Sunday, December 14, 2014

Maize and Very Blue

Though they're my football team, the Michigan hoops team has always been more of a secondary follow. I wrote at length a few years ago about the renaissance they have had under John Beilein. It's pretty remarkable how low they had sunk and then risen with the arrival of Beilein.

It's been my belief, John Beilein is the best coach in the B1G. That probably goes against conventional wisdom but no one can argue how players have developed under him and how successful the team has been on the court. Trey Burke and GRIII weren't viewed as NBA type players before they got to Ann Arbor.  That's where both now reside. He helped make Nik Stauskas a lottery pick in two years. Guy has done wonders.

The one problem with the recent success, has been the defection of the aforementioned players. None of those guys were five star prospects and none of the current players are either. Unlike Kentucky, Beilein hasn't replaced McDonald's All-American's with similar players.

If we look at the roster, we see a team with lots of talent. Zak Irvin, Kam Chatman, Derrick Walton & Mark Donnal are all consensus 4* guys. They're all underclassmen, though and unlike Burke and company, they haven't come in and become instantly reliable. They still have to develop. Coupled with the losses of a Mitch McGary and big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, Michigan has some growing up to do.

The two upperclassmen expected to be the leaders are former unheralded recruits, Caris LeVert & Spike Albrect. Neither was heavily recruited out of high school. Albrecht is struggling with an injury. LeVert is the go-to-guy and is being billed as a likely 1st round pick. At this point, though, LeVert has not had anyone step up and loosen the load. Zak Irvin in particular has had a rough season thus far. Without an inside presence, teams have suffocated the outside shooting.

The numbers aren't pretty. Defensively, the Wolverines are 286th in defensive effective fg%. They sit 86th in defensive efficiency. Under Beilein, the offense has been pretty good. This year, while sitting 46th in adjustedO, they have not been very good. They can't get to the free throw line at all and the offesne has been a one trick pony, relying almost exclusively on the 3 ball. That can be fine but the inability to score in the paint os going to be an issue all season.

Michigan has a lot of good players. They've just lost a lot of good players the last two years to early entry. Unlike Kentucky, they haven't replaced them with the five star types. In a lot of ways, they resemble Wisconsin in how the team is made up. Unlike Wisconsin, they've suffered from early defections. 

Losing Mitch McGary was tough. Without the NCAA suspension, it's possible he'd be back and the team would be more balanced on offense. From early appearances, LeVert will be the only defection from this squad. This season could be tough but the future is fine. Donnal, Doyle and Chatman can be good college players. It just won't be this year

Monday, December 8, 2014

Early December Musings

- While the Big East continues to ascend, the American Athletic Conference continues to underwhelm. Defending national champ UConn just lost at home to Yale. SMU toughened up their schedule and promptly lost to SMU, Arkansas & Indiana. They did beat a good Wyoming team this weekend. I bought high on Memphis and they paid it off by losing to Wichita State, Baylor and at home to Stephen F. Austin. Tough start. Oh yeah, the Big XII will almost certainly be poaching somebody soon (I'm looking at you Cincinnati & Memphis).

- Ken Pomeroy did a piece with Deadspin last week saying we'll probably have the slowest pace of play season ever. Yay!

This weekend we had the following results:  

Yale 45 UConn 44
Wisconsin 49 Marquette 38
Washington 49 San Diego State 36

That's some ugly hoops

- Pleasant Surprises

Pretty much the whole Big East, even DePaul.

Northern Iowa has entered the top 25 with early season wins over VPI, Northwestern and Stephen F. Austin. Looks like the Valley has another team to matchup with the Shockers.

- Biggest Disappointments

The ACC other than the top 3 looks pretty mediocre. On Saturday, VPI lost to Radford and Georgia Tech lost to USC-Upstate. Miami lost at home to UWGB by 13. The same Phoenix team that got run off the court by Georgia State earlier in the week. Syracuse followed a loss to Michigan with a loss to St. John's.

VCU opened the season in the top 25 and proceeded to get waxed by Villanova, lose to Old Dominion and Virginia. 

Michigan lost Saturday to NJIT. At home. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Do not be surprised if Providence pushes Kentucky to the limit today.  

Sluggish start by Duke but they're starting to pull away from army.

