Basketbullets: Binghampton

Submitted by Brian on December 12th, 2012 at 11:31 AM


Ace stole my joke so I guess I have to write something longer. /shakes fist at ace

Why did this game get played? I asked Nick Baumgardner about this on twitter and this was the response:

@mgoblog Beilein is friends with Binghamton's coach -- not sure if that makes it OK, but there it is.

"Hey, John."
"Yeah, Binghamton Guy?"
"Could you do me a favor?"
"Anything, Binghamton Guy."
"I need you to punch me in the face really hard."
"Love to, Binghamton Guy."

I guess Binghamton gets a check for the one-off game. In all other ways that's a weird way to do a guy a favor.

Seriously though. I'd rather Michigan played a string of Bradley-type games where they play decent competition in home-and-home situations and just inflated the ticket price the dollar or whatever that they'd have to to compensate.

For one, it's more fun for everyone. For two, you get an RPI bonus for playing on the road, a relatively big one:

A home win now counts as 0.6 win, while a road win counts as 1.4 wins. Inversely, a home loss equals 1.4 losses, while a road loss counts as 0.6 loss. A neutral game counts as 1 win or 1 loss. This change was based on statistical data that consistently showed home teams in Division I basketball winning about two-thirds of the time. Note that this location adjustment applies only to the WP factor and not the OWP and OOWP factors.

You can futz with the system to give yourself an edge by playing a team that you should beat on the road like Bradley, and in doing so you prep yourself for playing in hostile environments a bit. I'd like Michigan to have a couple mid-major road tests a year.

Unfortunately the Bradley home-and-home is also a Beilein's buddy sort of thing—probably not a coincidence that this series was scheduled after Bradley hired Beilein's son. It's not a thing we can expect to continue. Michigan decided to stop playing Oakland because they were too good, which like… mmph.

That's unfortunate since that game in Peoria was a lot more interesting than this one. It's a lot better to see your team beat an opponent in front of a packed house of upset-demanding Peorians than a deservedly half-full Crisler. It will also be a relative asset come tourney time. I'd like it if Michigan made a habit of going on the road to MVC and A-10 schools. I mean, what if Michigan made a habit of playing at Calihan Hall? That's some branding activity right there.

Ah, that's not going to happen. I know I know incremental revenue is more important than anything that does not provide incremental revenue. As far as the actual game…

Idle Kenpom thoughts. It seems like the way to solve a problem like Wisconsin is to discount games between heavily mismatched opponents. You could feel Michigan just shrug in the second half as they launched uncontested three after uncontested three, and does it really matter that they weren't as good at annihilating a team that plays like that as Wisconsin is?

The problem with this theory is that I bet Kenpom tried it and it didn't work. When he makes changes to his formulas he checks them against previous seasons to see if the changes make them better or worse at predicting things, and I'm sure he's tried something obvious like lessening the importance of mismatches.

It is worth noting that Kenpom took a lot of heat for having Wisconsin second as of January ninth last year, when the Badgers were 1-3 in the Big Ten and had nothing positive on their record save wins over UNLV and BYU. Wisconsin won 11 of their final 14 regular season games and came within a point of upsetting Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Were they overrated? Yeah. Did Kenpom probably have Wisconsin rated better than people complaining about them? Yeah.

But maybe it's just time to throw your hands up at the Badgers and say computers can't rank them well. Last year:

For instance, one of the most respected ratings systems in the nerd world is the LRMC ratings. They had Wisconsin fifth before yesterday’s games. Last year, heading into the tournament, they had Belmont fourth, and their system outperforms mine! The Sagarin predictor, also deservedly respected, had Wisconsin second heading into yesterday’s games.

As always, this is the right attitude to take:

Q: Your work is flawed. (Not really a Q, either, I guess, but I get this all the time.)

A: Ugh, I hate it when people say this. Of course it’s flawed. The thing is, your knowledge is flawed, too. If you are ignoring potentially useful tools because of a single issue, then your judgment is flawed as well. And I’m guessing you’ve never tracked the quality of your knowledge so you don’t even know how flawed it is. If you’re like most people, you think you’re knowledge is great because you remember the predictions you made that worked out and you forget about the ones that didn’t. It’s human nature. …

I would say there’s still enough value in the work here to provide a useful reality check on your own knowledge. Used together, your flawed knowledge and my flawed tools can be more powerful than used separately.

Just mentally account for the fact teams that annihilate low-majors can get overrated and that Wisconsin is currently benefiting from some amount of preseason expectation that is keeping them loftier than they otherwise would be.

