HUG PROTOCOL Comment Count

Brian March 19th, 2018 at 12:30 PM

3/15/2018 – Michigan 61, Montana 47 – 29-7, Round of 32
3/17/2018 – Michigan 64, Houston 63 – 30-7, Sweet 16

It's a list I don't even have to keep, because it is so narrow. A list gets written down. When you can count the number of persons given TOP SECRET access to the HUG PROTOCOL on your hands—and you could probably have had a finger lopped off in a bag accident and still gotten by—it's not really a list. It's an iron-clad fact of life. The hug protocol is buried deep behind passcodes and false leads and a butler who keeps the secret in a tattoo behind his ear.

So here are the persons that I have engaged in uncompuncted, mutually enthusiastic, joyous hug activities with before this weekend:

  • my parents
  • my brother
  • my wife
  • my son
  • a guy who I can confidently state was from the Indian subcontinent and think was probably Pakistani in the King's Head, a bar in Galway, Ireland, when Robbie Keane scores against Germany during the 2002 World Cup; our hug occurs largely because everyone else in the bar was Irish and we were the dudes left over
  • Everyone within 10 feet of me when Landon Donovan scored against Algeria 

I spent the 1998 Rose Bowl amongst very wrong people. When Trey Burke hit The Shot 1.0 there was still a lot of work to do; fist-pumping and guttural Viking cries were the order of the day. Jumping up and down in a pile, not so much. That shot just swung Michigan from certain defeat to potential defeat. Burke, of course, made damn sure his moment wasn't wasted. That still took some time.

It's a different thing, being rescued half-way.

Jordan Poole (and Isaiah Livers and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman) rescued Michigan all the way, draining the very last tenth of a second off the clock in doing so. And, man, 100% is an entirely different feeling than 95%. Ask a Houston fan today, or yourself a few months ago during the Maryland game when Isaiah Livers dropped a dime on MAAR in an eerily similar situation. MAAR got to the line, swinging Michigan's win probability from LOL NOPE to PRETTY DANG LIKELY. And the main thing to feel was a restricted, conditional hope; after the android version of MAAR nailed both free throws the new feeling was relief.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Things that would make a win probability chart fold in on itself. My first reaction when I saw the thing the NIT's quarters did…


…to the Louisville-Northern Kentucky game on Kenpom was "this is the most accurate chart." If your sports life doesn't feel like that I don't know you. 95, 96, 97… these are not 100. 100 is 100, and only 100 is 100.

4 to 100 in 3.6 seconds is when the hug protocol is broken out and the room becomes a single hopping organism for a solid 20 seconds. At the same time, Poole is displaying his lateral agility by temporarily escaping the on-court pile. The walk-ons track him down, because walk-ons are crafty by necessity, and then you get the sports picture.

Afterwards, twitter is checked and re-checked. Poole talks to the media, and then John Beilein says Poole has an "overdose of swag."

26007287727_3c90877dd7_z (1)

[JD Scott]

Folks congratulate a man who just won an Oscar for finally doing something with his life. John Beilein ups his water-fight ante with poncho and goggles.

(It is only a matter of time before he invades the locker room in a firefighting mech.) Over the next 36 hours, Michigan's entire half of the bracket commits seppuku. It's all in front of them, and they didn't even play particularly well.

Take a breath. Enjoy it for what it is, right now. Down big to UCLA this looked like an NIT outfit, and now they're here. Sun yourself. Bask, until you have reached your swag limit, and then bask just a little more. Weekends like this stand on their own.


[JD Scott]


The other side. Devin Davis feels horrible today despite exceeding his season average on free throws, because the makes and misses came in the worst possible order. Wagner gave him a thought…

…and it didn't help much.

Maybe we can get together later and talk about the funniest Tom Crean transfers who made the tournament while Indiana did not. If that doesn't cheer you up, nothing will.

THE DOOR OPENS. You may be aware of this already, but: Michigan is the highest seed remaining on their half of the bracket after the ignominious demises of Xavier, North Carolina, Virginia, Cincinnati, and Tennessee.

This doesn't mean you should be disappointed if Michigan isn't in the national title game. Everyone is good at this point, and there are no home games unless you're Kansas. A&M over UNC was most welcome but Kenpom gives M a 62% chance against the Aggies—it is anything but a slam dunk to get to the Final Four.

Still… coulda, coulda been worse. #7 Gonzaga and #16 Kentucky are the top teams Michigan can face on the way to the title game. All those teams above are gonzo, and there's a decent chance Michigan beats A&M and gets a team (Florida State) that's currently one slot behind Penn State in Kenpom.

