This Week's Obsession: Who Should Basketball Play?

This Week's Obsession: Who Should Basketball Play?

Submitted by Seth on November 11th, 2015 at 12:48 PM

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This was a good idea. Also omigod #23 is Carlton Brundidge; I totally forgot that. [Fuller]

The Question:

Nothing we can do about Michigan basketball's crappy nonconference schedule, but I asked the MGoCrew who they'd play in a home and home.

 
Opponent KP Rk %win
Elon 268 97%
Xavier 31 72%
Uconn 32 57%
Syracuse* 33 ~57%
Zaga, TX, A&M, Wash 8, 34, 39, 135 ~21%
at NCState 41 46%
Hou Baptist 308 98%
at SMU 23 38%
Delaware St 335 99%
N Kentucky 271 97%
YSU 287 97%
Bryant 240 96%
*Cuse plays Charlotte (261st) in the first round.

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

Ace: Michigan's non-conference schedule outside of Xavier and the Battle for Atlantis tournament—admittedly some strong competition—is woefully bad. Xavier is the only non-conference home opponent ranked within the top 240(!) teams on KenPom. While you want to schedule some easy wins, that's taking the concept to an extreme while sacrificing both RPI standing and fan interest; games against Houston Baptist and Delaware State aren't exactly big draws.

I'd love to see the Wolverines rekindle a local series against a team that's still quite beatable but at least has a pulse: Oakland. The Grizzlies tend to be ranked in the 150 range on KenPom—they're 160th this preseason—and John Beilein went 4-0 against them from 2008-2012, playing those games either at Crisler or The Palace. They're seemingly the perfect level of opponent; they hung within 20 points of Michigan in each of those games but never came closer than ten points in the final score. Their coach, Greg Kampe, still very much wants to play the series. They're local. They play MSU on a near-annual basis. It makes almost too much sense from both a resumé and fan interest standpoint—I'd so much rather watch Michigan take on Oakland or Detroit than some bottom-feeder from outside the Midwest, and I'm sure I'm not alone there.

[After the JUMP: if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.]

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Union and RPI

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Union and RPI

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 27th, 2015 at 2:05 PM

Friday, October 23, 2015

Union 5, Michigan 5- OT

1st period

No scoring

2nd period

Union 1 UM 0 02:04 EV Dufour unassisted

Boo Nieves has the puck along the boards and carries to the blue line. As he turns to his right he’s bumped and starts to lose his balance.

union 1-1

Just as Nieves regains his balance the defender who was in the middle of the screenshot above steps up and strips the puck. This is a perfectly timed steal to the point that I don’t think there’s anything Nieves can do to prevent it.

union 1-2

Union’s Mark Dufour barrels through the neutral zone, but there are two Michigan defenders who are able to close and semi-impede his progress. Still, the screenshot below is one of the first moments where it becomes obvious that Union is a step ahead and going to be able to get a shot off; that shot, though, is going to come from Dufour as there isn’t anyone else remotely close.

union 1-3

Racine stays at the top of the crease too long. As Dufour cuts he’s given access to too much of the nearside net because Racine doesn’t slide and drop soon enough. Dufour is able to backhand one in to open the scoring.

union 1-4

[After THE JUMP: BELLYFLOP GOAL]

Hoops Opponent Watch: Buckeye Freefall Edition

Hoops Opponent Watch: Buckeye Freefall Edition

Submitted by BiSB on January 17th, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Non-Conference Opponents

GeorgesGordonparker

RPI Effect Only Teams:

The Big Four RPI torpedoes remained on course this week. UMass-Lowell (3-12) beat Binghamton, and in doing so moved up to become only the second-worst team Michigan has played. They ceded that particular crown of used car parts to Houston Baptist (4-12), who lost to Stephen F. Austin, though I’m not sure whether we’re talking about the school or the long-deceased American empresario*.

South Carolina State (5-11) lost to Morgan State and Coppin State, but beat Maryland Eastern Shore, which is the second-toughest of the Maryland beaches. Coppin State (5-11) lost to Savannah State in addition to their glorious triumph over the aforementioned South Carolina State. The Fightin’ Coppinites are the only one of the Four Horsemen of the RPIpocalypse threatening to break into the Top 300.

