things go poorly
So there I was, shooting around earlier this afternoon in the IM building with my roommate. I scanned the courts to see if there were any worthy challengers for some two and two. Besides IM building employees cleaning up instant scheduling for racquetball, and a couple kids per hoop, there were a couple guys at the far end of the courts throwing a football. I took a closer look at the taller guy of the two. He was decked out in michigan gear and he had that familiar grizzly beard. At this point I was not mistaken it was Steven Threet. He could tell that I recognized him as I kept looking over. Sadly, his throws looked no better than those dying ducks he was throwing against Toledo. At first I felt a twinge of sadness for this guy. He goes from the starting quarterback of Michigan to tossing a ball around with his friend hoping to not lose that feeling of throwing the ball. He gradually extended his distance to the court I was playing on, but his throws did not improve. I really do hope Threet finds a school that fits his skill set. He has had a terrible run of luck with coaching changes. Even though Threet gave us a mix of highs and lows he really does seem to have a passion for the game and I think he should go to a school that has a stable coaching situation.
Michigan and all the other teams on the NCAA bubble saw some chips fall their way last night with the Irish losing on their home court to Villanova. The 17-point loss likely drops ND out of any serious at-large contention save for a major run in the Big East Tournament that involves upwards of three wins when the field convenes in New York City next week. According to the latest BE Tourney projections, those wins would have to come against, in order, Rutgers, Syracuse and Louisville, with those last two foes both coming off a bye. Impossible? No. But, it would still be improbable.
The only negative of the outcome was to my bank account. My prediction of an ND win went down in flames, as did the profit I made on Michigan's pointspread cover Sunday afternoon. Sigh. At least I took one for the cause. Kinda like Brian and the abololition of the Live Blogs, right?
That brings us to tonight. While there are several games that will impact the bubble, it's bound to be a frustrating night for Michigan fans. Their fellow bubble mates tipping off tonight are mostly playing second division teams or favored in their game. Or, both. If form holds, Michigan won't gain much traction in the chase.
But, its March. The possibilities are endless, and there is no better time than now to be pulling for the underdog.
Ohio State at Iowa, 9pm, BTN. Line, OSU -1
What happens if Ohio State keeps losing? They’ll be hosting a NIT game, that’s what. For the second straight season, the Buckeyes tournament hopes come down to the final week of play. The Bucks, a solid NCAA pick all winter, are finding their bid in jeopardy as they slump to close the season. After losing four of five games, Ohio State can’t really afford to drop too many more and stay in anybody’s good graces. Winning at Iowa should be a cakewalk, right? Tell that to Badger and Wolverine fans. If OSU can’t take care of business tonight, they will be facing a must win home game this weekend against a Northwestern them that just beat them. Ohio State is a 9-seed according to the Matrix, but they need to do the same thing Michigan needs to do in order to get into the field: Win 2 more games between now and the end of the league tournament.
Cincinnati at South Florida, 7pm, ESPN U. Line, Cincy -2.5
Georgetown at St. John's, 7:30pm, ESPN 360. Line, GT -6.5
I link these games together because of how similar the situations are to one another: Favored Big East bubble team hits the road to play a league lightweight.
On one hand, I recall USF upsetting Marquette and handing the Eagles their first league loss. On the other hand, I see the Bulls have not won a game since. And, in all those games, the margin of defeat exceeded double digits. If the Bearcats lose tonight, it would be much worse than Michigan’s loss to Iowa last month and a fatal blow to their at large hopes. After being run out of the Carrier Dome two days ago, the Bearcats are out of excuses and need to start impressing the tournament committee. As of now, the Bearcats are fifth-to-last out according to the comprehensive Bracket Matrix, one slot ahead and in two more brackets overall the Michigan.
With Georgetown, a deeper look into the Matrix reveals how valid a threat the Hoyas are to steal an at-large from Michigan or any of the other bubble teams. While the Hoyas are only placed in six total brackets (putting them at eighth-to-last out and two spots behind Michigan), all six of those brackets have been updated since the weekend. Compare that to Michigan and Cincinnati which remain in just 6 and 5 respectively of the most recently updated brackets. Translation: The Hoyas aren’t yet getting the overall support of the Bearcats and Wolverines, but they are getting at least as much more recent support. They wont gain any additional support in their game tonight against St. John’s, but they lose all that they do have with a loss.
