...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
I am writing to bring the Good News to the Michigan faithful.....
March 12, 2010 was the start of the new modern era of our storied history.
We have finally been spawned again, by a great OSU man..... In 1968, an OSU coach came to us one day from the out-of-the-blue, revitalized our program and paved the way for three decades of excellence.
Last Friday, we have been spawned again, this time out-of-the-sky, in the form of a last second three point gift from the best player in the nation OSU Evan Turner. Note the relevance and irony of it.... since then...we've crushed MSU in East Lansing TWICE, and our Basketball program has been knocked out of its lethargistic state going forward. Notice even the very little things like getting warmer vibes from Ziegler and Hart.
Shed no tears, for that this was the only way it could happen, with both of our coaches from W.Va, so it had to come from a gift from the sky, and to those of you still wallowing in the heartache of that shot, don't. BE THANKFUL AND REJOICE.
Turner's Gift was both Capitulation and Rebirth.
Some signs will be quite evident going forward, most especially ...we will see Coach Rodriguez have his "Collateral"-film moment, when the football team finally morphs from a patsy to a bad-ass like Jamie Foxx did in the bar with a gun to his head, against all odds. We will see the return of the #1 jersey, earned by a very worthy wide receiver. We will also see the basketball program start to attract the top recruits in the nation and a fixture at the top. We will see Coach Beilein land several big players. We may even see a Fab-Five 2.0 of sorts, new and improved. But most of all, we will see the nation's most storied program which is ours, return to true prominence.
There have been a lot of requests for this to become a recurring feature (as it was on Varsity Blue), so I'll post the rankings weekly in the diaries, and frontpage it occasionally. The team rankings are very rough estimates until the services have released more full individual grades. Forgive me for being a day late this week, as I'm having all sorts of internet troubles at home.
Action since last rankings:
3-8-10 Minnesota gains commitment from James Farrow.
3-15-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Chris Carter (Not That Cris Carter)
|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 - 3 Commits|
The Buckeyes start their recruiting class with a couple bigtime defensive ends, and add an offensive lineman this week.
|#2 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Minnesota has a solid beginning - for now.
|#3 Michigan State - 2 Commits|
The state's top prospect picks the Spartans.
|#4 Michigan - 3 Commits|
Michigan's first three prospects are not super-heralded at this point.
|#5 Illinois - 1 Commit|
Illinois gets a big in-stater to start off the class.
|#6 Northwestern - 1 Commit|
Northwestern holds steady with one prospect.
I'll get to the actual game recaps in a moment, but there are a couple other things I wanted to talk about before getting to the "actual events."
First, a mailbag question from Josh:
I was wondering if on the next Michigan lacrosse diary update if you could cover Michigan being a member of the CCLA. I mean they dominate everyone in the conference by almost 10 goals every game and have won 9 of the last 11 CCLA titles. Their last loss, to a CCLA member, came against Michigan State in April of 2006. I just do not see any advantage for Michigan to be a part of a conference that provides little competition to the team.
Is there a rule for the MCLA that states members need to be a part of a conference, or can members be Independent. I would imagine if members could be Independent then Michigan could actually make a schedule that includes many of the CCLA teams but they could also include a tougher caliber of opponent rather than playing Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. Maybe make an East Coast road trip and play more PCLL teams, much like the West Coast trip every year. This trip could include teams such as Boston College, Northeastern, and New Hampshire. Another possibility could be to play a combination of road and home games with teams from the GRLC, such as Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa (through some Big Ten rivals in there). Any insight on this topic would be greatly appreciated.
I'm not sure whether the MCLA has a rule requiring teams to be in a conference. There are no independent teams competing now, and to the best of my knowledge there never has been. I believe the MCLA is more of a parent organization to the conferences, so it doesn't seem feasible. As for your question as it specifically relates to Michigan, the issue is not "can they?" but rather one of "would they want to?" I think the answer in this situation has to be "no."