Long Beach State (5-11) beat UC Davis, but lost to UC Irvine, and this week they take on UC Santa Barbara. What, are you afraid of Riverside? Holy Cross (7-9) lost to Bucknell, and dropped to 1-3 in the Patriot League. Charlotte (10-5) suffered a really bad loss to UTSA.

*[NOTE TO MY BIOGRAPHER: Please refer to me as an “American empresario” at every opportunity. We should probably work it into the description on the dust jacket. Call me to discuss.]

Big Sorts of Teams

#8 Iowa State (14-2, 2-2 Big 12)

This week: Lost to Oklahoma (87-82); Lost to Kansas (77-70)

Rough week for Iowa State, though losses at Oklahoma and at home to Kansas aren’t terrible. They play at Texas this week in essentially a coin-flip game. They also continue to play at a ridiculous tempo; their last three games have seen the Cyclones with 74, 78, and 79 possessions. Michigan, by comparison, hasn’t cracked 61 possessions in Big Ten play, and only exceeded 71 possessions once, when they played… Iowa State.

Florida State (11-4, 1-1 ACC)

This week: Beat Clemson (56-41); Beat Maryland (85-61)

Florida State’s defense remains really good, though given that they are the giant walking trees from the Lord of the Rings* that is probably to be expected. They are only allowing an eFG% of 41.0%. This is especially impressive when you take into account the amount of transition opportunities created by Florida State’s Indiana-like turnover numbers.

#23 Dook (13-4, 2-2 ACC)

This week: Lost to Clemson (72-59); Beat Virginia (69-65)

Beating UVA, even at home, is a quality win for Duke, and they might have had another one had they not blown a late second-half lead at Clemson.

With none of Jabari Parker’s Duke, Andrew Wiggins’ Kansas, or McDonald’s All America’s Kentucky being in the AP Top 10, you have to wonder if this signals a move away from individual play, and that the basketball world will once again begin to focus on teamwork and… yeah, sorry, probably not so much.

#1 Arizona (16-0, 3-0 PAC 12)

This week: Beat USC 73-53

Easy week for RichRod and company.

Stanford (9-4, 0-1 PAC 12)

This week: Lost to Oregon State (81-72); Beat Oregon (82-80)

That Oregon win was in Eugene, giving Stanford a second nice road win to pair with its victory at UConn in December. Weirdly, they don’t have home win over a top-125 team, losing their only two such chances to BYU and Cal. They are still a bubble team, and will probably need an upset or two to get to survive on the bubble.

* [ed-S: Treebeard if you're reading this they're just regular ents, not the entwives; sorry, we still haven't seen them, have you tried West Lafayette?]

[AFTER THE JUMP: The Big Ten and other assorted things]

Unverified Voracity Needs Word Like Epic, Only Moreso

Unverified Voracity Needs Word Like Epic, Only Moreso

Submitted by Brian on March 20th, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Or maybe "fail." Minnesota lost money selling beer.

The University of Minnesota lost almost $16,000 last year on alcohol sales at football games, despite selling more than $900,000 worth of beer and wine.

Proving that there's nothing too goddamn ridiculous to assert in public in a laughable attempt to save face, Minnesota responds!

University officials say it was never the intent that the school turn a profit on alcohol sales.

Jim Delany has taught you well, Minnesota.

Do you like pictures of oily men not wearing very much? Have I got some instagram for you, ladies and men hopeful Frank Clark is going to be superbad this year. Before and after winter conditioning, here's Devin Gardner and Frank Clark:

imageBFrajY8CUAAI2Uf[1]

ANN ARBOR (AP) – FEMALE BLOG READERSHIP DROPS 96.5% AS COLD SHOWERS SKYROCKET. MEN GENERALLY HOPE FOR MORE PASS RUSH, WITH SCATTERED EXCEPTIONS.

I now believe Clark is at 277, sure.

Is oiling an extra benefit? Get Rosenberg on the case, yo.

I certainly hope this prediction is worthless since you seem to have something more pressing to do. Man with no more knowledge of basketball than random Rome caller picks Michigan to Elite Eight. Happens to be president, so people note it. Watch for upcoming Graham Couch column on how Obama is racist!

Obama chose Indiana, Ohio State and Louisville as his other Final Four teams [to go with Florida].

"I think (Aaron) Craft's defense is unbelievable," Obama said. "That makes a big difference."

