Wins vs Top 100
|Wins (RPI 1-50)|
|45||Nov. 20||Boise State||74-70|
|22||Jan. 19||Ohio State||59-56|
|31||Jan. 22||@ Wisconsin||49-47|
|Wins (RPI 51-100)|
|91||Jan. 10||@ Iowa||62-59|
|Losses (RPI 1-50)|
|2||Nov. 28||@ Miami (FL)||59-67|
|13||Dec. 31||@ Minnesota||63-76|
|11||Jan. 27||@ Indiana||70-75|
FR. Gary Harris. G. 6'4" 205lbs.
12.7 PTS. 4.6 3PA. 43% 3PT.
JR. Keith Appling. G. 6'1" 190lbs.
14.1 PTS. 4.1 AST. 3.5 REB
SO. Branden Dawson. F. 6'6" 230lbs.
10.9 PTS. 6.5 REB. 1.8 STL
JR. Adreian Payne. F. 6'10" 240lbs.
9.5 PTS. 6.8 REB. 1.2 BLK.
SR. Derrick Nix. F. 6'9" 270lbs.
9.2 PTS. 6.3 REB. 52% FG.
Key Bench Players
FR, Denzel Valentine. G. 6'5" 220lbs.
21.0 MIN. 5.3 PTS. 4.0 REB.
SO. Travis Trice. G. 6'0" 170lbs. (Has not played last two games)
20.2 MIN. 5.5 PTS. 3.2 3PA. 41% 3PT.
How they compare to Big Ten
1st - ST/Game (8.63)
3rd - FG% (47%)
3rd - FT% (71%)
4th - 3PT% (36%)
11th - TO/Game (13.7)
9th - Asst/TO (1.01)
8th - Off Reb (11)
Part one last weekend: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/look-big-ten-remaining-schedules
This is long- if you don't like that move on....
First up current standings:
....shakes fist at Wisconsin.....
Next- upcoming schedules, with some scheudle notes:
|GAME 12||NEB (3-8)||MICH (8-3)||@MSU (9-2)||@MINN (5-5)||NW (4-7)|
|GAME 13||PURD (5-6)||@NEB (3-8)||PSU (0-11)||OSU (7-4)||@WISC (8-3)|
|GAME 14||@MSU (9-2)||INDIANA (9-2)||ILL (3-7)||@NW (4-7)||MINN (5-5)|
|GAME 15||@MINN (5-5)||@OSU (7-4)||@PSU (0-11)||NEB (3-8)||MSU (9-2)|
|GAME 16||IOWA (4-7)||@MICH (8-3)||MSU (9-2)||PURD (5-6)||@NW (4-7)|
|GAME 17||OSU (7-4)||WISC (8-3)||@PURD (5-6)||@MSU (9-2)||@IND (9-2)|
|GAME 18||@MICH (8-3)||NW (4-7)||IND (9-2)||@PSU (0-11)||ILL (3-7)|
You may have noticed from last week I dropped Minnesota. With 5-losses their odds of competing for a crown have faded too far to include them this time around.
Projected wins and losses are done by better than 50% or worse than 50% to win that game. After each team’s write-up I will delve into deeper odds (since most teams win/lose unpredictable games obviously- and you can project which games those could be)- so the projected final is if every expected win is a win and every expected loss is a loss...
Projected Wins: NEB, PURD, @ MINN, IOWA, OSU
Projected Losses: @MSU, @ MICH
Simplified Projected Final: 14-4
Middle of the pack schedule of remaining teams- road games at Michigan and Michigan State are very tough- they win one or both of those their chances of winning the conference shoot up. Sleeper games- At Minnesota, and OSU and Iowa at home- all are possible L’s- they let any of those games slip their chance at the title could slip with it.
Projected Wins: MICH, @ NEB, IND, WISC, NW
Projected Losses: @ OSU, @ UM
Simplified Projected Final: 14-4
Hardest schedule of remaining teams- at least 3 of the 5 games against top 5 are at home- but all three of those home games- Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin are all very, very losable. Road games at Ohio St. and at Michigan are both likely losses. Their 14-4 projection is a little tenuous. While they are favored in my opinion in the three top home games my guess is that there is a slightly better than 50-50 chance one of those becomes losses and they end at 13-5.
