"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy March, everyone!
We're beyond the traditional winter months on the calendar and chatter of Spring Training promises warmer and longer days ahead.
For me, the arrivial of March really only means one thing: A cavalcade of intense college hoops dramatics. They call it March Madness. I am certain you've heard something about it before.
Over the next three weeks, a buffet of bubble battles, conference tournament elimination games and the opening rounds of the tournament itself will cut the game down from 343 to 16 teams.
Actually, we're below 330 teams right now as some hangers-on in the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley and Ivy leagues have already been eliminated. Sorry, Southeast Missouri State, but you didn't qualify for the OVC Tournament. You can stop any contigency plans for a parade in downtown Cape Giradeau. Of course, since you went 0-18 this year in the league, those plans probably weren't that far along anyway.
There will be a ton of hoops crammed in this a short period of time as we sort out who will be left standing and deemed #1 (not to mention, who will be named #66). As a college hoop junkie, I will be in Heaven. I shudder to think just how many games I will gamble on between now and St. Patrick's Day. And, then the NCAA and NIT tournaments will actually begin. Wow. Hold on Tight.
For Michigan fans, the arrival of March brings both great excitement and dread.
On one hand, the program is playing relevant hoops again. A year removed from one of the worst seasons in program history, Michigan sits squarely on the bubble with an obvious, and not impossible, road map into the NCAA Tournament. Doing so would break a decade-long qualifying absense from the final field of 65. That quest begins today at Wisconsin, in the first of at least three games remaining for Michigan of which the Wolverines need to scrape up two wins to likely make the field.
However, March has not been kind to the basketball program this decade. That's where dread sets in for Michigan fans. They've been dragged to the NCAA cut line before, only to see their hopes clipped in the end. Did you know that since their last NCAA appearance, Michigan is just 18-24 in the month of March?
Oh, that's no shock. I'm surprised it's not worse. We've had some lean times
Ok, so it's not that awful. It's not awesome, either. But, how about removing the 10-2 NIT mark compiled during those years? We're left with a brutal 8-22 record, all of which is against Big 10 foes either in regular season or league tournament games.
Ouch. Crap, that blows donkey.
Michigan has lost five regular season March games in a row and 11 of their last 14.
March Madness is to the basketball program as Pasadena is to the football program.
Triple Ouch, and thats a blow smart guy. You're On Notice
What's worse is how many of those March contests would made Michigan tournament bound had the result gone the other way.
In 2003, Michigan entered March tied with Wisconsin in the loss column for first place in the league. Late scoring droughts doomed Michigan in home losses to Illinois and Purdue. That was the last season Michigan was on probabtion, but its final 17-13 record would not have passed the grade anyway.
Eh. Who cares? It was good to be winning again. The probabtion being lifted was the biggest win of the season anyway. We we finally on the way back.
Which stomach punch loss to Indiana was worse? The 5-point road loss in Bloomington in 2004 to a sagging Hoosiers club with a losing record. Or, the 2006 season closer where the Wolverines vomitted a couple different double digit leads allowing lame duck Mike Davis to steal its tournament bid.
2006. Epic Fail. I wanted to tear of Tommy's head that day and feed it to zoo animals. How do you never beat Mike Fucking Davis in your entire coaching career? You have to work hard to blow that many games to that guy.
Courtney Sims missed dunk.
Is it too early to drink?
All those losses flipped UM from a tournament-looking team to the NIT or worse. And, it does not take into account any of the woes in the league tournament where Michigan has had plenty of chances to overcome those regular season gaffes. Mission Never Accomplished.
What's your point, I thought you said Happy March Madness?
What can Michigan do to break the cycle? I think they've already done it. They hired John Beilein. Beilein took over a complete rebuilding project last year. It's a feather in his cap that he rebuilt the program in his image and already has at least returned the Wolverines back to the level where his predecessor peaked. Getting Michigan to the brink of the tournament was the limit for Amaker.
I think we learned that Amaker is not that good of a head coach. He's a career #2 guy, best left to managing certain aspects of the team. As a head coach, he never was able to discover that new wrinkle or push that extra button to get the team those critical March wins. Its a different brand of ball this month, and you need a different brand of coach.
Beilien fits that bill. Chew on these numbers as we approach the tip today in Madison. During Michigan's stretch of futility, Beilein is 33-22 SU, 34-19-2 ATS in the month of March. While Michigan has been losing critical March games for the last decade, Beilein has been winning them.
That above record includes the 1-3 marks from last year when Beilein arguably faced his widest talent gap between his team and the bulk of its schedule. Last season was the first year that a Beilein team had a losing record in March against the spread since his second year at Richmond. That was also the first year of Michigan's NCAA drought.
