Hoops Preview: Maryland Part Two

Hoops Preview: Maryland Part Two

Submitted by Brian on February 23rd, 2018 at 3:15 PM


WHAT #19 Michigan (23-7) vs
#35 Maryland (19-11)
WHERE Homesure Lending Arena
College Park, MD
WHEN Noon, Saturday
LINE Maryland -1 (KenPom)

It should really be a withdrawhead.


With two wins against solid teams in their last two outings, bracket opinion on Michigan has shifted towards consensus. That consensus: the six line. Palm has come up; Lunardi has come down. The Matrix agrees. Maryland, currently 58th in RPI, is in fact an opportunity for a Q1 win and might move the needle more than you might expect; coupled with an couple wins in the Big Ten tournament a 5 is probably within reach. Lose and Michigan will be trying to stay off the 7 line.

As far as the team goes, offensive burdens continue to shift to Duncan Robinson and Jordan Poole and away from Charles Matthews, because the former two guys are hitting shots and Matthews has more turnovers than baskets in most games. Mathews is still a far superior defender and must be given a shot to stop doing... that, but Michigan doesn't have a lot of margin for error in a game Kenpom thinks they're a slight dog in.


Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 10 Anthony Cowan So. 6'0, 170 98* 23 113 No
Steph-mold shooter has had efficiency drop since last game. 46/37 but gets to line a ton at 84%. TOs an issue.
G 33 Dion Wiley Jr. 6'4, 210 73 13 110 No
Just A Shooter hitting 40%.
G 23 Darryl Morsell Fr. 6'4, 205 86 21 97 Very
Burlyguard drives a bunch; no threes, lot of TOs, 46% from two.
F 11 Kevin Huerter So. 6'7, 190 86 21 118 No
61/43 shooter has eFG nearing the top 50, frequent assists but 21 TO rate.
C 24 Bruno Fernando Fr. 6'10, 245 66 23 110 Very
Muscled-up FR post solid scorer who generates fair chunk of his shots, poor TO rate.
C 4 Michal Cekovsky Sr. 7'1, 250 28 18 116 Very
Fernando far superior DREB guy, otherwise quite similar statistically.
F 5 Jared Nickens Sr. 6'7, 205 42 14 113 No
Just A Shooter hitting 40%.
F 3 Joshua Tomaic So. 6'9", 220 7 21 72 No
Near invisible but shooting well on his < 1 attempt per game. 
C 44 Sean Obi Sr. 6'9, 250 7 14 114 Very
In the gray at Kenpom so not enough data to say much.

*[All minutes taken from the last five games since MD has had a couple of major injuries and has shifted a bunch of minutes around as the season has progressed.]

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]

Hoops Preview: Maryland

Hoops Preview: Maryland

Submitted by Brian on January 15th, 2018 at 3:45 PM

bs-sp-kevin-huerter-maryland-umes-1113THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #17 Michigan (15-4) vs
#41 Maryland (14-5)
WHERE Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 6:30 PM ET, Monday
LINE Michigan –7 (KenPom)
Michigan –8 (Vegas)

please Kevin, don't Huerter them


Michigan is coming off a very satisfying win at Michigan State that flung them into the top 20 of the big ranking systems and now faces a trio of should-win-could-lose games before their rematch with the Boilermakers at Mackey on January 25th. Maryland, which is Chicago's Big Ten Bubble Team, is first up.


Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 1 Anthony Cowan So. 6'0, 170 88 23 118 No
Scoring PG must be kept off the line. 121 FTs already this year, hitting 86%. Let him shoot from two.
G 10 Darryl Morsell Fr. 6'4, 205 63 22 94 Very
Burly guard can't shoot, gets to the line pretty well, too many turnovers, OREB threat.
F 4 Kevin Huerter So. 6'7, 190 82 20 120 Not at all
Ideal Beilein wing escaped M's clutches. Not Just A Shooter hitting 46% from deep.
F 23 Bruno Fernando Fr. 6'10, 245 55 28 109 Very
Freshman post playing a lot of PF by necessity. Good rebounder at both ends, top 100 block rate, effective on the block.
C 15 Michal Cekovsky Sr. 7'1, 250 39 19 118 Very
Little used senior forced into more prominent role. Decent block rate, 70% from two but TO prone.
F 18 Jared Nickens Sr. 6'7, 205 33 14 113 No
Just a shooter. 53 threes attempted; 13 twos.
F 5 Dion Wiley Jr. 6'4, 210 44 13 108 No
Also just a shooter. 58 threes, 17 twos. Missed OSU game with concussion, availability questionable.
F 33 Joshua Tomaic So. 6'9, 220 14 16 119 Very
Stretch four sort has been super efficient in limited time probably against tomato cans.

