"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Kenpom. The all-knowing. This year's best team not invited was #45 Florida. The worst team in is #250 Hampton. I had to know, so I looked up the worst team in the history of Kenpom (since 2002) to be invited to the Dance. It's Mississippi Valley State, the 298th team in 2008.
In fact there's a pretty enormous drop-off from most of the 16 seeds and the MEAC and SWAC entrants, who had an average Pyth of 0.296 (i.e. they'd win less than 30% of their games vs. an average opponent). For reference, the worst Big Ten teams in that span (2003-2005 Penn State) were .361, .334, and .341 respectively. In fact I only found six power conference teams—2013 TCU, 2008 Oregon State, 2012 Utah, 2013 Mississippi State, 2012 BC and 2011 Wake Forest—who've ever been worse than the average MEAC or SWAC champion. I get the part about giving the top seeds basically a bye, but the tournament can find more deserving small schools than whoever won a conference tournament whose competition level is below that of many high school leagues.
For what it's worth, Kentucky this year is the best team in the history of Kenpom. The only two in sniffing distance were 2008 Kansas and 2013 Louisville.
Seth's Annual Matchup Maker. This lets you set a chaos factor and match any two opponents, immediately seeing where the game will be played and any relevant injuries. You just input the teams and the round. Front page looks thus:
The Power Rank. Listeners to Brian's weekly roundtable on WTKA know Ed Feng. Ed creates this:
(right is zoomed)
…interactive chart using his win probabilities so you can see how stupid your picks are relative to each other. Run around the circle to make sure you haven't picked a dead in the water first round upset, but I think he's best at end game. This year you can see Kentucky is in a league of its own, then Zona, Duke, Nova, Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Virginia are a clear second tier.
Bracket Science Bracketmaster. Peter Tiernan is getting better at monetizing his comprehensive bracket database, which is unfortunate because I really liked to use the Bracketmaster for patterns, like what kind of team does Wisconsin usually lose to in the tourney, has this coach been to the Dance before, and things that super hardcore NCAA basketball fans know and I don't know offhand because I was off the wagon for a time. If you don't mind paying (there are far worse people you can give money to than Tiernan) you can get all the goodies, but the free stuff is great for narratives, for example if you want to track how Big Ten teams have fared since 2005 vs other Power Confs:
WSJ's Blind Comparison. The Wall Street Journal's blindfold bracket is your bias check, though this year they didn't do, opting instead for a slider-based bracket generator using things like "defense wins championships!"
Disclaimer: You will be wrong.
I always hope the fictional person goes to Michigan. Key And Peele East/West Bowl is obligatory:
Ace talkin' recruiting. On SI.com:
SI: Basically, if you avoid any more M00N games, that's a plus. Is it safe to say the 2016 class should really see the Harbaugh bump in recruiting?
AA: Definitely. While the staff has put most of its focus on piecing together the 2015 class in about a month, a lot of offers have been sent to top-tier '16 recruits, and those have been received quite well. Michigan would get an edge if it lands five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary; his high school coach is rumored to be taking a support staff job in Ann Arbor, and the guy replacing him at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic played for Harbaugh in San Francisco (ex-49ers linebacker Blake Costanzo). There is also a lot of in-state talent in this cycle, and Harbaugh along with Tyrone Wheatley, the new running backs coach, have made the rounds at several Detroit-area schools. That should pay dividends sooner rather than later.
Mattison follow-up. Surprise: Greg Mattison is not looney tunes. Daishon Neal's high school coach:
Reached by phone Wednesday, Neal's high school coach Jay Ball (Omaha Central) said he spoke with Mattison on Tuesday, and has a great deal of respect for Michigan's defensive line coach.
"First of all, DaiShon N eal is a great kid and coach Mattison is a guy that I have a lot of respect for, he's been in the coaching business for 40 years and deserves every amount of respect that he gets," Ball said. "It sounds to me like there's two sides to the story, and maybe things were misinterpreted.
"And that's about all I'm really going to say."
I feel bad for that guy, who's been put in an awful spot by Neal's crazy helicopter dad. Even if you did boot Mattison from your home—something that is likely fiction—nobody gains anything by going on the radio to proclaim it.
