Big Ten M5: 01.27.14 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on January 27th, 2014


  1. On the eve of the Grammys, Bruce Hornsby, a Grammy-winning musician and a huge basketball fan,visited Bloomington for the Illinois vs. Indiana game. Hornsby and Indiana head coach Tom Crean discussed music after the game in which the Hoosiers pulled off a tough 10-point win against the Illini. Both offenses had a tough time finding points during a 26-24 first half, but Crean’s squad was able to hold the Illini to just 22 more points during the second half. Noah Vonleh continues to impress with this rebounding skills by pulling down 14 boards, but the Hoosiers need to continue to hold down the home court in upcoming games against Michigan and Penn State if they want to remain in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid this season.
  2. Speaking of the Illini, they can’t seem to buy a jumper nowadays, as John Groce’s unit lost its sixth straight Big Ten game on Sunday in Bloomington. Illinois has one week before its next game in Champaign against Iowa, and it could use every day of practice to figure out how to refine their offensive sets. They shot 5-of-23 from beyond the arc, but the problem goes well beyond just a shooting slump — Groce can’t seem to find two scorers who can have good games on the same day. While Rayvonte Rice finished with 20 points yesterday, none of his teammates complemented his scoring (Nnanna Egwu was next in scoring with eight points). Similarly, against Ohio State, Joe Bertrand had 17 points but Rice was held scoreless. Without two scorers consistently putting up decent scoring numbers, it is almost impossible to beat most of the teams in this conference.
  3. The losing streak had to stop at some point for Wisconsin, and the first half of Saturday’s game against Purdue wasn’t easy as the Boilermakers were only down by three at halftime. The Badgers needed to get back to the free-flowing offense that has averaged 1.16 points per possession in conference play and freshman forward Nigel Hayes should continue to help in that regard off the bench. Hayes provides a solid post presence on the block as a nice change of pace from Frank Kaminsky or Sam Dekker, and his solid post game can help slow down the offense when the starters are out, ensuring that they will be fresh for the final few minutes of the game.
  4. Without Branden Dawson or Adreian Payne available on Saturday night, Michigan State could have folded in the second half of their game against Michigan once the Wolverines made a run, but thanks to Keith Appling, they even held the lead with four minutes left. The senior guard was extremely efficient in scoring 10 points and dishing 10 dimes, but more importantly, turning the ball over just once. After the loss, the senior point guard and Tom Izzo were both emotional, considering the injury toll on their team over the past few weeks. When Dawson and Payne comes back, Appling’s efficiency combined with Gary Harris’ scorching shooting (27 points against Michigan) will definitely make the Spartans a great contender for the national title.
  5. While the Spartans are dealing with injuries, it seems that Michigan has figured out how to deal with the loss of Mitch McGary with wins over Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State despite his absence. Without McGary in the lineup, the Wolverines need every starter to be on the ball and freshman guard Derrick Walton may be the newest member to join the party. He scored 19 huge points against the team’s biggest rival and seems to be gaining confidence with each and every game. “I was just the guy called upon tonight and just tried to do it for my teammates,” Walton said. Not much is needed from him when Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III are going off, but if he can chip in some timely buckets and push the ball effectively in transition, the offense will continue to click on all cylinders.
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ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presents Giant Opportunity For Michigan

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 2nd, 2013

What to Make of Michigan Heading to Duke in the Headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nobody ever said life after Trey Burke was going to be easy. Despite entering the season with both a top 10 ranking and preseason All-American (again) to lead the way, John Beilein had to know that this group of Wolverines would be a work in progress. Gone was not only the transcendent Burke, but also backcourt mate Tim Hardaway, Jr., a highly accomplished player in his own right. Also of concern: The fact that this year’s preseason All-American, Mitch McGary, entered the season on the mend. The bruising sophomore is recovering from a back injury, and even with a (relatively) healthy back a season ago, he had averaged only 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as he got acclimated to college basketball. Was he really ready to deliver All-American type production? Every team entered this season with question marks, but Michigan faced as many as any of their preseason top-10 cohabitants.

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

The Wolverines are now seven games into the season, and the top-10 ranking is gone. The same cannot be said for those pesky preseason questions. Michigan is 5-2 on the year, with an overtime victory over Florida State ranking as its lone victory of consequence (seriously, the average Pomeroy rating for the other four Wolverine conquests is 297). The back injury ultimately caused McGary to miss just two games, but his production since returning has hardly been like that of an All-American: 8.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG in 25 minutes per game. I’m not in the habit of judging a guy off of five post-injury games, but the jury remains out on whether McGary can live up to those expansive preseason expectations.

