Road to #1: In Which I Don't Obsess Over NPH, But, Like Always, I Want To (Also, Rankings Release Edition)
Yeah, there’s a lot to talk about this week.
But I’m going to do it all in one fell swoop.
Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
I’m saying this for two reasons:
- There is consensus among the ENTIRE TOP 6 between the USA Today and the USCHO polls. Which means, this entire post, I don’t have to do any split numbering. (Well, I guess I haven’t looked at schedules yet, so I could, but, hopefully.)
- We’re #6! Holy crap! We’re #6! That means we gained 4 spots in one poll, 5 in the other! Hell yeah! This means that, since my policy is to definitively root for the losses of the 5 teams ahead of us, I’m rooting for the losses of THE ONLY 5 teams ahead of us. (Which means if we can creep into the top 5, I get to track less than 5 teams. We’re actually legitimately on the road to #1, which was originally mostly a joke because this blog series thing was really just supposed to be about basketball when I first thought of the idea.)
So, to start with the team you want to win:
#6 Michigan: Oooh, home-and-home, against Bowling Green. Friday at Yost, Saturday at, er, lemme look it up, BGSU Ice Arena (way boring). At any rate, we should sweep this series. It’d be better for everyone. BGSU is sub-.500. We’re the #6 team in the nation. It’d be a very important sweep. Game times: 7:35 on Friday, online coverage only. 5:05 (note early time) on Saturday, on Comcast 900 (also, NHL Network, Canada-live, US-taped).
Teams You Want To Lose
Assume everyone plays a single site, Friday-Saturday series unless I say otherwise. And, just in case, rankings will be listed USA Today/USCHO, unless there’s only one listed, in which case they’re the same in both polls, or its above 15, in which case the USCHO poll is the only one that goes to 20. (That was unnecessarily complicated.)
#20 Nebraska-Omaha and Alaska: Who, oddly enough, play each other. This is for CCHA reasons. We’re at 18 points, good for a tie for 5th, with either 2 or 4 games in hand over every team above of us. This is good. UNO and Alaska are tied for 3rd (which is only one ahead of us, because of the tie), at 21 points. So, it goes like this: We sweep, we’re at 22. So, I’m rooting for a split. Yes, I realize this would put each of those teams at 23, still tied for 3rd, and keep us at 5th. But, in the end, I think being one point behind UNO and Alaska with 2 and 4 games in hand, respectively, is better than being two behind one of them, and alone in 4th. This is just my thought. Games are at 7:05 Alaska Time, so, uh, 10:05 Eastern?
#9 Miami: Yep, still want them to lose. They’re sitting at #2 in the CCHA standings, with 23 points. Which means, of course, that, if they lose all weekend, and the Miami/UNO series splits, they’re all tied for 2nd, a tie we’d be ONE POINT BEHIND if we sweep. The problem: They’re playing Michigan State. Damn. On the bright side, the Spartans won one last weekend, and Miami’s pretty wounded. So, we’ll see. Maybe a split. It’d help the cause.
#5 Cornell: The Big Red (I just realized that I’m rooting against Andy from The Office) are doing, oddly enough, exactly what Yale did last week. At Union on Friday, at Rensselaer on Saturday. Well, I didn’t expect either team to do anything last week, but they beat Yale. And, hey, I still really don’t. Cornell losing one would be cool.
#4 Denver: Takes the weekend off.
#3 Northeastern: Ooh, Northeastern plays #7/#8 Vermont, which means there’s upset potential. I’m totally rooting for the upset. Hard. 7:00, both nights.
#2 Boston University: So, this is weird. They play sub-.500 Providence tomorrow night, in a probable win. Then, they play at Merrimack on Friday night in a probable win (7:00). Then, Saturday night, they play at home against cross-town rival #12 Boston College (7:00). Should be a good matchup, go Eagles!
#1 Notre Dame: They play LSSU all weekend, and probably sweep. It’s in Sault St. Marie, so, LSSU could get help from the home crowd, so, maybe a split or something, but Notre Dame is pretty freaking good. 7:05.
