the season has truly begun now
Erik Bakich made the first of his weekly appearances on WTKA for the 2014 season this morning (podcast), providing a good preview of the upcoming Michigan baseball campaign, which begins Friday down in Texas.
The focus here is on who's playing which position. In addition to what Bakich said, this overview is also based on the current game notes.
Starting pitchers: Every starter returns from last year—fifth-year seniors Logan McAnallen and Ben Ballantine, juniors James Bourque and Trent Szkutnik, and sophomore Evan Hill. They'll get the bulk of the innings. The game notes have probable starters for this weekend as Bourque and Szkutnik for games 1 and 2 on Friday, Ballantine on Saturday, and Hill on Sunday. Bakich talked about the importance of his hurlers being able to consistently throw multiple types of pitches for strikes. McAnallen and Ballantine had shown this ability in the past; the other three have made tremendous improvement in this area since last season.
Bullpen: Bakich didn't discuss the bullpen extensively, but sophomore Jacob Cronenworth will be the closer. In his freshman year, when he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, he had a 1.93 ERA and seven saves in 15 appearances; yesterday, he was named to the Stopper of the Year watch list. Michigan returns two other players who had extensive bullpen duties last season, senior Alex Lakatos and junior Matt Ogden. Bakich mentioned that freshman Jackson Lamb will be a two-way player, seeing time in the outfield and pitching in relief. He'll be brought along slowly, with his role likely increasing as the season progresses. The game notes mention two other freshman who are expected to have roles as relievers—Brett Adcock and Keith Lehmann.
Outfield: The biggest losses on the team from last year are starting outfielders Patrick Biondi and Michael O'Neill, both now playing professional ball. Zach Zott returns and will continue to be the starting left fielder. Bakich talked about how much more depth his team has this year than last year, and this is evident in the outfield, where he expects at least three players to see action in center and right—juco transfer Jackson Glines and two freshmen, Lamb and Johnny Slater. The game notes show the probable starters as Zott in left, Glines in center, and Slater in right. Bakich also mentioned that juniors Kyle Jusick and Kevin White might see some action in the outfield.
Infield: Coming off his stellar freshman season, sophomore Travis Maezes will continue to be the starting shortstop. Also anchoring the infield will be Cronenworth. But while he split time last season at second and third, this season Cronenworth will be the starter at either third or first, depending on whether the opposing team is starting a right-handed pitcher or a southpaw. Also playing some first will be juco transfer Kendall Patrick. Three freshmen will see action at second and third—Hector Gutierrez, Ramsey Romano, and Trey Miller. The game notes show the probable starters as Cronenworth at first, Gutierrez at second, Maezes at short, and Romano at third.
Catcher: Senior Cole Martin returns as the starter; he was named third-team All-Big Ten last year. He'll be helped out by Patrick and freshman Harrison Wenson.
Offense in general: Strategy will remain the same as last season, with the aim to play fast, be very aggressive both at the plate and on the bases, and put pressure on the opposing team. Many of the newcomers have speed and athleticism.
With all the starting pitchers back from last season, along with some key position players, as well as a raft of talented newcomers, Michigan is expected to improve on their 5th place finish in the Big Ten last season when their record was 14-10 in the conference and 29-27 overall. So far, the conference previews have picked them to finish third or fourth.
I wish I had some witty intro for you all this week but I really don't. It's been a really busy week, and between a tough week of class and a family member who was unexpectedly hospitalized (everything's alright now) I'm just happy to have this done. I still managed to find spots to make fun of both teams, so hopefully you'll still find it enjoyable.
#12 Michigan vs. #9 Wisconsin
Friday, January 31st, 2014
UM 1 Wisc 0 13:10 EV
Motte from Nieves
Copp passes to Moffatt in the slot, whose shot is stopped and brushed aside into the corner.
Wisconsin tries to clear but Nieves holds it in along the boards. He moves the puck back to Motte in the corner, but the puck is picked off by a Wisconsin player. He passes into the faceoff circle, where another Badger gains control and flips a backhanded pass...directly to Nieves, who is still along the boards.
