i would find this more credible if it was about Tom Crean
What a dump…
Michigan took it on the chin this weekend, dropping two games to open the series at Minnesota, but they battled back to win a close game three and keep pace with the Big Ten Joneses. Recaps, thoughts, and the opening stanza to a MICHIGAN STATE HATE mid-week series after the jump. And no, no pretty pictures as baseball can't be pretty in the Metrodome.
As I've noted previously, the Michigan Wolverines have earned the #1 overall seed in the MCLA National Tournament, another step on their quest for an unprecedented 3-peat National Championship.
The full MCLA bracket follows, with a preview of Michigan's first-round opponent, the Texas State Bobcats. A look at the whole bracket (with predictions!) is after the jump. One quick note: Though the semi-finals and finals will be broadcast on Fox College Sports, if you want to catch Michigan's early-round games, you can vote on the Collegelax.us forums for them to be webcast (and no, I don't feel guilty about encouraging you to vote, as there's already a fairly obvious BC ballot-stuffing initiative).
For an interactive-ish bracket (a phrase which here means "you can click to see individual teams' schedules and players), visit MCLA.us.
Texas State Preview
Tuesday May 11, 4PM MDT, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Denver CO.
Record: 12-3 (4-1 Lone Star Alliance). LSA Tournament Champions.
Rankings: #18 MCLA LaxMag, #18 Prodigy, #23 LaxPower.
Common Opponents: None
Previous Meetings: None
Schedule. Playing in the Lone Star Alliance isn't any way to endear yourself to pollsters, and the Texas State Bobcats found that out the hard way. Thanks to a weak non-conference schedule, the only ranked team they faced all year was Texas. They split with the Longhorns, losing 12-10 in the regular season, but turning the tables for a 12-10 victory in the LSA tournament to earn a bid to the MCLA Tournament - and rob Texas of theirs.
Texas State picked up non-conference wins against the likes of LSU, Missouri, and Cal, while losing to Stanford and Loyola Marymount outside of the LSA. They finished 12-3 overall, with a 4-1 LSA record. They made the MCLA Tournament by winning the LSA Conference Tournament.
Personnel. As the #2-in-command in the LSA (think Michigan State in the CCLA), the Bobcats landed a number of players on the All-Conference teams. Making the first team were Attack Matt Malcolm and midfielder MIke Zdonczik. On the second team, midfielder Chad Henning, defenseman Jesse Herrmann and goalie Asa Spain represent Texas State. Attack Harrison Parr, midfield Robert Jones, and defense Raul Santiago were all-conference honorable mentions.
Coach Chris Park was the LSA Coach of the Year. Henning was the league's faceoff specialist of the year, and Malcolm shared player of the year honors with Texas's Johnny McKnight.
Analysis. Though the Bobcats ran up some impressive scores this year (23-5 against LSU, 15-7 against TCU), the competition in those games was very weak. Nearly every team that Texas State played this season outside of Texas would have been in the worst 3-4 squads that Michigan faced. Quality of competition is important.
The Wolverines have performed better than Texas State, and against much better competition. There's a reason this is a game between the 1-seed and the 16-seed. Michigan should get on the board early and often on the way to a big win.
There might be times that it seems like Texas State is having the best of Michigan, or that the Wolverines aren't running on all cylinders, but that shouldn't be the story of the game. When they need to turn it on, Michigan will do so, and get much more than they need on the way to a 22-6 victory.
Bracket Breakdown and Predictions after the jump.
It's a hockey kind of day today. Prompted by paywalled info at The Wolverine, I pinged my contact with the Cedar Rapids USHL team and he confirmed that Derek Deblois will enroll at Michigan this fall. Deblois was "not included in the discussion" of the Roughriders' upcoming USHL draft protected list because he's on his way to Ann Arbor.
As to what kind of player Deblois is, here's that scouting report referenced earlier:
Derek Deblois F 5’10” 177
Deblois projects as an offensive player and point producer. He has quick hands and is able to handle the puck in traffic. Deblois is equally adept at giving and receiving passes on his backhand. He is also very calm with the puck and will make the quick pass if needed or he can hold the puck and wait for the play to develop. Deblois has all shot types in his arsenal. I can’t say that he has a hard shot but he is able to get it on net with a good release. Deblois really impressed with his toughness and willingness to pay the price in front of the net. He has a knack for getting open but when a defenseman played the body, Deblois battled for position and got his stick free for deflections. Deblois was very disciplined and never rattled on those occasions. He continued to go about his business with a workman-like resolve.