No seriously this time I'll talk about the actual game…

Hardaway shooting alarm going off. Baumgardner wrote an article before this one mentioning that Hardaway's shooting had been falling off and that this was okay because he was doing other stuff. I'm on board, but at some point the shooting woes become problematic. In this one he was 2/9 from three, 1/4 from two, and the vast majority of those were wide open looks he just missed. His three point percentage has dipped to 33% and the number of threes he's taking is accelerating rapidly.

He started the year off going to the basket over and over again; he should resume that activity. I'd rather have the guy commit a charge per game than camp out at the three point line. We've got a guy for that now.

Tray Woodall Nik Stauskas NIT Season Tip Off vq8Me0P7Zjnl[1]

The inevitable decline continues. Stauskas was 4-8 from three and was saved a ninth miss on his record because he had a toe on the line—must have, anyway. He got hacked on a couple of short attempts, and this was ignored as the refs must have had DVRed a House marathon and couldn't wait to get back to watch it.

I am still in favor of Stauskas shooting all of the threes. Surprise.

Albrecht still pretty good. Perhaps less impressive against this outfit than Arkansas but in ten minutes he canned a three and had a 2-0 A:TO ratio. He keeps things moving when Burke's out.

Also Horford. Horford is Michigan's most active and impactful defender. McGary keeps sucking in huge rebound numbers (10 in 17 minutes in this one with four offensive rebounds) and will probably keep his place in line. I'm not sure I can detect any dropoff from center #1 to center #3. All of them bring different things to the table.

I'll be interested to see what happens when Cody Zeller comes to town. Eyeballing it, it seems like Horford is the best matchup against him. Will he get extended minutes or will Michigan roll with their current lineup?

The 1-3-1: too aggressive? I may be remembering this wrong but it seems like the 1-3-1 is now extending itself all the way to half-court, which seems like a problem. I recall Horford getting all the way out to the three-point line on one of the 1-3-1 possessions when a driver tried to take it between the trappers, and I recall that happening a couple feet closer to the hoop when I watched WVU.

The thing has not been particularly effective against teams other than Pitt and I wonder if they're just giving up too much space by extending it all the way out. I know a conservative 1-3-1 is a bizarre concept, but… yeah.

Opponent watch update! West Virginia lost to Duquesne for the first time since 2003 despite going up 25-10; they closed the game 9 of 32. Michigan should not have much trouble in Brooklyn.


Blue Blue Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 12:02 PM ^

Binghamton was added to the schedule a few years back, when they were trying to jumpstart their way onto the Div I coll basketball season for financial reasons.


they had a coach who made them good and competitive (briefly) by bringing in what netted out to foreign criminals.   Lots of problems.  One kid beat and raped another student before skedaddling out of the country.........lots of disciplinary measures, players and coaches dismissedl.

this game was just a vestigial part of that effort.

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 12:06 PM ^

The real reason, if I remember correctly, that UM stopped playing Oakland was that they couldn't agree on a venue.  I think Michigan wanted to do it at the Palace, get credit for a neutral site, while Oakland wanted home and home?  Or maybe UM just wanted to play the games at Crisler?  Anyway, it wasn't because Oakland was getting too good.

As for road games, next year we'll be playing @ISU and likely @ an ACC team, in addition to the Puerto Rico Tip Off and Arizona at home.  That's 5 (or 6) neutral site/road games, plus another big-time home game.  So if we start out with a couple patsies just to get the ball rolling, that leaves about five more games.  We got to have a couple relative cupcakes in there for exams/winter break.

All that said, I do think the cupcakes could be a little less cupcake-ish than the bearcats were, but on the whole we are moving in that direction.  I wonder about getting some 2 for 1 deals with MVC teams or other regional top level midmajors.   


December 12th, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

I was watching a game the other night and even the color commentator mentioned that most teams have 'cupcakes' this time of year since players are studying for finals.

From my quick glance at this years schedule, UM has 18 home games and 13 away or neutral site games.  The 13 road/neutral site games are:  9 big ten games (which includes OSU, Indiana, MSU, Minnesota and Illinois), Bradley, WVU and neutral court for Pitt and KState.  That seems like a pretty solid line up of away and neutral site games to get UM ready for the tournament.

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 1:03 PM ^

...that Michigan didn't want to play the games at the Palace.  I remembered it had to do with where the games were played.  They asked JB, and he said he didn't want to play at the Palace.  Which probably makes sense -- it's not any more convenient for the vast majority of fans, doesn't get much attention, and only gets credit for neutral court in a very technical sense, likely discounted by the committee. 