YMMV on who the fifth starter is between Nickens and Fernando.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]

Unverified Voracity Searches For Snakehole

Unverified Voracity Searches For Snakehole

Submitted by Brian on September 26th, 2017 at 3:29 PM


Mark Emmert (left) and FBI investigator Burt Macklin

CHEESE IT! THE FEDS! The FBI probably has better things to do than this, but they're doing this anyway:

The worst-kept secret in college basketball is how coaches, sneaker executives, sports agents, travel-team coaches and financial advisers, often through under-the-table payments, steer top high school talent first to NCAA programs and later to apparel brands and professional representation once they enter the NBA.

Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York blew this shadowy world open in ways that have never before been seen, indicting 10 men, including active assistant basketball coaches at Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and USC, plus an executive for adidas, in a widespread case that is sure to rock college basketball to its core.

While only four schools are currently involved, the complaints will provide a treasure map for NCAA investigators as it tells stories of endless payouts and kickbacks in the recruitment of numerous top prospects over the past three years.

Apparently this is illegal because of... bribery and stuff? Because NCAA coaches get federal funding and therefore... unlicensed amphibious rodent... city limits? I don't know.

What I suspect is that everyone named in this investigation is going to flip immediately, because their careers are done either way and ain't nobody going to jail for Rick Pitino. This will spread, and the allegations are seismic for at least one school:

The NCAA has said it will never use the death penalty again, Pat Forde says do it anyway. We're about to find out how far they're willing to go in 2017. This brazenness will not stand:

Unless it does. But probably not!

Don't expect anything immediate, as the FBI has not interacted with the NCAA yet. The wheels of (sort of) justice grind slowly.

Is this actually good if you want players paid? In the short term, no. But the more naked the system is, the more clear it is that shoe companies run five-star basketball recruiting, the less tenable the NCAA's position is. Maybe this won't force the schools to offer their own money, but surely at some point the fact that a large majority of the top players are bought has to open the doors to above-the-table third party payments.

"But then boosters and shoe companies will own college basketball," hypothetical argument guy says before realizing that is the status quo.

It was not a dream. PFF All Big Ten teams from last week feature one John O'Korn:

So it wasn't just you. People not desperately invested in the hope John O'Korn provided during the last three quarters of that game also thought he was pretty dang good. Though not as good as Saquon Barkley, which got dang son.

Bush, Hurst, Winovich, and Hill all made the defensive team, FWIW.

Poor Damn DJ Durkin. Maryland QB Kasim Hill is out for the season, following on the heels of Piggy Pigrome getting knocked out in the Texas game. Caleb Henderson is still out with some sort of foot thing, so fourth-stringer Max Bortenschlager played most of the game against UCF, which was a terrible defeat. Incredibly, this is not the first time Durkin has had to turn to a fourth-stringer who sounds like a shot you'd order at Rick's*. Bortenschlager started the Nebraska game last year, a 28-7 loss.

Things were even worse in 2012—when Maryland lost five QBs, one to transfer and four to injury, eventually moving a freshmnan LB to the spot—and 2015, when four different guys played, one of whom subsequently became a linebacker.

This one sucks more than those because Durkin had just racked up a statement win at Texas and the Terrapins looked like they were on their way to... 8-4? Now they're going to be scratching out bowl eligibility. But at least they've got this going for them:

I say that in all sincerity.

*[I imagine? I never went, and when I tell people this 50% of them say I am very smart and 50% say I am very dumb. Anyway, a MAX BORTENSCHLAGER is 1/3rd Everclear, 1/3 Goldschlager, and 1/3 BORT, which is... Swedish port? Yeah.

I think I just invented the world's worst drink.]

Taking those bullets for us. Michigan had three head-to-head recruiting battles with Texas for 2016 kids that they lost: Jordan Elliott, Jean Delance, and Chris Daniels. With Daniels's just-announced departure, all three of those guys have left Austin in just over a year. Michigan filled in the DT slot with Mike Dwumfour, who's emerging into a rotation piece on a top-five defense in year two.

They filled the OT slot with... nobody. This was the class that saw Swenson forcibly decommitted and Devery Hamilton flip; Michigan added Stephen Spanellis, a guard, late.

Harbaugh joins the cause. Harbaugh on punting:

Speaking Tuesday on "Attack Each Day: The Harbaugh's Podcast," the Michigan football coach suggested the NCAA implement a rule similar to the NFL when it comes to punt returns.

"There's only two eligible players that are allowed to leave in the pro game before the ball is punted," Harbaugh said."In college, anybody can leave before the ball is punted. It's a player-safety (issue), to have 10 players converging on a punt returner. A defenseless player is not what we want in our game."

That change has long been advocated here, not for player safety issues but boring thing issues. NFL rules would create more returns and fewer fair catches.

Graham Glasgow, still Graham Glasgow. Ain't no party like a Glasgow party because everyone's standing next to the wall nursing a drink and making ham-fisted attempts at a flicker of human interaction before retreating into a shell of fear and self-loathing WOOOO:

The receivers have sworn to get him involved next time, but Glasgow knows deep in his heart that is a lie and no one will ask him to prom ever.

