Basketbullets: South Dakota State

Basketbullets: South Dakota State

Submitted by Brian on March 22nd, 2013 at 4:44 PM

3/21/2012 – Michigan 71, South Dakota State 56 – 27-7, entry to second round of tourney


Bryan Fuller

This game turned into a Mexican standoff of "if you told me before the game" stats: Trey Burke has six points versus Nate Wolters has ten points versus Tim Hardaway is 5/7 from three. That's two for Michigan, one for South Dakota State, and even if the way everyone got there was a little weird the end result was basically as expected.

What does the "how" suggest about the remainder of Michigan's tourney run? Well.

Michigan can shut down a star dude and simultaneously reduce quality looks from three. Wolters had few quality opportunities and Michigan still managed to hold SDSU to 4/19 from three. The number is dead on SDSU's season average, but few of those looks were top quality. Pair that with holding Wolters to ten points and that's a nice tradeoff.

Of course, Michigan may not be able to do those two things and prevent themselves from getting chewed up on twos. SDSU held themselves in this by hitting 58% inside the line. Concern? Possibly. Michigan's various exertions to reach the Wolters/3P% numbers above left Tony Fiegen open for a series of medium to long range twos, all of which he knocked down. But if that's what your defense gives up, like… okay.

Glenn Robinson may be able to up his production. With SDSU sagging off of Burke, Robinson got three near-identical corner threes in the second half, all of which he took, and all of which he knocked down. Please just do that instead of clutching and driving for an off-the-dribble long two. At least, more often. More than the sheer efficiency of his production I enjoyed the fact that he got 10 shot opportunities, many of which were not simple putbacks that may or may not be there.

Robinson will be critical against VCU as a converter of open-court opportunities. He and Hardaway are Michigan's most effective finishers at the rim (73 and 72 percent, respectively). Those ten to fifteen points of eFG will add up.


Mitch McGary is the starter. Rebounding was dead even in this one, and you'd like something a bit better against a smallish Summit team. One game is two small a sample to extrapolate from, though, and we have a season-long statistical record indicating that McGary is a vacuum, particularly on the offensive end. Add that to a steal-and-dunk on a lazy post pass per game and various other harassments and it's hard to get him off the court once he's on it, as Morgan found out. His turnover rate isn't even that bad: 18.7. Usually any big under 20 isn't a problem.

Michigan's probably going to need to haul Morgan out against VCU, though. Whether it's foul trouble or running up and down the court all the time, McGary will have to sit for longer than he did in the last one.

Other Items

Head in game, please Mr. Morgan. The aftermath of Thursday's game seems to have shaken Morgan's always-fragile psyche:

"I think I was in for like two possessions, and got two stops," said Morgan, who was named to the Big Ten's all-defensive team this year. "I guess, I mean, that's what I do."

Will he play more Saturday, when the Wolverines face the winner of No. 5 VCU/No. 12 Akron for a bid to the Sweet 16?

"I'm not sure," he said. "It's not my job."

Michigan will need him. Someone dispatch the sports psychologist.

Michigan could end up going super-small. I wouldn't expect a single two-big lineup tomorrow what with the press and all. Michigan will be able to substitute a little more liberally than usual since this is a game in which Hardaway could plausibly run the 4, especially during the 13 minutes or so per game that VCU sits 6'5" Treveon Graham and brings in a 6'3" guy in his place. That would pave the way for extra Spike/Caris action as Michigan tries to get more ballhandling on the floor and avoid a late-game exhaustion slide.

That would make Michigan's four-out, one-in setup almost impossible to sag on. If Burke turns the corner off of a pick and roll, instead of sagging off GRIII and his relatively infrequent threes (62 this year), it's Hardaway or Stauskas. GRIII is still going to be hugely important, but they can rest him more than they usually do and not get pounded on the boards while still giving VCU a defensive conundrum.


Burke says he feels fine. He's fine enough to drop zingers, anyway:

"I'm fine, I'm ready to go for Saturday," Burke said. "I was a little over-dramatic out there, but I got about 30 seconds of rest, so that felt good."

He didn't score much, but that could be good? McGary has energy. Wojo:

Burke was going about 100 mph, a pace your average Jackrabbit doesn't mind. Since gaining so much national acclaim, he has struggled a bit, as if the attention was wearing. Michigan shadowed Wolters and South Dakota State shadowed Burke. So naturally, that launched a one-on-one showdown between Hardaway Jr. and Brayden Carlson. Huh? Hardaway Jr. is not a surprise, but Carlson was the only Jackrabbit starter not averaging double figures, and he had 16 in the first half.

Un-Wreaking Havoc

Un-Wreaking Havoc

Submitted by Ace on March 22nd, 2013 at 2:27 PM

As you're probably well aware by now, Michigan will face one of the country's most distinctive, attacking defenses when they play VCU on Saturday. While saying a game comes down to one factor is oversimplification, of course, in this case it's not unfair to say that how the Wolverines handle VCU's press will largely determine the outcome. With that said, let's take a deeper look at Havoc.

What Is It?

From VCU's official YouTube account. They like their RAWK, apparently.

Brian already blockquoted one Luke Winn article on VCU's press—a must-read before Saturday—in the game preview. Here's another description from Winn in a full-blown SI feature on Havoc from last month:

When VCU reached the Final Four as a No. 11 seed in 2011, Smart's second season as coach, its defense was not nearly as turnover-crazy, forcing takeaways on 22.1% of possessions. "That," Smart says, "was only half-Havoc." Full Havoc is now in place, complete with a full array of jargon: double-fist is VCU's man-to-man trap, which it uses roughly two thirds of the time; diamond is its 1-2-1-1 zone; a madman guards the inbounder and makes sure, Smart says, "he can smell your breath"; a jammer is occasionally employed to keep the ball from being inbounded to a point guard; heating up the ball means putting the dribbler under duress.

Ball-combusting guards are what make the double-fist deadly, and the Rams have three excellent ones in senior Darius Theus (steal percentage: 5.9), junior Rob Brandenburg (2.9%) and sophomore sixth man Briante Weber (8.3%, which leads the nation). As a pack they are called the Wild Dogs.

Although Smart graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon College, Wild Dogs is an inadvertent reference to Marcus Antonius's line from Julius Caesar: "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war." The nickname has primal, rather than Shakespearean, roots.

VCU's athletic department put together a lengthy highlight reel of all the chaos their press created a couple years ago—as you can see above, "Havoc" is an apt description. This is an aggressive, trap-heavy press designed to create maximum chaos, both in creating turnovers and forcing teams to play at an uncomfortably fast tempo.

Have We Seen It?

Well, kind of. Michigan played one press-heavy team this year: Arkansas, a team that gave them a world of issues the previous year at their place. This season, in Crisler, the Wolverines handled the Arkansas press with relative ease, turning the ball over only 11 times en route to a 13-point victory.

The difference between Arkansas and VCU is apparent on film, however. The Razorbacks place far less emphasis on the trap, and deployed the press less frequently in general than VCU will—Arkansas pressed after some made baskets, but VCU will trap after all of them.

How Do You Beat It?