Going to have to do better, though. Michigan is going to run into a team that can score adequately on them despite their excellent defense, and at that point they're going to have to get back to Big Ten Tournament-level offense or they're going to crash out. Michigan's weekend was ugly, ugly stuff. More analysis later. I tried to start writing analysis and, nope, let's hold off on that for a second here.

An excellently timed and cromulent article. The New York Times on Michigan's short shorts:

“The long shorts are out of date,” the sophomore Ibi Watson said. “If they can touch your knees, they’re way too long.”

It is said that fashion is cyclical. The irony is that the same program that bucked the trend by concealing its legs in the 1990s is helping bring skin back in now.

In fact, players on Michigan, seeded third in the West region and set to play Montana in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament on Thursday night, lamented that they can’t get find shorts that are quite revealing enough.

So they roll their shorts at the waistband. Once. Twice.

“Three rolls is the max,” Watson said. “If you go four, it’s too much.”

He added, “I think they should just start making shorter shorts.”

Jalen Rose's furious letter to the editor has not yet been published.

I watched them all, and this is the best one. All songs have been put over the buzzer-beater, and I like this one best.


Another angle. Via Alejandro Zuniga and reddit:


MGoPodcast 9.22: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

MGoPodcast 9.22: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Comment Count

Seth March 19th, 2018 at 7:00 AM

1 hour and 15 minutes

2018-03-19 mgopodcast 9.22

We are back at the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown where the conference rooms are fortunately safe right now since 1 seeds apparently can lose to Rutgers-level teams now.

We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan there would be VERY long hiatuses between podcasts.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,Human Element, Lantana Hummus and Ecotelligent Homes


1. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! the Houston Game

starts at 1:00

Even while not handing out bags John Beilein is among the most successful coaches in the country. Naming a Top 10 without him becomes impossible. Tommy Amaker? Borderline Top 5, obvious Top 10, hard-pressed to find a better tactician. Breaking down The Shot II. The walk-ons are so crafty at post-buzzer beater dogpile tactical moves you wonder if they’ve been coached on that too. The game before that was a #refshow. Other than that: defense continued to be superlative. Want to see Simpson create more—Houston forced drives to the baseline. Weird shots—CM gets his but a lot of great shots rolled out.

2. Unnnnngggghhhhhhh the Montana Game

starts at 30:32

Least fun 14-point victory in tournament history. At one point Montana’s offense was so out of ideas that the tried to post up their 6’8” Big Sky bigs on Teske. In a slugfart game when you need someone to barely scrape the lower reaches of offensive adequacy Charles Matthews is your man. Let’s not get in that situation again. Wagner and MAAR had bad weekends; need better to beat North Carolina Texas A&M. 

3. Gimmicky Top 5: Wild Emotional Swings

starts at 43:59

Doesn’t have to be sports but 9/10 are sports because who are you talking to? Jordan Poole shot is not eligible. Glorious trollface steal, the 2002 Red Wings-Vancouver series. The Shot. UTL1. Also some sad things.

4: Ace’s Hockey Podcast (wsg David Nasternak AND Ace Anbender)

starts at 59:36

It’s the #8 overall seed which means 2 seed, which means you get an ECAC team instead of the #1 overall seat in your part of the bracket. Northeastern: eerily similar to Michigan two years ago. Second-worst at puck possession. They have son of Keith Primeau. (why not MSU or another Michigan team?) and the Hobey leader—Michigan’s awful PK unit means whistles matter a lot. Cornell on the other side: super old players, play a lock system, goalie with super-high SV%. Unless it’s BU, which is super-talented high draft picks but not well-coached.



  • “Turn My Swag On”—Soulja Boy & Tellum
  • “Hate It Or Love It”—The Game & 50 Cent
  • “Funkin Around”—OutKast
  • “Across 110th Street”


Can we talk about fun things because Jordan Poole hit a really awesome shot!


Basketbullets: Montana

Basketbullets: Montana Comment Count

Ace March 16th, 2018 at 2:27 PM

That Was A Weird One

MAAR's deeply skeptical face. [JD Scott/MGoBlog]

Let's get this out of the way: that was a funky one. Michigan barely crept above 0.90 points per possession in a game they won comfortably (eventually). Montana's aggressive trapping on ball screens broke the offense's rhythm, as did an early flurry of whistles. After the game's very first media timeout, Beilein fielded a lineup of Jaaron Simmons, Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, and Jon Teske—essentially 1.5 starters with Robinson in there. If you went to bed early and only saw the box score today, you're probably quite confused.

