Hoops Preview: Loyola-Chicago, Final Four Comment Count

Brian March 29th, 2018 at 2:18 PM

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WHAT #7 Michigan (32-7) vs
#30 Loyola-Chicago (32-5)
WHERE Alamodome
San Antonio, TX
WHEN 6:09 PM Saturday
LINE Michigan –5 (KenPom)

yes, you can purchase a Sister Jean bobblehead


Well, here we are. Again. Michigan rolls into the Final Four as the most fearsome defense left in the tourney by some distance. They can't shoot straight anymore, but it hasn't really mattered. Moe Wagner has had three off games, and it hasn't really mattered. The front end of a one and one is a turnover, and it hasn't really mattered.

It'll matter this weekend. Michigan has a shot at the national title. It'll either be a poor one if it's the first weekend; it'll be an outstanding one of it's Texas A&M. Here we go.


Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 13 Clayton Custer Jr. 6'1, 185 86* 21 117 No
58/47 from floor, excellent at 2PJs. Main assist guy but 5:4 A:TO is bleah.
G 14 Ben Richardson Sr. 6'3, 195 81 14 111 No
Low usage combo is 39% from deep and has 1:1 A:TO. Barely shoots inside line.
G 5 Marques Townes Jr. 6'4, 210 71 22 106 No
Slasher a rarity on the roster w 60% of shots at rim. 40% on limited threes.
F 0 Donte Ingram Sr. 6'6 215 71 19 106 No
40% from 3 on 184 attempts, does fair amount of work inside line.
C 25 Cameron Krutwig Fr. 6'9, 260 52 23 120 Very
Beefy dude with mad YMCA game. Post-up only. Not a rim protector.
F 21 Aundre Jackson Sr. 6'5, 230 48 28 108 No
Undersized backup 5 does a lot of posting up vs MVC.
G 12 Lucas Williamson Fr. 6'4", 190 47 13 110 No
Does some inside work vs MVC, in this game projects as 43% Just A Shooter
G 2 Bruno Skokna So. 6'1, 195 16 15 111 No
Also a guy likely to be relegated to standing around perimeter; 36% from 3.
G 2 Cameron Satterwhite Fr. 6'4, 175 11 15 102 Yes
Fringe guy who might get a few minutes if there's foul trouble.

*[last five games minutes from Kenpom.]

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]



Krutwig needs a Stain Train worth nickname

Prepare to be the most hated team in college basketball for a night. Michigan's opponent is tourney Cinderella Loyola-Chicago, home to a 98-year-old nun with multiple burner accounts on your local message board of choice. C'est la vie.

Loyola is an 11-seed, but after their tourney run they rank more like an 8 in your preferred fancystat. This means they are an extraordinarily fortunate matchup in the Final Four but in no way a pushover. Kenpom gives Michigan a 66% shot at a victory, ranking them barely behind Penn State and Florida State. It's going to be a game.

The Ramblers are the platonic opposite of Florida State, a traditional big surrounded by a crew of virtually interchangeable snipers who all drive to the rack and kick it around the perimeter. Think MVC Purdue.

The center is 6'9" freshman Cameron Krutwig, who looks and plays exactly like a mid-major center named Cameron Krutwig should. He's beefy but not athletic, a little slow when pulled to the perimeter, and a filthy rec-specs-worthy post-up threat converting 61% from the field. Loyola surrounds him with shooters—the only Rambler who's under 36% from three is a little-used freshman—and frequently lets him go to work one-on-one. Synergy has him a 92nd percentile(!) post scorer, although that's not competition-adjusted. FWIW, he has not slowed down much against four high-major opponents in the tournament, hitting 15/27 from the field and posting solid ORTGs in 3 of 4 games.

Krutwig's main flaw is endurance. He only plays 20 minutes a game despite being the only post on the roster. Endurance, and probably his defense when asked to guard Michigan's pick and roll. But if that's a problem it's not one that's shown itself in the tourney to date—often because of the opposition. Would you believe me if I said Tennessee ran zero PNRs against Loyola? Well, it's true.

