Hoops Opponent Watch: Waiting Edition

Hoops Opponent Watch: Waiting Edition

Submitted by BiSB on March 13th, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Non-Conference Schedule

GeorgesGordonparker

RPI Effect Only Teams

UMass-Lowell lost to… aw, screw it. GRIII things.

 

Big Sorts of Teams

Iowa State (23-7, 11-7 Big 12)

This week: Beat Oklahoma State (85-81 OT)

Based on a the interweb mock brackets, there’s a fair-to-moderate chance that Michigan might get another shot at Iowa State, this time outside the friendly magical confines of the Hilton Arena Convention Center thingy. The Committee generally dislikes rematches, but right now Michigan is a high 2-seed and Iowa State is a low 3 seed, so it could happen.

If they DO end up as a 3-seed, they can thank Oklahoma State’s failure to come over to #TeamFoul. OSU was up 3 when they missed a free throw with five seconds left. So, instead of fouling, they gave a 39% three-point shooter (Naz Long) an open look. He promptly tied the game. If you were curious, Long is a 62.5% free throw shooter.  FOUL, MAN. FOUL

Florida State (18-12, 9-9 ACC)

This week: Lost to Syracuse (74-58)

Buh-bye.

#7 Dook (24-7, 13-5 ACC)

This week: Beat North Carolina (93-81)

Like Iowa State, Duke is another possible Sweet 16 matchup for Michigan (they’re currently projected at around a 3 seed). Like Iowa State, a hypothetical rematch would be on neutral turf instead of a very hostile road venue. Unlike Iowa State, please don’t make us play these bastards again.

#4 Arizona (28-3, 15-3 PAC 12)

This week: Lost at Oregon (64-57)

Yeah, they lost to Oregon, but unless they lose their quarterfinal matchup to Utah, they’re a lock for a 1-seed. KenPom has them as 7 point favorites to get there, though Utah did play them close twice (including an OT game in February). And even if they lose that game they’re probably STILL a 1-seed.

Stanford (19-11, 10-8 PAC 12)

This week: Beat Utah (61-60)

They’re probably in. But I’m more concerned about KenPom’s description of their defense:

Stanford

“Coach, can you explain your defensive philosophy in the second half?”

“Well, we didn’t think we were very effective in man-to-man, so we went with what we call our ‘shiny object’ set, which is sort of a hybrid man/zone concept where everyone just kinda guards the person near them until they see someone else open and then they guard that person for a while. Or if they get bored or want to be on the other side of the court for a while, they can do that too. The closest traditional comparison would be a triangle and one with a single-high safety.”

[Jump]

Hoops Opponent Watch: Them Apples Edition

Hoops Opponent Watch: Them Apples Edition

Submitted by BiSB on January 23rd, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Non-Conference Opponents

GeorgesGordonparker

RPI Effect Only Teams:

It was actually a pretty good week for the non-abysmal non-conference foes. Long Beach State (5-11) beat Cal Poly. Holy Cross (7-9) beat Lehigh. Charlotte (12-5) beat Tulsa and North Texas, and may actually compete in Conference USA. All three are in the mid-100s to KenPom (158, 156, and 138, respectively). It won’t matter much on the surface, but it could provide some RPI support to balance out the dregs.

The dregs, as their name would seem to indicate, did NOT have a pretty good week. UMass-Lowell (4-13) lost to Stony Brook and Hartford.  Houston Baptist (4-14) lost to McNeese State to fall to 1-5 in the Southland Conference (and yes, the Southland Conference was named after the police drama on TNT) South Carolina State (6-12) lost to Florida A&M but beat Bethune Cookman.  Coppin State(6-12) beat Hampton and lost to Norfolk State, but in doing so they moved into the top 300.

Big Sorts of Teams

#16 Iowa State (14-3, 2-3 Big 12)

This week: Lost @ Texas (86-76)

The Cyclones completed the first three rotations of the Ohio State Quadruple Salchow; that is, an effort to take an undefeated record into conference play and then rip off four straight losses. They go for the landing on Saturday, when they take on Kansas State at home.

