At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
henri the otter of ennui
RPI Effect Only Teams
UMass-Lowell lost to… aw, screw it. GRIII things.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (23-7, 11-7 Big 12)
This week: Beat Oklahoma State (85-81 OT)
Based on a the interweb mock brackets, there’s a fair-to-moderate chance that Michigan might get another shot at Iowa State, this time outside the friendly magical confines of the Hilton Arena Convention Center thingy. The Committee generally dislikes rematches, but right now Michigan is a high 2-seed and Iowa State is a low 3 seed, so it could happen.
If they DO end up as a 3-seed, they can thank Oklahoma State’s failure to come over to #TeamFoul. OSU was up 3 when they missed a free throw with five seconds left. So, instead of fouling, they gave a 39% three-point shooter (Naz Long) an open look. He promptly tied the game. If you were curious, Long is a 62.5% free throw shooter. FOUL, MAN. FOUL
Florida State (18-12, 9-9 ACC)
This week: Lost to Syracuse (74-58)
#7 Dook (24-7, 13-5 ACC)
This week: Beat North Carolina (93-81)
Like Iowa State, Duke is another possible Sweet 16 matchup for Michigan (they’re currently projected at around a 3 seed). Like Iowa State, a hypothetical rematch would be on neutral turf instead of a very hostile road venue. Unlike Iowa State, please don’t make us play these bastards again.
#4 Arizona (28-3, 15-3 PAC 12)
This week: Lost at Oregon (64-57)
Yeah, they lost to Oregon, but unless they lose their quarterfinal matchup to Utah, they’re a lock for a 1-seed. KenPom has them as 7 point favorites to get there, though Utah did play them close twice (including an OT game in February). And even if they lose that game they’re probably STILL a 1-seed.
Stanford (19-11, 10-8 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Utah (61-60)
They’re probably in. But I’m more concerned about KenPom’s description of their defense:
“Coach, can you explain your defensive philosophy in the second half?”
“Well, we didn’t think we were very effective in man-to-man, so we went with what we call our ‘shiny object’ set, which is sort of a hybrid man/zone concept where everyone just kinda guards the person near them until they see someone else open and then they guard that person for a while. Or if they get bored or want to be on the other side of the court for a while, they can do that too. The closest traditional comparison would be a triangle and one with a single-high safety.”
RPI Effect Only Teams:
It was actually a pretty good week for the non-abysmal non-conference foes. Long Beach State (5-11) beat Cal Poly. Holy Cross (7-9) beat Lehigh. Charlotte (12-5) beat Tulsa and North Texas, and may actually compete in Conference USA. All three are in the mid-100s to KenPom (158, 156, and 138, respectively). It won’t matter much on the surface, but it could provide some RPI support to balance out the dregs.
The dregs, as their name would seem to indicate, did NOT have a pretty good week. UMass-Lowell (4-13) lost to Stony Brook and Hartford. Houston Baptist (4-14) lost to McNeese State to fall to 1-5 in the Southland Conference (and yes, the Southland Conference was named after the police drama on TNT) South Carolina State (6-12) lost to Florida A&M but beat Bethune Cookman. Coppin State(6-12) beat Hampton and lost to Norfolk State, but in doing so they moved into the top 300.
Big Sorts of Teams
#16 Iowa State (14-3, 2-3 Big 12)
This week: Lost @ Texas (86-76)
The Cyclones completed the first three rotations of the Ohio State Quadruple Salchow; that is, an effort to take an undefeated record into conference play and then rip off four straight losses. They go for the landing on Saturday, when they take on Kansas State at home.
|Still better than the sleeved jerseys the NBA has been wearing|
Florida State (13-5, 4-2 ACC)
This week: Lost @ Virginia (78-66), Beat Notre Dame (76-74)
The Florida State win isn’t as important to Michigan given the recent win at Wisconsin [ED: and the win over Iowa, because I obviously wrote this earlier on Wednesday], but they remain arguably Michigan’s
second third-best win to date. You could make a case for a road game at Minnesota over a neutral court win over FSU, but to the Bracketology folks Florida State is a 7- to 9-seed and Minnesota is barely hanging onto a spot. The Notre Dame game was fascinating; I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a two point win in which KenPom says the win probability never dipped below 76%.
