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.
The main reason Bill Martin is offering for the crappy non-conference schedules that he's lining up is that we need the revenue from as many home dates as possible, and BCS conference teams always demand return home games in exchange for coming to Ann Arbor. Hence the now-steady diet of MAC teams, UMass, Delaware State, and other assorted tomato cans... and supposed tomato cans like App State.
How many of you that are frustrated with this situation would be willing to accept some form of limited stadium advertising — such as silent digital ads confined to the scoreboards — if it meant we could have home-and-homes every other year or so with teams like Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Va Tech, or Stanford, just to pick a few? I have no idea whether the revenue from this kind of advertising would make up for a lost home date, but if it did, what would you be prepared to accept?
So, I do a lot of schedule analysis for my own purposes for hockey, and, I was just doing something similar for basketball, and figured, well, why not sign up for an account at MGoBlog and let other people see my work? So, I hope to carve out a little niche here and post analysis of schedules and figure out what the basketball team must do to attain a ranking, and which other teams must lose for them to get one, and what the Michigan hockey team must do to advance in rankings.
Some weeks I might do Basketball on Monday and Hockey on Tuesday, but, that seems silly since hockey's heading into a break.
As a general rule, I'll only talk about the 5 teams above us in the rankings. Unless we're not ranked, in which case I'll talk about teams 21-25 and those with more votes than us.
So, a hockey mini-analysis:
This weekend, we swept Michigan State. It was awesome. As a consequence, we moved from #14 to #12, and cracking the top 10 is always nice. We don't play until the GLI, so, there's no way to analyze our schedule here.
So, teams that can affect us just by losing that play this weekend:
#11 Vermont plays at St. Lawrence, just on Saturday. St. Lawrence? Not very good. Not terrible. Just sub-.500. Vermont probably leaves with a win. Doesn't affect us.
A very important Saturday/Sunday series to watch is #10 Colorado College playing at #2 Minnesota. A Minnesota sweep could mean Michigan leapfrogs CC without even playing.
No games for #9 Cornell, #8 Boston College, or #7 Princeton.
So, the skinny: The best Michigan can hope for is Minnesota sweeps Colorado College at home and Michigan is #11 next week. There's a very off chance St. Lawrence wins, and, if both things happen, we may just crack the top 10.
Basketball is way more complicated.
In the USA Today Coach's Poll, we're a theoretical #30. In the AP Media Poll, we're a theoretical #28. Our only game this week is Saturday against a one-win Eastern Michigan at Crisler. 4:00, BTN. I'm excited. Not really. Should pick it up easily. And by that I mean, WE MUST KILL THEM IF WE WANT TO BE RANKED NEXT WEEK. A NARROW WIN WON'T BE GOOD ENOUGH.
This is the part where you skip to the last paragraph, unless you're a ridiculous die-hard. Trust me, you'll do it pretty soon.
I'll start with the non-ranked teams that separate us from the Top 25. For the rest of the article, I will list rankings in the same order I listed ours. If its only a theoretical ranking, there will be a "T" before it, and if a team's ranked in one poll and non-ranked in another, I'll mention their non-ranking. So, if a team was a theoretical #31 in the USA Today Poll and non-ranked in any fashion in the AP Poll, they'd be listed as "T#31/NR".
T#29/T#31 BYU: Two games this week, one against Boise State on Wednesday, one against Portland on Saturday, both at home. Neither team has votes of any sort, also, neither team has more than two losses. Losing to both? Unlikely. Losing to one? Not unreasonable.
T#28/T#35 Wisconsin: The Badgers (who we happen to open Big Ten play against) play tomorrow against a two-win Idaho State team, and play Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday. WGB is 5-2 (2-0), but, that doesn't mean I'm impressed with any of their wins.
T#27/T#26 Dayton: Losable game on the road at 5-2 Creighton Wednesday. Easy win at home against Coppin State Saturday.
T#26/#22 Baylor: Easy game Saturday against Prairie View A&M. Can't see them falling from AP, may enter USA Today.
T#31/T#27 Clemson: Game Saturday against South Carolina State. I anticipate a Clemson win. SCS is over .500, but, Clemson is undefeated.
#25/T#29 Miami (FL): Florida Intl. on Friday. Robert Morris on Sunday. Win. Win.
#23/#25 Kansas: Saturday v. 1-win UMass. Win.
#24/#24 Marquette: Saturday v. crappy IPFW. They're 3-5, which means I don't care about them enough to look up what that stands for. Win.
#22/#23 Davidson: Would you look at that, a real contest. Tuesday Davidson plays a 6-1 West Virginia team (and, while it's basically irrelevant, they're T#39/NR. The T#39 ties them with Florida St. at 1 vote, last in the poll). So, they could lose that one. Saturday, 1-win Chattanooga. Win.
#21/#21 Ohio State: I don't know why, but OSU has only played five games this season. Saturday they play their sixth in Columbus vs. an undefeated Butler. Butler could definitely win. I'm not sure they will, but they could.
So, the skinny:
We can hope for an Ohio State loss. We can hope for a Davidson loss. We can hope for a Dayton loss. We can hope for two BYU losses. If all of those things happen, and we KILL EMU, by my estimation, we still end up something like T#26/T#26, unless we get lucky. Next week, we beat Oakland at a "neutral" site (I imagine it'll be a slightly pro-UofM crowd), then we might be talking ranking.
I'll post Thursday-ish saying how goes it so far. Until then, good night, don't let the Tommy Amakers bite.
Anybody more ambitious than I that can look up teams with open dates on Oct 17, 2009?