Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
|WHAT||Michigan at Purdue|
West Lafayette, Indiana
|WHEN||7:00 PM Eastern|
"I want to be a nacho man
nacho nacho man
I want to be a nacho man
who makes engineering"
-"I Tap Plains For Mana," Purdue fight song
Michigan hasn't seen Purdue since January 24th but the Boilers remain about the same team they were back then: a bunch of bricklayers who can get to the bucket surrounding mercurial man-mountain AJ Hammons. Hammons turned in his worst game of the season (two points, two rebounds, two turnovers in 24 indifferent minutes) and Michigan ran away late with a comfortable 68-53 win. Two games later he'd thunder in 30 points against Indiana, albeit in a 37-point loss.
Hammons maintained a high level of production the next few games but has gone cold of late, scoring six points in three of his last four. He did have a good game against Iowa with 12 points and 9 rebounds despite being limited to 18 minutes with foul trouble.
Overall, Hammons is only a decent shooter; he is a high usage, extremely-high block guy who rebounds okay for a seven-footer. Jordan Morgan and company will probably encounter a much more motivated version of him this time out. If he's shooting over a defender, okay.
The guys surrounding Hammons are mostly guys named Johnson. Terone, the junior, is the only one who can shoot it from the outside. He's at a 35% clip. Ronnie and Anthony are at 15 and 21, respectively. All of them shoot about 41% from two—ugh—and the more-heavily-used Terone and Ronnie are under 60% from the line. Those are ugly numbers from your highest-usage players, especially when they're coupled with a high TO rate from Ronnie.
The non-Johnson starter is DJ Byrd, a remorseless chucker who somehow manages a TO rate above 20 despite launching 77% of his shots from behind the arc. Sometimes well behind the arc, as Nik Stauskas found out in the last meeting. That meeting was the foundation for a short-lived Tim Hardaway Lockdown Defender meme after Byrd went from 11 points in the first half to 0 in the second half, but six of those points came on threes that were either banked or shot from 35 feet.
He's a less extreme Marshall Henderson, but he's knocking down 37% of his somewhat inadvisable threes. Since no one save backup wing Raphael Davis gets an appreciable number of twos in at a 50%+ clip, that is Purdue's best shot by some distance.
Purdue will run out large men like Sandi Marcus, Travis Carroll and Donnie Hale when Hammons is on the bench or they're looking for a little more size. Carroll is invisible offensively and has Egwu-level rebounding rates (ie, decent offense, terrible defense); Hale puts up an array of midrange jumpers that fall at the usual 42% rate. Marcus is a clubbing OREB guy who mysteriously only gets 16% of Purdue's minutes despite having good numbers. Must be bad positionally.
The only perimeter backup of any note is the aforementioned Raphael Davis, a freshman who shoots okay in limited opportunities but turns the ball over a great deal.
Purdue's coming off by far their best performance of the year, a 69-56 win at the Trohl Center. That's God's work, Boilermakers. DJ Byrd was 6 of 9 from behind the line, Terone Johnson managed to shoot 50% from the floor on 14 attempts, and Purdue was +6 in OREBs largely because Wisconsin couldn't grab an offensive board to save its life.
This brought them to 7-9 in the Big Ten, king among the conference dwarves. Their other conference wins have mostly come against teams with no shot at the tourney, with exceptions at home against Iowa (in OT) and Illinois (by seven in the opener). But hey Michigan lost to Penn State so everybody's nervous.
Four factors, now conference-only (small sample, yes, but numbers are equally skewed by various cupcakes on the non-conference schedule):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||44.6 (9)||19.4 (11)||35.4 (3)||32.7 (6)|
|Defense||46.1 (4)||15.3 (12)||32.6 (8)||29.5 (5)|
Purdue shoots poorly and doesn't quite make up for a large TO deficit with good rebounding. Fast break points should favor the Wolverines, as Purdue is 11th in the league at giving up steals and 12th at acquiring them. They're also 11th in free throw shooting, 10th in 2 point shooting, and last in threes attempted, because obviously.
All of this would be much more assuring if not for Penn State, of course.
Keep them away from the bucket without sagging off of Byrd. Surprise, right? Michigan picked up their pick and roll defense in their most recent game after the mother of all wakeup calls and should be on point here, but the defensive suck is a much larger trend than one good game against the Spartans. In any case, help off guys and force short pullups, prevent layups, and keep DJ Byrd from doing what he did against Wisconsin and Purdue won't touch a PPP.
Sag off pretty much anyone else. Maybe not Terone Johnson, but he's the nominal PG so that's more a matter of being alert to a jack coming your way.
Pick and roll Hammons. Hammons is a force inside, but he's a bit sluggish on the perimeter and can be foul prone when he's trying to move and defend at the same time. Meanwhile Hammons's backups are nowhere near the defender he is. Or rebounder. Or shooter. Hammons is a lot better than other big guy options.
No easy buckets. If Michigan has a choice between giving up a layup and putting a dude on the line, put the dude on the line. Only Byrd is a quality FT shooter on this team. You'll save yourself some points by making them earn transition opportunities at the line.
