“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
Jordan Morgan recorded his second double-double of the weekend in the most Jordan Morgan way possible: by attempting to take a charge, not getting the call, and grabbing a board anyway while he's flat on his back.
This didn't make the top ten from the weekend. Don't fret, though—Morgan still makes several appearances. For the rest of the first two rounds of the tourney in GIFs, hit the jump.
[JUMP like GRIII over Javan Felix.]
3/20/2014 – Michigan 57 – Wofford 40 – 26-8, reach round of 32
It's nice to be a two seed. Michigan played an ugly game by its standards. They turned the ball over on almost 20% of their possessions, got to the line just nine times, and allowed a SoCon team to hit half their twos. But since that SoCon team put up an epic brickfest from three, they ran away with a near 20 point victory in a short 56-possession game.
The privilege of being way high up in the seeding is you can have a crappy first game and still not sweat it much. (Usually.) Contrast that with tourney darling Louisville, which found itself down two to Manhattan with two minutes left. There's a big difference between a 15 and a 13 even for a team that is arguably underseeded. Hooray playing well enough in the regular season to draw Kenpom's #184 team.
Yes, that is going up. There was a point in the first half when Zak Irvin had the ball and a relatively open three and did not take it. I fainted at the shock and when I came to apes had taken over the planet. If Irvin gets a look, any kind of look, the ball is being shot. In this one he missed his opportunities; he's still 41% on the year.
Must get it together. That turnover rate is like Amaker's turnover rates before he got to Harvard and became our secret agent. It is against the principles of HORSE basketball and must be fixed up before tomorrow, when a much tougher opponent comes calling. It was probably just one of those things. There seems to be no particular reason that Michigan turned it over a bunch. They were just sloppy, which can be attributed to a lack of focus or randomness depending on your druthers.
The Walton alley-oop that should have had Bob Uecker on the call at right (via Dustin Johnston) was emblematic. Michigan was just kinda off. It happened at an opportune time. Here's hoping it doesn't happen at an opportune one.
Wither the back door? More alarming is that Michigan struggled to get to the rim. Their offense just got over a point per possession—awful by their standards—and it wasn't particularly surprising when I checked the box score. Michigan's offense seemed less purposeful than it usually does.
It shows up in the hoop-math box score. Michigan struggled to create shots, period. Thirteen of their attempts came in the last five seconds of the clock; they got just six shots at the rim in their half court offense, two of those putbacks by GRIII. Because they are Michigan they can waddle through by hitting 57%(!) of their two point jumpers in the halfcourt and put up an eFG% of 81%(!!!) on must-jack shots late. This is always their safety valve.
That they always have a safety valve is lovely, but the offense didn't seem particularly flowing. Wofford pressured the perimeter and Michigan did not have much of a way to punish them for doing so. The general lack of backdoor action (PHRASING) has been a frustration. It was nice that one time against Michigan State when it got them a series of easy buckets early, and then it went away. With Duke and their perimeter overplay potentially looming in the Sweet 16, the ability to get some offense off the backdoor is critical. It really seems like you shouldn't be able to chase a team as skilled as Michigan well past the three point line without suffering something in return.
Wither the dumpoff? I know that Morgan and Horford combined for their usual 6/9 from the floor, but it does seem like these days Michigan's pick and roll game is struggling to get those gentlemen the parade of flushes they've been accustomed to. Opponents are rolling wing defenders underneath, making things more difficult and threatening block/charge decisions that can go in any direction against Michigan's already foul-prone bigs. Hopefully we'll see Michigan look for that kind of defensive action and kick to the corner for threes.
Part of that lack of rim attack. Stauskas picked up two highly debatable charge calls that looked like they could easily have gone the other way or not drawn a whistle. In general it felt like the refereeing swung back to last year's block/charge standards, which is probably good for Michigan if that is at all consistent. It obviously will not be because obviously.
