2018-19 Big Ten Hoops Preview Part 1

2018-19 Big Ten Hoops Preview Part 1 Comment Count

Alex Cook October 15th, 2018 at 4:04 PM

It's been about a decade since I started following the Big Ten closely, and I've started to realize some things about my hobby (for lack of a better word). I'm the type of normal, well-adjusted adult that sits down at home after a day of work and decides to spend my finite leisure time watching, like, Illinois vs. Minnesota. I could be doing anything else: watching the best basketball players in the world in some meaningless February NBA game, watching a college basketball game between two good teams in a different conference, or doing something different altogether from watching basketball.

Instead, it's like a compulsion. Get home, relax for a bit, and then when 7:00 rolls around, flip over to BTN, listen to the familiar jingles on the broadcast, and then let Jon Crispin whisk me away to the Bryce Jordan Center or whatever. I could be doing anything else with my free time (short of actually stepping away from one of my screens - let's not get too carried away), but I often choose to watch a crappy Big Ten game. It's not good. It's usually not fun. But I do it anyways.

The league has been in decline for the last few years. Thad Matta's back gave out on him, Bo Ryan retired, Rutgers became our giant anchor dragging across the ocean floor, so on and so forth. Only four teams made the NCAA Tournament last season. Michigan, fortunately, is still good; as long as John Beilein is in town, the Wolverines will play a pleasing style of basketball that stands in contrast with most of the league - really most of the rest of college basketball, period. But, especially now that the Big Ten has moved to a 20-game conference schedule, featuring December matchups against league foes, we have to pay attention to the other thirteen schools.

Well, you don't have to pay attention to them. I can do that for you. If this dour intro hasn't completely soured you from reading the rest of this post - which is to say, reading about the five worst* teams in the league according to my extremely powerful POWER RANKINGS - then your brain might be broken just like mine. If that's the case: enjoy.

*I don't know if this is just the BTN propaganda machine altering my perception of reality or what, but the more that I learn about these teams and write about them, I inevitably find myself feeling optimistic about them (except for Rutgers and Illinois, who will doubtlessly be terrible). So I guess you can consider this a disclaimer that even if these previews have a positive slant, you should realize that most of the teams in the bloated middle will probably be bad.

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Zach And Urban

Zach And Urban Comment Count

Brian August 1st, 2018 at 11:32 AM

[Eric Upchurch]

So I guess we should talk about this now:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Text messages I have obtained, an exclusive interview with the victim and other information I have learned shows Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knew in 2015 of domestic abuse allegations against a member of his coaching staff.

Courtney Smith, ex-wife of fired Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, provided text messages between her and the wives of Ohio State coaches – including Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley – showing Meyer’s knowledge of the situation.

Meyer said last week during Big Ten Media Days that he had no knowledge of two alleged domestic violence incidents in 2015 with former assistant wide receivers coach Zach Smith that were investigated by the Powell (Ohio) Police Department.

Meyer said had he known, he would have fired Smith in 2015 – three years before he did last week after I reported the alleged domestic violence.

If you haven't been following this story, it goes like this:

  • Earle Bruce has a child, who has a son in turn. This person gets named "Zach Smith."
  • Smith listens to "Bawitdaba" nonstop for 28 years.
  • Smith gets hired at Ohio State because nepotism and proceeds to go on a series of childish rants on twitter. His coaching acumen appears to consist of yelling "hashtag zone six!" at his charges, who respond by dropping balls so emphatically their hands also fall off.
  • Smith has a series of domestic violence charges during this period starting in 2009, when he threw his pregnant wife into a wall, with additional police involvement in 2015 and this year.
  • Reporter Brett McMurphy exposes Smith shortly before Big Ten Media days, prompting a series of questions from reporters to Meyer; according to Courtney Smith, Zach's ex-wife, Meyer lied about his knowledge of the situation.
  • Smith gets fired.

The above article is damning and should be read in its entirety. Smith's abuse was scary and persistent; a text exchange between Courtney Smith and Shelley Meyer asks whether Smith has a restraining order—which is read as obviously necessary—and says "he scares me."

Unless Urban Meyer can make the case that his wife decided not to tell him about the years of abuse Courtney Smith was enduring—and that every OSU coach's wife made the same decision—this is a case of an institution knowingly employing a serial abuser. This isn't against the law. It's not against NCAA rules. It should be unacceptable in the court of public opinion, and you'd hope that would be enough to drum other folks out of their jobs up to and including Meyer.

I'm skeptical this will happen. OSU was readying a full-throated defense of Jim Tressel ("I just hope he doesn't fire me") when it became clear that directly lying to the NCAA four times would inevitably result in a show-cause that would terminate Tressel whether OSU wanted to or not. Without a similar sword hanging over OSU's neck*, their choice is to either disrupt their football golden era or follow the example that Meyer provided—downplay, hide, dismiss, survive. I got a dollar on the second playbook.

*[McMurphy thinks there might be Title IX issues. As we've seen at MSU—why are our rivals all so awful—those take years and rarely touch the levers of power.]

