YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN SOMETHING IMPORTANT FOR A SPECIAL PERSON: a sponsor note. Need a last-second gift? How about an actual piece of the Big House? Friend of the blog Martin Vloet got his hands on the original redwood Big House benches—the ones installed in 1927 and used until 2005—and had them made into limited edition pens, cufflinks, pendants, and bottle openers. He also claimed the old plastic seats and cut them up into magnets or pendants. The first 99 pens are reserved for Michigan football players, past or present, that want like to claim their jersey number. The rest of the pens will ship, #100 through #1927, on a first-ordered basis.
Use the code MGBFREESHIP and save on domestic shipping of any size order placed by 11:59 pm TODAY. As long as it goes out tomorrow, USPS Priority Mail should be able to make it to any US address by December 24.
Follow this man. Eric Shap on Michigan's defensive issues in their last two outings:
3/ I thought the defense in the USC game was especially sloppy -- poor post defense, guys losing shooters, and getting beaten back door. Those issues were mostly corrected against WMU, but another concern I'll be keeping an eye on due to Michigan's scheme is non-contact screens. pic.twitter.com/XKYoNyXaCQ
— Eric S (@eric_shap) December 18, 2018
5/ Lastly, Michigan's early season two-point defense was unsustainable and both South Carolina and WMU hit some difficult, low percentage shots inside the arc. pic.twitter.com/VxzSaXQB4h
— Eric S (@eric_shap) December 18, 2018
A combination of a December lull against teams that don't really have Michigan's attention and a reversion seemingly well past the mean; if holding Eric Paschall to 3/13 from two without doubling wasn't a realistic picture of Michigan's D, well neither is that last set of clips above.
If NET's taken as seriously as RPI that's fine. Weird article in the Washington Post trashing the NET rankings, which are wonky as any NCAA hodgepodge is going to be but hardly a disaster waiting to happen for tournament seeding. The article has three wrong premises. One is that NET is the be-all and end-all of selection and seeding:
You might not think such a discrepancy in the rankings would mean much, but consider how this could affect the NCAA tournament, where a team like Texas Tech would be given a No. 1 seed via its NET ranking, but plays more like a No. 3 seed, per its consensus ranking.
The committee still exists. We're still talking about quadrant one wins. There are still teamsheets. NET will be followed no more blindly than RPI was. Which was a little blindly, if we're being honest, but not to the point where a team gets a one seed solely because of a single number on the sheet.
Two is that a hodge-podge of computer rankings is an appropriate comparison point. Many, if not most, of the rankings in the giant compilation the author cites are predictive rankings that are inappropriate for selecting and seeding the field. At this point in the season many still have a significant preseason component—Kenpom won't be fully preseason-free until the end of January. If the season ended today a field selected and seeded by Kenpom alone would give Purdue, which is 6-5 and has just two B-level wins, a five seed. NET ranks Purdue 31st instead of 17th. NET's deviation from the average here is a positive. The article cites Houston's NET ranking (10th) vs their computer composite (23rd), but you could cherry-pick a weird outlier for almost every one of these ranking systems. ESPN's BPI has Michigan 11th.
Three is that NET won't be able to better distinguish between teams given an additional half-season of data. This is an absurd comparison to make:
Based on last year’s consensus rankings, a top-four consensus team had an average RPI ranking of 3.3. This year the average NET ranking of a top-four team is 5.5, almost identical to a team ranked between No. 5 and No. 8 in the consensus group. In other words, the NET rankings are incapable of distinguishing between a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, a stark contrast compared to last year where, via RPI, there was a clear difference between the two.
For one, last year's RPI-influenced committee put Kenpom #9 Kansas and Kenpom #14(!!!) Xavier on the one line. As a group the two-seeds were stronger. For two, most teams have only played a third of their games so far. Of course there is going to be more disagreement amongst ranking systems when they have less data.
The only real question is "is NET better than RPI when tourney time nears?" Open question, but it would have to try real hard to be worse.
[After THE JUMP: more NCAA legal troubles, what is USC even doing, and a sudden 180]