Hey, how about that. Karl Cochran picked up his second personal foul with 11:41 left in the first half. Terriers coach Mike Young sat him for a few minutes, as required to by the coaching Illuminati manual, and then brought him back in. Cochran immediately made some aggressive defensive plays that could have brought a third whistle but didn't and ended up playing 34 minutes. He got just one foul the rest of the way, landing almost precisely on his season average of 2.9 fouls per 40.
A salute to Mike Young. Yeah, he may have been forced into his decision because Cochran is his offense. Hopefully the object lesson there keeps one of Michigan's stars in the game at a point in the future.
Peak bench McGary. Via Dustin Johnston, McGary pew pew pew:
At a later juncture, McGary and Dakich had an albatross-off.
For those of you who don't have twitter. Or for those of you who do and still giggle a little even when it comes up for the 30th time in your timeline. (I have the same relationship to this newspaper cover as I do the tiny kangaroo saying "I love work" in that commercial.)
Oh now you've gone and done it, OSU. Just try any Ohio Bobcat cracks and you will get snapped back at with THE University of Dayton. Trolling has to be limited to… oh, right. That. WELL OTHER THAN THAT YOU'VE GOT NOTHING. NOOOOOOOOOTHING.
Exit Aaron Craft. I'm actually going to miss the bastard. There was nothing quite like the "oh shit Aaron Craft" thing he could do to the unprepared, and nothing quite like Michigan's stars getting pwned by Craft in their first matchup and then coming back to pwn in return. I thought he was a fun player for all the reasons announcers fell all over themselves about him, but turned down about 90%. He was also a terrific nemesis. That he was vanquished at the last is the narrative of the John Beilein era in a one on one matchup.
I won't miss people talking about Aaron Craft, of course. I love Raftery and Lundquist but their eulogy for Craft was the perfect ending to a four-year love affair: kind of gross and way over the top. Will Leitch has a great article about Craft and the backlash and oh by the way Lenzelle Smith might be a nice guy too but who really cares if Lenzelle Smith stopped existing.
Michigan didn't earn any style points in their NCAA Tournament victory over Wofford, but those don't really matter this time of year. A substandard offensive performance didn't prevent the Wolverines from advancing with relative ease.
The Terriers certainly helped in that regard, erasing any good that came from hitting 50% of their twos by going just 1-for-19 from beyond the arc despite generating good looks. They played like a 15-seed, and on a night when Michigan sat below one point per possession for much of the second half, that was fortunate.
Nik Stauskas cracked the career 1,000-point barrier with a second-half triple en route to a team-high 15 points on ten shot equivalents. Glenn Robinson had 14, albeit on 14 shots, while adding seven rebounds. Jordan Morgan played the best all-around game of any Wolverine, tallying ten points (4/6 FG), ten boards, two assists, a steal, and a block.
The numbers tell the story here. In a very low-possession game—just 56, a slog even by Big Ten standards—the shooting gap made an enormous difference, one that wasn't so easy to see due to the pace and some uncharacteristic turnovers. With the officials letting the teams play (hooray!), it was all about which team could generate buckets, and Wofford was just as likely to get the ball stuck above the backboard—yes, this happened—as they were to connect from the outside.
Michigan can't hang their hat on this defensive performance; Wofford's inability to make shots was due to their inaccuracy more than anything the Wolverines were doing. By the same token, the offensive performance wasn't as bad as it looked at times. Caris LeVert isn't going to get held to six points very often, and Zak Irvin missed all four of his three-point attempts despite getting some decent looks.*
It wasn't a fun game to watch, and Michigan will need to step it up offensively if they want to make a run in the tournament. After they ran out to a double-digit lead against an overmatched opponent in a somnolent atmosphere, however, the ugliness of this game is at least understandable.
Now the Wolverines await the winner of Texas/ASU, which is happening right now on CBS.
*Admittedly, also some not-so-decent looks.
