landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Jeff Jackson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Alma Mater: Michigan State University
Head Coaching Record: 236-148-47
First year coaching: 1986-87
First year as Head Coach: 1990-91
Current Record: 19-10-7
Current Pairwise: 12th
Current Tournament Probability: 100%
Jackson would likely be a short term solution as he is already in his sixties but I think his resume should garner, at the very least, a look. Jeff Jackson is in his 11th season in charge of the Fighting Irish, where he has 6 NCAA Tournament appearances (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 & 2014), 3 CCHA Tournament titles (2007, 2009 & 2013), 2 CCHA Regular Season Titles (2007 & 2009) and 2 Frozen Fours (2008 & 2011). Before taking on the Notre Dame job, Jackson spent 2 seasons with the New York Islanders of the NHL as an assistant Coach. Jackson started his coaching career way back in 1986 as an assistant at Lake Superior State and ascended to the Head Coaching job before stepping down to become the national coach and Senior Director of the newly formed U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor. Jackson served as an assistant coach on the United States 1998 Winter Olympic team. After the 99-00 season Jackson left the USNTDP to take the Head Coaching job for the Guelph Storm of the OHL where he had a 87-67-24-4 record before being fired in his third season thanks to a slow start. In his time at Lake St. he won a National Championship as an assistant (1988), and 2 as a Head Coach (1992 &1994) and a runner-up performance (1993). He added 2 CCHA regular season titles (1991 & 1996) and 4 CCHA Tournament titles (1991, 1992, 1993 & 1995). In all six seasons he spent at the helm of the Lakers they made the NCAA Tournament every season.
1986-90 Lake Superior State Assistant
1990-96 Lake Superior State Head Coach
1996-00 USNTDP Head Coach and Senior Director
2000-03 Guelph Storm (OHL) Head Coach
2003-05 New York Islanders (NHL) Assistant coach
2005-16 Notre Dame Head Coach
NCAA Coaching Records:
at Lake Superior St.
at Notre Dame
Mike Hastings, Minnesota State- Mankato Mavericks
Alma Mater: St. Cloud State University
Head Coaching Record: 79-36-7
First year coaching: 2012-13
First year as Head Coach: 2012-13
Current Record: 20-12-7
Current Pairwise: 24th
Current Tournament Probability: 25%
Hastings burst onto the college hockey scene in 2012 following a long successful career in the USHL. In his 14 seasons in charge of the Omaha/RiverCity Lancers, of the USHL, Hastings was named GM of the year 5 times, Coach of the Year 3 times and left as the league’s all-time winningest coach with a 529-210-56 record. Hastings went from the USHL to an assistant coaching job with the University of Minnesota for a season and 3 as an associate Head Coach at Nebraska-Omaha. Hastings first seasons have been OUTSTANING at Minnesota St. winning more games than any other team in college hockey. After his first season he was named WCHA and National Coach of the Year, 2014 saw Minnesota St. improve on their win total an won the WCHA Tournament in route to their second straight NCAA tournament berth. 2015 was even better for Hastings’ Mavericks as they improved their win total again, won both the WCHA regular season and Tournament titles and earned their third straight NCAA berth.
1994-08 Omaha/River City (USHL) Head Coach and GM
2008-09 Minnesota assistant
2009-12 Nebraska-Omaha Associate Head Coach
2012-16 Minnesota State-Mankato Head Coach
Seasons at Minnesota St.:
Enrico Blasi, Miami RedHawks
Alma Mater: Miami University
Head Coaching Record: 314-231-102
First year coaching: 1995-96
First year as Head Coach: 1999-00
Current Record: 15-18-3
Current Pairwise: 26th
Current Tournament Probability: 0%
When Blasi was hired to take over his Alma Mater’s hockey program he was, at the time, the youngest Division 1 hockey coach. Blasi has enjoyed a good amount of success at Miami including 3 CCHA Regular Season titles and 1 Mason Cup (CCHA Tournament Championship) along with 1 Frozen Four birth in 2010. Blasi was named CCHA Coach of the ear 5 times and a National Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2010. According to the Miami RedHawks bio of Basi (which has some incorrect information on it) breaks its hockey program’s history into two different categories:
Before Blasi (21 seasons) and Under Blasi (16 seasons).
