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Thursday Morning Brews: Very good sign

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Michigan is highly ranked in the preseason edition of the S&P+

Air Force v Michigan

Happy Thursday, folks. Welcome to Morning Brews. This morning we talking a bit of football, or preseason rankings - but that’s sorta football, right? Well, the preseason S&P+ was released about a month ago and somehow I missed it, so we’re rectifying that this morning. Also this morning we check in with baseball and women’s gymnastics.

As usual, there is a song referenced in this morning’s article. There are at least two clues. They may be words, phrases, or photos, and may reference lyrics, the artist, or the album. If you think you know this morning’s song, fire away down in the comments.

Let’s get to it:

Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Michigan Ranked No. 10 in preseason S&P+

We’ve just begun to look toward spring football, but MnB’s preferred ranking system—the S&P+ produced by Bill Connelly—has released its preseason rankings. Michigan finds itself ranked No. 10, behind the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Oklahoma.

Before we get into qualitative observations, let’s first go over how these rankings are assembled. The reason why we like the S&P+ so much is it’s a statistical system. The only human involvement in the rankings is when Bill tinkers with the formula. Other than that, it’s all data - no eye test, no home team bias, just data. These preseason rankings are dependent upon:

a simple mix of three factors: recent history, returning production, and recruiting. To come up with 130-team projections, I create projected ratings based on each factor. Here’s how the process works:

- Recruiting is easy. I create a rating based on these two-year recruiting rankings. The recruiting-based projection makes up about a quarter of the overall S&P+ projection.

- For returning production, I apply projected changes (based on each team’s returning offensive and defensive production, which are on different scales) to last year’s S&P+ averages. The projection based on returning production accounts for a little more than 50 percent.

- For recent history, I get a little weird. I found last year that the previous year’s S&P+ ratings — which make up the starting point for the returning production figures — were carrying a little too much weight. So what you see below is a projection based solely off of seasons two to five years ago. Recent history now carries less weight in the overall formulas, under 20 percent.

Now, for some observations.

First off, Notre Dame is ranked ahead of Michigan at No. 7 - which gives us a little preview of that matchup next season. For recruiting impact, Notre Dame is ranked tenth while Michigan is ranked 15th - so apparently the Irish have had a recruiting edge on Michigan the past couple years (which is news to me, but when a team falls off the schedule I tend to stop paying attention to what they do in recruiting). Perhaps most insightful though is the returning production variable, where Notre Dame is ranked seventh and Michigan is ranked 14th. Obviously, Michigan’s ranking here doesn’t include Shea Patterson, which brings me to my next point.

There’s a lot we don’t know about next year’s team, so take these rankings with a grain of salt. The largest unknown is Patterson’s eligibility situation. If he gets the all clear from the NCAA, I’d say No. 10 in the preseason sounds about right - especially if Harbaugh mixes some RPO into the offense like Trevor suggested back in February. If Patterson isn’t eligible, I’ll be in full “show me” mode. I’m not as down on Michigan’s other QBs as I think many fans are, but the offense will certainly have to prove they deserve any ranking they get if it’s not Patterson at the helm.

Poll

What do you think of Michigan’s preseason S&P+ ranking?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Too high
    (487 votes)
  • 8%
    Too low
    (85 votes)
  • 40%
    Just right
    (383 votes)
955 votes total Vote Now

Baseball brought their win streak to four games with a 10-3 victory over Oakland on Tuesday afternoon. Michigan jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third and then pulled away in the later innings. Senior Jayce Vancena earned his first win on the year, working three no-hit innings before surrendering two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth. Jack Weisenburger and Troy Miller worked scoreless innings in relief to seal the win. On Wednesday, Michigan topped Western Michigan by the score of 7-6. The Wolverines are now 9-11 on the year and have won five in a row. They’ll be back in action against Michigan State this weekend.

Women’s gymnastics secured their fourth regular season Big Ten title in six years this past weekend, topping Rutgers, Iowa, No. 25 Penn State, and No. 22 Minnesota at the Big Five meet. Up next for Michigan is the Big Ten Championship this coming weekend. The Wolverines went 15-2-1 on the regular season, and are currently ranked No. 7. Their two losses were to No. 12 Nebraska and No. 1 Oklahoma. Seven Michigan gymnasts earned first or second team All-B1G honors. The NCAA Championships start April 7th.