Against Arkansas, Michigan used the inbounder as a safety outlet when the Razorbacks trapped the point guard or denied him the ball entirely. This is a common strategy and one that worked out well, at least as long as Tim Hardaway Jr. wasn't losing his dribble after breaking the pressure:

The going won't be as easy against VCU, but it's clear that this is Michigan's go-to move to break the initial trap. There's no magic bullet for navigating the press, however; instead, a few general rules:

  • Get the ball in quickly. The less time VCU has to set up their press, the better. Michigan took their sweet time in the above clips, but Arkansas was also far less aggressive than the Rams will be.
  • Avoid the corners. Getting the ball to the corner—either in your own end off the initial inbound, or just after crossing halfcourt—is asking for a quick trap and a turnover.
  • Make quick, easy passes. Keep it simple—you can see in the VCU-produced video just how often long outlet passes result in disaster, even if the intended target is open.
  • Always look ahead. VCU is looking to incite panic, and nothing is more of a panic move than turning your back and covering the ball instead of looking up for a quick pass.
  • Stay calm. Even when teams break the VCU press, they often play too fast and cough up the ball in the ensuing halfcourt possession. Getting across halfcourt is step one. Step two is looking for an easy bucket, and settling into the normal offense if one isn't available.

Keys For Saturday

I'm expecting to see a few things tomorrow:

  • More Spike. VCU doesn't have the size to punish Michigan for going small, so expect to see Albrecht on the court a fair amount—not in place of Trey Burke, of course, but alongside him.
  • More LeVert, too. Tim Hardaway Jr. is good at a lot of things, but dribbling in the open court is not one of them. LeVert is a much better ballhandler, even at this stage in his career, and could see a lot of time if Hardaway becomes a liability in his own end. Burke, Albrecht, Stauskas, and LeVert give the team four reliable players with the ball in their hands, which should be enough to minimize turnovers.
  • Burke tearing up the sideline. While breaking the press is very much a team effort, one player can break a trap if he's particularly quick. Trey Burke, well, he's pretty good; if he can split a double or find an opening up the sideline, he's obviously the best option for breaking the press and immediately getting into the offense. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Burke as the inbounder, especially when Albrecht is on the floor—that keeps Burke out of the corner and, with a quick return pass, gives him the entire width of the court to work with.
  • Smart counters. Brian pointed out that VCU's halfcourt defense in the first few moments after teams break their press is not very good, which isn't a huge surprise—that's the time when they're scrambling the most to get set. The Wolverines should be able to get some very nice looks right after they cross halfcourt. The key is to take what's there and not try to force the issue—and play right into VCU's preferred tempo—if there isn't a good shot to take right away.

These are words I may regret, but I think this matchup is actually a good one for Michigan. Unlike last year, they have multiple guys who are trustworthy to be the primary ballhandler—along with Burke, I trust Albrecht, LeVert, and Stauskas to successfully get the ball up the court against pressure. They don't turn the ball over much. They have the shooters and transition finishers to make VCU pay dearly when they can't force a turnover

As long as the young guards don't get flustered—both in getting the ball up the floor and settling into the offense once they get there—then Michigan should handle the press, well, at least a whole lot better than Akron did. If they can break even, or come close, in the turnover battle, the other matchups with VCU strongly favor the Wolverines.



Submitted by Brian on March 22nd, 2013 at 12:57 PM


WHAT Michigan vs Virginia Commonwealth
WHERE Palace Of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, Michigan
WHEN 12:15 PM Eastern, Saturday
LINE Michigan -1


…er… let's come back to this later.


Surprise! VCU goes fast. They make you go fast, too, by pressing your ass off like the ghost of Nolan Richardson has given them a quest to let his weary soul rest.

Almost 40% of their shots come in the first ten seconds of the shot clock, which isn't actually that much more than Michigan (32%). The eFG gap is about the same for each team, except VCU is six points lower in each situation.

  • MICHIGAN: 64% fast, 52% slow
  • VCU: 58% fast, 46% slow

However, Michigan runs off rebounds a lot (20% of shots) and effectively (66% eFG). Their eFG on steals is 69%. VCU is at 57% on quick rebounds (14% of shots) and 64% on steals (12%).

The upshot: VCU's half-court offense is poor and they make up for it with the havoc. Their transition game is not as efficient as Michigan's, and they try to get you in transition as much as possible.

Note that the havoc does not stop once you cross halfcourt. VCU's defense is turrible in the first ten seconds when their press is broken; afterwards they recover well enough to hold opponents to 47% eFG.


A standard 1-2-1 trapping full court press… a third of the time. Michigan has faced this intermittently so far this year, usually when leading late against Big Ten teams. None of these teams has dedicated itself to the art of the press, nor have they reconfigured what they put on the floor to bend to its will… even so, Michigan has generally broken it easily by passing it between Hardaway, Burke, and Stauskas until such time as Burke has a sliver of a gap on someone.

The rest of the time, well:

[VCU's] go-to look is a trapping man-to-man called "double-fist." The double-fist only works if you have quick guards who can, in Rams parlance, "heat up the ball" in a one-on-one situation. This means getting the ballhandler out of control and blinding him from the impending trap, which comes from a secondary defender who's lurking near halfcourt.

"If you watch tape with me," VCU coach Shaka Smart said after the Dayton game, "the possessions where we heat up the ball, something good happens. And the possessions where we don't, where we run and try to trap a guy who's not under pressure? Something bad tends to happen -- an open three, an easy shot."

Can VCU heat up Trey Burke? That's the game.


Also in different order because VCU demands it to be so. Four factors. Ranks are in parentheses and out of 347.

eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 51.5 (61) 16.9 (22) 37.1 (28) 30.3 (306)
Defense 49.6 (214) 28.8 (1) 34.6 (289) 41.1 (282)

VCU is number one by more than a percentage point in TO% and steals. They are bad at all other defensive things.  They're okay shooting the three and defending it, take a lot of threes, give up a dead average number, and all of this is kind of futile because VCU is two different teams depending on whether they're in transition or the half-court.


Treveon Graham Briante Weber NCAA Basketball uTODARjPDKDl[1]

To facilitate the pressing, VCU deploys a four-guard lineup. Junior post Juvonte Reddic is the only guy over 6'5" to get significant playing time. Partially as a result, he has McGary-like rebounding numbers. In statistics that look nothing like McGary, he has impressively few turnovers for a big who puts up a lot of shots and keeps out of foul trouble (at least for a big) despite having a healthy steal rate.

His shots are split evenly between attempts at the rim and jumpers, with the predictably huge gap between efficiencies: 68% at the rim, 41% on the jumpers. If his university-provided highlight reel of those jumpers is representative, a lot of those successful jumpers appear to be baby hooks from the paint:

If Michigan ends up leaving him open from 15 feet like they did Tony Fiegen, they're probably not going to get 6/6 on their face.

Note that Reddic is a prime component of the VCU press. Via Luke Winn, here's Reddic jumping up in to grab a steal at the opponent's free-throw line.

The next-biggest guy is 6'5" wing #21 Treveon Graham, VCU's highest-usage player. He's not a great shooter (73/49/36 with a moderate number of FTAs) but he's a decent one and like most of VCU's players he has a TO rate scraping the low teens. He gets to the rim quite a bit, with the usual split in efficiency between rim and not rim.

Corner gunner du jour is #30 Troy Daniels, a senior in the top 50 in eFG. 88% of his attempts this year have been threes, which he hits at a 41% clip. He never assists, never turns the ball over, and doesn't generate possessions with steals or rebounds.  He is just a shooter. A good shooter who Michigan will have to find in transition, but just a shooter.

Senior #10 Darius Theus is a point guard in the traditional sense. He gets the ball to his teammates, has a lot of assists, and doesn't shoot much (just 13% of VCU shots when he's on the floor). He's a little turnover prone, but also there is a big flashy blinky light on his Kenpom profile next to his steal percentage, which is 5.5, #6 nationally.


Junior Rob Brandenberg (enormous disembodied head above) puts up a lot of shots at with mediocre results (69/45/36) and provides not much else peripherally save the requisite steals. He's above evenly split between twos and threes, and hoop-math says he's the worst two-point shooter on the team by a large distance.

