Slowly but surely, the fall sports season is becoming the winter sports season. While women’s basketball and wrestling hold their openers, it’s finally time for NCAA Tournament play in women’s soccer and field hockey. It’s the most exciting time of the fall, before things slow down a bit for the early part of the winter sports season.
This Week’s One Thing:
NCAA Tournament First Round: Women’s Soccer v. Bowling Green, Fri Nov. 15, 7p
For the first time this season, NCAA Tournament play is being held on-campus. The women’s soccer team earned a spot in the top half of the field, and gets to host a first round game. Michigan has already beaten Bowling Green this season, a 2-0 decision all the way back in September. It’s going to be a little chillier this time around, but the home setting and opponent will give Michigan a great opportunity to get it’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2013.
#19 Women’s Soccer (15-5-1, 8-2-1 B1G)
Last Week: 2-1 W v. Rutgers, 1-2 L v. Penn St
Upcoming: NCAA Tournament First Round, Fri Nov 15, 7p v. Bowling Green
Last weekend, Michigan women’s soccer headed to Piscataway to participate in the Big Ten Tournament, and went to overtime in both the semifinal and championship games. Michigan first took on hosts Rutgers. It was a tough defensive contest, but Sydney Shepherd finally broke through just shy of 70 minutes. While it looked like Michigan would hold on, Rutgers broke through with only 90 seconds to go, and the match headed to OT. Just six minutes into overtime, Jayde Riviere sent the Wolverines to the championship with this beauty:
In the final, the teams played scoreless soccer for 80 minutes. When an own goal put Michigan up 1-0, it looked like that might be enough to win, but less than a minute later Penn State was awarded a penalty kick, and the match headed to overtime. Penn State caught Beall a little too far out of the goal, and scored on a chip shot to win the tournament.
Michigan hosts Bowling Green in the first round, and will almost certainly head to Chapel Hill, NC if they win. Texas A&M and North Carolina are the likely opponents in the next rounds, providing a tall task to Jennifer Klien’s team. Those matches would be next weekend.
The Bowling Green game appears to be on BTN+, which is honestly pretty disappointing. It is unknown whether there will be announcers or a scoreboard, as there often is not for BTN+ matches. The paywall is also a higher bar to climb than, say, the SEC and ACC putting it’s tournament matches on ESPN3. Sure, you still need a cable/streaming login for ESPN3, but most fans already have that. I don’t know if there is some sort of contractual requirement that made it impossible to put the game on the Fox app with other regular BTN content, but tournament games should be watchable by the most amount of people.
Men’s Soccer (10-4-4, 4-1-3 B1G)
Last Week: 2-1 W v. MSU
This Week: Big Ten Tournament semifinal, Fri Nov. 15, 4p v. Penn St. (College Park, MD), BTN
Big Ten Championship, Sun Nov. 17, 2p v. Indiana/Maryland, BTN
Men’s soccer began its quest for the Big Ten Tournament title, hosting Michigan State. Michigan likely got the better of the chances in the first half, but MSU scored on the best one it got, for a 1-0 halftime lead. Michigan came out of the locker room firing, pushing hard for the second goal. They finally broke through at 60 minutes, when Jackson Regan and Umar Farouk Osman contained a bad clearance and put it in the back of the net. Ten minutes later, Jack Hallahan stood over a direct free kick. While he was probably just trying to put it in the box, it took a weird bounce and landed in goal without touching anyone, Wolverine or Spartan, for a direct free kick goal. Both goals are in the clip but especially watch the second one:
Michigan now heads to College Park, MD to finish the tournament. They’ll get Penn St. on Friday, and if they win the championship will be against Indiana or Maryland Sunday. They’re likely safe for the NCAA Tournament, but a win Friday would do wonders for their seed. Both games will be on BTN.
#10 Field Hockey (13-6, 5-3 B1G)
Upcoming: NCAA Tournament First Round, Fri Nov. 15, 12p @ #5 Louisville
Last week in this space I said I believed that the field hockey season might be over, and as it turns out that is not the case. Not only did they work their way into the tournament, they got themselves a decent draw, facing 4-seed Louisville. The Cardinals will host the regional, and if the Wolverines win they will stay in Louisville to take on the winner of Northwestern/Boston College. That game would be Sunday. All games are available on Louisville’s website.
