BIG TEN OUTRIGHT CHAMPS!!! WOOHOOO!!!
So, last night (3.3.14) BTN did an hour show on a look at the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee's process for selecting the teams and forming the Final Bracket. They also gave their own full Mock Bracket at the end of the show, of which I was not able to copy and show, but I'm sure it's out in the Deep Web somewhere. I do have notes on their discussions of how they did their overall top 8 teams (of which they had Michigan the last 2 seed!) but I've left that off, for now. If interested, I'll add it. It wasn't that juciy, FWIW.
Here's a run down of my notes and takeaways. Most of this is of course nothing for Headline News (too much Bieber to cover, anyway). However, the show was one of the more in depth looks at this whole process so I figured those who didn't view the show may want a bit more insight into the whole process. The first few topics will be of most interest to the die-hards, as a few of these notions may not be so obvious. The rule changes are what caught my eye the most. Without further adieu...Well almost...Some of this will not be edited and put into perfect sentence structure or done to my best writing ability and is done in a more note-sy/copy-paste way but with the time I had, I did my best.
Rule Changes: How the actual Bracketing is done NOW: Teams who've played only once during the regular season may face one another at the earliest in the Round of 32. The Sweet 16 if teams have played twice, and the Elite 8 if 3 times. Each of these "earliest rounds" are up a round from last year and previous years.
Also, the Top 4 of each conference do not need be split amongst 4 regions unless the teams fall within a 1-4 seed.
This allows much more flexibility in "bracketing" (my made up word) or making up the final bracket. This helps reward teams rather than lowering and swapping seeds, which was done far frequently in years past. This also helps make a more fair/balanced bracket, a major goal for the committee. *10 different teams were changed from thier original seed line last year to compensate for the rules previously in play.
With the addition of the American Conference, 32 automatic bids are now in play, up from 31; ergo, 36 at-large bids are available, down from 37.
The Committee: Ten Members, of different levels from institutions across the country (AD's, Conference Commisioners, School VPs, etc.). When discussing and voting comes up to make the final bracket, an AD can't vote for own team. A Conference Commissioner can't vote for Conference teams. Also, said committe members cannot be there to discuss their own team. When acutally discussing teams, one can answer only factual questions; no discussing their opinions. This keeps bias aside. Ron Wellman, Wake Forest's AD is Chairman. I wasn't quick enough to get the other 9 members, but Mark Holls, Michigan State's AD is on of the other 9 members.
The Committee will meet this year at the Conrad Hotel, Downtown Indianapolis.
Bracketing process would start at 4:30 on Sunday, 10 years ago. Now, early Sunday/late Saturday, scenarios are taken into account and preparing the bracket is slowly started. Also, things that "don’t make sense" in the final bracket, were very much considered and taken into account. Sometimes it's how it's gotta be.
Each member has a team sheet. Uses RPI…too much probably?! This is an overview of each team at a quick glance. RPI is misunderstood, to say the least. It's a measure of SOS (strength of schedule) and how you did against your schedule. 25% teams own record, 50% opponents record, 25% opponents, opponents records. They know it’s not precise, but it's is a tool. A "How’d you do against top 50?" measuing device. The top 50 generally is where most teams come from, it does make some sense. RPI alone won’t get you in nor keep you out. (Members Select up to 36 teams they "like" before weekend, and go from there.)
The Committee's "General" Schedule: Arrival of members is Tuesday. An initial ballet is handed in and Bubble Team discussion is on Wednesday. Preliminary seeding, the Top 8-16 teams, is done Thursday. Select and seed Friday and Saturday. Release bracket Sunday, derr. (The Final bracket is decided surprisingly late, apparently.)
Myths (Debunked): Jerry Palm says Conference Standings/Records, i.e. "where you finish" matters. See Iowa last year. Maybe Nebraska this year. Conference RPI was taken away a few years ago. He goes on to uses University of Virginaia this year as a basic example: They "only" played the top 4 ACC teams once, so in a way they’re a skewed team.
Mike: Committee sets up preferable bracket. The Pitino's won’t play each other for intrigue and ratings.
"Other Dude": Similar to Mike, CBS/Turner isn’t there with the committee saying "Set these soap opera storylines up!". They don’t know matchups beforehand.
Miscellaneous: 1 seeds are made/picked first. Pairings for National Semifinals are taken into consideration. No.1 overall vs. No.2 overall is how the Bracket is theoretically set up. Overall No. 1 will play overall No. 4 in Final Four, Overall No.2 will play overall No.3 on opposite side of bracket. Closer to home? Mileage from home, what region and cities are available and what the Regional Final city is in, are all taken into consideration. Overall No.1 obviously gets the best/closest Elite 8 game city i.e. Regional Final. Also, I think every seed is "snaked". The Overall No.1 will have also have the weakest No.2 it's bracket, so on and so forth down the line i.e. the "weakest" 4 seed, "weakest" 8 seed etc.).
