Monday Quick Hits: Michigan Softball Advances to Super Regional

By · Monday, May 24, 2010 · 2:20 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • The Michigan softball team rolled through its regional, beating Wright State once and Notre Dame twice in dominating fashion over the weekend.  Michigan will now host Tennessee, the No. 15 seed in the tournament, in a super regional in Ann Arbor.  Thursday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.  Friday’s first game starts at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU.  The second game, if necessary, will also be shown on ESPNU.
  • Michigan’s response to the NCAA over practicegate was expected to be submitted today.  We should hear about the details of the response on Tuesday.
  • Although Michigan and Notre Dame announced a 20-year extension of their rivalry a few years ago, there is no contract making it official.  Dave Brandon wants to make it official at some point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a game played every single year.  Remember, the rivalry is taking two years off in the future, and honestly, that is something I’d like to see more often.  If the Notre Dame game is going to prevent Michigan from playing in big-time home and home series, then I’d rather play ND every other year or for two years and then take a two year break.  That would give Michigan more flexibility with its schedule and allow for matchups with the big-time programs in college football like Ohio State has been doing.
  • Tate Forcier is excited to play against San Diego State in 2011 because he feels they didn’t show him much love when he was being recruited in high school.
  • Soony Saad, an incoming freshman for Michigan, received the honor of being named Gatorade’s National Soccer Player of the Year.
  • That Big Ten expansion rumor from a couple weeks ago was complete BS, as confirmed by Jim Delany.  Delany also said that the Big Ten is going to stick to its timetable, meaning we shouldn’t expect a sudden expansion announcement to happen this summer.
  • Lloyd Carr’s opinion on Big Ten expansion is that “it’s inevitable.”
  • In addition to some of Braylon Edwards’ former teammates at Michigan, Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes, Donte’ Stallworth, and Kerry Rhodes also are scheduled to participate in his charity basketball game at Crisler Arena next month.  Tickets are now available.
  • WolverineHistorian uploaded a video of the trophy presentation after Michigan won the Big Ten title in 2003.  As you’ll see in the video, Chris Perry was happy, to say the least.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Idea of Notre Dame Ultimatum Nothing New

By · Tuesday, May 4, 2010 · 12:25 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Maize n Brew found that talk of the Big East giving Notre Dame an ultimatum isn’t a new concept.  In fact, Rich Rodriguez brought up the idea back in 2002.

    “I know this agreement was made earlier,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just a football coach and our players are just players, but we don’t understand some of the political things. I don’t understand why Notre Dame is getting the best of both worlds.  “I think the Big East is a great league and we can stand on our own. In my opinion, Notre Dame either needs to get in or get out.”

    Personally I’m with Rodriguez and current Big East coaches on this issue.  On top of the fact that Notre Dame gets the benefits of being in the Big East in non-football sports (not counting hockey), the football team also benefits by having bowl tie-ins connected with the Big East, which is what caused the above-mentioned complaint.  Conference expansion may cause Notre Dame to get in or get out anyways, but if I were a Big East coach, I definitely don’t think the positives of ND having partial membership in the conference outweigh the negatives.

  • Jon Runyan was interviewed by mgoblog.
  • FedEx has decided to no longer sponsor the Orange Bowl, ending a 21-year partnership.
  • Although NCAA tournament expansion to 68 teams has been approved, the selection committee now must decide on how to add the three new teams.  I personally hope they just make a play-in game for each of the 16 seeds.  Yes, more teams from mid-major conferences will go to the bottom of the barrel seeding-wise, but I’d rather just keep the play-in games the same rather than have one for a 16 seed and another for a 12 seed and so on.  Plus, I’d argue that teams in the play-in games get more exposure than simply going out and being slaughtered by a 1 seed, especially if there are multiple games and something like “play-in game Tuesday” becomes its own big thing.

Friday Quick Hits: NCAA Tournament Expansion Approved

By · Friday, April 30, 2010 · 4:18 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Big Ten Expansion Quick Hits: Talk of 14 or 16 Teams Heats Up

By · Wednesday, April 28, 2010 · 11:38 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Big Ten expansion talk has been heating up in the last couple of weeks on blogs and message boards because there was a report of an “accelerated timetable.”  That turned out to not be true and was refuted by Jim Delaney, but Big Ten expansion is still a hot topic because it looks certain that at least a few teams will be added rather than just one.  Some even think the conference could expand to 16 teams, which would completely change the landscape of college sports.  I personally have been against going that big and would much rather just add Notre Dame and call it a day.  I suppose if each team is a big name then it would be worth it, but maybe this is all just to scare ND into accepting an invite because if they don’t, the Big East could be a goner, which would screw them over in every sport outside of hockey and football.  We’ll see, I guess.
  • Dave Brandon doesn’t really care how big the conference gets, but he made one thing clear: “Anybody who comes up with a proposal that said Michigan shouldn’t play Ohio State should be institutionalized.”  Amen.
  • Adam Rittenberg put together a post breaking down how the process of voting on Big Ten expansion works.
  • Frank the Tank, who has been all over potential Big Ten expansion, broke down what TV value possible new members would bring to the conference.  His current prediction for a 16-team conference is that Notre Dame, Nebraska, Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers would be added, which would make sense geographically and would open up the Big Ten to a number of new markets.  More than anything, it would effectively destroy the Big 12 and Big East, completely turning the college sports world upside down.
  • Brian Kelly doesn’t want Notre Dame to join a conference for football.
  • Joe Paterno wants the Big Ten to add three teams to get up to 14 total.
  • If the Big Ten dramatically expands, the SEC could be next in line to add new teams.

