i would find this more credible if it was about Tom Crean
The WCHA is to college hockey as the SEC is to college football. This decade, like the SEC, the WCHA has generally been considered the best conference in college hockey. But this season it doesn't actually have the strength to match up with tourney-worthy teams from other conferences.
The WCHA currently has 7 of the top-20 teams in the [irrelevant] USCHO poll and 7 of the teams ranked in the [relevant] Pairwise Rankings, which basically determines who makes the NCAA Tournament. However, in the USCHO poll, only Denver (8) and North Dakota (9) rank in the top 10, while only Denver is in the top 10 of the Pairwise Rankings (t-5 as of 1:21 AM on Saturday, and yes I'm writing this at a ridiculously stupid time of night). One belief held by members of the College Hockey media (rather small, as you might imagine), is that the WCHA is so deep that teams keep knocking each other off, an argument that is backed up by having 9 out of 10 teams in the top 30 of the RPI. While the general consensus is that the WCHA isn't necessarily as strong as years previous, many (and when I say many, I mean many relative to people who follow college hockey) believe that the WCHA is still the strongest conference in the nation, or at least competing for the title with Hockey East.
In my opinion, the idea that the WCHA is the strongest conference in the nation is utter crap. To back it up, I am going to look at the records of WCHA teams in the Pairwise Rankings against out-of-conference opponents in the Pairwise Rankings. To put it simply, I'm going to look at the records of "good" teams in the WCHA against good teams from other conferences.
Denver: 2-2-0 (2-2-0 home) (t5 Pairwise)
Minnesota-Duluth: 1-1-0 (1-1-0 neutral) (t12 Pairwise)
North Dakota: 1-2-0 (1-1-0 home, 0-1-0 road) (t12 Pairwise)
Wisconsin: 1-2-0 (1-2-0 home) (14 Pairwise)
Minnesota: 2-1-1 (2-1-1 home) (15 Pairwise)
Colorado College: 0-0-0 (COWARDS!!!) (t17 Pairwise)
St. Cloud State: 0-1-0 (0-1-0 neutral) (21 Pairwise)
Overall: 7-9-1 (6-6-1 home, 0-1-0 road, 1-2-0 neutral) Win%=0.46875
As a straight record, 7-9-1 against quality opponents isn't bad, but certainly doesn't lend credence to the idea that the WCHA is even close to the best conference in the country this year, especially when you consider that the vast majority of these games were home games.
A fair criticism of the analysis above is that the 7-9-1 record is the result of having 70% of the conference being evaluated against the top teams in every other conference. However, I can refute this critique with two points: a) the only team with a winning record against quality competition is Minnesota (all at home too) and b) the reason that so many teams are up there is that they feasted on highly mediocre competition.
The WCHA combined non-conference record is 41-23-10 (Win%=0.62162). The combined non-conference record of the 7 teams above is 30-16-9 (Win%=0.62727). This means that the combined non-conference records of the top 7 teams are about as good as those of the bottom 3 teams. The reason for this is that the weak bottom 3 teams beat up on the worst teams in the NCAA, and the top 7 teams also racked up a positive winning percentage by beating up on the worst teams in the NCAA. This led to a high overall conference RPI because the RPI does not take individual games into account, but focuses on the overall records of teams. This means that a win over a bad team and a loss to a great team means the same thing as splitting two games against an average team. The result of this system is that the WCHA teams played a number of terrible teams, whose records do not compensate for the disparity of talent in NCAA hockey, while producing a mediocre performance against actual good teams, to give the conference a heightened RPI, putting more teams into the Pairwise Rankings (of which RPI is a component).
In conclusion, the WCHA is not that good and as it's 2:25 AM, I'm going to bed and not getting up until 2.
Not sure why it hasn't been posted yet, but here's the official "WE WON!" thread, which I've now turned into a diary due to the length of what I wrote. Of course UMHoops has all the analysis of the actual game, so go there to read a professional's (or quality amateur's) take on our play. I'm going to examine what this victory means in terms of our competition in the Big Ten standings and our tournament chances based on those standings.