Die, work productivity! Die before the might of The Great Thursday of the Basketballing (also: hockey), and the grilling of former football players on things of interest.
The Celebrity Mods: By seniority, Todd Howard (CB, 1998-'01); Brandon Williams (CB, 1999-'02), who wrangled them all together; Tim Massaquoi (WR/TE, 2001-'05); Jordan Kovacs# (S, 2009-'12); and Michael Schofield (OL, 2009-'13). They'll be in and out throughout the day.
# = never gets to live it down.
The Sponsor: As they did last year, our official fantasy game partner DraftStreet stepped up. If you're getting bored between games today, head on over to their dashboard and sign up for any of their games. That link goes to the NBA one I just started. Or just check in on your team for the $40k (or $20k if you came late) tourney we've been on about all week.
The Cause: We've got a bunch of former players coming by today to answer your questions, yap about the ballgames with you, and support the Go Blue Bowl, on April 4.
Flier (click to see list of players attending, etc.):
It's a series of evening flag football games at Pioneer between teams coached by former Michigan players. Two teams will be made up of sponsors and you can still get in on that. The event benefits Marlin Jackon's Fight for Life Foundation.
The Schedule: As we get going it'll be general discussion time while the Ohio State-Dayton (12:15) and Wisconsin-American (12:40) are on, continuing that through Pitt-Colorado (1:40), and Cincy-Harvard (2:10). At 3pm we'll switch to the hockey game vs Penn State, go to Michigan State's game after that, and that should carry us to the Michigan-Wofford game tonight.
GO BLUE! Always.
Michigan (25-8, 15-3 B1G) vs.
Wofford (20-12, 11-5 SoCon)
|WHERE||Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI|
|WHEN||7:10 pm Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -12 (KenPom)|
Win or go home.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||2||Karl Cochran||Jr.||6'1, 175||79%||29%||No|
|SoCon Trey Burke: huge usage, excellent A:TO, post-like DREB. Make him shoot twos.|
|G||5||Eric Garcia||Fr.||5'11, 170||63%||15%||Not at all|
|46% from deep but took only 82. Not just a shooter: assists. Make him shoot twos.|
|G||32||Spencer Collins||So.||6'4, 195||77%||22||Yes|
|Driver hits 49/30% on 2s/3s. Low TO rate, gets to line.|
|F||34||Lee Skinner||Jr.||6'6, 220||82%||23||Very|
|DREB machine at 6'6 probably SoCon artifact. Gets to line a lot. Not a shooter.|
|F||31||CJ Neumann||So.||6'7, 230||50%||12||Very|
|Doesn't shoot much but is 64% from two. FT% terrible, foul if in dangerous spot.|
|F||24||Justin Gordon||So.||6'6, 205||45||21||Very|
|Other post-type substance pounds offensive boards. Another horrible FT%.|
|G||20||Jaylen Allen||Fr.||6'3, 180||33||21||No|
|Like Garcia, but slightly worse everywhere.|
|G||3||John Swinton||Jr.||6'2, 185||25||10||Very|
|Drink if he takes a shot, let alone makes one.|
Cochran is the Wofford offense.
Wofford's offense revolves around 6'1" guard Karl Cochran exactly as much as Michigan's previous team revolved around Trey Burke. Cochran's SoCon Burke impression is fair, but he struggles inside the three-point arc (43%) and doesn't have Burke's astronomical assist rates. He is still a multifaceted guard who will be tough to check for Michigan's wonky perimeter defense. He's just a 29% shooter on two point jumpers, so run him off the line and live with the consequences if you have to.
Eric Garcia is not quite a Designated Corner Gunner mostly on volume. Normally a guy hitting 46% gets off 200 or so if he wants to be a DCG; Garcia is well under that. His height is a limiting factor. He's by far the most efficient Terrier, so limiting his attempts will be key. Stauskas likely to check him because he's the least threatening Terrier guard on a drive, but Michigan will be switching so much it won't matter.