Do we really think JB is afraid to play Oakland, currently 3-7 and 186 in Kenpom?  They're a fine regional program that has made the tourney twice in the last 6 or 7 years. 

At best, Kampe took a statement JB made out of politeness and made a big deal out of it, appealing to some of his base (and others whose worldview it jived with).


December 12th, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

I know that Kenpom is the holy word of basketball around these parts but any system that ranks a team 8-1 ahead of an undefeated team that handed them their only loss on a neutral court is flawed.  Just like the RPI is flawed but for different reasons.

You can excuse it, rationalize it and try to explain it but its flawed and the Pitt #7 - Michigan #8 ranking shines a bright light on its failings.  That is why humans, good, old-fashioned humans, make the selections on who makes the tourney in March.  They may use any and all of these quantifiable metrics to help make their decisions but at the end of the day people make the call and I'm glad they do.

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

Illinois is ranked 21 spots below Gonzaga after spanking the bulldogs on their home court.

Or is it a better example?  One thing you have to keep in mind is that the selection committee in March is doing something different than Kenpom.  The former is mostly rewarding past accomplishments -- you've won the games, and that's what counts, Ws and Ls.  The latter is predicting the future, which, on the whole, is (at least arguably) better measured by a per-possession basis than a per-game basis.  As an example, does a forty foot three at the buzzer in a one-point game change that much how you think those teams will do in the future?  Maybe not.  But it could determine a champion and a runner up.

There are a lot of good reasons to suspect that, going forward, the Zags really are a better team than Illinois. 


December 12th, 2012 at 12:41 PM ^

Maybe there's a good reason to believe that Pitt is one spot or so better than Michigan.  Even though results have shown differently to this point. And certainly the Zags had a bad night and could be better than the Illini.  But barring a massive upset (say to the B. Bearcats, or a 1-9 Illinois team), are the Zags really 21 spots better than an undefeated Illinois?  If that's supposed to be predictive of the future, I think it's going to come out quite wrong (especially if you count on how tough the Illini remaining schedule is compared to the Zags).

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 1:03 PM ^

First, I'm not a die-hard Kenpom guy.  I believe it's really useful, but, as others (including Kenpom himself) have pointed out, has flaws.  For me, it's enlightening, but not the end-all-be-all.

Second, I used the Zags/Illini example because it seemed even more objectionable than UM/Pitt -- a larger margin of victory at the Kennel and a much bigger spread in Kenpom ranking.

Third, I do wonder about Illinois's future.  They are shooting a lot of three at a 40% clip, when the same players shot 30% last year.  They also got out to a good start - 10 and 0, in fact - last year, before cratering.  Brandon Paul is great but very streaky.  If I had to bet about who has a higher seed in the tourney, I'd probably go with the Zags.   


December 12th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

Illinois rating can be explained by playing some crappy teams closely. With so few games and a lot of the initial rankings still being counted from the preseason(i think) those performances have disproportionate weight. My main grievance with kenpom is that it counts a completely meaningless possession the same as one that was relevant. For example, akunne and mclimans chucking up shots yesterday hurt our offensive rating but were ultimately pointless possessions in the greater scheme of things. Also, without a margin of victory cap, winning by 25 vs. 35 makes a decent size difference when I would argue its not really a big deal.

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^'s also part of its very basis.  Kempom assumes that possessions are of equal predictive value, and argues that people tend to overrate the importance of certain possessions over others.  There may be some threshold you could use -- >20 point lead with less than two minutes to go, maybe.  But (a) as Brian says, Kenpom has probably looked at that, although who knows, and (b) it might not make much of a difference.  That it matters that you beat a team by 25 or 15 in the first place - or X amount per/possession, really - is the main difference between Kenpom and, say, RPI.


December 12th, 2012 at 2:29 PM ^

I agree that at some time point later in the year my 2 problems with kenpom will become diluted, as they are largely a product of us playing crappy teams. When games are closer, we wont have the issue of how to contextualize blowouts or how to use a capping of margin of victory. With only 10 games in the book, roughly half against crap and half against funcitonal teams...the relative importance of those games against crap are magnified. Michigan, to date, has not shown the abilitiy or desire (not saying this point matters at all in the greater context about our team) to consistently clobber into submission these crappier teams to fully appease the kenpom metric in the way that osu or indiana have. I suspect over time this will not be as big of an issue in the rankings. Those were more meant to be observations about the status quo.


