"When I call somebody a midget, clearly I'm not trying to insult f---ing midgets. I'm just using basketball terminology."
|WHAT||Michigan at Michigan State|
|WHERE||Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan|
|WHEN||9 PM Eastern, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan –1 (Kenpom)|
Right: Michigan's rise to prominence has taken its toll on Tom Izzo.
With two losses in three games, Michigan has gone from potentially running away with the Big Ten to playing catchup, and tonight's game at Michigan State is probably a must-win if the Wolverines hope to win the conference outright—the Spartans are currently a game ahead in the standings.
Michigan State's strength is up front, where they feature a pair of skilled big men in Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne. Nix is surprisingly quick for being rather large—6'9", 270 pounds after working his way into shape—and has an impressive array of post moves; he shoots 52% from two while largely working with his back to the basket. At 6'10", 240 lbs., Payne is the more athletic of the two bigs and also the more efficient finisher—he shoots 60% from two, including an 80% rate at the rim (per hoop-math), and has even connected on 7-of-13 threes this season. Both are solid offensive rebounders while Payne is one of the country's best defensive rebounders and a strong shot-blocker.
Rounding out the frontcourt is 6'6" forward Branden Dawson, who can play either the three or the four, though he's playing mostly at the three due to injury issues in the backcourt. Dawson is a skilled finisher at the rim (70%), where he takes almost exactly 2/3 of his shots; he hits 34% of his two-point jumpers and has only attempted four three-pointers this year, so the key is keeping him away from the basket. Dawson is also State's best offensive rebounder and an active presence on defense, where he's in the top 75 nationally in steal rate and posting a solid block rate.
MSU's highest-usage player is point guard Keith Appling, who has regained his three-point stroke (37%) after a season-long slump last year. Appling is a very good distributor who can also get to the rim with his athleticism; he's not a stellar finisher (46% on twos) but he gets to the line frequently and creates second-chance opportunities for his teammates.
The final piece in the starting five is freshman guard Gary Harris, who's lived up to his considerable recruiting hype by shooting 51% from two and 43% from three so far this season. Harris is a very dangerous outside shooter and he can also put the ball on the floor; while he's not this team's main option, he's got a GRIII-like way of producing points around the margins and cannot be ignored.
The Spartans will be without the services of backup guard Travis Trice (concussion), which means freshman Denzel Valentine will be the primary backup for the one-through-three. Valentine is a decent shooter and creator, but he's had major issues with turnovers (31.3% TO rate(!)). 6'7" sophomore Russell Byrd will also see time; he's a perimeter-oriented guy who's currently 7-for-40 from three this season with a 23% turnover rate. That's... not good.
The Spartans are currently pushing for a two-seed, sitting at 20-4 (9-2 B1G) with KP100 wins over Kansas, Boise State, Texas, Purdue(x2), Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota—of those, the neutral-site win over the Jayhawks and victory at the Kohl Center stand out as signature wins. After dropping their season opener against #48 UConn (neutral site), State hasn't lost to a team outside the top 13, and all three losses—to #8 Miami, #13 Minnesota, and #2 Indiana—have come on the road.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||50.9 (3)||17.8 (8)||30.9 (7)||37.6 (5)|
|Defense||48.8 (8)||19.3 (3)||28.6 (3)||35.7 (7)|
Despite their success, this isn't a vintage Tom Izzo team. The offense is prone to coughing up the rock and the rebounding, while strong on the defensive end, isn't nearly up to Izzo's standard of dominance. The Spartans are dead last—dead last!—in the conference at two-point defense, with opponents hitting 49.1% of their shots inside the arc. State also allows more three-point attempts than average and opponents are shooting a fluky-low 60% from the line—their #3 defensive efficiency in conference play may be slightly inflated by luck. Offensively, the Spartans have developed a strong inside-outside attack, hitting 41% of their threes and 47% of their twos.
