MGoBlue announced the release of the 2010 volleyball schedule today and while it's a bit disappointing compared to last season, this schedule may set up well for Michigan to make a run to return the the volleyball version of the Elite 8.
|8/27||Loyola (MD)||Toledo, OH|
Oregon State Invitational
|9/4||Florida Gulf Coast||Corvallis, OR|
|9/4||Oregon State||Corvallis, OR|
|9/10||Youngstown State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|9/11||Chicago State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|9/11||Miami (OH)||Cliff Keen Arena|
Arizona State Invitational
|9/18||@Arizona State||Phoenix, AZ|
Big Ten Season
|9/24||Iowa||Cliff Keen Arena|
|9/25||Minnesota||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/1||@Ohio State||Columbus, OH|
|10/2||@Penn State||State College, PA|
|10/8||Wisconsin||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/9||Illinois||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/13||Michigan State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/15||Northwestern||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/23||@Purdue||West Lafayette, IN|
|11/5||Penn State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/6||Ohio State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/13||@Iowa||Iowa City, IA|
|11/19||Purdue||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/20||Indiana||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/24||@Michigan State||East Lansing, MI|
Unfortunately, we weren't picked for the AVCA Invitational in Omaha, but we did pick up two quality tournaments in PAC-10 country. Michigan will face only one tournament team from 2009 in the non-conference, that being Binghamton. So compared to last season's schedule is quite a bit weaker.
The Oregon State trip is a return for last year's game, a 0-3 Michigan loss in Ann Arbor, and should be the marquee game of the non-conference. OSU does lose their best player in Rachel Rourke, but they do return a lot of players that should see them competing for a slot in the top of the PAC-10.
In conference season, Penn State and Ohio State remained paired on our schedule, with Michigan headed to State College and Columbus early in the season and getting the two at home early in the 2nd round of games. Michigan starts out the season with a home heavy schedule, which just means they have to end the season with a lot of tough road games.
Michigan should be poised for a very high winning percentage as it returns Lexi Zimmerman for her 4th year as well as junior defensive specialist/libero Sloan Donhoff, junior middle Karlee Bruck, leading kill returner, junior left side Alex Hunt (pictured right from MGoBlue), and junior middle Courtney Fletcher. Maybe this year will be the one where Penn State finally gets knocked off by Michigan.
ESPN 2 is promoting a 2-hour SportsCenter Special on the NFL Schedule release for Tuesday night at 7. It's on ESPN.com's TV Schedule as well.
It's always interesting to see some of the matchups... I guess the Lions Thanksgiving game is already set against the Patriots.
But just for information for anyone who cares.
So what do we see for this year? Here's the schedule, home games in caps:
Sept. 4 ~ CONNECTICUT
Sept. 11 ~ Notre Dame
Sept. 18 ~ MASSACHUSETTS
Sept. 25 ~ BOWLING GREEN
Oct. 2 ~ Indiana
Oct. 9 ~ MICHIGAN STATE
Oct. 16 ~ IOWA
Oct. 30 ~ Penn State
Nov. 6 ~ ILLINOIS
Nov. 13 ~ Purdue
Nov. 20 ~ WISCONSIN
Nov. 27 ~ Ohio State
This is the same conference schedule as last year, in the same order. Only the stadiums are changing.
One key difference is all the non-conference games are on the front end. No baby seals on the menu in the midst of conference play. I see that as a good thing. It definitely didn't help last year -- the feast just seemed to leave the team lethargic the next week against Penn State.
Win or lose, UConn is a great way to prepare for ND the following week. The Huskies are probably about right in competitive terms for a hungry UM team coming off a disappointing season, so it should be a good, hard-fought game. Just what the doctor ordered. I give the Wolverines the edge at home.
Notre Dame is an unknown. New coaching staff, star quarterback and running back gone. Two very good seniors gone on the offensive line. Sound familiar? Nonetheless, they open against Purdue at home, so they will be primed and ready to go when UM comes in the next week. But I like having a tough early road game. Last year, the first road game was the first loss. There were no road wins. Four home games in a row is not a good way to start a season.
So even if Michigan goes 1-1 in the first two games, the team will at least know the drill when they go on the road to Indiana to start the Big Ten season. IU will be out for revenge, but let's say we score enough points to win going away, like 40 or something.
Thus, like last year, it's not inconceivable the team could have three wins going into Big Ten play, and four when they play State. The big difference being that this time Michigan will have the experience of a gut-check road game in South Bend under their belts, and after Indiana we are looking at back-to-back home games against State and Iowa. This is a much better outlook than last year, which was the opposite.
Iowa is homecoming, followed by a bye week and then a five-game grind beginning at Happy Valley and ending in the Horseshoe. This is a tougher way to finish the season than last year, but if we play Penn State at 5-2 again it will be a more seasoned, mature 5-2, with at least a few more wins to be expected. [That is, more than none!] Plus, there was no bye week last year. The team played every week. An extra week to heal at mid-season should help matters.
