to play football, not to play trumpet
Bo Ryan calmly witnesses a murder (source)
As everyone predicted, Wisconsin ran roughshod through the Big Ten – only tripping up against newcomers Maryland and Rutgers (SERIOUSLY. RUTGERS. HOW.) on the road – winning the league by two games and posting a conference efficiency margin that was 12.5 points / 100 possessions better than the next-best team, Iowa. All hail our Badger overlords. The real validation will have to come in the NCAA Tournament, as Wisconsin will (probably) finally face elite competition there for the first time since early December.
Maryland finished second at 14-4: I’ll address the Terrapins later because there’s a huge dichotomy between their results and their statistical profile. Iowa, Michigan State, and Purdue each tied for third at 12-6 – fitting second-tier parity, also expected due to Wisconsin’s dominance. Ohio State rounds out the group of probable tournament teams with an 11-7 conference record and in sixth place.
The middle tier of the Big Ten effectively cannibalized itself throughout the season; according to the Bracket Matrix as of Monday afternoon, the Big Ten could find three of its best four teams (in my opinion and the opinion of several metrics) in unappealing 7- (Iowa) or 8-seeds (Michigan State, Ohio State). Indiana’s hilarious implosion down the stretch put them squarely on the bubble along with Purdue and Illinois; the Big Ten could theoretically get just five of its 14 teams into the tournament, which would be quite disappointing.
In reality, it’s been a disappointing year in the conference. Michigan and Nebraska were colossal disappointments; the Wolverines were having a nightmare year before brutal injuries effectively put the season out of its misery and the Huskers had everybody back from a tournament team last year and were… inexplicably terrible. Wisconsin is the league’s only top-15 team in Pomeroy’s algorithm and the league’s second-place team, Maryland, finished just 32nd.
After four years as Pomeroy’s top conference, the Big Ten backslid to fourth behind the Big XII, the old Big East, and the ACC. And honestly, we can’t even blame Rutgers for that.
* * *
I guess I’ll get this next part out of the way early -- as our Dear Leader often says, the strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to do this:
These things are really subjective and my vote literally doesn’t count for anything. If you have any complaints or disagreements, please meet me on the Diag at 3:00 A.M. tonight to let me know those concerns so I may better my arbitrary award judgment in the future.
(I did have to put Aubrey Dawkins on there because he’s fire from range and BOFA’d Nnanna Egwu that one time, even if he has a Stauskasesque indifference towards defense.)
* * *
Since I’m an advanced stats guy, I think conference-wide efficiency margin tells the story as well as anything else. Big surprise: Wisconsin’s way out ahead of everyone else.
Maryland (UMD) is sixth! Why is UMD sixth? HOT TAKE ALERT: Maryland isn’t that great. Even though their defense was best in the league by a slight margin over Purdue, their offense finished tenth and their efficiency margin was dragged down by it. Sure, they swept Michigan State and handed Wisconsin one of its only two losses, but the Terps notably struggled in some gimmie games – without losing: they were tied with Rutgers with three minutes left at home; they needed an improbably comeback and difficult buzzer-beater to beat Northwestern at home; Penn State was within one possession of Maryland in College Park with 2 minutes left; they swept Nebraska, but by a combined seven points.
While it’s important to note that Maryland did win all those games, it does reflect a sort of weakness. Very good teams don’t routinely struggle at home against bad ones, and even though the Terps avoided big upsets, those results imply that a) Maryland isn’t as good as its record and b) they’re especially vulnerable, at least relative to their perception. They’re currently ranked 8th and are in line for a 3-seed; they’re 25th in Sagarin and 32nd in Kenpom. Kenpom also has a “Luck” stat – which essentially highlights the difference between a team’s actual and expected results – and Maryland is first out of 351 teams nationally. Don’t be surprised if there’s a seemingly harsh regression to the mean next year.
Over the season, I created the “Game Score” metric, which essentially normalizes a team’s performance based on their opponent’s average on both the offensive and defensive ends. For example, an offensive game score of zero would be an efficiency mark that’s equal to an opponent’s average defensive efficiency and a defensive game score of one would be holding that opponent to one standard deviation below their normal offensive output. The total game score would be one. It’s an intuitive metric, and it spits out these results:
Click on images to enlarge; the scatterplot’s x-axis (offense) is – 1 > x > 1, the y-axis (defense) is –5 > y > 5. The question mark pattern in the scatterplot is indicative of the mystery of the Big Ten’s bloated middle, or something.