VCU gets a lot more minutes from its bench than South Dakota (which played four starters 40 minutes and the last 32 yesterday). When not blowing out the opponent by 40+, it's essentially an eight-man rotation except one of the men is a two-headed backup post. Briante Weber is the primary PG backup, though VCU will run Theus and Weber out there at the same time. He's a statistical clone of Theus except he's a low-quality three-point shooter—Theus is meh—and his outstanding steal rate is a full 2.2 points higher than Theus's and #1 in the country. He does pick up 4.5 fouls per 40 as a result.

Freshman Melvin Johnson is the shootin' backup. He launches a greater percentage of VCU's shots when he's on the floor than anyone save Graham, but he's not particularly efficient. He's a 28% three-point shooter with 82 attempts on the year and hits 49% from two with very few free throws drawn. He doesn't get to the rim much, so he's mostly taking two point jumpers at a mediocre clip.

With DJ Haley oddly leaving the program just before the A-10 tournament, VCU is down to two large-ish dudes to spell Reddic, sophomore Jarred Guest and freshman Justin Tuoyo. Both gentlemen enter the court to play foul-heavy defense and rebound. When the ball comes to them they try to get rid of it as fast as possible. There's a big dropoff when Reddic leaves the game.


Major VCU nonconference games:

  • Wichita State: L 53-51
  • Memphis(N): W 78-65
  • Duke(N): L 67-58
  • Missouri(N): L 68-65
  • Belmont: W 75-65
  • Alabama: W 73-54

In these games the answer to "did VCU win?" is the same as the answer to "did VCU force at least 15 turnovers?" This is because of Havoc™.

In conference play VCU went 12-4 in the A10, Kenpom's #8 league. The A10 was virtually tied with the Valley for #8 and a long way behind the SEC, #7. Losses came against fellow bid-acquirers St Louis (twice, once in the A-10 tourney final), Temple, and La Salle plus an eight-point OT loss to John Beilein's old Richmond club. They beat Butler by 32 in early March. That was their only win against the other NCAA teams in the league in five tries. Memphis (a six) and Belmont (an eleven) also made it.

Until Sunday's league final that turnover metric held true. St Louis managed to best VCU despite 18 turnovers. All others kept it under 14. Meanwhile, I checked every win over KP100 teams. Every single one saw VCU reach the magic 15.

We have this formula for beating VCU, then:

  • keep your turnovers around 10 or lower
  • watch them shoot 42%/17%.


Don't turn it over. I am Jack's complete lack of surprise. VCU's defense is all TO generation, as is a significant portion of their offense. If Michigan and VCU have an approximately equal number of TOs the game comes down to rebounding and shooting. The first should be a push at worst, and if VCU shoots Michigan out of the tournament in the halfcourt, so be it.

If you have to plunge into 50/50 charge/block calls so be it. If a guy is coming over to bother you with a trap, for God's sake just run the guy over if it's even close. If you get half of 'em, that probably means nothing in terms of extra FTAs given up (especially since offensive fouls don't generate them) but will get you in the bonus quicker against a team that always gets into the bonus. It is also unlikely to put Michigan in serious foul difficulty since they do not foul. Meanwhile, VCU has six significant contributors above 3 fouls per 40*, a couple of whom (Reddic, Daniels) bring irreplaceable skills to the table.

Similarly, Michigan should go to the damn basket over and over in the halfcourt. One: Kobe Assists are there for the taking if Reddic is forced to help. Meanwhile VCU's main shooter off the bench is their worst and they hang on the edge of putting in a guy named Teddy Okereafor who has an ORTG < 90.

Do whatever you can to get whistles. If you commit charges, so be it.

Withstand the vicissitudes of fate. This game has a make-it-take-it aspect to it: when VCU scores, they get to press. When they do not score, Michigan gets to run, either off a steal or a rebound. In situations like this, withering runs either way are possible. Don't get too down, just get it across the timeline.

Punish when you break the press. VCU's generally horrible numbers outside of turnovers are an effect of concessions made to it: lack of height, lack of positioning. Even accounting for the former, their defense is not horrible in the half-court. In fact, opponent's eFG numbers when shots go up in the last 25 seconds of the shot clock are identical to Michigan's. Michigan's not great, but that doesn't help Michigan beat a team playing itself.

So: when you're roaring towards the basket with two guys on your back, Trey, do something crushing, or they get free turnovers.

Glenn Robinson: run at the basket with ill intent. The man has a size advantage in this one, and there will be transition. Go to the basket, and leap at passes or rebounds, and then dunk them, and then yell something unintelligible afterwards, preferably at least five times.

Trey: don't have the worst game ever. That's out of the way, I hope.

Akron: get your sweaty germs all over VCU. It could happen?

VCU: don't get your sweaty germs all over Michigan. Er.


Michigan by one even though Kenpom doesn't know it moved VCU up ten spaces yesterday for VCU's destruction of a hollow shell of Akron, not actual Akron.

Dear Diary: Ce Matin, Pas de Lapin

Dear Diary: Ce Matin, Pas de Lapin

Submitted by Seth on March 22nd, 2013 at 10:08 AM


Wallpaper by jonvalk.

Before we dip into this week's user content, go draft your FreeRoll team! You've got until noon. Draft Street kindly sponsored yesterday's liveblog.


Kids who were my age in France all grew up with this song Ce Matin, un Lapin (this morning, a rabbit…) about a hare who turned the tables on a hunter and thus commenced the bunny revolution. The singer is a lady named Chantal Goya who spent years trying to carve out a niche in pop music by being ironically jejune, then found her calling by dropping the irony and singing kids songs on the French Disney Channel.

Kids my age who went to Michigan might remember a band called Tally Hall who have followed a similar career path. In 2005 I earned my Level 5 music cred badge by sharing a booth at a New York bar with the Atlantic Records people while Tally tried out for them. The music folk tossed around fancy adjectives like "jejune" to capture how fresh and cool it was to find a rock band that can occupy the antipode of metal the Beatles brushed with An Octopus's Garden. They signed them, but after one album the label forgot about them and that lapsed into that. Recently my best friend reported via Facebook that his three-year-old is a huge Tally Hall fan.

All this week Michigan fans shared a booth with all the really cool basketball people while they circle-talked themselves into the South Dakota State Jackrabbits as the hipster upset pick and Nate Wolters as the best point guard in the country (though you've probably never heard of him).

Nine minutes into the second half the rabbits were finally starting to lose pace with the Wolverines when Burke and LeVert* went up for a rebound and Wolters ran in to give Trey a 'Wisconsin Special' undercut hip check that sent Michigan's own pretty good guard crashing to the floor. As Burke clutched his head the panic claxons went off in yours. There was no foul (of course), the ball was awarded to the Jackrabbits (of course), and they of course went right down the court and scored.


Bryan Fuller|MGoBlog

You could imagine the Disney ending from here, a Cinderella advance amidst the cheers of Spartans in brand new turquoise tees. All it would take was 11 minutes of indifferent D, refs that hate us, threes that clang, twos that shouldn't have been shot, and Spike Albrecht running around with the ball like a mad chicken, to end the career of Michigan's greatest player since _____(?) with the prostrate pose above.

Here's how it really went:

  • Stauskas drove hard (NJAS!) to the basket and through hard contact to make a layup and collect a rare and-one, which he made. 52-43.
  • Wolters forced to take a long two, missed, rebounded by Albrecht
  • Albrecht does his running around thing, gets the ball to Hardaway, TIMMMAYY makes a jumpshot. 54-43.
  • Wolters misses a three, Horford MANBALLS the rebound out of another contestant's hands.
  • Trey Burke returns, drives inside collecting ALL THE DEFENSE, then kicks out to wide open Hardaway for three, buried. 57-43.