What would Michigan's motivations be for leaving the conference? Though the CCLA isn't the toughest conference in the league (prior to Michigan's National Championship in 2008, every MCLA Champion had hailed from the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference or the West Coast Lacrosse League), it hasn't prevented Michigan from paying some tough schedules in the past few years. They had the #11 Strength of Schedule in 2008, the 3rd toughest schedule last year, and are on pace for the #2 SOS mark this year, all per LaxPower. In fact, one of the biggest aspect holding them back has been that they can't schedule themselves. Though they play in a conference that has a reputation of being "soft," that hasn't exactly held the Wolverines back come tournament time in the past couple years.
The other huge factor in this equation is the money. Playing fewer CCLA teams would mean that Michigan has to schedule more long road trips each season, and entice more big-name opponents to travel to Ann Arbor. As a club program (supported by player dues), the finances simply don't make sense, especially for the limited benefit they would get out of it. I think the program is much more concerned with making a push to earn Varsity status at Michigan than worrying about a slight bump in schedule difficulty.
As far as scheduling more Big Ten conference teams, that's something I would like to see, but the Wolverines play Michigan State every year, and have managed to play a Big Ten squad from the GRLC in recent years (Illinois for the past two season, Purdue coming up in April). A Big Ten Lacrosse Conference could be cool, but I doubt the Big Ten would sponsor a club league, so it would have to be far, far down the road for an eventual varsity program.
Speaking of a potential varsity program... Michigan Lacrosse is trying to make a push for varsity status (news at 11!), but it seems as though things have progressed more this time around than they had in past years. My personal speculation on this is that Bill Martin, in his drive to keep the Athletic Department financially viable, was one of the key opponents to adding more varsity sports. Michigan men's soccer coach Steve Burns was one of the few coaches who managed to successfully push for varsity status under Martin's watch. Coach Paul and other lacrosse supporters have undoubtedly talked to Burns about his experience.
The closer things get to a potential tipping point, the more fan support can help the effort reach a new level. Showing the Athletic Department that you're interested in seeing a varsity lacrosse team at Michigan can be as simple as commenting on these posts (or crafting your own!). Once lacrosse gains AD support for varsity status, things have the potential to move very quickly, as there are already plans in the works for a state-of-the-art lacrosse facility that would be among the best in the nation - at any level - and is merely waiting for support from donors who are confident in a D-1 team's coming into existence at Michigan. Video tour:
As I've made no secret in the past, I'm a strong supporter of a varsity lacrosse program at Michigan, and I'm confident it's something we'll see in the not-too-distant future.
The money (as always) will be a key factor here, but it will be tough for the Athletic Department to continue denying a consistently-excellent program the opportunity to play at the highest level. Remaining Title IX-compliant could be an issue, but the women's club lacrosse team and the women's synchronized skating and synchronized swimming teams also have club-varsity status, and if the dollars work out properly, a smooth transition is not only possible but likely. I talked a little about scholarship numbers in the comments of my last lacrosse post, so check that out if you're interested.
The Wolverines took on a pair of opponents this weekend, with Friday bringing the home opener against Simon Fraser University, and Saturday the conference opener at Eastern Michigan. Let's start with the home opener, in which the Wolverines wore all-new greay uniforms, with maize and blue accents.
Though the Clansmen(!) were ranked #13 coming into the game, Michigan made easy work of SFU, scoring the first seven goals of the contest on the way to a 22-10 rout. Though they allowed a couple scoring runs here and there, the early lead and the confidence it brought (on top of, like, being the better team) were too much for the opponent to overcome. BONUS video to the right of Michigan's 3rd goal, scored by Kevin Zorovich. Apologies for the lack of zoom, but that's life shooting video on a cell phone.
Trevor Yealy led the team with five goals, while Clark McIntyre and Jordan Kirshner each netted a hat trick. As per always, Michigan's ride was impressive, holding Simon Fraser to 16 successful clears on 33 attempts, and David Reinhard owned the faceoff X, winning 22 of 29 (75.86%) draws, and also notching his first goal of the year.