Projected Wins: PSU, ILL, @ PSU, MSU, @ PURD, IND
Projected Losses: @MSU
Simplified Projected Final: 14-4
Bold potentially, but the schedule is Michigan’s friend relative to other top-5 teams. Splitting against MSU seems likely, and the final home game against Indiana very well could decide the conference. Sleeper game is at Purdue, maybe home at Illinois fighting for the tournament at-large. PSU twice is a very pleasant upcoming stretch.
Projected Wins: @ NW, NEB, PURD, @ PSU
Projected Losses: @ MINN, OSU, @ MSU
Simplified Projected Final: 12-6
Maybe a little low on Wisconsin because of sheer madness of thinking about the last game but I think they have a tougher chance at winning the conference. Their projected wins are all safe bets- although home at Purdue could be a sleeper game. Home at OSU I think they lose because I think OSU is a very good team, and will guard the 3’s better than we did- and I don’t think they have an answer for Thomas- they lost at Ohio State by nine and even though the next game will likely be close I say they lose. At Minnesota very well could be a win- but I think Minnesota will be playing for a lot in that game and will hold out at home. At MSU seems very likely to be a loss.
Projected Wins: NW, @ WISC, MINN, MSU, @ NW, ILL
Projected Losses: @ IND
Projected Final: 13-5
Another bold predicted finish. Although I favor them against Wisconsin on the road and MSU at home it is 50-50 or so one will be a loss. At Indiana will likely be a loss, and home against an Illinois team fighting for the tournament and away at NW could be tough- as could Minnesota. They have a tough schedule- but are the favorites in most of them. If they hold onto all of the games I have them favored in they could definitely compete; however, they have a lot of tough games that could be road blocks for them. Plus, with 4 losses already they are realistically shooting for a split crown most likely.
I have a 3 way tie at 14-4 in conference with Indiana, MSU, and Michigan. But all 14-4 projections are not equal.
One, Indiana and MSU are projected to lose 2 games and UM (OSU also) only 1. Projecting fewer losses always leaves more room for error. Even though Wisconsin’s schedule is easier than most of the other top-5’s I do see them falling off.
MSU has likely the hardest schedule left. 5 games against the top-5, but only two on the road; however, those are the two I see them losing (OSU and Michigan). I think those are most likely losses, and the chance they lose 1 out of: Michigan at home, Indiana at home, and Wisconsin at home seem decently high.
Indiana also has a tough schedule. They close at Michigan a distinct disadvantage in that it is the hardest last game of a top-5 (although Michigan home against Indiana obviously is close). Losing at Michigan and Michigan State seems most likely. At Minnesota and home against OSU/Iowa/Purdue could all be tricky though. They could also win one of the games (or both) in the state of Michigan however, so their 14-4 to me seems more likely than MSU’s.
Michigan has perhaps the easiest schedule (Wisconsin could be a bit easier) which is why I have one more loss predcted. Unfortunately it is the next game- @ MSU. I have predicted wins at home against MSU and Indiana as well- both of which are hard games. The rest is easier- 2 games against PSU, and home against Illinois are likely wins, and @ Purdue is hard but winnable. I actually think Michigan finishing with a loss or less is as likely or better than both MSU and Indiana due to the schedule.
OSU is the other team I said has 1 loss- but they will be hard pressed to do it. The @ Indiana game is the projected loss; however, the odds of them losing at least one of: @ Wisconsin, Minnesota, MSU, or Illinois seem to be high. So they have the hardest chances in my opinion to win the conference- particularly outright of any team besides Wisconsin.
Wisconsin may have the easiest schedule looking at top-5 games (only 2); however, those games (OSU at home and @ MSU) are both games I think they are more likely to lose. Plus, the next game, @ Minnesota they have likely slightly better than 50% chance of losing. Although the rest of the schedule: NW home and away, Nebraska t home, Purdue at home, and at PSU seem very likely to be wins- and although they could lose 1- most likely @ NW or home at Purdue they should be able to win all of those- and to win the conference they have to.