That was enough for the Wolverines to finish off the rascally rabbits, final score 71-56.

As it turns out the audience for simple cutesy catchy formulaic music is little kids, rabbits tend to lose to hunters, and Michigan is better at major sports than those guys you've probably never heard of. Who could have imagined? Also as it turns out this little game column was all a prelude to the Diary of the Week by saveferris, who looked at the performance of past 4 seeds and found, well, the higher seed you are the better your prospects for tourney success. File all of this under the kind of duh that takes occasional reminding.


* His surname is French for "The Green" but a "leveret" is a baby rabbit.


Etc. Every goal from hockey's WMU sweep plus a few bad puns of blue/blew from MGoBlueline. The basketball game is at noon on Saturday so you can watch that then still make it to the Joe. LSAClassof2000 looks at run vs. pass balance over recent Big Ten history, finding Wisconsin and Ohio State run a lot. Need to get the 4th quarters and blowouts out of there though if you want to find the meat. Blockhams was drawn before Ryan was hurt, isn't funny anymore.

[Jump, Best of the Boards]

Unverified Voracity Says Merry Christmas

Unverified Voracity Says Merry Christmas

Submitted by Brian on March 21st, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Merry Christmas! Things are happening. So far not particularly interesting things, but my productivity is as damaged as all of yours. Our South Dakota State preview went up Monday. In a nutshell:


Nate Wolters is Summit Trey Burke. South Dakota State won the Summit with a 13-3 record; their only KP100 victories came against conference-mate NDSU (#72; SDSU went 2-1 against them) and a stunning road win over New Mexico that went down despite the Jackrabbits having to bus their way to Albuquerque. They finished third in their conference in defensive efficiency but no one plays D in the Summit and once Kenpom throws in the schedule strength adjustment, SDSUs defense drops into the 200s.

Michigan's defense isn't great, but it's nowhere near that. If Michigan can D-up a bit they should make it through.

S-E-C. Oh, Cuonzo Martin.


You guys are going to have to improve your level of play before we consider you a mid-major conference, I think. The game article of course focuses on how much longer Mercer had to get over the disappointment of making the tournament; Martin says his players were "emotionally drained," of course.

Titus says not today. I would mind Mark Titus being completely wrong on this:

Trey Burke will spoil the Nate Wolters coming-out party

I really hope I’m wrong on this, not just because I want to see my alma mater’s biggest rival lose in the first round, but also because there’s a decent amount of hype surrounding Wolters and I would love for him to live up to it. I’m fully aware of what he’s capable of against Summit League competition, but like most college basketball fans, I’ve yet to see him play on a big stage. And going toe-to-toe in the NCAA tournament against a former no. 1–ranked team led by the probable national player of the year is about as big as the stage gets. Because of this matchup and because a lot of people have heard about Wolters but haven’t seen him play, Michigan-South Dakota State is one of the most anticipated Day 1 games. Wolters’s entire career will culminate with his showdown against Burke, and his NBA future could depend largely on this one game. Unfortunately, I expect Burke to get the better of him and prove why he’s the best point guard in America. But I wouldn’t mind being completely wrong.

I too am dreading an unspecified commercial that will make me homicidal for the next three weeks. I swear to God if I see that dip with the blue guitar today I'm watching the entire tourney on mute.

People who don't understand probability make me mad and want to play poker. Kenpom takes issue with Mike DeCourcy's inability to multiply. I'm with him, of course. I mean…

Actually us “metrics people” can avoid it. Florida reasonably has a 10 to 20 percent of winning the tournament. They will almost surely end their season, like 67 other tournament teams, with a loss. Their chances of getting to the Final Four are less than 50/50. The “metrics” actually tell you this, but either Mike doesn’t understand the concept of probabilities, or he willingly ignores this to stake out a position that will make him look like a savant at some point over the next three weeks. His approach is very likely to win over an audience in the world of the metrics-haters. (Or as I prefer to call them, dorks.)

Stuff like this that drives me nuts even when I know I'm susceptible to the same thinking on occasion. (See: annual sheepish "we're sorry, Kenpom" when Wisconsin turns out to be kind of good.) DeCourcy isn't even interested in trying to figure it out, which is a crappy way to be an arguer about sports. "I don't understand your argument. Therefore you lack heart."

Morgan might not start. Hard to argue with that after the last few games:

"That injury really took his timing off," Beilein said. "He's a kid who takes the game very seriously -- maybe too seriously. He just needs to relax and play and know we believe in him.

"He's going to get in there tomorrow and we hope he's going to do what he needs to do."

Would be nice to get him back functional in the near future. The very near future.

Insert clasped "excellent" hands here. Devin Gardner on not being a supervillain:

Gardner also has immersed himself in non-Michigan film. Coordinator Al Borges has provided cut-ups of former NFL quarterback Jason Campbell when he played at Auburn under Borges, in an offense that will resemble Michigan's next season.

"It would be sinister for me not to watch those guys," he says.

Tate Forcier was last seen plotting to blow up the White House with a laser made from clips of him against Notre Dame.


"(I learned from Robinson) never get too happy, or too sad, when you do things," Gardner said. "It's just a happy medium you have to find."


In other spring news. Desmond Morgan working "exclusively" at MLB for the moment; expected to know both LB spots; dollars to donuts he starts at MLB with Ross on the weakside. Marvin Robinson is your extremely tenuous early Kovacs replacement leader; sounds like Burzynski is mostly focusing on guard right now.

Etc.: GRIII noncommital about NBA. Nothing can ever change in the NCAA. Do you like blurry photos of shirtless dudes too? Ondre Pipkins did lose a lot of belly. Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin are the Michigan and Indiana state players of the year, respectively.

Point guards are important. Also they are important. Michigan is young. GRIII is key. Some teams will win games. Others will lose them. OH GOD TREY BURKE CAN'T JUMP. Slumpin'.

Unverified Voracity Needs Word Like Epic, Only Moreso

Unverified Voracity Needs Word Like Epic, Only Moreso

Submitted by Brian on March 20th, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Or maybe "fail." Minnesota lost money selling beer.

The University of Minnesota lost almost $16,000 last year on alcohol sales at football games, despite selling more than $900,000 worth of beer and wine.

Proving that there's nothing too goddamn ridiculous to assert in public in a laughable attempt to save face, Minnesota responds!

University officials say it was never the intent that the school turn a profit on alcohol sales.

Jim Delany has taught you well, Minnesota.

Do you like pictures of oily men not wearing very much? Have I got some instagram for you, ladies and men hopeful Frank Clark is going to be superbad this year. Before and after winter conditioning, here's Devin Gardner and Frank Clark:



I now believe Clark is at 277, sure.

Is oiling an extra benefit? Get Rosenberg on the case, yo.

I certainly hope this prediction is worthless since you seem to have something more pressing to do. Man with no more knowledge of basketball than random Rome caller picks Michigan to Elite Eight. Happens to be president, so people note it. Watch for upcoming Graham Couch column on how Obama is racist!

Obama chose Indiana, Ohio State and Louisville as his other Final Four teams [to go with Florida].

"I think (Aaron) Craft's defense is unbelievable," Obama said. "That makes a big difference."


By Grahm Graghm Graham Couch

Has anyone notice how racist Obama is?

Welcome to the jungle!

I kid, kid.

It's just that for a black man his skin tone isn't very dark and he seems to think Aaron Craft is good at basketball.

