What Are You Gonna Do, Stab Me?

What Are You Gonna Do, Stab Me? Comment Count

Brian November 15th, 2018 at 12:24 PM

11/14/2018 – Michigan 73, Villanova 46 – 3-0

During the consumption-of-entrails portion of the game someone tweeted a question at me.

Sort of but also no. "Death from above" is a particular genre of Beilein win where Nik Stauskas sticks contested threes in your face and no amount of scoring you manage is ever enough to climb up the Sisyphean treadmill that Michigan's offense presents you. Halfway through the first half your official twitter account issues a shruggie. The danger comes from the high-arcing artillery shells Michigan fires with unerring accuracy, and then a Lithuanian-Canadian dude dunks on your face.

That's Death From Above. This was different, except for the Lithuanian-Canadian dude. This was a shiv in the dark.

Michigan was most dangerous in the low places, where Zavier Simpson's fingers are stickiest and Ignas Brazdeikis's defense most implausible. The closest thing to a consistent perimeter threat Michigan presented came from Charles Matthews jumpers that started just outside the restricted circle and ended just inside the three-point line. The very, very burly Eric Paschall is going to hit 65% from two in conference play; he was just 3 of 13 against against a true freshman wing giving up 40 pounds.

At the same time Michigan was turning an All Big East C into a pumpkin they limited Villanova (VILLANOVA!) to 3 of 15 from behind the arc, on shots that were about 95% contested. Six different guys had steals. Zavier Simpson had five himself. Villanova had three turnovers for every assist.

At some point Gus Johnson said that Michigan was known for ferocious defense and a near-total lack of turnovers. I thought about tweeting out something in the "lol that's half-right" genre, and then stopped. Stopped like a wildebeest trying to drive the lane against Michigan. Maybe it's true. Or, at least, it's is going to be true.

And like, I don't know, fine? Let's go? I don't have the fingers to deal with this.

Never in the history of humanity has a program undergone such a dramatic 180 in how they get things done without losing its fundamental personality. And make no mistake: Zavier Simpson is as good of a Beilein-at-Michigan avatar as anyone despite the fact he'll hit 30% of his threes this year if he's lucky. He is not without precedent. He is the continuation of a theme. Seven years ago Darius Morris told Michigan State to "get the fuck off my court." Nik Stauskas terrified Kentucky fans despite Kentucky having 16 seven-foot jumping jacks. Charles Matthews?

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Charles Matthews spent the entire first half doing this to various Villanova Wildcats. Everyone wanted to punch him and someone almost did.

These guys have always been assassins. Just not this kind. They've been guys who line your head up in a targeting reticle from two miles away. Now they knock on the front door and ask if anyone wants to play with all these knives they brought. You can say no all you want. The question is rhetorical.

stabme

Yes. Michigan is going to stab you until a palpably depressed Gus Johnson can no longer inject any life into the game. And then they're going to stab you one last time, because maybe you deserved it.

[After THE JUMP: some bullets and react from elsewhere]

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Hoops Preview 2018-19: Wings

Hoops Preview 2018-19: Wings Comment Count

Matt Way November 6th, 2018 at 4:47 PM

 

Gone are Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson. Enter Ignas Brazdeikis, Brandon Johns, and Adrien Nunez.

Despite losing two significant rotation members from last year’s squad, the depth at wing should stabilize Michigan as the team looks to repeat last year’s March run.

Charles Matthews

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[Bryan Fuller]

Year: Senior

Measurables: 6’6’’, 205

Base Stats: 30.1 MPG, 13.0 PPG, 58/32/56 2P/3P/FT%, 5.5 REB/G, 2.4 AST/G, 2.0 TO/G

Key Advanced Metrics: 25.1% usage, 105.7 ORating, 16.1 assist %, 14.7 turnover %, 17.0 total rebound %

Following a brief flirtation with the NBA Draft, Charles Matthews decided that his time in Ann Arbor was not complete.

