Unverified Voracity Yinzers it Up

Unverified Voracity Yinzers it Up

Submitted by Brian on August 3rd, 2018 at 3:14 PM

I have more jokes! Jared Wangler grew a mustache and it is glorious.

Wangler is now

  • Don Brown's greenhorn partner who gets killed in the cold open, leading Brown into a maelstrom of revenge
  • a "vaudville barenuckle boxer"
  • Ben Mason's accomplice in a series of crimes that shock the sensibilities of Victorian London
  • a fullback

Thank you to the many Michigan football players who provide us #content with their bold sartorial choices. Henry Poggi will always be your king.

Khaleke Hudson's very productive day. Match Quarters has an extensive breakdown of Michigan's approach in last year's Minnesota game, which you may remember featured a vast number of Khaleke Hudson TFLs:

hen looking at the scheme Brown chose to defend the Gophers 11/20 pers. formations, one will notice the ultra aggressiveness towards the run and the lack of “coverage” for the H-back. Brown also had several change-ups and automatics to motion and the different formations the Gophers threw at the Wolverines. Below is a diagram of how Brown blitzed the Viper anytime the H-back motioned away.

01 [MIvMN] Base DEF

Coach Brown during his clinic talk at the 2018 Lone Star Clinic noted the absence of the TE in the passing game during the Big 10 season. Outside of Troy Fumagalli at Wisconsin and Mike Gesiki at Penn State, one will be hard-pressed to find a TE that merits an extra man in the passing game. This allowed the Wolverines to add an extra defender in the box against most Big 10 opponents without worrying about an “H-Pop” or a TE streaking down the middle of the field.

Much more at the link.

[After THE JUMP: more Zach Smith stuff, Quinn Hughes doing Quinn Hughes things.]

Quinn Hughes Returns

Quinn Hughes Returns

Submitted by Brian on July 28th, 2018 at 10:34 AM

[James Coller]

Nice:

We choose to think that the site banner was inviolable and not that Vancouver couldn't free up an NHL slot for him. Hughes's return is obviously a big deal; getting a top-ten pick who played in the World Championships and was the best player on the ice in just about every game down the stretch is a massive W. Hughes's rate of improvement and number of near misses late last year should mean a Hobey-level campaign is in the offing.

Unverified Voracity Returns To Explain Monkey Thing

Unverified Voracity Returns To Explain Monkey Thing

Submitted by Brian on July 26th, 2018 at 12:23 PM

Freaks. Bruce Feldman's annual list of people who should not be that size and be able to dance like that leads off with Rashan Gary. These lists always have combine porn:

The 6-foot-5 Gary is at the same weight he was at this time last year — 287 pounds — and his 40-yard dash time is the same at 4.57 seconds. His 3-cone drill at 6.79 was a touch behind last year’s 6.70, although his time this year still would beat every defensive lineman at this year’s NFL scouting combine. His 4.22 pro agility shuttle time also would top every D-lineman at the combine. Next best was 4.32. Another really impressive feat: his 10-4 broad jump, which was 8 inches better than what he did a year ago.

Incoming freshman Julius Welschof is #37 because he's very flippy. Three different Badgers (Olive Sagapolu, Jonathan Taylor, and D'Cota Dixon) make the list as well. If Hornibrook stops throwing so many picks, could be a breakthrough for the Badgers.

(Probably) nothing to see here. The Big Ten Network is up for renewal on the Comcast, and as is standard practice there is now a dual-sided PR campaign going on. BTN's like "dang!" and Fox is like "I mean cumong," and that's what's going on right now in these streets. Wetzel:

...cable giant Comcast is threatening to pull the Big Ten Network (as well as FS1, which shows league games) off basic cable packages. It already did outside the league footprint on second-tier packages. Now it is saying BTN will no longer be on basic cable in communities in the league area as of September 1.

Hence, Silverman’s alarm.

“BTN is now facing our biggest challenge since the launch of the network,” Silverman said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. “Our 10-year agreement with Comcast expires at the end of August. A few months ago, BTN was removed from out-of-market cable systems on Comcast, which is the leading cable provider in the country. … It’s extremely concerning.”

This strikes me as much ado about nothing. While Wetzel points out that cable's monopoly is mercifully crumbling and there's pressure to keep bills down, I have a hard time believing Comcast is going to send a significant section of its Big Ten footprint subscribers into a contemplation of cord-cutting. A deal will be reached at the last minute, both sides will claim victory, and the slow bleed of cable subscribers to over the top services will not get a sudden kick in the pants.

