notre dame is brian boitano time
This was a good idea. Also omigod #23 is Carlton Brundidge; I totally forgot that. [Fuller]
Nothing we can do about Michigan basketball's crappy nonconference schedule, but I asked the MGoCrew who they'd play in a home and home.
|*Cuse plays Charlotte (261st) in the first round.|
Ace: Michigan's non-conference schedule outside of Xavier and the Battle for Atlantis tournament—admittedly some strong competition—is woefully bad. Xavier is the only non-conference home opponent ranked within the top 240(!) teams on KenPom. While you want to schedule some easy wins, that's taking the concept to an extreme while sacrificing both RPI standing and fan interest; games against Houston Baptist and Delaware State aren't exactly big draws.
I'd love to see the Wolverines rekindle a local series against a team that's still quite beatable but at least has a pulse: Oakland. The Grizzlies tend to be ranked in the 150 range on KenPom—they're 160th this preseason—and John Beilein went 4-0 against them from 2008-2012, playing those games either at Crisler or The Palace. They're seemingly the perfect level of opponent; they hung within 20 points of Michigan in each of those games but never came closer than ten points in the final score. Their coach, Greg Kampe, still very much wants to play the series. They're local. They play MSU on a near-annual basis. It makes almost too much sense from both a resumé and fan interest standpoint—I'd so much rather watch Michigan take on Oakland or Detroit than some bottom-feeder from outside the Midwest, and I'm sure I'm not alone there.
[After the JUMP: if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.]
Mmmm, sacrilicious. Notre Dame youtube music, you say? I've got my schaden-stick at the ready.
This is way less bad than Freekbass, at least?
Also in Notre Dame. Goodbye, Lou Holtz.
SI.com learned over the weekend that ESPN has parted ways with Lou Holtz, who had been a college football studio analyst with the network since 2004 and worked most notably with host Rece Davis and analyst Mark May on ESPN’s Saturday College Football Final pregame, halftime and postgame studio coverage. Holtz was also a regular contributor to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. The decision, according to sources, was closer to a mutual agreement between the parties than Holtz getting forced out.
Holtz wasn't exactly good. Once you accepted the fact that he was not there to provide serious analysis but rather to do magic tricks and babble incoherently, though, he was reliably entertaining. That's something you can't say for a lot of television "personalities." He was kind of like Dan LeBatard's dad for college football. I'm not going to actually miss him but since ESPN is 50/50 to replace the Rece Davis/Holtz/Mark May combo with three clones of Craig James I have real trepidation here.
Um, okay? Bizarre sequence of events in basketball recruiting: Shaka Smart takes the Texas job, so top-100 combo guard recruit Kenny Williams asks out of his letter of intent. In the immediate aftermath seven Crystal Ball predictions come in, six of them for Michigan. (The other: Georgetown.) Actual recruiting expert Jerry Meyer is amongst them, and both Rivals and Scout follow up with reporting on it that suggests it is not a fever dream. Georgetown's 247 guy thinks it's M and their Duke guys are somehow insistent on it.
One problem, of course: Michigan has a full roster unless Hatch goes on medical or Caris LeVert decides on the NBA draft, something that doesn't seem to be likely at the moment. And they're already really deep at guard. And they were not involved with the kid before his VCU commitment. And everybody says he committed to the Rams because he wanted to stay close to home in Virginia, which is why he doesn't seem interested in following Smart to Texas. Michigan isn't close to Virginia. And Williams does not currently have a scholarship offer. This is really several problems.
But apparently it might happen? Williams, depending on who you ask and when you asked him, is a 6'2" to 6'4" shooting guard with one of the best strokes in the country. Beilein was just down to watch him play at a tournament, so there's a concrete indicator the interest there is mutual.
A way in which it might make a little more sense. Derryck Thornton's dad has told a few people that Spike Albrecht might end up redshirting after his hip surgeries this offseason. Albrecht has one complete and one to go; the recovery timetable of 4-5 months seemed to give him a month or two to get back in the swing of things before the season.
I have a solution for your problem. NBA owner Mark Cuban bitching about college basketball:
The "horrible" state of college basketball is hurting the NBA, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said.
Cuban said he doesn't enjoy watching the college game, but his bigger concern is that the physical, slow-down style that has become common in the NCAA results in prospects who are poorly prepared to jump to the NBA.
