2017 ncaa tournament
We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other
1. Post Mortem, Tourney Thoughts
starts against 1:00
Jack Stack broke Ace’s will to be wakeful. Oregon’s plan was to leave Michigan’s shooters so wide open from three we’d get confused and miss: congratulations you found our weakness. Also turnovers went the other way from normal, and we vastly underestimated Jordan Bell. Are we happy or sad about Oregon depantsing Kansas?
2. Basketball Beyond
starts at 20:02
A run through the roster for 2017-’18 by position, and we do it from 1 to 5 even though it makes way more sense for next year’s team to reverse that. X as Darius Morris, Brooks comes Nova-approved, RAHK all night long, Mathews is a wild card, Robinson is what he is, Ibi is probably another year away, DJ has a DJ-like understudy coming in, and if Moe is Louisville Moe all year he’ll drive us back to the 16. Also: theories on bigs development, and developments in the B1G.
3. Gimmicky Top Five: The Best Player in the NFL (That you can draft out of Michigan next month?)
starts at 53:00
Michigan’s entire starting defense isn’t eligible for the NFL Draft because McCray is still around. But that still leaves plenty of players to choose from, plus Jake Butt, in deciding who will be the best five pros out of—deep breath here—Glasgow, Godin, Wormley, Taco, Gedeon, D.Hill, D.Thomas, Peppers, Stribling, Jourdan, Kalis, Braden, Mags, Butt, Darboh, Chesson, and Deveon Smith. Did I forget anyone?
4. Ace’s Aceless Hockey Podcast
starts at 1:08:10
We welcome special guests Anthony Ciatti (@Ciatti) and our hockey beatwriter/otherjobdoer David Nasternak (@NastyIsland) to discuss how this was, by Corsi, the worst Michigan hockey team ever and ungh it was so unbelievably bad yuck blech argh. Oh right and options to replace Red, which don’t include any Red Wings but do include the two best hockey coaches in the country, AND Mel.
“Koroleva Ne Pomerla”—The Ukrainians
(cover of “The Queen is Dead” by The Smiths)
- “Oxford Comma”—Vampire Weekend
- “Forever for Her is Over for Me”—White Stripes
- “Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
3/23/2017 – Michigan 68, Oregon 69 – 26-12, season over
There are few things more haunting in sports than coming up on the short end of a bonafide one-point basketball game. There are so many points and so many opportunities to get two more or prevent two more that it is impossible not to inventory all the slight tweaks in the universe that could have gotten you one step closer to the promised land, or at least destruction at the hands of Kansas.
The wide open DJ Wilson layup and two Duncan Robinson threes that were halfway down stand out in this regard. So too does the late Oregon free throw miss that Wilson couldn't box out on. And then there is the blizzard of threes that did not go halfway down, for reasons.
Oregon's approach seemed to be "leave Michigan blitheringly wide open from three and see what happens." Michigan took more threes than twos, and if any of them seemed unreasonable it was only in aggregate. There will be some complaints about Michigan launching early in the shot clock, but the vast majority of Michigan's 31 attempts from behind the arc were preceded by my inner monologue—and sometimes the external one, too—yelling "shoot that." A couple of ugly ones should have been rhythm catch and shoot opportunities that Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Mo Wagner, collectively 0-8 in this game, passed up on to dribble themselves into worse shots.
This is certainly a way to play against a John Beilein team. Usually it's a way to get your face melted off. The shattered corpse of Oklahoma State basketball would like a word at this point. That word is "aaaargh."
Michigan hit a respectable 11 of 31—36 percent. This was not enough. It was not enough even though they won the style contest on defense. Oregon only got up 10 transition shots, which they did poorly on. A third of their shots were the two point jumpers Michigan strives to force and Oregon is very bad at. They hit 25%.
If you'd told me all the peripheral numbers from this game beforehand I'd have taken it in a hot second. I would not have believed you if you'd told me that despite those numbers Michigan's offense would look like a hamster searching for a wheel for big chunks of the game.
