Written by: Michael Kroodsma
Big Ten Conference Champions Michigan will host either Northwestern or Rutgers at UMSS on Sunday November 5th in the Quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Following Michigan's first ever regular season Conference Championship win last weekend (see Take-Aways for more on that result), the Wolverines jumped 7 places in the NCAA Rankings, and are now the 12th ranked team in the nation. With a number 1 seed, and a favorable match-up at home, we fully expect Michigan to advance to the Semifinals. That's not to say that Northwestern and Rutgers are incapable of causing the Wolverines problems Sunday, though.
Northwestern (1-7-0) and Rutgers (0-8-0) both lost 3-1 against Michigan earlier this season. However, both teams were able to make things challenging for the hosts on their respective trips to Ann Arbor. Northwestern went up a man early on and, despite the loss, kept things close until the final minutes of the match when Jack Hallahan struck on the counter attack. Rutgers similarly conceded a goal late on in their match to make the scoreline look more comfortable than it truly was. Both teams have shown they are capable of scoring at UMSS. The question is: Can they do so on Sunday?
The schedule will favor Michigan, who will have had a full week to prepare for this one. Rutgers and Northwestern, on the other hand, will face each other on Saturday, November 4th, before waking up the next day to take on the Big Ten Champs. The tired legs alone should tilt this tie in favor of Michigan.
We expect a cagey, physical match, with the visitors looking to sit deep and stay compact - regardless of opponent. With the expected inclement weather also sure to play a factor on Sunday, things may not go exactly according to plan. Still, With Big Ten Coach of the Year Chaka Daley at the helm and a solid core of starting players, we expect Michigan to handle whoever they play with relative comfort.
Our prediction: Michigan defeat the winner of Northwester/Rutgers, 2-0.
Tickets or that match can be found here.
Finally, From all of us here at MSN, we want to offer our sincerest congratulations to ALL the U of M players honored by the Big Ten this week.
First Team, All-Big Ten: Jack Hallahan
Second Team, All-Big Ten: Francis Atuahene, Robbie Mertz, Marcello Borges
Big Ten All-Freshman Team: Umar Farouk Osman, Mohammed Zakyi, Marc Ybarra
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Chaka Daley
Big Ten Sportsmanship Award: Tristan Jacob