There has been a lot of criticism and defense of the Michigan basketball program in recent weeks, especially concerning recruiting and team performance. Some of it has been factual and valid and some of it not so much. When the comments are based on expectations or personal preference, they are hard to defend or criticize. But there is information available that documents where Michigan ranks versus other Big Ten Schools and other accepted basketball powers. My intent is to provide statistical facts and to minimize personal opinion. I will let you, the reader, use this information to support your own point of view, change your point of view or debunk other posters point of view with whom you disagree. What fun!
First, some historical facts about Michigan basketball.
John Beilein arrived for the 2007-08 season. It had been 21 years since Michigan last won a Big Ten championship. Beilein has won two in his 9 years here. It had been 9 years (1998) since UM had appeared in the NCAA tournament. Beilein took the team to the tournament in his second year and in six of his 9 seasons with seeds of 10, 8, 4, 4, 2 & 11. It had been 12 years since our last sweet sixteen and elite eight, Beilein has made two. 1998 was the last time Michigan finished in the final AP Top 25 Poll, finishing 12th. Since Beilein, we have finished 13 in 2011-12, tied for 10th in 20112-13 and 7th in 2013-14. He was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2014. He recruited and coached two of Michigan's five B1G POYs in Burke and Stauskas (others were Tarpley, Grant & Rice). Burke, along with Russell are Michigan's two National POYs.
To evaluate recruiting, I looked at team recruiting rankings using 247 Sports Composite rankings from 2003 (the first year of comprehensive data) through 2015. The 2016 classes are not yet complete. The method used was to add the team recruiting rankings for those 13 years and compute the average annual ranking for the teams. I listed the teams in order of average rank for that period selected. I also listed each team's best and worst ranking and how many times they finished in the top ten and top 25 ranked classes.You will notice that just about every team had a bad year or more. Caveat: When I got to teams ranked in high double digits or triple digits, I noticed that it was often due to small class size (one or two players, even if they were four and five star players). For that reason, I dropped years where a team was ranked above 99 and if there were more than four such years out of the 13 used, I dropped that team from this analysis. I capped the list at 50 teams. Obviously, this looks only at recruiting and does not account for transfers or early attrition.
For performance, I used the NCAA tournament. I listed results for the period 2004 (first year that the 2003 class would have played) through 2016. I listed the number of tournament appearances, sweet sixteens, elite eights, final fours and championships.
|Avg||# Of||# Of||NCAA|
|Class||Best||Worst||Top 10||Top 25||Tourn.||Sweet||Elite||Final|
For Big Ten teams, I did a second recap that looked only at the years Beilein has been at Michigan (2008-2016). I didn't include the 2007 class because that wasn't his class and I did include 2016, even though it isn't final, because many complain about recent results. I am listing the team and their average recruiting ranking for this period and the number of B1G regular season championships won. (1) Illinois 25, 0 (2T) Ohio State 26, 3 (2T) Michigan State 26, 3 (4) Indiana 27, 2 (5) Michigan 32, 2 (6) Maryland 38, 0 (7) Wisconsin 47, 2 (8T) Purdue 48, 1 (8T) Minnesota 48, 0 (10) Iowa 59, 0. Maryland, along with Rutgers and Nebraska have not been full time members. PSU? Who cares? I will point out that Beilein's first class in 2008, which he got a late start on, was his worst ranked at #73. It was comprised of Cronin, Novak and Douglass. If you drop that class from this analysis, Michigan's average ranking rises to 26.
Where's the bump? Many complain that we didn't get a bump from our run in 2013 & 2014. The 2014 class was #28 (and was pretty well finalized prior to the run), 2015 was a class of one (4* Wagner) and 2016 is currently at #27. That is an improvement over our average of 32, but not a huge leap. I am not sure there is such a thing as a bump from a deep two-year tournament run. It is hard to find comparable teams to compare it to. Feel free to give it a shot.
On a final note, I found this interesting. Leading up to Villanova's championship run this year, their last four classes were ranked #38, #32, #46 & #30. Oklahoma, who they beat in the semis, had classes of #45, #83, #39 & #54. Wisconsin made it to the championship game in 2014 with classes of #50, #39, #120 & #46. Likewise, MSU's final four finish in 2014 was with classes ranked #21, #12, #76 & #48. And for Michigan in 2013 it was #35, #48, #21 & #7. Top ranked players is one way to get there and experienced teams of upper classmen works also,
Tony Paul of the Detroit News (@TonyPaul1984) tweeted the following (at work, can't embed tweets, sorry for the formatting):
UM coach John Beilein says there is a possibility for more player(s) transferring out. Should know within next two weeks.
Beilein says he's OK losing an assistant to a head coaching job. Speculation about Bacari Alexander to Detroit
UMCJB says it was Ricky Doyle's decision to transfer "but we were very transparent with him." Crowded frontcourt
UMCJB says he doesn't mind the national heat over his stance on Big Ten transfers. "I'll take the bullets".
UMCJB says the team is open to Spike Albrecht returning. Notes team wants defense, and he can defend.
I'll update the OP if more comes
With the news that Spike Albrecht will be transferring for his fifth-year senior season, the last member of the “Fresh Five” departs Ann Arbor. The 2012 recruiting class – Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson, Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, Spike – were all rotation players as freshmen in March and made it to the national title game: for a brief stretch, they were all on the floor together in the Georgia Dome as Michigan raced out to a first half lead over Louisville. Mitch, who was so impactful in that tournament run, was lost to injury as a sophomore; with Nik, Caris, and GRIII leading the charge, Michigan won the Big Ten and made it to the Elite Eight.
In those two seasons, the Wolverines won 59 games, posting a 27-9 record in Big Ten play and going 8-2 in the NCAA Tournament. The three-year span from 2012 (when the Fresh Five were seniors in high school) to 2014 (their sophomore year) will probably be considered the apex of the Beilein era – the ‘13 and ‘14 teams were the best offensively in all of college basketball and true national title contenders. As far as recruiting classes – and five-man lineups – go, Albrecht / LeVert / Stauskas / Robinson / McGary is about as good as you’ll get in college basketball.
Mitch thrived after he lost weight and, with the help of Trey Burke, became one of the best players in the country in March as a freshman – physical, energetic, and lethal in the pick-and-roll. Nik blew up as a sophomore, won Big Ten POY, and was drafted in the lottery after excelling as the team’s sharpshooting alpha dog. GRIII started and played big minutes in a complementary role for two excellent teams before leaving for the NBA (and sticking with a team). Caris was a phenomenal second banana as a sophomore and developed into an very intriguing NBA prospect in his own right. Spike was always a good backup point guard, an offensive sparkplug and a stable rotation cog – and developed into a capable starter as a junior.
Depending on LeVert’s health, there could be four of the Fresh Five in the NBA next season. Hopefully we’ll get to see Spike play well at his next stop and light up somebody in the NCAA Tournament a year from now. Because talent is so fleeting in college basketball, the window for these guys at Michigan was pretty small – just two seasons. Beilein made the most of those two seasons though and the Fresh Five helped elevate Michigan to a level of success it hadn’t seen since the Fab Five while playing a brilliant kind of offensive basketball – elite shooting, pick-and-roll mastery, and GRIII thunder-dunks.
Unfortunately, fate was cruel to Mitch, Caris, and Spike.
[sadness, but also happiness after THE JUMP]