The winter season went from totally empty to totally packed very quickly; just two weeks ago we were getting by with a stray basketball game or wrestling meet, now almost every team is playing every weekend. This weekend features a glut of ranked opponents and important tournaments.
This Week’s One Thing
#7 Water Polo v. #5 UCLA, Sat Jan. 25, 6:15p
Michigan will host the Michigan Invitational this weekend, inviting several Top 25 teams to Ann Arbor. The marquee matchup will be this one between Michigan and UCLA. UCLA was at last week’s UCSB Invitational with Michigan, but they did not play. UCLA went 4-1 at that tournament, its lone loss against a UCSB team that the Wolverines did manage to beat. If you do intend on seeing any water polo live this year, this is really your best chance until April when Michigan hosts the conference championships.
Women’s Basketball (12-6, 3-4 B1G)
Last Week: 68-56 W @ Wisconsin, 74-71 L @ Nebraska
Upcoming: Sun Jan. 26, 2p v. Rutgers
Last week, Michigan was looking to turn its season around and got a good start with a comfortable road win in Wisconsin. Then, in Nebraska, tragedy struck. Early in the game senior Kayla Robbins went down with an injury that you knew was bad as soon as you saw it. Down their second leading scorer, Michigan blew a 13 point lead and ultimately lost to Nebraska. After the game it was announced that Robbins had torn her ACL, and that her career at Michigan was over. I feel terrible for Robbins, that is a tough way to end a career. I am also nervous about the Wolverines replacing her scoring. Michigan has not had significant bench scoring this season, with just 15% of their scoring in B1G play coming from the bench. The young players are going to have to step up if Michigan is going to remain on the right side of the bubble. Increasingly, it seems like this squad is going to take another year to develop, a frustrating outcome for a fanbase growing tired of waiting for the jump from middle-tier Big Ten team to contender.
Our first chance to see the new lineup will be against Rutgers at home on Sunday. Rutgers is 5-2 in B1G play and will be a tough matchup for the Wolverines. Still, a home game will give Michigan the opportunity to dig deep and try to right the ship.
#7 Women’s Gymnastics (3-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last Week: 196.700-195.650 W @ Illinois
Upcoming: Fri Jan. 24, 6:30p v. Rutgers
Women’s gymnastics picked up a big win, travelling to Illinois and winning by just over a point. Illinois was ranked before the meet, but fell out as a result. The Wolverines won every event, and freshman Sierra Brooks continued her impressive early season run by winning beam, floor, and the all-around title. Natalie Wojcik was just behind Brooks in the all around, with the two Wolverines leading the two Illini competitors. Gabby Wilson and Abby Heiskell won titles of their own in vault and uneven bars, respectively.
Michigan has their only remaining Big Ten home meet this Friday, facing Rutgers. Rutgers should not be a particularly tough test, giving the Wolverines space to focus on their own improvements.
#3 Men’s Gymnastics
Last Week: 1st of 6, Windy City Invitational
Michigan went to the Windy City Invitational as the top-ranked team in the tournament. While at one point #1 Stanford was scheduled to show up, they did not. Still, Michigan lived up to its top billing, taking the six-team meet with an even 400.000. Michigan won two events, with Cameron Bock taking pommel horse and vault while falling just short of the all-around title. Michigan beat #4 Minnesota by just over a point and #5 Illinois by a few more, beating out a packed field and giving them a great look at their conference competition this season.
Men’s gymnastics has the week off.
#17 Men’s Tennis (2-1)
Last Week: 7-0 W @ Washington, 5-2 W @ Oregon
Upcoming: Fri Jan. 24, 3p (ET) v. Texas Tech (Champaign, Ill), Sat Jan 25, 3 or 7p (ET) v. Ole Miss or #13 Illinois
Michigan went on the road for the first time and picked up two easy wins against Pac-12 opponents. Michigan swept Washington, with five Wolverines winning their singles match in straight sets, including freshman Ondrej Styler at #2 singles. The dominance continued on Saturday, with Michigan winning the doubles point and the top 3 singles places. Andrew Fentry, ranked #78 as an individual, took down #14 Joshua Charlton of Oregon, winning the final set in a tiebreaker.
