Less than a week ago, Michigan hosted a bad Ohio State team and lost, even though the Buckeyes’ best player (JaQuan Lyle) was hobbled and a key cog (Jae’Sean Tate) spent most of the first half on the bench with foul trouble. The Wolverines allowed 16 offensive boards and took over two-thirds of their shots from behind the arc in the narrow defeat. At the time, it felt as if that loss signalled that Michigan wouldn’t be competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
A quick turnaround for the next game - a rematch against Michigan State soon after a competitive loss in East Lansing - wasn’t a problem; the offense caught fire in the first half and ran the Spartans out of the building, and the rest of the game was spent in garbage time with Michigan holding a commanding lead. Like they did against Indiana, the Wolverines managed to put together strong offensive and defensive performances at the same time and atoned for last season’s home no-shows against those teams: in 2016, Michigan lost to IU and MSU by a combined 39 points, and in 2017, they beat those teams by a combined 59 points in Ann Arbor.
If you’d have told me before the season that Michigan would blow out IU and MSU like that in the Crisler Center, I’d be expecting a shot at a top four seed in the tournament. As it stands, Michigan’s still squarely on the bubble; at 5-6 in a mediocre Big Ten conference, the Wolverines probably need to win at least four more to have a good shot at getting in. Road victories over Rutgers and Nebraska are a must, and Michigan needs to steal multiple wins from a group of games that includes trips to Indiana, Minnesota, and Northwestern, and tough home contests against Wisconsin and Purdue. A tournament bid is feasible, especially if Michigan keeps up its newfound defensive competence - after allowing 1.23 points per possession over their first five Big Ten games, they’ve given up 1.01 PPP over their last six, an improvement from historically bad to slightly above average.
As of right now, Michigan ranks 30th in Kenpom, 30th in Sagarin, and 31st in T-Rank, indicating that they have the quality of a tournament team, even if they don’t have the requisite resume. The Wolverines boast the best offense in the Big Ten because of elite shooting - especially due to easy 2-point looks created by their signature scheme - and elite turnover aversion.
Even with John Beilein’s most talented teams, there was usually a significant gap between the offense and defense; Michigan would score so efficiently that indifferent defense didn’t really matter. What Michigan has decidedly lacked since the exodus of talent following the 2013-14 season has been a dynamic playmaker who can take over and dominate in the spread pick-and-roll sets that have become deeply ingrained in the Beilein offense. Of course, Caris LeVert’s injuries were a big reason for that void over the last two seasons, and Zak Irvin has unfortunately been uneven at best as the focal point of Michigan’s attack.
[After THE JUMP: Walton fills the void.]
Bracket Watch: Still A Thing!
Derrick Walton is settling in for a potential tourney run. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Michigan's NCAA tournament hopes were hanging by a thread heading into Tuesday's blowout of MSU. In the aftermath, well, they're still hanging by a thread, but at least the thread hasn't snapped. The Wolverines are the fifth team out of the field in last night's update of the Bracket Matrix, making 31 of the 99 included brackets. They're moving in the right direction, however, making 17 of the 40 that were updated on Wednesday or Thursday. That update doesn't include today's revised brackets; CBS's Jerry Palm, who already had Michigan as an 11-seed, bumped them up to a 10-seed today—clear of the last four in.
As ESPN's Eamonn Brennan points out in his latest Bubble Watch post, Michigan can strengthen their case for an at-large bid on Sunday by weakening the case for Indiana, a fellow bubble team:
Despite last week's home loss to Ohio State, this could end up being a net-plus week for Michigan's once-long NCAA tournament odds. The Wolverines blitzed Michigan State by 29 on Tuesday, and on Sunday they travel to Indiana, which is not only vulnerable but one of the bubble teams the Wolverines need to drift away if they want to secure their own bid in the coming weeks.