The unusual circumstances make this game hard to judge, even before accounting for the lengthy second-half delay just as Michigan was getting rolling. I thought the offense was on the verge of taking apart the Montana trap when Zavier Simpson had to exit. While Jaaron Simmons and Eli Brooks both had strong shifts—more on that later—there was a longer adjustment period than necessary.

Montana coach Travis DeCurie credited Beilein after the game for both timely strategic adjustments and how well-coached the Wolverines are in general. The latter part kept them in good position while they figured out the former [via NCAA transcript, emphasis mine]:

To me, when I say someone is well coached, they don't beat themselves. You'll make mistakes. There's human error. But I can't recall one possession where they took a bad shot. There will be defensive breakdowns because the offense can manipulate things, but on the offensive end for them, I just can't remember someone taking a questionable shot and allowing us to get some momentum or maybe a low rebound or whatnot.

When they shot the ball, guys knew they were going to shoot it. And to me those are teams that don't beat themselves. And so I don't know how many teams are like that in this field. A lot of teams, they play, they fly around, they're aggressive. They give on maybe a questionable shot here and there, an error on aggression. I think this team plays very smart basketball. And when they play that way, it's just very difficult to manipulate things and make things happen in your favor.

Michigan's turnover avoidance, refusal to give opponents easy transition opportunities off bad shots, and elite (ELITE!) defense allow them to weather storms many other teams could not. Last night's first half went about as poorly as it could for the Wolverines, yet they still held a three-point halftime lead and pulled away for a comfortable win. That, more than anything else, is my takeaway from last night.

[Hit THE JUMP for Matthews unleashed, the backup point guards, and fun with split stats.]


Michigan 61, Montana 47

Michigan 61, Montana 47 Comment Count

Ace March 16th, 2018 at 1:34 AM

(Left) Charles Matthews' dunks were a (the?) bright spot.
(Right) That game, the feeling. [Photos: J.D. Scott/MGoBlog]

Queme los game film.

Make sure the audio track burns, too.

In the Before Time, when I could still hear pitches above a high B-flat, Montana jumped out to a 10-0 lead over a Michigan squad that very much looked like it'd had an extended layoff. The Wolverines adjusted to the aggressive trapping Grizzlies defense and held a three-point lead at halftime. A woman screamed as if she, also, was trapped by grizzlies.

Hopeless. [Scott]

The second half barely got started before the scorer's table lost power, causing a long delay. Just after the clocks returned to working order, TBS went to a media timeout. The screaming continued. Someone help her, please.

Montana went 34 minutes of real time—and ten minutes of game time—without a basket. In the interim, we all moved one day closer to death.

While Michigan didn't look a whole lot better on offense, they were at least capable of occasionally putting the ball in the basket. Charles Matthews mostly dunked his way to 20 points to lead all scorers. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman chipped in 11 as the only other Wolverine in double figures. Others contributed. The screaming grew louder as the arena emptied. Both teams, haunted by visions of murder, failed to crack a point per possession.

The Wolverines face Houston, winners over San Diego State, at approximately 9:50 pm on Saturday. May the wailing of cursed souls cease by then.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]


Preview: Montana, NCAA Tournament

Preview: Montana, NCAA Tournament Comment Count

Brian March 15th, 2018 at 5:25 PM

Post bumped back to the top for obvious reasons.

SPONSOR NOTE FEATURING FREE BEER. HomeSure Lending is once again sponsoring our NCAA Tournament coverage this year. Matt will be hosting an informal watch party tonight at HOMES Brewery, and buying the first round for any MGoBlog readers who come. If you're looking at buying a house this spring/summer you should talk to him soon.

ICYMI. Part one of the pre-tourney mailbag addressing what constitutes success, the sixth man factor, the possibility of a two-big lineup, and late game free-throw lineups can be found right here. Part two, on M's most important player, Z's lockdown sustainability, splitting defensive credit, and managing the tourney rotation is here. Today's Basketbullets on Teske's offensive breakthrough, Matthews taking a new role, Poole's passing, and the women's team's tourney run is here.

ngznditpjoetglvcbkloTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #10 Michigan (28-7) vs
#71 Montana (26-7)
WHERE HoegLaw Arena
Wichita, KS
WHEN 9:50 PM Thursday
LINE Michigan –8 (KenPom)

rad motorcycle, not at all grizzly-shaped bear


Here it is: the tourney. Now is a good time to remember that in addition to improving a lot at the end of the season, Beilein teams also have a tendency to baffle opponents that aren't familiar with his system. This goes double when they're forced to do so on a short turnaround. Now is the time of exceeding expectations, except for that one time they didn't.

