The NCAA Tournament Is Close Enough

The NCAA Tournament Is Close Enough

Submitted by Brian on March 28th, 2018 at 5:42 PM

27155144988_49a5edd3f0_z

[Patrick Barron]

From time to time you'll see an assertion that the NCAA basketball tournament is a bad way to determine a champion, because it's single elimination, not particularly fair, and doesn't really prove who the best team is. The Ken Pomeroy:

He's in the middle of arguing for a re-seed after the first weekend, FWIW.

I bring it up because I think the tournament actually does a good job. The point of playoffs is to spit out a worthy champion, and college basketball almost always does. My favorite method to judge championship-worthy teams is a score-blind strength of record ranking. SOR is an attempt to calculate which team accomplished the most over the course of the season, and that seems like the best way to pick a champion. ESPN's version of that stat goes back to 2008. Final Fours since:

YEAR #1 #2 semi semi
2017 #1 UNC #3 Gonzaga #24 South Carolina #9 Oregon
2016 #3 Nova #2 UNC #5 Oklahoma #30 Syracuse
2015 #3 Duke #2 Wisconsin #1 Kentucky #13 MSU
2014 #8 UConn #10 Kentucky #1 Florida #3 Wisconsin
2013 #1 Louisville #2 Michigan #9 Syracuse #17 Wichita State
2012 #1 Kentucky #3 Kansas #9 Louisville #4 OSU
2011 #3 UConn #30 Butler #7 Kentucky #46 VCU
2010 #1 Duke #7 Butler #4 WVU #12 MSU
2009 #1 UNC #4 MSU #2 UConn #7 Nova
2008 #2 Kansas #3 Memphis #1 UNC #4 UCLA

Only one champion in ten years finished the season ranked worse than #3, and surely there's enough wobble in any stat to declare that good enough. Only four times has a team ranked outside the top 4 even reached the title game, and the lone winner from the depths still finished 8th.

Unless Loyola pulls an upset on Saturday, this will continue: Villanova, Kansas, and Michigan are 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Loyola is 21st.

This situation does not hold for college hockey, by the way. Despite having far fewer competitive programs—about 40—KRACH ranked 2015 champion Providence 16th, 2013 champion Yale 13th, 2011 champ Minnesota-Duluth 7th, 2008 champ BC 10th, and 2007 champ MSU 12th. It's little better than a coin flip between a team that can claim to legitimately have had the best season and some rando that just squeezed in. That's why this space rails against that single-elimination tourney while being sanguine about basketball's.

Unverified Voracity Remembers Hideki

Unverified Voracity Remembers Hideki

Submitted by Brian on March 31st, 2015 at 12:39 PM

Random Canadian Bo appearance. Fire as per usual:

 

More Jaylen Brown. Brown sat down with Evan Daniels to talk about his recruitment. On Michigan:

Michigan is definitely going to be in the front runner of things. Talking to Coach Beilein, he’s like an offensive genius the way he gets these guys that aren’t really ranked high to be lottery picks in the draft is amazing. It’s definitely something that drew my attention. Also Michigan is a great education school. They have one of the top public universities in America with Cal-Berkeley, UCLA and North Carolina.

He also said that "I took a lot of visits and nobody's basketball programs was as good as Kentucky," so temper that enthusiasm. Rivals is continually throwing cold water on any speculation Michigan might get him, but it sounds like Sam Webb is talking to a lot of people close to the situation while Rivals cites national analyst Eric Bossi.

FWIW, nobody is saying Michigan is a lock or even necessarily a leader: the difference here is between Scout guys thinking Michigan has a legitimate shot and Rivals saying not so much.

UPDATE: Brown told ESPN that he would be going to an Adidas school, flat-out. That would knock out Kentucky, leaving Michigan up against Kansas and UCLA.

Legends update. MVictors talks to Ben McCready, the godson of Bennie Oosterbaan:

Nothing is official, but U-M is indeed evaluating the Legends program and considering changes.

The evaluation is being driven, in part, by feedback from the players.

    McCready’s understanding is that they do intend to maintain the Legends distinction, but are considering honoring those players in a different way.
    All options are on the table including a presence in the stadium to recognize the Legends.

I'm mildly distressed by the "feedback from the players" bit since in the past that's been used as a won't someone think of the children cover for Adidas pandering and the like. Suspect that they don't actually dislike it enough to make a difference. But some sort of in-stadium note that hey, Desmond Howard played here would be nice—with the boxes there is a ton of blank space to act as canvas.

An excellent example of the hockey tournament's absurdity. Providence was literally the last team in the field—if Michigan had won the Big Ten tourney they would have bounced the Friars. They happen to host this year, so #4 seed Providence got to welcome #1 seed Miami.

They won that game in a looney-tunes 7-5 contest in which Miami played with an extra attacker for almost half the third period after falling behind 6-2, then beat Denver the next night and are now in the Frozen Four. This happens almost every year. RIT took out another overall #1 seed in the opener. That's the hockey equivalent of a 16 over 1 upset, something that has never ever happened in basketball but has been achieved by a single small school in upstate New York twice.

Single elimination basketball can be random; it is much less so than hockey. Good basketball teams win almost all their games. Good hockey teams win two thirds. Look at the pro level to see the spread between good teams and bad. Hockey is closer to baseball, where 100 wins—a measly 62%—is considered the benchmark for an excellent team, than basketball, where three NBA teams cleared 70% last year with Indiana a game back of that number.

So Miami has a season worth of a one seed and their reward is to fly cross country to play Providence in Providence in a one-off game in a building that was half empty* even by the inflated official count. I defy you to come up with a system more nonsensical than that. Can't be done.

cricket_team[1]

Okay, okay, can't be done outside of cricket.

*[Two-day attendance of 14,234 in a building holding 12,400.]

Um? Hockey recruiting coverage is scanty and Auston Matthews is a big deal so let's hold on to this for a brief moment:

Matthews, who is expected to be selected No. 1 in the 2016 NHL draft, will center Heinen and Moore if he chooses DU over Michigan, among others, and the major-junior route.

Later that article reiterates that Matthews's top college choices are those two schools, and reading between the lines it appears that intelligence comes directly from the Denver program. Everett, a WHL team based in a midsize Washington city, has his CHL rights.

I remember. Harbaugh on his CSG presidency aspirations:

Yes, that is a hashtag for "enthusiasm unknown to mankind" that I will be enthusiastically, if ironically adopting.

