YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN SOMETHING IMPORTANT FOR A SPECIAL PERSON: a sponsor note. Need a last-second gift? How about an actual piece of the Big House? Friend of the blog Martin Vloet got his hands on the original redwood Big House benches—the ones installed in 1927 and used until 2005—and had them made into limited edition pens, cufflinks, pendants, and bottle openers. He also claimed the old plastic seats and cut them up into magnets or pendants. The first 99 pens are reserved for Michigan football players, past or present, that want like to claim their jersey number. The rest of the pens will ship, #100 through #1927, on a first-ordered basis.
Use the code MGBFREESHIP and save on domestic shipping of any size order placed by 11:59 pm TODAY. As long as it goes out tomorrow, USPS Priority Mail should be able to make it to any US address by December 24.
Follow this man. Eric Shap on Michigan's defensive issues in their last two outings:
3/ I thought the defense in the USC game was especially sloppy -- poor post defense, guys losing shooters, and getting beaten back door. Those issues were mostly corrected against WMU, but another concern I'll be keeping an eye on due to Michigan's scheme is non-contact screens. pic.twitter.com/XKYoNyXaCQ
— Eric S (@eric_shap) December 18, 2018
5/ Lastly, Michigan's early season two-point defense was unsustainable and both South Carolina and WMU hit some difficult, low percentage shots inside the arc. pic.twitter.com/VxzSaXQB4h
— Eric S (@eric_shap) December 18, 2018
A combination of a December lull against teams that don't really have Michigan's attention and a reversion seemingly well past the mean; if holding Eric Paschall to 3/13 from two without doubling wasn't a realistic picture of Michigan's D, well neither is that last set of clips above.
If NET's taken as seriously as RPI that's fine. Weird article in the Washington Post trashing the NET rankings, which are wonky as any NCAA hodgepodge is going to be but hardly a disaster waiting to happen for tournament seeding. The article has three wrong premises. One is that NET is the be-all and end-all of selection and seeding:
You might not think such a discrepancy in the rankings would mean much, but consider how this could affect the NCAA tournament, where a team like Texas Tech would be given a No. 1 seed via its NET ranking, but plays more like a No. 3 seed, per its consensus ranking.
The committee still exists. We're still talking about quadrant one wins. There are still teamsheets. NET will be followed no more blindly than RPI was. Which was a little blindly, if we're being honest, but not to the point where a team gets a one seed solely because of a single number on the sheet.
Two is that a hodge-podge of computer rankings is an appropriate comparison point. Many, if not most, of the rankings in the giant compilation the author cites are predictive rankings that are inappropriate for selecting and seeding the field. At this point in the season many still have a significant preseason component—Kenpom won't be fully preseason-free until the end of January. If the season ended today a field selected and seeded by Kenpom alone would give Purdue, which is 6-5 and has just two B-level wins, a five seed. NET ranks Purdue 31st instead of 17th. NET's deviation from the average here is a positive. The article cites Houston's NET ranking (10th) vs their computer composite (23rd), but you could cherry-pick a weird outlier for almost every one of these ranking systems. ESPN's BPI has Michigan 11th.
Three is that NET won't be able to better distinguish between teams given an additional half-season of data. This is an absurd comparison to make:
Based on last year’s consensus rankings, a top-four consensus team had an average RPI ranking of 3.3. This year the average NET ranking of a top-four team is 5.5, almost identical to a team ranked between No. 5 and No. 8 in the consensus group. In other words, the NET rankings are incapable of distinguishing between a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, a stark contrast compared to last year where, via RPI, there was a clear difference between the two.
For one, last year's RPI-influenced committee put Kenpom #9 Kansas and Kenpom #14(!!!) Xavier on the one line. As a group the two-seeds were stronger. For two, most teams have only played a third of their games so far. Of course there is going to be more disagreement amongst ranking systems when they have less data.
The only real question is "is NET better than RPI when tourney time nears?" Open question, but it would have to try real hard to be worse.
