Saturday, October 29, 2016

Michigan-Michigan State v. 2016



Courtesy of the Associated Press

Oh, rivalries. We all love them. They bring out the best (and the worst) from everyone. Coaches. Players. Fans. You name it, things get nasty.

Nastiness, however, doesn't win football games. Talent and coaching wins football games. Fans and home-field advantage have minor impacts, but it comes down to players making plays.

In the 109th battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy, Michigan is a 24.5-point favorite against the floundering Spartans (the biggest line in the series since at least 1980). The Wolverines (7-0, 4-0 B1G) are not only the No. 2 team in the country, but Jim Harbaugh's squad looks to be Michigan's best since, gulp, 1997. The Spartans (2-5, 0-4 B1G) have done everything they can to lose games in recent weeks - a completely opposite approach to Mark Dantonio's first nine years.

2016 is the only thing that matters today.

Michigan State has won 7 of 8 in the rivalry. Does. Not. Matter.

Michigan is the winningest program in college football. Does Not. Matter.

The Paul Bunyan trophy has spent 2,548 of the past 2,927 in East Lansing. Does. Not. Matter.

Jim Harbaugh occasionally eats his cereal with Gatorade. Does. Not. Matter.

Mark Dantonio puts more emphasis on this game than any other on MSU's schedule. Does. Not. Matter.

Media preview
Courtesy of ESPN

What matters is, this season, Michigan has a senior-laden team with 6-9 defensive starters that will be playing in the NFL next season.

What matters is, this season, MSU had major attrition on the defensive line, losing eight DL rotation players from last season.

What matters is, like 2012, MSU is breaking in new quarterbacks and without, as of now, an NFL QB on its roster to lead the offense.

What matters is, despite a soft schedule, Michigan's defense has been historically good (78-0 at Rutgers and the Knights didn't record a first down until the final minutes of the game!).

Michigan is, by far, the better team. Emotion might keep it close initially (a potential one-score game at halftime), but the second half is bound to be all maize and blue, just as it has been all (fill in the color of MSU's last six opponents here) since Sept. 17.

Yes, MSU is at home. This is the same "home" that saw Wisconsin win by 24, BYU win by 17, and Northwestern win by 14. "Home" didn't help MSU win (or in many cases, compete) in those games. It won't help today.

MICHIGAN 45, MSU 9. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How did Deuce2Sports do with the 2016 NFL Mock Draft?




Deuce2Sports's 2016 Mock Draft NFL Draft was pretty on par with how we've (and most "pundits") have done in recent years. Actual pick in red (with some analysis).

CORRECT TEAM + PICK: 6/31
CORRECT TEAM: 8/31 (Conklin & Lynch correctly pegged to Tennessee & Denver, but in original slots, not traded spots)


1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California

PICK: Goff


2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

PICK: Wentz


3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

PICK: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

4. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

PICK: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

PICK: Ramsey


6. Baltimore Ravens: Ronald Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

PICK: Stanley


7. San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

PICK: Buckner


8. Cleveland Browns: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

PICK (Traded to Tennesse): Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State


9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

PICK (Traded to Chicago): Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia


10. New York Giants: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

PICK: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

11. Chicago Bears: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

PICK (Traded to Tampa Bay): Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida


12. New Orleans Saints: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

PICK: Sheldon Rankins, DE, Louisville


13. Miami Dolphins: Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia

PICK: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

14. Oakland Raiders: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

PICK: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

15. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

PICK (Traded to Cleveland): Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

16. Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

PICK: Decker

17. Atlanta Falcons: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

PICK: Keanu Neal, S, Florida

18. Indianapolis Colts: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

PICK: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

19. Buffalo Bills: Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky
PICK: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

20. New York Jets: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
PICK: Darron Lee, LB, Alabama

21. Washington Redskins: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
PICK (Traded to Houston): Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

22. Houston Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
PICK (Traded to Washington): Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

23. Minnesota Vikings: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
PICK: Laquon Treadwell, C, Alabama

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
PICK: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
PICK: Artie Burns, CB, Miami
26. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
PICK (Traded to Denver): Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
27. Green Bay Packers: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
PICK: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
PICK (Traded to San Francisco): Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford 
29. Arizona Cardinals: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
PICK: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
30. Carolina Panthers: Shilique Calhoun, OLB, Michigan State
PICK: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

31. Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
PICK (Traded to Seattle): Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M

2016 NFL Mock Draft



Drafting, obviously, is an extreme, inexact science. Projecting the draft is arguably even harder. Us "prognosticators" not only try and gauge a team's biggest need, but we attempt to get into each team's war room and figure out who said team likes best at each position.