But the best part of all this is that a Rivals commenter reminded me of the existence of Hideki. Hideki, a contemporary of mine at the university, won the then-MSA presidency in a landslide because he had a silly sign he carried with him everywhere:

3cb30122dc003-68-1

These were the halcyon days in which the the student government's main function was dealing with BAMN so the rest of us didn't have to. We could safely dispatch an amiable man without a platform or a solid grasp of English as our representative, and we were rewarded with petty imbroglios like "that one time the vice president said the president had difficulty communicating and was called super racist":

Wong called for an apology from Secreto for "allowing the election to become a vehicle to foster racism on campus."

Many representatives and constituents said race was not the reason they were unhappy with Tsutsumi"s term.

"My problems are not with his language," said LSA senior Rodolfo Palma-Lulion. "It"s with his ideology."

"I don"t support the attacks on Hideki, but I don"t see them as racist," Kinesiology Rep. T.J. Wharry said. "I can"t understand what my grandparents say but they"re just as white as I am."

Tsutsumi said he felt all attacks on him were politically motivated and that he is "above the fray of party politics."

Drop that mike, Hideki. You clearly had all the vocabulary required to be a politician.

These days the CSG is serious business. It has to fix the athletic department's student ticketing policies, and cannot be solely deployed as a hilarious parody of national politics.

You'll never believe me. It turns out that Nick Saban doesn't care about one solitary thing in this world other than how to win many football games. It's almost like he's a robot programmed to act like a human being… poorly.

Etc.: On gentrifying the stadium experience. Jon Teske highlights. Gundy adapting.

Fixing The Worst Championships In America

Fixing The Worst Championships In America

Submitted by Brian on March 20th, 2015 at 12:35 PM

NCAA

the background is devoid of people

College hockey is a lovely little sport with grandiose ideas that have harmed its growth for the past 20 years. For every jam-packed Yost regional with fans going bonkers—some of the best sporting events of my life—there have been ten antiseptic neutral-ice matchups featuring the barely weighted plinko of single-elimination hockey played in front of a crowd that could only be described as "dolorous" if you were feeling exceptionally generous.

The Frozen Four is a successful event that draws attendance from around the country annually; the rest of college hockey's playoff systems are inane at best.

Finally, this seems to be changing. Faced with the stark fact that no one even wants to host the NCAA hockey tournament anymore (ND is hosting this year despite having an odd 90-foot-wide rink because it was literally the only bid for the Midwest), a sensible new face on the competition committee has an innovative idea:

Do what they do in every other sport.

Seriously, though: fixing the worst tournament in American sports would be a personal relief and a step forward for a sport that is stubbornly fixated on playing neutral-site contests no matter how embarrassing they are. Yesterday's attendance at the Joe was scant:

20150319-WIS-MICH-LAR-0213[1]

This shot has people in it, unlike 90% of the sections

This will continue. Matt Shepherd yells at fans for not showing up, but that's a counterproductive point of view. The product sucks. The product wants me to drive 90 minutes round-trip to an almost-empty arena with the character of concrete during the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament. It does not offer me the opportunity to go to a packed and buzzing Yost Ice Arena in the seat I bought all year. (The cokes are cheaper, I'll give them that.)

Calling people bad fans doesn't change any of that. I'm fed up with it—I did not go nor even think of going—and I have had hockey season tickets for over 15 years. If I'm a bad fan, college hockey has vanishingly few good ones.

Fans eventually notice when they are being pooped on. And I don't know how only MLS and WWE executives realize this in American sports, but the fans are a huge part of the show. I will watch chunks of anything that has folks going insane in a little bandbox of an arena. It shows that whatever's going on is important to somebody. Anybody could be forgiven if they tuned in yesterday for thinking hockey meant nothing to anybody.

If you want your championship to be something other than embarrassing, there is an option. Over the three weeks the CCHA tournament used to take, the Big Ten could have three-game home series all the way to the championship, which would make the regular season more meaningful, provide a more meaningful champion, get their players more games, and make vastly more money.

The reason they do not is still mysterious. Wisconsin and Ohio State objected to needing to keep their buildings free for three weeks when a lot of high school championships are being played in them currently, but Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State all have dedicated facilities with no or little competition for time. They should be able to out-vote the stragglers. That they don't is an indication that the Big Ten doesn't take hockey seriously—something results on the ice have amply proven.

Here is a plan for making college hockey seem, you know, fun:

  • The Big Ten plays all home-site playoff games. People will "attend." This is "good."
  • Two weeks of home-site NCAA regionals, best two out of three. There's already a bye between the regionals and the Frozen Four anyway. For best results, fill with hockey.
  • The Frozen Four continues being itself.

It is not a complicated plan.

Unverified Voracity Had Subs. It Was Crazy.

Unverified Voracity Had Subs. It Was Crazy.

Submitted by Brian on March 28th, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Most Beilein quote ever. This MLive piece starts with the promise of a 'knock down, drag out party' celebrated by John Beilein in the aftermath of his team advancing to the Sweet 16. This invites questions about what Beilein considers a rager. Questions: answered.

"the (grandchildren) came over, we had a heck of a party -- pizza and chicken wings, it was crazy over there. … It was Patrick's (birthday on Sunday), we had subs. It was crazy."

I've been laughing at "We had subs, it was crazy" for 15 solid minutes.

WE HAD SUBS

IT WAS CRAZY

i can't breathe

image

I love this man.

I wish this was more relevant, but it's still a good counterpoint to Brady Hoke's lovely boringness. An already-thin 2012 Notre Dame recruiting class has been veritably gutted over the past few weeks, what with Gunner Kiel, Davonte Neal, and Justin Ferguson heading out of Dodge for various reasons ranging from insufficient chest to excessive baby to whatever Justin Ferguson has going on.

With Tee Shepard's instaflee last spring that hacks out the top four recruits from a 17-member class, something that might be useful if Michigan were to play any of these dinguses as upperclassmen—dollars to donuts Michigan buys out the 2014 game at the last second out of spite.

In any case, Neal's departure gave ESPN cause to recount his bizarre recruiting story:

The Chaparral (Ariz.) High School product waited until 20 days after national signing day to announce his college decision, setting up a morning ceremony at his former elementary school, Kyrene de la Esperanza.

With 600 schoolchildren, friends and family members on hand for the Feb. 21, 2012, announcement, Neal did not show. He made his announcement several hours later in front of a handful of reporters.

Six days later, Neal withdrew from Chaparral and enrolled at Phoenix Central.