20-win seasons: 5/12
NCAA Tournaments: 2/10
Frozen Fours: 0/1
1995-96 Denver Grad Assistant
1996-99 Denver Assistant
1999-16 Miami Head Coach
Seasons at Miami:
Rick Bennett, Union Dutchmen
Alma Mater: Providence College
Head Coaching Record: 80-27-16
First Year Coaching: 2000-01
First Year as Head Coach: 2011-12
Current Record: 13-14-9
Current Pairwise: 29th
Current Tournament Probability: 0%
Rick Bennett was hired away from his alma mater by former Union Head Coach Nate Leaman prior to the 2005 season and was promoted to Associate Head Coach after 2 seasons. Bennett took over the Head Coaching job following Leaman’s departure. Bennett is in his 5th season leading the Union hockey program and has experienced some early success in his career. In his 5 years as a head coach Bennett has 3 NCAA tournament appearances (2012, 2013 & 2014), 2 Frozen Fours (2012 & 2014) and won the 2014 NCAA Championship. Bennett was named the 2014 National Coach of the Year and put together the best season in Union’s history, and along the way setting program records for Wins, Win% and finished 2nd in Scoring offense and 4th in scoring defense.
2000-05 Providence Assistant
2005-07 Union Assistant
2007-11 Union Associate Head Coach
2011-16 Union Head Coach
Seasons at Union:
Guy Gadowsky, Penn State Nittany Lions
Alma Mater: Colorado College
Head Coaching Record: 212-253-43
First Year Coaching: 1996-97
First Year as Head Coach: 1996-97
Current Record: 20-12-4
Current Pairwise: 22nd
Current Tournament Probability: 12%
Guy is a Guy (just wanted to get that out of the way) that I think should absolutely be considered in a coaching search. Gadowsky’s coaching career started as soon as his playing career finished when he took over the Fresno Falcons of the WCHL (now merged into the ECHL), he led the Falcons o the playoffs in each of his 3 seasons in charge and left as the franchise’s all-time winningest coach. In his first season he was named the WCHL Coach of the Year. Gadowsky’s collegiate coaching career began in 1999 when he took over the University of Alaska program, which had failed to win more than 14 games in the previous 5 campaigns (its first 5 years in the CCHA). Was named the 2002 CCHA Coach of the Year as he led the Nanooks to its only 20-win season. He followed that season up with 15 and 16 win seasons. During his tenure with the Nanooks his teams set school records for team GPA, wins and attendance. In 2004 Gadowsky took the head coaching job at Princeton, a job he held for 7 seasons. Guy’s win totals increased every year for the first 5 seasons in charge including a program record 22 wins in the 2008-09 season earning their second straight NCAA tournament appearance. The 2007-08 season saw Gadowsky win the ECAC Coach of the Year honors and led the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament since 1998. When Penn State announce they were adding Hockey as a Varsity Sport the hired a man who had not shied away from previous challenges. We have all seen what he has done at Penn State and know that they have quickly become a thorn in Michgan’s side (before this season that is). At every stop in Guy’s career he has been named Coach of the Year in that league.
1996-99 Fresno (WCHL) Head Coach
1999-04 Alaska Head Coach
2004-11 Princeton Head Coach
2011-16 Penn State Head Coach
at Penn State
11-12: 29-4-1 (ACHA)
12-13: 13-14 (D-1 Ind.)
