HOEG. Richard Hoeg does small business law. Need to incorporate? Need some contracts? Need to talk about Star Control? Richard will do all three, and only charge you for the first two.
Anyway, Star Control. Star Control was a mindblowing video game because stuff happened in it and if you took too long you could lose the game as your allies fell to the great galactic menace. Losing is fun.
Having a bad contract and either getting sued or having to settle on unfavorable terms is not fun, and Richard Hoeg can help craft contracts for you that will avoid this eventuality. Police horses!
Tiller-era in more ways than one. This twitter bomb(!) from one of Purdue's recruiting yokels is frankly baffling:
Why pick a fight with a program that held you to 15 yards in the second half last year? Why get mad about Michigan getting recruits? You're at Purdue! With limited exceptions for legacies and locals the number of bonafide recruiting battles you're winning against Michigan—against, hell, most of the Big Ten, is zero. Also Purdue's leading receiver averaged 3.6 catches a game.
I feel like this guy bought a Big Dogs shirt for the first time and was overwhelmed by it while near his phone, and he'll return to a mild-mannered citizen tomorrow when he puts his Ron Jon back on. It happens. It's good, really. It's fun when Purdue has a bunch of ornery passing maniacs who talk shit and bend rules.
[After THE JUMP: a bunch of stuff! And porpoises!]
The pieces are in place. Michigan announced this afternoon that Charles Matthews is withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft and will return to school for his redshirt junior season:
"I am thankful for the assistance Coach Beilein and the staff have given me in order to gain as much information as possible before making this decision. They showed great confidence and patience with me while I sorted this all out," said Matthews. "After much prayer and discussions with my family and the staff, I am excited to be returning to Michigan next year. I learned a lot throughout this process, but my main focus will now be completing my education at Michigan and leading my teammates to more success next season."
"This process allows young men to gather so much valuable information and make the most informed decision they can," said U-M's David and Meredith Kaplan head men's basketball coach John Beilein. "Charles has an incredible personality and confidence. His work habits and desire to reach his potential are terrific. He is more focused than ever to improve in all areas of his game. Like others before him, Charles will be a great senior leader for us and we are excited to have this opportunity to coach him again next season."
Matthews has the opportunity to be Michigan's go-to scorer (a role Jordan Poole is eyeing, too) now that Moe Wagner has gone to the NBA, and his return cements the Wolverines as one of the Big Ten favorites for 2018-19, especially in conjunction with the news that Maryland's Kevin Huerter is hiring an agent. Not only does Matthews give the team another NBA talent, he allows a talented freshman class of wings to work their way into big roles at a more reasonable pace.
It seems likely Matthews will follow the Wagner route—testing the waters, returning, then leaving after improving a couple key areas—and if he does, Michigan should be a very good team once again. His slashing, rebounding, and defense will be major assets, and if his shot develops this season like his footwork did last season, he'll be an all-conference player.
I'll have a post soon to give a full overview of the returning and departing talent in the conference and its outlook now that we have a better handle on the rosters. Meanwhile, top-50 2019 TX forward Jalen Wilson is announcing his decision at 6 pm ET from a group of six that includes the favored Wolverines.
Unfortunately, a miss. ALSO JACK HUGHES?! Oliver Wahlstrom will play at BC next year. Michigan is still waiting on Jack Hughes, who everyone says will either play at the NTDP next year or accelerate like Zach Werenski. Mike Spath just said today on Inside the Huddle that Hughes hasn't made a decision yet, but: "there's a very strong likelihood" that he accelerates and that he's "in position to do so."
Per Spath, the potential catch is that if Quinn Hughes gets drafted and decides to sign, a major motivation for Jack to accelerate goes away. The upshot: "if Quinn and the family decide to come back for one more year at Michigan, look for Jack to join him."
Zach Shaw suggests you'd prefer the Rangers or Red Wings grab Hughes, then.
