Central Michigan (15-10)
|Wednesday 2:30pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium|
|TBA||vs||Bryce Morrow (1-0, 7.71 ERA)|
|Stats||Audio (WBCN)||Video ($2.99)|| |
|Notes: 32-27-2 All-Time vs CMU, Last meeting a 2-10 L in 2009. |
Game time has been updated to avoid rain.
Michigan and Central Michigan have quite the heated rivalry over their all time series, as adequately reflected in the all time series being so close. This isn't even due to decades old scores either, Michigan hasn't beaten CMU since 2007 (13-3), being beat pretty bad 10-2 in 2009 and 3-7 in 2008. Go a couple years back and you'll find the barn burner of 2004 played in Mt. Pleasant. Michigan escaped with a 14-13 win in the most back and forth games in recent memory. The series has been a great one, and all indications are that this year's installment will be just as awesome.
Central Michigan comes in with an RPI just under 200, and a strength of schedule rated 192 in the country. The Chippewas have a solid series win over Miami in MAC play, but not a lot else to write home about in terms of quality wins. They've played two other Big Ten teams this season, Indiana who shut them out 9-0, and Michigan State, who won by a score of 13-10.
The offense is lead by Nate Theunissen, who, as of Tuesday pre-UIC* is batting .409 with 13 doubles, 3 homers, and 24 RBI. He's by far their leading slugger with a .659 slugging percentage, and leads the team in on base percentage with a .459. Also worth noting is Dale Cornstubble. He's batting .357 with 20 RBI and .488 slugging percentage, 2nd only to Theunissen. Billy Anderson is their next top hitter with a .354 batting average and a .485 slugging percentage, but he's also their stolen base threat with 11 on the year. His 15 attempts are about 40% of the teams attempts, so don't expect too much from anyone else. All three of those hitters have about the same on base percentage, mostly in the .450-.460 range. That's quality, especially for the MAC.
*All these stats were before the UIC game on Tuesday.
Pitching profile, weather, and thoughts after a jump.
Was Michigan lucky or unlucky last year? Who were the luckiest teams in the Big 10 last year? What teams were the unluckiest nationally?
To try and answer these questions, I took my team PPG values for the full 2009 season and then “re-played” the regular season schedule to see how the season would play out if the teams played at that consistent level and the fluky plays were eliminated. All first half plays and any in the second half with the game within 2 touchdowns were included. Interceptions are included, fumbles are not. Standard special teams plays are included, punt blocks, on-sides kicks etc. are not.
The results were based on the actual schedule (excluding conference championship games or Bowls) and home-field advantage was worth about 3 points per game, based on the actual results.
So what did I find…
Michigan was a fairly unlucky team last year. Based on how their play was over the course of the season, on an average year, they would have won 6.3 games (most likely 6 with an outside shot at 7). Michigan’s results were about 1.3 wins below the expectation based on their schedule and their average performance over the full year.
On average, they should have won about 5.1 of their 8 home games. In reality, they won 5 of 8. Notre Dame was a game with a 40% win likelihood based on the full season for both teams. Indiana was a 73% chance. The pickup from those two games was offset by failing to pick up victories over long shots Penn St (34%) or Ohio State (13%) but mostly due to failing to defeat Purdue which Michigan should have won about 58% of the time.
Michigan was only favored to win one (Illinois, 56%) of its four road games and on average, would have won 1.2. Michigan failed to pick up any of the wins, falling to Michigan St (29%), Iowa (13%) and Wisconsin (22%).
For the season as a whole, Michigan went 1-2 in relative toss-up games. They didn’t lose any games they should clearly won but didn’t win any they clearly shouldn’t have. Michigan was the 20th most unlucky team in the nation last year.
Very similar to 2009 in terms of luckiness of the results. Michigan finished the year a game and a half unlucky. This team was still not a good team by any stretch, but thanks largely to fumbled punts and 100 yard interception returns, the record indicated a season even worse than it should have been.
The biggest chunk of the unluckiness came against Toledo, where an 81% win probability turned into one ugly loss. Beyond Toledo, Michigan went 2-3 in toss-up (40-60% win odds) games (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan St, NW) and 0-2 in longer shot games against ND and Purdue.
Before two data points become an indictment on coaching, the scatter plot of 2008 vs 2009 in terms of “luckiness” does not show any correlation between the two. That doesn’t mean that Rich Rodriquez couldn’t be unlucky or that Pat Fitzgerald should be out buying lottery tickets, but it isn’t saying that with any certainty. Two points may make a line, but not much of a trend.
It is interesting, however, that the Big 10 as a whole exhibited a lot more consistency of luck in 2008-09 than the rest of the nation.
