (essentially, Cover 4 base, and then Cover 0 or 2-low, 3-high (MSU) or 3-low, 3-high (OSU)). Michigan won't be that. They'll mix and match and adjust the coverage to the opponent.
But, I will also add, Brian isn't wrong here. Michigan will play some Cover 4. They will run what is an Over front. But it won't be base quarters. The "4-high" looks will be a part of the plan (again, Cover 2 Trap, Cover 4 MEG, Cover 4 MOD, Cover 6), it will likely be base single-high, but it will be multiple.
Michigan won't be playing much quarters (Cover 4, like MSU and OSU). They will play two-high safeties in what is mostly a Cover 2 look. In their blitz scheme, they will utilize mostly single-high safeties (Cover 1 and Cover 3). They will run multiple coverages rather than prioritize a single coverage to become great at it (which is different than MSU and OSU).
Also, Peppers won't be playing inside the tackle box much.
Does that clear it up? Or did I just repeat the same thing and not clarify a thing?
Northwestern (17-10, 5-9 B1G) at
Michigan (19-9, 9-6)
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -7 (KenPom)|
Right: Alex Olah, a candidate for the “wait, this guy is still playing?” award that would have been Spike Albrecht’s [Upchurch]
Caris LeVert is out for the third consecutive game, though Beilein has evidently not ruled out a potential return sometime later this season. Spike Albrecht is apparently doing some work in practice, but his return seems even unlikelier.
Michigan currently checks in as a ten-seed in the latest bracket matrix update; with the Wolverines in the suspect position of having its best bullet point on its resume be “no bad losses,” a home loss to Northwestern would be disastrous. With three regular season games remaining – at home against Northwestern, at Wisconsin, at home against Iowa – Michigan’s best chance of getting a win that would lock up a winning record in conference play is tonight.
It’s debatable if Michigan can get into the Dance with just two more wins total (including what will probably be a relatively easy Big Ten Tournament opener), but in almost any scenario, they need to beat Northwestern to avoid putting their tournament hopes in serious peril.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||30||Bryant McIntosh||So.||6'3, 185||87||25||No|
|Only Wildcat with a high assist rate (2nd B1G); eFG % has plummeted in B1G play|
|G||3||Tre Demps||Sr.||6’3, 202||91||23||Yes|
|Off-guard often forced to create late in shot clock, low TO, better at 2’s than 3’s|
|F||34||Sanjay Lumpkin||Jr.||6’6, 220||58||11||Sorta|
|Wallflower with just 79 FGA, terrible combo of efficiency and usage|
|F||35||Aaron Falzon||Fr.||6’8, 213||60||18||Not Really|
|Active on offensive glass, mostly shoots 3’s but only at 34%, low turnovers|
|C||22||Alex Olah||Sr.||7’0, 275||44||23||Very|
|Has dealt with injuries, but still a good rim protector, efficient scorer on offense|
|G||20||Scottie Lindsey||So.||6’5, 205||46||18||No|
|Other half of SF platoon w/Lumpkin, Northwestern’s best shooter at 41% from 3|
|F||44||Gavin Skelly||So.||6’8, 225||27||16||Very|
|Good rebounding rates in limited minutes, efficient from 2, rarely shoots|
|C||1||Joey Van Zegeren||Sr.||6’10, 235||26||20||Very|
|Great on off. glass, iffy on def. glass, bad at FT, blocks shots, fouls a lot|
|C||12||Derek Pardon||Fr.||6’8, 230||25||19||Very|
|Classic freshman big guy profile: rebounds well, fouls a lot, only 2’s (but at 67%)|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
With the raging debate about where Michigan stands as far as what they need to do to make the NCAA Tournament, I wanted to take a look at teams that had similar records going into March Madness last year. Which teams made the NCAA Tournament? Which got sent to the NIT? To do this, I took a look at three crucial measurements the committee seems to use: RPI, Record v. RPI Top 100, and Non-Conference SOS.
Let's say Michigan beats Northwestern and Nebraska in the 1st Round of the BTT and loses to Iowa, Wisconsin, and the BTT QF.