Note: I give the odds I estimate as well as the most likely outcome to reach that won-lost record.
In conclustion (if you have read this far):
I see very little chance of MSU or IND winning out- obviously if they do they win the conference.
I see three teams with a shot at 3 losses (Wisconsin not so much)- in Michigan, Indiana, and Michigan State. None of these teams are likely to go 15-3 in my opinion- with Michigan a 5% chance, MSU twice that, and Indiana 3 times that.
Most likely the winner (or co-champs) will be 14-4. All three of Michigan, Indiana, and Michigan State have a 50% chance of going 14-4. So I have Indiana as a slight favorite, followed closely by Michigan State and Michigan. OSU with 4-losses already is unlikely to win with a 2 game hole, and Wisconsin I see as falling off a bit, and only having a very outside chance at splitting a championship at 14-4. There are so many tough games left that it's possible 13-5 may be co-champ worthy again- but with two 9-2 teams, and Michigan's schedule it seems very unlikely- although you never know with the BigTen and looking at all the hard games remaining it is possible we see a lot of upsets ahead.
Hope you all enjoyed- and GO BLUE!!!! If we win at Michigan State coming up be very very pumped- and if we lose don't be do disheartened- the odds are still good for us if we can split with MSU and hold on at home against Indiana. Also thank god for playing PSU twice!!!
In the style of
Kevin Johnson arrived in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2007. The first athletic event he attended would forever shape the rest of his 6 years on the University of Michigan campus. Kevin found himself jumping up and down with joy on a typical Ann Arbor fall Saturday afternoon as Mario Manningham was dragged down after receiving a 46-yd pass from Chad Henne in what assuredly was going to be the key in avoiding an embarrassment of epic proportions. When Mountaineer Corey Lynch blocked the would-be game winning field goal, every Wolverine fan was stunned. Kevin, however, fell into a deep depression.
Kevin would go on to attend Michigan football and basketball games with regularity. The 2008 return to the NCAA tournament was just a slight reprieve from what was a year of routine disappointment for Kevin. By sophomore year, Kevin attempted to live the life of a regular UM student. Kevin settled on a political science major, hung out with friends and held down a campus job. Still, the pain from the Horror of 2007 stuck with Kevin. By the time graduation came in 2011, Kevin was at a loss. His inability to move past the Horror resulted in his girlfriend dumping him. After failed internship interview after failed internship interview, Kevin decided that grad school was his only choice.
In the fall of 2011, Kevin enrolled in Law School with a renewed vigor and things started to look up. Michigan football exceeded expectations in Brady Hoke’s first year and Kevin began dating Annie – who he quickly fell in love with. The following summer was full of promise, though Kevin still worried – was he past the unmentionable start to his college career? As the penultimate semester concluded Kevin’s life again was thrown into shambles. After an intense outburst following Michigan’s loss to Ohio State, Annie left Kevin, saying she could never date a man who put a sports team ahead of his girlfriend. Parents and friends warned Kevin of his impending massive debt and grim career prospects in the law field. The malaise returned, with no end in sight.
Still, Kevin kept going to athletic events. On February 5, 2013 Kevin witnessed the unthinkable – a Michigan basketball program cement itself as the nation’s top team. After six tumultuous years, it was suddenly worth it. As if the heavens said “All your travails have been for this moment. Enjoy it, my son.” Kevin would walk home on air that night, proudly wearing his banana suit. There was nothing in the world that could hold him back.
Feel free to add the stories of the other characters in what will be the greatest story told on MGoBlog since the Naked Banner Guy.
Here are Urban's top 11 recruiting tips for fellow Big Ten coaches. I hope you dig.
11. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If ESPN says he’s a good player, why waste your time and resources to confirm what you already know? Look—I’ve met a lot of these recruiting guys. The ones from Scout, from 24/7, from Rivals. Are they geniuses? No. But think about the alternative. It’s not like the wide receivers coach at Minnesota is any secret genius either. It’s not like the linebackers coach at Iowa is all great shakes. Is some guy on your staff going to do a better job evaluating a prospect than the regional guy from Rivals? On our staff, maybe. On Brady’s staff, maybe. On anyone else’s staff, let’s face it: probably not. And even then, is the difference worth sinking the resources into sending your guys out to do those evals themselves? Opportunity cost, men. Don’t overlook what else you might be getting out of that time and money.