It's really happening? I mentioned that there was chatter on Tennessee boards that Mike DeBord might be their offensive coordinator earlier. I didn't think it would actually happen for a zillion different reasons, but… uh…
Most recently — TE coach, Chicago Bears
DeBord, like Jones, is a former head coach at Central Michigan, and the two Midwestern natives have become good friends over the years. DeBord, a former offensive coordinator at Michigan from 1997-99 and 2006-07, hasn’t coached since serving as the Chicago Bears tight ends coach from 2010-12 and is currently the Olympic Sports Coordinator at Michigan….
Why he’s still on the board: Because he remains, by all accounts, the clubhouse leader for the position despite also holding at least a couple of potential NFL offers in his pocket.
I am going to be fascinated if this in fact happens. Tennessee found some life on offense last year when they turned to sophomore dual-threat QB Josh Dobbs, who ran for 500 yards in six games and is not at all like John Navarre. DeBord, meanwhile, is probably unaware that quarterbacks are allowed to cross the line of scrimmage.
He also hasn't been a coordinator since 2007—Lloyd Carr was the only guy who ever thought he was that level of coach. He'd seemingly given up on the whole enterprise when he took an administrative spot in the Michigan AD. To suddenly show up in the SEC as a coordinator is a reversal worthy of Zack Novak.
It also means that Mike DeBord found a coordinator gig before Al Borges.
More job stuff. Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge—who you may remember from such recruitments as AHHH JABRILL PEPPERS—left the school to take a job with Rutgers. Rutgers then rescinded that offer, supposedly because Partridge is not widely liked by New Jersey high school coaches worried that he will recruit their players away from them. Well done, Rutgers.
Partridge's side of the story is that Rutgers did offer him but he had not committed to the job. In the aftermath there was some chatter from Sam Webb that Michigan might step in with a job for the suddenly unemployed Partridge, and this job posting certainly looks like one designed for a guy a lot like him:
Responsible for the planning, coordination, execution and assessment of recruiting operations. Directly responsible for the coordination and liaison of high school coaches and talent stakeholders in the college football prospect market.
1. Assist Director of Player Personnel as directed, for the purpose of the coordination, evaluation and liaison with all High School Coaches and talent stakeholders in the college football prospect market.
2. Responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of Football Camps and Clinics in support of the University of Michigan Football Program.
3. Responsible for the oversight and internal compliance of all football related matters.
4. Responsible for the accuracy and input of all prospect/recruit documentation and data management for prospective football recruits.
5. Responsible for the evaluation and analysis of all recruiting classes during the duration of their eligibility of collegiate play.
5-10 years of college football recruiting experience with an in-depth understanding of the role of the High School Football Coach.
This looks like a job for a high school coach moving up. FWIW, Paramus has 2016's #1-ranked DT, Rashan Gary.
There is also a spot for an Associate Athletic Director For Saying NO STOP DON'T DO THIS DUMB THING, which basically sounds like an SID spot. To the relief of almost everyone on the beat, Derek Satterfield was canned immediately upon Hackett's hire.
Not all politicians are smart. No polo, but do me a favor and vote for whoever's running against this Al Pscholka guy if you happen to live in his district:
"I think student-athletes are students," he said. "It's just that simple. We've certainly gotten away from that fact. I've been broadcasting high school sports for 30 years, and the message we should be sending our kids is that college is really important."
Rhetorical tip: anyone saying "it's just that simple" has just said something dumb. Guy can't even defend his lame-duck bill passed out of an idiotic dedication to the ideal of amateurism. He's put Michigan and Michigan State in a possibly disadvantageous position relative to other schools if and when teams start unionizing in the near future.
This is a thing I like to hear. Hockey picks up '99-born defenseman Quinn Hughes. Hughes is a 2018(!) recruit on Chris Heisenberg's page. It sounds like he is in the Eric Werner/Steve Kampfer mode:
Hughes is a quick, cerebral defender, plays a possession style with soft hands. One of the smartest defenders in the age group.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) January 29, 2015
Hughes, like fellow D commit Griffin Luce, is the son of an NHL front office guy who played college hockey. That makes him particularly unlikely to defect to the OHL—these guys know all the pros and cons of both routes already.
It will be interesting to see how Michigan's recruiting classes hold up after Berenson's retirement, which is tentatively scheduled to be after next season. I assume these guys are aware that they're likely to be coached by someone else.
Really? Lunardi has Michigan in his next four out. Crashing The Dance pretty much does as well—George Washington gets the last at large and then Michigan is seventh in the pecking order, give or take projected automatic qualifier Green Bay. Bubble must be pretty soft this year.
