at least it's not just us?
3/5/2011 – Michigan 70, Michigan State 63 – 19-12, 9-9 Big Ten
[KIDS! Due to the exact content of the quote this column is built around there are a couple of swears included herein. You should read something else right now.]
right: Marissa McClain/Daily
Set aside the fact that the coach complaining about a last-second layup left his starters in with his team up 50 points against Michigan once. Look past the game two years ago in which Durrell Summers threw down a dunk with 11 seconds left and the shot clock turned off in a 17-point game. Try to forget that the last second layup put Michigan up seven, not 19, and came on a possession that started with 16 seconds on the clock in a two possession game, and that Darius Morris had passed up a similarly open layup with near-disastrous results earlier in the year. Squint hard and pretend that Michigan State doesn't currently features a high master of on-court whine and trash-talk in Draymond Green, that Kalin Lucas didn't chuck the ball at Morris after his layup, that Lucas wasn't the first guy to open his mouth in the handshake line and probably wasn't offering salutations to Morris's mother.
Ignore the many reasons why the epic post-game meltdown about "class" currently underway on the Michigan State internets is ridiculous. If you can't—understandable—at least run off somewhere else to get your fill and then come back when you're ready.
That dispensed with: Michigan State basketball fans, even the elaborately reasonable ones, are whining about class on the internet. Since a Vick isn't involved, this can only mean one thing: they lost, and it wasn't that close, and they can't say anything else. Basketball! The game with the ball that you bounce and attempt to throw through a hoop and if you're Michigan you never do it quite as much as Michigan State, certainly not twice in one season. It is in this sport that a Michigan team with no seniors and approximately 45% freshman usage has reduced the Michigan State fanbase to a blubbering collection of brahs with zeroes on their chest looking up the Queensberry Rules and fainting at rough language. In other news, Michigan fans did the same after a football game in fall and earth's magnetic poles have flipped.
Michigan didn't even play that well. They shot poorly and Stu Douglass took two NBA threes for no reason and every shot that wasn't a delicately executed easy bucket was a flung prayer. But State played worse, especially right at the beginning, and most of the game was played in a six to eight point range that would have been comfortable if we weren't talking about a team that Michigan hadn't swept since Charles Woodson was walking around with a rose in his teeth and another that had seen simply massive leads against tourney no-hopers Northwestern and Indiana dwindle alarmingly down the stretch.
But after the usual dwindling and a brief moment of alarm Michigan just felt… better. While they had to use Evan Smotrycz as a center again and Blake McLimans made a cameo appearance they didn't have walk-ons on the court for most of the game and didn't spend offensive possessions running the three man weave in a desperate attempt to generate something other than a long two off a curl screen. Michigan's best players seemed better than Michigan State's, and so did the role players.
To get to the previous sentence from hoping for double digit wins in the preseason and staring at a 1-6 Big Ten record before the first MSU matchup is almost incomprehensible. I spent most of the second half of the game at Breslin terrified that this would be the moment the vastly superior Spartans blew the doors off and showed us our hopes were foolish. If wasn't exactly serene on Saturday*, second half thoughts were at least things like "don't blow this" and "OMG Hardaway." When the Spartans cut it to two, Michigan treated them like Indiana or Northwestern by throwing down a dunk and immediately pushing the margin back out. Michigan didn't make a whole lot of shots—Jordan Morgan is the only guy coming out of the State game with a high FG%—but it didn't matter. Somewhere, there is a commentator talking about how good teams win even when they don't play well who does not know he's actually talking about Michigan.
Yes: good. No qualifiers. Right now they are good. Since the last Michigan State game Michigan has won eight of eleven. Two of the losses were by two and one to tournament teams; the other was by nine to a one-seed on the road. Only the Iowa game qualifies as an escape—Michigan's kind of unlucky to have won only eight of eleven. They got up from an all-time gut punch to beat Minnesota and MSU and have probably punched their ticket no matter what happens in the Big Ten Tournament.
They're good. Full stop. They'll be better next year. Anyone who can remember a time in which the future was brighter for Michigan basketball that hasn't been vacated in retrospect is probably thinking of the first time they saw Glen Rice shoot.
Kalin Lucas said something to Darius Morris. Whether Morris actually did or not, the rivalry's legends will now include the fact-type substance that he responded "get the fuck off my court."
Depending on what side of the rivalry you're on that's either a shocking violation of the Queen's English or something you've been waiting ten years for a Michigan player to say. But if interpreting that comment is a matter of perspective, what happened after is not: Kalin Lucas got the fuck off Darius Morris's court. Again.
