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What Else Is Blue Begins Bracket Watch

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We’re in the post-season for soccer, field hockey, and cross country, so it’s time to keep an eye on the bubble. Plus Volleyball’s three-win week, and an exhibition World Series rematch.

Michigan Photography

This Week’s One Thing:

Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal: Men’s Soccer v. MSU, Sun Nov. 10, 4p

Anytime there are on-campus postseason games I’m going to recommend you go to that, and most of the time if there’s an on-campus Michigan/MSU game I’m going to recommend you go to that, so both things happening at the same time is a must-attend. Michigan won the regular season matchup (BIG BEAR) 2-0 at U-M Soccer Stadium, and will be looking to follow the same script. Michigan scored two goals in the first half and while they couldn’t get the ball in the net in the second, they controlled much of the possession. The Spartans lost their only game since, and are in the midst of a four game losing streak. Tournament soccer is weird, and rivalry soccer is weird, so while Michigan has the clear advantage I’d expect a physical, fun game.

TV Schedule:

Fri Nov. 8:

Women’s Soccer v. Rutgers, Big Ten Tournament Semifinal, 1:30p, BTN

Sun Nov 10:

Women’s Soccer v. Purdue/Penn St, Big Ten Championship, 12p, BTN (if qualified)

Men’s Soccer v. MSU, Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal, 4p, BTN

Baseball v. Vanderbilt, 1p, SECN+

Most other home and conference matches on BTN+.

#19 Women’s Soccer (14-4-1, 3rd Place B1G)

Last Week: 3-0 W v. Maryland

Upcoming: Big Ten Semifinals, Fri Nov. 8 @ Rutgers, 1:30p, BTN

Big Ten Championship, Sun Nov 10 v. Purdue/Penn St (Piscataway, NJ), 12p, BTN

Michigan soccer hosted the Big Ten Tournament Quarter final and beat Maryland badly in their second straight contest. Though Michigan controlled the vast majority of possession and was firmly in control the whole match, it did take a little while for them to score their first goal. In the 35th minute, Danielle Wolfe chased down a rebound before the keeper could move and that was just about ballgame for Maryland. Michigan scored twice in the second, with Sarah Stratagakis earning an assist on each of the second half goals.

Michigan now heads to Piscataway, NJ for the final two rounds of the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan will face the hosts Rutgers on Friday afternoon in the semifinals. In their last meeting, Michigan suffered a 1-0 defeat in Ann Arbor, and another close match should be in the offering. Michigan got a little lucky elsewhere in the bracket, with Purdue pulling an upset over 1-seed Wisconsin. If Michigan does make the final, it will either be against Purdue or 4-seed Penn St., both teams that Michigan beat this season.

The selection show for the Women’s Soccer NCAA Tournament will be Monday Nov. 11 at 4:30p. Michigan is #25 in RPI. With 33 at-large bids available, I believe that puts them in a position of relative safety for the NCAA Tournament, as they would currently be the 16th at-large selection (I figure this by assuming each conference RPI leader wins their tournament and removing them from the standings). Even if there are a handful of bid-stealers, Michigan would be safe. In fact, I think a win would put them in line for one of the 32 first-round hosting bids, and I’m not even sure a loss would knock them out. Obviously winning the tournament this weekend and earning the auto-bid would put them in a position of complete safety. I do not think they could play into a position where they can host a regional, so the first round home game is likely it.

Men’s Soccer (9-4-4, 3rd Place B1G)

Last Week: 4-2 W v. #23 Maryland

Upcoming: Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals: Sun Nov 10 v. MSU, 4p, BTN

Men’s soccer picked up a huge win on the final day of the regular season, travelling to Maryland and trouncing the Terrapins 4-2. Maryland got the scoring started just five minutes into the match, but Mohammed Zakyi scored just three minutes later to show the Wolverines wouldn’t go away quietly. While the halftime score was 2-1 Maryland, the second half was all Michigan. Derek Broche scored right out of halftime to tie it up, and Hallahan took it from there. Hallahan scored two goals in the second half, the second a 89th minute goal on a virtual empty net to ice the match and clinch the Wolverines a home Big Ten Tournament game. The goals were exciting, but ultimately the highlight of the second was this save by former Detroit City FC netminder Owen Finnerty that maintained the Wolverine lead:

Michigan can now ride that confidence into its rematch with the Spartans. The winner of Sunday’s match will go on to College Park, MD to finish the Tournament, with the winner of Penn St./Wisconsin on tap. Michigan drew with both teams during the regular season.

Michigan is also now relatively safe for NCAA Tournament purposes, currently in 13th spot out of 24 at-large bids. The top 16 teams get a bye, and the next 16 teams get a first round home game, and Michigan at 23 in RPI are pretty safely in that next 16. The ACC monopolizes the top of the RPI, making a rooting guide impossible because almost any result in the ACC Tournament keeps Michigan out of the top 16. Hopefully some of that cannibalization, along with a Michigan win this weekend, puts Michigan on slightly more solid footing to host a first round game.

#10 Field Hockey (13-5, 5-3)

Last Week: 1-0 L v. #7 Iowa, 2-1 L v. Penn St., Big Ten Tournament

Michigan suffered two disappointing losses last week, the first a 1-0 home loss to Iowa, followed by a Big Ten Tournament loss to Penn St. Michigan had the clear shots advantage in the Iowa match, but Iowa was the only team that found the net. Michigan held possession for much of the first half of its Big Ten quarterfinal match with Penn St., but Penn St. scored twice in quick succession early in the third quarter. Michigan got one back, but it wasn’t enough.