The Big Ten
The luckiest team in the nation resided in the Big 10 this year.
Northwestern did not perform like a team that would win 8 games against their schedule. In fact, it was a stretch for them to be bowl eligible. Iowa and Minnesota both came in with about an extra game with Ohio St, Purdue, Indiana and Illinois all managed a game or so of underachievement. Michigan St and Notre Dame proved to be the unluckiest teams in the greater Big 10.
Top 10 Lucky Teams in 2009
Bottom 10 Unlucky Teams in 2009
Oklahoma’s season turned out to be unlucky in more ways than one. Despite getting only a handful of snaps from returning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and losing one of the top tight ends in the country before the season, Oklahoma managed to have the breaks go against them in win column as well. Throughout the season, the Sooners played like a 10 win team, but only managed 7. This is what happens when you have four of your five losses by a total of 12 points and your average margin of victory in your six FBS wins is over 31 points.
I think there is a lot of true “luck” that can come into play in these numbers. I do think that with a more substantive history, this will also be a good measure of one of the strengths of coaching. A team/coach that consistently shows overwins, or overlosses, throughout the course of several years would be a good testament to the classic “little things” that is often luck but possibly true for a select group. As I get more years in my database, I plan on returning to this topic and seeing how various coaches stack up on this metric over time.
Krzyzewski attended West Point where he played basketball under a legendary coach (Bob Knight) later returning to be the head coach himself. After a few very solid years he was offered a dream job at Duke University in 1980, taking over for Bill Foster. Foster was somewhat of a legend (He was no Vic Bubas) at Duke having just gone 73-24 his last 3 seasons including the ACC Coach of the Year in 1978 after reaching the NCAA Championship game. After an up and down season in 1979-80 that saw his star foward injured (Kenny Dennard), Foster retired from Duke and moved to Seattle.
Krzyzewski's first season did not go well. After making the NCAA tournament the past 3 years, and winning at least 1 game each time, Duke stumbled to a ACC 5th place finish with a 17-13 record and a first round NIT loss. Year number 2 was even worse finishing 6th in the ACC with a 10-17 overall record. The natives started to become restless and talk of firing Krzyzewski started swirling. Year 3 was definitely a do or die scenario for many alumni. How did Krzyzewski respond? 11-17 with a 7th place ACC finish (they only had 8 teams in the ACC at the time).
University supporters were furious and calling for Krzyzewski's head. There was no progress being made, 2 sub-.500 seasons, they were going backwards in the conference standings, what an embarrassment! Tom Butters (Duke AD at the time) was under fire from every angle to get rid of Coach K and bring in someone that knew what they were doing. Butters resisted though. He would not be dissuaded from Krzyzewski's first 3 years of limited success, he knew it would turn around if people would just be patient.
The very next year (83-84), Duke found itself in the NCAA 2nd round. Same thing in 1984-1985. the next 7 out of 9 years found Duke in the Final Four winning 2 championships (1991 and 1992) and being the runner-up 3 other times (1986, 1990, 1994).
Mike Krzyzewski fought through poor performance and alumni scorn for 3 sub-par seasons before becoming one of the most successful programs in all of college sports. I can't help but see Michigan Football taking the same arc and because of that, I say "Go Duke".
I'll post the rankings weekly in the diaries, and frontpage it occasionally (i.e. when Michigan gets commitments). The team rankings are very rough estimates until the services have released more full individual grades.
Action since last rankings:
3-21-10 Indiana gains commitment from Kirk Harris.
4-3-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Tommy Brown.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 7 Commits|
The Buckeyes grab in-state offensive lineman Tommy Brown, already their 4th OL in the class.
|#2 Michigan State - 3 Commits|
Spartans get the advantage over Michigan because of Thomas's ratings.
|#3 Michigan - 3 Commits|
Wolverines haven't had any new commits since Conway.
|#4 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Still just two for the Gophers, who dropped Calvin Phillips last week.
|#5 Indiana - 2 Commits|
Indiana has had a commitment from Kirk Harris for a while, but the recruiting sites just picked up on it. Don't expect the Hoosiers to be in the top half of the conference for long.
|#6 Wisconsin - 1 Commit|
Instate linebacker Jake Keefer picks the Badgers.
|#7 Notre Dame - 1 Commit|
Carrico is the only commit for the Irish. They might have another coming very soon.
|#8 Illinois - 1 Commit|
Zook has got to be recruiting for his life this year.
|#8 Northwestern - 1 Commit|
Northwestern holds steady with one prospect.