[After the JUMP: employees, monkeys... really too long spent talking about monkeys]

Unverified Voracity Enters The Cone Of Solitude

Unverified Voracity Enters The Cone Of Solitude

Submitted by Brian on June 27th, 2018 at 4:02 PM

[Bryan Fuller]

Carton on campus. In addition to the wave of football commits, Michigan's top remaining basketball target is also in the house:

Carton's previously said he intends to take trips to all of his six finalists before deciding in late summer, so this is not a commit watch situation. Still, given his stated decision criteria...

“The most significant factors in the choice are just… getting me to my future,” he said. “Who can develop me the most (to) become NBA ready, winning, and just the relationships. I want a team that I can call my brothers and stuff like that… that I can go back in like 60 years from now and still know those guys and still talk to them. So, I want my team to feel family-like, and get me to my dream.”

...and Michigan's unmatched ability to put recruits ranked significantly lower than Carton into the NBA, Beilein and company have to feel pretty good here. Also of note: Carton credits Yaklich for initiating his relationship with him while he was at Illinois State; Yaklich is also Jalen Wilson's primary recruiter. Pay that man his money.

ESPN has scouts that avoided the axe. At least in basketball. ESPN's released a new 2019 top 100 featuring Carton at #28; their accompanying article mentions him and a couple other targets. Carton is one of the "fastest risers":

Carton didn't make the final cut of USA Basketball U-18 national team, but he nonetheless opened eyes over the first four days of trials. That, followed by a solid showing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, helped him go from unranked to top 30.

The southpaw lead guard plays at multiple speeds and navigates well in ball screens by creating separation between defenders. He is a high assist maker both in the open floor with the advance pass or in tight spaces as he reads the defense.

Potential 2020 one-and-done RJ Hampton, Jalen Wilson's best bro, is super super highly touted:

R.J. Hampton, No. 3 in 2020
PG, 6-4, 180, Little Elm (Texas)

Hampton is a big point guard with speed and scoring ability. He is more comfortable putting points on the board at this stage in his development, but he continues to show the vision and the ability to read the game.

The NBA covets big point guards and Hampton checks a ton of boxes. Strength and a consistent jump shot are what he needs most.

Camp Sanderson and John Beilein SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA SIR. FWIW, Michigan is in on #3 Cole Anthony (sort of) and #4 Jaden McDaniels, though those guys are in a stratosphere Michigan's recruiting rarely touches. Jalen Wilson is #68.

Also I have just discovered that Fran McCaffrey's kid Patrick is #50. Naturally, he is a 6'9" guy.

[After THE JUMP: American ninja Avant.]

UNVERIFIED VORACITY THINKS THIS IS AN INDOOR VOICE

UNVERIFIED VORACITY THINKS THIS IS AN INDOOR VOICE

Submitted by Brian on June 11th, 2018 at 11:41 AM

Dives. Washtenaw County dive bars surveyed. Self-recommending header picture is above. Also:

It turned out that the day that worked best for us to embark on the trip was a random Tuesday at the end of May. “Are dive bars open on Tuesdays?” I texted my friend. “They are if they want to be considered BEST OF WASHTENAW COUNTY,” he responded.

The penguin is in Saline, FWIW.

I guess this is all but official? We've been waiting for an official confirmation, or at least more than one person reporting, on this for a while now:

As a result we haven't talked about a piece of news since we were waiting to post their respective Exits. /shakes fist at transfer gray areas

Assuming this turns out to be true—and given the way Harbaugh has talked about the RB and WR groups since spring it's almost certainly true—that's two highly ranked guys out the door. Crawford's departure is probably the result of a plunge down the depth chart that saw him omitted from any spring discussion; that plunge down the depth chart is not a surprise given his flatly terrible play in 2017.

Walker flashed promise as a Brandon Minor-esque rage back in limited carries last year and would be an unfortunate loss. He'd publicly struggled with the transition to Michigan but seemed to get things on track last year; it would be really disappointing if he couldn't manage it, and Michigan could help him enough to do so.

Neither departure is likely to have much impact on the field this year; Michigan returns its top two backs and every WR outside of Crawford. Walker's presumed absence could bite next year.