OBAMA IS A RACIST

By Grahm Graghm Graham Couch

Has anyone notice how racist Obama is?

Welcome to the jungle!

I kid, kid.

It's just that for a black man his skin tone isn't very dark and he seems to think Aaron Craft is good at basketball.

I think Aaron Craft isn't, because he's white.

That makes Obama racist.

Just sayin'.

I like pudding.

Alot.

Graham Couch can be reached at [email protected].

Old lady is a nut. Old Lady, please leave man-mountain alone.

"I had an old lady who saw me at Kroger with my dad, (she asked) 'Are you Taylor, that No. 77 fella?'" said Lewan, mimicking her voice. "I was like, 'Uh, yeah, I'm Taylor.'

'She goes, 'You're an idiot! Why would you do that? You're dumb.'

"I was like, 'I appreciate it. Thank you. Go blue.' I didn't know what to say."

That's what you get for going to Kroger, man. Mandatory scan-your-card grocery stores FTL, amirite?

Aw man but we're just a four seed. Jeff Goodman runs down the list of teams with the most NBA talent and starts in Ann Arbor:

Trey Burke (G, 6-0, 190): The sophomore is a National Player of the Year candidate and also could be the first point guard taken in the June draft. He can shoot it, distribute, and will be ideal at the next level in pick-and-roll situations. Most NBA executives have him going somewhere among the lottery selections.

Glenn Robinson III (F, 6-6, 210): The Big Dog's son still needs another year in college, but he's intriguing. He's long and athletic and has shown spurts in which he's looked phenomenal. He still needs to shoot it more consistently from the perimeter and also play hard all the time, but he'd likely be a first-rounder if he left after this season.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (G, 6-6, 205): Another ex-NBA player's kid, Hardaway Jr. has improved his decision-making. He has nice length for a wing player, but still needs to improve his ability to put the ball on the floor. Likely pegged somewhere in the second round.

Stauskas and McGary also mentioned. But hey, at least we're a four-seed instead of an eight like #2 NC State. Mark Gottfried may be a terrible coach, but I remember thinking that about Thad Matta a few years ago and… uh… no. I will reserve judgment this time around.

This may be why. Even when talking about dangerous mid-majors in the tourney, Luke Winn manages to rope you in with interesting Michigan-related stats. Like this one:

130320.11[1]

Michigan isn't just the least experienced team in the tourney, they're the least by a mile.

SDSU is included at #8. Winn says watch out for this business:

The Wolters Special is a left-hand hesitation dribble, followed by a drive left and a righty floater/runner.

That's alarmingly Burke-like.

Aw man but they're an eight seed. A tip of the hat to Robert Morris despite their fans' failure to chant "N-E-C" last night after they knocked off the NIT's top seed Kentucky in a first round game at the Colonial's 3500-seat arena. (Rupp has NCAA games this weekend so Kentucky did not bid to host.) Even with the missed opportunity, Robert Morris set the irritating meme about "perception" harming the NCAA fates of SEC bubble teams on fire.

What meme? This meme. Cuonzo Martin two days ago:

“I wish I knew,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. I would say a lack of respect more than anything. When you have a second-place team at this level (Kentucky and Alabama finished second in the SEC and will join UT in the NIT), it’s almost like a mid-major mentality in this league. When your second-place team doesn’t get in the NCAA tournament — this is a BCS league, it’s one of the best league’s [sic] in the country — that just shouldn’t happen.” …

“When you look at Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky,” he added, “those are NCAA tournament teams; they’re just not playing in the NCAA tournament.”

If the SEC had actually beaten anybody in the nonconference maybe we could talk here. Florida got a three-seed thanks in part to wins over Wisconsin, Marquette, and I guess Middle Tennessee. Missouri got in comfortably with wins over VCU and Illinois. The entire rest of the league had three (three) wins over teams that got an at-large bid to the tourney, those Arkansas over Oklahoma in the midst of a 1-4 slide against BCS teams (and at home, obviously), Alabama over Villanova on a neutral floor, and Tennessee beating Wichita State at home.

USA Today rounds up the internet aftermath, with obligatory wikipedia vandalism:

w5eW8KW[1]

oh god someone get rid of that apostrophe

The ACC is also bitching about a lack of respect, Rodney Dangerfield-style. If that's the case, the ACC is suffering a lack of respect from every-damn-body on the internet. Of 120(!) brackets tracked by the Bracket Matrix, all of seven had Virginia in them.

