Now that we have reached the halfway point of the Big Ten season (9 games done, 9 to go) I wanted to briefly reflect on what’s happened and then spend some time analyzing the remaining Big Ten schedule.
We have gone 7-2 over our first nine games, with home wins over Penn State, Maryland, Minnesota and Rutgers, road wins at Illinois and Nebraska, and a neutral site win over Penn State. We have two road losses at Purdue and Iowa.
Our remaining home games are Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern and Iowa. Our remaining road games are Minnesota, Ohio State, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
For the purposes of analysis, I split the Big Ten into three tiers (I didn’t place Michigan into one of these):
· Michigan State
Middle of the Road (not threats to win the conference, but have a reasonable chance to knock off some of the top tier teams on a random day or two, especially on their home courts. Unlike the true bottom dwellers, they have at least a few games where they have looked decent, despite some others where they looked bad):
· Ohio State
True Bottom Dwellers (teams that Michigan/any other top half team should beat with ease, home or away):
· Penn State
Our entire schedule has 8 games against the Top Tier, 5 games against the Middle Tier and 5 games against the Bottom Dwellers. At the halfway point we are 4-0 against the Bottom Dwellers, 2-0 against the Middle Tier, and 1-2 against the Top Tier. We are also 4-0 at home and 3-2 at away/neutral site games).
Overall, our schedule has a bimodal l distribution, if you will; the teams that we play twice are either in the Top Tier (Iowa, Purdue, Maryland) or the Bottom Dwellers (Penn State, Minnesota), so I think our schedule is on the hard side of average due to us having more Top Tier games than basically any other team, but not overwhelmingly so because we also get a few more bottom dweller games than most teams. (On the other hand, you have Michigan State on the absolutely easiest side of the schedule distribution; they also play two Bottom Dwellers twice but only play Indiana, Purdue, Michigan and Maryland once. MSU gets to play a lot of the middle tier schools twice and only one of the Top Tier teams.)
At this point, I consider Michigan having about an 80-85% chance of making the tournament. We have a few good wins (Maryland, Texas, at NC State) and our losses are all to top 30 ish teams. I don’t think we’re locks yet though. If we go 5-4 in our remaining BIG games or better, I’d think we’re in. 4-5 looks iffy/would probably depend on BIG Tourney performance and anything 3-6 or worse would likely disqualify us. While I don’t think this is likely, our February schedule is very difficult so it remains an unlikely possibility that Michigan could collapse.
· We have more home games remaining than road games (5 home, 4 away).
· We only have one ROAD game remaining against a team that would be favored against us on a neutral court (@Maryland). Playing in Madison and Columbus certainly are not easy tasks, but this year we are a better team than either the Badgers or Buckeyes, so it will not present the same challenge as past years (even though those are still losable games, especially Wisconsin, imo). This is one marked improvement over the first half of the schedule, where we had two road games against teams that would be favored against us on a neutral court and we lost both of them.
· Nearly all of our remaining games against the Top Tier teams are at Crisler Center (4 out of 5; basically a combination of the first two points).
THE BAD (not actually bad, just challenging)
· We must still play ALL FIVE Top Tier teams. Therefore, games against the upper echelon of the Big Ten constitute a majority of our remaining schedule. Overall, 8 of our 18 games are against the top tier, but only 3 were in the first half of the season and 5 are in the upcoming half.
· We only have one game remaining against the Bottom Dwellers, and it’s a road game so marginally harder (@Minnesota). This means that in between Top Tier teams we won’t be able to have “off games” as Middle Tier opponents are more than capable of taking down Michigan if we have a bad night (unlike how we were able to survive Minnesota and Rutgers when we shot horridly).
My personal take on the schedule:
I do not think there is a single more important week on the schedule than the one immediately upcoming and I don’t think this is due to some sort of myopic bias.
We have two home games against ranked teams in Indiana and Michigan State. Not only that, but of our 5 games against Top Tier BIG teams, I think these are the ones we have the best shot at. While you could argue MSU and/or IU is better than Purdue, Purdue is the worst matchup for Michigan style wise, a road game at Maryland is harder than either IU or MSU at home, and Iowa is the best team in the Big Ten.