Both CU and GU close at home against more league patsies (CU hosts Seton Hall, GU hosts Rutgers) this Saturday. Finishing 2-0 to close out probably won’t elevate them into the field, unless massive bubble chaos ensues. However, winning both games this week sets both schools up to advance only as far as the Big East quarterfinals to likely get a bid. Taking a look at the projected Big East Tournament brackets shows both playing more lightweights in the opening round. Wins there would advance both in the second round to play in the afternoon session next Wednesday with the Hoyas playing Villanova and the Bearcats playing West Virginia. Could those be play in games for both schools? I don’t know. But, I do know that each has to win out until that game for it to happen in the first place.
Wake Forest at Maryland, 9pm, no TV. Line, Wake -1.5
Somebody needs to explain to me why this game is not on television? http://www.testudotimes.com/2009/3/2/778436/maryland-wake-forest-previ
“>Deacons vs. Terrapins should be a blast and worth tuning in to, if only to see if Greivas Vasquez can continue to shoot the Terps to a tournament berth. Without him, the Terps don’t beat NC State the other night, let alone their show stopping upset over UNC 10 days ago. But, because of those efforts, Maryland not only controls its own tournament fate, but probably does not need to notch this win tonight to make the Dance. A win might lock them in, but even with a loss, the Terps have a chance at a .500 ACC record with a win at Virginia on Saturday. Like Michigan, two more wins from here on out may do the trick. Maryland is a 12-seed according to the Matrix consensus, but unless they get completely embarrassed tonight, I don’t think they’ll fall out of too many brackets with a loss.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State, 7:30pm, ESPN2. Line, OSU -6
The Bubble Game of the Night takes place in Stillwater when Kansas State hooks up with Oklahoma State. The Cowboys currently sit as a 10-seed in the overall Bracket Matrix. Kansas State, meanwhile, is one spot behind Michigan as the seventh-to-last team out. I tend to think Michigan fans need to pull for KSU in this one. The Wildcats do close with a lay-up at home against Colorado this weekend, but by every metric available, I think Michigan’s resume remains stronger. A win in Stillwater would be impressive, but Michigan can match that by winning at Minnesota later in the week. The Wildcats would still have to advance farther in their own league tournament than Michigan does in theirs to pass Michigan. The Cats will need a big game out of Denis Clemente if they want win this one tonight. Oklahoma State is a different situation. They play at Oklahoma on Saturday. Folks, they are not winning that game. A loss tonight will mean a 0-2 final week. That’s never good for a bubble team. Its senior night in Stillwater, and its hard to believe they’re highly touted 2005 recruiting class is about the . A win tonight will go a long way in preventing that from happening.
Blantantly stealing a trick from Brian and his football game previews, but here goes......Three things to make me look stupid in the morning:
*Iowa beats Ohio State
*Oklahoma State beats KSU, but closer than the experts think.
*And, in a game not featured above, take Florida State +12.5 over Duke. Dont sleep on FSU. They've won twice for me in recent weeks in games against Miami and Clemson. They will give Duke all they can handle this evening. The games tips at 8 and is on ESPN Full Court.
Alright, I still intend on breaking down the roster of the more historically accurate brackets and where they place Michigan as we head into the final week of the regular season. However, something called a job got in the way of serious bracket crunching this afternoon. I'll spend some time tonight sorting through more mock brackets.
However, allow me a few words to prepare you for basketball action tonight as it pertains the the bubble. It won't take long. There's only one game of true import. But, its a biggie.
Nineteen days ago, the Irish sat at 12-10, losers of seven games in a row. Five of those losses were by double digits. Staying above .500 looked like it would be a challenge, let alone any hopes for the Big Dance. Nobody was playing defense, and, only one could score.
Rather surprisingly, the Irish picked themselves off the mat and, as March starts, according to some, have a fairly manageable road map into the NCAA Tournament. I guess that's what wins in four of six games, including dominating efforts against Louisville and at Providence can do for you, especially in a weak bubble year.
