I was originally going to title this post, “Apparently You Shouldn’t Beat Michigan With a Last Second Shot!”, but that seemed a little wordy. Maybe the Northwestern loss is EXACTLY what this team needed to feel at this point in time. I guess if there’s a definition of a “Good Loss” and ensuing result, well, this would be it. Never Piss Off a Wolverine…
The “Fire Tim Miles” rants need to take a step back and tap the brakes. Miles didn’t have the manpower nor the game plan to stop what Michigan brought into the Pinnacle Bank Arena last night. Miles would have been better off pre-arranging (like we sometimes used to do in elementary school hoops) a “first team to this score and we stop pressing, then once we get to this score we only play defense in the paint and then a continuous clock at this score”.
But they couldn’t do that.
I had a strange feeling on Sunday that something big was going to happen in Lincoln. I mean, I know it’s easy to predict that a solid Michigan team would go into Lincoln and win a game by, say, 10 points or something (Kenpom had Michigan giving 4 and Vegas had them giving 5) with a free-throw fest at the end.
But something about how the Wolverines lost to the Wildcats was bugging me. The shots at the end, the missed opportunities early in the game…Something was bugging me. Like the team didn’t play with it all hanging out. Like they were a little bit asleep... Like they were hedging. And the only good thing that happens when you hedge and don’t put all your chips in is that you don’t win as much, or worse, the other guys says, “Hey, I’ll gamble with you!” and you LOSE…..
And it kind of hit me: Michigan didn’t come out “En Fuego” in Evanston. I’m not saying it wasn’t the superior defense of Northwestern over what the Cornsuckers were putting on the floor. But I am saying that when Michigan starts out hot (like they did with Purdue), I feel sorry for the other guys on the opposite end of the bench. Michigan is kinda’ like a trying to control a spill from a gallon of milk on the kitchen counter. You attack the spill thinking you’ve got it under control and then it “GLUGS” again before you can grab the handle and get the bottle tipped up right. Then, right when you think you might have things under control, the bottle tips over again and you’re just screwed…
That’s what it’s like facing Michigan when they’re clicking...
And I have a feeling that after that Northwestern debacle, the team said, “Open it up and let us play! And Beilein said, “OK!!!” And the damn broke and it was over before it ever really started.
Some things that happened Sunday: Walton – (who I think is playing some of his best basketball EVER!) broke the single game assist record last night that was formerly held by Gary Grant. That’s epic. JB tied Johnny Orr by winning his 209th game at Michigan. Michigan scored 90+ for the 5th time this season (should have been 6 as they took their foot off the gas against Sparty at home) and also had a 6th game with a margin of victory of plus 30 points….and added to the “worst loss” list:
Sparty – 29
Indiana – 30
Purdue – 12
Marquette – 18
SMU – 22
Nebraska – 36
Add to that: Michigan’s last two losses were on the road by 2 points and in OT and the loss at Iowa was by 3 points and in OT…
I like the fact that Michigan is kind of under the radar with respect to the national spotlight. You can bet that whatever bracket they wind up in, no one in their right mind will want to play them.
Another question I received was why do I obsess over the indexes and rankings? Do the numbers mean that much?
In Hoops??? The answer is unequivocally yes! At this point in the season, you are what you are. Michigan is, by the numbers, an extremely talented offensive team ranking in single digits in whoever’s index you want to look at (Kenpom has them ranked 6th in adjusted efficiency and 83rd Def-Eff - full season). The worst stat is adjusted Tempo (Michigan in the 300’s) but they make the most of every possession. Again, why does Off-Eff matter? Check out this chart from Kenpom looking at the past Champions:
Rarely does a double digit Off-Eff team win the National Championship. Granted, Michigan is 83rd Def-Eff, but over the last 10 games, that number drops into the 20’s (maybe even the teens after last two games)!!! If I can get that number, I will post. I’m actually looking for a site that has that kind of thing as the one I used to use no longer exists. So any other junkies out there let me know if you stumble on something….And Michigan was playing lousy defense early in the season compared to right now. Yes, I’m high on Michigan for the NCAA Tourney. They just need to get the right seed and play a little more Defense…
So, here’s where it stands after the regular season:
The Michigan Resume
24 25 (I’m not sure who jumped)
Michigan dropped to 8th place in the final B1G Rankings (don’t ask me how the B1G tie breakers work, but somehow, with 4 teams Michigan-Iowa-Sparty-Northwestern at 10-8 that are tied for 5th) Michigan dropped to the 8th seed in the B1G Tourney. Whatever… That matches them up against recently streaky hot Illinois. I’d like to see Michigan beat the Illini and then see what happens against Purdue. Purdue won a close game against Northwestern and you can BET they are reviewing EVERYHING THEY DID WRONG AT CRISLER in the event that they have to re-match against Michigan again….But Michigan can come at you either way. Thursday and Friday should be fun! Here’s my PRELIMINARY B1G BRACKET THAT I HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE UP UNTIL WEDNESDAY!!!!
I’ve never seen a 4 position jump in any of the indexes, but the ESPN BPI jumped Michigan 4 spots with the loss and win over the last two games!!! I’m not sure how the BPI does their calculation but it must place more emphasis on offense then Kenpom or it emphasizes last 10 games more than early season. I don’t think Kenpom weights later season games...
Lunardi updated on March 5th: Michigan is still solidly in but dropped to a 9-Seed and is back in Greeneville against Dayton (again – according to Lunardi). Figuring out Michigan’s seeding will be this week’s obsession for the MMPG. I HATE that they have to play North Carolina in Round 2 (assuming Lunardi’s prediction materializes) but maybe it’ll work out differently…In fact, I believe it has to just looking at the other regions. I’d happily take the 9-Seed that Arkansas is sitting on right now…Straight up.
The Golden Gophers have to absolutely hate that draw as a 6th seed in Lunardi’s forecast as well. Arizona, Syracuse and Kentucky all in the lower half of that bracket would be a nightmare….For a comparison, look at the relative cake walk Sparty would get as the 10th seed on the opposite side (West) of the bracket!!! That would be horrible seeding if it ends up that way. Maybe the Gophers and move up on the 6-Seed line with a win or two. Sparty fans are of course screaming and pointing to Butler. Yeah, whatever.
Sparty’s loss to Maryland takes them to 18-13 on the season. RPI is the committee’s measuring tool and it looks like, for the most part, Sparty is in, even though there’s only been a handful of at-large 14 loss teams that have ever gotten into the tourney. Sparty, IMHO, needs 1 win this week and with their draw of the winner of PSU-Nebraska, they lucked out. However, PSU did beat Sparty in January, but that was January. Either way, Sparty might have their hands full on Thursday. But win one, and then they’re probably good even with the 14 losses. Win the B1G, then it’s a no brainer.