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The Catchup: Hockey

By BrianFebruary 16th, 2009 at 2:11 PM — 18 comments


it comes. it is the glendening. prepare your rosewater. [er: commenters point out this is actually Wohlberg, which is true.]

Hockey won four straight. I'm staring at a box score that shows Michigan down 2-0 after seven minutes and then this:

Travis Turnbull (Louie Caporusso, David Wohlberg)   PPG 15:04
Brian Lebler (Travis Turnbull, Robbie Czarnik) 16:44
Luke Glendening (Louie Caporusso)  GWG 15:32
Luke Glendening (Louie Caporusso, David Wohlberg) ENG

That's the equivalent of basketball winning with 30 points from David Merritt. The night before Michigan pulled Hogan after he gave up 3 goals on eleven shots and put in Sauer for the third and then Sauer went out and won the next night. The once-settled goalie situation now seems unsettled, but four wins over decent competition is four wins. Michigan has now moved into third place in the CCHA and has nearly clinched the first-round bye. Notre Dame is six clear and is all but assured the regular season crown—things would be much more interesting with competent refereeing a couple weeks ago—and Miami remains a game ahead of M.

[Update: Hogan had the flu and pulled himself out, apparently.]

…and moved way up in the Pairwise. The win streak has moved Michigan into outstanding position in the pairwise. They're second overall now, somehow, and Notre Dame has fallen to fourth. If the season ended today, Michigan would finally get to stay home and play in the Grand Rapids regional.

I'll spare you the details as to how the bracket is formed—those interested can get them at USCHO—but forming a coherent one is tough at the moment because three teams currently in the tournament are guaranteed hosts: Minnesota, Yale, and UNH. Michigan's bracket on a pure seeding basis is frickin' righteous:

2. Michigan
15. AH autobid (probably Air Force)

7. Yale
10. Cornell

However, Yale has to be in Bridgeport and there can't be a first-round intra-conference matchup, so someone would have to get swapped out or in. The thing that seems to make the most sense right now is swapping Yale into BU's bracket and Denver into Michigan's, but all this stuff is going to change a thousand times before the end of the season. It's not worth getting exercised about.

You want Notre Dame to lose, lose, lose, as if they slide ahead of Michigan in the PWR they'll get the spot in Grand Rapids and Michigan is getting shipped. (Probably. The rule book no longer demands that #1 seeds get placed in order of seeding.) Also feel free to root against UNH, as their hold on the tournament is tenuous at the moment and their exclusion would help Michigan not get hosed.

The margins in the PWR are always thin, so Michigan has a lot to play for in the final couple weeks of the season and the playoffs. They've got a couple of road games against Ohio State—which has to be kicking itself after it took a 3-2 lead against ND with under three minutes left, then took a spearing(!) major, let the game get tied up with a second left, and lost in OT—and the season-ending home and home against Ferris. OSU is solidly on the bubble for the tournament and will be playing for its season against Michigan; Michigan will be playing to keep pole position for Grand Rapids. Should be an excellent series, and both games are televised.

Mark Mitera's prognosis got grimmer. Michael Spath:

When [Mitera] met with the entire media about three weeks ago, he was energized and talking about a mid-February return. Not so Monday. Admits getting back into playing shape is much harder than he anticipated. Looks good when he does skate, but his stamina is lacking severely. Said today he wasn't even sure he'd be back for the final weekend of the regular season Feb. 27-28.

Spath updated that with a quote from one of the coaches stating that if Mitera was ready for the CCHA playoffs he'd play in them—and remember they'll have two weeks to prepare after the Ferris series—with the most likely lineup change being Chris Summers to forward.

I'm not wild about that idea since Summers has been excellent on D and the return of Mitera would be an opportunity to sit the penalty- and mistake-prone Llewellyn (although he may have played better the past couple weeks); meanwhile the Michigan grinders like Winnett and Fardig and Ciraulo and Glendening have all been playing well.

Michigan picked up a depth forward for next year. Chris Heisenberg is now listing Lindsay Sparks as a Michigan commitment. Sparks was committed to Brown until his M switch. Yost Built has more on Sparks; sounds like he'll be a depth forward. Maybe John Shouneyia upside?

Notre Dame announced a new arena. Ding, dong, the Joyce is dead. Jeff Jackson has already made them a power and they'll be one until he retires; the new arena should help him recruit. The CCHA's days as the Big Two and little ten (or eight or nine) are over; Miami and ND are here to stay.