Go 2-0 this week and we are in second place in the Big Ten and firmly in the title race. Go 1-1 and we hold serve and probably guarantee a tournament bid. Go 0-2 and we could start a complete collapse. There are only 2 games left that I feel very confident about (Minnesota and Northwestern) and if negative momentum starts to build who knows what could happen in the tossup games (at the moment I consider 7 of our remaining 9 games as relative tossups, with OSU being the most likely to win and Maryland the most likely to lose. I still deem Maryland as a relative tossup because, hey, we already beat them and I still deem Iowa as one because, hey, in Ann Arbor anything can happen and we fought them pretty hard the last time).
Anyone else have any schedule thoughts? Do you think we have a hard or easy schedule? Which games are you most concerned about? How do you feel about our tournament chances? Do we have a shot at the BIG Title?
In the comments of an earlier diary post Ohiowild asked if MIchigan rushers showed an upward trend in yards per carry as they gain experience. I used the same top 200 rushers history to plot yards per carry vs. games played and then ran a regression so see if there was any indication of an upward trend.
The verdict: not so much.
[EDIT] I made some changes to the chart based on the comments.
How do we define experience? The data I have provides average yards per carry for each game in which the rusher has at least one attempt, so I have to define experience within that constraint. The Maizer pointed out right away that there were some big outliers and Nogit suggested filtering out games with only a few carries. So I arbitrarily filtered out any game with 5 or fewer attempts. Therefore, for this analysis I've defined a significant-experience game as one in which the rusher has more than 5 attempts.
For each player the chart plots the series of average yards per carry for each significant-experience game. So if a player had 30 significant-experience games in their career there would be 30 dots plotted at tick mark 1 through 30 on the x-axis.
Click here or on the snapshot below to see the full graph.
First (maybe only) diary, but why not. I was curious.
*** Also, updated with the Eubanks news...***
So... I've been fiddling around with excel based on the available 247 composite data out there. We have a number of excellent targets and the 2016 class is far from closed. If attrition, gray-shirts, and expectations fall as expected, we could take up to 8 more recruits to get to the total of 30 expected in this class. To give credit, this info is all available on the class calculator at 247sports.com:
As I understand, the following are still viable targets to land in Michigan (with corresponding 247compositive score)*:
*We may be out for those in italics, really out of it is
I may have left off an option or two, but these should blanket the majority of our possibilities. I did leave off Elliott, I think he gone. Sad. He dominated at the All-Star game. I can't remember which, but I think I heard one of Metellus or Gil are a known (happy) gray-shirt ... so they were left off.
So, where does that leave us. Well, I made a cumulative chart using the information on the 247 class calculator. My goal was not to see our cumulative score. Others brighter than me have already noted we are unlikely to clear 300 points (even with Rashan Gary), so we aren't necessarily breaking any records here. However, what is our average recruit composite ranking? This isn't available on the calculator and is fun to mess around with.
I can't upload the excel sheet (or I would), but here is the chart with my best-case-scenario class inserted (bold = EE):
***Allen instead of Eubanks:***
|Adj (top 20)||93.2185|
|Adj (top 24)||92.1475|
|Adj (top 26)||91.63692|
***EUBANKS In, Allen out:***
|Adj (top 20)||93.2305|
|Adj (top 24)||92.22542|
|Adj (top 26)||91.70885|
First off... that is a lot of names.
Secondly, there are some interesting things in there. For instance, I adjusted the rankings to see how our average varies depending on the total class size (ie just keeping the top 20, 24 etc). This is a simple average feature on excel (cell = sum(b1:b20)*100)
Alabama (the pinnacle of mathematical recruiting prowess), had 24 total recruits in the 2015 class with an average of 93.64... so we'd be close, but no cigar. Ohio, on the other hand, finished with the #7 ranked composite class with 26 total recruits and an average rating of 90.19 ... so yeah, we'd be competitive.
Below is the trend (top = with Allen, bottom with Eubanks). Unfortunately, did not have time to chart this against past teams or opponents. I'll leave that to the professionals after all is said and done.
Aside from that, this is just speculation. Just fun with charts a la Ross Perot in election season. The class may not reach this apex, but should still be excellent. Go blue and best of luck to all the young men either way.