Nieves carries in and the goaltender thinks he’s going to shoot. He gets low in his crouch and is about to butterfly, which he does as soon as Nieves passes to Motte.
Motte gathers the puck and backhands a shot into the wide open net. Wisconsin’s goaltender had no chance at getting back across the crease in time to stop the shot.
UM 2 Wisc 0 14:30 EV
Guptill from Compher
Nagelvoort has to stop a point-blank shot for this scoring chance to be created. There’s a Wisconsin player unchecked in the slot (surprise, surprise!) who shoots one into Nagelvoort’s chest, and the rebound falls in front of the crease. Guptill gathers the puck and takes off.
Guptill sees the defender’s outstretched stick and knows he has to dish to Compher.
Compher carries into the neutral zone, where Guptill swims around his defender and gets inside positioning on him. Compher’s defender stayed in front of him, which leaves him behind Guptill. Since Guptill has his man beat he just has to gather the pass from Compher and he has a breakaway.
Well, whadda ya know? Guptill is out on the breakaway and has extra space thanks to his defender momentarily combusting, falling to the ice, and then continuing to pursue. Guptill uses a toe drag (the good kind, not the scraped-along-the-bottom-of-the-pool kind) to freeze the goaltender and then, like, scores.
UM 3 Wisc 0 12:05 EV
Hyman from Bennett & Moffatt
Wisconsin has the puck deep in their defensive zone and tries to clear up the boards. Motte does a nice job of hitting the player the pass is headed for, which frees up the puck. Bennett retrieves it and starts to move laterally.
Bennett shoots the puck from near the middle of the blue line into a screened goaltender. The shot is stopped, but there’s a rebound in front. Hyman is able to score because Rumpel crumples himself up on the initial shot, and it’s all he can do to get a leg pad stuck out on Hyman’s shot.
UM 3 Wisc 1 13:16 EV
Soleway from LaBate & Simonelli
Michigan has one forechecker putting pressure on the D (circled) and two other skaters in the neutral zone. Wisconsin is able to unload a long stretch pass that goes through the neutral zone to the far side boards.
Wisconsin has a 2-on-1 entering the offensive zone. If Downing is farther over he might be able to dissuade LaBate from passing to the slot, but he isn’t and as it stands Clare is the only D who can possibly prevent a pass.
The pass gets through to Soleway in the slot, who one-time backhands it past Nagelvoort. Downing is turned and wouldn’t be able to do much besides either attempt a poke check or put a stick in Soleway’s stomach if he had held on to the puck any longer. The play was quickly developing and did feature a 2-on-1, but I’ve seen Nagelvoort make way more difficult stops than this one.
Saturday, February 1st, 2014
UM 0 Wisc 1 01:02 EV
Mersch from Faust & Navin
Wisconsin wins a battle along the board and Faust passes down low to Mersch.
Mersch then takes the puck and backhands it…
To himself. Yes, himself. I don’t even know, man. You can see from where Nagelvoort’s hand is that he was thinking about going for a poke check here. I get the sentiment but it doesn’t work in this instance.
UM 1 Wisc 1 10:10 EV
Motte from Downing & Hyman
Michigan wins the faceoff and the puck goes directly back to Downing. He puts a slapshot on net that looks like it might hit something in front, but it’s initially saved nevertheless.
I drew an arrow pointing to the rebound. Motte has great position in front of the net and, despite being tangled up by a defender, is able to backhand the puck over Rumpel.
The guy with the dress shirt under his hockey jersey likes it.
UM 1 Wisc 2 16:14 Penalty Shot
Zengerle takes a wide angle and skate it in. Nagelvoort is playing at the top of his crease, appropriately aggressive.
Zengerle puck handles and then shoots over Nagelvoort’s glove for a goal.
I don’t…like, why do you think they’re going to cheer for you?
UM 2 Wisc 2 07:02 EV
Moffatt from Hyman
Moffatt has his shot blocked, and the puck goes to the corner. Moffatt wins the race for it and regains possession.