So that’s hockey. Hopefully, we can move up a rank, if not, lets just keep from falling.
Woo, this is getting long. Oh well.
We’re ranked again in both polls! Woohoo! #24 in the media, #25 in the coaches. Which is the first time the coaches liked us better than the media. Damn liberal media. We play twice this week. I do basketball a little bit different from hockey, because schedules are more convoluted. So, lets start with a general rundown of who you want to lose:
Teams You Want to Lose
This only goes to Thursday. I’ll plan your weekend late Thursday or sometime Friday. As a consequence, this schedule is pretty scant. As is Saturday, actually. I’m tracking something like 4 less teams than I was last week though.
#20 Louisville v. #12/#13 Notre Dame: This game already happened, actually. And I’m not sure who I was rooting for. Its better for us if Notre Dame wins, but, I physically can’t root for them. So, I guess its fine that Louisville won. Whatever.
#24/NR Tennessee v. Kentucky: I’m sorry, but, Tennessee doesn’t deserve this spot. It’s that simple. We do. So, lets root for Kentucky, who is 12-4, to win it for us. 9:00, ESPN, ESPN360.com
#25/#24 MICHIGAN @ Illinois: THIS GAME IS IMPORTANT! Michigan needs to prove it can win on the road without first being down by 20. Illinois is very good, and we’ll have to stay on our toes to win. 8:30, BTN.
#21 Baylor @ Texas A&M: Comparable records, Baylor’s probably better, home crowd could help out Texas A&M. 9:30, ESPN2, ESPN360.com.
#19 Purdue @ Northwestern Northwestern isn’t very good, and, really, I don’t want Purdue to fall. 7:00, ESPN2, ESPN360.com.
No basketball of note on Friday. I’ll see you then to tell you how its going and tell you how your long weekend should go.
In my Sunday paper yesterday I noticed that the 2009 Big 33 Game rosters were announced. For the very few who are not familiar with the game, I'll briefly explain: Every year since (I believe) 1957 an annual game has been played between an all-star roster of Ohio high school football players and their counterparts from Pennsylvania. It is generally seen as an honor to be named to the Big 33 roster, and for good reason-- the talent level is considerate and many players can really make an impression on a national level prior to starting their collegiate careers. Perhaps the more impressive statistic is that A BIG 33 PLAYER HAS PLAYED IN EVERY SINGLE SUPER BOWL. Not a bad track record in over forty years. What's also great is that it combines players, perhaps for the first time in their careers, regardless of school size, so you have A school players alongside Quad-A players.
In recent years, I remember memorable Big 33 performances from Terrell Pryor, Chad Henne, Maurice Clarett, etc. In other words, it's a good indicator of future talent.
Anyway, the rosters for this year's game, held in the summer in Hersheypark Stadium, have been announced. Yes, Hershey Chocolate has a town named after it, that also has a theme park, that also has a pretty large football stadium (I believe the fires started there in the previously mentioned Terrell Pryor's light-up-the-field state title performance last year have finally died out, but that's another story).
Some names worth mentioning that register on the Michigan radar, include:
RB commit Fitzgerald Toussaint
OL visitor Marcus Hall
DB Mike Edwards
DB commit Justin Turner (listed oddly as J.T. Turner)
DB commit Isaiah Bell
and from Pennsylvania:
LB Dan Mason
There were obviously several other players of note on the PA roster but only Mason is the only one I recall who made serious rumblings around here on recruiting lists. One name that stands out (and I'll drop the warning now) is recent Rutgers de-commit/Penn State commit DE Jordan Hill. I watched his state title victory game last year, and I have NEVER seen a Defensive End shape a game as much as this young man did (think Vernon Gholston in the game a few years back x 10!). He could be cause for future concern.
Anyways, what really stood out to me is that Je'Ron Stokes is not going to be one of the wideouts for Pennsylvania. I didn't even really recognize the others at that position, and certainly Stokes has garnered a lot of attention in Eastern PA. AND there's been plenty of Philadelphia talent selected before... very strange.
