Michigan Ties New York Mets 4-4, Named National League East Front Runner - So much for keeping thing humble and simple. Less than five games (including last year) after knocking college baseball's No. 1 team out of the NCAA tournament, Michigan played the expected National League front running New York Mets to a 4-4 tie in 9 innings. Michigan was paced by Derek VanBuskirk who collected two hits, including a two run homer off of Ryan Cullen. Michigan held the lead into the 9th until with two outs Bobby Abreu put one in orbit with a runner on to tie things up. Adam Abraham was able to retire Angel Pagan to preserve the tie.
Angel Pagan Reacts to His Game Ending Strikeout
Despite the tie, not a bad outcome for a bunch of college kids. Ranked 18th in the last baseball poll things continue to look up.
Sing It, Bitch - Former Domer Aaron Heilman is going around writing checks his vocal chords, and his arm, can't cash. Heilman, a 2001 Notre Dame alum, bet Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon that no Irish alum would give up a run to the Wolverines when the Mets played Michigan this weekend. Heilman promptly gave up a run in his only inning of work.
The bet? Heilman has to sing "The Victors" for his teammates. Nothing too major. It's not like Heilman has to donate a chunk of cash to the Michigan scholarship fund or shave his nards. Still, watching him slog through "The Victors" would be almost as much entertainment as watching Brady Quinn dance to the village people.
Michigan remains No. 1 in Polls, One Win Away From CCHA Crown - Michigan remained atop the USCHO College Hockey poll this week, amassing 35 first place votes. With the Wolverines earning a hard fought split against #6 Michigan State last weekend, Michigan can clinch the CCHA regular season crown with a victory over Ferris State this weekend. What's more important, according to USCHO's Pairwise rankings, Michigan has a somewhat comfortable lead over the second, third and fourth place teams in the rankings. For NCAA tournament seeding's sake, this is a big deal.
With apologies and thanks to Jayson Moy at USCHO who took the time to explain all of this, here's how it works. Please head over and read Jayson's column for a more indepth analysis.
* There are four regional sites (East -- Albany, N.Y.. Northeast -- Worcester, Mass., Midwest -- Madison, Wis., West -- Colorado Springs, Colo.)
* A host institution which is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host, and cannot be moved. There are four host institutions this year, Rensselaer in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Wisconsin in Madison and Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
* Seedings will not be switched, as opposed to years past. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.
Here are the NCAA's guidelines on the matter, per a meeting of the Championship Committee:
In setting up the tournament, the committee begins with a list of priorities to ensure a successful tournament on all fronts including competitive equity, financial success and likelihood of playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For the model, the following is a basic set of priorities:
* The top four teams as ranked by the committee are the four No. 1 seeds and will be placed in the bracket so that if all four teams advance to the Men's Frozen Four, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed in the semifinals.
* Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.
* No. 1 seeds are placed as close to home as possible in order of their ranking 1-4.
* Conference matchups in the first round are avoided, unless five or more teams from one conference are selected, then the integrity of the bracket will be preserved.
* Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee's ranking of 1-16. The top four teams are the No. 1 seeds. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds. These groupings will be referred to as "bands."
At this point, Michigan looks like it will end up as the No. 1 seed, playing in Albany. This is a big deal. With Colorado College lurking in the top four, Wisconsin getting a free pass by being a host, and the possibility of playing in Minnesota, the relative tranquility of Albany (I can't believe I'm writing this) will be the only location where Michigan:
(a) Won't have to deal with a riled up opposing fan base; and
(b) Doesn't have to play Minnesota or North Dakota until the Frozen Four.
The three other teams in their group, if it started today, include Army, Boston College and Minnesota State. On name alone, BC appears to be the most fiercesome opponent, but they're sporting a 1-3 record over their last four including a sweep and shellacking at the hands of UNH. Minnesota State is playing cold right now too, getting swept by Nebraska Omaha.
If things work out this way, Michigan fans should be giddy. But things rarely work out the way they should, and either failing to win the CCHA regular season title (i.e., getting swept by Ferris) or an early CCHA Tournament exit could drop the Wolverines into Madison or Colorado, neither of which are good things. So. Keep your fingers crossed.
Michigan is trailed in the USCHO poll by #2 North Dakota, #3 New Hampshire, #4 Colorado College, and #5 Miami.