Moffatt drags the puck out of the corner and into the slot. It looks like he’s going to put a backhander on net before he puts on the brakes and starts to turn.
He shoots through an incredible screen of players. Rumpel can’t see the puck and gives up the tying goal.
MICH - Alex Guptill - MISSED
UW - Morgan Zulinick - MISSED
MICH - Luke Moffatt - MADE
UW - Michael Mersch - MISSED
MICH - Andrew Copp - MISSED
UW - Mark Zengerle – MISSED
If you want to watch the shootout here’s the link. The shootout portion starts at 1:42
Comparing individual classes of recruits can be a very challenging exercise. Due to each school’s different position each year and internal standards, classes can vary from mid-teens to over 30 signees for a given class at a given school. Last year I introduced my best take on the subject with the Nth best recruit approach.
Nth best recruit takes each player in a class and gives them a rating from 0-99 and then places those rankings in order, high to low. This way you can see how one class compares to another at each level. With Jabril Peppers in the mix, Michigan is going to compete with everyone at the top of the class but then drop into very good range as the recruits progressively move from high four star territory (Drake Harris) to high three star (Brandon Watson) with former gray shirt candidate Brady Pallante pulling in the final spot.
One change for this year is that I have normalized the classes so that they all show how the class is dispersed as if they were a 25 person class. You lose the quantity estimate, but over time, the spread of recruit’s rankings are more indicative of a team’s recruiting prowess than the number of offers they have in a year. If Michigan had five more offers, the odds are their curve would look very similar to what it does now.
*All signee lists were updated as of late Tuesday night and don’t reflect any signing day action
Michigan Under Hoke
Michigan’s last three classes have been highly consistent in terms of recruit quality from top to bottom. Last year’s class was the strongest through the top half and this year’s class is nearly identical in ratings to 2012’s class with Pepper’s the welcome exception.
On an average basis, Michigan’s classes have landed them roughly in lower part of the top 10 nationally. The improvement in these classes will begin to show up this year as my prior studies have shown that player in their third year or more on campus are far and away the biggest predictors of success. The 2012 class enters that zone this year and Michigan should move near the top 10 in terms of overall roster talent+experience this season and move into the top 10 indefinitely beginning in 2015.
The Big Ten
Leaders Legends East!
After a very close comparison last season, Michigan’s 2014 class is clearly lower rated than Ohio State’s. Michigan’s class falls behind immediately after Peppers and maintains a similar gap until the final few players.
Michigan sill is quite a bit ahead of the rest of the division. Penn St and Michigan St are in the next tier. There is a consistent gap between them and Michigan and Penn St’s class is currently slightly higher rated than Sparty’s across the first few spots.
The top third of Maryland’s class is in line with Michigan St and Penn St but they quickly fall into line with the bottom tier of Rutgers and Indiana.
The Race For #1
The five teams rated highest on most services
The bottom half of all the great classes this year are virtually in distinguishable from each other, except for Tennessee. While the Volunteers have put together a really nice class, this chart helps expose the formulas used by all the major services for team rankings. Tennessee is rated no lower than sixth overall by any of the four major services and although they have a very good class, you can see the separation between the great classes and theirs. Getting a giant class isn’t about being better at recruiting, it’s about having a fluky roster situation. Almost all coaches are going to recruit to their 85 (or more) roster spots so having more commitments is vastly overrated.
Ohio State has the weakest top end of all the four serious contenders but the middle third of their class is as good as anyone’s. Texas A&M’s class shows a big drop after the marquee headliners. LSU is strong throughout but Alabama, once again, clearly has the class from top to bottom. If you take any spot along the line of 25, the Alabama point is rarely behind any other team and no one is as consistently strong as they are.
Michigan’s Hall of Highly Touted
In the past two classes, Brady Hoke has inked eleven players that made the first or second team for Michigan’s Hall of Highly Touted.* After two loaded classes, this year’s smaller class was also lighter on top rated talent. Drake Harris cracked the second team as a wide receiver while all-everything signee Jabril Peppers was a no-brainer first team defensive back.