Not that you need the rooting incentive, but Michigan State is another one of those bubble teams that Michigan is hoping to pass; while they did so on Palm's bracket, most have kept the Spartans a couple seed lines above the Wolverines. Michigan still needs to win more than their fair share of coin-flip-ish games down the stretch to have a realistic shot at the field; a victory on Sunday would go a long way towards making that a reality.
[After THE JUMP: getting X going, transition threes, lineage of poodles, etc.]
- Women’s basketball: the best team Michigan’s ever had. Encourage everyone to get down there this year and see it (they’re 12-0 at home). Watch #1 Kysre Gondrezick their star PG, junkyard dog Jillian Dunston, and freshman center Hallie Thome (50 blocks this year!)
- Men’s basketball: the best game Michigan’s ever had against Michigan State? MSU shot clock violations: Derrick Walton preventing them from getting it to their PG. Finally DW’s becoming the guy we though we recruited.
- X-W Package!
- Defensive rebounding is worse than normal this year. #FreeTeske
- Everybody should name a good thing Brian said on the radio.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Aidan Hutchinson with swaggy G
The Roster. Michigan took a horde of defensive linemen a year ago—7 or 8 depending on where a couple of two-way guys end up. They're set to lose just Mo Hurst after the year; they'll probably take another two or three to prevent gap years like 2017 projects to be.
The Recruits. MI DE Aidan Hutchinson is a Michigan legacy and likely a slam dunk. FL DE Nik Bonitto told 24/7 that Michigan led for him in November; he also said that Florida was his proverbial dream school. They had not offered at that juncture. Lorenz recently reiterated that Michigan was in a good spot.
At DT, Michigan is chasing FL DT Taron Vincent, an IMG kid who transferred in from Biff Poggi's old school. He's got a public pecking order on which Michigan is 5th at best right now, so it'll be one of those recruitments where an unofficial either kicks things off in earnest (Nico Collins) or functionally ends it. New Jersey has a couple of touted kids in Tyler Friday and Dorian Hardy, plus Jayson Ademilola could shake free if ND has another crater of a season.
The Projection. Hutchinson, probably Bonitto, and we'll say Friday because Michigan's gotten the top kid in New Jersey the last four cycles.
Reese is a cornerstone
The Roster. Michigan took three or four linebackers in last year's class, depending on where Ben Mason ends up, and loses just Mike McCray after the season... probably. Jared Wangler and Noah Furbush are both potential fifth years who haven't contributed much. Depending on how the depth chart shakes out this year there could be just a couple spots or up to four.
The Recruits. GA LB Otis Reese is already in the boat and both Scout and 24/7 have asserted that Michigan is super-high on him at VIPER. Long way to Signing Day and all that; with Solomon already in Ann Arbor and Reese currently not expected to take visits he seems likely to stick.
MI LB Kolin Demens is the younger brother of Kenny. Michigan offered him way back in April but there hasn't been much talk about him since. He's a 3.5* type in early rankings, so Michigan might not be pushing for him all out just yet. Michigan also offered MI LB Ovie Oghoufo; he went off the board to ND a couple weeks later but with ND coming off a 4-8 season and Oghoufo wobbling a little bit publicly he's at least somewhat in play.
Outside the state, Michigan is going to try with VA LB Teradja Mitchell but is currently trailing. OH LB Dallas Gant, the cousin of former Wolverine Allen, is in nearby Toledo and will be heavily pursued.
The Projection. Reese and one ILB type. Demens is the most likely.
Taylor-Stewart has a hyphen, you know
The Roster. Michigan took four and maybe a fifth if they move Brad Hawkins to safety, but they lost that many guys so there has not been a major influx. Everyone's young—no seniors—so Michigan will go relatively light here.
The Recruits. MI CB Kalon Gervin is your annual Cass Tech cornerback prospect. At 5'11' he's a little bigger than they usually are. CA CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart has a hyphen in his name, recently moved up to the #15 prospect in the country on 24/7, and says Harbaugh is his favorite coach. He recently backed off naming Alabama his leader, FWIW. FL Brendan Radley-Hiles is at IMG, has a hyphen, and visited Michigan over the summer.