The Big Ten hockey schedule is bad again. Prepare for another year with the vast majority of Michigan hockey's home games in the fall semester, when everything is happening. The Big Ten schedule features just four home games after the break:
2018-19 Michigan B1G Schedule Nov. 9-10 -- Notre Dame Nov. 16-17 -- at Penn State Nov. 23-24 -- Wisconsin Nov. 30 -- at Michigan State Dec. 1 -- Michigan State Dec. 7-8 -- Minnesota Jan. 4-5, 2019 -- at Notre Dame Jan. 11-12 -- at Ohio State Jan. 24 -- Penn State Jan. 26 -- Penn State (Super Saturday, New York, N.Y.) Feb. 1-2 -- at Minnesota Feb. 8 -- Michigan State Feb. 9 -- vs. Michigan State (site TBA) Feb. 22-23 -- Ohio State March 1-2 -- at Wisconsin
Notable bad things: two(!) bye weeks, the Notre Dame series are not home-and-homes, and Michigan is shipping a Penn State game to NYC. The latter is payback for PSU doing the same thing. While it's slightly annoying for season ticket holders at least 1) the AD didn't announce this after season tickets were due, 2) after asserting a price cut that moving the MSU game actually turned into a price increase, and 3) to play in front of nobody in an outdoor game in Chicago. Announced attendance at the first game was almost 14k.
Hopefully Michigan can fill in those blank spots with nonconference home dates, but even then those are more likely to be Arizona State-ish teams than actually compelling games.
Also of interest: the Michigan State game that is traditionally at the Joe is now listed as TBA. The new version of the JLA might be too crowded to accommodate them? If so they should probably just move those games back to campus. There's no other arena worth having an MSU-M game in.
According to WTKA’s Michael Spath, the Michigan hockey team will return its game to the great outdoors this winter, as the Wolverines are slated to face off against Notre Dame at the Fighting Irish’s football stadium as part of the festivities surrounding the 2019 NHL Winter Classic.
The main event, which will pit the Chicago Blackhawks against the Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium for the 11th installment of the event, will take place Jan. 1, 2019. While official details for Michigan’s game have yet to be announced, a source indicated to WTKA’s Inside The Huddle that the game is set to take place Jan. 5, one week after the Wolverines’ annual participation in the Great Lakes Invitational in downtown Detroit.
My tolerance for outdoor games has about bottomed out but this one passes muster. It'll be jam-packed. Hopefully the appeal of that outdoor game is an incentive to return for Quinn and attend for Jack.
“Really just trying to wear all my options out,” Matthews said while attending a workout with the Denver Nuggets this week. “Basically go through all of the workouts that I have scheduled and just reconcile with my family and do what we feel is best. …
“It has been really good, especially if I do come back to school,” Matthews said. “Get some good experience to know what this process is like. If I choose to stay in, raise my confidence overall.”
Should he keep his name in the draft, experts don't think his name will be called on June 21. ESPN's Jonathan Givony projects Matthews as a late first-round pick in next year's draft, as does NBAdraft.net. Givony does not list Matthews among his top 100 prospects at this time.
Last year, 137 college underclassmen declared for the draft, many without signing an agent. Eighty-four of them were not invited to the combine. Only four of the non-invitees kept their name in the draft; none were selected.
So you return unless you can't go back to school because of your academics or are staring down the prospect of getting 15 minutes a game because Tom Izzo's got his eye on a walk-on. I'd imagine Matthews returns for a final year, a la Moe.
LET'S GOOOOOOO. Our long national nightmare is finally, finally, finally over:
BREAKING: Jim Connor, who spent the past several years playing football fanatic Larry Culpepper in Dr. Pepper commercials, has told me that the company will not feature Culpepper in commercials going forward. Connor says the decision “Rocked my world” and was “An incredible gig.” pic.twitter.com/an0DJBKO0w
this bullet mentions Charles Matthews and Nick Ward [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Implications of exclusion. Charles Matthews was not invited to the NBA draft combine, and MLive's Kyle Austin has some data on what that means:
In the two NBA drafts since 2016, when college players were first allowed to return to school after declaring, 254 college players have declared early. Of them, the majority (157) didn't receive a combine invite.
