The NCAA Tournament Is Close Enough

The NCAA Tournament Is Close Enough

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


[Patrick Barron]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Notre Dame

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Notre Dame

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on March 29th, 2016 at 10:23 AM

NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Semifinal

Friday, March 25, 2016

Michigan 3, Notre Dame 2 (OT)

1st period


UM 1 ND 0 EV 10:31 Assists: Kile & Downing

Nieves wins the draw back to Downing. The wingers go in motion off the draw, with Kile going from right to left. This picks up the attention of the defender in front of the net, who takes a few steps with him. Meanwhile, Selman is skating through the faceoff circle, now left unoccupied thanks to the defender being drawn out toward Downing.

m nd 1-1

Two defenders are watching Kile as he receives the pass from Downing. Nieves has locked up the defender nearest Selman in the high slot; he did so immediately off the draw, and this is just where they ended up. Selman is blitheringly open, though ND goaltender Cal Petersen is square to Kile. Selman's shot catches him off guard, and he isn't able to move across and re-square before the puck's behind him.

m nd 1-2

[You already know the OT winner is after THE JUMP why have you not clicked yet]

Unverified Voracity Is Putting Hockey In Arizona

Unverified Voracity Is Putting Hockey In Arizona

Submitted by Brian on November 19th, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Does anyone ever check anything? No? Okay. This exists.

Michigan needs to have a twitter feed in which they ask everyone if this thing they're about to do is a bad idea.

Speaking of things that exist without being checked that should not exist. Oh man the takes coming out of the Free Press after Frank Clark's dismissal are super super hot:


The Free Press must have a logic puzzle as part of their hiring process. Anyone who figures it out fails.

This, by the way, this is a great example of the pointless moralizing I was talking about. Seidel doesn't give damn about whether Michigan officially dismissed Clark on Sunday or Monday, he's just complaining to show off how impressively ethical he is. Barry Petchesky just had an excellent piece on how the NFL is using Adrian Peterson to repair The Brand:

3. This is a pure PR play on the part of the NFL, and it's almost too cynical to be believed. The league had been reeling from widespread criticism of its eagerness to co-opt the legal process and its inability to sensitively or sensibly handle morality. Peterson—a black-and-white villain—was a blessing. Maybe a bad man, maybe a man who did bad things, he's a relatively uncomplicated figure, and the NFL was thrilled to have someone to position itself against. The NFL clambered over Peterson to regain the moral high ground it never actually deserved, and is using that platform to shout out, "We are strongly against the beating of children." This is the safest and most defensible position in the world. What we're seeing is the return of the soldiers-and-puppies-and-Pinktober NFL, barely months after the Ray Rice fiasco exposed that as a thin facade. There has been no meaningful change. The league is still beyond reproach, because it cares about the children.

Seidel roundly condemns domestic violence to create the appearance he's a rad dude; the only person served by his column is himself.

Fan appreciation day. At least they're trying. Michigan's announced a bunch of minor fan perks for the Maryland game, including some concession concessions and apparel discounts for season ticket holders. They're also allowing field access. That access is slated to start 30-45 minutes after a 3:30 game that looks likely to feature freezing rain—ain't nobody staying for that.

We've got photos of other stuff. We've been branching out our photos into non-revenue sports. Here's a SOON shot from volleyball's outing against Minnesota:


[Bill Rapai]

Rapai also shot a WBB game; Marc-Gregor Campredon shot men's and women's soccer.

As always, mgoblog photos are Creative Commons licensed so you can use them. Just credit the photographer and link back.

Exit Will Muschamp. Florida axed him yesterday, and man the parallels here are eerie: Muschamp had a weird, horseshoe-flavored 11-2 year (his second; Hoke's first) before seemingly excellent recruiting collapsed in a pile of offensive ineptitude too intense to be believed. QBs in Gainesville and Ann Arbor disintegrated into quivering interception machines before our eyes; the defenses generally stood tall despite extremely adverse conditions; both teams mutated football never-before-seen piles of suck, despair, and hilarity.

Today they had a press conference in which Muschamp handled himself ably and everyone swore up and down he was the best dude. Earlier this year Spencer and I had an IM conversation about swapping coaches, and it turns out that's beside the point: Muschamp and Hoke are the same dude.

