"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
"There's a certain level of confidence and composure he brings to the court," said sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins, who played the bulk of his minutes as a freshman while LeVert sat on the end of the bench in a sweat suit. "When you know you have a player like that on your team of that caliber, it's just like, we're in his hands and he can do a lot of things for this team. It's a comfort. It's nice."
"I just really wanted to see him in a game and I loved what I saw," Beilein said. "He was active. He's got a motor. He's got some things he's got to work on. He doesn't have the strength to (play) the way he'd like to in the Big Ten yet, but that's what we're going to work on in-between (games) without inhibiting his ability to play the next game."
Bracket here, FWIW. Second round opponent preview tomorrow afternoon in the event of the win.
Record. 21-15-2, 17-9-2 WCHA. The Mavericks' debut season in the WCHA was a successful one. A very successful one: the finished third and their +35 goal differential was second only to North Dakota's terrifying +50.
Their performance outside of the conference was not so good. They swept an early-season tournament against Clarkson and RIT and split with Michigan (hey, that's us!) but were swept themselves by eh Quinnipiac and somehow managed to lose to UAH at home. That one seems like a slight fluke since shots were 59-19 UNO.
Also not so good has been recent performance. UNO split its last three series of the regular season and was swept out of the playoffs by Bemidji in the first round; they've lost four of their last five.
Previous meetings. Michigan and UNO split a lopsided pair at Yost earlier in the year. UNO took the Friday game, leaping out to a 4-0 lead before a couple of consolation goals with less than ten minutes left made the final score respectable. The next night it was Michigan leaping out to the 4-0 lead; they fished that game 6-1. Michigan had ten more shots Friday; they were essentially even on Saturday.
I remember having a conversation with Guy Who Would Be JBug If I Was Bill Simmons to the effect of "I thought Saturday's game was exactly like Friday's but both nights the bounces went entirely one team's way" that we both agreed on. This one will be tight. Or it won't, I guess.
Dangermen. The Mavs get goals from everywhere. A whopping eight players hit double digit goals this year and the spectacularly-named Johnny Searfoss just missed with nine, giving UNO three almost utterly balanced scoring lines. The guy to look out for slightly more than the others is senior Matt Ambroz (17-17-34).
UNO has a couple of D with a ton of assists but no one like Michigan's goal machine defensemen.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Sophomore John Faulker has played in every game this year with mediocre results. His .908 save percentage is slightly below average nationally; Michigan has a big edge in net with Shawn Hunwick's .921.
UNO's D doesn't have any stars outside of guy who gets all the power play assists; Bryce Aneloski is the only NHL draftee and that's as a seventh rounder on his third trip through. What you will see is plenty of overage guys—Aneloski, for example, is a 21-year-old sophomore. UNO has a grand total of two teenagers, one a backup goalie, and five 24-year-olds.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
PP For / G
PP Ag / G
Both teams are slightly more likely to suffer a penalty kill than acquire a power play, but UNO is slightly more so. UNO's power play is mediocre at 17.6%, probably because they have a lot of pretty good offensive players but no lights-out stars. Michigan's kill is slightly better than average at 82.4%. The flipside is similar—both the UNO kill and Michigan PP are slightly above average.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Goalie Hyde, please. The last month has been a little bit of a rollercoaster for Michigan's goaltending. Shawn Hunwick was extremely shaky against WMU, then awesome against NMU. The team had a bye, then he had a virtual bye against BGSU. At the Joe he was extremely shaky against WMU again, then stole the game against ND, Montoya-vs-Maine style. I think we're more likely to get Dr. Hyde, but if things start going badly they might keep going badly.
Goodbye midget scoring line. I'm not super happy about Michigan abandoning the Sparks-Treais-Anchor setup on the third line but after looking at UNO's scoring it's clear this is not a team that has a third line that's just trying to keep the puck out of its own net. The results:
This week, Winnett stayed put, joining senior center Matt Rust and junior right wing Luke Glendening, while Vaughan is now on the third line with sophomore center Kevin Lynch and sophomore right wing A.J. Treais (previously at center).
