While I am always on the fence about being interested or taking national attention as an utmost important thing to tell my diary about at night ("Omg but then we had meatloaf for lunch again bleh") but when Michigan is not getting hit in the head by a chair thrown by Bob Knight, who apparently believes PSU and Auburn were more deserving, they're getting ESPN praise in the form of... Colin Cowherd?
Michigan was chosen by Cowherd as his dark horse (or is it darkhorse?) for the tournament. Besides the normal Duke, UCLA, Purdue fluff, he was quick to point out UM could have beaten UConn, a 1-seed, and that he could legitimately see them making it to the elite eight. What was nice to hear, though, was him acknowledge the coaching behind the effort.
What does this mean? Absolute shit. The man is a walking "morning talk show radio zoo OHMANELISHADUSHKUISTHEHAWTEST *cue spring boi-oi-oing*" - complete with "Breakfast of Champions - which cereal will win" bracket - but he's also been a huge d-bag to the football program. A reader was quick to point out his dark horse (darkhorse?) - fuck it, I'm referring to it as Darko from now on - has always played Clemson for the past couple years. Let's just say that's true.
The question remains: even if we are everyone's Darko, does it make noise in the Palace when we miss all our shots and lose by 15?
Because that's what a Darko does. Let's be
The Answer Billups.
One of the most glaring statistics to me is the fact that Clemson is ranked 256th out of 330 D1 schools in terms of opponents 3pt%, giving up approx 35.8% of 3pt attempts.
Michigan ranks 31st in terms of opponents 3pt%, 31.4% against.
This is a very important stat, b/c both teams take a lot of 3pters. Michigan is 15th in terms of 3pters made per game, with 8.6. Clemson is 28th, making 8.1 3pters per game.
Unfortunately Clemson also takes significantly less, as they shoot at 37.9%, which is 37th. Michigan only shoots 33.3%, which is 195th.
Both teams have a pretty solid turnover ratios: Clemson is ranked 35th with an avg margin of about +2.9. Michigan is 45th with a margin of +2.5.
Obviously rebounding has been pretty poor for UM throughout the yr. We rank 276th with an avg margin of -3.0. Clemson has been only mediocre with a rank of 126th and a margin of +1.6. Michigan St., who is ranked #1 in reboundding, killed us in this department.
The overall fg% against is pretty close for the two teams. Clemson is 164th, with a 43.2fg% against. Michigan is 193rd, with a 43.7 fg& against.
Clemson runs a lot of full court press which has given our guards some trouble throughout the yr. I personally hope to see grady getting significant playing time, both to breakdown the press, and to give us another 3pt shooter.
For the most part this team has lived and died by the three (althou not in all instances). If we can put up big numbers from beyond the arc, and hopefully get significant contributions from douglass and novak, we should be in decent shape. This was a big problem with Illinois, who ranks 4th overall in terms of opponents 3pt%.
When i look at the big picture, things look pretty close. Turnovers are pretty much a push. They get the advantage in rebounding, but we will probably hit a few more 3pters (althou attempt significantly more).
Ultimately this is going to come down to which versions of Sims and Harris show up. Are we gonna get the Sims that works off of his low post scoring and midrange scoring, or are we gonna get the Sims that takes off balance 15footers and jacks up 3s? Are we gonna get the Manny that slashes to the basket and scores at will, or are we gonna get the frustrated, turnover prone, shoot 3pt fadeaways with a hand in my face Manny Harris?
In probably the only bizarre twist of the CCHA tournament thus far, Miami continued its late season slump with a loss to Northern Michigan in the second round. Miami received a Bye for their regular season success in conference and then fell on their face. Profoundly. After winning the first game Friday 3-2, Miami needed only one win to advance to the Joe. This, however, did not happen as they were taken down in Overtime on Saturday, thanks in no small part to NMU's Brian Stewart and his 39 saves. Sunday, the Hawks just looked silly, losing 3-1 and having their only goal come 17:53 in the third before an empty-netter sealed the deal. Stewart stood on his head, again, making 41 saves. Note: not a sieve, not a funnel, not a vacuum, not a blackhole - he's just a Wildcat. Which is open for any range of adjectives.
