Hockey Preview: Notre Dame, Frozen Four

Hockey Preview: Notre Dame, Frozen Four Comment Count

Brian April 5th, 2018 at 3:47 PM

Screen_shot_2010-04-30_at_12.46.06_AMTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #7 Michigan (22-14-3) vs
#2 Notre Dame(25-9-2)
WHERE Ann Arbor Elder Law Center           
St. Paul, MN
WHEN 9:30 PM
LINE Notre Dame 67% (KRACH)
TV ESPN2

we hateses rapping hobbits  

THE US

Michigan's opponent is an extremely familiar one: Notre Dame. The teams split the season series 2-2, with an early January Notre Dame sweep followed by Michigan's mid-February riposte. The first series saw Michigan play the then-#1 team in the country dead even, setting up their second half run. The second took Michigan's chances for a tourney bid from distantly possible to all but assured.

One thing this game is certain to be is tight. Tight checking, tight on the scoreboard, tight-sphinctered. Three of the four games were decided by one goal; the fourth was a 4-2 win at Yost. Shot totals from the four games were similarly narrow. After Michigan outshot ND 36-27 in the first game it was a dead heat the rest of the way: 34-36, 36-36, 37-35.  There was only a bit more wobble in shot attempts, with two very even games and one decisive win by each team. Michigan had a very slight edge in attempts from the house per Dave's charting.

Might be worth noting that Michigan was missing Josh Norris and Quinn Hughes from the first of the four games, as both were coming off the WJCs. Adding them did not give Michigan a decisive advantage—the game they missed was in fact Michigan's best from a shot perspective—but this Hughes is not that Hughes.

THE THEM

during game action between University of Notre Dame vs Michigan State University at Compton Family Arena in South Bend, Indiana

man playing hockey

Notre Dame is a relentlessly disciplined outfit that relies more on structure and reliability than pew-pew lasers. They've split their top two scorers across two lines, which has been a positive for Michigan since their second unit of Norris-Slaker-Warren is a bunch of two-way players that Michigan sought to match against the Greenway/Tkachuk monster line BU put out.

Top scorer Jake Evans, a senior and 7th round pick, has 11-31-42 on the year. This scouting report on Evans from before last year's Frozen Four is also Notre Dame in a nutshell:

Jake Evans, Jr., C - It takes watching the Montreal Canadiens prospect in all three zones to truly appreciate the impact he has on a game. His 13 goals and 28 assists for 41 points ranks third on the Irish, but it's his complete play as a two-way center that makes him truly special. He is good on draws and responsible throughout the 200 feet of the ice sheet. He does a terrific job of engaging, lifting sticks and disrupting shooting and passing lanes. He is very hard to play against.

He's flanked by sophomore Cam Morrison (8-13-21, second round pick) and freshman Colin Theisen (6-13-19); Morrison is a power forward type who hasn't quite been the scorer ND probably hoped he'd be after a USHL PPG as a 17-year-old.

Line 1A features Cal Burke (13-12-25), the only ND player with double-digit even strength goals, and Andrew Oglevie (13-23-36), their top PP scorer and leading shooter amongst forwards. Dylan Malmquist is an infrequent shooter benefiting from some puck luck to get up to 9-10-19.

It gets thin for ND after their top two lines; the third line has one guy with double-digit points on the season, and the fourth line is actually two guys you'll probably see for five minutes tops; ND has dressed 7 defensemen for most of the season.

As you might imagine for a defensively oriented team, ND's blue line is excellent. Senior Jordan Gross (10-18-28) picks up a bunch of the slack that the middling forward corps leaves when it comes to scoring; while he's not super-dynamic he's got an excellent, accurate point shot and picks his spots well. Andrew Peeke, Matt Hellickson, and Dennis Gilbert are all draftees, and junior Bobby Nardella has an impressive 5-19-24 line.

Taking advantage of scanty opportunities will be crucial, whether that's a power play or an incredibly rare odd-man rush. That goes for both teams. There aren't going to be a lot of Grade A chances out there.

