landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
KenPom: OSU -11 (89% win)
Once more for good measure? Once more for good measure:
Ahem. Now that we have that out of the way, on to the game. The Wolverines lost the season series to the Buckeyes in a pair of close games (OK, that's a bit of a stretch for the second one, but the Wolverines led at half and were within 7 with a minute left on the road). I'm not sure if there's data to support the "can't beat a team three times in one season" meme, but I sure hope it's true.
As you're well-aware, the Buckeyes host two of the top three candidates for B1G freshman of the year in Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft, and they're surrounded by a host of senior contributors in sharpshooter Jon Diebler, prematurely bald guy Dallas Lauderdale, and Brooks Bollinger Memorial 8th-year Senior Award recipient David Lighty.
Let's get right into the...
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy:
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio (YTO) Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||46||139||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||156||3||OO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||16||22||-|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||252||8||OOO|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||327||24||OOOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||66||64||-|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||336||1||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||28||173||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||45||11||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||50||1||O|
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.
I've made this joke a hundred times already this year, but: Hide ya kids, hide ya wife. Ohio State is the best team in the country, and I don't care what Kansas, Duke, and Pitt have to say about it. In personal e-pinion (and e-pinion of one Ken Pomeroy), it's not really close.
So, what is the underdog strategy in college basketball? No easy baskets for the opposition (which also means don't allow offensive boards), make your shots when they're open, and don't turn over the ball. Getting the opponent's best players into foul trouble - while not getting into the same predicament yourself - certainly doesn't hurt. Easy, right?
Taking a look at the chart, the Wolverines should be able to get off some good shots against an Ohio State team that's not as good as Illinois in forcing opponent misses. They should also at least be able to stalemate in turnovers - though Darius Morris had more giveaways than assist last time against the Buckeyes. They should even have an OK chance to keep the Buckeyes from getting second-chance points.
It's the fouling that becomes an issue. Aside from the free-throw rates (in which Ohio State has an advantage still), Michigan's bigs have been known to get themselves into foul trouble early in games. Against Jared Sullinger, keeping Jordan Morgan in the game is going to be of the utmost importance. Northwestern learned in overtime yesterday that having a second or third option on Sullinger is going to spell your doom.
Dylan previews the game on UMHoops. Along the Olentangy previews the game and doesn't understand offensive rebounding, and Eleven Warriors doesn't so much preview the game as run down player stats from the last two games and yesterday's OSU/Northwestern contest.
I don't know where to go with this prediction. Ohio State has looked vulnerable, and Michigan (in fits and starts) has been playing some of their best ball all year of late. Still "looking vulnerable" is not the same thing as "losing basketball games," and the Buckeyes have only done the latter on the home court of some really good basketball teams.
Kenpom and Vegas aren't keen on Michigan's chances... and there's a reason for that. I think Michigan is capable of beating Ohio State, but I'll believe it actually happens as soon as the clock hits all zeroes. Ohio State wins a closer-than-expected battle, and the Buckeyes emerge with a 69-67 victory.
[Ed: I said on WTKA this morning that I didn't think this should cost Tressel his job, but I changed my mind upon reading the Hayes piece that contained details of exactly what Tressel did in the months between April and now.]
So I was pretty pissed yesterday. It was one of those moods that's obscure until suddenly it isn't, and the moment of clarity came when one of the Eleven Warriors guy pinged me on IM, suggesting that I must be happy today. I responded that I'd be happy if Ohio State's prospects for the near future had actually been affected… and there it was.
Jim Tressel was dishonest and his team benefited to the tune of a Big Ten co-championship and a BCS bowl victory; Ohio State's response to this was to suspend him for games against Akron and Equivalent. Ask Georgia fans who watched their team stumble to 1-3 start absent the services of AJ Green how that feels:
As a partisan, my immediate reaction to the complete bullshit which emanated from last night’s Ohio State presser was a question: what was Jim Tressel’s first thought upon hearing the news that A. J. Green had been suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season? “Suckers“? “There but for the grace of God go I”?
I'm a partisan too but a couple months ago I went on the Bucknuts podcast and told them I though Tressel was a top five coach who had created a problem I never thought I'd have as a Michigan blogger: lack of material. I bought the Senator act wholly. My biggest complaint was that he was boring beyond belief.