Nate Leaman, Providence Friars
Alma Mater: SUNY Cortland
Head Coaching Record: 217-185-54
First year coaching: 1998-99
First year as Head Coach: 2003-04
Current Record: 27-5-4
Current Pairwise: 4th
Current Tournament Probability: 100%
Already in his 13th season as a division 1 Head coach Nate Leaman has built up two different programs. Leaman’s coaching career began in 1998 when he became an assistant coach at Maine, where he got his first taste of success behind the bench as the Black Bears won a National Championship. After that one season he moved on to an assistant job at Harvard for 4 seasons before accepting his first head coaching job at Union in 2003, a job he held for 8 seasons. While at Union Leaman built a winner going .500 or better in 5 of his final 6 seasons. Leaman as twice named ECAC Coach of the Year in his final 2 seasons at Union (2010 & 2011) and was recognized as National Coach of the Year in 2011. Following the 2011 season Leaman moved on to take the Head coaching job at Providence, and left his Associate Head Coach, Rick Bennett, in charge and saw his old squad win the 2014 National Championship. Since arriving and taking over the Friars Leaman has increased his win totals in each of his first four seasons including 2 NCAA Tournament Appearances (2014 & 2015). In his third season at Providence the Friars ha the 3rd best penalty kill in the country and the 7th ranked scoring defense, which was improved to 5th the following season. Nate Leaman was named National Coach of the Year in 2015 after winning a National Championship.
1998-99 Maine Assistant
1999-03 Harvard Assistant
2003-11 Union Head Coach
2011-16 Providence Head Coach
NCAA Coaching Records:
Mel Pearson, Michigan Tech Huskies
Alma Mater: Michigan Tech
Head Coaching Record: 72-68-17
First year coaching: 1982-83
First year as Head Coach: 2011-12
Current Record: 23-8-5
Current Pairwise: 15th
Current Tournament Probability: 54%
The obvious #1 choice. Do I need to say anything more?
Mel spent 23 seasons in Ann Arbor on Red Berenson’s staff and has moved on and has made Michigan Tech, the school he played for, a winner for the first time in a while. The Huskies have made the NCAA Tournament once (2015), earning National Coach of the Year honors along the way. Despite a losing record, Mel was named WCHA Coach of the Year in his first season as a Head Coach in 2012, after he quadrupled the win total from the season prior.
1982-88 Michigan Tech Assistant
1988-99 Michigan Assistant
1999-11 Michigan Associate Head Coach
2011-16 Michigan Tech Head Coach
Seasons at Michigan Tech:
I can look into more in-depth statistical breakdowns of these coaches if it’s something the blog wants. Let me know of anyone I may have missed.
Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, was asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., if the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE has been established.
"The answer to that question is certainly yes," Miller said.
He said he based his assessment on the work of Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuropathologist who has diagnosed CTE in the brains of 176 people, including those of 90 of 94 former NFL players.
"I unequivocally think there's a link between playing football and CTE," McKee said. "We've seen it in 90 out of 94 NFL players whose brains we've examined, we've found it in 45 out of 55 college players and six out of 26 high school players.
Interesting article, "NFL acknowledges, for first time, link between football, brain disease" by Steve Fainaru, ESPN Senior Writer.
As a former football coach, and one who will always love the game, this topic is very important to me. I've always believed that the higher the level of player, the more violent he is (generally speaking). I've coached players who have gone on to the FBS level and the thing they notice more than "the players are so much faster and stronger" is the level of violence players play with. I've come to believe that at the college and pro levels, players are using the helmet as a weapon--that the whole "nobody's trying to hurt anybody out there" mantra is flat out untrue.
I personally believe that drastic changes in equipment and rules are needed or football will either be outlawed or become a gladiator sport left to those with few alternatives, a la boxing. I have some ideas but am not ready to come forth with them because I haven't fleshed them out much, especially when it comes to the helmet.
Maybe this isn't diary-worthy. It most likely isn't. I did this mostly for me rather than for mgoblog readers. I did it so it would be on record and in my diary archive.