Find the right lineup. Michigan State, largely by necessity with the injury to Trice, will mostly play big tonight. Michigan, largely by necessity with the injury to Jordan Morgan, will mostly play their usual smaller lineup. However, Glenn Robinson III has clearly hit a wall, and he's struggled to defend larger players and keep them off the glass. Against Nix and Payne, that won't fly. I wouldn't be surprised if Max Bielfeldt sees very extensive playing time for the second straight game—if Robinson isn't producing offensively, Bielfeldt brings more from a rebounding and defensive standpoint.
Get out in transition. State should give Michigan a few opportunities to run thanks to their turnover issues, and in what should be a tight game the Wolverines must take advantage; they didn't against Wisconsin (yes, in large part due to the officiating) and it cost them dearly, though the Badgers are far better at limiting transition opportunities.
Let Nix and Payne get their points in the post. Michigan State has a pair of skilled bigs who can score in the post, but its been shown that post touches tend to be far less efficient—even for teams that convert them well—than perimeter-oriented play. Nix and Payne will get their points, but if Michigan can limit them to two-pointers—both are good foul shooters—and stay with their men on the perimeter, State may have a hard time keeping up with the Wolverines if Michigan is knocking down their shots.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 1
Jordan Morgan's absence makes me very leery about this line—I think Michigan misses him more than Michigan State misses Travis Trice in this game, especially if Robinson doesn't hold up well against MSU's big men. I think Michigan can pull out a critical road win, however, by capitalizing on Spartan turnovers and working their own inside-outside game—for a big team, State is surprisingly terrible at defending inside the arc, and they won't be able to rely on their normal turnover rate against a Michigan team that rarely coughs up the rock. This will be close, and quite honestly I'm leaning towards a loss, but I'll put my faith in KenPom and this team's ability to put the ball in the basket.
Totem animal qualities. I thought this was an interesting shot from the extensive ESPN galleries put up in and around the OSU/Indiana games. It's a switch board; each player has an abstract quality they would like to embody they are supposed to dwell on:
Yes, it bothers me that some of these things are qualities one can possess—toughness, perspective, pose—and others are not. You cannot have "smart"; You can be smart. One can have determination; you cannot be determination.
Given the WE ON shirts, we can put grammar next to drawing free throw attempts as Michigan's main weaknesses.
Trice nyet. Travis Trice will miss The Big Game tonight. That leaves MSU with little on their perimeter bench other than Denzel Valentine, a slick-passing wing type with a whopping 31 in the TOrate department. So maybe not as slick passing as you'd hope if you're Tom Izzo. MSU also has Russell Byrd, who's like Stauskas if Stauskas was hitting 18% of his threes.
Expect both backcourts to get scant rest, then. Projected MSU minutes without at least one of Appling/Harris: 0. Impact won't be large except in the unlikely event that Harris or Appling gets in foul trouble.
In the negative column, it doesn't seem like Jordan Morgan will be available, either, after Michigan "shut him down."
Foul: nyet? The foul-or-defend up three late discussion has been raging for years, to the point where Ken Pomeroy's effort starts its title with "Yet another. " Most studies show there's little difference; further most give the slight edge to playing D. Kenpom's results:
W L OT Win% Cases Foul 122 5 10 92.7 137 Defend 598 2 77 94.0 677
That gap is narrow enough that the gap could be chance, but you can say that there's no evidence fouling is better in practice. Note that Michigan's recent misfortune does not make these statistics since this data only covers possessions that start with between 5 and 12 seconds on the clock, which will no doubt give our local Bo Ryans the wiggle room to say this does not apply. While I'm still on Team Foul, the margins here are so narrow that it doesn't seem that important. Certainly less important than the pending invasion of the planet.
I mean, NBA types are two of 64 on similar shots since 1996. Debating whether or not that late game strategy is correct is like debating whether the windows are ready for a hurricane when you live in Michigan.
