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That glorious time of year for football fans when the torch is passed
to a new set of leaders, the hunger for gossip is well fed, and
optimism is recharged, renewed, and rewarded.
This spring we have ample reason to be excited, most obviously because
we're once again coming off a successful season with a BCS win under our belt.
But, those victories are now the past, and it would be wise not to dwell on them
much longer with the national champions looming just beyond our horizon.
Still, with the sounds of pads hitting sleds echoing through the
Al Glick Fieldhouse, there's plenty of reason to be enthused. Go Blue.
OnThursday we'll look to the ice, where East Pneumonia's favorite Michigan family will gear up for Hunwick and company as they attempt to return to the Frozen Four.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Tuesday here at MGoBlog, and at least
every Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out our newest
feature, Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on trending
Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
Truth defeating falsehood was the theme of the day as Michigan shut out the Spartans. The doubles point was fiercely contested as both schools managed to win a game. King and Bernstein prevailed on 1 court for Michigan, winning 8-3. Freshman team Petrone and Zhu struggled early on and lost their doubles match on 3 court, 6-8. Among other problems both Wolverines struggled to land their first serves and had trouble finding traction in long volleys. The third doubles match was won by Michigan in the tiebreaker. Buzzi and Franks both made fine plays for Michigan at the net and behind the baseline. MSU's players struggled at times to hit the ball over the net and to get second serves in the box, a trend that continued in singles play.
No. 10 ranked Evan King made short work of MSU's tank at Court 1, prevailing 6-0, 6-2. Up 4-0 in the second, King had two break points against his opponent but yielded the point, settling for a non-6-0-6-0 score. Buzzi won the next match at 6 court, defeating his opponent 7-5, 6-3. Buzzi is looking very solid these days and has improved to 3-3 on 6 court this season. Zhu and Franks also won their matches in straight sets. The grittiness prize goes to Petrone from the match. Down 3-0 in the third set, the fabulous freshman rallied to win the final set 6-3. Bernstein has also made strides in his game recently. His serves, particularly in doubles, were much more testing than they have been in the past, and he got them in the first time more frequently as well.
The heavy rains the night before the match delayed the start of play for almost an hour as staffers with towels and leaf blowers were deployed to help dry out the courts. The match was Michigan's first home outdoor match of the season, the road series against Hawaii also having been heavily delayed by rainfall. Fortunately the Michigan women's team was scrimmaging on adjacent outdoor courts, preparing for their Sunday match against UNC. Michigan lost 4-3 in that matchup.
With Saturday's win Michigan men's tennis has now won its last nine matches against MSU, and boasts a 1-0 Big Ten record. At 8-4 Michigan needs five more wins to match its record from last year. Wins against Wake Forest and Hawaii to round out the nonconference season help take off some of the pressure, although Ohio is as formidable as ever.
Michigan gets two more commits over the past week, so the Big Ten recruiting rankings are front-paged. Also making a big move is Penn State, which grabbed a pair of commits of their own. Changes since last rankings:
3-9-12: Penn State picks up Adam Breneman.
3-10-12: Michigan picks up Gareon Conley.
3-13-12: Michigan State picks up Caleb Benenoch.
3-14-12: Notre Dame picks up James Onwualu.
3-15-12: Illinois picks up Jesse Chadwell.
3-17-12: Michigan picks up DeVeon Smith. Penn State picks up Brendan Mahon.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the three recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as one-star players. This may be a bit unfair this early in the process, considering there are many unevaluated recruits out there at this stage, but that's life.
On to the full data, after the jump.
CCHA Tournament Picture Pages
The Clare shorthanded goal is excluded because of the of highlights length, but it was very cool to see him deke like Gordan Bombay.
Here we start with Merrill and Clare high, Brown is having his way in front. With only 12 seconds left Merrill just throws the puck to the net.
As you can see Brown has set a perfect screen. Hammond is still up because he can't see it, but the the shot is already on the way and it's low.
He tries to go for the tip, but it doesn't matter that he missed because the shot is already in the back of the net.
After a nice stick to keep the puck in, the Wolvereines gain control along the back boards. As illustrated each Bowling Green defender has his eyes locked onto the puck, not aware of any cutting forwards.
A beautiful pass from Moffatt across the crease finds a streaking David Wohlberg.
And the Wolvereines have the second goal of the night.
Another hustle play keeps the zone, with Treais gathering along the side boards.
Even with three defenders around him and a near trip, Treais still gets to the net.
This was one of the only mistakes Hammond made all night and it was the biggest. He was challenging way too high out in the first place, but A.J. gets him to drop and he has no chance to recover.
The stomach slide keeps him from dunking it, but with three Michigan forwards crashing there isn't much of a chance for BG to save it.
Moffatt continues his great weekend with the game winner.
This was a great goal for our powerplay unit and it really stood out to me after I watched it. This is the exact same play Michigan State ran against us earlier in the year, that I wished Red would draw up for us. Here it is.
Michigan has Merrill on point, Treais handing with Moffie opposite and Moffatt low. I can't see the screener and I'm to lazy to check the box score to see who it is.
Once Treais gives to Moffatt, he and Moffie and both going to come low. It makes Western have to choose quickly who to cover and who to leave open.
They make the right choice by covering the center, Treais and challenging Moffatt. It leaves us with the difficult play of trying to find Moffie across the crease, or pulling out and resetting.