Skating
Still better than the sleeved jerseys the NBA has been wearing

Florida State (13-5, 4-2 ACC)

This week: Lost @ Virginia (78-66), Beat Notre Dame (76-74)

The Florida State win isn’t as important to Michigan given the recent win at Wisconsin [ED: and the win over Iowa, because I obviously wrote this earlier on Wednesday], but they remain arguably Michigan’s second third-best win to date. You could make a case for a road game at Minnesota over a neutral court win over FSU, but to the Bracketology folks Florida State is a 7- to 9-seed and Minnesota is barely hanging onto a spot. The Notre Dame game was fascinating; I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a two point win in which KenPom says the win probability never dipped below 76%.

#18 Dook (15-4, 4-2 ACC)

This week: Beat NC State (95-60); Won @ Miami (67-46)

Relatively drama-free week for Duke, especially considering they were playing two top-100 teams. Jabari Parker averaged 20 points and 11 boards.

#1 Arizona (18-0, 5-0 PAC 12)

This week: Beat Arizona St (91-68)

The other other other nice thing about the Wisconsin and Iowa wins is that they replace the Arizona loss as Michigan’s ‘best outing’ of the year. Both Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon are in the early KenPom Player of the Year Top 10, and Johnson is in the 25-man Wooden Award midseason whatever list.

Stanford (12-5, 3-2 PAC 12)

This week: Beat Washington (79-67)

Stanford has worked its way onto the bubble with wins over Oregon, Washington State, and Washington. Arizona is going to win the conference walking away, but the PAC 12 is good enough to warrant a 4th tournament team, so if Stanford gets to 10 or 11 conference wins, that should be good enough to grab an at-large.

[AFTER THE JUMP: Big Ten Country is surprisingly mitten-shaped]

Hoops Opponent Watch: Primer

Hoops Opponent Watch: Primer

Submitted by BiSB on January 2nd, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Yea, and God did say unto his people, “hot damn, I’m glad it’s basketball season, for verily, football season sucked.”

~ First Letter of St. Paul to the Annarborites

With the dong-punching albatross of 2013 behind us, we can move fully into winter sports season with vigor and aplomb. But without Mitch McGary. Worst. Trip. Around. The. Sun. EVER.

Every week we’ll keep tabs on Michigan’s non-conference opponents, the state of the Big Ten, the potential NCAA Tournament draw, and the suggested viewing /rooting guide for the upcoming week.

Non-Conference Opponents

GeorgesGordonparker

RPI Effect Only Teams:

It’s becoming clear that Michigan’s non-conference schedule was assembled by people who either don’t know how RPI works,* don’t know how math works, or aren’t sold on this whole “Arabic numerals are the wave of the future” thing. Three of Michigan’s opponents, UMass-Lowell (1-11), South Carolina State (4-8) and Houston Baptist (3-9) are below the 300 mark to KenPom, and Coppin State (4-9) fails to crack the super-elite group in the Top 270. Ben Folds Five wrote a song about these teams. Hint: it is not “The Luckiest.”

Brick
RPI: drowning slowly.

Outside of these masonry-like objects, Michigan played three of the ideal good-enough-to-not-kill-your-RPI-numbers-but-not-good-enough-to-beat-you-unless-LeVert,-Stauskas,-and-McGary-all-miss-significant-time type teams. Long Beach State (4-9) has won three in a row, including wins over Nevada and USC, and gave VCU and NC State some real competition. Holy Cross (6-6) hasn’t really beaten anyone, but they have beaten six non-anyones, so that’s something. Charlotte (8-4) has wins over Michigan and Kansas State, presumably because they were mad about not being invited to the BWW Bowl.

Big Sorts of Teams

Iowa State (12-0)

Significant Wins: Michigan, Iowa, @ BYU, Boise St.

Losses: [404 file not found]

The Cyclones weren’t ranked when Michigan played them, but they definitely are now. Forwards Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang are both shooting around 50% from the field, with Ejim nearly averaging a double-double (18.0 ppg and 8.8 rpg). One caveat is that they have only played one game away from Iowa City Des Moines Corn Rapids Ames, that being a 2 point win over BYU.

