Hoops Preview: Nebraska, Big Ten Tournament

Hoops Preview: Nebraska, Big Ten Tournament

Submitted by Brian on March 2nd, 2018 at 11:22 AM

1519053162_8b3432a8d86bd1c87964db8dbb164883THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #16 Michigan (25-7) vs
#50 Nebraska (22-9)
WHERE Madison Square Garden
New York, NY
WHEN 2:30 PM
LINE Michigan –4 (KenPom)
TV BTN

ayyyyyyy i'm rappaporting over heah

THE US

Michigan slid by Iowa in overtime yesterday and now looks to punch their five-seed card (probably? maybe?) against Nebraska, which sits inconveniently just outside the top 50 bin that would offer a Q1 win at a neutral court. But still.

They get a rested Cornhuskers outfit that hamblasted them in their only meeting of the year, so this should be a tight one. If Michigan can't improve it's three point shooting from the opener—and the first game—it won't be.

THE LINEUP CARD

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.

Note: all MPG numbers from Nebraska's last five games as that is more representative.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 5 Glynn Watson Jr. 6'0, 173 78 22 99 Yes
39/28 shooter has excellent A:TO ratio. Let him shoot.
G 11 Anton Gill Sr. 6'3, 195 56 15 115 No
Just A Shooter hitting 39%.
F 24 James Palmer Jr. 6'6, 210 81 29 110 Sort of
Has amped up alpha-ness since last meeting. Huge FT rate, 52% on a lot of unassisted twos.
F 13 Isaac Copeland Sr. 6'3, 195 85 20 115 No
Good-at-bad-shots guy hits 44% on 2PJ that are half his shots. Range out to 3.
C 14 Isaiah Roby Jr. 6'8, 225 76 18 120 No
Guards 1-5 w top 100 block rate. Busted out in B10 play, 125 ORTG and top FT rate in conference.
G 15 Evan Taylor So. 6'5, 208 49 18 113 No
Baffling gent shoots 43/47 but has ~85% of his usage from two. Gets to line.
C 32 Jordy Tshimanga So. 6'11, 268 34 20 85 Very
Remains miserable on O. 6.9 fouls/40. Huge OREB rate is main contribution.
G 12 Thomas Allen Fr. 6'1, 180 15 18 96 No
Literally the only bench player < 6'5". Role has shrunk to 6 MPG of late.

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

Nads!

Nads!

Submitted by Brian on January 19th, 2018 at 11:20 AM

1/18/2018 – Michigan 52, Nebraska 72 – 16-5, 5-3 Big Ten

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obligatory

A proper kick in the nads, that was. The only good thing about it was I can deploy "nads" and reminisce about those middle school days that... were completely horrible, as all middle school days are. Nevermind. But "nads" is a zesty word all the same. Nads. Nads. Aching nads. And so forth and so on.

Nebraska switched everything and it went better for them than it did for Purdue last week. Wagner was unable to get a shot up despite being checked by Punky Brewster for large sections of the game, and the pull-up in-your-face threes that Michigan used to close their second half gap against the Boilers never materialized. Instead, many many turnovers as Michigan tried to drive. The Daily:

“They switched everything. On every screen,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “Roby allows them to do that. I don’t know if it would be successful with the big guys, but that’s a thing we’re going to see again from many teams. And we saw it actually all at the end of last year, and we’ve got to continue to develop what we do in that situation.”

Last season, the play had a more obvious solution. The Wolverines had Derrick Walton Jr., who could simply blow by a bigger defender, often making them look silly along the way. This year’s team has yet to find somebody who can make those plays consistently.

That latter point was driven home when Michigan, desperate for anything resembling offense, went with a MAAR-Poole backcourt for much of the second half. Zavier Simpson's offensive renaissance came to a screeching halt—one three pointer after an offensive rebound scramble and nothing else. Last year, the power mushroom version of Derrick Walton would have eviscerated that. This year, not so much.

The weaknesses Michigan had seemingly developed their way out of clawed their way back to the surface, except even the weaker version of this team from earlier in the year didn't gift wrap ten first-half points with open court turnovers. Nobody's transition defense is good in a two-on-one situation. Add it all up and it's a tender morning in Nadslandia. The land of nads.

Hopefully Michigan can trundle through Rutgers at home to finish up this stupid-ass part of the schedule—thanks, Delany—and then get a proper rest, during which they can spend all their time prepping for what happens when all screens get switched. Because that is what they will see until they can beat it.