In a universe where Michigan was in on this kid's recruitment:

NEAL: [describes setup]
HOKE: You want to do what?
NEAL: [re-describes setup, mentions he's not even going to show]
HOKE: You are under the mistaken impression that we are Tom Haverford. We are Ron Swanson. Enjoy wherever it is you end up, and wherever you end up after that, and wherever you end up after that. Send me your travel memoir.

ron-swanson-turkey-leg[1]

/eats bacon-wrapped turkey leg

Q: Who is the most Swanson? RELATED THING I JUST THOUGHT OF: Brady Hoke has a quality claim to the throne of Most Swanson College Football Coach. Bronco Mendenhall is a contender solely because he is named Bronco, but with Pat Hill and Danny Hope trolling unemployment lines the mustache category is all but moot. Bacon, libertarianism, temperature endurance… a case can be made for Hoke. In retrospect it's surprising that there has not been a Parks and Recreation episode in which a shirt-sleeved Swanson scorns his coworkers during a brutal Pawnee Winterfest blizzard.

I mean, I'm srlsly. From the Pyramid of Greatness:

“Fish, for sport only, not for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”

“Honor: if you need it defined, you don’t have it.”

"Buffets: Whenever available. Choose quantity over quality."

"Torso: should be thick and impenetrable."

"Frankness: cut the BS"

I'm having difficulty envisioning potential competitors. Orson immediately thought Schnellenberg, who would be a landslide winner if he was still coaching. The only other guy we came up with was Paul Johnson, and while Johnson bests Hoke in certain categories (lack of GAF, old-timeyness, hair helmet) Hoke wins meat hands down.

Oh hello Cincinnati. By 2017 the Bearcats may be a glorified MAC team in a glorified CUSA, but it's still a more interesting matchup than a game against East Nowhere, and Michigan has acquired it for the not-that-princely sum of 1.2 million dollars, and they probably had to throw in a basketball home and home, but I like the idea of that home and home so bully for scheduling.

The UC game continues a new trend in M (and to a somewhat lesser extent OSU) nonconference scheduling where they move past the MAC teams and just buy games against Real Opponents. Michigan's lined up Colorado, Oregon State, and now Cincinnati without offering anything other than cold hard cash. In this case the cash isn't even much more than the going rate for a MAC game—nearing one million dollars at last check. The economics have changed to the point where I expect Michigan will have a one-off home game against a low-level power conference opponent annually.

I WANT TO BELIEVE. Frank Clark has not done all that much so far at Michigan other than get completely lost on basic zone reads and that one fluke interception in the Sugar Bowl, but he's frigging huge now and people are saying mean things about him:

Frank Clark called the 'F'-word, emerges as leader to enter Michigan starting lineup

I feel this is a good thing even if they're not breaking out the swearing. They are apparently not doing so.

Michigan offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield combine for five years of starting experience. They've seen a lot of football, and can judge talent as well as anyone.

And both, asked open-endedly which defensive lineman provides the most difficult matchup in practice, offered the same answer: Frank Clark.

"He’s just so quick. He’s got such a quick step, it's hard to handle him. He's a freak," said Schofield, who wasn't the only Michigan player to invoke the F-word.

Added senior defensive lineman Jibreel Black: "Ever since Frank came in here, he's been a freak athlete. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

Yo man let's cut back on the freak talk until the dude accumulates some of those play-type things, but here's hoping. If Clark busts out that'll mitigate a lot of the issues that crop up without Jake Ryan.

Elsewhere in I WANT TO BELIEVE, Michigan is "raving" about Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh:

Jehu, in one-on-ones, he’s just flying by people with his speed," Gallon said. "Doing all these amazing things. You can tell he’s learning."

Both are built more in the mold that coordinator Al Borges desires for his pro-style offense: Tall, long and capable of stretching the field.

"Those two have demonstrated in the first few days that they have some big-play ability," Borges said. "They've won a few jump balls -- lost a few, but we haven't lost them all.

"Both of them have really good straight-line speed, particularly Jehu. Amara is fast, too. Amara is feel-fast -- probably more feel-fast than he is time-fast. His time isn't terrible, either."

Well, that's odd. Rothstein has an article about the transition from tackle to guard that quotes Steve Schilling on the challenges:

“When you get in the NFL, you almost have to be able to play, unless you’re a starter, you have to be able to play guard and tackle on both sides and a lot of times center also if you want to make it as a backup on the team,” said former Michigan lineman Stephen Schilling, who played both guard and tackle. “For me, the switch from tackle to guard wasn’t as much as if you were playing the right side the whole time and you switch to left, because you muscle memory gets so used to doing things one way and you have to flip it.”

Schilling was on the right his entire career at Michigan. The Hoke regime, meanwhile, has elected to move projected RT Mike Schofield to LG and back and is repeating that progression with Ben Braden. This may be a zone versus power thing: Schilling probably didn't pull more than a handful of times during his playing career. Michigan went to an all-zone system in Carr's last two years; while Rodriguez was considerably less monomaniacal than Mike DeBord, pulling was still a rare occurrence.

Man, everybody is on our jock now. CBS's Matt Norlander previews the South Regional:

Rank the remaining four teams:

1) Michigan

2) Florida

3) Kansas

4) Florida Gulf Coast

Why Michigan will be going to Atlanta ... The Wolverines now have the second-best offense in the nation, scoring 120.9 points per 100 possessions, that number adjusted for tempo. It's really good, second only to Indiana. The Burke factor is huge. I am a sucker for really, undeniably good point guards at this time of the year. Burke doesn't make mistakes as often as Aaron Craft and he's got a better set of tools on his hip than Shane Larkin or Peyton Siva. He'll be huge. …. Overall, the team has as much balance and weaponry as anyone in this tournament. Play a little D, and Atlanta will be the next stop.

That last bit is kind of an issue. He also talks up Stauskas—a bit, anyway. I expect Stauskas to do little against the Jayhawks. While he is Not Just A Shooter™, his midrange game is extremely clunky right now and he won't have a size advantage over the guy checking him. This is a bad matchup for him.

The Michigan chatter has gotten to the point where Bill Self's getting asked about it. Being the sexy upset pick makes me nervous.

