The most recent Ken Pomeroy podcast had a brief discussion of the Big Ten's 20-game conference schedule, which got a thumbs down because Pomeroy prefers nonconference games. Nonconference games connect various conferences and are required for ranking systems to make sense, so Pomeroy's got a point.
But what kind of games are being excised by the expanded conference schedule? I looked at everyone's schedules this year and last and divided them into approximate major and non-major categories. There's some wobble in these distinctions. The A-10, Mountain West, and Big East count. Certain programs (Gonzaga and the top of the American) outside of the top 7 conferences also count. I ended up grudgingly including DePaul because they're in a major conference but left out some incidentally top 100 opponents like Montana and South Dakota State on the assumption that these were buy games that were accidentally good opponents. FWIW, if you were to do it the other way and drop out programs like Pitt while including good mid- and low-majors the number of games worth playing would remain essentially equal.
Anyway, the conclusion is that the extra conferences games have almost universally replaced bad buy games:
5 (LSU, VCU, UNC, UCLA, Texas)
5 (Nova, GW, Providence, UNC, SoCar)
5 (Duke, UNC, ND, DePaul, UConn)
5 (KU, UCLA, Texas, Florida, Louisville
6 (Xavier, BU, UCLA, UVA, Temple, Marq)
6 (Xavier, Stanford, OK, UVA, NCST, Marq)
4 (St John's, BC, Creighton, Kansas)
5 (Seton Hall, TTech, Clemson, Creighton, OkieSt)
5(Gonzaga, Stan, Butler, Clemson, UNC)
4 (Cinci, Creighton, Cuse, UCLA)
4 (Seton Hall, Duke, UL, ND)
5(Marq, Ark, Duke, UL, Butler)
4(Butler, Bonnies, UNM, Cuse)
2(UVA, Seton Hall)
5(Marq, Tenn, AZ, UL, Butler)
5 (Davidson, FSU, VT, Texas, ND)
4(NCST, GW, Pitt, A&M)
4(DePaul, VT, NCST, Bama)
6(Creighton, La Salle, TTech, GT, DePaul, OK)
6(Fresno, La Salle, UT, GT, DePaul, OK)
4(Prov, Bama, Miami, Ark)
5(Utah, A&M, UW, BC, OkieSt)
5( DePaul, Wake, UNLV, NMSU, Mizzou)
7(GTown, Zags, ISU, Xavier, ND, UNLV, Mizzou)
2 (FSU, Seton Hall)
3(St John's, Miami, Seton Hall)
3(VT, ISU, CU)
4(Oregon, UConn, Pitt, ISU)
There are 28 fewer slots for mid- to low-major buy games and 31 fewer mid-to-low-major matchups. Only two teams (OSU and Maryland) are playing fewer major opponents this year.
There's an argument that the increased slate of conference games reduces opportunities for teams like Bucknell, which was three points away from a win at Maryland last year, to establish their tournament bonafides. That may be happening to some degree but teams like Bucknell, Marshall, Belmont, Wright State, Loyola-Chicago, and Bradley still speckle Big Ten schedules.
It's undeniable that most of the games that aren't being played as a result of the 20-game schedule aren't really worth playing.
Do not read the replies, which are all #TalkinBouttheBuckeyes. Unfortunately the PFF news isn't all good. Their list of Michigan's top five offensive players against WMU drops off pretty rapidly and implies that if any OL scraped over a 70 rating it wasn't by much:
In the past 70 has been "this person isn't terrible"; if they've still got the same scale they're attributing much of Michigan's success to WMU dorfs. Which is accurate.
Quick! Who does Rutgers have committed at running back? Recruiting services should probably give a running back who decommits from Rutgers six stars:
Following in the footsteps of fellow former Rutgers RB commits Saquon Barkley and Jonathan Taylor, Stevie Scott leads all freshmen and is tied for 4th nationally in carries per game and is 2nd among freshmen and 8th nationally in rushing yards per game #iufb
#RickPitino congrats on the new book. Like most great people, society tries to find ways to knock them down but those who stay strong become legends. Rick, you’re a living legend. God bless, keep up the great work, it's just the beginning of a new chapter in life, Dale! pic.twitter.com/Rql4M56cCF
I dislike playing in that tournament because I have crazy theories about how playing in a hotel room with a ten foot ceiling affects your long-range shooting, but that should be three good games unless things go very pear-shaped and they end up playing Southern Miss.