It is not that hard to predict this stuff, as Andy Glockner points out in excellent article. It's no secret how to game the RPI: don't lose at home, play some road games, and if you have to play a really bad team make sure they're not D-I. Glockner points out an imbalance in the RPI's home-road adjustment I hadn't thought about:

Almost a decade ago, the NCAA made an adjustment to the RPI formula to try to incentivize teams to play more road games. Of course, they screwed up the math such that the new formula rewards “not losing at home” more than it does “winning on the road,” at least for what its primary purpose is: sorting teams that may make the NCAAs.

The formula adjustment for Factor I (your winning percentage) now credits you with 0.6 wins for a home win and 1.4 wins for a road victory. Likewise, you get 1.4 home losses for an actual home defeat and 0.6 losses for an away loss. That sounds like a reasonable plan until you realize that the target demographic — NCAA tournament-caliber teams — are all way above .500. As such, when you split two games (.500 overall), you want that impact to be as small as possible on your overall adjusted record, as determined by the RPI formula.

If you win at home and lose the away game, you would get an extra 0.6-0.6 added into your overall adjusted record. If you do it the other way, you get 1.4-1.4 added to your totals. If you are well above .500 overall, like all these NCAA caliber teams are, adding the 1.4-1.4 into the record drags you down more than the 0.6-0.6 does. In simple terms, losing home games (for 1.4 losses in your adjusted Factor I) is the worst thing you can do, and it’s way more harmful than adding 1.4 wins to the ledger is helpful.

He also mentions that the committee did to some extent see through the Mountain West's conference-wide Game of RPIs*, dropping New Mexico and their on-paper case for a one seed down to a three and giving the rest of the league seeds that portend a second-round exit.

Yeah, it is perception that the ACC is down and the SEC is worse than the Mountain West. An accurate one.

*[CRAPPY MATH IS COMING]

This week in Expansion Was A Bad Idea. Verizon FIOS wants to move to a you-watch-it-you-pay-for-it model. Who could have predicted this?

“This is the beginning,” said Gene Kimmelman, a former senior antitrust official at the Justice Department. “If the conflict between cable distributors and content owners persists and prices keep rising, there will be enormous market pressure to begin unbundling offerings, give consumers more choices and, from my perspective, ultimately let consumers control what they buy and how much they pay.”

Nobody! Except a lot of people. [HT: Get The Picture.]

Etc.: But the kids love it! In other news, kids enjoy Laffy Taffy. Wetzel on O'Bannon and Delany. How did it take this long for someone to beat up Tim Doyle? No offense, Tim, it's just that you shouldn't have called Kendall Gill "that wasp that lays eggs in spiders and then the baby wasps eat the spider from the inside out" for ten years.

Of course Michigan State fans are buying up SDSU apparel. This is why you are Sparty. Delany-inspired "feelings collage." "An Open Letter From Jefferson Davis To Jim Delany." Don't recruit short fat guys.

How To Schedule In College Basketball

How To Schedule In College Basketball

Submitted by Brian on March 13th, 2012 at 3:10 PM

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The president and first lady confront the realities of Towson basketball.

Iona is this year's controversial selection for the NCAA tournament. They booted Drexel and a few other schools based on their nonconference strength of schedule despite Drexel playing better in a better league—the CAA is Kenpom's #13 conference, the MAAC #20—and seeming to have a shinier resume. At some level, this is well and good. Teams should be punished for scheduling cupcakes.

It's just that… well

When you look at the actual resumes instead of simply the non-conference strength of schedule, Drexel trumps Iona in just about every way possible. But they "only" played Cleveland State, Virginia, St. Joseph's, Princeton and six cupcakes ranked 200th or worse in RPI in non-conference, while Iona played Purdue, Marshall, Nevada, St. Joseph's, Long Island and four teams ranked 200th or worse.

…the NCAA's SOS measure took that data and spat out #43 for Iona's nonconference SOS and #222 for Drexel's. This seems deeply flawed, but when you hop over to Kenpom to see the Real Numbers, he's got the exact same gap. Iona is #36, Drexel #213.