Dana Altman's combination of the half-ass press a bunch of teams run now that the shot clock is down to 30 and 40% matchup zone got Michigan off balance. A plan to punish the incessant switching by replicating the second half against Louisville ended up with some poor Wagner shots and turnovers; Wagner spent the last ten minutes on the bench in favor of Duncan Robinson, who seemingly couldn't guard anyone on the floor.
The game was just... off. With virtually every ticket in the sweaty palms of Kansas fans the arena was near-empty at tipoff and dead throughout. That gave a tense, taught game an unfortunate NBA D-League or NCAA hockey regional vibe, and while I don't think that caused the ugly game it certainly reinforced it. It was weirdly muted for one of the most important games of the college basketball season.
It was ugly to the point where a final score close to 70 for both teams is unexpected. Michigan perpetually felt eight points behind and suddenly they were in the lead with two minutes left, sort of like the Oklahoma State and Louisville games. And then.
In the aftermath you're left grasping at opportunities spurned, at whatever air eddies pushed this ball a micron away from a good-enough trajectory, at this breakdown or that breakdown that would go almost entirely unremarked upon if not for the fact that Oregon had N and Michigan had N –1.
An inch; a point; it's been a year of almosts for Michigan athletics.
Rather satisfying all the same. Losing a one-point Sweet Sixteen game is no shame. It's a hard thing to do, winning basketball games against good teams. Michigan picked up a banner, got a measure of Louisville revenge, and was amongst the best teams in the country for a full half season. Over the full span they finished 20th on Kenpom.
This wasn't a return to the Burke/Stauskas years but it was a solid top 25 season.
The Walton; the Irvin. I pulled the "Zak Irvin is happening" tag out of mothballs for this game because he was happening, man. His late surge as he re-found his excellent-third-banana level was such that everybody had to stop complaining about him. This is a monumental internet accomplishment. He held Michigan in this game, hit tough late-clock shots, and was clearly on another level from Duncan Robinson as he checked Oregon's perimeter guys.
Building on that? Obviously much hinges on the return of Wilson and Wagner. I'd guess with their tough final games and the super deep draft—DX has Caleb Swanigan 30th!—both will return for another year of that sweet Beilein development. Both guys are potential lottery picks if they continue to improve at a decent clip. Right now there are sufficient questions that they'd be borderline first rounders.
If Michigan does not have any unexpected departures you're looking at something like:
- Xavier Simpson/Eli Brooks
- MAAR/Jordan Poole
- Charles Matthews/Duncan Robinson
- DJ Wilson/Isaiah Livers
- Mo Wagner/Jon Teske/Austin Davis
Michigan does have an open scholarship they could use on either Mo Bamba—uh not likely—or one of the late risers they've done so well with; there are also a number of intriguing transfer options. Since Brooks and Poole may not be impact freshmen, an immediately eligible backcourt scorer would be real nice. You've probably heard about faintly ludicrous Chippewa Marcus Keene and his 37% usage. Keene shot 82/51/37 on incredible volume and had an excellent assist rate on a bad MAC team that was nonetheless 56th in offensive efficiency.
There's also New Mexico guard Elijah Brown, another 30%+ usage player with decent efficiency. His three point shooting fell off this year but he was near 40% a year ago (on 226 attempts); he gets to the line and his excellent FT shooting implies that his rough two point percentages are more about his situation than his talent.
Or Michigan could go the Matthews route again and attempt to acquire the services of blue-blood transfer Chase Jeter, who's leaving Duke after two injury-plagued years. Jeter is a 6'10" post and would have to sit out, so he's not an ideal fit for the roster. I'd still poke around there because the rate of big washout is so high. You can't count on both Teske and Davis being around in two years. See: all of college basketball.
Tourney coverage complaint. There are way too many fouls that don't get replays to check on them. DJ Wilson's second was a potentially dubious call on which a second look would have been very helpful; instead nothing.
Also in complaints: I have no idea how anyone can listen to Reggie Miller and think "I should pay this person to do this thing."
44 minutes. Yes, a lot of it is dated now.
Still Ira in for Sam, who’s in a place with better meat right now.