Speaking of black pits of negative expectation. Poor Damn Mikey Dudek:
BREAKING: #illini Lovie: Mike Dudek suffered season-ending knee injury during Week One.
Early in his Michigan tenure, Harbaugh pulled Speight aside and told him not to eat chicken, a protein that is considered fairly safe by nutritionists. When Speight asked why, Harbaugh said, "because it's a nervous bird."
"He thinks some type of sickness injected its way into the human population when people began eating white meats instead of beef and pork," Speight says. "And he believes it, 100 percent."
The Pork Advisory Council just spiked its glove into the dirt and walked away, fading into oblivion before it exited the outfield.
But what's even better is Matt Hayes's attempt to pivot from Harbaugh's crypto-Lamarckian theory of nutrition to his banal-to-the-point-of-narcolepsy response to questions about his starting QB:
That wasn't any less strange than the way Harbaugh responded to questions about Patterson during Big Ten media days. How he insisted the best quarterback on his roster—and the one guy who can save the program—is just one of four quarterbacks available.
That's right, he said available.
Well, folks. I'm baffled. I have no way to connect the dots between Jim Harbaugh Thinks Eating Lobster Makes You Grow Claws and Jim Harbaugh Said "Available" In A Press Conference being equally odd. I mean, I get that Patterson is a lock to start, but surely Hayes has been around the block enough to know that coaches play coy about their starters about 90% of the time they don't have a returning player.
HOEG. Richard Hoeg does small business law. Need to incorporate? Need some contracts? Need to talk about Star Control? Richard will do all three, and only charge you for the first two.
Anyway, Star Control. Star Control was a mindblowing video game because stuff happened in it and if you took too long you could lose the game as your allies fell to the great galactic menace. Losing is fun.
Having a bad contract and either getting sued or having to settle on unfavorable terms is not fun, and Richard Hoeg can help craft contracts for you that will avoid this eventuality. Police horses!
Tiller-era in more ways than one. This twitter bomb(!) from one of Purdue's recruiting yokels is frankly baffling:
Why pick a fight with a program that held you to 15 yards in the second half last year? Why get mad about Michigan getting recruits? You're at Purdue! With limited exceptions for legacies and locals the number of bonafide recruiting battles you're winning against Michigan—against, hell, most of the Big Ten, is zero. Also Purdue's leading receiver averaged 3.6 catches a game.
I feel like this guy bought a Big Dogs shirt for the first time and was overwhelmed by it while near his phone, and he'll return to a mild-mannered citizen tomorrow when he puts his Ron Jon back on. It happens. It's good, really. It's fun when Purdue has a bunch of ornery passing maniacs who talk shit and bend rules.
[After THE JUMP: a bunch of stuff! And porpoises!]
Glen Rice isn't walking through that—oh. I see. Several Glen Rices are already in residence. Well, fine. You just go out there and win one for Bo Schembechler. I'll be over here in the corner weeping and inventing new swear words. As one does on the opening day of the World Cup.
A good summary of football in two minutes. Kyle Shanahan is asked whether NFL teams have "figured out" the zone read. This is of course a dorfy question about whether that gimmick college stuff can last in The Shield. Shanahan doesn't take the bait and instead provides a concise summary of football strategy:
In his presser today, Kyle Shanahan was asked if he felt defenses had figured out the zone read. His answer was fantastic pic.twitter.com/dSa9FfGGHn
yes, i am available to give your Blue Ribbon Committee a sheen of respectability
I mean it wasn't going to be any different. The NCAA's Look We Hired Condi Rice Again commission has delivered their deliverable, a 52-page report about "putting the 'college' back in college basketball." As with all these things it's more of a CYA activity than a genuine attempt to address the problems inherent in a system that prohibits compensation for people who other folks would really like to compensate. Some major takeaways include "end one and done"—which the NCAA has no control over—and "enforce rules better"—good luck.