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Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Ohio State, Big Ten Tournament

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Ohio State, Big Ten Tournament Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 13th, 2018 at 2:01 PM

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[JD Scott]

Saturday, March 10, 2018

#6 Ohio State 3, #11 Michigan 2 (OT)

1st period

Myer goal

OSU 1 UM 0 PPG 16:02 Assists: Miller & Joshua

One theoretical advantage to Michigan’s propensity for crowding below the top of the faceoff circle on the penalty kill is an increased likelihood of blocked shots, and that’s what happens here. Miller gets his shot stopped but the puck pops up and back to him. He gloves it, drops it, and retreats to the blue line. He has Myer open in the opposite corner and swings it to him.

m osu btt 1-1

Myer starts skating toward the faceoff dot and Winborg, who’s stationed between the two faceoff circles, responds by getting his stick out and taking away the passing lane to the skater cutting through the slot to the front of the net. That leaves Luke Martin to step up on Myer—mostly, at least. He doesn’t want to come all the way to wall and get walked or have Myer fire a pass behind him to an open skater down low, so he tries to split the difference and take away the pass while being in position to block the shot. Problem is he’s a hair too far to Myer’s right. Martin tries to block it by dropping to a knee and pushing to his right once he sees that Myer is really going to take the shot, but the puck gets through.

m osu btt 1-2

Lavigne can see the shot the whole way, so it’s bad in the sense that he probably should have been able to track this better. On the other hand, it’s a puck that’s on Lavigne in an instant and Joshua is right next to him; as David pointed out when I asked him about this one, Lavigne was probably expecting it to be deflected off of Joshua, who somehow turned and leapt out of the way.

m osu btt 1-3

[After THE JUMP: Cooper Mar-whoa-dy (I’m sorry I’ll see myself out)]

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Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Ohio State

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Ohio State Comment Count

Adam Schnepp January 30th, 2018 at 11:37 AM

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[JD Scott]

Friday, January 26, 2018

#6 Ohio State 4, #17 Michigan 0

1st period

Miller goal

OSU 1 UM 0 EV 16:40 Assists: Joshua & Parran

Cecconi pinches and misses the puck, which is passed off the wall to Parran in the high slot. Parran sees Joshua leaving the defensive zone with four Michigan defenders still turning, and he’s able to hit him with a nice outlet pass about halfway between the blue line and center ice.

m ohst fri 1-1

Joshua reads Hughes, Michigan’s lone defender back, and decides that he’s far enough outside Joshua to dish before entering the offensive zone. Miller carries the puck in.

m ohst fri 1-2

Joshua swings his stick over, which Hughes uses against him. Hughes lifts the stick back into the air, effectively erasing Miller’s pass. Miller is on the same page; he brings the puck to his side and prepares his shot.

m ohst fri 1-3

Hughes is almost able to get over and poke-check the puck off Miller’s stick. Miller’s just able to get the shot off, though. Lavigne has stepped up to challenge and even stands up when he sees where the puck is headed, but the shot somehow ends up going just under the crossbar. There was a reverse angle replay later that shows the puck on Miller’s stick, Lavigne standing, and the net moving. Lavigne raised his right shoulder and thus the left dipped just a bit as the shot was released, and I guess that was enough to create the tiny window Miller needed.

m ohst fri 1-4

[After THE JUMP: we turn our attention to Pairwise]

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Unverified Voracity Flew To South Bend

Unverified Voracity Flew To South Bend Comment Count

Brian September 12th, 2017 at 12:36 PM

Sea of red. Georgia played Notre Dame last weekend and this is what it looked like:

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Old friend of the blog Braves and Birds has an article about this remarkable screenshot, pointing out that this was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for Georgia fans and they reacted accordingly. Somewhat similar scenes might play out if other fanbases were afforded an opportunity to go see a college football cathedral instead of a sterile NFL stadium that still smelled of Phil Simms:

...the reaction of Dawg fans to the chance to travel to South Bend is a reminder that there is huge, untapped demand among big college football fan bases to see their teams play other elite programs on the road and not at NFL stadiums.

One way to illustrate this point is to look at how the most popular programs have never visited one another. Here are the top 10 in attendance from 2016: Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Penn State, Texas, Georgia, and Nebraska. There are 90 potential home-and-home combinations among those teams. In over a century of football, 33 of these matchups have never happened. That’s a bevy of road trips that big fan bases have never gotten to take.

I say "somewhat" because Notre Dame is especially vulnerable to this kind of takeover because of the nature of their fanbase and ticketing. Large chunks of the fanbase merely put their names in a lottery for certain games annually. The proportion of season ticket holders is (probably) much lower than other schools due to the national nature of ND's fanbase. Also these fans have a lot to pay attention to, what with the Yankees, Duke, and Manchester United all existing. With Notre Dame at a low ebb it might make sense for a frontrunner in NYC to sell his tickets in a way that it doesn't for someone who shows up to every game every year.

Unfortunately irrelevant. Oklahoma took OSU to the woodshed in their own building on Saturday. This was fun, but as I was watching it I was struck by how irrelevant it was for Michigan's chances down the road. Oklahoma's offense is built to neutralize defensive line advantages by using a metric ton of misdirection and the threat of the QB's legs. Ian Boyd has a breakdown of what happened, nearly all of which is unreplicable by Michigan—at least as they stand now.

Boyd accidentally twists the knife a bit at the end:

It pays to have a senior QB going on four years of starting, with a knack for playmaking off the cuff, when you are trying to get after a top-five opponent on the road.