It's too bad there is no available solution for this. You may not have noticed but this year's NCAA tourney is heavily regionalized. It's hard to get incensed about this when the pairwise has so much jitter that Notre Dame could have been either a one seed or out of the tournament going into the CCHA championship weekend, but if you're looking for this…

Over the past year, the people that oversee ice hockey within the NCAA, has changed. Last April, Mark Lewis was named "executive vice president for championships and alliances." …

Lewis, among other things, set out to address issues with declining attendance across all NCAA events. Obviously, attendance is relative, but even in men's basketball, there have been more empty seats than there have been in decades.

Essentially, under Lewis, the message coming through is of an emphasis on maximizing attendance at the events. And it's under that atmosphere — whether directly or indirectly — that the men's ice hockey committee operated this year.

…I have one or two ideas about how to make this happen. One: don't put regionals in St. Louis, you twits. Two: home sites for top seeds, you twits. If you decide not to do this, put one (one) regional in or around Michigan every year instead of zero most years and two this one time.

Etc.: LSUfreek gifs the most recent NCAA commercial. Countess confident he'll be back full go. Iowa reaches NIT Final Four by whomping Virginia; conference might have been good this year.

Scoop Jackson still exists! Remember when everyone was so mad about him? Things have changed a lot since then. I know it's not cool to be happy people get fired, but can we make an exception for David Whitley? Not so awesome: congratulations on the soccer story of the year, Brian Straus! Your prize is this letter about COBRA benefits. : (

Unverified Voracity Discusses Policy

Unverified Voracity Discusses Policy

Submitted by Brian on November 30th, 2012 at 3:21 PM

27 tickets to team 156. Naw just joshin'…

Read this. Meinke on Heck's cancer-stricken wife:

Roy Roundtree hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass to cap an improbable fourth-quarter comeback last season against Notre Dame. It came in the first night game in Big House history, gave Brady Hoke his first signature win at the school and set off a wild on-field celebration.

Players and coaches raced around looking for someone -- anyone -- to hug.

Not Jeff Hecklinski.

The Michigan receivers coach paced around trying to find cell service. Moments after the biggest win of his career, he wanted to call his wife. But not to celebrate -- to see if she was OK.

Thursday Thursday Thursday. I'll be Washington DC talking about stuff. Ask questions in that thread, sign up at the UM Club of DC's site, and etc. I will be audible since it's at a law firm! Excited about that bit.

interior[1]

college hockey in St. Louis: what could go wrong?

DO IT. WCH points out a guy who works for the NCAA who's all like "do you know what is dumb, neutral site hockey is dumb":

"Our current setup provides a lot of challenges,” said Tom Nevala, chair of the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee and senior associate athletics director at Notre Dame. “You need to find buildings that are neutral sites, have NHL ice and ideally are within close proximity to the host school’s fan base. Right now for the most part, we really need the host to qualify if we are going to have good attendance and atmosphere at our regionals. In an effort to increase attendance, the NCAA has been working with the hosts to try and make tickets more affordable but the nature of neutral sites and non-traditional game times works against us a bit.”

Translated from guy-who-wants-to-keep-his-job to raging bloggerese that is a slavering attack on the current format. I like you, Tom Nevala. You're all right.

His suggestion:

“Personally, I would like to see us move to an on-campus best-of-three series format for the first round,” Nevala said. “The top seeds would host regardless of size of its building. Right now we do it at the conference level and it works very well. There are upsets even with the home ice advantage and the atmosphere for everyone involved would be better. We have such great campus facilities that are such a part of the fabric of college hockey, it’s a shame that the national tourney isn’t played in them.”

Massive improvement, though it does leave you with eight teams and no suggestion as to what to do with them. I've seen other people propose a "super regional" featuring just the two games, but that runs into the same issues. May as well just extend the season a week and do best two-of-three again, then have a Frozen Four.

Unfortunately, Nevala then goes on to say "the coaching body" is "set on having the regional games at neutral sites," which means we must fire every single D-I coach and replace them with people who aren't CHL sleeper agents.

Gambling in this establishment. WHL hammers Portland for benefits over and above the ones they're allowed to give.

Schedule strength so far. Michigan fares well in Luke Winn's latest power rankings:

121130.01[1]

Michigan's about to fade in this department as they take on an array of low-major teams and struggling Arkansas and West Virginia outfits, but right now you can take Michigan's stats as seriously as any compiled six games into a season. Duke, meanwhile, has basically locked down a one-seed at this point with wins over Kentucky, Louisville, OSU, VCU, and Minnesota. I be like dang.

As for Michigan itself, they're third. Winn points out the decreasing reliance and increased effectiveness of the pick and roll:

1. Overall, their percentage of P&R possessions has dropped from 18.0 to 14.5, according to Synergy.
2. P&Rs still make up a big portion of Burke's game, but when he does them, he's passing 55.6 percent of the time, as compared to 44.9 last year. His pass/shoot ratio out of P&Rs is the opposite of what it was in '11-12.
3. His derived offense from all P&R possessions is 1.127 PPP -- way up from 0.978 PPP last season. He has to force fewer shots, and he has better passing options on the perimeter.

I'm surprised the pick and roll was only 18% of Michigan's shot generation last year. I wonder what it was in year two of Darius Morris.

Stealing Ace's thunder a bit. Gareon Conley visits OSU this Thursday and Michigan on the 14th($) for what is shaping up to be a very large recruiting weekend; newly re-offered David Dawson will also be in after an OSU visit.

A note on the Dawson stuff: I'm surprised that opinion is divided on whether re-extending an offer to the kid is a good idea. The guy has had a rough go of it this year with his father dying unexpectedly and if Michigan is back in the picture it's because he manned up, went to Michigan, and laid it out. Weigh the twitter blasts against swallowing your pride and doing that as a 17-year-old. If Hoke thinks he's good, he's good. Michigan has been meticulous about getting quality kids after The Process forced them to take a couple fliers on kids they didn't really know.

Meanwhile, the increasingly-infamous Policy about committed recruits visiting other places is way overblown. Dawson got his offer pulled because he was not upfront; Michigan is still recruiting Conley after he decommited. All the policy means is "don't think you're saving a spot in Michigan's class if you're visiting other schools."

Michigan has two states of recruiting:

  • COMMITTED: Keep out of trouble and keep your grades up and you will be in the class. We will stand by you if you have a bad year or get injured. You do not take visits to other schools. If you do, they automatically move you into the other category.
  • UNCOMMITTED: If you have an offer they'll continue to recruit you but they can revoke that offer at any time until they move you into the other category by mutual agreement. If your leg explodes tough cookies.