Wofford has three "posts" that range from 6'6" to 6'7". None of these guys has three point range. All rebound well in the SoCon context; CJ Neumann and Justin Gordon are extremely bad FT shooters should they grab a putback opportuniy. Lee Skinner is a more frequent and more notable presence; he is a frequent recipient of Cochran assists under the basket and makes a respectable 63% at the rim.
6'4" guard Spencer Collins is a slasher more likely to create his own shot than anyone other than Cochran, and he's pretty good on two point jumpers. Unless he starts going Shannon Scott on Michigan, sagging off him and responding is the likely recipe. Likely to draw Caris LeVert defensively with Walton on Cochran.
Aside from Gordon, the third post-type guy, Wofford's bench is short. Very short. Like one guy short. That guy is Jaylen Allen, a freshman who shoots decently (45/38%) on normal usage. He doesn't get to the line or assist much and turns the ball over quite a bit. The only other Terrier to see time is John Swinton, who has a total of 33 FGAs on the year.
As mentioned in a previous post, Wofford has struggled against teams approaching Michigan's stature even when we take the most liberal possible view of stature:
Wofford's ventures into the Kenpom 100 have not gone well. At all:
- #75 Georgia: L 72-52
- #76 Iona: L 76-55
- #57 Minnesota: L 79-57
- #34 Saint Louis: L 66-52
- #12 VCU: L 72-57
All of these games were double-digit losses, as were Wofford's two conference matchups against #118 Davidson. In their only other game against a team in the top 200 on Kenpom they lost to William and Mary by three, at home.
All of those games against the top 100 were on the road, for what it's worth. Not much when the closest game is a 14-point loss.
A closer look at the Minnesota game is in order since you're familiar with the Gophers. Minnesota put up 79 by shooting 61% from two, with just about everyone contributing an above-50% performance. Wofford stayed somewhat in contact by getting 18(!) offensive rebounds but shot 38%/19% from the floor. Cochran came off the bench (discplinary?) and hit just 3 of 13 shots. Minnesota blocked a whopping 12 Wofford attempts.
When not playing teams in the top 100, the Terriers finished 11-5 in the SoCon, tied for third.
UPDATE: Ace provides his graphs.
Wofford is a grim offensive team that is respectable defensively. They finished second in the league on both offense and defense, so it's safe to say that it's their offense that bogs down against higher level competition. When they've got the ball:
- They don't shoot many threes despite being a whole lot better at hitting those than hitting twos.
- They rarely get to the free throw line, and rarely hit their FTAs when they do get there.
- They're okay at rebounding.
- They don't turn it over much.
- They do everything fairly well except defend twos and block shots.
- They prevent three pointers from being launched and don't let a lot of them go in.
The Minnesota game suggests that driving to the basket is going to be there. Wofford has even less shot-blocking than Michigan does, possibly less shot blocking than any other team in the tournament.
Wofford is a really slow team—only 14 percent of their shots are in transition. That plays into Michigan's hands.
All eyes on Cochran. He's their alpha and omega, and that usually means you can clamp down a guy
Defeat their rebounding. For such a short team, Wofford rebounds well. They're nationally average on offense and quite good on D; they were third and second, respectively, in conference. Michigan is as good on defense as the Terriers against a slightly different schedule and is not good at offensive rebounding.
With turnovers projected to be low, rebounding will be the main source of shot advantage.
Be patient and drive the ball. Against a fierce defensive team that forces a lot of turnovers, quick long-ish shots are defensible with Michigan's lineup of shooters. Against a team with no inside presence that apparently emphasizes preventing threes, Michigan should probe for at least 20 seconds before defaulting to shooting mode.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 12.
More Aerris Smith. Starts boilerplate, and then gets COLLEGE, like Junior Hemingway after the Sugar Bowl COLLEGE:
Uh. Here's a first hand look at Wofford from a gentleman who saw them take on Davidson. Expect a lot of Cochran trying to get a shot for someone, usually himself.
