"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Nobody ever reads this stuff anyway, just like nobody mentions Minnesota as a major Final Four contender. They'll learn. They'll all learn…donchya know.
How it works:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
About Last Time:
Two people picked Ohio State to win. Of those two TroyNienberg picked the lower final score and won it. I know what you're thinking: can we get Adam Finley to become a regular commenter too and thus complete the c. 2002 kicking trifecta? We are working on that.
This Week's Game:
Michigan @ The Pogo Stick People tomorrow night. Bounce bounce bounce bounce.
And the Prize:
It's not time to grow up yet.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Goldy. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm constantly finds that the best conference alignment would be to put Michigan/MSU and Ohio State with the Illinois/Indiana schools, go to 9 conference games, and make PSU-OSU and the Brown Jug regular nonconference games .. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
1/13/2013 – Michigan 53, OSU 56 – 16-1, 3-1 Big Ten
Michigan lost its mind to start this game, finding themselves down a grim amount—24 points at the maximum—as their offense abandoned them and an excess of switching on the defensive end confused them more than their opponent. It was a brutal flashback to the time when 20 turnovers was not an uncommon thing to go over, and faith-shaking.
I thought back to the Amaker/Ellerbe days when I was allowed to go watch something else once Michigan was down 20, and other than that 34-2 start at Cameron I couldn't think of anything else that had gotten so out of hand so quickly. I considered turning it off at one especially grim bit.
Then a thing happened: Michigan stepped up on defense and started chipping away, chipping away, chipping away. By halftime it was twelve. They cut it to eight, saw the lead push out again, and cut it back to eight again, this time following up. Six. Four. One; back to three. Finally, tied. Michigan had clawed all the way back from a 21-point deficit against a ranked team on the road.
Championship stuff. Gritty grit Eckstein stuff. Sportswriter hearts swelled, encomiums at the ready. It is in these fires that the heart of a champion is forged. The will to win surpasses. They just wanted it more. The trend was clear, and the final six minutes would be distance Michigan continued to put between themselves and OSU after their disoriented start.
Michigan then lost its mind again. The next six shots were all misses, and only two were even close to good looks, both missed threes from Robinson and Hardaway. The other four shots were nuts: an incredibly tough long two from Burke and jack-it-up contested threes from Burke, Hardaway, and Stauskas. If that's what you've got at the end of the shot clock, okay I guess. Those four shots were launched with 16, 17, 25, and 26 seconds on the clock*, and the box score credits Evan Ravenel with a block on the Burke three. That shot: not a good idea.
THESE ARE THE WAGES OF NUTS
They did not attempt to run their offense, and after all that. After imploding and then crawling their way back into it. After figuring out how to do things, they did not do them.
By the time this was over they were down six points with under two minutes left; while they got a shot to steal the game late thanks to a couple of steals that led to fast-break baskets—one of which even counted—the loss is right there.
I don't get it. I get being flustered in your first road game against elite competition, and falling behind extensively. I get scraping and clawing your way back into the game gradually when you're a good team. I don't get doing that and immediately going back to flustered. Turnovers or an inability to find a shot and just jacking it up, okay. That… that is confusing, like if that Benjamin Button movie was about a guy who yo-yoed between 22 and 6.
They are young, it turns out. If you think about it hard you can realize this yourself despite what it looks like on the court. Squint and maybe rub your temples and you'll be like "ohhhhh right, they have five freshmen who play." For the first time, it looked like it.
At the beginning, and at the end, anyway. In the middle, they had a near-elite team choosing to initiate their offense with 15 seconds left because they didn't want any part of a long game with the Wolverines. Work on the bit where you're six, I think.
*[I bet that is actually a couple seconds shorter than the actual shot clock; I'm just taking the difference between the previous recorded event and the shot, and there's often a second or three that runs off the clock before the shot clock resets as the team takes it out of bounds or goes for the rebound.]
How young? The most shocking stat on a page that proclaims Michigan the second-best team in the country at defensive rebounding: Michigan is 338th of 347 teams in average experience. (FWIW: Kentucky is a lot below them, and Texas is dead last.)
