Mike Lantry, 1972
The last couple items I covered before heading out into the holiday season hell for leather were Jay Hopson's departure and some happy vibes going down in the recruitment of CA S Sean Parker. I popped by head back up to post a UV last week. Other than that, I've been silent.
So. Things! That are wringing the life out of me!
Hockey is killing me. I was in Chicago for the opening night of the GLI and the thing wasn't on TV and that turned out to be a fantastic thing for yrs truly because Michigan outshot RPI 46-13(!!!) and lost 4-3. If I had actually seen that transpire I would have died. My spleen would have burst out of my stomach and ran for Mexico trailing intestine and whatnot behind it, and I would have looked down in horror at what was going down only to find it considerably more pleasant than the on-ice action. This apparently happened:
With Michigan trailing by only one goal, Hogan looked like he had a routine save to his glove side that most likely would have left the Wolverines down just one heading into the final period.
But when the puck slipped off of Hogan’s glove and into the net, Berenson made the only decision he could to save his team’s chance at a third-straight GLI Championship.
Michigan managed to rebound the next night and beat an atrocious Michigan Tech team to split the weekend but the RPI loss is the just about the last dagger in Michigan's at-large tourney hopes. Losing to a bleah ECAC team is bad enough—it will kill Michigan's record against common opponents, a Pairwise* factor, against good ECAC teams like Yale that play limited nonconference schedules—but as a special bonus Michigan missed the opportunity to play a good Michigan State team and instead got Tech, #49 of 58 in RPI and 3-16 on the season.
Michigan is now 29th in RPI, down a spot from before the GLI. Sioux Sports shows that if Michigan wins 14 of its remaining 17 games they'd end up somewhere around 10th to 13th in RPI. Upshot: if they managed to do that they'd likely be on the good side of the bubble when conference tournaments rolled around and would have a fighting chance at picking up an at-large bid if they make the Joe and split there.
So… no problem. Just win at an 82% clip when you're at 50% on the season, can't score no matter how many shots you take, and just saw your goalie pulled for a smurfy walk-on who gave up a soft game-losing goal in the four shots he faced.
A more realistic goal is to scrape into fourth place in the CCHA to get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs and hope to win them. Short of a time machine that drops sophomore year Al Montoya, Mike Comrie, and Jack Johnson onto the roster, Michigan can't get to the tournament in any other way.
*(The way the hockey tournament is selected is something else called the Pairwise. It compares the top 25 teams in RPI against each other in various categories—RPI, record against common opponents, record against teams under consideration, and head to head. At this point the PWR is so heavily based on RPI that with a few exceptions teams will be within one or two spots of their RPI rank at season's end.)
Basketball: also killing me. So they actually beat Ohio State the other day in a testament to the power of home court in the Big Ten, but AnnArbor.com theorizes that "a confident Michigan basketball team inspires expectations again" and I think they're nuts.
I might have this conversation on WTKA again this afternoon, but a week in which you split against meh Big Ten teams—and Ohio State is meh without Evan Turner—is not making progress towards your goals. Unlike last year, when a strong nonconference run put M in a spot where all they had to do was hold serve, this team has to cut a fiery swath through the Big Ten if they want a bid. Losing to the second-worst team in the Big Ten according to Kenpom is not exactly doing that.
It is nice to win something against Ohio State, though. Or anyone at all, in anything.
Ekpe Udoh: yes, killing me. Udoh is the Ryan Mallett of Michigan basketball. He's 7th in the nation in blocks and Baylor's most-used player (82% of available minutes) on an 11-1 team that's beaten Xavier, Arizona State, and South Carolina. He transferred because a new coach came in and he didn't like his style, leaving Michigan utterly deficient at something important (passing, interior defense) and being touted as a potential first-round pick.
Assistant coach search: not killing me. Stealth mode. I haven't heard or read one word about who Michigan is looking at to replace the departed Hopson, whether it's in the newspaper or a premium message board or my inbox. Michigan might be busy recruiting or, you know, having a "holiday" with the weird people who live with the coaches and insist that something other than football is an "activity" that can be "undertaken." It'll be interesting to see who gets picked up, and it looks like the announcement is going to be of the variety where Some Guy gets picked up and I scramble to google him to find out who he is.