Nor has a verdict been offered on the Michigan point guard situation. Nobody expected Derrick Walton to become Trey Burke, but the freshman has averaged nearly as many turnovers (2.4 per game) as assists (3.3 per game), while also ceding crunch time minutes to backup Spike Albrecht. In the two Michigan losses (to Iowa State and Charlotte), Walton has averaged just 19 minutes a game. Clearly John Beilein is not ready to fully hand over the reins to the talented youngster, but like McGary, there’s still plenty of time for Walton to grow into his expected role.

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Previewing the Holiday Tournaments: A Big Ten Perspective

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 21st, 2013

The holiday tournaments tip off today and college coaches are huge fans of their teams participating in these events. With the quick turnarounds and neutral court sites, the events give players a glimpse of what their conference and postseason tournaments will feel like. From the prestigious eight-team Maui Invitational to the four-team Barclays Center Classic, each tournament provides valuable experience for teams and coaches alike to prepare for a postseason atmosphere. Along with gaining that precious experience, teams can also improve their non-conference resumes just by showing up. A couple of good performances or a holiday tournament championship looks pretty attractive to the selection committee in March. This year, the Big Ten has nearly the entire league competing in some sort of holiday tournament (Illinois and Ohio State are the two absentees). Let’s break down each of them, starting with the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Charleston Classic and 2kSports Classic, beginning today.

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Butler vs Illinois

Illinois Jump Started its NCAA Tournament Season A Year Ago in Maui

Puerto Rico Tip off: November 21-24

  • Teams: Michigan vs. Long Beach State, VCU vs. Florida State, Georgetown vs. Northeastern, Charlotte vs. Kansas State
  • Favorite: VCU
  • Projected Michigan Finish: 3rd
  • Michigan Player to WatchDerrick Walton Jr.
  • The Skinny: In the eight-team field, Georgetown, VCU, and the Wolverines are the clear front-runners. Georgetown lucked out as they are on the opposite side of the bracket of both Michigan and VCU. This means that a match-up of last year’s NCAA Tournament third round game between the two schools is likely in the semifinals. Last year, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. shredded Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” defense on its way to a huge victory. Now, Walton is set to run the offense for Michigan and go up against a veteran VCU backcourt. This game could spell major trouble for John Beilein and his staff, but could also be an important teaching moment.

Charleston Classic: November 21-24

  • TeamsNebraska vs. UMass, UAB vs. New Mexico, Georgia vs. Davidson, Clemson vs. Temple
  • Favorite: New Mexico
  • Projected Nebraska Finish: 5th
  • Nebraska Player to WatchTai Webster
  • The Skinny:  The Cornhuskers play UMass and then either New Mexico or UTEP in the next round. New Mexico is a top 20 team while UMass is expected to compete for a NCAA bid out of the Atlantic 10. Chaz Williams for UMass is an explosively fast guard who can distribute the ball well and shoot lights out from three. Tim Miles will have his work cut out to try and stop Williams, and the freshman Webster will get a nice welcoming from the “Chaz Master.”

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Can the Michigan Offense Be Efficient Despite a Low Free Throw Rate?

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on October 31st, 2013

During the 2012-13 Big Ten season, Michigan ranked second in offensive efficiency – scoring 1.12 points per possession. This statistic is even more impressive if you consider the Wolverines’ low free-throw rate as a team: according to Ken Pomeroy, only 29.2 percent of their field goal attempts resulted in a free throw, ranking 11th in the Big Ten in this category. Despite that poor free throw rate, they were efficient on offense because they shot lights out (54.1% eFG) and took care of the ball (14.1% turnover rate). The low free throw rate is not new under John Beilein, as his Wolverines have ranked almost last in this category (averages of 28.0%, 28.4%, and 29.2% since 2011). With the loss of Trey Burke, the Wolverines will have some key issues to address:

How Will Michigan’s Offense Perform Under New Direction?