Here's Deuce2Sports's best shot at projecting the 2016 NFL Draft (with some analysis sprinkled in).



1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California

Gun to my head, I'm taking Carson Wentz to be the better pro. Nevertheless, you have the Rams moving to LA and a California QB neck-and-neck with another, lesser-known QB for the top pick. Gut says Goff gets the nod in LA's war room.

2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

Wentz will be the best QB in this draft and the Eagles will have their QB for the next 10+ years.

3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

4. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

6. Baltimore Ravens: Ronald Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

7. San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

8. Cleveland Browns: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

10. New York Giants: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State



11. Chicago Bears: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

12. New Orleans Saints: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

13. Miami Dolphins: Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia

14. Oakland Raiders: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

15. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

16. Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

At this spot (and with this board), the Lions have some nice OT/DT options. The pick is either Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss) or Decker based on big needs. If the Lions are investing in Matthew Stafford, which is appears they're going All-in on him (again), Decker has to be the pick.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

18. Indianapolis Colts: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

19. Buffalo Bills: Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky

20. New York Jets: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss



21. Washington Redskins: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

22. Houston Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

23. Minnesota Vikings: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

There's a decent chance that Fuller becomes the best WR in this class. Cincinnati gets another A.J Green-type playmaker.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State

26. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

27. Green Bay Packers: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

This is nothing more than an 11th-hour hunch. Alex Smith is serviceable, but if Kansas City is ever going to push for a Super Bowl it needs more than a "game manager" at the helm. Cook might be that guy.



29. Arizona Cardinals: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

If he regains his full health and mobility, Smith might be the best player to come out of this draft. Would be a steal at No. 29. The Cardinals can take the risk here.

30. Carolina Panthers: Shilique Calhoun, OLB, Michigan State

31. Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis


The perfect way to branch the past (Peyton Manning) to the future (?) is to groom a QB who was rumored to be a Top-10 pick at one point. There's a decent chance that others will be attempting to trade into this spot to grab Lynch (or another player) and Denver won't be picking until Round 2, but there could be a late-run on QBs in Round 1.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

FINAL 2016 BRACKET

No. 1 seeds: Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Virginia

LAST FOUR IN: Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, Vanderbilt, Michigan

FIRST FOUR OUT: San Diego State, Syracuse, South Carolina, Valparaiso

LAST FOUR IN: Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, Vanderbilt, Michigan; FIRST FOUR OUT: San Diego State, Syracuse, South Carolina, Valparaiso

Quick Analysis: My goal is to project the bracket, which means I have to take into consideration vibes from the committee and past selection processes. This is the only reason I have North Carolina as a No. 1 seed. UNC, to me, has a good resume, but not better than Villanova's or Oregon's.

I like Virginia, because of the overall body of work, getting the final No. 1 seed over teams like Oregon (Pac-12 regular season and tournament champions) and Villanova.

For the bubble teams, a team like Monmouth did everything possible for a MAAC school (except winning the automatic bid, of course). If Monmouth isn't rewarded then this sends a message that the Big Boys can lose a dozen-plus games and still take those final bids because they are able to get a few more big-time wins because of more opportunities. 

Syracuse and South Carolina, in particular, didn't do much in the nonconference and the regular season was pretty blasé.

Here at Deuce2Sports we're shooting for our first ever perfect bracket. Could this be the year? We can only hope.

Penultimate Bracketology - March 13, 2016 (AM)

The selection committee uses the phrase "entire body of work" year after year. This season, maybe more than others, it will have to put its money where its mouth is if it wants to safe face.

Kansas is the clear choice for the No. 1 overall seed. It gets murky after that, but a team like Virginia has the second best resume in the country. Michigan State, Villanova and Oregon, in that order, have what I would coin the third, fourth and fifth best resumes, respectively.