[After THE JUMP: more NCAA legal troubles, what is USC even doing, and a sudden 180]
Uh. Don Brown is reputedly a finalist for the Temple job:
We could find out today the new Temple football coach. Three DC's Mike Elko (Texas A&M), Manny Diaz (Miami), & Don Brown (Michigan) are thought to be in the running. Based on some conversations, my gut says Elko is the favorite, but we will see.
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) December 12, 2018
Elko has turned it down, which is strange for a 41-year-old guy with a decent but not great resume and may indicate that the job's not particularly attractive. Brown is 63 and if offered would have to decide between what's probably his last shot at a head coaching job and a potential playoff-level team at Michigan going forward in the event they ever beat OSU.
FWIW, Brett McMurphy just reported that Diaz is next up.
Finding guys 8 and 9. That's what the next three games are about for basketball, and it sounds like Brandon Johns is on the verge:
Leading up to Michigan's latest game, Johns played the role of South Carolina's Chris Silva on the scout team. Silva was first team All-SEC last season, and Johns did his best to impersonate him.
According to Michigan assistant coach DeAndre Haynes, Johns was banging in the paint, dunking, and knocking down 15-footers. He had his best two days of practice.
"But when he's Brandon Johns for Michigan, he's not doing it," Haynes said. "We told him, 'You shouldn't have to be Silva for you to play this way. You have the same game.'"
Beilein asserts that Michigan "dummies it down" for young players on offense and that the issue with their playing time is executing consistently on defense, which is quite a statement from John Frickin' Beilein.
Gonna need a whole new tournament just for us. Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology has ten(!) Big Ten teams in and Northwestern on his "next four out" list. That is the whole league aside from PSU, Illinois, and Rutgers, and includes two teams projected to have losing conference records (Iowa and Minnesota).
Michigan gets a 1-seed, naturally, and is shipped to Columbus along with Michigan State. Lunardi dumps Louisville and Kentucky outside of the South, which might be on accident since early in the year Lunardi does some sloppy stuff, but you have to figure that if Michigan is indeed the #1 in a regional in Louisville they won't set up a potential road game.
That's well down the road but the point is that the team that wins this league is probably getting a one seed.
[After THE JUMP: Hugh Freeze!]
The prayer forced. Michigan's communication and Jon Teske's unexpected switch and quick hands forced Northwestern into a chuck:
**Video Breakdown: How Michigan stifled Northwestern’s final possession in their road victory over the Wildcats** pic.twitter.com/serXxvl4lw
— Eric S (@eric_shap) December 6, 2018
Anonymous quotes about basketball's defense. Right this way, via Jeff Borzello:
"They're so much further ahead of everyone right now, it's not even funny," one opposing Big Ten coach said, referencing their experience. "What they were doing at the end of the year has carried over." …
"They have an alpha male at the point in Simpson," a Big Ten assistant said. "He holds those guys to what I would call a gold standard. He doesn't allow them to slip. When they don't do something correctly, he makes sure they know about it."
"Zavier just plays his ass off," another opposing coach said. "He may be smaller, but he's dialed in every possession, and they put a lot of length around him. He's a junkyard dog."
Michigan's 23-1 run stretching back to last year would be the #1 efficiency D in the history of Kenpom if it was a single season. And it seems like the bit from last year is the "bad" part.
Beilein's greatest enemy returns. NBA draftniks have started talking up Ignas Brazdeikis, who slides in at the end of the first round in SI's latest mock draft:
27. IGNAS BRAZDEIKIS, F, MICHIGAN | FRESHMAN
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 215 | Age: 19 | Last Rank: NR
As has been widely noted, Brazdeikis turns 20 in January and is only technically a freshman, after doing a prep year in Canada. The good news is, it doesn’t really matter. Brazdeikis has been Michigan’s most consistent scorer and impressed with his ability to hunt shots off the ball. He can shoot it from outside or face up and attack the basket, and profiles as a useful offensive-minded role guy in the pros. His competitiveness and feel stand out, The big question with him is perimeter defense, as he will probably need to be parked on fours in the NBA. Regardless, if the Wolverines continue to play this well, Brazdeikis won’t have to stick around long.