More games: da. We've heard it before only to have it go poof, but yet another round of stories endorsing a nine or ten game conference schedule has burst onto the internet, leaving a legendary trail of leadership viscera behind:
After spending Monday in meetings with coaches and athletic directors at conference headquarters in Park Ridge, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the Tribune the status quo of eight conference games “is not even on the table right now.”
It will be nine or 10, with the decision to be made this spring.
Insert the usual AD assertions that without seven home games they will have to dress all of their teams in sackcloth and ashes, but it looks like at least nine games are on the way.
Also on the table: November night games, early conference games, and the usual chatter about having an East-West split. The bizarre bit in there:
Central time zone schools Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern could be joined by Indiana, Purdue, Michigan or Michigan State. Delany said the conference would try to “figure out a way” to maintain rivalries between in-state schools.
Michigan State keeps getting lumped in with the schools that could be put in the other division… and Michigan is actually in here as well. No further words need to be spent on how dumb it is to have Michigan and Ohio State in opposite divisions; assuming that's not the case, hopefully MSU isn't allowed to nonsensically flee the division Michigan is in and expect to maintain an annual rivalry with them.
A little more detail on the divisions model that seems to have the most favor this instant:
Although the Big Ten presented the athletic directors -- and several university presidents who came to the league office Sunday -- with several models for divisions, don't be surprised if the league decides to keep things simple with an East-West alignment following the additions of both Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. The simplest solution -- one the athletic directors are discussing -- is to assign teams based on their time zone (Eastern or Central).
The lone caveat: there will be eight Big Ten teams in the Eastern time zone -- Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue -- and only six in the Central time zone (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois). So one team from the Eastern time zone would need to move.
That article from Rittenberg also plays up the possibility that Michigan State will end up in the other division. This would either stick Michigan with a protected crossover—thus trading games against interesting teams in the other division for constant Purdue/Indiana games—or bust up the in-state rivalry. Neither is appealing. Let us condemn Michigan State's Rose Bowl hopes to death and keep them in the East.
The worst part about this is I can no longer dump on Indiana State as much. Indiana State, of course, submitted an override to the barely-passed multi-year scholarship legislation reading as such:
The current system works. We don't need to get into bidding wars where one school offers a $75% for 2 years and the other school then offers 85% for 3, etc., etc. This puts the kid into a situation where they almost need an agent/advisor just to determine the best "deal." Again, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. [Indiana State]
Since I've used the tree people as the primary example of why the NCAA's governance structure is permanently broken: programs with nothing in common with each other are under one large dumb tent. So I am dissapoint, Big Ten, that you are trying to fight the recent recruiting deregulation:
We are specifically concerned with the following three proposals and ask that they be tabled along with Proposal 13-2:
Proposal 11-2: Athletics Personnel - Limitations on the Number and Duties of Coaches - Elimination of Recruiting Coordination Functions
Proposal 13-3: Recruiting - Deregulation of Modes and Numerical Limitations on Communication
Proposal 13-5-A: Recruiting - Elimination of Printed Recruiting Materials and Video/Audio Legislation
We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches. We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources.
There's nothing in the first and last proposals that has material impact on prospects or their associated hangers-on, and the horrors of communications deregulation seem eminently preventable. "Hello, Coach X. Please limit your contacts with me to X in timeframe Y, or I will not consider your school." Or, like, turn your phone off when you don't want to use it.
The assertions about "adverse effects" on people in the athletic department who now have to hire "u r gud art fertbar"-texting interns and print glossy media guides are more credible, but shortsighted. If you want to play on level ground on the big stuff you have to let the NCAA dump big sections of meaningless secondary violations.
In the building. Zack Novak returns to the scene of the Aneurysm of Leadership tonight:
"It's going to be so weird, I've only been to one Michigan basketball game in my life watching it, it's going to be odd," Novak said by phone Monday. "But I know this would be a big win for them, and I know they'll be ready to go.
"I know it's disheartening to lose a game the way they did at Wisconsin, but it's a great opportunity for them to go in and get a win on the road at Michigan State. That would totally bring the team's psyche right back to where it needs to be. It'd get their swagger back, and that's big."