Matthews’ first season under John Beilein was a bit of a roller coaster, but it ended strong with great play in March. Transferring from Kentucky, Matthews was learning a completely new system and implementing novel concepts during game play didn’t come without its struggles:

"I came into the season, we're going over plays and the freshmen were looking at me. And I was like y'all are going to have to look at somebody else. I don't know this stuff either." 

Now with a full season under his belt, Matthews will be expected to shoulder a heavier burden.

With the departure of MAAR, Matthews is the only proven playmaker Beilein has among wings. Although he sometimes over-dribbles, Matthews developed chemistry with Jon Teske in the pick and roll last season and he will continued to be called upon to summon it to create shots for both himself and others.

When he’s off the ball, Matthews showed an ability to recognize and occupy open space via cuts leading to easy buckets.

Defensively, Matthews often took the task of defending the best opposing wing and did so admirably. His athleticism and strength provide real deterrents for bigger wings and help slow down offense that has given Michigan trouble for years.

If Michigan is going to have a deep run in March again, Charles Matthews will need to be a big part of it. With his physical abilities and developing skills and chemistry in Beilein’s offense, it’s entirely possible that he can play just that type of role.

Ignas Brazdeikis

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Year: Freshman

Measurables: 6’7’’, 215

Recruiting Profile (Hello post): Four-star, #9 PF, #40 overall (247 Composite)

Arriving in Ann Arbor via Ontario, Ignas Brazdeikis earned the starting spot in Michigan’s first exhibition game against Northwood.

Brazdeikis is a unique freshman in that he appears likely to play multiple positions for the Wolverines right out of the gate. Beilein makes a point of defining player’s roles and that’s especially true among his young players who have a lot to learn in his new, complex system.

But Brazdeikis isn’t your typical freshman.

At 6’7, he possesses the size to play power forward but the skill and athleticism to move up as high as the shooting guard position. He moves fluidly on the court and can attack mismatches, both big and small, that will remind many Michigan fans of Moritz Wagner.

Of course, that’s not to say that Brazdeikis will produce at the level of Wagner as a freshman, but his versatility in all lineups will help fill a void left by Wagner’s departure.

As with all freshmen, there will be ups and downs with Brazdeikis’ first season in Ann Arbor. But his intriguing skill set makes it likely that the ups will be far higher than with your typical first-year player.

[After THE JUMP: Livers, Nunez, Johns]

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Unverified Voracity Swiftly Reverses Dumb Decision

Unverified Voracity Swiftly Reverses Dumb Decision Comment Count

Brian November 1st, 2018 at 2:11 PM

Reminder. Tom VH will hold you at Literati tomorrow at 7. He'll also be on MGoRadio. Pat pat, there there. I'll be there, too, but I didn't write a book

So that happened, and then un-happened. Maryland retained DJ Durkin, and then fired DJ Durkin, because people are just in charge of things for no reason. Like Michigan State, the people in charge of things in this case are the regents. Reports that president Wallace Loh wanted to axe everyone were likely true, and after everyone from the student government to both candidate for governor publicly complained Maryland admitted what every adult American other than their board members already knew: DJ Durkin's career is toast.

Anyway, now's a good time to reflect on the colossal failure Big Ten expansion has been:

Let’s start with rutger. I don’t know if I need to say anything more about these guys that hasn’t been said in the past four years. They’re terrible at the major sports. They’ve embarrassingly brought down the strength of the Big Ten schedule. A few months after their Big Ten membership became official, the basketball coach was caught on video throwing basketballs and yelling homophobic slurs at players. Ex-AD Julie Hermann was routinely making shocking statements to the media and embroiled in controversy at her former schools. Ex-football coach Kyle Flood once threatened a professor if he wouldn’t change a player’s grade. The list goes on. rutger remains an easy target. We’ve already covered them extensively on this blog. Oh yeah, this [a Rutgers player being kicked off the team for a failed double-homicide] happened yesterday as well. Not great, Piscataway!