Despite being fun to always play the best-case-scenario, the below may be a more likely final class:
|Adj (top 20)||92.056|
|Adj (top 24)||90.99875|
|Adj (top 26)||90.55154|
Still beating 2015 Ohio in a National Championship year. I'll happily take that, plus a slight bump expected from the Eubanks addition. This doesn't mean we'll win actual football games, but it does mean we'll be competing from a talent standpoint. That's an advantage that Harbaugh didn't have at Stanford.
This is a good trend. Our top 20 is talented on an elite level and the next ten all have potential to be strong contributors at the next level. The comparison to Bama / OSU are more to say Michigan recruiting is strong like bull.
I'm aware this isn't anything earth shattering. But, it was informative and aided in my chronic procrastination.
Per informal policy we won't discuss specific names....
Please review handy MGoTable for scholarships by year:
With what is looking like 30 scholarships (and 31 players) in the 2016 class, UM will have a very young roster with 36% of players true freshman - up from 16% a year ago at this time. Harbaugh is basically trying to cram a 5 year time frame into 3 years with aggressive roster management.
With the departures of a few 5th year seniors, plus Green & Henry, UM has 62 non freshman scholarships devoted.* Adding 30 scholarships to that takes you to 92 scholarships.
*This does not include Ryan Glasgow who under most circumstances at most schools would certainly be given a scholarship his senior year, and Kenny Allen who at most places also would. Glasgow I guess you can make a case based on financial situation of family (well off parents, brother about to get NFL money) but based on merit certainly it's unusual to not get a scholarship as one of the top 8-10 best players on the team. In a world you give these 2 scholarships UM will be at 94 scholarships with only 85 allowed.
The path to 85:
1) No scholarships for 5th year seniors Glasgow/Allen as discussed above.
Keeps you at 92
2) Exit Brian Cole for off field troubles - I am only mentioning the specific name because Brian basically confirmed this in yesterday's Mgoboard post.
Drops you to 91.
3) Exit a QB from any class. Even if Gentry goes to TE down the road you have 5 scholarship QBs with none being a senior. I assume one is going to depart to look for playing time even if if means sitting out a year.
Drops you to 90.
4) Little used 5th year senior departures pre or post spring game. Call these Allen Gant types. These are the "easiest" to deal with as UM fulfilled its responsibility in giving a 4 year scholarship and player can easily move on to another FBS school without sitting out. There are 2 obvious candidates here who have played little to no meaningful time in their 4 years at UM. I am going to assume both "don't make the team" post spring game.
Drops you to 88.
That's the easy part - the last 3 spots are not as easy to triangulate:
5) Contributing 5th year seniors. Call these Keith Heitzman types. You have 1 or 2 guys here who have played meaningful time, including 1 guy who did well in the Citrus Bowl who the dark edges of the internet say was a candidate to leave if he didn't show well. There is also one OL many have whispered would leave if he was not a starter but with Raulerson not coming here it would seem strange to see that exit for depth purposes but who knows.
So in theory if these 3 fifth year seniors do depart you are 85 and you haven't done anything SEC-y. All these guys could find a landing spot immediately elsewhere although you lose some experienced depth on the roster.
6) Non 5th year seniors depart. This is the group where it gets squishy. You have multiple WRs and DBs (up to 4) who have played little to none in their career and are now upperclasmen. But not guys who could play immediately if they depart - unless like a Raulerson type they finished their degree in 3 years. If that is the case for any of the 4 it becomes less squishy. But you could also say they saw the writing on the wall, UM just didn't work out, etc etc.
7) A "surprise" out of the blue guy. This would be a Blake Countess type.
So that's the path to 85 from 92. Obviously if you want to give Glasgow and Allen a scholarship you need to find another 2 guys.
When the rumor mill was swirling around hiring Warde Manuel, I was thinking about the fact that he would be the
first edit: second (forgot about Tom Goss) minority athletic director Michigan has ever had leading the department. Then I started trying to think of any other schools with minority athletic directors, and aside from Gene Smith and Kevin Anderson from the Big10, I couldn't really think of any. I was curious just how unusual having a minority AD was, particularly considering the overall representation of minorities in college athletics.
