"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
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.
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.
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!
Cool thing about hockey? Far more straight-forward than basketball. So, here's the deal: after winning the GLI, we're still #11 in the USA Today poll. However, the USCHO poll was nice enough to tie us with Colorado College for #10, so, that's good (polls listed below in that order). And, since all but one team we're concerned with plays a series this weekend, I'm doing the "Teams You Want to Lose" and "Schedule" in one place.
But, to start, our schedule.
#11/#10 Michigan has one of the most important series of its entire season this weekend at Yost, against #8/#6 Miami. In hockey, it's totally that Miami. Which is to say, Miami of Ohio may be the team to beat in the CCHA this year. They're a point behind Notre Dame, but, they will certainly make noise at the Joe in March. This game is interesting because Miami would have been on the list below if we weren't playing them, making it even more important. A split here would go a long way in getting us a CCHA-tourney first round bye and NCAA tourney bid, a sweep would be incredible. Games on Friday at 7:35 on FSN Plus, and Saturday at 7:35 on Comcast 900. Also, its at Yost, so, if you're lucky enough to go, BE LOUD.
Teams You Want to Lose, And Schedule
Note: Unless otherwise noted, assume everyone has a Friday/Saturday series in one place with their stated opponent.
Nebraska-Omaha: Ok, so, they're #18 in the USCHO poll and the USA Today doesn't even go that far, but, this is about the CCHA. They play Northern all weekend, and losses from them get us closer to being in a position to get a CCHA tournament first-round bye, and home ice for the second round.
#12/#10 Colorado College: It'd be helpful, as we're tied with them in one poll, but, they're playing Minnesota State at home, and MSU's only .500. I'd bet on CC wins, but, hockey's hockey.
#10/#12 Vermont OR #9 Boston College: They play each other! Whoever loses, it's helpful to us, slightly more so with a BC loss, which is reasonable at Vermont. I'm not entirely sure what a split would do, it would probably only be significant if we swept or it was a really good split.
#6/#8 Cornell: They play Niagara. Probably are safe, maybe a split.
#7/#5 Denver: They're against a shattered Michigan Tech, who's trying to recover from a GLI blowout. Hehe. We'll see how that goes. I automatically root in-state (usually, never for State unless it somehow helps us, always for Northern unless it somehow hurts us) anyways.
#5/#7 Princeton: The one exception to the "playing in series" rule. They get 9-8-1 (2-4-0) Union on Friday at home, then .184 Rensselaer on Saturday afternoon, still on home ice.
So, we'll see how it goes. See you Thursday or Friday with a basketball update.
Alright, last week, I didn't do a midweek update because I felt that the Wisconsin loss basically made everything a tossup and didn't think tracking the teams immediately above us was that worthwhile an endeavor.
The damage? Not too bad. Illinois win helped I bet. In the media, we're the first team out. The coaches', #28. Not too bad. So, this week I'm doing it differently.
Teams You Want To Lose This Week and Why:
Illinois State: Yes, you read that right. The Illinois State Redbirds are apparently undefeated. Who knew? (Except many people way more knowledgeable than me.) Anyways, they're the team in front of us in the Coaches' poll. Them losing would make it difficult for them to take any spots that open up there.
Dayton: They're simply the first team out of the Coaches' poll. Same deal as ISU.
West Virginia: I'm just mean. First I want us to steal all of their coaches, then I ask you to root against them? Well, they're #25 in the Media poll. They lose, they're out. #22 in coaches', so losses could make them fall out there too.
Louisville: #23 in media, #21 in coaches, losses from them would help us in at least the media poll.
Baylor: Consensus #23 (there's a tie in the media poll). Losses from them could help us get into both polls.
Minnesota: Well, to be honest, you don't want them to lose. Having Big Ten teams ranked is good for us. But, they're #22/#19, so, they could fall out of the media poll with losses.
Butler: #21/#20. We're getting sketchy here as to whether losses would actually make them fall out, or just move them down to #24 or #25.
Tennessee: This is a weird deal. They're the #25 team in the coaches' poll. They lose, they fall out. But, they're #15 in the media. Weird.
Boston College: Similar situation. #24/#17. I'll say it again: Coaches don't watch enough games to properly rank teams.