FWIW, I wouldn't start getting worried about O'Maury Samuels yet. Harbaugh's mention of Tru Wilson as the #3 guy on the depth chart was immediately followed by a Samuels mention and a reference to his hamstring holding him back this spring. Meeanwhile, the WRs:

"I feel like our wide receivers have come along," Harbaugh told reporters during the 'Best of the Midwest' event. "Coach Mac has done a great job coaching them. Tarik, Donovan have probably done the best job of anybody in spring practice. Nate Schoenle, Oliver Martin, Nico Collins also did extremely well. Nico was slowed a little bit by a shoulder. Was going for a ball when we were working with pads and hurt his shoulder. He fought through that. I think he's got some real good upside. Those four guys there probably had the best spring."

Those four guys are actually five guys and Crawford is not amongst them. The lines are not hard to read between.

[After THE JUMP: FULLBACK TALK]

Unverified Voracity Says Throw-God, No

Unverified Voracity Says Throw-God, No

Submitted by Brian on May 1st, 2018 at 12:29 PM

Recruiting rankings matter, and also have a systemic bias. NFL players versus blue chip recruits, mapped:

image

Blue states have more NFL players than blue chip recruits; red states have fewer. That's part of a thorough Football Study Hall article on recruiting rankings and the draft, and is about as conclusive as possible that the recruiting industry is systematically underrating the Midwest and overrating the south. The south does have more players—only an idiot would dispute that—but the gap isn't as big as the rankings suggest.

UPDATE: Related event:

Barkley was not composite top 100.

"I'm in Paris, better justify my existence." Kyle Rowland of the Blade unearths a cool Michigan story:

image


PARIS — Less than 10 miles from the Michigan football team’s palatial hotel in the heart of Paris sits Stade Olympique de Colombes, the host of the 1924 Olympic Games.

The old stadium, now 111 years old, is rickety and considerably smaller than its heyday when it entertained the world’s best athletes. Inside the concrete walls, DeHart Hubbard, one of the University of Michigan’s greatest sportsmen, became the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event, with a leap of 24 feet, 5 inches in the long jump on his sixth and final jump with a bruised heel.

“When I was a student, I came in 1976, and I looked at the school records because I was a long jumper, and that’s when I found out the first notion of who he was,” said James Henry, now the co-head coach of the UM women’s track and field team. “Then I found out he was the first African-American Olympic gold medalist. I was enthralled by him. He was my role model.

“He was at the University of Michigan at a time in which blacks couldn't do very much anywhere. I just felt that if this man can make it, I can make it. Making a name for myself by beating his records meant everything to me. That was my drive as a student-athlete to participate at a high level.”

Much more at the link. Now Rowland can file that expense report with a clear conscience.

Paging Mitch Leidner to the Department of Inexplicably Overrated Big Ten Quarterbacks. One mock draft was a hilarious oversight by an overworked intern. Two was worrisome. But now that it appears the NFL draft people are unanimous in asserting this person is a first round pick

    The Pick: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern

    The New York Giants passed on the chance to draft a quarterback of the future with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft, but is that a decision they'll regret? Or will fourth-rounder Kyle Lauletta be the answer?

    If after a season of watching Lauletta and 2017 third-rounder Davis Webb, the Giants feel like the long-term answer at starter isn't on the roster, the team could be in good shape to draft a quarterback in 2019. Northwestern's Clayton Thorson nearly declared for this year's draft before surveying the deep group of passers and deciding to return to school. He has the arm, accuracy and intangibles to be considered a first-rounder one year from now.

…it's time to lay very still and sweat profusely, hoping this is a crazy dream.

Clayton Thorson! Sir, I have seen an unstoppable throw-god in purple. You, sir, are no Trevor Siemian. Thorson averaged 6.6 YPA with a 15-12 TD-INT ratio last year. But he's 6'4" and superficially looks like an NFL quarterback, so on the list he goes.

Making this take even nuttier: Thorson tore his ACL in the bowl game and is questionable for the upcoming season.

Meanwhile, Michigan prospects for 2019. Only two Wolverines show up on Athlon's top 50: #2 Rashan Gary and #22 Shea Patterson. Zach Shaw rounded up all the Way Too Early Mock Drafts and those two are the only guys on any of them. This is odd to me since Michigan's cornerback duo was probably the best in the country, at least in terms of passer rating allowed. You'd think one of the two would be a consideration for the end of the first round.