[Much more on B1G Hoops after the JUMP]
So that happened.
In probably the worst case scenario, Michigan hockey dropped both games at Penn St, while other things in the conference have basically assured that the B1G will be a ONE BID CONFERENCE. Yes, you read that right-- the conference of multiple national champions Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will get a grand total of 1 team into the NCAA tournament this year. The breakdown:
- Michigan sits tied for 19th in PairWise Ranking (PWR). It would take essentially a 3-4 game win streak to get back into the 14th or higher PWR position, and with the results from this past weekend that's no guarantee since the teams above UM are all still alive in their conference tourneys and wil be playing meaningful opponents meaning their PWR will probably not take a huge hit at this point. BTW- a 4 game win streak means we won the BTT which makes the at-large bid a moot point anyway.
- Minnesota with their split against Ohio St, now sits on the hairy precipice of losing their at-large bid fallback plan (sound familiar?). They are tied for 14th in PWR and need a winning streak to stay up (remember the 16th slot in the tourney this year is already tabbed essentially for the Atlantic Hockey tourney champ, so any at large teams are going to have to finish at least 15th in PWR, more likely 14th or higher to absorb a cinderella tourney champ from another conference). A sweep for Minnesota next week against Penn St and a Semi final win in the BTT might still get them in as an at-large, but they're going to have to hope that 1 and 2 seeds in confernce tourneys win out so that the PWR 13-18 teams don't get a bump from a winning streak in their conference tourneys.
- It's basically cannibalism at this point in the B1G tourney. A cinderella run resulting in a tourney championship from a team not in consideration today (PSU, OSU, MSU, WIscy) will definately knock Michigan out of an at-large run, and possibly/probably Minnesota too (especially if it's two cinderella teams in the final, i.e. Michigan and Minnesota lose in the tourney semis).
- And oh BTW, in case you needed more depressing news, Michigan State is in the drivers seat to hang a banner as B1G Regulart Season champions. As if they needed more motivation for next weekend, MICHIGAN STATE can win the regular season conference title with a sweep against us, no matter what Minnesota does. A split with us and a Minnesota split gives Sparty the title too. Talk about depressing. Now I know how Tottenham fans feel. (apologies for the EPL reference)
Silver linings and bottom lines? A couple:
- Michigan's only viable path to a NCAA bid at this point is likely to win the tourney title. Not out of the realm of possibility at all, but with the consistency (and frankly coaching / testicular fortitude) questions overhanging the team, I wouldn't bet on it.
- We still can salvage some Europa League title like satisfcation next weekend. If we sweep, we win the B1G regular season and hang a banner next year. We would be at worst tied with Minnesota in points and we win the tiebreaker over the Gophers based on more wins in conference. (Insert tiny flag waving here). Maybe that motivation is tangible enough to get an inspired performance for two games in a row??? The way thigns are shaking out, I'd hope for a Michigan sweep and a split by Minnesota with Penn St so that Penn St stays out of our semifinal.
Side thought stream of consciousness: I mentioned it in a comment on the Saturday night open thread, but we may seriously need to think about sacraficing some sort of animal with an Al Montoya jersey on it. Every since he left the season early in 2005, Michigan has not had that 3-4 year recruited goaltender that the 90's - early 2000's powerhouses could rely on. We lucked into Tiny Jesus Shawn Hunwick after whiffing on / getting mugged by John Gibson and our goaltending has not been consistently adequate in going on 10 years... Is this the REAL failure of the contemporary Red Berenson era? Not being able to close the deal on a top flight goaltender?? Is this something that falls on Billy Powers or Josh Blackburn? Will I need a really big bottle of scotch next weekend??
Thought I'd take a look at the last 10 years of DBs in "5 star status" - which I chose as the top 25ish players in the 247 Composite rankings. There are a lot of names so I only got through 4 years in heavy detail: 2005-2008. 14 players. Here is how those players did in the first 2 years of their careers along with what happened to them down the road.