Shoot a three pointer. And preferably some additional three pointer after the first one. Hammons makes life difficult inside. Winning games without making threes is hard.
Don't suck on the road no mo'. srs
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 6.
So one way to get the shirts we put up in GTGWS is to correctly guess the score. You have about a 1/500 chance of winning. Another is to go and buy them from our store, where you have about a 1/1 chance of winning. If you're planning to do that, do that now since the store's offering free shipping for all of March. As for the other route…
We didn't listen! A few weeks ago when Michigan was looking at a road trip to Wisconsin before the big game in East Lansing I said hell let's not make people guess a 40-possession Bo Ryan game. A guy in the comments said don't do that. I didn't listen.
Last week Michigan was looking at a trip to lowly Penn State on Wednesday with MSU coming to town on Sunday afternoon. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but no, I went ahead and asked folks to ignore Penn State and guess the Sparty game. I didn't listen!
And this week? This week Michigan has yet another mid-week visit to a downrated team that ran into a brutal Big Ten schedule before a season-defining matchup over the weekend. I don't want to ruin the fun of Indiana, but I'm not falling for that overlook-the-road-opponent thing again neither. So both. Guess both. Like this:
Boils 78-68 Go Blue!
Whose yers: 71-70 MEEESHIGAN!
If there's a winner for two games I'll give out two shirts. If nobody gets the score this time, no shirts. This way perhaps the gods will let us have our fun without all the nasty smiting.
Also: Indiana liveblog: we're thinking of doing it again. If somebody wants to sponsor that send 'em my way: seth at mgoblog dot com.
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, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you guess either game correctly, 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:
Last week in this game,
A user FairleyStUHpid came.
And though he guessed M-59
I guess he did that by design!
(Rah rah rah)
Go hard guess the score,
With honor you may win some more!
Head you to our store,
To claim your MGo-victory!
Rooting for both the biggest local college and the local pro team puts Michiganders in the interesting position of singing the best fight song in the world on Saturdays and the worst on Sundays. Also: MMB vs a fat middle aged guy in a hard hat: reason 5857 that college is better than pro.
This Week's Games:
@Purdue tonight (at 7) and vs. Indiana at home on Sunday. Guess 'em both. To make it easy on me please use the [M's score]-[hyphen]-[Opponent's score] format and specify on that line which game that score's for.
And the Prize:
People who just see the parts of Indiana on the skyway or I-94 don't realize that the state shaped like a spilled sack of beans actually has a lot more going for it. Like there are several bars in Indianapolis. And there's corn fields. And there's gas stations. And the gas is cheaper than in Michigan or Illinois. (You know we should have just made a shirt that says "America's gas station.") Somehow this state surrounded by football enthusiasts ended up being cookoo for basketball. Maybe that's because you can't smell Gary indoors.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm's name has to be spelled wrong. The algorithm is not just a shooter. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
wit1/24/2013 – Michigan 68, Purdue 53 – 17-1, 5-1 Big Ten
Probably not many more of these for games not against Penn State, but I don't have any narrative for this one so let's just talk about stuff that happened.
Photos. Via Eric Upchurch:
It catches up in the end. The story of the first half was the normally deficient Boiler three-point shooting checking in at 54%, which was good enough to stake them to a one-point lead. In the second half they went 0-9 to finish almost exactly on their season average of 31.6%, and honestly it should have been worse what with DJ Byrd hitting one from 35 feet and banking in another. (As always, Death To Backboards.)
By the end of the game everything had averaged out to… averages and Michigan just about hit the Vegas line and Kenpom's prediction of a 17-point margin. If Ronnie Johnson hitting a three is the difference I'll live with it.
MY MAN RONNIE. That one make on three attempts pushed him to 14% on the year.
Purdue is kind of fun to watch. So you've got Ronnie Johnson's three-point futility plus his tendency to crash full-bore into opponents for charges that are so obvious the refs don't even get excited about them. Then you've got DJ Byrd hucking it up from anywhere, making a few and hilariously missing more. All other Purdue perimeter players are more or less versions of those two guys. The Johnsonbot named Terone adds a dash of circus shot to the stew.
The end result is balls flying all over the place. More than once last night I thought GO HOME PURDUE, YOU ARE DRUNK. This makes them significantly more entertaining than, say, Penn State or Nebraska. Nebraska does have Andre Almedia, I guess.
Does Michigan need to foul more? I think they might. There was a possession relatively late on which Burke extended pressure and harassed one of the many Boiler Johnsons into a near-turnover twice, and then Mitch McGary overplayed a passing lane to finally turn Purdue over. I'd like that to be a more frequent occurrence even if it comes at the cost of some additional fouls.
I can immediately think of some good counter-arguments:
- Michigan plays its starters a ton and there is a serious dropoff to the bench so foul trouble is to be avoided at all costs.
- Playing defense like that tires you out, bench thing again.
- Michigan likes games of HORSE.
But but but boy do I want this team to get out in transition and getting aggressive on defense seems to have some potentially large payoffs. Their transition numbers are nuts, in the 96th percentile nationally as of a few games ago according to Synergy and UMHoops. Anything they can do to push the pace is going to benefit them.
They only forced 12 turnovers in this one, limiting those opportunities. Their man to man seems a lot more passive than many teams'. This game in particular seemed to invite aggression: the Boilers have a very good eFG% defense and can't shoot free throws.
Specifically, I hope Caris LeVert can beast up over the next couple months. He's not going to foul out and if he gives up a couple of over-aggressive fouls on the perimeter it's not likely to end up hurting Michigan since they so rarely find themselves giving up the bonus. Stauskas, too—that man is still in the top ten nationally at avoiding fouls.
THEORY. It may be that Michigan's second-half surge is partially built on a lack of fouls in the first half? If they go into the locker room with everyone clean maybe they sit down and are like "okay guys now time to get aggressive"? I'll check the numbers on this to see if there's anything to it.
If I had to guess I'd say no. It feels more like Michigan's offense takes off right after halftime. But I'll check.
Throw out the rebounding record books when you play the Purdue Boilermakers. For the record, Michigan still won the battle on the boards against a team that looks damn good at that bit right now—22nd OREB, 64th DREB. They grabbed 12 of 30 opportunities; Purdue got 11 of 34.
And it was hard to be mad about many of Purdue's offensive boards anyway. Their misses were often so wild that attempting to get position was a futile project often ending with a ball heading directly at your head with hockey-puck speed. I hope no one on the team was in 'Nam. If anyone was they're having a seriously bad day today.
I definitely shouldn't mention this. Tim Hardaway was 3/5 from deep today, bringing his three point shooting in league play to a Stauskas-like 15/29.
Trey Burke yawn yawn. Save for an uncharacteristically poor night from three (0 of 4), Trey was himself: 6/10 inside the arc with 4 FTAs, 8 assists, one turnover. Oddity: he blocked two shots.
Burke has surged into the KPOY lead now, passing Russ Smith and Mason Plumlee. Smith may have a case—he's putting up 36% of Louisville shots and has a huge steal percentage—but is hurt by inefficient shooting; Plumlee's presence is largely due to a huge DREB rate that seems to exist because no one else on the Blue Devils even tries.
There's a team adjustment in the kPOY that probably explains much of the movement. Louisville and Duke have had a rough past couple weeks; as their teams fall back to the pack their numbers go down.
it was a fumbly kind of game for big guys (Upchurch)
Blank-headed center regains third head. With Morgan and McGary having some struggles early, Jon Horford saw eight minutes for his first extended playing time in a while. His impact was not enormous—three rebounds, 1/2 from the floor—but it's nice to have him available.
This Week in This Week In Stop Asking For Post Touches: the beginning of the first half for Michigan, in which Jordan Morgan ended up taking on AJ Hammons directly and went 0-3. Morgan and McGary did have one nice one-on-one bucket apiece against Hammons; overall their efficiency was significantly lower than the rest of the offense.
Another oddity: Michigan's three posts saw a total of 43 minutes and picked up no fouls. This was because…
Holy pants was AJ Hammons awful. I've been talking him up based on watching some Purdue and seeing some nice things in the box score; in this game he was total non-entity. In 24 minutes he had 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 turnovers. While I wasn't enamored with Michigan's center play in this one, they have to get some credit for that.
That over and back call. A couple folks pushed back on twitter when I broke out the traditional "lol big ten refs" for the over-and-back on Stauskas, but I am sure I'm right on this. For over-and-back to be in play the entire ball and the entirety of the player's body have to cross the halfcourt line. By the time Stauskas caught up to the ball Byrd had poked out it had already started crossing the halfcourt stripe. This was obvious on TV but not to the ref, since said ref was well behind the play.
In any case, he clearly did not regain control of the ball until he'd entered the backcourt, in which case the tip indicated by the ref closest to the play was still the determining factor. That call was mystifying.
Yes, I can find things to complain about even when Michigan is the #2 FTA/FGA team in the nation. It's a skill, what can I say?
Second-half adjustment watch. This one was even coming out of the locker room, with both teams picking up five points in the first five minutes. Then Michigan went away with a 14-2 run in the next five. You can add that to the bin or not; your discretion.
On deck: huge swing game. I dislike this Illinois game coming up. Michigan should win, but this is an Illinois team that beat OSU's head in at Assembly (Not That Assembly) and could at any moment heat up on their many, many three-pointers. They'll be desperate for another marquee win that can cover up blemishes like "losers to Purdue and Northwestern" when tourney time comes around; I can see things going very well or very badly.
There's a cap on how well Illinois can do when they can't grab a rebound to save their lives; I am still wary of a team at the bottom of three-point percentage rankings on both offense and defense. That could turn around and bite you. Ask Gonzaga, on the wrong end of an 11/26 night from the Illini.
Kenpom has Michigan by eight and with a 77% chance of winning—feels a little more random than that to me.