A flip. A development in the slightly less important FBI investigation:

The director of an amateur Massachusetts basketball team affiliated with Adidas AG agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors investigating an NCAA bribery scandal, according to a copy of the agreement made public Friday.

Thomas "T.J." Gassnola entered the plea on March 30 to federal charges that he made payments to families of high school student-athletes in exchange for their commitment to play for certain universities, according to the filing.

NC State seems to be the main school linked with Gassnola, but, uh… Notre Dame(!) is an Adidas[correction: they switched to UA] school that just picked up two players from Gassnola's AAU team. I will give the FBI one dollar if they sweep the Irish into this. Think of the ND Nation takes.

Wilde take. Quinn Hughes is #5 on this NHL mock draft. Bode Wilde is #17:

17. New Jersey Devils: Bode Wilde, D, U.S. U18 (NTDP)

There are few prospects in this draft who can provide GMs with a skill set as tantalizing as Wilde’s. The big, mobile defender was a minute muncher for a deep NTDP blue line and his explosive first step is drool inducing. You don’t find many 6-2 defensemen with dynamic speed and a blistering shot, which is why GM Ray Shero should add this thoroughbred to his already-dangerous Devils’ attack

He'll be an acid test for the new staff's ability to mold guys, because he's a boom or bust guy on the NHL level because of his tendency to get out of position and cede odd man rushes.

FWIW, Hughes is the only draft-eligible and only college player on this year's IIHF World Championship team.

Etc.: John Infante on the NCAA resurrecting the transfer waiver, which may have been relevant for Patterson. WCBN profiles Hughes. The era in which Orson launches entirely warranted bombs at a Michigan assistant coach is going to be brutal. Wagner and Matthews invited to the draft combine.

Unverified Voracity Waits

Unverified Voracity Waits

Submitted by Brian on April 19th, 2018 at 3:34 PM

38835635031_a6693dca70_z

look, if they had a spring game you wouldn't have to keep looking at the same picture [Bryan Fuller]

Shea status. Michigan responded with a letter from Shea Patterson answering the questions posed, and Ole Miss said "whatever," more or less:

In communications this week, Ole Miss told the NCAA it basically had nothing to add.

"There is nothing new here," Bjork told CBS Sports. "We do not oppose the student-athlete competing right away if the decision is based on accurate information, NCAA bylaws, applicable waiver standards and relevant case precedent."

Patterson's attorney, Tom Mars, concluded, "Therefore, the case is ready to be decided. The timing of the NCAA's decision is a matter of the staff's discretion, so there is no timetable for when a decision will be made. I'm confident, however, that the staff will not take any more time than is necessary to come to the right decision."

The NCAA has all the information it's going to get, and it is a lot of information. Mars bombed the idea that Patterson hadn't added anything new in an interview with Sam. Patterson's letter was apparently 9 pages long; Ole Miss's response was a single paragraph.

Either way we'll know soon—but it had better be a thumbs up unless the NCAA wants a ton of awful PR for no reason. It's not like there's going to be a spate of free transfers from schools that get in trouble and lie about it—currently that list of schools stands at just Ole Miss.

Hang on to your butts. Neal Rubin has details on the terrifying but ultimately harmless plane crash before last year's Big Ten tournament:

…according to the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder, part of the investigative report released last week by the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot’s terse “Abort” at 187 mph was met with a historically sensible, procedurally correct and potentially fatal response.

“No. Not above —” the copilot said, referring to takeoff speed. Then: “(Expletive.)”

What the captain felt in his hands, and the copilot had no way of knowing, was that the two-engine jetliner was not going to climb. The yoke “felt heavy, like there was a stack of bricks on the nose,” he told investigators, and so he immediately did exactly what pilots are trained to avoid.

The 881-page report is here if you have a great deal of time.

Tough sell for transfers; transfers a tough sell. Per Josh Henschke, South Dakota transfer Matt Mooney has dropped Michigan from consideration. This is not much of a surprise since he should be able to find 30 MPG somewhere else.

