Unverified Voracity Has Physical Intangibles

Unverified Voracity Has Physical Intangibles

Submitted by Brian on October 26th, 2015 at 12:13 PM


two gentlemen who won't be on the bench much this season [Patrick Barron]

Incoming: the other thing we're excited about. We taped a basketball preview podcast this weekend and Ace and Alex will be rolling out season preview stuff pretty soon. Media day also transpired. MAAR:

"If he can become an excellent defender on this team then there will always be minutes for him," Beilein said.

MAAR also has to settle down and finish when he gets to the rim, which he does a lot of. Hard to see him getting a ton of minutes this year; equally hard seeing him get a redshirt since he has skills that aren't common on the roster.


At 6 feet, 10½ inches, Wagner is learning the four and five positions in Beilein's system. That involves banging on the blocks. It requires physical play. It demands fighting for rebounds and manning up on defense.

As of now, despite Wagner climbing from 211 pounds to 225 since arriving at Michigan, that's difficult to imagine. It might look like one of those dancing inflatable tube men stuffed inside a phone booth.

"He just hasn't shown that physical ability to rebound yet, but he will," Beilein said. "He's really a talented young man. As I'll tell you every time, (when he plays) you'll say, 'Wow, that was awkward,' and he will be awkward. Then a minute later, you'll say, 'Oh my goodness, did he just do that at 6 feet, 10½ inches?'

Wagner sounds like he's headed for a redshirt. Also he lives for Chipotle. And is six feet ten and a half inches tall.

Kenpom updates. Kenpom has updated itself with preseason rankings. Its exact sauce is secret, but the system takes into account recent performance, returning players, and recruiting rankings. The Big Ten:

  • 9 Wisconsin
  • 13 Indiana
  • 17 Michigan
  • 18 Michigan State
  • 22 Purdue
  • 24 Maryland
  • 36 Iowa
  • 42 Ohio State
  • 51 Northwestern
  • 61 Illinois
  • 66 Minnesota
  • 119 Penn State
  • 137 Nebraska
  • 223 Rutgers

Well done, Rutgers.

None of that is a surprise given the way I've seen the thing work. Wisconsin is being given credit for being very good the past few years; Kenpom looks at the Michigan roster and is like "tell me more." Then it looks at the Big Ten and is all like "dunno": it projects nobody better than 12-6 and has 8 teams within two games of winning the league.

Meanwhile M's nonconference schedule has no middle. They've got four opponents ranging from 23rd to 41st (SMU, Xavier, UConn, NC State) plus a couple TBD opponents who will probably be good in their tournament. Then they have six nonconference opponents Kenpom ranks 240th or worse. Woof.

It's jug week. So you know MVictors is fired up. On the 1903 game:

Speaking of the Armory – We know now that Minnesota equipment man Oscar Munson found Michigan’s water jug inside the Armory a day or 2 after the game, and, we know that Athletic Director L.J. Cooke suspended the jug above his office in the Armory from 1903 to 1909:

Armory and Jug

Quoting Coach Yost:  Before the game a Minnesota man asked him, “Are you going to beat us?”  “Well, that’s what we came up here for,” replied Yost.  “It will be a great game, and probably a close game.  Minnesota has been playing better football than any team in the west this year…if we win this, we win the championship.”

Tauntings: The Minnesota band entered the field before the game led by a donkey, and, ahem, “the animal wore trousers of Michigan colors.”  [They didn’t get those pants from Moe’s.]  When the Michigan second team players arrived they were greeted with a rousing chorus of “Poor old Mich” by the Gopher Fans.

The Daily Gopher also has jug miscellanea for your reading pleasure.

The next guy, probably/maybe. For no particular reason I spent a chunk of this weekend looking for John O'Korn clips out. Weird experience, that. A game against Rice from his freshman year demonstrates his promise:

There is some dumb freshman stuff in there; there are also a half-dozen throws to make you go "whoah." Against BYU the next year he was middling at best, though his receivers went out of their way to avoid catching the ball, and then against UCF he was in full Hackenberg mode, turfing about every other screen and getting benched for the duration of the season.

