Who: Michigan (5-5, 1-1) vs. No. 16 Ohio State (9-3, 2-0)
Where: Michigan Stadium
When: April 12, 2:00 p.m.
How to watch: ESPNU
The .500 Michigan Wolverines get the series for the Creators Trophy started this weekend with their match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Creators Trophy goes to whomever wins the Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan series, and is called the Creators Trophy since these three teams were the first to be a part of the Big Ten conference.
Michigan may have Ian King, but the Buckeyes have a King of their own. Jesse King is one of the best players in the Big Ten, ranking second in scoring (8 goals), second in points (11), and tied for fourth in assists (3). King's teammate Carter Brown also has eight scores in Big Ten play. King and Brown are averaging four goals per game, so Michigan will definitely need to keep their eyes wide open if they want to avoid a rout. So far, the Buckeyes average 12.50 goals per game; Michigan has averaged just 7 goals per game.
The Wolverines are dead last in the conference on face-offs (.279), while the Buckeyes are third at .538; this has been a problem for Michigan over the last couple of years, and it isn't very often that they can lose the face-off battle but win the game...like they did last weekend against Rutgers, winning only six opportunities. Ohio State isn't Rutgers. Christopher May's winning percentage at the X is .647 overall, but his conference number is .683. If Michigan struggles the way they did against Rutgers, Gerald Logan could be looking at being the one who will be called upon to save the day.
The area where Michigan has excelled is with Logan in cage. He has the Wolverines in first place at 12.50 saves per game, but he will need to stop more than that in order to beat Ohio State on Saturday. Ohio State's man between the pipes is redshirt sophomore Tom Carey, who is stopping 56% of the shots that head his way. If Michigan can keep the +4 turnover margin (10.50) over Ohio State (14.50) and cause a few more, there's a real chance that the Wolverines could keep this thing close.
When it comes right down to it, this game will be decided by the Kings, as all battles should be, right? With both guys averaging four goals per game, their respective teams will go the way they go. However, Ohio State's supporting cast probably has the upper hand, and that support is more than just Carter Brown. Attackmen Ryan Hunter and Colin Chell have 20 goals between them, and have added 35 ground balls. Senior midfielder David Planning is also contributing nicely with 23 points on 11 goals and 12 assists.
Unfortunately, I don't believe Michigan has enough to keep pace with Jesse King or Carter Brown. Winning the face-off is going to be a huge challenge, which also means that the Michigan defense may get tired out very quickly. Gerald Logan will have more saves than Tom Carey, but Logan will face considerably more shots than Carey. Michigan will find the back of the net, but not enough times to overcome a platoon of Buckeyes scoring. Ohio State 14, Michigan 6.