December 12th, 2012 at 8:32 PM ^

Case in point the W. Carolina game.  I was at that game and U of I looked absolutely horrible, shooting terribly from the field and from the FT line.  The only reason they won that game was because W. Carolina turned it over a million times .


I was very surprised they beat Gonzaga.


December 12th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

Two KenPom blog posts that will go a long way to explaining the discrepancy:

  • Small sample size oath: There have been a limited number of games, a lot of them against very bad teams, so the data set is very small right now and a few outliers can throw things ou of whack (stuff like Illinois barely hanging on against Hawaii and Gardner-Webb)(or is the Gonzaga game the outlier for them?)
  • What happens to pre-season ratings when it’s not pre-season anymore?: Since the data set is limited, he tries tries to smooth out the jitter by adding in preseason projections and slowly diminishing them as the season goes along, all the way out to January 23 or so. So teams that were relatively high in his preseason projections (Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Pitt) will have slightly inflated rankings relative to actual performance, while teams that were relatively low (Michigan, Illinois) will get dragged down until the projections are fully phased out.

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

...some people treat Kenpom like it's something it's not (and doesn't claim to be).  Does it really matter if UM drops a spot because it got distracted up 30 with 15 minutes left or its second-string guys let the Bearcats shoot a couple open 3s?  Not to UM's potential seeding, and not to UM's actual likelihood of winning future games, despite what some seem to think. 

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

...the winning team of a single, neutral court game is the better team that day 100% of the time.  That's how he crown the NCAA champ, in fact.

Also, I don't think UM wants to give back its B1G title banner from last year, even though Kenpom says OSU and MSU were a lot better over the course of the conference season.  Ws and Ls are the ultimate measuring stick of good and bad in basketball.

Just as it's "obvious" that the results of any one game can be overstated, it's also "obvious" that some people overstate what Kenpom says about a team.

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 3:01 PM ^

... the question then becomes which team is "better" - the team that won or the team that robots say would win more times if they played a billion times.  You seemed to imply that Team A that finishes behind in Team B in Win-Loss but ahead in Kenpom is "obviously" better. 

I might be reading more into your original comment though.  I do hear/read people say often, though, that some team was "better" than their W-L record indicates and cite Kenpom.  Such a claim is not "obvious" to me as true, even if there might be good arguments to support it.

EQ RC Blue

December 12th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

We can't play games a million times.  A best of 7 series is more likely to have the "better" team crowned champ, but not perfectly.  And what if a star gets injured after game 2?  And why is neutral court setting a flaw?  Maybe the flaw is not playing all the games on neutral courts?  Or without crowds at all?

Anyway, it all depends on what he want our championship game/system to do/measure and what he think is "better."  So I agree that the NCAA champ isn't always the "best" team in that it might not yield the team that would win the most times if a billion tourneys could be held, but it's a pretty great viewing experience that yields high-quality champions.


December 12th, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

I share the writer's concern as to hardaway's falling shooting percentage-----however, it looked to me that binghamton packed its defense in so tight to the rim that good driving opportunities were rare for hardaway, and almost everyone else.  


December 12th, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

Someone mentioned this on umhoops and Brian mentions it here somewhat but the important thing is that he has not lost it mentally. He plays pretty good defense, rebounds, and puts pressure on the opposing team when able to drive the lane.

Ideally maybe he takes a few less threes and drives more but I'm very happy to see him not let any emotions he may have about his shooting affect the rest of his game.

He has to continue to stay positive and eventually the shots will fall. I'd rather have him go 2-9 or whatever against Binghimton and have him go off at the three point line against a Big Ten team or other high major team further down the line. Just keep putting them up in practice and eventually it will translate to the game.


December 12th, 2012 at 12:32 PM ^

Well, when he's recrutiing he can say they'll be playing #3 ranked teams in the big time on National (even if it's BTN) TV. The whole rest of the schedule consists of 2 more appearances on ESPN3.  Families like seeing their kid on tv if they can or can't make it to home games. 

Now, you probably don't want the recruits actually WATCHING the game, but any pub that makes it feel a little more like the big time helps.  I mean, this is a program that has corners of their website still featuring the previous fired coach-

(Mark Macon shout out).

I'm not sure we need to have weekly fretting about RPI. Is anyone concerned on if we're going to make the Tournament or not? Yeah, it might have some small factor in a 1 seed or not (if it even gets to that...lots of road to travel before that), but I'm guessing the eye test probably plays as much of a factor with actual wins and losses at that point over the ratings.  I'm not sure there's a huge difference between being a 2 or 3 seed. And if we're fighting for middle of the rounds positioning THIS season, we have bigger problems than scheduling.

