Michigan handily took care of Central Michigan on a fairly wet day in Ann Arbor by a score of 13-7 in front of 880 fans braving the weather. Matt Gerbe took the win in his first career start, moving to 1-0 on the season. He went only 3.2 innings giving up 4 hits, 3 runs (all unearned), and 2 walks whiles not recording a strikeout. Behind him, Travis Smith, Ben Ballantine, Kolby Wood, Matt Miller, and Matt Broder combined to finish the game and give up on 4 runs (3 earned). Decent day against a decent hitting team.
The offense was clicking in full, recording 18 hits, including a multi-hit game by Biondi (3), Toth (2), Berset (2), Crank (2), Dufek (2), Urban (2), and Dennis (2). Every starter had a hit in this game, and the only batter with a plate appearance without one was John Lorenz, who went 0-for-1 after entering the game as a defensive replacement. No real stars here, as everyone hit well and was timely about it.
It is worth noting that Ryan LaMarre made his first start since breaking his thumb, playing left field instead of center as he started in the season opener. LaMarre went 1-for-3 on the day with a hit by pitch and a strikeout. He also unlaced a screamer up the middle, seen in the video highlights almost hitting Berset as he lead off second. That's encouraging to see him hit the ball hard and up the middle.
The other major lineup change was moving senior Mike Kittle to third base for the start. I'm not sure this is a permanent move, but Kittle has had a hot bat of late and it appears Rich Maloney wants to try and keep that bat in the lineup. That could be a tough break for sophomore John Lorenz who has really picked up his game play of late. He had raised is average to nearly .280, which isn't bad for a 8-hole hitter in the Big Ten, but he hasn't been that consistent at the plate.
What will keep Lorenz in the mix at third is, surprisingly, his defense. Kittle had a diving play that he reacted too slow on early in the game. Lorenz faced an identical play late in the game, and he was able to move in front of the ball and make the easy throw to first. I'm not sure who to expect to start at the hot corner on Friday, but I think we see Lorenz. I somewhat think this was just a trial to see how Kittle would perform defensively. It's not that he failed that test, I'm just not sure that switch is warranted yet. Should be interesting to see come Friday.
Michigan takes on Purdue this weekend. I'll have some Q&A with a Purdue baseball blogger tomorrow and a couple series thoughts out Friday. Friday's first pitch is currently slated for 7:05pm at Ray Fisher Stadium and televised on the BTN (the television channel, not the internet stream).
PNC Bank Signs on as Presenting Sponsor of U-M’s Spring Football Game
Bank Makes Donation to Mott, Sponsors Locker Room Tours and Kick for Cash Promotion
ANN ARBOR –The University of Michigan Athletic Department and IMG College-Michigan Sports Marketing announced Wednesday (April 7) that PNC Bank, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC), has signed on as the presenting sponsor of the University of Michigan football spring game on Saturday, April 17, at 1 p.m. EDT from Michigan Stadium. PNC Bank is converting the former National City bank branches in Ann Arbor and throughout the state of Michigan to PNC on April 12.
PNC Bank and IMG College-Michigan Sports Marketing will donate a portion of the sponsorship to the Michigan football interactive play area at the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. A major component of the annual spring game is a fund-raising campaign that will assist the construction of the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Admission to the spring game is free but fans can make a donation of choice to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital upon entering the gates of Michigan Stadium.
PNC Bank will sponsor two of the largest spring football game activities, the Michigan team locker room tour and the Kick for Cash promotion. Fans can tour and take photos in the Michigan team locker room from 6:30-8 p.m. on Friday (April 16) and from 7-9:30 a.m. on Saturday (April 17). Each locker will be set up with player uniforms and will look exactly the way that it does on game day. Fans will exit the locker room at the top of the tunnel at the ‘Go Blue’ sign.
“At PNC, we are committed to the communities we serve, and building upon our long legacy of supporting community organizations and schools, including the University of Michigan spring football game,” said David Boyle, PNC Bank regional president for Michigan.
For the PNC Kick for Cash promotion, the athletic department will randomly select one fan to attempt field goals with the chance to win a PNC gift card up to $300. They will have the opportunity to kick from three different spots, the 10-, 15- or 20-yard lines, with varying prizes for each of the three distances.
The parking lots surrounding Michigan Stadium will be available to accommodate fans that wish to tailgate for the spring game. Gates 2, 4, 8 and 10 will open at 10 a.m. Certain restrooms and concessions will be open to the public but a final determination will be made at a later date based on the stadium construction schedule.
The Michigan Marching Band, the cheerleaders and the dance team will participate in the spring game.
Check MGoBlue.com for announcements on the alumni flag football game roster and additional promotions involving the spring football game.
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.