Well, that sucked, all of it. My favorite part was the foul on a box out. My second favorite part was the color guy saying Griffin had a "quiet" 32 and 15 or whatever when the announcing team couldn't go 15 seconds without suggesting Griffin be elected president of Awesomeonia. My third favorite part was death in the CCHA tournament.
But at least the other results in college hockey tonight fell in such a way that the most likely bracket facing Michigan tomorrow is:
4. Air Force
So there's that.
Bad news first: we aren't going to Grand Rapids. Thanks, CCHA!
Now, the good news: Duluth won last night and Minnesota's chances of making the tournament are extremely slim. Even better, the two last teams in the tourney in some scenarios are Miami and Ohio State. Unless the committee does something unprecedented like seed-switching or scheduling intraconference first-round games, they'd be forced to hand Michigan a first-round matchup against a small-conference autobid. Even even better, the two-seed in Michigan's bracket in virtually all scenarios is Yale. Yale's had a great year but ECAC teams rarely reach the Frozen Four.
This seems to be what we're looking at if all favorites win:
1. Michigan (#4 overall)
4. Air Force (#15 overall)
2. Yale (#5 overall)
3. Minnesota Duluth (#12 overall)
No offense to any of those teams, but that's a great draw.
Now… there are some nasty combinations, like Duluth winning the WCHA and Cornell the ECAC and the consolation games going right, that slide Minnesota into the tournament. If Air Force wins the CHA, these have the Gophers the #15 team with Air Force in front of them, at which point the committee has a difficult decision between listening to the silly pairwise and giving ND a game at Minnesota or flipping the seeds and shipping Michigan. Which they'd probably do.
I'm sorry to report that Michigan has virtually no control over its fate at this point. Unless there's some wack combination out there I haven't come across Michigan is going to be the last #1 seed no matter what happens against Notre Dame. And it appears that Yale is locked in at #5. There will be considerable jitter in the three and four seeds in Michigan's regional, though.
- Michigan is almost definitely the last #1.
- Yale is almost definitely their #2.
- Grand Rapids is gone.
- Wack stuff can happen at 3 and 4.
Programming note: I'm jammed up, as I'm headed to the hockey game tonight and that will take up a big hunk of time. I plan on getting another numbers-centric preview up for the Oklahoma game tomorrow, hopefully by 2-ish.
via the Fairbanks News-Miner
Also the other team. The hockey team—which is very, very good—takes on Alaska tonight at 8 in the CCHA semifinals. Yost Built has your ten things; this one gives the best picture of what Michigan is up against tonight:
Weird team. They've shut out their opponent on eight occasions this year. They've been shut out ten times. You want to know why Ocho Cinco [Alaska goalie Chad Johnson -ed] won CCHA Player of the Year? They scored 54 goals in CCHA play and still finished fourth. That's 1.93 goals per game. The only team that scored fewer was FYS with 43 (43??!!!). The saving grace for them was that they only gave up 51, tying them with Michigan for the fictional "Jennings Trophy" of the conference, and finishing one ahead of Notre Dame.
First goal will be very important because there don't figure to be many of them. FWIW, KRACH says Michigan has a 73% chance of victory; Michigan and Alaska split in Fairbanks with Alaska winning 4-1 Friday and Michigan taking the Saturday game 3-2.
The latest from practice has Robbie Czarnik definitely available and Ben Winnett questionable; Scooter Vaughn is also practicing as a fourth-line forward.
Northern and Notre Dame are in the other semi; you are rooting for Northern, but without any real hope it will matter.
Good news from elsewhere: Minnesota ended its regular season last night with a loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA Final Five. The Gophers are currently the last team in the tournament at #14, but most of the possible results from the weekend knock them out. They're in if all favorites win, but all it takes is one more Duluth win or one unexpected autobid and they're at home. Patman's latest tourney update has the Gophers with only a 23% shot at making it in.
