Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Michigan Protects Home Court!!! BIG WIN!!!

First – congrats to all the skiiers that Skied in the Michigan State Finals on a very bright and beautiful Winter Day in northern Michigan!  If every winter day was like yesterday, everyone would love winter!!!

Now, about that game at Crisler last Saturday….


Matt Painter has never gotten much “ink” from the MMPG.  But I had stated earlier in one of my posts that I thought that Purdue was not only the best the B1G had to offer, but I thought (Kind of like Dan Dakich) that Purdue could be a Final Four Team.  As Michigan has only played Purdue sporadically over the last couple of seasons, it’s hard to get to know a coach and a team.  I “thought” Purdue was better than what they put on display on Saturday.  And I still think they might be.  But Wagner, I think it’s safe to say, outplayed the B1G POY and left him shell shocked in the 1st half.  Yes, Swanigan got his, but that was expected.  I also expected that Painter would have figured that Michigan would double team or somehow try to stop Swanigan.  Which is why I would have dusted off the Spike Weapon and turned him loose.  But Painter didn’t.  Thankfully….

Michigan really took their foot off the gas.  This is where SuperFan will comment and emphatically yell at Beilein, “DON’T DO THAT!” – Which I wholeheartedly agree with, BTW.  Michigan has a pretty slow to develop a shot offense, anyway.  Just run the offense.  And again, for the life of me, I’m not sure why Spike didn’t get more minutes...

In the 2nd half, Michigan decided to give everyone a heart check and slowed things down to eat time off the clock.  I hate that.  If Michigan had kept pressuring and played in rhythm as they were playing when they were 22 ahead, I’m not sure Purdue could have stopped them from scoring 90.  Whatever the case, an argument could be made that Michigan could be one of the top teams in the country if they could play each and every game at Crisler.

It was a Big Game!  

At times, the FMQ and the MMPG (two of the most pragmatic of the alter egos) get into discussions about stuff...  In these discussions to discuss things (in my head – not out loud…at least not out loud, yet) to get a better understanding of the situation that’s current, I thought I’d share one of them with you so you would get a better sense of what’s going on.

FMQ:  How big was this game?

MMPG:  Big.  So Big, that we’ve gone from discussing Michigan as a “Bubble Team” to the discussion,  “What Seed Line Makes Sense for Michigan”???   I’d already chalked the Purdue game up as a loss in my mind, and to a certain degree, I’m sure the committee members were thinking the same thing…So if Michigan was in the Dance they were still in, even with the loss.  However, Michigan won!  That’ll hurt Purdue more than it helps Michigan.   

FMQ:  So Michigan hurt Purdue more than they helped themselves?

MMPG:  Probably.  Purdue will still get the highest B1G Seed, and I think they will stay on the 4 Line, but that loss hurt.  With respect to Michigan:  There’s going to be two or three losses we’ll talking about heading into the NCAA’s:  Losing in OT at Minnesota (DAMN YOU TEDDY VALENTINTE!!!! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!),

losing at home to the suckeyes and losing at Iowa…  Those three wins would have moved Michigan up in the B1G standings and probably gotten them into the top 4 of the Tourney for the B1G byes....  The Gophers win would have definitely moved Michigan up in the national standings and more than likely up on the NCAA Seed line as well.  A 7 would be so much better than an 8 right now.  (Some of the Bracketologists have Michigan as high as a 7 already)

FMQ:  Why’s a 7-Seed so much better than an 8-Seed?

MMPG:  The 2-Seeds this season (As of today in no particular order:  Kentucky, Louisville, Baylor, Oregon) are bouncing around all over the place and look EXTREMELY BEATABLE.  Not only that, historically, the percentages are higher for the 7-10 Seeds to come out of the 1st weekend into the Sweet 16 vs. the 8-9 Seeds (that have to play the Number 1’s).  I think Michigan matches up pretty well with any of the two seeds right now.  I’d take, in order of who I think Michigan can beat and then getting more difficult:  Oregon, Baylor, Louisville, Kentucky. 