Notably absent is "COMMITTED, BUT…" Committed-but is an extremely annoying recruiting state that recently-offered AZ OL Kenny Lacy provides an excellent example of:

Lacy is a UCLA commitment that was also offered by Michigan this week. His consideration of other schools, however, is not a new development. From the moment he committed to the Bruins back in September he mentioned his plan to still take trips to other campuses. …

"I am committed (to UCLA) and I originally did it because I felt strongly that is where I want to go. But I was upfront with (UCLA assistant) Coach (Adrian) Klemm from the beginning that I would still take trips, and he was OK with that. I just want to make sure I am doing the right thing and making the right decision."

This is an offense against the English language, and that's probably why Hoke doesn't go for it. Also it's a fiction: Lacy is one-way committed to UCLA. He expects UCLA to be committed to him—he would be pissed if the Bruins took some other OL and were like "sorry full up." He reserves the right to flit off to somewhere else late.

Michigan isn't playing that game, and that is the extent of The Policy. You get two categories. Pick one. None of this half-in half-out stuff.

Prognosticator hat. One man's impression of how things will work out:

  • Conley: MICHIGAN by a nose. Last visit, Oregon doesn't appear to be going for him hard or at all at this point, parents pushing for M. OSU visit just a one-off Thursday instead of a full official.
  • Dawson: MICHIGAN. Really seemed to regret how things worked out now; doubt Michigan would re-offer without a good idea of how the story ends.
  • Derrick Green: MICHIGAN. Options: fired coach, fired coach, Ole Miss, place that will be nuked by NCAA in near future. Early enrollment make it very hard for fired coach places to catch up. With the dead period, a guy who gets hired today would have about two weeks to build a relationship. Ole Miss or Michigan? Since the kid isn't from Mississippi that has to be no contest. If it is Ole Miss, I swear to never set foot in that state because I won't be able to leave.
  • Leon McQuay: Vanderbilt, but if James Franklin gets snapped up by someone else that would probably tip the scales to Michigan.
  • LaQuon Treadwell: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Seems like if he was going to drop to Michigan he already would have. Maybe he's just indecisive.
  • Michigan adds wildcard or two. That would put them at 25 give or take the status of the longsnapper, who I know I know they said would be getting a full ride but we heard the same thing with Morales; dollars to donuts the deal is he is at the top of the walk-on board permanently. They're at 25 now pending Mike Jones not getting a fifth year and Lewan entering the draft, so even if the LS is on full scholarship it would only take one extra piece of attrition for Michigan to have extra room. That's almost inevitable. You can see that they've offered a half-dozen players lately, mostly OL and LBs. I'd guess they add one or the other, with Cal OL commit Cameron Hunt the random guess I'm making. More likely they will pull someone out of nowhere a la Willie Henry.

It would be weird to have two decommitted guys recommit—in my recollection only one decommit has ever re-upped with Michigan: Will Campbell. But that's the way my wind is blowing to day you guys.

four-team-playoff[1]

FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL

It's almost as if athletic directors cannot consider the consequences of their actions. UNLV's AD after participating in a mock playoff assemblage:

"Wow, is this committee going to have pressure," Livengood said. "The thing that jumps out at me is that there are just four teams, it's not enough of a sample. I was not a proponent of going larger than four, and this changed my mind totally."

Sure you weren't, UNLV dude.

Meanwhile, this committee assembled to prevent mistakes like Stanford getting picked over Oregon last year because Oregon played and lost to LSU while Stanford did not made the exact same mistake in reverse by selecting Oregon over Stanford because Stanford played ND and lost (in overtime on a terrible call) while Oregon played Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech in their nonconference schedule and Stanford has to beat a good UCLA team again to win the Pac-12. Way to reward scheduling, guys.

As always, people in charge of stuff are just in charge of stuff and may or may not deserve to be.

Etc.: Zak Irvin off to a hot start as the man on his HS team post Gary Harris. Nebraska and OU agree to a series in 2021 and 2022. Yost Built previews this weekend's hockey series against Ferris. Hockey has a lot of talent coming in next year. Orson interviews the populace at The Game.

Unverified Voracity Holds Secret Tournament

Unverified Voracity Holds Secret Tournament

Submitted by Brian on March 27th, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Sitebulletins. We are two weeks away from the Spring Game and the it's hard offseason after. We'll be ramping up the usual stuff—profiles of the incoming freshmen, ranting about offsides in hockey, recaps of our insane predictions—and yes, now is the time when a Sugar Bowl UFR gets done. All timely like.

There are a couple of complicating factors, most prominent: knee surgery. I'm having it. Unfortunately they've moved the date from April 17th—blissfully amidst nothing at all—to April 10th. That's four days before the Spring Game. Glarble. I'll do my best to give you the usual breakdown, but I'm not sure how with-it I'll be. I'm supposed to be able to walk in two weeks, so hopefully I'll be coherent after four days.

The other project, one that I wanted to get started on earlier, is whacking the server in the right spot so it's a bunch faster. This should be doable, but it is going to take some time. Between that and the surgery don't be surprised if my posting frequency drops a bit. I'll get at least one thing up a day; the rest of the time is going to be spent on laying a groundwork for keeping things upright when next season rolls around. Death to the 503.

Shawn Hunwick Chill Michigan State v Michigan cl2vfTQ621rl[1]

goodnight, sweet prince

Read this. I linked it in the game recap post but really, if you haven't read Zach Helfand's article on the Cornell game you should:

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — The crease is empty now.

The custodians in the Resch Center stands are picking up trash, and with plastic gloves they shove Skittles wrappers and used napkins and programs that show a picture of a 5-foot-6 goaltender that used to play for the Michigan hockey team into a large plastic trash bag.

It is a quarter till midnight.

Below them, on the ice, the crease is empty.

Forty-nine minutes ago, at 10:56 p.m., it wasn’t. Forty-nine minutes ago, there was a goaltender named Shawn Hunwick lying on his right side across that crease, and a puck was there, just past the crown of his helmet.

It's one thing to execute a long-form article over weeks and another to bash something really good out on deadline. Helfand has chops. Googling reveals a planned graduation date of 2014. I feel old.

Stephen Nesbitt also has a good column on Hunwick's exit, one in which Hunwick says a blog called him a "waste of space." Doesn't sound like me, but I do like Fawlty Towers… hmmm… phew. No hits except some false positives in which commenters call each other wastes of space.

As long as we're moping about the Cornell game and early exits, the HSR writes on Michigan's last three tourney losses, all of which were 3-2 in OT after a disallowed goal. Ay yi yi. Holdin' The Rope is also attempting to hold its head together with its hands. Center Ice previews the incoming recruits.