But! Even in this document there are some grudging concessions:
Rice expressed tacit approval for providing athletes with a cut of the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses, which is currently before courts.
“Most commissioners believe that the rules on name, image and likeness should be taken up as soon as the legal framework is established,” she said. “It is hard for the public, and frankly for me, to understand what can be allowed with the college model — for the life of me I don’t understand the difference between Olympic payments and participation in ‘Dancing With the Stars’ — and what can’t be allowed without opening the door to professionalizing college basketball.”
Unfortunately, the "professionalizing college basketball" has already happened in every meaningful way. TV now dictates game times. Revenue is ruthlessly maximized. Players get more or less cut annually. The only way in which college basketball has not professionalized is in the literal paying of their workers, so we get all the downsides of it without even the compensation of thinking "well, at least it's sort of fair now."
Under the heading “A Message to NCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches," the document signed by NABC executive director Jim Haney and deputy director Reggie Minton declares, “In short, it is imperative that the Commission’s recommendations be met with unequivocal support from each of us.”
The NABC even listed a series of “Key Talking Points” for members to follow.
— “Change was necessary, and we knew that change was coming. As coaches on the front lines, we are uniquely positioned to offer valuable insight as the Commission’s recommendations progress through the legislative process.” — “As coaches, we are committed to working with the NCAA in evaluating the recommendations and will provide appropriate input as legislation is drafted.” — “We are appreciative of the Commission’s efforts to address necessary change, and for welcoming the input of the NABC.
The commission doesn't actually advocate any meaningful change. Coaches are currently the main beneficiaries of amateurism and must support a document that waves hands at everyone around the sport without actually affecting their bottom lines. But they have to make it look like they are supporting Change, Which Is Good.
The stick and ball games are doing fairly well. Softball is currently on a 14-game winning streak, which isn't that unusual. Freshman pitcher Meghan Beaubien is crushing the competition:
Beaubien, who leads the nation in wins, improved to 27-2 and lowered her ERA to 0.74, which is sixth in the NCAA. She threw a one-hitter against Maryland on Friday, striking out seven in seven innings in a 6-0 win.
One thing that is unusual: there's a Big Ten team within shouting distance. Softball takes on Indiana in a critical three game series this weekend; the Hoosiers are just a half-game back.
Another thing that's unusual: that's not the longest winning streak on south campus in late April. Baseball is up to 20 straight, largely because Eric Bakich pulled off an unprecedented recruiting class:
ANN ARBOR -- The 2017 recruiting class for Michigan's baseball team was the highest ranked ever for a Big Ten team.
Its 10th overall ranking by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper created high expectations for the 13 incoming freshmen and two junior college transfers.
With the Wolverines coming off a 42-win season, their first 40-win season since 2008, many of the newcomers would be counted on to fill key roles after the team lost 15 players from last season, including a program-record 11 MLB Draft picks.
Although some of them struggled to start the season when the team lost 11 of its first 15 games, the freshmen, most notably pitchers Ben Dragani, Jeff Criswell and Angelo Smith, along with first baseman Jesse Franklin and outfielder Jordan Nwogu, have been key contributors during the Wolverines' 20-game win streak, the program's longest since 1987.
The pressure is still on because of that rough start. Baseball bracketologists usually have Michigan in the field but as one of the last four teams.
Another transfer pass. Sophomore SG Austin Reaves is leaving Wichita State and has mentioned Michigan amongst 22 schools in contact, leading to the usual "!?!??" articles and message board threads about the possibility of adding him. Folks, Reaves is Just A Shooter who must sit a year before playing two.
Does Michigan need a 6'5" JAS shooting guard? Not really. Would he be better than Adrien Nunez? Maybe, maybe not. Would Reaves occupy a 2019 scholarship in a class that's looking like 2 or 3 tops? Yes.
This one is better than the sit-one-play-two guy with a 102 ORTG in the NEC, at least. Reaves is still not a fit unless Michigan wants to stop swinging at the top 50 guys in the 2019 class they seem to have a lot of traction with.