Peppers scored a 96.5 out of a possible 99 (unanimous #1 rated recruit) which makes him the highest rated recruit at Michigan in the internet era of recruiting. When you expand the field beyond Michigan to the whole Big Ten, Peppers comes in at #2 behind Terrelle Pryor (97.9) for highest rated Big Ten signee over the last 12 classes.
*The top players based on composite recruitindg rankings
SO, YOU’RE 8-1 IN BIG TEN PLAY SO FAR…
While it is true that we followed what was our best shooting performance (albeit by 0.48% in terms of effective field goal percentage) with our worst in conference play to date, I will say that I will take 8-1 in Big Ten play into the Second Stretch Of “AHHHHHH!” on the schedule. After all, nobody ever said it was easy and although we were favored yesterday, there was some apprehension all the same given where it was being played.
In any case, the averages in conference play are beginning to moderate as expected between tougher games and such, but they are still looking quite good overall. At this point, we might be able to look at a couple things as concerning, but perhaps not in the sense that we should be alarmed at present. The summary averages for conference play as of yesterday afternoon postgame:
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
Off. Rebound %
Def. Rebound %
Assist / Turnover Ratio
True Shooting %
Free Throw Rate
Points / Possession
Of the four factors, the only one in which we typically perform worse than our opponent is offensive rebound percentage. The roughly 6% margin here translates to about three offensive rebounds on average per game, at least in this case. Michigan averages about seven offensive rebounds per game, whereas our opponents have been averaging about ten per game. Otherwise, our effective field goal percentage, despite taking a hit yesterday, is significantly better, and we also get to the line quite a bit more as evidenced by the average free throw rate.
There is less than a 1% difference in average turnover percentage, so essentially the battle here is a draw. We give up about as many as we get – the raw average is about 10 turnovers per game by Michigan to 11 by our opponents in conference play. It won’t shock anyone, however, if I say that this last game was not in the upper half of performances in conference play, but it certainly was not the worst. That was the Purdue game, which we won.
THE LAST FIVE GAMES:
I made Michigan’s numbers the line graph (the blue line, naturally) on this one so the trend and comparison is perhaps more evident. Let me know if this is not the case.
Here are the four factors over the last five games –
Other statistics of note –
Greetings, lacrosse faithful. It's snowing outside and we're much closer to the memory of minus-13 temperatures than the technical start of spring, but it's time for spring sports anyway. (Perhaps this is part of the reason the South is picking up on lacrosse faster than real Big Ten schools.) Since the official season opener is just a week away, and Michigan scrimmaged Marquette just today, here's a look at the opponents Michigan will face this season in stickyball sport. Some are familiar by now, some are not.
A word on the landscape, which changed this year as it does every year in lacrosse. Michigan's conference, the ECAC, lost two of its best teams (Denver and Loyola) and is down to five schools from eight (Hobart left for the NEC) and in its last year of existence. Despite dropping below six members, the ECAC retains its tourney autobid due to a grace-period rule. The tourney has expanded to 18 teams to accommodate the higher number of autobids - the ACC and the newly formed Atlantic Sun now earn them. 10 autobids and 8 at-large spots are at stake. Not that this affects Michigan much, but it has the practical benefit of expanding the at-large field by one since the ACC champ always took an at-large.
So Michigan will play a four-game ECAC schedule and, depending on how things go, could have a shot at actually making the four-team ECAC tourney, since only one team will be left out. Michigan will also play four of their five future Big Ten rivals. Below is a guide to the grid in each team's section:
|Preseason rank||Media poll and USILA coaches poll, respectively|
|2013 computer||LaxPower's computer ranking, out of 63 teams|
|2013 result||What happened when we played them|
|2013 O-rating||see below|
|2013 D-rating||see below|
The O-rating and D-rating are concoctions of my own devising, similar to a KenPom number. They represent goals per game of 100 possessions (50 each.) I threw some tempo-free stats into a formula, adjust for schedule, and come up with a number. The national raw average was 15.33 last year, highest in any of the years I've tracked these stats. Top and bottom quartiles are roughly above 16.5 and below 13.5.
