Michigan Sports Recap: So Many Championships

May 24, 2015 by  
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A *particularly* successful week this week.

Softball

And it's on. Michigan beat Georgia 10-3, then 7-6, to sweep the Bulldogs out of the NCAA tournament. And pizza was had by everybody.

Many of the usual suspects that got them here delivered timely performances, including Megan Betsa, Sierra Romero, and Haylie Wagner. This series provided a slight hint that things get harder against top competition - Betsa pitched eight innings, and gave up six runs, while the team batted .310 against Georgia's arms (for comparison, they entered the weekend batting .344).

Still, it was more than enough. There were great performances by many of Michigan's hitters, including a 4-RBI game by left-fielder Kelly Christner, a 3-4, 2-RBI night by right-fielder Kelsey Susalla, and even a solo home run by Haylie Wagner.

It's also worth pointing out that Sierra Romero, who already has the NCAA record for career grand slams, etched her name on some more of Michigan's record books.

Baseball

Well, this was a bit surprising - Michigan baseball has torn through the Big Ten tournament and ousted, well, everybody.

It's easy to look at the tournament game - a 4-3 nail-biter with Maryland - but there was timely hitting throughout and even a comeback win over #4 Illinois.

Miscellaneous

The Regents have approved the design for what will eventually be a completely re-imagined South Campus.

For those who aren't around Ann Arbor regularly, the city is always changing and growing. With worldly spectacles like Real Madrid vs. Manchester United, or the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, Ann Arbor is finding a place on the map in the sports world, even while football is down.

Rowing celebrated a great achievement this week: they will appear in the NCAA championships.

The #2 spot in the Big Ten championships provided a needed boost. And, they're already getting ready for the next challenge.

Michigan football announced a Military Appreciation Game:

Also, here's some film of new transfer Wayne Lyons.

The football team was one of fourteen programs to earn APR recognition this week. Of the fourteen teams, more than a third are in the Big Ten. Also, nine other Michigan sports earned APR honors - a record.

Dylan Larkin is moving on from Michigan hockey, to hopefully bigger and better things. We wish him well while also hoping for a good send-off in Red Berenson's final year.

Trey Burke was in the Philippines for NBA Cares, and he showed off some ups:

That's it for this week. Follow me on Twitter, and as always, Go Blue.

Michigan Baseball Wins Big Ten Championship Game, Punches Ticket to NCAA Tournament

May 24, 2015 by  
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Needing to win the Big Ten Tournament to earn a bid in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan baseball completed its magical run with a 4-3 victory over Maryland in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Michigan is a bats and balls school now, it seems.

Two days after Michigan softball punched its ticket to the Women's College World Series with a sweep over Georgia in the Super Regionals, Michigan baseball punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a 4-3 win over Maryland in the Big Ten Championship Game at Target Field. This is the first time that the Wolverines have won the Big Ten Tournament and will be in the NCAA Tournament since the 2008 season.

For Michigan to end its NCAA Tournament drought, the Wolverines, which were the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, needed to secure the Big Ten's auto-bid because Michigan was too far off the bubble to earn an at-large bid based on its resume. So, while Michigan had impressed with upsets against No. 21 Iowa and No. 4 Illinois -- a team that carried a 26-game winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament -- earlier this week, it all would have been for naught if they didn't take care of business against Maryland today.

Michigan's bats were kept under wraps for most of the game, but a four-run fourth inning thanks to some critical Maryland mistakes were enough to secure the win. The Wolverines put runners on the corners with no outs after a throwing error by Terrapins starting pitcher Taylor Bloom. Then, singles by Michigan's Cody Bruder and Kevin White drove in two runs with only one out on the board. The Terrapins were able to get the second out, but Maryland walked three straight batters and threw a wild pitch, which brought in two more Michigan runs, before getting out of the inning.

Michigan carried their 4-1 lead into the eighth, but that's when the Terrapins began to give Michigan a scare. With two outs, Maryland had runners on second and first base. Maryland third baseman Jose Cuas hit a rope into right field that Michigan right fielder Johnny Slater lunged at but couldn't reach. The ball went past Slater, and it seemed that Maryland would add two runs to the scoreboard with a double. However, due to a baserunning mix-up, Cuas tried to stretch his double into a triple, and a beautiful throw from Slater to the cut-off man led to Cuas being tagged out at third base before the second Terrapin baserunner could cross home plate. Thus, Michigan exited the eight inning with a 4-2 lead when Maryland should have been down by only one run with a runner on second.

Then, Michigan received an even a bigger scare in the top of the ninth inning as it tried to close out the championship win. With one out and a Maryland runner on first, the Wolverines had a chance to end it with a double play, but, after getting the force at first base, Carmen Benedetti slipped on the wet bag as he planted his foot to make the throw to second base to get the tag and the third out. The slip caused his throw to be inaccurate, so Maryland had a runner on second base with two outs. Two singles and a hit-by-pitch later, and Maryland had the bases loaded while trailing the Wolverines by only one run. But closer Jacob Cronenworth hung tough and forced Maryland's Brandon Lowe to fly out to left field for the third and Big Ten Tournament-clinching out.