Kansas and Michigan State look good so far.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Big East November

The overriding story of the early season has been the "rebirth" of the Big East, put to rest by ESPN last March. Entering play yesterday, no other conference had been more impressive. Yesterday was less kind as St. John's, Creighton, Xavier & Marquette all lost. That's probably closer to reality but the early season success will help the league come March.

Entering the season, I thought Villanova, Xavier & Georgetown would be tourney bound. I liked Providence more than most and was high on Seton Hall. The pleasant surprise thus far has been Butler & Creighton. I shouldn't have been surprised by Butler. The Bulldogs showed flashes last year but were beat down by the end of the season. Getting Roosevelt Jones back puts them firmly in the discussion as a potential tournament team.

St. John's again has plenty of talent and gave Gonzaga some fits at moments last night but got themselves into foul trouble. What it also tells me is, the teams after Villanova between 2-8 are going to battle nightly and no game is going to be a sure thing in conference play. The Big East conference play will be fun and fascinating. The 8th place team will be a very good team.

DePaul and Marquette are bringing up the rear. Both have bad losses. DePaul lost to Lehigh and Marquette lost to Nebraska-Omaha. Between the two, I'd look for Marquette to steal a few league games. Despite the sluggish start to the season, you've seen improvement and adjustments. Matt Carlino will probably steal a game or two himself.

The league has been better than expected but will probably regress towards the mean. That's not a terrible thing. the November success helps immensely in March. It should be a great conference season and hopefully will pay dividends on the recruiting trail.

Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Days Into the Season

Eric summarizes it pretty well.  Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga all look great.  Were those his original Final Four…no he had Arizona instead of Wisconsin?  Those were my original Final Four until I took out Gonzaga and replaced them with Texas.  Guess who else looks good…Texas!

The Maui Invitational starts today and there’s going to be a great game later with BYU playing San Diego State.  It’s a classic case of a great offense against a great defense.  Whoever dictates their will on the other team will win.  I look forward to the winner of this game against Arizona in the Championship.    I suggest watching BYU-SDst instead of the Saints-Ravens game.

Also on the docket is VCU versus Villanova.  Nova struggled a bit against Bucknell but I still think they are a potential 2-3 seed come March.  This would be a huge win for VCU for their NCSOS and resume early in the season.

PS: Marquette looks to bounce back from the Nebraska-Omaha loss against NJIT.  This non-conference schedule reeks of Buzz Williams or Jim Boeheim.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Duke, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Gonzaga are good.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our First Bracketology

Turns out that I missed 1 team through my breakdowns' so I'm adding in Memphis since Kurlinski was on board with them.

1 seed vs 16 seed
Kentucky (SEC) vs Hartford(Aeast)/NWst(Sland)
Arizona (P12) vs Hampton(MEAC)/AlabamaST (SWAC)
Wisconsin (B1G) vs High Point (Bsouth)
Duke (ACC) vs C.Connecticut St (NEC)
2 seed vs 15 seed
Gonzaga (WCC) vs American (Pat)
Villanova (Beast) vs E.Washington (Bsky)
Texas (B12) vs Wofford (Socon)
Kansas vs Florida GC (Asun)
3 seed vs 14 seed
Virginia vs Oral Roberts (Summit)
Florida vs William&Mary (Colonial)
North Carolina vs Murray St (OVC)
Wichita St (Mvalley) vs Cleveland State (Horizon)
4 seed vs 13 seed
Michigan State vs UC-Irvine (Bwest)
Nebraska vs New Mexico St (WAC)
Louisville vs Western Michigan (MAC)
Iowa State vs Iona (MAAC)
5 seed vs 12 seed
Colorado vs Georgia State (Sbelt)
Ohio State vs Georgia/Illinois
VCU (A10) vs Miami/Northern Iowa
San Diego St (Mwest) vs Rhode Island
6 seed vs 11 seed
Pittsburgh vs UTEP
Stanford vs Boise State
Oklahoma vs Utah
SMU (AAC) vs Memphis
7 seed vs 10 seed
Georgetown vs Arkansas
Michigan vs Cincinnati
UCLA vs Minnesota
Dayton vs Louisiana Tech (Cusa)
8 seed vs 9 seed
Connecticut vs BYU
Harvard (Ivy) vs Xavier
Syracuse vs George Washington
Kansas State vs Iowa