Who: Tulsa Golden Hurricane: 20-11 (12-6)
When: Wednesday at 9:10 PM on TruTV
Where: Dayton, OH
RPI Ranking: 61
KenPom Ranking: 58
Neutral Record: 2-3
Road Record: 6-5
Tulsa is coached by former Miami (YTM) and Missouri coach Frank Haith. Haith is in his second year at Tulsa and took the Golden Hurricane to the second round of the NIT. They last made the tournament 2 years ago as 13 seed, losing their first game to UCLA. Haith has made the tourney twice as a coach, which occured in his first two years as Missouri's head coach. Both years Missouri lost in the first round, including as a 2 seed in 2012.
Year in Review
This was Tulsa's second year in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), previously being in the Conference USA. They went 20-11 overall, finishing 5th in the AAC with a 12-6 conference record. Tulsa averages 74 PPG and allows 69.7, both very middling marks nationally.
Tulsa went 8-4 in the non-conference. They had a bad loss to Oral Roberts, who finished 14-17 this year and 7th in the Summit, and beyond that lost to tourney teams Oregon State and Arkansas-Little Rock as well as borderline tourney team South Carolina. Their key non-conference wins were over tourney teams Wichita State and Iona.
In conference, Tulsa split the season series with tourney teams UConn, Cincinnati and Temple, as well as SMU who was ineligible for post-season play. They also lost to Houston and twice to Memphis, including by 22 points in the first round of the AAC tourney.
Tulsa's RPI splits:
vs. RPI Top 25: 1-1 (Both vs SMU)
vs. RPI Top 50: 3-5 (Wins vs UConn, Cinci, @SMU)
vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
vs. RPI Top 150: 8-11 (Loses to Oral Roberts and Memphis x2 between RPI 100 and 150)
vs. RPI Sub 150: 12-0
Against tournament teams:
Wins: 6 (Wichita State, Iona, UConn, Cinci, Temple, SMU)
Losses: 6 (Oregon State, Arkansas-Lttle Rock, UConn, Cinci, Temple, SMU)
Tulsa has 9 players that average at least 10 MPG (Michigan has 8, with Wagner, Chatman and Wilson all missing this mark) and play generally 10 players a game.
Tulsa's starting 5:
James Woodard: 6'3" SR G, Tulsa's leading scorer at 15.6 PPG, second leading rebounder at 5.2 RPG and second leading assister at 2.4 APG. Woodard has a 42/36/78 FG/3P/FT shooting split.
Shaquille Harrison: 6'4" SR G, Tulsa's second leading scorer (14.8 PPG), leading rebounder (5.5 RPG), leading assist man (4.1 APG), second on team in steals (1.9 SPG), has 46/18/64 shooting split.
Pat Birt: 6'5" JR G, Tulsa's third leading scorer (12.4 PPG), 3.4 RPG and .8 APG, 38/37/74 shooting split.
Brandon Swannegan: 6'9" SR F, 6.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, leading shot blocker at .9 BPG, 58/0/61 shooting split
*Rashad Smith: 6'7" SR F/G, 7.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, .7 SPG, .6 BPG, 53/25/56 shooting split
*Smith started Tulsa's tourney game against Memphis but not the previous 4 games, and missed 3 of them. Info on Tulsa online is light, but it seems like Smith was hurt and just got back healthy for the conference tourney. Starting in his place:
Marquel Curtis: 6'3" SR G, 6.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, .8 SPG, 43/29/67 shooting split (Curtis will probably come off the bench but averages the 4th most minutes on the team, ahead of Swannegan and Smith)
The remaining contributors:
D'Andre Wright: 6'9" SR F, 5.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 48/0/70 shooting split
Rashad Ray: 5'10" SR G, 4.7 PPG, 1.9 APG, leads team in steals at 1 SPG, 36/32/60 shooting split
Sterling Taplin: 6'1" FR G, 2.7 PPG, 41/27/79 shooting split
Tulsa seems to be a very guard oriented team like Michigan, starting 4 guards and 8 of their 10 contributors are guards. They are actually smaller than Michigan, with two 6'9" F's as their tallest regulars and all their guards being 6'5" or smaller.