*[In part because I was watching the game at 1 AM because I had been travelling literally the whole day; by the time I got home I could have seen my grandmother and thought she was a loud, stupid, slow person I wished did not exist. Air travel from obscure locations inflates your natural level of misanthropy 1000%.]
Official restatement of trash-talk policy. Entirely in favor. Makes game spicier for fans without doing anything negative other than spawning I'm-looking-over-my-hornrims comments about "ugly scenes" from newspaper folk. I dislike opposing players who are annoying, but like that I dislike them, if that makes any sense. I miss David Boston and think Ohio State fans secretly love Mike Hart.
Michigan's sweep and Morris's layup/swearin' raises the stakes for next year, and there's nothing bad in that.
The great disaster. Here it is as captured by WXYZ:
Newspapers see an "ugly scene," I see games worth investing in. Seriously: Rollerball. Too bad Lucas won't be around.
On the other hand. Izzo has got to be the worst loser on the planet. After the game:
Lucas took exception to whatever Morris yelled at the visiting team, following his game-ending coast-to-coast layup with the Spartans appearing to lay off. Lucas responded by throwing the ball at him, causing a small tussle that Michigan's Jordan Dumars broke up as the teams shook hands.
“I'm not for that, so I'll straighten that out," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "But at the same time, going for a layup with three seconds left — (Morris) talked a lot of stuff all game, including at our place, so maybe he deserved it.”
"Going for a layup with three seconds left"—what a hypocritical asshat. Again: Durrell Summers dunk to go up 19 two years ago. Criticizing another player for talking trash when you have the team you do—hypocritical asshat.
Paint by mouthguard. The other side of the now-infamous picture of Hardaway after the Wisconsin game:
Oh snap. I don't think MSU AD Mark Hollis's tweet in the aftermath of the game about a "great program" being preferable to a "great season" had anything to do with Michigan. (People who do have lowered their expectations well beyond reason.) So whatever… except for one of the great zingers in the history of MGoBlog:
That's pretty rude to his football team
In the aftermath, I consulted the flowchart.
If you haven't gotten your fill of Lloyd Brady versus Michigan State, BlueBarron's thread has you covered.
Emergence. Everyone's focused on Hardaway exploding over the second half of the Big Ten season—and with good reason—but another player is quietly emerging as we move along here: Matt Vogrich. Vogrich is never going to be a star but you've probably noticed a few defensive MANBOUNDS in the last couple games that came from a surprising source. After one against State the amiably incompetent color guy called Vogrich "Novak," which was wrong but at least understandably so. Vogrich hasn't seemed like a huge liability on defense and is currently shooting 40% from 3—48% in the Big Ten. As Michigan adds slashers like Brundidge and Burke and hopefully gets more driving action from Hardaway and Smotrycz there will be more open threes to be had, and Vogrich is probably the best guy on the roster to take them.
Smotrycz. Obviously had himself a day despite not getting any rebounds. One of his fast break layups was a gift but he made the other one by poking the ball out; his fake and drop step on Roe was Morgan-like. Also hit a three. He obviously does not have a long term future at the five so the biggest thing Michigan needs from him is a leap forward on defense.
Nosesplosion. The Lucas "intentional foul" that gave Michigan the ball and two free throws was a major turning point in the game. Some bits on it. One: Lucas nailed LLP in a previous game. Two: after the Manny Harris debacle against Purdue the Big Ten has been pretty consistent about their reaction to similar plays. No ejections but the opponent gets two shots and the ball. Lucas's elbow got above his neck and nailed a 6'5" guy in the face—it was clear as day that they were going to call the harsher version of the foul. Three: they really should change the lingo from "intentional," which confuses everyone, to something like "severe."
Morgan. Have we not been giving him enough credit for his FG%? He gets a lot of help, sure, but he's got that baby hook and a variety of other shots that turn Morris passes into baskets. He's not just a dunk machine. He's been hesitant from time to time this year and has spun into trouble some; I think the improvement we get from him is not in efficiency but time on the court—must stop taking nothing fouls—and usage.
Eamonn Brennan awards Michigan his "best bubble win":
Considering where the Wolverines started -- getting blown out by teams in Belgium in the summer and being picked to finish close to the Big Ten cellar -- and considering this win came over a hated in-state rival that's dominated Michigan for a decade-plus ... well, let's just say it was a good day for the Maize and Blue. Enjoy it, folks.