"If they want to keep kids in school and keep them from being pro players, they're doing it the exact right way by having the 35-second shot clock and having the game look and officiated the way it is," Cuban said Wednesday night. "Just because kids don't know how to play a full game of basketball.
"You've got three kids passing on the perimeter. With 10 seconds on the shot clock, they try to make something happen and two other kids stand around. They don't look for anything and then run back on defense, so there's no transition game because two out of five or three out of five or in some cases four out of five kids aren't involved in the play.
"It's uglier than ugly, and it's evidenced by the scoring going down. When the NBA went through that, we changed things."
If college basketball is hurting the NBA so badly, it's the NBA's fault for instituting one-and-done. And that characterization of college offense coming from the land of hero-ball and isolations is even more nuts.
Yes, teams emphasize getting back in transition. I'd like someone try to find a rule change for that.
Again, there is no scoring crisis, very little has changed in the last decade of college basketball, people are
yelling pointlessly about a fractional dip in pace caused by fewer turnovers and more transition D that has actually seen offensive efficiency increase slightly over the past thirteen years. If you want to chop the shot clock to 30, fine. That will magically fix all of our problems, because there aren't any.
We just had five excellent offensive performances and Michigan State in the Final Four. Kentucky acquired 1.1 points per possession and lost by seven. And the bitching will continue because… Penn State, I guess?
A bit more on Alabama's pursuit and dismissal of Difficulties Guy. Holly Anderson writes about it, and hits the nail on the head:
Did Alabama consider the risks of bringing Jonathan Taylor to Tuscaloosa, and decide they merited his inclusion on the team? Or did Alabama never need to care about the risks at all?
Right now, it’s the only explanation that makes sense. What risk was there, really, to the program? This sport shifts glacially, and won’t change in time to adversely affect the careers of anyone who had a hand in this decision, or others like it. Neither the Crimson Tide’s recruiting nor their 2015 win-loss record will suffer. It seems most likely that they didn’t properly consider the admission decision, because they had no real need to. Because this little media conflagration that has unfolded over the past couple of days is Alabama’s worst-case scenario for a repeat assault allegation against Taylor: to be yelled at for a little bit.
Real consequences don't exist. The fanbase isn't going to deliver them (and I doubt many, if any, would). The SEC isn't. The NCAA isn't. Recruits and their parents aren't—recruits and their parents have been signing their kids up for Alabama's annual oversigning happily. The media will rattle a saber for a bit and rival fans get a bit of ammunition, and that's it. The end.
Etc.: Now that it's official I plan some passing game UFRs for Rudock; for now here's his game against Wisconsin, which was terrific. (He had some not very terrific games.) Wisconsin set to leave Adidas for UA. Urban Meyer has not pleased Jamal Dean's high school coach after declaring Dean not medically cleared.
NOTRE DAME IS BRIAN BOITANO TIME
|WHAT||Michigan at Notre Dame|
|WHERE||Compton Ice Arena|
|WHEN||7:35 PM Friday/Saturday|
|LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TV||Friday: NBC Sports (nee Versus)
Sunday: CBS Sports
Record. 13-8-2, 8-5-3 CCHA. The Irish have been a slight disappointment after entering the year conference co-favorites with Miami. They are still in good position to make the tournament and have a shot at the league, so the emphasis is on "slight." Most of the disappointment came last weekend.
ND split with national #1 UMD to open the year and has wins over tourney-bound BU and Minnesota in their nonconference schedule; a sweep at the hands of Northeastern (one a 9-2 loss!) is their major blemish on the year. Their CCHA record is basically eh; last weekend they were swept by Western Michigan in a series that put the Broncos into the kinda-sorta league lead, depending on which metric you're relying on.
The upcoming series is a critical fight for not only home ice in the second round but a first round bye, tourney positioning, etc. It's a big deal.
Previous meetings. None this year.
Dangermen. The names should be familiar to you as ND returned virtually all of its important personnel from last year. Sophomore TJ Tynan leads the team with 31 points; he is the team's main playmaker with 22 assists. At 5'8", he is also from leprechaun central casting.
Swede Andres Lee is the main beneficiary with his 14-8-22. Hunwick on those two:
“T.J. Tynes and Andres Lee are probably the two most talented forwards in the league if not the whole country,” said Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick. “Those two can put the puck in the net.”