I think Aaron Craft isn't, because he's white.

That makes Obama racist.

Just sayin'.

I like pudding.


Graham Couch can be reached at [email protected].

Old lady is a nut. Old Lady, please leave man-mountain alone.

"I had an old lady who saw me at Kroger with my dad, (she asked) 'Are you Taylor, that No. 77 fella?'" said Lewan, mimicking her voice. "I was like, 'Uh, yeah, I'm Taylor.'

'She goes, 'You're an idiot! Why would you do that? You're dumb.'

"I was like, 'I appreciate it. Thank you. Go blue.' I didn't know what to say."

That's what you get for going to Kroger, man. Mandatory scan-your-card grocery stores FTL, amirite?

Aw man but we're just a four seed. Jeff Goodman runs down the list of teams with the most NBA talent and starts in Ann Arbor:

Trey Burke (G, 6-0, 190): The sophomore is a National Player of the Year candidate and also could be the first point guard taken in the June draft. He can shoot it, distribute, and will be ideal at the next level in pick-and-roll situations. Most NBA executives have him going somewhere among the lottery selections.

Glenn Robinson III (F, 6-6, 210): The Big Dog's son still needs another year in college, but he's intriguing. He's long and athletic and has shown spurts in which he's looked phenomenal. He still needs to shoot it more consistently from the perimeter and also play hard all the time, but he'd likely be a first-rounder if he left after this season.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (G, 6-6, 205): Another ex-NBA player's kid, Hardaway Jr. has improved his decision-making. He has nice length for a wing player, but still needs to improve his ability to put the ball on the floor. Likely pegged somewhere in the second round.

Stauskas and McGary also mentioned. But hey, at least we're a four-seed instead of an eight like #2 NC State. Mark Gottfried may be a terrible coach, but I remember thinking that about Thad Matta a few years ago and… uh… no. I will reserve judgment this time around.

This may be why. Even when talking about dangerous mid-majors in the tourney, Luke Winn manages to rope you in with interesting Michigan-related stats. Like this one:


Michigan isn't just the least experienced team in the tourney, they're the least by a mile.

SDSU is included at #8. Winn says watch out for this business:

The Wolters Special is a left-hand hesitation dribble, followed by a drive left and a righty floater/runner.

That's alarmingly Burke-like.

Aw man but they're an eight seed. A tip of the hat to Robert Morris despite their fans' failure to chant "N-E-C" last night after they knocked off the NIT's top seed Kentucky in a first round game at the Colonial's 3500-seat arena. (Rupp has NCAA games this weekend so Kentucky did not bid to host.) Even with the missed opportunity, Robert Morris set the irritating meme about "perception" harming the NCAA fates of SEC bubble teams on fire.

What meme? This meme. Cuonzo Martin two days ago:

“I wish I knew,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. I would say a lack of respect more than anything. When you have a second-place team at this level (Kentucky and Alabama finished second in the SEC and will join UT in the NIT), it’s almost like a mid-major mentality in this league. When your second-place team doesn’t get in the NCAA tournament — this is a BCS league, it’s one of the best league’s [sic] in the country — that just shouldn’t happen.” …

“When you look at Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky,” he added, “those are NCAA tournament teams; they’re just not playing in the NCAA tournament.”

If the SEC had actually beaten anybody in the nonconference maybe we could talk here. Florida got a three-seed thanks in part to wins over Wisconsin, Marquette, and I guess Middle Tennessee. Missouri got in comfortably with wins over VCU and Illinois. The entire rest of the league had three (three) wins over teams that got an at-large bid to the tourney, those Arkansas over Oklahoma in the midst of a 1-4 slide against BCS teams (and at home, obviously), Alabama over Villanova on a neutral floor, and Tennessee beating Wichita State at home.

USA Today rounds up the internet aftermath, with obligatory wikipedia vandalism:


oh god someone get rid of that apostrophe

The ACC is also bitching about a lack of respect, Rodney Dangerfield-style. If that's the case, the ACC is suffering a lack of respect from every-damn-body on the internet. Of 120(!) brackets tracked by the Bracket Matrix, all of seven had Virginia in them.

It is not that hard to predict this stuff, as Andy Glockner points out in excellent article. It's no secret how to game the RPI: don't lose at home, play some road games, and if you have to play a really bad team make sure they're not D-I. Glockner points out an imbalance in the RPI's home-road adjustment I hadn't thought about:

Almost a decade ago, the NCAA made an adjustment to the RPI formula to try to incentivize teams to play more road games. Of course, they screwed up the math such that the new formula rewards “not losing at home” more than it does “winning on the road,” at least for what its primary purpose is: sorting teams that may make the NCAAs.

The formula adjustment for Factor I (your winning percentage) now credits you with 0.6 wins for a home win and 1.4 wins for a road victory. Likewise, you get 1.4 home losses for an actual home defeat and 0.6 losses for an away loss. That sounds like a reasonable plan until you realize that the target demographic — NCAA tournament-caliber teams — are all way above .500. As such, when you split two games (.500 overall), you want that impact to be as small as possible on your overall adjusted record, as determined by the RPI formula.

If you win at home and lose the away game, you would get an extra 0.6-0.6 added into your overall adjusted record. If you do it the other way, you get 1.4-1.4 added to your totals. If you are well above .500 overall, like all these NCAA caliber teams are, adding the 1.4-1.4 into the record drags you down more than the 0.6-0.6 does. In simple terms, losing home games (for 1.4 losses in your adjusted Factor I) is the worst thing you can do, and it’s way more harmful than adding 1.4 wins to the ledger is helpful.

He also mentions that the committee did to some extent see through the Mountain West's conference-wide Game of RPIs*, dropping New Mexico and their on-paper case for a one seed down to a three and giving the rest of the league seeds that portend a second-round exit.

Yeah, it is perception that the ACC is down and the SEC is worse than the Mountain West. An accurate one.


This week in Expansion Was A Bad Idea. Verizon FIOS wants to move to a you-watch-it-you-pay-for-it model. Who could have predicted this?

“This is the beginning,” said Gene Kimmelman, a former senior antitrust official at the Justice Department. “If the conflict between cable distributors and content owners persists and prices keep rising, there will be enormous market pressure to begin unbundling offerings, give consumers more choices and, from my perspective, ultimately let consumers control what they buy and how much they pay.”

Nobody! Except a lot of people. [HT: Get The Picture.]

Etc.: But the kids love it! In other news, kids enjoy Laffy Taffy. Wetzel on O'Bannon and Delany. How did it take this long for someone to beat up Tim Doyle? No offense, Tim, it's just that you shouldn't have called Kendall Gill "that wasp that lays eggs in spiders and then the baby wasps eat the spider from the inside out" for ten years.

Of course Michigan State fans are buying up SDSU apparel. This is why you are Sparty. Delany-inspired "feelings collage." "An Open Letter From Jefferson Davis To Jim Delany." Don't recruit short fat guys.

Guess the Score, Win Stuff: At the Dance

Guess the Score, Win Stuff: At the Dance

Submitted by Seth on March 20th, 2013 at 10:41 AM


Trey Burke has done terrible and wonderful things to my cardiovascular system. He rekindled a passion for this basketball team that lay mostly dormant since I was staying up late in my sleepy pajamas to watch Glen Rice. We've been through more wins together than any season since the Fab Five were sophomores, and the most heartbreaking losses since that era abruptly ended under North Carolina's basket. He's put up more than a few heart-stopping game-breakers, and slipped through defenders so fast he owes me 1,000 beats. And yet it might have ended last year. The next L we go through together in all likelihood be our last. Unless…

How it works:

  1. I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
  2. You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
  3. If you guess either game correctly, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
  4. The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
  5. Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
  6. Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.