Minor ding. WOLV reporter with an injury scoop:
Inside scoop: Jake Butt tore his meniscus and had surgery two days ago. @AceAnbender
— Ben Meyers (@BenSMeyers) January 29, 2015
A meniscus is usually a month-long thing so that shouldn't hurt Butt too much. Should be back for spring practice, in fact.
Etc.: I beg Michigan recruiting reporters to go full Texas in the near future, for entertainment's sake. Connor and Werenski off the board in the first 15 picks of various NHL.com mock drafts. A lot of weird guys stepping up at Next Man In U. Walton availability unknown.
Iowa State - #3 Seed, East
Other than the Raiders of the Lost Ark-style rolling boulder of death that is Michigan State, it’s a pretty favorable draw for Iowa State. They get North Carolina Central, North Carolina Classic, and Villanova (which is probably in North Carolina, but I don’t feel like checking). They have the horses to run with anyone (Melvin Ejim was the Big 12 player of the year over Andrew Wiggins). I’ve got them in the Final Four, despite none of these games being played at Hilton.
Dook - #3 Seed, Midwest
If both survive, Michigan will meet Duke in the Sweet 16. This one will be in Indianapolis, which is a long way from Cameron. That should help. But Jabari Parker will be there. So that won’t help.
Arizona - #1 Seed, West
The tournament’s second overall seed, they might kind of have a cakewalk through their region. Wisconsin hasn’t been past the Sweet 16 in a decade. Neither San Diego State nor Oklahoma is particularly scary. Creighton has the potential to be an aerial death-bringer, but if Doug McDermott doesn’t have four good nights in a row it’s hard to see Creighton in the Final Four, and four good nights in a row is asking a lot.
I wouldn’t worry too much about late season losses to Oregon and to UCLA in the PAC 12 tournament; this is a team that seems to have found some balance and returned to form.
Stanford - #10 Seed, South
Stanford returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons, ensuring in the process that Michigan DID beat a tournament team in the non-conference schedule. Their opening round matchup with New Mexico features two of the biggest teams in the country. If they survive that matchup, they get also-tall (though Embiid-less) Kansas. Tough to see them making it to the Sweet 16, but they probably accomplished their goal for the season, so it’s house money from here on in.
Florida State #1-seed, NIT
In Which We Look At Brackets
To clarify, this is NOT A RANKING, and should not be deemed an attempt to supplant the wisdom of Angry Michigan KenPom Defiance Hating God. It is simply a rundown of tournament teams, and the natural way to list such teams is by seed order.
Again, for the avoidance of doubt: not a ranking. Just a list. Organized by seed.
Michigan - #2 Seed, Midwest
Opening Round: vs. #15 Wofford. The Terriers were 20-12 in the Southern Conference. They have one KenPom top-200 win this year… against #200 Elon. Ace has you covered with a preview, but sufficed to say that this one is not scary, which should scare you, because it is March.
The Draw: Gets the winner of Texas/
Kansas Arizona State [ED: Must avenge bowl game...] in the second round, probably #3 Duke in the Sweet 16, and probably the winner of #1 Wichita State and #4 Louisville in the Elite 8.
Thing: It’s a rough draw to after the opening weekend, that’s for damn sure. My theory is that the Committee basically said that if they HAD to give Wichita State a 1-seed, they would. And they threw them in a region with their second highest 2 seed (a team that was in the running for a 1-seed like an hour before the brackets came out), and their highest-rated 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 seeds. Subtle, that.
Thing They Are Like: A team with some unfinished business.
[AFTER THE JUMP: More teams playing in various tournaments. Also Indiana]
3/15/2014 – Michigan 72, Ohio State 69 – 25-7, 15-3 Big Ten, BTT Finalists
Sometimes when you're on. Good lord man. This team is capable of sending anyone watching into a fit of giggles as shot after shot splashes down. The general process:
- All right, here we go.
- ON FIAH!
- /giggling fit
As Michigan extended to a 16-point lead early despite Ohio State doing offensive things that are well out of character (IE: making shots), it was giggle fit time. Michigan has previously done this to Nebraska and Illinois in the process of running them out of the building. If they're fortunate enough to make a tourney run at least one win will be reminiscent of the Florida game last year, wherein there is a period of death from above that leaves the other team looking like Dresden.