Now while Notre Dame was the likely candidate to emerge from that bracket pairing, it's awfully exciting to see both Miami and Ohio State drop early when considering Michigan's chances to dance (?) successfully. Rivalry schools/OHIOSUX aside, OSU and Miami are two very gritty teams that always cause Michigan trouble. That they were felled not by ND or each other but, rather, by NMU and Alaska is another planet subculture entirely. Miami split their home and homes with Michigan with both teams sweeping their respective home games. Michigan was 3-1 in their series with OSU but still... it's the Buckeyes - they live to beat UM 2-1 with a late 3rd period handpass off the boot of a coach and into the net while Shegos is searching for his contact lens.
Regardless, with the sweep of Western, Michigan plays Alaska at the Joe which is, I dunno, 900x better than flying to Fairbanks like OSU had to do. Michigan was 1-1 with Alaska but had to make that damn flight to do it, scoring a goal in each period and winning in the Saturday game 3-2. UM had actually led after the first period of the Friday game before Sauer got blasted for four goals, two in each period. With Hogans success against WMU, Red will hopefully stay with him.
Should Stewart show up to play like he did before and NMU can round up some goals, while UM plays without a LiveChat going on, it would be a very good thing for the Wolverines. Alaska finished 4th in the CCHA so they're no push-over but NMU split with Michigan in the two games they played, @NMU, but were outscored 5-3 in the second - both games Sauer was in net. Michigan had crap success against teams it was forced to fly to play, going 1-1 with Northern and Alaska while losing to Boston at Boston. That the game is in the Joe, where Michigan outscored opponents 10-1 (ok fine it was Tech and MSU but still...) is a big thumbs up.
In case you wondered, also, Notre Dame absolutely bombed Nebraska-Omaha 5-0 in their Friday game before winning 1-0 (wtf?) on Saturday. They matchup against an NMU team that they have rocked all season, outscoring the Wildcats 21-11, a stat that looks ridiculous considering the Irish only won 3-2 and 4-2 @ NMU but then decided "eh fuck it" and beat them at home 9-5 and 5-2.
After going 16-0, Clemson showed its soft underbelly to the world and 8 of its last 15. Given that one of my friends goes to Clemson, I've paid more attention to them over the past three weeks simply to be able to rip on him better. The fact said friend will be flying into town for my bachelor party at some point on Thursday means he's either walking from the airport or I'm showing up in my new, hand-made Novak t-shirt.
Clemson is a solid team that pulled out signature losses against Florida State (twice) and Wake Forest (twice), while finding a way to "get by" in games against heavy-hitters like Duke (74-47!), at Illinois (76-74) Boston College and Georgia Tech (twice before losing to them in the tournament).
Forward/Center Trevor Booker is their Manny Harris, frequently posting the team's highest points and rebounds per game. Further, the team appears to be fucked any time he scores less than 15 points, as shown in their stats sheet here. He averages 15 pts, 10 rebounds a game - if Sims and Harris can force the ball to be shot by Clemson's guards, the math shows that Michigan stands a good chance.
Clemson shot only* 662 3 pointers all season, roughly 150 more than Illinois or, basically, the same amount as... somebody. Side note: did you know Purdue only attempted 625 3 pointers? OSU only attempted 500-some. Jesus. Michigan - 859! ftw!
They average 79 points a game to Michigan's 67. Given the ACC at times can be dump-and-go Olympics where defense gives way to LOOKHOWFASTWERUNUPDOWNTHECOURTOMGTYLERHANSBROOOOOOOugh, though, means they might be mildly taken aback to find defenders rotating. Clemson's recent troubles against teams like Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and FSU are, god-willing, more indicative of Clemson's downturn than the fact they dropped BOMBS on Duke and Maryland.
I like Michigan's chances if they can force Clemson to a slow-paced, 28 seconds per possession game that clears the paint and forces perimeter shooting. If Beilein can make UM of UM vs. Purdue show up instead of the UM of UM v. Savannah State Boys Recreational After-School SayNoToDrugs Campaign Squad appear, UM has a great shot in this game. If not... well.. it's not the NIT right?