Big win for us. Minnesota is a team with a resume very comparable to ours. They went 12-0 in non-conference play with their only OOC marquee victory coming against a then and now top 10 Louisville team. They have experienced the same difficulties we have in conference play, and now our conference records are even, and with our marquee victories and respectable loses in non-conference play*, our resumes are nearly even. Even though their record is better than ours, the fact that they've won only 3 of their last 9 games might give Michigan the edge.
*That depends on how you view the Maryland loss, FWIW their home record is good. Plus, besides Louisville, Minnesota took on a bunch of cupcakes
There are still games to play though and Minnesota has a favorable remaining schedule of NU, @Ill, Wiscy, and us. (Michigan's is, as we all know, @Iowa, PU, @Wisc, @Minn.) Minnesota has the ability to win 3 of these last 4 games, heck they certainly have the ability them to win all of them if you look at the fact that they beat Illinois by 26 at home (that is a tough road game though) and beat Wisconsin in Madison. But, given their recent struggles it's hard to make a prediction.
Michigan, of course, also has PSU, OSU and Wisconsin to work against in the Big10 standings (the only teams we could potentially pass or tie, at least).
Indiana couldn't pull off the upset tonight against Wisconsin (not that we could expect them to), and Wisconsin could easily go 2-2 in their last remaining regular season games assuming they lose at State, get a win either against us or at Minnesota, and beat Indiana. So, assuming they go 2-2, with a 10-8 conference record, we'd be hard pressed to pass or even tie them.
Ohio State has some tough games coming up against Illinois and Penn State at home, then at Purdue. Their season ends with some games they should win: at Iowa and home against NU, but an away game in the Big Ten is always losable, and they lost at NU last night, FWIW.
I think that no matter who they're playing we root against Ohio State (and not just because they're Ohio State), because Joe Lunardi has Ohio State as a 5 seed right now, and if we were able to pass them in the Big Ten standings that would be HUGE (we're only a half game back). Even if we ended up with the same record, I think our resume might have a slight edge, despite their two victories over us.
Penn State has two toss ups (@OSU and Illinois) and two likely victories left (Indiana and @Iowa), so I don't really know what to say about them. We'll know better in a couple of games who we'll be rooting for in the final two games.
There are obviously many other factors that determine whether we get in the tournament and we're not just fighting Big Ten teams for a spot (see jamiemac's diary for a well-written scoop on all that jazz). I chose to focus on Big Ten teams because A)Being 8th in the Big Ten does not look good on our resume, B)Though a team above us could get passed due to our good Ws, a better position in these rankings is the biggest step towards a bid, and C)A better placement in the rankings gives us a better seed in the Big Ten tournament, which winning at least one of these games is VERY important and a good seed (while we will have extreme difficulty getting a bye) obviously puts us in a better position to go deep there, which could all but secure us a spot in the dance.
It's well known what our team has to look forward to. While we all know that Minnesota can have a tendency to make us look good (see: football at Minn 2008), there is no reason we can't be optimistic after this game. Despite a quiet night for Manny (he did only play 22 minutes), we found weapons everywhere, and our 3-PFG% was much improved over its usually meh number--usually in the 20s, it was a respectable 46.4% tonight. We should all be only cautiously optimistic, though, as we've seen these types of games from our team before and still found a way to struggle afterwards, but this is the first game in recent memory that I (and maybe I'm alone here) feel came from purely outplaying our opponent and not us being more or less handed the victory. Minnesota did struggle from beyond the arc, but both teams' overall FG%s are similar. It came down to us taking advantage of nearly every opportunity they gave us and, as I said, 3 point rain making. It also seems Beilein is getting a good grasp on when and where different players are effective, and that might be the big key to winning more games.