I've now reverted to default partisan conspiracy-mongering and hatred. It's hard not to when the mea culpa press conference features Tressel lying his ass off about emails now in the public domain, forcing out stumbling answers that are such obvious crap that not even the state of Ohio thinks Tressel got what was coming to him:
Even the deepest red section of the country looked at OSU playing see-no-evil to a BCS bowl victory and said "uh-oh." In no way is OSU's response proportional to the crime. That's what pisses me off. Michigan eventually proposed penalties that were reasonable given precedence and were accepted essentially as-is by the NCAA. (The committee added a third year of probation, as they are wont to do.) Ohio State proposed functionally nothing for a far worse offense. Twelve coaches have violated the NCAA bylaw Tressel did in April, and eleven were fired.
What's more, they spent the press conference announcing their gentle wrist massage lying. Tressel invented a fiction about how he couldn't look into the matter because of "confidentiality" that absolutely would not prevent him from interviewing the accused or finding out whose frickin' names were on the pawned memorabilia and then suspending them for the proverbial violation of team rules. This would not have exposed anyone to lethal payback from ruthless drug dealers or whatever, not that anyone was actually in danger.
Ohio State's trying to pull a fast one, and the NCAA should hammer them. A show-cause for Tressel is just as viable as the one widely speculated to be heading down the pike at Bruce Pearl. Tressel's lies were repeated. OSU's official letter to the NCAA lays it out. As summarized by Matt Hayes:
• Tressel signed a document on Sept. 13, 2010 that said he was not aware of NCAA violations.
• He failed to tell school officials on or around Dec. 9, 2010 about emails he received in April explaining players’ involvement in selling memorabilia.
• He failed to tell school officials about the emails — or his knowledge of players selling memorabilia — when specifically asked on Dec. 16, 2010. He also misled school officials that day when stating he “did not recall from whom he received the tip,” and that he “did not know that any items had been seized.” …
Another significant — and potentially more damning — issue: In a Feb. 8, 2011 interview, Tressel admitted it was “inevitable” that players named in the email had committed NCAA violations and would be ruled ineligible. In other words, Tressel knew the players were ineligible and played them anyway.
Whether it's a lie of omission or commission it's a lie, and Tressel's had a much larger effect on his team than Pearl lying about whether or not Aaron Craft was at his house. It is impossible to believe he did not remember the repeated correspondence from this lawyer. He probably sent it up the chain, making this a department-wide decision, but we have no proof of that. We do have proof that Tressel had at least four opportunities to come clean, starting with the day he got the first credible email from that lawyer, and failed to take any of them. As a result Ohio State won a Big Ten title.
With serious benefits should come serious repercussions; Ohio State's incredibly weak self-sanctions are an insult to the NCAA. If the association doesn't want to make themselves a joke they will come down hard on OSU with a thorough investigation stretching back to 2001 with the potential for vacating multiple years and a show-cause penalty that should make it impossible for OSU to continue employing Tressel as their head coach. That's a punishment that fits a very serious crime in the eyes of the NCAA—eleven of twelve fired before the NCAA had a chance.
The NCAA should use this and the Pearl case as a warning.
apropos image via MNB Nation
The media explosion in the aftermath of Tressel's folly has been nigh overwhelming. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who writes about college football who hasn't put finger to keyboard in the aftermath. Even Inside The Hall, an Indiana basketball blog, decided to transcribe Bob Knight's clueless defense of Tressel so they could shake their heads at it. It's kind of a big deal.
Well played, douchebag. Mark Schablach manages to piss off both OSU and Michigan fans in the same piece by laying into Tressel ("might be even worse than other coaches corrupting college athletics") in a fashion irrational even to this Michigan fan at the same time he conflates Michigan's stretching-and-confusion with what seems like a serious, games-will-be-vacated offense (At least Michigan "had fired their cheating coach").
And now… THE COMFY CHAIR! SBN OSU blog Along The Oletangy headlines a two game suspension against MAC teams "Jim Tressel Forced To Take Tough Medicine." Michigan suffered more concrete penalties for the Jihad—at least they lost some practice time. Of course, the NCAA probably isn't going to say "good job, here's an extra year of probation" when they get around to their own discipline.
Only in Ohio. The blacked-out name of the lawyer who tipped Tressel off in April has been revealed: Chris Cicero, a former OSU walk-on. I wonder if he's going to get hammered for trying to help the program. Also:
In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended his law license for one year because of misconduct. The lawyer led others to believe he was having sex with then-Judge Deborah P. O'Neill, who had appointed Cicero to defend a client in a criminal case.
Our old friend. Remember Michael Buckner, the Florida lawyer who seemed to show up in every piece about Michigan's misappropriate stretching and GA sketch? He's back:
"Just looking at it, it may seem a little light, especially in light of the fact Tressel didn't report it to the university within a reasonable period of time," said Michael Buckner, who heads a law firm that helps schools deal with the NCAA.
