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.
2/11/2011 – Michigan 3, OSU 2 – 18-9-4, 15-7-1 CCHA
2/12/2011 – Michigan 2, OSU 1 – 19-9-4, 16-7-1 CCHA
As with the basketball team, no grand soaring narrative bits as the hockey team did what it needed to do against Ohio State. They did in in the way they had to do it if they were going to do it. They further established themselves as a pretty good team that's obviously not great. They're going to have to deflect their way to glory.
On Friday an elderly gentleman sitting next to my friend said "there's just something missing with this team" out of nowhere—he was bothered—and my friend said "scorers" and that led to a conversation about all the various ways in which scorers are fun to have. I didn't participate. I sat there and thought "AAARGH" as Michigan almost scored on a dozen cross-crease passes. I've gone from missing TJ Hensick to missing Andy Hilbert to missing Brandon Kaleniecki, and now I'm missing all of them. Michigan can't score on two on ones, one-timers, or pucks that skitter a foot from the goalmouth*. At the same time their defense is probably the deepest and best Red's ever had. Watching them play is persistently odd, which is why old Midwesterners break with the strong and silent bit to complain to people they don't know.
The line revamp was interesting. Vaughn, Rust, and Glendening got the start on Friday, which was odd until it became clear that Red was matching that line against the Alberts/Somma line that provides the bulk of OSU's offense. That left Hagelin/Caporusso/Brown and Moffatt/Treais/Wohlberg against weaker competition. I'd say that's getting the bulk of Michigan's scoring away from top lines and allowing them to be more offensive minded, but Scooter scored his tenth of the year on Friday. So I can't. That's the idea, though.
It seemed to work for the Wohlberg line. All those guys have some skill and Moffatt and Treais seem to be taking steps forward as the season progresses. Treais is now doing a couple of noticeably skillful things per game and Moffatt has had at least one shift in the last four games where I thought to myself "that's a really good shift"; they were the only two to come out of the Miami weekend with any credit. Moffatt opened the scoring in the 2-1 win Saturday, with Treais getting the first assist, and if Michigan can keep them out there against third lines they should outscore on the regular.
Hagelin and Caporusso were a little awkward but got goals even if they rode up a defenseman's stick or were unscreened shots that went five-hole or… well… you know the drill by now. A lot of Michigan's goals are weird bounces of the puck. They win by getting more opportunities at weird bounces against teams that can't break down their D.
So it goes. Three series left (including the playoffs), two against bad to very bad opponents, two at home, a tourney bid all but assured—feels like biding time until Michigan gets an opportunity to reprise their phoenix act from last year.
*[For those who don't remember Kaleniecki, imagine a 5'9" Thomas Holmstrom. This about sums it up:
I'm not sure he ever scored a goal from more than three feet, but despite that he always hit double digits by the end of the year. The definition of a mucker. Also he scored this very silly goal.]
With a couple weeks left in the regular season it's now feasible to look at the PWR with an eye towards its final incarnation. This is where I'd go into the individual comparisons and fish out which were gone and which were flippable but mfan_in_ohio has already done so.
The upshot: Michigan's only lost three comparisons irrevocably and has at least a slim shot at the rest. Realistically, comparisons against BC, Denver, and a few others are longshots dependent on a precise set of results Michigan has no control over. The reasonable best-case scenario is to move up from 9th to 6th or 7th, snagging a two-seed and removing any chance Michigan would play North Dakota or some other high-power WCHA team in the first round.
This year's a weird one as far as desired seedings go. Yale and Union are doing very well nationally—even schedule-obsessed KRACH likes them—but the ECAC hasn't had a national contender in a decade and I'm not sure how I'd feel if Michigan ended up eighth and got bracketed with Union with (presumably) Yale to follow. I don't think I'd like it much. Even if Yale is playing weak competition they're the top scoring team in the country by a half goal and are outscoring opponents by 2.12 goals per game. That's a lot of goals per game. A schedule argument only goes so far when KRACH likes you without even considering the fact that you're not just beating teams, you're bludgeoning them.
Non-bullets and stuff
For the record. This is my 12th year at Yost and while I haven't been to every game I've been to the vast bulk. I've never seen a three-for-three night at Score-O before. Can anyone recall the last time that happened?
Conference race. Michigan is a point behind ND after they swept Bowling Green. Miami took four points from WMU and is tied with M but both of those teams will spend their games in hand. Despite being a point back Michigan should feel they've got a good chance. This weekend Michigan gets Western at home; ND gets Ferris on the road; the next weekend Michigan gets Northern on the road as ND plays a home and home with Western.