10. Now, lots of you guys may think, “well, this kid is only a 2-star, but he fits our system. He plays hard and has a good head on his shoulders.” Better not offer that guy a scholarship, because you know what? Rivals.com doesn’t care if he fits your system. Scout.com doesn’t care if he has a good head on his shoulders. It’s all about perception, gentlemen. If you want to catch the SEC, it’s gotta be 3-stars or bust.
9. Look, I know they can be a little unwieldy. They get in the way when you’re trying to eat, you don’t want to get them dirty, all that. But you just absolutely cannot be leaving your national championship rings at home when you go on these recruiting visits. It’s just plain dumb. I don’t care if it was way back in 2006. That’s not the point. These kids want to see the rings. You want the kids, you got to give them the rings. And that’s just common sense.
8. I see a lot of you guys out trying to sign offensive linemen, or giving scholarships to kickers—and even long-snappers. This has got stop. Nobody gets excited about linemen. A defensive end, maybe, but not some plain old guard. Specialists are even worse—the highest they can get on Scout is three stars, so they are just about guaranteed to bring your average down. Image is everything. If people see you bringing in an average of 2.65 stars, then guess what? Your name is “Johnny Two-Star.” The four stars aren’t even going to think about you anymore. The three stars? Maybe. But you’ll get all the two-stars you can handle. You want to be Indiana freaking University? Just keep giving scholarships to long-snappers, and you can be Indian—oh, sorry Kevin. But yeah, just keep giving scholarships to long-snappers, you can be the Mid-America Conference if you want to. You want to be Big Ten? You save those for playmakers.
7. You know, back when I was at Utah, I noticed a recruit’s mother seemed a little worn out because she was at work all day, the recruit had a little brother she was taking care of, it was late, you know. So I reached over and started giving the recruit’s mother a foot massage. Now you might think, “that’s really not appropriate,” but I assure you our compliance people checked the NCAA rulebook and there is absolutely nothing in there that says giving a recruit’s mother a foot massage is a violation. Now, sometimes a foot massage isn’t going to be enough. But I think you get the point, gentlemen.
6. So, I know that some of my players were previously committed to other coaches in this room and maybe a few of you might be a little disappointed about that. I just want to come right out and address it. No need to beat around the bush. See, when a player makes a verbal commitment to, say, the University of Illinois—what that really means is he’s committed to Illinois or Ohio State. It’s like he’s both of ours, you see? Now maybe it will come to pass that the Buckeyes don’t need him in our class, and then he’ll go to Illinois. But to go and use words like “poaching?” “Snake oil?” Well, that’s really not necessary. And really not accurate, to be perfectly honest.
5. Don’t cuss at the recruits. Yeah, this may sound funny, like “what, I can’t cuss at the recruits?” But seriously—kids these days don’t want to play for some purple-faced asshole. I know, I know—you all want to just ‘be yourself’ with the kids. Well, ‘being yourself’ got you the number thirty-fuck-what recruiting class on Scout, Bo. ‘Being yourself’ got you a class about as good as Middle-fucking-Tennessee, Mark. You don’t see the great recruiters out there screaming at kids. Lane Kiffin doesn’t do it. Kevin Sumlin doesn’t do it. Fred Jackson doesn’t do it. So get it in check, people.
4. I know most of you guys take junior college transfers, prep school guys. Some of you don’t. I can see if your institution doesn’t really accommodate that, but otherwise you’re killing yourself turning them away. And look—juvenile halls? Some of my best players at Florida came out of ‘the system.’ You want to recruit like the SEC? You can’t afraid to get down and dirty like the SEC.