Spencer eulogizes:

3. There is no limit to the variations of failure here. Muschamp was blown out at home on Homecoming by Mizzou, 42-13, and sniped by a late field goal, completing a 30-27 home collapse against LSU. Alabama could have scored 60 on the Gators, but got bored and politely declined the option in a 42-21 road humiliation. When Florida lined up for a late punt against South Carolina after the Gamecocks had already blocked a game-clinching field goal, the kick was blocked before the ball was ever snapped. Don't ever tell anyone you can't block a ball with your mind; Florida did it, and then handed it to South Carolina with a smile. The confidence in delivering losses was the only constant Florida had left, something it got down to some time after the worst loss in program history: a home defeat by Georgia Southern in 2013.

Did you forget that happened, the low point of lows for an entire era? He did that. Will Muschamp's signature loss of signature losses is him misspelling the word "fart" in spray paint across "The Birth of Venus."  It's an atrocity almost admirable in its accidental, perfect malice. For the record, I think Will would spell it "p-h-a-r-t," because that's the funniest possible misspelling of the word.

With reports that Dan Mullen won't be of interest, my main regret about Florida pulling the trigger early is that Spencer got the jump on the one-sentence summation of the last four years:

11. In conclusion: RIP, Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football. In the end, you were too dumb to live and too ugly to mourn.

May Spencer find his Christmas tree stocked with Air Raid coaches, and may Will Muschamp migrate northwards to be Jim Harbaugh's DC.

Now everything will be fixed forever. The NCAA has taken the first and most important step towards being an organization that creates good in this world:

Long national nightmare, etc.

Hockey stuff. I haven't said too much about the hockey team yet; I don't usually during football season because of time constraints and just the fact that I'm not that good at figuring out hockey even now and need some time to get my head around. I'm not much closer after Michigan's meh sweep of American International. Center Ice:

The problems started when the defensive pairings were changed again. The blueline predictably looked disjointed, pinching at the wrong times, getting caught out of position and allowing the Yellow Jackets to get countless odd man rushes on Zach Nagelvoort.

Michigan suffocated AIC by pressuring in the offensive zone for the majority of both games, but when the Yellow Jackets countered they easily found quality scoring chances. When the defense had their way on Saturday cutting down mistakes, Nagelvoort wasn't able to keep the puck out of the net and the Yellow Jackets were able to not just stay in the game, but put Michigan on the ropes early.

AIC is usually so bad that anyone within shouting distance of the tournament sees wins against them excised from their RPI because counting those games would actually lower it. These games were essentially exhibitions against a team much worse than the U18s, and Michigan duly dominated attack time and SOG.

I don't take much positive from it, though. On Friday AIC had three separate 3-on-1s and a half-dozen other odd-man rushes besides; on Saturday they played Michigan almost even through two periods. I'm at a loss to explain Michigan's play. They have piles of talent, certainly enough to scrape through if their back end was making moderate mistakes occasionally instead of enormous ones frequently. That's not the case, and then the offense has lacked incisiveness against anyone better than AIC since… since TJ Hensick left? It's been a long time since Michigan's had a guy like him.

So I don't know. Michigan is really behind the eight ball here, already, playing in a crappy conference with a 2-5 record in games that will actually matter when it's time to find tourney participants. Would Red hang on for that last year when Tech is 10-0(!) and headed for their best season since the 1980s, thus paving the way for Pearson to come back? I don't know, but that's what I'm thinking about now… not getting back to the tourney this year.

At least they're finally fixing the ice infrastructure? Yost's ice has been iffy for years.

Speaking of hockey. Arizona State(?!) announces they will add a D-I program. Like Penn State, they make the leap from ACHA power. ASU is a weird  program to make the leap; there are no West Coast programs. The three Colorado outfits are the only schools even vaguely close. Even so I'd guess the NCHC snaps them up. Arizona State brings a bigger athletic profile than most of their members.

This is one of the benefits of the Big Ten's formation, by the way. That reorganized the western programs into three conferences instead of two. After CHA folded, programs  that were considering hockey had a dubious future as an independent. Now there are spots for another dozen teams, as long as some of them are in the Big Ten.

Buffalo might be next, with Penn State benefactor and new Bills owner Terry Pegula potentially fronting the capital.

You used to know how to do this. Michigan scheduled a home hockey game for a football Saturday. That game is at 3:30. The hockey game is at 7:30. Remind me why I have season tickets again? Is it because I'm dumb? It feels like that's the reason.

Michigan never used to do this. Instead they would have the occasional Sunday matinee. New athletic director please save us. And stop running the ARE YOU FAN ENOUGH commercial for the hockey game the previous athletic director yanked out of our season ticket packages.

Etc.: Ray Taylor's baby has impeccable timing. Approximately 3k unsold seats for Maryland. Michigan catches another personnel break as freshman Maryland WR Juwann Winifree is suspended for Saturday. Old photos. Justin Meram gets a call-up to the Iraq national team. Dilly bar details.