Where did they come from? Usually opposing fans are limited to the parents section and maybe a pocket or two in the endzone. That was the case Friday, but on Saturday there were lots of OSU fans—probably more visiting fans than I've seen since MSU was in its Mason heyday. Where did they come from? Why did they only show up Saturday? Should I carry around a voice recorder just in case this happens again so I have proof of the things that come out of their mouths?
Aggressive. OSU's coach was very aggressive when it came to pulling his goalie. Both nights Heeter left with about two minutes left and stayed out the rest of the game; OSU didn't score but didn't get scored on either. I've been bugging my buddy about this for much of the year when opponents get an opportunity: if you're down one and you get a power play with 3 minutes left or whatever, shouldn't you pull the goalie?
Pateryn: erratic. Greg Pateryn is probably driving the coaches crazy, as he's alternating Llewellyn-like aggression at the blue line that gives up odd-man rushes with great passes and backchecks.
Brown: scores. Also guh. I wasn't sure Brown's major was a good call but Yost Built had the benefit of replay and said it was "obvious," so okay. In the immediate postgame Red said he hadn't seen it but had "heard it was a legitimate major penalty in college. You can’t do that." Also, the night before I thought Brown was definitely getting the gate for his other boarding/charging/general naughtiness, so if that played into the refs decision that's understandable.
Chris Brown: please stop doing this. The naughtiness, not the scoring.
Yost Built covers the weekend in depth and raises an excellent point:
I'm starting to think that you could make a damn fine case for Shawn Hunwick as the first team All-CCHA goalie. He's third in wins, despite playing 7 fewer games than Pat Nagle and three fewer than Mike Johnson. He's second in GAA to Connor Knapp, second in save percentage to Will Yanakeff (who has only played in 9 games), and tied for first in shutouts. I could see giving it to Nagle as he's put up killer numbers and has barely gotten two goals per game of support, but Hunwick has been really fantastic for the Wolverines after a slow start (and it's not like we've given him a ton of goals lately either).
That's amazing. Red said Hunwick was the starter point blank before the weekend and after saving 55 of 58 shots he's done nothing to change that.
|WHAT||Ohio State @ Michigan|
|WHERE||Yost Ice Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/Sat|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Record. 14-13-2, 9-11-2 CCHA. OSU's gone 2-4 the last three weekends, splitting with Notre Dame and Michigan State and getting swept in Alaska. They've got a –5 CCHA goal differential but had a strong effort against (terrible, terrible) nonconference teams. They're +9 for the season.
KRACH is not impressed: it has them 28th, ahead of only BG and Northern Michigan in the CCHA.
Previous meetings. Michigan split in Columbus in early December, losing 3-2 in OT on Friday before winning 2-1. Friday was a sinfully ugly game in which Michigan had the bulk of what chances occurred. On Saturday Michigan bombed Cal Heeter with 48 shots but couldn't break through until the third when Luke Glendening gritted in a goal; Wohlberg punched in the game winner with around five minutes left.
Both games were low on quality chances and featured plenty of aimless play between the blue lines.
Dangermen. OSU's middle of the pack in scoring at 32nd. Their top guys are linemates and seniors John Albert (11-20-31) and Sergio Somma (15-11-26); junior Danny Dries has 13-11-24 but did the bulk of his damage against OSU's weak nonconference schedule. There are three more guys with seven or eight goals and then it collapses—OSU has no scoring depth.
They also get nothing from their defensemen. Shane Sims is the only D with more than one goal and the only guy who seems like he might be generating scoring chances with his passing. The rest of the corps have the scattered assists you'd expect from guys who happen to be on the ice when other people do stuff.
Heeter. Also ugly uniforms.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Junior and guy named like he lives in a van down by the river Cal Heeter has played all but 22 minutes this season. He's been good. He's got a .920 save percentage despite facing almost 30 shots a game. That puts him in a four way tie for 20th nationally (72 goalies are ranked) with Shawn Hunwick and a couple other guys.
As mentioned, the defense is comprised of simple defensive guys save Sims, an Islanders draftee. None stand out statistically and I don't remember anything useful from the first series. They do seem to be good. Michigan struggled to generate anything earlier and while that was also the case last weekend that OSU series still stands as the ugliest and least exciting of the year.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.7||4.3|
|PP Ag / G||4.3||4.7|
More evidence the OSU D is pretty good at being boring, solid defenders can be found in that power plays against number. 4.3 is low, and the OSU D corps does not take a ton of penalties that generate power play opportunities. OSU's maintained their PP advantage through the conference season, so that's not an artifact of the nonconference schedule. Meanwhile, after the dumb penalty orgy over the weekend Michigan exactly inverts OSU's numbers.