About Last Time:

Revenge Quest '13 got as far as Penn State before ARRRGHHH II but that was enough to get a shirt to lbpeley, who had Michigan a free throw off from the 83-66 score. Second place was also one off but gave the point to Penn State. Tsk tsk tsk tsk.

This Week's Game:

It's dancing time. South Dakota State versus Michigan on Thursday evening.

And the Prize:


Glad you came back Trey (and Tim). Anyone who buys this shirt this week (also available in blue) we'll match the donation to the Bo Schembechler Heart of a Champion Research Fund.

Bo Schembechler

If Trey comes back for a third year I'll give $1,000 myself.

/permits self a moment to dream of a junior Trey Burke

/lingers in fantasy world

/returns to this one, resolves to appreciate the hell out of this NCAA tournament run, however long it lasts.

Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm is not just a shooter. The algorithm always fouls Cody Zeller. The algorithm can’t explain why Big Ten officials think it’s their duty to help Bo Ryan. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. This is not the algorithm. This is close.

Unverified Voracity Dons Optimus Gorilla Costume

Unverified Voracity Dons Optimus Gorilla Costume

Submitted by Brian on March 19th, 2013 at 11:53 AM

I'm pretty sure this is Delvon Roe. Yeah, this guy has been doing this for years.

This person has 375 youtube videos in which he wears an Optimus Prime mask and Gorilla costume while extolling Michigan State things. Delvon Roe was an acting major or something and now spends 90% of his time trashing Denard Robnson on twitter. QED.

Our brief regional nightmare nears an end. After chatter chatter chatter for months about what the new and devolved Big Ten will look like, Adam Rittenberg reports that this whole "geography" thing is going to get a spin and the last decision to make is which Indiana team to put in each division. The future of your football, at least until Florida (Gulf Coast) gets added:

"East" division
Michigan State
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue or Indiana

Michigan State was apparently not able to weasel its way into the West division and force Michigan into a protected crossover, so there's that. The Indiana teams will get a protected crossover, and that'll be the only one.

A nine-game conference schedule is on the docket for 2016, which will allow Michigan to play teams in the other division slightly less than half the time. The goal is "for every pair of teams to play at least once every four years." Conference expansion, y'all.

For balance purposes the East should get Indiana, which has not had a recent run of success like that of Purdue under Joe Tiller. Rittenberg concurs, or rather I'm agreeing with him since he wrote his thing first. Whatever.

Goodbye, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Brown Jug game. Hello… you. At least I don't have to figure out if I should root for Ohio State anymore.

What is doubt? Baby don't hurt me, no more. I no longer have any reference for what is reasonable doubt of Michigan and what is flat-out hatin'. Still, my vibe from the various NCAA talking-head shows was that all things were extrapolated from Michigan's lack of tourney pedigree and flameout last year. Michigan was a popular upset pick in the first round, and even if that was avoided most discussions centered on how awesome VCU was and how they would cut through the tourney like a hot knife through butter.

I said this back before, but if I was VCU, Michigan is the last team I would want to see as a second-round matchup. You thrive on turnovers. Here is a John Beilein team piloted by Trey Burke. Sad Panda. Meanwhile, this Wolters kid at SDSU is pretty good… and his team has two guys taller than 6'6" and a defensive rating in the 200s. Also John Beilein has a pretty decent tourney record himself despite last year.

In any case, there are a couple people reacting to the televised Michigan-trashing. Luke Winn is one despite being the guy calling BS on Michigan as a national title contender because of their defense a few months ago:

Upset I Don't Like: No. 13 South Dakota State over No. 4 Michigan. Nate Wolters is a cult hero -- I wrote an ode to his brilliance in November -- and Wolters vs. Trey Burke should be quite the show. But Burke was shut down last year by a defensive-minded mid-major star (Ohio's D.J. Cooper), and Wolters is far from a lockdown guy. Nor is his team. The Jackrabbits have the fourth-worst defense in the entire bracket, which doesn't bode well for their ability to hold the Wolverines' high-powered offense in check. A fun game to watch, no doubt, but it won't be an upset.

While he adds Michigan to his "why I'm hesitant about five teams you might like" section he also adds the #1 and #2s from this bracket in there and predicts Michigan to the Elite Eight against Florida. I would take that.

BONUS: Winn's random upset pick is Valpo over Michigan State. Oh, Luke Winn, you cad. I'm not that… yes I am. Yes, yes I am.

THE VERY UNBONUSEST: Damn near everyone is calling an Ohio State-Wisconsin regional final. Having no compulsion at all about rooting for Ohio State to win a 38-33 game is the worst.

Good catch. Kyle Meinke takes up the Analyze Spring Video For Bits baton, fitting in the usual complaint…

Michigan has gotten very good at providing tight shots that reveal very little information. And it's just one padless practice in March anyway. So, really, not much can be gleaned.

…before noting that Antonio Poole is there and dressed. Hoke didn't mention him after mentioning all the linebackers so it's good to see him there and on the team.

[watches thing]

I think Meinke gave that short shrift. There's quite a bit of player-coach interaction in there. That was interesting to me. Hoke exhorts, Hoke orders a rep, Hoke says minimal progress has been made and seems slightly mollified. I enjoy anything that shows you the way these guys interact with the players, enjoy the detail Hoke and Mattison and Funk get down to in these things.

Let's play to tie. Beilein broke out the cliché like whoah:

As long as it doesn't play "not to lose," everything should be fine, the Wolverines say.

"We missed layups, we played not to lose (against Ohio) and (now), we're going to try to do everything we can to go in there and play to win," Michigan coach John Beilein said Sunday night.

This entire article made me sad for the people who have to say things to the media, and the media that has to write them down. Their mutual existence leads to statements like this:

"We just focus on this game, this is a different team," Morgan said. "This Michigan team is a different team.

"And I'm not saying that in a bad way, I'm just saying (the Ohio loss) doesn't necessarily haunt us."

The most innocuous comment possible is followed up by a disclaimer. This is our lot, we readers and talkers and writers.

We're what? The Big Ten is paying Maryland 20 to 30 million extra in travel subsidy? We needed the Terrapins to turn our league into bloated chaos that we're giving them extra money to not be sad with? Gahhhhhhh. HERE IS YOUR MONEY YOU WILL FIND THAT YOUR SADNESS IS INHERENT TO YOUR EXISTENCE AND YOU MUST WORK ON YOUR INNER PEACE TO FIND HAPPINESS. RESIGN YOUR BODY TO ITS DESTRUCTION AND FREE YOUR MIND, MARYLAND.

Bone thugs. Wojo's latest is headlined like so:

Michigan basketball at crossroads between hope and disappointment

Yeah, pretty much.

Etc.: Daily with an ill-timed profile of Mike Chiasson, who has been a healthy scratch for a month. Better timing: Benji Burke profiled.

Recruiting de-regulation inevitably leads to recruiting re-regulation. For locals, the Arena may not exist much longer—their application for a liquor license renewal is not going well because of nearly 9k in unpaid taxes. Jerald Robinson, who departed last year, was caught with a pound of pot around home. Women get an eight-seed.

In Maryland-related news, everything good will eventually be replaced by David Brandon.

Hokepoints: Bracketology Because It's Bracketology Week 2013

Hokepoints: Bracketology Because It's Bracketology Week 2013

Submitted by Seth on March 19th, 2013 at 8:29 AM

Site Notice: This Thursday we're planning a basketballgasm liveblog, culminating in the Michigan-South Dakota State game. Probably getting started with the afternoon games, so you've got from now until then to get your brackets filled out and get your work done before productivity goes to Bolivia. Viva March!