- First weekend recap: Michigan beat Louisville two points at a time. Weekend vs. very tough teams showed what a Beilein offense can be when all five guys are firing.
- Beilein now versus when he got here: totally different offense, totally different defense. Moe is the first 5 who can shoot that B’s had since Pittsnoggle and that one guy the year after Pittsnoggle.
- The rest of the tourney: Big Ten has acquitted itself well, the refs not so much.
- Nerd-out on the seeding: advocating better metrics but don’t make it all about advanced stats either. Right now they’re just using RPI, which is bad.
- Oregon preview: Almost as up-tempo as Oklahoma State—don’t let them take a three! Vegas takes into account the loss of Boucher and the fact that Michigan is playing like a 2-seed.
- Kansas in case: Bill Self-destruction in March is a thing, but Kansas has some ATHs. Ira makes a good argument that we’d rather face them than Purdue?
- Rundown of the rest: Who do you like for the Final Four?
- Spring Football! Brian points out which guys he wants to hear nice things about.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
The final shots. [Joseph Dressler]
In the movie script, that shot goes in.
Michigan hadn't played their best game—far from it—but Derrick Walton nevertheless had a clean look to send the Wolverines to the Elite Eight and keep this magical run going. With time about to expire, Walton cleared out space, rose, and fired. His shot caught iron. Walton clutched his head, likely feeling the same combination of surprise and dismay as the rest of us.
"I had a good look at the basket and it just didn't drop for me," Walton said.
This is not a movie script.
In a disjointed game, Michigan's seniors fought valiantly to the finish. Walton shook off a hard fall on his elbow in the first half to finish with a game-high 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting, five rebounds, and eight assists. Zak Irvin poured in 19, going 8-of-14 from the field, pulled down eight rebounds, and played lockdown defense on Oregon star Dillon Brooks, who needed 13 shots to score 12 points. In the last five minutes, the two combined for three go-ahead shots, and Walton added a nasty fadeaway jumper to give the Wolverines a three-point lead with 2:02 left.
They could not get a fourth. Instead, Oregon's two best players on the night made the plays in winning time. Jordan Bell, a force in the paint all evening, put back a missed free throw to get the Ducks within one after Walton's jumper. After Walton couldn't get a tough layup to fall, Tyler Dorsey got a step on Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and finished at the rim for what were ultimately the final points of the game.
Michigan would get two more shots to win. DJ Wilson's three-pointer with 46 seconds remaining was well off the mark. After Dylan Ennis missed another free throw with 15 seconds to play, Oregon surprisingly chose to give only one of their three remaining fouls to give, allowing Walton to get that final look. It fell short.
"I've seen him make that shot thousands of times, so I had confidence in him knocking it down," said Irvin. "It looked good from my angle. No one else on this team that we wanted taking that shot. He's been on a run and he's such a great player. I'm proud of him."
Jordan Bell made play after play in the paint. [Dressler]
From the start, this didn't feel like Michigan's night. The Wolverines went just 11-for-28 in the first half, and while they only trailed by two at the break, it could've easily been worse. Wilson sat for much of the half with foul trouble. Oregon's guards repeatedly blew by Michigan defenders. Dorsey sunk three of his four first-half three-point attempts. Walton grinded out 11 points and seven assists by halftime, keeping his team within striking distance. With Wilson set to get back on the court, the hope was Michigan could find their groove.
It never quite clicked. Moe Wagner barely played in the second half and finished the night with only seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. Abdur-Rahkman all but disappeared, tallying more turnovers (3) than points (2). Duncan Robinson's eight points weren't enough to offset his defensive shortcomings. While Wilson hit four three-pointers, he didn't get a bucket inside the arc as Bell dominated the paint; his missed second-half layup will stay with him for a while.
While tonight wasn't their night, this team can hold their heads high. Walton and Irvin battled to the bitter end, and this season will ultimately be remembered far more for the remarkable highs of the last month than tonight's low. When it mattered the most, this team galvanized around its leaders, and the most difficult part of tonight is knowing we won't get to see them all play together again.