Florida State (9-3)

Significant Wins: VCU, UMass

Losses: Michigan (waives tiny flag), @ Florida, @ Minnesota

How important does that crazy-ass Michigan comeback in Puerto Rico feel now? At the time it was an amusing, “oh that’s a nifty little win,” but in hindsight it is a “THANK YOU BASED GOD” non-conference salvager.

Florida State could easily be 10-1 right now. They blew a 16 point lead against Michigan (including an 8 point lead and possession with 3 minutes left), and lost to Florida by 1 on a last-second offensive rebound despite outshooting and generally outplaying the Gators. Still, they look to be in that second tier of the ACC behind Pitt, Syracuse, and Duke, and MAYBE UNC. They are far from the most skilled team in the country, but will pose some significant matchup problems for a number of teams, given their overall largeness/tallness and tendency to be freeking huge. As Michigan’s best NonCon win, you will want to cheer hard for the Seminoles.

Dook (11-2)

Significant Wins: Michigan, UCLA

Losses: Kansas, Arizona

From the makers of Jadeveon Clowney comes: Jabari Parker!!! Now with kung-fu crossover and Dick Vitale utility belt!!! Duke’s true freshman guard/wing/forward/goalie/ambassador/imperial wizard has been exactly as advertised, looking like the most college-ready of the mega-frosh. He’s averaging 22 and 8, and has scored 19+ points in every game but one this season. Guess which one.*

Megazord
Duke is really missing the Yellow Plumlee 

The weird thing is, we really don’t know that much about Duke. They lost to the two elite teams they played, beat Michigan (at home) and UCLA (at MSG), and beyond that have dispatched a large pile of unconvincing opponents by occasionally unconvincing margins. They beat Vermont by 1 point, ECU by 9, and Alabama by 10. Maybe it’s the fact that they are down to three Plumlees on the roster, which isn’t enough to form up the Megazord. They have played great offense and middling defense, and are probably among the favorites in the ACC once Parker settles in (/shudder).

*to those who accused GRIII of not being “into” that game, I suggest you try to stand between a bull mastiff and a squirrel for 40 minutes and tell me how it goes for you.

Arizona (13-0)

Significant Wins: San Diego St, Duke, @ Michigan

Losses: [Should have lost to Michigan but KenPom lied to all of us]

They’re okay, I guess. Arizona is deservingly number one in the polls, based on how the polls work, and are definitely among the elite teams, but… eh? Purported super-frosh Aaron Gordon has had a whelming start; according to people who watch last night basketball regularly, he's playing great defense and flashing hilarious athleticism, but isn’t consistent or diverse on the offensive end of the court. Arizona continues to look to Nick Johnson as their primary scoring option, and he’s dropping about 16 ppg. They’re clearly the class of a middle-heavy PAC 12.

Stanford (9-3)

Significant Wins: @ UConn

Losses: BYU, Pitt, Michigan (/blasts Katy Perry, waives crap out of tiny flag)

Stanford isn’t all that good. But they are okay. And Michigan beat them. So we will continue to treat them as if they are good. We call this the Akron Delusion.

Pay no attention to the fact that Stanford’s only remotely impressive win was a grinding, brick-laden slugfest over a UConn team that decided to play the entire second half in the style of breakdance-fighting. Seriously: Stanford was down by 10 at the half, scored 25 points in the second half, and won. That’s a crime against ManBearPig.

[After the jump: objects ahead, and the return of THING THEY ARE LIKE]

Mailing It In

Mailing It In

Submitted by Brian on November 27th, 2013 at 3:37 PM

henri-the-otter-of-ennu

Hey guys. I did not do the UFR this week, because I really did not want to do it. So I didn't. This is what I mean by mailing it in. I'm sorry, but not sorry enough to actually go do it. Obviously.