Welp. I don't know, man. Michigan's defense looked pretty good to me in the mirror universe where Shannon Scott remains Shannon Scott. Scott entered the game a 28% three point shooter and a 38% shooter on two point jumpers. He got zero looks at the rim and yet exited with 18 points on ten shots. Yeah, most of his jumpers were not particularly contested, but there's a reason for that. When Scott elevates for a jumper you have just done a good job as a defense.
The other problem with the defense was a problem with the offense. Steve Kerr mentioned that all of Michigan's seven first half turnovers were live-ball situations. Live-ball turnovers lead to transition, and transition leads to sadness. Michigan failed to push the margin out to crippling levels because of uncharacteristic sloppiness when Ohio State turned up the pressure.
Other than that, the defense did what it wanted to do: protect the rim and live with whatever else happens. OSU just hit shots they usually don't.
Hidden in the terror is a comfortable-ish win. Michigan was 10/19 from the line, well below their season average. Jordan Morgan was the biggest part of that, as he went 2/7. That dropped his season total from 62% to 57%.
Craft. When Craft does something Crafty and wins, there is a collective old white sportswriter dude explosion, and when he does something Crafty and loses, the OWSD collective sighs and shakes their head at a world full of haters. Forde is on it:
For all the many people who hate Aaron Craft, here’s your chance to pile on.
You’re a strange, sad lot. You’ve got issues. Ripping a guy with a 3.9 grade-point average who plays his guts out is a weirdly trendy thing to do for college basketball fans.
But for those disposed to do so, congrats. Today is Bash Aaron Craft Day.
I'm not here to bash Aaron Craft, but let's be clear: he is a role player. He is the apotheosis of the role player, sure, but the reason people get cranky about Aaron Craft is the never-ending hagiography for a guy who is merely a pretty good player.
There is frankly a racial component to this. You don't see people falling all over themselves to hype up Briante Weber, whose VCU team is ranked and headed for about the same seed as OSU thanks in large part to Weber's third consecutive year at the top of the Kenpom steals leaderboard. Or his teammate Shannon Scott, who is also top ten in steals. It's Craft that gets glorified as the underrated gutty gritty leader in a way that is out of proportion to his talent.
That's unfair to the his teammates and Craft himself. I've long defended the guy whenever people try to trash his game (no offense to Derrick Walton, but put Craft on this Michigan team and oh my gawd), but that's because I love guys who can make an impact without using possessions. They need to be put with high-usage guys, though—you know, stars. Craft is not that. But he comes with an avalanche of hype enough to get him on the midseason Wooden list as he leads his team to a 10-8 Big Ten record while taking 15% of OSU's shots.
At its heart, Craft backlash is Forde-and-company backlash. Some of it's misdirected; a lot of it is from 14 year olds; everyone would be much better off if people in the media would just acknowledge that Craft is who he is. GIFs of aairballs are prominent because the media is insistent on pretending Aaron Craft is something other than what he is.
Please be a new meme, please be a new meme, please be a new meme. We've had planking and Bradying and all sorts of ing ings, and now there needs to be an internet full of pictures of clothed people sitting in bathtubs looking hard.
YOU DON'T WANT THIS
Is Glenn On Fire Watch. Another efficient game with 11 points on 9 shot equivalents, and he brought defensive impact with a couple of blocks and three steals. He's still alarmingly light on rebounds.
There is the hint of a recovery in his three point shooting, as well. Over the last four games he's 5/13. Not much to go on for a guy who was at 32% last year and is at 28% this year, sure. Still another data point for those hoping Glenn is this year's tourney Mitch.
Is Stauskas Human Watch. NOPE.
I mean, he does that crossover to three pointer thing.
Death from above watch. Michigan's quest to end the season with five guys shooting 40% from three is very, very close. Walton is at .398, Spike at .390. LeVert has pulled himself a couple points above the line, sitting next to Irvin. Stauskas can't even see 40% unless he's got binoculars.
Seeding business. Most observers from Lunardi to the Bracket Matrix have moved Michigan to the one line after Wisconsin's Big Ten Tourney exit, and a lot of folks are speculating that Michigan may be locked in to that spot no matter what happens today.
Here’s my prediction: Michigan gets the fourth No. 1 seed today regardless of whether it wins or loses the Big Ten title game.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 16, 2014
Seems pretty easy for the committee to have a contingency plan based on the result of the championship game, but in past years it has seemed like they ignore or at least downplay Sunday results.