At safety, TX S BJ Foster is a top ten player in early rankings who Michigan will try to get in with. They haven't had much luck getting guys out of Texas—even Chuck Filiaga was more or less from California—but it's de riguer to mention the five star you've offered in these things. Same deal with FL S Tyreke Johnson, who the nation is after, and FL CB/S Al Blades (yes that Blades). Blades has already committed to and decommitted from his father's alma mater Miami.
GA S Myles Sims is a less highly touted name who Lorenz says Michigan is after as if he is one of those top top guys.
The Projection. Gervin seems likely what with the Cass Tech thing, and then let's flip a hyphen for the second corner spot. Sims seems like the most realistic shot at safety.
Wild-ass guess that should be taken seriously in no way whatsoever
FWIW, the version of this that was published a year ago got 10 of Michigan's eventual 30 signees correct. We're projecting 20 this year.
A confidence level of "high" means approximately a 50/50 shot they end up in the class. "Low" means this is more or less a placeholder. The composite currently has zero fullbacks ranked and they'll probably go get a guy. This is denoted in the chart appropriately.
|State||Position||Player||Approx. Stars||Confidence Level|
|FL||TE||Will Mallory||4||Very High|
|MI||DE||Aidan Hutchinson||4||Very High|
This might be less of a blockbuster class since Michigan is not, at first glance, in on a bunch of five star sorts. That should change in 2019 when the state has two guys who will contend for that status.
Can you name all the Michigan players in this photo from the last Purdue-Michigan game in Ann Arbor? [photo: a much younger Eric Upchurch]
Since going to 14 teams the Big Ten schedule has been a mess. Some teams rarely face each other, other teams face each other twice a season. The divisions are historically and presently uneven. The last two years in a row this resulted in a Big Ten “champion” that had a demonstrably worse season than at least two other Big Ten teams. Congrats Penn State and Michigan State, but I think we can do better. In fact I have an idea how.
I’ll get into the details below but the idea isn’t for everyone to have to memorize the details. The simplest description is every year you play three locked-in rivalry games, three games of your choosing, and three games against schools near you in the standings. Your biggest rivalry is played at the end of the season, and its result (half) carries over to next season.
On FiveThirtyEight’s Solution: Nate Silver’s proposal and mine share a few concepts: locked in rivalries early in the year, a mini-playoff at the end of the year, and eradicating divisions (which is essential to any good schedule reform). But it has two big flaws I tried to avoid:
1) It puts The Game in September, which: no, or in Week 7, which again: no, and then you’re seeding with less information.
2) Teams at the top will rarely face those at the bottom. I don’t like that because it cuts down on variety and could easily lead to things like long droughts between Michigan-Purdue tilts which are one of the things we’re trying to fix. Also it’s not good for the long term health of the conference since it would redistribute more losses from the bottom of the conference to the middle and middle-high. In effect it would result in fewer and lower ranked teams at the top, and fewer bowl-eligible teams from the conference. A few more competitive games is good, but 538’s proposal takes that to an extreme to the detriment of other important considerations.
- Maintain the annual rivalries and maximize their importance, keeping the big rival games at the end of the season.
- Play 9 conference games.
- Split up rivalry games so every team has a compelling schedule every year to sell to season ticket holders.
- Produce a fair and least disputable conference champion by playing all or most of the relevant games during the season.
- Play as many competitive games between similarly ranked teams as possible.
- No rematches!
- See a variety of opponents over a 10-year period.
- Encourage Power 5 opponents in non-conference scheduling.
- Be relatively simple.
The system I came up with hit all of these benchmarks to varying degrees (#9 being measured in Kelvin). #5 conflicts with #7 so I left it up to the schools themselves to prioritize between them. As for #9 it’s actually complicated, but can have the appearance of simplicity.
The schedule has four components:
- Three locked-in games versus your annual rivals.
- Three games where the top teams draft their opponents.