Best guess at the discrepancy: Michigan misses three of the easiest games in league play. From a tourney resume perspective that's good; from a league title perspective not so much. At least this year the 20 game schedule means the schedule gap is significantly smaller than it was a year ago, when MSU was handed a dubious banner.
Again, small hockey schools can pound sand. Niagara fired its hockey coach and replaced him. His first act? Cutting eight guys. Eight! Niagara says they'll honor scholarship commitments, largely because they have to say that, but chances are these guys are headed elsewhere. It's one thing to have to squeeze out another year of junior for a player because of college hockey's crazy recruiting environment. Cutting eight guys is entirely another. This only happens in college hockey because you can import a bunch of 21-year-old freshman-type substances, another small-school innovation.
This is not an isolated incident. When UMass-Amherst cut ~nine guys last year. When you hear people complaining about Michigan flipping recruits, tell 'em to get stuffed! Get stuffed, I say!
If it keeps going like this I'll learn to spell "renaissance" correctly on the first try. Rob Dauster on Michigan's elite... defense? That is what the card says. Defense.
As surprising as that decision was, the dots connected. Yaklich, like Beilein, spent his life as a teacher and a high school coach before breaking into the college ranks. Unlike Beilein, however, Yaklich has prided himself in his ability to get the most out of a team on the defensive end of the floor.
“As a high school coach, I focused entirely on defense,” Yaklich said. At the high school level, coaching offense is more about skill development, about making your players better shooters, better ball-handlers, better scorers. Figure out a handful of things that you can have success with and trust your players to make plays. “My high school coaches instilled that in me. When I went to Illinois State, I naturally grew into that role. We didn’t have a defensive coordinator, but my voice, that’s what I took pride in.”
At Michigan, that is, quite literally, Yaklich’s role. He was hired to coach Michigan’s defense, to be their defensive coordinator, and the success that the Wolverines have had on that end cannot be overlooked. Prior to this season, Beilein never had a team finish higher than 37th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings. In the last four seasons, the Wolverines never finished higher than 69th.
“The smartest thing is I stopped coaching it so much,” Beilein said of his team’s defensive improvement. “I let other people become the voice of it. I wanted one guy, that’s all he thinks about all day long.”
I'm not taking credit for suggesting that Beilein needs a defensive coordinator. But I'm not not taking credit. I will be ambiguously pleased.
Similar resumes. I should have posted this a couple days ago when it was slightly different, with the Stauskas Elite Eight team at the top of the list. But anyway here's Bart Torvik's list of resumes most similar to Michigan's in recent committee history:
Nik and company are still #3. These are all at least three seeds and 40% of them are twos. I haven't seen anything else suggesting Michigan can get to a two, but hopefully that indicates Jerry Palm's (and 30% of the matrix's) 4-seed is off.
There is exactly one bracket that puts Michigan on the five line, but it's KPI. For some reason KPI is on the teamsheets, so hooray for that.
One of many maximum Beilein moments. A man who recognizes his own limitations.
Unbalanced schedule FTL. This year was an excellent example of how the Big Ten's schedule cheapens the regular season title. A gent calling himself "Wicked_UMD"—must be a St. Cloud State fan—analyzed how the schedule rotation affected expected wins in league play:
Exp Win Delta
That half-win edge over Purdue had a fairly good shot at costing the Boilers a share of the title, and Michigan is almost two wins back of MSU—flip that first Purdue game and that is also a title-altering schedule gap.
The net result is a cheapening of the regular season title. Adding two conference games will help somewhat, but only somewhat: each team still misses almost half the conference for a second game annually. There is a way to create a maximally meaningful and fair conference race with just one extra game:
Alternative: 19 game conference schedule.
PHASE 1: round robin. PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin. Rutgers is relegated to the Big East every year.
PROS: Absolutely fair. Winner is undisputed. Makes Big Ten title a huge important deal. Final six games for teams that make upper half would be knock-down drag out brutal free-for-all for league title. Would give top teams impregnable schedule strength. You could televise the schedule draw with Ronaldo and Messi in suits.