Hoops Preview: Nebraska

Hoops Preview: Nebraska

Submitted by Brian on January 18th, 2018 at 12:32 PM

460xTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #18 Michigan (16-4) vs
#85 Nebraska (14-5)
WHERE The Bank
Lincoln, Nebraska
WHEN 9 PM EST
LINE Michigan –4 (KenPom)
Michigan –4.5 (Vegas)
TV BTN

Some men should not wear hats. Welcome to the club, Tim Miles.

THE US

Michigan's packed week continues with a winnable-but-also-loseable road contest against Nebraska. You're probably thinking "Nebraska, pah!" after beating MSU and going toe to toe with future one seed Purdue, but Kenpom only gives Michigan a 63% shot at a win here.

This is a sneaky swing game for the season. Win, and take care of business against Rutgers at home and Michigan goes into Mackey seeking an upset that would mean game on for a Big Ten title chase. Lose and Michigan's playing for seeding the rest of the year.

THE LINEUP CARD

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 5 Glynn Watson Jr. 6'0, 173 72 24 100 Sort of
Excellent A:TO ratio; defensive pickpocket. Inefficient, especially from two (42%). Gets stuck with the late clock shots.
G 13 Anton Gill Sr. 6'3, 195 52 16 122 Not at all
Just A Shooter canning 46% from deep.
F 11 Evan Taylor Sr. 6'5, 208 69 15 107 Not at all
Low usage wing gets to the line frequently and is also hitting 46% from 3, but on just 28 attempts.
F 24 James Palmer Jr. 6'6, 210 72 28 106 Sort of
Meh alpha dog. 30% usage in Big Ten. Drawing 6.2 fouls/40, needs to get to line to be efficient.
F 14 Isaac Copeland Jr. 6'9, 221 72 20 109 Yes
Stretch four except he's hitting 28% on 3s, and playing a lot of center. Excellent on 2PT jumpers.
F 15 Isaiah Roby So. 6'8, 225 49 18 113 No
Bouncy low usage post has top 100 block rate and 20% DREB rate, unremarkable otherwise.
C 32 Jordy Tshimanga So. 6'11, 268 34 20 85 Very
True C is miserable offensively and fouls a ton. Excellent OREB guy. Missed Nebraska's last game, availability questionable.
G 12 Thomas Allen Fr. 6'1, 180 27 19 106 No
Literally the only bench player < 6'8". Reasonably effective in 15 minutes a game.

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

Unverified Voracity Embeds Epic Oskee Again

Unverified Voracity Embeds Epic Oskee Again

Submitted by Brian on August 24th, 2016 at 2:58 PM

Ace took the best joke for this section. Tim Beck Man returns!

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — As the one-year anniversary of his firing at Illinois approaches, Tim Beckman has a new gig.

North Carolina officials confirmed Tuesday that Beckman is a volunteer assistant on Larry Fedora’s staff.

The Tar Heels play at Memorial Stadium in a prime-time game on Sept. 10.

Since Beck Man was referenced we are obligated to embed his greatest achievement despite the fact that nobody seems to watch this when we do:

That has just 8500 views and most of them are from the MGoStaff. Anyway:

The K stands for the coffee he fetches.

Around the league some more. More things keep happening. They're mostly not great for the opposition because the only solid news coming out of camp concerns guys who aren't going to play anymore:

  • Wisconsin OL Dan Voltz is forced to retire due to injury. Voltz was very good as a underclassman before an injury-wracked junior year saw a major dropoff. He was slated to start at guard.
  • Nebraska lost projected starting left guard Jerald Foster to an ACL tear.
  • Redshirt freshman DE Cassius Peat transferred away from Michigan State. Peat was a 3.5 star recruit. Academics appear to be the issue.
  • MSU QBs are going to run more this year, because they are bad at throwing.
  • Kirk Ferentz is a bit peeved that Drew Ott didn't get a fifth year despite the fact he was in the exact same situation as Mario Ojemudia. Both got injured a few snaps after they could not get an injury redshirt, and the NCAA doesn't bend on that.
  • On the other hand, this Tanner Lee thing is weird. The Nebraska QB and Tulane transfer got a sixth year of eligibility. Ferentz says it's because Tulane changed OCs, but it's a bit more complicated. Lee used a bylaw that "addresses student-athletes who feel they were 'run off' by a school." If he actually did not have a scholarship any more that would be a legit reason to give him the year he lost by transferring.
  • Indiana blog Punt John Punt projects JUCO transfer Richard Lagow as IU's starting QB.