If Michigan does get that one seed they'll be in the East and acquire a Michigan-friendly Madison Square Garden. In that event I withdraw my Syracuse request, as they're one of the few schools that could overwhelm Michigan's NYC fanbase.
It's pointless to mention this when they're just going to unveil the brackets in a few hours but I started this sentence anyway so I will proceed by mentioning that I am not a huge fan of Lunardi's bracket, which features Oklahoma State as the eight seed, and greatly prefer the GW/Stanford setup presented by Palm.
Another motivation to get that one: Louisville has moved up to the three line on just about everyone's bracket, so a one can't draw the red hot 'Cards until a regional final.
RPI Effect Only Teams
If you care, Michigan played the following teams: UMass-Lowell (10-18), Houston Baptist (6-23), South Carolina State (9-19), Coppin State (10-19), Long Beach State (13-15), and Charlotte (15-13). But while I don’t want to say these games didn’t MATTER, they didn’t, you know, matter. Except the Charlotte game, because blerg. Michigan’s fate will be determines by larger narratives. Not many people are going to hammer too hard on RPI when you’re talking the difference between a 2 seed and a 3 seed. So, let us move along.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (22-7, 10-7 Big 12)
This week: Lost @ Kansas State (80-73); Lost @ Baylor (74-61)
Michigan probably moved ahead of Iowa State for good by virtue of Iowa State’s rough week. Bracketmatrix has them as the last 3 seed, it’s unlikely a home win over bubble team Oklahoma State (side note: how did THAT happen?) would get them past Michigan.
Florida State (18-11, 9-8 ACC)
This week: Beat Georgia Tech (81-71); Won @ Boston College (74-70)
Florida State met two necessary conditions for an NCAA bid this week. Losing to either of those teams would’ve probably been the end of things for the Seminoles. The good news is that Syracuse also seems very beatable, so it’s possible for Florida State to close strong. The problem is that now a win over Syracuse wouldn’t bring the cache it would have two or three weeks ago, so they might still need to do some work in the conference tourney.
From a Michigan standpoint, though, FSU doesn’t really matter all that much anymore. No one cares about your 6th best win, and pretty much Michigan's entire seeding case rests in its conference schedule. So if you’d really like to see some more #Nebrasketball, you might be hoping they drop their last couple of games to clear some room at the bubble.
#4 Dook (23-7, 12-5 ACC)
This week: Lost @ Wake Forest (YTWF) (82-72)
This was a gift on a number of fronts. Duke’s loss potentially leaves some wiggle room for Michigan to move up to a 2-seed. Also, Duke’s loss was a loss for Duke, which is a win for Not Duke. We are Not Duke. So, let’s compare the two teams right now:
|Record||KenPom||Losses (KP ranks)||Best wins (KP)||Is Duke?|
|MICHIGAN||22-7||10||1, 8, 11, 12, 28, 69, 182||11, 12, 13, 17, 17||No|
|DUKE||23-7||8||1, 6, 14, 23, 51, 92, 113||2, 10, 14, 15, 25||Yes|
I dunno, that’s close.
#3 Arizona (28-2, 15-2 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Stanford (79-66), Beat Arizona State (74-69)
It's hard to blame Arizona for a less-than-dominant performance against ASU. They'd clinched pretty much everything there was to clinch (PAC 12 title, #1 seed in the PAC 12 tourney, likely #1 seed, helped RichRod kill the 10 second rule), and sometimes it's hard to get up for games that don't much matter.
One potential cause for concern is depth. Arizona is really only rolling about 6 guys deep, which is working fine for them now, but if they run up against a team that draws a lot of fouls, it could be an issue. But no, Michigan isn't one of those teams.
Stanford (18-11, 9-8 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Arizona (79-66); Lost to Colorado (59-56)
According to Bill Walton (who called the Stanford/Colorado game), Stanford's loss is a lot like the Punic War if it was fought by Muppets; you're not sure where they got the weapons, but you can't expect them to be back in time for lunch.
I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that, but Stanford's bid is in real trouble. Bracketmatrix had them as a 10-seed before the loss to the Buffs, so they still have some work to do. And not that it matters, but it would be nice for Michigan to have at least ONE win over a tournament team from its non-conference schedule.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Michigan, and all the teams that finished behind Michigan because Michigan finished ahead of everyone who isn't Michigan]