Most prospects in that situation opt to return to school -- a total of 130 players have withdrawn from the draft in the last two years. But 47 of those players have opted stayed in the draft despite no combine invitation. None of those 47 players were drafted.
Many of the 47 who stayed in had reasons: they were going to be ineligible or were never going to be NBA players anyway and wanted to get on with overseas careers. (CC: Nick Ward?) A few have worked their way into the league after going undrafted, but it's a rough way to attempt to break in.
Another year of John Beilein Development™ is a better path to the league for Matthews, who clearly has NBA upside if he can just learn to shoot some.
WOULD BE NICE. Standard offseason new position coach articles do come with a little more oomph when the coach in question has the track record of Ed Warinner. Angelique Chengelis got a hell of a quote from Stephen Spanellis:
“It’s really amazing,” lineman Stephen Spanellis said during the team’s trip to Paris this past week. “Coach Warinner’s philosophy, he tells us that he doesn’t to start calculus before everybody can pass Algebra 1. I felt like before we would go straight to rocket science and try to cover everything possible in every meeting. And some guys can’t keep up and it doesn’t have value for a guy to sit in a meeting and they have no idea what’s going on fundamentally with normal plays like inside zone or power.
“So why not slow it down and learn all the basics before you progress? What makes it hard is our defense is so complex, that they break a lot of rules and you have to advance a little bit. But fundamentally, slowing it down a little bit has a lot of value especially for the younger guys who are still learning the offense. For example, James Hudson coming over from defense, it takes a long time to learn the offense in general. Why leave a guy like that at a disadvantage by making it too complicated?”
"No idea what's going on with normal plays" is unfortunately the story of every Michigan line since 2011, and the most depressing thing about last year was that disease following Michigan through a third head coach, and the one who should have been least susceptible to such a thing. But at least the ax fell.
It will not be another off year for Michigan in the NFL draft. The league's official site put out a list of 150 guys to watch for next year's draft, and Michigan players are liberally sprinkled throughout:
#3 Rashan Gary: "A big man with linebacker-like movement skills"
#10(!) Devin Bush: "the new prototype for linebacker in college and the NFL -- not necessarily big, but fast and aggressive."
#25 Shea Patterson: "shows off great escapability on the run and an ability to move the ball through the air."
#47 Chase Winovich: "can rush from a two- or three-point stance. He can also be effective bringing pressure from the interior."
#65 Karan Higdon: "clearly superior to Ohio State's Mike Weber."
#76 Khaleke Hudson
#112 Lavert Hill
David Long's continued absence from these lists is baffling.
Per Zach Shaw, Michigan has the fourth-most players on the list, behind Clemson, Alabama, and OSU. A couple of OSU's are a little… uh… speculative. JK Dobbins, who isn't eligible for the upcoming draft, is there. So is Dwayne Haskins, who hasn't started a game yet.
On Mo Hurst in the NFL. Hurst dropped to the fifth round because of his heart issue, and the Raiders picking him prompted a bunch of criticism from everyone's favorite, the Anonymous NFL Insider. A former NFL team doctor reps his bros in response:
I actually think it is not only unfair and inaccurate but also irresponsible for a scout to characterize the drafting as "irresponsible." There is no way for a non-medical person to know.
As an orthopedic surgeon and physician, even I would rely on my primary care doctor and cardiology consultants to weigh in.
I do not see how a personnel person can make this proclamation. This opinion should carry the same weight as a team physician publicly criticizing Baker Mayfield as not worthy of the first pick in the draft.
I also don't know what's going on with Hurst's heart; hopefully everything works out for him.
Apparent hockey exit. The USHL's various drafts are ongoing—I won't bother you with the details—but since one weird hockey thing is that transfers will often return to the USHL for their NCAA mandated sit-out year, you occasionally get roster news. Roster news:
Wisconsin's JD Greenway selected 7th by Chicago; Michigan's James Sanchez selected 8th by Dubuque. A good indication that both are leaving their respective programs to return to juniors.
