Blogcast: Talking Hockey with YostBuilt

In this blogcast we talked to the excellent Tim Williams of The Blog That Yost Built, the place to go for Michigan hockey information.  We discussed Michigan’s season and their draw in the NCAA Championship Tournament among other hockey topics.


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Posted under Blogcast, Hockey

Happy St. Patty’s Day

Don't mess with his ironPosting will be light-ish tonight, but a new recruting update will be posted this afternoon. Also check out the preview of Eastern Michigan baseball posted earlier today..

Tim and I will be at Ashley’s by 5am. Wish us luck.

Posted under Blog News

The Path to the NCAA Tournament

With Michigan’s basketball team attaining a new standard of relevance, it’s easy to see how Wolverines fans are already prognosticating a run to the NCAA tournament. Wins over UCLA and Duke are certainly a stepping stone towards achieving that goal, but there is still work to be done. Let’s see what Michigan has to do to make it into the Big Dance. Sagarin Ratings are little more than a rough draft at this point, but they give us some idea of the relative strengths of the teams.

Completed Schedule
Date Opponent Sagarin Result Record
11-11-08 Michigan Tech (DII) 77-55 1-0
11-12-08 Northeastern 151 76-56 2-0
11-20-08 (n) UCLA 20 55-52 3-0
11-21-08 (n) Duke 4 56-71 3-1
11-25-08 Norfolk State 321 83-49 4-1
11-29-08 Savannah State 230 66-64 5-1
12-3-08 @Maryland 39 70-75 5-2
12-6-08 Duke 4 81-73 6-2

The wins over UCLA and Duke were certainly not expected, and one could easily maintain that Michigan has done better through the first part of its schedule than could possibly have been expected. Salvaging the win over Savannah State was key. Had Michigan been able to top Maryland on the road (and, in all honesty, they should have), we’d be looking at a pretty highly-ranked team right now.

Remaining Non-conference Schedule
Date Opponent Sagarin Projection
12-13-08 Eastern Michigan 261 W
12-20-08 Oakland 124 W
12-22-08 Florida Gulf Coast 317 W
12-29-08 NC Central 345 W
2-7-08 @ UConn 7 L

The remaining four games before the start of the conference schedule are all must-wins. Even with some good victories under their belt, the Wolverines would be devastated by a loss to any of these teams. The mid-year tilt with UConn looks like a loss this early in the year, but who knows where the teams will be come February?

Conference Schedule
Date Opponent Sagarin Projection
12-31-08 Wisconsin 31 W
1-4-09 Illinois 25 T
1-7-09 @ Indiana 146 W
1-11-09 Iowa 65 W
1-14-09 @ Illinois 25 le=”border:1px solid rgb(0,0,102);”>L
1-17-09 Ohio State 5 L
1-20-09 @ Penn State 80 W
1-24-09 Northwestern 36 W
1-28-09 @ Ohio State 5 L
1-31-09 @ Purdue 33 L
2-5-09 Penn State 80 W
2-10-09 Michigan State 37 T
2-15-09 @ Northwestern 36 T
2-19-09 Minnesota 57 W
2-22-09 @ Iowa 65 T
2-26-09 Purdue 33 T
3-1-09 @ Wisconsin 31 L
3-7-09 @ Minnesota 57 T

Going into the conference schedule, it loks like Michigan will have a 10-2 record (and will and with a 10-3 non-conference record overall). The conference predictions are little more than guesses at this point, because it’s hard to tell this early in the season exactly how good all these teams are. Regardless, I project Michigan to be 17-8 (7-5) with 6 in-conference toss-ups. They would likely need to win at least two of those toss-ups, but preferably three to bring them to 20-11 (10-8). This would nearly assure them a bid to the NCAA tournament, especially if combined with a win or two in the Big Ten Tourney. 19-12 (9-9) would likely necessitate a couple wins in the Big Ten Tournament to warrant an NCAA bid.

Of course, Michigan will overachieve at times, and likely underachieve at others. The key is to minimize bad losses, and win most of the games that they should. Combined with the possibility for an upset or two, they should be able to make the tournament.

Another key will be closing the season strong. Unlike college football, finishing the regular season strong is an established criterion for selection to the NCAA tournament. With a likely loss and three tossups in the final four regular-season games, Michigan will have to find a way to win a couple of those tossups to warrant strong consideration.