Unfortunately, the Big Ten Tournament might be the end of the line for the Wolverines. Even before the Penn St. loss, Michigan had fallen to #12 in RPI, meaning they are just barely clinging to the last at-large spot in the 16 team NCAA Tournament. Depending on how RPI shakes out after the conference tournaments end, the Wolverines might just fall too far.

What Michigan wants now is for all of the conference leaders in RPI to win their tournaments, adding an extra loss to the resumes of all non-champions, and preventing teams that wouldn’t get at-large spots from stealing bids. The most important teams to root for are Delaware in the CAA, Princeton in the Ivy, St. Joes in the A10, and especially UConn in the Big East. Losses from the others might knock them out of at-large contention anyways, but the Big East goes from a one-bid league to a two-bid league if UConn loses their conference tournament. It is possible that the tournament committee will see the glut of ACC teams and take Michigan over a sixth ACC team, but that’s only if Michigan remains above Penn St. Michigan will find out it’s fate Sunday at 10pm.

#25 Women’s Basketball

Upcoming: Fri Nov. 8, 7p v. WMU, Sun Nov. 10, 2p v. Bradley

Michigan women’s basketball opens its season this week with a pair of games against Western Michigan and Bradley. I will have a women’s basketball preview early next week once I see what the rotations look like in these first couple of games, but I expect the Wolverines to compete for a Big Ten Tournament double-bye and to go into that tournament on the safe side of the bubble. I think this team can be pretty good, and I am very excited about them. These should not be particularly difficult games for the Wolverines, though Bradley should pose the bigger challenge of the two.

Volleyball (16-7, 9-4)

Last Week: 3-1 W @ Illinois, 3-2 W @ Northwestern, 3-1 W v. MSU

Upcoming: Sat Nov. 9, 7p v. Illinois, Wed Nov. 13, 7p v. Iowa

Michigan got the bounce-back it needed last week, going to Illinois and winning both of its contests there. It started on Friday night with an upset victory over then-#19 Illinois, and continued the next day in Evanston with a victory over Northwestern. Michigan came back home and finished its Crisler Center series against rival Michigan State, winning 3-1. Paige Jones continued her dominant stretch, recording 26 kills. The final set was won by a 25-16 margin, with Michigan winning 8 of the final 10 points.

Michigan will host Illinois, and hope to repeat their previous performance against the Illini. They’ll then stay at Cliff Keen for a midweek contest against 9-15 Iowa. The Big Ten doesn’t have a tournament and the conference championship isn’t really in play for the Wolverines, all focus turns to the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines are 39th in RPI and currently on the right side of the bubble, but need to continue beating the conference’s lesser teams for it to stay that way. There’s still a month left in the season, and the Big Ten’s natural strength of schedule should keep Michigan in the tournament.

Cross Country

Last Week: Men: Big Ten Championship, 3rd of 12

Women, Big Ten Championship, 3rd of 14

At the Big Ten Cross Country Championships last weekend, both the men’s and women’s team played to about their place in the rankings. The men came in ranked fourth in the conference, but finished third, trailing Wisconsin and Indiana but exceeding Purdue. Michigan had one top-10 finisher, with junior Devin Myerer coming in at 9th. The Michigan men had seven runners in the top 26.

The women’s team also came in third at the Big Ten Championship, slipping one spot past their ranking. Yet again the Wolverines were led by Ericka VanderLende, who led for a good portion of the race but ultimately came in sixth. After her positive season, she was named unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Both teams will take this week off, awaiting the Great Lakes Regional next wekeend.

Tennis

Last Week: ITA Fall National Championships, Newport Beach, CA

Upcoming: ITA Fall Nationals consolation bracket

ASU Thunderbird, Tempe, AZ

The Wolverines went to the Fall National Championships and had a disappointing day one, with all competitors losing in the first round. On the women’s side, Guilia Pairone and Andrea Cerdan qualified in singles, while the Cerdan/Alyvia Jones qualified in doubles. Ondrej Styler and Andrew Fenty qualified for the men, with a Fenty/Mattias Siimar pair in doubles. All competitors will now move to the consolation bracket, where they will play this weekend.

Consolation play will wrap up the fall season for the men’s team, while several Michigan women not in Newport Beach will travel to ASU to take part in one last singles tournament. Team play begins in January.

Baseball

Upcoming: Sun Nov. 10, 1p ET v. Vanderbilt (Exhibition), SECN+

Michigan baseball will close its exhibition season this Sunday with a World Series finals rematch against Vanderbilt. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of lineups both teams field, and while it’s an exhibition I’m sure the Wolverines feel like they have some unfinished business. This is on SEC Network+, which means it’s stream-only but if you get SEC Network in your cable package or streaming service you can probably access it by logging into the ESPN website.

#19 Wrestling

Last Week: Michigan State Open

Upcoming: Fri Nov. 8, 7p v. #17 North Carolina

Wrestling opened its season last weekend with a singles tournament, the Michigan State Open in East Lansing. The tournament was highlighted by victory for Mason Parris, who won the heavyweight category. Kanen Storr and Jelani Embree both lost in the finals of their respective weight divisions, though Storr competed as unattached.

Michigan opens up team play this weekend with a big match at Cliff Keen Arena, hosting #17 North Carolina.

Men’s Swimming/Diving

#6 Men (3-1, 1-1 B1G): 165-135 L @ #5 Indiana, 218-82 W v. #23 Iowa

#11 Women (3-0, 1-0 B1G): 173-127 W @ Iowa

The Michigan men’s swimming team traveled to Bloomington for a double-dual with Indiana and Iowa last weekend, and came away with the split. The women travelled to Iowa, and came home with a victory. For both teams it was their first competitive meet in almost a month, and it will be almost another month before they have their next one.