For example, lets turn our eyes to Bracketology 101. Why him? The folks at the Bracket Matrix claim B101 to be the most accurate mock bracketologist over the last three years. He already has Notre Dame in the field. Forecasting tonight as the start of a four game winning streak, B101 has the Irish on the 12 line right now. If that winning streak comes to fruition, expect Notre Dame in the field when pairings are officially announced in two weeks.
After their game tonight, the Irish close the season Friday night in South Bend, against league lightweight St. John's. As the Big East Tournament bracket projects right now, the Irish would open with Rutgers. A win advances them to a 7 vs 10 game against the Syracuse Orangemen. That's the road map that conventional wisdom figures Notre Dame has to navigate in order to get an at large.
Villanova and Syracuse are challenging bookends, but, considering this team was dead in the water less than three weeks ago, Irish fans have to be happy about the fact they're still alive and kicking, right? I mean, they'll be favored to win the first three games of this closing kick, so things are just ducky in DomerVille, correct? Um, not so much. Some are too busy raking Mike Brey over the coals for coaching a team with such promise into such a shaky bubble position with a week to go in the season.
Notre Dame fans think they have coaching problems, but perhaps they should be thankful they dont have Viilanova head man Jay Wright pulling the strings. His violations against Nova Nation have been enumerated in the Wildcats ugly demise against Georgetown over the weekend.
One thing I do know is that the final 10 minutes of that game on Saturday rivalled anything as ugly we've seen come out of the Big 10 this year. That includes that 38-33 classic that Penn St and Illinois spit at us a few weeks ago. At least in the game, some folks scored clutch buckets down the stretch. The Hoyas and Wildcats were stuck at 52-50 for much of the final five minutes of the game with the Hoyas chucking up air balls, which the Wildcats matched with hurried and careless turnovers.
Maybe the Wildcats are beginning the run out of gas. From what I saw out of them over the weekend, plenty of doubt exists that they can go into South Bend tonight and put an end to the Irish threat. In fact, I expect the Irish to cover the -2.5 this evening and do so emphatically.
Let's quickly compare the resumes of Notre Dame and Michigan as it stands now:
Notre Dame, 16-12, 7-9
Best wins: Texas, Georgetown, Louisville and Providence
Bad losses: at St John's......otherwise, the Irish have not lost to a club that's not either in the field or strongly competing for a bid.
W/L vs RPI: top 25, 1-7; 26-50, 2-3; 51-100, 1-1
Michigan, 18-11, 8-9
Best wins: UCLA, Duke, Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue.
Bad losses: at Iowa. Probably not as damning as losing to the Johnnies.
W/L vs RPI: top 25, 3-5; 26-50, 3-4; 51-100, 4-2
Compare and contrast those resumes. Play it forward with ND winning four straight, then losing in the Big East quarterfinals. The Irish would be 20-13, with wins over Villanova and Syracuse (likely) added to their resume along the way. If Michigan takes care of business and gets as far as the Big 10 quarterfinals, they would have an identical 20-13 and add a second win--on the road, no less--against Minnesota.
Whose resume is better in each situation? Is there room for both Notre Dame and UM in this field? What if ND advances an extra round, beyond the above road map, in their league tournament and Michigan does not?
According to the earliest returns from the latest straw polls, Michigan’s yo-yo on the NCAA Tournament Bubble continues.
The Wolverines probably had the most neutral week of any of the bubble contenders, evening out a great win over Purdue with a good-looking loss to Wisconsin. They did not surge like Providence, nor did they crater a la Kentucky and Florida.
A total of 36 brackets on the Bracket Matrix have been updated since Michigan’s win last Thursday night over Purdue. The good news: Half of those brackets include Michigan. The bad news: Most have not updated yet to include yesterday’s loss at Wisconsin. In fact, only five brackets have been updated since last night and the Wisconsin loss. None of those include the Wolverines. Michigan is on their final cut lists and, at least in their minds, Michigan is much closer to being in the field this morning than they were a week ago in the wake of the Iowa debacle.