WIN THE (hockey) GAME. A gentleman has run through all three million or so possibilities remaining in the college hockey season and presents us with everyone's chances of finishing at position X. The Penn State game turns out to be kind of a big deal:
PWR Win 0 Win 1 Win 2 Win 3 #6 0.7% #7 0.0% #8 20.5% #9 0.1% 56.5% #10 2.5% 22.3% #11 0.0% 21.9% 38.9% #12 2.0% 43.4% 39.6% #13 12.9% 25.6% 16.8% #14 30.5% 7.5% 2.0% #15 33.2% 1.5% #16 17.4% 0.1% #17 3.4% #18 0.5% In: 20.6% 95.9% 96.6% 100.0%
That is a hell of a swing.
The breakdown is off, as it assumes all remaining games are coinflips. This paints a more pessimistic picture than is realistic since it gives bid thieves a higher shot at theft than they actually have. So the picture with a Penn State loss isn't quite that grim. Michigan's chances in the event of a loss are probably in the 40-50 range if you live in a world where MSU's shot at a bid is less than 12.5%.
But it's pretty easy: win on Thursday and you're in barring worst-case scenarios where everyone else on the bubble does spectacularly well and bids get stolen. If only I could claim a game against Penn State is not a coin flip given the fact that Penn State is very bad at hockey.
The imperative is clear. #winthegame.
WIN THE (basketball) GAME. Sports On Earth profiles John Beilein, the "maestro of March":
On the eve of the Final Four, John Beilein's most important player was a mess. Practicing against teammates imitating Syracuse's famed zone defense, Mitch McGary's footwork was awful. If Beilein couldn't correct the problem, Michigan had no chance of playing for a national title.
Beilein wanted his 6-foot-10 freshman center to operate around the foul line and distribute the ball. The coaching staff spent all week trying to get him to pivot a certain way. Most of the time, he traveled or threw the ball away. "He couldn't read the zone because he couldn't see it, and he couldn't see it because he didn't have the right balance and leverage," Beilein said. Frustrated, he brought McGary, along with a few managers and players, back to the court after Friday's practice and said, "OK, Mitch, one more time: This is how we're going to do it." He told McGary to slow down and trust his instincts. He finally executed.
The next night in the Georgia Dome, McGary, who had a total of 18 assists all season unitl then, sliced up the 2-3 zone, recording a team-high six assists, while also scoring 10 points and grabbing five offensive rebounds in a 61-56 win. "It was a week of work getting him to figure it out," Beilein said. "His assists won us the game."
Read the whole thing. Also in Beilein hagiography: Frank Martin talks him up. Yes, that Frank Martin, the demon-screamer late of Kansas State who inexplicably took the South Carolina job.
NMSU's announcer has to thank God every day that he gets to exclaim SIMMMMMMMMM BHULLLLLAAAAAAAAAR at maximum volume.
The other random obsession with a basketball player. Remember SIM BHULLAR? 7'5", 360 pound Indo-Canadian Michigan was poking around who ended up at New Mexico State? Guy with an all-time combination of game and announcer-friendly name?
SIM BHULLAR plays about 20 minutes a game for the Aggies, has excellent rebound and block rates, shoots 64% from the floor with decent usage, and gets fouled a lot, whereupon he hits only 54%.
He and New Mexico State will take on Steve Fisher and San Diego State in the first round in a Michigan Old versus Michigan What Might Have Been matchup.
Seriously though, given the way Michigan plays offense they could really use an offensively challenged guy who looks like he's been in contact with a radioactive spider. Radioactive spider guy challenges shots and flushes putbacks and dumpoffs. We need to get in contact with whoever's importing the Joel Embiids of the world and see if there's a guy who's maybe not Joel Embiid but good enough for Michigan's purposes.