Baumgardner on Bush. He does many things:

When watching defenders, it's important not to get completely caught up in box score stats. A great example of this came three years ago, when Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa finished his final college season with modest sack totals, but constantly graded out as one of the most impact-making defenders in the country due to his presence on the field and what he was able to force.

Impact plays. For a player like Bush, this can mean many things. A sack, a pass break-up, a forced fumble, an interception, a quarterback pressure, an effort play that results in a zero rush or tackle for loss. Against Purdue on Saturday, I counted 13 impact plays for Michigan's inside linebacker.


I'd like to see a few more stats get standardized, like QB hits and hurries, to better quantify those results.

Etc.: Many UF felonies. Bright side: nobody will say "oh, Michigan beat Florida without all those players." OSU depth DT Malik Barrow tears ACL. Iowa wavin' at stuff. Five stages of Purdue loss. Grant Newsome got some unspecified good news from his doctor; hopefully he remains on path for a recovery. Trashin' on the NFL, sure I'll link that. Twice, even. Jim and Don, a love story. Wisconsin fans stunned at how nice BYU fans are.

Punt/Counterpunt: Maryland 2016

Punt/Counterpunt: Maryland 2016

Submitted by Brian on November 5th, 2016 at 1:07 PM


[Bryan Fuller]


By Bryan MacKenzie

Remember that roommate in college who you never saw? Like, you knew Pete lived there, and if someone asked you to list your roommates, you would include Pete. Pete's stuff moved around the house from time to time, and every month the check for his share of the utilities was clipped to the fridge.  You didn't dislike Pete, necessarily, but you barely ever saw him, and you never hung out together. 

Maryland is Pete. Yeah, they're in our conference. We know that. But we have essentially no interaction with them. We have almost no interests in common, and we don't understand their East Coast ways very well. They're always talking about lacrosse and crabs and how The Wire doesn't accurately depict Baltimore. So when we have to interact, we're naturally a little unsure of our social dynamic.

(For the record, Maryland moved in at the same time as Rutgers, but Maryland refuses to admit that they were friends when Rutgers moved in. Rutgers was that roommate who everyone hated. He constantly got in arguments with everyone over the stupidest crap. He was awful at Mario Kart but kept talking shit about it. He smelled bad, and after he used the kitchen it smelled like he'd microwaved a cat.)

Michigan has played five games against Maryland all time. That is fewer matchups than Michigan has had against 32 other teams, including Mount Union, Harvard, and Oberlin. But we're gonna be division-mates for a while, so we need to get used to it. And more importantly, we need to figure out how we relate to each other. Do we develop a indifference-to-their-hatred like we have with Illinois? Maybe a "no YOU have the inferiority complex" tête-à-tête like we have with Sparty? At the moment, I'm leaning towards a "Wait until [football/basketball] season" relationship like we have with Indiana.

From a pure football standpoint, this shouldn't be a terribly close game. S&P+, Sagarin, Vegas, and "I have watched these two teams attempt to football" all suggest Michigan has an advantage in every phase of the game. The Wolverines should be able to move the ball without much issue, and while Maryland's running game is above average, Michigan's defense is designed around stopping spread-to-run teams like this. 

The catch, though, is that we don't know what kind of team Maryland is bringing to Ann Arbor. Are they bringing a team that will go gently into that good night, like Penn State and Illinois did? Or will they bring a team hopped up on goofballs who comes out punching, Little Mac-style, like Michigan State or Colorado? Until we know them better, it's hard to say. We don't even have much information about what a "DJ Durkin team" looks like.

There's a good chance Durkin will want to put on good show for his former team, and he certainly has as much insight into Michigan's attack but how much hatred is there for a team he coached for one year, especially when he voluntarily parlayed it into a head coaching gig? My crystal ball says that Maryland puts together a few explosive plays on the ground, but Michigan is just too much and pulls away without much effort. Michigan 38, Maryland 17



by Nick RoUMel

Michigan is in trouble today. I realize they are undefeated, but they have shown vulnerabilities in this young season that can be exploited. Maryland may be new to our conference, but they are a strong team, led by the return of Melo Trimble. After reaching the Sweet Sixteen a year ago, they could be a dark horse contender for the Big Ten title.

[Ed: Don’t be an idiot.] Wait, what? It’s still football season? Sorry, I got mixed up. I went to Michigan’s basketball opener last night with “Punt Classic,” Ken “Sky” Walker, and it was both familiar and strange at the same time. Familiar because it was Crisler Arena; Bob and Judy still sat behind us; a small pop is still $5; and there were a few players I vaguely recalled from last year. But it was also strange because there were all these new guys, like the two guards from Ohio, and the big guy from Onsted with a buzzcut and big ears, and Larry the usher wasn’t in our section anymore.

