My first inclination is to think that Belien is going to design a defensive game plan to totally frustrate young Tobias Harris.
Items Du Vol
John Beilein says "forks up" to his NCAA tourney bid
Pensive Dave Ablauf is not so sure
Trends. Tennessee is coming at this 8-9 game from a totally different place than Michigan: once entrenched in the top ten in the polls, Tennessee's season started off a cliff after a home loss to Oakland and never really recovered. Where Michigan has won 9 of 13 and was only beaten solidly by national #1 seed Ohio State during that stretch, Tennessee enters the tournament having lost 7 of 11 with two of those wins against terrible South Carolina. (To be fair, two of the losses were by one point, one against two seed Florida.)
That win against Pitt seems like a decade ago.
Defenses. Dylan points out that national commentators still hung up on the idea that Beilein is primarily running a 1-3-1—something that hasn't been true for two years—could have backed their way into some correct analysis.
What's the thing Michigan is guaranteed to give up when they switch to the 1-3-1? An open corner three. What's a shot you're comfortable with Tennessee taking? An open corner three not from Scotty Hopson. No Vol other than Hopson is shooting better than 32%. They've got a guy (Cameron Tatum) with 119 attempts who's shooting 28%—imagine what your reaction would be if half of Darius Morris's shots were threes.
So okay fine. Then add in the main benefit of the 1-3-1: turnovers generated. Tennessee has a tough defense and brutally effective offensive rebounders. Getting turnovers helps mitigate both advantages, and if they're settling for threes long rebounds are at least less likely to result in immediate putbacks.
OTOH, Tennessee's much bigger than Michigan and the 1-3-1 really prefers long guys who can make skip passes arc enough for the defense to recover so they don't give up open corner threes. Also the primary weakness of the defense is allowing (drumroll) tons of offensive rebounds. There's a chance it could backfire spectacularly.
I bet Beilein gives it a whirl at some point just in case it turns UT into a gibbering mess. Judging from the internet, Vols fans aren't impressed with their team's basketball IQ. And if you're not judging from the internet, you're on the wrong internet.
Sign those scrubs up. I'm not sure if this is real or just motivational but I'm hoping it's the former:
In Monday's practice, the Vols' scout team enjoyed eye-popping success against the starters while running Beilein's offense. Reserves Jordan McRae and Renaldo Woolridge buried numerous open 3-pointers off passes from guards Tyler Summitt and Michael Hubert.
"Just putting it in today on our scout team, those guys were successful running that offense against us,'' UT senior center Brian Williams said. "That offense is tough to check.''
I checked the comments and sure enough there's a wag suggesting that if either of the scrubs can hit threes they should replace Tatum.
If this is a real thing Tennessee has trouble with in the game, it will be up to Novak to take advantage. Woolridge was playing the perimeter four and "messed [them] up good." I'm a little concerned about this since Novak's also got the toughest defensive assignment as he attempts to check 6'8" Tobias Harris. Novak's shooting slump earlier coincided with a lot of tough defensive work against guys bigger than him. I'll take open threes, though.
Tobias. The aforementioned matchup is high on Tennessee's radar:
“We’re ready for Tobias to have a big night in there, ya feel me?” junior guard Scotty Hopson said. “Obviously we want to expose that, because Tobias is obviously one of the best players on our team. We’re looking forward to getting the ball inside more and taking advantage of (Michigan’s) lack of posts.”
Harris is a freshman with approximately Hardaway-level usage shooting 49% from two and 31% from 3. He's got a Morris-like distribution between the two. (IE: he takes a ton of twos and the occasional three.) Zack Novak is short. On the other hand, Michigan can double off anyone not named Hopson and what's Tennessee going to do, have Tatum shoot a three?
Michigan's gotten a lot of experience dealing with a post guy matched up with one shooter—three games against OSU's Sullinger-Diebler combo—and has frequently doubled from the baseline to force long skip passes. That burned Michigan against OSU's better-than-competent non-Diebler shooters (Lighty, Buford, and Craft are all around 40(!) percent from three). Maybe not so much against the Vols.
Etc.: Beilein gettin' forky with it comes from his personal site's "behind the scenes" post on Selection Sunday. Dylan and I used a bunch of the same links but he's got some extra at UMHoops. Tennessee fans say Michigan reminds them of a Pearl team, which… um… thanks? Oriental Andrew collects links too. The Fab Five's '93 matchup against GW.
Harris has never been d'd up by grit let alone moppy-haired grit. Zack's going to nail him, right in the mind.
All of the pro-Michigan talk still makes me nervous. I like to think we have turned a corner and we can beat the teams we're supposed to....
...but something makes me nervous when Brian and Tim start posting numbers about our success compared to opponents mishaps... lets just play 4 minutes at a time, win every TV timeout and get to Sunday...
I think the vast majority of predictive writing has fallen in Tennessee's favor.
Analyzing a few areas where Michigan might have an advantage isn't likely to change that.
on the one hand, we have a team who closed the season 8-4 in their last 12 (all 4 losses against tourney teams) to finish tied for fourth in the toughest conference in the country (to KenPom, it's not really close).
On the other, we have a team who closed out 5-7 in their last 12, including a home loss to NIT-bound Mississippi State and another loss to Alabama, to finish sixth in the seventh-best conference in the country, and by seventh KenPom means "not as good as the Mountain West."
Tennessee doesn't shoot threes well, and their opponents get a lot of points from distance. Aside from the ARGH OFFENSIVE REBOUND bit of it, it's a pretty good matchup for Michigan.
Plus you never know ... not that it'll be more than consolation, but there's always a chance that even if Tennessee does win, it'll be vacated anyway.
Thanks for the reassurance, Z.
Obvsly, I'm hoping for the best because we have the shooters that can shoot and the ballers that can ball... just won't be surprised if we're over-confident and the Volunteers For Hire win...
Also, Belein can coach so I won't be surprised if we're playing in the second weekend...!!
So you won't be surprised if we lose to Tenn because of over-confidence.
And you won't be surprised if we beat Tenn and then beat 1 seed Duke.
I WOULD be surprised if we lost to Tenn because of over-confidence. Not one thing i've seen from this team or coaching staff leads me to beleive that we will be over confident.
I WOULD be surprised if we beat Duke. Not that it's impossible, but it would certainly be surprising.
I've seen no Michigan players other than to say "We have to play Tennessee before we can play Duke". So I guess I'm saying you're right.
Forks Up = this year's Queme Los Barcos?
i already hate the world enough
The Juggalos. Another great Import from Detroit, courtesy of ICP.
SO MUCH CONTENT.
@Brian: Your FU tag contains 1 too many f's.
This sounds like a great game for Metrics to really step up. If we get solid minutes with Morgan and Metrics in the game, it will be great D on Harris - Metrics actually has an inch on him. Even a few minutes per half of McLimans in there fouling their big man Brian Williams who shoots 51% from the line for the season.
Our 2 best mis-matches are our sharp shooters hitting from range and Morris having 5 inches on Goins.
The nice thing about Tatum shooting 27% from 3 - the only other guy on the team who gets much PT is also a 2, and he shoots 28%.
I will say as a Vol basketball fan... Everytime Cameron Tatum has the ball you should cheer and hope he doesnt pass the ball... That kid gets on my nerves like no other... he cost us a couple games this year
I'm surprised that the national press is so down on Michigan's chances. I think we've shown against Kansas and OSU that we can give anyone a game.