Moving onto Maryland. Until recently, the frustration with the Terps was a little more subtle than their New Jersey counterparts. The football team employed Randy Edsall. The basketball team hasn’t reached the heights it did under Gary Williams, attendance is down after a post-B1G boost, and an FBI investigation looms over the program. At least men’s lacrosse and women’s hoops have been reliable, though.

But then there is the situation with head football coach DJ Durkin, which after months of investigations regarding McNair’s death, was seemingly resolved yesterday. The Maryland Board of Regents overruled outgoing university president Wallace Loh, who seemingly wanted Durkin fired, and reinstated Durkin as the coach, despite the release of a 200-page report that illustrated the abusive behavior of the coaching staff under his watch. After all of this, one startling fact remains: a 19 year-old student-athlete died, and the head coach has been allowed to keep his job. Unsurprisingly, Jordan McNair’s family was angry about this decision, and at least 3 players walked out of a team meeting with Durkin yesterday. Now, the university administration has received tons of criticism, and is facing backlash from Maryland lawmakers as well as UMD students, who plan to hold a rally Thursday.

Great job, Jim Delany. Hope the brief surge in television revenue was worth it.

Urban's head. Meyer's strange behavior on the sideline has a cause:

Since kneeling down on the sideline in a game against Indiana on Oct. 6 because of severe headaches, Meyer has been peppered with questions about his health and future in coaching. He said the cause of the discomfort links back to a congenital arachnoid cyst in his brain, which has led to severe headaches at times in his career.

“The past four years, we’ve been working closely with coach Meyer to monitor and manage the symptoms that have risen from his enlarged congenital arachnoid cyst,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, Meyer’s personal physician and the chief clinical officer at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “This includes aggressive headaches, which have particularly flared up the past two years.”

That sucks for him and does not excuse his conduct with Zach Smith. Verdict: still a bad dude. Not the kind that saves the president. An expired coupon kind of guy.

[After THE JUMP: secret scrimmages, ooooooh]

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Open Practice Impressions

Open Practice Impressions Comment Count

Brian October 30th, 2018 at 12:19 PM

Michigan's annual basketball open practice was yesterday. Takes! You need takes!

Pick and roll focus. After a quick warmup the drills portion of the practice was largely pick and roll, with various managers simulating the various ways teams defend P&R and Michigan executing plays based on the opposition's reaction. There was also a fast break drill that started 3 v 2 or 3 v 1 with the defense getting extra players up to parity after an initial disadvantage.

Positional intrigue. Brooks played the two next to Simpson in the scrimmage; Beilein explicitly noted that a number of players were playing multiple positions. That's par for the course; the interesting bit was that Livers and Johns are both options at center. Michigan ran a little of Livers at C last year, where he looked lost on the offensive end. Johns looked pretty similar during the scrimmage. Despite that I'd expect to see him mostly at the 5. Beilein talked about his "four bigs" at one point and generally referenced Johns as a 5.

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[Campredon]

Scrimmage! Teams:

  • Maize was Simpson/Brooks/Nunez/Livers/Teske, with Castleton subbing in at the 5. CJ Baird also got a little run.
  • Blue was DeJulius/Poole/Matthews/Brazdeikis/Davis, with Johns subbing in at the 5.

Maize won by approximately 8 points (there was no scoreboard but Beilein had it in his head and kept exhorting blue to get some stops), largely on the strength of Simpson and Teske. Beilein was mic'd up and kept relaying items to the crowd—this was delightful—and one of them was a mention that Simpson and Teske had great chemistry in the pick and roll. This was borne out, as Simpson found Teske repeatedly with a series of slick pocket passes that set the Maize team up for easy buckets. Many of these drew "oooohs" from the assembled crowd.