Sanchez had 8 points in 27 games last year after playing in 34 as a freshman; he was stuck on the fourth line and probably had a talk about whether that was ever going to change.
Also in USHL draft news, highly touted 2020 commit Owen Power went 7th overall to Chicago in a different USHL draft—yes there are like seven different ways to get in this league—after being an early second-round pick in the OHL draft. That's a good sign for this edition of Michigan's never-ending blood war with the OHL.
Fellow touted 2020 commit Cole Perfetti went in the third round, also to Chicago. He went fifth overall in the OHL draft and will either be traded to a different OHL team for a bushel of picks in August or September and report or stick with his commitment. Due to yet more details about junior hockey that you don't need to know*, a high OHL draft selection is not necessarily the kiss of death. As Antonio Stranges demonstrated, it's more about location than draft slot.
*[OK, fine: Saginaw has a nearly full roster this year with or without Perfetti and will get a compensatory pick one slot lower than Perfetti's #5 selection next year if he doesn't report and is declared "defective."]
So…is he coming back? Matthews did not sign with an agent and our expectation was that he was trying to get a feel for where he stands and maybe move up, but that another year at Michigan was the most likely outcome. This doesn’t change that math, except it’s a good indication the NBA doesn’t think he’s going to be a first round pick, since 60 players were invited. Matthews can still work out for teams and get feedback from the draft advisory committee, which feedback will almost certainly come before a decision is made.
Other players not invited include Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Trevon Bluiett (sigh) of Xavier, UNC’s Theo Pinson, Cincy’s Gary Clark, St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds, Bonzie Colson of Notre Dame, and Nick Ward of Michigan State.
The deadline for putting one's name into the NBA Draft has come and gone, so we now enter the period of uncertainty as players who didn't hire agents go through the pre-draft process before deciding whether to return to school. The Big Ten already has several notable early entrants who will hire agents and stay in the draft, including Moe Wagner and the duo of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges at Michigan State. (Also, uh, Nebraska's Jack McVeigh?)
Even more are testing the waters without an agent, including Charles Matthews, and those decisions will go a long way towards determining the Big Ten outlook for 2018-19. College Basketball Talk's Rob Dauster put together a list of the most influential early entry decisions from a college hoops perspective; of the 12 teams listed, five are from the B1G, and two of those teams (Maryland and Nebraska) have two players with NBA choices to make.
Here's a look at who's gone, who's testing, and how the draft could impact the conference standings next season.
Gone For Sure
These players have declared and will hire an agent, locking them into the draft.
F Leron Black — A big loss for an Illinois team that relied heavily on Black's scoring and rebounding. The Illini have some decent young talent and a solid incoming class but this is a setback for Brad Underwood after a rough first year. As for Black, he's probably going undrafted.
F Justin Jackson — Jackson had the misfortune of getting injured after coming back for his sophomore season, and he'd already been off to a stock-hurting start. Still, he's a talented player who made a solid impact as a freshman, and the Terps could be losing a lot depending on a couple other draft decisions.
C Moe Wagner — I don't need to tell you about the impact of this one for Michigan—we've covered it extensively and there will be plenty more to come. Wagner is currently a late first- or second-round prospect who's considered a safe pick without a ton of upside (his defense remains a sticking point).
F Miles Bridges and F Jaren Jackson Jr. — Bridges was overdue to enter and probably slipped a few spots in a loaded draft year because he returned to jack up 25-footers over a 2-3 zone. Jackson, after taking a strangely long time to make a decision that seemed quite obvious after that Syracuse game, made the obvious choice—he could go as high as #3 overall. Both are obviously major losses for an MSU team that may end up starting Kenny Goins at the four. They could lose the third member of their starting frontcourt, too.