Back Like Backstreet, Except I Left

By BrianFebruary 16th, 2009 at 12:48 PM — 26 comments
Filed under:

So: I'm back. It might be a little slow today as I attempt to catch up on almost two weeks of happenings and assimilate them into coherent thought. But it might not.

First, though: massive thanks to UMHoops, Varsity Blue, The Wolverine Liberation Army, Yost Built, The Hoover Street Rag, MVictors, Diarist Jamiemac, and longtime commenter and general blog affiliate Colin for picking up the slack and then some in my absence. I hope you found a couple other blogs to read during our painful separation. Also, Tom Van Haaren turned in an MGoBlog first by breaking the commitment of OH WR Jerald Robinson.

A common question: where was I? This, hopefully, will reveal all.


You will note that guy's slammin', laser-enhanced Michigan hat:


A second commonly-fielded question isn't actually a question, it's "you can't ever do this again," which sentiment I appreciate. This was long and ill-timed and next time someone asks if I can evaporate for almost two weeks in February I'll say "uh… no". HOWEVA, this was also the first time in over four years that I'd taken more than a weekday away from the blog outside of the annual Christmas break. I'll probably do it again at some point. But in summer.

Also appreciated is the flood of donations that came in when the WLA browbeat y'all. I was sitting in a McDonald's in Aswan—free internet!—the last time I got my email and was stunned, flattered, and then a little bit suspicious of the tide. Many thanks to everyone who chipped in.

As a reward for tolerating my absence, here's a list of all the things you can't take on Egyptian planes, including "spear," "weapons for killing cattle," "spiral taking away instrument for cork plug," and, bizarrely, "roller skating shoes." (click for big; well worth it):

things you can't bring on egyptian planes

Now, on with the show.

Steven Threet to Transfer

By BrianFebruary 16th, 2009 at 4:18 AM — 64 comments
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Hi. I'm back, and tired, and it's 3:30 AM but I've already slept seven hours today so, like, hi.

The Daily has confirmed the rampant internet rumor that Steven Threet was planning on a transfer:

"I have decided to transfer from the University of Michigan," Threet wrote in the statement. "I have requested and received my release. I do not yet know where I will continue my collegiate career, and have no further comment until that decision is made."

This is obviously not good for anything except my prediction that Tate Forcier would be the opening-day starter. For all Threet's faults he looked competent at times last year and could have been passable as a sophomore; Michigan is basically down to the two freshmen and then it's time to close your eyes, pick a walk-on, and pray.

So, yeah. Hooray for good news immediately upon returning.

Michigan @ Northwestern LiveBlog

By TimFebruary 15th, 2009 at 2:06 PM — 0 comments
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Hosted by Varsity Blue. We'll get started shortly before the game.

Fake Unverified Voracity Gives this Thing a Whirl

By TimFebruary 13th, 2009 at 3:07 PM — 14 comments
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Walkons? Walkons.The always-awesome Jim Stefani has sleuthed out a number of preferred walkons for Michigan's class of 2009, and he has anointed New York Offensive lineman Tom Lindley the catch of the bunch. Lindley may have been deserving of a full ride elsewhere:

“Though he would have merited a ride somewhere else, lineman Tom Lindley of William Floyd will attend Michigan as a preferred walk-on next fall and try to earn a scholarship down the road.”

but will join Michigan's football team with the benefit of academic scholarship money, and will try to play for a scholarship in the future. Lindley was unranked by Rivals and Scout, while ESPN named him the nation's #131 offensive guard prospect and gave him a grade of 74.

Rodriguez, a former walkon himself (as I'm sure most Michigan fans are already well aware) has long championed having a robust walkon program at Michigan (again, most Michigan fans already know this). Lindley and AA Pioneer's Nader Furrha are the notable walkons for 2009, and the program will undoubtedly continue to grow in the future. As I've said before on Varsity Blue, I would love it if Michigan's program became renowned like that of Nebraska pre-Callahan, and prospect were turning down offers from the likes of Michigan State to try their hand in Ann Arbor.

Because mock press conferences haven't gotten old yet, I say! Presented without further comment:

Numbers. An unnecessarily high amount of fan attention and angst seems to go into which numbers the incoming freshman will sport in the fall. In MGoBlue's Wolverine Welcome series, the already-enrolled freshmen give a little insight as to (a phrase which here means "reveal") which numbers they'll sport come September.
Will Campbell - #73.
Vladimir Emilien - #5.
Tate Forcier - #5.
Mike Jones (obligatory "WHO?") - #27.
Brandin Hawthorne - #7.
Anthony Lalota - #90.
Vincent Smith - Hasn't been Wolverine Welcomed yet. Informative update when the information is available.