Hokepoints States the Principle of B

Hokepoints States the Principle of B

Submitted by Seth on March 25th, 2014 at 10:09 AM


Tourney face. [Fuller]

Beilein teams go further in the tournament than their seeds. This is known. We've repeated it so often that smart bracketeers even calculate it into their expectations. I've saved the "why" and "wherefore" of this effect for a roundtable question since that gets into the basketball strategy stuff that I'm weak in.

What I can do is build a pivot table out of multiple bits of data; in this case it was lots of schmearing and pasting, column breaks, and vlookups from's bracket history and annual coaches records. The important lesson here is you're supposed to know it was hard.

UPDATE: Here's the raw data.

The first thing I tried was straight-up expectations by seed: top seeds are expected to get to the Final Four, 2-seeds to the Elite Eight; 3- and 4-seeds to the Sweet Sixteen; 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-seeds to the round of 32. The results had Beilein #5 after Brad Stevens of Butler, Sean Miller, and some Mizzou coaches who often had 9 seeds. That suggested there's a problem with my figuring:

wins over exp

I'm expecting 9 and 10 seeds to never advance so they're always in the positive; every time an 8 loses to a 9 it's a hit. The actual distribution is, unsurprisingly, progressive:

seed distribution

With over 1300 teams in my study there's very little deviation from the logarithm. It suggests, for all our complaining, that the committee does a pretty good job.

Seed Exp Wins Seed Exp Wins
1 3.21 9 0.66
2 2.41 10 0.53
3 1.94 11 0.42
4 1.60 12 0.32
5 1.34 13 0.23
6 1.13 14 0.14
7 0.95 15 0.06
8 0.79 16 0.00

Since I'm a history major who had to re-teach himself exponential functions this morning (if predicting basketball games required encyclopedic knowledge of Plantagenets I'd have Ken Pomeroy's job) please go easy on me if I dispense with the other stuff and just use the values Excel returned as a base expectation of tournament victories for each seed (at right). The formula according to Excel:

y= 1.1634Ln(x) + 3.2127

With an expectation for victories now I can get a reasonable comparison versus that, for example a 2-seed that advances to the Sweet 16 has 2 victories minus 2.41 expected = 0.41 fewer wins than they should have. The last thing was to remove coaches who've been to fewer than five tournaments. We're ready to rename March after a coach. But which one?

[Don't act all surprised; you knew I'd make you jump for it.]

Dear Diary is Like a Kind of Torture

Dear Diary is Like a Kind of Torture

Submitted by Seth on March 14th, 2014 at 10:46 AM


Start March.

Bah di-dah di-dah, bah di-dah di-dah, bah di-dah di-dah dah!

Bah di-dah di-dah, bah di-dah di-dah, dah-dah dah-dah-dah-dah [sax]


muppets-cast-240-bvhepub:It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to get things started on the Muppet Show tonight!


Michiganman14: It's time to unleash Stauskas.

B-Nut-GoBlue: It's time to seed B1G right.

muppets-cast-240-bvhepub:It's time for photoshopping and Tom Crean memes tonight!


LSAClassof2000: How did we ever come here? I guess we hit hit field goals!

Jonvalk: Imagine life with Horford, if Morgan chose to go?


: [buh-dum dum dum-dee-dum-dee-dum dum dum]


Bah di-dah di-dah, bah di-dah di-dah, bah di-dah di-dah dah!

L'Carpetron Dookmariot: It's time lacrosse got started.

MGoBlueline: When will hockey get started?


:It's time to get things started on the most sensational, invitational,  eliminational, kenpomational…this is what we call the Muppet Show!


[Jump: a board full of grouchy old hecklers]

muppets-kermit: Yaaayyyyyyy!

Basketballgasm 2013 Liveblog: Dancing All Day Long

Basketballgasm 2013 Liveblog: Dancing All Day Long

Submitted by Seth on March 21st, 2013 at 3:58 PM

We solemnly swear not to be productive today. Work? What work? It is the basketball day of basketballing, and since we don't want to work today either we shall discuss all of this basketballing.

We shall also play games. Liveblog sponsor Draft Street is hosting a FREEROLL game on their site, with a prize of $$$ to the top finishers. For those who haven't FreeRoll-hoopsplayed before, it's just building a team out of the available pool of players. You can pick any player from tomorrow's tournament teams and we'll have the winners by the end of the day. I encourage you to sign up when there's a break in the action—it takes only a minute to make team and hey, free money.