O'Korn is about as far away from Rudock as you can get without leaving the "pro style quarterback" designation: a wild, big-armed gunslinger. There's a lot for Harbaugh to work with there; there's also a long way to go. O'Korn's been rooming with Rudock in an apparent effort to get him  more towards the middle of the continuum:

Mastrole said O'Korn is benefiting from living with Rudock, a student of the game and devoted to watching film.

"I'm glad the two of them are rooming together," Mastrole told The Detroit News recently. "John has off-the-charts physical intangibles, and he's a very smart kid. He's going to pick up things and he's observing Jake." …

"He had some turmoil last year but now he's sitting (this season) and learning a lot," Mastrole said. "Jake has been a good fit for him."

I think the word you were looking for there is "tangibles," but I could care less.

That Miami is open. One of the most fascinating jobs in college football is now available for a special someone. That person will have to be a special someone indeed, as Stephen Godfrey and Bud Elliott detail:

Godfrey: I don't know Florida like you do, but I've talked to enough people in the industry to understand the unique problem in Coral Gables. The one thing Luke said that stuck with me the most is how Miami wants to sell "SWAG" on a t-shirt and then recruit and behave in the exact opposite manner. You can't do both.

Bud: You need someone who can relate to the culture at Miami. Golden's "unity overcomes the adversity" slogans were so lame. That is not how these kids are coached when they start in little league. You need someone who relates, who can inspire them. But the administration seems to prefer more of the milquetoast Golden type.

Godfrey: And in 2015, you can't expect the famous Howard Schnellenberger strategy of fencing off "The State of Miami" to compensate for the lack of money and support. Kids in Dade County are uploading highlight clips to Instagram when they're in middle school. Digital film is the biggest change to the recruiting landscape in the last decade, diminishing the local colleges' advantage of identifying prospects before out-of-town schools can. This new hire must be someone for whom local players want to play.

Al Golden, a Penn State alum whose biggest success came at Temple, was as bad a cultural fit as Rich Rodriguez was at Michigan. And Miami is one of the few programs in the country where that "fit" thing looms even larger than it does in Ann Arbor.

This is why Butch Jones, a 63-year-old who hasn't coached since 2010 because he was run out of town by the NCAA, is currently the internet polling favorite at the SB Nation Miami blog. Culture is super-important (and fans on the internet are crazy).

As a result of that and Miami's notorious lack of funding you can probably dump most of the most attractive names on Bruce Feldman's comprehensive list of candidates. (One that includes Jedd Fisch, FWIW.) Tom Herman and Justin Fuente don't have local connections and are going to be pursued by schools with bigger pocketbooks. Dana Holgorsen ($2.3 million already) is probably out of reach monetarily, or will be after his agent gets to work.

But Rich Rodriguez is making just 1.5 million at Arizona, has a ton of South Florida experience in recruiting, and runs a spread offense that would help differentiate Miami from the other two in-state P5 programs. It would be a roll of the dice for both player and program, but… I mean, Deerfield Beach is less than an hour from Miami proper.

Or they could just hire the Rock.

Etc.: Sap on the anniversary of Ufer's passing. We are now #2 in the F+ rankings. Berenson interviewed. Denard was and is the last NCAA football cover athlete. Make or break year for Kam Chatman.

Ricky Doyle: Up To The Challenge

Ricky Doyle: Up To The Challenge

Submitted by Ace on July 22nd, 2015 at 2:01 PM

Ricky Doyle played up to the competition. [Fuller]

While our attention has, for the most part, turned to football in the offseason, a new KenPom feature has me digging back into hoops. On individual player pages, KenPom now displays split stats for performaces against (1) conference opponents, (2) games against top-100 opponents, adjusted for game location, and (3) games against top-50 opponents, with the same home-court adjustment.

This is a very useful tool for parsing out how well players did against better competiton. Michigan's big man situation continues to fascinate me, so I thought it'd be useful to see how last year's troika performed against the best teams on the schedule, especially since the disparity in big man quality tends to be large between bad teams and good teams. While KenPom hasn't yet separated out stats for non-top-100 opponents (consider this a humble suggestion from a mathematically challenged blogger), we can get a baseline by looking at each player's full stat line from last season.