3. Hand-timed 40s are sometime inaccurate.
2. Now, recruiting is hard work. It’s a difficult business. It can take a lot out of you. And some of you may have some health issues that you think might stand in the way of really getting on the recruiting trail. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can’t let that be an excuse. Look, Mark—I know you’ve got that heart thing. Jerry. Hey—I know exactly what it’s like. I’ve had my own “health issues” too—that Nick Saban, he’s a real pain in the ass. But you’ve just got to keep on. Perseverance. You can’t just take a year off in this business. You can’t just go do color commentary for ESPN and expect your dream job to fall into your lap. It’s rough. It’s a grind. But you just have to keep at it. ABR, gentlemen. Always be recruiting.
1. No matter what, make sure you don’t come across as a patronizing jerk. Recruits can see right through that. Parents too. Just never a good idea.
Remaining Games Chart:Difficulty calculated by averaging rankings and weighting for home/road/neutral game sites.
- MSU and Ohio are teams of indistinguishable difficulty albeit different playstyles. B1G is just brutal this year.
- Worst major conference record of a team that still made the NCAA tournament was 7-9. Illinois (3-7) has a good shot at breaking that record.
- Still have no clue what to make of upcoming series against MSU, hope for a split I think.
- Pitt and Arkansas both had big wins that don't so much help Michigan's SoS as it does help Michigan by keeping the 1-seed line a little bit more accessible.
- Michigan has 4 "tough" and 4 "winnable" games remaining.
- Upcoming Penn State games will be a welcome breather, should be able to get the team well rested for a strong homestand finish against MSU and Indiana.
- Michigan has the "best" losses among all of the top-10 teams in the country.
Path to B1G Conference Title:
- Beat Wisconsin.
- It's tough to envision a scenario given road game difficulty that doesn't land Indiana, MSU and Ohio all at 4 losses a piece.
- A big key will be getting Morgan healthy and back into game speed over the Penn State stretch.
- My earlier prediction was any team finishing 15-3 wins outright, 14-4 gives a shot at a split. This still looks to be precisely the case past the halfway mark in conference play.
- All of the top five teams in the conference are in the conference title race, it's any of those teams' to win.
- Beat Wisconsin. It will effectively knock them out of contention.
Special Feature - Path To The Most Wins In Michigan BB History:
In 1989 Michigan won 30 games en route to a National Title. In 1993 Michigan won 31 games (but later vacated the season).
Michigan sits at 21 victories with 8 regular season games remaining, a conference tournament that didn't exist twenty years ago, and a shot at a favorable seed for a deep NCAA run.
I'll let someone else run the win probabilities but eyeballing from the chart above Michigan can safely assume a worst case of 4-4 to end the year. They would then need to reach the BTT finals and the Elite 8 to tie for their best (non-vacated) win total in history. This is remarkably within reach.
If we assume a bit more optimism that Michigan will go .500 in their "tough" games and they finish out the season 6-2 they'll reach 27-4 and a shot at Michigan Basketball History will be well within reach.
The thing to take away from this Michigan team, about to face two more Big Ten contenders on the road, is that Michigan's only losses have come from the absolute best games from Top-10 rival teams on the road. And they kept it close both games despite absorbing (or allowing depending on your opinion) ridiculous runs to start each game.
Does Wisconsin (yielded 1.2ppp against Creighton and Florida) have an elite defender like Craft or Oladipo that can force Burke into an inefficient day? I personally don't think so.
I think Michigan wins for the first time in fourteen years up in Madison and carries the #1 ranking up into East Lansing playing with house money for the B1G Conference Title and a shot at their best season ever.
Greetings, faithful. Believe it or not it's the spring sports season already, and Michigan lacrosse will begin its second season as a varsity program this Saturday, the 9th, when they take on Penn State at Oosterbaan. That makes this a pretty good time to bring everyone up to speed on the opposition they'll face this season.
A guide to what you'll see:
|Preseason rank||Inside Lacrosse media poll and USILA coaches poll, respectively|
|2012 computer||LaxPower's computer ranking (out of 61 teams)|
|Last season||What we did to them or they did to us|
|2012 O-rating||see below|
|2012 D-rating||see below|
The O-rating and D-rating are something I've created to quantify a team's tempo-free performance. It's pretty good, if I do say so myself. It's SOS-adjusted and the numbers essentially represent how many goals a team would score or give up in a 100-possession game based on how they performed over the year. Last year's average comes out to an even 15 (ok, 14.99) and most teams are in the 10-20 range.