FMQ:  But wait a minute MMPG, don’t you eventually have to beat the #1 anyway?  Isn’t it better to get them early in the 2nd round?

MMPG:  Depends on which #1 seed you get.  Right now, several of the Bracketologists have Michigan against either UNC or Kansas.  I’d take Kansas in the 2nd round as they have historically had trouble getting out of the 1st weekend.  The other #1 seed I’d like Michigan to play would be Gonzaga.  Villanova and UNC I’d rather play later when the pressure was building on them a little bit more…

FMQ:  Well can’t Michigan win out and improve their Seed line up through a 7 to a 6?  And is the 6 Seed that much better??

MMPG:  Let me start with the 2nd part of your question first:  The 6-Seed dumps into the 3-Seed vs. 14-Seed game winner.  All the NCAA Projected 3-Seeds all look pretty good right now (UCLA, Florida, Florida State and Arizona) and 1 of them (UCLA), Michigan already lost a shoot-out with.  Granted Michigan wasn’t playing a lot of defense at that point in time.  The answer to the first part (Can Michigan move up):  Doubtful.  Michigan can go 2-0 or 1-1 in the next two games and not much is really going to change from a “Best Wins”, BPI, RPI and Kenpom standpoint.  Even losing the next two won’t change that much.

FMQ:  What about winning some of the games or winning the B1G Tourney?

MMPG:  That COULD change the Seed Line.  Especially if they were to win the Tourney.  Winning some games only helps if you’re TRULY ON THAT BUBBLE LINE.  Winning the B1G Tourney would give Michigan 4 more victories and assuming they win the next two games, that would get them to 25 wins, equivalent with the best in the conference.  Maybe, just maybe, the committee would reward them with the 6 or the 5 LineBut DON’T hold your breath….things are pretty much in place in the NCAA’s. Short of the Mid-Major Conference upsets.

FMQ:  So I think you’re saying that the things that “have” happened are more important than the things that COULD happen?  I thought Conference Tourney’s were important!   I’m not following you… 

MMPG:  Well, you have to remember that resumes are built over the season.  The committee in the past has rewarded some Conference Tourney Champions, but other times, they just leave teams where they’re seeded.  For example:  Last Season, EVERY TALKING HEAD OUT THERE stated that if Sparty won the B1G Tourney, they’d lock up a 1-Seed.  Guess what?  Sparty won the B1G and still ended up as the same 2-Seed they were going into Conference Tourney Weekend!!!  And promptly lost.  Don’t get too hung up on what you “deserve” if you start winning a bunch late in the season. The Committee has things pretty much set in place at this point in time. 

FMQ:  But I’ve been hearing about how this is a “Historically Weak” Bubble for the last two weeks!  Why wouldn’t Michigan move up with a B1G Tourney Win?

MMPG:  I hate it when announcers and radio talking heads are stating this is “a historically weak bubble”!!!  Would you really like to know what’s “Historic” about this season: Look at the KenPom and BPI and you will see there aren’t many Mid-Majors in the top 50 (3 I think) that are sitting with better than 23-24 wins and as a result, have extremely high RPI’s, BPI’s and Kenpom rankings.  That makes the SOS of the Middle finishers in the Power 5 (6 with the BEast) Conferences look that much better!  So really, the power conferences are just doing what they always do.  But there’s so many fewer mid-majors to pick from this season and the Syracuse’s, Vanderbilt’s and California’s are sitting there with less than 20 Wins and are actually the best teams available!

FMQ:  Well, isn’t there ANYTHING that can be done to help Michigan’s seeding?  And if the answer’s no, why even bother playing the games?

MMPG:  Yes –Michigan fans need to root for the teams that they’ve beaten and even the teams that have beaten them.  Actually, when I was reviewing Michigan’s BEST WINS, they also end up being some of the WORST LOSSES for those opponents! 

Michigan 79 – Marquette 61:   Marquette’s WORST LOSS on the season!

Michigan 75 - SMU 54:  SMU’s WORST LOSS of the Season!

Michigan 90 – Indiana 60:  IU’s WORST LOSS of the Season!