We must prevent anyone from attending this event. The NCAA is bound and determined to prevent any hockey regional from selling out, even the best conceivable scenario of Minnesota-North Dakota at the X:

-That said, the NCAA did their best to neutralize any home ice advantage at the XCel Center by making sure no one would attend. Tickets for each session cost $57, and there was no re-entry between the two games on Saturday, meaning fans were pretty much stuck inside the XCel all day if they wanted to see both games. The end result of the blatant price-gouging was an announced crowd of 10,974 for a regional final between Minnesota and North Dakota. That doesn't look terrible, but as Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald pointed out, last week's WCHA Final Five quarterfinal held at the same building between Denver and Michigan Tech, and played on a Thursday afternoon drew an announced crowd of 11,489. The NCAA ran an event less successfully than the WCHA. This year's regional final was also outdrawn by the 2007 regional final between the same two teams, but held in Denver.

The prices for regionals are so ridiculous they can't even sell out a Minnesota game in Minnesota.

I just don't even know, man. There's a Michigan fan on the USCHO board who rails on this broken playoff system, spawning huge multi-page threads that make me want to find the people who think it's impossible to move back to home regionals and throttle them.

College hockey needs to grow the sport at home, where it's in competition with the CHL, and not in Tampa or St. Louis. Move to two weekends of best two out of three series on home ice and follow it up with a Frozen Four. You bring the game to the people who support it, not hundreds of miles away, and cease the embarrassment of having three thousand people in arenas that seat three times that many. The current system is essentially a giant middle finger to the people who fill arenas during the regular season.

Even when they can get it right, they don't: Michigan is hosting in Grand Rapids next year when there is a Toledo regional available. That's an extra four hours roundtrip so Bowling Green, a school with almost no chance of making the tournament, can host. And WCHA fanbases all get shut out.

A little more Merrill info. Red, at least, expects him back:

As for Merrill, a second-round pick of New Jersey, Berenson said: "Merrill will get some interest, but right now his heart is at Michigan. I don't see him doing anything."

While Red's been wrong before, that's a think in the right direction on my Bayesian Merrill departure meter. The Daily also throws this in an article on Wohlberg's departure for the AHL and other matters:

Sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill is the only Wolverine who hasn't appeared to make a decision regarding his status for next season.

Not sure if that's an assumption or the prospect of losing Brown/Guptill is not on the table. That would be nice, getting everyone back. It's happened. It's rare, but it's happened. Once, I think.

Anonymous surveying. Rothstein took some anonymous survey questions($) when he was giving exit interviews to the 19 seniors and returns with word that Jerald Robinson is the pick for breakout player. One comment on him:

"He obviously hasn't played that much, but he has everything you need to be a great receiver. All he needs is the opportunity, and once he gets that, I know he'll do well. I think he'll definitely have a breakout year this year, because Junior (Hemingway is) leaving and (Darryl) Stonum isn't on the team, so we need him to step up, and I think he will."

Ryan, Toussaint, and Denard(!) are 2-3-4. There is much else of interest behind that paywall, but… yeah, paywall. I can probably tell you that Rothstein asked whether players liked Rodriguez and got generally positive but mixed responses. The responses to the same question about Hoke: "Yes – 19."

These grapes are truly sour. I either missed this or just forgot about posting on this article. Whichever it is, here it is. Possibly again. It's an Andy Staples piece from January on decommitments of top 100 recruits that has a couple of fascinating figures:

Of the 500 players ranked in the Rivals100 for the classes of 2007 through 2011, 73 (14.6 percent) decommitted at some point during their recruitment. Of those, 62 (12.4 percent) ultimately signed with a school other than the one to which they originally committed. …

Of the players who decommitted, 34.2 percent either failed to qualify, transferred or were dismissed. … Of the players who made one commitment and stuck to it, only 18.7 percent either failed to qualify, transferred or were dismissed.

The washout rate for guys who picked more than one school is almost double that of players who stuck with their one true love. So we didn't want Pharaoh Brown anyway. (Yes. Yes, I did want Pharaoh Brown. Fiddlesticks.)

About 15% of players end up switching. That seems higher in the South, FWIW, as some of those switches are involuntary. I'd guess Michigan loses fewer from this class, and going forward in the Hoke era.

Irvin hype clarity. I haven't been entirely sure what to think about Zak Irvin since the recruiting sites have such divergent opinions on him. Scout has him a generic three-star; Rivals thinks he's a top 50-type player. Via UMHoops, here's an indication that local observers lean towards the latter. The Indy Star is commenting on the snub of Bryson Scott, a Purdue commit who was only named to Indiana's second tier junior All-Star team:

Six players are named to the core team and it’s pretty clear in my mind that’s he’s one of the six best players in the junior class. I’d rate him or Hamilton Southeastern’s Zak Irvin as the top in-state prospect currently in the 2013 class. Plus, Scott has led his team to the regional each of the last two years and he averaged more than 25 points a game as a sophomore.

Irvin is on the "core" team that will scrimmage the seniors twice in preparation for their annual game against Kentucky.

Etc.: Keith Olbermann eulogizes Bert Sugar, Michigan grad and story fountain. MSU lists 6'7" Tyler Hoover as a starter at DT. Many happy Masseys to him. This would be much more fun if MSU's OL was the shambles it should have been last year. Michigan is back on Monte Morris. Rittenberg goes to Sweet 16, comes back advocating for home sites in CFB playoff.

Illinois is depressed. Wisconsin redshirts everything that moves, which is why their classes have gotten so tiny.

Unverified Voracity Grows Evil Beard

Unverified Voracity Grows Evil Beard

Submitted by Brian on March 5th, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Basketball

The only reasonable explanation. Michigan State lost the outright title, still won a share, and collectively reacted like this…

430091_10150596605110098_647375097_9329089_840662538_n[1]

…the likely explanation is that they were more focused on denying Michigan than their own team. That game meant very little in the grand scheme of things to MSU. It mattered to OSU and Michigan.

No, it wasn't hard to root for Ohio State yesterday. I didn't even notice.