Minnesota missing the tourney makes a potential Michigan game in Minneapolis far less likely to be a defacto road game. Duluth can still make it, but 1) Duluth is far away and their fanbase is considerably smaller, and 2) Duluth can get shipped; Minnesota, as a host, cannot.
And hardware. Michigan took home a couple awards at the CCHA banquet: Tim Miller was the best defensive forward and David Wohlberg was rookie of the year. Alaska's Johnson was the POY, as you might expect.
Also, Louie Caporusso is a Hobey finalist. This is a really weak year for the award, so it's not out of the question he wins. However, he's a sophomore without a commanding resume and Kevin Porter just won last year, so it's not likely.
Cooper, a Saline High School graduate, and Burkhardt, a Pioneer grad who runs his own Michigan basketball blog, enjoyed every minute of it smack-dab in the middle of Section 117, where most of the 2,000 or so Michigan fans were gathered.
No link provided, obviously. Eyerolling goes here.
Uh? Far be it from me to harp on typos excessively, as they get through here on a daily basis. But… uh… MLive article on the dynamite Rust-Hagelin-Palushaj line, excerpt of which is sic:
Matt Rust couldn't recall the game and Aaron Palushaj wasn't sure about details, butthere is no comma here Carl Hagelin got the memories going.
Well, copy editor guy, if you're going 100% by the book there isn't, but commas are often a stylistic device used to make a sentence flow differently. Some are optional. Also optional: leaving your corrections in the finished copy.
All right: we're pretty much screwed. There is a tiny chance we can pass Notre Dame if Michigan wins the CCHA playoffs and Notre Dame gets swept at the Joe. Even in that situation (with all higher seeds winning other games) You Are The Committee shows Notre Dame taking the comparison, but the RPI edge there is tiny and could be shoved over to Michigan if a few other games go Michigan's way. (St. Lawrence, Minnesota, and Wisconsin would help out by winning, as that pushes Michigan's RPI up.)
So: have Michigan win twice, have one of the country's best teams lose to Alaska and Northern Michigan, and hope for favorable results in other conference tournaments. The chances are griiiiiim.
As for the faint hope some PWR wackiness costs ND a couple other comparisons, that's dead, too. ND's got the perfect scenario as far as TUCs go right now—they're a whopping 4-0 against Northern, which is now hanging by a thread as a TUC—and is up to 10-5 in that category, which is very strong. ND can't lose (metaphorically) against Northern: win and they, you know, win. Lose and Northern keeps its TUC status and ND gets to keep its 4-1 record against them.
Well, the good news is I can't get Michigan any lower than fourth unless they get swept at the Joe and Northeastern wins Hockey East, or they split and both Northwestern and Denver win their conference tournaments. YATC is kind of clunky and I haven't tested all possible scenarios, but Michigan's #1 seed seems 80% likely.
Then you've got a pretty weird scenario developing at the bottom of the bracket: CHA qualifier Bemidji State is the usual grab-bag foe you really want to play in the first round and will get slotted against BU. But Air Force, if it wins its conference tournament, is likely to be #13 or #14 in the PWR. IE: above the last at-large bid, possibly above two. What would the committee do in that situation?
No offense to Air Force, but they're an Atlantic Hockey team that's freakin' 30th in KRACH. If they qualify they are clearly the second most desirable first round opponent and should, by rights, be slotted against ND. But if they go by strict PWR Air Force would get matched up against… probably us, since it looks highly likely that one of the four-seeds is going to be Miami, who would get matched up with North Dakota or Vermont or whoever because they're going to protect BU and the Redhawks can't play a CCHA team.
It would be the sweetest poetic justice if Michigan got shafted out of the #2 seed only to draw that second auto-bid team and Notre Dame got Lowell or Yale or Duluth. We'd still be getting shipped, unfortunately.
3/13/2009 – Michigan 5, Western Michigan 2 – 27-10-0, 20-8 CCHA
3/14/2009 – Michigan 6, Western Michigan 1 – 28-10-0, 20-8 CCHA
This weekend's hockey series featured huge stretches of play so dominating that the above scoreboard resulted. That is the beginning of the first intermission. Michigan has three goals and 21 shots. Western has zero goals and zero shots.