F Jack McVeigh — Is not an NBA prospect, to be frank. He barely played for the Huskers this year after being useful rotation piece in his first two seasons. Nebraska's fates are much more closely tied to the decisions of two players who haven't hired agents.
F Keita Bates-Diop — An expected departure as KBD put together a Player of the Year-caliber junior season that earned him first-round projections. The Bucks also lose Jae'Sean Tate and Kam Williams from the starting lineup. They're set to drop back after a shockingly good first year under Chris Holtmann.
PG Tony Carr — Remember that brief moment when Penn State was a dark horse conference title contender for 2018-19? It's over now. Pat Chambers still has a team that could make some noise but they're going to have a very tough time replacing Carr's high-usage, high-efficiency offense. Carr should go in the second round.
PG Corey Sanders — A huge loss for Rutgers, as Sanders dragged that offense out of the KenPom 300s in efficiency the last couple years by taking all the bad shots he could handle and making a respectable number of them given the circumstances. While bad-shot-making is an NBA trait, Sanders isn't expected to be drafted.
Yeah, being eye level with the rim is an NBA trait. [Bryan Fuller]
In a move that should come as little surprise, Charles Matthews announced today that he'll test the NBA Draft process without hiring an agent. This allows him, like Moe Wagner last year, to go through the combine and work out for teams while leaving open the door to a return. The press release from the program contains the key dates:
University of Michigan men's basketball junior Charles Matthews announced today (Friday, April 20) he will submit the proper paperwork and declare for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent allowing him to maintain his amateur status.
"After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent," said Matthews. "I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!"
"We have loved the initiative and maturity Charles has shown during this early phase of the testing the NBA Draft process," said U-M's David and Meredith Kaplan Men's Basketball Head Coach John Beilein. "We have been, and will continue, to work closely with Charles and his family to gain as much information as possible in the weeks ahead."
With Matthews entering his name for the NBA Draft, he makes himself eligible to be selected at the Thursday (June 21) draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Additionally, he will be able to start attending workouts scheduled by NBA teams starting Tuesday (April 24) and, if selected, he will be eligible for the NBA Draft Combine, Wednesday through Sunday (May 16-20) in Chicago.
Following the combine, Matthews will have 10 days to weigh his options and keep his name in or withdrawal, by Wednesday (May 30). Withdrawing his name from the draft will maintain his collegiate eligibility.
Matthews is a strong candidate, like Wagner before him, to get a feel for what he needs to improve upon before returning to college for at least one more season. He's mostly off this year's NBA Draft radar—he isn't on ESPN's top 100 and NBADraftNet projects him in the second round of the 2019 draft.
Barring the unexpected—and, yes, you can never rule that out with the NBA Draft—this should be a great opportunity for Matthews to work on his game, return to Michigan, and see the type of development that made Wagner's NBA decision a little easier this year. If the unexpected strikes, someone from the 2018 class—most likely Iggy Brazdeikis—gets thrust into a major role from the start. It'd be very nice to have Matthews' athleticism, finishing, rebounding, and defense on the squad so John Beilein can bring along the freshmen at his preferred pace.
Moe Wagner has made his decision. In an article he penned for The Players' Tribune, Wagner announced he'll enter the NBA Draft and sign with an agent, foregoing his senior season at Michigan. Wagner's lengthy, heartfelt farewell (titled "Thank You, Michigan") makes it clear this wasn't an easy choice, but he has some familiar footsteps to follow:
Alle träume klingen verrückt. Bis sie wahr werden.
This is what it says on the poster that I have on my wall. I’m looking at it now, in my apartment in Ann Arbor, as I’m telling you this story. It’s German, which you probably guessed, and it means: All dreams are crazy. Until they come true. (Good saying, right?) And then beside these words is a picture of Dirk Nowitzki — who is basically my idol.
Wagner is projected as a late first- or early second-round pick, an improvement over his stock last year, when his rebounding and defensive limitations had him projected closer to the bottom of the draft. Wagner improved both this year, especially rebounding, and while his defense is still a big question mark, his offensive skill set at his size will get him a contract and a roster spot.
