So I'm back from my honeymoon in Greece, and rollin' a 101 degree fever (much appreciated Delta passenger in Seat 12A). Getting the bed sentence for an American male this week basically means lots of college basketball that you can't really follow because you keep drifting off then waking up to either a.) Charles Barkley talking, b.) a guy who looks like your ex-girlfriend's father screaming at you to buy $1,000 TVs, or c.) a radically different score.
At one point Friday afternoon, after a close half where Michigan's best two players ate bench for early foul trouble, I drifted off again and had a fever dream in which Beilein went to his backups and found only ghosts. These apparitions, though by rights having no call to be influencing the corporeal plane, floated onto the court and proceeded to shut down Tobias Harris (who in my dream is 8 feet tall and can't spell "cat") and nail 3-pointers; Michigan won by 30.
Somewhere on my DVR remains a record of what really happened but I'm a man in a room full of used kleenex and the last time I looked on the internet it said hockey lost to Western Michigan 5-2, so until someone tells me different I'm going with the fever dream.
If the dream were true Michigan faces Duke this afternoon at 2:30. You'll get a full preview (update: scroll down to Tim's preview below), but the gist is that Michigan is baby Duke. The Devils' point differential scares the living hell out of me. Then again, I literally need to get some living hell out of me so let's ball.
Diaries: Hoops Edition
It was late January and a 10-2 non-conference schedule against nobodies became a brutal 1-7 mark against the league's toughest conference. The turning point came against little brother, who in basketball has spent the bulk of two decades as a national power. That team which aneurism-ed in Breslin wasn't the same that dominated a first-round 8-9 game in the NCAA Tournament. The squad in January was but an upset special, something that might pull off a miracle using guts and bloody white guys. When Michigan faced that same MSU team again – in Ann Arbor – it had become the Tim Hardaway show, and a ho-hum victory for the better team. The Wolverines finished fourth in the Big Ten, behind only the consensus No. 1 team in the nation and two popular Final Four picks.
How did we come so far? Leave it to bronxblue to tell it as it only can be told, with basketball movie posters:
This was still a dangerously-shallow crew, but it played like a team and bought into Beilein’s system in a way no other team had. And nobody grew more as a player than Hardaway, who scored in double figures in every game and was the catalyst for wins over Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota, playing and being absolutely unconscious at times from beyond the arc.
In a confluence of events that has left dozens of columnists misusing the word "ironic," ESPN aired its Fab Five documentary just as Michigan was sealing its most astounding in-season turnaround in memory. The documentary led to long threads hashing over Michigan basketball's gilded age, but also this fan perspective from Coach Schiano of the '93 Finals run.
The team didn't seem to have their legs that infamous Monday night against UNC. I think Kentucky took a lot out of them. Watching UNC breeze by a lousy Kansas team on Saturday, I was convinced we had the tougher road, and during the last game it showed.
As for the man whose star-birth turned Michigan from plucky guys who might beat the worst MSU team in recent memory to potential bracket busters, Blazefire does a comparison of Tim Hardaway Jr.'s freshman season against his father's four years at UTEP. The younger Hardaway isn't quite the shooter or setup man but otherwise stacks up well against his dad…as a junior.
I also bumped lfj75's Historical Performance of NCAA Seeds to a diary – it basically says 8-seeds don't often win NCAA tourneys. Then again 8-seeds don't usually blow out 9-seeds using spectral bench players.
And though it's now moot, credit jamiemac (of Just Cover Blog) for his Feb 28 bracket matrix, which did a better job explaining which chalk to trust in seeding (and in building a bracket) than about anywhere on the internet.
Diaries: Football Edition
It's official spring tomorrow but it's been football spring for a few weeks. With two other big money sports to hold blue attentions the football information flow has slowed to a trickle. However, lurking user FlyRy4 managed to get us some inside dope from Mattison while attending the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, and DamnYankee performed a great service by reposting as a diary. FlyRy has received an admin points bump so he can bring things like this to us again. Bullets:
- 4-3 under defense that will look like a 5-2 to some – similar to what they ran in Baltimore.
- Mike Martin supposedly will get single-teams and chances to disrupt.
- Big Will is is winning the group competitions at 3-tech (over Q-Wash, Talbott, Ash et al.)
- Cam Gordon's an SLB, not a safety.
- "Inability of players to watch film correctly." Don't quite know what this means, but I'm all for proper video watching.
There's more in there from Mattison, so click.
The Rivals 250 is out, and Bodogblog broke them down by regions. Unsurprisingly there's a lot more talent in the SEC footprint than anywhere else. I'd like to see somebody do a comparison by year of Rivals 250 versus who gets drafted by the NFL; I have a feeling you'd find suggestive evidence that players in the South are more likely to get a 4-star.
And that maniacal laughter you hear in the background is THE_KNOWLEDGE, who points out the Tressel thing is something even the trolliest troll wouldn't dare dream up.
Diaries: Hockey Edition
As I'm writing this (11:30 a.m. Sunday) I'm watching the tournament announcement show, but if there's few surprises it's thanks to the excellent work of mfan_in_ohio, who has been keeping us updated with the pairwisii. You can go back to the March 13 and March 6 updates to feel out the whole process. Denver lost a nailbiter last night to North Dakota and ended up the 2 seed in that bracket, but mfan says Miami (NTM)'s CCHA championship will give them the last 1-seed, putting Mich in St. Louis with BC, CC and Nebraska-Omaha. And lo and behold, he's right. Michigan will play Nebraska-Omaha then face the winner of Boston College and Colorado College in St. Louis.
For his tireless effort and The_Knowledge-like prognosticative powers, this is your Diarist of the Week.
Diaries: Wrestling Edition
Enfin, I just wanted to share a little love for the all the Greco-Michigan fans I met. Yes, I can be the kind of tourist douche who wears Michigan gear when in Europe, but apparently there are a lot of Greeks who know the block M. Greek Michigan fans, we salute you, and not just because you built the Parthenon just to rub in a victory over Spartans.