SPECIAL TEAMS

"Stay out of the box" remains so imperative that you might as well get it tattooed on the inside of your eyelids. ND's power play is 10th nationally at 23%, which is bad for Michigan's #57 penalty kill. On the bright side, ND-Michigan games were relatively clean this year. Michigan averaged three (attempted) kills per game instead of the 4 they averaged across the season. Playoff hockey tends to depress calls, which helped Michigan as they faced just four PPs in the regionals.

The other bright reason why "stay out of the box" is so imperative: Notre Dame has just one even strength goal against Michigan this year. Their shooting percentage almost doubles from 7.7 to 14.2 when they get on the power play.

The other side of the coin isn't much more encouraging: ND's penalty kill keeps the puck out of the net 89% of the time, which is second nationally. The disparity is so big here that Michigan getting hauled down without a call early might actually be a good sign if it signals that the whistles will be rare. As much 5v5 as possible, thanks.

GOALIE

Cale Morris leads the country with a .945 save percentage, so they've got that going for them. Morris is undrafted, got just one game a year ago, and had a .906 in his final year in the USHL, so maybe that's more about the team around him than his talent level?

THE KEYS

Stay out of the box! ND isn't as good on the power play as Northeastern but the gap between their scoring rates is probably similar. ND struggles to put up goals at even strength, particularly against this Michigan team.

Quinn, again. Quinn Hughes is by far the best player at this Frozen Four and his ability to jet into the zone and break up the usual monotony of cycling on the boards in the least threatening part of the offensive zone is a crucial advantage Michigan has over an ND team that's extremely adept at forcing dump-ins and making it hard to generate scoring opportunities afterwards. Hughes is now playing 25-30 minutes, during which Michigan should be killing it 5v5.

Hope ND's slide continues. ND's desire to win 2-1 every game worked out great until a couple months ago, when they started dropping a bunch of games. Since that Michigan series in early January ND finished the regular season 5-6-1; while they've gotten back on track in the postseason, their four wins have all been by one goal, two of them in overtime, in games that were dead even by shots. That 67% above from KRACH is bunk, I say.

PREDICTIONS

are stupid

Comments

Plinko Pays Some Debts

Plinko Pays Some Debts Comment Count

Brian March 27th, 2018 at 1:10 PM

3/24/2018 – Michigan 3, Northeastern 2 – 21-14-3
3/25/2018 – Michigan 6, Boston U 3 – 22-14-3, Frozen Four

I've seen NCAA tournament games like Sunday's before: one team gets down, and gets desperate, and dumps all that energy into a relentless pursuit of the puck. Sometimes it's Michigan overturning a 3-0 deficit against Denver to win. Sometimes it's Boston College dominating just about every second despite being down 2-1. Most of the time when this team gets even, they keep going. BC's tying goal in 2004 was game over even if it took overtime. Shots were 45-17 in a game Michigan led the vast majority of. If North Dakota had scored on Shawn Hunwick, that was also game over.

So: Sunday. After about 30 minutes where Michigan had the edge in zone time and staked themselves to a two-goal lead, BU scores on a wraparound, then amps up their forecheck. The ice tilts their direction. When Quinn Hughes isn't on the ice, Michigan barely attempts a controlled zone exit, instead flinging the puck up the boards to BU defensemen. They dump it back in to continue the cycle. The game started to feel like Michigan's recent Big Ten playoff outing against Wisconsin, which this space called Michigan's worst of the year despite the fact that they won it.

And BU scores. They score when Josh Norris flips a pass back to Joe Cecconi in the face of two forecheckers. Cecconi makes a bad situation worse by trying to fling the puck up the slot. Turnover, unchecked guy directly in front of goalie with puck, goal, tie game, game over feeling.

