at least it's not just us?
Conference Name: The Ginormous 14 Team Composition: The 11 teams of the Big Ten are "grandfathered" in and 3 other teams are offered a seat at the table when the 14 rings of power are forged in the fires of mount doom (say, columbus, OH) Say, the 3 upstarts to invite first are ND, Pitt, and Okie State. If these teams opt out, substitute others that help expand the conference's power in desirable ways (ie., expand it's geographic size while keeping a midwestern rust/corn belt identity, are academically and financially good additions to the federation, etc). Rivals:
Each team would have 2 rivalry games that would occur every year and these would be ironed out before the inaugural season of the confernence taking into account mainly historical and geographic factors in deciding who gets who. So, Michigan's rivals would end up being Ohio St and Mich St and since these teams would probably mutually select each other and they are all full member teams. As a second example, Okie State would have less say in this process as a new team and might end up with Indiana and Iowa as rival based mainly on geography in this case. Conference rivalries would be reviewed by the league's brass every 4 years and teams who are looking to change this up would have some say in getting this done.
A preseason midsummer draw would determine 2 divisions each year ala FIFA's way of organizing the world cup except all members are equal regardless of rankings, history, or geography. Once Group A and Group B's members are determined, the schedule would be organized such that each team plays the 6 members of it's group, 2 members of the other group, and 3 non-conference games that would always take place prior to the onset of a team's conference schedule (no exceptions). For rivals not placed in the same group, they would automatically be slated to play each other as an "other group" game with home field alternating from the previous year. Games would be set up as randomly as possible while ensuring that each team has equal numbers of home games each year and is basically even head to head within each 4 year span. The Season: Stage 1: 3 non-conference games of the team's choosing Stage 2: 8 pre-determined inter-conference games from the draw Stage 3: The Championship Game and Conference Tournament Finale Games --The top teams from Group A and B as determined only by Stage 2 play at a predetermined neutral site with the undisputed conference championship at stake. --The rest of the teams get a random draw for their twelf game and a coin flip determines the home field. Only matches that did not occur during Stage 2 would be permitted to avoid rematches during this draw. There would be an off week between Stages 2&3 for obvious logistic reasons. Stage 4: The postseason plays out as usual and the overall records and total "body of work" would determine who the BCS wanted to send where, so that it would be possible for a team other than the Stage 3 conference champ to be the #1 team if non-conference and stage 2 records sway voters in favor of another strong team in the conference. ...and if the score is tied at the end of the games, it goes to penalty kicks or a syrup drinking contest.
The Michigan Defense
There have been a lot of complaints from Michigan fans regarding John Beilein, his recruiting (won't cover this today), his coaching style, that he doesn't adjust enough and the fact that he seems to favor offense over defense (people complain similarly about Rich Rodriguez). I believe that last part in particular to be a myth. Let's explore coach Beilein's preference defensively before I jump to this year's results (this part will be obvious to those who have watched college basketball a long time).
Coach Beilein prefers to play man to man except after a made bucket in which he will switch to a 1-3-1 trap. He has also occasionally thrown a 2-3 defense into the mix (he did this more often before Michigan, probably because he didn't think his kids were quick enough to play man to man consistently). In fact, while John Beilein's offenses have been consistently excellent in offensive efficiency, his defensive schemes are arguably just as creative. But like everything in sports, creativity doesn't mean anything if things aren't executed properly and/or a team gets predictable.
In terms of this year, I have made comments here and there on game recaps as well as on the board that Michigan's defense has improved significantly. To give evidence of this, I'd like to compare the FG% from the first 10 games to the last 6, excluding cupcakes (Northern Michigan, Houston Baptist, Arkansas PB, Detroit, and Coppin State). After that, I'll share my observations of what I've seen done differently from a defensive standpoint.
Over the first 10 games Michigan played 6 legitimate opponents and those opponents shot 50% on average! That is atrocious put bluntly.
Over the last 6 games of which the last five have been legit (conference play), those opponents have shot 42.6%.
That's a significant drop and one reason why I think Michigan can still have a decent year, although it will definitely be an uphill battle.
Now I'm well aware that anyone can compare these numbers and reach a simple conclusion when obviously it's more complicated than just FG%. Michigan hasn't been blowing opponents away with the improved defense, and part of that may be the team practicing defense more heavily recently since they have been significantly less efficient offensively. I may cover the offense in general later, but for now I'll just pass along my observations on the change in defensive strategy.
In the first 10 games of the season, Michigan was playing man to man with the usual 1-3-1 trap after a made bucket and only a little had they sprinkled the 2-3 in the mix. Their man to man was atrocious, and I'm being generous. They weren't pressuring ball handlers well and the help side was often non-existent. When they happened to get on even a little bit of a roll offensively, they would throw the 1-3-1 out there and it actually was often worse than their man to man defense.