The only other transfer currently associated with Michigan is Robert Morris SG Dachon Burke, but 1) Burke is a sit one, play two kid with 2) a 102 ORTG in the NEC. I don't know what ORTG a sit-one-play-two low-major guy would have to have to be appealing given that Michigan currently has one open 2019 scholarship, but it's not 102. It's probably 130. Anyone talking about Burke seriously hasn't looked at Michigan's roster.

image

Carton's HS has great jerseys that Michigan should try to copy, too

Especially since… In the aftermath of Michigan's Final Four run, Beilein has started hitting up a bunch of top 50 guys. Michigan appears to be recruiting in the expectation they'll have two spots and they would like those to be a combo guard and a wing. With Duke folks still banking on Joe Girard, it's recently-offered IA CG DJ Carton who now seems like the most likely big-time combo addition. Carton's recruitment is nearly an entirely intraconference battle, with Marquette the lone school outside of the Big Ten drawing much mention.

Carton has four CB picks to Wisconsin on his profile but Wisconsin 247 guy Evan Flood seems like he's trying to let the locals down easy, saying that if he had an idea of where to flip his pick he'd flip it away from the Badgers. Guard depth is cited as a problem—a dubious assertion given Wisconsin's guard play and recent recruiting. Meanwhile Henschke seems fairly close to a Michigan crystal ball.

Nunez doesn't hit rim. Some highlights:

Much shorter reel than Castleton's but that form is so pure.

Final CSB. Players of note on the postseason Central Scouting Bureau's list of NA skaters:

  • #6 Quinn Hughes. Actually dropped from #4. Crazy!
  • #7 Oliver Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom decommitted from Harvard and is apparently choosing between BC, Michigan, and maybe a year in Europe. No news since Jeff Cox reported that a week ago.
  • #17 Bode Wilde. Will be a freshman in AA next year, also after decommitting from Harvard. Hopefully he and Wahlstrom are bros.
  • #154 Jack Randl. That makes Randl a late pick if he actually goes.

Michigan's other draft-age commits—Calen Kiefiuk and Jacob Semik—are not listed. That's not a huge surprise for either given their USHL numbers, though Semik has some peripheral stats that look pretty good. (More about that later.)

This class was hurt pretty badly by the uncertainty about Red Berenson; Pearson's tried to fill it in with various overagers as he seeks to bridge the gap between Hughes and Norris to the 2020 group. Flipping Wilde will be a big help there; a one-and-done from Wahlstrom would also be real nice. Also…

Obligatory Jack Hughes mention. Hughes draws a New York Times(!) profile. Most of it is stuff you're already familiar with if you follow Michigan hockey. A section at the end definitively states that he won't accelerate (boo), but then broaches the possibility of the #1 pick in the draft spending a year somewhere other than the NHL:

Hughes is undecided about where he will play after he is done with the National Team Development Program in 2019. He is considering college hockey and the junior ranks in Canada. “We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. He’s just a kid,” said Jim Hughes, who now works for Pat Brisson, the top agent whose clients include Matthews, now a Maple Leafs star, and other N.H.L. players.

One other possibility is a year of pro hockey in Switzerland, where Matthews played, on Brisson’s advice, before being drafted. Going directly to the N.H.L. after the 2019 draft could be a stretch unless Jack Hughes adds plenty of pounds and bulk over the next 18 months.

That's not going to happen, right? When's the last time that happened? I don't even want to think about it. They'd still give the Hobey to Jimmy Vesey.

Exit fun guy. Alas: 2020 hockey recruit Antonio Stranges signed with London. May he have better luck than previous Michigan decommits. Fellow touted 2020 recruit Andrei Bakanov signed a tender with the USHL's Cedar Rapids after not making himself available for the OHL draft and is on track to matriculate. Bakanov has some stats:

Bakanov, a six-foot-two, 192-pound forward, spent the 2017-18 season with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, totaling an impressive 112 points (57G, 55A) in 77 total games between the program's HPHL schedule and U16 AAA schedule.

“Cedar Rapids has a great history of producing tremendous players," Bakanov said. "The plan that Coach Carlson provided my family and me not only for on ice development , but also developing as a student and person, far exceeded our expectations. I was able to see a game on my visit and the support of the fans for the team really excited me."

If he scores at a decent clip in his draft-1 year in the USHL he'll be a first round candidate.

