NCAA Tournament Preview: Oklahoma State

NCAA Tournament Preview: Oklahoma State

Submitted by Ace on March 16th, 2017 at 2:38 PM


WHAT #20 Michigan (24-11, 10-8 B1G) vs
#24 Oklahoma State (20-13, 9-9 B12)
WHERE The BTT Should've Been Here Arena
Indianapolis, Indiana
WHEN 12:15 pm ET, Friday
LINE Michigan -1 (KenPom)
Michigan -2.5 (Vegas)
PBP: Jim Nantz
Analyst: Bill Raftery & Grant Hill

Right: Stare into the abyss that is Pistol Pete's face.

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There's blissfully little to discuss in this section. I've closed the Bracket Matrix tab for the first time in weeks, if not months. The team has safely arrived in Indianapolis. Michigan is not dealing with any significant injuries.

Win The Game.


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

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 1 Jawun Evans So. 6'1, 185 70 33 117 No
Speedy, ball-dominant PG. Streaky outside shooter, at best going to rim.
G 13 Phil Forte Sr. 5'11, 195 78 16 130 Not At All
Three-point sharpshooter with range well beyond the arc.
G 30 Jeffrey Carroll Jr. 6'6, 215 73 23 129 Not At All
Do-it-all wing scores efficiently inside and out. Good rebounder.
F 23 Leyton Hammonds Sr. 6'8, 215 57 16 130 No
Stretch four shooting 34% from three.
F 41 Mitchell Solomon Jr. 6'9, 245 50 16 115 Very
Great offensive rebounder, good rim protector, foul-prone. Gets easy buckets.
F 12 Cameron McGriff Fr. 6'7, 210 39 15 103 Yes
TO-prone, iffy-shooting bit player salvages ORtg with sky-high FT rate.
G 0 Brandon Averette Fr. 5'11, 175 37 21 95 No
Efficient scorer on low usage, but turnovers a consistent problem.
G 24 Davon Dillard So. 6'5, 215 24 21 109 Not At All
Glue guy who can score. Weakness is—surprise!—turnovers.

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

Initial Thoughts On Oklahoma State

Initial Thoughts On Oklahoma State

Submitted by Brian on March 14th, 2017 at 11:39 AM

Your correspondent took in Oklahoma State's games against Kansas, @ Baylor, and West Virginia to get a feel for Michigan's first-round matchup in the tournament. These were all Okie State losses against very good teams, the first two competitive. The last not so much. None of those teams is remotely like Michigan—Kansas is super athletic, wild at times, and up-tempo, Baylor is super athletic and runs a bizarre 4-out zone in front of a seven-foot shotblocker, and West Virginia is a ruthless pressing turnover machine—but there was a limited selection on the tubes. Also Big Twelve basketball is apparently Big Twelve football just like Big Ten basketball is Big Ten football.

Oklahoma State v Baylor etqExlY1fuIl

Evans defines Oklahoma State's style

THE FASTER AND THE FURIOUSER. Watching Oklahoma State's recent game against Kansas was a jarring experience after the Big Ten Championship game. "Methodical" is probably the best descriptor for the latter; in comparison the Big 12 game was like watching an And-One mixtape.

Oklahoma State is fast. PG Juwan Evans is fast. The color guy doing their game against Baylor early in the year repeatedly stated that Brad Underwood, the Cowboys' coach, wants his guys to get a shot up in the first seven seconds of the shot clock. They've taken this to heart. Their #87 tempo on Kenpom will feel like a jet airplane to Michigan fans, but that doesn't quite encompass it.

27% of their shots are classified by hoop-math as "transition"—ie, within the first ten seconds of the shot clock. That's a full 50% more than Michigan (18%) and 24th nationally. A lot of the teams in front of them are very bad low majors trying anything to disguise their halfcourt offenses; the only more transition-oriented teams in the tournament are Creighton, UCLA, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Okie State is going to try to play this game at light speed.

This is a good matchup against a good team, numbers edition. Okie State is a very good ten seed according to Kenpom, and that's reason for consternation. The way they play and Michigan's previous outings against turnover-dependent Ds and transition-dependent Os should give you confidence. Some data:

  • As you might expect from a team that rarely turns the ball over and largely abandons the offensive glass, Michigan's transition D is good relative to their halfcourt D.  They provide very few opportunities (18% of opponent shots). Their transition eFG defense of 53% is barely worse than halfcourt (51%). Meanwhile Okie State's transition is often forced; they're only middling at converting transition opportunities.
  • By contrast, when Michigan does push the ball they are lethal at 64% eFG. That's 11th nationally. Unlike Michigan, Oklahoma State has made many sacrifices on defense to make their offense so good. They crash the glass, sometimes in inexplicable situations, leading to a relatively large number of transition opportunities ceded (23%) at an efficient conversion rate (57%). Their turnover acquisition is often of the chancy variety, leading to broken rotations and open threes. They were 9th of 10 in league play at preventing threes from being launched.
  • Michigan is significantly better in eFG terms in every situation—transition, half-court, late-clock, and putback—without even considering turnovers. In that department Okie State is middling on offense and very good on D; Michigan is superb on O and—surprise!—good on D.