Michigan can't get their QB to the OSU game healthy about half the time and never when he's a senior.

If it doesn't make sense it's probably not true. Basic advice for basic columnists, but apparently necessary:

SB Nation did a fine job reporting the contents of Lewis' testimony to the NCAA a couple of weeks ago, but it may have buried the lead.

Within the piece, Lewis' mother Tina Henderson told a former Ole Miss assistant that LSU had offered $650,000 for the services of her son.

If even close to the truth, that amount of money changes everything we know about cheating in college athletics. If even close to the truth, this case isn't so much about Ole Miss cheating but the lengths any wrongdoer would be willing to go.

And there is reason to believe $650,000 is close to the truth. I checked with the story's author, Steven Godfrey, and he said confirmed the figure wasn't a typo on his part or the person transcribing the testimony.

Instead we are supposed to believe that Leo Lewis took barely more than 10% of that to play for Mississippi State. The inclusion of the LSU number throws that whole article into doubt, because it makes it look like Godfrey is just repeating what people tell him without sanity checking anything. IE, Godfrey is being Steven Godfrey.

If LSU genuinely offered over a half-million dollars for Leo Lewis, 1) he'd be at LSU and 2) LSU's hypothetical budget for their #5 2015 class is... what, ten million dollars? Of private money? Cumong man.

Some Speight numbers. Tom VanHaaren has some bins to put Speight throws in

Facing blitzes, Speight completed just over 33 percent of his throws, as opposed to completing 61.1 percent with no pressure. On the season, he's completing just over 51.9 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. ...

Through two games when Speight is passing in the middle of the field between the numbers, he has completed 76.4 percent of his passes for 396 yards. Outside the numbers on the left and right side of the field, when out of the pocket, Speight only has completed 10 percent of his passes for 6 yards.

The first paragraph above does help paint a picture of a guy who gets sped up and loses his mechanics; that latter bin is almost all last resort scramble drill stuff, I'd imagine. Also I see "10 percent" in a paragraph with "76.4 percent" and assume that's exactly ten throws. Still very limited data there.

Out. Donovan Jeter will miss the season with an injury. Jeter had bulked up to 290 and was pushing for time at three tech—3-3-5 nose 50% of the time now, I guess. That was the one spot on the front that could sustain a hit with Dwumfour and Marshall providing additional, non-true-freshman depth.

I guess it was the gunners after all. Harbaugh on the DPJ punt follies:

"We got some things fixed there," Harbaugh said. "It wasn't Donovan Peoples -- when we watched the film, these gunners got out too fast. And then they're making their block next to Donovan."

He didn't have an opportunity to field a couple of those punts because of his own teammates. The last one he had an opportunity on was very very bad and on him since there was no teammate in the area; in the stands we speculated that he'd lost it in the sun.

Harbaugh says DPJ will be back out there because he is not a "mistake repeater."

Another pronunciation note. I am bad at pronouncing things, but I can't be held responsible for "McCune" when it's not spelled like that. I am coping. Thank you for your cards and letters. Similarly, Tyree Kinnel:

"It's Kinn-ill," Kinnel said Monday night on the "Inside Michigan Football" radio show. "A lot of people say Ka-nell. It's been like that all of my life, so I'm used to it."

Life is a struggle, and never more so than when you're saying something out loud that you've mostly—or only—read before. Or trying to say Rod Gilmore's name more than once.

Etc.: The Power Rank on randomness. Harbaugh, decorous. Study Hall stat profiles up. Exit 2019 hockey commit Alec Regula to the OHL. He was a midround pick maybe, so not a disaster. Indiana's OL, on the other hand, is a disaster. Mason Cole on his decision to return. If you want some more fun OU-OSU numbers. Booing: for jerks. This isn't an NFL game, jerks!

Jim Delany is absolutely shameless and obviously published this during football season because I'm too busy to eviscerate this jackalope.

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Unverified Voracity Is Just Trolling Me Now

Unverified Voracity Is Just Trolling Me Now Comment Count

Brian July 18th, 2017 at 12:40 PM

AFC wins! Congratulations to AFC Ann Arbor, the NPSL Great Lakes conference champions. Also a cow!

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This is actually the Milk Cup, a trophy for the best Michigan team in the NPSL that is somehow not sponsored by Jim Harbaugh. AFC went 12-1-1 to capture the top seed in the Midwest playoffs and will attempt to make the NPSL Final Four next weekend.

Crootin, 1980. Via Dr. Sap:

Spielman sues! Chris Spielman saw this banner and was like aw hell no:

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He's suing and trying to get a class of OSU athletes certified to take this wider. The mindblowing thing is that this only comes after eight months of negotiations broke down:

Spielman told Dispatch reporter Bill Rabinowitz that it pains him to sue Ohio State, but “players have a right. If somebody wanted to endorse you, don’t you think you have a right to say yes or no, or to negotiate?”

Yes, I do. Apparently, so does Griffin, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner and former president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association who supports Spielman’s efforts to gain recompense from universities and corporations that benefit from the use of players’ names and likenesses.

Ohio State takes a different tack, which explains why negotiations between Spielman’s attorney, Brian K. Duncan, and the university dragged over the past eight months without any compensatory agreement being reached.