I'm going to try to make it to the game this summer-- it's not very far from my home and tickets are pretty easy to score. If I do make it there I'll be sure to wear as much Maize n Blue as I can and try to make an impression on our incoming freshmen. I'll also be sure to deliver a strong scouting report to the MgoBlog faithful. Personally I think I'll be there most to get a good look at Fitzgerald Toussaint, who I've never seen play but sounds very promising as a future tailback.
Road to #1: Wherein I Become a Supervillan and Fall in Love With a Girl From a Laundromat (Also a Sunday Recap)
Ok, not really. But, after Neil Patrick Harris’ appearance on SNL, I went and watched “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” again. It’s awesome! Go watch it on hulu! Seriously! NPH is amazing.
And now, content:
How the weekend went:
#12/#10 Colorado College: Colorado College splits with Minnesota State. Cool. We should be solidly above them in both polls now.
#11/#10 MICHIGAN and #8/#6 Miami (OH): SWEEP! SWEEP! SWEEP! Awesome, just awesome. Our guys played great, and we needed these wins. Rankings wise, it means we’re a bit closer to the top 5. But, more important is what it did for the standings. I’ll get more into it in Tuesday’s hockey post, but, I think we have a very, very good chance of being the #2 team in the conference going into the conference tourney. Which would be fine with me.
#10/#12 Vermont and #9 Boston College: Tie on Friday night, Vermont wins on Saturday. Cool. Should affect our ranking positively. I think we may end up passing both of them.
#7/#5 Denver: Sweeps Michigan Tech. They move up.
#6/#8 Cornell: Sweeps Niagara. Good for them.
#5/#7 Princeton: LOSE all weekend. Lost to Union on Friday night, lost to Rensselaer on Saturday afternoon. It could just mean they move down to a spot we deserve, but, it means they’re on the hot seat.
Just everyone’s record this weekend:
#12/#10 Colorado College: 1-1
#11/#10 MICHIGAN: 2-0
#10/#12 Vermont: 1-0-1
#9 Boston College: 0-1-1
#8/#6 Miami (OH): 0-2
#7/#5 Denver: 2-0
#6/#8 Cornell: 2-0
#5/#7 Princeton: 0-2
So, that looks good. I predict we’re #9, but, I’m hoping we can get #8. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable rank for us. I think we’ll be in the Top 5 by the end of the season.
How the Weekend Went:
Dayton: Loses to UMass, so, they won’t be taking any spots that open up in the coaches’ poll, where they are between us and the rankings.
Illinois State: Same deal as Dayton, but lost to Indiana State.
MICHIGAN: Today’s game against Iowa was totally awesome. Beat them pretty bad. After going 2-0 this week, we should be ranked, as long as a spot opens up in each poll.
#25/#22 West Virginia: Oh, here’s a spot. They lost to #18/#15 Marquette. So, we’ll get their spot in the media poll.
#17/#24 Boston College: And they lost to Miami (FL). So we can take their spot in the coaches’ poll.
#15/#25 Tennessee: They beat Georgia. So they’ll go up. Maybe their coaches’ poll position equalizes a bit with their media ranking.
#23 Baylor: They beat Texas Tech, so they’ll go up.
#23/#21 Louisville: They beat #18/#17 Villanova, which is annoying, because now Villanova might take a low Top 25 spot that we might have been able to nab.
#22/#19 Minnesota: They beat Penn State, which I’m actually happy about, because I want Big Ten teams to not fall out of the polls.
#21/#20 Butler: They beat Detroit. Barely. I wish they hadn’t. But whatever.
These are whole week records.
Illinois State: 0-2
#25/#22 West Virginia: 0-2
#17/#24 Boston College: 1-1
#15/#25 Tennessee: 0-2
#23 Baylor: 1-0
#23/#2 Louisville: 2-0
#22/#19 Minnesota: 2-0
#21/#20 Butler: 2-0
So, a couple teams around us didn’t do so well. I’m hoping we get #24 this week. Seems about right.
See you tomorrow to see how I did.
