Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Big Ten/ACC challenge

In the interests of my mental health and well being as a fan of a Big Ten school here in ACC country, the Big Ten damn well better win one of these made for TV exhibitions because the basketball fans down here are obnoxious.

So yes, my main rooting interest is still Michigan beating Miami tonight. But damn, it'd really be nice if the Big Ten could slap the ACC around a bit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

College Hockey Showcase

College hockey once again takes center stage this Thanksgiving Weekend as #7 Minnesota and #2 Wisconsin represent the WCHA in games against Michigan State and #1 Michigan. The Wolverines put their top ranking on the line against the Gophers Friday night at Yost and follow it up Saturday against the Badgers. You might recall that Michigan has gotten swept in the past 2 seasons against their Big Ten/WCHA rivals.

I say it's time for a little payback. Plus it would be a big notch in Michigan's belt in the Pairwise Rankings (along with that W over Boston College) come NCAA seeding time. Here's a little preview from the Michigan Daily (on CSTV.com).

And don't forget the hoops team has a game on Saturday at home against a Butler squad that just took Ohio State to overtime last night.

Random musings on college basketball

  • A win is a win is a win. At least that's the party line I'm toeing after Michigan eked out a 51-46 win at Boston University last night. They had beaten us 2 years in a row in Ann Arbor so I'll take it. But the performance did not inspire a lot of confidence with something like 18 or 19 turnovers on only 61 possessions. Thank God for the D.
  • Michigan State lost to Gonzaga last night. While it was a great game, I'm not buying the hype as one of the best games ever played that ESPN has been tossing around. Jay Bilas is talking like it's the best game since the 1992 regional final between Duke and Kentucky. Sorry Jay, that's not what I saw. It was a hell of a game that was extremely tight. But it wasn't one of the best games I've ever seen. It did feature something amazing, though: Adam Morrison. And he's not amazing just for the Maui Classic-record 43 points he dropped last night. He's amazing because he appears to have walked straight out of a 1970s porn with his wavy hair and porn-stache. And while I couldn't find a great recent pic of him, you know exactly what I'm talking about if you watched the game.
  • Rajon Rondo ripped down 19 boards in Kentucky's loss against Iowa. That's a hell of a game on the glass for a point guard. But I'm not buying the hype of him being an All American. He only got 8 points and 3.5 assists in 25 minutes per game last year while only shooting 30% behind the arc and 58% from the line.
  • And yep, I'm still pissed about Michigan's D collapsing down the stretch against Ohio State. If Mike Hart was healthy we probably win going away. He wasn't and we still should've won. Unforgiveable.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Game Time!

I've been waiting 364 days for this. Last year's loss was terribly painful to watch. But now? We get a great chance for revenge in Ann Arbor. Here's how I see things stacking up:

When OSU has the ball:
  • Don't expect much from Pittman on the ground. Michigan's front seven has really come on strong this year and is tackling quite well. Plus Gabe Watson is actually playing like the wrecking crew in the middle he is capable of.
  • Watch out for OSU's receivers. I like our corners, but if we get into nickel or if they get a WR matched up with a safety in space we could be in trouble. Holmes is a very good WR that can run some great routes. Ginn is not a great receiver, but he just has to get his hands on the ball to be dangerous. I think OSU is going to hit a big pass or two in this game.
  • Troy Smith is obviously the key. Michigan is tackling mobile QBs much better this year, so no way does he go for 150 on the ground again. And while he's a pretty good passer, I'm still not overly impressed by his accuracy and I think we can get a turnover or two out of him today.
  • Look for the OSU offense to put up 21-24 points today.
When Michigan has the ball
  • Mike Hart is the man. OSU has an outstanding D and it all starts with stopping the run. Unfortunately for them, Mike Hart is one of those guys that can run on anybody when he gets going because he really doesn't need great blocking to consistently break runs. I'm looking for 125+ from Hart today.
  • Michigan is going to have TEs and WRs open today. I really don't think OSU can cover our receivers very long. They'll need to pressure Henne or he will be looking at some open targets. Fortunately for Michigan, Jake Long is back so along with Stenavich they have 2 outstanding bookends on the line to give Henne time to pass.
  • Chad Henne, it's time to step up. You've been taking crap all year and now you've got a chance to be a star. John Navarre was in a similar situation in 2003 playing a highly rated OSU squad and having taken crap his entire career from the Michigan fans and he came out and helped the Michigan offense destroy the OSU D. While I don't look for quite the same game out of you, I do expect big things today.
  • I look for Michigan's offense to score maybe 27 or 28 points today
Special Teams
  • This is obviously going to be clutch in this game. A return for a TD by either squad would be huge. Same thing goes for missed field goals. I can't quite predict what will happen, but we need a monster game from Ross Ryan and Garrett Rivas.