Like noted above about making a balanced bracket, the Overall No.'s 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, and 4v5 games in each bracket are the ideal. This has not and does not happen because of the "bracketing rules". Again, some of which are changed but some will always inhibit the perfect bracket. Balance across 4 regions is crucial to committee but perfection is near impossible. "Theory vs practice" and "Ideal vs realistic".
Conference Tournaments are a part of the body of work, and "very much taken into effect, but not over-emphasized". Big Ten finishes so late, it's only a half-hour/hour before Tournament Selection deadline. Alternate scenarios are in play, of course to monitor what happens in Conference tournaments and championship games. UConn a few years ago seems to be an example; probably not "In" to begin the Big East Tournament but they won the damn thing but maybe would have gotten in by winning 4 or 5 games in said Tournament, instead they won all 6 (they won NC that year, see: Kemba Walker). Good conferences have good chances to get more HQ wins and build resume throughout their Conference Tournaments...Whoda Thunk it! It matters who you play; a "win" doesn’t automatically help; a team needs to beat a good team for it to stand out.
Bubble Teams: By Saturday they’ve been talked about for 3-4 days. The final few spots available are open through Sunday and Conference Tournaments are watched to help decide these last spots. Exactly how many slots will be left available is not known at this point, so scenarios/alternate selections are planned for so what happens Sunday is almost finalized by Tournaments' end i.e. fill in the blanks with winners/take out losers.
So, as it turns out, no fancy probabilities were required. I'm writing this because I said that I would give an update, not because any of us needed it. With the Wisconsin game still to come, since my last update, everything has, stunningly, gone perfectly for the Wolverines. Based on the pre-game numbers, KenPom suggested that if Illinois were to play 100 games in East Lansing, Sparty would win 85. Maybe the lack of injuries affected their psyche, or maybe they got unlucky -- or maybe you can't really predict sports. :-) Luckily for Illinois, and for us, they didn't have to win 100 times at Breslin -- just once.
The Fighting Illini's improbable win, coupled with Michigan's defeat of a plucky Golden Gopher squad, assures Michigan of a Big Ten title. Their regular season record histogram, according to the KenPom update:
To earn a title share, either Staee or Wisconsin would have to win out; per KenPom, Sparty has a 17% chance, and Wisconsin has a 42% chance.
Putting this all together, the Wolverines have a 97% chance of an outright title.
Let's not kid ourselves, though. Winning at Illinois is going to be tough, and Indiana is always a challenge. None of us is going to feel completely confident until the outright title is clinched, but chances have never looked so good.
BTW, Michigan has also clinched no worse than a #2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. Michigan wins a three-way tie or a head-to-head tie with Sparty. The winner of a Wisconsin/Michigan tie that did not include the Spartans would depend upon who finishes #4. However, none of us wants to be concerned with tiebreakers or who beat whom further down the standings. The team has two bites at the apple and just needs one of them to count. Win one, and we'll all party like it's 1986. ;-)
An article ran today on MLive, and I felt the need to respond, mostly because it was bullshit. The article was entitled "U-M stymies student governmen's review of Brendan Gibbons sexual assault investigation." I don't want to call it a hack job, but it has several hack marks as if somehow hacked at by a hacking device.
University of Michigan's student government wants to review the school's sexual assault investigation involving ex-football player Brendan Gibbons — but U-M has refused to disclose investigation documents.
They confuse "has refused to disclose" with "is legally prevented from disclosing." We've been through this, but FERPA (20 USC 1232g) is a federal law that prevents the disclosure of any "education records" to anyone that does not fall into one of the exception categories without the permission of the student.
Education records are defined as "those records, files, documents, and other materials which (i) contain information directly related to a student; and (ii) are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution." Investigation documents pertain to a student (Brendan Gibbons), and were created and maintained by the University. They are educational records.
The CSG (the student government) does not fall under any of the exceptions that would allow UofM to release records to them. The closest exception is 1232g(b)(1)(A), which allows the release to othe "school officials" with a "legitimate educational interest" [ED: see the update below]. But the CSG is not a school official (nor are its officers), and they have no legitimate educational interest.
So, as a matter of federal law, Michigan cannot release investigation documents to the CSG. Full stop.
The Central Student Government and U-M administrators disagree about whether student government should be given access to investigation documents.