Never forget that Gene Smith is the dim bulb who chose to go to the Gator Bowl instead of not taking a bowl ban for Urban Meyer's first year. OSU's athletic department sounds like a very Brandon place:

“It’s not the money part of it so much, but (Ohio State’s) attitude toward how they run their operation — with an iron fist, and they smash anyone they can,” Stillwagon said. “But then when you come at them, they say it’s all about giving scholarships. I’ve had dealings with that (OSU) marketing group and they’re abusive.”

Stillwagon loves Ohio State. He and his Buckeyes brethren simply want OSU to love them back by spreading the wealth.

“This (licensing compensation) is just a correction that needs to be done. This is the way it is now,” Stillwagon said. “Coaching is about money. Where you get to sit in the stadium is all about money. But they don’t want to talk about that. Funny, it’s against the mother nation, you know?”

You'd think this should be a slam dunk given the outcome of the Ed O'Bannon case. SI legal guy Michael McCann points out that this is in a different circuit—6th instead of 9th—and that an outcome that conflicts with the O'Bannon precedent would give the Supreme Court a much better chance of reviewing the case.

What Michigan should do. Michigan Licensing, Inc. Avoid these lawsuits and give everyone graduating from the program a healthy chunk of change. It's like bagmen, except explicitly endorsed by the US government?

Rutger can be good. Not that Rutger, Rutger Reitmaier. Michigan pursued Reitmaier pretty hard late in last year's recruiting cycle but he decided to stick it out with Oregon despite a coaching change. That did not last:

Michigan was expected to be his pick for a minute there because his family was gung-ho about Harbaugh; Sam Webb says Michigan will kick the tires but a longstanding relationship with Brady Hoke will probably point him to Tennessee. Michigan does have the room after Corey Malone-Hatcher's retirement, and the DL they brought in are flexible enough to make it work.

Basketball scheduling items. Michigan draws LSU in the first round of the Maui Invitational. LSU was horrendous last year, going 10-21 and finishing 172nd in Kenpom. They should be better since they'll return everyone they don't run off and add a decent recruiting class featuring top-50 PG Tremont Waters; Michigan should still expect to beat them easily. LSU was 327th in eFG defense a year ago. Beilein will carve them up.

It would greatly behoove Michigan not to lose that game because Chaminade almost certainly awaits the LSU-Michigan loser. Notre Dame, a 26-10 ACC team that got a 5 seed last year and potential good win, is the alternative. Other than Maui, games against UNC, UCLA, and Texas round out the meaningful bits of the schedule.

The rest of the nonconference schedule is the usual:

  • North Florida (#255 Kenpom, #221 RPI last year), CMU (#229/218), and Southern Miss (#325/331) are the first three games after the D-II exhibition against Grant Valley.
  • No similar excuses for UC Riverside (#311/330), Alabama A&M (#351/351), and Jacksonville (#275/305).  Alabama A&M was 2-27 last year and dead last in Kenpom.
  • A game against Detroit (#302/289) at New Joe Louis that is vaguely more acceptable than the other six because it's a local thing.

When you're looking at some other Big Ten team's resume and wondering how in the hell they got a better seed than Michigan, those seven games against awful, awful competition are going to be why. This nonconference schedule has a lot of games that are going to be very hard to win and zero easy wins against decent lower level teams except maybe CMU, which is losing their entire O. I give up.

Meanwhile in Big Ten scheduling, this is one of those years when Michigan plays MSU and Wisconsin just once because Rutgers exists. Thanks, Jim Delany.

Okay then. Andrew Dakich is transferring to Ohio State because they have nine scholarship players, just three of them guards. I do not think this one is likely to lead to a Big Ten championship, as the Max Bielfeldt and Spike Albrecht transfers did for Indiana and Purdue.

Etc.: NCAA basketball to emphasize road wins more. Gary and Hurst show up on NFL.com's list of DL to watch this season. Everything's coming up Milhouse! Toys R Us is struggling. Man says thing. Man soccers with Soccer Stars. Basketball gets a PWO.

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Unverified Voracity Says Bye To Byes

Unverified Voracity Says Bye To Byes Comment Count

Brian May 22nd, 2017 at 12:59 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

Jim Hackett gets a job. He's now the CEO of Ford. It is deeply unfortunate that Toys R Us is private, otherwise my mutual fund that just buys Ford and shorts Toys R Us would be a goldmine.

2018 hoops recruiting will start moving in the near future. Per Sam Webb, Michigan has "begun talking timeline" with OH SF Jerome Hunter, with Xavier the main roadblock. If not for Trevon Bluiett I would feel 100% terrific about that; I still feel 90% terrific about it. Webb also asserted that Canadian SF/PF Ignas Brazdeikis and MI SF Brandon Johns were the next most likely. Johns is a surprising name for me just because of his location. Also now I have learned to spell Brazdeikis so he had better come.

Another name at wing is NC SF Hunter Tyson, who is a very Beilein kind of player.

Possessing NBA-caliber 3-point range, Tyson’s work ethic and shooting stroke was never open to any scrutiny. It was his overall scoring acumen and utilizing his height to his advantage as a go-to option once open to question. Tyson heard his fair share of “soft shooter” taunts from the crowd.

He’s steadily silenced his detractors by becoming more adept around the rim and developing a feel for the above the rim game.