Irrational optimism getting less irrational. Michigan has two five-star sorts in its upcoming recruiting class and the guy I'm most excited about may be the other dude. That is 6'6" shooting guard/potential Burke backup Nik Stauskas, who just outdueled Nerlens Noel, a 6'10" center who recently reclassified to 2012 and instantly became a top five player after doing so, for tournament MVP at the NEPSAC championships. He is not just a shooter($):

Nik Stauskas (Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark’s)
2012, SF, 6-6, 205
College: Michigan

Stauskas finished with 19 points but his impact on the game far exceeded that total, as he not only scored the ball in different ways but also facilitated for others in both pick and roll as well as drive-and-kick action. While the complete versatility of Stauskas’ offensive repertoire was on full display, the most impressive part of his performance was that innate star quality that allowed him to make big play after big play at the most pivotal moments of the game.

The main thing keeping him from being another five-star type recruit is his athleticism. That shouldn't prevent him from being a shot generator at the college level—he'll enter with far more skill than Stu Douglass had, for one. I mean, look at his evil beard:

BAF05SCHRDP11_thumb[1]

IF that does not fill you with confidence, nothing will.

Stauskas also drew raves from NERR. Meanwhile, Mitch McGary's Brewster team suffered an upset while Glenn Robinson III helped his team win their first sectional title since '97. All that and more at UMHoops.

Football

images[2]161841[1]rn_ejlevenberry_ms_200[1]

McCray/Gedeon/Levenberry: Linebacker is the new offensive line

A brief comment on the linebacker crunch. My trapper keeper with Michigan's projected recruiting class surrounded by hearts has at least two slots for linebackers, but if the third guy is going to be O'Daniel/Levenberry/Gedeon it probably has three. Sam Webb first thought this was not the case, but recently reversed course.

It should be clear why after a quick glance at the depth chart by class. With announced positional rearrangements taking Beyer and Paskorz away from the SAM spot, that is now the sparsest position on the depth chart. Insert First World Problems GIF here. Michigan has three more years of Jake Ryan, two of Cam Gordon, and nothing else. Even if you figure one of the 2012 recruits is destined to move down—something the coaches denied on Signing Day—that would seem to make a third linebacker a reasonable acquisition.

Even if that's the case now, if O'Daniel and Levenberry hew to their current plans and take their decisions to Signing Day there's a pretty good chance room opens up for one of them. The current assumption on this site is 22, but that assumes Michigan only loses two players to attrition*.

That's an extremely conservative estimate. If Michigan gets up to 24, they can take…

  • Another RB
  • Two more WRs
  • A third TE
  • Another CB
  • Two DL

…and still have a couple spare scholarships. You may have spotted the assumption here: Michigan will only take one three-tech/SDE type in this class. I think that's reasonable after taking four (Wormley, Godin, Strobel, Henry) last year, especially with two 2011 recruits coming off redshirts and the possibility/likelihood that Wyatt Shallman ends up weighing 280 by his sophomore year.

When all is said and done the bet here is Michigan has a couple scholarships to play with in January and SLB is an excellent candidate to use one of those spares even if Michigan already has a couple linebackers committed. It sounds like McCray and Gedeon are about to drop; if Levenberry changes his mind and attempts to commit on his Spring Game visit he's not getting turned down.

BONUS HYPOTHETICAL EXTRA SCHOLARSHIP DISTRIBUTION DESIRE: Cornerback. Michigan… uh… has fewer blue chip guys there than anywhere else in the last two classes.

/runs around laughing maniacally
//falls in trough
/continues laughing maniacally

celebrate-sparty-no[1]

We do it better than Todd Graham.

*[Two more players are assumed to not be getting fifth years.]

A rule to live by. Orson just tossed this off and I'm thinking of embroidering it on a sampler or something:

Never have anything to do with a recruit who wants to sign after Signing Day.

This may be sour grapes.

June building stuff. The Washington Post highlights Cato June, new head coach at Anacostia High School in DC. He's filling his staff out with a familiar name:

June quickly turned to [retired HC Willie] Stewart, asking him to help coach the Indians next fall. He also named his close friend and Michigan roommate Walter Cross, the 1997 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year from Oxon Hill, as his offensive coordinator — the same position Cross held at Potomac (Md.) this fall.

Apparently anyone in DC can transfer without a reason, so if June gets things off the ground Anacostia could be a fertile ground for recruiting—not that Brady Hoke needs another one.

Hockey

Bye-week hockey events. Michigan pulled the worst possible opponent in the second round thanks to Northern Michigan going down in flames against Bowling Green and all other higher seeds holding. They go against Notre Dame, who gave them a very tough weekend about a month ago. The Irish are 19th in the Pairwise and entering a do-or-die weekend for tourney hopes.

The key for Michigan will be watching Notre Dame's goalies play as poorly as they have in all games not against Michigan. Steven Summerhays put up a .945 in the M-ND series; for the year he's at .908.

Pairwise. Michigan's off weekend saw them move up thanks to a one-point weekend from Minnesota-Duluth that cost them the regular-season WCHA title and put their one-seed in flux. Michigan still doesn't win that comparison—I told you it would be tough—and still wont even if they sweep next weekend despite UMD drawing 12-22-2 Minnesota State. Michigan can win the comparison by sweeping ND and doing better than UMD at the conferences' respective finals… as long as UMD doesn't lose this weekend.

Weird system: you are rooting for UMD to win this weekend and get annihilated at the Final Five.

BONUS CCHA BIDS ODDITY: remember that period in the season when seven CCHA teams were destined for the tournament? That's been whittled down to four as of today. Five of the first six teams out of the tourney are CCHA teams. Western, Lake Superior, and ND can still play themselves in.

It's March, so it's time for huge Daily profiles. Luke Glendening is first up:

It was late April 2008, and the Michigan hockey assistant coach had just extended a one-year tryout offer to Luke Glendening, a forward recruit from The Hotchkiss School, a prep institution in Lakeville, Conn.

“You’re on a one-year tryout,” Powers told Glendening. “If you’re good in practice, you’ll stay.”

Powers left him with one last word of warning.

“If you have somewhere else to go, you should probably do it.”

We're living in the golden age of angles, I'm telling you.

A fantastic idea. Mike Spath proposes a new format for the NCAA tournament:

To start, the NCAA should collaborate with the NHL to form six permanent sites, rotating among the six for the four yearly locations: Boston, New York, Detroit, Minneapolis, Denver and Toronto. The Frozen Four would also rotate among those six cities instead of taking us to Tampa Bay or Washington D.C.

That would be excellent. You might want to add a Philadelphia or Pittsburgh but that's fine. No more Green Bay, St. Louis, Tampa, etc. Take the money the NHL is giving you and use it to lower ticket prices so you get a local crowd—part of the horrendous attendance in Fort Wayne was the $90 session passes—and try to fill those buildings as much as you can. If you want to "grow the sport" you can promise a local regional/FF to areas considering the addition of hockey programs.