"It's a little disappointing on our end," said CSG president Michael Proppe, a senior statistics major. "A review would have provided transparency about this process."
The whole point of FERPA is to prevent 'transparency" with student records. But we'll get back to that later.
CSG believes it has the right to review the investigation due to a provision in U-M's student discipline code allowing a CSG representative to review discipline cases.
U-M's Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities reads:
"Periodic, regular review of records of resolution actions will be made available, in confidence, to the Code of Conduct Advisory Board Chair of CSG."
But U-M is refusing to provide access to the investigation documents.
Okay, a quick primer in Federal law: it trumps the U-M Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. It trumps it by a lot. Like the Right Bower trumps an off nine. So even IF this was the subject matter to which the Statement referred, it doesn't matter. Federal law wins.
The school has again cited student privacy and also maintained that under revisions made to the sexual misconduct policy in 2011, sexual misconduct reviews no longer fall under the Statement of Student Responsibilities.
Cool. And irrelevant. If the investigation records fall under FERPA (they do), then it couldn't matter less for the present case if they are included in the Statement of Student Responsibilities.
"We aren't making those reports available," U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.A review would have provided transparency about this process.
"We've maintained all along that case-specific files and anything that would be an investigation report are considered to be educational records protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, so we cannot share those with the CSG taskforce," he continued. "The new policy on sexual misconduct, it's really not part of the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, but it's a separate policy referenced in the Statement. Sexual misconduct doesn't apply to that [CSG] review."
What he said.
In September 1991, U-M's student government investigated an Ann Arbor Police Department tear gas incident; in January 1992 it looked at U-M's interim policy on discrimination and discriminatory harassment; and in 1997 it reviewed allegations of excessive force by U-M Department of Public Safety officers following a football game.
You know what all of those have in common? They aren't investigations of STUDENTS. You can review the records of officer so-and-so or review policies until you're blue in the face without running into FERPA. You can also review those records without any knowledge of the students involved. You can't, however, say, "HEY, GIVE US ALL OF THE GIBBONS RECORDS" and then pretend to redact the name of the only guy it could possibly be.
Proppe said student government has also reviewed past sexual misconduct investigations, although not recently.
I question this
[ED: Michael Proppe contacted me, and told me that they do have a file of previous investigations. The difference is that the records have the names redacted. Once the records are identifiable as being Student X's record, they are protected. Props to Michael for the clarification. Get it? Props? Proppe? /Shrugs, leaves room.]
"We certainly disagree with the university's interpretation," Proppe said. "The university main concern is 'Was this going to violate the privacy of individuals involved?'
That's not the case, Proppe asserted, saying CSG intends to maintain student privacy and confidentiality.
Cool, but that really doesn't matter. Michigan can't tell the federal government "we know you said not to disclose this, but they promised they wouldn't tell anyone else." There is NO provision for these records to be disclosed to other entities if they pinkie-swear not to further disclose it.
Plus, you're selling this entire thing as "transparency." How can you say you're trying to make the investigation transparent while simultaneously declaring that you won't reveal anything?
CSG has commissioned a law firm to consider U-M's refusal to turn over investigation documents.
Hey, look, I just saved you a bunch of money.
Bottom line, there are a bunch of open questions for the University and the Athletic Department on this issue. But when people focus on the stuff that the University categorically cannot do, it distracts from the stuff onto which we actually SHOULD be trying to shine a light. And to say the University is somehow "obstructing" this student government investigation through the failure to turn over investigation records is, as they say, crap.
UPDATE: After a conversation with Clarence Beeks (who, frankly, seems like more of a Corporate/Securities Law expert (watch good movies, people)), I felt I should include the following info.
Because the statute does not define "school official", that definition is left to the University, and the University must give public notice of that definition. Michigan's definition is as follows:
A University official is any person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support position; a person elected to the Board of Regents; a student or a University graduate serving on an official University committee or assisting another University official in performing his or her tasks; or a person employed by or under contract to, or serving as the agent of, the University to perform a specific task.
The CSG is not an "official University committee," a list of which can be found here. It is, by its own description, a student organization. Its members are chosen by the student body, not the University, and it performs no designated University function. Further, the definition of "legitimate educational interest" is as follows:
Legitimate educational interest is the need to review an education record in order for a University official to carry out his or her responsibilities in regard to performing an administrative task outlined in the official's duties, or performing a supervisory or instructional task directly related to the student's education.
(Emphasis mine). Even if we're somehow assuming students on CSG are officials, reviewing such cases is almost certainly not part of their outlined duties.
Keep talking youngster
I've banged with a dozen players better than you
You can have your NBA hype
You can have your superstar calls.