  %Min %Poss ORtg OR% DR% TORate Blk% FC/40 FTM-FTA 2PM-2PA 3PM-3PA
Ricky Doyle 43.7 17.9 117.4 10.4 11.9 12.0 2.6 4.0 39-66 (59%) 72-119 (61%) 0-0
Max Bielfeldt 34.2 22.3 107.2 12.4 19.5 13.7 1.9 3.8 22-32 (69%) 54-99 (55%) 8-30 (27%)
Mark Donnal 22.3 17.0 119.6 10.2 16.1 9.6 3.8 6.4 19-27 (70%) 25-44 (57%) 7-19 (37%)

And now, each player's stats against only top-50 opponents. This covers 13 games from last season; Ricky Doyle and Max Bielfeldt played in all 13, while Mark Donnal participated in 11 of them.

  %Min %Poss ORtg OR% DR% TORate Blk% FC/40 FTM-FTA 2PM-2PA 3PM-3PA
Ricky Doyle 51.4 15.5 117.7 8.3 13.5 12.6 2.2 3.8 16-25 (64%) 33-55 (60%) 0-0
Max Bielfeldt 32.7 22.9 91.8 8.7 21.9 16.7 2.1 4.6 8-11 (73%) 19-38 (50%) 3-14 (21%)
Mark Donnal 17.0 20.6 128.2 13.9 7.3 3.6 4.0 8.4 7-11 (64%) 12-22 (55%) 2-6 (33%)

The above helps clarify why John Beilein was comfortable letting Bielfeldt go despite having the opportunity to bring him back. A few takeaways:

Doyle held strong. Doyle's offensive numbers stayed almost exactly the same against top-50 competition; his shooting held at 60%, he took care of the ball, and he allowed the offense to run through the guards/wings. While his offensive rebounding dipped, he still did pretty well in that regard. Equally as encouraging was his ability to hold up defensively; Doyle's foul rate stayed level and he took on a larger share of rebounding duties against top teams.

Bielfeldt's shortcomings became apparent. Bielfeldt proved effective against mid- and lower-tier teams in large part because he dominated the offensive glass, providing himself with easy putback opportunties. Against top-tier teams, however, his offensive rebounding fell off dramatically, his turnover rate rose, and he didn't have a post game or reliable outside shot to make up for either.

Bielfeldt also resorted to fouling more on defense. He was clearly overmatched on that end against high-level competition and that took him out of games even when he had it going offensively; for example, he had nine points on 4-6 shooting in the home overtime loss to Wisconsin but picked up three fouls in 14 minutes because he couldn't defend Frank Kaminsky or Nigel Hayes.

Donnal showed promise on one end. Donnal's decreased role as the season wore on means his sample size is smaller than the others—he essentially played two games worth of minutes against top-50 teams, and he did so in short stints. Those short stints weren't always by design. Donnal was foul-prone in the best of times but especially against good teams; yes, that 8.4 fouls/40 minutes figure is real and speaks to some major defensive shortcomings that were apparent to anyone who watched him play.

There's hope in the offensive numbers, however. Donnal was... good? Again, the tiny sample size makes it hard to draw grand conclusions here, but his rebounding rate and shooting numbers are encouraging.


With a bulked-up DJ Wilson—listed at 6'9, 240 on the updated roster—set to bolster depth up front, it makes sense for Beilein to prioritize developing Donnal and Wilson into reliable options instead of giving significant minutes to a redshirt senior whose limitations become very apparent in the most important games. With a year of development under Ricky Doyle's belt and a logjam at the four, Michigan may only need one of those two to play a major role off the bench anyway.

Jimmystats: Bracketology Week

Jimmystats: Bracketology Week

Submitted by Seth on March 17th, 2015 at 1:12 PM

Howdy bracketeers! Annual bracket building post is annual, though my predictions last year wound up pretty bad. First the tools and how to use them.

Kenpom. The all-knowing. This year's best team not invited was #45 Florida. The worst team in is #250 Hampton. I had to know, so I looked up the worst team in the history of Kenpom (since 2002) to be invited to the Dance. It's Mississippi Valley State, the 298th team in 2008.

In fact there's a pretty enormous drop-off from most of the 16 seeds and the MEAC and SWAC entrants, who had an average Pyth of 0.296 (i.e. they'd win less than 30% of their games vs. an average opponent). For reference, the worst Big Ten teams in that span (2003-2005 Penn State) were .361, .334, and .341 respectively. In fact I only found six power conference teams—2013 TCU, 2008 Oregon State, 2012 Utah, 2013 Mississippi State, 2012 BC and 2011 Wake Forest—who've ever been worse than the average MEAC or SWAC champion. I get the part about giving the top seeds basically a bye, but the tournament can find more deserving small schools than whoever won a conference tournament whose competition level is below that of many high school leagues.