Mark Stone and Andrew Fowler split time in the cage, with Stone getting the start and the win.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Sunday's game, since the time was moved up by three hours and I was traveling in from out of town. Howeva, based on last year's game against the Eagles, I can definitively say one thing: they aren't a very good team, and the 19-2 final score yesterday speaks to that.
We'll start with the goalies, who often don't get a big enough share of the publicity. Well, in this game, they probably don't need it, as Mark Stone and Andrew Fowler each played a quarter - and neither faced a single shot(!!). Freshman Conor McGee played the second half, allowing two goals and making a save. I assume since he didn't get into this game that McGee's classmate Cy Adbelnour will redshirt the 2010 campaign.
In the scoring department, Clark McIntyre paced the team with five goals, and Trevor Yealy put in four of his own. After David Reinhard and Edward Ernst dominated faceoffs to start the game, freshman Harrison Silver got to try his hand at the X, winning 5 of 9 faceoffs.
One thing I've noticed thus far this year is that the offense has been much less Yealy-centric than last year's effort. That's likely a combination of the blowouts (at east over the last two games) that Michigan has been inflicting on teams, along with opponents gameplanning to not let the prolific junior beat them by himself. Either way, more balanced scoring throughout the team will certainly help make the offense more potent when they need it most.
Michigan has just one game next weekend, as they'll travel to Dallas, Texas to take on 8th-ranked Oregon in the Patriot Cup. The game will take place at 7PM Saturday in Ford Stadium on the campus of SMU.
The Duks are 6-0 on the year, with victories over #20 Cal, Stanford, Montana, #27 Santa Clara, Washington, and #34 Portland State. They are paced in scoring by Senior Attack Justin Blackmore and Redshirt Sophomore Attack Max Schlesinger, who have posted identical 12-goal, 5-assist statlines in the first six contests. The Ducks also get production from Junior Middie Kevin Clark and Sophomore Attack Sean Silverstein, who are both over two points per game as well. For comparison's sake, Michigan has one player over four points/game, another three notching greater than three points/game, and six total over two points/game.
In the net, Oregon has played three different goalies, with junior Nick Johnston getting the most time, playing in five games while posting a .685 save percentage and 3.4 goals against per game. He hasn't faced an offense like Michigan's, however, and it will be interesting to see how he holds up against the increased pressure.
The official Michigan Lacrosse Twitter page (@UmichLacrosse) will be providing scoring updates for those who want to follow live, and fans in the DFW area can head out to SMU for a full day of lacrosse.
TOM: What were you expecting to get out of this visit?
CHRIS: I was really just expecting a tour, to see the facilities, and everything. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but it was a lot more than that. I got to see the academic side more, which I hadn’t seen yet. The competitions with the players were fun, too.
TOM: How did the events go? Was it pretty relaxed?
CHRIS: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. The players obviously like competing with each other. We go to watch them compete in a bunch of different events, so it was pretty cool. I was impressed; they all seemed really strong and really fast. When they ran the 40 yard dash, it was pretty close.
TOM: Besides the events, did you get a chance to talk with the coaches?
CHRIS: I stayed overnight with my brother, so I got to see a little more. My parents left at night, but we all got a chance to ask the coaches some questions and talk with them. Before my parents left, coach Rodriguez talked to us for a while. He was just talking about how good of a school Michigan is, and where they’re at with the football program. My parents were previously Ohio State fans, but they were very impressed with everything. They came away the same way I did, and really liked everything they saw.
TOM: What else did Coach Rodriguez talk to you about?
CHRIS: We didn’t really talk about the depth chart, or anything like that. We both just wanted to get to know each other better, and build a relationship more. It was good to just talk with him. Coach Rodriguez just seems like a normal guy who happens to be good at coaching football. It’s weird, he’s the head coach, and I was just standing there talking to him. It was good.
TOM: After this visit where are you headed next, and what’s your timeline look like?
CHRIS: I’m going to Notre Dame’s junior day next weekend, and I might go to some other spring practices. I haven’t really planned a lot out yet. I don’t have a time line, it’s just going to be when I feel it’s right. I haven’t come up with a top list, because I haven’t seen enough schools, but my interest in Michigan is very high. I really like what they have to offer.