#18 Dook (15-4, 4-2 ACC)
This week: Beat NC State (95-60); Won @ Miami (67-46)
Relatively drama-free week for Duke, especially considering they were playing two top-100 teams. Jabari Parker averaged 20 points and 11 boards.
#1 Arizona (18-0, 5-0 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Arizona St (91-68)
The other other other nice thing about the Wisconsin and Iowa wins is that they replace the Arizona loss as Michigan’s ‘best outing’ of the year. Both Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon are in the early KenPom Player of the Year Top 10, and Johnson is in the 25-man Wooden Award midseason whatever list.
Stanford (12-5, 3-2 PAC 12)
This week: Beat Washington (79-67)
Stanford has worked its way onto the bubble with wins over Oregon, Washington State, and Washington. Arizona is going to win the conference walking away, but the PAC 12 is good enough to warrant a 4th tournament team, so if Stanford gets to 10 or 11 conference wins, that should be good enough to grab an at-large.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Big Ten Country is surprisingly mitten-shaped]
Yea, and God did say unto his people, “hot damn, I’m glad it’s basketball season, for verily, football season sucked.”
~ First Letter of St. Paul to the Annarborites
With the dong-punching albatross of 2013 behind us, we can move fully into winter sports season with vigor and aplomb. But without Mitch McGary. Worst. Trip. Around. The. Sun. EVER.
Every week we’ll keep tabs on Michigan’s non-conference opponents, the state of the Big Ten, the potential NCAA Tournament draw, and the suggested viewing /rooting guide for the upcoming week.
RPI Effect Only Teams:
It’s becoming clear that Michigan’s non-conference schedule was assembled by people who either don’t know how RPI works,* don’t know how math works, or aren’t sold on this whole “Arabic numerals are the wave of the future” thing. Three of Michigan’s opponents, UMass-Lowell (1-11), South Carolina State (4-8) and Houston Baptist (3-9) are below the 300 mark to KenPom, and Coppin State (4-9) fails to crack the super-elite group in the Top 270. Ben Folds Five wrote a song about these teams. Hint: it is not “The Luckiest.”
|RPI: drowning slowly.|
Outside of these masonry-like objects, Michigan played three of the ideal good-enough-to-not-kill-your-RPI-numbers-but-not-good-enough-to-beat-you-unless-LeVert,-Stauskas,-and-McGary-all-miss-significant-time type teams. Long Beach State (4-9) has won three in a row, including wins over Nevada and USC, and gave VCU and NC State some real competition. Holy Cross (6-6) hasn’t really beaten anyone, but they have beaten six non-anyones, so that’s something. Charlotte (8-4) has wins over Michigan and Kansas State, presumably because they were mad about not being invited to the BWW Bowl.
Big Sorts of Teams
Iowa State (12-0)
Significant Wins: Michigan, Iowa, @ BYU, Boise St.
Losses: [404 file not found]
The Cyclones weren’t ranked when Michigan played them, but they definitely are now. Forwards Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang are both shooting around 50% from the field, with Ejim nearly averaging a double-double (18.0 ppg and 8.8 rpg). One caveat is that they have only played one game away from
Iowa City Des Moines Corn Rapids Ames, that being a 2 point win over BYU.
Florida State (9-3)
Significant Wins: VCU, UMass
Losses: Michigan (waives tiny flag), @ Florida, @ Minnesota
How important does that crazy-ass Michigan comeback in Puerto Rico feel now? At the time it was an amusing, “oh that’s a nifty little win,” but in hindsight it is a “THANK YOU BASED GOD” non-conference salvager.