Right then, on with the show.
Penn State - Sat., February 8 - Away
|2013 result||L, 11-5|
|2013 O-rating||15.75 (22nd)|
|2013 D-rating||11.97 (5th)|
Penn State had a really good season last year til it got derailed in the tournaments. They beat Denver, lost in OT to Notre Dame and Ohio State, and ran roughshod over the CAA until being upset in the CAA final by Towson and the NCAA opener by Yale. They relied heavily on a pair of 40-goal scorers, one of which is back this. That's T.J. Sanders, a pure scorer and deadly sniper who scored on over 40% of his shots. Seniors Shane Sturgis and Tom LaCrosse (clearly born for this, although he can probably never visit Quebec) bring very good secondary scoring. PSU also has a top-notch goalie in Austin Kaut.
The defense will be very strong, and the presence of Sanders and Kaut explain why the media thinks they're one of only two teams in the country worthy of being mentioned with the ACC. (In the preseason polls, the six ACC teams are in the top eight and top seven.) Michigan plays this game and the Ohio game for the Creator's Trophy, and PSU looks like the favorite to win it.
Mercer - Fri., February 14 - Home
|2013 O-rating||13.06 (51st)|
|2013 D-rating||19.38 (60th)|
Michigan is dipping heavily into the Atlantic Sun for opponents this year, probably in an effort to find a win or two. Mercer is the first of three teams from this conference we'll face. They've basically been awful since the inauguration of their program, but four wins is three more than they've had in a season in their history, and they're picked third of six in the A-Sun. Dangermen include 30-goal scorers Chris Baxa and Zack Ward at attack, and goalie Mike Nugent came up with a solid .553 save percentage despite an extremely porous defense in front of him. As Michigan was a meager 1-13 last year, this'll be the first decent indicator of how much our team has improved. Astute fans will remember this was the first team we ever beat, back in 2012.
Detroit - Wed., February 19 - Neutral
|2013 result||Rained out|
|2013 O-rating||12.37 (54th)|
|2013 D-rating||14.86 (26th)|
The Titans were sort of the anti-Penn State last year - mired in a lousy losing season, they snuck into the MAAC tournament as the 4th seed and then won it by upsetting Marist and then Siena, the latter in overtime. Then they went to the NCAAs and damn near knocked off 2-seed Notre Dame, actually holding a 7-3 lead after three periods.
Last year's game was washed out by a lightning storm, but Michigan was holding their own, down 4-3 in the second when the game was called. UDM will be a relatively tough out this year, though. Their defense was highly respectable for a low-major team and though they lost most of the top names from that unit, the offense is at full strength with their entire scoring core returning. They'll add Shayne Adams to that, who medically redshirted last season after starting with 10 goals in 4 games. The Titans are tied with Siena as favorites to win their conference and have a head start in the battle for state supremacy.
Johns Hopkins - Sat., February 22 - Away
|2013 result||L, 17-8|
|2013 O-rating||16.79 (14th)|
|2013 D-rating||11.17 (1st)|
We used to play this game because John Paul and Dave Pietramala are tight; now it's just as much thanks to future conference affiliation. We'll just have to get used to losing to the Hop for a while. The pollsters don't think they're among the elite teams this year, mainly due to losing their outstanding goalie and most of their scoring, but they're still Hopkins. And they've got Wells Stanwick, the youngest son of a very large and ridiculously lacrosse-blooded family. Wells, and I hate to say this, gives his older brother Steele a run for his money in the talent department, and Steele was a Tewaaraton winner. There might be one in Wells's future, too.