Many, when debating the likely outcome of a particularly recruit's career, will reference how one of the scouting services have ranked them, while others will cite one of a handful of lower ranked recruits who met with success (David Harris, Braylon Edwards, Mike Hart come to mind). In the interest of quantifying whether recruit rankings can be, at all, predictive, here are the raw numbers on whether a recruit has panned out, sorted by star ranking.
First, I would like to note that all rankings are from Rivals, and that kickers and punters are not included (no kicker or punter is ever ranked higher than 3 stars) and does not include the 2007 or 2008 classes due to it being too early to tell. Finally, I am defining "success" as being the principle starter for at least one season.
In the 2002-2006 classes, we recruited 6 5* players, 5 of whom became starters (Grady has, and likely will, not).
We recruited 51 4-star players - 26 of whom became starters (about 51%).
We recruited 40 3-star or lower players - 9 of whom became starters (22.5%).
So, four star players are roughly twice as likely to grow to be a starter than three-star players. Further, the "drop out" rate of 3-stars is significantly higher - a larger number of 4-stars who did not become starters stayed with the team and provided depth. The mumber of 3-stars who simply quit football is much, much higher.
Lest people think I'm on the side of "Rodriguez shouldn't offer three-stars", that point of view is, in a word, dumb. Three-stars DO succeed, no team can have a class of 5 and 4 stars unless you're USC, and we need to have them. Further, ones offered this early at least FEEL like they may be better, because Rodriguez has more confidence in them. That said, recruits of all ratings miss, and three stars miss considerably more often than higher-ranked players - it is for likely we never hear of them again than it is that they become Bradent Englemon, musch less Mike Hart.
There's very little Bubble News to report. And, frankly, I am thankful for that.
We're five hours away from the Selection Show and the official end of Michigan's NCAA Tournament drought.
According to this morning's update of the Bracket Matrix, the Wolverines are holding steady and solid along the 10-seed line. The final at large bids in the Matrix are Maryland, San Diego State and Creighton. Lunardi, meanwhile, subs in St. Mary's for the SDSU. The teams that look to be just short of a bid include Penn State, Arizona, Florida and Auburn. All four were just one win short.
We have three title games going on this afternoon in advance of the pairings announcment.
ACC Championship: Florida St vs Duke. Line, Duke -6
A few things to think about when watching Florida State play Duke in the ACC Championship.
Michigan may hook up with the Noles next season. Both will be in the 2009 Old Spice Classic, played in Orlando over Thanksgiving weekend. Matchups have not been announced, and the remainder of the field includes Xavier, Marquette, Creighton, Baylor, Alabama and Iona.
Michigan will be relieved to know that all-everything talent Toney Douglas will be in the NBA by then, but the Noles will enter next season with a lot of expectations, and more importantly, a lot of talent. Rivals ranked this season's freshmen class as 11th best in the country. They've been able to ease into their roles due to the presence of Douglas and fellow senior Uche Echefu, but next year expect a leap in production out of all of them.
Added to the mix will be Marcus Snaer, the 11th ranked overall player on next year's freshman list who will start right away and has a Johnny Flynn-type game. That's three straigt years that Leonard Hamilton has pulled in a top-25 recruit. As a result, the Noles will have one of the best centers, forwards and scoring guards from recent recruiting classes. That's a nice core to build around once Douglas departs. This team will be a load to handle should the Wolverines meet up with them eight months from now in Orlando.
Northwestern bitch slapped this club back in December by 14 points back in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. The Wildcats. Northwestern, University of. In Evanston.
The last time Florida State won a league title of any kind was in 1991 when they played in the now defunct Metro Conference. They competed in the league against the likes of Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati and South Carolina. The Noles won the title in the league's last season before teams split into various ACC, SEC and Great Midwest destinations. The Noles had a stacked roster back then that included Doug Edwards, Sam Cassell and Charlie Ward. They dove head first into the ACC and finished in second place the first two years they were league members. It helped that the precocious Bobby Sura was added to the core in those years. They advanced into the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 those first two years in the ACC. But, other than a random NCAA appearance since, the program has not been all that relevant.
It's taken Leonard Hamilton a year or two longer than he expected, but it appears that FSU is ready to become the ACC player that they expected to be when they joined the league during a peak time for the program. One thing is for sure: in the immediate future, the team is poised to do damage in March for the first time since those days.