The ensuing three minutes are more of the same; Michigan does not register a shot attempt and BU has a couple of dangerous chances. Then Slaker takes the puck out of the zone—a tiny flag is waved—and gets rubbed out on the boards. This is about the least threatening way hockey players can be configured:

image

Slaker duly follows up on the defenseman the puck is wandering towards, and then something magical and very very stupid happens. That guy's attempted D to D pass gets caught up in the snow around the bench and turns into a perfect lead pass for Slaker. Horrified, the defenseman explodes in a shower of equipment and collapses to the ground, where he remains even now. Slaker then skates into the slot and shoots a puck off the other defenseman's shin that goes straight into the net. Various larger flags are waved.

That's more or less it. Michigan puts up an insurance marker a bit later but in a game like hockey even when you're playing badly and giving up a bunch of zone time to the opposition, a one goal lead is usually enough with 13 minutes left. They put up a stat at the beginning of the third that Michigan was a brazillion and one when leading after two and BU was 2-6 when trailing. 

Slaker's goal combined with Michigan's second, which bounced off the end boards and behind the goalie directly to Brendan Warren, and the BU wrap-around goal to lend the proceedings the distinct whiff of Barely Weighted Hockey Plinko. This is why it was very exciting to get in the tournament: it's usually pretty random and this year there is no dominant team that threatens to make it less so. The top seed got blown up by Air Force, which is a movie we've seen before.

Once you're there, though… I have to admit that mixed in with the hope and nervousness is a certain nihilism, because of this terrible format and hockey's failure to address the goalie revolution that shot save percentages skyward. I shook my fist at hockey plinko when Northeastern scored to even a game in which Michigan had a 2-to-1 shot advantage, and muttered something positive about it under my breath when Michigan scored on a harmless-looking play to retake the lead. They don't quite even out.

But here they are, no more or less deserving than Carl Hagelin or TJ Hensick or dozens of other Michigan hockey players who had the misfortune to have the puck bounce the wrong way instead of the right way. Cooper Marody, Tony Calderone, and Dexter Dancs wiped out the best line in the country in game one; Quinn Hughes spent the weekend looking like he had rockets in his skates; the team as a whole mercifully stayed out of the box for the vast majority of both games. Insofar as it's possible to earn anything in single elimination hockey, Michigan has earned their way to their first Frozen Four in seven years.

May our continued existence continue to entertain the hockey gods.

BULLETS

PONCHO TIME? Hockey borrowed something from basketball.

I'll allow it.

This is too random. Some randomness in a tourney is fun. Without it there's no point in playing. Too much randomness and the format is clearly broken, with annually unsatisfying champions that have no real claim to being the best team. This is too random:

After going 12-0 against No. 4s in the first three years, No. 1s are 31-21. A No. 4 seed has won at least one game against a No. 1 in each of the last 13 seasons. Since realignment came about, No. 4 seeds have won eight of 12. …

In the case of those four seeds that became national champions — Yale in 2013 and Providence in 2015 — they were the last teams in the tournament. Providence qualified by .0002 RPI points over Bowling Green in 2015. This year, Duluth was the last team in by .0001 points over Minnesota. In any other year, UMD would've been a No. 4 as well. However, BU, Princeton and Michigan Tech winning their conference tournaments changed all of that.

Air Force turtled against SCSU and got lucky, like they did against Michigan some years back. The prevalence of blocked shots and super high save percentages makes that strategy pay off way too often; the sport should take radical steps to increase scoring, so that individual games are more indicative of who's actually better at doing hockey.

Stayed out of the box! Four power plays against on the weekend. One fairly badass goal from Northeastern and that's it. Given the margins here any more would have been disastrous.

But it was rough against BU. Per College Hockey News, Michigan was out-shot-attempted 63-31 at even strength. M helped bridge that gap by blocking almost a third of BU's attempts (19); BU only blocked 6 of Michigan's. Michigan benefited from the randomness this year. Hooray.

I take solace in the fact that Michigan played ND dead even this year and it didn't seem like the Irish were ever able to lock Michigan in their own zone like BU did, even when they trailed in both games of the Michigan sweep.