Cornell - Sat., March 1 - Home
|2013 O-rating||20.35 (4th)|
|2013 D-rating||11.94 (4th)|
As with Hopkins, the voters predict a fall; Cornell, too, loses a ton of scoring talent, possibly the most in the country as they'll no longer have Rob Pannell or Steve Mock. They're also finding their way with a new coach, as the fairly successful Ben DeLuca was fired in the fall in the wake of a hazing scandal. (Apparently it's no longer OK to make freshmen drink til they puke.) The Big Red will be the highest-profile visitors to visit Ann Arbor depending on your take on Maryland, and they still have scoring punch in Connor Buczek and Matt Donovan, so despite the predicted precipice and likely bubble-team-at-best status, Michigan will still have all it can handle and more.
High Point - Wed., March 5 - Away
|2013 result||L, 13-10|
|2013 O-rating||12.00 (58th)|
|2013 D-rating||18.91 (58th)|
With two big uglies out of the way, Michigan heads south to once again take on the Atlantic Sun. Quite probably the most disappointing result of last season was a 13-10 loss to brand-new High Point, so this can work as another benchmark game to check improvement. The Panthers have started this season with an uncompetitive loss to lately-disappointing Delaware, so hope exists. The offense is mainly keyed by playmaker Matt Thistle and finisher Dan Lomas, but it's not a high-powered one by any stretch. This is the best chance up to this point in the season for a win.
Furman - Sat., March 8 - Away
A two-game southern swing concludes in South Carolina, where Michigan again takes on a brand-new program. Being brand-new, there's not much to go on in terms of evaluation, but, being brand-new, they probably stink. They're almost entirely freshmen plus a tiny number of juco transfers and one or two D-I transfers. Still, the High Point game last year is a cautionary tale. Michigan should win, but should still be wary because reasons.
Bellarmine - Sat., March 15 - Away
|2013 result||L, 12-6|
|2013 O-rating||12.11 (57th)|
|2013 D-rating||12.12 (7th)|
This could be the most important game of the year. Of the various accomplishments by which a team measures success, the most accessible to Michigan is a berth in the ECAC tournament. It's not much of an accomplishment - five teams for four spots - but the tourney atmosphere and travel (to scenic Columbus) would be good for a growing team.
Beating just one conference team would probably do it, as anyone you beat would have to win twice to pass you, and this is the most likely spot for it. It's not easy - Bellarmine has a well-deserved reputation as a strong defensive squad. Neither is it insurmountable. The Knights lose an outstanding goalie and most of their already-anemic scoring to graduation. This is the first conference game of the year and the last time facing them as a conference foe - although, since the Knights are off to the A-Sun next year (which by then will be the SoCon) and we seem to like that conference, and furthermore as Louisville is relatively convenient to Ann Arbor, I would bet it's not the last we'll see of them.
Maryland - Tue., March 18 - Home
|2013 O-rating||18.36 (9th)|
|2013 D-rating||12.26 (8th)|
Without looking at sports I don't pay attention to (so there's a fair chance I'm off my rocker here) this is the first time Michigan will face Maryland in anything since the announcement of their move to the B1G. I guess we'll have to get used to seeing them around. I don't have to like it.
Because the B1G chose to start lacrosse by inviting two powerhouses rather than wait until more schools (MSU, Northwestern, whoever) started up their programs, Michigan will probably find itself fighting with Rutgers to stay out of the basement for the foreseeable future. But that will be then. This is now. Maryland will bring a team that'll be very tough to score on, with a standout netminder in Niko Amato behind a veteran defense. Typically the Terps have relied on balanced scoring rather than a big superstar for their offense, but most of their depth graduated, leaving Mike Chanenchuk and Jay Carlson as the only double-digit goal-scorers from last year. There's still a formidable talent gap, though, and I expect Maryland's defense to be among the very best nationally, if not tops.
St. Joseph's - Sat., March 22 - Home
|2013 result||W, 11-8|
|2013 O-rating||10.95 (61st)|
|2013 D-rating||18.53 (54th)|
St. Joe's is not a fully-funded team, so this year they've moved out of the CAA into a conference more their speed. This was Michigan's only win of last season; the Hawks are historically awful, though improving somewhat under a new coach the past two years. They had one of the nation's worst offenses last year and only four players with double-digit goals, but at least all of those players are back. Still, they'll likely be as usual, which is to say, a threat to lose to an A-Sun team.