It's not a mystery. In re: why it's so hard to win on the road in this league. In this game, Michigan got the short end of three not very close block/charge calls worth a total of eight points, saw an obvious goaltend on a ball that went off the backboard not get called, and saw Trey Burke grabbed from behind on a breakaway for a foul on the floor instead of the only two possibly legit calls: and-one or an intentional foul. Oh and there was that unbelievable Hardaway-no-call on a possession Michigan ended up hitting a three. Also Evan Ravenel hit an 18-footer, which cannot be legal.
Yeah, Michigan didn't get called for many fouls themselves, because they never do. They're currently #1 in defensive free throw rate.
I'm just like… okay. That sucks, and is predictable. At least it's relevant!
Corollary. Kenpom keeps bringing this up: the narrow winner of a home game is very likely to lose the return match due to things like the above.
When the home team was the winner of the first game, they were a collective 309-326 in the rematch. That’s right, a home winner is more likely to lose a rematch than win it. It gets better, though. A home team winning the first game by single-digits went a collective 96-195, winning 33.0% of the time. Considering that overall, road teams win conference games about 38% of the time, close home winners are really not proving their superiority at all.
Wait, there’s more. Home teams that won by one or two points were 16-52 in the rematches, winning just 23.5% of the time.
This game was a point off his prediction, FWIW, which means I should not ever poke Kenpom.
STOP THE ELBOW REVIEWS. Stop it. The elbow reviews. Stop it. If there is a truly flagrant elbow delivered to a player, have the league suspend the guy after the game. Since that almost literally never happens there will not be a major impact, so we can cease halting games for five minutes of staring at a man staring at a monitor for no reason whatsoever. It's like instant replay in football that never changes anything.
Also just take the good threes okay. A thing that drives me nuts: guys passing up good looks at three so they can take a dribble and shoot a long two, which Burke and Levert both did during Michigan's extended time in the wilderness early. Just take the open shot you have an equal chance of hitting that is worth 50% more, please.
Well… Craft. In the preview I said this had to be at least a draw, and it wasn't. Burke was 2/8 from 2, 2/5 from three before and hit five free throws. 15 points on 13 shots is not particularly efficient, and then 4 assists to 4 turnovers is a fail. You may want to mentally deduct the last three as well since it was a meaningless, banked heave with a second left. Craft wasn't that efficient himself—9 points, 9 shots—but his role is to turn Burke into not the best player on the floor, and he did that. There is a reason he's one of the few non-Michigan players to have a tag on this blog.
That's the thing that Michigan lacks, by the way, an elite defender. Ohio State seems to have too many of them and nobody who can actually hit a shot, which is why they had to squeeze this win out despite Michigan putting up 38% from the floor—but it would be nice if Michigan had a guy they could go to to harass the opponent into a bad day.
The main non-Craft problem: terrible screens? In this game the screens didn't seem to actually slow anyone down. That's not always the screener's problem since he doesn't control how close to him the ballhandler goes. It didn't seem like the answer here was very close at all, and frequently what resulted was an instant trap on the ballhandler.
Stauskas: shut off. Three shots, all threes, all misses. Two of those were very bad shots clearly arising from a frustration at not being involved, the second one of the Fatal Four discussed above. I wonder if would have been more effective if he had gotten the obvious-obvious-obvious block call on that first drive. After that he didn't really try to do anything once he got his hands on the ball. In situations like this where the guy is in Stauskas's shorts, where are the back cuts? Vogrich was usually good for one of those a game despite being not six-six. I'm puzzled why Stauskas isn't getting at least a couple backdoor opportunities a game.
Rebounding: sufficient on defense, meh on offense. At this point I think you should put aside any remaining skepticism about Michigan's defensive rebounding. They're due for some regression, but OSU could only grab six offensive rebounds—21%. If it wasn't pretty good they would have had one of those nights by now, either against Pitt or KState or this outfit. Michigan just improved its season average against Ohio State. It is legit.
Meanwhile, once you add in a few "team" offensive rebounds, Michigan actually outperformed OSU in this one, but barely. 23% is nothing to write home about. But, hey, I'll take winning rebounding matchups against OSU.
McGary check-in. I really wanted him on the floor more than Morgan in this one. In 18 minutes he put up 3/3 shooting, got two offensive rebounds, and blocked two shots, both rather impressively.