Deblois weaknesses are that he lacked speed and explosiveness. He showed a willingness to backcheck but couldn’t get back quickly enough after some of the battles in front. His puck skills in traffic are a nice attribute but his inability to separate himself from defenders might inhibit him at the next level. Also, as much as he showed a willingness to take punishment in front, he was knocked off balance enough to notice that he could improve his lower body strength. Deblois will have to gain some muscle at Michigan but I’m not sure if that will improve his balance and quickness or slow him down.
Older scouting reports consistently cite soft hands but conflict with the above when it comes to his willingness to play in traffic; sounds like he may have added a dimension to his game over the past year. Deblois had an 11-23-34 line in 55 games with Cedar Rapids; he was +17 and had three goals in five playoff games.
Sounds like a guy who will start his career in the bottom six and move his way up in a year or two; power play time could be immediate. For more on Deblois, check out Yost Built's commit post, this site's version of the same, or the extensive take from James Stachowiak from the Always Next Year post from last week. His team's site also has a four-minute interview with the kid.
Apparently "we put a regional in St. Louis that four people will attend" is the 37-man Houston Nutt recruiting class of the NCAA hockey tournament: the rock bottom at which changes are made. From Grand Forks comes news that the hockey tournament is likely to go back to its roots:
Proposals were discussed at an annual college hockey national meeting in Florida last weekend and one gained the most traction.
Under the most popular proposal, the tournament would stay as a 16-team field, but the first round would be a best-of-three series played at the venue of the higher seed.
The eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals would play at one of two super regional sites. The quarterfinals would be one-game shots with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line. The Frozen Four would not change.
Before the regionals era, teams played best two-of-three series in the higher seed's building. That's how Michigan stole Cornell's cheers in 1992.
I'm dubious about these super-regionals. If you go back to a best two of three and leave the Frozen Four alone—with its Thursday semifinal—you're either adding a week to the tournament or playing on Tuesday. If it's a Tuesday game, you're jamming a lot of games into a short period of time and putting those short-notice weekday games anywhere other than a campus site is going to be an attendance disaster. [UPDATE: Yes, I'm an idiot. There is already a week off between the Frozen Four and the regionals.] If you're adding a week to the tournament, you might as well play another series on home ice for fairness and attendance reasons. A super regional is okay if you can day-trip it, which will be the case in the east, but will be problematic in the west when they put it in Minnesota and expect CCHA fans to make it out or vice versa.
But even a Frankenstein tournament like the one proposed above is vastly superior to the current system, which frequently rewards top seeds with road games in near-empty buildings. Fort Wayne was a nice arena but the exorbitant pricing and unwise scheduling kept people away, resulting in an embarrassing profusion of empty seats that did not reflect well on college hockey. Home games are the most likely way to keep the exorbitant pricing and actually fill an arena.
Surprisingly, there are some protests this could lose money:
There was some debate whether it would be good financially for the NCAA. If teams that play in large buildings like UND, Minnesota and Wisconsin hosted, it would certainly be more lucrative than the current format, which awards regionals to off-campus, neutral sites.
Money could be lost if teams that play in small buildings are the host.
That's almost impossible if the NCAA holds per-game pricing level at about 30 bucks a game. The regional rounds will go from three games to five, six, or seven. Average attendance would have to be about half what it currently is for the NCAA to lose money. Last year's attendance:
- Fort Wayne: 4,133 and 3,204
- Albany: 4,073 and 3,737
- Worchester: 6,572 and 6,054
- St. Paul: 7,281 and 7,182
The total attendance for first round-games: 22,059 paying double prices.
NCAA one and two seeds last year:
- Boston College (7,800)
- Wisconsin (15,200)
- North Dakota (11,600)
- St. Cloud (5,700)
- Denver (6,000)
- Cornell (4,200)
- Miami (4,000)
- Bemidji (currently 2.5k, will be 4,000)
Total capacity: 58,500.
Required capacity to at least match last year's attendance: 22,059. Required capacity per team: 2,700. Actual capacity: 7,300. Tiny RIT's rink: 2,100. There's no way going back to home playoff series can lose money, especially if the second round goes to best two-of-three.
Don't Forget The CCHA
The next year or two promises seismic change in NCAA hockey. First, the tournament is moving towards sanity. Second, realignment and the implosion of the CHA sees the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey go to twelve teams, the CCHA down to eleven, and Alabama Huntsville adrift.