If Michigan does get OSU that's… sort of okay? 0-5 on the year is far from ideal, but the playoff outing was just about even at 5v5, and even though Michigan was swept in multi-goal games in late January they had huge ES Corsi advantages in both games. (55-31 and 43-23.) I ain't scared of those guys.

Hughes. Before this season my personal ranking of defensemen I've seen play for Michigan went like this:

  1. Jacob Trouba
  2. Mike Komisarek
  3. Zach Werenski
  4. Jack Johnson
  5. Jon Merrill

Hughes is flying up the list despite not even being drafted yet. He's… #3? I think I'd take him over Werenski. His absurd skating nullifies most of his size deficiencies…

…and late in the year he's learned what he can do at this level. He's still a bit wild and will turn the puck over in a bad spot a couple times per game, but that's because he's trying—and largely succeeding at—stuff that nobody else has the ability to even attempt. Here's an excellent twitter thread highlighting some of the things he did in the BU game.

Etc.: Michigan, those loveable underdog scamps. Berenson watched from the stands.

Comments

Hockey Preview: Northeastern, NCAA Tournament

Hockey Preview: Northeastern, NCAA Tournament Comment Count

Brian March 23rd, 2018 at 4:49 PM

northeastern-rankingsTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #8 Michigan (20-14-3) vs
#9 Northeastern (23-9-5)
WHERE Alumni Association Of The University Of Michigan Center
Worchester, MA      
WHEN 4:30 PM Saturday
LINE Michigan 52% (KRACH)
TV ESPN News

they're actually #9

THE US

Hello. It's tournament time. Hockey tournament time. If you don't recall what this is like, jump out of a plane with a backpack that might contain a giant middle finger instead of a parachute. Eat fugu prepared by a squeaky-voiced teenager. Play Plinko for your soul.

The team is not just happy to be here, I'm sure, but I am. Michigan was 8-10-2 halfway through the season and I was not even bothering to check their Pairwise; a 12-4-1 run later and Michigan isn't just in the tournament but a two seed. Managing that without second round pick Will Lockwood is all the more impressive.

Michigan's special teams are terrible and they're not exactly puck-dominant yet and Kyle Connor isn't walking through that door, but they're here and this tourney is dumb and this year that's the way we like it. So bring on the bouncing pucks and 24-year-old sophomores. Let's go.

THE THEM

This is already a banner season for Northeastern what with the Huskies' first Beanpot win in 30 years and only their sixth tourney bid in program history. They've done it on the back of an explosive top line and killer power play; the 1,000 foot view here is that Michigan is playing a doppleganger of the Motte-Compher-Connor team from a couple years back.

Top scorer and Hobey favorite Adam Gaudette even has a certain Kyle Connor air about him:

Those power play goals from an absurd angle are very Connor. Both players have the ability to lift the puck even while in tight and can get a one-timer off in virtually any situation. Gaudette's 30-30-60 in 37 games isn't quite Connor's 35-36-71 in 38, but it's… uh… not bad.

Pairing Gaudette with a Hensick-esque puck wizard in Dylan Sikura

…is a good time. The third member of Northeastern's big line, Nolan Stevens, isn't as explosive but still put up a 24-17-41 line. These guys are assassins on the power play, with 35 of Northwestern's 43 PP goals on the season. They are essentially 100% responsible for Northeastern's PP's 27% success rate, which is third nationally.

That power play is a huge threat and is likely to be the reason Michigan loses this game, if they do. But if Michigan can either stay out of the box or miraculously survive multiple PPs unscathed, they should have an advantage 5v5. Michigan's top line of Calderone-Marody-Dancs has just six fewer even strength goals than Northeastern's assassins; the Huskies have been outshot in half their games this year and are below 50% in Corsi; KRACH greatly prefers Michigan's schedule strength (13th vs 36th).

Northeastern doesn't get a ton from their lines 2-4. Freshman Zach Solow has a 5-21-26 line built largely on six points in a season-opening series against Sacred Heart and his status as the fifth guy on the top PP unit. He has seven points on the season that were even strength and not against Atlantic hockey. From there scoring falls off into the 0.5 PPG range. Lines two and three have a lot of 5-8-13 seasons and the like. Michigan should have an advantage there when the Slaker line is on the ice.

