This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
Not in a sleepy mood right now and with the caveat of I have not seen Tenn play one game this year and there is no assurance they get by Mercer.... I decided to look over some data points on Tenn assuming they win. Here is some quick and dirty intel on the team a lot of people are suddenly high on. (Mercer's big guy has a concussion so that hurts them Sunday assuming he cannot play).
Tenn plays in the SEC - this is looking like a very sorry conference. Three teams made it to the NCAA: Florida (18-0), Kentucky (12-6), Tenn (11-7). Georgia at 12-6 in conf was invited to NIT... and promptly lost to LA Tech. So conference = bad.
How did Tenn play vs "good opponents". They look a lot like Texas. A high variability. They crushed a lot of the lower SEC teams by 20, and played the good teams kinda close some of the times. They played a quite awful non conf outside Wichita State and Virginia. For some reason they played Xavier twice in non conf (splitting). Their one signature win is an absolute destruction of Virginia in December. Obviously a lot can change in 3 months and maybe it was just "one of those nights" for a very good defensive team in VA.
- By 9 @Wichita State
- By 8 @Kentucky [only 1 meeting]
- By 25 @Florida
- By 9 to Florida
- By 7 to Florida in tourney
So Florida is their standard as the season progressed and they have narrowed the gulf as the year went by.
They beat Iowa in OT to get into the tourney earlier this week.
So how do they "stack up" age wise and physically - which is the go forward question for UM opponents? First their starting 5 has a ton of experience - 3 seniors and 2 juniors; a major luxury in the current NCAA.
Looking at the Iowa game - their starters play the bulk of the minutes, everyone at least 32 minutes (in an OT game). Two main subs who played 12-14 minutes. Basically 7 deep; UM plays generally 8 deep in games that refs don't erase Morford in the first 2 minutes, but seem to run teams into the ground with our good conditioning, so potential advantage to offset Tenn's age/experience advantage.
Similar situation vs UF in the SEC tourney; 5 starters 27-37 minutes, 1 sub with 23 minutes - the other 2 under 10 minutes.
Beefy quotient - about the same as Texas. Two big bruisers inside Jarnell Stokes & Jeronne Maymon, both 6'8 260, 54%ish shooters. I am confident with Morgan against one, but GR3 unlike with Texas won't be out weighed by 25 lbs but by a lot more. Offset.... that dude has to chase GR3 on the perimeter. Of the two Stokes is the big target with 15 PPG and 10 RPG. The other Maymon is 10 PPG and 8 RPG.
They play 3 guards, but unlike Texas these guards have size ...and experience.... two are 6'6 (one is 6'2) so a good match for Caris and Nik size wise. Of the 3, the main man is Jordan McRae. He of 18.7 PPG. Looks like a high volume shooter to get those points with a 43.6% FG and 37% 3 PT FG. The other 2 guards are 33% 3 PT FG, but Josh Richardson (4th leading scorer and 6'6) has a nice FG% for a guard at 45%.
There 2-3 main bench guys are all guards.
So takeaways - their top 5 play a lot. They have 2 beefy guys in those top 5. If said beefy guys can get into foul trouble or tired, they get smaller with 6'5 type guards. It's a long team though, aside from one dude at 6'2 we are talking 6'5 to 6'8 for every other of their top 7-8. They are experienced and maybe coming together but an Iowa team in a tailspin just took them to overtime last week... I see a lot of similarities to Texas in this matchup.
If Mercer wins Sunday, this message will self destruct.
The Women's Softball Selection Show was tonight. Michigan will obviously host a regional as a national seed. They are the #2. As for the teams they'll face in their regional:
Ann Arbor Regional - May 21-23 at Ann Arbor, Michigan
Notre Dame (45-10) vs. Illinois State (32-18)
Wright St. (30-28-1) vs. No. 2 seed Michigan* (46-6)
I'll see if I can't convince Tim to have some sort of preview out for the weekend. If not, I may try to pull double duty.
No word on game times that I've seen yet. If Michigan can advance, they'll see the winner of the Tennessee regional.
Here's the question: Assume MSU makes it past Maryland (not a foregone conclusion at all.) Nonetheless, if MSU plays UNI, who do you root for? The right choice (and only choice, as far as I'm concerned) is for UNI to win.
But . . . a complicating factor: brackets, and money riding on the tourney. If MSU winning BENEFITS you financially, and UNI winning causes you to lose money, who do you root for?
I suppose the choice is still easy if you only have $10 or $20 in an office pool, but what's your price? Is there a point where you swing to the dark side and root for MSU? It's the "Indecent Proposal" question. (would you root for MSU for $1,000,000?)
A week or so ago, I got an e-mail from an MSU alum reminding me that it had been some ridiculous amount of days since UM had beat MSU in basketball or football. (full disclosure: I did call and hum the Victors 4 - 5 years ago after yet another epic Sparty collapse.) Regardless, the last two years factors into the equation for me. While I didn't mind what happend for State last year, I can't stand to see MSU continue to win. I want them to go down, regardless of the money. And after all the App State gloating, who better for them to lose to then UNI?
First we have to remember that this is a good year to be in the Big Ten as it is an extremely deep and talented conference, and would be considered a power conference this year. This makes it possible to make the NCAA Tourney with 19 wins and a Big Ten tourny win, but 20 or 21 and add a BTT win would lock up a birth for them.
Secondly, their out of conference schedule this year is on par with last years. Last year they played UCLA, Duke (2), UCONN, and Maryland. This year they have played Creighton, Marquette, Alabama, Boston College, and Utah (4 of them away from home), and still play UCONN and Kansas. That is 7 quality opponents, now granted they are currently 1-4 in those games, but win 1 against either UCONN or Kansas and all of a sudden you have a 2nd quality OOC win. This would be the same as (corrected! sorry apparently counting to 2 was tougher today that I thought) last year. The tough schedule will help them with their RPI, and as dumb as the RPI is, it matters to the selection committee.
Last year after the Big Ten Tournament Michigan was 20-13 and drew a 9 seed.
So what would they have to do to make the tournament. Here is a scenario for you. # of wins in ( )
- First you must win the two cupcake games left: Detroit (5), Coppin St. (6)
- Beat UCONN (7) at home: They could have won on the road last year
- Take care of business against the Big Ten basement dwellers: Indiana (8&9), Iowa (10&11), Northwestern (12&13)
- Go 5-5 against Penn State (14) Michigan State (15), Wisconsin (16), Ohio State (17), and Minnesota (18)
- Beat either Purdue or Illinois (19)
- Win 1 BTT game (20)
Is 11 Big Ten wins tough? Sure. They could have accomplished it last year though had they beat Penn State and Iowa on the road. The toughest, and probably most important, thing to do is to sweep Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern. Every game you lose to those teams is another you have to win against the powers of the conference.
So when will we know if they have realistic tournament hopes? The 6 games between January 14th and January 30th. Home games against Indiana and Iowa bookend games vs. UCONN, at Wisky, at Purdue, and vs. MSU. They go 4-2 or 5-1 they could be on their way. Less than that and they could have a lot of work left to do come Big Ten Tournament time.
So in a video on the front page of ESPN.com from College Gameday this morning, Jay Bilas says that he thinks Michigan should be in the NCAA tournament. Could it be that Beilein's dirty players are starting to warm his cold heart?