  • Beilein needs a guard who can penetrate and kick out to the wings. The low free throw rate does not mean that the Michigan guards were standing around the perimeter firing up shots from beyond the arc. Rather, Trey Burke’s ability to beat his defender off the pick-and-roll to penetrate and kick out passes to the wings resulted in effective team long-range shooting (37.2% 3FG). Burke was able to get to the basket consistently, but also found shooters on the wing or used his floater to score. Going back to the 2011 season, Darius Morris, another crafty Michigan point guard, was fully capable of getting to the basket as well. But it appears that Beilein’s offense is ideally geared around drawing the wing defender to open easy looks in the corner, not just attack the basket to draw fouls on every possession. This strategy works well with talented and physical point guards such as Burke or Morris. Do the Wolverines have a guard who can draw defenders off the dribble this season? The answer is that there are only two guards capable of filling that role: Derrick Walton and Nik Stauskas. Walton certainly has the quickness to penetrate, but he may not be in full control just yet, which could result in a high turnover rate. Burke’s time in Ann Arbor was special because he created looks by taking care of the ball. Assuming that Walton makes standard freshman mistakes during the first couple of months, Beilein may turn to Stauskas to attack the basket and look for Glenn Robinson III on the wing. We know Stauskas has the handle to get into the paint, but his passing abilities haven’t truly been tested yet. Until Walton or Stauskas can prove that they can handle the ball effectively in traffic, the Wolverines’ offense will need to find other way to improve their free throw rate. Read the rest of this entry »
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What is Spike Albrecht’s Role This Season?

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 25th, 2013

If someone missed the first half of last season’s National Championship Game and was posed the following question — which Michigan player went 4-of-4 from the three-point line and scored 17 points in the first half, the most common guesses would more than likely have been Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., or Nik Stauskas. But the answer surprisingly turned out to be Spike Albrecht. The 5’11” sophomore guard only averaged 2.2 points and 8.1 minutes per game last year for the national runner-ups, but he turned in a memorable performance that kept Michigan in the game even after consensus National Player of the Year Trey Burke was saddled with first half foul trouble. After losing Burke and bringing in highly-rated recruit Derrick Walton, the question that remains to be answered is, how does Albrecht fit in this season?

Spike Albrecht will look to prove he is more than a one-hit wonder this season. (Getty)

Spike Albrecht will look to prove he is more than a one-hit wonder this season. (Getty)

By all accounts Walton is going to be very good. He averaged 26 points, seven assists and seven steals per game last season at Detroit’s Chandler Park High School. One would have to assume he will handle the majority of the play-making duties, using his quickness to get to the basket and dish to outside shooters. John Beilein‘s offensive philosophy has always been pretty reliant on shooting the three, so Albrecht could be one of the major perimeter weapons along with fellow sophomore Stauskas. Going small with a lineup of Walton, Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and Albrecht could be very effective offensively with Walton penetrating and working with ball screens and McGary drawing double teams in the high post and kicking it out to open shooters. One would think having Albrecht on the court when the Wolverines need shooting and floor spacing would be optimal. He also proved in short spurts last year that he can handle running the show when he took over for Burke in limited minutes. He will need to cut down on his 21.4 percent turnover rate, but with another year of familiarity and experience, this could very easily happen.

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Big Ten M5: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 24th, 2013


  1. The last time Michigan State won the national title, they had a big man named Andre Hutson, who was assertive in the paint, especially on the defensive end. This season, his squad is one of the favorites to win the title, and he has a freshman – Gavin Schilling – who is drawing comparisons to Hutson. The 6’9″, 240 lb forward, said his focus is to “run, rebound and defend” this season. Schilling will start out as a backup to Adreian Payne and Alex Gauna, but he may be able to provide some serviceable minutes in case one of the forwards gets into foul trouble going up against a rugged conference in January or February. If he ends up being as good as advertised, then he could be another piece that helps Michigan State make a run at another national title.
  2. Speaking of freshmen having an impact, Michigan has two terrific guards – Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin – who could contribute within John Beilein’s rotation. Both of them have the offensive skillset to help the Wolverines, but Beilein has enough scorers in Ann Arbor – he needs them to help on the defensive end as well. According to the coaching staff, both of them are quickly picking up the defensive principles, which should help them gain significant playing time this season. Irvin’s 6’6″ frame will help him guard the combo guards such as Gary Harris and Lenzelle Smith Jr during conference play. The Wolverines can score effectively, but if Irvin steps up on defense, he could elevate them to compete for a Final Four or beyond.
  3. The Hoosier fan base is very familiar with Eric Gordon’s offensive skills as he led Indiana to an NCAA Tournament during his freshman season in Bloomington. Gordon could score with the best of them, but his brother, Evan Gordon, is ready to show his skills to the Hoosier faithful. Gordon, a transfer guard, can provide an offensive spark and complement Yogi Ferrell’s production in the backcourt, as Tom Crean needs an experienced scorer on a team full of talented freshmen such as Noah Vonleh. Crean said, “He has to take his game to another level. He’s got to see his game rise on both sides of the court, offensively and defensively, and see that leadership rise. “
  4. Gordon is not the only transfer who can help his team in the Big Ten this year. Iowa’s Jared Uthoff sat out last year after transferring from Wisconsin, and will be ready to help the Hawkeyes return to the NCAA Tournament. Uthoff, a former Mr. Basketball in Iowa, is excited about the opportunity to play for the Hawkeyes. “It’s going to be a very special moment for me when I can step out on the court with this Hawkeye uniform on,’’ Uthoff said. Devyn Marble (15 PPG) will be the primary scoring option for the Hawkeyes, but if Uthoff can chip in offensively to back him up, that’ll be a huge boost this season.
  5. Scoring won’t be an issue for the Penn State backcourt of Tim Frazier and D.J.Newbill. Both of them can fill up the stat sheet, even though Frazier is coming from an injury. Penn State’s basketball program may not make any headlines but head coach, Pat Chambers, is doing his best to keep an upbeat attitude entering into his third season at Happy Valley. It is very likely that Chambers may not lead the Nittany Lions back to the NCAA Tournament over the next two years, but his ability to connect with the players will help on the recruiting trail and eventually lead the program back to relevancy in the Big Ten.
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Big Ten M5: 10.23.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 23rd, 2013