Izzoface? Izzoface. Also the comments after the State News story are amaaaazing. Daily game story. News game story. Wojo column. Five Key Plays from UMHoops. Player interviews. Torrent. Tourney bracket features Michigan's first bye in seven years(!). Um… Kesha? Alex Legion is in the wilderness again. Blame crazy mother? Um… maybe.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Michigan State|
|WHERE||Crisler Arena (Maize Out)|
2:00 PM EST
March 5th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan -2.5|
|TELEVISION||CBS (Coverage Map)|
This is The Most Important Game Of The Season. No qualifiers necessary. Michigan could be 1-29 - still with a win in Breslin, of course - and this would be The Most Important Game Of The Season still. The fact that tomorrow's winner is likely to make the NCAA Tournament while the loser is likely NIT-bound barring a strong run in Indianapolis... well, I don't have to explain the stakes to you.
I've started this post a hundred times, and frantically erased a couple paragraphs that just didn't seem adequate for the situation. I'm no college basketball fanatic, but this game just feels... bigger. I'm struck with writer's block at the enormity of the moment, much like Brian must have when he started writing Eleven Swans. Nothing I can come up with will seem right.
Beat the Spartans. Sweep the Spartans.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Michigan State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. MSU Def eFG%||47||122||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. MSU eFG%||170||161||-|
|Mich TO% v. MSU Def TO%||16||255||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. MSU TO%||253||194||S|
|Mich OReb% v. MSU DReb%||324||62||SSS|
|Mich DReb% v. MSU OReb%||54||69||M|
|Mich FTR v. MSU Opp FTR||342||144||SS|
|Mich Opp FTR v. MSU FTR||35||213||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. MSU AdjD||54||37||S|
|Mich AdjD v. MSU AdjO||54||71||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
This is a pretty even statistical matchup (and was probably tilted in Michigan's favor prior to the Spartans' beatdown of Iowa). You know the characters: Kalin Lucas is putting the team on his back, Durrell Summers is a huge disappointment, Korie Lucious will next hit the court for Iowa State, not MSU.
On the other side of the court, Michigan has been steadily improving since the victory in the Breslin Center, particularly on defense. Tim Hardaway has emerged into a star. Darius Morris is (ugh) the Butterfly. Jordan Morgan is holding his own in the post as a redshirt freshman.
With both teams' post-season hopes hanging in the balance, this should be one of the games of the year. And CBS thinks most of the country would rather see a routine beatdown of a terrible Oregon team! CBS is the anti-Sheen #notwinning.
Game preview from The Only Colors, and they also break down Big Ten defensive efficiency by each of the Four Factors. David Merritt talks shop with UMHoops. Friday links from UMHoops, including a couple other game previews. UPDATE: Dylan's preview is up.
Bonus Bracketology Rootin'
Since there's a meager slate of games tonight, no dedicated post. You want Harvard to win and Princeton to lose in the Ivy League, so the Crimson can make the Tournament (and stay in the RPI top-50). Both games are at 7.
In the Horizon League, you probably want to cheer against Cleveland State to make the field a little easier for Butler. They'll likely get an at-large, so you don't want the league's auto-bid to go to anyone else.
There are tons of relevant games tomorrow, so look for an early-morning bracketology post.
With both teams' tournament lives on the line, I have to sadly side with Tom Izzo, who guaranteed a win Wednesday night (H/T iSportsWeb):
Don't get me wrong, John Beilein is one hell of a coach. But Tom Izzo isn't shabby himself, and he's been doing this a long time at Michigan State. He knows what it takes to get a win, and the NCAA Tournament is the norm in East Lansing. Nothing else is acceptable, and the players and coaches in green all know that.
Durrell Summers will break out of his offensive slump and Kalin Lucas will out-duel Darius Morris at the point guard spot. However, Tim Hardaway and some clutch shooting from the two juniors will keep this a tossup until the very end. Spartans win, 65-64.
Go Blue. Beat. State.
Tales from Last Night
Last night went much better for Michigan than did Monday. The relevant results for the Wolverines:
- Michigan State beat Iowa 85-66. You wanted State to win this game so they'd stay in the RPI top-50. Michigan won't compete head-to-head with them on the bubble, and Saturday's game will effectively be the decider between the two if necessary.
- North Carolina beat Florida State 72-70. Florida State is a fellow bubble team, so losing to the Tar Heels hurt them.
- Miami beat Maryland 80-66. Terps are probably done as a bubble team.