I'm watching the MGoBlue.com video feed now (with the radio audio piped in), and have several comments.
First of all, this is pretty good coverage, at least compared to the alternative.
I see that the Miami players are entering and leaving the rink from the south end, rather than the north. Until I moved away and quit going to games in 2006, both teams used the entrance at the north end. When did this change? Are there new visitor facilities at the south end now? I recall that the "concourse" area at the south end really was mostly useless loading-dock type space.
During radio commercial breaks, we hear what Al Randall and Jim Hunt are saying off the air with their mics on. Just before Jim Hunt's second-intermission interview with Miami's injured Justin Mercier, Jim said, "Justin, how's the leg? They told me not to ask you about it, but I won't say anything on the air." And Mercier then gave him the full scoop "off the air."
After the interview, Jim was talking to his producers, and he said something to the effect of, "How was that? Yeah, LOTS better than the first one. [Greg Pateryn in the first intermission] When you don't know these kids sometimes you have no idea what you're gonna get on the air."
In the third period, Michigan appeared to score a shorthanded goal which was waived off. Porno-mustache Langseth reviewed the video, and the MGoBlue camera focused from the press box right down onto the review monitor rinkside. The ruling was that the puck was directed in with a Michigan skate, and the goal was waived off. From the video I saw though, it clearly looked to me on the slow motion the ref was looking at that it was a Miami skate that kicked in the puck. What are the rules about defensive skates kicking pucks in? Or maybe I just didn't see it correctly.
Someone had better buy Bryan Hogan a HUGE steak tonight. He made some absolutely ridiculous saves in the second period.
At times, such as when I discuss music, sports or film with people, or at the gym, where I can still push some weight around, I feel pretty much the same as when I was in Ann Arbor. In short, youthful, in touch and somewhat current. Other times, not so much. Those other times, which increasingly are outpacing the former, I feel all of my 44 years. Like when my daughter informed me that my hair was uncool because it had a part. Or the extra half-minute I need at every goddamn urinal. Or reading someone on this blog discuss the new defensive coordinator and then add "I have to go to class."
Part of feeling your age often results in being crotchety. Though I never meant to sound like my Dad, I find inevitably that I am slipping into dad-speak without realizing it. Often I find myself opining on topics and having no patience for providing rationale for the opinion, it simply is true and that's that. Why? Because I'm your father. If you don't like it there's the door.
Some current pieces of wisdom follow. The TV show "Two and a Half Men" is not funny, it's never once been funny, and people that watch it cannot possibly claim to have a sense of humor. On the other hand, "The Office" is brilliant, and if you can't get that--there's the door. On film, "American Beauty" is over-rated (though quite funny). It's another in the long line of films (the latest is "Revolutionary Road") that purport to show the dark underbelly that lies under the placid surface of suburbia. Where all everyone is either blind to their ennui or a soulless drone. As a former resident of Manhattan I can tell you that there is at least as much unhappiness in the city (although it's so "alive" right?) as in the suburbs. The suburbs are pretty cool actually. Don't agree? Can you see the door over there?
On to sports. While I don't have the solution to the BCS, I do know a couple of things. First, that no MAC team should ever be allowed to play against Tulsa on January 6. In fact, there should be no bowls period after January 1 not named Orange, Rose, Sugar or Fiesta. How do I know this? Because I do. Second, the Bowl season was better when every major bowl was played January 1. Not only did that day become an unprecedented orgy of fried food and beer consumption, January 1 was special because the majors all played that day. When did the Orange Bowl get the right to play January 2? Ugh. Third, the major bowls were better in the traditional, non-BCS era. When that was your chance to prove yourself nationally, but the real thing was to win your conference. When the Fiesta Bowl wasn't a consolation to a team that just missed the "real" championship game.
Lastly, in college football, as opposed to pro, I prefer the established order. If I could wave my hand and rule over the college landscape, the same ten teams would dominate every year, and simply fight over who won the title that year. Who are those teams? Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Miami, Florida, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. Upsets are fine, as long as the elite stay elite. Did I like Utah beating Alabama? Need I answer that?