JN at the Basketball Forum places just six Big 10 teams and chooses Georgetown over Michigan by virtue of their longer list of quality wins. Michigan has the scalps of UCLA, Duke, Purdue, Illinois, Penn State, and Minnesota. Georgetown, meanwhile, owns wins over Memphis, Maryland, UConn, Syracuse, Providence, and Villanova. Discuss.
Going behind enemy lines, the Columbus Dispatch has Michigan in the ‘barely out’ category. At least they’re being honest about Ohio State, seeding the Buckeyes as an 11 while noting the hometown team is on “thin ice.”
Paymon takes a novel approach detailing the final bids he would dole out. He has Michigan as one of his final teams out. All four of his final teams in the field—Notre Dame, Arizona, Kansas State and Florida--have huge games between now and the time the Wolverines next play.
Rush the Court has the deepest analysis of any of the earliest returns, including cliff notes for the upcoming week. He has Michigan second-to-last out of the field.
Michigan needs to win a lot more to get into Fully Sports Field of 65. Michigan is not even among the last four cut, but St. Mary’s, Rhode Island (WTF!) and Cincinnati (Double WTF!!) are. Seriously, how did the Bearcats look more impressive yesterday than Michigan? They were non competitive against Syracuse. There’s no way Rhode Island gets an at large unless they reach the A10 finals, so we won’t discuss the Rams until they get four more wins.
It’s only a thumb nail sketch of what the Matrix may eventually look like. I’ll report on a deeper look into the Matrix, including how Michigan is being treating by the more historically accurate bracketologists (here’s a hint: not well), later in the day when more brackets are updated.
Until then, here’s a nice breakdown on how the “new” RPI formula is impacting teams in the chase this year. It does not look like the revamped formula is impacting Michigan, but plenty of other bubble teams are seeing their rankings altered in this often cited metric used to help separate teams from the pack.
One thing worth noting: It’s mentioned the best way to keep a strong RPI afloat is to schedule one of those preseason tournaments. Michigan has done that for next year as they’ll take part in the Old Spice Classic over Thanksgiving weekend in a field that includes Xavier, Florida St, Baylor, Creighton and Marquette. Taking part in that tournament this season has really helped keep Siena and Oklahoma State’s RPI higher. Both the Saints and Cowboys played each other in the last place game, but their SOS from taking part in the field has been a feather in their RPI caps all season long.
This is my first time posting on this site, so I'm not sure about protocol and such. Anyway, I'll just jump right in.
Watching the end of the Michigan St. and Illinois game, it really struck how much better these teams are than Michigan. I know I am not really going out a limb here with this statement, so let me explain.
These teams have at least two or three players that are able to continually penetrate and get to the basket, or closers, for the purpose of this post. When these teams desperately need points, they have a few different players that are able to create their own shot and get to the rim. Contrast that with Wolverines, who typically have only one player on the floor who is capable of doing so (Manny Harris). You could maybe throw DeShawn Sims in, but lets be honest. He doesn't consistently take the ball to the hoop and he often settles for a low percentage jump shots. (The game against Purdue is the notable recent exception. He attacked the basket consistently)
So let me get to the point. Whenever the game is winding down and points are at a premium against a good defensive team, UM can never manage to even get a good look at the basket. Inevitably the shot clocks winds down and whoever has the ball throws up a contested 3 pointer. The win at Northwestern was one of the few games this year where I actually felt confident the team was going to win because Manny just put the team on his back and kept getting to the hoop. Every other close game, it's hard to watch because I know we need to hit high difficulty shots to have a chance.
And since Manny is really our only threat to create a shot, he often ends up forcing it into traffic and taking a bad shot. I won't even get into the lack of respect he gets when it comes to getting fouls called in this post.
A look at the rest of Michigan's team reveals only a bunch of poor to average three point shooters with little or no interest of venturing inside the three-point arc:
Zack Novak: He is pretty much worthless to this team on offense if he's not hitting his high difficulty 3 pointers. He is never a threat to do anything but shoot 3s from the baseline or corner. Plus as Michigan's "power forward", he seldom grabs offensive rebounds. He had a nice drive today against Wisconsin, but it was the first time I can remember him doing anything like that all season.
Stu Douglass: Stu has been trying a little recently to drive, but he usually stumbles or just gives up the ball without really accomplishing anything. He is probably our best 3-point shooter that actually sees PT and he pretty good court vision.