- East Carolina upset Memphis 68-57. This was a huge blow to Memphis and Conference USA's likelihood of getting more than 2 bids.
- SMU fell to UCF 48-51. You wanted SMU to knock the Knights out of bubble contention.
- St. Louis upset Dayton 69-51. This closes the door on Dayton's at-large hopes.
- UAB beat Southern Miss 67-66. Both are bubble teams, and we were mostly indifferent as to the result.
- St. Joseph's lost to Richmond 54-69. The Spiders strengthened their resume by not falling victim to an upset.
- Iowa State beat Colorado 95-90. BUffaloes are no longer a viable bubble team.
- LSU lost to Georgia 53-73. This would have been a huge upset, so there's really not much lost by the Bulldogs staying on the bubble.
- Cincinnati beat Marquette 67-60. That should knock the Golden Eagles behind Michigan in the pecking order.
- Northwestern beat Minnesota 68-57. There were reasons to pull for each team, so we're mostly indifferent to this result.
- Clemson lost to Duke 59-70. We probably wanted Clemson to win this game as a former Michigan opponent, but there were plenty of reasons to pull for the Blue Devils (Clemson is also a bubble team). We'll be pulling HARD for Clemson against Virginia Tech on Saturday.
- Utah lost to Colorado State 65-78. We wanted the Utes to win, as a former Michigan opponent, but this result was expected.
- UTEP beat Marshall 82-74. Both are bubble teams, so we were pulling for the past Michigan opponent.
- I forgot to include this one in yesterday's games to watch, but Kansas beat Texas A&M 64-51. The Jayhawks are a past Michigan opponent.
This was an excellent day of results for Michigan, as the only games that didn't fall the right way were longshots. We also got a couple important upsets.
Looks like The Matrix isn't going to update before tonight's relevant games start, so the table below comes from yesterday's update.
Per the Bracket Matrix:
|Bids||Bubble In||Bubble Out||Change|
|Big East||11||Marq (10)||Marquette will fall, but maybe not all the way out of the matrix.|
|SEC||6||Tenn (9), UGa (10), Bama (12)||Bama will drop out as soon as the matrix is updated.|
|Big Ten||6||Ill (10), MSU (11), Mich (12)||Minn, PSU||Minnesota is done. Michigan State might move up slightly.|
|ACC||5||BC (12), VT (10), FSU (9)||Clem, Mary||Florida State and Clemson were hurt last night. Maryland was probably knocked out for good.|
|Big 12||5||KSU (8)||Neb, Bay, Colo, OkSt||Colorado took a big hit by losing to a bad Iowa State team.|
|Pac-10||3||Wash (9), UCLA (8)||USC, Washington St.|
|Atlantic 10||3||Richmond (11)|
|Mountain West||3||UNLV (7)||Colo St|
|West Coast||2||Zaga (12), St Mary's (11)|
|Colonial||2||Old Domin (8)||VCU|
|CUSA||2||Memphis (11), UAB (12)||USM, UTEP, Marsh, UCF|
|WAC||1||Utah State (9)|
|Horizon||1||Butler (12)||Cleve St, UW-Mil|
|Summit||1||1-bid Oakland (13)|
|Ivy||1||1-bid Princeton (13)||Harvard|
When the Matrix is next updated (before tonight's games - how inconvenient), I think it will look a liiiittle bit better for Michigan.
Wednesday is a HUGE night for college basketball, so there are going to be tons of games to watch. You're rooting against bubble-ish teams, though things get more complicated when a past Michigan opponent is involved.
- Tennessee @ South Carolina (7:00, ESPN). Pull for South Carolina to drag Tennessee onto the bubble (they're currently in as a 9 seed).
- South Carolina State @ NC Central (7:30). NC Central is a past Michigan opponent.
- Wisconsin @ Indiana (9:00, ESPN). I think you're probably pulling for Indiana, so they don't drop below 200 in RPI and give Michigan a bad loss. Ain't gonna happen though.
- UCLA @ Washington (9:00, ESPN2). The Bruins are the higher seed, and you want them to knock Washington down in the pecking order.
- USC @ Washington State (10:00). USC's resume is worse than Washington State's so you want the Trojans to win.
After a huge rooting list last night, tonight's roster is much smaller. Of course, we're also pulling for 4 underdogs. Considering that only 1 or 2 of these games is actually useful to Michigan (especially in terms of knowing who to root for), it should be a relaxing night.
Or a good one to get on an airplane and not watch any basketball - but I'm also missing the State game. :(