Posted under Basketball

Michigan-Maryland Postgame

A few quick thoughts on last night’s game:

  • Man, Anthony Wright just sucks. I’ve thought that all along, but I decided to try to trust those who know a little more basketball than I do. Unless Wright goes on a ridiculous tear sometime soon, I shall not be dissuaded.
  • Early in the second half, I thought Maryland was making a run, and as long as Michigan kept it close during said run, the Wolverines would be able to pull away at the end. I was wrong. This team isn’t deep enough right now to win games like that against quality competition.
  • Speaking of depth, with Laval Lucas-Perry, Michigan probably win this game. That’s definitely something to look forward to in a couple weeks. Michigan really needed another person who could test the defense of the Terps.
  • Manny Harris tends to force things too often, leading to turnovers. If something isn’t there, he needs to calm down a bit and let the play develop.
  • The full-court press didn’t cause any turnovers (that I can remember off the top of my head, at least), but man, did it give us hell. There were a lot of times I was surprised we managed to break half-court.
  • If we had gotten a few more rebounds, the Wolverines could have won this game. Zack Gibson let so many go straight through his hands.
  • I’m certainly watching the game through maize-colored lenses here, but it certainly seemed like the officiating was bad in general and… slanted… in particular. A big part of that may be the home-court advantage in college basketball, but it seemed like we got very few calls, and Maryland got a lot of really close thigns called their way.

Posted under Football

Big Ten/ACC Challenge

In its 9 years of existence, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge has been fairly one-sided: The ACC has won every single time. 2008 brings yet another chance for the Big Ten to break through in the Challenge. Through two days of competition, the conference are tied at 3 wins apiece (thanks, Illini and Hawkeyes, for throwing your games away). With a couple daunting games left (UNC/MSU, Indiana/Wake Forest), the teams who represented the bottom of the conference last year will have to sweep the ACC in order for the Big Ten to lock up its first challenge.

Sagarin Ratings in remaining games

  • #129 Indiana visits #22 Wake Forest, and they’ll be 16.39 point underdogs in Raleigh-Durham.
  • #83 Penn State takes on #58 Georgia Tech on the road, in a game in which the Jackets will be favored by 5.13 points.
  • #23 Michigan State hosts #1 North Carolina at Ford Field. They will be 10.21-point dogs in the neutral-site game. However, The ‘Heels may be without their star, Tyler Hansbrough (who, of course, they’ve been without for much of this year).
  • #46 Florida State goes to Chicago to face #59 Northwestern, and the Big Ten actually has a favorite in this one! The Cats are 7.06-point favorites.

…And that brings us to the game that Michigan fans care most about: the Wolverines head to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins at 7:30 tonight on ESPNU.

Maryland sports a #34 Sagarin Rating, and Michigan is #40. On a neutral floor, Beilein’s bunch would be a 2.36-point underdog. In a home game, the Terps are favored by 6.36. They enter this contest on a two-game slide against Gonzaga and Georgetown. Maryland’s best player is the outstandingly-monikered Grievis Vasquez, who leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists. His effective field goal percentage is 45.88%, which is supbar. Georgetown managed to shut Vasquez down, holding him to 1-7 shooting (0-4 3pt).

Michigan State

  • Maryland faced Michigan State (on a neutral floor) in the Old Spice Classic, and beat the Spartans handily, by a score of 80-62.
  • Michigan State, the only team Maryland has played with a Sagarin rating anywhere remotely close to Michigan’s, Vasquez still only shot 42.86 eFG%, meaning that he is certainly containable (of course, his 17 points were aided by the Spartans sending him to the free throw line 6 times).
  • Michigan State lost the game against Maryland by giving up too many good looks from the outside. The Terrapins shot 9-19 from behind the arc in the Old Spice Classic. For the year, Michigan’s opponents are shooting 27.45% from three, including bad performance by UCLA and Duke, and an inexplicable 7-9 from Savannah State. For its part, Maryland’s performance against State was a pretty significant outlier in the young season.
  • The Terrapins also managed to shut down Raymar Morgan, who to this point in 2008 has been MSU’s go-to player. Michigan doesn’t rely on a post presence like Morgan, instead shooting the ball from outside a lot, and getting slashes to the basket from Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims (who also posts up a bit).
  • Although Maryland shut down MSU’s post presence, they don’t have a lot of size, and it will be interesting to see whether DeShawn Sims can have a bit more success down low (along with Zack Gibson) – or at least use the postup to open up shooters outside.

The Wolverines face a tough test, especially since Maryland shut down a team expected to be far better than them in the Spartans. However, the Terrapins haven’t been without their troubles, and Michigan is a different type of team than Michigan State, regardless of difference in talent level.

Go Blue, beat the Terrapins!

Posted under Football

Coaches v. Cancer Crisler Regional

I did not attend either of Michigan’s games in their regional of the 2Ksports Classic benefitting Coaches v. Cancer (not getting into town until tomorrow: drat!), but I did manage to catch most of both games on ESPNU by heading out to local drinking establishments.

Pre-game tonight (IM conversation):
Paul: no one wanted to go to the bball game with me… i’m so surprised
Tim: haha. are you still going to go?
Paul: no
Tim: typical michigan basketball fan. i would go if i were there.
Paul: who wants to go to the bball game alone. that would be sad
Tim: der uberzing.