Dogpile. Yet another lawsuit has been dropped on the NCAA. This one is from a Jeffery Kessler, noted sports anti-trust lawyer, and it's a doozy:
"The main objective is to strike down permanently the restrictions that prevent athletes in Division I basketball and the top tier of college football from being fairly compensated for the billions of dollars in revenues that they help generate," Kessler told ESPN. "In no other business -- and college sports is big business -- would it ever be suggested that the people who are providing the essential services work for free. Only in big-time college sports is that line drawn."
Maybe it was not the best move to include a Rutgers basketball player in your suit when you're claiming college athletes should be given something more than a stern talking-to and return to the American conference, but this Kessler guy is bad news for sports leagues trying to keep the man up:
Kessler helped bring free agency to the NFL, winning a key jury verdict for the NFL Players Association in 1992. He remains outside counsel to the NFLPA and the NBA's player union, has taken on Major League Baseball and represented star athletes including Michael Jordan and Tom Brady. For municipal authorities, he forced the Raiders to honor their stadium lease and stay in Oakland.
Given the skepticism of the judge in the O'Bannon case and Kessler's history of wins here it seems hard to believe the NCAA will look much like it does now in a decade. And that's a good thing, both in terms of fairness and for Michigan specifically. Michigan has a lot of money. Alums have a lot of money. We are currently using that in indirect ways while others are using their money to get to the point.
Meanwhile. An article on Michigan's surging revenues highlights the absurdity of the claim that most athletic departments lose money:
Department revenues rose $41.5 million from 2009-10 to 2012-13. During that same four-year period, expenses increased at a similar level, rising from $87 million to $132 million.
Funny how that works. It's almost like athletic departments spend all the money they have.
In 2009-10, Michigan paid $33 million in wages to about 275 people. By 2012-13, the athletic department had 321 employees (it has grown even more this year to 336 workers) and projected $44 million in pay, including $19 million on coaches' salaries.
It's long past time to redirect some of that to the players.
Oh man. IU's Fred Glass making me feel slightly better about the AD gap:
"Finances wouldn't be an issue if we thought it made sense," Glass told The Star. "But we're Indiana. We don't play in the CBI."
A sentiment better left unexpressed after the last decade.
Right, that. Gregg Doyel makes a good point about Wichita State getting the stink eye from the committee:
We can debate whether Louisville deserved to be seeded so poorly, but what we cannot debate is what is being asked of Wichita State. The top seeds are supposed to be geographically protected, helped out if possible but not completely screwed at a minimum. And Wichita State was completely screwed.
Any idea how far Louisville is from Indianapolis? About 90 minutes by car. It's nothing. And southern Indiana is a hotbed of Louisville fans. Louisville is more than comfortable at Indy.
If Louisville was going to be a 4 they should have shipped them anywhere else. Does the NCAA really care that much about attendance?
Spring whatball? There is some thing with a oblong ball that isn't quite rugby that Michigan appears to be doing.
Oh good, more tackles for loss.
Departures. Matt Painter grumbled publicly about having selfish players, so a transfer does not come as a shock. Ronnie Johnson is gone from the Boilers. This is not a harsh blow statistically—Johnson's ORTG was under 100—but it is not a good look for Purdue, which loses seven contributors after going 15-17 and doesn't have the recruiting class to make up for that. Painter's apparently going to get another season, but it looks like his last unless he performs a miracle.
Also in bad teams from Indiana, Noah Vonleh is "strongly leaning" towards entering the draft. Losing Vonleh would leave Indiana hoping that Hanner Mosquera-Perea or Jeremy Hollowell can become basketball-type objects. Possible… but not looking good after this year.
Etc.: Guptill's September suspension turns out to be for assault; judge determines that Guptill made a guy "in fear of being pushed or shoved." Mark Richt has lost control of Alex Guptill. That is some straight-up UGA petty misdemeanory.
Tommy Amaker: "we're not trying to win a championship, we're trying to be a championship team." Peak coach-speak has been achieved.