Matthews (#38) and Poole (#51) also show up in their top 60, though Poole is in the you-should-return range and the author admits even that is "speculative."
The Athletic's Sam Vecenie is more skeptical of Iggy as a one and done, placing him 50th in his latest top 100 and causing a blizzard of HEY WHAT ABOUT IGGY comments that he responded to at length. A portion:
Here's where I'm worried: Athleticism here is still a pretty real NBA concern on defense. Iggy is smart on that end and has taken to what Yaklich/Beilein want him to do well. But it also says something, IMO, that Michigan has been better on defense with him off the floor as opposed to when he's been on it -- especially in their games against high-major competition (vs. Nova, PC, UNC, Purdue, NW, Michigan had a 74 DRTG with him off the floor, and an 88 DRTG with him on it). That's a bit noisy, and the overall number is still good at 88. But I think Michigan has done more to insulate him rather than him being a true difference maker on that end, too.
On offense, over 75% of his offense has come from spot-ups, transition opportunities, back-cuts, and O-Rebs. The spot-up stuff is useful obviously, as he's a terrific shooter who can put the ball on the deck and attack a closeout.
Brazdeikis has done good work as a college four checking guys like Paschall and Maye but might not have the lateral agility to keep up with NBA wings. The stat about his offense seems… wrong, though? That's probably from Synergy and is therefore meticulously charted but it certainly feels like Iggy's creating a lot of his own shots. He dug Michigan out of some trouble against Northwestern by getting to the rim with frequency.
Vecenie says that if Iggy can maintain his effectiveness once he's 1) scouted and 2) the primary focus of opponent defenses he'll shoot up his board. One thing that hurts his stock—his age, which is a year older than most freshmen—is the kind of thing that makes you leave instead of makes you stay.
Let us resolve to enjoy the rest of this season.
[After the JUMP: potentially better NFL draft news?]
Sponsor note. Let's say you've got some nice first down markers. Got a big X on them. Some orange bits, a pole. You know: the real nice stuff. And let's just say an absurd person gets so angry about something completely unrelated to your markers that he tears them up! You know, hypothetically.
Well, what then? Well, do you have any contracts that might stipulate monetary penalties for this gentleman? No? Do you regret that? Yes? Maybe you should have called Richard Hoeg.
Yes, even though Richard Hoeg was an infant(ish) during this hypothetical event, he may have craftily crafted a legal framework that would allow you to recoup your first down marker costs. Or anything else related to your small business of standing on the sideline with a down marker and something about police horses.
Call today! Or maybe next week, we're all hyperventilating quite hard right now.
A lunatic. Woody Hayes at the end of the Game in 1971:
At the link above MVictors has handily gif'd crucial portions of Hayes's meltdown that you can send to loved ones during moments of crisis. Need to remind your brother-in-law that he may be a grown-ass man but he's got the emotional stability of a toddler who missed his nap? There you go.
Ohio State's current coach has a slightly different approach:
have you ever seen a man willing himself to explode, well now you have pic.twitter.com/1vdksXjRRH
— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) November 17, 2018
There needs to be an equivalent of the Vince McMahon gif that's just smash cuts to increasingly distressed versions of Meyer culminating in that.
A smooth operator. Bill Bonds fulminates about the overweening importance of The Game, and you know what? He's right.
Legendary take on Michigan / Ohio State from longtime @WXYZDetroit anchor Bill Bonds. Stay 'til the end.
Classic. He's forever an all-time great. pic.twitter.com/mCLXkJch9l
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) November 19, 2018
[After THE JUMP: Don Brown! Luke Yaklich! THE BROTHERS KARA-NAH-SOV]
The Mark Dantonio background check. Michigan State "vetted" Auston Robertson after this incident:
Michigan State officials have said the university was aware of two criminal charges in Robertson's past. One was sexual in nature, and the other was not. He was charged in January 2016 with misdemeanor battery related to an incident during school in which he "rubbed and grabbed" a female classmate's groin area against her will in the fall of his senior year.