  1. Regardless of Ohio State’s postseason performance this year, Aaron Craft will go down as one of the best guards in the school’s history. He will be remembered for not necessarily his offensive skills, rather, his ability to impact the game on the defensive end. But after averaging 10 PPG last season, he has proved that he can score when needed. Does that mean he has a future in the NBA? Thad Matta thinks he can, as he said: “I think he can play in the NBA, yes. A lot of teams like to carry three point guards.” If Craft can improve his three-point shooting, specifically from the corners, he will find a way onto an NBA team because of his defensive abilities.
  2. Tom Izzo is no stranger to Final Fours – he has been to six of them during his tenure at East Lansing. Yet, he remains hungry to take his team back to the Final Four after two straight Sweet Sixteen appearances. At Michigan State’s media day, Izzo talked about his team’s chances to get back to the Final Four and cited a “great summer in terms of chemistry” as one of the reasons why this team could be special. If Gary Harris lives up to the hype as an effective scorer and Keith Appling can create his own shot during crunch time, the Spartans have the defensive talent to make a run at the Final Four and beyond. While most of the favorites – Kentucky, Kansas and Duke – have star freshmen, the Spartans have experience on their side, which could pay off in March.
  3. Speaking of Final Four appearances, there is no way Michigan’s Derrick Walton can fill Trey Burke’s shoes in Ann Arbor. But that doesn’t seem to be his main concern for the season. John Beilein said, “I don’t think he sees replacing Trey Burke as his challenge. I think think he sees, ‘How can I help this team win?’ as the challenge.” Walton will have plenty of opportunities to control Beilein’s offense, alongside wings such as Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. While Burke had to carry the team during the final minutes of the game, Walton can rely on the super sophomores to pick up the scoring load. As long as he can limit the turnovers and hit the wide-open shot, he will help the Wolverines make a run at the Final Four.
  4. Even though Illinois may not be a clear favorite to make the NCAA Tournament this season, John Groce still has Champaign excited because of his accomplishments on the recruiting trail. This summer, he got two top-40 players – Quentin Snyder and Leron Black – to commit to Illinois for the 2014-15 season. His next target is top-5 recruit Cliff Alexander, who will visit Champaign this weekend. Alexander is also considering Kansas in addition to Illinois, but Groce has proven that he can compete against the best recruiters in the business because he is very “sincere in his message.” Regardless of Alexander’s decision, Illinois will have a top-20 recruiting class next season and if they can stay competitive on the court this season, Groce’s recruiting will not miss a beat for the 2015-16 season.
  5. While Groce has impressed the Illinois fan base, Minnesota’s new head coach, Richard Pitino, has his work cut out over the next year or so. He will rely on Andre Hollins to carry the offensive load this season, but could use some help from other players to pick up the scoring slack. Transfer guard Deandre Mathieu may just be that guy who steps up. He scored 26 points in the scrimmage on Friday and Pitino said after the scrimmage, “He’s really good. He’s so quick. He’s so aggressive.” The Gophers could have a tough time keeping up with rest of the Big Ten, but if Mathieu can provide double-digit scoring in the backcourt, the opposing defenses won’t be able to just zone in against Hollins.
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20 Questions: Can Michigan Remain Great Without Trey Burke?

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 18th, 2013

seasonpreview (1)

Throughout the preseason, RTC national columnists will answer the 20 most compelling questions heading into the 2013-14 season. Previous columns in this year’s series are located here.   