In response to this idea, the NCAA announced the next six Frozen Fours would take place in New Zealand.

Miscellaneous

Retconned history. The New York Times has a look at how the Big East fell apart featuring this tactical error back in the day:

Tranghese tried to tell the Big East’s university presidents and athletic directors as much as early as 1989 when he was Gavitt’s assistant. Gavitt thought the conference needed to bring Penn State into the fold. Penn State was an independent at the time, looking for the security of a conference.

The membership voted no, with St. John’s, Villanova and Georgetown leading the resistance. At the end of the meeting, Gavitt asked Tranghese what he thought about the decision. “I said, ‘We will all rue the day about this decision,’ ” Tranghese said. “I understood how big football was. I didn’t understand how big it was going to become.

“At that point, the Big East had so much success in the ’80s, everybody sort of forgot about it.  But I felt looking back on the history of the Big East, that was probably the biggest mistake we made.”

The conference has been regularly pillaged since and will be a nationwide amalgam of mid-major football schools minus flagship Syracuse as a result. I wonder if the Big Ten would still be ten teams today if the Big East hadn't screwed it all up in the late 80s.

Etc.: Wojo on Sunday's events. I bet a dollar Burke and Cody Zeller end up splitting the freshman of the year award. From Old Virginia takes a look at where lacrosse is headed, speculating that Michigan will eventually end up in a "Western" conference with OSU, PSU, Detroit, Air Force, and Denver. BSD recaps the PSU-M game from their perspective. Michigan engineers elect Bender to school board.

Nobody Cares About Your Problems, Wisconsin

Nobody Cares About Your Problems, Wisconsin

Submitted by Brian on January 23rd, 2012 at 2:44 PM

arena-empty[1]

pictured: the NCAA's ideal crowd for a regional

College hockey is currently infected with two things that exacerbate the general meaninglessness of the regular season and often make tournament venues sterile, embarrassingly empty events. They are a fetish for neutral sites and a general agreement to ignore the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana nexus of college hockey in favor of putting everything out West. Only the miraculously blinkered Wisconsin athletic department and their press apparatchiks manage to combine both.

Neutral sites are stupid. They lead to things like sixty people in an NHL building in St. Louis hundreds of miles from any college hockey program. They should be viciously abolished wherever they don't obviously work already. This is something we can all agree on. Except Wisconsin. After months of reporting about how Wisconsin was unhappy with the way the Big Ten hockey conference was shaking out, Andy Baggot's back with a helpful suggestion.

Shifting Big Ten hockey to neutral site would eliminate WIAA conflict

Argh. Baggot is under the mistaken impression that anyone outside the state of Wisconsin gives sixth thousandths of a damn about some high school tournaments. This is the enormous problem that must be fixed:

UW officials wisely voted against this format for two reasons: One, it would create the current scheduling problems with the WIAA state tournaments for wrestling and boys' and girls' basketball; and two, there's a more sensible option.

There is not one person associated with the Big Ten who cares about option one. If the state of Wisconsin had a second arena, it wouldn't even be an issue. Hey, wait… THAT'S ANDREW BOGUT'S MUSIC

3349384531_5a37334e92[1]

Milwaukee's Bradley Center

If the Bradley Center's too busy, Milwaukee has a 10,000 seat backup currently occupied by nothing at all. We have saved the children of Wisconsin from having to compete for state championships on Lake Michigan. Time to party.

As for two, the "more sensible option" is <drumroll>…

The Big Ten should revisit the idea of a neutral site tournament, which would bring all six teams to one location in a one-and-done format over three days. There are several possible venues and a future rotation could be devised, but the best for now is the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Not only is it a fantastic NHL facility, it's in the middle of a great hockey culture with a genuine appreciation for the college game. The building also has experience handling such an event given its work with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five.

…blithering idiocy. There are six Big Ten hockey schools. They are:

  • Minnesota: zero hours from Minneapolis
  • Wisconsin: five hours from Minneapolis
  • MSU: 11 hours from Minneapolis
  • Michigan: 12 hours from Minneapolis
  • Ohio State: 14 hours from Minneapolis
  • Penn State: 16 hours from Minneapolis

Only an idiot would suggest the fairest "neutral site" that could be proposed is the home city of the westernmost school in the conference, one that only two of the six schools could reasonably drive to. Arenas in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Toledo and Indianapolis would be better geographically and could probably handle the enormous strain of putting on three games over a weekend. Only an idiot would suggest throwing away the money four to six opening round games would generate*.

Instead, the Big Ten has decided to put the finals at the home rink of the top seed, something that both gives the conference winner a needed edge in the barely-weighted plinko that is single elimination playoff hockey and guarantees attendance between decent and sellout. This is "unwieldy at best and, at worst, irresponsible." No, seriously, dude said it was irresponsible.

This is the rationale:

Regardless of location, you're asking an awful lot of the six teams and their fans in terms of time and travel logistics. That's especially true of the four lowest seeds, which meet the week before the semifinals in a best-of-three series at the home of the higher seed. The survivors advance to the next round.

In a nutshell, the Big Ten is giving its members two weeks to ready an arena, sell tickets, secure hotel space, line up ground and/or air transportation and make sure its teams are ready to play.

Meanwhile, fans of those teams are being asked to be flexible and keep a credit card handy.

This is something literally every hockey arena in the country has to be ready for because they may host a first or second round playoff series. Unless I missed a spate of unprepared zamboni deaths, they've managed. The argument here is a campus site is just impossibly daunting to prepare on short notice, which is why every NCAA sport other than D-I football, basketball, and hockey uses such things for their playoffs.

If there's a cost analysis between the campus site and neutral site, I'll bet the difference is significant and it favors the neutral site.

If you're an idiot who thinks anyone cares about WIAA playoffs and believes that four Big Ten teams are going to vote to have the Big Ten finals at least eleven hours away, next door to Minnesota's campus. How about this: if Wisconsin wins the league they can hire the X. Problem no one cares about solved.

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

*[The problem with the Big Ten's format is it does not adopt the actually logical playoff structure: three weeks of best-of-three series at the higher-seeded-team's rink. That's more money, more games (always nice when you're competing against OHL teams that point out a relative lack of games in the NCAA), and avoids the strangeness of the current format wherein the second-place team gets no home games.]