Just over 6 hours until Selection Sunday and it looks like it is going to be a good day. Hopefully a lot of people can make it to Crisler for the viewing party. I’ll be posting updates throughout the day.
The University of Michigan men’s basketball team will open the doors to Crisler Arena for Wolverine fans to watch CBS’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show tomorrow evening (Sunday, March 15). Doors will open at 5 p.m., with the Selection Show starting at 6 p.m.
All fans attending the free event will be able to park at the Crisler Arena main lot at no charge. Entry to Crisler Arena will be by Gates A and E. Fans will be asked to sit on the east side of the arena.
CBS Sports is expected to be on hand to follow the Wolverines live during the show. In addition, MGoBlue.com will also air Crisler Arena’s festivities via live webcast.
The Wolverines will be looking to garner their first NCAA Tournament bid in 11 seasons, which would also be the program’s 21st all-time appearance. The Maize and Blue, who won the 1989 national title, have a 41-19 all-time record in the “Big Dance”.
Head coach John Beilein’s Wolverines closed the regular season with a 20-13 record, doubling their win total from a season ago. U-M earned the No. 7 seed at the Big Ten Tournament and won its opening game, 73-45, against No. 10-seed Iowa before being eliminated by No. 2-seed Illinois, 60-50, in the quarterfinal. The Wolverines scored victories over ranked opponents three times during the season, including the No. 4 ranked team twice (No. 4 UCLA, 55-52, Nov. 20; No. 4 Duke, 81-73, Dec. 6; Purdue, 87-78, Feb. 26).
Committee. We are one day away from Selection Sunday and most of the bubble action wraps up today. According to chairman Mike Slive the committee looks at “the three Ws and an H“:
“Who you play, where you play, with whom did you play and how you played,” Slive said. “Who you played: qualify of competition. Where you played: was it road, home or neutral? With whom did you play: was everyone available and healthy on either team? And how you played: did you win or maybe it was a good loss.
Slive also emphasizes the full body of work:
“The best way to evaluate a team is based on a full body of work, to think about or give credit for, or if there are losses, to hold teams accountable,” Slive said. “Otherwise, in a sense, you’re going to have November and December being an exhibition season, and it’s not. It’s an integral part of the entire season. I think it is important for the committee to consider the teams when they’re playing throughout the year.
I think Michigan’s resume stacks up very well against any of the other bubble teams out there. Michigan has 20 wins, a .500 conference record, their RPI is 42, they have 2 (possibly more when everything shakes out) top 25 wins, 6 top 50 wins, and 10 top 100 wins to go along with a top 10 strength of schedule. Yes, Michigan’s road record leaves something to be desired but every bubble team has its problems and Michigan definitely went out and beat quality competition this year .
Elsewhere. Temple or Duquesne will get in the tournament after they beat Dayton and Xavier in the A10 semifinals which takes one bid away from the rest of the bubble teams and guarantees three bids for the Atlantic 10.
We’ll start with Joe Sheehan’s list of bubble teams from Friday morning. Not many of these teams did much to help themselves. The few teams that won are in bold. Sheehan mentions that at most thirteen (it would be 12 now because the A10 is getting an extra bid) and as few as four of these teams could get in. I’m not sure about the exact math right now but this more or less gives a good sense of the other teams on the bubble. Teams in bold won yesterday.
- Dayton – Lost to Duquense
- Ohio State – Beat Wisconsin
- Wisconsin – Lost to Ohio State
- Michigan – Lost to Illinois
- Texas A&M – Lost to Texas Tech Wednesday
- Boston College – Lost to Duke
- Creighton – Lost in Semis of MVC
- Minnesota – Lost to Michigan State
- Auburn - Beat Florida
- Temple - Beat Xavier
- South Carolina – Lost to Mississippi State
- Florida – Lost to Auburn
- Penn State – Lost to Purdue
- Utah State – Squeaked by New Mexico St.