Basket-ed Ball. The Wolverines travel to Evanston on Sunday to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats may be a bit vulnerable, as they chocked away their tournament dreams, for all reasonable scenarios, with their EPIC FAIL against Illinois last night. They led by 14 in the second half, and by 6 with under a minute to go(!) before falling to the Illini. A Michigan win would go a long way towards ramping up toward a tournament push.

SMQ on M. Rivals' Dr. Saturday takes on the Michigan issue. Synopsis: Expect better next year, but certainly not a Flowers for Algernon-like leap.

The author's work can usually be found on his site, Varsity Blue.

At Least Nick Sheridan Has People Skills

By colinFebruary 13th, 2009 at 10:15 AM — 67 comments

One of the most lamentable aspects of being a college football fan as far as I'm concerned has long been the lack of quality stat keeping, as well as analysis. Matt Hinton (currently Dr. Saturday) and Chris at Smart Football are great, and if CFB Stats didn't exist, this post wouldn't exist, but it ain't no Fangraphs and those fellas ain't quite Tom Tango, who literally wrote The Book on baseball. Not that it's a fair comparison.

I bring Tango up because his stat wOBA inspired this post. wOBA (weighted On Base Average) is basically on base percentage gone plaid. Instead of dividing times on base (1B+2B+3B+HR+BB+HBP+ROE) by plate appearances, you decide how valuable in terms of runs each of those individual events are and then proceed (hence weighted). OBP is transformed into runs per plate appearance. Multiply times total PAs and you have the runs that batter was responsible for in that season. And scoring (or preventing) runs are the bottom line in baseball. In sum: bases get you runs get you wins. In football, it looks like this:

Yards - Turnovers = Points

This isn't exactly groundbreaking. It's a fundamental assumption behind Dr. Saturday's Life on the Margins, iirc, and I'm pretty sure this is what I'm going to find in Pete Palmer's Hidden Game of Football if and when it eventually ships to a2. And it's sorta-kinda what David Romer did, though not nearly exhaustive. The theory is good. The actual arithmetic is kind of annoying and is summarized in the following paragraph. Feel free to skip to the part where we find out just how crippling the impact of Nick Sheridan was and how much worse it could have been.

The key to being able to do this yourself is to figure out yards and turnovers in terms of points. I ripped the drive logs of every Big Ten conference game in 2008 from Yahoo. That'll give you yards/point, which came out to about 15. Then I plotted, in buckets of 10 yards, the percent of drives that resulted in a TD or FG based on the drive starting field position, except the last 30 yards which I averaged at the opponent's 15 due to relatively few samples.* This gives you average expected points based on field position. That plus average field position equals the average value of a possession, which is what you lose in a turnover. Not only that, but you give expected points to your opposition. According to my math, an INT was worth about -4 points. Thus points per throw is (Yds/15 + INTs*4)/attempts.

Feel free to comment

I Am Not An Expert. If my math is off, then suggest different constants/methods. They pass the sniff test to me; I ran assorted regressions on excel to test assumptions and it looked right. I'd be glad to share the drive chart database. Onward...

The Part Where We Find Out Just How Crippling The Impact Of Nick Sheridan Was

go here

It's sorted by pts/attempt, the relevant measure. Average was .33. Mr. Sheridan was dead last with those over 50 attempts with .15 points per attempt. An all around average team wins 4 games. The results indicate that an all around average team that replaced its average quarterback with Nick Sheridan would win 2 (converting to wins over average is easy enough). But it would also have tremendous team chemistry and at least one valedictorian. Wins aren't everything.

Also, check out Terrelle Pryor's numbers. Remember, this is just per throw. Rushing and sack yards are not included, nor is it defense adjusted. Having rewatched the Texas and Michigan games in HD (being able to see the d-backs helps), I was impressed. Tressel used the threat of Wells inside and Pryor's skills when bootlegged on the edge to great effect. The playbook seemed cut down, but his athleticism made it work. The sack numbers (scroll right in the g-doc) and somewhat inconsistent mechanics are the most glaring issues, but they were exaggerated by a bad pass blocking unit in front of him. In conclusion: barring injury, Pryor is going to be a terror. Surprise! Rivals #1 overall prospect in 2008 is projected to dominate. At least he'll probably be gone after his junior year.

*It's a shortcut and it probably understates how valuable possessions that start inside the 15 are. I actually think inside the 15 the function is probably no longer linear. I'm also sorry that this is isn't the most thorough or transparent presentation. It's a start though.

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