Robertson had "several other police reports documenting alleged sexual violence and misconduct" just waiting to be asked after. Two were for attempted rape. The victim in the misdemeanor described above told police of two earlier incidents. There were no fewer than five incidents of sexual assault during Robertson's high school career, described in police reports. MSU didn't bother looking for them.
No one from Michigan State requested information about Robertson's criminal history in Fort Wayne through formal records requests during the school's vetting process, according to the city's records department. …
Allen County (Indiana) Prosecutor Karen Richards said no one from Michigan State contacted her or her office for records or discussion about Robertson during the time that Michigan State was vetting him
What is the first thing you'd do if you were serious about vetting someone? That. Instead, Michigan State went through a sham process that put Robertson on campus. Predictably, he sexually assaulted someone within the first year. He's now facing three years in prison.
Mark Dantonio put the MSU student body at risk because he didn't care one iota whether or not Robertson was a threat. If you don't think the Larry Nassar attitude extends to football and basketball, you are wrong.
In related news, Curtis Blackwell is suing various MSU people after being made the fall guy for the three guys who got expelled for a sexual assault that got pled down to "seduction" and a former employee is suing after MSU was unresponsive to harassment allegations against a union head.
This seems good. The Solid Verbal compiles points per drive stats in conference play:
B1G Points/Drive Improvement
(2017 -> 2018, vs conf opp) pic.twitter.com/zzV2R3OOb1
— The Solid Verbal (@SolidVerbal) November 12, 2018
Michigan near the top of both lists; OSU near the bottom. Maryland vastly improved! Every other weekend.
Press conferences have gotten weird. Mostly talkin' snakes these days:
Junior running back Tru Wilson, who finished with eight carries for a career-high 58 yards on Saturday, faced the media. Wilson didn’t receive any questions about his previous game.
But he got plenty about his pet snake, Mako.
“He’s just getting done shedding, so I haven’t been able to play with him for the last week or so,” Wilson said. “I guess he’s blind when he sheds, so I guess it’s kinda dangerous — not dangerous, he’s not gonna kill me. The ball pythons are a very defensive creature.”
Doesn't Higdon have a snake, too? How many Michigan running backs have snakes?
[After THE JUMP: PFF stats, maybe they make waffles, sketchy Zach Smith stuff]
Wouldn't it be nice. Rivals already published a slightly altered version of an email we received from an established insider, but hell we got it too: per Someone Who Would Know, Shea Patterson is planning on returning for his senior year. He's likely to submit his name to the draft committee for an evaluation, get a mid-round grade, and return.
As this space mentioned a couple weeks back, he's in the heart of the distribution of guys for whom a return makes sense even when the criteria are strictly financial bottom line stuff: draftable but with first round upside if he can just refine his reads.
If that does come to pass Michigan's offense will return every major contributor except Karan Higdon, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, and Grant Perry. A senior Patterson throwing to Collins, DPJ, Martin, Black, and Gentry could be something.
The road to 800. Andrew Kahn goes back in the Beilein archive:
Beilein coaching during a Le Moyne game (Photo: Le Moyne College Athletics)
Beilein started his coaching career at Newfane (New York) High School before moving on to Erie Community College, where he won 75 games over four seasons, and Nazareth College (one season, 20 wins). Staying in Western New York, Beilein was hired at Le Moyne College before the 1983-84 season. On Dec. 3, the Dolphins earned their fifth win of that season and Beilein's 100th, beating visiting Bloomsburg State 66-58.
Though the arena was only half full, the 1,000 fans who witnessed win No. 100 were "boisterous" according to the Le Moyne student newspaper. Bloomsburg's star player, Barry "Slam" Francisco, missed a dunk late in the first half, "the crowd got on his case, and he played poorly the rest of the game."
Various other milestones are detailed. Beilein goes for win #800 against Norfolk State.
Which is tonight! Basketball season tips off for real against a MEAC team. Here is a one sentence summary of the MEAC from UMHoops:
Norfolk State didn’t win a Division I game until December 30th, but went on to finish 11-5 in the MEAC.
8:30 on BTN.