His team in Holland has a week break.
Ondre is smaller. Down to 315 from 347.
Etc.: Four down at Alabama, leaving just six left to cut. Tifos at Georgetown. The Daily bombs hockey after suffering yet another sweep. Twice. Michigan's commits are lighting up high school basketball—Derrick Walton has had triple-doubles in two of his last three games, and Irvin puts up 30 a game it seems. Paterno business is "200 pages of nothing." Hate quantified. Players only.
Hey little man.
Hey big guy.
Hey there pal.
Hey there buckaroo.
Hey pork chop.
How about a little 5-on-5, you pick the time and place. At Breslin huh? Next Tuesday? 9 o'clock? Let me check the calendar…
Feb 8, 7:35 p.m.: Kick Notre Dame's ass in hockey
Feb 9, 11:00 a.m.: Kick Wisconsin's ass in basketball
Feb 9, 7:00 p.m.: Kick Notre Dame's ass in hockey again.
Feb 9, 9:00 p.m.: Collect massive windfall of 2014 football commits, because THIS IS MICHIGAN™
Nope I'm free. See you there.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, 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.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
This Week's Game:
Michigan @ Michigan State next Tuesday, Feb 12, at Breslin. Normally I'll plug the weekend game to give people enough time to sign up, but fortunately I like all of you too much to make you guess the score of anything involving Wisconsin. You can thank me by posting your score in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score].
And the Prize:
High Fashion is about making a statement that demonstrates the breadth of your personality and intellectual qualities. To that end, we submit to you the "Beat State" cotton upper body apparel unit.
The word from Paris and Milan this year is that America is in, and there is no sentiment more uniquely American than the expression of one's desire to defeat their collegiate rivals from a nondescript Morrill Act university, such schools often colloquially designated in the local vernacular as simply "State."
Add this shirt to your ensemble and exude the subtle wit of patriotism for these states united as expressed in the declaration of your base intentions to humiliate the members of your own commonweal to whom both land and your old clothing were granted.
State comes to Crisler the weekend of March 2-3; order it soon so we can get it to you on time.
Three products of the Detroit suburbs. Watson & Trent: MGoBlue archives; Ojemudia by Eric Upchurch
In most states, the conversation on National Signing Day is about how awesome the kids are at football. Everybody looks at the rankings, those at the top have their little ceremonies around fax machines, and then everybody hits a lot of refresh to see whether mortgaging all of your elementary schools was enough to lure that top talent to your favorite team.
Well let me explain some tings about da Great Lakes State. First of all, people in the lower p like to explain tings. The second thing you should know is we got Sparties. Holy wah do we got Sparties. And the ting about Sparties is dere everywhere, and you're not allowed to shoot 'em.
Already by this point the scripts for tomorrow are written: State can't compete with Michigan for the guys Michigan wants. Michigan wins in February, State wins in October (one time in three). Detroit has the 5-stars but Grand Rapids has the players. Hoke has changed the dynamics in the rivalry. No, services just overrate his guys. Fewer people in the state means recruiting has suffered. Mom, Michigan's making fun of me. Are we at the Zilwaukee Bridge yet? I can't answer every great question in the Great Lakes State, but I figured I might tackle a few of the factoids that float around the peninsulas every year around this time.
Did the Talent Leave with the People?
The state indeed has been losing people, although most of the people who fled Detroit didn't make it past Oakland County. Estimated population in 2012 was 9,883,360, while the 2000 census read 9,938,444. We lost like a half a percent. If you look at it against U.S. growth as a whole, Michigan's population was 3.53% of the country and now it's 3.15%, an effective drop of 11% if the shift proportionally affects people who graduated after 2001 who have football talent and the opportunity to develop football skills. If that's had an effect it's not noticeable in the small sample:
I'm not letting population shift or Rivals off the hook for no in-state 5-stars in three years; I'm saying there's more evidence that mononucleosis is to blame. And anyway can you blame them now for not giving one to Lawrence Thomas last year? What's weirder is the last three (Will Gholston, Campbell and Ronald Johnson) all turned out to be somewhat below those expectations.