Anyways, should be an awesome game to watch. Oh, the hoops team also beat Central Michigan last night 87-60 in the season opener. That's 1-0 for those keeping track at home.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

South Park on Scientology

A brief respite from the buildup to the Michigan-Ohio State game to comment on last night's episode of South Park. Simply classic as they blasted Scientology, Tom Cruise, and John Travolta and threw in an appearance by R. Kelly.

Takes some balls to openly mock a group of crazies that loves nothing more than to file lawsuits against anybody that speaks truthfully about them. As they animated the Scientology beliefs complete with the alien named Xenu and the trapped souls on earth and the DC-8s flying through space they had the words "This is what Scientologists actually believe" plastered across the screen. Then at the end as Stan outs the group as frauds, they threaten to sue him and he taunts them with "Sue me! Sue me!". During the credits, everyone was listed as John Smith or Jane Smith. Did I forget to mention that they kept asking Tom Cruise and John Travolta to "come out of the closet"? Hilarious stuff.

I can almost guarantee that the show gets sued over this. Hell, I bet they want to. The publicity would be priceless. And then we could get to see even more of those nut jobs looking like fools.

A slew of links to get ready for The Game

If you aren't ready for The Game after perusing even some of those articles, well I think you need some new adrenal glands.

Just a little something to keep in mind

When it comes to the Ohio State game, it's time for somebody to step up and make plays. And if Mike Hart is healthy I think he's the guy to do it. Ohio State has a great run defense, but Mike Hart is special. And he has a chance to have a legendary game on Saturday. 200+ yards? If it was anybody but him I'd say there was no chance. But I cannot bet against Mike Hart. No way, no how. The kid just doesn't go down. I'd love to see him stick his name up with Tim Biakabutuka as having a game for the ages carrying the ball against the Buckeyes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Michigan Hockey

So my ability to follow Michigan hockey is greatly impaired living in the South, but that's where the Blog That Yost Built comes in handy. Packer's got his first quarter player grades up for your perusing.

My brief thoughts during this off week for the team as they prepare to host 2 College Hockey Showcase games next weekend:

1) Jack Johnson really is that good
2) Billy Sauer is off to a pretty good start (which bodes quite well for the future)
3) Andrew Cogliano is heating up on offense
4) We're back at #1 in the polls (again) and hopefully we'll play a little better than last time
5) Ohio State was the preseason pick to win the CCHA and they've fallen off the map. As predicted earlier this year, Michigan is still the team to beat in the CCHA.

Game Time

(all photos courtesy of the Mike Desimone football picture database)

Yep, lots of good times over the years when Ohio State rolls into town. And I haven't even gotten to historic performances by guys like Tshimanga Biakabutuka or John Kolesar.

Who's going to step up and be the hero this week? Let's just say I'm not betting against Mike Hart or Jason Avant. Those 2 kids have as much heart as any players in the country.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hot Damn! Michigan Hoops is already making waves this year

Alex Legion, the super-junior wing from Detroit Country Day, surprised many by committing to Michigan today. It's not surprising that he's going to Michigan, but the timing is very surprising. Michigan is coming off a horrible season marred by injuries and suspension. But the future is as bright as can be. They've already got guys like K'len Morris and DeShawn Sims inked for next year, but Legion is a stud.

The school of thought was that most top 2007 recruits would wait and see how Michigan played this year before deciding on whether or not to give Amaker a shot. Well, so much for that. Legion has announced his intentions and is setting up a possibly monster class of 2007 for Amaker. The rest of the Big Ten better take notice, because Michigan has had a grand total of 1 McD's All American since LaVell Blanchard in 1998 (or was that 1999?). Now, they could be lining up to play in Ann Arbor.

Prediction: 20 wins and a decent seed in the NCAA this year and Michigan is officially back in basketball because the recruits will be rolling into town.

Next up? Paging Kalin Lucas....

Did I forget to mention that they open the season Friday against Central Michigan? Oh wait, there is another big game this weekend that Michigan fans might be interested in as well.

MGoBlog actually revs up the hoops hype a bit

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's that time of the year again

Michigan-Ohio State week has arrived. And while both need a little help from MSU, a share of the Big Ten title and a possible BCS berth is on the line for each team.