"It's the tightest bunch I've been around in all my years of playing basketball," said Walton. "Just a very selfless group. I had the joy of being a part of it and being one of the leaders. Like I said, I wish we could have more games to play together because I think a couple minutes throughout the game we didn't show the type of team we were becoming and overall just thank them for allowing me to be part of such a great team."
"We're very close-knit, playing our best basketball and didn't want the season to end," said Irvin. "This team had a lot of great memories. We battled through adversity and just a team that I will always remember."
He's not alone.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) March 20, 2017
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New features this week: A few style updates. Better scrolling, chat and twitter logs shouldn’t jump around so much. The Pin section only fits one item now. Also the Twitter embeds have added a pick-and-pop game, plus a killer pump fake and drive move. Beilein, man.
The yellow/ orange bar is your mana.
Sending messages costs mana.
Messages cost more, the more active chat is.
The red dudes on the side bar are lives remaining.
If you break the Board Rules, you lose a life. Lose three lives and you have to insert a quarter into your monitor. No no keep trying it, it’ll go in. As always, the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is The Law.
Enter here: http://kibitz.io/#/ncaa
#20 Michigan (26-11, 10-8 B1G) vs
#16 Oregon (31-5, 16-2 Pac-12)
Delicious Barbecue Center
Kansas City, Missouri
|WHEN||7:09 pm ET, Thursday|
Oregon -1 (KenPom)
Michigan -1.5 (Vegas)
PBP: Kevin Harlan
Analyst: Reggie Miller & Dan Bonner
Right: I can't possibly hate on Puddles, even if Oregon won't acknowledge that's his real name.
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John Beilein gave a very John Beilein quote yesterday:
Q. This came up in Indiana and it seems to with you a lot this time of year. For casual fans outside the midwest you're not as appreciated as the brand name coaches, Krzyzewski, Williams, Calipari, Pitino and Boeheim. Do you care?
JOHN BEILEIN: I don't care. Our program is about Michigan and it's about those kids. I don't care about that. I came up a lot different than everybody else and I am blessed to be in these situations. I don't want to be measured by those. I would love to be measured by, what are those kids like on the court and how they represent our university and what are they like many years later and not about the trophies. The trophies will come.
I just wanted to teach social studies and be a high school coach, and somehow it morphed to this. But I really want it to be about those teams and the University of Michigan.
Perhaps the most John Beilein quote, really.
Anyway, the topic of Michigan's great performances so far in neutral-site games came up in MGoSlack this morning, and I ventured over to Bart Torvik's site to see just how the Wolverines stacked up to the rest of the country in such games:
Limited sample size and all: hot damn. Oregon is 31st with a 7-2 record, 117.0 adjOE, and 93.7 adjDE.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||31||Dylan Ennis||Sr.||6'2, 195||79||19||110||No|
|Athletic grad transfer with solid outside shot, higher TO than assist rate.|
|G||3||Payton Pritchard||Fr.||6'2, 200||72||16||113||No|
|Takes more threes than twos, decent assist rate that just edges out TO rate.|
|G||5||Tyler Dorsey||So.||6'4, 195||74||21||116||Not At All|
|Dangerous catch-and-shoot threat has 20+ points in five straight games.|
|F||24||Dillon Brooks||Jr.||6'7, 225||54||31||115||Not At All|
|Can and will score from anywhere. Offense runs through him.|
|F||1||Jordan Bell||Jr.||6'9, 225||72||19||120||Very|
|Excellent finisher, rebounder, shot-blocker. Skilled passer from high post.|
|G||2||Casey Benson||Jr.||6'3, 185||52||12||120||Not At All|
|Low usage. Turnover prone for a Just A Shooter™ type.|
|C||35||Kavell Bigby-Williams||Jr.||6'11, 230||23||20||99||Very|
|Good rebounder and shot-blocker, but huge downgrade from Bell on offense.|
|F||11||Keith Smith||Fr.||6'7, 205||11||19||107||Very|
|Hasn't played >6 mins since January. Tight rotation with Boucher out.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]