Florida State could easily be 10-1 right now. They blew a 16 point lead against Michigan (including an 8 point lead and possession with 3 minutes left), and lost to Florida by 1 on a last-second offensive rebound despite outshooting and generally outplaying the Gators. Still, they look to be in that second tier of the ACC behind Pitt, Syracuse, and Duke, and MAYBE UNC. They are far from the most skilled team in the country, but will pose some significant matchup problems for a number of teams, given their overall largeness/tallness and tendency to be freeking huge. As Michigan’s best NonCon win, you will want to cheer hard for the Seminoles.
Significant Wins: Michigan, UCLA
Losses: Kansas, Arizona
From the makers of Jadeveon Clowney comes: Jabari Parker!!! Now with kung-fu crossover and Dick Vitale utility belt!!! Duke’s true freshman guard/wing/forward/goalie/ambassador/imperial wizard has been exactly as advertised, looking like the most college-ready of the mega-frosh. He’s averaging 22 and 8, and has scored 19+ points in every game but one this season. Guess which one.*
|Duke is really missing the Yellow Plumlee|
The weird thing is, we really don’t know that much about Duke. They lost to the two elite teams they played, beat Michigan (at home) and UCLA (at MSG), and beyond that have dispatched a large pile of unconvincing opponents by occasionally unconvincing margins. They beat Vermont by 1 point, ECU by 9, and Alabama by 10. Maybe it’s the fact that they are down to three Plumlees on the roster, which isn’t enough to form up the Megazord. They have played great offense and middling defense, and are probably among the favorites in the ACC once Parker settles in (/shudder).
*to those who accused GRIII of not being “into” that game, I suggest you try to stand between a bull mastiff and a squirrel for 40 minutes and tell me how it goes for you.
Significant Wins: San Diego St, Duke, @ Michigan
Losses: [Should have lost to Michigan but KenPom lied to all of us]
They’re okay, I guess. Arizona is deservingly number one in the polls, based on how the polls work, and are definitely among the elite teams, but… eh? Purported super-frosh Aaron Gordon has had a whelming start; according to people who watch last night basketball regularly, he's playing great defense and flashing hilarious athleticism, but isn’t consistent or diverse on the offensive end of the court. Arizona continues to look to Nick Johnson as their primary scoring option, and he’s dropping about 16 ppg. They’re clearly the class of a middle-heavy PAC 12.
Significant Wins: @ UConn
Losses: BYU, Pitt, Michigan (/blasts Katy Perry, waives crap out of tiny flag)
Stanford isn’t all that good. But they are okay. And Michigan beat them. So we will continue to treat them as if they are good. We call this the Akron Delusion.
Pay no attention to the fact that Stanford’s only remotely impressive win was a grinding, brick-laden slugfest over a UConn team that decided to play the entire second half in the style of breakdance-fighting. Seriously: Stanford was down by 10 at the half, scored 25 points in the second half, and won. That’s a crime against ManBearPig.
[After the jump: objects ahead, and the return of THING THEY ARE LIKE]
Hey guys. I did not do the UFR this week, because I really did not want to do it. So I didn't. This is what I mean by mailing it in. I'm sorry, but not sorry enough to actually go do it. Obviously.
I will try to muster the courage to do so at some point in the future, because it is nice to have completeness. Right now you could hold a gun to my cat's head and threaten me and I would look on blankly until you cracked and started weeping and I told you It's Not Your Fault™. You're not actually going to kill a kitten about this, are you? Okay, okay, it's a cat, not a kitten. Put the gun down! It's Not Your Fault™! Unless you do something you're going to regr—
Hmm. Well, if you had to go at least it was before Saturday. We will put your MGoPoint total on your tombstone.
What's going on. I am going to go home and have a normal Thanksgiving like a normal person like I used to do before they moved the Ohio State game back a week for dubious reasons. I am not going to put up a UFR on the day itself, because I didn't do it. There will be a preview on Friday, though if I had to bet I'm assuming it will be light on useful analysis and heavy on gallows humor shirt-rending about how Ohio State has a good football team and Michigan does not have a good football team.
Then we are going to grit our teeth and get through Saturday, whereupon we will feel much better at the prospect of a weekend with nothing more horrifying in it than the prospect of Michigan State and Ohio State playing for the Big Ten Championship… godddammit. At least you don't have to watch that if you don't want.