For what it's worth, Kentucky this year is the best team in the history of Kenpom. The only two in sniffing distance were 2008 Kansas and 2013 Louisville.

Seth's Annual Matchup Maker. This lets you set a chaos factor and match any two opponents, immediately seeing where the game will be played and any relevant injuries. You just input the teams and the round. Front page looks thus:


FiveThirtyEight. Lots of tools on there, as well as important articles about how, for example, pre-season rankings matter despite plucky things that occurred after.

The Power Rank. Listeners to Brian's weekly roundtable on WTKA know Ed Feng. Ed creates this:


(right is zoomed)

…interactive chart using his win probabilities so you can see how stupid your picks are relative to each other. Run around the circle to make sure you haven't picked a dead in the water first round upset, but I think he's best at end game. This year you can see Kentucky is in a league of its own, then Zona, Duke, Nova, Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Virginia are a clear second tier.

Bracket Science Bracketmaster. Peter Tiernan is getting better at monetizing his comprehensive bracket database, which is unfortunate because I really liked to use the Bracketmaster for patterns, like what kind of team does Wisconsin usually lose to in the tourney, has this coach been to the Dance before, and things that super hardcore NCAA basketball fans know and I don't know offhand because I was off the wagon for a time. If you don't mind paying (there are far worse people you can give money to than Tiernan) you can get all the goodies, but the free stuff is great for narratives, for example if you want to track how Big Ten teams have fared since 2005 vs other Power Confs:


WSJ's Blind Comparison. The Wall Street Journal's blindfold bracket is your bias check, though this year they didn't do, opting instead for a slider-based bracket generator using things like "defense wins championships!"

Disclaimer: You will be wrong.

Hokepoints: Bracketology Because It's Bracketology Week 2014

Hokepoints: Bracketology Because It's Bracketology Week 2014

Submitted by Seth on March 18th, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Site note: As with last year, we'll be having a basketballgasm liveblog for Day 1 of the tournament, shifting to the hockey game at 3, and then going through the Round 1 matchup with Wofford. DraftStreet, whose 40k tourney is still filling up (as of this morning ~1600 of the 2000 spots are filled), is sponsoring, and a few former players will be joining us to promote the Go Blue Bowl.

Speaking of filling things, you're probably filling your brackets right now, so here's my now-annual post and tool for helping with that. Last year was the first since 2000 that I didn't win at least my buy-in back. Things I use:

The Power Rank (friend of the blog Ed Feng)'s interactive bracket. Ed is one of the cutting-edge guys in sports analytics. On his tool if you hover over any team you can see their probabilities to reach each round, or hover over a spot in the circular bracket to see every team's likelihood of getting there. Michigan is 58% to reach the Sweet 16; from there every game is virtually a toss-up.

The Wall Street Journal's blind comparison. They show you two profiles and say a little about the team, and you make your pick presumably without bias, though you can often figure out exactly who they're talking about:

wsj"Occasionally Naps on Defense" would be a good name for our band.

Bracket Science's Bracketmaster tool. Peter Tiernan's blog is a standard for following bubble teams and gets things right that others don't (like Louisville as a 4 seed). The Bracketmaster+ tool lets you get into data going back to 1985. If you're a member it gets deeper but non-members can use it to do things like show Beilein's Michigan teams in the tournament:


Poologic Tool. This helps you decide how many upsets to pick based on the size of your office pool (in a large pool it's best to be the only one with a certain champ). Also you can calculate ROI on various picks.

My tool (download the excel sheet) Which uses straight-up Kenpom scores and provides a weak confidence score based on the premise that 16 seeds never beat 1 seeds. I also added injuries for each team. Looks like this:


What I do is normalize the closest 16-1 matchup (Wichita St vs. Cal Poly) as 100% for the 1 seed to win, set that as the "chaos factor," and use the KenPom ratings to percentile everyone else's games into a confidence number. Then I roll through anything under 70% and decide if my knowledge of those teams might justify taking the under.