Depth. Er. Hardaway: 40 minutes. Robinson: 38. Burke: 37. Stauskas got some sucked away because of the abovementioned items, so Albrecht and Levert both got around 10 minutes… hopefully one or the other develops into someone who can take some of the heat off those guys. Albrecht in particular was impressive.
Hello. Brian again.
|WHAT||Michigan at Ohio State|
Heart Of All Evil, Ohio
|WHEN||1:30 PM Sunday|
|LINE||OSU -2 (Kenpom)|
ABANDON A LOT LESS HOPE THAN USUAL YOU GUYS
AHHHHHH I LIKE PRETENDING I'M AT THE DENTIST
On offense, Ohio State is Deshaun Thomas and a cliff. Thomas puts up almost a third of OSU's shots, connecting at a 52% clip from two and 40% from three, with an impressively low turnover rate. He's another one of those NBA prototype small forwards that gets drafted into duty as a "power forward" in college, and will provide a stiff test for Glenn Robinson III—and the team as a whole. With 6'5"+ guys at two of the other wing spots, Michigan may end up switching a lot of screens in an attempt to force Thomas into jumpers.
Thomas's box scores against the top opposition OU has played reveals a consistent level of production:
Michigan does not have an elite interior defender like Duke and Kansas, but neither are they as incompetent positionally at the five as Illinois is. Thomas will get his; Michigan would do well to force him to take two-point jumpers as much as possible. Note the assists, or lack thereof, as well. Not sure if that's on him or his teammates or a combination… either way, heavy rotation to him probably won't burn Michigan too badly.
The other star-type substance for Ohio State is point guard Aaron Craft, who hounded Trey Burke for most of last year. Burke's box scores versus OSU:
|GAME RESULT||2PT FG||3PT FG||FT/FTA||PTS||A||TO||STL||MIN|
Craft forced Burke into 16 turnovers in three games. This year, Burke has twelve in his last 11 games and is averaging 1.6 per game against major competition. If Burke is going to be the national player of the year, this is the matchup he has to flip from last year. He can't be as efficient as he has been for big chunks of the year but he has to turn in something at least on par with his performance in Michigan's win last year.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Craft has not picked up the offensive slack left by the departures of Sullinger and Buford. He remains a low-usage player of middling effectiveness, shooting 44%/33%. He does a good job as a distributor; OSU needs points from someone, though, and he doesn't appear to be the guy. Duke basically dared him to score and he responded with a 2 for 11 performance from two, 1 of 4 from three. He had seven points on nine shots against Kansas and only made two shots in the halfcourt against Illinois, adding two fast break layups off his own steals to crack into double digits.
Shooting guard Lenzelle Smith is a quality three-point shooter who is a liability once you run him off the line. He shoots 46% from within the arc, doesn't get to the line, and is under 60% when he does get there. Small forward Sam Thompson is a super-athletic sophomore without much game outside of leaping over people and dunking on their face—think Rodney Williams a couple years ago.
Ohio State has a rotation similar to Michigan's at the five, with Amir Williams and Evan Ravenel splitting minutes about down the middle. Neither has much post game; Ravenel is slightly more likely to put up a shot, and Williams picks up a lot of free throws—that he converts at a 50% clip. Williams is a shot alterer with a block rate above 10% and a high-volume offensive rebounder who gets in foul trouble frequently. Ravenel has some OREB game himself but is a less imposing defender at 6'8" to Williams's 6'11". He may get the occasional post touch.
That's six; OSU goes eight deep. Sophomores LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott are the primary post players. Ross is a high-volume, high-turnover black hole is an effective slasher and not much of a shooter. Scott has emerged into an assist machine and defensive menace—top ten steal rate—in his second year of being Not Trey Burke. He's not a shooter at all, with a 56/44/37 FT/2/3 shooting line.
Ohio State had somewhat close games against powers that finished in defeat. OSU actually led Duke (at Duke) most of the way, but fell behind at the six minute mark and lost by five. A home game against Kansas was much the same way, with OSU leading for much of the first half before finding offensive stagnation and letting the game slip away from them. They had just eight points in the final ten minutes.
Less understandable than getting Withey'd was a 19-point blowout at Illinois; Purdue hung relatively tough at Mackey, but was never in serious threat of taking the lead. The rest of OSU's schedule has very bad; their only KP100 wins are against #92 Purdue and #85 Washington.