BEHOLD THE THROW-GODDENING. Trevor Siemian has broken out of the funk where he is only an unstoppable throw-god when I am watching him play. Now he is unstoppable throw god 24/7:

The Broncos are going to die this season, aren't they?

The decline of daily fantasy. Long feature article from Outside The Lines on that brief period when every ad on ESPN was from DraftKings or FanDuel. Things got so oversaturated that we were annoyed with them despite the fact that DraftKings was paying us. I still have no problem with the business model—I played online poker successfully for years until a late rider was inserted into a port security bill that banned it. (I played in the WSOP main event, which was fun until it wasn't late on day two.) Daily fantasy was very, very close to that model. This kind of negative…

Yet they relentlessly promoted their games as a means to get rich quick when they knew only a tiny percentage of their customers were winning more often than losing.

…is something literally every state is guilty of with their lottery programs, and this one…

They failed to aggressively move against big-bankrolled players who dominated newer players, sometimes with predatory behavior or technological advantages.

…is actually an argument that daily fantasy is a game of skill.

But those companies were run by guys with huge blindspots and questionable ethics, so they blew it all up. This is indefensible:

And they allowed their own employees to play -- and win millions -- on their rivals' sites, despite their having access to odds-improving proprietary data.

During the online poker boom there were always new sites popping up and scamming people, so the big players strove to be as transparent and honest as possible. Daily Fantasy is poker if PokerStars and PartyPoker were rife with actual cheats, and the one thing you cannot do when collecting a rake is allow any impropriety that will sic attorneys general on you. This is on point:

"This industry blew up so quickly -- no one adequately planned or prepared for it," says Gabriel Harber, 29, a former high-volume player at DraftKings and FanDuel. "[The executives] didn't make the substantial investment on self-regulation and the regulatory side that was obviously needed. ... Every PR person and lawyer should be fired. How could you let your client engage in this kind of crazy advertising if every legal loophole wasn't closed? How stupid can you be?"

The execs brought it all on themselves.

Etc.: OSU blogs will post literally anything. That's the ticket, Rutgers basketball. WTKA adds an afternoon show with Jamie Morris and Marcus Ray. They've gone from four hours of live local content to nine over the past month. Not bad. LSSU faculty head wants hockey to drop down to D-III. #disrespekt will never die. Hugh Freeze created a mock funeral for himself, because motivation? Don Brown says his defense isn't high risk because it isn't.

Unverified Voracity Breaks Comma Usage Portion Of Brain

Unverified Voracity Breaks Comma Usage Portion Of Brain

Submitted by Brian on June 21st, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Scouting Charles Matthews. Scout's Xavier site put together an uncommonly useful reel from Matthews's freshman year at Kentucky:

They don't cover some of the downsides, which comprise almost everything that can go in a Kenpom profile. Matthews had vanishingly small usage, turned the ball over a lot—although low usage will magnify TORate on a small number of TOs—and shot just 42% from the free throw line. All of these numbers have a low sample size, but it's clear Beilein has his work cut out for him developing the offensive side of Matthews's game.

Hudson destroys all comers. Pennsylvania's Big 33 game against Maryland was a few days ago*. Pennsylvania featuring an array of D-I talent. Most of the top guys from PA were there, including five-star PSU RB Miles Sanders, USC TE Cary Angeline, a half-dozen Pitt commits, and Slippery Rock DT Clark Wilford. Hudson blew these dudes out of the water. Hudson was the game MVP per the announcers (the organizers gave it to Sanders) and his coach raved about him to Chris Balas:

“He is an absolute freak,” Pennsylvania head coach Mike Matta of Downingtown East High said. “I didn’t look in advance to see if he’s a three-star, four-star, five-star or what, but I saw the film before the game, and when he got here … I can’t believe he got out of the state. Actually, I can’t believe everybody in the world didn’t make this kid a priority. There’s nothing he can’t do … and what he can do is just outrageous.”

Pitt partisans can only sigh and put weird commas everywhere at his escape:

Doing us all a favor, I'll get the Khaleke Hudson portion out of the way, first. If you watched the game, you undoubtedly understand the reference.  "There's that number 21, again…" … seemed to be the only player on the field, tonight.

Various reporters we like… dang:

Hudson had a ridiculous punt return that was wiped out by penalty and thus not included in the clips VSN TV posted to YouTube.