A 2 win streak is good momentum going into Iowa where we will be favored, but where we will have to work to win. Then, of course, is the home game against Purdue where a W, if we win at Iowa, could be the final win on our resume that gets us to the tournament, since that would secure a .500 Big 10 record and add to our list of quality victories.
Well, I've wasted too much time on this, and I have a paper to finish for tomorrow (hopefully I can find inspiration to write as much there). I'll be leaving for Florida tomorrow where internet is sparse (the place I'll be staying, at least) so I may not be around here much, if at all, for the next week. So even if you won't miss me, I'll miss you guys.
Thanks for reading my novel if you made it all the way here.
Watching Michigan B-Ball win tonight gave me a possibly false sense of optimism about our tournament chances. Going 2-2 to finish the regular season would give us a very strong resume and doing any damage in the conference tournament on top of that would make us a near lock for the tournament. I don’t even remember the last time Michigan made the tourney, which is quite sad. I believe it was ’98 when I was only 6 years old and I didn’t even follow sports then. This got me thinking about another point. I would almost rather see U-M make the tourney than have the football team make a good bowl game (note that I said GOOD bowl game).
Many reasons could be why I feel this way. It could be that since its basketball season right now I feel more of a connection with basketball than football. Probably not, or could it be that since we haven’t made it in a decade I am desperately clinging on to the fact that we actually have a chance to go somewhere with our basketball team, which lest you forget, is nothing short of a miracle. Possibly this could be the reason, but I don’t think so. Or possibly that the OOC wins vs. Duke and UCLA gave me a false sense of hope that no doubt led me to think we can be a contender. Once again, no…
So that must mean that I like the basketball team more than the football team. Right? No, once again. In fact I love football much more than basketball and follow the football team more closely than the basketball team. I play varsity football, not basketball. So why then would I rather have U-M make the tourney than the football team win 9 games instead of 6 or 7, which in fact is the most likely scenario for this upcoming season.
This leads me to pose my actual question. Which postseason is better: College Football Bowl Season or March Madness? I would have to go with March Madness as I alluded to already. It is a much better atmosphere than the bowl season with Dick Vitale screaming about how UNC will go all the way this year and seeing multiple games on my TV at once during the first couple rounds and plus its overall a better format than the bowl system. Yes, I’m ragging on the BSC system, but that’s not the only reason why it’s better. By having a single elimination bracket with 65 teams you get the absolute best team in the nation when it matters most. In college football there may be a better team that wins the Rose Bowl or The Sugar Bowl than the team that brings home the title (true to this year). Also, watching Cinderella teams such as Davidson or George Mason provides such great storylines for the tourney and makes me feel good inside. I also enjoy filling out brackets and desperately rooting for Duke to win their Sweet 16 game, when in reality I hate them with all of my heart, just for the off chance of winning the extra 20 bucks. Oh yeah and did I mention the atmosphere of the whole process. Everybody gets pumped up about the tourney and I couldn’t say the same about bowl season.
Once again, I like football way more than basketball, but I just really that U-M makes the tourney. So, which postseason do you like better? Discuss
This Minnesota game is just the sort of effort we need from Grady if we ever want to become an elite team.
The entire game tonight, Grady broke the back of Minnesota's press. They would commit two defenders to try to trap him in the backcourt, and he would effortlessly slip around or between them. The team got into position faster on offense, we didn't have stupid turnovers that led to easy baskets, and on several occasions Michigan had a brief numerical advantage after Grady left two defenders sputtering behind him.
Grady's handle doesn't just help with breaking the press. Against Northwestern, when our guards would penetrate, they were often out of control. We had a ton of turnovers in the paint. Even when they didn't turn the ball over, our guards couldn't deliver a precise pass to our shooters on the outside, so the few threes we got off of kick-outs weren't great looks.
When Grady knifed his way into the lane tonight, the defenders didn't seem to even bother him. He might not be an premier finisher in the paint, but he delivers some pinpoint passes to shooters on the outside. When you're committed to living or dying by the three, you need someone that can get your shooters quality shots in rhythm. Grady certainly didn't cause tonight's rout by himself, but he definitely helped quite a bit.