Simpson didn't just find Teske; he was able to set up all manner of his teammates. His shot's still pretty broke; even so he looked like a guy who'd taken another largish leap forward. It felt like he'd be able to get to the lane with more consistency and pay that off more. Simpson's sophomore year already featured a 25% assist rate*, which was around 200th nationally. That was comparable to Derrick Walton's final two years. Trey Burke's Naismith year saw him rack up a 37% assist rate. Simpson could get to 30-32%, maybe? The kind of passes he was making felt like they'd work against a whole hell of a lot of folks.

*[IE, a quarter of Michigan's baskets when Simpson was on the floor were assisted by him.]

[After THE JUMP: a freshman who doesn't feel like one]

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Maximizing Charles Matthews

Maximizing Charles Matthews Comment Count

Matt Way September 5th, 2018 at 1:17 PM

[Photo: Bryan Fuller]

[Ed-Seth: I know you all want more articles about Michigan's offensive tackles but basketball season is coming and we've brought Matt Way on board to talk about it. Previously: Maximizing Zavier Simpson, Maximizing Teske on Offense, Maximizing Teske on Defense]

The loss of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman leaves a massive void in the Michigan basketball program. For the Wolverines to repeat last season’s success, Charles Matthews needs to fill that hole.

Abdur-Rahkman blossomed into an accomplished scorer and all-around great player and leader during his time in Ann Arbor. He also served an important role in his final two seasons, one similar to what Caris LeVert did when he was on the floor.

For years, John Beilein’s offenses were vulnerable against aggressive perimeter defenses. It was one of the few criticisms that were valid and not aesthetically-based. 

Michigan was often too entrenched in its typical motion offense. When opponents disrupted Beilein’s ball handlers, the entire timing of the offense was thrown off and the Wolverines often had no great counter.

At the highest levels of basketball, the best offenses are those which find ways to keep defenses off-balance. Sure, the top offenses nearly always have a defined system and a bread-and-butter scheme that they go to frequently. But when things break down, the elite of the elite find ways to counter and exploit defenses based on what they are trying to take away.

Beilein has always been known for countering aggressive defenses with back-door cuts in the hope that, if those cuts are effective, defenses will lay off opponents to prevent layups. It’s usually effective, but it only truly works if ball handlers are able to operate in some amount of space to see and make the necessary passes.

It then becomes critical to have a primary option that is able to create offense when everything is going wrong.

And that is when the LeVert and MAAR types became most useful.

[After THE JUMP: CM's role]

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Hoops Mailbag: Shooting Breakouts, Crootin After Carton, Sellouts?

Hoops Mailbag: Shooting Breakouts, Crootin After Carton, Sellouts? Comment Count

Ace July 17th, 2018 at 1:50 PM

Can this be fixed? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

This edition of the hoops mailbag begins with a question that ended up being far tougher to answer than I expected.

What are the biggest 3P% jumps over a career for Beilein at Michigan? Is it reasonable to hope that X and Matthews can get up to that 35 percent head-above-water mark?

While there are several examples of players whose three-point percentage improved at Michigan, the nature of high-level college basketball makes it very tough to draw wide-ranging conclusions. Many of the players in that group—Caris LeVert, DJ Wilson, Moe Wagner, to name just a few—posted tiny samples in their first year.

Even among the Beilein players who have more of a statistical base with which to work, it's tough to pick out his impact without a seriously deep dive. Glenn Robinson III never shot the ball very well from the outside at Michigan but he's grown into a decent NBA marksman; would we have seen that if he stuck around another year or two? The same question applies to Kam Chatman, a 26% 3P shooter in two seasons at Michigan who canned 41% on five attempts per game following his transfer to Detroit. Some of Beilein's skill development work surely played into the improvement of each player, but it's impossible to measure the precise impact.

We're left with cherrypicking examples. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has an encouraging combination; his volume and percentage both went up substantially and he had to rework his mechanics. That last bit of of particular relevance since Zavier Simpson is going back to "ground zero" to fix his shot. MAAR also went from purely a spot-up shooter to a player capable of drilling a solid percentage off the bounce, which is definitely relevant to Charles Matthews, who's likely to take on more pick-and-roll possessions.