OUTRAGE. "Disingenuous Tressel Is Wizard At Spinning Empty Words"—a Yahoo piece from something called "The Postgame." They're right about the spinning empty words bit.
OUTRAGE. "No trouble spotting hypocrisy in college sports"—this one is just awful:
And now, our latest offering from a septic tank of a system that's unlikely to be flushed out in our lifetime.
OUT—NEVERMIND, MILQUETOAST. "Tressel report appears damaging"
OUT—ACTUALLY, A REASONABLE QUESTION "Tressel docked, but what does it take for a coach to get fired?"
Retrospective reaffirmation. Mets Maize has one Michigan-related takeaway from Michigan's recent turn under the lights:
Dave Brandon, like any good athletic director should do, showed tremendous leadership by taking the reins and guiding Michigan through a 6-month investigative gauntlet. He answered questions like a political ninja, hired a third-party independent firm to couple with an internal investigation, and reported back to the committee of infractions with a comprehensive review and self-imposed penalties in line with the violations and precedent. This was for stretching. The NCAA ended up adding 1 measly probation year and agreed to take away some of the most damaging charges--something unheard of in terms of appeal.
People complaining that Michigan's approach to their NCAA violations invited more bad press and ended up resulting in stiffer penalties than pretending there was nothing to see here are going to get empiricism in their face over the next six months. I've given Brandon a lot of stick for The Process and the results therein but the whole Identity is a Ceiling thing isn't all downside; he was still pimp throughout the whole process and saved Michigan the OUTRAGE you see above.
Can you imagine anyone associated with the Michigan athletic department saying "I hope he doesn't fire me" when talking about a football coach, joking or not? Bo could have been sitting there* and that wouldn't have happened.
This all banks on the NCAA crafting a punishment that fits the crime here, but I think that's likely given the existence of paper, both the emails sent to Tressel and the forms he signed and the transcripts of the December investigation. The NCAA has way more linking Tressel to a serious offense than they ever had on USC—though that was a more serious offense still—and OSU's pathetic wrist-slap will not help them avoid the penalties they have coming.
*[In a hypothetical world where Bo wouldn't have immediately suspended and possibly killed all six players.]
MORE OUTRAGE. "Lame defense affirms winning is the only thing that matters for Jim Tressel, Ohio State." I mean, right?
SEXY OUTRAGE. "Ohio State mess latest example of college athletics gone wild"
PROTIP: do NOT start looking for humorous "gone wild" pictures by typing in "bears gone wild."
ENTIRELY PREDICTABLE OUTRAGE. Doyel. /wanking motion
OUTRAGE WITH SURPRISING VERBIAGE. Never thought I'd see this word in an H1 on AnnArbor.com: "Ohio State coach Jim Tressel: A fraud, manipulator and image whore." That's actually from the Drew Sharp of Central PA, David Jones, but dang.
METAOUTRAGE. That's Ray Ratto writing a column about the columns that are outraged about Ohio State and their handling of this.
The Free Press Jihad ended with Bruce Feldman quoting people saying it's a "joke," Kirk Herbstreit declaring it a "joke," and the final NCAA word declaring the original lurid descriptions were overblown. The OSU reaction was such that people were writing columns about said reaction the day of. Boring, honest, NCAA-is-serious-business press conferences are so obviously the way to go.
Let's win this NCAA violation contest. "Document" on three.
For the record. Let me know if I've missed anything. Right now it's just on the edge of plausibility that incidents are "isolated," reported solely by lint-brush-wielding madmen. Additions: Luchs/Holmes.
That's a nice car/job/wad of money. Maurice Clarett sits out the season after claiming his expensive dealership car was robbed of over 10k in stuff. Questioned by the NCAA, Clarett refuses to give straight answers to questions 17 times because "half the team would've been suspended, and it would've been worse for everybody."
Clarett also claims his grades were total fiction, he got phantom jobs, that coaches would tell him to talk to certain people who just happened to drop thousands of dollars they didn't care about, that he got free cars and free rent. Ohio State fans discount Clarett as mentally unstable, which he is.
That's a nice tutor. Clarett's grad student tutor confirms the total fiction grades bit of Clarett's story to the New York Times. The internal response was lovely: "Goings attacked the teaching assistant's credibility, saying he found it difficult to believe her because she had a history of psychiatric problems and displayed what he called erratic behavior." Goings calls the tutor a liar and fires her after she meets with him about another player.