Who's this sponsor? Draft Street, our fantasy sports partner. They host a ton of various fantasy games you play against other users over weekly or daily scoring periods. I like it because I don't have time anymore for long-term fantasy leagues but when I have an off week it's fun to have a few bucks down on something. For those interested in doing more than our freerolls, they're offering 20% on top of your deposits right now.


Draft your team here.


Prevent Chaos. Before you enter, remember your friendly neighborhood Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post.

If you didn't do it above, take a second to draft your team.

bottom sponsor

Bracketology Because It's Bracketology Week

Bracketology Because It's Bracketology Week

Submitted by Seth on March 14th, 2012 at 3:43 PM


If you are filling in your brackets today there are a few good sites out there to help get you un-stuck. WSJ's blind bracket separates you from your biases and just gives you a 5-point scale for hotness, experience, size, offense, defense, and 3-point shooting, plus seed range, RPI and conference profile (HT Skiptoomylou22). Also from the board, user "entirely reasonable" linked Steve Czaban's all-everything pdf bracket. Considering most of these games are 60-40 anyway, choosing teams with pretty looking colors is also a tried and true method of winning your bracket.quickcheater Just ask my friend's wife. #notbitter

My own device is an excel doc I have to rebuild every year that spits out a confidence % based on KenPom, next to supplementary information on injuries and site for that game. Here's that file if you want to use it. Put in the names of the teams to compare and which round (Round 1 is that which begins Thursday; we don't count play-ins) and it should spit out a confidence level and a site for that game. 100% is a 1-seed over a 16-seed, 50% is a pick-'em, and less than that means you're predicting an upset. You're responsible for adjusting your confidence based on injuries and site.

Here's that formula with the first round:

High Seed Low Seed Difference Confidence Site
Atlanta Regional
1 Kentucky 16 W. Kentucky 0.55 100.00% Louisville, Ky.
2 Duke 15 Lehigh 0.18 83.50% Greensboro, N.C.
3 Baylor 14 SD State 0.13 73.43% Albuquerque, N.M.
4 Indiana 13 New Mexico St 0.15 78.06% Portland, Ore.
5 Wichita State 12 VCU 0.12 73.23% Portland, Ore.
6 UNLV 11 Colorado 0.10 69.40% Albuquerque, N.M.
7 Notre Dame 10 Xavier 0.04 56.93% Greensboro, N.C.
8 Iowa State 9 Connecticut 0.03 54.80% Louisville, Ky.
Phoenix Regional      
1 Michigan State 16 Long Island 0.47 100.00% Columbus, Ohio
2 Missouri 15 Norfolk State 0.56 100.00% Omaha, Neb.
3 Marquette 14 Brigham Young 0.10 67.76% Louisville, Ky.
4 Louisville 13 Davidson 0.13 73.34% Portland, Ore.
5 New Mexico 12 Long Beach St 0.08 64.92% Portland, Ore.
6 Murray State 11 Colorado State 0.07 62.43% Louisville, Ky.
7 Florida 10 Virginia 0.02 53.92% Omaha, Neb.
8 Memphis 9 St. Louis 0.03 54.74% Columbus, Ohio
Boston Regional      
1 Syracuse 16 NC Asheville 0.32 100.00% Pittsburgh, Pa.
2 Ohio State 15 Loyola MD 0.37 100.00% Pittsburgh, Pa.
3 Florida State 14 St. Bonaventure 0.09 66.49% Nashville, Tenn.
4 Wisconsin 13 Montana 0.24 94.96% Albuquerque, N.M.
5 Vanderbilt 12 Harvard 0.08 64.45% Albuquerque, N.M.
6 Cincinnati 11 Texas -0.01 47.63% Nashville, Tenn.
7 Gonzaga 10 West Virginia 0.04 56.68% Pittsburgh, Pa.
8 Kansas State 9 Southern Miss 0.14 75.82% Pittsburgh, Pa.
St. Louis Regional      
1 North Carolina 16 Vermont 0.32 100.00% Greensboro, N.C.
--or-- 16 Lamar 0.27 100.00% Greensboro, N.C.
2 Kansas 15 Detroit 0.32 100.00% Omaha, Neb.
3 Georgetown 14 Belmont 0.04 56.67% Columbus, Ohio
4 Michigan 13 Ohio 0.13 73.54% Nashville, Tenn.
5 Temple 12 South Florida 0.07 62.70% Nashville, Tenn.
--or-- 12 California -0.03 43.63% Nashville, Tenn.
6 San Diego St 11 NC State -0.02 45.54% Columbus, Ohio
7 St. Mary's 10 Purdue -0.06 38.80% Omaha, Neb.
8 Creighton 9 Alabama -0.02 45.74% Greensboro, N.C.