That would put them at 20-12 with an RPI in the 50-55 range, a 4-12 record against the Top 100, and a NC SOS of 172.
|Team||Record||RPI||vs. Top 100||NC SOS|
First thing I noticed is that outside of UCLA (which was basically the last team in the field, the NIT teams had a record against the Top 100 that most closely resembles Michigan as well as very similar NC SOS. Teams with RPIs in the low 50s tend to make the NCAA Tournament, though. Once that RPI drifts past 60, you might as well start making plans for the NIT unless you have something outstanding on your resume.
What stands out is that Michigan would be the first team since 2013's Cincinnati Bearcats to not lose a game against a team with a sub-100 RPI. That Cincinnati team finished 21-11, with a RPI of 50, 9-11 against the Top 100, and a NC SOS of 171. They got a 10 seed.
And really, that should be Michigan's goal. If they hold serve against Northwestern and in the 1st Round of the BTT AND beat Wisconsin or Iowa, they'd have a very similar resume and I can't imagine they wouldn't get in. Also, Northwestern is currently at 103 in the RPI. Root for Michigan to beat them and then for the Wildcats to win their final 2 games and maybe pull an upset or two in the BTT.
This year's team doesn't have to win out, but the margin for error is virtually non-existent.
Paul Sherman – MGoBlog
After Michigan and Maryland traded baskets in the first five minutes of the game, the Terrapins locked up the Wolverines defensively and put together one of those frustratingly common runs that seem to take U-M out of the game. Over a span of about seven minutes, Maryland went on a 17-1 run and the game was following the script of Michigan’s many blowout losses this season. For the first time all season, the Wolverines stood in after taking a big early punch and managed to erase the deficit by the first TV timeout in the second half.
That resilience wasn’t quite enough, as Maryland eventually managed enough stops late in the game to pull ahead in what was an entertaining back-and-forth second half without much defense – Maryland (1.17 points per possession) put up its best performance against a Big Ten foe in nine games on the offensive end, while Michigan (1.09) mostly kept pace until the very end. Though no losses can be considered moral victories by this time of year, Michigan still acquitted themselves far better than they had in any loss so far this season – today, they were just unable to make enough shots in the final possessions to get away with what is still a much-needed marquee win for their NCAA tournament hopes.
Surprisingly, it was Michigan’s role players leading the charge – Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin combined for just 25 points on as many shot equivalents (though Walton added five assists, six boards, and three steals). Mark Donnal was excellent against a very good center duo: he flashed his full arsenal of skills in a 20-point second half as he finished with an extremely efficient 25, two offensive rebounds, and five blocks(!) Yet again, there was a significant drop-off from Donnal to Ricky Doyle and Moritz Wagner – per SCACCHoops, Donnal was +8 in 29 minutes. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman also turned in one of the better performances of his season with 16 points and a career-high nine assists – as a team, Michigan had 22, indicative of the Wolverines’ excellent ball movement today. Duncan Robinson was largely off all day; Kam Chatman put in some of his best minutes off the bench and hit two threes (and no other bench player scored).
In Michigan’s win over Maryland, Zak Irvin won the battle of mismatched power forwards against Robert Carter – today, it was Carter who turned in a very good performance with an efficient 17 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and a critical tip-dunk to stretch the Terrapin lead to four with under two minutes left. Three others scored in double figures for Maryland: Jake Layman (16), Melo Trimble (14) – though he didn’t play well – and Diamond Stone (13). Collectively, UMD hit on 59% of its twos, 44% of its threes, and 90% on a high volume of free throw attempts; while both teams put up high eFG% marks and very similar rebounding rates and turnover rate, Maryland scored 12 more points from the free throw line than Michigan did. Michigan hit 13 threes on the game, which kept them in it; an atypically high turnover rate prevented them from getting as many looks as they should have.
Michigan now sits tied for seventh in the Big Ten at 9-6 and finishes the season with contests against Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Michigan needs two more wins to feel safer about a tournament bid – though if those wins are against NW and a weak first-round opponent in the Big Ten tournament, it might be dicey. Moving forward, we shouldn’t assume that the Wolverines will make it in, though as things stands right now, I think it’s more likely than not that they’ll be dancing in a few weeks.