Now Michigan tries to not repeat that. They should manage to.


Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country..

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 14 Ahmaad Rorie Jr. 6'1, 175 88 24 112 Eh
Average all around, high-ish usage. 48/34 split, unassisted 3 shooter, superior FT%
G 0 Michael Oguine Jr. 6'2, 171 79 23 122 Eh
Rim-or-3 guy w MAAR-level TO rate despite a ton of unassisted attempts at rim.
F 24 Bobby Moorehead Jr. 6'7, 182 78 12 103 Eh
Just a shooter hitting 35%. TO rate way too high for a JAS.
F 20 Fabijan Krslovic Sr. 6'8, 239 62 16 112 Very
Old school PF hits two, gets to line, OREBs against Big Sky comp.
C 15 Jamar Akoh Jr. 6'8, 253 65 25 112 Very
Huge FT rate, mostly a dunk-on-dish guy. Black hole if he posts.
G 1 Timmy Falls Fr. 6'2, 171 41 16 103 No
FR is 44% from three, 42% from two, and has huge TO rate.
F 4 Sayeed Pridgett So. 6'5", 195 56 22 95 Very
48% 2PT shooter with a 20+ TO rate.
C 5 Karl Nicholas Fr. 6'8, 212 21 22 96 Very
Only plays in big blowouts or when foul trouble is dire.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]


Unverified Voracity Is Waiting For The Package

Unverified Voracity Is Waiting For The Package Comment Count

Brian March 14th, 2018 at 1:51 PM


Oguine is excellent both ways

Montana scouted. Andrew Kahn interviews the Eastern Washington head coach a couple days after EWU went down in the Big Sky title game:

The Grizzlies won the league with a 16-2 record not just because they're well coached but because of their athleticism, according to Legans. Michael Oguine, a 6-foot-2 guard, was the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference. "He's quick, athletic, and can guard anybody on the perimeter." …

"If you can pull their bigs away from the basket a little bit, then you make them play small and beat them up inside. I see those problems occurring with this game because Michigan's size and skill could hurt them bad."

Oguine combines that DPOY status with excellent offensive efficiency and will be the main guy to watch for the Griz.

Final pre-tourney shot volume. Michigan finishes 13th amongst P5 teams, and coupled with Michigan's stellar transition D this rather validates the approach:

For example, you’ll hear during the tournament that Duke is a swaggering beast of offensive rebounding might, and, sure enough, the Blue Devils do fit that description perfectly. But did you know that, with all those spectacular offensive boards, Mike Krzyzewski is merely equaling what a certain Big Ten coach is already doing with his less eye-catching yet highly effective low-turnover ways?

                         TO%     OR%     SVI
12. Duke                18.3    36.4     98.0
13. Michigan            13.6    24.5     98.0

So, yes, this can be a nifty item at times.

Potential S16 opponent North Carolina, unfortunately, finishes first.

Find me a single-atom violin. Ted Valentine will not be theatrically incorrect on your television sets this weekend:

Well-known NCAA referee Ted Valentine, who officiated the Final Four last season, will not be working NCAA tournament games this year -- and he told ESPN it's because of fallout from the incident in which he turned his back on North Carolina's Joel Berry II during a game in January.

"This is not right, it's just not fair," Valentine told ESPN. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm being punished unjustly."

It is absolutely right, and absolutely fair, for the NCAA to make an example of Valentine after he did the Joel Berry thing. That was the worst breach of ref impartiality I can remember, and it came from a guy who fills out the rest of the top ten personally.

He'll no doubt be back next year unless his repeated public bitching sours the powers-that-be permanently. Any coach who talked about Valentine like Valentine has twice talked about his employers would be fined. Here he is complaining that the Big Ten is not professional enough for Ted Valentine:

Valentine, who had considered retirement after the Berry incident, said he was pulled off a pair of Big Ten games earlier this year because of the episode. Valentine had officiated primarily Big Ten games for 34 years, but said he began doing more ACC games two years ago because he lives in South Carolina and the travel was easier as he approached his 60s.