And I get what he's saying; but I'm not sure saying flawed logic + flawed logic = better logic than just flawed logic. Maybe it compounds and is even worse. I think that's the right attitude to take that realize the stats in this case are dependant on what the person making them up thinks is important, and correcting is good. Generally speaking I think the reaction he gets in that statement/question are from those who insist that the ratings are completely accurate without flaws. And just because Wisconsin then or now probably didn't suck doesn't mean they ever deserved a #2 rating. If a team that looks like the #30 in the land ends up being the #15 and you had them the #2, I'm not sure that's a logic victory. 

But really all these things suffer just like the polls or the recruiting rankings....they don't mean a lot till the full season is in, and just present opportunities to look stupid early; but you can't just do one list a year, because then no one cares about you.



December 12th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

We played this a lot in high school and I know the concept well.  You have to be agressive with it.  There are holes that the offense can exploit if you are not trapping the ball and causing the offensive player to make a quick decision.  As the 1 - 3 - 1 shifts with the ball it leaves the back side of the defense open to cross court passes (short corner is where you want to get the ball for easy layups).  You need the offensive guy not to have time to see that and react.  Trapping at halfcourt with both the sideline and half court line in play is ideal, so that would not be 'too' agressive. 

We would sometimes play the defense at 3/4 or full court depending on the other team's skill at breaking presses.

NOTE:  All zone defenses have weaknesses.  Most presses are broken if you can get the ball into the middle of it.  The 1 - 3 - 1 is a more aggressive defense because it really commits your defense to the ball side/middle of the court.  The traps are important to cause panic/confusion/limited sight lines.


December 12th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

I was thinking the same in terms of defense against zeller. Bring in Horford to block his shots and defense. Use the old pistons strategy against shaq when he was on the Heat. Use to bring in Dale Davis the 7 footer who rarely saw time just for that series and get extensive minutes.

/Dale Davis'd


December 12th, 2012 at 1:45 PM ^

The enthusiasm for this team is reflected in the writing - something that has been diminished on the gridiron for the last few years, IMO.

Understandable, given how likeable and successful this bball team is, and the overall trajectory of thel program.


December 12th, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

Bing is the flagship state school of NY and I think they made the tourney in '09.  If I remember correctly, they used to be better, but they had a scandal and some of their basketball players got arrested for almost killing another student at a bar.


December 12th, 2012 at 3:10 PM ^

I don't think we have to worry too much about the schedule becoming too soft.  Beilein has always favored challenging non-conference schedules.  Don't forget that we've played the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Preseason NIT, our end of a home-and-home with Arkansas and now a game against WVU in Brooklyn.  Realistically, you're going to need a few "breathers" in the schedule in between the marquee matchups. 


December 12th, 2012 at 3:48 PM ^

The announcer made the following comment last night:

Michigan is 9 - 0 for the first time since the 1988-89 National Championship Team. 

That was an interesting comment. 

Then, he followed it up with this:

Rumeal Robinson, Eric Riley, Terry Mills - That was a heck of a team.

I wonder if Glen Rice was watching that game.  I am sure Riley would have been happy to hear that comment. 

Leaving Rice off the list of three players mentioned is like stating that the Bulls of the 1990s had a heck of a team with Luc Longley, John Paxon, and Horace Grant. 


December 12th, 2012 at 3:48 PM ^

The announcer made the following comment last night:

Michigan is 9 - 0 for the first time since the 1988-89 National Championship Team. 

That was an interesting comment. 

Then, he followed it up with this:

Rumeal Robinson, Eric Riley, Terry Mills - That was a heck of a team.

I wonder if Glen Rice was watching that game.  I am sure Riley would have been happy to hear that comment. 

Leaving Rice off the list of three players mentioned is like stating that the Bulls of the 1990s had a heck of a team with Luc Longley, John Paxon, and Horace Grant. 

Blue boy johnson

December 12th, 2012 at 6:48 PM ^

The depth of Bigs stretches to four from what I've seen this season. Bielfeldt doesn't get much PT, but when he has, he's been really impressive.

Coach B is going to have a tough problem on his hand next season. It doesn't look as if McGary is one and done, then Morgan, Bielfeldt and Horford return, and Donnal is added to the mix. At this point I don't see why Donnal wouldn't RS.

Coach B's recruiting has been off the charts. The bench already goes 10 deep, with probably only one departing after this season (Burke), and 3 highly regarded recruits coming in next season.