Obvious caveats are obvious - (i) every player is an entity unto himself, (ii) what a prior group of players did is no guarantee of what a future group of similar players will do, (iii) small sample size.
But... it should give us a reasonable variance of expectation.
|2005||8||FR||Started 11 games @ FS, ACC All Freshman, 67 tackles, 1 INT|
|Kenny Phillips||SO||Started 10 games, ACL injury, 54 tackles, 4 INT, 2nd Team All American|
|Miami||Eventual||Left school after JR year, 31st pick NFL (1st)|
|Demetrice Morley||SO||Started 2nd game forward @ SS, 51 tackles, 2 INT|
|TN||Eventual||Dimissed from team, CFL|
|2005||15||FR||RB/CB hybrid - 300 yards rushing|
|Justin King||SO||Started 13 games @ CB, 2nd team All Big 10|
|PSU||Eventual||Left school after JR year, graduated in 2.5 yrs! 101st pick (4th)|
|2005||23||FR||Special teams, 2 tackles|
|Jamario O'Neal||SO||Started 2nd half of year after injury to another player, 30 tackles|
|OSU||Eventual||Backup in JR/SR years, Arena League|
|2006||5||FR||Started 12 games, 77 tackles|
|Myron Rolle||SO||Starter, 67 tackles|
|FSU||Eventual||Played 3 years, 207th pick (6th round), Rhodes Scholar|
|2006||11||FR||Started 12 games @ FS, 62 tackles, Freshman of the Year|
|Taylor Mays||SO||Starter, 65 tackles, 3rd Team All American|
|USC||Eventual||Stayed all 4 years, 49th pick (2nd round)|
|2006||20||FR||Special teams in 7 games at USC, transferred|
|Antwine Perez||SO||Started 2 games @ FS, 24 tackles|
|Maryland (USC)||Eventual||Had a good senior year but was undrafted|
|2007||3||FR||Started 12 games, 86 tackles, SEC Freshman of the Year|
|Eric Berry||SO||Starter, 72 tackles, 7 INTs, SEC Defensive Player of Year|
|TN||Eventual||Left school after JR year, 5th pick NFL (1st)|
|2007||16||FR||Turned into a WR|
|2007||25||FR||Played 4 game as a FR, suspended in Dec. Transferred to|
|Eugene Clifford||SO||Tennessee State|
|OSU||Eventual||Undrafted, cup of coffee with Ravens|
|2008||4||FR||Part time player, 48 tackles|
|Will Hill||SO||42 tackles|
|UF||Eventual||Left UF early, undrafted, but some NFL time despite a|
|litany of issues|
|2008||6||FR||Started 4 games (played 13), 41 tackles|
|Patrick Peterson||SO||52 tackles, 2nd Team All SEC|
|LSU||Eventual||Left school after JR year, 5th pick NFL (1st)|
|2008||25||FR||Started 6 games @ CB (played 13), 30 tackles|
|Brandon Harris||SO||Starter, 58 tackles, 3rd Team All American|
|Miami||Eventual||Left school after JR year, 60th pick NFL (2nd)|
|2008||26||FR||Switched to WR, 2 catches|
|Bama||Eventual||Converted back to DB, transferred to South Alabama, undrafted|
- STUD level: 6* of 14 (42%*) - Phillips, Mays, Berry, Peterson, Harris, Rolle
- UNDERACHIEVER: 5 of 14 (36%) - Morley, O'Neil, Perez, Clifford, Scott
- WR: 1 of 14 (7%) - Johnson
- ABOVE AVERAGE college player: 2 of 14 (14%) - King**, Hill
It is interesting how this group panned out - there were not a lot of just "good college players" like I expected when a 5 star does not fully pan out - i.e. he was not "all that" but ended up being a solid CFB player. Instead most of these guys were elite... or bombed out. A few guys like Hill and Morley seemed like they could have been better as well but had off the field issues - which does not seem to pertain to Peppers (but I guess we never really know do we?)
Also every guy who was "stud" or "above average" except for Mays (7 of 8, 88%) left after their JR year. So if Peppers is anywhere near the hype, it would be unrealistic to expect more than 2 year more from him at UM. Which makes the freshman year injury that much more stinky.