CONS: May cost league NCAA bids if the best team in the bottom half can't get any marquee wins in the last six games or the worst team in the top half just gets blitzed. Bottom half is just kind of sadly playing out the string. Uncertainty about final three home games may impact ticket sales negatively. Extremely distant possibility that the 8th best team 13 games in can climb all the way to the top.
This will never happen because the folks in charge are more interested in milking as much money out of college basketball than making a drastic and potentially awesome change. But seriously you guys.
Despite his limitations, and the diminishing market for players his size, there's still a role in today's NBA for a highly skilled big man who can space the floor and plays with a competitive spirit. Wagner is young for a junior, not turning 21 until the end of April, so he has time to continue to improve considering he was already a late bloomer to begin with. He'd likely get picked somewhere in the second round if he decided to keep his name in the draft but also could benefit from coming back for his senior year and continuing to work on his weaknesses, namely his defense, passing and overall feel for the game.
They rank him 55th, so not even towards the top of the second round. SI has an extensive Big Ten Tournament scouting article that comes to a similar conclusion:
Draft Projection: Second Round
After testing and staying in school last year, Wagner has definitely improved, although he’s still a bit of an acquired taste among scouts. It depends on what you value in your bigs, and his considerable offensive skills will be worth the risk to some teams despite his lackluster defense and physical limitations in that area. Wagner excels as a screener and post-up option and has a good feel for finding pockets in the defense. He’s heavy-footed and looks a bit clumsy at times, but his skill level facing up, attacking closeouts and keeping defenders honest gets the job done in college. He gets some credit for helping lift Michigan to the title (and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player) but the Wolverines won more by playing great team basketball than relying on Wagner to carry them.
It'll be up to Wagner's whim. He's not in the range where he's going to get a guaranteed contract and may end up in the G-League. The money there isn't great so he might decide he'd rather play under the bright lights of the NCAA than for the Fort Wayne Mad Antz even if he delays his earnings a year. If the consensus is that he'll stick on a roster that's a totally different matter.
The former Kentucky transfer has been plagued by consistency issues throughout his career but has an outside chance at the league depending on how much he can improve over the course of the next year. “I can’t put my finger on what he does well,” says one scout, the sentiment being that Matthews is best suited as a 3-and-D wing given the heavy demand for such players. He has the right type of body to fit in the league, but struggles to create his own offense and has to simplify his approach. He did hit a pair of threes against Michigan State, but must improve his shot selection and become a consistently impactful defender to succeed in the NBA.
Silver lining from his collapse midseason is that Michigan doesn't have to worry about his departure after just one year.
The hopes are dangerously up. George Sipple of the Free Press checks in with Quinn and Jack Hughes, who's currently the projected #1 pick in the 2019 draft. In addition to various items about how he is a generational hockey player is this tantalizing possibility:
Two Hughes at U-M in 2019? There’s a chance Jack could join his older brother at Michigan next season. The middle Hughes has not committed anywhere, and Ellen and Jim acknowledge U-M is one possibility.
Michigan has had players accelerate to play college hockey early. Jack is currently in his junior year of high school, but, through online courses, he could go on an accelerated academic track, and graduate early to be able to play collegiality next year.
Jack sought exceptional status to play in the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old, but was denied. Among the short list of players who have been granted that status to play a year early are John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid, who are now in the NHL. …
“It could be a perfect scenario,” Jim said of Jack going to U-M. “But they’re not there yet. The beauty is Jack is in a really great spot right now. He values the development he’s getting with Seth and Wrobo.”
For perspective, Hughes is playing up with the U18s as a U17:
Two more points tonight for 2019 top prospect Jack Hughes. His next point will tie him with Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel for most points by an NTDP player in his U17 season. Kessel 82 in 62 GP (1.32 pts/gp), Keller 82 in 61 GP (1.34), Hughes 81 in 44 GP (1.84).
Adding Hughes—and presumably keeping Quinn—would radically change next year's outlook.
Brandon Johns highlights. He is up for Mr. Basketball and looks like a perfect fit as a Beilein 4:
His main competition is David DeJulius, it appears.