Getting on with it:
Penn State - Sat., February 9th - Home
|Last season||L, 16-9|
|2012 O-rating||14.61 (34th)|
|2012 D-rating||13.12 (15th)|
This is the first game of the three-way Creator's Trophy series between Michigan, PSU, and the Buckeyes. Penn State of late typically has been a team sitting just on the outside of the 16-team NCAA tournament - I do weekly lacrosse bracketology on my blog and Penn State was my first team out in last year's final projection. Always on the cusp, never quite there. The pollsters appear to have them there again this year. CAA coaches voted them second by a narrow margin in the CAA preseason poll, and if they can get past UMass they might win it. The CAA is a solid mid-level conference.
PSU is generally a better defensive team than offensive one. Their top returning scorer will be attackman Jack Forster, with 27 goals and 12 assists last year. Their foundation is their defense, though. Austin Kaut is the CAA's top goalie and one of the better ones in the nation, and Kessler Brown made the CAA preseason team as an LSM. Expect a difficult season opener. Also, Yak Fact: PSU has a guy named Tom LaCrosse.
Bellarmine - Sat., February 16th - Away
|2012 O-rating||13.20 (42nd)|
|2012 D-rating||15.18 (33rd)|
A piece of history here, really, since this is Michigan's first official conference game. Last year they played as a sort of provisional ECAC member and the conference tried to accommodate them by playing as many games as could be scheduled, but none of them counted in the conference standings. Now it matters. Michigan's team is a little bit of a wild card, and I don't think any of us will be able to make much of a guess about their quality til they actually hit the field. But this is a decent chance to pick up a win and start the season off right. Bellarmine has been slowly moving toward respectability lately, and is no longer a day off for the powerhouse schools, but they've so far managed only to lose close. Still looking for that signature win. They're a little bit offensively challenged, with attackman Michael Ward the only player that would strike fear in most opponents. Can Michigan open some eyes and sit atop the ECAC standings two games into the season? Possible.
Johns Hopkins - Sat., February 23rd - Away
|2012 O-rating||16.50 (18th)|
|2012 D-rating||10.66 (2nd)|
Even people who aren't big into this stuff know Johns Hopkins for two things: a medical school and a lacrosse team. Coach John Paul and JHU's coach, Dave Pietramala, are best buds, hence the scheduling of this game, which may turn into an annual series. This will be Michigan's brush this year with royalty, and it probably won't be pretty. Pierce Bassett is a top goaltender and Hopkins brings back the nation's top defenseman from last year, Tucker Durkin. Plus Hopkins returns six of their top seven scorers, led by Zach Palmer and Brandon Benn. They're a legitimate national title contender. The slaughter will be televised online by ESPN.
Army - Sat., March 2nd - Neutral
|2012 O-rating||15.66 (26th)|
|2012 D-rating||13.19 (18th)|
No doubt thanks to the influence of well-known Michigan grad Stephen Ross, Michigan will play a neutral-site game against the Black Knights of West Point at Ross's house. Well, his stadium, anyway; this game takes place in Miami at the home of Ross's Miami Dolphins. Army tends to make occasional appearances in the NCAA tournament but lately has been on the outside looking in - still, they're a good team. Garrett Thul is an all-American attackman and scored 39 goals last year. Army has problems in net and has been getting sub-par goalie play, but Brendan Buckley is an excellent close-in defenseman who caused 30 turnovers last year. The Black Knights will be a very stiff test.
High Point - Wed., March 6th - Away
2013 is High Point's first lacrosse season, so there's not a lot to go by. Michigan should probably expect to win; these southern mid-majors offer a very promising avenue of expansion for the sport at the D-I level, but none are very good. High Point has actually already played this season, a 12-10 loss to Delaware as the national season opener, but I think that speaks more to Delaware's fall from grace than any threat from High Point to make national waves. Michigan ought to win, or else maybe take some lessons from the Panthers on how to build a program.