I doubt 9-3 is realistic, but 7-5 or even 8-4 seems possible. I expect a lot of carnage (i.e., parity) in the Big Ten this year, much like last year (UM's dismal results notwithstanding), so even 7-5 could mean a decent bowl berth.
While I have been covering other Olympic sports here at mgoblog, my major focus is unmistakably baseball. So with fall ball coming up over the next few weeks, including a fall game against the Ontario Blue Jays of the Premier Baseball League of Ontario (an upper level summer ball league of Canada), I'll be posting a few diaries with baseball related content.
Today's is a break down of the newly released 2010 Michigan baseball schedule. In this year's schedule, two things stood out to me. First, this schedule is tough. Unlike some other BigTen baseball teams, Michigan is going out of its way to schedule real opponents.
Second, our big name weekend series is at North Carolina. UNC is a great program that has had great success in reaching Omaha, including each of the last three seasons. If Michigan takes even one game here, we'll be making national headlines in the baseball world. Add a trip to play two against Coastal Carolina, and you have Michigan with a pretty good chance to gain some major respect.
The last thing that jumps out to me is we are playing all nine conference opponents (Wisconsin dropped baseball in the early 90s). The BigTen has only 8 week conference seasons, allowing one team to be skipped over. This year, the team we were supposed to miss was Michigan State, but instead of dropping them from the schedule, Michigan has scheduled the Spartans for a home-and-home mid-week series. Those two games will not count toward the conference standings.
As far as the nonconference, those previously mentioned match ups against UNC and Coastal Carolina aren't the only bright spots. The BigEast/BigTen Challenge (make your spring break plans now!) also has Michigan playing quality opponents. Michigan will face Louisville in the season opener, and it could very well be against a ranked Cardinal squad. After Louisville, Michigan will face St. John's and South Florida. St. John's isn't quite as strong as they were two years ago, but South Florida is picked to finish well in the BigEast, possibly dethroning Louisville.
Michigan opens the year at Texas Tech (also a potential spring break destination, but prepare to be massively disappointed), playing Maine twice, then the Red Raiders twice. Texas Tech is a middle of the road Big12 team, which places them probably in the top 3-4 teams in the BigTen.
From Coach Maloney (via MGoBlue):
I certainly think this is the most challenge schedule we have had in my time at Michigan," Maloney said. "We have the privilege of playing against some really top-notch schools from top-notch conferences. Texas Tech is on the rise in the Big 12, Coastal Carolina is one of the winningest teams over the last five years in college baseball and North Carolina is a tremendous challenge, especially at their ballpark.
Michigan has their proposed, I say this because there's a good chance it will be snowed or rained out as it does almost every year, against IPFW from March 26-28. The BigTen opener will be on the road this year at Indiana, and the home BigTen opener will be the following week against Purdue. The home conference schedule includes those Boilermakers, Iowa, potential favorite Ohio State, and a dark horse BigTen contender Northwestern.
Midweek games including the aforementioned MSU series, as well as the usual home-and-home with Notre Dame, which almost always finds a way to get rained out on Tuesday, meaning we play a double header at Notre Dame on Wednesday. I'm making my prediction now that it'll happen again.
Speaking of new scheduling traditions, the annual scrimmage with the New York Mets is March 21 in Port St. Lucie. Here's hoping we can pull off the upset we've been so close to the last few seasons.
Giving the schedule a quick once over, my initial, premature, probably a bit overly optimistic when I think about our starting pitching staff, gut feeling has a record around 37-17, 15-9 in the BigTen. This will be close to earning us a spot in the NCAA, with a win over UNC and/or Coastal Carolina, it would greatly improve our odds.
As far as the BigTen Tournament, the site still hasn't been announced. According to my Buckeye counterpart at TheBuckeyeNine, the coaches just met this last week, and the conference heads will meet later this month. This is welcome news as the rumor I heard circulating around was the Tournament was going to be in Columbus again this year. Bleh. So this is good news.
We played legitimate teams well enough to win and get a feel for where we are at and what we have to work on.
MSU will have 2 very physical teams leaning on them for the next 2 weeks (ND and the Whiskey Cheese eaters), while we should beat EMU and Indiana soundly enough to get the number 2s some playing time.
By the time we roll into Lansing, we should be 4 and 0 and MSU should be fairly worn out. I bet the odds will be in our favor by game time, though with a rivalry like this, I'm sure it will be tough.
The other nice setup is getting the Delaware State bye week game b4 PSU. BTW, who the hell knows how good they really are at this point? They are the most unimpressive #5 ranked team in recent memory.
We can debate all we want how much we like our non-conference schedule, but today ESPN called us out, calling us part of the "Little Five," and labeling us the easiest schedules in the nation this year. Along with Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Penn State get named. Illinois gets complimented for having a top 10 schedule. You can read more in the link.
I understand the revenue flow, but we have to split it with 11 teams anyway, Lets go get our one big game back, especially with Notre Dame being a power ranking drag every year.