My new tradition. I'm not really the basketball guy around here, however I do seem to perform really well when it comes to March Madness brackets, getting back more than my pay-in every year since 2000 (won twice). The first six years of that was luck—since then I've just been working really hard at it so I don't lose the streak.

For those filling out their brackets today here's some helpful stuff. My favorite tool for clearing the biases is the Wall Street Journal's blind comparison. Also never miss the annual GARGANTUBRACKET by, the blog Bracket Science and the gloriously cheap calculator at Poologic, which lets you program how many upsets you want and find inefficiencies to exploit. Use SCIENCE! to take money from your friends and co-workers!

The last tool is my own (<<<<<grab it here>>>>>). It turns KenPom's ratings into a confidence %, and then automatically pulls up which venue the game will be at and whether there's any injuries you need to know about for either team. Who likes drop-down menus?


What I do is normalize the closest 16-1 matchup (Kansas vs. WKU at 22.6% difference in KenPom's "Pyth") as 100% for the 1 seed to win, and use the KenPom ratings to percentile everyone else's games into a confidence number. Then I roll through anything under 70% and decide if my knowledge of those teams might justify taking the under.

Here's the first round, where "Confidence" is a measure of how likely the top seed might be to win. The venue is listed so you can identify things like don't take Boise over K-State in KC, or how 12-seed Cal (a team worse than Virginia, Iowa, Denver, Baylor, Kentucky, Stanford, UConn, Maryland, and Sothern Miss according to Kenpom) is basically playing at home in San Jose.

[UPDATE: I had some errors in the below chart. Now fixed. The tool was fine but I've added an option to set your own chaos factor.]

High Seed Low Seed Difference Confidence Venue
Indianapolis Regional
1 Louisville 16 North Carolina A&T +62.6% 100.0% Lexington, Ky.
--or-- 16 Liberty +68.8% 100.0% Lexington, Ky.
8 Colorado St. 9 Missouri -1.2% 48.8% Lexington, Ky.
5 Oklahoma St. 12 Oregon +5.4% 55.6% San Jose, Calif.
4 St. Louis 13 New Mexico St. +17.9% 68.6% San Jose, Calif.
6 Memphis 11 St. Mary's -3.2% 46.7% Auburn Hills, Mich.
--or-- 11 MTSU -1.2% 48.8% Auburn Hills, Mich.
3 Michigan St. 14 Valparaiso +15.6% 66.3% Auburn Hills, Mich.
7 Creighton 10 Cincinnati -6.0% 56.2% Philadelphia, Pa.
2 Duke 15 Albany +40.2% 91.8% Philadelphia, Pa.
Los Angeles Regional
1 Gonzaga 16 Southern +48.1% 100.0% Salt Lake City, Utah
8 Pittsburgh 9 Wichita St. +8.1% 58.4% Salt Lake City, Utah
5 Wisconsin 12 Ole Miss +7.7% 58.0% Kansas City, Mo.
4 Kansas St. 13 La Salle +3.9% 54.0% Kansas City, Mo.
--or-- 13 Boise St. +6.1% 56.3% Kansas City, Mo.
6 Arizona 11 Belmont +6.2% 56.4% Salt Lake City, Utah
3 New Mexico 14 Harvard +25.3% 76.3% Salt Lake City, Utah
7 Notre Dame 10 Iowa St. +1.1% 51.1% Dayton, Ohio
2 Ohio St. 15 Iona +27.5% 78.6% Dayton, Ohio
Arlington Regional
1 Kansas 16 Western Kentucky +48.6% 100.00% Kansas City, Mo.
8 North Carolina 9 Villanova +4.0% 54.1% Kansas City, Mo.
5 VCU 12 Akron +8.1% 58.4% Auburn Hills, Mich.
4 Michigan 13 South Dakota St. +26.1% 77.1% Auburn Hills, Mich.
6 UCLA 11 Minnesota -5.0% 44.8% Austin, Texas
3 Florida 14 Northwestern St. +40.0% 91.6% Austin, Texas
7 San Diego St. 10 Oklahoma +5.7% 55.9% Philadelphia, Pa.
2 Georgetown 15 Florida Gulf Coast +33.3% 84.6% Philadelphia, Pa.
Washington D.C. Regional
1 Indiana 16 Long Island +50.5% 100.00% Dayton, Ohio
--or-- 16 James Madison +51.3% 100.00% Dayton, Ohio
8 NC State 9 Temple +9.0% 59.3% Dayton, Ohio
5 UNLV 12 California 6.6% 56.9% San Jose, Calif.
4 Syracuse 13 Montana +37.4% 88.9% San Jose, Calif.
6 Butler 11 Bucknell +2.7% 52.8% Lexington, Ky.
3 Marquette 14 Davidson +8.8% 59.1% Lexington, Ky.
7 Illinois 10 Colorado +1.3% 51.4% Austin, Texas
2 Miami FL 15 Pacific +30.6% 81.8% Austin, Texas

General tips:

If you're in a big pool, run multiple brackets, each with carefully selected upsets. There's no such thing as an NCAA tournament without lots of big upsets and at least one surprising run. The 1 seeds all made it to the Final Four just once. If you submit one milksop bracket you're up against every other milksop bracket and will get beat by the one crazy guy who had LSU going to the Elite 8 or something. Hitting on a carefully selected upset that rearranges a bracket and lets you ride a different high seed to the Final Four is the most typical route to a win.

If you're in a small pool, play conservative. One or two points won't usually make a difference in a small pool, but the likelihood of something crazy like that one guy's wife who picks based on the cuteness factor of mascots winning is cut down so you don't need to take risks to get ahead.

Pick the upsets the most carefully. I love picking 6-11 upsets because if you get it wrong they're bound to get wiped out by the 3 anyway. If you roll the dice on a 3-seed or lower losing early though, you'll feel like an idiot as the rest of your pool collects the easy points. A tournament without upsets never happens, but neither does a tournament with all the upsets. You can totally undo a great pick with a terrible one elsewhere.

Get value for your upsets. Know who's in your pool and the inefficiencies. Fans will generally take their favorite team to go two rounds later than they really belong and conference teams to go a round further. This is an inefficiency.

Be really really lucky. This is really the only rule.



Submitted by Brian on March 18th, 2013 at 11:28 AM


WHAT Michigan vs South Dakota State
WHERE Palace Of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, Michigan
WHEN 7:15 PM Eastern, Thursday
LINE Michigan –13 (KP)

I'll take "Signs You Might Be An Ag School for 1000, Alex."

Michigan draws the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in round one in what at first blush looks like a good draw. SDSU is #102 in Kenpom, a 13-3 Summit League team sporting a 25-9 record highlighted by a road win at three-seed New Mexico and uh… unhighlighted by ugly blowouts against Minnesota and Belmont.

HOWEVA, their jerseys are basically Generic State U from the Allstate Mayhem commercials, so, like, beware mayhem. Also they have a really good player, and that really good player did not participate in the Minnesota blowout. (Sprained ankle if you're curious.)



via CBS Sports's Matt Norlander

Senior point guard Nate Wolters is the Trey Burke of the Summit, a huge-usage, high-efficiency scorer and distributor. The numbers are eerily close:

  • USAGE: Burke 29%, Wolters 30.3%
  • ASSISTS: Burke 38.4, Wolters 34.5
  • TORate: Burke 12.4, Wolters 12.5
  • Shooting (FT/3/2): Burke 79/52/40, Wolters 81/55/39

Though I did not pay much attention to the Jackrabbits earlier this year, I knew Wolters's name sounded familiar.