Now let's look at three teams' nonconference schedules ranked from toughest to easiest. Each of these teams went 9-3 in the twelve games listed. Losses are in italics. Tourney teams are in bold with their seed in parens after:

DREXEL

 

IONA

 

MICHIGAN

KP

Team

 

KP

Team

 

KP

Team

26 Virginia (10)   24 Purdue (10)   9 Memphis (8)
65 Saint Joseph's   65 Saint Joseph's   17 Duke (2)
82 Cleveland St.   74 Marshall   26 Virginia (10)
89 Princeton   78 Denver   30 Iowa St. (8)
104 Fairfield   105 Richmond   48 UCLA
202 Rider   112 Nevada   133 Arkansas
213 Norfolk St. (15)   120 Vermont   156 Oakland
237 Niagara   124 Maryland   174 Western Illinois
257 Winthrop   165 Long Island   268 Bradley
268 Bradley   181 Western Michigan   327 Arkansas Pine Bluff
308 St. Francis PA   221 Hofstra   338 Towson
343 Binghamton   287 William & Mary   340 Alabama A&M

Which of these teams has by far the strongest nonconference schedule? Michigan. Drexel and Iona played one team capable of acquiring an at-large bid each; Michigan played four plus a middling Pac-12 team and not so good SEC team. From the perspective of the good teams that expect to get in the tournament, any differences at the bottom are meaningless.

Is Michigan's nonconference SOS a lot better than both these teams? No.

Is it better than Drexel's atrocious number? Barely. Michigan has the #181 nonconference strength of schedule to Kenpom, #173 to the NCAA($).

The reason for this is the bottom end. Michigan didn't just play some bad teams, they played some unbelievably bad teams. Towson won once all year. The two SWAC teams weren't even good SWAC teams: Alabama A&M went 7-21, Arkansas Pine Bluff 11-22. These SOS measures just jam a bunch of wins and losses together without taking the fact that there's not much difference between 1-31 Towson and 18-14 Western Illinois from the perspective of the tourney aspirant being evaluated. This places a high priority on avoiding truly wretched teams in favor of merely bad ones.

This isn't just a matter of concern for potential at-large bids. Missouri almost fell to off the two line because their nonconference SOS fell apart:

When asked about Missouri's status as a potential 1-seed following the revealing of the bracket, Hathaway said, simply, that they were not only out of consideration for a No. 1, but they were the lowest-ranked No. 2 because of their strength of schedule. It didn't matter that they had as many wins (11) versus the RPI Top 50 as anybody else in the Field of 68; it only mattered that they didn't try hard enough to schedule better teams in non-conference … even if, technically, they had.

That's Bill Connolly arguing that the NCAA should dump NCSOS from consideration. Sippin' on Purple has a similar argument. I agree that the model needs to change. Either dump it entirely and eyeball it or to a probability-of-victory model where a random collection of 5'9" guys from nowhere is functionally equivalent to an organized collection of 5'10" guys from nowhere. Calculate an average tournament team's average record against a collection of nonconference teams and use that as your SOS metric.

If that happens, great. Until it does Michigan should learn from the tables above and adopt the following policies:

  • Never play a team from a conference that never gets off the 16 line. Looking at you, SWAC.
  • Don't play a team coming off a 4-26 year. Towson, other completely terrible nonentities under 300 from random minor conferences.
  • Do schedule quality programs from minor conferences. Find out who's supposed to be the first, second or third place team in conference X and play them. Oakland is actually a fantastic matchup here for SOS purposes. Michigan should play more MAC teams than no MAC teams. If you're going to play a mid-major, make it a mid-major.
  • Play Notre Dame annually. This has nothing to do with anything. It's just that Michigan should play ND every year. I don't understand why this doesn't happen.

It is true that Michigan's had some narrow escapes against middling or worse teams in tourney years (Harvard by 3 last year, the vague threat when WIU got within four right at the end this year, OT against Savannah St in 2009), but the first two tourney teams were bubble battlers. Going forward Michigan hopes its teams are going to be big and athletic enough to crush poor competition without much thought.

If Michigan thinks it's going to be a big dog as soon as Little Big Dog and company arrive next year, it should schedule like a big dog should. Aim higher with your cupcakes and get the boost. Even if it only gives Michigan a higher seed every once in a while, it's a low-cost way to up the program's profile. Schedule smart by playing teams who'll have shiny records against dodgy competition by the end of the year. The dogs have got to go.