The rest of the team is a House of Cosbys: similar players with some clone-to-clone variation. Everyone can knock down threes, everyone shoots well from two, nobody gets to the line much, nobody fouls much, everyone chips in some assists, and everyone has a slightly too high TO rate. Nobody is much of a pull-up three shooter—good news for a Michigan team that is excellent at preventing threes.

Slasher Cosby is Marques Townes, a 6'4" driver who transferred in from Farleigh Dickinson after a couple years. Townes hits 39% from three but only has 71 attempts on the year; 60% of his shots are at the rim, with about half his makes assisted. He hits 56% inside the line, but has a 20 TO rate. He's the most Florida State player on the roster. He will attack downhill.

Hopped Up On Goofballs Cosby is 6'5" Aundre Jackson. Jackson is one of those extremely fun players who doesn't start but sucks up a ton of oxygen when he's on the court. Jackson gets about 20 MPG and puts up almost a third of Loyola's shots when he's in the game. Like Townes, he's shot well from three on just a few attempts and does most of his work inside. There he's a 63% shooter from two, but he's a lot more assist-dependent than Townes. Jackson's the burliest guy on the roster other than Krutwig and gets most of his minutes as the backup 5, though he and Krutwig will occasionally play together.

Perimeter Oriented Cosby is 6'6 senior Donte Ingram, the only high usage guy on the roster with more attempts from three than two. Even then it's not a huge discrepancy—Ingram has 137 twos and 184 threes on the year, shooting 50/40. His shots at the rim are mostly layups created by the rest of the offense giving him a straight-line drive to the basket.

Sniper Cosby is PG Clayton Custer, a 58/47 shooter who has a remarkable 56% hit rate on non-rim twos. He's the first among equals as a shot creator in Loyola's diverse offense, but turnover issues dog him. He torched Loyola's first three tourney opponents—9/14 from 2, 7/10 from three—before a rough game against KSU; turnovers held down his ORTG in the second and third rounds.

Custer's shooting is mostly spot up stuff with some action as a pick and roll ballhandler mixed in, but he will test Michigan's D in all aspects. He's an exceptional shooter at any range and is comfortable off the dribble. He creates almost all of his twos. Michigan will hope that Zavier Simpson can get in his shorts and shut him down, and he probably should at least hamper Custer. Michigan blew up Carsen Edwards in two of three games, including the two most recent ones; Simpson also blew up Rob Gray in the round of 32. It's hard to see a PG not named Jalen Brunson who survives Michigan's defense right now.

Ben Richardson, Lucas Williamson, and Bruno Skokna fill out the "limited roles" section of the roster and are collectively Background Cosby. All of them are three-or-rim sorts with a heavy emphasis on threes. Richardson gets about 20 minutes a game and chips in some assists but collectively they might put up three shots from inside the arc. They're mostly there to spread the floor and knock down kickout threes. Richardson and Williamson can't be left since they shoot 39 and 43 percent from two, but if they're covered they're not going to do much.


Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 12.33.29 PM

In many ways this is a mirror matchup. Loyola places zero emphasis on offensive rebounding (#332) and keeps the opposition out of transition almost as well as Michigan. They shoot excellently from the floor, get a ton of assists, and don't get to the line much. The main distinctions between Loyola's offense and a typical Beilein one are turnovers—the Ramblers are outright poor at keeping the ball—and three point rate. Despite their excellent shooting, Loyola is a bit below average in 3PA/FGA. Michigan is 60th.

On defense… well. Loyola's top 20 defense seems impossible given the pieces they've got, but the Ramblers held Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Nevada, and Kansas State to around 1 PPP; the best performance by those five power conference foes was Tennessee scraping out 62 points in 58 possessions.

So: Loyola is somehow very good at eFG defense despite having a block rate around 300th, cleans up their own boards reasonably well, and forces a fair number of turnovers. They do give up an approximately average number of threes.

So there's good news and bad news. The bad news: Loyola is won't lose much efficiency when they're held out of transition. Their eFG drops from 62 to 57 when they hit the halfcourt, which is not much at all. Good news: Loyola's best aspect on D is their foul aversion, and Michigan doesn't shoot free throws much or well anyway. Also Michigan figures to have a fairly large shot gap in their favor.     