On defense, Jeremy Davies is a puck-mover who is the lone D on the top PP. He's got a 6-28-34 line; the other notable guy is sophomore Ryan Shea, who was a fourth-round pick in 2015.

GOALIE

Double whammy here as Northeastern's goalie has an edge on Hayden Lavigne. Also he's Keith Primeau's son, making some of us feel very old. Cayden Primeau has a .932 save percentage, which is significantly better than Lavigne's .910. The matchup is closer at even strength, where Lavigne has a .925 to Primeau's .936.

THE KEYS

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. STAY OUT OF THE BOX. I THINK THIS IS FAIRLY SELF EXPLANATORY.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. LOUDER FOR THE FOLKS IN THE BACK.

Unleash Quinn Hughes. Hughes has emerged into the kind of player who can dominate a game, and it's safe to say Northeastern hasn't seen anything like him this year, because nobody has. Hughes coulda shoulda won the Ohio State game but rang the bar twice and narrowly missed another goal. Michigan's players are fairly prosaic outside of Hughes and he's the best shot at unlocking a team that doesn't give up a ton of goals.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX. PLZ

PREDICTIONS

are stupid

Comments

Michigan Hockey Earns Two-Seed, Draws Northeastern In First Round

Michigan Hockey Earns Two-Seed, Draws Northeastern In First Round Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 19th, 2018 at 10:15 AM

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Michigan will get to do this 719 miles from home [Bill Rapai]

The pundits preached patience before the season, but what was supposed to take a few seasons took just one: Mel Pearson and his staff have guided Michigan to an NCAA tournament berth in their first season behind the bench. The appearance will be Michigan’s second in the last six seasons.

Michigan drew the two-seed in the Northeast Regional and will face three-seed Northeastern on Saturday, March 24th at 4:30 PM in Worchester, MA. You can catch it live on ESPNews

Northeastern is Pairwise’s highest-ranked three-seed. Northeastern finished the season with 23 wins, including a relatively impressive (based on the rest of the bodybags on their schedule) home-and-home sweep of Boston University in November, a one-off win at Boston College in December, and wins over both schools in February’s Beanpot tournament. They also took Pairiwse no. 7 Providence to overtime in a home-and-home series in January and again in the Hockey East semis.

Northeastern’s powered by an explosive first line, good goaltending, and a high dose of Michigan’s kryptonite. Their top line of Nolan Stevens, Adam Gaudette, and Dylan Sikura put up 41, 59, and 52 points, respectively. Gaudette and Sikura are also both Hobey Baker top-ten finalists. Goaltender Cayden Primeau has a .932 SV%, including a stellar .936 at even strength and .906 when down a man. Northeastern also features the nation’s third-best power play at 27.2%, which is the highest % power play in the tournament fold and the absolute last thing you want to see if you wear a block-M sweater.

Facing Northeastern in the Northeast Regional is a fairly heavy-handed hint at Michigan’s other opponent: geography. Northeastern’s campus is a brisk 52-minute drive from the DCU Center. Should Michigan advance, they would face either one-seed Cornell (Pairwise #3) or four-seed Boston University (Pairwise #15) on Sunday. Boston University’s campus is an even closer drive than Northeastern’s (by two minutes), and they’ve recently found a way to get all their talent on the same page, surging to a Hockey East title by way of victories over Boston College and eventual two-seed Providence. Cornell may have more overall wins, but considering location, top-end talent, recent results, and the all-important PP%, Michigan might rather face Cornell for a shot at the Frozen Four.

Comments

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Notre Dame

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Notre Dame Comment Count

Adam Schnepp February 20th, 2018 at 4:00 PM

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[James Coller]

Friday, February 16, 2018

#1 Notre Dame 2, #18 Michigan 4

1st period

WINBORG GOAL

ND 0 UM 1 EV 12:34 Assists: Hughes & Cecconi

Hughes carries the puck into the zone and starts down the wing long enough to draw a defender, Gilbert, toward him. Gilbert is wise not to step up and into Hughes because Raabe is coming down the wing and, as far as timing is concerned, in excellent position to receive a drop pass.