Michigan went into Bloomington this weekend for a three game set to open conference play. The first two games were high intensity with plenty of drama, the last game was a huge let down. Despite that let down, Michigan currently sits tied for first place with 4 other Big Ten teams as we emerge 2-1 on the weekend. That's more important than how badly the team face planted on Sunday.
So for full recap, take the jump. My thoughts on the series come after the individual game recaps.
#8 Michigan 4 beats #4 Northwestern 4-3
The Michigan women’s tennis team finally ended an incredibly long losing streak on Saturday. After 13 years (and probably more than 20 straight losses) they beat Northwestern. Now, that might not sound very impressive but the Northwestern women’s tennis team has been one of the best teams in the nation for several years and has absolutely dominated the Big Ten.
Northwestern has won the Big Ten tournament 11 years in a row, been the regular season champion 9 of those 11 years including the last 6 and won the Indoor National Championship the last 2 years. Perhaps the most impressive statistic of all is that Northwestern had won 81 straight Big Ten duals, dating all the way back to April 2004. This is all a way of saying that it was a huge win for Michigan.
Just like Butler is not a true Cinderella story, this is far from a David vs. Goliath situation. In 1997, the last year the Wolverines beat the Wildcats, UM won the Big Ten. Right after that, they hit a bit of a rough patch until about the mid 2000s and were one of the worst teams in the conference. They steadily improved and the past 4 or 5 years have easily been the number 2 team in the conference. In fact, the past 5 championship games in the Big Ten Tournament have been Michigan losing to Northwestern.
Having witnessed something this historic I decided to write up a recap. I know a lot more about Northwestern's tennis program than Michigan's so if anyone has input please share.
NCAA tennis matches consist of 1 doubles point decided by the best of 3 doubles matches (one “pro-set” to 8) and 6 singles matches (best of 3 normal sets) worth 1 point each.
Michigan started off strong by winning the #3 doubles 8-4 in a quick set. The other two doubles matches were much closer. The #1 match was still on serve 5-4 when the 3s finished. From that point, Michigan managed to win a lot of close games with multiple deuces and finished 8-5 in order to clinch the point. For good measure the #2 women won in a tiebreak 9-8 (7-5) to get the doubles sweep.
As an indicator of how close the #1 and #2 matches were, the doubles took about an hour and a half instead of the usual 50 to 60 minutes.
Winning the doubles point put the pressure on Northwestern because they had to win 4 out of the 6 singles matches to beat Michigan. UM only had to manage a split.
At #1 singles Michigan’s Denise Muresan, ranked #25 in the nation, faced Maria Mosolova, the #13 player in the nation. Mosolova has an unfortunate tendency of imploding if she gets behind in a match and it happened again here. After losing the first set 3-6, Mosolova couldn’t manage to win another game and Michigan won 6-3, 6-0.
The #3 singles finished second with Northwestern dominating from start to finish. After that was the #6 singles. Northwestern’s Stacey Lee was losing 2-5 in the first set when she went on a 12 game winning streak to win her match at 7-5 6-0. This tied the overall score up at 2-2.
At this point the #4 singles still hadn’t finished the first set (read on for more) while Michigan’s #5 had won the first set in a tiebreak. In the #2 singles match Michigan won the first set handily 6-3 but Northwestern came back and won the second set just as dominantly. As this match was heading into the third set, the #5 singles finished with Michigan winning to make the score 3-2. If Michigan won either of the 2 remaining matches they would take down the juggernaut.
Back to #4 singles a matchup of both team’s freshmen stars, it was almost an opposite of the #6 match on the court right next to it. Northwestern’s Kate Turvy was winning 5-2 in the first set and it seemed like Michigan’s Mimi Nguyen had no hope. In the next 5 incredibly close games, Nguyen won them all after going to multiple deuces each. She did not go on a 12 game streak but she did win the second set 6-3 knowing the whole time that she could clinch the victory with her play. If she has a good match tomorrow (against Wisconsin) look for her to be the Big Ten player of the week. Otherwise it will probably be Muresan from the #1 singles.
The #2 singles had become dead rubber, but Northwestern finished it out 3-6 6-3 6-3. Northwestern’s #2 player has what is probably one of the best serves in the NCAA so it is no shame that Michigan couldn’t close out that match. One side note about this match is that Michigan’s player has a very odd service motion and seemed to foot fault on every serve.
What it all means
It was a day of great tennis which is what you hope for when the #8 team faces the #4 team in the nation. It lasted over 4 hours and had suspense and excitement throughout. By winning today, Michigan has probably claimed the Regular Season title. They will almost certainly see Northwestern in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament. Anyone in the Iowa City area on May 2 should try to make it and watch the rematch.
For possibly more readable and accurate recaps you can visit