[After THE JUMP: around the league]
So that happened, and then un-happened. Maryland retained DJ Durkin, and then fired DJ Durkin, because people are just in charge of things for no reason. Like Michigan State, the people in charge of things in this case are the regents. Reports that president Wallace Loh wanted to axe everyone were likely true, and after everyone from the student government to both candidate for governor publicly complained Maryland admitted what every adult American other than their board members already knew: DJ Durkin's career is toast.
Anyway, now's a good time to reflect on the colossal failure Big Ten expansion has been:
Let’s start with rutger. I don’t know if I need to say anything more about these guys that hasn’t been said in the past four years. They’re terrible at the major sports. They’ve embarrassingly brought down the strength of the Big Ten schedule. A few months after their Big Ten membership became official, the basketball coach was caught on video throwing basketballs and yelling homophobic slurs at players. Ex-AD Julie Hermann was routinely making shocking statements to the media and embroiled in controversy at her former schools. Ex-football coach Kyle Flood once threatened a professor if he wouldn’t change a player’s grade. The list goes on. rutger remains an easy target. We’ve already covered them extensively on this blog. Oh yeah, this [a Rutgers player being kicked off the team for a failed double-homicide] happened yesterday as well. Not great, Piscataway!
Moving onto Maryland. Until recently, the frustration with the Terps was a little more subtle than their New Jersey counterparts. The football team employed Randy Edsall. The basketball team hasn’t reached the heights it did under Gary Williams, attendance is down after a post-B1G boost, and an FBI investigation looms over the program. At least men’s lacrosse and women’s hoops have been reliable, though.
But then there is the situation with head football coach DJ Durkin, which after months of investigations regarding McNair’s death, was seemingly resolved yesterday. The Maryland Board of Regents overruled outgoing university president Wallace Loh, who seemingly wanted Durkin fired, and reinstated Durkin as the coach, despite the release of a 200-page report that illustrated the abusive behavior of the coaching staff under his watch. After all of this, one startling fact remains: a 19 year-old student-athlete died, and the head coach has been allowed to keep his job. Unsurprisingly, Jordan McNair’s family was angry about this decision, and at least 3 players walked out of a team meeting with Durkin yesterday. Now, the university administration has received tons of criticism, and is facing backlash from Maryland lawmakers as well as UMD students, who plan to hold a rally Thursday.
Great job, Jim Delany. Hope the brief surge in television revenue was worth it.
Urban's head. Meyer's strange behavior on the sideline has a cause:
Since kneeling down on the sideline in a game against Indiana on Oct. 6 because of severe headaches, Meyer has been peppered with questions about his health and future in coaching. He said the cause of the discomfort links back to a congenital arachnoid cyst in his brain, which has led to severe headaches at times in his career.
“The past four years, we’ve been working closely with coach Meyer to monitor and manage the symptoms that have risen from his enlarged congenital arachnoid cyst,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, Meyer’s personal physician and the chief clinical officer at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “This includes aggressive headaches, which have particularly flared up the past two years.”
That sucks for him and does not excuse his conduct with Zach Smith. Verdict: still a bad dude. Not the kind that saves the president. An expired coupon kind of guy.
[After THE JUMP: secret scrimmages, ooooooh]
Yes sir I will subscribe to this newsletter. This Week In Schadenfreude spends all its time with Ohio State:
I need a break from this noncents. Gonna hang with my 2 boys or take the broad out for mini golf. I need to repriotoeoeize my life.
— trick or trEtienne (@DavidLee_Goth) October 22, 2018
Okay. Thank you.
Gary details. Rashan Gary's mom decided to put all the cards on the table in re: Gary's injury. Executive summary: he got hurt before Notre Dame, aggravated it by falling on the shoulder in the Northwestern game, and was told that he needed 4-6 weeks for the injury to heal. Penn State is 5 weeks, Rutgers 6. He is not pulling a Bosa. The end.
A terrifying glimpse inside the program. Stephen Spanellis reveals Ben Herbert's mantra:
Rested, Fresh, Healthy: bye week edition pic.twitter.com/CzaF3mCL7x
— Stephen Spanellis (@Big_Spanellis78) October 23, 2018
They seem to like the guy, at least? Enough to photoshop him into things?