That's nothing but fuel.
'Cuz I've got a secret
I would sell my soul to win this game
You may be taller
You may jump higher
But you will pry this rebound from my cold dead hands
You think you're tough?
Try getting an engineering degree from Michigan
Studying in hotel rooms and restaurants.
This aint my first rodeo
Go ahead and help your man getting beat to the rack
I've got friends in the league
And I've got friends on this team
They've got one thing in common
If they get me the ball in this paint
I am going to make this rim suffer
I am going to make you look weak
I am going to make your fans cry
It's nothing personal
This is what I do
And tomorrow I'm going to wake up
Feed the dog
And do it all again.
OK, so that happened. The great thing about the Big Ten standings is that they don't take 19-point first-half deficits into account. :-) Unsurprisingly, the performance in West Lafayette reduced KenPom's probabilities of Michigan victory in each of the next three games; combined with an Illinois victory over Nebraska, the remaining schedule looks a couple of percentage points harder than it did a few days ago.
Having said that, GRIII's layup turned a 74% (pregame) probability of victory into 100%, which more than makes up for the slightly smaller future percentages. Here's an updated chart of Michigan's expected final record, again to two signficant figures:
Staee hasn't played; their chart is nearly unchanged:
Wisky, now alone in third place:
|11-7 or worse||13%|
Ohio, still up half a game on Iowa:
|11-7 or worse||67%|
|11-7 or worse||79%|
(Nebraska, unsuprisingly, has been eliminated from title contention).
Combining the various scenarios, we get the following chance of winning the title with the given record (i.e., the rows add up to 100% and represent the probability of each outcome if Michigan achieves the record listed).
|Record||Outright Title||Shared Title||No Title|
Multiplying by the data in the first table -- the chance that Michigan achieves each of these records -- gives us an 83% chance of an outright title (up from 75% on Sunday) and a 15% chance of a shared title, for a whopping 98% chance of hanging a Big Ten championship banner for 2014.
With the victory over the Boilermakers, Michigan has also locked up a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament. (I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that even if they lose out, Michigan's worst possible finish is a tie for fourth, and the winning record against the top teams in the B1G standings would pay dividends in any tiebreaker).
Clinching/eliminatation scenarios for the remainder of the week and weekend:
- Michigan cannot clinch the outright title this weekend. However, Michigan can clinch a share of the title with a win and a loss by Staee.
- Iowa plays @Indiana and vs. Purdue and is eliminated with any loss or Michigan victory.
- Ohio plays @PSU and @Indiana and is eliminated with any loss or Michigan victory.
- Wisconsin plays @PSU. A loss or Michigan victory means that they can do no better than a share of the title; a loss and a Michigan victory would eliminate them entirely.
- Staee plays at home against Illinois; if they lose and Michigan wins, they can do no better than a share of the title.
As always, Go Blue!
(Edit: corrected a typo - "play dividends" -> "pay dividends")
This is our off-season strategy, and I love it
It's easy to forget that the "Hail Mary" is not just a football play, but also a prayer. While Brady Hoke's desired scheme is more Lloyd Carr than Rich Rodriguez, his coaching approach is certainly closer to Art Briles' play-calling than Mike DeBord's.
So what the hell does that mean?
I love--as I believe most do--Hoke's aggressiveness on fourth down. But we've learned quite a bit more about his willingness to go "all in" this off-season, and the result will be a 2014 team that looks drastically different from its predecessor. No less than six position changes that could affect the starting line-up, a new offensive coordinator, and significant scheme change on defense. This is the "Hail Mary" off-season: it is both a long, risky pass, and a prayer.
2013, to me, was The Season of Infinite Pain. It wasn't just the losing, it was the way we lost. The go-backwards offense that decided four downs were just too many combined with a defense that seemed to know exactly when to self-destruct made for a season that was excrutiatingly painful to watch, and I believe that the manner in which we lost (and won) was even more of a factor in our recruiting death spiral than the record itself. In the few games where the offense did click (Notre Dame, Indiana, Ohio) the defense couldn't keep-up, and the offensive line was never even close to adequate.
I hope we're all still smiling in December
So what did Brady Hoke do about this? He fired his friend and Offensive Coordinator--with whom he'd had lots of success. He made wholesale changes to the positions the defensive staff coaches, and removed himself as a position coach. He will be instituting a new scheme on both sides of the ball--completely new on offense, and moving from a 4-3 Under to a 4-3 Over on defense. Make no mistake about it, this change on defense is almost as significant as moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 (but not as significant as going to a 3-3-5). On top of that, Hoke is reshuffling a slew of starters and key back-ups.