We've seen a lot of evidence that Beilein can identify and develop good shooters even if they're not necessarily tearing it up from beyond the arc in high school—MAAR, Wagner, and Wilson went from prospects whose range was questioned to integral pieces of one of the country's most lethal shooting teams in 2016-17. It's tougher to say, on a case-by-case basis, if Beilein can always fully tap that potential in the short window a player is on campus; as Jason Kidd can attest, a reliable outside shot can take a long time to develop. For every MAAR there's a Darius Morris.

This isn't a complete punt on the question. I believe Matthews will end up in the passably decent range this season; his form is solid and he knows that's the main thing between him and an NBA career. I don't have as much confidence in Simpson making that breakthrough in 2018-19; he's overhauling his mechanics and his peripherals aren't encouraging—namely, he's a career 55% free-throw shooter. (This is admittedly a concern for Matthews, as well, but at least his free-throw shooting improved from his woeful Kentucky mark. Simpson went the wrong way last year.)

I should note this isn't a death knell for the offense by any means. Michigan made the title game with both of those players starting, after all, and they each should be more effective in the pick-and-roll (here's more detail on that with a focus on Simpson and Jon Teske).

[Hit THE JUMP for the recruiting focus after DJ Carton and more.]

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Unverified Voracity Enters The Cone Of Solitude

Unverified Voracity Enters The Cone Of Solitude Comment Count

Brian June 27th, 2018 at 4:02 PM

[Bryan Fuller]

Carton on campus. In addition to the wave of football commits, Michigan's top remaining basketball target is also in the house:

Carton's previously said he intends to take trips to all of his six finalists before deciding in late summer, so this is not a commit watch situation. Still, given his stated decision criteria...

“The most significant factors in the choice are just… getting me to my future,” he said. “Who can develop me the most (to) become NBA ready, winning, and just the relationships. I want a team that I can call my brothers and stuff like that… that I can go back in like 60 years from now and still know those guys and still talk to them. So, I want my team to feel family-like, and get me to my dream.”

...and Michigan's unmatched ability to put recruits ranked significantly lower than Carton into the NBA, Beilein and company have to feel pretty good here. Also of note: Carton credits Yaklich for initiating his relationship with him while he was at Illinois State; Yaklich is also Jalen Wilson's primary recruiter. Pay that man his money.

ESPN has scouts that avoided the axe. At least in basketball. ESPN's released a new 2019 top 100 featuring Carton at #28; their accompanying article mentions him and a couple other targets. Carton is one of the "fastest risers":

Carton didn't make the final cut of USA Basketball U-18 national team, but he nonetheless opened eyes over the first four days of trials. That, followed by a solid showing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, helped him go from unranked to top 30.

The southpaw lead guard plays at multiple speeds and navigates well in ball screens by creating separation between defenders. He is a high assist maker both in the open floor with the advance pass or in tight spaces as he reads the defense.

Potential 2020 one-and-done RJ Hampton, Jalen Wilson's best bro, is super super highly touted:

R.J. Hampton, No. 3 in 2020
PG, 6-4, 180, Little Elm (Texas)

Hampton is a big point guard with speed and scoring ability. He is more comfortable putting points on the board at this stage in his development, but he continues to show the vision and the ability to read the game.

The NBA covets big point guards and Hampton checks a ton of boxes. Strength and a consistent jump shot are what he needs most.

Camp Sanderson and John Beilein SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA SIR. FWIW, Michigan is in on #3 Cole Anthony (sort of) and #4 Jaden McDaniels, though those guys are in a stratosphere Michigan's recruiting rarely touches. Jalen Wilson is #68.

Also I have just discovered that Fran McCaffrey's kid Patrick is #50. Naturally, he is a 6'9" guy.

[After THE JUMP: American ninja Avant.]