- San Diego State – Beat BYU
- New Mexico- Lost Thursday to Wyoming
- UNLV – Lost Thursday to SDSU
- Maryland - Beat Wake Forest
- Alabama-Birmingham – Lost to Tulsa
- Tulsa - Beat UAB
- Niagara – Lost to Siena on Monday
- Virginia Tech – Lost to UNC
- Kentucky – Lost to LSU
- Mississippi State – Beat South Carolina
- St. Mary’s – Beat Eastern Washington
Not many teams doing that much to help themselves. Maryland got themselves back in the picture and they have some very nice wins. San Diego State got a huge win over BYU and Auburn keeps on winning. UNLV is slipping away but San Diego State is moving up. USC also played themselves onto the bubble with a win over UCLA; if they beat Arizona State they get the automatic bid but if not you have to wonder if they did enough to get themselves in? The lack of a quality road win really hurts them.
Basically there are a few teams that helped themselves but it doesn’t appear like Michigan is in danger yet. Bracketology 101 sees four teams that are in danger (their last four in include San Diego State, Maryland, Penn State, and St. Mary’s):
If we had to put a number on it we think that there are 4 bids still in question. All of the teams on the last 4 in line are still vulnerable, while everyone above them (the 10 line and better) are relatively safe.
Bubble watchers (Jeff Goodman and ESPN to name a few) also seem to still feel good about Michigan’s chances and I think Michigan is still in very good shape despite their loss. Michigan has more top 50 wins than essentially anyone else on the bubble and they took care of business in Indianapolis despite a somewhat disappointing loss.
Anything can happen over the next few days but it appears that it would take Murphy’s Law to knock Michigan out of the tournament at this point.
Saturday Viewers Guide. The theme of the day is to root against anyone that would steal a bid. If LSU and Tennessee make the conference finals, the SEC very well could be looking at 2-bids. Memphis, Arizona St., Missouri, and Utah St. can all lock up automatic bids and secure a spot for a bubble team.
- Tulsa vs. Memphis - 11:35 AM CBS
- Mississippi State vs. LSU – 1:00 PM ESPN2
- Auburn vs. Tennessee - 3:30 PM ESPN2
- Maryland vs. Duke - 4:00 PM ESPN
- Duquesne vs. Temple – 6:00 PM ESPN2
- Arizona St vs. USC – 6:00 PM CBS
- Baylor vs. Missouri - 6PM ESPN
- SDSU vs Utah - 7PM Versus
- Utah St. vs. Nevada – 10:00 PM ESPN2
Michigan just didn’t have it tonight. The rhythm wasn’t there, the shooting wasn’t there, and the defense wasn’t there. Thursday was an example of how easy the game is to play when everything is going right but today was an example of how quickly a few bad plays can spiral into a loss.
Michigan was in the game in the first half despite awful 9 of 30 shooting. Illinois got off to a hot start in the second half and the rest was history. The lead ballooned as high as 20 points in the second half before a late Michigan run got the game back to single digits. The run was based on Illinois’ lock down defense and hot shooting (started 10-13 in the 2nd half) coupled with a couple frustrating turnovers.
Similar to the match-up in Champaign, McCamey hit big shots in the first half to keep Illinois afloat before getting a lift from the rest of the team in the second half. Mike Davis was unstoppable throughout the night, he got plenty of easy looks but he also could get his patented mid-range jumper whenever he wanted over Zack Novak. Michigan tried to go with the 1-3-1 and the 2-3 but neither of them fazed the Illini.
Looking at the four factors, Michigan just didn’t shoot the ball well enough despite hanging tough on the glass and doing a decent job holding onto the ball. Michigan’s effective field goal percentage of 41.2% was dreadful and Michigan only managed to score .86 points per possession. Illinois didn’t shoot the lights out but they managed a respectable 1.03 points per possession. Illinois also managed to get to the line with a free throw rate of 24% compared to Michigan’s meager 8%.