This setup leaves sophomore Jeff Rohrkemper as the fourth-line center with sophomore Lindsay Sparks and freshmen Luke Moffatt and Derek DeBlois fighting for two wing positions.
The nominally top line—defined as whichever one Hagelin's on—remains Brown-Hagelin-Caporusso. Also I am not trying to hear that Vaughn and Treais are on the third line. That's #2, yo.
That setup on the fourth line means we can kiss it goodbye, IME. Not exactly what I wanted but anything that results in moar Hagelin increases your chances.
Pray like hell. This is actually left over from the CCHA finals last year when Michigan was staring down a juggernaut Miami team with a 19-year tourney streak on the line. It is the best advice for a one-and-done hockey tournament, so here it stays.
Blais has garnered UNO's second trip to the NCAA tournament, and as one of my friends put it to my bluntly, "I am loathe to bet against Blais in a tournament setting." He has a point. Blais resume includes 5 30+ win seasons at North Dakota and two national championships for the Fighting [NICKNAME] and he lead the USA Hockey World Junior team to the gold medal in Saskatoon in 2009-2010. He is a coach who gets the most out of his talent and whose team will play hard every shift.
Faulkner was a microcosm of Nebraska-Omaha's inconsistency. He was 6-6-0 against tournament teams, splitting series against Michigan, North Dakota, CC, North Dakota again, DU, and Minnesota-Duluth. He gave up 35 goals in those 12 games. Minnesota-State, Michigan Tech, and Alabama-Huntsville were the only series all season where he gave up 2-or-fewer goals in both games. He had shutouts against North Dakota and Colorado College, but gave up 6 and 5 goals in the other game of the weekend. He's very capable of being great, and he's very capable of being chased. We saw both ends of the spectrum earlier in the year. Friday night, he stopped 34 of 36 shots. The next night, he lasted just over 23 minutes before getting the hook.
I think the ideal NCAA tournament preview would chronicle what each team ate for breakfast the morning of their game, since that would seem to be a lot more important than any sort of statistics accrued over the course of the season. Brad Schlossman posted the statistic last night that in the past four years, #1 seeds are just 9-7 against #4 seeds in the first round of the tournament. Some may that call that exciting, but it's almost random to the point of being meaningless.
I've got a pretty good way to address this in a mailbag coming up.
I wonder if that trend (and we have seemed to have a prefered day for a lot of recent years) usually carries over the tournament. I would think the schedules would be so different they wouldn't. Also how much of the TGINF effect came early in teh season when Hogan was more effective than Hunwick and they were splittign (I think it was Hogan on Saturdays)?
The "Just Got Tougher" I believe was added after Bemidji State and UNO joined the conference. I don't know about the exact timing, but I'm pretty sure that it's been there most of the year. I wonder when they take it down or change it? At the latest after Minny and Wiscy leave for the BTHC.
In my opinion, the West is the toughest regional this year. You have BC, the very scary defending national champs, CC which has played the most games against tournament teams, going 7-7-2, UNO, which, as Brian mentioned, rolls three scoring lines, and depending on Faulkner's play, can hang with anyone, and Michigan, which was a game or two away from being a 1-seed. Also, you don't have any small conference teams here, only the big boys. It's definitely the toughest road to the Frozen Four.
Also, if both Michigan and CC win today, I'll post another CC opponent preview.
"Where? Hundreds of miles from anywhere reasonable".
Uh, that would be St. Louis, where I live, AND I JUST GOT BACK FROM THE GAME!!!!
It will go down in history as the longest goal review I've ever had to sit through. I was sitting right on that corner, and I knew it went in. I didn't hear the whistle, but the lamp never went on. I thought they were going to say that the net had come up. They never replayed the goal in the arena, so I really didn't know what was going to happen.
On a related note: UNO fans are totally obnoxious fucking rubes. In my universe, they are now the worst fans in college sports, just below Tennesee.