- Three games where you play like competition, and the top four teams all play each other.
- A “Big Ten Showcase” invitational during conf championship week to play the best three games that weren’t played.
This is the easy part. The teams are all separated into four pods of three or four with rivals they ought to be playing every year.
|East Coast Cable Subscribers||Intercollegiate
|Corn Corn Corn Corn Cheese Corn
|C||Michigan State||Penn State||Indiana||Iowa|
The division names are not important but the order is—if you want a clue as to why, look at the A-B and C-D matchups. Teams in your pod are the two or three teams you play every year. There are two ways to handle the three-team pods and I haven’t decided which I like better—either works about the same:
- Option 1: Lock in rivals. Each team gets an annual rival from the opposite division, e.g. Michigan-Maryland is played the week of OSU-MSU, PSU-OSU always comes when Michigan plays State, and Rutgers-Michigan State is played annually on the last week of the season for bragging rights and the Situation Trophy.
- Option 2: Rotate every 2 years. So after two seasons of the above, Michigan plays Rutgers on week 1, Ohio State plays Maryland, and the Land Grant Trophy becomes the end-of-year rivalry for MSU. Then after two years it becomes M-PSU, OSU-Rutgers, MSU-Maryland.
I sorta prefer Option 1 but Option 2 seems more feasible.
[HIT THE JUMP to see how I worked it all out]
The Daily has a book. It is a collection of their coverage from the 2016 season, and it's cheap at just $7.50. Marvel at things Peppers does, grapes that have been removed from existence, and the appallingly excellent skin of the youths who insouciantly bring it to you!
If you're in town you can stop by the Maynard building and avoid shipping costs. There's also something in the draft copy about bringing them a pizza from NYPD so you can see all the things they stole from road games but that's CLEARLY a joke so please don't do that and also don't tell me what it is afterwards. (Operative theory: Michigan State's dignity.)
Not a starter, technically. PFF lists the best returning players in the Big Ten. Michigan has a member of the DL land at #3 despite graduating all four starters, and you already know who it is:
Michigan’s defensive line was so loaded in 2016, Hurst was technically not considered a starter. This year, however, he is the clear leader of the unit, as three likely top 100 picks will be moving on to the NFL. In terms of production amongst his returning peers, Hurst has no equal. His 34 total pressures in 173 pass-rush reps last season ranks him first in pass-rush productivity among 2017 defensive tackles, and his 18 run stops on 155 run downs ranks him eighth in run-stop percentage within the same group.
Expect a lot of "where did this guy come from!?" next year as Hurst's increased snap total results in some silly numbers.
Everyone quote tweet tonight. About a dozen people on my timeline quoted this Bruce Feldman tweet to let their followers know it was a good idea:
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 6, 2017
They are not wrong. Hoke plucked Willie Henry, Ryan Glasgow, and Frank Clark out of obscurity; even the touted recruits he grabbed frequently outperformed their rankings. Chris Wormley(composite #129), Taco Charlton (#132), and Mo Hurst (#258) are all potential first-round NFL draft picks. There were some busts in there, but Hoke recruited seven of the eight guys on Michigan's best-ever defensive line.
I'd take him back in Ann Arbor as a DL coach if that wouldn't be super weird. In this instance, Butch Jones's weird tendency to get the Lloyd Carr band back together is not clinically insane.
Early enrollment is a thing. College football already has an early signing day of sorts:
The 2017 recruiting class seemed to have less late drama than years past, and that could have something to do with the growing number of early enrollees. Among the top 50 prospects in this class, 26 were midyear enrollees, which included 11 of the 15 five-stars. And of the top 150 prospects, 54 enrolled early.
Michigan had a whopping 11 guys enroll early, a program record. The large numbers of Michigan seniors ready to graduate and start prepping for the NFL draft full time created a bunch of openings that freshmen gladly filled.