I am so happy Michigan missed a 3 seed and thus the most terrifying set of 14s since we put new tires on my grandpa's Cadillac: SD State, BYU, St Bon's, Belmont. Do not want. You've been warned previously of the weird KenPom-Wisconsin love affair; use with caution.

All it really does is convert KenPom differential into a prettier number and sticks that next to other useful info. I figure since a 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed, I could create a constant from the difference between the worst 1 and the best 16 (so a hypothetical matchup of Syracuse and Lamar is 100%). Divide the KenPom difference in the game you're calculating by the constant, multiply that by .5, and add another .5.

The first time I used this thing I won a big pot of gold. Last year I finished behind two of my friends' wives. If you win something you can pledge to the Hail to the Victors Preview fund or something.

Pro Tips: If you're going against only a few people, play it safe; if you're in a large pool, I recommend filling out several brackets each with a major upset and a big run for a middling seed you like. This is because it's easier to win a big pool by getting big points from one team nobody else in the winners circle has than hoping a lot of good early picks can carry you through an end game with 20 other Kentucky-OSU people. Picking a lot of upsets is a bad gamble.

Death From Above: Ohio (The Ohio University of Ohio in Ohio)

Death From Above: Ohio (The Ohio University of Ohio in Ohio)

Submitted by Ace on March 12th, 2012 at 1:40 PM


WHAT Michigan vs Ohio
WHERE Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
WHEN 7:20 PM Eastern
Friday, March 16
LINE M –5 (Kenpom)

"Who are you guys playing in the NCAA tournament?"
"Tough draw."
"No, I mean
Ohio Ohio. You know, the Bobcats, from the MAC."


I'm not saying Michigan dodged a bullet or anything when they slid down to a four-seed, but they dodged a bullet when they slid down to a four-seed. The three seed in the Midwest region, Georgetown, drew KenPom's #23-ranked team, trendy upset pick Belmont. By falling one seed line, Michigan will play their first-round game against #72 Ohio, easing fears of a first-round* upset while simultaneously filling my Twitter timeline with approximately 4,327 terrible Brady Hoke jokes.

Sure, man. Do your thing.

The Bobcats have a pretty balanced offense; eight players average at least 30% of available minutes and six break the 20% usage mark. The go-to guy is 5'11" junior point guard D.J. Cooper, who has the 17th-best assist rate in the country, an average turnover rate (not bad considering his high usage), and some ugly shooting numbers: 39% on twos and 31% on threes. Cooper does get to the line fairly often and hits at 74% from the stripe; the obvious key here is to keep him on the outside shooting jumpers. He appears willing to pull from just about anywhere, and that's perfectly fine if you're Michigan.

6'8", 263-pound center Reggie Keely comes off the bench, but he plays a little over half the team's minutes and is a high-usage guy when he's out there. Keely does most of his work on the offensive boards, where he reels in 12.1% of misses, and he gets to the line with regularity, drawing 4.8 fouls per 40 minutes. Keely isn't an outstanding shooter, connecting on 53% of his twos and 67% of his free throws, and he turns it over with regularity, but Jordan Morgan will have to make sure to keep him off the offensive glass while staying out of foul trouble.

Continuing the trend of guys who get to the line often is 6'3" wing Walter Offutt, who also draws 4.8 fouls/40 minutes but isn't very remarkable in any other statistical category. Offutt hits 35% of his three-pointers while shooting 49% from inside the arc, making him one of the more efficient scorers on the team.

The other two main contributors are a high-usage guy with a terrible ORtg—6'8" forward Ivo Baltic, a strong defensive rebounder who can't shoot free throws and hits under 50% of his twos—and a low-usage guy with a great ORtg in guard Nick Kellogg, a 42% three-point shooter whose statistical profile suggests he's a (very effective) spot-up shooter and not much else. I'm guessing Kellogg draws Hardaway when Michigan is on defense, assuming that Burke and Douglass take the two guards who dominate the ball more, and THJ had better do a good job of closing out.

The rest of the rotation is, well, there. 6'7" forward Jon Smith barely touches the ball while starting and playing nearly half the team's minutes, but he is a plus offensive rebounder and boasts an impressive 8.2 block percentage. Tiny freshman backup point guard Stevie Taylor is nearly as bad a shooter as Cooper and doesn't have the gaudy assist numbers to salvage his efficiency. 6'6" sophomore T.J. Hall actually is a worse shooter than Cooper. I can't find anything worth noting about Ohio's other two bench players save the fact that one is named TyQuane Goard.