I've seen one or two of those before. Tyson claims an offer from Michigan despite not visiting—I assume this is another "if you visit we offer" kind of thing. That won't be long in coming:

I would say I am talking to Michigan the most currently,” Tyson explained. “Coach (John) Beilein and I have a very good relationship. I will be visiting Ann Arbor next on June 30th.

Meanwhile SG Robby Carmody told Rivals he'll decide this fall; Corey Evans thinks Purdue, Michigan, and ND are the frontrunners.

The end? Howard transfer James Daniels III, who Michigan was briefly involved with, chooses Tennessee. This is not Ohio State, another finalist, thus further consigning the Buckeyes to basketball purgatory. This is astounding:

There’s a chance that the Buckeyes could strike out on all graduate transfer or JUCO options, and head into next season with just two true bigs, and maybe even two guards total, depending on what happens with Kam Williams, who has not yet decided if he will return to the program or not.

Rutgers must be licking its chops at the prospect of finishing ahead of someone in league play.

An improved hockey schedule. The hockey schedule has been somewhere between disappointing and offensive for the past few years, with games jammed into football season willy-nilly in a schedule that alternated between exhausting game floods and month-long droughts. Happily it does appear that someone is listening. This year's conference schedule:

ihm-050417_772

Michigan is getting a return visit from Arizona State the week after the second ND series, so they have successfully put together a second-half schedule with 1) no byes and 2) no month-long gaps between home games. (Playing a nonconference foe in the last week of the regular season is lame but it's a seven-team conference; someone is going to draw the short stick annually.) Adding ND, a second school that can do home-and-homes, helps immensely. Also ND is a good team and traditional rival.

Michigan's also done a much better job of avoiding football conflicts. There are only two weekends when both hockey and football will be at home, and one of them is the approaching-traditional OSU series on the weekend of the Game. Michigan knows football is at noon so a direct conflict won't happen.

Unfortunately, the nonconference schedule is still terrible. Michigan goes to Clarkson and SLU for one-offs and gets home series against Vermont, FSU, and Arizona State. Their first game in the GLI is BGSU. Only Vermont was even on the bubble last year, finishing 17th in RPI. Those four games against ND are a major upgrade at least.

Grub grub grub. Minnesota is apparently considering selling naming rights to Mariucci Arena. This would be roughly equivalent to Michigan turning a hypothetical Berenson Ice Arena into the Yum Dot Com Exclamation Point Center. At least when Illinois sold out its basketball arena it was confusingly named the same thing as Indiana's arena; this would be naming malpractice on a scale rarely seen. Here is a good comment(!) on The Daily Gopher:

We take in over $110 million in revenue in a year. Do you know how much we get per year from TCF Bank for their naming rights? 1.4 million dollars. Literally, like, one percent of our our annual revenue. I’d be shocked if we get even close to that for Mariucci.

If you think the drop in the bucket we get from auctioning off our names and traditions is going to make a noticeable difference in the quality of the product on the field, you’re wrong.

There remains no money with which to play the players.

Speaking of naming malpractice. The new Wings/Pistons arena going up in downtown might bring some events of interest to Detroit, including the Big Ten basketball tournament. It's already landed two sets of first-weekend NCAA tournament games and the 2020 Frozen Four. So we've got that going for us even if the iconic downtown arena is undergoing the worst naming transition  in history.

Etc.: Football ranked 10th by Athlon. Kiper has Mo Hurst the top senior DT for next year's NFL draft; Khalid Hill is the #2 FB. Guy employed by NFL Network compares Saquon Barkley to… Le'Veon Bell? What? Wilson and Wagner decisions by Wednesday night.

Over under win total for M set at 9. NFL running backs don't get paid any more. D Luke Martin should be a second or third round pick in the NHL draft.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Wants Stanford To Go Away

Unverified Voracity Wants Stanford To Go Away Comment Count

Brian May 10th, 2017 at 1:15 PM

i (2)

GO AWAY

Early signing react: meh? I'm generally opposed to moving up the football signing period because it does little other than accelerate decisions that could use some more time, but adding a 3-day window in late December is a nothingburger. Almost all firings happen immediately after the regular season, so the chance players get locked into the wrong coaching staff is minimal. (Assistants can leave, of course, but they do that in the immediate aftermath of the February signing day now and will continue to do so.)

There is some clarity for soft commits and guys who are about to be processed: even Erik Swenson would probably get the hint if Michigan did not send him a LOI in December. That's a minor positive.

More important for Michigan is an ancillary change:

Northern teams could benefit, since in conjunction with the new date, the NCAA includes a rule that prospects will be allowed to take official visits (paid for by the school, and accompanied by a parent or high school coach) in April through June. This allows schools in cold climates to show a different, warmer side to top recruits.

I don't think the weather is the biggest thing for Northern teams. Kids from the South do understand that summer exists, I imagine. The biggest thing is just getting kids on campus. Talent is concentrated in the south, and many kids try to get decisions out of the way before their senior years. That change makes taking a trip to Ann Arbor much easier financially.

Also in slight boosts, Stanford might be hurt by the change:

For Stanford, an early signing period could indeed be catastrophic. It would face a situation in which talented, smart players want to sign early and take advantage of strong academics and be a part of the burgeoning football program, but could not allow them to sign because they are still far from clearing admissions. Those players, not willing to wait around, would lock up spots at other schools and Stanford's recruiting would take a hit.