*[Ohio dumped their traditional matchup in the Big 33 game because they kept getting housed, then tried playing Michigan, got housed a couple times, and has now given up entirely.]

Hawkins wobble: stand down? Brad Hawkins was recently the subject of a bunch of internet rumormongering based on the fact that he scrubbed his twitter page of any Michigan mentions and was not yet in the student directory—everyone else is accounted for. Ominous, but unless something drastic happened in the last few days it seems like it's a false alarm. Philly.com just named him their South Jersey player of the year, and the article to accompany the honor is pretty explicit about Hawkins's near future:

Hawkins has signed to attend the University of Michigan on a football scholarship. He plans to depart Friday for Ann Arbor to begin summer workouts.

Hawkins, who also is a strong student, stood outside the fence at Camden's football field at Farnham Park the other day and marveled at the speed with which his high school career had passed.

If he's not on campus by this weekend then you can start running in circles.

Man did I biff this one. The Swiss national team had a jersey blowout reminiscent of the various issues Michigan had a couple years back, and one of the infinite Swiss soccer players with an X in his name seriously outperformed yours truly when trying to snap back at the clothing company:

The shortage of action in France and Switzerland’s dull 0-0 draw in Lille on Sunday night prompted increased attention on deficient equipment, with Swiss kits tearing easier than paper and the winger Xherdan Shaqiri telling Blick: “I hope Puma does not produce condoms.”

Can't win 'em all. /kicks dirt

While the company in question here is Puma, the Only Incompetent Germans couldn't let a fiasco like this go by without getting involved:

Adidas were also left red-faced when one of their Beau Jeu footballs burst when Antoine Griezmann was challenged by Valon Behrami. One of Griezmann’s studs appeared to put a hole in the ball. The balls retail at £105.

Nike stuff will be available at Moe's in just under two months, everybody.

A minor fan revolt in Nebraska. Via GTP, the Cornhuskers made some news a few weeks ago when some Nebraska season tickets actually went on sale to the public. The local paper took the opportunity to interview some discontents in Lincoln. Nebraska has a get-in-the-door fee of 2500 that is causing a lot of people to balk:

Aaron says: “How many people out there are able to pony up a $2,500 donation per seat — or even $2,000 for seats in the east balcony? Drop that down to something people are more comfortable with and they’ll go in a heartbeat. The desire of fans to see NU play is still there, but the price of attendance has to be rationalized. (Shawn) Eichorst is no dummy, he’ll get it figured out.”

The rub is, these donations have been factored into the NU athletic budget for years. Take them out, or reduce them, and what fills the void? Scott has a thought:

“I can’t believe that the donations that would go away couldn’t be replaced by a $40 million Big Ten annual check.”

Scott also reminded: “In a previous century, considering the fact that 1) we were winning national championships, and 2) every game was not on TV, you could charge a donation to get tickets.”

This guy nails one of the worst feelings the Brandon regime imposed on Michigan fans:

“What really makes me hate the streak are those signs at the stadium: ‘Through these gates pass the greatest fans in college football.’ It’s a guilt trip from the A.D.’s office. ... Don’t tell me I don’t love my team just because I won’t fall for what amounts to ‘emotional extortion’ in an attempt to separate me from my cash in the name of preserving this farce of a streak. Like any relationship, it works both ways."

It's a harsh world when supporting the team that you love simultaneously makes you feel like a rube. College football is trending away from that somewhat with better nonconference schedules, but seemingly only because they have to. If Nebraska's having trouble selling out you know there's something afoot in the wider college football world.

ESPN holds on. The other half of the Big Ten package goes for some dollars as well:

ESPN will pay an average of $190 million per year over six years for essentially half the conference’s media rights package, according to several sources close to the talks. Two months ago, Fox Sports agreed to take the other half of the package for an average of $240 million per year. CBS Sports also has told the conference that it will renew its basketball-only package for $10 million per year.

This is stoking Nebraska fans' ire when they see that windfall and compare it to their pocketbooks. For the league itself it clearly separates the SEC and the Big Ten from the rest of the Power 5, for as much as that actually helps them compete. Survey says… not much. NCAA rules induce a lot of inefficient substitutions that can't overcome proximity.

I wonder if the Big Ten will sit on a big chunk of this money in case the landscape isn't as friendly in six years when these deals expire. At that point it'll be more clear what shape the new media landscape is taking and how much money they can spend without overcommitting to a model that could come apart.