Unverified Voracity Is Mostly Stupid

Unverified Voracity Is Mostly Stupid

Submitted by Brian on March 16th, 2011 at 1:34 PM

woodson-heisman-2

no reason at all. also not stupid.

Stupid random statistic. ESPN put together an Outside the Lines piece on whether college athletes should be paid—for some reason the appointment of Mark Emmert to the top job has spurred even more chatter on this topic than there is usually—that revolves around one stupid statistic. The NCAA says this:

That number (14) comes from the NCAA's most recent analysis of athletic department finances at member institutions, based on data supplied by schools for the 2008-09 school year. The NCAA notes that 25 schools in each of the prior two years generated more revenue than expenses, before the nation's economic recession took hold.

ESPN says this:

But the NCAA understates the amount of revenue that flows into athletic departments.

Why do they say this?

The organization arrives at its lower number of 14 schools in the black by not counting what it calls "allocated revenue," which it considers direct and indirect support provided by the university, student fees and direct government support.

Because the NCAA does not count subsidies that keep money-losing programs afloat. This is not exactly "whoops, the Pirates are wildly profitable." The Bylaw Blog's pithy summation: "ESPN shows athletic departments that are making money. NCAA shows university that are making money on athletics."

Why anyone would care about the former is unclear, but ESPN charges off with their revised number of schools breaking even once you count funding grudgingly handed over to make sure they break even. Surprise: it's fairly large.

Stupid Fab Five reacts. They are legion, from complaints that a documentary called Fab Five was almost entirely about the Fab Five to Duke players writing New York Times op-eds that haven't even been published yet [UPDATE: now published.] but seem to confirm everything that was said about them* merely by their existence. Also Whitlock wrote something that no doubt accused people of "bojangling."

There was even a stupid Fab Five pre-act by Ramzy at 11 Warriors, who went out of his way to point out they didn't actually win anything, as if that wasn't possibly the main selling point or something anyone needed to be reminded of. The most compelling part of the entire thing was watching Webber walk down the tunnel after the timeout, then explain to the brutally persistent media that losing the national championship game for a second consecutive year felt "the same… exactly the same." Braves and Birds compares them to teams like Holland's Clockwork Orange two-time-runners up, and that's right—in soccer there's a rich tradition of teams that couldn't quite grasp the brass ring but are remembered for their style, and so the Fab Five.

However, nothing tops this, possibly dating back to cuneiform:

The same folks who are clamoring for a public mea culpa from Webber are the same people who wrote racist letters, calling Webber and teammates the "N" word.

That's the News's Vincent Goodwill successful trolling his way onto the "most read" list. Congratulations, Mr. Goodwill. Unless you actually believe that, in which case I am deeply sorry someone else has to dress you every morning.

Most of the letter-writers are dead now since they were already watching Matlock 20 years ago, but you don't have to be in the KKK to think Webber's actions badly hurt the program. Exploited or not, all Webber had to do was suck it up a little while before he was insanely rich. He didn't and even super-conflicted me would like an explanation, at least, if not an apology.

*[And in any case, when Rose was discussing Grant Hill he was obviously talking about a feeling he'd had in the past. Seventeen-year-old Rose didn't think "I don't like Grant Hill because his athlete father is in his life." He thought "I hate this bitch." Rose's explanation is necessarily him figuring out why he was so pissed off at Hill.

Also, Christian Laettner was relatively sanguine about everything, so there's that.]

Stupid apology. Tressel says "I'm sorry," then starts repeating things he heard from his robot-in-a-suit:

I apologize for the fact I wasn’t able to find the ones to partner with to handle our difficult and complex situation.

I agree. Ohio State should have synergized its core competencies and then attacked the Asian market. Or they could have difficultly and complexly asked the players involved if they had exchanged memorabilia for goods and services. However, this would have involved talking to them in some sort of office setting and was clearly impossible. The Asian market is where it's at.