Replacing Trey Burke will be hard. Michigan fans have no doubt heard this statement plenty of times since the Wolverines’ exhilarating national championship game run ended in Atlanta last April, and they’re going to hear it a few more times before the season tips off in three weeks. Not only was Burke the best player on his own team, he was, according to most national award voters, the best player in the country. It is impossible to replace a player that good, that impactful, in the span of one offseason; all Michigan can hope to do is to mitigate his departure. But before we get into how the Wolverines will attempt to recreate Burke’s production, let’s have a statistical look back at his incredible 2012-13 season. While playing 87.5 percent of Michigan’s available minutes, Burke posted an offensive rating of 121.2 (52nd in the country), assisted on 37.3 percent of his team’s buckets (23rd) and used up 29 percent of available possessions (66th). All of which translates thusly: Burke played a lot, scored a lot, had a lot of assists, and did all of it efficiently.

The Wolverines should adjust to life without Burke while maintaining their status as a top-tier BIg Ten outfit (Getty Images).

The Wolverines should adjust to life without Burke while maintaining their status as a top-tier BIg Ten outfit (Getty Images).

There is no Michigan player capable of replicating that statistical profile – which ranked second in Ken Pomeroy’s final player of the year standings, behind (believe it or not) Louisville guard Russ Smith. That’s fine, because the Wolverines don’t need an All-American point guard to remain one of the best teams in the Big Ten. They have plenty of firepower returning at other spots. For a few weeks after the season, as the NBA Draft loomed and several Michigan players – including Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, both in position to parlay the momentum of standout March performances into likely first-round selections – debated leaving school, it appeared as if John Beilein might need to hunker down for a bit of a rebuild. Then Robinson and McGary announced their respective returns, and the repercussions of Burke’s departure didn’t feel quite as drastic. That duo’s decision ensured Michigan would stay relevant in what’s almost sure to be another brutal Big Ten. The matter of replacing Burke, of course, can’t be addressed by Robinson or McGary, nor does Michigan have a star point guard waiting in the wings, another surefire first-round pick capable of reprising Burke’s ridiculous production from last season.

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Who’s Got Next? Gary Goes Green, Mitchigan for McGary and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 10th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at

Lead Story: McGary to Michigan, Program-Changing Recruit For Beilein

Michigan Fans Will Go Crazy When Mitch McGary Steps On Campus.

Elite Recruit Gives Wolverines A Top-Five Class. When Class of 2012 power forward Mitch McGary (#2) committed to Michigan last Thursday, he did more than just announce where he’s going to college, his decision sent the rest of the Big Ten a message that they need to look out for the Wolverines. McGary and Class of 2012 small forwards Glenn Robinson and Nik Stauskas will look to give Michigan its first conference championship since the 1980s — yes, it’s been that long — and McGary is the perfect player to build a team around. McGary is a high-energy, consistent big man who has an endless motor that makes him one of the best prospects in the country. He is an excellent rebounder and productive shotblocker who can impact the game in a variety of ways on both ends of the court. He can score inside and out and has an impressive mid-range game that will take his defenders out of the paint. McGary is strong, creates scoring opportunities for his teammates and has good footwork as well. The Wolverines also have gotten off to a quality start with the Class of 2013 by signing point guard Derrick Walton, shooting guard Zak Irvin, small forward Austin Hatch and power forward Mark Donnal.

What They’re Saying

  • Junior Julius Randle on almost committing to Oklahoma two years ago and great advice he received: “I was ready to commit, I had a ball and I loved everything about the campus. Coach Capel and I were close and I loved what he was doing. I had so much fun that I was ready to be a Sooner. Then I got the best advice that I could ever get. My mom and coach told me to not to get caught up in the emotions of the visit.”
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Around The Blogosphere: August 3, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 3rd, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Austin Hatch Makes Slow Progress: An update on Hatch and his family. (UM Hoops)
  • Immediate help on the way? 2011 PF Jaylen Bond commits to UT: “Much has been made of the lack of depth in Texas Basketball’s 2011 – 2012 frontcourt. The Horns return seniors Alexis Wangmene and Clint Chapman as their only experienced post players. Obviously, Texas needed some help in the frontcourt, and they might have gotten it this evening with the commitment of 2011 Plymouth Meeting, PA PF Jaylen Bond.” (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • Rotnei Clarke will not be a Sooner after all: “Clarke has instead chosen Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs as the destination for his final year of eligibility. Clarke will have to sit out the upcoming season due to NCAA transfer rules. It was believed that Clarke was on the verge of choosing OU, however when news broke last week regarding the NCAA/Tiny Gallon issue that caused enough uncertainty on Clarke’s part to go another way.” (Crimson adn Cream Machine)
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