Insert sighs about Michigan having neither a magic midget nor a Swede on this year's team. Ah, swedes and magic midgets.
Red Wings draftee Riley Sheahan has 7-14-21. Sheahan will miss the Friday night game on a suspension, which is a stroke of luck. Past the top line, senior Billy Maday has 6-12-18, freshman Austin Wuthrich has 5-6-12, and then it's a bunch of defensemen with generic "I make a lot of second assist" lines and the 9-7-6-5 point levels that populate CCHA second and third lines this year. This would be a nice spot for Michigan's killer checking line from last year, but alas. They are no longer extant.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Junior Mike Johnson and sophomore Steven Summerhays are splitting time like they did last year. Also like last year, whoever's in goal is a liability. Johnson managed a .904 last year in 36 games; Summerhays's 12 saw him post an ugly .863. This year the games are closer to even because Johnson's save percentage has dropped to .887; Summerhays is better than last year but still under the .900 Mendoza line. I mean, yeesh:
their goaltenders are 62nd and 67th out of 76 qualifying goalies in save percentage.
On defense, Notre Dame has a lot of draft picks but not much production. They get a few goals here and there; no one has a notable scoring line and given the goalie results it's probable they are selling their guys out somewhat. Blackhawks draft pick Stephen Johns is the most hyped but is averaging almost a penalty a game.
Michigan seems to have a huge advantage here with Hunwick's .925 and half-goal-per-game advantage over the Irish tandem; most of that .925 was compiled without the aid of Jon Merrill.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.0||3.8|
|PP Ag / G||3.8||4.1|
[Note: I am all but certain that I screwed up the chart last week. Lo siento.]
This will be a major battle. Michigan's power play was better last weekend, robbed of a goal when Treais scored two seconds after an OSU penalty expired and generally more lively than it had been in a while. Statistically it's still a debacle. Michigan dropped another slot to a 45th-place tie (with Miami of all schools). ND's penalty kill is mediocre—more evidence those goalies are an issue—but still better than the Michigan PP. Merrill is of course the wildcard.
The inverse matchup is not much more promising. ND is converting 21% of its opportunities, which is about 75th percentile nationally. Michigan's PK is improving slowly but still 36th.
With ND's clear advantage in drawing penalties, this is a deficit that probably will be the difference in a Michigan loss. Sample size, etc.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Don't get fancy. Against these save percentages the play is to throw it at the dude and see if he gives up a softie or a bad rebound, whereupon your net-crashing may be able to pick up a goal or two. At some point the top line's monster run has to end… but this doesn't seem like the game. Throw it at these goalies and it seems like reward is probable when you're all big dudes who can pound the front of the net.
Check that top line, especially Friday. I'm not sure how Michigan will match up with Tynan, et al, but as with many CCHA teams it seems like scoring is restricted to fluky stuff once you get past the top line. Michigan's sudden defensive depth should help here.
Third defensive pairing: get it out. It seemed like the majority of scary Ohio State shifts came when Clare and Chiasson could not clear the puck out the zone. Notre Dame has last change and may at times be able to get that top line out against the panicky third pairing.
Don't lose special teams. Winning seems like a tall order. Staying even with ND would be excellent; Michigan is an outstanding 5x5 hockey team at this point.
The Big Picture
The situation hasn't changed since the game column on Monday: Michigan is fifth in the pairwise and can either move towards a one-seed, tread water, or move back towards the bubble.
In terms of the league, It's hard to figure out who's where in the CCHA what with all the shootouts and three-point games and games in hand. Inspired by an Oilers blog that does this for the NHL, here is the CCHA presented baseball-style:
Western Michigan has a slight advantage over OSU and then there is a ravenous pack of five teams separated by less than a game with Miami and NMU a game behind that. First-round byes go to the top five and second-round home series go to the top four.
A sweep either way provides clarity; a split further promotes the league's incredible quagmire.
Yost Built on the renovations, which disappointingly contain no mention of a giant floating Yost head. Also provided is Tim's version of the ND preview. Michigan Hockey Net's weekly recruiting update notes that 2013 commits JT Compher and Tyler Motte are 1-2 on the NTDP U17 team in scoring. Evan Allen is ninth. Jacob Trouba continues annihilating the opposition. Compher is profiled by MaxPreps.