Then there was the complete mish-mash mind melt, like when they played Bo’s “The Team” speech. Clearly Bo was not talking about the basketball team. If he were he would not have said “you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here.” Because that would have been very confusing to a basketball player. Unless you’re Julius Peppers.

But I digress. What can I say about our sort-of roommate “Pete” from Maryland, that Punt hasn’t already said? You go from not even thinking about Pete, and then one night he comes home at 2:30 AM after the bars close and randomly challenges you to a pull-up contest on the bar that some long ago tenant installed on the bedroom door. And you’re like, this is crazy, Pete; I was just about to go to sleep; but he persists. You do a quiet 16, and he does a lightning fast dozen but then drops to the ground clutching his stomach. And that’s the last you see of Pete, because the next day you wake up and his closet is empty and his dad’s car is pulling out of the driveway while Pete waves forlornly, looking a little green.

I can tell you nothing more of Pete. But I can tell you about Sparty, that cocky kid from that frat that’s always in trouble with the cops and the University administration. Sparty loves to gloat when he’s riding high, but finds a way to blame others when he screws up. He made the Dean’s list the last three years, but this year he’s on academic probation. But he doesn’t talk about that, oh no. Instead he brags that on his last midterm, he got the last two answers right and that proves that he never quits.

-- OK, let me put this parable into plain English. Michigan State was a top ten football team the last three seasons, and preseason top ten this year. How fast and far have they fallen? The best they can do is to claim a moral victory because they only lost at home by nine points to their rival.


Hell, even Pete beat Sparty this year. And Pete’s no stronger now than when he flamed out on that pull-up challenge. Actually he’s even weaker. It’s been a while since you’ve seen him. Now he’s working in tech support for some startup that even he can’t describe what they do. He’s looking a little pasty and he asks if you’re going to finish your doughnut. You finally tell him what you’ve wanted to tell him since he was your roommate in college:

Tell you what, Pete; why don’t we play a little football instead?


Unverified Voracity Is Actually A Good Cook

Unverified Voracity Is Actually A Good Cook

Submitted by Brian on April 28th, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Hello. Sorry about that involuntary vacation there. Dumping water on your laptop is not fun, especially when the backup you had on hand for just such an eventuality doesn't boot either. Then I was at Blogs With Balls yesterday, trying to look somewhat official.

I am back now, even if the change in keyboard styles makes me want to die. Nothing makes me angrier than trying to use a keyboard I'm not familiar with. It's like having a stroke, one that suddenly puts punctuation all over the place for no reason. Anyway.


Just another day in the life. Offseason is relative.

Jim Harbaugh gives his version of Drake's album cover, gets RT'd by the First Lady

Anonymous NFL scout strikes again. The woooooorst:

There's about a 90% chance that the dude anonymously slamming Apple's life skills spends most of his life in hotels, has been divorced four times, and hasn't cooked anything more complicated than cereal since the 1970s. Also, this random slam from a guy who doesn't even know Apple appears to be 100% false:

The NFL draft starts tonight so our brief annual spate of anonymous, ludicrous slams of NFL prospects is just about over. Tune in next year, when someone accuses Jourdan Lewis of setting fire to his toaster.

Durkin on Harbaugh. None of this is actually a surprise; it is a confirmation about what life under Harbaugh is like:

CR: I'd imagine your early days at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh were a lot like the early ones at Bowling Green under Meyer. Is that accurate?

Durkin: It was absolute mayhem. It really was.

When I first got there, it was like, oh my gosh. Then you finally spend more time with Jim. The guy is really smart. Extremely smart. Everything is for a reason, but he loves chaos. That's just how he operates. He loves confrontation, chaos, conflict. He doesn't want it to be everyone comfortable, this is the schedule. He just loves throwing a wrench in the works.

So, when you first get there, it's like, what's going on? But it was great. To see someone impose their will, their confidence, their vision on a program, to totally change it—total 180. Stanford was known as a soft, academic, wine-sipping program. Now it's the total opposite. He definitely imposed his will on the place.

This was Bo's approach to the point where he would deliberately stoke fights between his coaches just to see what everyone really thought. Harbaugh runs through a lot of coaches; they generally move on up afterwards, often quickly, because life under Harbaugh is a pressure cooker.

Durkin also relates the one-on-one story we've heard a couple times before:

CR: Let's end with the story of you playing Harbaugh one-on-one at Stanford. What do you remember?

Durkin: It was a random day in the office. We were meeting, talking about something, and he was dribbling a basketball. We were talking about something—recruiting or something—and the conversation somehow got to, "Hey, let's go out and play."

So we went to play one-on-one. First to seven. Great. So we're playing. I went up for a layup or something, he fouled—I mean, hacked me. And I didn't call it. I didn't expect him to call foul. No, we're good. Check up.