You're free! FREEEEEEE. After Saturday. I'll see you Friday.
In conclusion. Butt.
About last week:
I know I don’t normally opine on such things. I know I’m usually the snark guy. I just want to speak my piece, and I’ll return to character.
There is a legal concept called res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for "the thing itself speaks." The idea is that usually when you sue someone, you have to explain what the person did wrong. But there are some times when the thing that happens is so obviously wrong that the blame speaks for itself. If you take your car in for an oil change, and while it's there the car gets pregnant, you don't have to know WHAT the mechanic did wrong to know that he screwed something up.
I've got a dozen specific complaints about the game plan, personnel use, and play calling from Saturday, but I don't need them. Rushing for negative yardage against this defense speaks for itself. This was probably the worst statistical game from the running back position in the history of Michigan football, and came against a team that EVERY OTHER TEAM has found a way to bludgeon on the ground. Does it matter any more whether the problem is one of scheme, specific playcalling, predictability, player prep, or the general bloodymindedness of the universe? Anyone who takes the players available, along with the information available, and produces *THAT* has failed in some fundamental aspect of his job. The details are of secondary concern. Can ANYONE come up with a theory by which the team that entered fall camp could end up where it is without massive, widespread failures by the individuals responsible for crafting an offense? I’m really asking.
Okay, I’m done. On with the snark.
Line of Scrimmage (3-1259, 2-688 B1G)
Last game: Defeated Michigan by 21 yards.
Recap: Two weeks ago, the Line of Scrimmage put up its first B1G conference win. One week later, it scored its first ever home victory. As a result, this week it is riding its first ever winning streak. It’s a good time to be that thin blue line.
The final margin (48 yards) was larger two weeks ago in East Lansing, but last week’s win was far more unlikely and impressive. Saddled with a Nebraska’s defense that was giving up about 200 yards per game on the ground, most expected the imaginary transverse line separating the offense from the defense to be an afterthought. Instead, it stood tall.
The LOS got the goose-egg off its back in 2003, when Oregon held Michigan to -3 yards rushing at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.
This team is as frightening as: Don’t let that .002% all-time winning percentage fool you. This is a shortest-distance-between-two-points on the rise. Fear level = 8
Michigan should worry about: The LOS’s winning streak has been keyed by sacks. Without them, Forward Motion would have squeaked by with narrow wins the last two weeks.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: The LOS is an imaginary line, and therefore has no physical ability to affect the world around it.
When they play Michigan: Watch for the LOS to implement a new non-Euclidian approach, permitting it to attack the running game in multiple directions.
Next game: vs. Poor Damn FitzDevin Gardnerssaint
[AFTER THE JUMP: Actual opponents]
FORMATION NOTES: On passing downs Michigan sometimes went with this 3-3-5-ish look with the line in a wide three-man front and the SAM hanging out next to one of the ends;
They also went with a weird wide even line against Ace, once:
M rolled down Gordon in their under early:
And occasionally split their nickel package, leaving just one LB. I called this 5-1.
Oh and on the final drive MSU pulled out an unbalanced formation with two inline TEs to the same side of the line.
Deliberately trolling Borges's unbalanced lines? Probably not, but I hope so.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Taylor, Countess, and Gordon went the whole way. When Michigan went to a nickel it was always Jourdan Lewis; Michigan also brought in Avery from time to time to spot Wilson, with iffy success.
Linebacker was the usual, except Brennen Beyer was moved to SDE, leaving SAM mostly Ryan with Cam Gordon backing; the three-man ILB rotation was still in place. Gedeon was sent to the bench again.
On the line Michigan did some weird stuff. Black(!) played nose tackle to open the game and would end up there periodically. Henry flipped between nose and three-tech; when it was Washington and Henry Michigan seemed to regard them as interchangeable. Clark went almost the whole way at WDE; very little Ojemudia. At SDE it was Beyer and some Wormley; no or very little Heitzman. Glasgow made a cameo or two.
[After THE JUMP: I mean, what did you expect?]