Stupid bracket react. It never fails: whenever a major conference team is left out of the field of 60-something, people complain. This year there were actual complaints that small conference teams were somehow gaming the system. Joe Sheehan blows this up:

Maybe the biggest problem in college basketball is that teams in the mid-tier conferences can't get games against the ones in the top six, and they absolutely can't get home games. Mid-majors have been screaming at the top of their lungs for years about wanting to play up, and the better those teams have gotten, the less access to games they've been able to get. Teams in the BCS leagues refuse, out-and-out refuse to play road games at teams in the #7-#18 conferences.

In fact, the RPI gimmickry cited by Phelps and Davis is actually the purview of the power leagues, who have taken to playing road games against bottom-100 teams in an effort to gain "road win" points in the new version of the RPI. (They understand that there's a concept in play, but don't quite grok the details.) The ACC played as many road games at Elon (2) and UNC-Greensboro (4) as they did against mid-major schools in the top 200 (6), and one of the latter games was in an exempt event hosted by one. Miami played at Florida Gulf Coast. Florida State played at FIU. Wake played at UNC Wilmington. You think Conference USA is trying to game the system? Really?

I'm actually happy with the way this year's play-in games fell out: both feature a major-conference team against a mid-major. If you look at the two at-large play-ins as the committee throwing its hands up and saying "I don't know, play for it" this makes perfect sense. We don't have much information about how the good teams in small leagues compare with meh teams in big leagues so you can just have 'em settle it on the court. I'm sure that's just a coincidence but I wouldn't mind that being a yearly occurrence.

Another '95. Michigan has picked up another 2013 hockey commit. Evan Allen is also playing for Honeybaked and is their leading scorer with one point more than fellow commit Tyler Motte. There's not much out there other than a couple of Select 14/15 reports from USHR and the usual hyperventilating from sketchy pay sites, but Yost Built rounds it up all the same. Allen, like Motte and JT Compher, is competing for a spot on the NTDP right now.

Michigan now has something like five or six forwards in the 2013 class already (depending on whether Max Shuart is 2012 or 2013), all of them from the midget circuit centered around Michigan that is a heavy feeder to the NTDP and USHL, four of them Honeybaked teammates. They'll be replacing kids who are currently sophomores, of which there are six (Brown, Lynch, Treais, Sparks, Moffie and Rohrkemper). Unfortunately, one  is a defenseman and two are probably not on scholarship.

They must be anticipating some of these kids ending up in major junior or having to fill holes when players leave early/don't show up at all. That's veering close to Wisconsin/SEC territory, but 1) having to take an extra year of junior is just something that happens in hockey and 2) Michigan cannot sign any of these players to LOIs they can't fulfill—remember when Brandon Burlon couldn't sign until Kevin Quick got booted?—so anyone who is discontent with that arrangement can just go elsewhere.

Chances are the winnowing will be on the players', not the program's, end.

Dense bones. Jon Horford's been conspicuously absent of late without anyone really knowing why. Injury was suspected and is the case, but this bit from Rothstein's latest notes column makes the ears perk up:

Beilein spent 30 minutes with him Monday to help develop him further for next year. The Grand Ledge native, Beilein said, is already much stronger than when he started and is up to 242 pounds — the same weight as starting forward Jordan Morgan.

“There’s not any extra fat in there,” Beilein said. “Really, his body is developing.”

Really? Horford weighs as much as Morgan now? This is stunning.

He's healthy, BTW, and we could see him in the tourney.

Etc.: Destroy One Shining Moment, also Jim Nantz. Lloyd Carr marginalia. Vote for the documentary to come after Willis Ward. Eight seeds… not so good for advancement purposes.

Unverified Voracity Back, Tenuously

Unverified Voracity Back, Tenuously

Submitted by Brian on December 29th, 2009 at 1:29 PM

Sitebulletin. By "back" I meant loosely back, obviously. I am still not back in Ann Arbor and the resulting social obligations make the writing a difficult thing to carve out time for. I will be in a car for a big chunk of prime posting time tomorrow so Thursday will be the first day I'll have an opportunity to have a normal obsessive day.

In the meantime…

GLI tonight! And it's not on TV! The steady erosion of college hockey's profile in the metro Detroit area continued unabated. The only GLI game that will be on TV this year is the final. So you might as well go if you're in the area. Yost Built has ten things about RPI, Michigan's opening opponent. The Engineers—woot—are a .500 ECAC team that has a couple nice wins but has also lost six of its last eight. Michigan should be (slightly) favored.