General tips:

If you're in a big pool, run multiple brackets, each with carefully selected upsets.There's no such thing as an NCAA tournament without lots of big upsets and at least one surprising run. The 1 seeds all made it to the Final Four just once. If you submit one milksop bracket you're up against every other milksop bracket and will get beat by the one crazy guy who had LSU going to the Elite 8 or something. Hitting on a carefully selected upset that rearranges a bracket and lets you ride a different high seed to the Final Four is the most typical route to a win.

If you're in a small pool, play conservative. One or two points won't usually make a difference in a small pool, but the likelihood of something crazy like that one guy's wife who picks based on the cuteness factor of mascots winning is cut down so you don't need to take risks to get ahead.

Pick the upsets the most carefully. I love picking 6-11 upsets because if you get it wrong they're bound to get wiped out by the 3 anyway. If you roll the dice on a 3-seed or lower losing early though, you'll feel like an idiot as the rest of your pool collects the easy points. A tournament without upsets never happens, but neither does a tournament with all the upsets. You can totally undo a great pick with a terrible one elsewhere.

Get value for your upsets. Know who's in your pool and the inefficiencies. This year, those of you in Michigan are facing the mother of all inefficiencies in that Spartan fans are bound to submit extra brackets just to have one that has State going all the way. Fans will generally take their favorite team to go two rounds later than they really belong and conference teams to go a round further. This is an inefficiency (even if MSU looked like they could dominate the tourney on Sunday).

Be really really lucky. This is really the only rule.

This Week's Obsession: March Matchmaker

This Week's Obsession: March Matchmaker

Submitted by Seth on February 26th, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Also dear yente if you could saddle Wisconsin in an impossible bracket that'd be great.

In two days it shall be March. We're already familiar with the Big Ten Tourney participants, so let us look beyond to this NCAA tournament thing.

What, my dear yentes, makes a good or bad matchup for this Michigan team, what are some of the teams out there we might hope to avoid, and who among expected high seeds would Michigan match up well against?

Brian: Bracketology consensus has us a three or four right now; I'll go under the assumption they're a three just to simplify things. That means Michigan is looking at the top eight teams on S-curves trying to suss out a good matchup. Wisconsin is in that group for some lucky 7-seed but won't end up in Michigan's region. The others: Wichita State, Florida, Syracuse, Arizona, Kansas, and some combination of Cincinnati/Villanova/Creighton.

No one in that group seems hugely appealing, but I like the Syracuse matchup best of the current one-seeds. They've only got one shooter, they're 11th on Kenpom, they've had a lot of close calls against not particularly good teams, Michigan played their zone last year, and they've got shooting from everywhere. 'Cuse's current backcourt is much smaller and less athletic than last year's version and Michigan's shot generation is a lot bigger, so going over the zone is much more of an option. Also, undefeated or not, Wichita State is short, largely untested, and not laden with NBA superstars future. I will take either of those one seeds.

Conversely, I want nothing to do with Arizona. Michigan damn near beat them earlier in the year, yeah, but that was thanks in large part to an avalanche of missed putbacks. Teams that can just implode Michigan on the boards are my biggest fear. Kansas and Florida are also teams I'd like to avoid.


Hokepoints Counts de Mone

Hokepoints Counts de Mone

Submitted by Seth on February 18th, 2014 at 10:53 AM


'de-moh-NAY!' s'il vous plait.

The NCAA has published its 2013 data submitted by member institutions for the purposes of Title IX compliance. You can download the spreadsheets from ope.ed.gov.

Politics refresher: Title IX is a gray area topic since it is political but affects college sports which this blog is about. This is a feel thing: it is logical to point out that a male wrestler's experience will be more similar to that of any female basketball player than Derrick Walton's, it is politics to label that "reverse discrimination."

Quinze, seize you: Generally BCS teams spent between 37% (Stanford) and 77% (Oklahoma State) less on the women's sports than the men's. Michigan spent about $7.00 on the fellas for every $3.00 on the gals, a ratio near the top. BCS schools, private schools (who didn't used to have to comply) and Southern schools tended to higher disparities; among the 15 lowest women-to-men expenditure ratios all but three (Minnesota, ND and Pitt) were in the Confederacy. The Dept. of Education doesn't regulate an annual expenditure ratio between men's and women's sports, but they look at them as part of the nebulous compliance system.