Here's what I love about this:
- It's all on Hoke. If this season ends in disaster, the J. Ira and Blah Blah Blah Coach will be the last place for the finger to point. It's mostly his roster, the coaching staff has been rebuilt, player positions have been changed. The answer to the question, "Can Brady Hoke coach?" is now clearly: "See 2014 season."
- The courage to change. I get Brian's negativity about some of the changes. A new OC? A new scheme on defense? Changing the position of your best player on defense (maybe the best player on the team)? It all smacks of desperation. That's scary as hell, and should make you nervous. It makes me nervous. But last year was awful, and here is a coach saying, "You know what? We have to make significant changes. Tweaks aren't going to do it." He's admitting the failure--not just through coachspeak--and making changes that could turn things around.
- Win or lose, this should be better to watch. Devin Gardner called it "a new style of practice." We know that Nussmeier at least practiced the no huddle at Alabama. Whether or not we see U-M stopping for a group chat between every play this season, I would expect the offense to move more quickly and the QBs to have more time at the line. I can damn near guarantee you'll see some of the constraint plays many on this board have been clamoring for, since Nuss' has always used WR screens and extended hand-offs. And we now know that Devin Funchess will be playing "on the outside." Nussmeier has always used a balanced attack that focuses on getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers and scoring points. Even if our offense doesn't set records this year, it should be a lot more fun to watch.
- Defense, too. The Tampa Two defenses that were en vogue in the NLF in the early '00's (and longer for the Lions) proved that "bend-but-don't-break" defense could work. Forcing the offense to plod towards the end zone and use all their downs increases the chances of a mistake and forces an offense to be more precise. I have two problems with that: 1) It's much harder to do against a no-huddle offense, since you can't rotate your D-Line as much, which MUST get pressure. 2) It's not as fun to watch. Last season, it often seemed like Mattison's "Keep the ball inside and in front" mantra mostly meant, "If you want a first down passing over the middle, we're happy to give it to you." Compounding that frustration was the snake-bitten (or gypsy-cursed) outside coverage that always seemed to be in the right place at the right time but didn't make the play. Even though we produced 17 INTs and nearly as many turnovers as we did in 2011 (when we recovered a ridiculous 20 fumbles) it never felt like a game-changing or play-making defense, mostly because there were far too many times when we let teams like Akron, Penn State, Indiana, 2nd-half Iowa, Ohio State, and Kansas State move the ball seemingly at will. Too many times, when it mattered most, our defense whiffed. Hoke says NO MORE! The changes that have been made public about positions and scheme strongly suggest we are moving to a high-pressure, in your face defense closer to MSU's style than Monte Kiffin's. I expect more blitzing, more play-making, and more TFLs. Might we get torched more often? Maybe, but I'd rather watch that brand of football, and I think players (and recruits) would rather play that way.
- Musical chairs on defense. Moving Keith Heitzman to TE is a virtual no-lose change: here's a guy who had been passed by younger players at SDE, switching to a position he played in high school where we need toughness and depth. But moving your best defender (and maybe player) to MLB from what was closer to a 3-4 OLB? It's a gamble, and not a small one. The upside is huge: if you go right, Jake Ryan is there; if you go left, JMFR is there. Starting from the middle, he has the potential to be involved in every play. But what if he's not very good at his new job? What if JRIII gets put on his ass by opposing TEs? What if Desmond Morgan is too slow to play the WILL in a 4-3 Over? Hoke took his deepest, most experienced position group on the entire team and changed everything. If it works, it could be beautiful. If it doesn't, he could be fired. But Jake Ryan went from 6.8 tackles/game to 3.7 and, even more alarming, from 1.27 TFLs/game to 0.56. Sure, some of that is the injury, but some of that is opposing teams saying, "We're not letting him beat us." Now? Defensive coordinators will have to fool Ryan to beat him, because we already know he can shed blocks and move sideline-to-sideline. If he can diagnose plays, he's going to kick some serious ass in 2014. And now Mattison is his position coach.
Do these changes make me nervous? Of course. These are huge changes, and change always brings risk. But, to me, these changes seem to directly address the issues--both in terms of success and enjoyment--that made 2013 so damn unwatchable. And win or lose, we'll know what we have in a head coach.
What it all boils down to is this: it's Hoke's fourth season, and very much the fourth quarter in a game he's losing to stay on as Michigan's blah blah blah Head Coach. And he's not calling the safe, conservative I-form off tackle play, or even the single-back play-action post; while it may require some help from the heavens, he's calling the fucking Hail Mary.
We'll just have to pray it works.