So, I looked up the ADs for every P5 school - here's the results of this census. Just how unusual is it? Here's a chart:
|D1 Athletes||NCAA Coaches|
The numbers track similarly with coaches, but do not line up well with the participation rates by athletes, a well-known phenomenon. Michigan's undergraduate population also looks quite different than the general athlete population - the linked Harper, et al. report notes that black men represent 58.1% of the football and basketball teams at UM, for a closer comparison on this point.
Another question is if there are any differences by conference. How does that break down?
With Warde Manuel on board, the Big 10 now appears much better - much closer to the breakdown of the athletes they manage, as does the Pac 12. The Big 12 and SEC both have decidely more monochromatic palettes.
My takeaway from this was that while minorities are better represented among the managers of athletic departments than I had expected, many still look decidedly different from the people in their departments. But this is yet another reason to be happy about being in the Big 10 and to have pulled some awesome people into our department.
EDITED after McDoom's commitment.
Hello. MGoBoard Crazy Person LSA Superstar here. Because Alum96 is evidently a person who sleeps sometimes, I'm starting today's recruiting diary for obsessives.
24 25 commits. Based on the "dark web," one is unlikely to qualify. Two others, Elliott and N. Johnson, are admittedly shaky. That puts us at 21 22 firmly committed spots, leaving nine eight potentially vacant spots absent any surprise flip losses. We supposedly can go up to 30, but Lorenz seems to think the number is more likely 28 or 29.
Based on those spots, I think the board looks like so:
- RESERVED FOR GARY
- Non-Gary DT
Then you pool the players we remain in for. As you can see from the board above, it's worth designating five of these guys as "takes no matter what" - the four BPA slots plus Gary. I think, based on announcement timing, Michigan's evident interest, and a variety of other factors, that those guys are sorted as follows:
TAKES NO MATTER WHAT THAT COACHES WILL HOLD OUT FOR:
Then you have the other dudes we're in on, in no particular order:
And the players with whom our position is mysterious:
- J. Jones
- Price, I guess
And the players who might be left out in the cold because of recent commitments:
- N. Johnson
Next, you look at the announced order of committments. Although Lorenz walked it back to a degree (as is his right), he reported that the coaches may have tried to "time" some of these announcements. It's my theory that some commits have been told to announce sooner because they're takes right now, whereas others have been told to announce on signing day because they're still-coveted backup plans (Gary is an obvious exception). Once players get the pitch from the coaches to play this game, they're either doing what they want ("no thanks, I'll announce when I want, coach") or playing along
If I'm right (it happens occasionally), the following "rules" emerge:
1.) Hudson is announcing today. I think that means that Hudson one of the coaches' two BPAs because Hudson is widely expected to commit to Michigan. Hudson takes a spot.
McDoom is rumored to be announcing tomorrow. If McDoom commits as expected, he takes the slot spot and Johnson gets in only as a BPA. Lorenz has suggested that Johnson may be out of luck entirely if McDoom commits. Young's only chance becomes as a CB or BPA. McDoom's commitment may mean the end of Nate Johnson's recruitment/commitment (commuitment?) because I don't think he's rumored to be able to play any other position than slot. I think Pie Young is still in the mix as either a CB or a BPA. But McDoom's pledge isn't great news for Pie.
3.) Fuller announces next Monday. Fuller would fill a CB spot. If he commits elsewhere, we put the full court on Hill, who's probably a "must take" anyway. If Hill commits elsewhere as well, Young gets the spot as a CB. I think this is Young's best shot at being in the class.
4.) If Asiasi commits (I do think there's a chance), I think we may not take Allen or Eubanks's commitments. I could very well be wrong about Allen, and I hope I am because I love his tape.
5.) I think we'll take both non-Gary DTs if we have room, although neither seems very likely to commit. I think our only chance at Tagaloa is if Asiasi commits. I'm more optimistic on Elliott than some, but not very optimistic.
6.) I think we lead for Murphy, Young, Nordin, and Stewart, and I think all of them would commit today if they were given the green light. I personally think that we should have given the green light to Murphy months ago, but I don't think the coaches feel that way based on the progression of his recruitment.
DISCLAIMERS: This is all my opinion, synthesized from a bunch of stuff I've read that might be made up. I don't have any insider connections. I don't have any coaching connections, and I'm not a coach myself.