Air Force - Sat., March 29 - Away
|2013 result||L, 10-6|
|2013 O-rating||15.55 (26th)|
|2013 D-rating||14.45 (21st)|
The Falcons have just about been the picture of average lately, with a 7-7 record last year, 6-7 the year before that, and sitting right near the top of the bell curve in O- and D-ratings. This year, with Denver and Loyola out of the picture, they're a decent possibility as a contender for the ECAC title, with all major scoring contributors returning. Mike Crampton is the top player with 34 goals and 19 assists, and Tommy McKee is an excellent finisher as well while Keith Dreyer performs well as a setup man.
Air Force, somewhat interestingly, is the only ECAC team left without a landing spot after the conference's dissolution, but rumor has it they'll follow Bellarmine into the A-Sun/SoCon. As for this year's game, though, they're a likely bet to knock off Michigan, especially in the altitude.
Fairfield - Sat., April 5 - Home
|2013 result||L, 10-8|
|2013 O-rating||14.98 (34th)|
|2013 D-rating||15.69 (31st)|
The ECAC coaches figured Fairfield as the team most likely to challenge Ohio for the conference title, but it's really very close between them and Air Force. There's not a lot of difference between the two teams. Goaltending is about the same, and Fairfield only loses one of their offensive core. The top returning scorer is Jordan Greenfield with 34 goals.
In fact, if forced at gunpoint, I'd give the slight nod to Air Force, not Fairfield, which fared slightly worse in all the metrics and was Michigan's closest loss last season. With the game at home, this should be the conference game in which the Wolverines have the second-best chance, after Bellarmine. It's probably not close to a 50/50 chance, but maybe 25/75?
Ohio State - Sat., April 12 - Away
|2013 result||L, 17-8|
|2013 O-rating||17.65 (11th)|
|2013 D-rating||13.80 (19th)|
Ohio was the bloody obvious pick for the final ECAC championship; last year, they played their way to a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament. The spirited, close game that Michigan played against them in 2012 gave way to a blowout loss last season, and Ohio even shed some of its snail's reputation and played at a tempo just slightly below average.
All-American attackman Logan Schuss is gone, but midfielder Jesse King has a chance to be just as good, posting a 32-goal, 23-assist season in 2013. He's joined in the midfield by Turner Evans (26 goals) and playmaking attackman Carter Brown (27 goals, 16 assists) should be able to step into Schuss's shoes somewhat. Goalie Greg Dutton regressed somewhat last year after a very good 2012 season, but he's a four-year starter all the same.
It'll probably be a while before Michigan is ready to challenge the Buckeyes. Whether they can stay among the country's best teams remains to be seen (the pollsters are fairly divided on their quality), but coach Nick Myers has them in good position to do so. These guys are a symbol of the spreading-out of the power in lacrosse that's been going on the past few years.
Yale - Sat., April 19 - Home
|2013 O-rating||16.47 (17th)|
|2013 D-rating||11.98 (6th)|
The Elis have been on a slow and steady rise, and they've placed themselves this year as one of the Ivy's top contenders. Princeton is back on top in the polls after a longish (for them) absence, but Yale is the reigning champs; they then knocked off Penn State in the NCAAs and came within a whisker of doing the same to Syracuse.
So Cornell has the bigger name, but Yale is likely to be the best Ivy League team Michigan faces. They had a trio of 30-goal scorers last year, and two - attackmen Brandon Mangan and Conrad Oberbeck - are back this season. FOGO Dylan Levings won almost 60% of his faceoffs last year. Yale also had an excellent defense last year. In recent years, they've occupied a rung in the Ivy League one notch below Cornell and Princeton, but they're going to make some national noise and could be perhaps the 2nd or 3rd-toughest opponent we see this year.