One and done done? The NBA's one and done rule was always more about the NBA than college basketball, and now that they've got Lebron and a former president criticizing it publicly it may not be long for this world. The proposal is wrought with frippery that attempts to make it seem like one-and-done wasn't a selfish act from the drop:
Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver and several of his top advisers have been engaged in listening tours and information-gathering missions with an array of stakeholders for months. That has included formal meetings with the National Basketball Players Association about adjusting the so-called "one-and-done" age-limit rule. But Silver's aim is much more comprehensive than simply re-opening the door for 18-year-olds to play in the NBA, sources said.
A plan is expected to include the NBA starting relationships with elite teenagers while they are in high school, providing skills to help them develop both on and off the court. It would ultimately open an alternate path to the NBA besides playing in college and a way 18-year-olds could earn a meaningful salary either from NBA teams or as part of an enhanced option in the developmental G League, sources said.
The NCAA is either going to work with the NBA to keep a healthy number of future stars in college basketball or lose them all because of their archaic rules. Survey says it'll be the former because the people in charge care about money.
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Oh. Barstool. Barstool is trash and it's no surprise that it's Barstool that has again found the trashiest sign on Penn State's campus and been like "oh sick burn, bro," because Barstool just hires whatever local Chad they can find and Chad does Chad things. The latest:
Set aside the potential odiousness of the joke. It's not even a good joke. The University of Michigan did not decide to change the source of Flint's water, or attempt to cover up the humanitarian disaster that was unfolding. This is equivalent to burning PSU for the actions of Philadelphia's mayor. Nobody does this, because nobody has to when trying to burn Penn State.
Anyway, Barstool's second-biggest problem is that they think "edgy" is funny by itself. Andrew-Dice-Clay-ass website.
Kinnel kind of surprises me, if only because I'm having a hard time thinking much of anything either way about the safeties. They are off screen for the large majority of this game, and Indiana's offense prohibits replays.
Mike Onwenu and Karan Higdon both made the offensive team. Also in "what were you doing with your offensive line recruiting two years ago": Maryland sophomore OG Terrance Davis makes the team. IIRC Michigan straight up passed on that guy.
20 games. Big Ten basketball head coaches have voted in favor of a 20-game conference schedule. Jon Rothstein reports that the change will happen next year. That'll take the schedule to 7 teams you play twice and 6 you play once, and a that point you might as well implement the Scottish Premiere League approach, which only takes 19 games and is awesome.
It’s only been in the last year that he came out to his dad. Dismayed by election results last November, he told his father that he was scared for himself and other people like him. When dad wrote back a vague message of support, James went all in.
“I just it blurted out –– and told him for the first time verbatim –– 'Dad, I'm gay. Do you know that? And because of that, this is why X,Y, Z. I'm scared because of this, that and the other.'
“And he just said something else back, it was an encouraging and uplifting response about how you just need to keep your head up. 'As long as you do what you feel is right in your mind, you live your truth. Everything will end up being OK.'"
James does not like his dad's sartorial choices, which makes him like every son in the history of the universe.
Jack Summers-Victory Honda U16-Summers is a bit undersized and not a huge offensive threat yet, but he has incredible footwork and skating that makes him an effective defender and gives him the upside to potentially be a very dynamic player.
Summers played under Bill Muckalt last year, so he's a guy the coaching staff knows very well. Heisenberg has him listed as a 2019 kid. Michigan's also added 2019 F Cassidy Bowes, who's a bit of an odd duck. He spent last year playing in a western Canadian prep school league, putting up 49 points in 30 games. He's joined the BCHL and has 6 points in nine games in the early going.
Both Summers and Bowes will arrive in 2019 as 20-year-olds, so they're fleshing out the class. They're the 12th and 13th kids across four different recruiting classes Pearson has recruited since he was hired four months ago. He's added four guys to an already five-strong 2017 class, six 2019 kids to Mike Vukojevic, two 2020 kids to a Little Caesar's trio, and 2021 Dylan Duke.
I'm not sure all these guys are getting to campus or guaranteed full rides, particularly the older gents. This is a more aggressive style of recruiting than Michigan is used to; Pearson seems dead set on not having big roster holes from the inevitable departures.