spoiler alert: i linked this
Kind of a big deal. PG recruit Xavier Simpson won the Ohio Mr. Basketball award after averaging 27 points and 6 assists a game. You may remember that one Trey Burke won Mr. Basketball in Ohio, an award that comes with some heft. Recent winners include Luke Kennard, Burke, Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Jon Diebler, OJ Mayo, and someone named Lebron.
Both Beilein and Simpson welcome the Burke comparison:
"With me going to Michigan and seeing the success they had with [Burke]. What I'm hearing, from out of high school no one ever thought he would go to the NBA. And Michigan put the ball in his hand and helped him make the right decisions and get better as a player. That prepared him for the next level, so hopefully they can do that for me."
Simpson is a much higher rated recruit than Burke was, but I think we'll take Trey 2.0.
Let's stop doing the dumb RPI thing. College basketball RPI is broken. Broken things can be exploited, and the Pac-12 did that so successfully that they got a bunch of ridiculous seeds in this year's NCAA tournament. Those teams all bombed out of the tournament save Oregon, which got a one-seed everyone thought MSU had on lock. Ask the Spartans if that mattered, assuming you can keep a straight face while doing so. (You cannot.)
This was not an accident. In both men's and women's basketball the Pac-12 has made a concerted effort to game the RPI. It started with the Washington women's coach, and the league is so proud of it they've put up articles it on pac-12.com itself:
Neighbors’ work developing a mathematical picture of success for the Pac-12 inspired conference coaches to change the way their programs scheduled in the non-conference seasons and has strengthened the conference from top to bottom.
“It’s one of the most productive things we’ve done,” Close said. “The best part about this story is Mike’s selflessness, but also the coaches putting the conference above themselves.” …
“He came in with this huge packet, with color-coded graphs. The message was, ‘Everybody needs to get eight or nine wins (in the non-conference) and you need to play the best teams you can beat’,” Close said. “Everyone was brainstorming. Everybody understood this has to be bigger than just your team. We have to help each other.”
This worked, as the Pac-12's evidently mediocre teams got seeds they did not deserve. Meanwhile, a 15-3 Big Ten champion got a five-seed, and Michigan was relegated to a play-in game largely because the Big Ten didn't put anyone in the 50-100 range of the RPI. Some of this is the Rutgers effect. (Thanks, Delany.) Rutgers was a mandatory anchor on every schedule in the league. But some of it is the fact that the league is playing far too many voluntary games against Rutgers equivalents.
I complain about this just about every year. Four years ago I put a post together titled "How To Schedule In College Basketball" after a selection controversy between Drexel and Iona. What leapt out at me was Michigan's nonconference SOS. It was objectively much tougher than either of those teams but when it came to numbers it was barely better than Drexel's miserable schedule and far worse than Iona's mediocre one.
This is because Michigan fills out the bottom of their schedule with the very dregs of college basketball. Jason Lisk:
Then, you look at the non-conference. Michigan played Xavier, NC State, Texas, Connecticut, and SMU. That’s more top quality games then most programs played. But, from December 12 to December 23, they also played Delaware State, Northern Kentucky, Youngstown State, and Bryant. They won them by an average of 40 points. Each of those teams is at 275 or below in the RPI. Those teams are collectively 28-90 against Division I teams, and play against other low level teams (that whole opponent’s opponent’s record thing).
That’s killing Michigan.
If you just took out two of those games, and replace them with home games against mid-level MAC teams like Eastern Michigan and Toledo, the RPI goes from 66 to 55. With just that change alone. Heck, even if they lost one of those games (and they would be heavy favorites at home), the RPI actually goes up slightly. That defies logic.
For years I'd assumed this was a Dave Brandon thing. Towson is cheaper than Richmond, end of story. After Brandon's departure it's clear that John Beilein is the guy lining up Delaware State (#348 in Kenpom) and Bryant (#345) because he doesn't want the slightest chance at a loss.
This hurts Michigan and the Big Ten because the chance Michigan loses to the #200 team is also negligible. For example, per Kenpom Michigan had a ~94% chance to beat then-#203 Minnesota when the teams played at Crisler in January. Despite the very small gulf in likely outcome between a game against a bad team and an awful one, the RPI assigns very different values to those games.