The FOX deal gives them first choice of games, so expect a lot of Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt over the next few years. OSU/Michigan is headed to FOX.

2017 athletic budget items. Michigan is back to break even after some big deficits at the end of the Brandon tenure. The new Nike contract and the return of the International Champions' Cup are aids:

Budgeted corporate sponsorship revenues are projected to increase by $1.49 million due to a new apparel agreement.

• Budgeted facility revenues are projected to increase by $1.4 million due to a special event in Michigan Stadium following a fiscal year with no such events.

Manuel's approach to his budget is slightly different than his predecessor's:

"It's not my mindset to say we're going to use Michigan Stadium to make money," he said Thursday following his budget presentation to the Regents. "We want to look at opportunities where they exist, but I don't step in with a philosophy of, I want to use Michigan Stadium to drive more revenue."

It's fine to use Michigan Stadium to drive more revenue as long as that revenue isn't 1) bankrupting student organizations or 2) flooding commercial breaks at Michigan Stadium with ads for weddings. Extra events are a good thing.

Etc.: Michigan's top newcomer will be a HUGE SURPRISE TO YOU if you just arrived from space from 50 years in the past because of time dilation. NCAA might cut satellite camp window to ten days. That's a more reasonable restriction than zero. Satellite camps cost 0.02 percent of Michigan's athletic department budget. Pride comes before the fall.

Draftageddon 2015: The Braxton Conundrum

Draftageddon 2015: The Braxton Conundrum

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

Four_Horsemen_by_MarkWilkinson1

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."

THAT WHICH HAS COME BEFORE

Previously on Draftageddon:

THAT WHICH IS THE CURRENT SITUATION

image

image

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

braxton-miller620a[1]

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

michael-caputo[1]

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

Eric-Murray[1]osufb-3-16-art-gh8rijts-1osu13buf-ac-62[1]

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.

[After THE JUMP: WE ARE CERTAINLY OUT OF BUCKEYES THIS TIME]

Unverified Voracity Has Many Hues

Unverified Voracity Has Many Hues

Submitted by Brian on July 24th, 2015 at 12:55 PM

WHAT COLOR IS THIS MAN. Adidas released some uniformz for Nebraska that are as goofy as they usually are. I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about what color this person is.

Screen_Shot_2015-07-23_at_9.15.29_AM.0[1]

Look at this person's face. That's weird. I guess he's put eyeblack everywhere in an effort to look like a big and tough and maybe remind people of the Ultimate Warrior. You can see that at the edge of his face his skin tone goes back to the lighter shade of his nose.

Now look at this person's arms.

!!!

The Braxton move. If you've followed the first few rounds of Draftageddon you know that Ohio State is basically 1969 Ohio State again. So they've moved a guy who was on Heisman short lists last year as a QB to WR, just cuz:

Miller’s fallback plan has become a reality, as he told SI.com on Thursday night that he plans to start the 2015 season playing H-Back—a hybrid receiver position—for the Buckeyes. Miller hasn’t completely closed the door on playing quarterback, as he estimates that he’ll spend 80% of the time during training camp at receiver and 20% with the quarterbacks. But Miller said with more than two months until he’ll be completely healthy at quarterback, he’s approaching this season as primarily a wide receiver.

"H-back" means a different thing in Urban Meyer's offense than it does in Hoke or Harbaugh's. This is not Wyatt Shallman. This is Percy Harvin.

That does chop down on the "yes, but" Michigan fans are preparing after they saw Devin Gardner's somewhat amateurish attempt to play WR. Miller's going to be an option on a bunch of running plays and get targeted on screens. He is not going to be asked to track balls over his shoulder after lining up on a cornerback—at least not much. That makes his move depressingly plausible.

It also opens up the kind of trick plays you last saw eight-year-olds come up with at the family picnic. Dude.

I have an easy way to fix this. Nobody knows what a catch is anymore. I don't have to tell Lions fans this, of course. Michigan's also had their brushes with the gray area against Virginia Tech and Iowa. The NFL's attempt to fix things:

The problem here is that this is not an algorithm for determining if it is a catch. You need a function. This is an NFL function, FWIW.

function isitacatch(feet_down, touchy_feely_vars){

if (feet_down < 2)

     return false;

if (feet_down > 2)

     return true;

if (feet_down == 2)

     did the ball touch the ground? return false;
     did the receiver bobble the ball such that he had to re-catch it while out of bounds?
     return false;

return true;

}

College version is the same except you return false only on feet_down < 1 and check the touchy-feely on 1 or 2. Also I know you don't need the last if statement.