That means North Carolina's best hope should be for the No. 2 seed in the South region. We'll see if the committee caves to the "this team won both its regular season and conference tournament championship" bit as the be-all, end-all to the debate. If that's the case, then Oregon should join UNC on the No. 1 line and so should the winner of the SEC Tournament (Kentucky/Texas A&M). It's stupid logic, really, if the entire body of work really matters.

Okay, I'm off the soap box. Here's the bracket updated through all of Saturday night's (early Sunday morning's) games:

LAST FOUR IN: Monmouth, Temple, Vanderbilt, Michigan; FIRST FOUR OUT: San Diego St., South Carolina, Syracuse, Valparaiso
My S-Curve order for protected seeds: Kansas, Virginia, Michigan State, Villanova, Oregon, Oklahoma, North Carolina, West Virginia, Xavier, Utah, Kentucky, Miami, Duke, Indiana, Maryland, Purdue.

No results tomorrow will change that order, meaning those should be your Top 16 seeds in an order pretty close to that. 

UConn has moved safely into the bracket while South Carolina has moved out. Our only other changes were reassessing and moving Wichita State out of the dreaded First Four game and putting Monmouth back into that game. 

Sunday's Bid-stealer game: Memphis vs. UConn. I think the Huskies should be safe with a loss, but it wouldn't hurt to win. A Memphis win, however, is a definite bid stealer and me thinks Michigan gets the boot. In reality, any of the last four in teams (you could throw St. Bonaventure and Wichita State into that mix as well) could be bumped out.

It should be a wild Selection Sunday regardless, just as we always hope.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bracketology - March 12, 2016

So long, St. Bonaventure.

Welcome, Michigan.

At this time of year, it's all the little things that make the difference when living life on the bubble. The Bonnies, already in a First Four game, lost a quarterfinal game they couldn't afford to lose. Michigan was able to beat Big Ten regular season champion Indiana to advance to the tournament semifinals. These differences, when also taking into account a similar body of work from November to early March, tend to make or break teams.

Now, is Michigan "in" for sure? Absolutely not. Michigan still only has four Top 100 wins. And yes, while those four wins are all in the Top 30, that means there isn't a lot of meat in the middle of Michigan's schedule and nearly a dozen losses.

Other movers from Friday: I'm more and more convinced Monmouth is safely in the field at this point. I moved Monmouth out of the First Four and onto the No. 10 line because other teams are fading fast. Vanderbilt lost to Tennessee while South Carolina fell in the SEC quarterfinals. Those teams needed to add to their respective resumes, not add blemishes.

The biggest win came from Seton Hall. The Pirates' victory over Xavier bumped them up to the No. 6 line, while a team like Wisconsin - which really got hot but still has plenty of blemishes on its resume - fell to a No. 7.

West Virginia moved onto the No. 2 line, replacing Xavier (No. 3). The Mountaineers just get the job done. It's mighty impressive and has been since early in the season.

Here's the updated bracket thru Friday night's games:

LAST FOUR IN: Wichita State, UConn, Michigan, Vanderbilt; FIRST FOUR OUT: St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, Valpo, St. Mary's (CA)
What to watch for (Saturday edition): The Pac-12 final between Oregon and Utah should be great. I believe Utah is a dangerous team and the committee could potentially swap both Utah and Oregon in their brackets, giving Utah a No. 2 and Oregon a No. 3...

If Michigan beats Purdue, the Wolverines should be safely in the field. A loss could be withstood, but other things could happen and, most importantly, while it's a quality loss it would still be a resume loss.

Virginia still has a much better resume than North Carolina, but there's a chance an ACC Tournament title for the Tar Heels could give UNC the No. 1 and bump Virginia to a No. 2.... It's not right, but it could happen.

Michigan State has to beat Maryland (and likely win the Big Ten Tournament) to keep the No. 1 seed in the West. That's been said for the past week. Until the Spartans lose they are a No. 1 seed.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bracketology - March 11, 2016

So much for No. 1 seeds in conference tournaments. UAB became the 12th (!) top seed in a conference tournament to be bounced. Only Chattanooga, so far, has won its conference tournament as the No. 1 seed.