These days virtually every player Stanford takes is a guy who would otherwise be a strong candidate to end up in Michigan's class. I keep waiting for them to implode, but nah.

There's also another NCAA proposal in the works that would slightly tighten up oversigning restrictions:

The legislation would limit to 25 the number of prospects whose aid is initially offered in the fall term of an academic year. Current rules limit to 25 the number of prospects allowed to sign from Dec. 1 through May 31.

A prospect whose scholarship paperwork specifies that he’ll be offered aid in the second or third term of an academic year may count toward the current academic year or the next year.

Transfers and walk-ons count. That ends "blueshirting", wherein a player does not sign but is promised a scholarship immediately on arrival. Blueshirting is a way to dodge these signing limits. This would make the 25 cap have more teeth, though early enrollment makes it a soft cap.

Michigan took advantage of that softness the past two years, taking 26 and 30 kids. They backdated six kids from the 2016 class and five from the 2017 class so that their initial counters in both years were exactly 25. They're now out of room to do that so 25 should be a hard cap for them this year—not that they're expected to get there.

Withdraw! Withdraw! ESPN had a draft conference call yesterday to plug the fact that they're televising the NBA combine—wonders never cease—and both guys on it were pretty blunt about what Michigan's two potential early entries should do:

Goodman: “The NBA guys I talked to said, ‘Moe Wagner, come back.’ It’s great that he played well at the end of the year, but it was a small sample size and they said, ‘He’s got good upside, but come back and become a better rebounder, become a better defender.'”

Fraschilla: “Neither (Wilson nor Wagner) is physically ready for the NBA. … DJ is really interesting because he’s the quintessential ‘3 and D’ big guy right now. He shoots threes and he’s got great length to defend. But even he got bullied inside. DJ could get drafted in the first round, late, but he ain’t playing in an important NBA game for at least a couple of years.”

We had an animated Slack conversation about this yesterday: Wilson would start his clock earlier if he entered this year, and some second round picks are getting guaranteed contracts these days. But if Fraschilla's right and he's going to spend a couple years not even playing that gives him a relatively narrow window to establish himself before he'd be a free agent. If the financial argument is relatively close, Wilson may want to spend a year playing for a Big Ten title and NCAA tournament run than hanging with the Fort Wayne Mad Antz or watching from the bench.

While we're on basketball rostering stuff, Rivals' Corey Evans talks to OH SF Jerome Hunter:

Michigan: “Me and coach Saddi Washington, we are real close, too. I talk to him pretty much every day about life. I like Michigan. They have good facilities and good academics."

He said nearly identical things (minus the academics) about OSU, Xavier, and Pitt; Evans says it's "anyone's guess" where he lands but most of the chatter at Spiece was about Michigan.

OH PF Pete Nance draws some lofty comparisons in this Andrew Kahn article. Michigan has a guy in their corner in his recruitment: Pete Hassinger, Jon Teske's former coach and a guy who has coached Nance on the AAU circuit:

Hassinger has gotten to know Beilein well over the past few years and admits he is biased towards the Wolverines. “It’s a great basketball program and great university. You come out of there with an unbelievable degree; it’s so prestigious.”

Nance "doesn't want to post up 50 times a game," sooooo... yeah. /waves

Five out. Kevin O'Connor writes about the evolution of the NBA 5, and it looks very familiar. Al Horford, a center and career 35% 3-point shooter, is the focus:

“[Al Horford’s] value to this team — you can’t describe it. It’s bigger than the stat sheet.” This was Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas, speaking after his 53-point performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Washington last week. Thomas got all the glory. Statistically, Horford was ordinary, scoring just 15 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and handing out three assists. But Horford was anything but a big-money bystander: The center’s play beyond the box score was an example of the immense impact stretch 5s can make across the league, even when they aren’t posting lofty numbers.

In previous eras, contenders relied on big men as a consistent source of offense. But in the new league, the most important thing someone like Horford can do for his team is to space the floor and make plays when he needs to. Young bigs across the league could learn a lot by watching Boston’s big man.

It is not a coincidence that Derrick Walton, who was terrible inside the arc as a sophomore and junior, had a huge uptick in his ability to get to the basket with the advent of Michigan's all stretch five lineups. Any center Michigan put on the floor, whether it was Wagner, Wilson, or Donnal, was not a person you should leave open from three. Pick and pop became a bigger facet of the offense than it had been under Beilein and the lane became a cavern.

Hopefully Nance (and Mo Bamba) are perusing this article as we speak.

Wayne Lyons 2.0? Michigan is looking for a grad transfer or two, and they've apparently settled on a target:

Wiggins started as a nickelback in 2014, missed 2015 with an ACL tear, and was sparingly used a year ago. Michigan is apparently set at the various spots Wiggins might fit in at but they have nothing but true freshmen behind the projected starters and could use a dime back a la Tyree Kinnel a year ago.

I'm still a little puzzled they didn't go after one of the tackles on the market. Must not have liked their film at all.

Yes please. I can't actually read this article because I don't subscribe to "Columbus Business First" but apparently OSU is considering a 4k seat rink for its hockey programs. This would be a massive improvement over the current situation where OSU plays in their basketball arena, which is almost as empty as your average NCAA regional game is.

Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin are all sporting new coaches who should be an improvement over the previous regime's performance during the Big Ten era; OSU appears to be fixing the biggest problem with their program; Notre Dame joins next year. Big Ten Hockey is set to go from a joke to a powerhouse. And they even fixed the playoff system (for the most part)!

The problem. Think of all the stuff ESPN televises. Surely no one live event is a significant part of the whole, right?

On the flip side, ESPN’s costs for content have skyrocketed to well over $7 billion a year, more than any competitor, according to projections from Boston Consulting Group and SNL Kagan. That compares to $5 billion by Netflix and $4.3 billion by NBC. Rights to “Monday Night Football” alone cost ESPN $1.9 billion a year, not to mention hefty deals with the NCAA and NBA.

More than a quarter of ESPN's rights fees are for one game a week, for one third of the year. And those games are chosen before the season! That is nuts. [HT: Get The Picture.]

Etc.: Spread offenses make more cornerbacks appear. Channing Stribling on Michigan's fractured locker room and repairing it.

Comments

Hoops Preview: Ohio State

Hoops Preview: Ohio State Comment Count

Brian February 4th, 2017 at 1:57 PM

jaquan-lyle-6722a6e5bb8c51ecTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (14-8, 4-5 B1G) vs
OSU (13-10, 3-7)
WHERE Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 6 PM
LINE Michigan –8 (KenPom)
TV ESPN
 
Right: JaQuan Lyle and his old man beard

THE US

Coming off a disappointingly typical loss at Michigan State against a very much untypical MSU team, Michigan now faces a must-win against reeling Ohio State. Per Kenpom this is Michigan's most likely win left on the schedule, a 75% shot. (At Rutgers is only 69% despite Rutgers being almost 100 slots worse in overall ranking, if you want a stark indicator of how much home and away swing affect college basketball.)

It would be nice if Zak Irvin had a bounce back.

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 3 Kam Williams Jr. 6'2, 185 77 16 104 No
PG-sized but tiny assist/FTs rates and low TO rate mark him as Just A Shooter. Do not send to line, not that he'll force the issue there much.
G 4 JaQuan Lyle So. 6'5, 210 78 23 107 No
Main creator has #56 assist rate in country, but TOs limit efficiency. Still the #1 guy Michigan has to check.
F 14 Jae'Sean Tate Jr. 6'4, 230 79 33 108 Very
Junkyard dog has seen rebound numbers drop thanks to teammate Thompson; highly efficient at the rim, no game elsewhere.
F 0 Marc Loving Sr. 6'8, 220 83 20 100 No
Never quite put it together. Good outside shooter; rest of his game is weak, with a bunch of TOs and iffy efficiency.
C 35 Trevor Thompson Jr. 7'0, 250 56 23 115 Very
Rebound machine 40th nationally in OREB rate and 9th in DREB rate, also racks up a ton of blocks. Good FT shooter, too
G 51 CJ Jackson So. 6'1, 175 38 20 97 Yes
Backup PG has similar assist/TO rates as Lyle; weak shooter.
F 25 Micah Potter Fr. 6'9, 240 32 16 101 No
Backup post is all-around worse version of Thompson, but can shoot threes a bit.
F 5 Andre Wesson Fr. 6'6, 220 22 16 83 Yes
Woof.

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

Comments

Unverified Voracity Offers A Thumbs Up

Unverified Voracity Offers A Thumbs Up Comment Count

Brian August 26th, 2016 at 4:25 PM

REMINDER A THING IS HAPPENING. I totally biffed this the first time by linking to last year's event. There is a Football Eve from Homesure this year:

Football-Eve-Banner-160-x-600-1[1]

First beer is on Matt, there will be a Q&A and… trivia? I think? We're asking people to RSVP because space is limited. Hit the link to do so.

WTKA friend with product on offer. If you're a fantasy guy or, uh, wagererer, Ed's got data for you. So much data. Binders full of data. You can parlay that data into non-data. Yeah.

Oh yes, this is going to get a lot of use. Via EDSBS:

The gif you now need in your life:

For life. Harbaugh on his future plans:

Speaking in a taped interview with SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday, Harbaugh was asked by a host if he can "legitimately" see himself coaching at Michigan "forever" -- meaning does he think he'll be at Michigan 20-25 years down the road.

Harbaugh's answer came quickly.

"Yeah I think that way," Harbaugh said. "I think, God willing and the creek don't rise, that'll happen. I love coaching, I love football and I love the University of Michigan."

Never say never and all that.

Yes, lots and lots of talent. CBS's Dane Brugler provides an extensive breakdown of Michigan's NFL draft prospects, of which there are many. Unlike ESPN he picks up on Ryan Glasgow as a thing:

Glasgow bursts off the snap and finishes each rep with the same fire. He has the grip strength to stack and dispose of single blockers, using push-pull technique to regain his momentum and penetrate the pocket. Glasgow lowers his head and attacks like a battering ram, but often loses sight of the ball and takes himself out of plays. Although his motor is always running, he is more of a one-speed athlete and lacks the closing burst to finish some plays in the backfield. Glasgow would benefit from improved discipline, but his hustle, mentality and strength are why he is a valuable member of Michigan's defensive line rotation. And also why several scouts grade him as a top-10 senior at his position.