Was it tired legs? Over confidence? Taking the foot off the gas? Looking ahead? Who knows. There is no denying that this team plays much better when they think that they have their backs against the wall. It was pretty clear that Michigan felt they were in after the Iowa win. It might have been a little bit of a Michigan let down but the bottom line is that Illinois had a week to prepare for Michigan and they were clearly ready to go.
There are 44 hours until Selection Sunday and it is going to be a long wait. Michigan should still be in the dance but anything can happen. Of course, the committee tends to make one or two awful decisions every year. Michigan’s RPI held steady at 42 (ahead of Wisconsin’s 43) and their strength of schedule jumped to #9. Michigan wasn’t near the “last four in” range before today and hopefully they stay off of those lists and remain safely in the field. The resume speaks for itself: an RPI of 42, 6 top 50 wins, 2 (potentially 3 or 4) top 25 wins, top 10 strength of schedule, 20 wins, and a .500 conference record. The bottom line is that waiting is painful — I’ll believe it when I see our name on the television Sunday evening.
- DeShawn Sims: Peedi definitely didn’t have it today: 6 of 19 shooting for 15 points with eight rebounds. Peedi started 2-10 and those early misses really killed his confidence. I thought Illinois did a great job of forcing Peedi outside and he settled for far too many longer jumpers.
- Manny Harris: 9 points on 3 for 11 (1-5 3pt) shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.Â Frazier was out but Illinois was in Manny’s grill the entire night. He just never really got going and started pressing in the second half after the big Illini run.
- Zack Novak: Novak had 10 points and seven rebounds thanks to two triples and a couple put backs. Novak scrapped but he is just so out-matched in a game like this that it is very tough.
- Stu Douglass: Stu struggled out there, 6 points on 2 of 8 shooting with five rebounds, two assists, and three turnovers. The backbreaker was Stu’s pull up three pointer on a 2-on-1 break that turned out to be a five point swing. That was right when Michigan was starting a bit of a run and was just a poor decision.
- CJ Lee and Dave Merritt: It is trendy to rip CJ and Dave after a loss and they clearly weren’t spectacular but I don’t think they were the reason we lost. I think it is pretty clear that Beilein is going for some consistency there in terms of playing just two guys at the point. Merritt and Lee have had their ups and downs but they have been playing well lately. They combined for 6 points on 2 of 5 shooting with only two assists and three turnovers.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: I’m a bit surprised LLP didn’t get more time in the second half because he set up a few nice plays in the first half.
- Zack Gibson: 4 points in only 6 minutes; I don’t know if Gibson even played in the second half. His two baskets were both nice finishes off of some good looks in the first.
Who: Michigan (20-12) vs. Illinois (23-8)
Where: Conseco Field House, Indianapolis, IN
When: Friday, March 13th, 6:30 PM ET
Spread: Illinois by 2.5
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Illinois KenPom Profile
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)
Last Time: Preview / Recap
First Time: Preview / Recap
The first two meetings between Michigan and Illinois this year were mirror images. The road team led each game at the halftime break before letting the game slip away down the stretch. Now it is time for the rubber match on a neutral court. I can’t think of a better way to settle the score.
Michigan appears to be playing their best basketball down the stretch while Illinois’ season ended in what can’t be called anything other than disappointment as they fell out of the conference championship race losing 3 of their last 5 games. Michigan has already played a game in Conseco so they will be used to the environment and DeShawn Sims thinks this is an advantage:
“I think if an upper seed sees a team compete like we competed against Iowa, it would want to have played a game first,” said Sims, who scored the Wolverine’s first 14 points. “It’s hard to play in tournaments when a team has already played and they’re already loose.”