That's a nice job. Booster Robert Q Baker gives Troy Smith $500 for a fake job, getting Smith suspended a couple games and himself dissociated from the program. A couple years earlier Chris Gamble also worked for Baker's company.
AJ Hawk is a depression-era farmer. The apartment of AJ Hawk and Nick Mangold is robbed. Items declared missing include $1400 worth of movies, a $500 Gucci watch, and $3000 in cash, presumably kept under the bed and away from those fat cats at National City.
Santonio Holmes is taken care of. Former NFL agent Josh Luchs outed dozens of players in the SI cover story that served as promotion from his upcoming book, but he'd long stopped paying when he visited Santonio Holmes in '05:
"We met [Holmes] outside the football building," Luchs wrote, "and he said, 'Listen, I want to save you the time. We don't need to meet. I've been taking money from [an agent] the last couple years, and he's been taking care of my family too.'"
Tatgate. Five Ohio State players are found to have sold memorabilia in exchange for tattoos. Jim Tressel is given a credible tip about it in April and does nothing.
That's a nice car II. Terrelle Pryor has been pulled over for traffic violations three times in his Ohio State career. All three times he was in a car registered to Auto Direct, a local dealership. The guy running the dealership is named "Kniffin"—not a good sign. He also has signed OSU memorabilia all over his walls.
You can't throw a rock on eBay without hitting an auction for the gold pants charms handed out after Michigan victories from as recently as 2009—which means there's a fair chance the players in question are still on the team.
Between January 1st, 2000, and May 2009 Ohio State reported 375 secondary violations, most of any D-I school.
Via MVictors, the smoking gun:
Prepare for a vacation, Buckeyes. The NCAA has to come down harder on OSU than their limp response, doesn't it? They went through an entire season with four ineligible players, including their quarterback, and knew about it.
BONUS: A note for anyone compiling lists of funny business under Tressel: don't forget that when AJ Hawk's apartment was robbed he claimed three thousand dollars in cash was missing.
Good news for people who like boring news. There is a webcam of Michigan taking down their new scoreboards. You can watch it, or you can look at this picture. They are basically equivalent:
Yes, they left the Big Chill lingo up.
Womp-rats? Yesterday at about 7 PM Yahoo released its latest article that terrifies and thrills, and it's a doozy:
Tressel knew of gear scheme last April
If true, that would expose Ohio State to the worst kind of NCAA justice. Cover-ups are very bad. They got SMU the death penalty and are soon to terminate the job of Bruce Pearl.
Can Yahoo/the NCAA prove it, though? The Robinson/Wetzel piece relies on one anonymous source who said Tressel was "troubled by the information" and promised to investigate. I don't think OSU can reasonably suggest they investigated and found nothing since it didn't take the NCAA long to confirm the story, but previous Yahoo gotchas came with paper trails—as of now there isn't one.
The worst-case scenario here is that this gets rolled into an investigation of Terrelle Pryor's perpetual loaner and it turns out that—surprise—zealous OSU boosters are funneling massive amounts of impermissible benefits to players. It's getting to the point where it's hard to downplay everything that comes to light as an isolated incident, especially when Antonio Pittman tweets that cats have been getting hookups on tats since 2001.
I don't think anyone knows where this is going but if Yahoo can produce paper a major violation, an actual one not about stretching, is in the offing. Eleven Warriors just tweeted that they are hearing Tressel will admit wrongdoing(!) and sanctions/suspensions are "possible."
No serious harm done. According to Mike Spath, Carl Hagelin and Billy Powers expect Louie Caporusso to return for next weekend's CCHA finals at the Joe. Presuming Michigan can get by Bowling Green, by far the worst team in the league this season, without him they won't be short in their quest for a one-seed.
Word. Best NFL draft evaluation ever on one Justin Boren:
Plays angry on the field but his mental makeup is in question after a transfer from Michigan. Day 3 prospect.
Love to bits. The SBN Oilers blog goes off on semi-regular rants about how numbers are just not understood, man, that I love to tiny bits. Their latest is about the Avalanche and their fluky run last year. According to hockey's advanced metrics last year, the Avs were a terrible team. According to the standings midway through the year they were pretty good. They managed to survive a massive late slump to squeeze into the playoffs and fans thought this was sustainable and numbers were stupid. This year they're pretty much the same team except they're not nearly as lucky, so they're just above the Oilers in the standings and fans are discussing whether they should fire the coach they were pumping for the Jack Adams last year.