Hopefully Beilein keeps Grady in the line-up going forward. He doesn't need to bench Lee to play Grady, so let's not pretend that it's necessarily a decision between the two of them. I trust Beilein's instincts as a coach, and I have heard all the criticism of Grady's defense. When it comes right down to it, though, I don't think we can be an elite team without Grady in the mix and playing well. Our ceiling without him his just not very high. Our offense with him can be supremely menacing.
The team we saw tonight is the sort of squad that could pull an upset or two in the tournament. Let's hope the team takes care of business these next few games and earns that opportunity.
Enough wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth regarding Steven Threet’s departure.
While I believe he could have developed into a competent quarterback (does anyone else see John Navarre parallels with this guy?) it’s still obvious that he was a square peg in a round hole in Michigan’s spread offense. His growth and development would have come at the expense of the whole offense.
So we face the likelihood of a true freshman starting at QB. Certainly not the preferred option, but an investigation of numbers shows that it can be survivable. I’ve got an analysis that says that if Tate Forcier gives Michigan the average output that BCS level true freshman QBs have given since 2003, it’ll be a vast improvement over last year. In fact, if U-M had that output last year, it likely would’ve meant 3-4 more wins. Put your faith in numbers, ladies and gentlemen.
I looked at the NCAA stats website and found that since 2003, there have been ten true freshman starting QBs at BCS level schools. This includes Sam Bradford from Oklahoma a couple years ago, as well as Chad Henne at U-M. However, it also includes two QBs from Duke, which barely qualifies as a BCS level program. This is how they fared, with averages at the bottom (my inexperience with formatting issues prevents me from making this more clear, so bear with me):
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT Wins Losses
Sam Bradford, Okla. 2007 237 341 69.5% 3121 36 8 11 3
Matthew Stafford, UGA 2006 135 256 52.7% 1749 7 13 9 4
Chad Henne, MICH 2004 240 399 60.2% 2743 25 12 9 3
Chris Leak, Fla. 2003 190 320 59.4% 2435 16 11 8 5
Josh Freeman, K St. 2006 140 270 51.9% 1780 6 15 7 6
Reggie Ball, Ga. Tech 2003 181 350 51.7% 1996 10 11 7 6
Brady Quinn, UND 2003 157 332 47.3% 1831 9 15 5 7
Jimmy Clausen, UND 2007 138 245 56.3% 1254 7 6 3 9
Zack Asack, Duke 2005 90 180 50.0% 966 5 8 1 10
Thaddeus Lewis, Duke 2006 180 340 52.9% 2134 11 16 0 12
Season Averages 168.8 303.3 55.7% 2000.9 13.2 11.5 6.0 6.5
The data is sorted by the number of wins posted that season by the representative teams. It could be said that Bradford, Henne, Leak and (to a lesser extent) Stafford each played with considerable talent that gave them better numbers than they would’ve had otherwise. It could also be said that this table includes two Duke QBs and two frosh Domers who pulled the numbers down. That’s why the averages are important.
Let’s look at what our guys Threet and Sheridan did last year:
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT Wins Losses
Steven Threet 2008 102 200 51.0% 1105 9 7 2 6
Nick Sheridan 2008 63 137 46.0% 613 2 5 1 3
Season Totals 165 337 49.0% 1718 11 12 3 9
So, uh, not that well.
Now, let’s make some assumptions regarding the upcoming season:
1) Tate Forcier comes in and performs at the average level of the QBs listed above, with the requisite TD and INT percentages.
2) However, because he is a freshman, he eases into the season before taking over completely at midseason – playing the equivalent of about 8 games.
3) Nick Sheridan actually improves to where Sheridan ≠ DEATH, but maybe Sheridan = Threet 2008 (which might be near death). He starts or plays significantly early in the season, but total PT is about 4 games. Again, with the requisite TD and INT percentages.