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One Frame At A Time: Loyola Chicago

One Frame At A Time: Loyola Chicago Comment Count

Ace June 13th, 2018 at 6:00 AM
what's german for 'galoot'? [Bryan Fuller]

So, uh, recovery hasn't been as smooth as expected—those following me on Twitter have probably picked up on that—and as such I'm pushing out posts when I can. I've been hoping to get to the Moe Wagner retrospective but have held off because I've hit a block there; in the process of preparing that post and working through the block, I did at least get through the Loyola Chicago game in GIFs. (Most of it, at least. This copy cut out all good replays of Wagner crashing into Raftery/Hill, which is an argh experience.) Did I do Florida State yet? Uh, working on it. Time is a construct.

Anyway, remember that time Moe Wagner put up a Final Four stat line matched only by Akeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird?

That was enjoyable.

[The rest of the Loyola game in GIFs, featuring a LOT of Moe, after THE JUMP.]

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Charles Matthews Returning For Junior Year

Charles Matthews Returning For Junior Year Comment Count

Ace May 30th, 2018 at 4:17 PM


leggoooooooooooooooooooooooooo [Bryan Fuller]

The pieces are in place. Michigan announced this afternoon that Charles Matthews is withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft and will return to school for his redshirt junior season:

"I am thankful for the assistance Coach Beilein and the staff have given me in order to gain as much information as possible before making this decision. They showed great confidence and patience with me while I sorted this all out," said Matthews. "After much prayer and discussions with my family and the staff, I am excited to be returning to Michigan next year. I learned a lot throughout this process, but my main focus will now be completing my education at Michigan and leading my teammates to more success next season."

"This process allows young men to gather so much valuable information and make the most informed decision they can," said U-M's David and Meredith Kaplan head men's basketball coach John Beilein. "Charles has an incredible personality and confidence. His work habits and desire to reach his potential are terrific. He is more focused than ever to improve in all areas of his game. Like others before him, Charles will be a great senior leader for us and we are excited to have this opportunity to coach him again next season."

Matthews has the opportunity to be Michigan's go-to scorer (a role Jordan Poole is eyeing, too) now that Moe Wagner has gone to the NBA, and his return cements the Wolverines as one of the Big Ten favorites for 2018-19, especially in conjunction with the news that Maryland's Kevin Huerter is hiring an agent. Not only does Matthews give the team another NBA talent, he allows a talented freshman class of wings to work their way into big roles at a more reasonable pace.

It seems likely Matthews will follow the Wagner route—testing the waters, returning, then leaving after improving a couple key areas—and if he does, Michigan should be a very good team once again. His slashing, rebounding, and defense will be major assets, and if his shot develops this season like his footwork did last season, he'll be an all-conference player.

I'll have a post soon to give a full overview of the returning and departing talent in the conference and its outlook now that we have a better handle on the rosters. Meanwhile, top-50 2019 TX forward Jalen Wilson is announcing his decision at 6 pm ET from a group of six that includes the favored Wolverines.

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Unverified Voracity Wonders If It's Happening

Unverified Voracity Wonders If It's Happening Comment Count

Brian May 23rd, 2018 at 1:04 PM

jackhughes_interview-800x445

it might be happening

Unfortunately, a miss. ALSO JACK HUGHES?! Oliver Wahlstrom will play at BC next year. Michigan is still waiting on Jack Hughes, who everyone says will either play at the NTDP next year or accelerate like Zach Werenski. Mike Spath just said today on Inside the Huddle that Hughes hasn't made a decision yet, but: "there's a very strong likelihood" that he accelerates and that he's "in position to do so."

Per Spath, the potential catch is that if Quinn Hughes gets drafted and decides to sign, a major motivation for Jack to accelerate goes away. The upshot: "if Quinn and the family decide to come back for one more year at Michigan, look for Jack to join him."

Zach Shaw suggests you'd prefer the Rangers or Red Wings grab Hughes, then.

Strongly prefer.