Avalanche fans are not alone in ignoring, even denying the evidence behind the performance of the team. In an article entitled "When the scientific evidence is unwelcome, people try to reason it away" in The Guardian, author Ben Goldacre explores what happens when people are "...confronted with scientific evidence that challenges their pre-existing view." His conclusion? "Often they will try to ignore it, intimidate it, buy it off, sue it for libel or reason it away." Goldacre references a 1979 paper from Lord, Ross and Lepper. From the paper's abstract:
People who hold strong opinions on complex social issues are likely to examine relevant empirical evidence in a biased manner. They are apt to accept "confirming" evidence at face value while subjecting "disconfirming" evidence to critical evaluation, and, as a result, draw undue support for their initial positions from mixed or random empirical findings.
Goldacre goes on to discuss a second group of people - those who attack the science behind the evidence presented to them.
When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate attempt to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken.
This line of thinking is similar to that used by fans who argue in favor of shot quality. Shot quality has become the great foil used by those arguing against possession metrics as a basis of hockey analytics. The ever-increasing mountain of possession data, evidence and studies means little to the shot quality folks. Arguments abound in favor of shot quality with no evidence to back it up, so lacking so Desjardins challenged the world to prove the existence of shot quality. There were no takers.
When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate attempt to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken.
What's that on the horizon? It's getting closer! It's getting closer very fast!
This is why numbers are important—they at least force you to consider things that conventional wisdom holds are ridiculous, like Derek Jeter being a pretty crappy defensive shortstop. The advanced metrics said the Avs were due to regress badly and they did. This would be just another guy who loves numbers accepting confirming evidence while some other team that defied the numbers would be seized upon by the Joe Morgans of the world as their confirming evidence… except for the fact that you can collect big sets of numbers and show they are accurate more often than not. We had a discussion about this before college football season when I predicted Iowa wouldn't do so hot and Iowa fans were like "numbers are stupid."
The other end of the spectrum from Joe Morgan is David Berri, who's just as wrong as Morgan and relies on a just-as-irrelevant credential ("I was the greatest second baseman of all time"/"I went to Princeton") in his quest to reduce everything in sports to a regression. I'm not arguing for that, either. The numbers gathered by football and basketball box scores are witheringly insufficient to hope to explain anything.
In reality, numbers are insufficient to fully explain anything but baseball for a lot of reasons. Baseball's easier and there are orders of magnitude more data—Pitch FX is insane. But in all sports advanced metrics can at least provide a much better answer for "what," if not how and why. An example: about a week ago LaVall Jordan tweeted that Michigan had the fourth best defense in the Big Ten. That's true on a pure counting number basis but if you do something like divide they were ninth*. That's a huge difference and the tempo-free number is indisputably better. There's a huge difference between talking about why Michigan has an above average defense or why they have a below-average one, and anyone who would prefer to talk about the former is just wasting people's time.
*[The MSU game moved them up to seventh.]
Hardaway explosion. Rod Beard's latest in the News has a wide array of quotes on the emergence of Tim Hardaway Jr. Vitale is involved, but don't let that phase you. Here's the most interesting bit on his recent blowup:
"When he was shooting a lower percentage earlier in the year, I called him in and we just talked a little about getting a better shot than he was taking," Beilein said. "(I told him) you're probably going to take just as many shots, but the ball will come back to you again.
"He did it immediately and his shooting percentage has gone way up."
Beilein has repeatedly praised Hardaway's coachability, which suggests he will continue to improve over the duration of his career at Michigan. Dad is also impressed:
"He's developed very well and the whole team has, from November to today," Tim Sr. said. "You can see a lot of confidence in them and you can see their swagger. They're playing well, they believe in the system and they believe in the coach."
Random offer thought. Michigan continues to litter the nation with offers, but a Q: could this be a more general pattern? The NCAA just implemented a rule that prohibits schools from sending written offers until August. In the past there was the verbal offer, which was more of an indication of interest, and the written offer, which was as close to official as something that says "we can revoke this at any time" gets. Now there are no written offers, nothing to distinguish between the two, and kids who may have waited to declare they had an offer until they had the actual paper in their hands now have nothing else do go on.
In any case, the universal predictions that this rule would lead to confusion and would do nothing to slow down the breakneck pace of recruiting have come true, like it was obvious they would.
Etc.: Posnanski writes something about the "joy of rooting against Lebron" that expands on yesterday's trash-talk assertions. According to Ira at WTKA via Brandon, Michigan's club seats and suites are sold out. Evolving Evan Smotrycz. Big Ten wrestling details.