The committee does attempt to see through these flaws, but everything is framed by RPI. Your RPI. Your record against the top 50 and top 100 in RPI. Conference RPI. Gaming the system clearly works; Michigan is doing the exact opposite of that. It just about cost Michigan a bid this year. It's well past time for the school and the league to figure that out and exploit it.
Precisely, good sir. Harbaugh on Sankey's Think Of The Children campaign:
“I thought it was fake outrage. I thought it wasn’t really real,” Harbaugh told Mike & Mike when asked his reaction to their reaction. “The moral high ground of the sanctity of spring break, that’s what people chose to use as their moral stance? I thought it was fake. I thought it was fake outrage.”
January February Middle Tennessee April. Pat Forde in the aftermath of MSU getting Giddy Potts'd:
Here’s what might also have played a part in Middle Tennessee’s calm reaction to shocking the world: the Blue Raiders knew they were no 15 seed. That was a joke, and part of a major choke.
By Michigan State, yes. But also by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
All hail MTSU, which put Murfreesboro, Tenn., on the map Friday. Its 90-81 upset of the Spartans is one of eight all-time victories for a No. 15 seed over a No. 2 seed – but Middle Tennessee never should have been a 15.
That’s on the committee.
The facts that Forde marshals for his argument are ridiculous. One: the winner of CUSA has never been seeded that low. CUSA used to have Memphis in it. This version of the CUSA had zero top-100 Kenpom teams. Forde cites the fact that CUSA was the #21 league at that very site without considering the fact that teams are not leagues. MTSU was not even the best 15 seed per Kenpom—that would be Cal State Bakersfield. The only teams in the tournament rated lower than MTSU above the 15 line were a couple of 14s.
MTSU was off by a seed line at most, which they promptly demonstrated by getting hamblasted by Syracuse.
Well, yeah. Kyle Connor left Penn State in a state of disbelief:
"I’m a firm believer that Kyle Connor is the best player I’ve ever played against and I even told him that in the handshake line,” Goodwin told reporters after the game. …
“[Connor] does everything very, very quickly,” Guy Gadowsky told reporters. “It’s amazing how he just gets himself into such an offensive advantageous position. I think it’s just what you can’t really explain that just makes him so darn good.”
After a few years of struggle against PSU, Michigan put the hammer down in 2016. They scored at least six goals in each of the five games, culminating in 7-1, 6-1, and 6-2 demolitions.
I mean I guess I'm not surprised. No idea if CBC News has the inside scoop on Kyle Connor but I'm not exactly expecting him back next year, and neither are they:
The focus on him is certainly justified and if Connor decides to leave school once his season wraps up (no decision has been made in this regard, though it would be a shock if he chose to stay at Michigan), signs with the Jets and eventually settles into the NHL game at the level that's expected of him, then let the good times roll.
I would assume that comes from the Jets' camp and indicates they intend and expect to sign him. I always think NHL teams are shortsighted to do this because the CBA accelerates free agency for players under 20; grabbing a kid at 19 is removing a year of team control at 27. But nobody seems to care for whatever reason.
Hockey incoming. NTDP forward Will Lockwood draws notice from NHL draft expert Kyle Woodlief, who names him a rising prospect:
Will Lockwood (U.S. NTDP U-18) — Showed lots of speed and was buzzing all over the offensive zone at last month’s Five Nations tournament, where he was one of the best U.S. forwards.
Lockwood is one of seven scholarship skaters* Chris Heisenberg shows as committed to Michigan next year; they are scheduled to lose two guys to graduation. Even if Connor, Werenski, and Downing** are all signing there's quite a logjam. Michigan has eight D this year and is set to carry nine next year even minus Werenski and Downing; they'll add an extra forward as well.
*[F Lukas Samuelsson is also listed but Michigan did not acknowledge him when they announced their incoming class. Generally that means the player is a PWO.]
**[Ben Clymer and Random Verb Guy were talking about Werenski and Downing like they were both out the door to the NHL after this year. Werenski we all expect to go; Downing hasn't been talked about much. I'm guessing they got word from someone or another and were impolite enough to repeatedly reference it on the broadcast because they can't talk about gritty grit heart for literally the entire thing.]