Alright, now, for the meat.
I'm only doing Tuesday through Thursday. I'll do a blog about all of Saturday and Sunday's games late Thursday or Friday.
Dayton v. Miami (NTM): Probably a Dayton win. Dayton home game, Miami's at 7-4. Local TV coverage in Dayton.
#25/#22 West Virginia v. #5 Connecticut GO UCONN! UConn wins, WV gets kicked out of the media poll probably. Awesome. Also, if we upset UConn (or even stay close), our RPI is helped by them winning here. Sadly, the game's only on ESPNU. I'm sure you can find a stream. 7:00.
Illinois State @ Bradley: I won't make any claims to knowing anything about either of these teams, but, Bradley is 9-5. They could do it at home I guess. Comcast, but probably not here, 8:05.
MICHIGAN @ Indiana: EVERY GAME COUNTS for our Wolverines. We need to make sure we can beat the sub-.500 teams if we want to beat the good ones. This is a good road test. 6:30, Big Ten Network.
#17/#24 Boston College v. Harvard: I wouldn't have high hopes here. 7:00, can be found Online somewhere.
#23/#21 Louisville @ South Florida: USF is sub-.500. So, a probably Louisville win. 7:00, ESPN2, ESPN360.
#15/#25 Tennessee v. Gonzaga: Gonzaga's 8-4 and knows how to win big contests. If this were at Gonzaga I'd be more optimistic, but, I'll probably watch part of this one. 9:00, ESPN2, ESPN360.
#22/#19 Minnesota @ Iowa: Big Ten games are annoying because I always want the Big Ten to be ranked but maybe the Gophers are high enough that they could contribute to the ranking of more Big Ten teams... We're a good conference. Should be a good game, give us an idea of how Iowa might do on Sunday. 7:05 on ESPN2, or, if you're like me and are supposed to be working on something else at that time, ESPN360.
#21/#20 Butler v. Wright State: I don't think Wright State will win. They're just above .500. Whatever. 7:00, Local TV only.
Back late Thursday or Friday to plan your weekend, back tomorrow with a bunch of hockey.
Here’s one about hockey. It’ll be shorter.
For starters, previously I’ve just been using the USA Today poll. I’m going to start using the USCHO poll too, because, well, why not? They’ll be listed in that order.
Also, no polls really updated this week, or last week for that matter. Which makes enough sense. I’m fairly certain they all will this Monday.
Last week, #11/#12 Michigan won their second straight Great Lakes Invitational against Michigan State in front of a very excited crowd. The crowd for the finals was significantly better than the crowd for the semis, and it seemed that it was a lot of Michigan Hockey fans, not just Michigan fans looking for kicks. Which was awesome. Little Brother bowed down. Michigan has the week off, as do many teams, but, here are the five teams ahead of us in each poll that don’t have the week off.
#12/#11 Air Force: Yesterday, Air Force played UConn in the Connecticut Hockey classic. Air Force won in a shootout, but, for our purposes, the game was a tie. Tonight they attempt to win that tournament against Quinnipiac, which shouldn’t be too demanding a task, but, well, hockey’s hockey. Busy week continues for the Falcons, as they face UConn again in Storrs on Saturday, before trekking to Yale Sunday. UConn just tied them, so they could always pull out the upset, while Yale’s on a bit of a cold streak.
#10/#9 Colorado College is off.
#9/#10 Cornell plays Sunday at UMass. They’re pretty good at home, but, Cornell is in general better.
#8 Princeton beat Minnesota State 5-2 last night, and tonight plays Nebraska-Omaha. CCHA loyalty compels me to root for UNO hard. This weekend, they get Harvard on Saturday, Dartmouth on Sunday. Harvard’s sub-.500, Dartmouth is just over.
#7 Boston College plays a couple of exhibition games against Canadian New Brunswick. So they don’t count.
#6 Northeastern plays an easy one against Western Michigan on Friday in the Dodge Holiday Classic. They go on to face the winner of a game between Brown and Minnesota. Here’s to hoping for a Minnesota win so that Northeastern can fall a bit.
Well, that’s it. I’ll see you Thursday to talk about basketball.
Also, it seems I’ll be at Crisler tomorrow. Join me! Lets make it a loud crowd for the Big Ten opener.