Unlike Michigan they can't shoot at all. They have only three players shooting above 30% from 3 and no one higher than 37%, compared to 7 for Michigan with 4 above 37%.
Tulsa also seems to be a very senior heavy team, so they will definitely have a lot of experience on the court. Overall I think this matchup bodes well for Michigan, and we should definitely be the favorite to win this game, especially once you consider how bad of a coach Frank Haith really is.
**Since Adam and I are doing a rather interesting behind-the-scenes hockey stats project, my access to Michigan Hockey has increased expotentially. There is still a lot of working out how everything will come together and what it will reveal but we're both pretty excited. Since we've began to look at some that stuff, I figured it might not be a bad idea to reflect some overall ideas on a per game basis for the Michigan Hockey team. This may develop, stay remotely similar, or disappear completely. Hopefully, more of the former. We'll start with four areas and go from there.**
If you've followed Michigan Hockey this season, there's really not a lot left to describe about this offense. They generated 57 shots on target, last night, rather evenly throughout the game (18, 22,and 17). Many of these looks came from dangerous areas: around the crease, in the slot, and inner halves of the faceoff circles. Kyle Connor had 2 more goals; Boo Nieves also had 2 on Senior Night; Motte, Werenski, and Selman each tallied a couple of assists, as well. As will be emphasized throughout, Penn State only dressed 16 skaters. There's no question that this played into Michigan's ability to control play all night long.
As seen by the previous section, Penn State basically had 3 lines and 3 pairings. Michigan's defense, for the most part, was largely irrelevant. Scanning the shot charts, there were very few shots even ATTEMPTED at Michigan's net: 60 (25 coming in the 3rd, once the game was out of hand). Michigan for comparison had 90, with almost 30 per period. Just glancing at where these attempts came from, maybe only 10 came from threatening areas in the first couple periods. Penn State is 6th nationally in goals (3.69/game) and averages a shade over 42 shots target/game. So, to be honest, I think the result was probably a little more due to Penn State's personnel limitations than Michigan's locking them down. M did have their normal stretch of sloppy defensive play that forced some great saves from Racine (and then Nagelvoort).
Again, Penn State threatened very little for the 'in doubt' first 30 or so minutes. The defense kept most of the threats to the perimeter, aside from a few lapses. Racine played well in his final game at Yost. The goal came on a deflection from Cecconi as he was tracking a PSU attacker and crossed Racine's vision. Tough luck for Racine. He was great in every other opportunity he was presented with...though there were not a lot of them. Because of the offensive barrage, Racine was afforded the chance to be ceremoniously taken off for last 12 minutes. FWIW, Nagelvoort seemed to play well, as Michigan's defense sagged off towards the end of the game. Nagelvoort made 9 saves in 12 minutes versus Racine's 21 in 48 minutes.
Michigan was phenomenal last night. 3/6 on the power play and 3/3 in their first three attempts. Once it was 5-1, M had a 5 min PP (due to a red card to Penn State's Ricky DeRosa) and then a 5-on-3 for 2 minutes. They did not score, but at that point, the game was all but decided. The puck movement from the top line (Werenski, Kile, Motte, Compher, Connor) is just ridiculous. Its the best I've seen in a long time at Yost. Maybe the best I've seen? I know Hensick, Porter, Tambellini, etc had some great ones, as well. But that was a while ago. Michigan's PP leads the nation at a 29.5% clip. Last night, clearly no exception. On the flip side, Michigan only took 1 penalty and allowed just 1 shot on that penalty kill...and it came from the neutral zone. Again, Penn State only had three forwards lines.
BONUS: Odd Man Rushes
Still in the infancy of deciding how to track these and what to do with them but from what I counted last night: 4 OMRs given up for Michigan.