Michigan will head to Champaign to take part in the ITA Kick-Off Tournament. Winners of the regional sites will head to the National Team Indoor Championships in February. Texas Tech is 3-0 but should be a winnable match for the Wolverines. The biggers test would be Saturday, as barring upsets the Wolverines would need to beat Illinois to advance. The Kickoff will be the first dual for the Illlini.
#14 Women’s Tennis
Last Week: Michigan Invitational
Upcoming: Sat Jan. 25, 11a v. Ole Miss, Sun Jan. 26, 10a or 1p v. #12 UCF or Utah
The Michigan women hosted the Michigan Invitational, an individual tournament. Michigan went 12-10 in singles play and 5-3 in doubles play. Guilia Pairone went 2-1 on the weekend, and Alyvia Jones went 3-0 with a straight set win.
The women now host an ITA Kickoff regional for its first dual meets of the season, welcoming Ole Miss, UCF, and Utah. Ole Miss has started the year 2-0. UCF is the most dangerous team in the group, having been eliminated in last year’s NCAA Tournament in the third round, matching Michigan’s performance.
#7 Water Polo (2-2)
Last Week: 8-7 W v. #19 CSUN, 14-9 L v. #3 UC-Irvine, 8-7 L v. #6 Cal, 9-7 W v. #9 UCSB
Upcoming: Sat Jan. 25, 9:15 v. #21 Wagner, 6:15 v. #5 UCLA, Sun Jan. 26, 9:15 v. #11 Pacific, 1:45 v. #9 UCSB
Water polo had a successful weekend at the UCSB Invite, beating teams ranked lower than it and losing to teams ranked higher. Sophomore Ava Morrant set the scoring pace on the weekend, with 7 goals including a hat trick and the game winner in the season opener v. CSUN.
Michigan will now host a slate of ranked teams. There will be all day water polo action at Canham Natatorium both Saturday and Sunday, with free admission.
#25 Wrestling (4-2, 3-0)
Last Week: 22-15 W v. #14 Minnesota
Upcoming: Fri Jan. 24 @ #15 Northwestern, Sun Jan. 26 @ Illinois
Michigan took a big win at Crisler Center on Sunday, scoring an upset over conference rival Minnesota. Minnesota won four of the first six matches to take a 12-6 lead before Jelani Embree and Jackson Striggow won two straight to tie the match at 12-12. That set the stage for Mason Parris to continue his undefeated season with his second straight pin, awarding the Wolverines six points and a 18-12 lead. While Minnesota tightened the margin by winning the next match, Joey Silva put a bow on it, earning a major decision, four points, and a 22-15 victory. After the victory, Michigan has entered the team Top 25.
Michigan heads to Illinois for two matches, with meets at Northwestern and Illinois. Northwestern is 3-3 and 1-2 in the Big Ten, but has only lost to ranked opponents. Illinois is 1-2 in the Big Ten, with a win over Indiana.
Track & Field
Last Week: Simmons-Harvey Invitational, Men: 1st of 3, Women: 1st of 3
Upcoming: Fri-Sat Jan. 24-25, Rod McCravy Memorial, Lexington, KY, Sat Jan. 25, Terrier Classic, Boston, MA (Men only)
Michigan hosted the Simmons-Harvey Invitational last week, with both the men’s and women’s teams beating the Spartans and Buckeyes. Julia Hall won or participated in winning two events, the 600 and a 4x400 relay. Josh Zeller won his first college event, the 60 meter hurdles. Andrew Liskowitz broke the school shot put record with a throw of 20.29m.
Michigan will now head to Lexington for the Rod McCravy Memorial. The entire women’s team will head to Kentucky, while some distance runners on the men’s side will head to Boston, in search of a four-minute mile.
Swim/Dive (#1 Women: 5-0, 3-0 B1G, #3 Men: 5-1, 3-1 B1G)
Last Week: @OSU, Women: 165-135 W, Men: 190-110 W
Both the men and women swimmers picked up wins at Ohio State last week, with the win pushing the women to #1 in the country. Maggie MacNeil won three events, each in a different stroke. Freshman Kaitlynn Sims joined her as a multi-event winner with two distance freestyle wins. On the men’s side, Miles Smachlo and Tommy Cope took two events each.
Swimming is off this week.
Last Week: UDA College Dance Team National Championship
Michigan’s dance team headed to Disney World for the National Championships and compiled three top 10 performances. The Wolverines took sixth in the Game Day category, while earning seventh in both Hip Hop and Jazz.