This is the end of Wagner's remarkable collegiate journey. He came to Ann Arbor from Germany as a lanky wing, outgrew the position almost immediately, spent his freshman year struggling to earn playing time behind Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal, and then became the key piece of John Beilein's five-out offense as a sophomore and junior. That doesn't mean we won't be seeing him around town, however.
Ann Arbor will always be the first American city that I ever really knew. In my opinion, it’s the perfect place to live — not too big, not too small. You get all four seasons, great sports, and some of the nicest and most genuine people I have met. I’ll miss Ann Arbor a ton and come back as much as I can.
Wagner's exit has significant ramifications for next year's team, of course, and we'll dig into those in greater detail this week. Jon Teske is now your surefire starting center next year, which will make Michigan a more defensive-focused team (with a greater defensive ceiling) but he'll be an offensive downgrade barring a breakout on that end—while he improved greatly at the pick-and-roll, he doesn't provide the same pick-and-pop, spead-the-defense threat. Austin Davis is most likely to settle into the backup role while talented freshman Colin Castleton—a Wagner-like player with plus rim protection—gets used to the system and adds some needed bulk.
"They've got three really good on-ball defenders," one coach said. "Most teams don't have two, or even one. They have three. [Zavier] Simpson, [Muhammad-Ali] Abdur-Rahkman, [Charles] Matthews can really guard the ball. You don't have a matchup on the perimeter you can attack. They're handsy, they're physical in all the right ways. How handsy and chippy they are, in itself is very anti-Michigan-like. They're well-schooled. They're so good at putting their hands on or getting an armbar into you and then taking it off, then beating you to the spot." …
"If you're a traditional defensive team, you've got no chance of guarding them," one opposing coach said. "The teams that have slowed them down the most are teams that are nontraditional, that can switch a lot. You've got no chance of defending them if you don't switch ball screens."
Dollar says the latter quote there is from Matt Painter.
"Everybody on their team is an above-average passer and can shoot it, so they have spacing," another head coach in the league said. "They don't take bad shots. They really work together as a team to get great shots every possession. They have an inside presence, but most of their offensive attack is transition or through spacing. Offensively, that's what makes them really good." …
"They ice ball screens and try to keep Krutwig in the paint defensively," he said. "So they've got some real tough decisions to make. You can't keep Krutwig in the paint against Wagner, so how they guard those actions, the pick-and-rolls in the middle of the floor. They can bring [Aundre] Jackson off the bench, but they need Krutwig on the floor. That's a real interesting thing for me."
Much more that's interesting at the link.
Yak's got this. Of all the reasons hiring Luke Yaklich might have benefited Michigan, "he'll have lots of experience against the MVC team Michigan sees in the Final Four" is the least likely. And yet:
Prior to joining the Wolverines, the defensive maestro went 7-1 against the Ramblers in his four seasons spent at Illinois State as an assistant coach and is familiar, at least fundamentally, with coach Porter Moser’s style of play.
“Coach Moser is an unbelievable coach ... you have to be locked in on both ends of the floor,” Yaklich said. “It’s gonna be a dog fight. His teams reflect his personality. They’re prepared, they get better, tough and they have a bunch of really great kids that have been through the Missouri Valley and non-conference wars.
“Loyola is obviously gonna have our full attention all week, and we’re thrilled with the opportunity to play in the Final Four against a really good and well-coached team.”
If Michigan wins on Saturday, before the final they need to hire an assistant from a team they can beat easily. How about Dane Fife?
One and done done? Syracuse recruit Darius Bazley has decided to blow off college hoops in favor of a year in the G league, because he's a serious dude.
“I’m self-motivated because I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is how I want to make a living. This is how I want to provide for my family, and provide for my love of basketball. I’m not playing any games with this. I’m attacking this straight forward. I’m not maneuvering around this, take any side steps. I’m taking this head on. This is the decision that I made, and I know it will work. I know what I’m capable of doing, and I’m going to do just that.”