Etc.: Awful Announcing on the Athletic's impressive growth. 2019 wing Jae'lyn Withers lists Michigan as one of four schools he's hearing the most from. Withers jumped 54 spots to 61st in the latest Rivals update. Zach Shaw says goodbye to Wagner. He's probably a second round pick. Ticket packs and prices announced. Baseball is "last five in" per D1baseball Dot Com

WTKA Roundtable 4/12/2018: You Can’t Squeeze a Baby Like You Squeeze a Football

WTKA Roundtable 4/12/2018: You Can’t Squeeze a Baby Like You Squeeze a Football

Submitted by Seth on April 13th, 2018 at 7:53 AM

WTKA cover 2018-04-13

Things discussed:

  • The Amazon Special: Craig Ross is a star, Pep Hamilton is photogenic, Jim is pretty chill, Don Brown is our dude.
  • Best part of it is Chase Winovich: “You gonna protect your quarterback? Help me out bro run or pass? Why didn’t you block me?!?” Rashan’s mom: “Now go get some quarterback ass!”
  • Ed’s favorite part is Harbaugh using changing the baby as a metaphor for not fumbling and the entire team is like “What is he talking about?” except Karan Higdon like “Yup, yup, yup, with the toys on the floor…”
  • Hockey: Bad news is they were heavily reliant on their first line and that line all graduates/left early. Good news is they get Lockwood back, get one and maybe two Hughes brothers. People think Jack will stick it out with the NTDP but chance to play with your brother…
  • Hoops outlook: Expecting Moe to go the NBA but it’s not as sure as it was before. Next year they can be a really good defensive team with Teske at the 5 but that makes you wonder where the shooting comes from other than Poole.
  • The croots: Iggy is a shooter. Defense? Um. Passing? Not really. Buckets. Takes the Poole role. DeJulius the backup PG at least by end of last year, but only because Z is going to improve. Our slack chat is filled with drool over Castleton but might not get to use that until he’s had a thousand more trips through the buffet line.

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

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Podbean.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.

THE USUAL LINKS

I put the baby down gently, he doesn’t have brain damage. I didn’t throw him.

Plinko Pays Some Debts

Plinko Pays Some Debts

Submitted by Brian on March 27th, 2018 at 1:10 PM

3/24/2018 – Michigan 3, Northeastern 2 – 21-14-3
3/25/2018 – Michigan 6, Boston U 3 – 22-14-3, Frozen Four

I've seen NCAA tournament games like Sunday's before: one team gets down, and gets desperate, and dumps all that energy into a relentless pursuit of the puck. Sometimes it's Michigan overturning a 3-0 deficit against Denver to win. Sometimes it's Boston College dominating just about every second despite being down 2-1. Most of the time when this team gets even, they keep going. BC's tying goal in 2004 was game over even if it took overtime. Shots were 45-17 in a game Michigan led the vast majority of. If North Dakota had scored on Shawn Hunwick, that was also game over.

So: Sunday. After about 30 minutes where Michigan had the edge in zone time and staked themselves to a two-goal lead, BU scores on a wraparound, then amps up their forecheck. The ice tilts their direction. When Quinn Hughes isn't on the ice, Michigan barely attempts a controlled zone exit, instead flinging the puck up the boards to BU defensemen. They dump it back in to continue the cycle. The game started to feel like Michigan's recent Big Ten playoff outing against Wisconsin, which this space called Michigan's worst of the year despite the fact that they won it.

And BU scores. They score when Josh Norris flips a pass back to Joe Cecconi in the face of two forecheckers. Cecconi makes a bad situation worse by trying to fling the puck up the slot. Turnover, unchecked guy directly in front of goalie with puck, goal, tie game, game over feeling.

The ensuing three minutes are more of the same; Michigan does not register a shot attempt and BU has a couple of dangerous chances. Then Slaker takes the puck out of the zone—a tiny flag is waved—and gets rubbed out on the boards. This is about the least threatening way hockey players can be configured:

image

Slaker duly follows up on the defenseman the puck is wandering towards, and then something magical and very very stupid happens. That guy's attempted D to D pass gets caught up in the snow around the bench and turns into a perfect lead pass for Slaker. Horrified, the defenseman explodes in a shower of equipment and collapses to the ground, where he remains even now. Slaker then skates into the slot and shoots a puck off the other defenseman's shin that goes straight into the net. Various larger flags are waved.

That's more or less it. Michigan puts up an insurance marker a bit later but in a game like hockey even when you're playing badly and giving up a bunch of zone time to the opposition, a one goal lead is usually enough with 13 minutes left. They put up a stat at the beginning of the third that Michigan was a brazillion and one when leading after two and BU was 2-6 when trailing. 