As if winning national championships was hard enough as it is, Michigan, along with all other cold weather teams, have an even more difficult row to hoe. This aspect of winning championships has been somewhat addressed on this blog before. (See: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/michigans-geographical-disadvantage) While recruiting might weigh heavily into this equation, it is not the main thrust of this article. This is just a
comparison between Warm Weather Teams and Cold Weather Teams. The results seem to be quite significant.
First of all, my comparison for the most part involves teams from 1940 forward. Prior to 1940, Warm Weather Teams won only 8 out of a possible 64 titles (12.5%). I don’t know if this date is the Official Demarcation point. Its just the one I chose.
I also made a somewhat arbitrary choice when it comes to categorizing the teams.
The following are the teams I designated as Warm Weather Teams:
Maybe Texas should be in that bunch, but I figured it gets cold enough in Texas for enough of the season to qualify as a Cold Weather Team. Ditto, Oklahoma.
The following is a list of the Cold Weather Teams:
In ten year increments since 1940, this is how it pans out:
30 Since 1940 Warm Weather Teams
39 Since 1940 Cold Weather Teams
40.6% Since 1940 Percentage of National Championships
30 Since 1950 Warm Weather Teams
29 Since 1950 Cold Weather Teams
47.5% Since 1950 Percentage of National Championships
26 Since 1960 Warm Weather Teams
23 Since 1960 Cold Weather Teams
53.1% Since 1960 Percentage of National Championships
21 Since 1970 Warm Weather Teams
18 Since 1970 Cold Weather Teams
53.8% Since 1970 Percentage of National Championships
18 Since 1980 Warm Weather Teams
11 Since 1980 Cold Weather Teams
62.1% Since 1980 Percentage of National Championships
13 Since 1990 Warm Weather Teams
6 Since 1990 Cold Weather Teams
68.4% Since 1990 Percentage of National Championships
7 Since 2000 Warm Weather Teams
3 Since 2000 Cold Weather Teams
70.0% Since 2000 Percentage of National Championships
Shared titles, as represented below, is a wash.
2003 USC (AP)*
1997 Nebraska (ESPN)
1991 Washington (CNN)
1990 Georgia Tech (UPI)*
1978 USC (UPI)*
1974 USC (UPI)*
1973 Alabama (UPI)*
1970 Texas (UPI)
1965 Michigan State (UPI)
1957 Ohio State (UPI)
1954 UCLA (UPI)*
1947 Notre Dame (Because, fock ND)
*Designated Warm Weather Teams.
So, we are left with the following:
Warm Weather Teams Winning Championships
1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
40.6% 47.5% 53.1% 53.8% 62.1% 68.4% 70.0%
(had trouble getting the above to line up)
The above would not appear to be the result of coincidence. So, assuming this trend is true, it does not bode well for any and all Cold Weather Teams, including Michigan. Will this trend continue? Who knows, but it could.
(Diarist note: This is the beginning of my Bubble News post today at the JCB. This part deals directly with the Big 10, so I thought it was relevant. I should have a picks post with the day's card at the JCB within the hour)
Let's be totally cheesy and use Joey Brackets from ESPN whose field they just posted on TV. Illinois, Rhode Island and Washington are among the final five in. Minnesota and Mississippi State are among the final five cut out. Even folks not interested in priming the pump of their own TV broadcasts seem to agree with this order. BaselineStats has URI, Illinoi and UW as their final three in with Minnesota and Mississippi State lurking among his last cuts. All play today among the dozen games on tap today among the multi-bid leagues. It seems to be the consensus that on the eve of selection day, there are only enough bids available to count on one hand and these five teams all have a chance that nobody else has today to stake a claim. You can make a case that there's room in the field still for all five. Who the heck knows which way the debate for the final at large bids will turn if all five lose today. I wont lie, there is part of me that would like to see that happen because I think we'll get some crazy selections from the committee that will come out of nowhere. Billy Packer might just interupt one of the first round games Shooter-style from Hoosiers in protest. That could be exciting. This will prove to be one last pinata swing at the bubble that will determine what pecking order will fall out. Beware of Bid Thieves in Conference USA and the ACC this afternoon that could derail some of the process. If I were a fan of Florida, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Dayton and even Wake Forest, I would be looking for VooDoo dolls of those teams to drive sabres through.