Then it became, O.K., if that's not a foul, there are no fouls. So the game went on for—the reason it became epic—it was over an hour-long game. To seven. And people are up there watching. No one wanted to lose, and no one would call a foul. So it was, if the guy got a step on you, chuck him in the back, lose the ball. Nope, no foul. Good, your ball. So it went on. It was well over an hour. A game to seven.

CR: Who won?

Durkin: He won. I let him win in the end. Job security.

I've repeatedly stated that I was skeptical about how good of a DC Durkin actually was after Michigan tailed off against spread teams late, but he's the kind of guy who could be much better as a head coach than a coordinator*. He's already done some good things with Maryland's recruiting.

*[And he's just unproven there, not necessarily bad. Last year was his first truly running his own D after operating under Will Muschamp at Florida and he inherited a ton of talent from the previous guy. It's striking how close the parallels are between 2015 and 2006, which also saw a hotshot new coordinator inherit a bucket of talent, turn his unit into one of the nation's best, and then get annihilated by Ohio State while doing something seemingly nonsensical. With Durkin that was running a safety at 15 yards against a spread to run offense; with Ron English it was trying to cover an NFL first-round WR with Chris Graham.]

Maryland doesn't recruit good and stuff. Excellent data post from Capital News service detailing the futility of Maryland recruiting despite a healthy amount of local talent. It incidentally proves our Mississippi Is A Black Hole Nothing Escapes theory:


That will never cease being a mystery to me.

I do think there are some questionable assumptions the data invites you to take away here because their list of top talent-producing states has Delaware(?!) third and Hawaii fifth. This is correct on a per-capita basis, but why that's relevant to a college trying to fill a recruiting class is unclear. (Delaware is likely that high because of ECA, the controversial magnet school that Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson attended.)

Incoming Cain? MI SF Jamal Cain got his Michigan offer. Cain, a 2017 kid ranked as a three star by the world, got a bunch of Michigan predictions on his 247 page in the immediate aftermath. It doesn't sound like he'll drop immediately…

"His recruiting is rapidly growing," said Covington, a former player at Oakland, who added that Cain is likely to go through the recruiting process and not commit anywhere until before or duirng his senior year at Cornerstone Prep.

Cain is currently rated as the No. 190 overall played in the 2016 class in the 247 Sports Composite.

…but plans have a tendency to change. Endless Motor has an interview with Cain that is of interest:

EM: Can you tell us a a bit about the basketball presentation?

JC: Coach Beilein showed me film of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zak Irvin, and said he wanted me to play a similar role at the shooting guard/small forward spots, and that I would be used in that way. Coach Beilein said I could really thrive in that role at UM.

In Trey-Burke-ish basketball recruiting news, Xavier SImpson surges into the top 50 in ESPN's final rankings after an outstanding senior season that saw him win the USA Today POY in the state.

So much for that. JT Compher signs with the Avs and CCM is gone lock, stock, and barrel. When Red returned one of the arguments made in favor of that decision was that CCM was more likely to return—at least portions of it—in Ann Arbor. That obviously did not work out.

With NHL departures now (probably) completed, this is what Michigan's looking at next year. I'm bumping Cutler Martin up to F:


On D:

De Jong/Boka
L Martin/Luce

That does not look like a tournament team unless Michigan is better than it's been on defense since Mel left. Michigan loses six of its top seven scorers and gets back only two forwards who were significantly above zero in +/-: Kile and Dancs.

Goodbye Idaho. If only EMU would follow. The Vandals are dropping down to I-AA after getting booted from the Sun Belt, which only admitted them in the first place so they could have a conference championship game. With no conference home and none pending, their only logical move was to drop down and play with the Montanas and North Dakota States of the world. Two things: this apparently won't even save them money…

The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall.

…and Idaho football costs about 20% as much as EMU's athletic deficit.

While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding -- playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.

Which is boggling if you think about it. EMU faculty and students just urged the university to drop football, to which the regents said "nah." Eastern's athletic department spending is completely insane:

The study point to an increase in the total full time equivalent athletic staff from 64 in 2006-07 to 85 in 2015-16, doubling staff salaries from $3.2 million to $6.4 million as the department saw 10 more coaching positions and more than 11 "athletic personnel" added during the same time period. During that same time period, the report indicates EMU's entire faculty increased by just 15.78 full-time equivalent personnel.

The arms race at the top of college athletics makes sense because the money's got to go somewhere. Eastern is setting money on fire—its students' money.

Rappists say nice things. I mean, I think they do. Migos on Harbaugh:

"He knows the music," Migos member Offset told TMZ. "He's a real cool playa. He's a playa, man, from the Himalayas."

#wellactually he goes to the Andes mountains, person who was clearly trying to rhyme things.