- The first 2 were soft 3v2s that didn't even result in a quality look.
- The third was Cecconi with an awful centering pass from the blue line that was picked off and Scheid came in on a rush before Martin caught him at the top of the circles. Racine calmly blocked the shot into the corner.
- The fourth was a neutral zone giveaway that left Downing back in a 2v1 but a nice back-check from Warren nullified the opportunity.
Michigan should be in the NCAA tournament. For proof, let’s compare their resume to some other bubble teams. Warning: this is a REALLY long post.
First things first: who are those bubble teams? Well, among power 5 conferences, you have Vanderbilt, Syracuse, and South Carolina; among mid-majors, you have San Diego State, St. Mary’s, Monmouth, Temple, and Wichita State. Along with Michigan, that’s nine teams, with (currently) five spots available, four if UConn loses to Memphis. So if we can show that Michigan is more deserving than at least five of these teams, they should be in.
If you don’t want to read it all, here is a summary:
Last bye (for now): Wichita State.
Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan
Bubble spot: Syracuse
First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State
We are all familiar with Michigan’s resume at this point, but a quick recap:
· 4-11 against NCAA tournament locks, with the four wins against teams expected to be seeded in the 3-6 range in the NCAA tournament, and the loss to Connecticut being the only one of that group to a team expected to be seeded 8 or below.
· 0-1 against NIT-level competition, a loss at Ohio State
· 8-0 against teams 101-200
· 9-0 against teams 201+
We’ll start with Wichita State, a team that most bracketologists have in the field. The Shockers (giggle) have a 23-8 record in a solid mid-major conference, with an RPI of 49. While they have a very strong nonconference win at home against Utah (a probable 3-seed in the NCAA tournament), they lost their other three efforts against the RPI top 50. In addition, they are only 3-4 against teams 51-100, and two of those three wins are against #93 Evansville. To put it another way, Wichita State is 2-7 against the top 75 (NCAA/NIT teams), a good comparison point for Michigan, since all of our top 100 teams are in that range. Finally, Wichita State has a “bad” loss, at #114 Illinois St. To sum up:
· Both teams have approximately the same winning percentage against both the RPI top 50 and against NCAA/NIT competition. In both instances, Michigan’s opponents were, on average, of a slightly higher caliber, and they had a slightly better winning percentage.
· Michigan has a better “best” win, as Indiana and Utah are roughly equivalent, but Michigan’s win was at a neutral (road, really) site.
· Wichita State has a bad loss that Michigan doesn’t.
· Wichita State was the regular season champ in their conference (a conference which would have only had one bid had the Shockers won their tournament).
Verdict: Without the loss to Illinois State, these two profiles are pretty even. That loss should place them below Michigan, but I bet the committee has the Shockers higher (though not as high as Lunardi does). So we'll give Wichita State the nod.
Vanderbilt's resume is pretty similar to Wichita State's, but a little worse. The Commodores are 2-7 against RPI top 50 teams, versus Michigan’s 4-11. Granted, all of their games are against the top 27, so their competition was (very slightly) more difficult. Vanderbilt racked up five wins against three losses against NIT-level teams (and Stony Brook). They also have three bad losses. They played five non-conference games against the RPI top 50, but lost them all. Summary:
· Michigan has a better RPI, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.
· Michigan has a better record overall, and a better record against top teams.
· Michigan has no bad losses, while Vanderbilt has three.
· The only thing Vanderbilt has going for it is a better record against NIT teams, which will bode well for them in the NIT.
Verdict: Michigan should be ahead of Vanderbilt. 19-13 in the SEC, with no big nonconference wins and three bad losses, doesn’t deserve a bid.