Western's first shot would come at the beginning of the second when a Bronco forward, clearly instructed to get Western on the board, took a slapper from outside the blueline. It was going high, but they counted it anyway. The next shot was a clearance that dribbled in on Hogan, again from outside the blueline. That counted too: Michigan's official scorer was giving Hogan the full Jeff Lerg treatment out of pity to the visitors. By my count, the first actual shot Western launched on Hogan—certainly the first that originated from the offensive zone—came with 15:40 left in the second.
It was that kind of weekend. Total shots: 103 for Michigan and 41 for Western. Only Riley Gill's best Dominic Hasek impression kept Western from ceding 20 goals on the weekend.
So, again: this team is pretty freakin' good. They've pushed their recent non-crazy-goal-controversy record out to 19-1 since late November. Mark Mitera has been making excellent outlet passes and hasn't seemed out of place since an error that lead to Ferris State's first and only goal of the Friday game two weeks ago. They were 15-1 in NCGC games before they added last year's defenseman of the year. They're scratching an NHL draft pick every night. Our third defense pairing is either Steve Kampfer and Brandon Burlon or Tristin Llewellyn and Chris Summers, either of which pairings would be the #1 pair for any CCHA team other than Notre Dame.
When Michigan did anything other than dominate it was more because they were bored and hadn't spent any time in the defensive zone in two weeks and weren't quite sure what you were supposed to do. I am a little concerned that Michigan spends 80% of its time in the offensive zone because it leads to breakdowns and carelessness in their own end. This is a pretty good concern to have, all things considered.
Bullets Western left in the chamber:
- Holy crap was Carl Hagelin out of his mind this weekend. He singlehandedly dominated the penalty-kill, skated through the opposition like it wasn't there, and did his usual demonic backchecking. The Friday night ENG was justice for an outstanding performance. Two borks up.
- Northern Michigan upset Miami to reach the Joe, which improves Michigan's draw (they get Alaska) but hurts them in other ways: Michigan's SOS goes down as they played Miami four times, and Northern is now a TUC which brings M's 1-1 record against them into play.
- We wanted OSU to win the other series; they did not. Bizarrely, since we play now Alaska we want them to stay a TUC if we beat them since 2-1 is good for our overall percentage in that category.
- It doesn't hurt Michigan nearly as much as it does Miami, which is now the final team in the tourney and is vulnerable to an unexpected winner in any of the power conferences.
- I deeply regret that we were not allowed to trade Scooter and a recruit to be named later for Gill's services during the playoff run. That guy was insane both nights, which brings his record for insanity at Yost up to 3/3 on the year, as he was insane in a game Michigan totally dominated and contrived to lose 2-1 when Western conjured two late goals out of deflections and screening. About halfway through the Saturday game people around me started chanting "goalie-goalie" during the Temptation goalie-sieve chant, and, like, yeah. At some point Gill flat robbed Aaron Palushaj to the point where he was compelled to explain just how the hell the puck didn't go in the net to his linemates.
Gill's got a .920 save percentage, which is impressive but only 17th nationally. In context it's astounding, though. This is Western Michigan we're talking about here, always the worst defensive team in the league under Jim Culhane. He probably sees more grade-A rubber in a game than one of Mason's pedestrian .940 guys (Alban, Blackburn, etc) saw in a year; every Western goalie I've ever checked stats of is languishing around .885 or something. I'm sure Alaska's Chad Johnson is pretty good with his .939, but, man, how did Gill get left off the All CCHA Team for Jeff Lerg?
- Hey: they finally got a goal review right! Michigan's third-period goal to go up 4-2 was waved off by McInchak for no apparent reason—it was a virtual replay of the waved off OSU goal—but reviewed and declared good, largely because Shegos got in the box and was like "dude, that's his chest." Good on you, Shegos. Also, the look on Shegos' face—"not this s--- again"—was priceless.
- Last time we saw Shegos, by the way, he was with Langseth. This time no Langseth. Did he get busted down to linesman again? Or did they just tighten the crews because there were only four series to do this weekend instead of the usual six?
- I don't think we can pass ND, but I'll check.