"It had nothing to do with the Big Ten," Valentine said. "The ACC handled it in the utmost professional manner. It was overblown, and no big deal."

Fire that guy into the sun and never have him work a Big Ten game again.

When the FBI can inject sensibility into your enterprise… The divers alarums and excursions you've been hearing from the direction of NCAA boardrooms has finally resolved itself into that greatest of problem solvers: the Task Force. The Pac-12 put one together; it put together a 51-page PDF that's actually kind of interesting* in that it acknowledges the relative helplessness of the NCAA and then puts forth a collection of proposals that sort of acknowledge this. Large themes:

  • Restrictions on coach-prospect contact should be significantly loosened. This includes allowing prospects to take an additional five official visits as a junior and
  • Agents should be more tolerated. Hockey and baseball have allowed formal contractual relationships with agents recently; the report suggests basketball should do the same. This is vastly overdue for a thousand reasons.
  • Eligibility should be less fragile. The reports specifically reference baseball as a sport where players retain eligibility "after being drafted," and later directly calls for the NBA to adopt the baseball model where you can go pro immediately out of high school but if you don't you're in college for at least three years. Chance NBA adopts this: zero. Maybe draft and follow would be a compromise?

The report also calls for an NCAA enforcement arm separate from the NCAA, which sounds like rearranging deck chairs to me.

The Task Force doesn't go anywhere near something radical but it is a baby step.

*[A sports car races by. I am pelted in the head with a snowball. A bro in a white baseball cap screams "NEEEEEEEEERD" as the car peels out, careening wildly.]

Shea in limbo. Shea Patterson's lawyer is also spearheading five other applications for immediately eligibility and tells CBS that Ole Miss is being rather petulant about all this:

Ole Miss actually received that [waiver-request] package as a courtesy from Michigan. Because it didn't officially come from the NCAA, the 10-day clock did not start ticking.

"So, from a technical rules perspective, despite having all the information for the past two weeks, Old Miss could continue to keep its position on the Shea Patterson waiver request to itself for at least another two weeks," Mars said.

"In the meantime, as everyone knows, the process is at a standstill."

For whatever reason the NCAA has not sent the package to Ole Miss, so it will be at least another two weeks before a determination is made, and probably longer than that.

This is not a Dave Brandon story. Toys R Us is going to liquidate. Whenever there's a Toys R Us story several people send it to me. Please stop doing this. I am aware of goings on at Toys R Us that reach the media. The thing about Toys R Us is that it's not a story about one man's over-arching incompetence setting everything on fire. It's a story about a patsy being installed at a doomed company so he can leech millions of dollars out of it for doing nothing:

In 2005, the Toys R Us board of directors sold the company for $6.6 billion to the private equity firms Bain Capital and KKR and the real estate investment firm Vornado. The firms put up about 20 percent of the total and borrowed the rest.

Toys R Us became a private company with more than $5 billion in debt. And then things went off the rails.

“The beginning of the problems for Toys was that exploded,” said Charlie O’Shea, lead retail analyst at Moody’s.

During the next five years, sales at Amazon quadrupled to $34 billion.

“Amazon went into the toy sector in a big way,” O’Shea said, and it “added one more big competitor for Toys R Us.”

To compete, Toys R Us would have had to invest significantly in its website and stores. But the retailer was using most of its available cash to pay back its debt. …

The private equity firms’ investors haven’t made money off this deal. But the firms themselves have. It’s unclear where Vornado ended up. But after collecting fees from Toys R Us, Bain and KKR each took home at least $15 million.

Brandon, the chump installed on this sinking ship in 2015, was compensated ridiculously:

Toys ‘R’ Us is seeking bankruptcy court permission to pay Dave Brandon, the company’s chief executive officer since 2015, a cash bonus of as much as $12 million for 2017, on top of a $2.8 million “retention” bonus he received just before the company filed for bankruptcy in September, according to court filings.

Moreover, Mr. Brandon would be entitled to receive 40% of that bonus, or $4.8 million, within the first quarter of 2018.

A Toys “R” Us spokeswoman said that the company’s plan to pay millions of dollars to Mr. Brandon is in line with common practice in restructurings. “This type of plan is standard practice for a company involved in a restructuring and in this case rewards team members at all levels of the company,” she said.

You know this guy is an idiot, and it is crystal clear that nothing he did at a doomed company helped it an iota. But because he's bros with Mitt Romney he gets an eight-digit payday. That is one of many reasons income inequality has skyrocketed. Because it doesn't matter if you'd lose a spelling contest to a mop once you've got cronies high up.