Michigan to Host Notre Dame in First Ever Big House Night Game

By · Thursday, March 18, 2010 · 5:23 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Anytime Notre Dame comes to Michigan Stadium the atmosphere is electric and there is a buzz around the city before the game.  That will be the case again in 2011 when the Fighting Irish come to town, except the atmosphere and buzz will be on another level.  Why?  Well, for the first time in Michigan Stadium history, the Wolverines will play a night game.

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced today (Thursday, March 18) a historic night football game at Michigan Stadium between the Wolverines and Notre Dame on Sept. 10, 2011. It will be the first-ever primetime game played at home in the history of Michigan football.

This will be the first meeting between the Wolverines and Irish in primetime since a 1990 matchup of top-five teams in South Bend. ESPN or ESPN2 will broadcast the game nationally starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

A rumor came about yesterday suggesting that the scheduling of a night game was on the verge of becoming official, but I certainly didn’t expect it to happen so fast.  Just last year the feeling about a possible night game was that nothing was all that likely because of certain issues that would come along with a primetime matchup, but obviously Dave Brandon and company are prepared to have a plan in place to make sure this goes off without a hitch.  In fact, if everything goes according to plan and this is well received, Brandon said that he would like to see Michigan play one night game at home per season, which could become a new tradition for the football program.  All I can say is that sounds good to me, because I’m beyond excited for the first ever night game despite the fact that it isn’t even until 2011.

Another thing I’m excited about is this tidbit included in the press release about the night game:

The series between Michigan and Notre Dame will remain unchanged through 2017. Michigan and Notre Dame will take two years off, the 2018 and 2019 seasons, to play home-and-home series with other schools before resuming the non-conference rivalry in 2020.

When the Michigan and Notre Dame series was extended through 2031, the plan was for the two teams to play every single year.  Personally I was hoping that there would be a break in the series every once in a while so Michigan could schedule some big home-and-home series like Ohio State has been doing and like Michigan State will be doing in the future.  As it turns out, that is what will happen in 2018 and 2019, and chances are Michigan will ink a home-and-home series with a high-profile school like Texas, USC, or perhaps Georgia.  The rivalry with Notre Dame is great, but a break every now and then to play other teams is a good thing as well.

Michigan Folds in Second Period, Falls to Notre Dame 5-3

By · Sunday, February 28, 2010 · 3:14 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Because Northern Michigan won on Saturday night to complete its sweep of Lake Superior State, Michigan couldn’t have moved into fourth place to get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs regardless of what happened in South Bend.  What did happen, though, was one tremendous period followed by an absolute disaster.  Michigan blew a 2-0 lead and ended up losing 5-3, capping off a terrible regular season in a very fitting fashion.

Michigan led 2-0 after the first period thanks to Louie Caporusso and David Wohlberg.  Caporusso scored only 36 seconds into the game by coming down the right side of the ice and shooting the puck over Notre Dame’s goalie, who for some reason decided to crouch down in anticipation of a shot.  There was a shot, but it went right over the goalie and into the net.  Later in the period Wohlberg made an awesome deke to get around a Notre Dame player (as well as two others who seemed to be sleepwalking out there) and followed with a quick backhand for a goal.  Wohlberg’s goal came after Shawn Hunwick stoned a Notre Dame breakaway, giving the entire team a big boost of momentum.

Michigan seemed to be in good shape and well on its way to another victory even after Notre Dame made a great play to score on a redirected shot early in the second period.  I say that because it looked like Chris Brown put Michigan on top by 2 goals again with 1 of his own shortly after the deficit was cut in half.  No goal was signaled initially, however, so the play was reviewed after the next whistle.  The only angle available to the referees — an overhead shot — seemed to show that the puck went in and quickly exited the net after wrapping around the crossbar.  Referee Mark Wilkins disagreed, though, and upheld the call of no goal despite it looking like the puck was in.  I’m sure the argument was that the overhead angle didn’t show enough evidence that a goal was scored, but to me it looked like the puck clearly was in and past the crossbar for a split second.

Instead of leading 3-1, Michigan was only up 2-1 and pretty much fell apart in the following minutes.  Notre Dame tied the game on a shorthanded goal, took the lead on an even strength goal exactly a minute later, and extended its lead to 2 goals by scoring on a power play 5 or so minutes later.  Shawn Hunwick went from looking extremely good to extremely bad very quickly, and suddenly we saw exactly why Bryan Hogan had started every game of the season before last night.  All of the goals seemed rather soft, as did the Fighting Irish’s fifth goal with 5 minutes left in the game.  That was a big one because Louie Caporusso scored early on in the third to make it a 1-goal game.  Michigan tried to tie things up and had some great chances, but Notre Dame stood tough and iced the win with that fifth goal in the latter moments of the third period.