Haves vs Have Nots: Fight! It's going to be a short fight. Michigan has some analyst spots to fill, as they usually do, and they're going after this gentleman:
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that Hawaii DC Kevin Lempa met with Michigan over the weekend about a "non-coaching" position in Ann Arbor.
Lempa already resigned as the Warriors' DC to take a 'worse' job once before, when he departed the islands to be a DBs coach at Boston College in 2002. He's in his mid-60s so this won't be a play to move up at Michigan if it does indeed happen; it would be about dollars and the opportunity to participate in Championship Football(tm).
FWIW, Don Brown is the connect here. Lempa was on his staffs at Maryland and UConn.
OL exit... MSU OL Thiyo Lukusa has left MSU's program, reportedly to retire. Lukusa played last year as MSU tried to find any combination that would work and was widely expected to compete for and probably win a tackle spot. Not good for the Spartans as they try to pick themselves up after a 3-9 season.
And it might get worse, with rumors flying that a number of other MSU players are off the team. Nothing definitive yet but there is a lot of smoke out there.
...OL entrance? Cal starting left tackle Aaron Cochran plans a grad transfer, and he was definitely a part of a thing that did things:
Cochran was an integral part of an offensive line that paved the way for a nationally ranked offense and numerous school records the past two seasons.
Everyone's nationally ranked, sir.
Anyway, Cochran is enormous at 6'8", 350, and has 16 starts under his belt at a Power 5 team. Cal was third in adjusted sack rate last year so he can't be horrendous. He only pops up once on PFF, but it's an encouraging note: he graded out well in Cal's loss to Washington, the #5 sack rate team last year. He is vaguely draftable per NFL Draft Scout.
Isaiah Hole reports that Michigan is "actively seeking" guys who could help them out but hasn't decided to pursue any particular player yet, including Cochran. If Michigan has the spot it would seem like a no-brainer to add a Pac-12 starter, even an iffy one, at a position of yawning need. Do they have it, though? Right now they're two over their scholarship limit. (Publicly, anyway. It's likely that Michigan knows of a couple departures already.)
Keeping the hype contained. Charles Matthews is profiled by Brendan Quinn, and John Beilein would like to keep expectations reasonable.
Beilein is careful not to preordain Matthews. One of the grand traditions in college basketball is for the redshirt player -- the one no one gets to see -- to be billed as a team's best player. Beilein avoids the pitfall.
...by turning into Fred Jackson:
"He's probably a combination of Hardaway and Glenn Robinson III. That's a good combination to have."
Frustration, defined. John Gasaway's Tuesday Truths column from before the MSU game:
|Big Ten||W-L||Pace||PPP||Opp. PPP||EM|
Michigan's offense is as good as anyone in the country in conference play. They have the same points per possession as Villanova, WVU, Kansas, and anyone in the ACC not named North Carolina (1.16). Only the Pac-12 has teams doing better on offense. Even a meh defense gets Michigan into the tournament with ease.
Or you could boot them for Houston, just sayin'. The Big Twelve has voted to dock Baylor a quarter of its annual payout until such time as "proper institutional controls" are in place and vetted by a third party. That's about six million dollars a year and is probably sufficient to get what the Big 12 wants out of them. But you could, I dunno, boot Baylor from your conference for cause and add a school in a much bigger media market? That's both ethical and a financial win.
FWIW, this is a measure of revenge for Art Briles in a mutually-assured-destruction sense. He tried to bilk some money out of Baylor with a lawsuit, causing the Baylor regents to assemble a pile of texts (and submit them to court!) that definitively expose Briles and former AD Ian McCaw as the worst kind of one-dimensional B-movie villain:
When a female student-athlete reported that a football player had brandished a gun at her, the court paperwork said, Briles texted an assistant coach: "what a fool -- she reporting to authorities."
In another case, a masseuse asked the team to discipline a player who reportedly exposed himself and asked for favors during a massage, the document said Briles' first response was, "What kind of discipline... She a stripper?" ...