I'd like to interject here and say that in high school one of our main rivals played a 1-3-1 trap. The goal of this defense is to get into passing lanes and trap every corner. Michigan's problems with this defense have been at the top of the defense. They weren't trapping aggressively enough and because of that there was a lot of space in the gaps of the defense for open shots or lay ups. I'd like to mention that this defense worked much better last year.
So what has improved lately? Coach Beilein has reeled in the 1-3-1 trap for the most part (except for a few possessions a game) and played man to man almost exclusively. They've still had some trouble with the help side, but they are pressuring the ball much better as well as limiting open shots. I would speculate that coach Beilein has emphasized the defense a lot more in practice as well as simplifying the defense (something my high school coach did as well). I am of the opinion that coach Beilein isn't the problem with the inconsistency of our team because I have seen numerous adjustments in all facets of the game just this season. Now on to a brief observation on Manny.
To be honest, as I was watching the Indiana game last night, my opinion of Mr. Harris seemed to change frequently throughout the game as it has all season (to clarify, I'm referring to his play and not him as a person). In my opinion, he has the most potential and talent on the team. The problem is that he doesn't seem to play hard all the time and his mental errors have proven to be killer at times. If he isn't dominating off the dribble, he seems to get lost too easily.
Let me elaborate a bit on that last point; It was noticeable the change in fluidity of the offense when Harris was benched for Vogrich last night, so the greater question might be what was Vogrich doing differently? I would answer by simply saying: hustle. Vogrich cuts as hard as he can and moves much better without the ball, and because of that finds himself making plays where Manny almost never has.
Manny can sometimes clog the offense by just "hanging around" the wing or by dribbling into trouble and I've rarely seen him cut hard to the bucket this season. I may sound a little harsh, but Coach Beilein has actually adjusted the offense to accommodate his skills. In Beilein's core system the ball will rarely touch the floor, but with Manny and Sims there have been a lot more isolation, pick and roll, and post up plays. I'm glad he did because it would have been stubborn not to, and as a result Manny has been able to take over games.
In terms of the future, I think Manny will need to develop better habits in some of the gritty aspects of the game. Whether he's vocal or not his teammates view him as a leader and his play is contagious. The key to the season is to keep up the defense they've played lately and getting their offense back to the efficiency they had at the beginning of the season (basically less turnovers).
Well, hopefully this wasn't a waste of space and let me know if I can evaluate other topics surrounding basketball in the future. At least I enjoyed it.
The Real Sir Charles
The answer, as Lee Corso might blurt out while having an on-air stroke, is
"Mrgharaaw", by which he would mean "Yes!"
"Not so fast, my fribealllgn.... burp."
Using this very handy pro football reference site (which allows you to download CSV files of all rosters), I downloaded the rosters of the weekends' eight wild-card teams, and then "analyzed" them to find the following breakdown of which schools the players on the active rosters went to. Here "analyze" means "ran a few python scripts which spit out some numbers, most of which are probably wrong".
The big answer: Michigan dominates. Indeed, they come in #1 across those eight rosters, beating out USC and LSU by two players. The top "10" teams, with lots of ties (and the number of players on the rosters, in parentheses) are:
- 1. Michigan (14 players!)
- 2. LSU (12)
- 2. USC (12)
- 4. Ohio State (11)
- 5. Miami (10)
- 6. Notre Dame (9)
- 7. Florida State (7)
- 7. Georgia (7)
- 7. Michigan State (7)
- 10. Alabama (6)
- 10. Arkansas (6)
- 10. Auburn (6)
- 10. Boston College (6)
- 10. Colorado (6)
- 10. Nebraska (6)
- 10. Oregon (6)
- 10. Tennessee (6)
- 10. Texas (6)
- 10. UCLA (6)
The Michigan players on these rosters, by the way, are:
- Arizona: Alan Branch, Steve Breaston, Gabe Watson
- Baltimore: Prescott Burgess
- Cincinnati: Leon Hall, Dhani Jones, Morgan Trent
- Dallas: None
- Green Bay: Charles Woodson
- New England: Tom Brady, Pierre Woods
- New York Jets: Braylon Edwards, Jay Feely, David Harris
- Philly Eagles: Jason Avant
As you can also see from this list, most of the players were guys who saw the field plenty on Saturday and Sunday. You can also see: not much reason to root for Dallas.
If you group by conference, however, some of the more usual suspects pop to the top of the list, alas:
- SEC (57)
- PAC-10 (50)
- ACC (47)
- Big Ten (45)
- Big 12 (39)
- Big East (25)
Why does the Big Ten fair so poorly in this one? Well, as you can see above, Michigan, OSU, and Michigan State (surprisingly?) held up their end of the bargain. It is really one school in particular that failed us: Penn State, with only 2 players on these rosters. Of course, the sample size is small, but it makes one wonder about Penn State's success at placing players in the NFL. Only a more thorough study of all NFL rosters over the years would paint a more accurate picture.