The tenth DT in the 2016 draft was off the board at the beginning of the third round, albeit with a bunch of juniors in those spots. That feels about right. Mike Martin was a third round pick as well.

The rest of that article is a preview of what I'm going to say about a bunch of Michigan players in the season preview, down to a Manningham-Chesson comparison and questions about De'Veon Smith's ability to see things:

Smith makes it a chore on defenders to finish him off as linebackers have to him cleanly and finish or he refuses to go down. His vision and run instincts tend to run hot/cold, leading to questionable decisions, and with his lack of explosive traits, Smith needs to be more decisive and trust what he sees. He tends to leave you wanting more due to his marginal burst and instincts, but there is a place at the next level for Smith due to his power, ball skills and upside as a blocker.

Brugler's higher on Erik Magnuson than I am and doesn't mention Darboh or anyone in the secondary other than Lewis—though the latter might be because there were so many people to get to ahead of those gents—in a report that is otherwise extensive and right on point with both strengths and weaknesses. Read the whole thing.

This Peppers thing isn't even slightly weird. Peppers as SAM is part of a trend that is sweeping football at all levels, including the NFL. The Ringer has a piece on the continued evolution of NFL linebackers into 220 pound safety types:

NFL coaches say the change in thinking about linebackers started five or six years ago. Spread offenses were dominating college football, and the task for defensive coaches at that level was to find linebackers who could cover and tackle in the space created by this new, wide-open approach. “We started looking for guys who played skill positions or safety, and those were guys we actually looked to see if we could turn into linebackers,” says Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who served as a graduate assistant at North Carolina from 2007 to 2009.

Michigan was not doing this; they were running Jake Ryan out as a SAM. They continued to suffer against spread teams; Don Brown is really the first guy in the history of Michigan football with any positive track record against spread rushing offenses.

The article above focuses on  Deone Bucannon of the Cardinals, who's actually a more extreme manifestation of the tiny linebacker trend than Peppers since he plays on a team with Tyrann Mathieu—he's not a "star" or walkout linebacker or nickelback, Bucannon is actually a 210 pound inside linebacker. This is actually a situation where the NFL is more spread than college. Michigan is unlikely to follow suit with safety-sized ILBs because of the nature of their opposition. The NFL is a passing league; Ohio State is a running team.

PFF ABT. Pro Football Focus's All Big Ten team has a number of Michigan guys on it, as you might imagine:

  • First team: Jehu Chesson, Maurice Hurst, Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis
  • Second team: Jake Butt, Mason Cole, Erik Magnuson, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill

That's a lot of guys. PFF projects almost half of Michigan's starters as ABT players. We already knew that Hurst was a fave-rave of PFFs and that they like George Kittle of Iowa better than Butt because of his blocking ability. The most interesting item there is the inclusion of Delano Hill as a second team safety. That would be very nice if it came to pass.

PFF on JT Barrett. Barrett is the single-most important opposition player on Michigan's schedule, the last tentpole from the last couple years of Ohio State teams. He had a weird 2015, seeing his passing production dip radically. Which guy is it? PFF:

Intermediate and deep accuracy have been consistent issues for Barrett both seasons. On throws longer than 10 yards in the air in 2014, Barrett completed just 44 of 111 attempts, and in 2015, he was 20 of 45.

Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2014 season

Barrett 2014 passes over 10 yards thru air

Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2015 season

Barrett 2015 passes over 10 yards thru air

Keeping in mind the fact that he was throwing to the likes of Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Devin Smith, Braxton Miller, Jeff Heuerman, and Nick Vannett, all of them currently playing in the NFL, it’s difficult to expect his consistency to improve on deeper passes with newer, less experienced receivers and tight ends.

Barrett's not great against pressure, either, but OSU's system sometimes makes that hard to apply. He's an outstanding runner and there's always the chance of a leap forward, but he's a guy who has some limitations that Don Brown might be able to exploit.

Good luck with that. Per Pat Forde, the NCAA is expanding its Ole Miss probe:

NCAA Enforcement representatives have visited Auburn and Mississippi State, and perhaps at least one more SEC Western Division school, this summer to speak with players who were recruited by Ole Miss. The players were granted immunity from potential NCAA sanctions in exchange for truthful accounts of their recruitment, sources said.

If these guys are all telling the same story about 500 dollar handshakes on visits that could get really ugly for Ole Miss. They're already facing down a suite of Level 1 violations. I'm beginning to believe this could be an actual hammering, the first since USC that didn't involve… you know what at Penn State.

Hinton rates everything. Matt Hinton has done his usual preseason data-jam, evaluating every D-I school on their recent performance, crootin, experience, and projected competency. 17 categories go in the blender, and this is what comes out for the top 40:

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Nebraska is relatively high; MSU relatively low. PSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all in the 8-4, 7-5 range. This will no doubt enrage highly enrageable Iowa fans.

Etc.: NLRB reverses an earlier decision that was relevant to the Northwestern unionization push. A reason to hate every Big Ten school. Just because someone else is getting paid to abuse our national namespace doesn't mean you have to participate. Herky The Hawkeye is too angry for one Iowa professor. Hank Aaron will honorarily captainize a game this fall.

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