Let’s stay with the SEC and discuss South Carolina. The Cocks (more giggling) have a weird resume for a power 5 team. They only have 2 games against NCAA locks: they were crushed at home by Kentucky and eked out a road win at Texas A&M. They were undefeated in their nonconference schedule, but the best teams in that schedule were bubble team Tulsa and NIT-bound Hofstra. The other 10 were composed of 4 against the RPI 101-200 and 6 against the RPI 201+. The Gamecocks also have two losses in the RPI 101-200 and one to #221 Missouri, who went 3-15 in the SEC (for comparison, think Minnesota). Summary:
· Michigan has a better RPI.
· South Carolina has a better record, but played a ridiculously weak nonconference schedule.
· South Carolina has the better “best” win, and is 5-4 against NIT teams (Florida, Hofstra, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama)
· South Carolina has three bad losses, one of which is awful.
Verdict: South Carolina’s schedule is basically what you get if you take Vanderbilt’s schedule, take out all the losses to top 50 teams, and replace them with wins over tomato cans. I don’t think the Gamecocks deserve to be in the tournament based on their weak nonconference schedule. Had they beaten Missouri but lost to Texas A&M, they wouldn’t even be discussed. I don’t think that a single game should take them from middling NIT team into the tournament, and Michigan has better proven the ability to compete with good teams and has no bad losses. South Carolina is probably ahead of Vanderbilt based on head-to-head, but Michigan should be ahead of both.
Next: Monmouth. The Hawks got a lot of hype early this year from some high-profile wins over UCLA, Georgetown, USC, and Notre Dame. Unfortunately for Monmouth (and its entertaining bench), UCLA and Georgetown proved to be Penn State-level competition. This leaves their RPI just above Michigan’s, at #53. The Hawks are 2-2 against the RPI top 50, with all games against teams expected to be seeded around the 7-8 spot. They are 1-2 against Iona, the only team they played in the RPI 51-100. Critically, however, they have three losses in the RPI 201+. Those aren’t “bad” losses, they are “horrible” losses. By comparison, the teams on Michigan’s schedule closest to those three losses were Houston Baptist (an 82-57 home win) and Charlotte (a 102-47 win in the Bahamas). Summary:
· Monmouth has a better winning percentage than Michigan against the best teams on the Hawks’ schedule.
· Michigan is 4-7 against teams better than anyone Monmouth played.
· Monmouth’s three horrible losses should negate their best wins.
· Low- to mid-major teams with RPI’s above 50 never get into the tournament. By comparison, Akron has an RPI of 36, and they’re not getting in either.
Verdict: I understand the Bilas types saying that Monmouth did what the committee would ask by scheduling good nonconference teams away from home. However, the committee also asks teams not to lose to Army and Canisius. Maybe Lunardi is right, and the committee will let them in, but I don’t think so. Michigan should be ahead of Monmouth.
While we’re talking about mid majors with few big wins, let’s talk about St. Mary’s. The Gaels boast a gaudy 26-5 record, but against a schedule that includes 18 RPI sub-200 teams, five of which were on their nonconference schedule (by comparison, Michigan’s oft-maligned nonconference schedule included six such teams). The five losses include their only game against a top tournament team (California), going 2-1 against Gonzaga (who would have been a bubble team without the autobid), a split with NIT- or Vegas 16-bound BYU, and two bad losses, both to Pepperdine. The problem that St. Mary’s has is that their best nonconference results are wins over UC Irvine, Stanford, and Grand Canyon.
Verdict: Theirs is a hard resume to figure, and I like their resume better than Monmouth’s due to its lack of horrible losses. Also, Monmouth played just as many 200+ teams as St. Mary's, but St. Mary's at least beat them all. I’m going to put them just ahead of Michigan, and I think the First Four is a good place for a team like St. Mary’s that really hasn’t had a good enough chance to prove their worth.