One other note as I went through these; it felt like a lot more of this group turned into safeties than corners. And there were a lot less INTs than I expected from this group in general outside Eric Berry.
* I put Rolle in STUD level despite the NFL draft placement because as I recall he wanted to study to be a doctor and that put off some teams with the whole Rhodes Scholar thing (I think it required him to take a year off).
** Torn on putting King in stud category but decided to throw him in above average
- 2009 - Craig Loston (9), Dre Kirkpatrick (13), Branden Smith (19), Greg Reid (23), Darius Winston (24)
- 2010 - Keenan Allen (10), Lamarcus Joyner (12), Matt Elam (15), Trovon Reed (23)
- 2011 - Karlos Williams (4), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (7)
FUCK THIS SHIT!!!! I have been working on this for 2 hours now. had tables which took FOR EVER to work out and then when i went to USCHO.com to look at pairwise I come back to the Diary page and it is all gone.
It shouldn't be this difficult so I'm saying fuck it. I got better stuff to do. I have almost broken my keyboard figuring this shit out for nothing.....
So here is the last part that I hadn't written up yet. I will be posting Open Threads Friday and Saturday this week as I will not be attending the Michigan games.
Michigan is currently in a tie for 15th in the Pairwise. I have run a few tests based off this weeks matchups assuming the following
-Michigan State sweeps Wisconsin
-Minnesota sweeps Oho State
-Rensselaer is swept by Clarkson
-Harvard sweeps Brown
-Northeastern sweeps Merrimack
-New Hampshire sweeps Connecticut
-Vermont sweeps Maine
-Denver sweeps St. Cloud State
-Bowling Green sweeps Alabama-Huntsville
some of these are part of conference playoffs and wouldn't allow for a third game so i had to go with sweeps.
If that happens this is where I have Michigan ending up based of the following scenarios
-Michigan sweeps Penn State: tied for 11th
-Michigan splits with Penn State: tied for 16th
-Michigan wins and ties (goes to shootout): 12th
-Michigan loses and ties (goes to shootut): 19th
-Michigan is swept:20th
a sweep puts them in position to actually be a 3 seed. A win on Friday night will ease concerns and leave them with a shot at an at-large. Lose Friday and and Saturday is a MUST WIN.
My Prediction: Split
3 Things Michigan needs
-a win this weekend
-Minnesota to sweep (this is actually a HUGE deal for Michigan)
-Michigan State to sweep (NEED them to move up for next weekends showdown)
To begin the season Michigan has a win over a pretty good Long Beach State team. 4 wins against awful Sienna, and one from a not very good Tennessee Tech team.
In the national picture their hitting ranks 62nd in average and has been good enough to keep them in most of their games. Pitching hasn't been as bad as the numbers indicate, but since we're so early in the season the 7 run outing against Long Beach State and 16 in two games against TTU make them look worse than they are.
Players Of Note
- Jacob Cronenworth: 1st baseman and closer. Bats leadoff, holding opponents to a .077 average with 1 hit allowed.
- Jackson Glines: The team's best hitter and leader in most stat categories. Hits the ball a lot, gets on base and is driven in more than anyone else on the team
- Cody Bruder - Carmen Benedetti: RBI leaders. Middle of the order run producers
- Keith Lehmann: Starting pitcher. 5 walks, 13 stikeouts, 2.13 ERA
- Eric Jacobson: Cleanup hitter, Michigan's only consistent bottom of the order bat.
Batting order lists most recent lineup position.
Pitchers below 3 innings not charted
At Stetson Hatters (7-5)
Tuesday, March 3rd, 6:30PM
The Hatters have played every game save one at their home field in Florida, hosting CMU, LaSalle, FIU and Penn.
Since dropping 2-of-3 to LaSalle to open the year. Stetson is 6-3 and they've been tearing the cover off the ball.
Players Of Note
- Patrick Mazeika: A .250 hitter so far this year who doesn't stike out with 12 walks, 4 home runs and has been plunked 4 times. Mazeika was an All-American two years ago as a freshman and hit .382 last season.