And on that note:

  • Am I supposed to be able to tell Zach Novak and Stu Douglass apart? I hope not.
  • I love how “Academic All-Big Ten” is a synonym for “former walk-on.” However, it appears that, in basketball, “former walk-on” manages to not be a synonym for “white.”
  • ESPNU’s coverage is… lacking. The worst part is the ridiculous length of commercial breaks.
  • Manny Harris is much better than last year (with necessary caveats about level of competition), but he still tries to make things happen more than he needs to, resulting in turnovers or bad shots.
  • What’s with Jevohn Shepherd changing numbers? That’s going to take some getting used to.
  • Nobody on Michigan can rebound to save their lives.
  • When are the kids on the fringes of the Maize Rage going to realize they look stupider being the only ones not to jump around than they would if they just went with the flow?
  • A pair of good performance by the Wolverines, beating the teams they should. Now they have to pull off a surprise or two in the Garden.

Posted under Football

Basketball is upon us

Oh god, the football season must be really bad…

Last year, Michigan finished 148th in the nation in Jeff Sagarin’s college basketball rating system. This is a bad thing, and the 10-22 record would certainly speak to that. However, there are a few caveats that may give a little hope to UM basketball fans in regards to the upcoming year. First, last year’s record was compiled against the 7th most-difficult schedule in the nation. The teams with more difficult schedules than the Wolverines are as follows:

  1. Arizona (36th in final Sagarin Ratings)
  2. Georgia Tech (63rd in final Sagarin Ratings)
  3. Southern Cal (26th in final Sagarin Ratings)
  4. Texas (6th in final Sagarin Ratings)
  5. Tennessee (9th in final Sagarin Ratings)
  6. Illinois (73rd in final Sagarin Ratings)

Of course, all of these teams finished well ahead of Michigan in the final standings. A tough strength of schedule helps Sagarin rating, so unless you are a bad team (as Michigan certainly was last year), it makes sense that there is something of a correlation between the two metrics. Michigan, however, went 1-10 against the final top 25 and 1-13 against the final top 50 (the lone win came against Ohio State the night of Rich Rodriguez’s introduction).

The schedule isn’t leaps and bound easier this year, however, with games at Maryland and against Duke in the first semester, along with (hopefully) a pair against highly-regarded teams in the Coaches v. Cancer Classic. Duke, UCLA, and Southern Illinois are the other hosts and likely favorites to make it to the Garden. Michigan would face off against UCLA in a hypothetical semi-final where all the favorites win. On top of the conference slate, the Wolverines play UConn in Storrs February 7th.

So why should there be confidence for Michigan basketball fans this year? The most important reason is the coach. John Beilein is undoubtedly a system coach, and a damn good one at that (check out Brian’s offensive efficiency conclusions). Having one year to install his system, without players that he recruited, can only be expected to be a disaster (just as Rich Rodriguez is learning now). Now Beilein has been able to prepare his players for a much longer period of time. Both offensively and defensively, the players should improve somewhat.

Speaking of the players, essentially all of the important ones except Ekpe Udoh return, and there are a few notable additions. Beilein recruits Stu Douglass and Zach Novak are long-range bombers with the ability to handle the ball a bit. Both perfectly fit the system. Ben Cronin is a bigman with an outside touch. Laval Lucas-Perry was with the team last year (meaning he already has a year of the system under his belt), but was ineligible to compete because he was a transfer student; he will join the active roster after first semester exams.

So, if I haven’t at least drummed up a bit of excitement for Michigan basketball, I guess there’s none to be found. However, if nothing else, this team deserves support because it wears the maize and blue. The season starts tomorrow with an exhibition against Saginaw Valley. Watch it on BigTenNetwork.com at 7pm. Go Blue!

Posted under Football

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The Big Ten Agrees with Michigan

Everyone in Big Ten country (except for maybe Indiana) is saying the same thing: Go Blue!It is refreshing to see Ohio sporting the color blue. Now we’re totally even for the past 7 years…

Posted under Football

Michigan Elections

It’s the one day every four years where America decides who will be the Chief Executive of our country for the next term. In that spirit, let’s decide on a few things in the realm of Michigan football. Leave your ballots in the comments section, with justifications for your choices if you so desire.

The player that you think is the best leader on the team. This may not be the same as your secretary choices.

Secretary of Defense
The Defensive MVP of the team at this point in the season.

Secretary of Offense
The Offensive MVP of the team at this point in the season.

Secretary of the Interior
My lame attempt at a Terrance Taylor joke.

Most Deserving of Impeachment
The one coach that you think Michigan absolutely needs to get rid of, ASAP.

Posted under Football

Join Varsity Blue!

Not the blog, punks.

If you’re a Michigan student who has any interest in football, I urge you to check out the TV version of Varsity Blue. If you’re interested in joining the crew, show up on the west side of South Quad’s 9th floor today at 6:30.

As a producer emeritus of the show, I recommend checking it out, I loved it in my undergrad days (and it led to my starting this here blog). If you’re interested but can’t make it today or want more information, e-mail the producer, Alex Prasad, at atprasad@umich.edu.

Posted under Recruiting

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