Avg Expenditures by Conference
          (in millions) 2012-13
Conf Men Women Ratio
WAC $4.8 $3.7 78%
Big East $11.3 $7.0 62%
MAC $11.3 $6.0 53%
MtnWest $13.7 $6.7 49%
Sun Belt $8.5 $4.0 48%
Conf USA $12.6 $5.8 46%
Big Ten $38.8 $16.7 43%
Pac 12 $32.0 $13.7 43%
American $25.0 $10.0 40%
Big XII $33.0 $13.1 39%
SEC $39.5 $14.7 37%
ACC $34.6 $12.5 36%

Building Lies. Weirdly, expenses appear more normal than the revenues, which get downright weird. A few examples (for reference, Michigan's men's hockey team reported revenues of $3.2 million, the 4th-most in that sport):

  • Stanford's women's basketball team, which was a 1 seed that lost in the Elite 8, reported $16.5 million. The next-highest is Baylor's ($5.9 million), Vandy ($5.6 M), Tennessee ($4.9 M) and UConn ($4.7M)
  • Clemson's women's diving reported revenues of $406k. Only two other schools reported any revenue for that.
  • TCU said they made $3.4 million from horseback riding and $416k from women's rifling.
  • Southern's women's soccer team, which didn't make the tournament field, reported $3.1 million in revenue, which is more than their football team and almost as much as all of their men's sports combined.
  • Robert Morris's women's hockey team reported more revenue ($1.1 M) than its men's team ($997k).
  • Michigan's men's lacrosse team led the country in revenue: $2.4 million
  • Wisconsin's women's ice hockey reported $7.6 million; their men's team reported just under $12 million (double what next-highest, Minnesota, made).
    Michigan's the rare school that doesn't pretend its opulent escalator entrance was built for the women's gymnastics team. [MGoBlue.com]

Wisconsin's hockey numbers might be a clue as to how these schools are getting their numbers. The Badgers recently built a practice facility adjacent to the the Kohl Center with donated funds; the women's team plays their game there. Stanford got a massive donation' last year from its version of Ross and built a multi-sport athletic facility with his name on it. Michigan appears to have funneled some of their Big House improvement through lacrosse.

It appears what's happening is when a donation is put toward a building project the schools tend to split that between whichever teams use it. End result: teams that funded major construction projects ended up with the highest ratios of $$ spent on women versus men.

Biggest liars? There's no way to figure out the accounting for these things but it's obvious some programs play with the books more than others. TCU is pretending they built a $3.4 million storage shed for saddles and bridles that the football team just happens to use as an indoor practice facility. They also upgraded the ROTC rifling range, which they attributed to the women's team. They're a private school that to be a women's college and is still 57% female [ED-S: apologies—you have no idea how many people I've repeated that factoid to over the years]  that spent the last decade trying to become a BCS program, which explains the fiscal acrobatics.

[After the jump, comparing expenses to recruiting and performance]

Marginally Contested

Marginally Contested

Submitted by Brian on February 4th, 2013 at 12:08 PM

2/2/2013 – Michigan 73, Indiana 81 – 20-2, 7-2 Big Ten

Jordan Hulls Michigan v Indiana at7WYoLFN2Xl[1]hi-res-158576668_display_image[1]

Midway through the second half, Michigan popped into a 1-3-1 zone for a possession. I did not like this. I immediately thought "you can't run this defense with Jordan Hulls on the floor," and Indiana duly tossed the ball around the perimeter until Hulls was presented with an open three-pointer. He knocked it down. The 1-3-1 did not reappear.

Hulls didn't do much other than that. Unfortunately for Michigan, two of the other things he did were bury two more open threes; he missed only once. This is what you expect from Jordan Hulls, and it's why he's out there trying to check dudes a half-foot taller than him on defense.

To beat a team with a guy who shoots like that playing next to a sticky-fingered nightmare of a defender, the man Hulls is checking has to at least keep pace with the guy. Nik Stauskas didn't. He, too, is the sort of player that sends you to your toes when he's left wide open in transition, the sort of shooter that can create a buzz in an arena before the ball has even left his hand. He, too, had four good looks from three before the game had been decided. He missed all of them. (Hulls fouled him on a fifth.) The fourth miss was incredible, deflating, infuriating. This is not what is expected.