It's hard to separate out what is real in these numbers and what is the schedule:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||52.3 (43)||16.2 (13)||35.6 (76)||35.4 (180)|
|Defense||43.1 (24)||21.9 (115)||26.6 (22)||31.0 (86)|
That looks capital-E elite and has the Buckeyes tenth in the Kenpom rankings, but it is built on a lot of dominating blowouts against bad teams. Games against major competition have gone less well… but other than that Illinois game, there's nothing there you can point out as a huge-huge disappointment.
Burke vs Craft must be at least a draw. I don't think Michigan is winning a lot of games where Burke goes 1-11 from the floor with 8 turnovers. This is going to be a war; quien es mas macho?
Two point jumpers for everyone. Bizarrely, the only players who crack 40% shooting two point jumpers for OSU are Ravenel and Williams, and that's very small sample size. Thompson, Scott, and Craft are hovering around 25%. By contrast, Michigan has Burke above 50% and Robinson and Hardaway near it. Stauskas not so much, but only 13% of Stauskas attempts are two point jumpers.
If Michigan can keep OSU away from the rim, they should be able to win HORSE against these guys. If they had some variety of pack-line defense they could run, that would be ideal. They don't, but they can help off just about anyone not named Thomas and they'll be fine.
Rebound on par. Through three games in conference, Michigan is second in both offensive and defensive rebounding, albeit against meh competition. On the other hand, Ohio State has played Purdue and Illinois instead of Northwestern and Iowa and is currently getting shot down on the offensive boards (8th) and doing well on defense (third). Part of Win At HORSE is battling the Buckeye to a stalemate on the boards. Without a lot of dual post action from either team and Michigan just about matching OSU's athleticism, that should be doable.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 4! Screw you, Kenpom! BOOM
1/9/2013 – Michigan 62, Nebraska 47 – 16-0, 3-0 Big Ten
on mah grind (Bryan Fuller)
also note all five Nebraska players are in this shot looking at Burke
Yesterday's game was an ugly slow-it-down slugfest that brought one particular game to mind: Michigan's matchup with that 2005 Illinois team everyone brings up when they attempt to put this year's offense in historical context. The Illini were 23 games undefeated, Michigan was 3-6 in the league and so injury-wracked that walk-ons Sherrod Harrell, Ashtyn Bell, and John Andrews got 51 minutes between them. Collectively they attempted three shots.
Michigan's strategy consisted of taking the air out of the ball, giving it to Dion Harris with the shot clock winding down, and vaguely hoping. It darn near worked. Michigan kept contact the whole night, leading at points, and eventually went down to a narrow six-point defeat. It was an extreme underdog kind of strategy willing to trade possession-to-possession efficiency for increased variance, because over time Michigan was just going to die.
Better to up the randomness: no turnovers, no transition buckets, all half-court jump shots which can do things like rim out. If basketball had innings, you'd lose by more, on average. It doesn't.
So Nebraska came out determined to make this basketball game an exercise in half-court blithering. Michigan obliged, clanking a series of threes and free throws. They were never really threatened and pulled away for a comfortable win at the end—more comfortable than those amazing Illini, by some distance. By the end they'd fallen a few points short of Kenpom/Vegas, understandable in a game with a mere 57 possessions. By comparison, Michigan's only other game in the 50s this year was Binghamton. Give them the extra ten opportunities at the basket they had against Iowa or Northwestern, and change the tempo of the game to get them, and… well, yeah.
This is what it's like to be the overdog against a team that knows they're nowhere near your level. The opponent tries to whittle down the time and opportunities you have to display your superiority, and when your keep coming up craps on your shots things get a little sticky. This game serves as a reminder that the great hand of fate is waiting to crush you, but shouldn't impact expectations going forward much, if at all.
Redundant Bullets Header Section
Photos. From Bryan Fuller:
Concerns: do we have them should we have them what? Yeah, a couple. One: Michigan had only six assists on 21 makes. At times it seemed like too much of the offense was guys going one on one. Maybe that was just Nebraska's defensive philosophy? I don't recall much help defense or switching. Six is a really low number, though, and I don't think that was all on shots that usually go down not doing so.