Hobart - Sat., March 9th - Away
|2012 O-rating||15.69 (24th)|
|2012 D-rating||16.00 (38th)|
Hobart is a venerable, traditional old program that dominated D-III lacrosse in their day. They're less successful in D-I, obviously, but they'll expect to beat Michigan. Their 4-9 record is a little deceiving because they like to fight above their weight class, and always play Cornell and Syracuse, as well as a bunch of the better mid-majors like Robert Morris and Colgate. Plus the ECAC is starting to turn out some quality lacrosse programs.
I think Michigan has a smallish chance to surprise and pull off a win here, certainly more so than in games like Army, but it'll be tough. Hobart has a great combination of attackmen in Cam Stone and Alex Love; Stone had 29 assists in 2012. At 2.23 per game he was tied for 4th in the nation last year, and Love was 5th in goals per game. This is Michigan's second conference game, but conference play doesn't get any easier from here on out.
Fairfield - Thu., March 14th - Away
|2012 O-rating||16.15 (22nd)|
|2012 D-rating||14.02 (23rd)|
Time to start getting into the conference schedule for serious. Fairfield made a serious run at the NCAA tournament last year and almost made it, but they weren't quite strong enough to earn an at-large bid and they couldn't get past Loyola in the ECAC championship game. I think they take a step back this year, but they're still a formidable opponent for Michigan with 35-goal scorer Sam Snow playing offensive midfield and a terrific face-off guy in Michael Roe.
Colgate - Sun., March 17th - Neutral
|2012 O-rating||19.21 (3rd)|
|2012 D-rating||13.04 (12th)|
It's another installment in the "Filthy Rich Alums Want To See The Shiny New Team Without Going Anywhere" series. Michigan appears at the home stadium of Fred Wilpon's New York Mets this time, giving the sizable NYC diaspora a chance to see the team in action as well. Don't expect a fun result. By now the team will be good and tired of the road, and Colgate is one of the best offensive teams in the nation. They still have Tewaaraton Trophy (lacrosse's Heisman) winner Peter Baum, who stats are off the gobdanged charts: 67 goals, 30 assists in 2012. That wasn't a close Tewaaraton vote. Ryan Walsh scored 38 goals and 22 assists himself, which would lead most teams, and Brendon McCann and Matt Baker return as well, both dangerous scores. Colgate won't lose much firepower from 2012, and between that and the road-weariness, this could be the biggest or second-biggest slaughter of the year. It's also the other TV game, featured on ESPNU.
Loyola - Sat., March 23rd - Home
|Last season||L, 15-8|
|2012 O-rating||18.00 (10th)|
|2012 D-rating||11.54 (4th)|
Finally back at home, and outdoors; this one, as with the rest of the season's home games, will be at the Big House. It's no reprieve though: the Greyhounds are the defending national champions. That game last year wasn't really as close as the score indicates as Loyola let up off the gas in the second half.
The pollsters apparently expect Loyola not to lose much, because both votes made them the overwhelming #1. They had two 50-goal scorers last year, one of which (Mike Sawyer) is back this season, and they've got quite a lineup of good-looking players ready to step into the gap. Another laugher could be in the cards here.
Air Force - Sat., March 30th - Home
|Last season||L, 15-6|
|2012 O-rating||14.51 (37th)|
|2012 D-rating||13.69 (20th)|
Air Force had a rough conference season last year, but then, it was a tough conference, and the Falcons were a young team. I seem to remember going into this game thinking that we had a chance to steal one and coming out wondering what in the hell just happened. On the plus side, we don't have to play in the altitude this year; that trip to Colorado was pretty disastrous. On the minus side, Air Force should be better this year than they were last year. The record might not show it as the ECAC is pretty competitive, but this'll be a tougher game than the above numbers might indicate.