Some small changes to the bracket due to the re-evaluation of resumes, but nothing major in terms of "in or out."

Iowa continues its downward spiral. I now have the Hawkeyes on the No. 7 line as the top seven seed. It might be a tad low, but other teams are bound to evaluate themselves in the next few days and Iowa has left a sour taste in the committee's mouth. Notre Dame bumped up to the No. 6 line with its win against Duke, in a sense swapping places with Iowa.

California continues to soar. I have the Golden Bears as the final No. 4 seed, moving Purdue to the No. 5 line. California has eight Top-50 wins and has played 15 games against that group. That's a brutal schedule in which the Bears have fared extremely well.

My "First Four In" hasn't changed. I still like St. Bonaventure, Wichita State, Monmouth, and UConn in those spots. Things could change, however, depending on various results.

Here's the bracket through Thursday, March 10th's evening games:

LAST FOUR IN: St. Bonaventure, Wichita State, Monmouth, UConn; FIRST FOUR OUT: Syracuse, Michigan, Florida, Valpo; NEXT FOUR OUT: Tulsa, St. Mary's (CA), Ohio State, George Washington

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bracketology - March 10, 2016

Thank you, Holy Cross, for fulfilling one of my favorite parts of March Madness: A sub-.500 team making a magical run to steal an automatic bid and reach the First Four.

Holy Cross, which entered the Patriot League Tournament at 10-19 overall and hadn't won a league road game all season, reeled off four straight road wins (the Patriot League Tournament is played at the higher seed's gym) to grab a bracket spot at 14-19. Amazing, amazing story.

That was last night's only official bid but there were some other notable games that impacted the bracket. Pittsburgh/Syracuse wasn't exactly a play-out game, but both teams needed a victory to feel safe. Pittsburgh won, 72-71, and completed a three-game sweep of Syracuse this season. Pitt should feel safe even with a loss to North Carolina today. Syracuse, on the other hand, is 19-13 and 9-10 in the ACC (including tournament loss). That's not NCAA material. Forget Jim Boeheim's nine-game suspension which saw the Orange go 4-5, that would still put Syracuse at 15-8 with one notable win (at Duke) and a typical soft nonconference schedule. This resume screams NIT and that's where I have the Orange right now as the first team out.

Oregon State and USC got needed wins last night to stay on the right side of the bubble. From this point on, there might be a few movers and shakers around that cutline, but this is more about seeding than anything else. The Big Boy Tournaments really get going today.

Nothing else to say about Monmouth, Wichita State, Valpo, or St. Mary's.... lots of sweat building up in those places.

Here's the updated bracket...

LAST FOUR IN: Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, UConn, Monmouth; FIRST FOUR OUT: Syracuse, St. Mary's (CA), Michigan, Valpo

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bracketology - March 9, 2016

More chaos, please.

Well, there really wasn't that much chaos on Tuesday as three of the four bids handed out - Green Bay (Horizon), Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast) and South Dakota State (Summit) were not bid stealers.

Gonzaga's win over St. Mary's in the WCC title game could stir the pot. Many felt St. Mary's was safe either way and that Gonzaga needed to win to reach the NCAA Tournament for the 18th straight season. Well, we'll see what happens with the Gaels now. St. Mary's best wins were against Gonzaga (twice in the regular season) and the Gaels didn't leave California in the nonconference. It's not the best-looking 27-5 we've seen, so there will be some sweating in Moraga for a few days.

If we assume Gonzaga is a bid stealer, that means out last team in as of this morning (Monmouth) is out. If Gonzaga just replaces St. Mary's, then Monmouth is safe. Resumes are still fluid right now, and a Monmouth/Valpo/Wichita State debate will rage on. Heck, if a team like Michigan can knock off Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals that could boost the Wolverines back into the field. The same can be said about Syracuse if the Orange beat Pittsburgh and North Carolina in the ACC Tourney.

Oh, madness... Here's our updated bracket:

LAST FOUR BYES: St. Bonaventure, UConn, Wichita State, Monmouth; FIRST FOUR OUT: Syracuse, Valparaiso, Michigan, St. Mary's (CA).

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bracketology - March 8, 2016

The biggest day of pre-Selection Sunday chaos happened Monday night.