Etc.: More satellite camps: Dallas and Waco are on the table, with the Waco event a stop at Baylor's camp. That company that runs the summer soccer friendlies briefly listed Chelsea versus Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium on July 30th; it's since been changed to TBA. Harbaugh clinic notes.
WELL MICHIGAN STATE LOST TO MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE. THAT WAS FUNNY.
[clears throat] and now on to the evening games:
7. Wisconsin – 10. Pitt (6:50, TNT)
In one of the better games of the day, Wisconsin takes on Pittsburgh in Greg Gard’s first game as the head coach of the Badgers. UW had been playing extremely well until the Big Ten Tournament, where they dropped a surprising L against Nebraska. Wisconsin is the type of team that can grind it out against Pitt: Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown, and Ethan Happ are a powerful front line, and all three can score from multiple places on the floor. Wisconsin’s calling card is still its impressive defense – the Badgers actually have allowed a very high % on opponents’ three-pointers, which would suggest that their defensive efficiency is weighed down by that randomness. It’s still kind of hard to get a grasp on Wisconsin because of their iffy guard play, but they should play better than they did against Nebraska.
Pitt was a middling team in the ACC this year, but between a good non-conference showing and a few solid wins in conference play (including three wins over former Big East rival Syracuse), they made it safely into the field. Contrary to what you’d expect from a Jaime Dixon team, Pitt is actually better on offense than they are on defense; predictably, their strength on the offensive end is derived from a strong collective offensive rebounding presence led by Michael Young and Sheldon Jeter in the frontcourt. The Panthers’ best offensive option is swingman Jamel Artis, though Young is definitely an able sidekick.
As far as 7/10 games go, this one is pretty even – Kenpom gives Wisconsin a 56% chance of advancing to the next round to (probably) face Xavier.
[After the JUMP: the rest of the 1st round]
A deep ball! In the wild! This is a very exciting development.
[Hit THE JUMP for much more of that, as well as plenty of Harbaugh and a surprise battle for #1.]
Old timey. Railroads were efficient back in the day.
— Michigan's Past (@MichiganHist) August 6, 2014
That's less time than it takes by car, isn't it?
Don't hit ladies. But the shirt. Greg Oden was arrested for battery. The mugshot:
JMFJ available for hockey type activties. If you're not doing anything tomorrow, Yost is hosting a charity event featuring Jack Johnson:
Come out and play with (or against!) NHL Star, Olympic Silver Medalist, and U of M alum Jack Johnson as he and Justin Spiro renew their on-ice rivalry in Johnson's collegiate barn, the world famous Yost Ice Arena!!!
The game formerly known as the "Spiro/Johnson Ice Bowl" has been renamed to honor the memory of Andrew Michael Singler. The two squads will compete for the inaugural and already very prestigious Singler Cup.
ALL ages and skill levels are welcome, as this "fierce" exhibition has seen men as old as 65 and boys as young as 10 scoring key goals. Spiro is commonly regarded as the worst skater on the planet, so don't be shy!
Cost is $20 per player, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Andrew Singler Stay Strong Foundation (http://singlerstaystrongfoundation.com/).
You should try to check him and then you'll have a story about how you broke your neck doing something stupid.
One good, one not so much. Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin participated in the Adidas Nations thing recently. Walton looks ready to step forward and become a primary option:
- Derrick Walton Jr. had a good day running the show for his team.
On Friday Walton was very good with regards to distributing the basketball, making sound decisions in the pick-and-roll game and getting his teammates the ball where they were best positioned to enjoy success. One of the beneficiaries was teammate Zak Irvin, who knocked down multiple jump shots on the tail end of those Walton passes. With an eye towards next season, this weekend will be good for the two Wolverines as they (along with Caris LeVert) are the ones best positioned for a breakout 2014-15.
But over the course of the camp, Irvin didn't show that his game had expanded much:
Zak Irvin (Michigan): …didn’t appear to be much better than when I last saw him in Indianapolis during the Sweet 16/Elite Eight weekend. Irvin can still perform as a catch-and-shoot player, but after losing Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Irvin needs to step up this season and do more off-the-bounce. That didn’t happen at adidas Nations. Irvin struggled with two-dribble pull-ups and was stripped multiple times while trying to drive to the basket. Still plenty of time before November, but Irvin doesn’t look much better than last season. (SP)
He was not much of a slasher even in high school, preferring to take those midrange pull-ups when he wasn't taking threes. And as we've mentioned several times before, Irvin was far more in the Just A Shooter category than Stauskas was during their respective freshman years. He should diversify a bit; he is still going to be a guy who mostly has shots created for him. With Walton and LeVert around that shouldn't be a huge problem. I might even prefer it if Irvin focused more on his defense, which has the potential to be really good, than expanding his offensive game. Michigan could use a lockdown perimeter defender more than they need another guy to get to the basket.