The talent gap has clearly shrunk, evidenced by the fact the Wolverines are on the brink of doubling their league wins from last season and, more importantly, ending their long tournament absence. The club still is not loaded with talent. But there's enough skill and smarts on the team, that I trust it in a game like we have today, specifically because Beiein is behind it prepping and prodding them. I expect this March to deliver results that we're more accustomed to from Beilein squads.
The battle of coaching wits between Beilein and Bo Ryan today will be fascinating. Of course, it might create a game played in the 50s and not look aesthetically pleasing. But, it will create a game than ends closer than the experts in the desert (Wisco is an 7-point favorite) think.
Michigan has the chance to have the two best players on the court throughout the game. I like C.J. Lee's chances to lock up Travon Hughes so he doesn't kill Michigan like he did back in December. Manny Harris will not shrink from this moment.
I've seen enough of the Badgers this year to know that despite what defensive stats are out there, this is not one of Bo Ryan's vintage lock down units. I've seen teams from like Long Beach State and Iona carve out quality looks against this defense, convert and nearly pull off upsets. The Badgers have had worse moments against the league's bottom three than Michigan. At home this season against likely tournament and bubble teams, the Badgers are just 1-5 ATS. Michigan is one of those teams. I dont think they'll be able to shake free from Michigan all day.
The Wolverines will have their chances today. If they can convert a few more open looks than usual, they will be there in the end and we'll have another dramatic Sunday afternoon of basketball on our hands. Just in time for March.
Being extremely superstitious when it comes to sporting events, I completely believe that the curse of the mgoblog basketball liveblog curse is just as strong as the Madden curse, the SI Jinx, and Angry Michigan Safety Hating God. I was shocked to see that Brian does not believe this curse exists, despite his admittance that the evidence is piling up. Knowing that Brian is extremely reasonable when it comes to numbers, I decided to spend some time on this grey, Oregon Saturday to go thru the archives to see how bad the piling evidence actually looks. Warning: the results are not pretty.
1/15/05 - 66-62 W @ PSU. Brian's 1st foray into liveblogs was actually successful. This was a messy, injury ridden season so this was also the only game Brian cared to liveblog.
11/29/05 - 74-53 W v Miami(yes, that Miami). The high point of the exercise. Arguably Tommy's best team holding their own in the B10/ACC challenge.
3/9/06 - 55-59 L v Minn in the B10 tourney. Arguably Tommy's best team in arguably his most crushing defeat. After an equally crushing loss at home to Indiana that would have likely sealed a tourney bid, the team need a good showing the in B10 tourney to get in. Instead the curse forces a loss to a team that the Wolverines beat 71-55 and 72-50 during the regular season.
11/28/06 - 67-74 L @ NC State. Miami(yes, that Miami) is avenged for the loss in the prior season's B10/ACC challenge.
1/24/07 - 58-71 L @ Wisc. Hard to blame this one on a curse as it was on the road against the #2 team in the country, even if Wisc was horribly overrated.
3/9/07 - 62-72 L v OSU in the B10 tourney. A week after blowing a golden opportunity to knock off the #1 ranked Buckeyes and punch their ticket to the dance, the boys had the opportunity to make amends. Win either game and Tommy is probably still coach.
3/13/07 - 68-58 W v Utah State (NIT). No comment
Brian had his hands full breaking the Carr retirement, forcing everyone onto the ledge w/ the Ferentz/Hoke rumors, and detailing the snake oil. By the time that calmed down the season was in effect already over.
1/7/09 - 72-66 (OT) W @ Ind. Probably a close 2nd to the 06 loss to Minn in detailing the power of the liveblog curse. They needed to overcome a 20 pt 2nd half deficit to beat the basketball equivalent to 07 Notre Dame football.
1/14/09 - 51-66 L @ Ill. They hung close for 20 mins before the curse settled in and took over.
1/17/09 - 54-72 L @ PSU. Just a horrible, curse-aided performance on the road.
2/7/09* - 61-69 L @ UConn. W/out the liveblog who knows how those last 4 mins play out?
2/10/09* - 42-54 L v MSU. 42 points against your biggest basketball rival. Enough said.
2/15/09* - 70-67 (OT) W @ NW. Truly, a miracle. The curse gave it a great fight w/ the Coble double-pump 3 to send it to OT.
2/22/09 - 60-70 (OT) L @ Iowa. The curse allows Iowa to send it to OT by sending a 90+% FT shooter to the line twice in the final minute. It then causes havoc w/ the Harris controversy.
* An mgoblog liveblog in address only as Brian was out of the country and, therefore, did not host it.
Ladies and gentlemen, the defense rests. Brian, I throw myself upon the mercy of the mgoblog court and plead for the liveblogs to cease and desist. I think there is more than enough evidence above to support this decision.
Note: If I were more technically savvy I would have provided links to those posts. The dates are there, feel free to use the archive to look at the carnage.