So you don't agree? Have a better idea? Think I don't know what I'm talking about? Don't let the door hit you on your way out.
As you may be aware, the last few days have gone quite well. Quite well indeed. Lemme get right to it (I'm only commenting on games that I'm somehow surprised by the result. Everything else just gets listed):
The Week Thus Far
Dayton over Miami (NTM)
#25/#22 West Virginia LOSS #5 Connecticut: This one went the way I wanted it to, but not surprisingly. West Virginia may fall out, leaving a spot open for us.
Illinois State LOSS Bradley: Probably a minor upset. Most importantly, it will prevent ISU from taking over a spot that could open in the polls.
MICHIGAN over Indiana:WOOOOOOOOHOOOOO! This game was awesome! Well, the last few minutes of it anyways. Last year, we lose this game. I'm certain. Under Amaker, we lose this game, I'm certain. The win gives us some momentum going into the first game at Crisler where there will actually be students. This, combined with some losses that have been good for us, will hopefully put us right back in the polls come Monday. But, we can't let ourselves get down like that, it just won't work.
#17/#24 Boston College LOSS Harvard: Wow. Just a couple days removed from knocking off #1, they lose to an Ivy. That's probably depressing for them. Good for us, hopefully it'll make them fall out of the coaches' poll, opening a spot for us.
#23/#21 Louisville over South Florida
#15/#25 Tennessee LOSS Gonzaga: So, yeah, it was a good early week for us. Tennessee should fall out of the coaches' poll. Which is good. I want into both polls for as much of the season as humanly possible.
#21/#20 Butler over Wright State
#22/#19 Minnesota over Iowa
Planning Your Weekend
No games Friday that I care about (go watch Michigan hockey!), so here's how you're spending Saturday and Sunday (mostly Saturday):
#15/#25 Tennessee @ Georgia, 12:00, ESPN Full Court, ESPN360: Georgia's 9-6 with no wins over ranked teams, but, as its in Georgia, I can see an upset, which would certainly help us get into the Coaches' poll.
#25/#22 West Virginia @ #18/#15 Marquette, 12:00, ESPN Full Court, ESPN360: Go Marquette! It's that simple. WV loses, they fall out of one if not both polls, opening up a spot for us. It'd be great. It's in Marquette. I'll totally watch this one.
#23/#21 Louisville v. #18/#17 Villanova, 12:00 ESPN, ESPN360: Another game that could kick a team we need to lose out of the rankings. We just need to win a couple of these to get ranked.
Dayton @ UMass, 1:00, Local TV: I know little about either team. If we play well, and with some luck, hopefully, Dayton winning two this week won't matter as far as getting us into the polls goes.
#23 Baylor v. Texas Tech, 1:45, ESPN Full Court, ESPN360: Tech's 10-5, so, not unreasonable for them to win, but, it'll probably go to Tech.
#21/#20 Butler v. Detroit, 2:00, HLN: Sadly, the Titans won't win. They've only won 4 games. HLN is the Horizon League Network, the conference's free, online channel.
Illinois State @ Indiana State, 7:00, Local TV: Indiana State has only won 3 games this season. Easy win for Illinois State.
#17/#24 Boston College v. Miami (FL), 7:00, ESPNU: Miami's always a potential victor, and BC's coming off a loss to Harvard, so, we'll see. I predict a BC win though. They'll be playing angry.
MICHIGAN vs. Iowa, 11:30, BTN: Don't underestimate Iowa. That's all I have to say about that. They only scored 49 in their last game though. The Crisler crowd should be good with students back. Gotta prove we can easily put away the teams we should be able to beat.
#22/#19 Minnesota v. Penn State, 3:30, BTN: Penn State's not bad, only lost three, but, Minnesota's at home, and, I sort of want to keep them ranked anyways. I'll actually be rooting for Minnesota. I want to get them when they come to Crisler.
So, that's that. Watch hockey this weekend too, Michigan plays an important series against Miami. Go Blue!