I will try to muster the courage to do so at some point in the future, because it is nice to have completeness. Right now you could hold a gun to my cat's head and threaten me and I would look on blankly until you cracked and started weeping and I told you It's Not Your Fault™. You're not actually going to kill a kitten about this, are you? Okay, okay, it's a cat, not a kitten. Put the gun down! It's Not Your Fault™! Unless you do something you're going to regr—

Hmm. Well, if you had to go at least it was before Saturday. We will put your MGoPoint total on your tombstone.

What's going on. I am going to go home and have a normal Thanksgiving like a normal person like I used to do before they moved the Ohio State game back a week for dubious reasons. I am not going to put up a UFR on the day itself, because I didn't do it. There will be a preview on Friday, though if I had to bet I'm assuming it will be light on useful analysis and heavy on gallows humor shirt-rending about how Ohio State has a good football team and Michigan does not have a good football team.

Then we are going to grit our teeth and get through Saturday, whereupon we will feel much better at the prospect of a weekend with nothing more horrifying in it than the prospect of Michigan State and Ohio State playing for the Big Ten Championship… godddammit. At least you don't have to watch that if you don't want.

You're free! FREEEEEEE. After Saturday. I'll see you Friday.

In conclusion. Butt.

Opponent Watch: Week 11

Opponent Watch: Week 11

Submitted by BiSB on November 14th, 2013 at 9:20 AM

About last week:

British comedy is taking over MGoBlog. Such are the times in which we live.

I know I don’t normally opine on such things. I know I’m usually the snark guy. I just want to speak my piece, and I’ll return to character.

There is a legal concept called res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for "the thing itself speaks." The idea is that usually when you sue someone, you have to explain what the person did wrong. But there are some times when the thing that happens is so obviously wrong that the blame speaks for itself. If you take your car in for an oil change, and while it's there the car gets pregnant, you don't have to know WHAT the mechanic did wrong to know that he screwed something up.

I've got a dozen specific complaints about the game plan, personnel use, and play calling from Saturday, but I don't need them. Rushing for negative yardage against this defense speaks for itself. This was probably the worst statistical game from the running back position in the history of Michigan football, and came against a team that EVERY OTHER TEAM has found a way to bludgeon on the ground. Does it matter any more whether the problem is one of scheme, specific playcalling, predictability, player prep, or the general bloodymindedness of the universe? Anyone who takes the players available, along with the information available, and produces *THAT* has failed in some fundamental aspect of his job. The details are of secondary concern. Can ANYONE come up with a theory by which the team that entered fall camp could end up where it is without massive, widespread failures by the individuals responsible for crafting an offense? I’m really asking.

Okay, I’m done. On with the snark.

Upcoming Opponents:

Line of Scrimmage (3-1259, 2-688 B1G)

Line

Last game: Defeated Michigan by 21 yards.

Recap: Two weeks ago, the Line of Scrimmage put up its first B1G conference win. One week later, it scored its first ever home victory. As a result, this week it is riding its first ever winning streak. It’s a good time to be that thin blue line.

The final margin (48 yards) was larger two weeks ago in East Lansing, but last week’s win was far more unlikely and impressive. Saddled with a Nebraska’s defense that was giving up about 200 yards per game on the ground, most expected the imaginary transverse line separating the offense from the defense to be an afterthought. Instead, it stood tall.

The LOS got the goose-egg off its back in 2003, when Oregon held Michigan to -3 yards rushing at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

This team is as frightening as: Don’t let that .002% all-time winning percentage fool you. This is a shortest-distance-between-two-points on the rise. Fear level = 8

Michigan should worry about: The LOS’s winning streak has been keyed by sacks. Without them, Forward Motion would have squeaked by with narrow wins the last two weeks.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: The LOS is an imaginary line, and therefore has no physical ability to affect the world around it.

When they play Michigan: Watch for the LOS to implement a new non-Euclidian approach, permitting it to attack the running game in multiple directions.