In a game where just about everything else did go as expected, that seems like the difference between a rock-'em-sock-'em affair ending at the buzzer and the marginally exciting contest that instead unfolded: Michigan's best shooter did not hit when presented with excellent looks.

And they were excellent. I'm not sure if Michigan came out with a concerted plan to emphasize the Hulls-Stauskas matchup or if Stauskas improvising based on his belief that Hulls couldn't check him; either way Michigan came out of the gate attacking that guy, and for naught. Stauskas drove for marginally-contested layups, and missed. He was found for marginally- or un-contested threes and missed. Michigan launched itself into desperation mode with two minutes left down nine, down exactly the same number of points Hulls had tossed in from behind the arc and Stauskas hadn't.

This is not to pile on Stauskas, who played about as well as he could up until the moment he let a shot go. This was not the Ohio State game, when he could not move towards the basket and found himself hacked out of the offense, reduced to jacking up deep, contested threes out of frustration.

When Stauskas made contact with Hulls he was largely quieted—along with the zone three two of his other looks came in transition. Stauskas didn't turn the ball over and had a couple assists. I can't recall any frustration shots launched. Afterwards, Beilein revealed Stauskas had missed practice the day before with the flu. Independent random trials can be a bitch even when you're healthy.

But there it is. While Glenn Robinson sputtered to two points and contributed little else in 40 minutes, his presence in the game always feels light. He largely cleans up other people's misses or throws down their assists. His absence or presence is something felt less viscerally than thinking TAKE THAT at maximum brain volume and seeing something betray Nik Stauskas's swag.

So it goes. Sometimes the damn thing won't go in the basket. The only thing to do is keep shooting.


Protip: stop falling behind by lots in tough road games. Against OSU, Michigan's offense came out discombobulated and staked the opponent to a 21-point lead. In this one, Michigan's defense couldn't make a rotation or stop the ball in the first ten minutes and staked the opponent to a 15-point lead.

Protip: once you have fallen behind by lots in a tough road game and come storming back, DO NOT TIE THE GAME. When this happened in Columbus Michigan started jacking up bad shots and was on the wrong end of a decisive 6-0 run. In Bloomington they managed to tie the game just a few minutes into the second half, and then suffered an 11-0 run.

Clearly a mandate must go out indicating that it's threes only if you have fallen behind by lots only to claw back and find yourself down two in a tough road game. No more ties. No more.

Protip: just predict what Kenpom predicts. Twice this year arrogant predictor guys at this very website have arrogantly deviated from the Great Book Of Kenpom and predicted road victories, first myself for the OSU game and then Ace for Saturday. Kenpom was off by a total of three points in these games. Yea, and it was wroth.

Halftime adjustments check: no. Michigan clawed back to even after five minutes, but then suffered the aforementioned run.

628x471[1]The Morgan question. Was his absence a major problem? The two minutes on a gimpy ankle he got seems to indicate the answer is yes, as does Indiana shooting 59% from 2. McGary's box score says no: 5/7 from the floor, 3 OREB, 4 DREB, an assist, 0 TO, two blocks, two steals, and a Wes Unseld hockey assist not recorded. Horford added a couple buckets, blocks and turnovers in ten minutes.

In the aftermath I've seen various folk complain about McGary overhelping and thus setting up Cody Zeller's three tip dunks, but if Oladipo is screaming at the basket that seems McGary has a bad choice either way. By helping McGary forced tougher shots and misses on those, at least. If he's not there and Oladipo throws down a rim-rattling dunk, um… well, that's not good either. It seems like the problem there is on the initial drive and McGary is picking the lesser of two evils.

Because this is an attempt to quantify the defensive prowess of an individual player, we of course have wildly differing metrics here. Some low-sample-size Synergy data from UMHoops suggests that Morgan is by far the better defender. That is in direct conflict with some low-sample-size data Ace assembled that suggests Michigan is a crap-ton better with McGary on the floor.

I don't know, man. Keep "road game at Indiana" in perspective here: despite giving up 1.17 PPP, Michigan's defensive ranking on Kenpom actually moved up slightly after the game. If Indiana shot too well from two they also got up far fewer shots than Michigan thanks in large part to McGary, and without the intentional fouls at the end of the game that PPP rate drops to 1.10. It's complicated.