Does MSU recruit just as well in-state as Michigan?
Does the East Get Overrated Compared to the West?
This is a thing coaches sometimes still say, and was repeated often enough by my west side friends as truth in my college days. I don't know if it's still even said—maybe it was just the typical whining that always comes from the direction Brian Kelly is in. But we can test it a little anyway. Here's how I split up the map:
Apologies for the greenness of the blue state; the relative partiality to one school or another is another thing we ought to test. Now here's how recruits were spread across it over this period, next to the spread of games played in the NFL by players from whichever region:
The West's distribution isn't any different than its recruit contribution. Once in awhile a 2-star at a Grand Rapids-ish school may get overlooked, come to Michigan, and end up earning $12 million/year in the NFL, but most of the time those 2-stars are Obi Ezeh.
The thing that's off here—by a lot—seems to where I'm sitting…
[After the jump, something stinks in Oakland County. Other than the author I mean.]
Here's a Superbowl commercial that didn't make the cut, despite having ALL the Pat Stansiks:
Since CBS refused to run this for $500 bucks, our store partners at Underground are just going to give all them smackaroos to somebody to go on a Michigan gear shopping binge.
And just in time too because the latest from Fashion Week in Paris have arrived.
You many now consume.
GRIII: "I see what you did there." Sobocop: "I THOUGHT THIS GUY WAS JUST A SHOOTER"
One shooting metric to rule them all.
I was reading through your post from today about the game last night (solid effort, can't wait for Saturday!) and I came across the part where you summarized Trey's statline, part of which was that he had 18 points on 11 shots. Is there a place that tracks "points-per-shot" (Kenpom maybe?), and do you think this is a worthwhile metric when tracking offensive efficiency of an individual player? I know the tempo-free stats usually look at eFG% as a major indicator of offensive prowess, but was wondering if points/shot would something akin to this for an individual player.
Thanks for your thoughts!
I just use points per shot as a quick-and-dirty evaluation method when I'm putting together a post because it gets the job done when we're running sanity checks on opinions from our eyeballs. As an out-and-out metric it falls short since it doesn't put free throws in the divisor properly—going 0-2 at the line doesn't hurt you. If you're reaching for an actual stat you can do better.
For a catch-all stat that encapsulates how many points a player acquires per shot attempt, I like True Shooting Percentage, which rolls FTAs into eFG% and spits out a number that's easy to interpret. Trey Burke is at 59%, which means that he is scoring at a rate equal to a hypothetical player who takes nothing but two-pointers and hits 59% of them. Easy.
For Michigan, there's little difference between eFG% and TS%—Burke is 175th in one, 189th in the other, etc—because they so rarely get to the line. Teams at the other end of that scale can see players with much larger differences. Iowa demonstrates this amply. Roy Devyn Marble's eFG% is 46% and his TS% is 53%—a major difference. FTA-generating machine Aaron White is around 200th in eFG% and around 100th in TS%. From an individual perspective, the latter is a more accurate picture of what happens when Aaron White tries to score.
The four factors everyone uses separate free throws from eFG%, so when you look at those as a unit you do see the impact of FTs. If you wanted to you could cram those factors down into a TS% factor and the other two factors into a Possession Advantage factor, but looking at four bar graphs seems to be okay for people.
Announcer meme overuse.
The announcers constantly having to tell us that Stauskas is more than just a shooter reminds me of last year's over used statement (story?), that Trey Burke played with Sullinger in HS. Seriously, they told us that every freaking game. So my question is, which one is worse?
I'm going to have to go with Burke. First, that was mentioned every game, whereas the Stauskas thing only gets mentioned in games where he has a take to the hole, which only happens MOST games. Second, at least the Stauskas thing is mentioned in context, as in, he just proved he was more than just a shooter which prompted the comment. The Burke/Sullinger mention was almost exclusively brought up out of the blue, and had nothing to do with anything happening in the game. It was as if the announcing team made note to make sure they mentioned it at a certain minute marker in the game because nothing plausibly could have brought it to mind otherwise.