In one text exchange, after a player was arrested for assault and threatening to kill someone, the paperwork said Briles texted athletic director McCaw that he had just talked to the player, who said Waco police had agreed to "keep it quiet." Briles promised to ask Shillinglaw to check in with a local attorney.
"That would be great if they kept it quiet!" McCaw allegedly replied. He is now the athletic director at Liberty University in Virginia.
Briles had to drop his lawsuit but the revelation of what actually went on was probably a spur for the Big 12's financial penality. In his accidental way Briles actually did some good here. So he's got that going for him.
Etc.: Various croot profiles include Joel Honigford, Cesar Ruiz, PWO and Air Force decommit Sean Fitzgerald, and fellow PWO Jared Davis. Lorenz picks some underrated Michigan recruits. Hugh Freeze is mad that other schools mentioned the obvious thing they should mention about Ole Miss. Vincent Smith profiled by MGoBlue. More mock drafts.
Friday, February 3, 2017
Michigan 5, #11 Ohio State 4
UM 1 0SU 0 EV 08:21 Assists: Shuart & Winborg
Winborg wins the faceoff and knocks the puck to Shuart on his right. Shuart sort of accidentally shovels it forward to Winborg, but Winborg again scoops it up and back to Shuart.
With the puck now solidly on his stick, Shuart’s determined to do something purposeful with the puck. He shoots, and the shot is blocked by the OSU defender in front of him. The puck bounces off the defender and ends up to his left.
This next bit happens so quickly that I’m not sure whether Shuart passes to Allen or whether Allen picks up the loose puck himself. Either way, Allen has the puck. He splits two defenders and finds himself with a wide-open net, as Frey is still sliding across after squaring to Shuart’s shot.
[After THE JUMP: 2015-16 redux (for 40 minutes at a time)]
Derrick Walton joined Jalen Rose and Gary Grant in the 1000-400-400 club tonight and had fun doing it. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
"I think he's playing the best basketball of his career," said Tom Izzo. "And I think this game was the most important thing in his life."
Derrick Walton wasn't going to let his team lose this one. His teammates, in a pleasant surprise, matched the near-manic effort Walton has played with for the last month.
"Before the game the guys just really banded together and told me they really wanted to get this one for me," said Walton. "They played like it, and I'm really appreciative of it all. Everybody played their heart out."
An increasingly impossible to predict Michigan squad blew the game open midway through the first half, ripping off a 32-10 run with highlights aplenty, including a DJ Wilson posterization of Kenny Goins and Duncan Robinson capping the half with a walk-off triple from Caris Corner. Moe Wagner dominated his matchup with Nick Ward, hitting all five of his first-half attempts and goading Ward into a Grayson Allen-style technical foul. Michigan forced 12 first-half turnovers, three of them shot-clock violations. Walton continued his spectacular run of play with 12 points, three boards, and seven assists by halftime. The second half was academic.
"Can't say enough about Derrick Walton right now, of just the tranformation in the last month," said John Beilein.
Wilson, Simpson, and MAAR all came through with big plays. [Campredon]
Walton's young charge also looked transformed. Xavier Simpson entered tonight with two made field goals in Big Ten play. Tonight, working within what Beilein said was a simplified package of plays, he played with newfound confidence, scoring seven points on 3-for-4 shooting and dishing out two assists in the best 12 minutes of his young career. Like his teammates, Simpson played with something extra for his senior captain from Detroit.
"This is [Walton's] last time playing Michigan State, so for him to get that win means a lot," said Simpson.
Michigan's dominance extended to almost every facet of the game. They went 22-for-32 from inside the arc, buoyed by Wagner's skilled play around the hoop and strong finishes from the guards. They shot 10-for-21 on three-pointers, led by a perfect 3-for-3 mark from Walton. They played with great defensive intensity, forcing 21 turnovers and holding MSU under 48% from the field. They kept the Spartans off the boards. And, yes, they played with more emotion; Wilson's technical stood out as a positive, while Ward's was very much the opposite.
