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Lacrosse Preview: Michigan vs. Drexel

Michigan plays a team from Philly for the second time this season.

University of Michigan photo services

After going on a bit of a mini slide, the Wolverines got back above .500 with last weekend's sphincter-clenching quadruple overtime winner over Saint Joseph's. Things aren't going to get any easier this weekend.

What: Michigan Wolverines (4-3, 0-0) vs. Drexel Dragons (2-5, 0-0)

Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI

When: 3/21/15 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

How to watch: BTN Plus

Drexel finished 13-5 overall last season (4-1 in the CAA) on their way to a berth in the NCAA Tournament. While in the first round, face-off man Nick Saputo did some stuff in the video below...

Three scores directly off the face-off is pure bananas.

So that was 2014. 2015 hasn't gone as well for Drexel, but when you lose 131 goals-scored from previous season, it's going to be rough--the Dragons are at -2.43 in scoring margin through seven games this year vs. +1 through the first seven last season. It's not just the players that are gone that Drexel will miss--former offensive coordinator, Conor Ford, left to take the an assistant coaching position at...Michigan.

Senior midfielder Ryan Belka and sophomore attackman Cole Shafer are the team's leading returning scorers, each with 14 so far in '15. Add in junior middie Jules Raucci's 7 goals and 5 assists, and this is a potent trio that could cause problems for the Michigan defense.

As an aside, 10 Man Ride has some good insight into the mess that is the CAA, and another video of some sick Dragon play. And speaking of the CAA, Hoya Suxa over at College Crosse refers to the league as "Thunderdome".

Back to the preview...On the defensive side of the ball for Drexel, Miles Thomas and Jake Kiernan lead the team in CT, with a combined 15 turnovers; as a team, the Dragons are at 43 caused turnovers to Michigan's 72. The Wolverines' number is good enough to put them at second in the country, behind only a Brown team that defeated Michigan two weeks ago.

In goal for Drexel are Jimmy Joe Granito and Will Gabrielsen, who are in the books for .479 and .392 save percentages respectively. Michigan's Gerald Logan ranks 6th in saves per game with 13.29, and he brings a .555 save %.

In virtually all other stats, Michigan is about as even as they can be with their opponents.


Don't be fooled by Drexel's 2-5 record; this is a team that was picked 16th in the USILA pre-season poll for a reason, even if it hasn't necessarily played out that way on the field. Most of their losses are all of the "good" variety--Virginia, Albany, Villanova, and Maryland. The only questionable loss came at the hands of the 2-6 St. John's Red Storm.

What does this mean for Michigan? Well, Drexel's wins have come against some middling teams (although Bryant was a tournament team in 2014, they have only one win in 2015), and Michigan isn't quite at the stature of the Virginias and Marylands of the world. At the end of the day, this game is really going to come down to who can control the face-off. Brad Lott ranks 27th in the country at the dot, while Drexel's Nick Saputo ranks 17th. As a team, the Dragons are 12th in the country with their guys down in the dirt. If Michigan can win the battle on the ground, they may be able to slay the Dragons--oh, man, did I really just say something so cheap? Yes. Yes I did.

I'm not sure how comfortable I am with picking Michigan, but since this game is in the Big House, I'll give the home team the nod, but just barely...Michigan 12, Drexel 11.