Robert Morris - Sat., April 26 - Home
|2013 O-rating||15.43 (28th)|
|2013 D-rating||16.09 (37th)|
Unless Michigan reaches the ECAC tourney, we've reached the end of the journey. RMU was known for a powerful, up-tempo offense a couple years ago, but that reputation has eroded away somewhat. They're still up-tempo, and they had five 20-goal scorers last year (fairly rare for a low-major team) but only two of those players remain. Obviously, by the time we get to this game we'll have a much better idea of this matchup, but from here it looks at least passably winnable.
Here's a quick-reference table of the schedule's O- and D-ratings. Michigan is at the bottom.
For Michigan's part, that's a step back on offense but a slight improvement on defense.
However, I think there are more winnable games on this schedule than last year, if only because Denver and Loyola are gone and the A-Sun features so heavily. Other people smarter than me can probably preview the team itself, but let's just assume a reasonable amount of improvement and then divide the schedule like so:
Doom: Penn State, Hopkins, Cornell, Maryland, Ohio State, Yale
Not real likely: Air Force
OKish chance: Fairfield
Fair chance (but don't get your hopes too high yet): Detroit, Bellarmine, Robert Morris
Possibly favored: Mercer, High Point, Furman, St. Joseph's
Last year I predicted reasonable improvement, too, and called for three wins, and that worked out not very well. This year the schedule looks more like an hourglass. Six games against top national teams, and seven against teams potentially within striking distance. Not having goalie Gerald Logan is gonna suck, but even so, let's put on the optimism hat and call it a four-win season. Even if it has to come by feasting on the southern schools, it'd be a step in the right direction.
Hello again, internet,
I conducted a survey this past week (started on Monday) about how people expected Michigan to perform over any given 20 year period. A big thank you goes out to the 328 MGoUsers who pitched in their opinions. Here are your results. I was going to do fancy stuff like trendlines and variance, but then I got lazy. Sorry.
Each survey question's graph is linked in each section's title, and the analysis lies below each image. I've also included the actual results over the past 20 years (1994-2013).
Average Expected: 1.92
Over Last 20 Years: 1
Analysis: The six people who expect a national championship every year do sway the average a bit, but still, this seems high to me. I put 1, but honestly expect 1 every 30-40 years. Of course, I started being a fan in 2008, so my maize-colored glasses are pretty transparent.
Average Expected: 7.84
Over Last 20 Years: 5
Analysis: I guess this is reasonable. I do think Ohio takes the lion's share of the titles, but we should be a clear 2nd, and closer to 1st than 3rd. As much as I love Michigan, I can't get over the recruiting advantage that OSU has. MSU's emergence and persistance and the addition of Nebraska do lower my expectation a bit, as well.
Average Expected: 10.70
Over Last 20 Years: 7
Analysis: Putting in the 2013 data point was tough, man. Luckily, we're not too far off splitting, despite The StreakTM. I still think Ohio has the edge here because of recruiting, but we should be close to even. Beat Ohio.
Average Expected: 14.25
Over Last 20 Years: 12
Analysis: Works for me, 3 every 4. Unless Narduzzi never leaves. Which fuck.
Average Expected: 18.41
Over Last 20 Years: 15/16 (didn't play 4 of the years)
Analysis: Again, I became a fan in 2008. I fully expect to beat Minnesota all of the time.
Average Expected: 9.58
Over Last 20 Years: 6.04*
*For this, I collected all of the recruiting team rankings from the 4 major recruiting services (247, Scout, Rivals, ESPN) and found out how many #1 B1G finishes we had for as long as the service was tracking it. Note that 3 of the services' first team rankings were in 2002, and ESPN started in 2006. I then projected our average amount of #1 finishes over 20 years, and then calculated the average over the 4 services.
Analysis: Many people will say (and did say in the survey comments) that conference position doesn't matter, and there's an argument there, sure. I've typed out and deleted a few sentences defending it, but I'm too lazy to start an argument against. Just look at the data, meh.
CONCLUSION: Everyone is unreasonable except me. I'd love to run a similar survey for the other schools' fanbases, but that is an effort for another day.