Michigan (17.7%, 32nd) has a slight advantage on the PP against OSU (16.9%, 37th) but is slightly worse killing penalties at 80.7 percent (39th) to OSU's 81.5 (35th). Yes, Michigan's specialty units are both in the thirties.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Attempt to stay awake through both games. It's going to be tough. There's going to be all this luxurious ice out there and it will be easy to forget about the puck and just lay down for a nice nap. While it's unlikely anything actually happens while you're getting a bit of shut-eye, if it happens in the offensive zone you'll have to deal with offsides and whatnot.
Hunwick non-reprise. Michigan lost that OT game largely because Hunwick gave up a terrible goal on a shot taken from the half-boards on a a harmless rush. He's been very good every since.
Maybe the line blender will work. Red revamped his lines for the first time in over a year, placing Caporusso with Hagelin and creating a new second line of Wohlberg, Treais, and Moffatt that should/could/might wake up Rust, Lynch, and other forwards who are scoring less frequently than Scooter Vaughn and three of Michigan's defensemen. Rust and Lynch can go out there to shut down OSU's secondary scoring, leaving the line that hypothetically could score to eat up OSU's exceedingly weak bottom six.
The Big Picture
Michigan is hovering around the 3/4 borderline after three straight losses and needs to pick it up if it expects to reach Joe Louis Arena with an at-large bid already in its pocket. Falling down the standings has created a huge mess of teams that are relevant to Michigan's PWR ranking and makes it hard to pick out specific events that you're rooting for this weekend other than "root for everyone in front of and directly behind Michigan to lose (unless Michigan played them)." That means anyone good in the CCHA, Merrimack, Union, Dartmouth, and Colorado College are your enemies.
As for Michigan itself, they're 12th in RPI and will maintain that if they go 4-2 down the stretch. Ohio State at home is probably their second-easiest series—Northern's goal differential is awful—and after the ugliness the last two weeks a sweep would go a long way towards calming fears about breaking the tourney streak. A win and a tie would be fine, a split disappointing. Anything worse is time to head for the lifeboats.
The Wall Street Journal declares college hockey arenas "the cathedrals of sports" and gives Yost the nod for best crowd. Caporusso is now e-famous. Yost Built previews OSU and adds a little bit more information to what we know about 2013 commit JT Compher:
USHR had him ranked as the #4 forward at the Select 15 camp this past July: "Aggressive and good-sized, with a sense of the game and anticipation. Competitive, too. Blocks shots."
|WHAT||Michigan v. #1 Ohio State|
7:00 PM EST
February 3rd, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan +16.5|
Signing Day has come and gone (on to the class of 2012!), and since last we previewed a game for the Men's Basketballing Wolverines, they've gone out and ended a 14-year road losing streak to their archrival, and taken care of business against a lesser opponent. The team's best player has broken out of a mini-slump with a solid performance in the first game, and a triple-double in the second. Good times in Crisler Arena.
Of course, it must be mentioned that said archrival is struggling like they rarely have under Tom Izzo, and Iowa is indeed terrible at the basketball (but way better than State! HAHAHAHAHA!). Despite both coming up short against the Wolverines, Kalin Lucas and Melsahn Besabe each had wonderful days offensively against Michigan. These Wolverines did not suddenly turn into... well, Ohio State.
Ohio State, on the other hand, remains Ohio State. They're among the tops in the country both offensively and defensively, and are the best team in Division 1 basketball by a healthy margin. Though Michigan played them close in Crisler Arena 22 days ago, they're likely to play much better at home.
The Buckeyes still have Jared Sullinger, and they still have an excellent supporting cast around him. In ValueCity Arena (about which: LOL), every single Wolverine will have to play some of his best ball this season to come away with a win.
With a few games under each team's belt, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||67||73||-|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||166||6||OO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||23||10||O|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||237||5||OOO|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||304||32||OOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||47||65||M|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||344||1||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||60||236||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||48||5||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||87||2||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 think I've already made this joke once already this year, but hide ya kids, hide ya wife. Ohio State is good at the basketed ball. Even one of Michigan's strongest suits - not turning over the ball - is a statistical advantage for the Buckeyes. The only areas in which Michigan has performed better is rebounding Ohio State misses, and not sending the Buckeyes to the free throw line.
When last these teams met, the Wolverines outshot the Buckeyes, 64.1-60.7 eFG%. The teams were about equal in turnovers and rebounding. The biggest difference is displayed in the chart above: Ohio State shot more than three times as many free throws as did Michigan.
Judging by the statistics, it's likely that Michigan played above their heads the first time against the Buckeyes. While there could be matchup reasons for that, I think it's more likely that a rivalry game in front of the home crowd played a much bigger role. On the road, Michigan is more likely to struggle like the stats imply they should.
Last time I predicted Michigan would perform better than expected but still lose, it worked out just fine, thank you very much. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 73-56 win for the Buckeyes, and Vegas says OSU by 16.5.