This should be more fun. I forgot to put this in the last one:
— David Harns (@isportsDave) August 5, 2014
"Acurate" is not a good word to misspell, but inserting an unnecessary and incorrect "whereas" is the hallmark of someone who learned to write by expanding a one page paper to five by inserting meaningless jibberish endlessly.
Yes, yes, MSU fans, scoreboard. Just don't say anything other than "oh no, not again" when Duncan Robinson signs on here rather soon. Then we are good.
All of the other ESPNs are full of Tebow. The lineup of basketball's nonconference tourney has been announced, and one thing in particular jumps off the page:
VCU vs. Villanova, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Michigan vs. Oregon, 9 p.m. (ESPN3)
ESPN3? You have an early-season matchup between an Elite 8 team and an outfit that got to the second round of last year's tourney and that doesn't even warrant placement on ESPNU? I'm not mad, I'm impressed, actually I'm a little mad.
Michigan's "opening round" opponents will be Bucknell and Detroit; both are middling mid-majors. Bucknell was 11-7 in the Patriot league last year, Detroit 6-10 in the Horizon. These are the kind of teams Michigan should be scheduling instead of New Jersey Tech or whatever: respectable, beatable.
As a bonus, Detroit has a couple of interesting names. Juwan Howard Jr is Yes That Juwan Howard's son; Carlton Brundidge spent a year at Michigan before looking for a place he was more likely to play. He got about 20 minutes a game last year for the Titans, shooting 67/44/28.
A couple of hockey departures. Defensemen Spencer Hyman and Mike Szuma are no longer with the team. Hyman will play at Toronto. Szuma is still enrolled. Both were walk-ons; Szuma got 30 games two years ago as Michigan tried to fill some big holes on their blue line but did not play last year.
With Werenski's early entry there are still ten(!) defensemen on the roster, so impact should be minimal. I mean, you can fill out a line chart like so:
- Lohan-De Jong
And you've still got Cutler Martin, Sam Piazza, Mike Chiasson, and Niko Porikos scratched. I don't think I've ever seen a hockey roster with this many dudes on it.
Yup. The current student government president on the athletic department's advisory council:
While this advisory council is a big step forward, it also takes a leap back. These twenty students are handpicked by the Athletic Department based off one's class standing, twitter handle (optional), and the answer to two questions. The questions are: "Why do you want to be a part of the Football Student Advisory Council" and "What is your favorite Michigan Athletics memory?". Oh, and you have to be a season ticket holder. This is problematic for two reasons. The first is that this puts a price on a students' ability to give feedback and make a change. The second is that while students are given more of a voice, it is the AD that is picking the students, not the students themselves. This means that the AD could very easily pick a group of "yes men", take a policy to this group and then say they consulted the students on a policy change.
That is almost certainly going to happen given the way the department has been run the last few years. CYA CYA CYA.
Is this a good thing for you? One of the more laughable quotes from Big Ten Media Days came from Pat Fitzgerald:
"You've got to go win," Fitzgerald said Tuesday. "Finally! You've got to go win. No longer can you have a traditional name behind you and four coaches with statues in front of the stadium and 90,000 people every week and you're automatically going to be ranked ... in the top 20.
"That football side now matters."
Even if the first bit was accurate, the Big Ten was and is the major beneficiary of that tendency. SEC teams win and the other conferences don't have the same lucrative fanbases. And then there's the fact that the first bit is not accurate. The football side "now matters." Okay. Alabama's just around because of statues.
If he's talking about Northwestern specifically, the only team even vaguely eligible for BCS consideration since the Wildcats went to the Rose Bowl was 2012, when Northwestern went 9-3 in the regular season without beating a ranked opponent or even playing one ranked higher than #24 by year's end. The system made the correct call to dump NW into the Gator Bowl.