Next game: vs. Poor Damn FitzDevin Gardnerssaint

[AFTER THE JUMP: Actual opponents]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs MSU

Submitted by Brian on November 6th, 2013 at 3:10 PM

FORMATION NOTES: On passing downs Michigan sometimes went with this 3-3-5-ish look with the line in a wide three-man front and the SAM hanging out next to one of the ends;

3-3-5-nickel

They also went with a weird wide even line against Ace, once:

4-3-even-wide

M rolled down Gordon in their under early:

4-4-under

And occasionally split their nickel package, leaving just one LB. I called this 5-1.

5-1-nickel

Oh and on the final drive MSU pulled out an unbalanced formation with two inline TEs to the same side of the line.

troll-game

Deliberately trolling Borges's unbalanced lines? Probably not, but I hope so.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Taylor, Countess, and Gordon went the whole way. When Michigan went to a nickel it was always Jourdan Lewis; Michigan also brought in Avery from time to time to spot Wilson, with iffy success.

Linebacker was the usual, except Brennen Beyer was moved to SDE, leaving SAM mostly Ryan with Cam Gordon backing; the three-man ILB rotation was still in place. Gedeon was sent to the bench again.

On the line Michigan did some weird stuff. Black(!) played nose tackle to open the game and would end up there periodically. Henry flipped between nose and three-tech; when it was Washington and Henry Michigan seemed to regard them as interchangeable. Clark went almost the whole way at WDE; very little Ojemudia. At SDE it was Beyer and some Wormley; no or very little Heitzman. Glasgow made a cameo or two.

[After THE JUMP: I mean, what did you expect?]

Dear Diary Mails It In

Dear Diary Mails It In

Submitted by Seth on September 20th, 2013 at 11:59 AM

I'm gonna Akron this column today since we're sending the final PDFs of Hail to Hoops and Hockey to the printer. The contents (click to make it readable):

004 toc_v5

Actually we had to cut the 2nd Bartelstein article today

If you don't know what Henri* is doing in the upper-right corner you didn't follow hockey so much last year. If you did follow hockey last year you probably have strong opinions on goaltending. HTTV contributor MGoBlueline put together a neat diary this week trying out the "quality start" metric they use in baseball for hockey goalies. He gives them out for having a save% better than the DI average, i.e. a start that gave your team a chance to win. My quibble: it's justification of feelings-ball (-puck whatever).

Freshman goaltender Steve Racine (1) in game versus Western Michigan. Michigan won by a score of 5-1. (Paul Sherman/Daily)
Racine's year to MGBL: 12 quality starts, 10 non-quality, 5 cheap wins, 2 wasted quality starts. [Paul Sherman, Michigan Daily]

The problem with any gamesmanship stat is this: have you ever met a goalie who ever liked any goal going by him in any situation ever? It makes sense for pitching because it's possible to surrender a run to get an out, a pitcher's most important currency; for goalies the currency is time. What you're measuring is consistency, which is useful so long as you remember that's what you're measuring (and that we wouldn't be having this conversation if Racine posted any shutouts last year).

While we're being realistic, alum96 wrote a board post that got diary-bumped that compared the recruiting profiles of Michigan's defensive line to those of Ohio State. His metric for guys is the quality of offers—Michigan's were mostly regional while OSU's guys mostly had Alabama offers and plenty more power programs after them.

True, and that's a big part of why Michigan is hard after the top DL recruits in the country right now. If you take away the Heininger Certainty Principle Michigan's DL looks really thin; since pass rush is more of a talent thing it should be no surprise that the deficiency in recruiting stars is most apparent there. But then Ohio State's line is just ludicrously stacked right now—Michigan doesn't need to get 8 guys Saban wanted badly to get to good.

[Jump for the Weeklies, Best of the Board and some badly needed zen]

Ultimate Ennui Showdown

Ultimate Ennui Showdown

Submitted by BiSB on July 11th, 2013 at 10:39 AM

No Twitterverse this week. Instead, we shall plumb the depths of our collective sadness.

We live in some the headiest of times of modern Michigan fandom. The basketball team is coming off a NCAA runner-up season and it is bringing in another bumper crop of highly-ranked recruits. Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison are in the early stages of assembling some sort of Megazord. Michigan’s facilities are new and shiny and fantastic. But to move to the future, it is important to understand the pain of the past.

