fair point that
2012/2013 Michigan Basketball
So the pic on the front page, now attributed to Melanie Maxwell, seemed like it needed better captions than just welp X 4. So I did this instead.
And yes, the colors on Trey's text blurb are the acceptable Michigan hues.
It's been discussed on here whether Morgan or McGary should start (when both were healthy). In Morgan's absence, I think we can all agree Morgan is the starter and was extremely undervalued for his defensive prowess.
Now, Caris is stealing away Stauskas's minutes and stepped up big time after the injury that Nik had early in the game. There's no doubt that Stauskas has been a liability on defense and offensively seems to be in a bit of a slump as well.
So, If you're Beilein, who do you start against Purdue (assuming Stauskas is healthy)? I love Caris coming in off the bench, but it seems to me he has really stepped it up on defense. Stauskas played horrible helpside defense against MSU and was responsible for 2 easy baskets they had early in the game. So if I'm Beilein, I start LeVert over Stauskas.
Take four of a look at the remaining schedules:
This is long... if that's not for you you will dislike this...
Who has the hardest schedule?:
Below are the remaining schedules:
(Note: Below the game are my predicted odds of a victory)
|GAME 15||GAME 16||GAME 17||GAME 18|
|INDIANA||@ MINNESOTA||IOWA||OHIO ST||@ MICHIGAN|
|MICHIGAN ST||N/A||@ MICHIGAN||WISCONSIN||NORTHWESTERN|
|MICHIGAN||@ PENN ST||MICHIGAN ST||@ PURDUE||INDIANA|
|WISCONSIN||NEBRASKA||PURDUE||@ MICHIGAN ST||@ PENN ST|
|OHIO ST||N/A||@ NORTHWESTERN||@ INDIANA||ILLINOIS|
Last time I started something new by associating a score with each team. The higher the score the harder the opponent is. Since there are 12 teams in the Big Ten the top team gets 12 points, and the lowest team gets 1 point. Any tie ranking all teams get the highest possible rank (both Michigan and Wisconsin are the 3rdhardest team). Below is that ranking.
Teams get a bonus three points for playing on the road- so Michigan’s score for an opponent rises by three if the game is in Ann Arbor. Below are the point rankings for each teams remaining schedule- included is an average ranking since two teams have three games left, and three have four:
|Game 15||Game 16||Game 17||Game 18||Total||Average|
Wisconsin has the easiest schedule left- but they play at MSU- so I do believe they are very likely to still lose a game. The rest of the schedules are pretty similar. And even though Michigan's schedule is tough- that is a good thing since we need to beat the top teams to have a good shot at a championship- and the games are at home- so that is good.
Below is a more traditional look at the remaining schedules:
|RD||HM||Vs. Top-5||Vs. Mid-4||Vs. Bot-3|
Northwestern has joined Nebraska and Penn St as bottom teams- it's hard not to feel bad for Northwestern...
Thoughts on remaining teams:
Indiana: Huge win against MSU- now they are very much in the drivers seat. If they escape in Minnesota they have two home games- which should be wins despite being tough. If they don't lose before Michigan they win the conference- if they have one loss before Michigan that game become enormous. If they lose twice before Michigan that game becomes incredibly enormous. I think they should win all the games before Michigan- but tbeing a favorite in all three games doesn't mean that it is very likely. I think Minnesota and OSU have a 1/4 chance of winning, and Iowa is a long shot. Let's hope they lose at least one.
Michigan State: Thank god for that OSU game! MSU is tied with us in the loss column and play us at home. If they finish ahead of us they really earned it- but they quickly went from co-favorites to being in a very tough position. Northwestern should be an easy win, but Wisconsin could also give them trouble. I may be optomistic giving them 50% chance of winning in AA given their beat-down of us before- but it looks like they will come in on the slide as we are coming in after sorting some issues out.