The main worry is that Michigan gets in one of those games where the opposition rebounds half their misses. The Cowboys crush the offensive boards (#6 nationally). That will make up for a projected turnover deficit, and probably then some. Still, without an anomalous shooting performance Michigan should expect to win this game if they can acquire—or even approach—shot parity.


there is a 95% chance this was assisted or a putback

Good news, personnel department. Okie State has no post-up game. Starting C Mitchell Solomon takes some elbow jumpers and will get shots at the rim when he's provided the ball off pick-and-roll action and on putbacks. He's not going to threaten Michigan with foul trouble and incessant four foot jumpers like Isaac Haas. He doesn't create his own shots.

Ditto his backups. Seven-foot freshman Lucas N'Guessan has fallen entirely out of the rotation, so the backup 5 is 6'7" Cameron McGriff. This is not a team that is likely to get Michigan in the post foul trouble that's their bugaboo. They may in fact be more vulnerable to it than Michigan: Solomon averages a whopping 7.7 fouls per 40. For comparison, perpetually foul-beset Mo Wagner is at 4.5. Solomon is the main motive force behind those OREBs and a hypothetical absence will hurt the Cowboys on both ends despite his peripheral role in the first-shot offense.

Bad news, personnel department. Point guard Jawun Evans is fast as hell and can seemingly get in the lane against anyone.

Michigan's had trouble with gentlemen of his description for years. Derrick Walton's been awesome but I don't think Evans is a good matchup for him on D, especially in open court situations.


Forte looks like a walk-on until he hits a 35 footer

This could be a game where you see a lot of Xavier Simpson and Michigan's two-PG lineup. Okie State's SG, Phil Forte, is listed at 5'11" and is more or less Spike Albrecht after a power mushroom. Against Baylor he took and hit insanely deep threes twice, and then got himself a three just behind the arc after successfully shot-faking from about 30 feet. He's got Jimmer Fredette range. He's hitting 43% on the year from 3. He's a 95% FT shooter. You're going to take one look at the dude and think "scrub"; nope. He is Not Just A Shooter. And he's also a world-class shooter. He takes trash shots and makes them.

Since the only other backcourt player to get appreciable time is PG-of-the-future Brandon Averette, Michigan's going to have a size advantage and quickness deficit whenever X isn't on the floor.

Good news for people who love bad news. The flip side of that is there's no way Okie State can switch everything. This was the Big Ten's response to Wilson and Wagner's dual takeoffs and intermittently frustrating down the stretch. The Cowboys are going to have two guys on the court a foot shorter than Wilson and Wagner at all times and are going to have to play it straight up, or bank on their 7.7-fouls-per-40 center to check Walton while their mini-me guards try to box out.

Expect junk zones. Early in the year Okie State was picking up point guards at half-court in a half-press. That slowly evaporated over the course of the season as it got torched and the Cowboys settled back into mostly man to man; under duress they will switch to a 3-2 zone and perhaps other exotics. If Michigan runs out to a quick lead chances are high that they see an extended zone of some sort.

Irvin's D is going to get a test. "Defensive stopper Zak Irvin" is suddenly a thing and hoo boy does he have an acid test here. 6'6" wing Jeffrey Carroll lights up Kenpom leaderboards; he's a high-usage, high-efficiency wing who has been super accurate (80/59/43 shooting) and does not turn the ball over. He's a handful. Closeouts will be key: he's had all of two unassisted threes this year. He's not going to rise up on you.

Unverified Voracity Has Bad News For Les Miles

Unverified Voracity Has Bad News For Les Miles

Submitted by Brian on September 10th, 2013 at 10:03 AM

I agree with these men, whatever they happen to be saying. Would you like your Gallon touchdown in… Italian or something?

Les Miles is in a lot of trouble, unless he isn't in any. Sports Illustrated has published the first of five articles detailing NCAA malfeasance at Oklahoma State initiated during the Les Miles era and continuing today. This one is about players getting money from boosters—a lot of them:

In separate interviews seven other former Cowboys told SI they received cash payments; 29 other OSU players were named by teammates as having also taken money. Those payments, which stretched from 2001 to at least '11, were primarily delivered three ways: a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field, managed by an assistant coach; direct payments to players from boosters and coaches independent of performance; and no-show and sham jobs-- including work related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium -- that involved at least one assistant coach and several boosters.