Etc.: Fergus Connolly makes an entrance, also an exit. Shooting talent and FTs. The story of how the FBI got on the trail of college basketball is a typically bizarre one. Daily profiles Cooper Marody. Scrimmage observations.


MGoPodcast 9.21: Potato’s Big Bracket Show

MGoPodcast 9.21: Potato’s Big Bracket Show Comment Count

Seth March 13th, 2018 at 7:37 AM

1 hour and 26 minutes

2018-03-05 mgopodcast 9.21

We couldn’t do it at the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown because Brian was on offspring duty. Note the distinct difference in comfort and quiet when you’re not at the Rez Inn.

We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan there would be VERY long hiatuses between podcasts.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,Human Element, Lantana Hummus and new this week introducing Ecotelligent Homes


1. Michigan’s Quad

starts at 1:00

Michigan’s in Wichita, which doesn’t sting but c’mon MSU in Detroit? Previewing Montana, Houston, North Carolina. Don’t want to face SDSU (we don’t like zone teams with big fours!) but Houston looks capable of taking them out. Good draws otherwise: Michigan can run these PG-oriented teams off the line. UNC will be there if we make it to the Sweet 16—we like Providence more than the SEC mess. Ohio State-Gonzaga is a disagreement. Purdue against anybody but Nova.

2. Bad Bracket Opinions

starts at 22:40

Almost as bad as three of four ESPN analysts picking Michigan State as if they hadn’t watched every game (except the one) where they scraped by a mediocre team. Don’t take Oklahoma. We’re not picking against Clemson because of Donnal it’s because they lost a big man (which makes them play another Donnal).

3. Gimmicky Top Five: Bracket Outrages

starts at 44:37

Should Kenpom be on the teamsheets? Michigan-UNC Greensboro for the non-FBI national title. Not enough MSU schadenfreude. Too many weegionals. No regional in Anchorage. Tough for Saint Mary’s, not so tough on PSU and Notre Dame. Michigan State doof’s unbelievably bad KPI model, which doubles down on the worst parts of RPI and gets on the team sheets because Mark Hollis. Also Syracuse?!? The silly quadrants were important after all! Recommend Seth Barnes as the best ranking system.

4. Ace’s Hockey Podcast wsg David Nasternak

starts at 1:13:25

It is a visual, silent podcast. Death to posts. Michigan doesn’t look like they don’t belong on the ice with 1 seeds anymore. Quinn Hughes really coming into his own. Bench is tighter than under Berenson.



  • “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)”—Parliament
  • “Knee Deep”—Funkadelic
  • “Can You Get to That”—Funkadelic
  • “Across 110th Street”


“SGA for the uneducated is Shai Gilgeous Alexander, who sounds more like a wizard I made up in DnD than any player since God Shammgod.”


Bracketbullets, 2018 Edition

Bracketbullets, 2018 Edition Comment Count

Brian March 12th, 2018 at 10:36 AM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Eh, I'm fine with it. Not getting Detroit over an MSU team with two wins over tourney teams and two double-digit Ls to Michigan, neither at Crisler, is annoying. But other than that I'm not trading draws with them. Michigan pulled the weakest #1 and weakest #2. Gonzaga's a strong #4 and that's usually good since there's a better shot they take down the 1 before the E8. In this case the 1 is so weak that Kenpom favors Gonzaga in a hypothetical matchup. That's bad, but emphasizes how good the draw otherwise is.

And all of these hypothetical regional matchups would be happening in Los Angeles, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from anyone in the region. Flip M into MSU's slot and they're staring down Kenpom #3 Duke and #9 Kansas… in Omaha. I'll take #7 UNC and #8 Gonzaga in a building that might slant to Michigan given the cosmopolitan nature of the fanbase over a roiling pit of Jayhawk partisans. Also, Izzo is 1-11 versus Duke.

Meanwhile, the first round. Michigan got the top 14 and top 6. The first probably won't matter—M has been installed as a 12 point favorite. Montana has five games against major conference opponents this year. They beat Pitt in OT, lost by 13 to PSU, lost by 16 to Stanford, and lost by three at Washington. All of those were on the road, naturally. They're 0-1 in Kenpom "A" games—the PSU outing—and 1-6 in "B" games, which include the aforementioned losses plus Ls against nonconference mid-majors Santa Barbara and Georgia State (a 15 seed) plus a 1-2 record in road games against the three toughest Big Sky opponents.