The VT and Iowa plays above should not have to go to extraordinarily long replays subject to announcer debate. Both of them touched the ground. You have one job as a receiver: don't let it touch the ground.

At some point you have accomplished that job. That point is currently determined by feelingsball instead of "you took another step," which is pretty close to definitive. Engineers should write these things, not lawyers.

Gary Andersen sipping tea. Wisconsin has shot down one of their top recruits:

Incoming freshman running back Jordan Stevenson was denied admission to the University of Wisconsin, according to a report by 247sports.com.

Stevenson, a four-star prospect who was considered one of the Badgers’ top recruits for the 2015 class, confirmed on Twitter that his recruitment is open to any Division I program.

“#Badgernation Thanks for all the love also all the support through all I have been through much love,” Stevenson tweeted.

That's a bizarre situation. Players do occasionally get rejected by the NCAA clearinghouse, but in those cases the player heads to JUCO. Stevenson is apparently trying to find a landing spot this fall. And when serious academic schools who are serious reject players for reasons other than "you are literally not eligible to play", they do it before, say, late July.

If Stevenson does end up on campus this fall (Arkansas?), Gary Andersen's shocking jump to Oregon State will look pretty justified. It's one thing to deny entry to a player. It's another to do it now, months after he signed a LOI.

The wave, 1984. They were super excited about new technology back in the day:

According to Wikipedia, Michigan brought the wave back from a game against Washington in 1983. A letter to the editor claimed that it stuck because

"There are three reasons why the wave caught on at Michigan Wolverine games: It gave the fans something to do when the team was leading its opponent by 40 points, it was thrilling and exciting to see 105,000 people in the stands moving and cheering, and Bo Schembechler asked us not to do it."

From Michigan it spread to the Tigers, and when the Tigers won the World Series that year it was on TV a ton. The rest is history.

Indiana, 1980. Not competitive.

Etc.: Roundtree gets a job at CSU-Pueblo with Jeff Hecklinski.

Draftageddon 2015: Still Huddled, Muttering 24-12

Draftageddon 2015: Still Huddled, Muttering 24-12

Submitted by Brian on July 23rd, 2015 at 12:07 PM

Four_Horsemen_by_MarkWilkinson1

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:

CURRENT STATUS

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ACE: Round 4, Pick 2: Jack Conklin, OT, MSU

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OFFENSE: WR Michael Thomas (OSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU)
DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU)

Michigan State has assembled a strong offensive line, finishing 7th in adjusted sack rate and 28th in adjusted line yards last year, and the strongest piece of that line is left tackle Jack Conklin, who went from recruiting unknown to a possible franchise tackle:

It has been well-documented that Cook and Calhoun might have been first-round picks had they declared for the upcoming draft, but according to Kiper, the same might have been true about the less-heralded Conklin.

"I think he's a first-round caliber, yes I do,'' Kiper said on his Wednesday conference call, asked about Conklin's upside. "I think Brandon Scherff from Iowa, not much separating Scherff from Conklin, and some may even think that Conklin is a more highly rated player.

"(Conklin) was on my radar because I thought maybe he'll come out, because he has such a high grade, but by going back, you're looking at an elite of the elite. Jack Conklin has a chance to be a very very high first round pick, certainly the first offensive tackle off the board.''

The former walk-on has allowed only 2.5 sacks in his 27 career games, which include 23 consecutive starts at LT. Ohio State's fearsome pass rush produced just one sack against MSU last year; that came from DT Michael Bennett. Only Baylor DE/Terminator Shawn Oakman gave Conklin much in the way of trouble last season, and nobody else's team in this exercise has a Shawn Oakman, let alone a Joey Bosa.

SETH: Round 4, Pick 3:  Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

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OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut)
DEFENSE: HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich)

I'm going off the premise that I'm being judged on what Carroo accomplishes with Connor Cook throwing to him. But it's not like any of the 94 targets he turned into 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns were made easy by Gary Nova.

There are two schools of thought on the "Carroo did a lot of that on broken plays" theory. Ace gave you one. Here's another: behind a turnstile offensive line, Gary FRIGGIN NOVA was the third most efficient passer in the Big Ten last year, in large part because running around like Miley Cyrus then chucking it at Carroo and three defenders was a totally efficient thing to do.

