Western Michigan (10-32)
|Tuesday 3:05pm ET, Kalamazoo, MI|
|Matt Miller (1-2, 5.98 ERA)||vs||Eric Heckaman (0-7, 8.65ERA)|
|Notes: 73-64 All Time (WMU used to be really good back in the 50s), |
Last year's home-and-home was a 2-0 Michigan sweep by score
20-1 and 6-0.
Michigan travels to coach Rich Maloney's old stomping ground today to face off with the Western Michigan Broncos. The Broncos are one of the worst teams in D1 baseball, #267 in Boyd's Pseudo-RPI. Despite that, they do have a mid-week win over Michigan State and a series win over a decent Miami (NTM) team.
Eric Heckaman gets the start for the Broncos for the 10th time this season, which leads the team. In his 51 innings pitched, the righty has given up 75 hits for an opponent batting average of .335. He has just 31 strikeouts but also has 20 walks. He hasn't given up a ton of extra base hits (13 doubles and 5 homers), and he also seems a bit wild with 7 HBP and 4 wild pitches.
At the plate, WMU is lead by Chris Lewis. Lewis leads the team in batting average (.370), on base percentage (.440), slugging percentage (.543), and RBI (34). Ryan McMillan is the only other major threat in the lineup batting .341 and slugging .541. His 24 RBI is second only to Lewis.
After that, there is a lot of meh. Michigan should be able to handle these guys easily, getting an easy win and probably dropping 3 spots in the RPI while their at it. WMU is just that bad.
Weather looks to be perfect with winds blowing straight out to right center at 15 to 20 mph.
Polls and Bubble Watch after the jump:
Just a little bit of change since last week, but ESPN did tweak their ratings a bit. Action since last rankings:
Now that Iowa has jumped into the fray, Penn State and Purdue are the only Big Ten (plus Notre Dame) programs that don't have any commitments.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 10 Commits|
ESPN now deems DE Chase Farris worthy of being on the ESPN150 watch list.
|#2 Notre Dame - 9 Commits|
Nothing new for the Irish.
|#3 Michigan - 4 Commits|
Brennen Beyer goes back on the ESPN150 watchlist.
|#4 Michigan State - 5 Commits|
|#5 Indiana - 8 Commits|
Teams are going to start passing the Hoosiers once they get more commits.
|#6 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
ESPN finally acknowledges that Calvin Phillips isn't committed to the Gophers (which he hasn't been for at least a couple months now).
|#7 Wisconsin - 2 Commits|
No change for Wisconsin.
|#8 Northwestern - 2 Commits|
Both of NU's commits are unranked to the services.
|#8 Illinois - 2 Commits|
Still just two for the Illini.
|#10 Iowa - 3 Commits|
Iowa picks up a decent offensive lineman. They're right on the heels of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Michigan beat Ohio State on Friday and Sunday to secure one of the more exciting series wins in Ann Arbor in quite some times. This series saw surprises abound: a first round draft pick get scratched from the starting lineup with an injury, nearly every pitcher in this series pitched to or beyond their potential, great defense, and most importantly, the good guys coming out on top.
For full recap, follow the jump:
Apologies for the lack of updates over the weekend, the general festivities of graduation got in the way (which also resulted in my not making it to yesterday's game... grumble grumble). An update on the first couple rounds of the CCLA conference tournament, and a brief preview of the final this afternoon (2PM at Saline High School ).
Round 1 Recap
After Eastern Michigan was disqualified from the conference tournament, Central Michigan stepped in to fill their spot against Miami (Not That Miami) on Friday. The Chippewas were outmatched, however, falling to the South Division's #2 seed 18-6. I wonder how Eastern would have fared against the RedHawks, considering they lost to Miami on the road in the middle of the season. Regardless, Miami advanced to face Michigan in the semifinals.
On the other side of the bracket, Michigan State showed that they're still interested in making the national tournament by pasting Pittsburgh 15-6. It was the Spartans' first win since April 10, and helped them inch closer to making the MCLA finals.
Miami (Not That Miami)
In their first taste of the conference tournament, Michigan got off to a fast start. They led 7-0 after the first quarter, but the offense became stagnant through the second and third, with the teams matching output at five goals each. Michigan came alive in the final frame, however, scoring 11 goals and holding Miami scoreless to reach the 23-5 final margin.
The Wolverines dominated statistically, nearly doubling up Miami in shots and groundballs, winning more than 75% of faceoffs, and riding the RedHawks to an abysmal 42% on clears. Freshman Thomas Paras scored four goals and four assists, while Trevor Yealy, a leading contender for MCLA Player of the Year honors (and recently-named team MVP) put four in the back of the net himself. Junior defenseman Harry Freid notched the first goal of his Michigan career in the fourth quarter.
David Reinhard (18/25) and Edward Ernst (6/6) dominated on faceoffs, and both Mark Stone (who got the start and allowed one goal) and Andrew Fowler (who played the second half and allowed four goals) played in the cage for Michigan.
The Spartans took down the South's #1 seed, Buffalo, 12-9 yesterday. That victory sets up a rematch of last week's Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic in the CCLA Tournament final, as Michigan looks to capture their fourth consecutive conference crown, and Michigan State looks to upset big brother.
The Spartans may also be looking to seal their place in the MCLA Tournament, as their slide at the end of the regular season put their at-large bid in question. I had them pegged as one of the last two teams in the field coming into the weekend. A win over Michigan would lock up an automatic qualifier (while not keeping MIchigan out of the tournament), but I think the two games on Friday and Saturday may be enough to seal their spot in the tournament. I haven't had a chance to give the tournaments of the other conferences a close look yet, but I think Michigan State is probably in, win or lose. I'll try to have a brief Bracketology segment in tomorrow's weekend recap post.