Despite that they're #71 in Kenpom, better than the other 14s by a fair distance. This is because they've hamblasted a bunch of Big Sky teams en route to a 16-2 conference record. When the difficulty level steps up they haven't been able to hang.

Montana plays a couple of 6'8" posts with no stretch ability and relies on their point guard for 27% of their shots; Synergy has them in the 14th percentile at catch and shoot and 16th on the off the dribble jumpers that Michigan has been very good at forcing. With all due respect to the Grizzlies, this isn't the picture of a 14-3 upset, especially against Michigan.


Rob Gray and his unfortunate hairstyle

The hypothetical second round. While Houston's had an impressive season boy do they look like the team you'd pick out for Michigan to play in round two. Let us run down the ways. Houston…

  • Relies on a high-usage point guard. Rob Gray is at 29% usage; his efficiency relies on TO avoidance and getting to the line. 50% of his threes are unassisted. He's 6'1" and not super athletic. That's the profile of a heavily-relied-upon guy that X can turn into a potato.
  • Is transition-dependent. Houston was #13 nationally in transition eFG; Synergy has them in the 91st percentile. They're only slightly above average in % of transition shots, but the upper reaches there are populated largely by teams that aren't any good and are just trying to get a shot up before the defense can get set.
  • Relies on threes. Average number go up; 34th in hitting them. Michigan is top ten at preventing three launches. Two Houston players are Just Shooters and don't threaten much when you run them off the line.
  • Lets you shoot threes. They're 195th in allowing them. 3PT D is good at 43rd but how much is luck, how much is real, etc.

The one thing that stands out on Houston's resume that's bad for Michigan is that their defense is massively foul-prone. Michigan is unlikely to take as much advantage of that as your average team.

In the "remains to be seen" category: Houston pounds the boards—17th—despite not having anyone taller than 6'8" on the floor. Houston is in fact tiny. Three different 6'6"-6'7" guys get about 75% of their minutes at the 4 and 5. Michigan has done very well at keeping the opposition off the boards and probably should in a hypothetical second-round matchup, but the sheer weirdness of Houston's approach here might give them avenues that Michigan isn't used to dealing with.

The other second round. Kenpom gives San Diego State a 34% chance at the upset of Houston and the Aztecs are an entirely different challenge. They're huge (18th nationally in height), three-averse, and frequently use a 2-3 zone. They have what might be the strangest three-game stretch in the country: a win against Gonzaga bracketed by losses to Cal (at home!) and Wyoming.

So despite the 6 vs 11 thing, I think I'd rather see Houston. San Diego State is not overly dependent on their PG (21% usage), doesn't run that well, runs a long-ass zone, and has a big Duncan Robinson matchup problem in Malik Pope. Pope is a diverse and athletic 6'10" four who can face up on or post Robinson and might be able to clobber him on the boards. Duncan's come a long way but I'm not real happy when the opposition rolls in with a 4 who's their biggest-usage guy.

But what about UNC? The Tarheels did clobber Michigan early in the year, thanks in large part to a 15 minute stretch spanning halftime during which Michigan got three buckets. This team is not that team. Eli Brooks played 18 minutes; Zavier Simpson played one minute more than Ibi Watson did. Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers both got their first real minutes against a real team—and on the road.

I would not expect Michigan to win that game, and that's fine. Michigan earned a three, got a three, and got what's actually the perfect Kenpom matchup at that point in the bracket: the #7 overall team vs the #10 overall team. But I don't think the first game is at all representative of what you should expect. UNC starts three seniors and two juniors coming off a national championship. Michigan had no idea who their point guard was or, frankly, what shape their ass was at that juncture.

UNC poses a bunch of matchup issues and Michigan will have to play their best game of the year to beat them. Even so I expect that to be tooth and nail. Should they be so fortunate to make the Elite Eight that game will feel like a breath of fresh air.

Don't even think about it. It will be UNC. Lipscomb? No. A 9-9 SEC team? No. Providence? No, even though their coach is Bunk Moreland. The Tarheels got a gift draw to the Sweet 16.


or big boy cool glasses [Campredon]

TIME TO PUT ON THE BIG BOY PANTS. It took a typical committee injustice to prevent Penn State from getting the Kenpom booby prize this year. They're the second-best team left out of the field, one slot behind St. Mary's. And they're a four-seed in the NIT. Same goes for Nebraska, which turned a (soft) 13-5 conference record into a 5 seed in that same tournament.