Punish small ball. The most mid-major thing about Loyola is what happens when Krutwig heads to the bench, as he does for about 20 minutes a game. In his absence the Ramblers go all-out smallball, playing a 6'5" wing type at the 5. Michigan could react by going small themselves, but since they're so good in pick and roll defense and this is what happens when Krutwig leaves the floor against tourney-quality opposition…

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 7.10.04 PM

6 game sample including all tourney games, UF, and Boise

…Michigan should just roll with their bigs. The items to note in that chart above are a steep decline in 3P% paired with a decline in 3PA on offense and the big increase in FT rate and all varieties of shooting. These are necessarily small sample sizes; on the season Loyola's offense sees no dropoff when Krutwig leaves but there is a 0.1 PPP drop on defense. Michigan should seek to exploit the small-ball, not match it.

The other half of that…

Teske up. If Wagner isn't hitting from three early or gets in foul trouble, Michigan might explore having Teske swallow up Loyola's 5s.

It's worth noting that Loyola hasn't faced size like Michigan much during their run. Tennessee was missing a 6'11" post and spent most of the game playing a 6'7" guy at center. Nevada goes six deep with five 6'7" guys and a PG. Kansas State was missing its starting center and played a couple marginal 6'8"-6'9" guys for 28 minutes, going postless the other 12. Only Miami presented Loyola with a true post; he went 5/7 and had three blocks despite being Wagner-level in that department on the season.

Krutwig is a guy who Teske can D up on one-on-one. Despite the fact Jackson's 6'5" he, too, is almost strictly a post-up threat and roll man on offense. Meanwhile Teske brings almost double the OREB presence that Wagner does and could be a major source of extra possessions against the wee Ramblers.

Hello, rack. Loyola has virtually no shotblocking and has given up 61% at the rim on the season, where a third of opponent shots come from. Maybe they can stay in front of MAAR and Simpson… but probably not. Ban the words "two point jumper" from the vocabulary for this one.

Stay in front. Loyola's offense either runs through Krutwig or becomes a series of drives to the bucket that end in kickouts until they don't. Michigan will let Krutwig or Jackson go one on one whenever they want. When the drives happen Michigan will stay attached to shooters—a dangerous game against the country's #9 team at hitting twos. Matthews staying in front of Townes will go a long way towards getting Loyola to put up some bad shots.


Michigan by 5.


Billy Seamonster

March 29th, 2018 at 2:36 PM ^



Hoping we see Kansas in the Championship.  My thoughts on Bill Self changed after he came to our last Final Four and posted up at a table at the Michigan bar (after we beat them) with a styrofoam cup of presumably alcohol. Fans were giving him crap, but also being nice, as he was back.


March 29th, 2018 at 2:48 PM ^

Many of my immediate and extended family members attended KU, and I have been fortunate to meet Coach Self a few times. He is genuinely a very cool guy to meet: super funny, can drink like a fish, and has a pretty charismatic personality. In Brown parlance, he's a dude.

Not because of Self, but I also hope we play Kansas. I think we matchup against KU much better than Nova. Fingers crossed we can escape the halo of Sister Jean...


March 29th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

I'll feel much more comfortable once Moe drains his all important first three, and then proceeds to dominate the rest of the game, which he can and should here.



M_Born M_Believer

March 29th, 2018 at 2:41 PM ^

A miniature version of Michigan. Teams that can shoot are always dangerous, but I really like the X v Custer match. X shuts him down I expect their offense will stall and struggle to hit 60 points.

Durham Blue

March 29th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

Simpson will again be a huge factor in this game.  Michigan can shoot with anyone in the country.  What's to say our D won't cause a poor shooting night from Loyola?  If they are shooting bad we will win easily.  Won't matter if we're shooting bad as well.  So, I think if our D can force turnovers and a bunch of missed shots we should win by double digits.


March 29th, 2018 at 4:22 PM ^

To some extent I think Loyola has been able to sneak up on all their tournament opponents or even be overlooked. Now they are out in the open and UM has had a solid week to break them down. I like UM in the game. However I think another 4 for 20+ performance from 3 may again make for an annoyingly close game.