Michigan: Glad other teams have their tough stretches to end the year. The two road games, PSU and Purdue are must wins (as are all games) and road must-wins are never easy... The big game is obviously MSU. Let's hope the game in EL was a low-point, because MSU losses have made it so that we have a great chance to leap-frog our in-state rival coming up.
Wisconsin: Their schedule is very easy compared to the other 4 teams. Home games against Nebraska and Purdue should be wins (although Purdue could be tough), and at PSU shouldn't be an issue. The game at MSU is huge. If they win they should have a decent chance at a co-champ situation, if they lose all hope is likely lost.
Ohio State: Thanks for MSU! With 5-losses they need a lot of luck, so they have very little chance of getting a co-championship. Essentially they have to hope Wiscy loses to MSU, and then MSU loses to Michigan, while Michigan beats Indiana, while Indiana also loses two other games. Seem unlikely? Well so are their title hopes...
|16-2||15-3||14-4||13-5||12-6 or Worse|
Michigan still needs some luck! It is Indiana's title to lose. At least we have Indiana and MSU at home- if we win both all we need is for Indiana to lose another game (which may not be probable- but is certainly not crazy). Given our huge loss to MSU they still have an edge over us- so lets hope we protect Crisler! Wisconsin is in similar shape to us- except playing at MSU they have harder odds despite easier other games. OSU needs to much luck...
Take three of a look at the remaining schedules:
This is long... if that's not for you you will dislike this...
I may have screwed up the 6-7 order- it is unclear if 2-2 is better than 1-1 given the description- but that is not too important...
Who has the hardest schedule?:
I decided to try something new here and associate a score with each team. The higher the score the harder the opponent is. Since there are 12 teams in the Big Ten the top team gets 12 points, and the lowest team gets 1 point. Any tie ranking all teams get the highest possible rank (both MSU and Indiana are “top team” in this ranking). Below is that ranking.
Next I determined that a road game should adjust the rankings. A team’s road score is their regular score +3. I settled on 3 arbitrarily because it seemed like the best fit. Michigan and Wisconsin on the road seem barely harder than Indiana or Michigan State at home, while Minnesota/Illinois/Iowa on the road seem to be about the same strength as Wisconsin or Michigan at home. This is definitely quite subjective choosing three points- but it is simple. Some teams are much stronger at home and you could argue deserve and even bigger bump than three, while some play at relatively similar strength home or away. Perhaps Indiana and Michigan State should be +5 on the road because beating a top-10 team on the road is so difficult, while Penn State still is relatively terrible at home…. Anyway, I settled on three!
Below is each of the top-5 teams remaining schedules. Below each opponent is the regular score and advanced score. The regular score does not adjust for home/away, while the advanced score adds 3 points for each away game. If you don’t like the advanced score- disregard it.
|GAME 14||GAME 15||GAME 16||GAME 17||GAME 18||TOTAL|
|INDIANA||@MICHIGAN ST||@MINNESOTA||IOWA||OHIO ST||@MICHIGAN|
|MICHIGAN ST||INDIANA||@OHIO ST||@MICHIGAN||WISCONSIN||NW|
|OHIO ST||MINNESOTA||MICHIGAN ST||@NW||@INDIANA||ILLINOIS|
To show you a little bit easier I order the schedules from hardest to easiest below:
Those numbers seem about right- Wisconsin has it pretty easy, Michigan not too bad, and the rest have it pretty rough...