The final developing story is that Chester Frazier is doubtful with a “severely bruised hand”. Frazier only scored 6 points combined in the first two meetings but he played 66 minutes and is one of the best defenders in the conference and his absence will be felt by the Illini. Here is a good article about the Frazier injury with quotes from Bruce Weber, Manny, Douglass, and others. It is always tough to see a players career end with an injury like this. Frazier is easily one of the best defenders in the league even if he doesn’t get as much love from ESPN as a media darling like Chris Kramer.
Update 12:36 PM: Per Erin Andrews on ESPN, Chester Frazier is out today and possibly for the whole weekend. Calvin Brock (along with Legion and Jordan) will be the guy to fill in for Frazier.
Update: 4:07 PM: Erin Andrews just reported that Frazier had surgery on his hand and will most likely be out for the entire weekend. The hope is that he will be able to play in the NCAA tournament.
- Defense: Illinois has the #4 defense in the country in terms of adjusted efficiency and #9 according to effective field goal percentage allowed. Baskets don’t come easy against Illinois, no doubt about that. Illinois doesn’t force a lot of turnovers but they also don’t let their opponents get to the line.
- Three point defense: Illinois holds their opponents to 28.5% from behind the arc (3rd nationally).
- Size: Tisdale and Davis have a lot of size inside and that will definitely test Michigan. When they play both at the same time it is almost impossible for Michigan to guard them. I think we will see a lot of zone, the 2-3 seems to be the zone of choice when opponents have a lot of size.
- Getting to the line: The Illini rank dead last (344th) in the NCAA in free throw rate. They are a team that lives on the mid-range jump shot and that just isn’t a strategy that gets you to the line. In many ways they are a perimeter oriented team that doesn’t shoot that many three point shots.
- Offensive Rebounding: Despite their size, Illinois is only a mediocre rebounding team. They rebound 30.6% of their misses (251st nationally) and 67.8% of their opponents misses (143rd).
Hopefully we see more of the dominant DeShawn Sims that we have seen for the last several games. Peedi has decided that he is going to be the best player on the court because of his talent, will, and focus and it is paying off. He has the chance to make up for one of his worst performances of the year (7 pts, 3-14 shooting, 2 rebounds) and I think he will be the catalyst for any Michigan success today.
In Michigan’s last four wins they have shot over 40% from three point range and that is definitely a key. I think that the higher shooting percentage is a sign of getting better looks more than some miraculous shooting improvement. Laval Lucas-Perry, Zack Novak, and Stu Douglass need to be ready to go because if they are all hitting their shots then opponents have to guard all of them, not just worry about one.
This post will serve as an open thread for all of today’s action. I also updated the bracketology links on the sidebar, Michigan looks to be right around the 9/10 seed line. Let’s hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments.
Pre-Game Reading (updated throughout the day):
- I’ve got what doctors call “a little bit of an image problem.”
The Big Ten hate is everywhere… BTG blames tempo rather than defense.
- Pre-game notes: Michigan’s Anthony Wright brightens young fan’s day with tickets
- 1-3-1 in name, only ($)
WVU tries out the 1-3-1 zone
- U-M still hungry after first-round feast over Iowa
“We didn’t come here to play just one game, win that game and be done,” co-captain David Merritt said. “We came here to win the tournament. It hasn’t really been discussed about the NCAA tournament. We wanted to get the first one and now prepare for Illinois.”