The CCHA has already made the easy decision by tweaking their playoff format, but attempting to shoehorn 11 teams into a 28-game conference schedule is considerably more difficult. We might see a confusing one-off as the league tries to keep a robust number of conference games, but in the long term a move to 20 seems in the offing. With the Big Ten Network's voracious appetite for content looming and the demise of the College Hockey Showcase—a move Wisconsin explicitly made in an effort to get more Big Ten games on the schedule—some version of a Big Ten hockey conference is in the offing in the near future. It would probably be an out of conference round-robin unless Illinois or Penn State or Iowa starts up a program, in which case all bets are off.
(HT: MGoUser jcgary.)
Michigan (28-15, 9-6)
Minnesota (20-26, 8-7)
Friday 6:35pm CDT, Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
|Eric Katzman (4-1, 4.03 ERA)||vs||Seth Rosin (4-4, 4.43 ERA)|
|Stats (Minn)||Audio (Minn, $)|
|Notes: Michigan is 84-84 all time, Last year: 1-2 series loss.|
Saturday 2:05 CDT, Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
|TBA||vs||TJ Oakes (3-3, 4.19 ERA)|
|Notes: Audio available through Friday's link ($9/month).|
Sunday 1:05pm CDT, Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
|TBA||vs||Phil Isaksson (4-0, 3.16 ERA)|
|Notes: Isaksson is a LHP|
Michigan takes its first Big Ten road trip in three weeks, traveling to Minnesota for what is going to be yet another huge series in terms of the conference standings. The Gophers had a truly rough start to the year, but they currently sit tied for third place, only a game behind Michigan. They also lead the Big Ten in ERA and third in batting during conference games. They're getting hot when it counts, and Michigan looks to cool them off.
Q&A with the Daily Gopher, weather, thoughts, and predictions after the jump:
Curtric "Spiffy" Evans is a wide receiver prospect out of Chaminade Madonna High School in Florida. Spiffy, one of the best WR/DB prospects in the state, recently picked up an offer from Michigan. He sounds pretty excited about it. First highlight video, then what he had to say about Michigan.
TOM: I have to start by asking how you got your nickname. Where does that come from?
SPIFFY: My granddad gave it to me when I was about four years old. I grew up in Alabama, and we used to play in the dirt and everything. He said that I would play in it, but I would always want to come inside and take a bath, I always wanted to be clean. So he just started saying I was spiffy, and it stuck.
TOM: You grew up in Alabama, are you a fan of the university?
SPIFFY: Yeah, I’m a big fan of Alabama. That’s who I watched growing up. If they offer, it’s not like they’ll be in the lead, though. For me, being a fan of somewhere, and spending the next four years of my life is two different things. So, that’s not something I’m thinking.
TOM: When did Michigan offer you?
SPIFFY: They offered me last week, Tuesday I think. I went to our football office, and the letter was there for me with the offer. I tried to call the coaches at Michigan, but I think they’re all traveling right now. One of them is supposed to come by our school soon. They’re coming to see Jonathan Aiken, Jerrard Randall, and me.
TOM: Since all of you have Michigan offers, have you talked about going to school together?
SPIFFY: Yeah, we’ve talked about it. If it happens, it would be nice, but it’s not something we’re really trying to do. All three of us are going to take an official to Michigan, though. We already decided that. We actually might try to drive up to Michigan for a summer camp, too. We’re going to Ohio State’s summer camp, so we might try to make it to Michigan’s too.
TOM: Your coach played for Jim Tressel at YSU, right? Does that have any bearing on your decision?
SPIFFY: No, Ohio State might have an edge for Jerrard, but not me. I was never really an Ohio State fan. Coach Tressel came to our school a couple weeks ago, but I don’t really see them in my future.
TOM: How many offers do you have right now, and who sticks out to you so far?
SPIFFY: I have around 14 or 15 offers so far. The ones that stand out are Vanderbilt, Florida, and USF because I’ve talked to them the most. Everyone’s even right now, since I’m still getting offers and everything. The Michigan one is one of the biggest offers, though. Their tradition they have, and them being one of the most notable schools in the NCAA is big.
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like Michigan might have a good chance then?
SPIFFY: Michigan has a real good chance. I need to get to know the coaches, and see how that progresses, and see the campus. But, yeah, they have a good chance. I actually talked to Denard Robinson a little while ago. I know him, I’m not really good friends with him, but he was telling me how great it is up there, and that was cool to hear from a Florida kid. I’m just going to see how everything progresses with them.