So, with a few weeks before anything actually happens in the sports world, this seems like a good time to try to answer a simple, cathartic question: what was the worst moment to be a Michigan fan?

Like the Highlander, there can be only one. So I guess this is our search for the Lowlander. Use whatever criteria you wish, but bear in mind what we’re trying to determine. We’re limiting the competition to the 1990’s and on. Obviously crappy things happened before that, but many of us can’t remember too much farther back. The events in question have been divided into four regions:

  • The Daggers Region: It was there. It was so close. WE COULDA HAD HIM, MAN. And then... lightning bolt blue screen of death.
  • The What-Could-Have-Been Region: The quantum mechanical gateway to an alternate universe in which we were showered with glory and the heavens rained Pop-Tarts and pleasing music played throughout the land.
  • The Well-That-Was-Thoroughly-Unenjoyable Region: These were the games or events that hurt your soul from start to finish. Nothing about them was pleasant. Hope was crushed consistently and repeatedly, and then The Fates really went to work on you.
  • The General FML Region: Generic embarrassments. A catch-all for the stuff over the years that still has you saying, "ugh, don't even get me started on ______"

We’ll cover the first two regions this week, and the other two soon enough.

I’ve included some concise arguments for and against the thing in question being the worst thing ever. As a palate cleanser, for each entry I’ve also included a comparable event that went Michigan’s way. The wonderful Yang to the craptastic Yin, if you will. When you’re done reading, Vote HERE: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/99RQK2Y.

Again: read. THEN VOTE. Then cry a little.

-----------------------------

Are you ready for this? I mean, we’re gonna pick at some serious wounds here. Okay. Let’s do this. (after the jump)

-----------------------------

Vicious Electronic Questioning: Northwestern 2012

Vicious Electronic Questioning: Northwestern 2012

Submitted by Brian on November 8th, 2012 at 7:17 PM

YOU GUYS I SENT QUESTIONS TO SIPPING ON PURPLE AND SIPPING ON PURPLE PUT SENTENCES AFTER THE QUESTIONS AND I FEEL LIKE I SHOULD PUT IT ON THE INTERNET YOU GUYS

What's the deal with your quarterback rotation? Who is Michigan going to see more of? 

The deal with it is that Northwestern decided to get experimental when there was sort of no need to. Basically Northwestern started the year with Kain Colter at quarterback, which was working, then decided to bring in Trevor Siemian for some drives. Siemian, you see supposedly has a better arm while Colter's the better runner, which gave teams different looks, plus allowed Colter to split out to wide receiver. This eventually translated into Colter coming in for drives with lots of run plays or short passes and Siemian running drives with lots of pass plays. This eventually translated into defenses realizing what was going on and stopping it, because duh.

However, I think that idea is over: Siemian only threw one pass in the team's last game against Iowa. I think Colter's the guy going forward - he's not an awful passer, and really has the moves to make guys miss on scrambles and options. I just wish he'd been playing all-time QB all year long, because I think NU would have won one of the games we lost. Against Iowa, Colter was finally given the green light to throw a deep ball, and lo, it was like a 60 yard touchdown.

a8uwm5wqmra0kdrcb3re[1]How is the WR corps? Where is Kyle Prater? We have pretend fantasy team status riding on this. 

[ed: if you're reading this, Roger, do not make an attempt to decipher the picture at right. that way lies madness]

Northwestern had a really highly touted wide out corps coming into the year - the best in the conference, according to them! - with a lot of tall, quick guys with a lot of upside. It hasn't really panned out yet, but I think two years down the line that statement could be true, but right now it isn't there. That said, part of it is the balls aren't getting to them because of the QB's and another is that Northwestern's running game is so effective the pass just serves to spread the field.

Prater's a really weird story - he's obviously got the physical skills that made him the top wide receiver in the country in high school, but something just isn't right. I think he's a step slower than people think, and Northwestern's offense tends not to center around getting one receiver the ball every time it's in the air anyway. He did have a one-on-one downfield a few weeks ago and had his guy beaten, but the pass from Siemian was way underthrown.