SBN on the Big Ten's rights situation. This is a point worth considering:

Will coaches freak out if their games aren’t on ESPN?
Yes, and so will administrators throughout the conference. Years ago, when the ACC flirted with leaving ESPN for Fox, some of the conference’s powerful basketball coaches were not shy about voicing their displeasure, believing that the lack of ESPN coverage would hurt their recruiting efforts. It’s too early to know how Big Ten coaches and athletic directors will react. But consider this: When school administrators asked at the recent league meetings if it’s possible for ESPN to get shut out, they were told, “Anything is possible.” One senior official at a Big Ten school said his peers “were scared to death” at the prospect of not having games on ESPN, which could eat into their recruiting.

ESPN's "lowball" offer for half the rights package was easy to pass over. It'll be harder for the Big Ten to extract maximum revenue from the second half without abandoning ESPN entirely, and that's a move everyone is wary of. Well, maybe. I've yet to see the Big Ten do anything other than maximize revenue.

Etc.: MLS to Detroit? If so you have to make them Detroit City and call them "The Rock." This is not negotiable. Profiles of Graham Glasgow and Jourdan Lewis. More on Glasgow's draft status. Jabrill Peppers already being talked about for next year's draft. A CFB commissioner is discussed; seems impractical. Baseball doing well. Holding The Rope on personnel shifts at ESPN.

Red Flowers Bursting Down Below Us

Red Flowers Bursting Down Below Us

Submitted by Brian on January 13th, 2016 at 12:58 PM

1/12/2016 – Michigan 70, Maryland 67 – 13-4, 3-1 Big Ten


those people didn't even know us [Bryan Fuller]

This was always going to happen at some point. A marquee win was going to stroll onto the court and get bombed back into the Stone Age by Duncan Robinson and the Enola Gays. Even as the team was getting hammered by various opponents featuring large angry people, I had this faith. (Probably. Shut up.)

They just had to, you know, do it. They had to take the three point shooting and shape it into a win with the other bent and misshapen tools at their disposal. The math had to add up. It had not done that so much this year. But basketball's math is changing.


John Beilein hasn't changed much in the 86 years he's been a college head coach. He will play four, preferably five, people who can shoot three-pointers and try to get away with everything that implies. The 1-3-1 has come and gone but the core has always been the Beilein Long Range Strategic Bombing Initiative.

It's worked. Beilein scrapped his way up the ranks by overachieving everywhere he's ever been. But there was always thought to be a ceiling past which this kind of basketball could not go. Early skeptics noted that Beilein's attention-grabbing tourney runs at West Virginia were paired with mediocre regular seasons. He'd never sniffed a conference title in a major league. Players who could shoot from deep were limited role players. They were Just A Shooters.

The game of basketball has changed, gradually and now radically. With Steph Curry currently redefining what NBA efficiency means as statheads in the background furrow their brows over any shot between the arc and the rim, the zeitgeist has finally come around to the idea that three is more than two.

Meanwhile Beilein has been a whisker away from a national title, a whisker away from another Final Four, and won three Big Ten championships. It's been a little rough so far this year since the post play has been… uh… well…

is there any way to say this diplomatically

if I am not diplomatic will I be arrested

I seem to have been given a choice between being massively dishonest and being banned from speech forever

…not good.

Also Michigan's recent propensity for injury has bit hard as Spike exited for good and Zak Irvin scuffled through a big chunk of the season during which the fact he was about to miss a three was more obvious than the plot of The Force Awakens. Oh, and Caris Levert has missed three games and counting.

But as ways to play basketball go it seems like people are just now catching up to Beilein. The team is catching up to expectations. Now if we can just get some additional Mitch types in here.


Yesterday they did it. Set aside the bigs going 0/5; they are not members of the backing band here. Robinson and company went 12/24. That's 50%. That is good. That is enough to overcome a lot of things. It's enough to overcome Diamond Stone using 40%(!) of Maryland possessions efficiently, for one.

And it's not a fluke. Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit his lone three against Maryland and has joined the club: Michigan has five players hitting 40%+ from three. That does not count Irvin, who seems to be recovered from the back-injury-induced early season funk and is hitting 44% over his last five. They have two players, Walton and Robinson, above 50%.

This deep into the season thoughts that Michigan might reclaim their Burke/Stauskas form have been shelved. But if they can poke their nose inside the line enough to avoid the kind of drought they suffered midway through the second half, they can be a fatally flawed team that goes down in a technicolor blaze of glory.


Goddamn, Duncan Robinson. Here are the top ten three point shooters in the country.


Robinson has 42 more attempts than the next-closest guy. The only player I found with significantly more, Oakland's Max Hooper, has 133 and is shooting at a 45% clip.

And is it just me or has he improved defensively? I have not been frustrated by a bunch of blow-bys of late. He seems to be able to stay in front of PF types and is even bothering the occasional person with his length. He's by no means good, but the opposition has stopped targeting him over and over again as the clear weak spot.