- Michigan’s impressive win leaves no doubt about NCAA tourney
Rosenberg on the win and Michigan’s tournament chances
- Friday hoops musings: Why to love DeShawn Sims ($)
This is a premium message board story on The Wolverine but it is just great stuff by Chris Balas
- Bracket math: Crunching the numbers
Lunardi has Michigan as a “lock”
Bubble Viewers Guide:
- Minnesota vs. Michigan State – 12 PM ESPN
- Virginia Tech vs. UNC - 12 PM ESPN2 (Lawson is OUT)
- Ohio State vs. Wisconsin – 2:30 PM ESPN – I think the loser will at least sweat on Sunday
- Mississippi State vs South Carolina – 3:15 PM ESPN360
- Kentucky vs. LSU - 1PM ESPN360
- Temple vs. Xavier – 6:30 PM
- Maryland vs. Wake Forest – 7PM ESPN2
- San Diego State vs BYU – 9PM CSTV
- New Mexico St. at Utah St. – 9PM
- Penn St. vs. Purdue -9PM BTN
- Florida vs. Auburn - 9:45 PM ESPN360
- Eastern Washington at St. Mary’s – 10:00 PM
DeShawn Sims certainly didn’t look like a third team all-conference player today. He set the tone from the jump by scoring the first 14 Michigan points and didn’t look back. With his confidence already soaring, he kept on rolling for 18 first half points on perfect shooting. DeShawn was trailing the Hawkeyes by one point at the half.
It wasn’t a one man effort. Peedi opened things up for everyone else and Manny Harris played an efficient and under control game. Manny was a creator rather than a scorer and he consistently penetrated and kicked the ball to an open shooter. Douglass, Novak, Sims, Lucas-Perry, and Merritt all hit at least one three point shot during the game, most of them thanks to one of Manny’s eight assists.
Statistically Michigan dominated the Hawkeyes. Michigan scored 1.23 points per possession while Iowa managed a measly 0.73 points per possession. This was the most efficient game that Michigan’s offense has played since December and it was Iowa’s worst offensive performance of the year. Michigan lost the rebounding and free throw battles but it didn’t matter because they made just about everything, finishing with an effective field goal percentage of 69.4%.
Nothing is set in stone but I’m having a pretty hard time coming up with a scenario that leaves Michigan “out” on Selection Sunday. Andy Cox from Crashing the Dance sent me this e-mail after the game:
I think Michigan is safe now. Now it’s all about the seed.
Let it sink in and then try to remember what your expectations were back on November 10th, the night before this season tipped off. Personally, my expectations included three letter post season tournaments rather than the big dance. Now it is time to enjoy the rest of the weekend. The Illinois game is winnable and if Michigan plays like they did today they can beat just about any team in the country. This team certainly looks to be peaking at the right time and judging by Beilein’s track record that should excite each and every one of us.
I’ll have a preview of the Illinois game tomorrow but here are a couple of notes/articles as well as an abbreviated player bullets list from today’s game.
Notes & Links:
- Illinois guard Chester Frazier questionable for Big Ten tournament
- Sims works to control sporadic mental lapses
- DeShawn Sims: Dominant: 27 points on 16 shots with two rebounds and three steals. DeShawn has become a man this year and he has carried this team on his back down the stretch.
- Manny Harris: This was one of the best all-around games that Manny has played this year: 18 points on 7-11 (3-5 3pt) shooting with seven rebounds, and eight assists. Manny looked to setup his teammates throughout the first 30 minutes or so but added a couple three pointers down the stretch to boost his scoring total. I know he had four turnovers today but I thought Manny played under control and within himself — he passed the ball about as well as I remember since the Oakland game.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: 6 points on 2 of 4 shooting with four rebounds and 2 assists. I thought Laval was solid, he hit a couple threes and seems much more confident. I was probably most impressed with his defense.
- Stu Douglass: 8 points on 3 of 6 shooting with four rebounds and two assists. Solid production overall from Stu and Laval at the two-guard, if we can get a solid 14-16 points combined out of these two in every game that would be a huge boost down the stretch.
- Zack Novak: Novak didn’t score a lot but he filled the stat sheet in other areas: 3 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Zack only took two shots so it isn’t like he had a lot of opportunities or was forcing things. I really think he did a good job letting the game come to him today.
- CJ Lee & Dave Merritt: I thought CJ did a good job of guarding Jake Kelly and he also added 5 assists. Merritt was also solid on the defensive end containing Kelly and hit a triple. Kelly absolute tore us apart and has been lights out of late so it would be wrong to let this effort go unnoticed.