*I refuse to use the NCAA nomenclature in which the Thursday/Friday games are "second round" games and Saturday/Sunday marks the "third round." This is stupid. Play-in games are play-in games. GET OFF MY LAWN.


Ohio's resume is severely lacking in the signature win department despite the Bobcats finishing 27-7: according to KenPom, their best victory is a two-point road win against #74 Marshall back in November. Their only other wins over top-100 KenPom teams came in the form of a 17-point road win over #95 Northern Iowa and two defeats of #79 Akron (one a home blowout and the other a one-point squeaker in the MAC title game; the Bobcats also lost by five to the Zips on the road). They do have a victory against the one common opponent shared with Michigan, a two-point win at Oakland, whom the Wolverines beat by ten at the Palace.

The Bobcats lost their only game against a powerhouse program, though falling short by five at #20 Louisville is actually rather impressive. Other losses are the aforementioned Akron road game, a three-point home loss to #141 Robert Morris, and road losses to #123 Bowling Green, #200 Toledo, #279 Eastern Michigan, and #122 Kent State.


Four factors:

Factor Offense (Rk) Defense (Rk) Avg
Effective FG%: 49.0 171 47.2 94 49
Turnover %: 19.7 141 26.7 2 20.3
Off. Reb. %: 35.2 64 33.9 246 32.1
FTA/FGA: 36.6 168 43.5 301 36.4

The Bobcat offense relies largely on their solid offensive rebounding to make up for the fact that only one player can really shoot. Just over 38% of the team's shots come from beyond the arc, a distribution which shouldn't cause problems as long as Cooper and Offutt are the ones shooting and not Kellogg.

Defensively, Ohio plays a high-pressure man-to-man look, going all-out for turnovers. While they've amassed the fourth-best steal rate and second overall turnover % in the country, the Bobcats foul a lot in order to do so—opposing teams produce just under a quarter of their points against Ohio from the free-throw line. They do defend the three rather well, sitting at 19th in the country in opponent 3P% (30.3).


Make sure Trey Burke doesn't play 45 minutes the night before the game. Check.

Make sure Trey Burke can play 45 minutes if necessary. This is not a concern about his gas tank as much as it is D.J. Cooper. Namely, D.J. Cooper's ability to draw an absurd 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes. Burke will guard Cooper, and it's obviously obvious that Michigan needs Burke to not foul that much. He's done a great job this season of avoiding foul issues, and if things get hairy Beilein should be able to switch Douglass onto Cooper without creating a major matchup problem elsewhere, but I'd rather not spend large portions of the game tearing my hair out because Beilein refuses to leave anyone in the game who can remotely be described as being in foul trouble.

Okay, now work the pick-and-roll. An aggressive man defense like Ohio's means Michigan isn't going to create open jumpers simply by working the ball around the perimeter, so successfully taking advantage of defensive pressure via the screen is imperative. We'll see if the Bobcats comes out and hedge hard—I'd guess yes—and if they do, Jordan Morgan could be the key to this game. Ohio only has one decent shot-blocking presence and he's 6'7", 190 pounds; let Morgan slip the pick and see if anyone can stop him on the roll.

Good Hardaway. Please show up. Ohio's main perimeter players all check in at 6'3" or shorter, meaning Timmy should be able to shoot/jump right over these guys. The problem will be the temptation to shoot over them while standing still 25 feet away from the basket. With Ohio's propensity for steals and Hardaway's tendency to cough the ball up in traffic, it would be best if Michigan tried to work him off the ball and free him up that way instead of letting him try to create on his own.

Let Ohio's chuckers chuck. As long as it isn't coming from right next to the basket, any D.J. Cooper shot seems like a good one for Michigan. Offutt isn't a whole lot more efficient while the backup guards are simply not good at putting the ball through the basket. Meanwhile, Kellogg is rather deadly from beyond the arc and the Bobcats crash the boards well. The Wolverines would be best served denying Kellogg the ball while sagging off the other shooters, encouraging Ohio to settle for shooting from deep—Cooper seems to have no issue with that—and making sure they don't get killed on the glass.


Michigan by five.

Mailbag: Tourney Prospects, OL Flipping, MANBALL Re-evaluating

Mailbag: Tourney Prospects, OL Flipping, MANBALL Re-evaluating

Submitted by Brian on March 6th, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Basketball: really as good as all that?

Via UMHoops

Now, it doesn't matter for the Big Ten regular is what it is, we went 13-5, and earned a share of the title.  But what does it mean for the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA?