Something unprecedented is going down today, by the way: Michigan is actually getting helped out by the World Junior Championships. For the first time since I've followed college hockey Michigan has its entire roster and plays a team that is missing someone, as RPI freshman Jerry D'Amigo is on the USA team. Pounding Michigan forward Chris Brown is not, and he seems peeved.

Michigan Tech has resumed being utterly terrible (3-14) after a few decent years, so State is the likely opponent should Michigan make the final. The News also has a preview.

It could happen. Seriously. Because you are an American in good standing who did not go to USC, you want to see the Trojans get the wrong end of the NCAA's jabbin' stick for the litany of transgressions ranging from Reggie Bush to OJ Mayo to Joe McKnight. The NCAA already folded its Mayo investigation into the Bush one and may have just caught a major break in that case:

A state appellate court affirmed Monday that an ongoing lawsuit against Reggie Bush (pictured above) does not have to go to confidential arbitration, opening the way for attorneys to question Bush and USC Coach Pete Carroll about whether the running back received improper benefits while playing for the Trojans.

Michigan got hammered on the Ed Martin stuff when the feds got involved because of Martin's gambling stuff; here Reggie Bush will be deposed about something he probably doesn't care much about. (Carroll will probably play dumb no matter the consequences.) May Bush become a Webber-level pariah to the six USC fans that still care about the Trojans when they go .500 after the NCAA finds a lack of institutional control.

Yes, yes, I know I shouldn't get your hopes up. Or mine.

New name. With Ben Cronin looking increasingly like a very large and slow butler to a creepy family and two center-type people graduating this year, Michigan find itself in serious need of an actual post player going forward. Blake McLimans and Evan Smotrcyz are true Beilein fours, 6'9"-6'10" wing forwards who are 1-3-1 nightmares and can play post defense on a power forward in a crunch. They are not centers. That leaves freshman Jordan Morgan, who's redshirting, as the only reasonable option next year if Cronin's questionable health does not improve.

So… yeah, Michigan can give two more scholarships in 2010 if they want and with Casey Prather off the board and Trey Zeigler getting attention from schools like Duke it might be time to look at some new folk. One of them is Jon Horford, the younger brother of current Atlanta Hawk Al Horford. The elder Horford was briefly a Tommy Amaker commit before heading to Florida and becoming the third pick in the NBA draft. The internets were (and are still) rife with payoff rumors in the aftermath of that recruitment, but the younger Horford is a much less highly sought recruit.

He's been having an excellent senior year, though, and UMHoops says that he's maintaining a leader similar to the one his brother had earlier:

Regarding his recruitment, it appears that Jon still has one school on top ($): Michigan. Michigan seems ready to take a big man (Horford) as well as Zeigler in the class of 2010 if they both want to come. Looking at the roster composition right now, it’s hard to fault a decision like this.

Michigan may also pick up Jordan Dumars after he transfers from South Florida; presumably this would be as a walk-on since the elder Dumars may have a couple of nickels to rub together. Michigan isn't in a position to offer a scholarship to a kid like Dumars, who was a two-star recruit who barely cracked 10 PPG as a senior in high school.

Donation machine. Braylon Edwards may never shed the dropsies he had at Michigan but he does shed money in fantastic and productive ways:

The Wolverines' former star wide receiver and '04 team MVP is three years into a five-year funding plan that amounts to $500,000 in endowed scholarships at his alma mater -- $80,000 annually for the football program and a pair of $10,000 academic scholarships for bright and needy students from inner-city Detroit.

That article is all about athletic endowments and wanders away from Michigan after discussing Edwards's donation and the 130 athletic scholarships that are covered by the endowment. Only three other football players have provided enough in the way of donations to cover a scholarship: James Hall, Curtis Greer, and Jim Mandich. That list seems short. Surely Tom Brady can afford the scratch now, right?

Now the only thing is getting someone to wear the #1 so Edwards's scholarship can be tangibly used. Roy Roundtree?

Etc.: TSN asked the blog folks to post about their defining moments of the decade. Mine, unfortunately, is The Horror. I did make a totally awesome comparison to Lord of the Rings, though. Andy Staples digs deeper into the Trail photos for another excellent article. Dave Kindred writes unreasonably nice things about me. The WLA hates faulty recruiting math just as much as I do.