The Big Ten hockey schedule is bad again. Prepare for another year with the vast majority of Michigan hockey's home games in the fall semester, when everything is happening. The Big Ten schedule features just four home games after the break:

2018-19 Michigan B1G Schedule
Nov. 9-10 -- Notre Dame
Nov. 16-17 -- at Penn State
Nov. 23-24 -- Wisconsin
Nov. 30 -- at Michigan State
Dec. 1 -- Michigan State
Dec. 7-8 -- Minnesota
Jan. 4-5, 2019 -- at Notre Dame
Jan. 11-12 -- at Ohio State
Jan. 24 -- Penn State
Jan. 26 -- Penn State (Super Saturday, New York, N.Y.)
Feb. 1-2 -- at Minnesota
Feb. 8 -- Michigan State
Feb. 9 -- vs. Michigan State (site TBA)
Feb. 22-23 -- Ohio State
March 1-2 -- at Wisconsin

Notable bad things: two(!) bye weeks, the Notre Dame series are not home-and-homes, and Michigan is shipping a Penn State game to NYC. The latter is payback for PSU doing the same thing. While it's slightly annoying for season ticket holders at least 1) the AD didn't announce this after season tickets were due, 2) after asserting a price cut that moving the MSU game actually turned into a price increase, and 3) to play in front of nobody in an outdoor game in Chicago. Announced attendance at the first game was almost 14k.

Hopefully Michigan can fill in those blank spots with nonconference home dates, but even then those are more likely to be Arizona State-ish teams than actually compelling games.

Also of interest: the Michigan State game that is traditionally at the Joe is now listed as TBA. The new version of the JLA might be too crowded to accommodate them? If so they should probably just move those games back to campus. There's no other arena worth having an MSU-M game in.

An outdoor game that's a good idea! The January 5th game at Notre Dame is going to be outdoors:

According to WTKA’s Michael Spath, the Michigan hockey team will return its game to the great outdoors this winter, as the Wolverines are slated to face off against Notre Dame at the Fighting Irish’s football stadium as part of the festivities surrounding the 2019 NHL Winter Classic.

The main event, which will pit the Chicago Blackhawks against the Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium for the 11th installment of the event, will take place Jan. 1, 2019. While official details for Michigan’s game have yet to be announced, a source indicated to WTKA’s Inside The Huddle that the game is set to take place Jan. 5, one week after the Wolverines’ annual participation in the Great Lakes Invitational in downtown Detroit.

My tolerance for outdoor games has about bottomed out but this one passes muster. It'll be jam-packed. Hopefully the appeal of that outdoor game is an incentive to return for Quinn and attend for Jack.

Matthews decision status. Charles Matthews spoke to the media after one of his draft workouts, and you can try to read between the lines:

“Really just trying to wear all my options out,” Matthews said while attending a workout with the Denver Nuggets this week. “Basically go through all of the workouts that I have scheduled and just reconcile with my family and do what we feel is best. …

“It has been really good, especially if I do come back to school,” Matthews said. “Get some good experience to know what this process is like. If I choose to stay in, raise my confidence overall.”

Not a whole lot there, but the press conference did cause Andrew Kahn to reiterate the data he'd gathered about missing the combine. I'd been looking for since Matthews didn't get invited to the combine:

Should he keep his name in the draft, experts don't think his name will be called on June 21. ESPN's Jonathan Givony projects Matthews as a late first-round pick in next year's draft, as does NBAdraft.net. Givony does not list Matthews among his top 100 prospects at this time.

Last year, 137 college underclassmen declared for the draft, many without signing an agent. Eighty-four of them were not invited to the combine. Only four of the non-invitees kept their name in the draft; none were selected.

So you return unless you can't go back to school because of your academics or are staring down the prospect of getting 15 minutes a game because Tom Izzo's got his eye on a walk-on. I'd imagine Matthews returns for a final year, a la Moe.

LET'S GOOOOOOO. Our long national nightmare is finally, finally, finally over:

Dr. Pepper. You had Pitbull under an overpass, and then saddled us with this epic doof for years and years. Choose light. Choose Pitbull again.

Etc.: Barstool, imo.

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