Ask yourself this question when it comes to evaluating the Michigan season...was it a solid 13-5 or a weak 13-5?  Was it a 13-5 that with a few breaks was 15-3?  Or was it a 13-5 with a bunch of breaks that could have easily been 10-8?  Which of those is more representative of the basketball we saw this year?  Death from above in the two tournaments?

Northwestern looms.  Twice we played them.  Twice we went overtime with them. Could have lost both.  Didn't. Positives to be sure.  But who shows up come Friday? …

To me, happy we share the title.  Not convinced at this point we are as good as either of those other two teams.  Proud of the heart, proud of the overall result.  Concerned about the two tourneys.

Bluntly, Michigan was not as good as either of the two teams they tied with. You can see that in the efficiency margins:

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Ohio St.         13-5   65.4    1.10    0.93    +0.17
2.  Michigan St.     13-5   62.5    1.08    0.92    +0.16
3.  Wisconsin        12-6   58.0    1.03    0.97    +0.06
4.  Michigan         13-5   58.9    1.06    1.01    +0.05
5.  Indiana          11-7   65.4    1.11    1.06    +0.05
6.  Purdue           10-8   64.0    1.10    1.09    +0.01
7.  Northwestern     8-10   61.0    1.08    1.12    -0.04
8.  Minnesota        6-12   62.6    1.00    1.04    -0.04
9.  Iowa             8-10   65.8    1.03    1.09    -0.06
10. Illinois         6-12   63.7    0.97    1.05    -0.08
11. Penn St.         4-14   62.3    0.97    1.10    -0.13
12. Nebraska         4-14   61.9    0.93    1.09    -0.16

Kenpom will confirm that for you: it has MSU and OSU #2 and #3 behind Kentucky with Michigan idling at 20.

Meanwhile, going 13-5 would not have netted Michigan a title in any other year since the Big Ten went back to 18 games. Most years they wouldn't even be within a game. There's no denying they were fortunate to end up where they are now. Michigan lost one close Big Ten game (@ Indiana, 73-71) and won four to six (NW x 2, MSU, Purdue, maybe Minnesota and OSU depending on how you feel about five-point games). You can grub grub grub about will to win and finding ways to win and winning is for winners; I don't buy that stuff.

In terms of efficiency margin and Kenpom rankings, Michigan is about where we'd hoped they'd be before the season: slightly improved despite the loss of Darius Morris, short of truly contending for a conference title. In terms of wins they're a three seed and a Big Ten champ.

I don't say this to bring anyone down. It's wonderful. For this team to accomplish what they have is fantastic, and at this point anything after winning a 3-14 matchup in the first round is gravy.

I do think they'll be a particularly vulnerable three, though, and won't be surprised to see them flame out in the second round*. I also won't let that damage the wonderful run they went on to erase a lot of bad streaks. From a logical perspective I get the "concern"; from an emotional perspective it went from 90% house money to 110% as soon as Buford hit that shot. The worst that happens is Michigan State fans say "see you weren't really a Big Ten champ." This will not prevent the banner from going up.


*[I'm not predicting that by any means. Michigan gave Duke all they wanted last year and a hypothetical second-round opponent will be much worse than the Blue Devils were last year. Beilein is a consistent outperformer when he reaches the tourney.

HOWEVA, I do loathe the prospect of drawing a couple of the current six-seeds in Jerry Palm's bracket. They are all dangerous mid-majors: UNLV, New Mexico, Wichita State, and St. Mary's. In Kenpom's eyes that's two teams better than Michigan (Wichita, New Mexico) and two who are a dozen or so spots worse (UNLV, St. Mary's).

You may remember the Dohrmann UCLA article mentioning the success of a couple transfers out of the program: that's basically UNLV. Chace Stanback is a 6'8" guy hitting 47% from three; Mike Moser is a 6'8" guy in the top ten in defensive rebounding with high usage and an inside-out game.

I find Palm's fives a lot more palatable: Louisville (#30 Kenpom), FSU (#28), SDSU (#51), and Creighton(#35). No matter what I expect a second-round nailbiter.]

The golden child's effect on the OL.

Brian or Ace or Anybody;

I am confused, when talking about o-line prospects in the 2012 or 2013 class, some say "Fox makes an ideal RT" or "LT-T is the prototype Left Tackle.". Is the fact that Shane "Obama circa 2008" Morris is a southpaw baked into the projections as to who plays where on the OL?  Wouldn't the proto LT be moved to RT for a lefty QB, or no?

Are you and your Bloggy ilk keeping this in mind, does it make a difference for a lefty qb?