Delaware - Sat., April 6th - Away
|Last season||L, 11-7|
|2012 O-rating||14.90 (31st)|
|2012 D-rating||15.04 (31st)|
Historically Delaware is pretty good, but this season, I wonder. Winning by two points against High Point is a danger sign, and this is a very young Hens team. They were picked 5th of 7 in a conference where the #7 team is always the same, so, basically bottom of the barrel. None of their returning players had more than 20 goals last season, and letting in 10 goals to High Point could portend defensive troubles as well. Last year they were the very definition of the average team as quantified by O- and D- ratings, but Michigan played them tight. This may be the best chance we have to win a game against a "traditional" old lacrosse team.
Ohio State - Sat., April 13th - Home
|Last season||L, 12-9|
|2012 O-rating||14.11 (38th)|
|2012 D-rating||11.59 (5th)|
Boo this man. Ohio : lacrosse :: Wisconsin : basketball - a slow-it-down team that practically begs for a stall warning every time they get the ball. It'll be interesting this year to see what the 30-second shot clock following a stall warning does for (or to) their offense.
Like last year, this is the companion to the football spring game, which last year made for a decent Big House atmosphere. Michigan played a very competitive game against a team that had tournament aspirations at the time. They can score some; Logan Schuss is one of the better attackmen in the country. Pace aside, they're also a very, very tough defensive team. It'll take a pretty good effort to beat these guys, but even a repeat of last year would be fun.
Detroit - Wed., April 17th - Home
|Last season||L, 13-9|
|2012 O-rating||11.83 (54th)|
|2012 D-rating||16.14 (40th)|
This was the season opener last year, but Michigan's two D-I lax teams will wait til near the end of the season before renewing the instate rivalry. The Titans are definitely a low-major team, and the MAAC is the country's worst conference, but they have some players who can be dangerous. LSM Jordan Houtby has gotten some national recognition, and Shayne Adams was a 33-goal scorer. But UDM is not deep and if their primary scoring options are shut down, they don't have much else, and they're crap on faceoffs, one of the worst teams in the country in that area. One of Michigan's better chances at a win this year.
St. Joseph's - Sat., April 20th - Home
|2012 O-rating||10.23 (59th)|
|2012 D-rating||15.94 (37th)|
Outside of High Point, which is a wild card but likely to be awful, St. Joe's is the worst team on the schedule. Only Wagner and Mercer - which combined to go 2-26 last year - had worse O-ratings. Ryan McGee must feel awfully lonely on offense - he put up 38 goals last year, and only three other players were in double digits....and none more than 13....and most of them graduated. Defensively, the Hawks aren't awful, but they have a new netminder this year and likely will be worse. Their six wins in 2012 are impressive for as bad as this team is, but that was mostly against really awful competition and probably won't be repeated. This and High Point are the two games that Michigan should actually expect to win.
Denver - Sat., April 27th - Away
|Last season||L, 17-5|
|2012 O-rating||20.35 (2nd)|
|2012 D-rating||13.36 (18th)|
Happy time is over as Michigan heads back to Colorado for the season finale, probably to get killed like last year. Bill Tierney is showing everyone how to build a program without relying on the usual hotbeds for talent; most of Denver's team is from the west and Canada. Their top two scorers are gone, but Jeremy Noble, Wes Berg, and Eric Law all scored 20+ goals and scored on close to 50% of their shots, an excellent percentage. Plus Chase Carraro is a 60% faceoff man. They'll reload pretty well and be one of the top contenders in the ECAC again.
For quick reference, here's a table of the O- and D-ratings of all of Michigan's opponents, and Michigan at the bottom:
This is an, um, ambitious schedule. Michigan's opponents can be categorized like so:
Gonna get killed: Hopkins, Colgate, Loyola, Denver
Losses, most likely: Penn State, Army, Fairfield, Air Force, Ohio State
Outside shot: Hobart, Delaware
Decent shot: Bellarmine, Detroit
Favored: High Point, St. Joseph's
This of course presumes improvement over last year, which should be expected. Set the baseline expectation at three wins; I think we should definitely be disappointed with only one, and two would also be a little disappointing in that it wouldn't represent much if any improvement over last year. Remember that the lone win was over Mercer, another fledgling program, and the other mostly winnable game was an OT loss to Jacksonville, probably a better team than St. Joe's. Three wins is doable and it would almost definitely mean turning around a loss from last year.