Robinson is developing—or probably just displaying—the ability to Not Just Shoot as well. The drive and pretty reverse layup late in the second half was an eye-opener; he's putting up shot fakes and then repositioning as well. He was the alpha dog on Williams two years ago with a diverse all-around game; he should be able to grow into that as he gets more comfortable on a D-I court.


weird face sometimes too [Bryan Fuller]

Derrick Walton is a weird player. Walton is rebounding like a 6'11" guy. His 21.7 DREB rate is almost top 100 nationally. Many of those are of the mansome variety where he launches off both feet and secures a ball a 6'1" guy definitely should not secure. Meanwhile He's hitting 33% of his two-pointers and 53% of his threes.

I am desperately disappointed that Kenpom stopped showing you similar players based on stats*, because what does that spit out for a guy with that DREB rate, assist rate, and shooting profile? Jan Jagla, but good?

*[I assume Pomeroy dumped it because it didn't work, but in this situation that only makes it better. Other possibility: Pomeroy saw Walton's sophomore year and pulled the plug in case his junior year caused his computer to emit smoke and shut down, moaning "why Ken whyyyyyy" as it did.]

Walton is a weird defender. I was very frustrated with him in the Purdue game. He started well and then kept getting beat off the dribble by drives that didn't look like anything other than a meh Purdue guard putting his head down. So of course he comes out against Melo Trimble and crushes him.


didn't go well, could have gone worse [Fuller]

Donnal as the "Evolution of Man" poster. I dunno, man. I assume every Michigan fan had written off Mark Donnal for good. There was certainly a lot of grousing about wasting minutes on him during the cupcake games in December, grousing that I agreed with. And then he got a ton of layups and is… well, he's not good but he is middling with frightening outburst of Mutumbo.

I never thought I would say this but the defensive downgrade when DJ Wilson came in was obvious. Wilson got wreckt on a couple of pick and rolls where he let the PG around him; Donnal got over and cut off penetration. He of course had that sequence towards the end of the first half where he had two spectacular blocks* and looked as surprised as anyone that he had just had two spectacular blocks.

While Diamond Stone more or less had his way with Donnal for much of the day the progress there is undeniable.

*[The first of which caused Tiricio and—ugh—Vitale to rant about how Donnal had committed a foul. Not that I expect Vitale to pay attention to the rules of the game or even the things happening in front of his face, but Donnal "getting [opponent] with the body" was Donnal leaping vertically as opponent rammed into him. That is a major emphasis with the refs this year.]

DJ Wilson is still baking. Clearly very bad in this game, as his brief chunk of playing time in the second half resulted in a 10-2 run for Maryland that he was almost singlehandedly responsible for. Also he floats to the perimeter to shoot threes way too much. But you can see flashes of an effective player in there; he has super-long arms and length, so he gets his hands on a lot of balls and has a future as a shot blocker.

The redshirt was clearly the best idea. He's got a long way to go; he has a very high ceiling.

Speaking of Max Hooper. Hooper has 133 three point attempts that he's hitting at a 45% rate. Pretty good, Max Hooper! How are you doing inside the line?


Wow. Hooper is a junior; in his career he has attempted 11 two-point shots and 344 three.


This has been "Brian and Ace find a freakish basketball player on Kenpom of no interest to you and tell you about it anyway."

Looks Good On A Resume Muppets!

Looks Good On A Resume Muppets!

Submitted by Seth on January 12th, 2016 at 11:12 PM


1000 South State Street • Ann Arbor, MI • 48109 • basketball.m@umich.edu


OBJECTIVE: Tournament bid.

EDUCATION: Beilein University, Beyond the Arc, MI




Draftageddon 2015: The Braxton Conundrum

Draftageddon 2015: The Braxton Conundrum

Submitted by Brian on July 28th, 2015 at 12:01 PM


The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."


Previously on Draftageddon:




ACE: Round 8, Pick 2: Braxton Miller, QB/?, Ohio State


OFFENSE: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Michael Thomas (OSU), WR DaeSean Hamilton (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU)

DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DT Darius Hamilton (RU), NT Austin Johnson (PSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU)
The rules dictate I take a quarterback here, and I'll abide by those rules. For the most part.

Braxton Miller isn't the favorite to win the job at Ohio State. He's coming off a lost season after his surgically repaired throwing shoulder fell apart in fall camp. JT Barrett stepped in and nearly won the Heisman; Cardale Jones relieved Barrett and won the national title. Miller may have the least amount of pro potential of the three, at least at quarterback.

Health permitting, however, Miller may be the best college quarterback. It's not a stretch to say he's already a legendary Big Ten QB. He's one of four players in the history of the conference to win two Big Ten MVP awards. In his most recent season, he passed for 2094 yards on 8.2 YPA and rushed for 1068 on 6.2 YPC; he accounted for 36 touchdowns and threw only seven interceptions. The list of national, Big Ten, and school records he owns or has in his sights is too long to list here. He may not be the most polished passer, but he is a breathtaking runner:

While Miller's injury is a downside the other two Buckeye QBs don't have, his running ability provides an upside his competition lacks. If Miller doesn't win the job, it's in everyone's best interest for him to play running back or H-back (Meyer's Percy Harvin position). He probably wouldn't start with Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall, respectively, holding those two spots, but it'd be hard to keep him off the field as long as he stays healthy.