If things go right the Big 10 could be the big winner of the weekend. Before the weekend, the Big 10 looked like a 4-bid league. That's a disapointment from preseason expectations after seven bids a year ago and performing very well in NCAAs. But now they look like a decent bet to bump up to as many six bids. Anytime you can increase your conference's bid total by 50-percent during the final weekend of play, you've put your mark on March Madness as a league. Illinois impressive effort against Wisconsin and Minnesota exorcising demons over Michign State have set both clubs up for at-large bids that didnt have in their hands heading into the Big 10 sectionals. Are you kidding me with this Minnesota run? No, we're not, and buckle in your March may get a lot more interesting. The Dagger already claims six bids for the Big 10, saying Minnesota can move to lock status with a win. The ESPN Gameday talking heads all just preached the Gohper Gospel during their last segment saying Minnesota was a tournament team. Hubert Davis said they passed the eye test and Jay Bilas said they deserve to be in the field. Why are the pimping Minnesota? Dont they know their game is on CBS today? I thought ESPN hated the Big 10? Dont tell me Internet Tin Foil Hat Wearers have led my astray. Shocker.
Anyway in the Big 10 semifinals today it sure does seem the Big 10 can put a lockdown on six NCAA bids. Illinois win over the Badgers have finally moved them back into the Bracket Matrix. They're a Matrix 12-seed, but with 47 votes, they have the fewest amount of votes of any at-large team in that consensus field. Eight of the nine mocks that updated this morning do have them in, so they're support is rolling fast in the right way. No way they get turned away at the Ball if they beat Ohio State today. The Buckeyes really overmatched Illinois twice this year. But if the Illini can pull a 180 on the Bucks the way they did to Wisconsin five days after the Badgers embarrassed them at home, then they can easily win this game today. They're seven-point dogs. That intrigues me. Have you noticed how strong the puppies have been barking during this Big 10 sectional? The Underdog is 5-2 ATS. Yesterday, they swept the board and on the first half, second half, final score trifecta, if you will, they were 10-2 ATS. I think that shows that while the league's cream rose to the top and became elite and the middle class fell short of expectations, there wasnt that big of a gap between those teams when you really break it down. This league was marked by its top four squeaking out wins against the middle of the pack all season long.
Minnesota dropping games in the final minute they had dead to rights against Michigan State and Purdue come to mind. Tuck those games away and not go 1-3 against Indiana and Michigan and the Gohpers are easily in the field right now. In fact, they would have been part of the regular season title chase. But it's two down in the big 10 finals, but how manhy more to go for the Gophers? Is one enough? Two will give them the automatic bid anyway. Minnesota exacted a measure of revenge for that first heartbreak and have got themselves back into at-large discussion. If they can exact a second dose today, they will jump into most people's mock brackets. Bracketville and Bracketology 101 already have them in their field among the mock bracket crowd. These folks have had them in all along and have moved ahead of their final four in group.
So, they Big 10 has a chance to leave its mark on the final bid invites. But, there are plenty of other contenders. There are 13 games today between teams from possible multi-bid leagues. Five games will have direct impact of the bubble, three involve the bid thieves we talked about in an earlier post and the remaining four are, well, frankly, like quality college football bowl games like UK vs Tennessee in the SEC Semifinals or the Big East and Big 12 Championship games. And, there are six championship games, all televised in a row on ESPN2, from one bid leagues. Whoa. Lots of good hoops. Hunker down. Make a sandwich. Crack open some brewdoggers. And, enjoy while, as we always do, let's take a look at the bubble games away from the Big 10 today. We'll have a full on picks post at the JCB in a little bit. We're on Vols +5, Temple -2 and Illini +7.5 early one.
The rest of the bubble news post can be read here.