What to expect? Hard to say. Troy Smith is playing pretty damn good right now. And while I don't trust our D against a mobile QB, they are playing extremely well right now. I also can't wait to see what our offense can do if Mike Hart and Jake Long are both mostly healthy.

I'll have more thoughts later in the week, but this game is huge. To think the Wolverines are still eyeing a BCS bowl after sitting a 3-3 in October is amazing. They can cap off a huge turnaround to the season with a win on Saturday. And don't think revenge isn't on their minds. Remember the bomb sniffing dogs last year? Well, I guarantee you that Lloyd Carr and co. do remember the cheap stunt pulled by the OSU athletic department.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 10

1) Penn State (6-1, 9-1): they hammered Wisconsin in their showdown for first place in the conference. Now they've got 2 weeks to prepare for MSU.

2) Ohio State (5-1, 7-2): their team is starting to come together nicely and will be a very tough matchup for Michigan in 2 weeks.

3) Michigan (4-2, 6-3): fresh off a bye week they get the Hoosiers to warm up for Ohio State.

4) Wisconsin (5-2, 8-2): Yep, they beat Michigan. But they also lost by more points on Saturday than all 3 of Michigan's losses combined.

5a) Northwestern (4-2, 6-3): Still a very dangerous offense and a not so dangerous defense.

5b) Minnesota (3-3, 6-3): ditto

5c) Iowa (3-3, 5-4): Definitely lacking some of that Ferentz-mojo of the last 3 years as their season implodes.

8) Michigan State (2-4, 5-4): The question everyone wants to know is which MSU team will show up against Penn State?

9) Indiana (1-5, 4-5): Bowl eligibility is looking a lot less likely since they got spanked by Minnesota at home.

10) Purdue (1-5, 3-6): Wow, they won a game!

11) Illinois (0-6, 2-7): They still suck.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Light blogging

Wow, guess the blogging has been a bit light. I guess I've been just a wee bit busy at work. Did manage to catch Penn State thumping on Wisconsin, though. I thought PSU was a better team, but the result still surprised me. And I'd like to thank Chris Osgood for the Wings 2 losses. I think Manny Legace has that #1 job locked up for the rest of the year now.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Big Ten Power Rankings, Week 9

1) Penn State (5-1, 8-1): Topped Purdue 33-15 in a somewhat less than stellar performance. They let the Boilers hang around for a long time before putting them away. Heck, they were not far away from trailing at the half. This week? They could take a major step towards their first conference title in a long time by beating Wisconsin.

2) Ohio State (4-1, 6-2): Knocked off the Gophers 45-31 in the dome. Solid win, but their D left something to be desired. Good news is the offense is putting up points, though.

3) Wisconsin (5-1, 8-1): Beat Illinois 41-24 in a game that was a lot closer than it should've been. The offense keeps rolling, but the D really struggled against a putrid Illinois team. They are double digit underdogs this week heading into Happy Valley, but I like their chances. Expect a massive game from Brian Calhoun that gets him squarely into Heisman consideration behind Young, Bush, and Leinart.

4) Michigan ( 4-2, 6-3): Thumped Northwestern 33-17 in Evanston in a game that was a lot easier than expected. The D put the hammer lock on the Northwestern offense and forced 3 turnovers including 2 picks of Basanez who had only been INT'd once all year. Now they get a week off to rest up for Indiana (yep, no looking ahead here).

5) Northwestern (3-2, 5-3): So much for the momentum that the 'Cats had as the hottest team in the conference.

6) Iowa (3-2, 5-3): They had the week off.

7) Michigan State (2-3, 5-3): Hammered the hapless Hoosiers to break their 3 game slide. Which team will show up the rest of the year? I don't know, but the rest of the conference would probably enjoy it if they could show up for the season finale against Penn State.

8) Minnesota (2-3, 5-3): and the Gophers annual tradition of tanking is fully underway.

9) Indiana (1-4, 4-4): Only 2 wins away from bowl eligibility. They get Minnesota at home (winnable), Michigan on the road (not so much), and Purdue at home. Gotta beat Minny this week to keep the dream alive. And if they do can you imagine the hype for the Purdue game? They will get the Boilers at home, a chance to kick them while they are down, and a chance to clinch a bowl berth for the first time in a LONG time.

10) Illinois (0-5, 2-6): Does Purdue really deserve this spot? Probably not.

11) Purdue (0-5, 2-6): That scorching heat you feel is directed squarely at Joe Tiller. Yep, he's on the hot seat.