Etc.: DJ Wilson will not play on Michigan's Italian trip after surgery on a finger, should be fine by the time the season rolls around. Matt Hinton lands at Grantland. I'm not even going to talk about Brandon's radio appearance today. Yeah!
Seeing Denard grimace and swear is akin to seeing Santa remove his fake beard and take a long pull from a flask. Something's gone horribly wrong and perhaps it's time you stopped believing in certain things—like the possibility of a Big Ten title or the existence of Santa Claus.
[After THE JUMP: More cursing! More sadness! But also basketball!]
This guy lost a bet. Don't gamble, kids.
Also a lost bet. A love poem to Tommy Rees from a Notre Dame fan.
The girls of St. Mary’s pray at your knees
Because you are not just Tommy Rees
You are QB1
Equal to the likes of Montana and Theismann and Stuhldreher
A symbol, a winner, an icon
Your droopy eyes, not of a stoner, but a leader
One who studies play books until 4 a.m.
A senior who now neglects parties and cops’ groins
You will now prevail
Don't gamble, kids.
The Harmon thing. Do be awesome, though.
Blowing the coverage open. One Foot Down talks about what went wrong for Notre Dame on the long Gallon touchdown.
Long story short, when Michigan motioned Funchess across the formation ND changed their coverage and freshman Jaylon Smith didn't change his despite changing his alignment in a way that suggested he got the call. He followed Funchess into the flat, opening up Gallon for a catch and run.
Not sure if that was specifically designed to test Smith's understanding of his checks, but that's what it did. It is a great example of the kind of things motion can do to a defense: you're testing their ability to adjust at little cost to yourself.
In other film business, Space Coyote takes a look at how Michigan got beat up on the DL when the Irish ran. I mostly agree, but he's a little harsh to Morgan in one instance. I thought the DL play in front of him opened up a cutback lane he had to fill.
Beyer ends up way upfield and Black tries to rip inside of the right guard, so there's a massive backside lane. Once it's clear the back isn't taking it he can't scrape because Wormley got blown up. Thus the crease. Morgan's in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.
None of this is particularly surprising with six in the box and no nose tackles on the field. I do wonder why Pipkins didn't get more playing time, as he seemed to do well with the snaps he got and there's no way he'd get as blown up as Wormley did on a couple of those plays.
Space Coyote also has a post at his own site on the passing combos that got Fitzgerald Toussaint open for that critical swing route and saw Dileo shake himself open for the final touchdown.
Stick a fork in an outlet. MSU running back Nick Hill:
“I think we’re very close to just being the electric offense we were in 2010, 2011,” Hill told the Spartan Sports Network. “Obviously, we struggled a little bit last year, but we’re right there. And I noticed it when we went through summer conditioning going into fall camp that the pieces are there, the players are there.”
Michigan State starts walk-ons at tight end and right tackle, has the worst receiving corps in the league, and is currently starting Connor Cook because pretending he's Denard Robinson is their best option. Nick Hill may have depth perception issues.
Injuries. AJ Williams is "questionable" and Courtney Avery still limited. I bet we don't see much of either this weekend—why risk it—but it sounds like Williams will be ready to go by the time Big Ten play rolls around. Gallon says he's fine.
In future opponent injury news, Minnesota loses spectacularly-named starting corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun for the year with an ACL tear. Kill said he was their best cornerback, so that's a blow. Jeremy Gallon cackles madly.
More Legends Jersey proposals. From HSR:
4). Jareth Glanda | #54 | Michigan LS 2010-2013
Move anonymously through two whole seasons of football without having your name mentioned, then catch a pass for a first down on a broken play during a bowl game.
Anyone who fumbles ten snaps should be given a red 15 patch reading Mallett.
Etc.: The House Rock Built's UFR of the fourth quarter is slightly different from mine, but spiritually the same. The Daily profiles Taylor Lewan.
FL C commit Ricky Doyle picks up a fourth star from ESPN, is now just outside their top 100. Practice video is a lot more exciting before the season. Fixing the NCAA rule book. New throwy-sticky ball turf. Michigan offers combo guard Donte Grantham. Adidas alternates worn by Arkansas State draw 15-yard penalties at the beginning of each half. A final look at ND.