Hughes waits until Gilbert gets close before making his move. He sees that Gilbert’s moving more or less in a straight line toward the boards, so he cuts up toward the blue line and moves laterally across it.

m nd feb fri 1-1

Adam Winborg is the Michigan skater in the blue box below. Dawson Cook is the Notre Dame skater in the blue box below. Quinn Hughes is the puck carrier in the screen cap below. Two of the people in said screen cap have just noticed that Winborg is headed for the front of the net. One of them has the puck and is in good position to shoot, and the other has to shift his weight and chase Winborg.

m nd feb fri 1-2

Winborg keeps his blade on the ice and Hughes’ shot hits it and goes airborne. The puck goes in over Morris’ shoulder in one of the only ways he can be beaten.

m nd feb fri 1-3

[After THE JUMP: good defense creates offense, though crazy accuracy and puck luck helps, too]

Comments

This Week's Obsession: A Turkey, Huh?

This Week's Obsession: A Turkey, Huh? Comment Count

Seth September 10th, 2014 at 10:40 AM

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How last week shoud have ended.

So: do we panic? Where is the 2014 season now on a scale of imminent raptor* attack?

  1. "What species is this?" "It's a velocirapator." "You bred raptors?"
  2. "They were testing the fences for weaknesses, systematically. They remember."
  3. This jello is shaking. Hey is that a shadow?
  4. Oh it's just Samuel L. Jackson's arm. Wait, why isn't it attached...
  5. "Clever girl"

Ace:

I really don't want to overreact to one game, especially a Michigan-Notre Dame game, as I think we've all learned that series is about as predictive as a dart-throwing monkey. Plus, this game had an especially bizarre box score—Michigan outgained Notre Dame! In a 31-0 loss! The run defense kicked ass! So I'm defaulting to a three because, yes, there are serious concerns—not finding a way to score on a defense that had multiple coverage busts against Rice, for instance—but the schedule remains manageable and it's not like the Big Ten as a whole impressed last weekend.

The big concern, to me, is that this team couldn't do two of the things they spent much of the offseason talking about: breaking the huddle on offense with enough time to properly survey the defense and successfully playing press man in the secondary. The good news: these are things than can improve, especially for a still-young team that's learning new schemes on both sides of the ball. The bad news: man, did I expect both areas to look a lot better than that.

Plus, there were those positive signs. The offensive line looks... not terrible? Let's go with not terrible. The defensive front seven appears to be quite good. If Matt Wile can keep his plant foot planted and Michigan jumps on that muffed punt—HEY A SPREAD PUNT WOULD BE NICE I'M SURE YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS HERE BEFORE—that game could play out very differently. We're not staring a velociraptor in the eyes. Not yet, at least.

This could be a one-game anomaly, because Michigan/ND, above all else, is freakin' weird. This could be a sign of very bad things to come if the secondary doesn't shore the man coverage and Gardner continues to look that skittish. This is me throwing up my hands and saying I don't know why the jello is shaking so much.

[after the jump, must go faster]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Forebodes

Unverified Voracity Forebodes Comment Count

Brian March 11th, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Post game celebration. Confetti ho.

Morgan's singing voice is not the strong point of his game, but we'll forgive him.

All of the (most of the) awards. John Beilein is coach of the year to the media while Tim Miles wins the coaches' vote. This is justice. Meanwhile, John Beilein remains John Beilein:

Beilein said he will give away the coach of the year award as a trivia door prize at the radio show.

The first words out his mouth when asked about the award were about Tim Miles; he seemed almost annoyed he'd been handed a plague.

Meanwhile, Nik Stauskas is your Big Ten player of the year, Caris LeVert is second-team All Big Ten, and Derrick Walton is on your all-freshman team. On the snub side of things, Jordan Morgan is passed over for all-defense and Irvin for all-freshman.