If I'm lucky, I just snagged a #1-pick value in the eighth round. If I'm not, I still think Miller will contribute in some form, and I can grab one of the middle-tier quarterbacks later as insurance.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Soon after Ace made this pick it was announced that Miller would be playing H-back/Harvin guy. The commissioner decided that Ace had to take an actual QB with his next pick, which is in the next post, and had the option of keeping Miller or throwing him back in the pool and taking a supplemental pick immediately. Ace chose to keep Miller, because duh.]

SETH: Round 8, Pick 3:  Michael Caputo, strong safety, Wisconsin


OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut), OC Jack Allen (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU)
DEFENSE: HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich), DB Jordan Lucas (PSU), S Michael Caputo (Wis)

After 30 picks you don't expect to find a second-team All-American still on the board, especially not when he's a linebacker-sized ballhawk who led Wisconsin in tackles last year as a safety, and outshone Chris Borland in 2013 from F linebacker (hybrid space player).

As you might have guessed, I'm picking for either a 3-3-5 or a 4-2-5 defense with hybrids to either side. Since the conference's elite pass rushers went off the board quickly, my strategy for kicking ass will have to include a lot of blitzing, which means having the dudes who can do that or cover a lot of ground behind it. Basically it's the anti-spread modern version of the 46 defense. And it just so happens the reincarnation of #46 (Doug Plank) himself plays in the Big Ten.

If we're assigning roles between this trio, Caputo is the two-parts-linebacker/meat-raw safety who takes the side of the tight end. From Madison.com:

Michael Caputo was 2 years old when he hopped on his toy articulated vehicle, a load of dirt in the back, and pedaled down the 125-foot long driveway at the family’s home near Pittsburgh. The boy picked up speed along the way crashing into a concrete wall.

He thought it was so much fun that he did it over and over.

Go ahead and save that for the next time someone asks you to describe Wisconsin in so many words. After cement walls, Caputo finds Big Ten tight ends remarkably pliable, if less fun. Popping bubble screens is just easy. Last year when I stole him in round 21 I quoted DC Dave Arranda on how his then-sophomore was the only guy who could make the schematic adjustments that made Wisconsin's run defense work. Here's safeties coach Bill Busch one year later:

“He’s the true captain of the ship back there with all the adjustments that he makes,” Busch said of Caputo, who plays alongside true freshman Lubern Figaro. “A lot of times we put him in the position that requires the most thinking.”

The Kovacs is strong in this one. If Kovacs was the size of a linebacker, hit like a truck, and fell one spot shy of a Bednarik semifinalist last year.

ADAM: Round 8, Pick 4: Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota 
Round 9, Pick 1: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State


OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU), TE Jake Butt (UM)

DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), S Vonn Bell (OSU), CB Eric Murray (Minn), LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU)

The Big Ten may have an abundance of talent at corner this fall, but I couldn't let Murray sit on the board any longer. He has a two-year track record as one of the best cover corners in college football, lining up so close he can tell you what the opposing receiver had for their pregame meal while possessing the rare ability to jam and turn and run and actually stay with guys for more than 10 yards.

He's not going to post eye-popping interception totals (he has one career pick, and that came last season against San Jose State), but his 17 PBUs and 75% of tackles being of the solo variety over the past two years show what he can do in coverage and in run support. Defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel agrees:

"He's a good tackler, he's a great blitzer, he's a tremendous special-teams player, he's very, very good in press coverage to the point where a lot of times a play will just break down."

The conference has Michael Thomas, Leonte Carroo, and Dudes Who Sometimes Catch Things. I think Murray will be just fine.

Sticking with defense, I've decided to start building my linebacking corps in the middle, which is probably the conference's weakest spot. You can't say I didn't try to make this draft entertaining.

McMillan takes over for the departed (and oft-criticized) Curtis Grant, whose playing time McMillan already started leeching last fall. McMillan finished the season with 54 total tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 PBU, playing in every game except the season opener against Navy and the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.

He's not the fastest, but he has good size (6-2, 240) and the kind of instincts that are so often discussed they fill many pages when you Google him. He's also adapted nicely to calling the defense. Per DC Luke Fickell:

"That's the thing that you saw early on. There's some guys who have intelligence and some that aren't football smart, then some who are and don't really work at it. He's got an incredible combination of all of it."

McMillan will benefit from playing next to WLB/Heart and Soul Guy/Gritty Gritster Josh Perry and SLB/hybrid space destroyer/stat sheet filler Darron Lee, but the former top-50 recruit should be able to hold his own against the Big Ten's terrifying stable of offensive weapons.