What, Where and When
What: Michigan (5-10, 1-3) vs Fairfield (11-3, 3-1)
Where: Columbus, OH; Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium
When: May 1st at 5:00 p.m. ET
Coverage: Fox Sports 2
Michigan had a great chance to win the last time these two teams played. They scored two goals in each quarter, but if not for a five-goal second quarter for the Stags, Michigan could have had a major victory for the program.
Since beating the Wolverines on April 5, Fairfield went 2-1 in the next three games, with the one loss coming to Air Force. With that loss there was a three way tie for first place in the conference, but I don't think there was any doubt that the Stags would receive the one-seed heading into the tourney.
Fairfield player to watch: Colin McLinden. Fairfield did a pretty good job of spreading the scoring around in the Big House, with six players scoring goals, and three of those players scoring twice. So even though Michigan really can't afford to focus on just one guy, they may want to be a little more aware of McLinden. He had three assists against the Wolverines, but he has a total of 28 on the season. The rest of the team's assists drop precipitously, as the next guy on the stat sheet (Tristan Sperry) has 17; everyone else is in single digits after that. But beware, Wolverines, the Stags are also boasting the ECAC Goalie of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
Michigan player to watch: Ian King or Kyle Jackson...pick your poison. King's 30 goals are a single-season record, while Jackson just set the single-game scoring record at five during the match-up with Robert Morris. Jackson's efforts got him named ECAC Player of the Week. In addition, the Wolverines also have other players receiving conference accolades, including four guys on the ECAC All-Rookie Team. Although it was David Joseph who broke out against the Stags the last time around, King and Jackson have been on a roll lately and will certainly want to tally more than the one goal each guy had on April 5th.
Michigan wins if: Brad Lott dominates the face-off and Ian King scores 3-5 goals. Although Lott is the ECAC's face-off leader, winning 54% of the time, he has been up and down all season. He needs to do what he did against Bellarmine and bring out a 21 of 24 performance if Michigan really wants a chance to move on. King is the team's leading scorer, but found the back of the net only once against Fairfield in April; that will not be good enough on Thursday.
|Goals scored per game
|Shots on goal-attempts
So do I go with my head or my heart on this? Michigan played a great game against Robert Morris last weekend, and they took Fairfield to the edge the last time around. There's a chance that Michigan can pull out a shocker and move on to the conference championship, but the Stags are just too strong to let that happen. It may be a repeat of the last game, with Michigan hanging around and giving the Stags all they can handle, but Fairfield should be able to win in another too-close-for-comfort kind of game. Prediction: Fairfield 12 - Michigan 9.