No lies detected. Sterile giant fields surrounded by empty buildings and Buffalo Wild Wings, is what Jordan Poole just saw:
“I had never been to Michigan State before, and their campus was awful – it’s trash,” Poole said. “It was just dry.
There's actually a giant, interesting thread on the RCMB about this very thing dating back a couple years. Folks are openly envious of Ann Arbor's ability to put up new buildings, which… hoo boy, that says something about East Lansing NIMBYs.
Okay, here's a hype video. Needs more Metellus skipping but otherwise I will allow it.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) October 24, 2018
Metellus grade. Michigan's safeties are one of only two spots on the defense that seem even a little permeable—DT is the other—but even there Michigan has a guy grading out very well per PFF:
S Josh Metellus, 76.7 Overall Grade
While coverage metrics aren’t typically the best to look at when discussing safety play, Metellus’ play in coverage is certainly deserving of highlighting here. He holds an absurd 5.7 passer rating allowed to opposing receivers, which leads all defensive backs with at least 135 snaps in coverage. He has not allowed a single touchdown this season to go with three interceptions and is allowing just 31.6% of passes thrown his way to be hauled in. In coverage from the slot, he’s allowed just a 13.8 passer rating and has two of his three picks.
That rating has to be giving Metellus credit for all his INTs like he was in coverage on those throws. He was not on two, which were deflected by David Long and Lawrence Marshall. So don't focus on the passer rating, focus on the grade, which is All Big Ten-level.
In other PFF stuff, Gary has dropped out of their first round and Devin Bush has slid to #32 on their draft board. The first is pretty obvious. The second… uh?
[After the JUMP: glacing owlishly]
Come on the podcast, Mahmoud. The former president of Iran is on team Harbaugh:
With a hard work ethic Inshallah the U of M will return to its glory days.
— Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (@Ahmadinejad1956) October 16, 2018
The replies to this tweet are all the same joke but it still works. Because the former president of Iran is on twitter, offering takes if Allah wills it.
That's a shame dot gif. Nick Bosa has peaced out permanently, per Tim May:
Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa and his family apparently have decided to focus on the next phase of his football career, which means his emphasis will be on training for the 2019 NFL draft once he is cleared to do so, several sources told The Dispatch on Tuesday.
That means he will not try to return to play for the Buckeyes this season.
The preseason All-America suffered a core muscle injury in the win against Texas Christian at Arlington, Texas, on Sept.15. He underwent surgery in Philadelphia late the next week to repair the injury, and he has been on the mend since.
The sources said that Bosa met with OSU coach Urban Meyer and some of his staff on Sunday to let them know of the decision he, his father John Bosa and the family had reached about his future.
They elected him captain. Whoops. If 74 more OSU players get injured by the time the Game rolls around then we'll be even in the recent history of the series.
A defense that can be had. Post-Bosa OSU defensive performances have been getting steadily worse, culminating in a game against Minnesota where the Gophers moved the ball most of the day only to shoot themselves in the foot at crucial moments. OSU's seemingly total unfamiliarity with RPOs was a major contributor:
Minnesota is an RPO team, and the Golden Gophers used that to great effect all day, slicing Ohio State up in the middle of the field and forcing the linebackers to feel like there were wrong no matter what they did.
Minnesota hit slant after slant, the Gophers throwing for 218 yards and putting together four drives of at least 58 yards.
"We knew the looks we were going to be able to get," Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. "They played the exact looks we want to be able to get, and we took advantage of that."
All those inside throws were RPOs, or run-pass options. The Gophers go to the line with two options on a play, and decide whether to hand off or execute a quick pass based on how the defenders, often the linebackers, react.
With Ohio State's linebackers typically playing close to the line of scrimmage, and the OSU secondary playing man defense, Minnesota threw to open windows inside with no defender in a passing lane. When Ohio State's linebackers stayed back, they ran.
Hopefully there's another long con in progress from M.
[After THE JUMP: S&P+ items!]