Reid McCarthy

I don't think it matters much. Many players at Michigan and elsewhere have flipped from right to left tackle without a problem; when Morris becomes the starter Michigan will put their best pass protector at right tackle and he'll adjust over the course of an offseason. Jake Long switched from right to left after his first year as a starter; Mike Schofield was pressed into service as a left guard after practicing mostly at tackle and did fine.

There might be some slight issues if Morris is either in (because of Gardner injury) or out (because of a Morris injury) of the lineup unexpectedly. In that case you probably wouldn't want to screw up the line's performance by flipping them mid-game and will be exposing either Morris's or his backup's blind side to slightly worse protection. That's life.

Even if that happens it doesn't look like there's going to be a huge difference between the starting tackles at any point in the near future. Whoever the #2 guy is will have beaten out an array of 6'5"-6'7" blue chips. This is not going to be Jake Long opposite Rueben Riley. It's going to be Almost Jake Long opposite Decent Approximation Of Jake Long.

MANBALL concerns revisited.




You have argued over the past several years that you think Michigan will be at a talent disadvantage compared to teams like Ohio and SEC oversigners like Alabama, so long as the status quo persists. You've also argued that, schematically, the best way to deal with this deficit is the spread offense. I am curious if you think Hoke (and Borges) can build an offense in their mold that can truly compete on the national stage. What do you think it will take in terms of recruiting and scheme to be a legitimate contender for the national championship? Do you think that we have the ability to recruit the offensive talent we need to contend for a national title? Or is it perhaps too early to tell?

Obviously an elite defense, which I think we are building, mitigates the need for an elite offense, but recent BCS title games have demonstrated that you can't rely on just defense to win that game. Ultimately I am asking what combination of scheme and talent you think we need to achieve in order to win the national championship.

All the best,

My concerns about Michigan's ceiling have been blown away by Hoke's early recruiting returns. If Michigan is bringing in top five classes consistently—Hoke's already two for two a month into his second class—and is approaching games with the controlled aggression that Hoke, Mattison, and Borges displayed in their first year, there is no reason they can't run a conventional offense and compete for national titles.

When you have a huge talent advantage or are Wisconsin you can line up and beat heads in: top ten FEI offenses* this year include Wisconsin, Stanford, and USC. Alabama was #11. All you need to replicate that is a ton of NFL guys on the line, an NFL quarterback, and some NFL skill guys. Check, check, well… we'll see.

I get the vibe from your email that you're a bit skeptical of Michigan's skill position recruiting. I think that's premature. Shane Morris is a Henne-level QB recruit. Michigan did pick up a consensus four-star in Amara Darboh at WR and came close to flipping Brionte Dunn; this year they've got a top 100 tight end (for now, anyway—Butt will probably fall into the 100-200 range as the year progresses) and seem to lead for a couple five-star types in Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell. If Hoke lands those guys Michigan's weak spot in the 2012 and 2013 classes is…



…uh… cornerback? For now, anyway.

Even if one of those two guys escapes we're still 11 months from Signing Day; more targets will emerge. It seems like Michigan's going to be able to focus a lot of attention on any holes they have in the class come, oh, May.

My main concern with Michigan's scheme going forward is a potential over-reliance on a fullback. It seems like most pro-styles have moved to double TE sets. See this Chris Brown article on Alabama's very MANBALL, very NC-worthy offense. I hope that's where Michigan's going, too. Tight ends threaten defenses vertically in a way that fullbacks do not; they're better athletes, generally, and better targets for downfield passes. Fullbacks… eh.

I think this is also where Michigan's going. Their TE recruiting is massive—they're looking for a fifth in two years—and there's clear distinction between guys like Jake Butt and Khalid Hill, a 6'2", 230 pound guy designated a "U-back" or "move tight end" according to TomVH.

So, like, whatever. My beefs 14 months into the Hoke era are "that one punt against Illinois" and "taking a scholarship fullback." Oh, and the complete implosion of the offense in a couple games. But that's not a long term issue.

Hoke has dumped game-changer after game-changer on us since his hire to the point where the internet is making memes like this…


Ben Gedeon's visiting, you say?

…if we're feeling for a ceiling it's a bit hard to find right now. One will probably come, but there's no reason to go looking for it just yet.


*[I know FEI put up some weird results this year what with Navy and Miami in the top ten as well but it at least tries to account for strength of schedule and pace of play; FWIW, Stanford was 8th in total yardage, Wisconsin 14th, USC 21st, 'Bama 31st.

Also, as long as you're down here, how about Paul Chryst? I predict Wisconsin has a noticeable dropoff in his absence.]