As the winter and spring seasons start to get rolling (I know its January, the NCAA calls some of these sports spring sports, don’t ask me why), there’s one thing I noticed when compiling this list: we have a lot of ranked teams. I mention twelve teams in this column, nine of them are ranked. So: go support your ranked teams!
This Week’s One Thing
Swimming v. Michigan State, Fri Jan. 31, 5pm
Whenever you have a chance to see Michigan beat up on Michigan State than you should go do that. Women’s swimming and diving is #1 in the country. Men’s swimming and diving is #3 in the country. MSU is unranked on both counts. It should be a lively night at Canham with Michigan running up the score on the Spartans and racing against the clock in an effort to make some NCAA automatic qualifying times. This is also your last chance at seeing a Michigan dual this season.
Thursday Jan. 30: #7 Women’s Gymnastics @ # 17 Nebraska, ESPN2
Saturday Feb. 1: #25 Wrestling v. #23 Rutgers, Madison Square Garden, BTN
Sunday Feb. 2: Women’s basketball v. #18 Iowa, BTN
Women’s Basketball (13-6, 4-4 B1G)
Last week: 71-57 W v. Rutgers
This week: Thu Jan. 30, 8p (ET) @ #23 Northwestern, Sun Feb. 2, Noon v. #18 Iowa, BTN
If Michigan is going to prove that they can have last season’s year-end bounceback, this would be the time to do it. Down starter Kayla Robbins for the rest of the season, Michigan came out and stomped a solid Rutgers. The win pushed the Wolverines to 4-4 in conference play and Michigan is back within a game of a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Izabel Varejao recorded a season-high 8 points. If the Wolverines are going to make the tournament this season, Varejao and the rest of the bench will have to get going.
This week they have a pair of games against ranked teams. First, the Wolverines will travel to meet #23 Northwestern. Northwestern is coming off a loss at Maryland, but has been very impressive in conference play overall. Northwestern’s only other loss came to Michigan’s Sunday opponent Iowa, who is 8-1 in conference play and has only lost three games this season. Watch out for Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle and Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam, the #3 and #4 scorers in the conference, respectively.
#25 Wrestling (5-3, 4-1 B1G)
Last week: 20-17 W @ #21 Northwestern, 13-20 L @ Illinios
This Week: Sat Feb. 1, 1p v. #23 Rutgers, Madison Square Garden, BTN
Michigan took a trip to Illinois last weekend and split the weekend, earning a ranked victory but losing the comedown match. They first went to Evanston, where the Wildcats led 17-12 with just two matches to go. Then, Mason Parris continued his undefeated season, earning five points and tying the dual. 125-pound Jack Medley completed the comeback, upsetting national #6 Michael DeAugustino and handing Michigan the win. In Champaign two days later the Wolverines didn’t fare quite so well, but Parris remained undefeated.
The Wolverines will head to Madison Square Garden to take part in Game 1 of the Big Ten’s Super Saturday along with their men’s basketball counterparts, also against Rutgers. (In case you were wondering, wrestling also gave up a home meet.) Rutgers is good and should have solid support, but Michigan has two recent wins over higher ranked teams. The only ranked matchup is likely to be Michigan’s #17 Jelani Embree taking on #20 Billy Janzer.
Track and Field
Last week: Rod McCravy Memorial, Lexington, KY, John Thomas Terrier Classic (men’s team only), Boston, MA
This week: Fri Jan. 31 Noon, Sat Feb. 1 11a, Power Five Invitational, home meet
The Michigan men’s distance runners went to Boston in search of a four-minute mile last Saturday and came up under two seconds short, with Anthony Berry putting in a 4:01.77. Devin Myerer similarly just missed out on an eight-minute 3,000m, with an 8:01.91.
Back in Lexington, the rest of the men’s team and the women’s team put in a solid performance at the Rod McCravy Memorial. Amanda Schaare broke a Michigan freshman record in the shot put, with a throw of 15.66m. Junior Julia Vantivelt put in a fifth-place performance in the mile at 4:54.95, where Eva Jansohn earned a personal best 5:01.15.
Michigan will host the Power Five Invitational. While the college participation will be highlighted by women’s #23 Louisville, and conference mates MSU and Northwestern, the actual highlight is likely to be a series of former Olympians and Olympic hopefuls participating in the meet. The headliner will be Allyson Felix, who has six Olympic golds including two at the most recent Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Former teen phenom Mary Cain will also be there as she pushes towards her first Olympics. Many of the Olympic hopefuls are Wolverine alumni, including Shannon Osika and five-time NCAA 100 hurdles Champion Tiffany Porter. A full list can be found here, despite the star-studded lineup admission remains free.
#7 Women’s Gymnastics (4-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last week: 197.300-192.950 W v. Rutgers
This week: Thu Jan. 30, 7p ET @ #17 Nebraska, ESPN2
In front of a robust crowd wearing purple for their Flip for Chip meet, the Wolverines dominated Rutgers en route to their second conference win of the season. The annual Flip for Chip meet commemorates the late Chip Hills, who was a dedicated Michigan Women’s Gymnastics parent. The event raises awareness for pancreatic cancer. I made it to this one and one of the things that struck me about these Wolverines is how young they were. It took three events for Michigan to start an upperclassmen. Despite having an individual National Championship under her belt Natalie Wojcik is only a sophomore, and freshmen Gabby Wilson and Sierra Brooks are competing with her to win event titles. Last Friday a 9.950 on beam and a 9.900 on floor gave Wojcik a commanding lead in the all-around, but Wojcik split the vault with Wilson, and split the bars with Wilson and Abby Heiskell.