Next I looked more traditionally at the remaining schedules- looking at: the number of home games compared to road games, the number of games vs top-5 teams (note: all parenthesis show home games, road games), the number of games vs the middle-5 teams, and finally the games vs Nebraska and Penn State. Perhaps it’s not the best split with 5/5/2- arguments could be made to put the split at several points but that’s what I chose (mostly because the first two versions used those splits).
|Home Games||Road Games||Vs. Top-5||Vs. Mid-5||Vs. Bot-2|
|Indiana||2||3||3 (1,2)||2 (1,1)||0|
|Michigan St||3||2||4 (2,2)||1 (1,0)||0|
|Wisconsin||2||3||1 (0,1)||2 (1,1)||2 (1,1)|
|Michigan||3||2||2 (2,0)||2 (1,1)||1 (0,1)|
|Ohio State||3||2||2 (1,1)||3 (2,1)||0|
Enough data/tables… onto opinion:
Indiana has the hardest schedule left. They play fewer home games than everyone but Wisconsin, and only two of their opponents are not fellow top-5 teams-one team is Iowa, who has been playing very well and has lost several very close games, and the other is at Minnesota. They have no easy games left and each game is “losable” to some degree. If you told me Indiana lost any of those games I would not be shocked- and that is not a good way to end the season. Obviously the most important game is at Michigan State coming up. MSU gets the edge at home- which means Indiana will have to pull an upset to be number 1. At Minnesota will be tough, and Iowa at home could be a sleeper game if they get caught looking ahead. They wrap up at home against OSU which will essentially be a must-win with a road game in Ann Arbor wrapping up the season. It’s hard to imagine the final game not determining the champion in some fashion. If Indiana beats MSU that final game could be sole possession of first- if not it will determine who will be champion in some way with Michigan hopefully having a shot for a co-championship in that game.
The second toughest schedule according to the point systems. Looking at the traditional details it looks just as hard as Indiana however. Only one game is not against a top-5 team and that is the final game at home against Northwestern. That last game could determine the championship as well. It’s hard to imagine them not losing at least one game. Indiana at home coming up next is huge (covered above) and then OSU and Michigan on the road will be daunting. OSU is a little hard to figure out, and they beat down Michigan in EL, so these games may play out to be less challenging than they may appear. If they lose to Indiana they have to win-out at home and at least split those road games to still feel comfortable- if they beat Indiana a split in the road games becomes easier to swallow- but both of those situations assume a win against Wisconsin which will not be easy either.
No matter how you slice it their remaining schedule is incredibly easy. They play the 4 lowest teams in the conference, and while they play NW and PSU on the road neither of those should be games they should lose. They play at home against Nebraska and Purdue- and both of those should be wins. Purdue is probably the only game that will be a serious challenge other than Michigan State. With 4 losses the MSU game is a must-win (as are all their games). On the road they are not favored to win, but if they pull it off they have to hope MSU loses at least one other game, and Indiana also loses 2. If they beat MSU and take care of the games they should it is not too unlikely they have a shot at being co-champs. (Writing that made me throw-up a little…)
As is the case with Wisconsin Michigan needs to win out. Indiana on the road was close, and then we fought out a win against OSU, before the two most frustrating games all year in Madison and EL. Let’s hope more spacing of games and an easier schedule (particularly compared to what we just went through) will allow us to get back to top-form. A lot of questions remain: were we significantly overrated before? Will Morgan be at full strength? Will the freshman be able to step-it-up? Are Indiana, and particularly Michigan State, a clear step-up from us? Is this team on the rebound- or are we still slumping? Have teams played great games against us- or is our defense underperforming and is that just foolish optimism?
The answers to those questions will come in time- that is, unless we lose to Illinois or at Penn State. Both games should be wins- and if we lose either of those games our chance for a championship erode- and our stock will be sliding fast. If we get through those games we still likely need to win out. Last analysis I said I expected a loss at MSU and that we could be said to be favored the rest of the way. Our play at EL changed that outlook significantly. MSU in Ann Arbor will be very intense- and if we win we have a good shot- if we lose it’s all over for co-champ talk most likely. Plus, if we lose, MSU will very possibly go into the last week looking like favorites- a lot will be at stake. Most fans, and presumably the team, will be looking to show that the game in EL was a terrible hiccup; otherwise that game will possibly be a very low point of the season. If we do beat MSU, and took care of business against Illinois and PSU we have a sleeper game at Purdue (who last year cost us an outright title by being the only home loss) before closing against Indiana at home. Worst case, we lost to MSU (and maybe even one of the other three games) and play Indiana with no-chance to win a title- and they show us that they, and MSU, are the class of the conference. Best-case, we took care of business, righted the ship against MSU, and play at home against Indiana for a chance for being co-champs. If that is the case we will have only lost at home once in the last two years, have lots of momentum, and have a good chance to beat Indiana- let’s hope that last scenario plays out!