March 30th, 2018 at 1:56 AM ^

in which we hasn't scored 6.  We've won several.  Some of our best wins were games in which he played poorly or didn't play many minutes (UCLA, @MSU, OSU).

Of course, we would like everyone to have a good game, but it's just quirky result of randomnessx that we haven't a lost a game in which he scores six. Plus, the fact that he gets easy points at the end of our wins because of FT shooting means sometimes our winning causes him to get points instead of the other way around (like against FSU).



March 29th, 2018 at 3:02 PM ^

Knock on wood, but just don't see us losing this game unless they shoot like 60% from 3. I'd much rather play a poor man's version of ourselves than another gritty athletic defense. Go blue.


March 29th, 2018 at 3:19 PM ^

just watched highlights from three of their tourney games.  I had not watched them live and have not seen very much of them at all.  The first thing that jumps out at me is that there is literally NO transition play.  Everything is in the half court, and they have not played anybody who likes to operate that way.  For the most part in this tourney, they have beat teams who want to get out and run and kind of create chaos.  Tennessee was extending full court simply to speed the game up and Loyola simply would not let them.

I think Michigan is a better team when we are getting some transition opportunities, but it is also a team that is perfectly comfortable playing in the half-court.  I think that Loyola's style of play had the effect of taking their previous opponents "out of their game" and rattled them, whereas I don't think this style of play will present any unusual challenge for Michigan.

In my opinion, if Loyola makes everything and Michigan shoots very poorly, it will be a close game.  If not (and this is coming from somebody who is not the most naturally optimistic), I see this as a game that is irritating for a while until Michigan makes a significant run and then clamps down.  I don't see one scenario where Michigan has to make up a lot of ground in this game. 

if anything, this is going to come down to - we make our free throws in the last five minutes, we coast.  We miss them, all hell breaks loose.


March 29th, 2018 at 3:44 PM ^

Right, the teams you say they feasted on are the teams we feast on. Undisciplined, get out and run, make things chaotic. Doesn't work on very disciplined teams. So Loyola may not be that, but they do seem to be similar to us, but obviously don't have our talent or our coaches. They are at a huge disadvantage and it's going to take a rabbit out of a hat to get them past us.


March 29th, 2018 at 8:15 PM ^

had a KenPom adjusted Tempo rank above #233.  Nevada - absolutely that team wanted to run it and make it a high-possession game.  The others, not so much.  I think 3 of those 4 opponent are similiar to Michigan in terms of having experience playing the low-posession games that Loyola likes to play.

That said, Michigan is different than the other 3.  Miami and Tennessee (like every Rick Barnes team ever) struck me as fairly undisciplined.  K-State liked slow-it-down ball but simultaneously seemed flummoxed by the basic object of basketball (have an offense that can find a way to put the basketball throuh the basket).    

I think Loyola WILL "dictate" their style.  Thing is, Michigan has no problem beating that style.  A combination of (1) disciplined and (2) competent offensively beats Loyola's style, and Michigan is both.  It's a nice match-up for Michigan in that way.


March 30th, 2018 at 2:14 AM ^

because we have the same style in terms of almost no effort to get OREBs from our 1-4s so as to get back on defense and not allow transition.  Also both teams are very methodical on offense and prod for a while to get the best shot.

The weird thing about them and their style is that they turn it over a lot. Usually not the case with methodical offenses.  We'll get to run on them if we're getting steals.

Other than that, yeah, it'll come down to who can guard whom the best one-on-one.  I don't think they can guard Wagner with the big guy in there.  And I don't know how efficiently they'll be able to score on our guards and that should be the difference.

Indy Pete - Go Blue

March 29th, 2018 at 3:03 PM ^

I read all sources I can find for preview of UM Bball games, and Brian's excels them all - as a rule.  On offense, it all comes down to MAAR and Z getting by their man into the paint.  On D, it all depends upon strong closeouts and excellent on ball defense.  In other words, I like our chances.  Let's go blue!!