4) The last assumption would be to assume about 25 pass attempts a game.
How would such a scenario look?
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT
Tate Forcier (projected) 2009 112 200 56.0% 1319 8.7 7.6
Nick Sheridan (projected) 2009 77 150 51.3% 829 6.8 5.3
Season Totals 189 350 54.0% 2148 15.5 12.8
That is a huge improvement over last season. And I think it’s a reasonable base expectation for QB production in 2009.
I think what’s most important to look at in these numbers is the increase in completions, passing yards and TDs. Similar numbers last year would have meant, at a minimum, more sustained offensive drives, a few more third-down conversions and maybe 2-4 more first downs a game. Those things alone might have been enough to make a difference against Toledo, Purdue and Northwestern last year. The increase in the number of TD passes from last year’s 11 to 15-16 might have made the difference in the MSU and Utah games.
I know there are a lot of assumptions here, but it’s clear that poor QB play was probably the difference between a 3-9 season and a potential 6-6 or 7-5 season. Honestly, I think a best-case scenario for QB production this year might be like 2003 Chris Leak at Florida, and a worst-case would be like 2003 Reggie Ball at Georgia Tech.
I did like Threet, and I believe he had the potential, because of his experience, to post numbers similar to what I have here. However, it would’ve come at the expense of the offense that RichRod is trying to employ.
Let go of the angst, Wolverine fans. If Michigan gets mediocre production from the QB, things will likely improve greatly.
Hi everyone, my name is Ron and you may recognize my last name. But I am NOT in any way related to Tom. I just thought it would be clever to use his VH moniker. I live in Texas and work as a trainer for a lot of the local players. I recently found this site and would like to contribute in any way that I can. So without further ado, here is an interview with Jay Guy, a defensive tackle prospect out of Eisenhower TX. He is listed as 6-0 and 315, a little bit on the short side but plenty of substance.
Ron: So Jay, how is everything going as you prepare for your senior season?
Jay: It's going good. I've been hitting the weight room to get bigger. Coach also wanted me to get faster.
Ron: I see that Michigan is on your list of schools to consider. Tell me about how you became interested in them, and some of the other schools on your list right now.
Jay: Michigan has great tradition. I've been watching them since I was a kid. I've talked with Coach Rodriguez and he seems like a real cool down to earth kind of guy. I'm excited to visit Ann Arbor and show everyone what I can do. I'm also considering LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas right now. I really like Texas, but haven't received an offer.
Ron: Recently there seems to be a lot of kids who get home sick and transfer. Would you be okay with leaving Texas and going somewhere else that might be colder and far from home?
Jay: I mean, Texas is great and I love it here. But I'd have no problems going somewhere else. It's like, when you in the NFL, you have to be traveling all the time. So it's something I wouldn't mind getting adjusted to.
Ron: Is early playing time a factor for you?
Jay: Yeah, I'd like to see the field early. A lot of coaches have been telling them I can come in and compete right away.
Ron: What're you most excited about this next year?
Jay: Just the chance to visit all these different schools. I want to get accustomed to being away from home and just take in everything.
Ron: Have you been talking with any other recruits, and has anyone been persuading you to go anywhere?
Jay: Not really, I'd really like to meet some of the other recruits to see what they have to say about some of the schools I'm considering.
Ron: Is there any schools you grew up rooting against?
Jay: No, but I love to watch rivalry games, especially Michigan/Ohio State, and Oklahoma/Texas.
Ron: What is your biggest asset?
Jay: My will to work hard. I'm in the weight room everyday, and I just want to maximize my potential.
Ron: When do you think you'll make a decision?
Jay: Not until this fall, I want to take it all in.
Ron: Has anyone been in your ear about where to go to school?
Jay: Nah, but there's always people wanting me to stay home. But I don't listen to that too much.
Ron: Thanks man.