Slaker's goal combined with Michigan's second, which bounced off the end boards and behind the goalie directly to Brendan Warren, and the BU wrap-around goal to lend the proceedings the distinct whiff of Barely Weighted Hockey Plinko. This is why it was very exciting to get in the tournament: it's usually pretty random and this year there is no dominant team that threatens to make it less so. The top seed got blown up by Air Force, which is a movie we've seen before.

Once you're there, though… I have to admit that mixed in with the hope and nervousness is a certain nihilism, because of this terrible format and hockey's failure to address the goalie revolution that shot save percentages skyward. I shook my fist at hockey plinko when Northeastern scored to even a game in which Michigan had a 2-to-1 shot advantage, and muttered something positive about it under my breath when Michigan scored on a harmless-looking play to retake the lead. They don't quite even out.

But here they are, no more or less deserving than Carl Hagelin or TJ Hensick or dozens of other Michigan hockey players who had the misfortune to have the puck bounce the wrong way instead of the right way. Cooper Marody, Tony Calderone, and Dexter Dancs wiped out the best line in the country in game one; Quinn Hughes spent the weekend looking like he had rockets in his skates; the team as a whole mercifully stayed out of the box for the vast majority of both games. Insofar as it's possible to earn anything in single elimination hockey, Michigan has earned their way to their first Frozen Four in seven years.

May our continued existence continue to entertain the hockey gods.

BULLETS

PONCHO TIME? Hockey borrowed something from basketball.

I'll allow it.

This is too random. Some randomness in a tourney is fun. Without it there's no point in playing. Too much randomness and the format is clearly broken, with annually unsatisfying champions that have no real claim to being the best team. This is too random:

After going 12-0 against No. 4s in the first three years, No. 1s are 31-21. A No. 4 seed has won at least one game against a No. 1 in each of the last 13 seasons. Since realignment came about, No. 4 seeds have won eight of 12. …

In the case of those four seeds that became national champions — Yale in 2013 and Providence in 2015 — they were the last teams in the tournament. Providence qualified by .0002 RPI points over Bowling Green in 2015. This year, Duluth was the last team in by .0001 points over Minnesota. In any other year, UMD would've been a No. 4 as well. However, BU, Princeton and Michigan Tech winning their conference tournaments changed all of that.

Air Force turtled against SCSU and got lucky, like they did against Michigan some years back. The prevalence of blocked shots and super high save percentages makes that strategy pay off way too often; the sport should take radical steps to increase scoring, so that individual games are more indicative of who's actually better at doing hockey.

Stayed out of the box! Four power plays against on the weekend. One fairly badass goal from Northeastern and that's it. Given the margins here any more would have been disastrous.

But it was rough against BU. Per College Hockey News, Michigan was out-shot-attempted 63-31 at even strength. M helped bridge that gap by blocking almost a third of BU's attempts (19); BU only blocked 6 of Michigan's. Michigan benefited from the randomness this year. Hooray.

I take solace in the fact that Michigan played ND dead even this year and it didn't seem like the Irish were ever able to lock Michigan in their own zone like BU did, even when they trailed in both games of the Michigan sweep.

If Michigan does get OSU that's… sort of okay? 0-5 on the year is far from ideal, but the playoff outing was just about even at 5v5, and even though Michigan was swept in multi-goal games in late January they had huge ES Corsi advantages in both games. (55-31 and 43-23.) I ain't scared of those guys.

Hughes. Before this season my personal ranking of defensemen I've seen play for Michigan went like this:

  1. Jacob Trouba
  2. Mike Komisarek
  3. Zach Werenski
  4. Jack Johnson
  5. Jon Merrill

Hughes is flying up the list despite not even being drafted yet. He's… #3? I think I'd take him over Werenski. His absurd skating nullifies most of his size deficiencies…

…and late in the year he's learned what he can do at this level. He's still a bit wild and will turn the puck over in a bad spot a couple times per game, but that's because he's trying—and largely succeeding at—stuff that nobody else has the ability to even attempt. Here's an excellent twitter thread highlighting some of the things he did in the BU game.

Etc.: Michigan, those loveable underdog scamps. Berenson watched from the stands.

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

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

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on 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)]