I scouted this guy for last year's draft because Bill Connelly's targeting (YPT, NEY, RYPR) stats made Carroo pop out among the conference's best. I didn't end up taking Leonte then because the majority of his yards were against lightweights. Carroo still torched bad defenses (151 yards vs. WSU, 140 on Tulane, 125 on Indiana) in 2014, but also had 84 yards on 6 catches while matched against Jordan Lucas, 5 for 100 against Doran Grant, and 6 for 104 on Will Likely. Trae Waynes got the better of him (1 catch for 6 yards on 5 targets); Michigan stuck a safety over him and got bombed everywhere else. He finished top 10 in the country in all three of Connelly's imperfect metrics, indistinguishable from Lippett.

Michael Thomas is an excellent Avant; Carroo as a junior was more comparable to Braylon at his age (67 catches, 1035 yards 10 TDs). Yes, with the occasional drops. Still a highly dangerous weapon I didn't think would slip to me.

ADAM: Round 4, Pick 4: Jordan Westerkamp, WR, Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 1: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

TCQSDFJASRZKXCB.20150416192927[1]Jason-Spriggs[1]

Westerkamp is suspended for the first game for tying a damsel to some train tracks

OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU)
DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU)

Westerkamp is best known for the time he hauled in a catch that looked like a Madden glitch, but there's more substance to him. His 65.7% catch rate and 11.1 yards per target are both better than oft-targeted (25.6% of passes) former teammate Kenny Bell's 54.0% catch rate and 9.1 YPT. Westerkamp was targeted on just 19.7% of Nebraska's passes, but that will rise due to the departure of the poofily coiffed hair and production of Bell. (I realize his hair had nothing to do with how often Westerkamp got the ball, but it's impossible to write about Kenny Bell and not mention the hair.) While Bell was more frequently targeted than Westerkamp on passing downs (25.6% to 17.1%, respecitvely), Westerkamp again had the better catch rate (60.7%) and YPT (14.0); even when defenses had an idea where the ball was going Westerkamp was able to put up good numbers. I'll happily take a guy who has a better catch rate and YPT than a fifth-round draft pick who was first-team All-Big Ten last season.

If the ball is ever going to get to Westerkamp there should probably be an offensive line, and Spriggs is arguably the best available with Decker and Conklin off the board. Spriggs has started at left tackle since he was a true freshman, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten status every season. He's 6-7, 305 and has anchored a line that has averaged more than five yards per carry the last two seasons. While that number was certainly aided by Tevin Coleman, Spriggs' pass protection is an asset. He'll give up two sacks as he does every year and I'll be happy to have one of the top-10 tackles in the 2016 draft. Also:

Lewan-like numbers.

[After THE JUMP: No more Ohio State players! That's right, not even one!]

Draftageddon 2015: It Starts! You Cannot Prevent It!

Draftageddon 2015: It Starts! You Cannot Prevent It!

Submitted by Brian on July 21st, 2015 at 11:37 AM

Four_Horsemen_by_MarkWilkinson1

Well... crap. We have this tradition where we seek to irritate every last one of our readers. We could not do that, but then the readers win. The readers cannot win. We are the only site on the internet. We have them in the palm of our hand. We must crush them.

So let's draftageddon again.

You are not going to be happy about this. Let's just state that going in.

RULES

Everyone drafts a team from available Big Ten players consisting of

  • A QB, five OL, and six skill players on offense. Usually this breaks down in to a RB, three WR, a TE, and a wild card but things tend to get weird.
  • 4 DL, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S and one wild card on defense.
  • A punter and a kicker.

Standard serpentine fantasy draft.

Once three teams have filled a position group the final team must do so at most three rounds later. This is mostly intended to prevent someone from waiting on a QB until the end of the draft and occasionally results in hilarious things like "Nathan Scheelhaase goes in round 8".

Seth will take an injured Northwestern player over any available Heisman contender.

Everyone will make fun of me for an excellent pick that ends up going in the middle rounds of the NFL draft.

The winner will be the person with the most impressive team.

As randomly determined by RANDOM.ORG the order is

Adam
Seth
Ace
Brian

Adam, you are on the clock. BryMac is on the email chain to throw out haymakers randomly.

BRYMAC: KURTIS DRUMMOND

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

ADAM - Round 1, Pick 1: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

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"Will I even play" is an interesting question to ask the TOP PICK IN THE DRAFT

OFFENSE: JT Barrett (OSU).