A happy squad. [Campredon]
"Today was, like, perfect," Beilein said of the team's mental edge. "They were right there. They were angry. They were junkyard dogs—that was the whole idea, the picture of a doberman that I wanted them to go out and play like, I think it was a doberman but he had big teeth."
Beilein, like the rest of us, admitted he's never sure when the team is going to play with that bite. Tonight, in a rivalry game they had to win to keep any realistic shot at a tourney bid, they had it going full force. Whether it will carry over to Sunday's game at Indiana is anyone's guess. It's a start, at least, and if the whole team can continue to rise up to the standard Walton is setting, they may just make the late run they need.
"We don't think we've played as well as our talent shows," said Walton. "We've got seven games left and we can still do something special."
#40 Michigan (14-9, 4-6 B1G) vs
#49 Michigan State (14-9, 6-4)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Tuesday|
Michigan -4 (KenPom)
Michigan -4.5 (Vegas)
PBP: Dan Shulman
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: Searching for help, probably. [Marc-Gregor Campredon/MGoBlog]
As covered in detail yesterday, Michigan is in must-win mode now. They have three home games left among their eight remaining regular-season games. Tonight's is the only one in which they're favored. They need to win five of their last eight, in all likelihood, to feel comfortable about their at-large chances. They haven't won a true road game all year.
Michigan's most likely path to the tournament is sweeping the rest of the home slate (MSU, Wisconsin, Purdue) and taking games at Rutgers and Nebraska. Those who are understandably pessimistic about M's ability to hold up against the Badgers and Boilermakers can pin their hopes on beating a fading Minnesota squad in The Barn and hoping Northwestern pulls a Northwestern down the stretch. While the task is by no means impossible, almost no matter how you slice it, M needs to come out on top tonight.
THE LAST TIME
In the matchup at the Breslin Center nine days ago, Derrick Walton willed his way to 24 points and Michigan won the rebounding battle (hard to believe after Saturday, I know), but that was about all that went right in a 70-62 loss that didn't feel as close as the final score. Zak Irvin didn't score, Moe Wagner couldn't stay out of foul trouble, and the team shot only 40% on twos and 27% on threes.
For the Spartans, big man Nick Ward played only 16 minutes—it turns out he was battling the flu—and made all six of his shots from the field. Miles Bridges had a rather inefficient 15 points but came up big down the stretch, while Cassius Winston repeatedly worked his way into the paint for 16 points, ten of which came at the line.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||11||Tum Tum Nairn||Jr.||5'10, 175||59||13||109||Kinda|
|Decent distributor, but wonky shot has only improved slightly. Tiny usage for PG.|
|G||14||Eron Harris||Sr.||6'3, 190||59||24||105||Not At All|
|Excellent three-point shooter both on spot-ups and off the bounce.|
|G||1||Josh Langford||Fr.||6'5, 210||50||15||110||Not At All|
|Good spot-up shooter who sticks to perimeter; 3 FT attempts in B1G play.|
|F||22||Miles Bridges||Fr.||6'7, 230||55||26||102||Not At All|
|ORtg doesn't do his all-around game justice. As he goes, so goes MSU.|
|C||44||Nick Ward||Fr.||6'8, 250||48||33||106||Very|
|Massive-usage post scorer. Great rebounder and shot-blocker. Just over the flu.|
|G||5||Cassius Winston||Fr.||6'0, 185||51||25||106||Kinda|
|Boasts #1 assist rate in the country, but inconsistent shot and too many TOs.|
|F||25||Kenny Goins||So.||6'6, 230||47||12||99||Very|
|Former walk-on forced to spot Ward at C. Decent finisher but very TO-prone.|
|G||3||Alvin Ellis||Sr.||6'4, 210||40||20||104||No|
|Decent outside shooter, disruptive defender getting more time lately.|
|G||20||Matt McQuaid||So.||6'4, 200||49||15||99||No|
|Just A Shooter™ making 35% of threes, 29% of twos. 3/3 3P in first matchup.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]