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What Else Is Blue Is Ready for the Postseason

This week the postseason starts in women’s soccer and cross country with men’s soccer and field hockey close behind. Plus, BIG BEAR’S COMING HOME.

UM Photography, E. Bronson

It’s maybe the most exciting time of the year, as every fall sport hits its homestretch at the same time. While volleyball still has a month to go in its regular season, men’s soccer and field hockey seal their Big Ten seasons this weekend, and women’s soccer gets its postseason started. Meanwhile things are winding down in the fall individual sports, but just heating up for swimming.

This Week’s One Thing

Big Ten Tournament: #20 Women’s Soccer v. Maryland, Sun Nov. 3, 1p

After a season that exceeded expectations, Michigan has earned hosting duties in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. While the semis and finals will be at Rutgers, the first round is on campus sites. Michigan is the three seed, and will take on the six-seed Maryland Terrapins. This will be the second straight match against the Terps at home, and Michigan will hope they can repeat last week’s 4-1 stomping. Tournament soccer is always a blast, and with a win here the Wolverines might have a chance to return home for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

TV Schedule

Fri Nov 1:

Volleyball @ #19 Illinois, FS1

Sun Nov. 3:

#8 Field Hockey @ #9 Iowa, 11a, BTN

Men’s Soccer v. #17 Maryland, 3p, ESPNU

Most other home and conference games on BTN+.

Men’s Soccer (8-4-4, 12 pts (3-1-3) B1G)

Last Week: 1-1 T v. Wisconsin, 2-0 W v. MSU

Upcoming: Sun Nov. 3, 3p @ #17 Maryland, ESPNU

THEY WON THE BEAR. After four years of Michigan State rivalry supremacy, Michigan hosted Michigan State on a freezing Tuesday night and came away with 3 points and the Big Bear Trophy. Michigan was the better team from the start, scoring it’s first goal just ten minutes in when a corner kick pinballed around the box before falling to the feet of Nebojsa Popovic, who got it home. Popovic followed up with a second goal in the 38th minute. Michigan held possession for much of the second half and got off 8 shots to MSU’s 3. While none of those shots went in, simple possession was enough, and the two-goal halftime lead held. Michigan beat their rivals, and took a huge step toward securing a home Big Ten Tournament match. Popovic’s two goals gave him a two-goal lead in the Big Ten’s Golden Boot race. Previously, Michigan had drawn with Wisconsin, with a Wisconsin own goal being the only Wolverine tally.

Michigan will head to Maryland, needing just a draw to guarantee a spot in the top four of the Big Ten Tournament bracket and a home game. A win would give Michigan the tournament’s third seed, and they could still get the fourth seed and host with a loss and a (somewhat likely) MSU loss to Indiana. Michigan is still very much a bubble team, and having that home match could be the difference between sneaking into the tournament as an at-large of being on the wrong side of the bubble. A win Sunday guarantees a home match, and a point could be enough depending on other results.

#20 Women’s Soccer (13-4-1, 25 pts (8-2-1) B1G)

Last Week: 1-0 L v. #16 Rutgers, 4-1 W v. Maryland

Upcoming: Big Ten Tournament: Sun Nov. 3, 1p v. Maryland

Michigan women’s soccer split the final weekend of the regular season, and will now move on to post-season play. The Wolverines opened with a tough loss to #16 Rutgers, which gave Rutgers the conference tiebreaker and left Michigan needing at least a point in their final game to guarantee a chance to play a U-M Soccer Stadium one more time. Needing just a draw, Michigan came out firing against Maryland with Nicki Hernandez scoring just inside of the 10-minute mark. A 2-0 halftime lead became 3-0 after a Maryland own goal at 66’, and after a Stratagakis goal and a late Maryland goal, the 4-1 final set up a rematch the next Sunday.

Michigan is solidly in the NCAA Tournament, but a strong performance in the Big Ten Tournament could lead to Michigan being awarded a first round game on their home field. Michigan is 30th in RPI, making the Big Ten Tournament finals likely means they’re coming home. I do think it’s unlikely they’d host a regional.

#8 Field Hockey (13-4, 5-2 B1G)

Last Week: 3-0 L v. #16 Rutgers, 4-3 W v. #13 St. Joe’s

Upcoming: Sun Nov. 3, 11a v. #9 Iowa, BTN

Field hockey went to New Jersey and took a disappointing loss to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights’ 3 goals were the most the Wolverines have given up in Big Ten play, and handed them only their second loss. Michigan followed up the conference game with a wild comeback win in Philadelphia on Sunday, beating St. Joe’s and gaining an RPI boost from the tough non-conference opponent. The teams traded goals early, before two straight St. Joe’s goals made it 3-1 heading into the second half. Michigan came out of the break ready, with Guadalupe Fernandez Lacort setting up two early second half goals, and a 3-3 tie going into the fourth. Kayla Reed notched the winning tally with four minutes to go, and Michigan headed home having split the road trip.

Michigan now travels to #9 Iowa to close out the Big Ten season. The Iowa game is huge, and is on regular TV. With a win, Michigan clinches the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament and boosts their RPI. A loss and Michigan falls into the muddled middle of the Big Ten, subjecting themselves to tiebreakers that could lead to them opening the tournament with a higher-seeded team. And while you’d think #10 in RPI would put them solidly on the right side of the bubble, with so many ACC teams in front of them claiming at-large bids and only eight available, falling to just #12 could spell trouble.