Moffat picks the difficult route and slides the puck right through the crease, the only penalty killer who can attempt to break it up is a lefty.
Moffie slaps it in with a nice one timer and brings Michigan within one goal.
Altough they did score differently here is that MSU PP goal
Saturday’s championship (and 3rd place) games caused a couple of changes to the final Pairwise rankings. Michigan had already locked up the #2 overall seed, but there were still a few spots up for grabs entering play on Saturday, and in a couple instances, teams could have ended up as high as #3 overall, and as low as #10 or #11. Here are Saturday’s results:
CCHA championship: Western Michigan beat Michigan
CCHA 3rd place: Miami beat BG
Atlantic Hockey championship: Air Force beat RIT
ECAC championship: Union beat Harvard
ECAC 3rd place: Cornell beat Colgate
Hockey East championship: BC beat Maine
WCHA championship: North Dakota beat Denver
As a result of these…er...results, here are the final Pairwise rankings:
- Boston College
- North Dakota
- Ferris State
- Boston University
- Western Michigan
- Michigan State
- Air Force
The bracketing starts by placing the top four teams in the closest regional, then doing the #2, #3, and #4 seeds so that there are no intraconference matchups in the first round, and to try and have “bracket integrity,” meaning the first round has 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, etc. and the second round would have 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc. The two things that can draw things away from bracket integrity are 1) host schools, which in this case means Minnesota, which must be placed in St. Paul, and 2) attendance considerations, so that a couple of 2 or 3 seeds might be switched to ensure better attendance at regionals, and to prevent things like an Eastern regional from having mostly Western teams. With that in mind, here is the bracket I have come up with:
1. Boston College
16. Air Force
9. Boston University 10. Maine
St. Paul, MN
4. North Dakota
14. Western Michigan
10. Maine 9. Boston University
Green Bay, WI
6. Ferris State
15. Michigan State
EDIT: switched BU and Maine to keep the 8-9 and 7-10 matchups in the first round.
This is pretty much the bracket I posted yesterday, but with Western and State switched as a result of Western winning the CCHA. It is also possible that Michigan (along with Cornell) could get put in St. Paul for better bracket integrity. That would basically switch the Michigan-Cornell game with the North Dakota-Western game. I really don’t think this will happen though, since you’d be giving the #2 seed a more distant regional, a more difficult than expected first round game, and a host school in the second round. That’s a trifecta of screwing that I don’t think even the NCAA selection committee is capable of. Plus, the attendance setup is probably better with Michigan in Green Bay and North Dakota in St. Paul.
The Cornell matchup is pretty much a given in the first round. I mentioned this in comments to another post this morning, but that is a pretty tough matchup. Cornell has six shutouts on the year (including their game Saturday), and simply don’t give up a lot of goals (only gave up more than three goals six times all year). They have also had 10 of their last 20 games go to overtime, so be prepared for a close, white-knuckle finish.
So there is my bracket prediction. We’ll find out how right I am tomorrow at noon on ESPNU when the brackets are announced. Go Blue!
|#3 Michigan (23-11-4) vs Bowling Green (14-23-5) at Joe Louis Arena|
|Friday, March 16 8:05pm (Fox Sports Detroit Plus)|
Another CCHA head scratcher, heres to hoping the B1G Hockey Conference can get games on TV the fans can actually watch.
As you can see this forward group is not the most dynamic unit in the league, up until the tournament they were one of the nations worst. Obviously regular season numbers meaning nothing anymore, as the Falcons have gotten hot enough offensively to take down Michigan, NMU and Ferris State.
Although Bowling Green has been winning games lately, they have been doing it in true underdog fashion. They do enough to hang around the entire game, before taking advantage of a breakdown or turnover late to win the game.
The key here is to play solid, mistake free hockey. With a team that is playing like this a conservative game may not be the best idea, look for an aggressive forecheck and pinching blueliners to try and get them down early. Hopefully they have run out of gas.
Not a good group at all, they do not do much on either side of the puck. It's never a good sign when your top defensmen is a -13.
Except for one game against NMU opposing teams have had no problem scoring on the Falcons in this strech, if our top two lines do what they usually do we should be fine.
I am a big fan of Andrew Hammond. He has respectable numbers on a really bad team, which makes you wonder what kind of stats he would put up on a good team.
When he gets hot he is the kind of goalie you can ride and BG has been doing that. The scoring chances will be there, Michigan just needs to take advantage of them.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||11-14-25||110||+23||18||21|
It would seem that our offense is starting to get even better. Wohlberg and Treais are heating up at the right time, which makes our top two lines scoring machines. The bottom two lines not so much, which has not been a problem to this point.
The scoring chances will be there, we just need to finish plays.
The defense is playing good enough to stop Bowling Green, there is no issue there. Merrill getting picked in OT is exactaly the kind of plays we need to avoid in this game to advance, the less we turn it over the better chance we win.
The numbers are starting to get legendary. Hunwick is putting up numbers similar to Ryan Miller in '02, the same year he was All-American and CCHA player of the year. For comparison here are those numbers.
*Shakes fist at CCHA
|Ryan Miller (01-02)||2412:00||71||1.71||.936||26-9-5|
I think Red will have the guys ready for tonight, somehow both NMU and Ferris fell asleep in their series this past week but Bowling Green isn't flying under the radar anymore. Depending on how much gas is left in the tank for these guys will depend on if Michigan wins a close game or a laugher, I'm not saying we are going to roll them but I like our chances to win.