Michigan will now face its hardest test of the season travelling to #17 Nebraska, in a national showcase on ESPN2. The 197.300 v. Rutgers was a season-high for Michigan, but the Cornhuskers threaten to give them a run for their money, posting a 197.100 in East Lansing last Sunday. This should be a fun one in a packed gymnastics-only venue at the Devaney Center.
#3 Men’s Gymnastics
This week: Sat Feb. 1, Noon @ #9 Ohio State
Men’s gymnastics was off last week, but travels to Ohio State for their first dual of the season. Ohio State’s season-high is a 405.000, which does outpace the Michigan 400.000 at the Windy City Invitational, but that gaudy score came in a loss to Penn State. We’ll see how Michigan handles its first head-to-head competition. Michigan will not face another Big Ten team until the last day of the month, and will fill its time with non-conference matchups and a Las Vegas tournament in the meantime.
#7 Water Polo (5-3)
Last week: 11-8 W v. #18 Wagner, 4-12 L v. #3 UCLA, 7-4 W v. #18 Pacific, 7-6 W v. #9 UCSB
This week: Stanford Invitational: Sat Feb. 1, 1p ET v. #6 Cal, 7:45p @ #2 Stanford, Sun Feb. 2, 12:30 v. #11 UC Davis
Hosting the Michigan Invitational last week, Michigan continued what has been the rule for the young season: Michigan lost to the teams with higher rankings and beat the teams with lower rankings. The highlight was a second victory over #9 UCSB, anchored by two goals each from Erin Neustrom and Emily Ritner. Maddie O’Reilly’s four-goal onslaught against Wagner and two against Pacific allowed her to retain the team lead in goals, with 13.
If Michigan wants to leave the Stanford Invitational with a winning record, they’ll have to beat a higher ranked team. Handing the hosts their first loss of the season would certainly make a statement, but personally I’d be just as happy with a 2-1 weekend and a win over Cal. The Wolverines lost to Cal 8-7 in the season-opening Invitational at UCSB.
#17 Men’s Tennis (4-1)
Last week: 4-3 W v. Texas Tech, 4-3 W v. Ole Miss
This week: Sat Feb. 1, Noon v. #8 TCU, 6p v. WMU
Men’s tennis had a dramatic weekend, travelling to Champaign, IL and coming out with two wins and a berth in the Indoor National Championship. The matches were part of the national ITA Kick-Off, with regional hosts feeding into the Championship. Both matches came down to the wire. On Friday, Michigan earned the doubles point, and jumped to a quick 2-0 lead after a Mattias Siimar win. Texas Tech climbed back, and an Andrew Fenty loss in a third set tiebreaker, the match came down to another tiebreaker in #5 Singles. There, Senior Nick Beaty gutted out a win, and Michigan moved to the second round. With the Rebel upset of Illinois, Michigan got to play Ole Miss and avoid the ranked hosts. This one was just as dramatic, coming down to a third set tiebreaker at 3-3 for a second straight day. This time Ondrej Styler took the win. The Indoor National Championships are in mid-February in Madison, WI, Michigan’s draw is not yet available.
In the meantime Michigan will host a double-header on Saturday. They’ll first take on a tough TCU team that cruised through its hosting duties in the ITA Kick-off, with two 4-0 wins. They’ll take on a 5-2 WMU team in the nightcap.
#14 Women’s Tennis (2-0)
Last week: 4-2 W v. Ole Miss, 4-2 W v. #13 UCF
This week: Sat Feb. 1, 11a @ #2 North Carolina, Tue Feb. 4, 6p v. #24 Florida
The women also participated in the ITA Kick-Off, with its wins coming just a tiny bit more comfortably than the men. Michigan hosted its regional, and first met with Ole Miss. After winning the doubles point and Bella Lorenzini dominating #6 singles, Michigan led 2-0. Ole Miss stormed back to tie it up, before Michigan won two quick points to finish the match. Andrea Cerdan and Nicole Hammond both won their second sets and Michigan was moving on to the next round. Michigan played UCF the next day and while UCF took the doubles point, Michigan dominated singles. Alyvia Jones, Chiara Lommer, and Lorenzini won in straight sets, and Cerdan took a 6-1 third to get the team win. Pairone was up 4-3 in the third set in the match that was abandoned. The women’s Indoor National Championships are in two weeks in Chicago.
Michigan travels to take on #2 UNC in a high-powered non-conference matchup. The Tarheels dominated Auburn and Old Dominion in their Kick-Off regional. Michigan then hosts Florida. Florida is 1-1, having taken a 4-0 loss in the Kick-Off second round to hosts NC State.
Swimming and Diving
#1 Women (5-0, 3-0 B1G), #3 Men (5-1, 3-1 B1G)
This week: Fri Jan. 31, 5p v. MSU
Swimming and diving was off this week, and as mentioned above will face MSU at home. The Spartan men are 5-5, while the women are 6-5-1. This will end the dual season for the Wolverines, with just team meets for NCAA Qualification and the Big Ten Championship remaining on the schedule.
#8 Women’s Lacrosse
Last Week: 9-8 W @ Notre Dame, exhibition
Women’s lacrosse played in it’s only spring exhibition match, claiming a narrow victory at Notre Dame. Chandler Kirby scored four goals, and little other information is available. (Thank you to the Michigan Daily for being the only outlet to cover this at all, including official Michigan channels.)
A full lacrosse preview will come, but Michigan was picked to finish third in the Big Ten and will open the season at #8. It seems that the Wolverines are getting their due after their NCAA tournament appearance last week.