- Josh Powers-Vance Vizcaino: Leading run producers, high average hitters
- Kevin Fagan: Hitting .288 with 9 batted in. Freshman All-American in 2013
- Brooks Wilson: 4-0 record as a starter, 2.76 ERA.
Friday, March 6th, 3:00pm
I know nothing about this team because they have had 5 games cancelled and 2 postponed. UMBC plays in the America East conference and has finished at or near the bottom for the last 5 years.
Saturday, March 7th, 11:00AM
The Rockets have played like your average midwest team trekking through the south. Their pitching staff gave up 33 runs in 3 games to start the season, then 11 against Winthrop, 9 to open their series against VT and another 9 to finish it. They haven't particularly hit well either.
Players Of Note
- AJ Montoya - Ryan Callahan - Matt Hansen - John Martillotta
All four players have 4 RBI, which is the most on the team.
Coastal Carolina (7-4)
Saturday, March 7th, 3:00PM
The tournament host, CCU has wins over Georgia Tech, NC State and an assortment of northern teams. Bad losses to Kent State, Illinois and Canisius. They can hit but stikeout a lot. Pitching has been shaky.
Players Of Note
- Connor Owings: A .351 hitter on the year with 10 batted in, 2 home runs and 8 walks. 1st Team All-Big South a year ago.
- Anthony Marks: Team leader in OBP (.487), 7 RBI, .295 average
- Michael Paez: Low average hitter. Leads the team in runs scored (10) and in doubles (5). 7 RBI.
- Alex Cunningham: Coming off elbow surgery, has started 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA. 17 strikeouts, 5 walks, holding batters to a .185 average.
Sunday, March 8th, 11:00AM
The Zips aren't off to a bad start. They took 2-of-3 from Furman and 2-of-3 from Charlotte, before going 1-of-3 at the Mercer Baseball Classic with a win over Belmont and losses to Notre Dame and Mercer.
They started the season hitting well but have cooled off. Pitching is alright.
Players Of Note
- Dom Iero: .313 hitter with more RBI than hits, .400 OBP
- Daulton Mosbarger: Hitting .303 with 3 doubles, 1 home run and 8 batted in. Leads the team in walks (6) and OBP (.439)
- Jon Pusateri: Lowest ERA of the Akron starters with a 3.00, 9 strikeouts, 3 walks in 15.0 innings thrown.
Last week went about as well as you can hope for as a Michigan fan looking for some positivity regarding an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney. As discussed in last week's diary, Michigan is in a dog fight for one of the last at-large bids into the NCAA hockey tourney if they do not win the B1G Tournament, the victor of which gets an auto-bid.
Again, as detailed last week, the Pairwise Rankings (PWR) are your Harry Potter-esque sorting hat for entrance into the NCAA tournament. PWR, in basic terms, compares every team in Div-I hockey against each other based on three factors: RPI (a computer metric taking into account your record, winning % of your team, your opponents, and your opponents' opponents- bonus points are awarded for wins against Top 20 opponents and road wins), record against common opponents, and head to head record. This then gives each team a PWR "score" or how many of those indiviudal bi-lateral PWR comparisons a team has an advantage in.
The tournament accepts 16 teams: autobid conference tournament champions from Hockey East, ECAC, Atlantic Hockey, B1G, WCHA, and NCHC; at-large bids from the remaining top PWR teams until a 16 team field is created. Many many moons ago, ECAC and the predecessor to Atlantic Hockey were considered "bid stealers" since non-regular season champions of their tournaments were typically well outside the at-large bid range in PWR but thee regular season champ would still get an at-large bid because of a ridiculously high PWR. This year (and frankly the last couple), only Atlantic Hockey is a bid stealer conference-- and even then, since their regular season champ is already still low in the PWR (Robert Morris, 25th), if a team not named Robert Morris wins their tournament for the auto-bid, the conference is still only getting in one team. Consider the Atlantic Hockey autobid as slot #16 in the NCAA tournament-- so for practical purposes, there are at most 10 at-large slots left. At minimum, the last at-large team will be the 15th slot in PWR; at worst, 12-13 could be the cut-off line.