This is in part because both teams scheduled like garbage in the nonconference. Aside from their mandated Big Ten-ACC challenge games, this is what those two teams took on amongst power conferences and other actually good teams:

  • Penn State: Pitt, Texas A&M.
  • Nebraska: Creighton, Kansas, BC, St John's.

Nebraska deserves a little sympathy for coming up just short against those two tourney teams but the rest was dreck. This goes for the rest of the conference, too. The Big Ten's NCSOS markers per the NCAA's reckoning:

  • Ohio State: 32
  • Purdue: 71
  • Wisconsin: 92
  • Maryland: 141
  • Illinois: 169
  • Indiana: 201
  • Iowa: 203
  • MSU: 217
  • Minnesota: 244
  • Michigan: 259
  • PSU: 265
  • Nebraska: 274
  • Northwestern: 306
  • Rutger: 333

There are about 350 D-I basketball teams. Just five Big Ten teams were in the top half, and two just barely. I know the committee head basically laughed this metric off earlier this year, since the RPI is about 75% SOS all of that crap got lumped into actual RPI numbers and diced into quadrants and what not. It got batted back and forth as the league went through its conference schedule.

The league's scheduling has real impacts you can see when better ranking systems survey the landscape, like Seth Burns's implied pythag:

Pythag has a lot more respect for the Big 10 than the RPI has, and it shows here with the Big 10 getting three teams on the top two seed lines. Surprisingly (to me anyway), the ACC would only get one.

In a WAB (or Implied Pythag) world, Nebraska would be safely in. Ditto for St. Mary’s. Marquette and Middle Tennessee would be the last teams in, while Oklahoma State would be the first team out.

Nebraska's an 8. That's what they deserved. Oh and MSU's a 1 and Michigan a 2. But because our conference has its collective head up its Izzo, none of that came to pass. Nobody even thought about Nebraska as an at large because the collected weight of RPI boat anchors moved a top 30 Kenpom team (Penn State) out of the top 75 in RPI. And moved a top 50 Kenpom team (Maryland) almost out of same.

Hell, you don't need to even put on the Big Boy Pants. Just stop scheduling SWAC and MEAC teams, which are 8 points worse than the ASun. We'll see if next year's committee really dusts the RPI. If so, hooray. If not the league should fine any team that ends up with an NCSOS under 200.


Michigan Earns Three-Seed, Draws Montana In First Round

Michigan Earns Three-Seed, Draws Montana In First Round Comment Count

Ace March 11th, 2018 at 7:07 PM

Michigan will be dancing in Wichita. [Marc-Gregor Campredon[

After the most inane bracket reveal in the history of television, we now know the NCAA Tournament bracket in full (pdf here). Michigan is the three-seed in the West region; they'll play Big Sky champion Montana on Thursday in Wichita.

UPDATE: Per Tony Paul of the Detroit News, Michigan will get the late tipoff on Thursday, approximately 9:50 pm ET.

While it rankles that Michigan State, also a three-seed, got the coveted placement in Detroit over their superior rivals, the Wolverines got the better draw. The Spartans get Kansas-Duke-Auburn as the 1-, 2-, and 4-seed in their region. Michigan drew Xavier (easily the weakest one-seed), North Carolina, and Gonzaga.

Even though Montana is the top-ranked 14-seed on KenPom, Michigan should match up well with them. The Grizzlies start two paint-bound bigs and rely heavily on forcing turnovers to spark their defense. They also lean hard on point guard Ahmaad Rorie, who gets to deal with Zavier Simpson.

Should the Wolverines avoid a massive upset, they'd draw the winner of Houston-San Diego State 6/11 game on Saturday. The Cougars rank 17th on KenPom, best of the six-seeds, but again the matchup looks decent on paper. The have an extreme high-usage point guard, Rob Gray, who'll draw Simpson. While they have a short, mobile frontcourt that should be able to switch against Michigan's offense, they're also quite small in the backcourt—three starters are 6'1" and no rotation player is taller than 6'8".

If the seeds hold to form, Michigan would then get a rematch with UNC in the Sweet Sixteen. That will undoubtedly be tough—you probably tried to forget the 86-71 loss in the Dean Dome—but the Wolverines have become a completely different team since then. Plus, John Beilein wiht a week to prepare against an opponent he's already seen and so on. The location is a bit of a bummer, but the draw could be a whole lot worse.

We'll have much more on the Montana game and potential future opponents this week, including a podcast we'll record tomorrow and post on Tuesday.