Two: Nebraska was able to keep their turnovers way down (just six). Turnover avoidance is the only bright spot on their offense, so again this may be part of their extreme underdog philosophy. It would be nice to have a defense that could pick up steals to spur Michigan's excellent transition offense; at this point that does not seem to be in the cards.
Pounding the glass. Michigan's offense actually reached a respectable 1.1 PPP by the game's end despite subpar shooting everywhere because they had their usual lack of turnovers and they pounded the offensive boards. Michigan grabbed 41% of their misses, with three to each of the frontcourt guys (McGary, Morgan, Robinson) and a whopping five "team" offensive rebounds that IIRC were mostly Mitch McGary being a possession-generating animal. Like that one where he was roaring out of bounds and flung it off a Nebraska player. That's probably a "team" rebound.
Because of that, McGary's impact on the box score was considerably lower than I expected it would be after watching the game: 1/4 shooting, three OREB, three DREB, a block, a steal, 18 minutes. That looks like not much, but my eyes are all like "he is rounding into form as a monster possession-generator." Back to back with the Iowa game it's exciting to see him round into a guy who makes an impact whenever he hits the floor, which he will do literally at times. Frequently, even. I bet he dives at squirrels on the Diag if they're orange enough.
Remember when Zack Novak won the Michigan dunk contest?
Tweet of the night #2:
I feel like I just watched a Michigan State football game
Tweet of the night #3, in response to #2:
[ed: reference to this]
Tweet of the night #4, in re: Minnesota:
Please write your own term papers, please write your own term papers, please write your own term papers...
And Tweet of the night #5, in re lol:
Periodic Hardaway complete player alert. Just one assist in this game, which is not a huge surprise with six total, but made up with an 11-DREB double-double. Nebraska got just 18% of their misses, which is fantastic. Also it is perhaps further evidence of extreme underdog strategy: the Cornpack was so focused on getting back to prevent transition opportunities that there was almost never anyone on the glass.
KNITTING LADIES OF CRISLER, WE SALUTE YOU. A Michigan woman comes prepared for commercial breaks.
yeah you know I made this scarf myself
This is becoming a thing.
Periodic bitching about long twos. Gonna do it: in this game there were several instances in which it seemed a player—Burke and Hardaway generally—passed up a good look at a three for a two just inside the line that was at least as difficult a shot. Burke in particular can get that eighteen footer whenever he wants, so unless the shot clock's under ten keep working.
Also in complaints: it seemed like Nebraska went under screens all night and Burke too frequently allowed them to do this instead of pulling up for the three. No hedge and guy goes under screen means that screen is not disrupting the balance of the defense, and the driving lane isn't great since the guy isn't trying to fight through over the top. I'll take an open three from Burke any time.
Stauskas. I'm watching Stauskas get to the basket and dish impressive assists and wonder a bit about next year. If Burke and Hardaway are gone, isn't he going to be the primary creator on offense? I guess it'll depend on how good Derrick Walton is and how much GRIII develops his handle. Smooth out some of Stauskas's rough edges with an offseason, though, and he's a credible shot creator.
Gauntlet: now. The next month of Michigan's season:
- @ OSU
- @ Minnesota
- @ Illinois
- @ Indiana
- @ Wisconsin
- @ Michigan State
Here it is. Purdue and Northwestern should be slam dunks, and I'm not too worried about Wisconsin no matter where it is this year. Then you've got a couple should-wins (OSU at home, @ Illinois) and the four road games that will decide damn near everything. Win all the should-wins and go 2-2 there and you've got to be feeling good about winning the league. In all likelihood there are three losses in this stretch, though, and it'll come down to holding down home court against Illinois, State, and Indiana to finish out the year.
Ah yup. I've seen this in my twitter feed a half-dozen times but if you don't have it, here's Chris Paul apropos of nothing:
Honestly, if Burke went in the top ten would you blink? I would be like "yep."
I regret I only have but one life to give for excessively elaborate charge calls. Ed Hightower is fine after an incident in which, well:
If there's a purple heart for referees, there shouldn't be one. Also Hightower has it.
Last night West Virginia shot 15% on their 3s and 38% on their 2s on the road. And won.
Texas is horrible. Meanwhile, Illinois is all like OH NO NOT AGAIN:
Illinois just crested 1.0 in that OSU game, BTW. They kind of are thrash.