Michigan 82 – Purdue 70:  Purdue’s WORST LOSS of the Season!

So, Michigan has that going for them and the Committee will take note of stuff like that when seeding them.   And you have to play the games!  They’re on the schedule!

FMQ:  What about this Kenpom thing and why isn’t it used over RPI again?  Everyone agrees that Kenpom is a much better predictor of outcomes, right??  Is Michigan’s RPI in the same rank (for B1G Teams) as the actual rank?

MMPG:  Good Question.  At 46 RPI, Michigan is ranked 6th out of the B1G Teams that are in this order:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Purdue
  3. Maryland
  4. Wiscy
  5. Sparty
  6. Michigan
  7. Northwestern – Which is why the Northwestern game on Wednesday is critical for them…The Wildcats NEED THIS WIN!!!!

So Michigan is actually a notch higher than the Wildcats and should win this game…Except for the Road Worries, of course.

With respect to Kenpom, here it is:

  1. Purdue
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Michigan
  4. Minnesota
  5. Northwestern
  6. Maryland
  7. Indiana
  8. Sparty!

Michigan sits at 3rd in Kenpom’s Predictive Index and has just recently beaten the two teams ahead of it….

FMQ:  Okay – you’re jumping around.  This isn’t necessarily anything Michigan can do to improve their seeding in the NCAA, right?  All you’re stating here is that the Kenpom has Michigan higher and the selection committee sees that kind of thing, right?

MMPG:  Sorry, yes, that’s correct.  In reality, All Michigan can do is start a 12 game winning streak beginning Wednesday night in Evanston against Northwestern. According to Kenpom, Michigan is on a fantastic 5 game roll and is one of the best teams statistically out there.   

FMQ:   Wait – What did you just say?  A 12-Game Winning Streak???

MMPG:  Win the last two games of the regular season, Win 4 games that would win the B1G Tourney and then win 6 games in the NCAA’s!!!  

It’s all very Academic.

FMQ:  That seems like a tall order.  Winning 12 in a row, I mean.  Would Michigan be better off losing in the B1G Tourney and getting whatever seed they have now?

MMPG:  That’s kind of what everyone thinks going into the conference season tourney and it’s why coaches absolutely hate the Conference Tournaments.  Nobody wants to play a tournament thinking, “If we lose no big deal” because EVERYONE IS SO WIRED TO WIN!!!  But if Michigan is rolling…Let It Roll, Baby, Let It Roll!!!

So here’s where it stands:

The Michigan Resume

Record:        19-10

BPI:              23  24  25  25

Kenpom:      28   27  27  27

RPI:              52   52  50  46

Opponent     Location       Date   Day and Time          Result

Indiana          Home             1-26    Thursday, 9:15        90-60 Blow-Out

Sparty             Away              1-29    Sunday, 1:00          70-62 Loss

Suckeyes     Home             2-4      Saturday, 6:00         70-66 Loss

Sparty            Home             2-7      Tuesday, 9:00         86-57 BLOW-OUT

Indiana          Away              2-12    Sunday, 1:00             75-63 SWEEP OF IU!!!!

Wiscy             Home             2-16    Thursday, 7:00        64-58 Win

Minnesota     Away              2-19    Sunday, 7:00              83-78  LOSE

Rutgers          Away              2-22    Wednesday, 6:30     66-64 WIN

Purdue          Home             2-25    Saturday, 4:00         82-70 WIN

Northwestern Away             3-1      Wednesday, 7:00

Nebraska       Away              3-5      Sunday, 8:00

Lunardi updated yesterday and Michigan SOLIDLY in as an 8 seed in GREENVILLE!!!! (Superfan!!!)  That’s a jump up from the 9-Seed line they were on last week.   

Michigan is still 7th overall in the B1G Standings.  That can change tomorrow night in Evanston, but doesn’t really change what would happen in the B1G Tourney of the NCAA Seed-line. 

Sparty’s win has also secured them a Seed in the NCAA’s.  Hollis and Izzo have done a much better job managing the Non-Con SOS and Sparty, even without really beating anyone, will more than likely get a bid in this Mid-Major-less season.

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