With five-losses OSU has almost no-chance. It is hard to imagine both Indiana and MSU losing three times, and Wisconsin’s schedule looks like they will be at worst a 5-loss team meaning OSU has essentially no chance at being an outright champ- and almost no chance of a co-championship. Plus, they have to play at Indiana and home against MSU. Although, if you need to make up ground you want to play the teams you need to lose. Minnesota at home, their next game, will be a challenge, and at Northwestern could be a sleeper game. Most likely they end the year a game (or likely more) out- and the last game at Illinois will matter for seeding and if Illinois makes the dance.
I think we are looking at co-champs at 14-4. Who those teams are is very hard to say. Indiana will likely lose at MSU, and hopefully at Michigan as well. At Minnesota, Iowa, and OSU will all be a challenge too- so even if they only lose one of the first games mentioned there is still a good shot they lose one of those.
Michigan State I think has the best chance because they play Indiana at home. I think they are better than OSU and Michigan but will struggle to win both of those games, and may lose both. After that they should beat Wisconsin and NW. I think they have the best chance to go 15-3 and be alone on top of the charts. It really comes down to whether or not we can beat them, in my opinion.
Wisconsin lucked into the easiest schedule to end the year. Luckily for every other fan-base they should lose to MSU- and it’s hard to see 13-5 cutting it. If they pull the upset- they have the four bottom teams left- let’s hope they slip up in one of those- because who wants to see Wisconsin win the championsip….
Michigan has long odds. Granted I projected them losing to MSU and being in good shape last time, the nature of the last few weeks make it tough to be too optimistic at this point. MSU and Indiana at home are very, very tough. But if we want to be champs we need them to lose- so it’s good we play them- and good it is at home for both. Illinois at home could be tough if we play like we have been also. Let’s hope that we can show up and protect the home-court- because we need to!
Ohio State is too far out…
What I said above in nice simple, very subjective number form:
|16 - 2||15 - 3||14 - 4||13 - 5||12 - 6 or Worse|
Hope everyone liked it!
After the Wisconsin and MSU loses I made comments about the attitude and will of Michigan’s basketball team. Even Dan Dakich (yes, who we all dislike) went on and on about Michigan’s lack of it during the MSU game. Sadly, he was right. Building on Ace’s piece the other day, there are a few pain points from the past four (I’m actually going to include the NW game as well, because 5 is more than 4) games which I thought I would focus on.
FREE THROW ATTEMPTS
One of the best stories I ever heard was from a former NBA star talking about Larry Bird. He said he was one of the very few players who could dominate a game while only taking 10 – 12 shots. He would make 8 or 9 shots with a couple from three. And the rest would come from free throws. I checked it out and indeed Bird averaged 5 free throw attempts per game throughout his career.
Here’s Michigan’s free throw attempts from the past five games. I’m only looking at the five highest players in minutes played due to the smaller rotation with Morgan out.
Keep in mind, that’s attempts, from the 5 primary ball handlers. In the biggest games of the year. Between Hardaway Jr, Stauskas, GRIII, and McGary among 20 opportunities to take at least one free throw in a game they failed to do so in 65% of them. And that includes going up against notoriously aggressive MSU and OSU defenses.