Cross Country

Last Week: EMU Fall Classic

Upcoming: Big Ten Championships, Columbus, OH, Men: 10:45a, Women: 11:45a, FLOtrack

Both the men and women will compete at the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, OH this weekend, the first race of the three-race postseason period. The women will go into the tournament as the second-ranked team in the Big Ten, sitting at national #8, one spot behind Wisconsin. The men are #17 in the country, behind Purdue, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Following this, there will be a two week break before competing in the Great Lakes regional.

Last week, some runners competed in the EMU Fall Classic, most of whom will not be expected to place at the Big Ten Meet. The women were led by eight-placed Faith Reynolds, while the men were led by fourth-place Gabe Mudel.

Volleyball (13-7, 6-4 B1G)

Last Week: 3-2 L v. #6 Minnesota, 3-1 L v. #7 Wisconsin

Upcoming: Fri Nov. 1, 8:30p ET @ #19 Illinois (FS1), Sat Nov. 2, 8p ET @ Northwestern, Wed Nov. 6, 7p v. MSU, Crisler Center

Volleyball took an extremely tough loss Friday night, being edged out by #6 Minnesota in five sets. Michigan was rolling, taking a 2-0 lead into the third set, and looked like they might pull out the big upset on their home court. Two sets later it was 2-2 with Minnesota forcing the abbreviated final set. In the fifth set the teams traded runs, with an 8-5 Michigan lead ceding to a 12-8 Gopher lead. Michigan fought back, winning five of the next six to force a 13-13 tie. After making the comeback there was hope for Michigan to go on one last run, but Minnesota scored the final two points to close out the contest. Michigan couldn’t bounce back Sunday, dropping a 3-1 contest to Wisconsin in which they lost the last three sets by at least 9 points each.

Michigan will travel to Illinois this weekend, playing the Illini on national TV Friday night and Northwestern on Saturday. Michigan will return home with a mid-week rivalry matchup with MSU, their final match of their Crisler Arena series. At #40 in RPI, Michigan remains on the right side of the bubble, but just barely. They’ll need a strong close to the Big Ten season.

#8 Men’s Swim/Dive (2-0)

Upcoming: Sat Nov. 2, 9a @ #5 Indiana, v. #23 Iowa

Men’s swimming and diving begins Big Ten competition this week after a long break since their last competitive meet. The Wolverines will travel to Bloomington to participate in a double-dual with Indiana and Iowa. As always in these scenarios there will be three separate meets happening concurrently, with scoring depending on your time relative to each other team. After this they will go on a long break until December.

#11 Women’s Swim/Dive (2-0)

Upcoming: Fri Nov. 1, 3p (ET) @ Iowa

Women’s swimming also faces Iowa this week, in a dual meet in Iowa City. Iowa has already begin conference play, with a victory over Michigan State.

Women’s Golf

Last Week: Landfall Tradition, Wilmington, NC, 13th of 18.

Michigan women’s golf finished its fall season in North Carolina, finishing 13th at the Landfall Tradition tournament. To some degree this is an encouraging result for Michigan. The field was absolutely stacked, and finishing 13th simply aligns with their rank relative to the field. Michigan also finished ahead of three conference teams, beating Penn St., Maryland, and Purdue while trailing Illinois, Indiana, and MSU. Ashley Kim led the Wolverines for the first time this season, posting a +3 and coming in 17th.

Women’s Tennis

Upcoming: Fri-Sun Nov. 1-3, Lakewood Ranch Invite, Sarasota, FL

Wed Nov 6, ITA Fall National Championships, Newport Beach, CA

Some Michigan athletes will head to Florida for the penultimate event of the fall season. They’ll be joined by Penn St and a slew of teams from around the country.

The headliner is the first round of the Fall National Championships next Wednesday, where Guilia Pairone will compete in singles, and a team of Andrea Cerdan and Alyvia Jones will compete in doubles. If they win, there will certainly be more coverage of that tournament in this space.

Men’s Tennis

Upcoming: Fri-Mon Nov 1-4, Big Ten Singles and Doubles Championship, Lincoln, NE, Fri-Sun Nov. 1-3, Lakewood Ranch Invite, Sarasota, FL

The men this week will compete in the Big Ten Singles and Doubles Championship on the campus of Nebraska. Others may join the women in Lakewood. As of now, there is no information on how the teams will be split.

#25 Women’s Basketball

Last Week: W 97-46 v. Northwood (Exhibition)

Michigan women’s basketball is ranked to open the season, sneaking into the polls at 25. In their exhibition opener, they unsurprisingly trounced D2 Northwood. I don’t want to draw too much from an exhibition. Freshman Izabel Varejao (it’s his niece) led with 18 points. Last year’s Big Ten Sixth Athlete of the Year Naz Hillmon did get the start, and it looks like they started what will become their normal lineup. I think women’s basketball will be really good this year, and I’m very excited for this season to get started. They do not play this week, and will open against WMU on Friday November 8th. A women’s basketball preview article is forthcoming.

#19 Wrestling

Upcoming: Sat Nov. 2, 9:30a, MSU Open, East Lansing, MI

Michigan Wrestling will open its season at the Michigan State Open. I’ll do a full wrestling preview next week, but Michigan had success at this non-team event last year. Kanan Storr, Will Lewan (no relation), and newly-minted World Champion Mason Parris all won their divisions, and all will return for the Wolverines this year.