It was probably tough for anyone to look at Michigan's defense and provide an all-D nod to them, even if most of the things going on weren't Morgan's deal. Irvin losing out to Purdue's Kendall Stephens is hard to defend since they were the exact same player and Stephens hit 37% of his threes to Irvin's 41%. But whatever, man.

Mmm, foreboding. John Gasaway puts together a list of the top players in college basketball($) that includes one Nik Stauskas, and sums him up from the opponent's point of view well:

At the moment, I'm not sure there's anything else in Division I ball quite like the deep foreboding experienced by opposing fans when the first 3 falls for Stauskas.

He's an Illinois fan, so he may be extrapolating from his most recent Stauskas experience.

Major blow to a contender. Kansas's Joel Embiid has a stress fracture in his back and is a "longshot" for the first weekend of the NCAA tourney. He's just plain out for the Big 12 tourney. If Kansas maintains their spot on the two line the toughest seed they can face before the Sweet 16 is a 7, but they just got beat by WVU in a game that would have been a blowout if WVU could handle a press.

For Michigan, a Kansas loss in the Big 12 tourney helps them in their quest to scoot into a Nova/Wichita region, and possibly Indianapolis. It would at least take a Villanova loss before anyone starts talking about a potential one seed for Michigan.

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It's desperation time for hockey. [Bill Rapai]

The other bracket. Michigan is just about hanging on to a spot in the hockey tournament despite their inability to beat some of the worst teams in the country. They are 14th in the Pairwise at this moment; current hockey bracketology has them matched up against Union in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

At 14th, Michigan could withstand one bid thief but not two. There is an extra conference this year, and thus an extra tournament to worry about. At 14th, there's probably a 50-50 shot at a bid. Ferris State is the only WCHA team in the top 16; St. Cloud and North Dakota are the only NCHC teams in the top 16. The ECAC has three teams slated for the tournament, as does the Big Ten. Bid thieves are everywhere.

That's if Michigan maintains its current position. The bad news: this weekend's opponent is an excellent Minnesota team. The good news: a split will be massively helpful thanks to the new quality win bonus. Get swept, though, and Michigan will be either right on the bubble or right outside it.

These are the wages of going 5-4 against Penn State and Michigan State. If Michigan ends up on the outside looking in again, that is 85% of the reason why.

Worst best mascot ever. I see shots of old mascots that seem designed to engender years of nightmares and pine for their return. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has my back.

Grubby%20RMAC[1]

His name is Grubby. Seriously. If Dave Brandon could guarantee that hypothetical Michigan mascot would be a homeless Wolverine named "Diseasy" I would support a mascot for M. Alas, it will just be a wolverine in a bread bowl.

Well that's (partially) random then. If you were wondering if student sections could affect free throw shooting, the answer is probably no since Northwestern crushed all comers in this department while MSU finished last.

BiYjRwhCcAALNco[1]

While most of this looks like random variation, those gaps down to Nebraska and Northwestern are pretty wild. I wonder if that's repeatable. 148 attempts is kind of a lot for that to be totally random.

Next year's schedule. Michigan's preseason tourney next year will take them back to Brooklyn. They'll play a couple of warmup tomato cans at Crisler before taking on one of Villanova, VCU, or Oregon at the Jay Z Center in the "Legends Classic"*. I'd imagine they'll split Michigan and Villanova with the hope the two meet in the final.

*[Which sounds like a fictional tournament hosting Generic State, East University, Ivy Tech, and COLLEGE COLLEGE.]

Well, yeah. By FOIAing the Ann Arbor Police Department, MLive discovers that Michigan's Office Of Institutional Equity asked them for the Gibbons police report in October, which doesn't clarify anything as to when the athletic department knew about what was going down. The most interesting bit of the story is actually a comment from an MLive person:

For context, the Ann Arbor News has been requesting several documents and communications via FOIA from U-M, but they have declined all of our requests citing sections of the Freedom of Information Act that allows U-M "to refrain from disclosing information that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy." We continue to file FOIAs with U-M, but it appears in this case our best bet for information is requesting it from other sources that U-M has communicated with in regards to this case, including the AAPD.