As a result of this loss, Michigan finished in fifth place in the CCHA with 43 points.  That sets up a series with Lake Superior State at Yost Arena this coming weekend.  These two teams played each other twice way back at the end of October at LSSU.  Michigan won both games of the series rather convincingly, taking a 5-1 and 6-3 victory back home to Ann Arbor.

If Michigan wins the best 2 out of 3 series and advances to the next round of the CCHA playoffs, there is a very good chance it could get matched up with Michigan State.  That would be interesting, to say the least, but that is looking way too far ahead for right now.  For Michigan to keep its NCAA tournament streak alive it has to win the CCHA playoffs, and that can only happen one step at a time.  Step one in this instance is taking care of business at home against Lake Superior State.

Here are all of the first-round matchups for the CCHA playoffs:

#5 Alaska vs. #12 Western Michigan
#6 Nebraska-Omaha vs. #11 Bowling Green
#7 Michigan vs. #10 Lake Superior State
#8 Ohio State vs. #9 Notre Dame

The four teams that will receive first-round byes are #1 Miami, #2 Michigan State, #3 Ferris State, and #4 Northern Michigan.

Michigan Shuts Out Notre Dame 4-0 with Shawn Hunwick in Net

By · Friday, February 26, 2010 · 11:14 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Despite losing goalie Bryan Hogan to a groin injury after less than 11 minutes of action last night, Michigan not only beat Notre Dame, but it did it in shutout fashion thanks to a stellar performance by Shawn Hunwick.  Hunwick had barely seen any playing time before yesterday, and even then the little amount of time he got was shaky, to say the least.  Honestly, every shot Notre Dame fired at Hunwick left me holding my breath during the rest of the first period and basically all of the second as well.  By the third, however, Hunwick had played well enough where I no longer felt nervous when Notre Dame had the puck, especially since Michigan was well in control of the game, going on to win 4-0 to give Hunwick his first career win.

The scoring in this one got started right after Hogan left the game.  Chad Langlais made a couple of nice moves to get around the defense and fired a shot at Notre Dame’s goalie.  The puck bounced in the air and slowly went into the net for a goal.  It was really a pretty bad goal for Notre Dame to give up, but that was basically the theme of the night for the Fighting Irish.

Michigan’s next goal came after it had to kill off a 5-on-3.  The penalty kill did a great job of keeping ND from doing anything, and once Carl Hagelin got out of the penalty box in a 5-on-4 situation, he zoomed down the ice, faked out a defenseman, and made a picture perfect centering pass to Matt Rust for an easy goal.  The shorty gave Michigan a 2-0 lead, and this was really the beginning of the end for the Fighting Irish.

Although there was no scoring in the second period, Michigan wasted little time in adding its third goal.  Only 1:32 into the third period, Chris Summers fired a shot at the net from around the blue line and somehow ND’s goalie lost sight of it and let it go in for a goal.  Michigan now led 3-0, and Brian Lebler added goal number 4 about seven minutes later when the puck bounced off of a Notre Dame player and into the net.  The game concluded with no more scoring from either side, meaning Michigan won 4-0 and Shawn Hunwick and Bryan Hogan combined for a shutout.

The great performance was the perfect way to celebrate Senior Night at Yost Arena, and it meant that Michigan is now guaranteed to host a series in the CCHA playoffs.  Whether or not that series will be held next week or in two weeks (meaning Michigan would have a first-round bye) is still to be determined.  Because Northern Michigan beat Lake Superior State in overtime tonight, Michigan will need help from LSSU on Saturday if it wants to have a shot at a first-round bye.  Of course, Michigan has to beat Notre Dame for fourth place to even be possible, and that will have to again happen without Bryan Hogan.

Hogan’s groin injury will keep him out of the starting lineup tomorrow in South Bend, and his status beyond that is uncertain.  Red Berenson said the injury is of the week-to-week variety rather than day-to-day, meaning that if Michigan does not reach fourth place and has to play next weekend, there is a very good chance that Hogan will miss the series.  As well as Hunwick played last night, I would rather have a healthy Bryan Hogan in goal.  Hogan has started every game this season, and although he hasn’t been the greatest goalie in the world at times, I just don’t have a ton of confidence that Hunwick can sustain last night’s great play over multiple games.  Then again, my expectations for Hunwick last night were pretty low and he pleasantly surprised me, so anything can happen if a goalie gets on a hot streak.

Basically what Michigan’s CCHA playoffs outlook boils down to is what happens in its game at Notre Dame and what Northern Michigan does against Lake Superior State.  To even have a shot at fourth place and a first-round bye, Michigan must beat Notre Dame.  Northern Michigan simply needs to pick up a point to guarantee at least a tie of fourth place, and a shootout or regulation win would give the Wildcats sole possession of fourth place.  To make it simple: Michigan needs a win and a Northern Michigan loss, otherwise it will be hosting a series to open the CCHA playoffs next weekend.

Monday Quick Hits: Josh Furman to Announce Decision Tonight

By · Monday, December 21, 2009 · 1:49 PM |  Share | 1 Comment 
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