Don't "Go to Penn State"
First of all, I sincerely doubt am pretty much willing to completely discount the possibility that the Big Ten will expand to 14 teams. However, it is an interesting exercise to consider the possibility, particularly when the alternative would be to do the physics homework I have due tomorrow. Anyway, here we go:
Current conventional wisdom considers adding Maryland, Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, Missouri, etc. (i.e. an array of palatable choices) to the Big Ten. No group of three here could even hope to better the Big Ten financially, because these schools cannot generate enough revenue collectively to improve the financial situation of the Big Ten. This is not to say that an individual school wouldn't be able to do so. With the exception of Rutgers, who doesn't produce a lot of revenue, despite their proximity to New York, and would become an instant doormat in every important sport, each school on that list has the potential to benefit the Big Ten financially. Every school would likely add something in television revenue and a Big Ten championship game could be a huge moneymaker. In fact, if the Big Ten does expand, it is possible that they may consider putting the game on the Big Ten Network, which would suck to watch but would either make the network more profitable or allow them to drive up the price that another network (likely ESPN/ABC) would have to pay to televise the game. This means that the addition of one school adds some television revenue and the revenue of a championship game. However, any school in addition to a 12th school would only add television revenue in their market, which would almost certainly cause the Big Ten member schools to lose revenue.
Now, if the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams, the move would have to include several major schools, not unlike the ACC bringing in Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College. In fact, if the Big Ten were to attempt to expand east, it is likely that at least some (or even all) of those schools would be recruited. However, I think that if the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams they would most likely move west. This thought is not based on some whimsical geographic notion, but rather because I have three specific teams in mind.
This is where it gets interesting. If the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams, I believe the best move is to poach Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. These teams would be more likely to leave the Big 12 as a group, because it would allow them to maintain some rivalries (most notably Kansas and Missouri), increase their revenue, and join a conference that is much more prestigious than being in the Big 12 North. Meanwhile, the Big Ten might be able to increase their TV revenue by adding a larger geographic footprint (Kansas and Nebraska aren't much from a revenue standpoint, but Missouri would be a nice addition*), and the addition of a national football power in Nebraska and a national basketball power in Kansas would allow the Big Ten to sign much larger television contracts. Also, from a competitive standpoint, this move would make the Big Ten stronger in football and much stronger in basketball.
Obviously, this is not remotely likely to happen. The financial uncertainty and legal problems that this type of move would cause would be a huge risk for a conference that doesn't need to take it and universities who stand to potentially lose a lot of money. That said, it is a fun idea to think about, particularly when you consider how much havoc this would cause (bye, bye Big 12...cackle cackle).
Not well thought out fun with divisions in the new 14 team Big Ten (note, I am assuming nine conference games with one game reserved as a permanent inter-divisional rivalry):
Ohio State-Penn State
Note: I considered leaving out permanent rivalries because outside of Northwestern-Illinois (and OSU-PSU to an extent), none seemed that important. However, I decided that it would be worthwhile to do them as an exercise. My methodology to making them was to prioritize current rivalries first (MSU-Indiana, OSU-PSU, and Northwestern-Illinois), then match the remaining teams as best I could. I put Michigan and Nebraska together because of the historical success of both programs, although it also makes a lot of sense to put Iowa and Nebraska together (it could be called the Corn Bowl, a trophy game in which the winner gets a golden corn...).
The teams involved are up to wild speculation. Texas? Notre Dame? The Cleveland Browns? Logically, there are only a few schools that fit the right criteria to include into the conference, without an unforeseen massive expansion to the south or west. These schools (Missouri, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, and Syracuse) may or may not be willing to enter the conference. For the sake of discussion, let's just all assume that these schools would be willing to become a part of the Big Ten for the academics, revenue sharing and lucrative T.V. contract.
My idea for the new Big Ten (I am not creative enough to come up with a good name for it), is to make it the Big 14. It's not outside of the realm of possibility.
A conference statement spoke of an "evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion."