Fair enough. Is this THE END for the current regime in college basketball? Maybe, maybe not. Bazley's salary in his sole G League year is apparently going to be a comically low 26k, and while he can sign with an agent and get some shoe money he'd probably be better off in the long run with the fame an NCAA tournament run could generate. And it's not like the shoe people can't just give his family money already.
On the other hand:
I think trying the G-League out instead of college makes sense for a whole host of reasons, but using it to avoid playing for Syracuse might be the most important thing for Darius Bazley's development as a prospect
Bazley won't be wasting his time perfecting a defense that's illegal in the NBA and driving wildly into the lane hoping that this heavily contested shot miraculously falls. Why Bazley—or anyone cough cough Tyus Battle—with a potential NBA future would sign up for that remains a complete mystery. How a team stacked with NBA lottery picks could lose to that team is an even greater one.
Would the end of one and done be bad for Michigan? Or good? I lean towards good. While the Dukes and Kentuckys of the world would start picking off guys outside the top 25 and might land on a guy that Michigan would otherwise get, the relative gap between those dudes and the dozen-or-so genetic lottery winners available annually is bigger than the 25-50 cohort and the next tier down.
Meanwhile the shoe money that funnels kids towards that restrictive list of bluebloods would now just be signing the top guys outright. The guys at the next level down would be choosing lower levels of bag if they eschew being developed by Beilein. I don't think it would upset the apple cart in college basketball that much; it would kill accidental superteams like "Anthony Davis and four other guys." Since Michigan was never going to get that guy, good.
Twenty years ago, in 1998, the committee gave out at-large bids to Western Michigan (from the Mid-American Conference) and Illinois-Chicago and Detroit-Mercy (from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, now called the Horizon League). When George Mason stunned the world by reaching the Final Four as a no. 11 seed in 2006, it did so thanks to an at-large bid, having failed to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. Same goes for 11th-seeded VCU in 2011, also an also-ran from the CAA. Between 1995 and 2005, UNC Charlotte made the tournament eight times despite winning the Conference USA tournament only twice. UNC Charlotte got six at-large bids in a span of 10 years!
If you’ll allow me to temporarily use a clumsy definition of “mid-major” for the purposes of this piece, let’s say the “mid-major” label applies any school that isn’t in one of the five football power conferences, their predecessors, or either the defunct or current versions of the Big East. In the 20 NCAA tournaments from 1995 to 2014, the selection committee extended at-large bids to an average of 8.9 schools fitting that definition, the high being 12 in 1995, 1998, and 2004. In half of those years at least 10 such teams landed at-large invitations. Since 2015, the committee has invited no more than seven such teams in a given year, bottoming out with last year’s four. You’d think this trend would be reversed, considering over that time frame the number of at-large bids has increased from 32 to 36 as the size of the tournament field has grown from 64 to 68. But no: With more available spots, the committee has rewarded fewer teams from mid-major leagues.
The NCAA should mandate no at large bids for a team that couldn't even win half its conference games. Only one good thing has ever happened because an 8-10 ACC team got in.
Lame. Michigan cancels the 2020-21 VT series, paying 400k to get out of it. In VT's place in 2020: Arkansas State. Something something it's smart because playoff, you say. And I say something something it's dumb because playoff, and we both have exactly the same amount of evidence.
"I'm pretty sure I already know what his decision is," said Poole.
So, will the 19-year-old Jackson turn pro?
"For sure, I definitely think so, only because it’s an opportunity that not a lot of people are able to pass up. Being able to be in a situation like this, especially being in the lottery as a freshman and getting paid to play basketball, (which) is a dream, that’s definitely an opportunity that you have to take advantage of," Poole said.
You'd think this obvious since he's a top five pick who played fewer minutes in an NCAA tournament elimination than Ben Carter, but MSU people are putting it out there that Jackson is leaning towards returning. Izzo getting a lottery pick to return for more rebounding drills in football pads is almost as baffling as "anyone plays for Syracuse."