Are you disappointed in the offense? It seems to alternate between thumping bad teams and surviving on a surfeit of fortune against good ones and Minnesota.

The dilly-dallying between Colter running and Siemian passing was really stupid and dumb and I hated it. It was cool for exactly one week that Kain Colter would split out wide and make some catches. Then teams keyed onto it and it stopped being fun, because unsuccessful gimmicks are still unsuccessful. The offense is still the highlight of Northwestern, and its excessively enjoyable to watch Colter run the option with Venric Mark, but the playcalling has lacked imagination at times.

Is the Northwestern secondary as reliably Northwestern-y as usual? I notice you've given up a ton of passing yards but the efficiency number (48th) is less depressing than normal.

A lot of the poop happened when Northwestern gave up 470 yards to Syracuse Week 1. It was everywhere, but mainly on Demetrius Dugar's side of the field. The poop, that is.

Northwestern has looked okay against the pass since, but lockdown freshman Nick VanHoose is hurt. Without him, problems? I don't know.

aquarium-otter-sleeping-largeFitzgerald Toussaint i3h6KtaEOq2m[1]

One of these mammals is Fitzgerald Toussaint. One is Henri, the Otter of Ennui. BUT WHICH ONE

How are the Wildcats against the run? Do you have guys who can run at tailbacks while completely unblocked and tackle? That's really all they have to do. I don't even think you have to answer this question. 

After literally decades where this was not true, Northwestern seems to have a passable run defense. David Nwabuisi is a competent tackler at middle linebacker, as are Damian Proby and Chi Chi Ariguzo at the outside spots. There were some problems against Penn State - understandable, you know, like the old saying goes, Zwinek and Zordich and pray for umm... zirconia? Zagreb? - but for the most part, this is a rare Northwestern unit that likes wrapping up tackles when they're meant to be wrapped up.

Knicks 2011-2012 : Linsanity :: Knicks 2012-2013 : ???

The Knicks resign John Shurna after cutting him at the end of training camp. I mean, he wouldn't play ever, but I'd probably be just as excited about seeing him at the end of the bench every time I watched games as I was during the height of the Lin thing.

What is wrong with this damn conference? You guys are smart. Figure this out. 

Sure.

I ran this past some guys in the Northwestern science department, which is not an actual department. We took the Big Ten standings for the past 15 years and organized them using the Hernstrom-Cafferty Coefficient, which is something I just made up. By putting on goggles, taking some blue liquid in one graduated cylinder and pouring it into a yellow liquid contained in a beaker, as well as nodding and taking notes when the liquids changed colors, we determined that there is, in fact, a statistically significant dip in the Prager-Pellini Quotient of the 2012 Big Ten conference, which is another thing I just made up. After looking at the results, we can safely hypothesize that the main problem with the Big Ten is, beyond a preponderance of a doubt, caused by something we've coined the Cook Microprontomial Factor, which is a fancy science term for all of your dicks. The problem with the Big Ten is your dicks. Your scrawny, unceasingly pathetic dicks.

[ed: : ( ]

In other news, I have a degree from Northwestern University, but I'll be damned if you ever ask me what my GPA was. I got my transcript mailed to me in about July and I threw that nonsense in the bottom of my sock drawer before even I could read it.

Do you sometimes wish that Northwestern's journalism school didn't exist?

Yes. If Northwestern's journalism school doesn't exist, I don't apply to Northwestern. I don't apply to Northwestern, I apply some place where the sports teams don't finish up every game by scooping your non-vital organs out with a melon baller and eating them in front of your eyes, then scooping your eyes out with the same melon baller without washing it, likely getting lots of gross gastric juices inside of your brain cavity. If Northwestern did not have a journalism school, I wouldn't have to follow Northwestern sports, and therefore I'd be able to go on job interviews and talk to girls without people asking me about why I have a friggin melon-baller shaped gouge mark in my chest, dripping entrails.

[ED: I was just hoping for a Darren Rovell zinger.]