Who: Michigan at No. 5 Brown
Where: Providence, R.I.
When: March 12; 1:00 p.m. ET
On the back of a very strong third quarter, the Michigan men's lacrosse team (3-2) defeated Vermont at home last Saturday, and will now go back on the road to face off against the Brown Bears (4-0). Brown enters the game ranked No. 5 in the country and are averaging 17.75 points per game, while allowing 8.75 goals against. The Bears will also be the third team from 2015's tournament that Michigan has faced this season, and the second of three match-ups with members of the Ancient Eight--a loss to Penn is already in the books, and they'll play Dartmouth a week from Saturday.
en Ballistri is second on the Bears' squad in points, but he has 14 goals on 24 shots, and a SOG% of 83.3, so he's going to take his fair share of shots at Michigan goalie Gerald Logan (.541 save % & 11.12 goals-against average). Dylan Molloy is the points leader on 11 goals and 16 assists (his 4-assist average puts him at number one in the country), while Henry Blynn rounds out the attack with 12 goals in 2016.
I probably shouldn't mention that the three attackers above combined for 16 of Brown's 22 goals in last year's meeting in Ann Arbor (eight goals for Molloy alone). I'll understand if you just go with a thousand-yard-stare after reading that.
Defenseman Alec Tulett is the 4th-ranked player in ground balls after grabbing 32 so far this season. He also shares the lead in caused turnovers with fellow defenseman Larken Kemp; they each have seven.
One of the best netminders in the country, Jack Kelly, has started all four games for the Bears and is coming into the game with a save percentage of .645 (3rd nationally, 1st in the Ivy League), and he's bringing his 8.36 goals-against average with him.
You know how I keep harping on Brad Lott and the face-offs? In last season's match-up, he went 5-14 and was replaced by Mike McDonnell, who subsequently went 10-24. Lott will put his .550 winning percentage up against Brown's Will Gural, who leads the nation with 79% of face-offs going his way. Michigan and Vermont were in a statistical dead heat heading into last weekend, and the game basically played out that way, but the Wolverines face the real possibility of getting slaughtered at the face-off X this weekend.
Here's what you really need to know about Brown: they rank first nationally in assists per game, face-off winning percentage, points per game, scoring margin, scoring offense, and winning percentage. A win for Michigan is highly unlikely, but would be the most important in the program's history...and would send [enter overused metaphor for something major here] throughout college lacrosse if it did happen.
I'm a pessimist by nature, which means I am experiencing a fair amount of dread going into Saturday. Even if Michigan plays their best game yet, it may not be enough; they could keep it close-ish, but a win probably isn't in the cards.
Stay tuned for the postmortem on either Sunday or Monday.