Since these teams just played last week, I won't preview the Spartans once again, but check out my preview of Michigan State (including an interview with their coach, Duane Hicks), and the recap of last Saturday's game.
It's everybody's favorite non-pollutionary, anti-institutionary, pro-confectionary conference conundrum...
I've got a real good question for you:
If money is the driving force behind Big Ten expansion, and academics are the official sticking point, and the Big Ten Network makes this conference so attractive that almost any team would be in for joining, who is really a potential expansion candidate now?
This Has All Been Chewed Before
Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while
It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile
But it's repulsive, revolting, and wrong
Chewing and chewing all day long
I realize I'm not exactly the first person to start talking about Big Ten Expansion. But this isn't just any old stick of gum: this gum has an entire meal in it. You probably won't learn anything new here, but you'll get some information to back up what we already know.
This diary is a look at current FBS (formerly Division I-A) teams that might be considered for Big Ten Expansion, and others that might fit the academic profile, even if there's no way they would join the Big Ten.
When expansion to 12 or 14 teams was the modus operandi, this blog reviewed the leading candidates. However, with even 24 teams having been mentioned by NCAA people (by which I mean "Just Tom Osborne"), the field has grown.
The question: are there that many schools out there that fit the conference's academic profile, or at least close enough the Big Ten can continue to claim itself the most academic FBS conference?
In reality, there is a clear cutoff: does the school match the criteria to join the American Association of Universities?* and the Big Ten's own little version of that, the CIC. There are currently 63 members, but I would imagine a Big Ten addition not already part of the AAU would be able to join, if it matches the academic criteria. Therefore, the lower bound of AAU membership is the functional lower bound of Big Ten expansion consideration.
To find out who has a golden ticket, follow me, overjoyed, enraptured, entranced. Are we ready? Yes, good. In we go.
* If not, MaizeAndBlueWahoo is going to neg me.
Since we're getting close to a consensus on what the board generally wants to see in a 12-team Big Ten schedule, I went ahead and made one up:
- North/South Division (a brilliant idea from Seth 9)
- 9 Conference Games
- Each team plays in-division opponents once per year
- Each team has one cross-divisional rival they play once per year
- Every team plays three more games against a rotation of the five remaining cross-divisional opponents
- The cross-divisional opponents rotate by 2 teams every 2 years (never more than 2 seasons without playing an opponent, and it evens out over a 10-year cycle)
- Michigan/Ohio St
- Mich St/Indiana
- Minnesota/Penn St
That leaves some combination of Iowa and Wisconsin with Purdue and Pitt. I figure if Pitt's joining the conference, let them pick which one they want.
One thing I like about this division is the competitive balance, e.g., Northwestern and Indiana are split up. The North is a bit deeper but the South has two monsters.
It has symmetry of rivalries. It has relatively balanced schedules.
And we all play each other often enough to still think of ourselves as a close-knit group. The key is the 9th conference game. In case you're wondering, here's a table of the teams left off Michigan's schedule from 2011 through 2020:
I'm sick of sterile divisional names. I guess it comes from being an old NHL fan, but I'm a big believer in cool names for conferences.
Lakes Division: Michigan, MSU, Iowa, Wis, Minn, NW
River Division: Ohio St, Penn St, Indiana, Purdue, Pitt, Illinois
Get it? Great Lakes/Ohio River. But it's purposely left ambiguous since, like, Iowa doesn't really touch a Great Lake (but it has lots of lakes -- we'll just tell Iowa it's 'cause we all have lots of lakes, deal?)
Ambiguous or not, it's at least feint toward our footprint's geography other than cardinal directions (lame!), and pretty easy to remember.
These are not my dream names. My dream names would be Schembechler and Hayes Divisions. Or Algonquin and Iroquois. Or if you really wanna be clever, then howabout:
Vowel Shift Six and the Barn-Burning Division
Because most of Lower Michigan, Chicagoland, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin have all picked up the Northern Cities Vowel Shift:
(Put two fingers in the corners of your mouth and say a short-a, as in "accent." Did your corners move away from each other horizontally? If so, you have the accent. If your lips moved vertically, you don't).
And it just so happens that the footprint for this dialect includes Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern, but no other Big Ten Schools (it's in St. Louis and vicinity too, but not Champaign). The isogloss (i.e. border) for our short-a is roughly the same line that separates our divisions. Surely something can be done with this?
As for "Barn Burner" (meaning a great game) -- it's an old Hoosier term that has made its way through the Ohio River valley. Again, it's something that, among Big Ten teams, the southern half could call its own.
As for the conference itself, the problem with changing the name isn't just branding: it has to do with the conference's non-profit status. Yes, it's possible to put the forms back in, but from my limited understand, having gone through the process on a much smaller scale, you end up triggering a bunch of post-1990 grandfather clauses that I'm guessing the Big Ten currently enjoys.
Also, if we go to 12, there's already a 12-team conference.
Of course, it's branding too, especially for the Big Ten Network. But let's say we finally decide that the most academically prestigious BCS conference shouldn't itself be a misnomer, what should we call this collection? Ideas:
- The Big Athletic Conference
- The Big Midwest (The "Midwest Conference" is already taken
- The Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives (its official name until 1987)
- The Odawa Conference
- The Big Ten and Then Some
- The Lakers' Dozen
- The Bigger 12
- The Big1T2EN