March 29th, 2018 at 3:04 PM ^

Here is how I see the matchups going. I realize that individual matchups aren't everything here but I just don't see how their perimeter offense is going to be consistently functional with our 3 main defenders on the perimeter.

Custer - Simpson
Richardson - MAAR
Townes - Matthews 
Ingram - Livers/Duncan
Krutwig/Jackson - Wagner/Teske

Let's Go Blue!!!!



March 29th, 2018 at 3:05 PM ^

You never know when Michigan's shooting will show up. If it shows up here it could be a long game for Loyola, though their ability to hit from distance means they can come back from deficits.

But I'm really happy to be facing a team that isn't a foul machine. FSU in particular was frightening for that reason--an endless supply of interchangeable long guys who can force us to the line where we are inefficient. 

I'm really hopeful that Z will make a huge difference by grinding down the PG play. At this point the major worry for our defense is an offense that doesn't rely on its PG, because Z makes the PGs he plays bad. Even Gray, who scored his fair share, was really inefficient all game long.



March 29th, 2018 at 3:16 PM ^

really going to be playing a road game in this one and gotta watch if refs call this one close. shut them down on D, pound the paint with drives and posts to open up the threes

also anticiapate the reverse lay ups, these guys love to use the rim for protection


cant take these boys lightly at all


March 29th, 2018 at 3:19 PM ^

My only wish is that this game doesn't come down to FT's. They are a way better FT shooting team than we are, so please keep a 10+ point lead the entire 2nd half. Thanks!

GO BLUE!!!!!!!


March 29th, 2018 at 3:29 PM ^

Loyola really isn't that much better of a free-throw shooting team than Michigan.  They're shooting 72.3% on the season, which is slightly above average.  Michigan is shooting 66.1%, which is awful.

If each team shoots 20 free throws, you can expect Loyola to make 14.46 of them, and you can expect Michigan to make 13.22 of them.  In other words, if both teams make their average, it's a one-to-two point difference unless the number of fouls is very high -- and neither of these teams is foul-prone.


March 29th, 2018 at 4:15 PM ^

This helps to put it in perspective. Thanks!

I've really appreciated your comments around here lately. Definitely a productive commenter! 

I just don't want to see us repeat the FSU game where we miss 2 front ends of a 1 and 1. Those are killers. And since Loyola is foul averse, it may be 1 and 1 situations at the end. Lets just hope we're up by 7+ so it won't matter! 


March 30th, 2018 at 12:04 AM ^

Now you're making me blush. :)  Thanks -- I'm glad I can help.

I hated the end of the FSU game also -- although the KenPom win percentage never dropped below 86%, it felt like Michigan was one more disaster away from a serious problem.  And whereas FSU couldn't shoot to save their lives, Loyola is a good shooting team.  Up 10 with 2 minutes left was much safer against FSU than it would be against Loyola.

The 1-and-1 does magnify the free throw discrepancy, of course.  Michigan will score an average of 1.1 points on any given 1-and-1, while Loyola will score an average of 1.25.  More to the point, a 51% free throw shooter (Simpson) scores only 0.77 points, and a 56% shooter (Matthews) scores only 0.87 points.

So, I agree; I'll feel much more comfortable if none of this ever comes up. :)


March 29th, 2018 at 3:23 PM ^

I’m just gonna pray Moe hits his first 3. I like the matchup, but we’ve put some bad offense out there in 3 of 4 games so far. Not gonna last much longer if we keep that up


March 29th, 2018 at 3:33 PM ^

I don't see this team playing past Monday.  Good call.

Michigan can beat Loyola with bad offense.  They can beat Kansas with bad offense.  I don't think they can beat Villanova without excellent offense.

Michigan's defense is really, really good.  It's going to be the best defense that Loyola has faced all season.  (Tennessee is close, but they were playing down a man).


March 29th, 2018 at 4:06 PM ^

I'm not a basketball expert by any means, but our defense dismantled guys in 3 of the first 4 games but our lackluster offense made them all close-ish games. I'm fine with defense and maybe that'll work vs Loyola, but I'm not sure we're going to stand a chance against KU/Nova raining bricks