Other FOIA-covered organizations offer up their data. Michigan has a culture of secrecy that has nothing to do with the privacy of individuals, but rather seems to be focused on covering for people who may or may not have screwed up, whether that's in taking four years to act on the Gibbons information or as part of the massive PR debacle that ensued after actually acting.

Etc.: Scouting Jeremy Gallon. McGary and Robinson on list of folks whose draft stock has slipped. Kam Chatman named to one of those basketball all star type things. Lax getting competitive this year. Sloan Sports Analytics conference suffers fate of all things. Jordan Morgan's top moments.

Some detail on the ongoing title IX investigations at M and MSU. Iowa's defensive collapse under the microscope. Yogi and Troy Williams dissecting M.

Comments

This Week's Obsession: Extent of Panic

This Week's Obsession: Extent of Panic Comment Count

Seth October 16th, 2013 at 1:04 PM

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Another identity. [Upchurch]

We predicted at the start of the season that Michigan is talented enough to finish with 9 or 10 wins given normal progression and competent coaching—more if they get the breaks to go their way. After flirting with several disasters before finally succumbing to one, it is clear that the progression is way behind schedule and the offensive play-calling in a severe detriment.

The coaching staff:

Brian completely insane.

Seth finally past my patience point.

Ace and 12; let's line up in an unbalanced formation and run into a 9-man front.

Mathe definition of insanity is actually the definition of science, and Michigan's offense is scientific proof that bashing one's head into a wall repeatedly is not a successful strategy, which most people knew without the study.

Coach broken; it's dead Jim.

Heiko you know the bubble screen is open.

Blue in so long dreams of beating Ohio State.

So...

Time to reassess the season. Can Michigan defeat anyone left on their schedule and make a bowl this year? Will the coaches be able to find offensive competence? What's the expected fallout of a bad November? Is this a massive overreaction?

Mathlete: Pros:

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Would we be this upset if Gibbons made one more FG like he does always? Honestly yes but we'd feel less inclined to feel like it's the right time to criticize. [Upchurch]
  • We are a Gibbon's chip shot from being 6-0 right now.
  • Devin Gardner leading this offense can be very dangerous.
  • This defense has been solid and just got's its biggest playmaker back.
  • Michigan should be at least a toss up if not favored against the remaining schedule before The Game, which is at home this year.
  • We're rightfully furious at last weekend's game plan in a game in which we scored 34 points in regulation.

Cons:

  • That game plan was dreadful and it was far from the first.
  • The defense is far from dominant.
  • At this point, there are no gimmes left on the schedule.

Where does that leave us, I have no clue. This is both a seriously flawed team and a team that has played far below its potential and is nearly undefeated. I could see this team going 5-1 and playing for a Big Ten title. They could also go 2-4 and limp to the finish. Will the coaches find offensive competence? If they don't have it now, no reason to indicate its going to change. There will be some lip service and probably some window dressing but I'm not expecting any fundamental changes.

Chances are this is the low point but there will certainly be more pain ahead. I have no clue what Hoke is thinking now. He came in talking MANBALL at first it seemed more lip service to the faithful than true philosophy. Over the last two seasons or so things have been creeping back to a results/personnel/performance independent MANBALL philosophy. Realistically, things will look slightly better over the course of the year but the fundamental problems will hold. My guess is that in a world where things don't really change, there is enough success that Hoke gives Borges another year with some of the new toys a year older before seriously considering a change.

A tire fire conclusion to the season would obviously change that timeline, but I don't see that happening. There are enough pieces in place for this team to finish out with at least eight wins and nine is certainly still on the table. The sky isn't falling as fast as it seems this week but at this point I feel comfortable putting a solid ceiling on the offense. The talent will be there to dominate 8-9 games every year but the remaining games will be end up being various levels of excruciating.

[jump]

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