I point this out because free throw attempts are indicative of attitude. Sometimes you just have to make the other team foul you so you get a chance to get two points (or at least one) at the end of a game. Too often Michigan has had late game possessions which end in jump shots (most of them fading away from 18+ feet). Michigan (#6 in field goal percentage) is shooting 49% as a team. Michigan (#133 in free throw percentage) is shooting 70% as a team. I prefer 70% to 49% when I’m scrapping for points at the end of a close game.
Beilein has said in interviews he get’s just as excited about one of his players taking a charge as he does a dunk. In watching this team, you can tell Beilein and the other coaches work with the players on taking charges. i.e. he is using a rule in basketball as part of his strategy. I personally disagree with this because it is a very passive defensive attitude. When a player sets up to take a charge he gives the opposing player the ability to get a vertical advantage. Keep in mind, most charges come within 5-8 feet of the basket. Having a vertical advantage really means something in that close of range. Additionally, there are three things which can happen when a player sets up for a charge: 1) they get the charge call which equates to a turn over (yay) 2) There is no call made and the player either makes or misses the shot (keep in mind this is a closer in shot with no vertical defender because he is planted firmly to the ground) (advantage offense) 3) The ref calls a blocking foul and the player has a chance at making an uncontested shot from close range (boo). So of the three things that could happen, only one of them is actually good for the team. Now rewind to the end of the Wisconsin game. Michigan up 3. Jared Berggren (all 6’10” of him) beats his man and is driving uncontested to the hoop. Burke (all 6’0” of him) sets up just outside the charge circle to take the charge. Berggren dunks and gets the blocking foul on Burke. Berggren makes the free throw. Tie game. No ref will ever call that a charging foul. Instead of going back down court at worst up one (at best up two or three depending on Berggren making both free throws) with the shot clock turned off meaning Wisconsin would have to foul. Michigan goes back down court tied. I would much rather Burke make a hard foul to force Berggren to shoot free throws. Again, it’s about attitude. Be passive and hope the ref makes the call, or proactively make the other team beat you.
MY PERSONAL ANEURYSM OF LEADERSHIP MOMENTS
Against MSU in the first half when it was still a 10-12 point game and all hope was not lost Burke picked up his dribble against the sideline with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Hardaway Jr. was hanging out about 5 feet behind the three point line on the same side of the court as Burke. What he was going to do from that position I have no idea. The other Michigan players (all freshman, BTW) were properly spaced in the corner and on the other side of the court. The MSU defender immediately jumped Burke as the ref started counting the 5 second call. What happened? Nothing. That’s right nothing. Stauskas did not come to take the ball from Burke. Ok. Freshman. Hardaway (a Junior, not just Jr) was standing 10 feet away and continued standing there instead of helping his teammate out. I lost it. My 15 month old boy stood staring at the TV and his dad bewildered. The dog ran and hid under the table. The wife went to comfort the boy.
In the second half, when it was still a 16-18 point game with 12 minutes left, Valentine of MSU got a long rebound against the sideline. He was losing his balance and looking for someone to pass to. Stauskas was within 5 feet of him. Stauskas turned and ran back down court to play defense. Valentine regained his balance, came down court and Harris made an uncontested 3. The wife had taken the boy for his bath. The dog was still under the table.
This is about attitude. Do you jump at the opportunity to make a play or do you let opposing team dictate?
This is why I have concerns about this team for the tournament. Who will get that one point when you really need it without relying on a jump shot going in? Who will step up and make the other team react to your pressure?
One final point about attitude. I love Coach Beilein. I would want few others representing Michigan. On a whim I went to Google images and typed in Tom Izzo angry, Bill Self angry, Mike Krzyzewski angry, and John Beilein angry. Here’s what I got:
Seriously. Not kidding at all.
This tweet was just retweeted by Tremendous Twitter account. Glad to see the maturity in this young man. Hope he is right.
Would like to apologize to our fans, alum, UofM, and all of wolverine nation for the performance displayed lastnight. Will not happen again.— Tim Hardaway (@t_hard10) February 13, 2013