CJ Lee: He has improved his willingness to shoot recently and is actually connecting at a decent clip from 3-point range. But on most possessions all he does is pass to the wing and then cut down into the corner, rotate back to the top and repeat.
So of the five guys who see the most time during games, three of them are zero to no threat to attack the basket. The ability to penetrate and break down the defense is crucial to scoring consistently. Michigan scored only a one or two baskets in the first ten minutes of the second half in the loss at Wisconsin. At the end of the game, they just forced contested three pointers.
So now I pose this question to the MGoBlog community? Why on earth do Lee, Novak, and Douglass play so much? Is there really no one else on the bench that can just jack up 3s? Putting defense aside, can someone shine some light on this for me? I really just want to see a few closers out there on the court that can get to the basket or at least try to get to the basket rather than heaving desperation 3s.
Sup guys, this is my first post on mgoblog!
I'm all Michigan fans have heard that they are the quietest 100,000 fans in the country. Hate to say it, but its true. Stadiums half the size of Michigan Stadium are getting up to 120 decibels.
"It's not the fans fault, the stadium can't hold in noise." Partly true. The stadium is only one tier so it can't hold in as much noise. And there are some fans outside the student section that make noise. But this is what they get in response from the other 85% of fans that just sit on their hands: "HEY, SIT DOWN!" That shouldn't be happening. If everyone in the stadium would stand up and cheer, Michigan stadium would be the hardest to play in the country. And with the new renovations, the stadium can hold in more noise! Those of you who get what I'm saying need to set examples for the rest of the fans so Michigan doesn't waste their potential home field advantage. If no one around you is yelling, be the one to stand up and make them follow what you're doing!
I can safely say after loses to App St. and Toledo, that Michigan Stadium is no longer a tough venue to play in. Lets make it one again. Ya last year there wasn't much to cheer for, but with the 3 yards and a cloud of dust gone, and the spread in, with fast quarterbacks and more exciting plays, there should be a lot of cheering doing on.
Anyone besides me absolutely hate the key plays? Can't stand them. What you should be doing it yelling!!!!!! They shouldn't flash that big "Key Play" sign on the scoreboard, it should say "GET LOUD" or "GO CRAZY" or "MAKE SOME NOISE". THE KEY PLAY THING HAS TO STOP! IF YOU SEE SOMEONE WITH THEIR KEYS OUT NEAR YOU, TELL THEM TO "PUT THOSE DAMN THINGS AWAY AND YELL!"
But don't limit 3rd down to when you should be yelling, you should be yelling every down! The other team won't be able to hear, and it will create a home field advantage!
I thought up a good idea a few weeks ago and I sent it to Mark Riordan, the head athletic director for marketing at Michigan. The idea was to give away free maize rally towels that say on the front: GET LOUD IN THE BIG HOUSE: 2009 on them. And on the back say PROTECT THIS HOUSE. Anyone else think this is a good idea?
I also think that there isn't enough participation in the Maize outs. Guys, on Maize out days, skip the jersey and wear something maize. and if you don't own anything maize, go buy a t-shirt for $15 or less!!!!!!
Anyone think night games would be cool at Michigan Stadium? And I think if the team wore those maize jerseys and blue pants as an alternate once a year, and the game was a maizeout, it could get crazy! As crazy as Penn State's whiteouts!
Last, we gotta popularize the claw. We used to do the chop to "Temptation" on 4th down, but it evolved into the claw. If we keep doing it, it will become as popular as Florida's gator chomp!
Please email Mark Riordan, the head athletic director, about the towel idea and the night games. I need as much participation as possible! They might actually happen if enough people tell him its a good idea! The rest of the things I said, I hope you also follow, and Michigan becomes a great team again!
Ok change of plans. Don't email Mark anymore because he figured out that I had been "recruting" people to email him. Just email your names and a sentence or 2 of what you want to say to him to me and I will email a list of all the people who support my ideas to him.
Check out this youtube video I made too. It pretty much states what I stated on here.
Sign my petition to play night games!!!!!!!
GO BLUE 2009!!!!!!!!!!!!!