As far as this game, I think they're every bit as good as Duke. These teams played twice this season and for 30 minutes in each game, the Seminoles were the better team. The problem? In the first game, Duke built too big a lead in the first 10 minutes for FSU to come all the way back from. In the rematch, Duke caught fire in the game's final 10 minutes to earn a comeback win.
I think third time is the charm for Florida State today. They have the best player on the court in Douglas. They have ridiculous size and length on the interior that will create problems for Duke. They play great defense. If they can close out on the defensive glass like they did against the Heels, they will win today's game comfortably.
The Pick: Florida State +6.......the Noles are 12-5-1 ATS in ACC games this season, including a pair of covers against Duke. I've been gushing about this team through the Bubble News Chronicles. Hopefully they can pay off one more time. I think they'll win, but I'll take the points anyway.
SEC Championship: Miss. St vs. Tennessee. Line, Vols -6
The remaining drama around the final makeup of the NCAA field will center on the SEC Championship Game. For the second straight season, the SEC looks to send a champion into the field that otherwise would not get an at large bid.
The difference between Georgia from last year and Mississippi State this season is the UGA Dawgs were a last place team. The Cowbell Dawgs from Starkville are a quality program with a good team. They did have a winning record in conference play, so its not like they're playing above their heads advancing into this final.
There's a lot of anxious Creighton and St. Mary's boosters keeping an eye on this one. Conventional wisdom this morning hailed one of those two mid majors as NIT-bound should MSU pull through.
Last season, the Bulldogs bowed out in the NCAA second round to Memphis, giving the Tigers one of its closest games of the season. Expectations for this season took a big hit due to some unexpected departures (including Hansborough's Lil Bro, who transferred to Notre Dame.....oh, let the hate begin). They looked depleted in OOC play going winless in key games against Wassau, Texas Tech, and Cincy. They played well in league play, but were undone by an 0-4 record against LSU and Auburn. If just a few of those results go the other way, then maybe MSU is already sitting on a bid.
Nobody is really talking about it, but I think the SEC West ended up the better division this season in SEC play. Just my e-pinion.
The Vols got through a desperate Auburn team yesterday. Today they face another, but I think the Bulldogs inside presence and physical play is something the Vols did not have to face against Auburn. Jarvis Varnardo did not play great earlier this season in an up tempo game agaisnt the Vols. I dont think we'll see the same pace today. The Bulldogs will throw the kitchen sink at the Vols to keep this a half court game. I dont like the Vols in those types of games. The way Varnardo is playing, I dont want to go against him.
The Pick: MSU +6....the Bulldogs went 6-0 ATS vs the SEC East this season. They lost by 5 to the Vols in Knoxville, so I think they can stay within six at a neutral site
Big 10 Championship: Ohio St vs Purdue. Line, PU -6
The Big 10 continues to take lumps. Watching the Sunday Gameday special right now, they pundits started the show gushing about Florida State and the depth of the ACC. However, when they got around to the Big 10, they weren't as kind. Digger Phelps said Michigan State getting whipped proves to him the league isn't that good.
So, FSU advancing is proof of ACC depth. But, OSU beating Big 10 Champ MSU is proof the league is weak. I need some aspirin. The Buckeyes do, after all, have one of the nation's top all around players (a la FSU) and also have a high-end recruiting class (a la FSU) thats lived up to its billing as much as anyone else's incoming freshmen. Unlike Florida State, the Buckeyes at least beat Northestern, and also came within single digits off them on the road. Thad Matta is a great coach.
Yet, Digger Phelps thinks them beating Michigan State proves how weak the Big 10 is. What a tool.
Anyway, I'm staying on the Bucks today. I've had them in each of their tournament games and they won and covered both times. I have been impressed with Purdue's play this weekend too, but I just think this will be a low scoring game. I just like Matta in tournament situations. From Xavier to Ohio State he's always cashed.
The Pick: OSU +6.....for this Michigan fan, Indiana grad, this final represents pure evil. But, if the Bucks cover, I can take solace that I will have been 4-1 in both these teams games this weekend. If my rivals are going to succeed, I might as well profit off of it.