#24 Women’s Basketball (2-0)
Last Week: 76-55 W v. WMU, 77-57 W v. Bradley
Upcoming: Fri Nov. 15, 2p v. Kent St. (Akron, OH), Sat Nov 16, 2:30p @ Akron, ESPN+
Michigan women’s basketball opened a pair of buy games and came out swinging. Michigan cruised to comfortable wins against Western Michigan and Bradley. As expected, Naz Hillmon currently leads the team in scoring, but both games were highlighted by the performance of Amy Dilk. Dilk scored a double-double in the Western game with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and was one rebound away from doing the same against Bradley. Michigan has been bumped up a spot, to #24.
Michigan now heads to Akron, OH, for a neutral-site game with Kent St. before taking on the hosts the next day. Kent St. is 2-0, winning squeakers against Duquesne and Youngstown St. Akron is 1-0, after a road win against St. Bonaventure. Michigan will be the best team on the court in both games, and hopefully can handle the nerves of the first contest away from home.
Michigan also signed ESPN’s 12th ranked recruiting class in the country, the best ranked class in the Big Ten. The class is led by 5-star center Cameron Williams out of Chicago, the #35 recruit in the country.
#23 Volleyball (18-7, 11-4)
Last Week: 3-1 W v. #21 Illinois, 3-0 W v. Iowa
Upcoming: Sat Nov. 16, 8p (ET) @ #5 Minnesota, Wed Nov. 20, 7p v. MSU
Michigan stayed at home and won two more games to extend its winning streak to five. Michigan took on the Illini on Saturday night, winning a 3-1 contest that would knock Illinois out of the rankings and sweep the season series. A win over Iowa on Wednesday completed the week, and for the first time since September 9th the Wolverines are ranked.
They’ll now begin a three-game road trip, starting with a tough contest in Minnesota. While Michigan is almost certainly safe for the NCAA Tournament, hosting a first round matchup is still on the table if they were to take the upset in Minneapolis. Michigan will then travel to East Lansing for a rivalry match with MSU.
Upcoming: NCAA Great Lakes Regional, Fri Nov. 15, Women: 1p (ET), Men: 2p (ET), Madison, WI
The cross country team now travels to Madison, WI for the Great Lakes regional. Each regional grants two automatic spots to the National Championships, with the remaining spots filled by at-large bids. Michigan has a tough task ahead of them, as both teams come in as the third-ranked team in the region. The men will attempt to knock off host Wisconsin and Indiana for one of the top two spots, while the women get MSU and Wisconsin. They won’t have to wait long to find out if they get an at-large bid, with the field being announced Saturday evening.
Last Week: 19-17 L v. #17 North Carolina
Upcoming: Sun Nov. 17, 10a, Black Knight Invitational, West Point, NY
Michigan opened its team wrestling season with a narrow loss against #17 North Carolina, in Ann Arbor. Heavyweight sophomore Mason Parris maintained his season-opening unbeaten streak, and has now risen to #7 nationally in his weight class. Michigan was not punished in the rankings for the loss, holding at #19.
Michigan will send several wrestlers, Parris included, to the Black Knight Invitational this weekend. It is an individual tournament with no team scoring.
Last Week: ITA Fall National Championship Consolation Bracket, Thunderbird Invitational
While Michigan’s participants in the Fall National Championship did not make it past the first day in the main bracket, they stayed to participate in the consolation bracket. The men’s pair of Andrew Fenty and Mattias Siimaar won the doubles consolation bracket, finishing the fall with a 12-2 record together. On the women’s side, the Alyvia Jones/Andrea Cerdan pair made it to the consolation quarterfinals. The women also sent athletes to the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, where they went 9-9 in singles and 2-9 in doubles.
That wraps up the fall singles season for tennis. It was a solid performance, with two men and two women, as well as doubles teams on both sides, making the Fall National Championship. Tennis will return in January, when team play begins. Team tennis is one of my favorite non-revenue sports, and I am looking forward to returning to the Varsity Tennis Center.
Last Week: 3-2 W @ Vanderbilt, exhibition
Baseball wrapped up it’s fall exhibition season by getting some measure of revenge over their College World Series finals opponent, winning a 3-2 exhibition contest in their stadium. Michigan had strong pitching performances, with freshman Cameron Weston and sophomore Steve Hajjar each recording 5 strikeouts and 1 hit. Michigan scored 2 in the second and 1 unearned in the ninth to take the win. Michigan’s 2020 schedule has not been released yet, but will feature the Ann Arbor leg of a home-and-home with Texas Tech, and participation in the MLB4 tournament with Vandy, UConn, and Cal Poly.