In Michigan's case, they sit tied for 15th with UMass-Lowell with 44 comparisons won. Ultimate tiebreaker between two teams tied in PWR is RPI, and Michigan leads here by a slim margin. The relevent teams around us in PWR as of Monday:
TEAM, PWR SCORE (UMich centric), RPI, comparisons won vs. Michigan
11. Minnesota, 2-4, .5435, RPI/Common opponents (tied 2-2 in head to head)
12. Quinnipiac, 1-1, .5481, RPI (overall comparison to Quinnipiac since RPI is higher)
13. Yale, 0-1, .5433, RPI (tied in common opponents)
14. Bowling Green, 0-2, .5407, RPI / Common opponents
15. Michigan, RPI = .5404
16. UMass-Lowell, 2-1, .5394, Common opponents (Mich won head to head & RPI)
17. St Cloud St Fighting Mollies, 1-0, .5369
18. Colgate, 2-0, .5339, (Mich wins RPI & common opponents)
19. Vermont, 2-0, .5357 (Mich wins RPI & common opponents)
Ok, first caveat: PWR is very volatile in this grouping. Every team from 14-19 is basically within one weekend of each other in RPI, and one RPI flip can shuffle standings around significantly. Second caveat: Atlantic, ECAC and Hockey East start their tournaments this weekend, so some teams like Vermont are on life support, and other teams like Colgate, UM-L, Yale, and Quinnipiac may only have 1 more game left before Selection Sunday.
- I'm surprised how well Michigan is positioned for an at-large. We essentially sit in the last at-large slot now if chalk holds in conference tourneys, and with a 4-0 finish to the regular season we probably can absorb a loss in the BTT semi and still get in as the 13 or 14 slot. We finish 4-0/3-1 in the regular season and lose in the BTT finals, we're challenging for a 3-seed. We finish 4-0/3-1 in the regular season and win the BTT, we're a high 3 seed no doubt.
- This next weekend against Penn St will bascially tell us our tourney fate. We win both, we're probably in good position for an at-large team barring a sweep by MSU. We split, we need a sweep against Sparty to keep at-large hopes alive. We drop both against PSU, we're sweating bullets and probably at a win-to-get-in situation in the BTT.
- Minnesota is probably in no matter what barring a complete collapse the next two weekends. They may slip from a 3 to a 4 seed, but they're probably feeling safe if they sweep this weekend.
- We are within a 1 game difference of flipping RPI with Bowling Green. Getting into the 14 slot at least is a HUGE difference. Atlantic Hockey has already killed the 16 slot as an at-large bid this year. As I mentioned in a comment to another post this weekend, a non-regular season champ in the tourney from an ECAC, Hockey East, or NCHC school probably isn't a game killer since they have so many teams in the running above us in PWR now anyway, unless its a true Cinderella (team in the mid 20's in PWR) making a run. Even then, they're probably knocking out a team from their own conference who's in the 13-19 PWR slot now.
- There's an interesting scenario developing though where you could possibly get 3 B1G teams in, as crappy as the conference is. You'd need: (1) Michigan and Minnesota to sweep out the regular season keeping Minnesota as a border 2/3 seed team in PWR going into the BTT. (2) Minnesota would lose in a semi. Pick your team, it doesn't matter. (3) Michigan would need to get to the BTT Finals and then lose to the team Minnesota dropped a semi to. This would possibley cause: (A) MSU/PSU/OSU/Wiscy to get an auto-bid as a 4-seed, (B) Minnesota would dropoff a 2 line to a 3 or 4 seed, and (C) Michigan would slip in as one of the last two at-large teams.
- You could also have the converse though where the B1G regular season champs don't make the NCAA tourney if say Michigan and Minnesota played mediocre hockey to close out the season with Michigan winning the conference by a game or tie-breakers and then losing a semi-final or final to a cinderella B1G team, essentially getting its at-large bid stolen by the B1G tourney champ. On paper if you said the conference regular season champ of a league with Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan St didn't get a NCAA tourney bid 4 years ago, Jim Delaney would have choked on his ham sandwich. But such is life in the B1G Hockey.
I'll leave the results from last week and this week's cheering primer to Canadian, who I'm sure will be chipping with his part in a day or so. SPOILER ALERT-- Cheer, cheer for Ol'... ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE????