The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Wisconsin|
|WHEN||2:30 PM Eastern|
Ah, Wisconsin. Tempo-clubbing, basketball-imploding, infuriating-non-call-generating, desperation-three-point-chuck-heaving, Kenpom-enthralling Wisconsin. How your presence enfouls all that is good about Big Ten basketball this year. Chernobyl: the basketball team. And so forth.
The Badgers' calling card is defense, and how, but we'll discuss their abilities in that department in the Tempo Free section. On offense, they've got one of the most bizarre breakdowns I've seen in many years of clicking refresh on Kenpom. Senior power forward Ryan Evans is Wisconsin's highest-usage and lowest-efficiency player. As statistical anomalies go, that's pretty amazing. Evans absorbs 26% of Wisconsin shots despite shooting 42% from the floor; he also shoots 42% from the line. He gets to the line rather frequently, but since that's to Wisconsin's detriment it's not a particularly good representation of his game, which is midrange jumper after midrange jumper. He is an excellent rebounder and, like almost everyone on Wisconsin, turns the ball over rarely.
Three players provide what offensive firepower the Badgers have, most prominently center Jared Berggren. Berggren is yet another 6'10" upperclassman who has three-point range and can beast you on the inside. Berggren is more beast and less sniper than, say, John Leuer; they all come from the same mold. Berggren rebounds at both ends, blocks shots without fouling, and has an incredibly low TORate for a guy his size. The main flaw in his game is 25% shooting on 75 threes. He's terribly underrated.
You probably know Ben Brust, a perimeter-oriented shooting guard hitting 40% from three. He is much less effective inside the line (48%; very rare trips to the line), and Michigan should close him out ferociously.
The third offensive cogs doesn't even start: freshman Sam Dekker. He's getting barely over half of Wisconsin's minutes despite shooting 55%/43% on quality usage. He's not the rebounder Evans is and isn't the defender; he's a much, much better offensive option.
Point guard Traevon Jackson is a high-turnover player who shoots 41%/30%. Michigan might well encourage him to shoot; Mike Bruesewitz tells you all you need to know about him with his last name. He's there to D up, rebound, and put up a small number of high quality looks. Like Berggren, he takes threes when they present themselves despite hitting well under 30%.
Wisconsin had a weird finish to their season after that prayer by Brust. They lost in OT at Minnesota the next night, had consecutive whompings of Ohio State(!), Northwestern, and Nebraska, and then finished the year on a depressing slide. They lost to Purdue by 13 at home and at Michigan State by 15 in a game in which they put up a measly 43.
They finished the year with another desperation three, this one at Penn State. While Michigan had their own, worse struggles at Penn State, that ain't good. The Badgers finished the Big Ten season with the same 12-6 record Michigan did and won the tiebreaker for the fourth spot thanks to the Brust prayer and Michigan's lack of a return game.
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||46.9 (6)||16.2 (3)||30.3 (8)||29.5 (10)|
|Defense||42.2 (1)||15.4 (11)||27.0 (1)||23.5 (1)|
The Badgers are a funhouse mirror version of Michigan. Both teams take care of the ball, force very few turnovers, never get to the line, and never put their opponents on the line.
The distortions come in defensive rebounding—Wisconsin is great and Michigan progressively worse—and eFG% at both ends of the floor. On offense Michigan is great, with Wisconsin scraping out a middling existence. On defense Wisconsin is great, with Michigan scraping out a less-than-middling existence.
Run two guys off the line only. Preventing three pointers is a skill that Wisconsin has and Michigan should try to emulate. Dekker and Brust should be closed down with extreme predjudice; everyone else you can chill on save backup PG George Marshall.
Get handsy on D. If you're putting Wisconsin on the line that's only a slight downgrade in expectation, one that should be offset by an increased ability to get those stop things. Obviously, Evans is the main issue for the Badgers here.
For pants sake don't hedge the pick and roll hard. Look man, if Traevon Jackson wants to pull up, let him pull up. Don't unbalance your defense and invite Jared Berggren to beast on Trey Burke. Just go under the damn screen. This will not happen.
Brust P&R is another matter, but even then Michigan has to stop pointlessly getting its big well outside the three-point line, whereupon disaster occurs.
Make your midrange jumpers. Wisconsin's defense is so good because they get away with subtle murder. Refs don't want the bad man to yell at them. But also they cut off good shots. Hoop Math shows that nearly half of shots Wisconsin faces are two point jumpers, AKA The Devil's shot. Points per shot on the three categories:
- RIM: 1.1
- TWOS: 0.7
- THREES: 0.9
Michigan got off more threes than Wisconsin usually allows in the first game. They hit only five of 18.
I don't have much hope that Michigan is going to break Wisconsin tendencies here, so the answer is Hardaway and Burke making their pull-ups. Pull-ups suck, but you can't get a blocking call on Wisconsin to save your life and Burke's floater is deadly. In the last game, Wisconsin continually sagged off Burke on the pick and roll; Burke hit 6 of 13 twos. That was almost good enough.
This is a terrible matchup for Stauskas, who may be Not Just A Shooter™ but has very little midrange game. In the first game he had five points on seven shots.
McGary: fight Berggren to a standstill on the boards. Self explanatory.
Do something, GRIII. Ditto.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 1.
2/9/2012 – Michigan 62, Wisconsin 65 (OT) – 21-3, 8-3 Big Ten
Bear with me here. What if Bo Ryan is actually from a small swampy planet in the general vicinity of Rigel?
His homeworld is a dire place full of pincered things with sensory appendages strongly reminiscent of tentacles covering their heads. If you carefully prepare the tentacles such that they are held in place they can resemble hair. They are an angry species, prone to fits of helpless rage. They have a legalistic bent; they take immense pleasure in exploiting their system of justice to temporarily soothe their seething hearts by jailing enemies on technicalities while escaping their crimes on other technicalities. Their only ethic is victory, no matter how appalling the method of its acquisition. Placed in the earthly taxonomic system they are technically bugs. They have a swampy game called swampball.
Bo Ryan is here on a mission. He is here to prepare the planet for eventual conquest by making viewers of his particular brand of swampball clones of himself: legalistic raging things who feel like their hair cannot be real, who can only clasp and unclasp their grasping apparatuses helplessly in the face of an unfeeling monolith of miscarried justice. Once prepared adequately, victims of this process will hardly notice when the nations leaders shed their disguises and reveal themselves as horrible chittering pedants from another world.
I'm not saying this admittedly fanciful scenario is true. I'm saying that if it was, not one damn thing about Wisconsin basketball would be any different. To watch the Badgers is to both hate and become Bo Ryan.
This game made me crazy. Michigan acquired all of two free throws in forty-five minutes and Dan Dakich had spent most of the last minute pleading for anyone to use their bounty of spare fouls; both teams tried and neither could. In Michigan's case, they screwed up. In Wisconsin's, they hacked away but could not get the refs to acknowledge it.
For the bug-people to lose on that would have been justice. There is no justice.
Instead Michigan got that running half-court to force overtime and a spectacular series of no-calls—Nik Stauskas getting hacked from the side and then not touching the ball, getting neither a foul or the out of bounds call, Jared Berggren slapping at Mitch McGary's arms so hard it was audible on the broadcast—continued until finally Michigan slunk off the Kohl Center court, grasping their suddenly unreal hair and wondering how to do anything other than clench their fists.
I felt paranoid watching all of this. It was a temporary window into the world of a 9/11 truther, seeing what looked like an insane conspiracy by Big Ten refs to keep Bo Ryan in their ears, screaming unprintable things about their mothers. A full half-dozen of the calls they made seemed literally impossible, from the two mentioned above to another breakaway layup that Burke missed because a dude hit him on the head and the charge Burke took on Berggren late that went the other way for a critical three-point play. Am I sane? I thought we got a fair whistle at Indiana. I did think that.
I thought I'd be better by now; I'm not. I hated every minute of watching that, don't understand most of those calls, and find it impossible to believe that this has been happening for years. It sucks for the league, both aesthetically and when a team that got worked by every decent nonconference opponent suddenly starts winning a ton of Big Ten games.
I feel irrational about it and incapable of not being irrational about it, and then something else happens and I feel that the only thing irrational here is the ENTIRE DAMN CONSPIRACY and feel like finding a town hall meeting about building an apartment complex proposal and telling them all about the things I know to be true about the Wisconsin Illuminati.
At least I'm not alone. Anonymous Big Ten coaches are also considering informing their local governments about the threat:
If you set a pick, they take a dive. They cheat the game. Everybody raves about this defensive juggernaut, but that's bull. They dribble the clock out and mug you out of the building. Part of the reason they lost to Cornell and Davidson is because when you get into the tournament, refs outside the Big Ten don't fall for that.
I found that randomly looking for a picture of Bo Ryan, and this is what Google Image Search looks like for Bo Ryan:
A window into a twisted soul.
I don't understand anything about this and don't want to talk about it anymore; I can't imagine being a ref in a game coached by the above guy and actually being on his side, and yet here we are, considering a half-court shot and two free throws. Take me, swamp people of Rigel. You win.
Haters. You know who invented "haters gonna hate"? Hitler. Don't even get me started, Badger fans. Hate is a critical emotion that keeps things like Wisconsin basketball in check.
Yeah, I Godwin'd myself. Necessary.
THE BO RYAN INDEX. Take the first three rows of Google Image Search and calculate in what percentage of those shots is the coach looking enraged, incredulous, furious, or otherwise unpleasant to referees or his team. Bo Ryan's Bo Ryan Index: 65%, and I think some of the misses could be sarcastic smiling.
…checks in at 25%, give or take a shot of Glenn Robinson III and how you interpret the pointing picture second from the left on the top (I filed that as a hit).
Tom Izzo's BRI is shockingly low:
I've got that at 19% and there are a couple borderline shots filed under rage with no borderline ones going the other way.
I love Bill Carmody's BRI:
It is zero, has a half dozen shots that remind me of Conan O'Brien, and includes a photoshopped Magnum PI mustache.
Like assist rate, BRI is something you want to be in the middle of possible distributions. Too high and you are a bug-man from Rigel; too low and you're not winning a lot of games.
THE BILL CARMODY INDEX: how many times on Google Image Search does your coach make a gesture of helplessness—for instance palms-up pleading or facepalming? Bill Carmody's BCI: 30%.
The prayer. In college basketball there is no reason for that ball to even get inbounded. The NBA rule where fouling on the out of bounds is two shots and the ball does not exist, so grab away on the out of bounds and send the opponent to the line. Also Beilein has to start guarding the inbounder. Mitch McGary would have been a lot more useful obscuring vision and making passes more difficult than ending up at the free throw line and then under the basket.
That said, most of that stuff gets filed under shit happens. That's, what, a 2% shot? Kenpom has Wisconsin's win probability there at 1.2%. Double that for successfully getting the ball to halfcourt, and…
To me the real error in the last minute of regulation was Burke stepping in and trying to draw that charge. Setting aside that he absolutely did, Michigan was up three and the shot clock was about to turn off. In that situation, anything other than a three puts you on the line trying to secure the win. The play there is to prevent all potential threes and if they get a drive to the hoop, just let them score.
The other option on that possession was refusing to let the Badgers even get into their offense by eating up a bunch of fouls and then putting Evans on the line, but that would require precise timing to not give Wisconsin a two-for-one. That possession started with around a full minute on the clock, and Wisconsin used most of the shot clock before getting their rage-inducing block/charge coinflip.
Morgan: missed. Horford killed Michigan in the opening minutes, going 0/3 from the floor and turning the ball over. Wisconsin was playing off the bigs and inviting them to shoot; Morgan is good at converting those opportunities and McGary came in to hit a couple buckets, forcing Wisconsin to adjust. Add in Glenn Robinson's continued struggles and not having Morgan as an option was probably decisive.
Bielfeldt did provide Michigan with some production; he was only 1/3 from the floor but picked up a couple of offensive rebounds and an assist in 18 minutes split about two thirds at the four and one third at the 5—it said volumes about Horford's rough night that Michigan put Bielfeldt out there as Michigan's only big for crunch-time minutes against Jared Berggren. Bielfeldt did about as well as he could against his much bigger defensive assignment, forcing a couple of tough jump shots that went down.
McGary: the usual plus a bonus. 6/10 from the floor and at least a couple of those were jumpers that looked smooth as they went down. Adding that to his arsenal is a minor bonus. Michigan won the board war and picked up another 2-0 advantage in team rebounds; McGary picked up a block and three steals. I wonder if the minutes will revert to a 50/50 split when Morgan returns.
Sure that's likely. Burke and Hardaway combined for 28 two point attempts and got two free throws out of them.
Robinson: scuffling. Four points on five shots and just three rebounds in 33 minutes. This is now a trend, a worrisome one. Shut off Michigan's transition and rebound and Robinson goes away. Not sure what Michigan can do about it—this is the downside of a guy who scores a quiet 15 points every night. When he goes actually quiet you can either change the stuff you do or live with it.
Wisconsin prevents threes? Michigan got off 18, which is a reasonable number, but OT + low turnovers means they also put up 53 twos—acquiring two free throws on these attempts. 25% of Michigan's shots came from behind the line then, and that's where they lost the game, hitting just five. Wisconsin was 9/23 on reasonable attempts and of course had the prayer.
Stauskas's reversion to the mean is getting rough. He was 1/5 on the night and IIRC they were all at least decent looks. He did carry Michigan through a rough spot in the first half with a couple of assists and his one make; just five points from him in 39 minutes, though. Michigan is leaning on Burke and Hardaway hard as the defenses toughen up and it's hard for two guys plus bigs rolling to the basket to be an elite offense.
"Unfortunately, we could not get to our other creatively homophobic cheers." Aaand on Michigan's two free throw attempts the student section "Trey Burke swallows." Just imagine what they would have had in store had Michigan gone to the free throw line more than twice.
HORSE: you failed us. In a shooting contest, Michigan did not win. I have sadness.
Caris: HANDS UP. The decisive Brust three featured a closeout by Caris LeVert with his hands at his sides late in the shot clock against Ben Brust, who shoots more threes than twos, was 0/3 from two in this game, and 3/6 from three including the game-tying prayer against one Caris LeVert. Cumong man.
|WHAT||Michigan at Wisconsin|
|WHERE||Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan –2 (Kenpom)|
Right: Bo Ryan feels no remorse for ruining the game of basketball.
Michigan is playing to retake the #1 spot in the polls on Saturday, but to do so they must win at Wisconsin for the first time since 1999, when I was 12 and Y2K was a thing. Yeah, it's been a while.
Wisconsin plays the same ungodly slow tempo—dead last even in a slow conference—that you're used to seeing from Bo Ryan squads, but without the ruthless offensive efficiency of his recent teams—they're just eighth in the conference in that category, though they're holding down first in defensive efficiency.
Their highest-usage player is 6'6" forward Ryan Evans, a guy who's never been a stellar shooter but has fallen off a cliff this year, putting up a 43/9/43 2P/3P/FT split this year. That's, well, bad. On the good side, Evans is a very good rebounder, doesn't turn the ball over, and gets to the line frequently (though, again, 43% free-throw shooter).
While Evans takes more shots, the real scoring threats on Wisconsin come in the form of starting center Jared Berggren—a 55% shooter inside the arc who can step out and hit the occasional three—and freshman sensation Sam Dekker, who comes off the bench and hits 51% of his twos and 41% of his threes. Berggren is also a force on the defensive end, while Dekker is easily the most talented player on the team.
6'1" guard Ben Brust provides most of the volume for Wisconsin's outside shooting—he's attempted 123 three-pointers this year, nearly double any other Badger, and is hitting them at a 39% clip. He's also a surprisingly good defensive rebounder and one of two main distrubutors for the Badgers on offense. The other is 6'2" guard Traevon Jackson, who is struggling: a 52:43 assist-to-turnover ratio isn't so good, and neither is shooting 39% from two and 28% from three.
Rounding out the starting five is 6'6" forward Mike Bruesewitz, extremely low-usage player and bane of copy editors everywhere. He shoots a remarkably efficient 66% inside the arc—again, in very low, often garbage-bucket usage—and a less stellar 30% from outside.
Wisconsin only goes seven or eight deep. Aside from Dekker, 5'11" guard George Marshall gets the most PT off the bench—he takes cares of the basketball and is a solid outside shooter. 6'11" big man Frank Kaminsky should see a few minutes—he's the best outside shooter among Wisconsin's bigs, but also a major downgrade on the boards.
Wisconsin currently stands at 16-7 overall, 7-3 in the Big Ten, with a signature road win at Indiana and KP100 victories over Minnesota, Illinois (twice), Iowa, Cal, and Arkansas. Aside from the Indiana game, however, they've struggled against top-tier opponents, and that includes losses at the Kohl Center against #23 Virginia and #15 Michigan State.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||45.5 (8)||15.1 (2)||31.1 (7)||31.4 (6)|
|Defense||42.7 (1)||16.4 (10)||27.6 (1)||27.6 (5)|
The numbers paint a pretty clear picture here. Wisconsin is a mediocre (at best, really) offensive team, but their issues are mitigated somewhat by never turning the ball over. On the other side of the court, they're a shutdown unit, allowing the fewest attempted threes and the lowest three-point percentage in the conference while also ceding just a 43.5 2P% against. Like Michigan, they don't force many turnovers but are extremely proficient at keeping opponents from getting second-chance shots.
LONG TWOS ARE THE DEVIL'S WORK. Wisconsin is going to try to grind the game out, force Michigan into late shot-clock situations, and limit them to one shot per possession. Given Wisconsin's ability to rebound defensively, Michigan is going to have to make sure their initial shot is a quality one—chuck up a bad one, and you're probably not getting another chance. This would be a bad game for Trey Burke heroball, especially given the extremely limited number of possession there should be in this game.
Let Evans do his thing. Hack if necessary. Wisconsin is a pretty crappy offensive team in large part because their highest-usage player is doing a pretty terrible job of efficiently getting the ball in the basket. If Ryan Evans wants to play his own game of heroball, by all means, go for it. It helps that if he beats his man, hacking him puts a 43% shooter on the free-throw line. Michigan would much, much prefer Evans is the focal point for Wisconsin instead of Dekker or Berggren.
Work the pick and roll. Wisconsin doesn't give up many looks from outside at all, so Michigan has to find a way to get to the basket. The P&R was much-improved against Ohio State and appears back to being rather unstoppable; in this game, it has both the benefit of getting guys to the hoop and hopefully drawing Berggren—a great shot-blocker—away from the paint.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 2
Wisconsin's defense is scary, especially since they rarely cede the outside shot. However, they really don't have much going on offense, and Michigan has... Michigan's offense. This game will almost certainly take years off your life, but I think the good guys pull it out in the end.
UMHoops preview. Maize & Brew preview. I did a preview Q&A with MadTown Badgers, as well (yes, there's some confusion there as to where I work, but I'm a big fan of MnB too). You can find my answers to their questions here, and below the jump, check out what Andy Coppens has to say about Wisconsin's chances.
[HIT THE JUMP, yo]
come back so I can mute you
WANT. Ace points out that this is a thing that exists:
The technology exists to remove commentary from live sporting events via your home sound system.
There's only one downside.
You may have to move to England to get the sound system as the Sony BDV-N7100W hits UK stores in May and contains technology initially developed by NASA. The new state of the art home system is able to differentiate commentary from background noise and remove the announcers' voices to allow you to enjoy the ambient atmosphere of the stadium with its "football mode"...
"Sony says that its speakers are able to recognise what is the natural ambient sound of a sporting event, and what is somebody nattering on top. …
The benefit is that fans can watch sport as if they're at the game, and not sitting next to a relentlessly unimpressive summariser with a booklet of cliches."
Goodbye, Craig James. Dick Vitale. Etc.
Meanwhile, I am off to patent a system that turns all color commentary into Dan Dakich hitting on Doris Burke. I'll see you from my space palace on Moon II.
Erp? As I type this Miami is housing Duke and Michigan is ticketed for #1 in the polls as long as they hold serve against Purdue. That's one thing. But being the odds-on favorite in Vegas?
VegasInsider.com moved Michigan to a 5-1 favorite to win the NCAA tournament on Tuesday, the best odds of anyone in America at the moment.
I feel that this is irrational exuberance. Surely, like, Florida or something.
Derrick Walton: pretty pretty good. Via UMHoops:
He seems a lot like a guy named Trey Burke, except he never misses shots.
You did what? The NCAA just announced they were going to investigate their investigation of Miami because of… stuff. This bit I didn't understand:
Former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.
As it does not have subpoena power, the NCAA does not have the authority to compel testimony through procedures outside of its enforcement program. Through bankruptcy proceedings, enforcement staff gained information for the investigation that would not have been accessible otherwise.
If this seems like whatever, as it did to me, the problem is that people not named Nevin Shapiro who have not signed off on this are suddenly getting asked questions under oath about things that are not laws.
This has served as another opportunity for people to shout that there's little reason for the rules the NCAA is enforcing here to exist. They just push activity under the table and hurt organizations who try to stop it. Wetzel:
Whatever. At the end of the day it's a rich person sending money to a young – often poor – person. We are supposed to be outraged by this? This is how the country works, this is how the force of a capitalistic economy will always make it work. Only the NCAA thinks it can stop it.
The goal of the NCAA is to create the illusion of amateurism because it allows the NCAA to avoid paying taxes – billions and billions of dollars in taxes. Which means billions and billion in taxes have to come from somewhere else – like the rest of us.
I'm down with this. I'm not down with crapping on Mark Emmert constantly, since he inherited this crap and is understandably focused on bigger things than any individual investigation. He just hacked out 25 pages from the rulebook, he added multi-year scholarships, he tried to get the cost-of-living increase through before being shot down by Indiana State, and next year they're going to have a knock-down, drag-out fight about agents and transfer rules and whatnot. All of that is due in no small part to the fact that anyone under 60 with a platform is tearing the NCAA apart on amateurism issues, and this is good.
Crapping on Emmert himself seems counterproductive. The guy is ramming reform down a thousand-headed-hydra throat collective as fast as he can. The root of all NCAA evil is the precious idea that the playing field can be level—and Emmert's working group just inserted language into the bylaws specifically repudiating that. Yeah, enforcement's screwed up. Emmert's busy with more important things.
Pretty good. From Luke Winn's latest power rankings:
Winn also mentions that Michigan's leap in offensive efficiency is ninth in the country, which is all the more impressive because Michigan is coming from a place of strength (22nd last year) and most of the other teams on that list are coming around from awful—the best 2012 offense on the list other than M is Butler, 223rd last year. The rest are 284th or worse.
Show us the game! Here's an early candidate for rant of the year at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. It is dropping the bomb on the guy producing Syracuse's nail-biting win over Cincinnati:
2.5 -- And here we come to ESPN's coup de grace. Their fucking Starchild shot of the whole broadcast. With an incredibly important front-end one-and-one foul shot in a 2-point game, this is the camera angle ESPN goes with from the time Brandon Triche recieves the ball from the official all the way through as he shoots, misses it, Cincinnati rebounds it, and then calls time out:
I always want to watch important plays from the worst seat in the house! In fact, it's why I usually watch games on TV instead of heading to the arena...because you can just never get those worst-seat-in-the-house tickets.
Any live shot that is not the traditional sideline view is fist-clenchingly bad. You are not Stanley Kubrick, director guy. Just push the button.
Grraaagh. There's always a chance Penn State loses a game 19-16; outside of that Michigan State's 49-47 win over Wisconsin is assured of being the ugliest game of the year in the Big Ten. Consider this sentence:
This one was a double shutout until Wisconsin hit a 3 four minutes into the game.
And then this one:
A layup by Dawson with 6:58 to go to give MSU a 47-43 lead would be MSU's last field goal of the game.
They scored two points in the final seven minutes! And won! Wisconsin shot 30% from 2 and 3 and 39% from the line, and lost by two!
Neither of these teams will play a game this bad again this year, so prepare to be frustrated when they score in the, like, 50s.
File under Everyone Hates Wisconsin. Possessions in Wisconsin's Big Ten games so far: 59, 57, 59, 59, 64 (Iowa), 55. Prepare for a grim, grim game. Given Wisconsin's free-throw shooting woes—61% on the season, 331st, and 52% in Big Ten play—Michigan's low-foul ways might actually work against them in this one.
If they find themselves down, hack-an-Evans should be a real option. He's 33 of 84 from the line (39%) and a team with Michigan's offense should be more inclined to exchange points at the line for extra possessions than normal.
Denard at WR. As you might expect, he's inexperienced.
Gilmore said Robinson has some tangible and intangible qualities that should allow him to make up ground quickly. "The language I'm talking right now to him is foreign," Gilmore said. "It's Chinese. But the one thing I appreciate, he's asking questions." On Monday and Tuesday, Robinson stuck close to Gilmore when he wasn't taking reps. When Robinson saw something he either didn't understand or wanted to clarify, he asked Gilmore. "He's very coachable," Gilmore said. "He's a very humble kid. He asks some great questions. Not good questions. Great questions." That willingness to learn combined with Robinson's superior athleticism should help him close the gap with more experienced receivers. "Because of the athleticism he possesses, it will be a shorter learning curve than most," Gilmore said. "Once again, the God-given ability will take over. He's just got to get the reps."
But we want to visit the empty cathedrals of college football. Talkin' up neutral sites is one Gene Smith:
Big Ten athletic directors have a lot of decisions to make for the future, including the possibility of playing nine or even 10 conference home games per season starting in 2014. If the league does go that route, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has an idea.
"I would like to see more neutral sites in those scenarios," Smith told ESPN.com. "We've got a great stadium in Chicago, one in Detroit, one in Indianapolis, and now we have the East Coast. So I can see more neutral sites for conference games."
I find myself strangely unoffended by this because it seems like Smith is talking about moving games from Rutgers and Maryland to somewhere other than Rutgers and Maryland. And… yeah, I don't care. No one's ever going to move a Michigan home game away from Ann Arbor, so I don't care. I do have a problem with Penn State essentially buying an Indiana home game and moving it to Philly, as that upsets competitive balance. Moving a Rutgers game to the Meadowlands doesn't, so I don't care.
I probably should care, but I've already done my YOU BLEW IT UP YOU MANIACS bit and am now settling in to my new reality in the dystopian future I thought couldn't happen to us. Vat-grown protein for all.
Etc.: Denard's getting mixed reviews as a wide receiver at the Senior Bowl. Ain't no gentlemen 'round here. Mitch McGary profiled and profiled. Devin Booker scores points in front of Michigan coaches. Irvin, Kennard also score points. Mark Donnal scouted. Winning by lots is good. Purdue braces for impact. ADIDAS SCREWED UP 1928.
Running a route. That is the takeaway from the Outback Bowl practice video: a ball thrown downfield to Denard Robinson, who is playing wide receiver.
Hopefully that did not six takes to get right.
Also they took the uniform mannequin to the Outback Steakhouse on Ann Arbor-Saline, because he was getting sick of staring out the window of Schembechler Hall. Good to see him get some air.
The matte finish is a first for the U-M headgear. Back in the 70s and 80s there was no gloss finish on the Michigan helmets. Much like their coach, there was no flashiness to them – they were maize and blue and that was that. You’d be surprised at how basic and crude those old helmets look compared to the newer ones of today. From 1977:
If you wanted the old ones to look shiny, you would have to rub some car wax on them!
The yellows on the new jersey definitely do not match the helmet, which is a very Sparty thing to do.
Tom From AA rounded up reactions on Facebook and found that most people bothering to insert a comment are opposed:
I went through and tallied 665 of the comments. That's not all of them, but after a while the percentages stayed the same, so I'm saying this is a SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND representation of the FB page's population. It took far too long to go through 650+ so I decided not to keep going through the now 3000 comments. Like I said, the percentages started holding pretty strong around n=300, so should be representative. I ignored trolls and unrelated posts.
Like 102 15.3% Dislike 378 56.8% Helmets: Yes! Uniforms: No! 154 23.1% Meh 13 1.9% Helmets: No! Uniforms: Yes! 18 2.7%
I had other categories as well, such as "Sarcasm" and "slappy." The former of which generally disliked the jerseys, the later of which said "anything Blue wears is good" so I did not include them in the "Like" category.
People in favor seem—how to put this gently—brain damaged.
Representative "Like" Comment
SWAGG! Matt finish to the helmets!! And the jersey is to fly!
You have brain damage and/or are 14, sir. Some responders in the comments here note that incensed people are much more likely to leave a comment than people mildly in favor, and that's true. Whenever a Picture Pages post has 100 comments around here, 80% of them will be complaints. So take it with a grain of salt. Except don't because if you do like the jerseys your brain is probably melting as we speak.
Hmm. Not that it's a surprise, but Taylor Lewan doesn't sound like a guy who's planning on a return:
Even though the Wolverines face replacing a good portion of the offensive line next season, Lewan said he's confident things will work out.
"I don't think Michigan will have a big problem with the offensive line next year," he said.
Maybe that's reading between the lines too finely. No one thinks he'll be back, though.
In other NFL news, Illinois's Akeem Spence declares. Michigan wasn't going to play them next year anyway.
It's gotta go somewhere. The coffers overflow, and the latest beneficiaries:
Clemson’s assistants — at a combined total of more than $4.2 million, including outside income — are the highest-paid group among the 102 public schools for which USA TODAY Sports could obtain 2012 pay information for at least eight of the nine assistants generally allowed by NCAA rules. There are 124 FBS schools.
LSU’s assistants also are collecting more than $4 million. Seven other schools have assistants totaling more than $3 million in compensation: Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
Last year, six schools had $3 million assistant-coaching staffs. In 2009, there was one: Tennessee’s, at $3.3 million.
I'm surprised Michigan isn't on that list with both coordinators now pushing into the upper six figures.
The pictured coaches are Chad Morris, Clemson's $1.3 million offensive coordinator and… I'm not sure but some guy at USC. This is a very silly graphic.
[HT: Get The Picture.]
A good hire? After some confusion it does appear that Wisconsin's new coach is Gary Andersen, lately of Utah State. Andersen doesn't have massively more experience than the latest fliers the conference has taken on MAC coaches, but in four years he turned Utah State from a national doormat into an 11-2 outfit that lost its two games to Wisconsin by two and BYU by three. They took out a BCS team in Utah and annihilated Toledo for a bowl win. The last two years of Idaho Potato bowls were the first winning seasons in the I-A history of the program. That's a pretty solid resume.
The reaction of his players on twitter is also a good sign—various takes on "The only man I want to play for." You never know, but it seems like this has a decent chance of working out as long as the offensive transition isn't too harsh. Utah State is a spread 'n' shred type outfit.
Despite that, tentative thumbs up for a Big Ten hire. Strange days.
Last night in Big Ten hoops sponsored by Barbasol. Close shaves abounded. Both Michigan State and Ohio State were dead even with BGSU and Winthrop for about 30 minutes before pulling away late, and Nebraska managed to turn a 15 point lead against Jacksonville State with seven minutes left into a tight contest. Close shave, (terrible parts of) America (and Nebraska)!
Here's an MSU fan freakout from the first 30 minutes of last night's game against BGSU. I don't think it should impact how you interpret MSU in the league, unfortunately. By the end, Kenpom was eerily close on the score (it was a road game). It feels better to leap out to that ten point lead early and play most of the game comfortably ahead, but all the possessions are worth the same.
Transition efficiency. Dylan gets some stats from Synergy sports and notes a massive improvement in Michigan's transition offense:
According to statistics from Synergy Sports, Michigan is scoring 1.31 points per transition possession – a dramatic improvement from the 1.09 points per possession that the Wolverines netted on transition possessions last season. That number ranks in the 96th percentile nationally and compares favorably to the rest of the conference.
Team % of Poss. in Transition Points Per Transition Poss. Minnesota 15.3% 1.35 Michigan 17.2% 1.31 Ohio State 18.2% 1.30 Indiana 20.4% 1.19 Wisconsin 7.0% 1.16 Purdue 11.3% 1.15 Illinois 13.0% 1.01 Michigan State 20.2% 0.98 Iowa 16.6% 0.96 Penn State 13.1% 0.94 Nebraska 8.1% 0.94 Northwestern 8.8% 0.82
Source: Synergy Sports
Good things happen when Michigan pushes the ball in transition. Obviously there are more easy opportunities in transition (the Wolverines average .96 PPP in half court sets – a very good figure in its own right) but the Wolverines have maximized their transition effectiveness.
Northwestern's transition offense is much worse than their half-court sets, which is kind of amazing. Meanwhile, Michigan's boost this year does not appear to be about schedule strength—most teams haven't played a schedule as good as Michigan's.
Dylan credits Burke and that's obviously a big part of it. Another is the fact that if you lose Stauskas in transition he will put a three on your face. In your face. Speaking of, I found this:
And now I wonder why it took so long to happen.
Etc.: Missouri safety gets the boot for having a small amount of pot, but really I just want to note that his name is "Ka'ra," which sounds like an ancient Egyptian god from a Saturday morning cartoon. Horford's painful looking injury is a dislocated kneecap, which is a very good thing since he should be able to return in a few weeks. Derrick Walton is doing good things. Quinton Washington profiled by his hometown newspaper.
In a stunning coup, Arkansas will hire Wisconsin's Bret Bielema as its next football coach, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
Bielema, who has taken the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls, was nowhere on the radar amid months of speculation over who Arkansas would hire.
An announcement will come Tuesday, sources told Y! Sports, but Bielema is not expected to be introduced until Wednesday.
But like adding Rutgers and Maryland will prevent this sort of thing from happening. People in charge of things are just in charge of them, for no reason.