The moral outrage here is all gone…

One or two standouts bought a new car or expensive jewelry, team members say, but the vast majority of the players used the extra cash to purchase everyday items -- food, clothing, tickets to a movie. "There were some athletes who were almost starving," says Carter. "Wherever the money came from, they were like, Yeah, I'll take that."

…but flagrantly violating NCAA rules is, you know, not good. And if you're wondering why so many dudes are breaking omerta here; we may find out at the end of the series, which promises an article on:


One of the selling points of college football is that it changes lives, that young men have their character and fortunes enhanced by taking part in the sport, even if they remain on campus for only a short time. But in the past decade, player after player has been driven out of Stillwater, returning to worlds they had hoped to escape. Some have been incarcerated, others live on the streets, many have battled drug abuse, and a few have attempted suicide. COMING IN NEXT WEEK'S SI/ONLINE SEPT. 17

That does retain outrage.

I'm surprised, but not that surprised. Miles has left a trail of sketchy events in his wake that get overwhelmed by his nuttiness. I may have been 100% wrong about Hoke during the last coaching search, but at least I was right about Miles. Again, it's wonderful to look at Brady Hoke and know that he will neither choose a dumb punt nor turn purple on the sideline nor have a massive cadre of discontent former players who hate him so much to take him down.

Side note: I feel really bad for Brian Phillips. Squinky's revenge. I may feel less bad when Oklahoma State gets a warning squint from the NCAA.

You oughta have excellent medical insurance. Purdue football in two articles. One:

Purdue safety to play vs. Indiana St. with two broken hands

It's not unusual for a college football player to wrap up a broken hand and play with it, particularly for a big game. But Purdue safety Landon Feichter is preparing to play for his Boilermakers' home opener against Indiana State Saturday with two broken hands.


Purdue safety Landon Feichter breaks leg

Feichter was forced to leave Saturday's game in the first half with a leg injury and coach Darrell Hazell confirmed on Saturday night that Feichter had suffered a broken leg.

It's just a flesh wound.

The moral of the story is if you see Purdue football coming towards you, punch it in the nose and run away. Purdue football will have a broken nose, but won't be able to tell.

Jeremy Gallon presents. Okay, official Michigan tumblr, okay:


Gardner knows this is going on, and enjoys looking at the back of his own head.

So that explains it. Via Doug Karsch, Jeremy Gallon describes his game:

"That was a great performance. After the game, I asked him, 'How tall are you, and how tall do you play?' He said, 'I'm 5-8 and a half, but I play like I'm 5-9.'

Now is not then. Orson found this. It is Greg Robinson:


This man was in charge of our defense. He is a weirdo who sets everything on fire. How does that guy get hired by anyone to do anything more complicated than clean gutters? 


Saying a quarterback reminds you of Erik Ainge of Tennessee can be good and bad. It's good, because he's mobile, physically gifted, and often fearless. It's bad because sometimes that means Evil Erik Ainge, the one who threw interceptions when the team could least afford it. Gardner sort of reminds me of Ainge. Tommy Rees, however, might BE Erik Ainge, using a warm body as a spiritual proxy to replay his career in an alternate historical line.

Accuracy issues largely put aside, Gardner's main issue is Reesin' it too often.

Yes. Throw it to Dileo. From Michigan Monday:

Drew Dileo had three catches for 18 yards out of the slot, including the final touchdown of the game on a nice option route that left a defender reminiscing about where Dileo used to be and no longer was.

Get this man the ball.

LAZERS. Stewart Mandel:

That No. 17 Michigan beat the comparably ranked No. 14 Irish is not especially surprising. That it rolled up 41 points on a very talented Notre Dame defense, however, is eye-opening. In particular, quarterback Devin Gardner put all questions to rest about what Michigan's offense will look like post-Denard Robinson. It looks really darn explosive, primarily because Gardner -- who wore No. 98 this week in honor of 1940 Heisman winner Tom Harmon -- has asserted himself as a laser-armed passer.

…Gardner's skills were never more evident than on his last touchdown pass, which came on second-and-goal from the four-yard line with 4:18 remaining. With Notre Dame pass rushers Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo coming at him full bore from opposite sides, Gardner set his feet and threw a perfectly placed dart to receiver Drew Dileo in the end zone.

Probably not a rivalry. This is on the official Notre Dame football blog:

That Notre Dame was struggling against Michigan made me feel that void much more acutely than I would had we been winning, or even struggling against another opponent.

But this was Michigan.

I was shaking in the aftermath of the two fourth-quarter pass interference calls, completely enraged. “I can’t remember the last time I was this pissed,” I texted my dad, who replied, “2011.”

Oh, yeah. 2011.

Etc.: Michigan moves into BCS bowl projections. MVictors has everything you need to know about the Harmon stuff. USF dude impressed with M-ND. Gardner and Gallon postgame. NDMSPaint does Eminem. Northwestern QBs were rather good against Syracuse. Stuffing the Passer. Go. Partake.