Up next: Temple. The Owls are the regular-season champ of the American conference, a multi-bid league. They should be in, right? Well, they also went 6-6 in their non-conference schedule and got beat pretty bad by a Connecticut team that had just played a 4 OT game the day before. Temple played six NCAA tournament teams in their non-conference schedule – and lost all six games. Their next best nonconference win was against Fairleigh Dickinson, a sub-200 RPI team. While they finished with a 21-11 record (Michigan is 21-12), 14 of those games are against the RPI 201+, including six nonconference games. They also split with NIT teams Tulsa and Houston, and RPI #136 Memphis. Finally, they have a “horrible” loss at #217 East Carolina. Summary:
· Temple has a better record against NCAA teams, but four of their 5 wins were against bubble-ish teams Cincinnati and UConn. Against teams seeded 1-8 (and SMU), they are 1-6. Michigan is 4-10 against the same group, for double the winning percentage.
· Temple beat SMU and was 2-1 against UConn, while Michigan lost to both.
· Temple has a bad loss to Memphis and a horrible loss to East Carolina, while Michigan has none.
Verdict: This is close, but I give a slight edge to Temple. This is a tough call, because Michigan has an excellent win over Texas and the near-road win against Indiana is at least as good as Temple’s home win over an SMU team that had recently lost its best player to a transfer. Also, the teams have almost the exact same record, but Michigan’s schedule is significantly harder. However, Temple has a better record against top 50 and top 100 teams, and against tournament teams, and the bad losses might not negate that.
Speaking of conference champs that lost in their tournament, Steve Fisher’s San Diego State appeared on the bubble with a loss to Fresno State. The Aztecs are 1-4 against the top 50, with a neutral site win vs. Cal, and losses to Kansas, West Virginia, and Utah (all top teams) to go with a home loss against Arkansas-Little Rock (Sun Belt champ, RPI 46, seeded around 12th if they win their tournament). They went 1-2 against Fresno State (RPI 66), won at #72 Long Beach State, and lost to #92 Grand Canyon at home. San Diego State also has a bad loss at home against Boise State, and a truly horrible loss against RPI 302 San Diego. That’s really bad, and easily the worst single loss by any bubble team. For comparison to teams on Michigan’s schedule, San Diego falls somewhere between Northern Kentucky and Bryant, and is worse than Rutgers.
· Michigan has a better record against the RPI top 50, and a better “best” win (Indiana > Cal).
· San Diego State is 2-3 against the RPI 51-100 (which is pretty weak for a bubble team). That puts their record against the top 100 at 3-7, and, unlike Michigan, half those games are against NIT-level competition.
· Their two bad losses include a truly horrible loss, while Michigan has no bad losses.
Verdict: The Aztecs should not be in the field. Like South Carolina, they have just one win over a top 50 team, but they had 5 tries to do it, one of which was a home game against Arkansas-Little Rock in which they scored only 43 points. Their record against the RPI 51-100 suggests that they would struggle in the NIT, and they have a horrible loss that negates their one good win. They shouldn’t be in, and, personally, I don’t think they should be close.
Lastly, Syracuse. This is a team that most bracketologists are leaving out, but I am not so sure. They are 5-9 against likely tournament teams (and Louisville), though five of those games are against near-bubble teams (including losing three to Pitt). They are 3-1 against NIT-type competition, and have two bad losses (one of which was at home) and a horrible loss by double digits at #245 St. John’s (The Red Storm’s next best win was over #184 Wagner). Summary:
· Their record against NCAA-level teams is roughly equal to Michigan’s. They have more wins, but had the benefit of playing more bubble teams than Michigan did.
· 3-1 against the NIT is better than what Michigan mustered, though Michigan only had one road game in that group.
· The two bad losses and the one awful loss more than negate that advantage.
Verdict: Slight edge to Michigan, but it’s close.
Overall, this bubble is a mess, and there will be people putting forth lots of combinations of these nine teams to fill the final four or five spots in the tournament. As for me, here’s how I see it:
Last bye (for now): Wichita State.
Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan
Bubble spot: Syracuse
First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State
We'll know how wrong I am by 7 pm.