"Anything is possible," one source said, beyond the conventional wisdom of simply adding a 12th school.This idea largely hasn't been approached, but it could work if the Big Ten decides to aggresively expand to fourteen. A split into two seven-team divisions would be obvious, as would the addition of a ninth conference game (like the PAC-Ten, who plays a round-robin with 3 OOC games). The real question would be if it is really worth it for the Big Ten to expand to fourteen. The WAC had a 16-team conference, and it was inevitably doomed due to its size. Teams would lose out on additional revenue with the loss of an OOC cupcake home game. Teams in different divisions would rarely play each other. The divisional champions would have to play a total of 10 conference games, which would make it hard for a team to run the table or receive a second BCS berth. These are all legitimate reasons not to make the jump from eleven or twelve to fourteen, but there are plenty of incentives to do so:
- The conference would generate much more T.V. revenue, due to the expanded T.V. markets and alumni base, as well as the conference championship game
- More schools would receive bowl and NCAA Tournament appearances from the conference
- The conference would become the elite conference in all of college sports and there would be a large increase in national attention to the conference
- An undefeated football champion would all but be assured of a national championship berth, and a one or two loss team would be assured a BCS berth due to strength of schedule
- A conference with more than twelve teams (the MAC) has not experienced too many problems
- A team would not go three years without playing a team in the other half of the conference (see below)
Breaking the conference up into divisions would not be too difficult depending on who is added. There are already three states with two existing Big Ten teams, and if Pitt enters, that would make four. breaking up these in-state rivalries would not go over well, so Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue, and Illinois-Northwestern (and maybe Penn State-Pitt) would be in the same division as their rival. Selfishly, we can add Michigan and Ohio State to the teams have to be in the same division. These fanbases can agree that playing the rivalry twice in the same season would not be good for the rivalry, and both parties would be vehemently opposed to being in different divisions. Dividing the proposed teams into East and West, there are four teams to the east (Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, and Syracuse), and one to the west (Missouri). Therefore, the only possible combinations for adding teams would be adding two teams to the east and one to the west or adding three teams to the east.
Adding three teams to the East would be easiest (a team is across from its permanent rival, some of which are arbitrary):
*any of these three can be switched for Syracuse
However, adding Missouri would put the Big Ten into quite a conundrum, some rivalries would inevitably be split up (and I know that the geography of the divisional names is not quite correct):
*either Rutgers or Syracuse could be switched in for Maryland or Pitt
The schedule would work something like this (if there is an East-West alignment), a team in the East would play all of the other six teams in the East, their permanent rival in the West, as well as a two out of six teams from the West that rotate yearly off the schedule so that the team in the East would play their non-rivals from the West once every three years.
For example, Michigan's schedule may look something like this:
|at Michigan State||MICHIGAN STATE||at Michigan State|
|PENN STATE||at Penn State||PENN STATE|
|at Maryland||MARYLAND||at Maryland|
|at Rutgers||RUTGERS||at Rutgers|
|at Indiana||IOWA||at Illinois|
|OHIO STATE||at Ohio State||OHIO STATE|
So logistically, a move to fourteen is feasible. The practicality of it is in question, but it is the offseason and thus it is the time for wild speculation. Any thoughts?
Beilein signs contract extension
ANN ARBOR, Mich.---University of Michigan Men's basketball head coach John Beilein has agreed to a contract extension to lead the Wolverines through the 2015-16 season, athletic director Bill Martin announced today.
"John Beilein has been a wonderful addition to our staff here at Michigan. What he has done on and off the court with our men's basketball team has been tremendous, and he has made it clear he wants to coach at Michigan until he retires," said Martin, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. "This contract extension is a win-win situation for the men's basketball program at Michigan and for Coach Beilein."
Beilein's total compensation under the new contract will be $1.7 million in 2010-11, $1.8 million in 2012-13 and $1.9 million by the 2013-14 season.
Currently in his third season at the helm of the Wolverine program, Beilein has continued to be a proven winner throughout his career. Beilein has won 588 career games, placing him in the top 20 in victories among active Division I head coaches. In 32 years behind the bench, Beilein has compiled 27 winning seasons including 15 20-win campaigns.
In his second season with U-M, Beilein guided the Wolverines to a 21-14 record and steered the Wolverines back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 seasons, advancing to the second round following a first round win over Clemson. Michigan's 21 victories during the 2008-09 campaign tied a school record for the largest single-season turnaround in program history at 11 games.
Beilein is the only active coach in the collegiate ranks to record a 20-win season at four different levels---junior college, NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division I. In addition, he is one of seven coaches to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament---Canisius (1996), Richmond (1998), West Virginia (2005, 2006) and Michigan (2009). However, with Beilein's 1988 Division II NCAA Tournament appearance with LeMoyne, he has taken five different teams to the NCAA postseason.
During his coaching career, Beilein has only served as a head coach, with stints at West Virginia (2002-07), Richmond (1997-2002), Canisius (1992-97), LeMoyne (1983-92), Nazareth College (1982-83) and Erie Community College (1978-82).
Beilein played college basketball at Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University) from 1971-75 and served as team captain his junior season. He received a bachelor's degree from Wheeling in 1975, majoring in history, and earned a master's degree in education from Niagara in 1981.
Get paid, my man. This probably affects just about nothing in the grand scheme of things, as I'm sure Beilein, barring an (even more) epic collapse of the team over a couple years or NCAA sanctions, was going to stay at Michigan until retirement anyway. He'll be 63 when this contract extension is up.