ADAM: I'll play Buckeye roulette against my better judgement. Picking a quarterback who has a 33% chance of starting is terrifying for a risk-averse person such as myself, but that 33% is assuming all of OSU's quarterbacks have an equal chance of winning the job.

Braxton Miller returns, but he's coming off of multiple shoulder injuries and already had a tendency to turn into Delmon Young when he had to throw deep. Circling back to the risk-averse thing, that gets a big "nooope" from me. Cardale Jones was superb during OSU's playoff run, but he's reportedly behind Miller and Barrett as of now. Silly though it may be to put much weight on an imaginary July depth chart, it's enough for me to look in a different direction.

That leaves Barrett, who completed 64.6% of his passes while averaging 9.0 YPA. On top of that, he brings the dual threat capabilities I'm looking for; in 2014 he ran 14.25 times per game and averaged 5.49 YPC. Overall, Barrett accounted for 7.78 yards per play while throwing 34 touchdowns and rushing for 11 more. It's easy to see why he was named the 2014 Big Ten Quarterback and Freshman of the Year.  Now I just have to hope he actually plays.

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

SETH - Round 1, Pick 2: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

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SETH: I am committed to not doing the insane things this year, among which I include filling the most important position with a guy who's 67% likely to not start. And hell, if Cook played for the other rival, maybe we're be talking about the "next Alex Smith" instead of guessing which of the three stooges gets to drive Urban's war machine to New York.

When Connor took over in 2013 the State offense went from laughable to good enough/safe. When they took the apron strings off in the Big Ten Championship, the INT rate went from 1.41% (best in the country) to 2.12% (Tom Brady), while his YPA shot up to eight against Ohio State and Stanford. Yet I remained a skeptic, until Cook repeated those numbers over an entire season, capped by beating Baylor in a shootout. All told, MSU finished 6th nationally last year in pass S&P+, 10th in YPA, and 11th in turnover rate. Everybody else in range ran a vicious spread or had access to elite talent; Cook did this while working for Jim Bollman.

He won't have Lippett to make him look good this year but Cook made even State's pedestrian receivers look Lippett-esque--Keith Mumphery had 11 yards per target last year; Macgarrett Kings had nine. Arm accuracy is merely good, but it's functionally extraordinary because of a lightning release. His legs aren't up to "dual threat" level but they're enough to extends plays, and State even added a zone-read veer to the playbook last year. I think I've found my quarterback. And despite the ugly green/chrome/bronze/hellenistic helmet, I think Harbaugh would approve.

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

ACE - Round 1, Pick 3: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

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Looks like Joe Dirt, plays like Mean Joe Green

OFFENSE:
DEFENSE: Joey Bosa (OSU).

ACE: With the two elite quarterbacks off the board, assuming Barrett wins the OSU job (which I think he will, or I'd be bringing the snark much more heavily), I'll happily take the guy projected higher on most early NFL draft mocks than he went here. I don't need to spend much time or effort justifying this selection. Bosa had 21 TFLs and 13.5 sacks last season; both marks led the conference by a healthy margin. He earned unanimous first-team All-American honors. A lengthy section of his official OSU profile is dedicated to the 37 points the Buckeyes scored as a result of Bosa forcing or recovering fumbles last year; 30 of those points came after Bosa forced a fumble on the opposing quarterback. He did all this as a true sophomore.

On top of all that, Bosa is a solid run defender, already able to two-gap blockers to shut down rushes to his side. So, sure, I guess I'll build my defense around the best player in the conference.

[After THE JUMP: A lot more Buckeyes. Sorry.]

Passing UFR: Rudock vs Nebraska

Passing UFR: Rudock vs Nebraska

Submitted by Brian on May 27th, 2015 at 1:17 PM

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nope

THING THINGS: Hoo boy, this thing was full of Michigan loss déjà vu. Iowa leapt out to a 17 point lead without doing much of anything on offense. Nebraska came back without doing much of anything on offense, with the capper an 80-yard punt return against Iowa's dinosaur punt formation—one that followed a 43-yarder earlier in the game.

Iowa's tailbacks averaged exactly 3.4 yards a carry each with a long of 15 yards; Rudock completed half his passes for a bleah 6.1 YPA.

CHRONOLOGY THINGS: This was the week after Wisconsin.

[After the JUMP: duuuuude wat]