P.S. If it had kept going, Dan Dakich's mention of that thing about Spike's dad would easily have been the worst. Luckily, he only told us that Spike's dad was the former best biddy basketball player in the world during Michigan's first four games.
These are different classes of announcing crutch. The Burke thing—which is still happening—is the equivalent of Tom Zbikowski Is A Boxer, a biographical detail that will be crammed in every game to hook casual viewers. The Stauskas thing is a generally applicable sentiment that can be applied to anyone who takes a lot of threes but has decided to venture within the line.
Neither really bothers me. "Not just a shooter" means Stauskas has just thrown something down or looped in for a layup, and I am probably typing something about blouses or pancakes into twitter. I have good feelings associated with its utterance. The Burke thing is just background noise.
So, no one is more sick of conference expansion talk as I am. I'm 100% with you that it's bent our tradition over a dumpster and I agree it's foolish to base major long-term decisions on a dying profit model.
Here's the thing though, does the fact that the current profit model is dying really matter. I mean, we're moving (slowly) to a system where you pay only for the channels you want instead of being extorted for a bunch of channels you'd never watch. So, under this new business model, although it may be less overall money than under the old system, wouldn't they still get more subscribers to be B1G network if they add more schools? There's not a single UNC fan who would pay $5 a month or whatever for the B1G network, but if they were added them, you'd get more subscribers than you would normally. I mean there's the chance that you weaken the brand that you lose more subscribers than you gain, but I don't think that's a serious concern.
TL; DR - It's about the money, and won't expansion bring more regardless of whether the old model is dying or not?
Expansion brings more money but it also brings more mouths to feed. From the perspective of a school in the league it only makes sense to add a team that is at least on par with you in terms of being able to bring fans and eyeballs. Penn State and Nebraska brought those numbers; Rutgers and Maryland likely do not.
The Big Ten can expand to acquire more subscribers but in a world where cable is a niche product to enjoy live sports, the amount of money you're getting is proportional to the number of fans shelling out. Right now it's proportional to population, which makes Rutgers seem like a good idea. Later maybe not so much.
People think things that make them feel better.
Brian, I have this constant argument with a Spartan at work...He says that Michigan's recruiting rankings are always high because when Michigan lands a recruit, the recruit gets a bump in ranking. According to him, this is because a large number of Michigan fans pay recruiting sites for memberships so the sites keep Michigan fans happy by giving them a higher ranking than other schools with lower memberships. He also says that MSU's coaches are just better at recruiting than the sites so that is why they do better than their rankings. Any thoughts on how to prove / disprove his theory?
It will not matter since from the sounds of this conversation your co-worker thinks Mike Valenti is a gentleman scholar and will find some other way to wheedle himself positive feelings until such time as his team is crushed under the boot of history.
HOWEVA, you could just point out that literally every four-star member of Michigan's recruiting class fell in the most recent Rivals update except Jourdan Lewis, who hopped up sixteen spots. This is pretty much inevitable: unless you're moving up, you're moving down as more and more players are discovered. This dude will wave his face around in a disturbing fashion and ignore this data.
As for the thing about MSU's coaches, yeah, recruiting ratings are not infallible and there will be teams that deviate above and below when touted guys bust and low-rated ones break out. MSU's gotten massive outperformance from its defense recently, and maybe they can sustain that in the same way Wisconsin can sustain its running game.
They'll be trudging uphill when it comes to Michigan and Ohio State. State fans love to point out Michigan's class rankings versus their performance over the last half-decade and say "see, nothing there." Taken over larger samples, though, recruiting does correlate with success. Michigan's fade was largely a lack of retention and coaching ranging from lackadaisical to awful. If MSU fans are counting on those two items to sustain them going forward they're in for a rude surprise.