Two of those "mid-majors to watch out for in the tournament" - Monmouth and Valparaiso - lost in their respective conference tournaments. Monmouth fell to Iona in the MAAC finals while Valpo was upended by Wright State in the Horizon semifinals.

All in all, it allows us to debate: Should a team like Monmouth (27-7, wins over Notre Dame, USC, Georgetown, UCLA) be rewarded and invited to the dance over a team with a .500 conference record and twice as many losses (see Syracuse at 19-12 overall, 9-9 in the ACC)?

Here's our updated bracket, which is sure to change tonight and into tomorrow morning...

LAST FOUR IN: UConn, Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, Monmouth; FIRST FOUR OUT: Valparaiso, Michigan, Gonzaga, Syracuse

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bracketology - March 7, 2016

We've had five tickets punched to the NCAA Tournament thus far in 2016. Outside of Yale, which earned the Ivy league's automatic bid by winning the regular season title, we've already had chaos in terms of teams going dancing.

Four conference tournaments have given us three No. 4 seeds and one No. 8 seed as conference tournament champions. If this is any indication, we might really be in for a madness-filled March.

Here's the updated bracket through Sunday, March 6 games:

FIRST FOUR OUT: Michigan, Gonzaga, Tulsa, Florida
The biggest mover and shaker in today's bracket was Wichita State. The Shockers are an interesting case as the team has been playing so much better as of late, but it still has early-season losses that hurt the resume. As it stands, the resume is an extremely borderline NCAA Tournament team. The play suggests a team in the 8/9 game. 

Some re-evaluating overnight and this morning had me slide Wichita State out of the above-mentioned 8/9 game and into a "First Four" contest. The more I analyze the situation, the more I see Wichita State absolutely locked into a Dayton game... if the Shockers make the Big Dance.

Clemson is the other team to keep an eye on. This is the case of a team that will end up with 14 losses but will have three wins (albeit at home) against Duke, Louisville, and Miami. It won't matter that those came consecutively, after a road win against likely tournament team Syracuse, but it shows Clemson has the talent to beat good teams. If it's Clemson vs. Michigan, for example, will the committee take the team with three really, really good wins or the team that lost fewer times overall? It all depends on the body of the committee, I guess.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bracketology - March 5, 2016

The Deuce2Sports bracket is back! While we haven't posted an official bracket this season, we've been monitoring teams all year round and are confident this is the year 68-for-68 happens.

We're still one day away from the end of the regular season, but bracket madness is in full swing. Like most years, there's plenty of potential movement at the top of the bracket and a revolving door at the bottom. A reminder to all those "First Four" teams: You are not safe (see Wichita State's Missouri Valley Conference semifinal loss as the latest example of a stolen bid).

Here's our bracket through Saturday, March 5 games:

FIRST FOUR OUT: Michigan, Tulsa, Florida, Gonzaga
It's pretty clear, regardless of conference tournament results, that Kansas and Villanova will garner No. 1 seeds. Virginia should be a No. 1 seed barring a crazy bad loss (ACC Tournament quarterfinals to Virginia Tech?). That leaves, by my count, six teams battling for the last No. 1 spot.

I have Michigan State on the top line now for a few reasons. First, the Spartans are playing their best ball now and the rough stretch during the season came when potential National Player of the Year Denzel Valentine was injured and when he just came back into the lineup. Also, three of MSU's losses are by a single point.

The biggest competitor is probably North Carolina, although I would argue the Tar Heels have No. 1 seed talent but a No. 2 seed resume. Oklahoma, Miami and Xavier are also teams that, if other teams fall and they win their respective conference tournaments, could grab the West's No. 1 seed.

That sixth team? Try Maryland. The Terrapins would have to win the Big Ten Tournament, which would include wins against Purdue, Michigan State and Indiana/Wisconsin in the title game. Those three neutral-site wins might be enough momentum, assuming Maryland can win at Big Ten champ Indiana on Sunday, to take Maryland to the top line. It's definitely a long shot, but every committee values tournament championships differently.

My personal ranking of the battle for that final No. 1 seed: Michigan State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Xavier, Miami, Maryland.

It's going to be a wild championship week.