One spot at which Morgan may have helped: the four. Michigan hasn't taken Glenn Robinson off the floor since Morgan got hurt, and in this game he wasn't doing anything to justify 40 minutes. Morgan would have brought extra rebounding and been better able to hold up against Christian Watford on the block; Robinson would probably have been more effective if he knew he was going to get some rest here and there.

Speaking of the overhelping bit. I think we can put the Tim Hardaway Jr lockdown defender meme to rest. Oladipo roared into the paint with frequency against him, hitting 5/9 from two and IIRC having two of those misses thundered back into the basket by Zeller since he'd drawn two guys.

Hardaway's better than last year; in no way, shape, or form does he approach the level of an impact perimeter defender like, say, that Oladipo guy.

Hardaway was an effective shooter in this one, largely when Oladipo switched off onto Burke.

Oblig. Burke check. Hoo boy he put up a lot of shots: 24 in total. We should remove the rushed heaves at the end of the game to get a better picture of what he did when quality was more important than quantity. This slices out four 3PA, one of which went down, and two generous assists on similarly rushed heaves by Hardaway and Stauskas.

Those excised, Burke:

  • 5/12 from 2
  • 3/8 from 3
  • 3/4 from the line
  • 6 A, 3 TO, 2 steals, 2 OREB(!)
  • 22 points on 20 shots

Burke was tasked with a good number of Oh God Oh Jesus Oh God late-clock possessions as Indiana's defense came to play; he had difficulty with Oladipo, as you might expect. His numbers would have been less extreme and likely less inefficient if Stauskas had been healthy and accurate. As it was more and more of the offense devolved onto him.

He carried Michigan when they had to be carried. To exceed a point per shot against a top-tier defense while sucking up 40% of Michigan's possessions is remarkable.

Oblig. ref check. Fouls were even before Michigan went into game extension mode. There was a 15 to 7 FTA disparity for Indiana that seems mostly attributable to random chance. Two goofy calls stood out: the Oladipo continuation bucket and a blocking foul assigned to Hardaway that was a textbook charge—one, in fact, that Hardaway repeated moments later, getting the call.

Rebounding check. Michigan lost the battle on the boards thanks in no small part to those Zeller slams. It was close—29% to 34%—though, far less of a factor than IU doubling up Michigan when it came to turnovers.

The bright side! This may put a damper on GRIII to NBA worries?

"Cumong man" of the game. Indiana hit 88% of their free throws and didn't miss once in their last 14 tries. This is not conducive to exciting finish, Indiana. I am dissapoint.

The oddity of having a really good basketball team. You get punished by having Dick Vitale assigned to your games. I've always experienced him as an annoying presence on Duke broadcasts I'm not going to watch more than a few minutes of; this year I've finally been exposed to 40 minutes of the guy repeatedly.

I am not enjoying this experience. Take it away, Wikipedia:

He is known for catchphrases such as "baby"

The worst part is that when Vitale finally retires—he's 73—the ESPN executives who have not ordered him to do middle school games at 3 AM on ESPN3 will slide a howler monkey into his place and hope no one notices.

I wonder how Duke fans must feel about the guy. Sure, he's basically an extension of your university but even when he's yelling inanities in favor of your team, they are still inanities detracting from the important thing you are trying to pay attention to. And he is omnipresent. I don't think I could deal, man. We should have asked Jamiemac—who admitted no rooting interest in Saturday's game!—about that when we were quizzing him about the Yankees' chances this year in the podcast.

Anyway, in most other sports ascending to the big time level is a reward. Gary Thorne does the NCAA hockey tournament, and Sean McDonough will do your college football games. People bag on Musberger but I like him, and there's no comparison between Vitale and Herbstreit. Big NBA games get you Marv Albert.

I guess Tim McCarver and Jim Nantz do loom, but what this is all about is WHERE'S GUS JOHNSON, STRING?



It's strange to me that I love Raftery and Gus Johnson so much and find Vitale so detestable. All three bring buckets of enthusiasm and get criticized for it by haters. I am only in that group for the last guy. Maybe it's because "baby" is not a catch phrase, it is a useless appendage, where as "onions" is delightful and Gus Johnson makes lip-curling noises.

Does anyone like Vitale? Stand and be heard. I want to know if he appeals to anyone. We should do announcer approval ratings.