As the man said: eerie.

The 6'4" Wolters carries a heavier rebounding load and gets to the line a lot more, possibly because the Summit isn't too good at defending really good players, possibly because fouls exist in that league. Here he is putting 53 points on IPFW earlier this year:

He is not just a product of his competition. He's getting NBA attention. Chad Ford ranks him just outside the second round and Draft Express projects him to go in the second round; he got a full-on profile piece on

Wolters size makes him an interesting defensive matchup. SDSU doesn't put a guy shorter than 6'4" on the floor, and Trey has to check someone. Can Wolters post up a la Chauncey Billups? Will Michigan swap a longer guy on him in an effort to disrupt his game? Would it be smart to give Trey some time against designated Stand In The Corner And Snipe Guy to save his legs?

There's no shortage of those corner snipers. SDSU surrounds Wolters with shooters, shooters, shooters. The tallest guy to get time, post-type substance Jordan Dykstra, shoots 43% from three on 128 attempts. They've got another 43% shooter in 6'6" swingman Chad White, who has the statistical profile of a corner gunner: 173 3PA, 78 2PA, 43 FTA, no assists, no turnovers, no OREB. The fourth option, shooting guard Brayden Carlson, also takes a majority of his shots from behind the line. He hits at a respectable 36% clip, so you can't leave him, either.

Dykstra is an interesting kid with a thick body who can drive and post up Summit-level athletes in addition to his Pittsnogle duties:

Physically it makes more sense for Michigan to have Morgan/McGary/Horford on him and let Robinson check the smaller Tony Fiegen, but in terms of game they might want to reverse that since the bigs are not as prepared to close out as a guy like Robinson. Dykstra is a beast on the defensive boards but doesn't do as much on offense because he spends a lot of time on the perimeter.

In terms of tempo style, White and Carlson are pretty much the same dude. Carlson is vaguely more likely to assist on something and less likely to hit a shot (45/36); White is a top-50 efficiency player (54/43) who mostly knocks down the looks Wolters sets up. At 6'6", he would be Nik Stauskas except he is just a shooter—only 16% of his attempts are at the rim.

The only guy who you do not have to close out is 6'7" post guy Tony Fiegen, who you are going to hate for reasons that have nothing to with Tony Fiegen. He is from Madison and looks like this:



He takes a lot of twos at a 55% clip. Hopping over to hoop-math, Fiegen ends up taking a lot of two-point jumpers (59%) compared to McGary and Morgan, who get about 75% of their looks at the rim. Not a whole lot else stands out statistically. He gets some rebounds, he does not block shots or get steals, he keeps out of foul trouble. He is a low-turnover guy for a post.

SDSU relies heavily on its starters. No backup gets more than 30% of available time, and SDSU is near the bottom of the country in bench minutes. Only three guys are in the 8-12 minute range. The first is Marcus Heemstra, the backup post. He shoots efficiently and is a little bit of a shot blocker; he's their best offensive rebounder as well. The second is Taevaunn "Don't Call Me Tayshaun" Prince, a low-efficiency guard who gets to the line a lot. The third is Jake Bittle, a freshman turnover machine.


SDSU played four major-conference or Belmont teams in their nonconference schedule:

  • @ Alabama: L 70-67
  • @ Minnesota: L 88-64 (Wolters did not play)
  • @ Belmont: L 76-49
  • @ New Mexico: W 70-65

They also lost at #302 Hofstra and had a couple of late-season nonconference losses against #241 Cal-Bakersfield and #139 Murray State. There's a profusion of close calls lurking once you drill down. SDSU beat Marshall, North Dakota, and Montana by one, the second in double OT.

Kenpom has the Summit League #23 of 32 conferences; the only top 100 team in it is North Dakota State. There are only two common opponents on the schedules of SDSU and Michigan: IUPUI and Minnesota. Both teams beat up on IUPUI, Michigan once, the Jackrabbits three times. Michigan beat Minnesota by eight; SDSU lost by 24.

Last year, 14-seed SDSU gave Baylor a game, eventually losing 68-60. SDSU led for much of the first half and it took the Bears 35 minutes to push their lead to double digits. Seven of the eight rotation players return from that team.


img21441791[1]Wha happen? Two New Mexico starters sat the first six minutes for being late to the game. This does not qualify as an excuse for them since SDSU arrived in Albuquerque fresh off a 1,200 mile bus trip, but when they returned New Mexico was in a seven-point hole.

Wolters went off, hitting 8/10 twos and going 9/11 from the line. The rest of the team shot okay from three and was decent from two. For its part, New Mexico shot poorly from two. It seems like that's an aberration on New Mexico's part more than anything else. SDSU is not a good defensive team, as we'll see.


Four factors. Ranks are in parentheses and out of 347.

eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 53.5 (26) 16.3 (10) 29.0 (262) 33.5 (242)
Defense 50.9 (261) 17.1 (309) 26.0 (11) 24.6 (4)

If this looks familiar, it should. Welcome to Poor Man's Version Of Michigan. If you've seen Michigan play, you have an idea of how SDSU games play out: a lot of made shots, not many turnovers or free throws either way. Michigan is better than the Jackrabbits in every department except getting to the line—ref grumble inserted—and defensive rebounding.

When Kenpom kicks in the schedule adjustment, though, things have a disparity to them. Michigan's offense is second and defense 58th; SDSU is 39th and 209th, respectively. That's not good:

Michigan has played just four Division I teams with a worse adjusted defensive efficiency this season; Central Michigan, Binghamton, Cleveland State and IUPUI. The Wolverines scored 323 points on 259 possessions in those four games.

If the Jackrabbits can keep pace with 1.25 PPP that'll be a a surprise. In conference play SDSU's defense was third, it's just that no one plays defense in the Summit.

Save #145 Montana, other 13s show better in Kenpom, ranging from #49 (play-in game participant Boise State) to #80 New Mexico State. Disclaimers about OHIO and Penn State and whatnot apply, but teams around SDSU in Kenpom include Oregon State (14-18 in the Pac-12), Rutgers, Texas, and hammered-by-Nebraska USC.


Switch everything! Switch a lot of things, at least. If it gets Michigan stuck in a bad matchup, okay. Gol dang this team can shoot it from deep. According to hoop-math, almost literally every three not launched by Wolters is assisted. Cutting down on opportunities to launch is key to avoiding the upset.

Close everything. Also, no sag. After watching most of the youtube items featuring Wolters, a pattern emerges in which Wolters gets kind of by his guy for a couple steps and then chucks it to a shooter, who has a step and then shoots. The guy has a step because the man on the perimeter has taken a useless half-step towards Wolters.

Split up the defensive duties on Wolters. Michigan may as well switch off who is the primary defender on Summit Trey Burke to give him different looks, keep guys from getting gassed on defense and having that impact their offense, etc. The guys surrounding Wolters aren't bad, but damn near every three they take is generated by Wolters doing something.

Trey: win matchup. If that occurs Michigan is good. Against a team with this defensive profile, he should. I'd be surprised if Wolters can stay in front of the guy and once Trey gets to the lane there is no shot blocker in there—SDSU is 307th in that department.

Sic 'em, McGary. Like Michigan's defense, excellent defensive rebounding props up some unfavorable numbers elsewhere. Unlike Michigan's defense, SDSU has not gone through the Big Ten ringer and seen their numbers drop through the floor. They got clunked by Minnesota, which everyone does; they did well against New Mexico and Alabama. Not a lot of data to go on there—New Mexico's worst Factor is OREB—and McGary will have a size/roar advantage against a Summit foe.


Michigan by 13.