And, of course, the Wolverines rushed the field to begin their jubilant celebration:

The NCAA Tournament begins this Friday, May 28th. Michigan will find out the NCAA Tournament regional in which it will participate during tomorrow's Selection Show, which will air at noon ET on ESPNU. The NCAA Tournament Regional is double elimination, with the winners of the 16 regionals advancing to the Super Regionals.

Michigan baseball defeats Illinois 5-3, advances to Big Ten Tournament championship game

May 23, 2015 by  
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Michigan baseball upset No. 4 Illinois on Saturday to advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship game.

Quite like the softball team, it's Michigan baseball's turn to make noise in postseason play and are on the cusp of a NCAA Tournament appearance.

Saturday's 5-3 victory over Illinois, who had a 27-game winning streak snapped two days ago, helps advance Michigan to the Big Ten Tournament championship game against Maryland. The last NCAA Tournament appearance by the baseball was squad was in 2008, which was also the last time the Wolverines won a conference tournament championship.

Junior Jacob Cronenworth opened up the scoring for the Wolverines in the second inning after a two out, bases loaded single to center field brought in two runs.

Cronenworth also made a highlight reel play in the third inning:


Michigan's two-run lead would be cut to one in the fourth inning after a double by Illini senior David Kerian scores junior catcher Jason Goldstein. The Illini would tied the game in the next inning after a junior Ryan Nagle RBI single. The sixth inning saw the Wolverines trailing after a Kerian home run.

In a back-and-forth affair, the sixth inning saw a total of four runs and two lead changes. To start off the scoring, Kerian would put Illinois out in front after a solo home run in the top of the inning made the score 3-2. To finish at the bottom of the inning, Michigan tied the game with Johnny Slater being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring a runner. Kendall Patrick grounding into a double-play that scored a runner to put the Wolverines in front for good. Cronenworth added an insurance run on an infield single that scored a runner.

Michigan will play Maryland on Sunday at 1 p.m. CDT on the Big Ten Network.

Michigan Softball Sweeps Georgia to Advance to Women’s College World Series

May 22, 2015 by  
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Michigan hangs on to advance to its 11th WCWS in the past 21 seasons.

The 2014-15 season was more than a disappointment for Michigan's three most popular sports -- with Michigan football, basketball, and ice hockey all failing to participate in the postseason in the same season for the first time since 1973 -- but Michigan softball -- the fourth-most popular sport -- is picking up the slack.

One night after No. 3 seed Michigan overpowered No. 14 seed Georgia, 10-3, in Game 1 of their best-of-three Super Regional series, the Wolverines eked past the Bulldogs, 7-6, in Game 2 to complete the sweep and advance to the Women's College World Series. This is the second time in the last three seasons and 11th time in the last 21 under head coach Carol Hutchins that Michigan will appear in the NCAA Women's College World Series.

Right fielder Kelsey Susalla and pitcher Haylie Wagner propelled Michigan to the Game 2 win. Susalla was 3-for-4, crossing the plate three times and tallying two RBI with a solo shot in the second inning and a double down the left field line in the fifth. Wagner contributed on the rubber and with the bat in her hands. She extinguished most of Georgia's threats, allowing two earned runs and seven hits in six innings while striking out six batters, and gave herself run support by launching a home run in the fourth.

Unlike last night in Game 1 when Michigan scored four first-inning runs and never looked back, it was Georgia that had the hot start in Game 2. The Wolverines went down 1-2-3 in the top half of the first before starting pitcher Megan Betsa, who dominated the Bulldogs with 10 strikeouts in the Game 1 win, surrendered a solo shot and a two-run line-drive home run to Georgia in the bottom half to put Michigan in an early 3-0 hole.

But Michigan didn't dig itself any deeper. Wagner relieved Betsa to get the final out of the first, and that's when Michigan's bats went to work. Susalla opened the top of the second with her bomb, and Michigan would score in all but one of the game's final six innings, posting seven runs and 10 hits, to take a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh.

The last half-inning had its drama, though. A two-run, two-out Georgia home run cut Michigan's lead to just one, and the Bulldogs put the tying run on base when the next batter singled. Hutchins decided to make a change and reinserted Betsa to close out the game that she exited in the first inning. With a full count, Betsa forced the Georgia hitter to pop up to second baseman Sierra Romero, and the celebration at Alumni Field began.

Michigan is the first team to clinch their bid in the 2015 Women's College World Series. The eight-team, double-elimination tournament, which will decide the school that is crowned the NCAA softball champion, will begin on Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. There, Michigan will try to win its second-ever national title.

Michigan with 33/1 Odds to Win 2015-16 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

May 22, 2015 by  
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The way-too-early odds for the 2015-16 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship are out. Place your bets!

Michigan has 33/1 odds, meaning a winning $100 bet would pay $3,300, to win the 2015-16 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, according to odds that Bovada has just released. Michigan's 33/1 odds are tied for the 16th-best among all D-I basketball schools and tied for the fourth-best among Big Ten schools.

This seems to fall in line with how many project Michigan basketball will perform next season with the healthy return of Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, the late-season progress from Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins, Spike Albrecht, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, an offseason of development by Ricky Doyle, Kam Chatman, and Mark Donnal, and the additions of D.J. Wilson, Duncan Robinson, and Moritz Wagner to the hardwood.

Here are the 25 D-I basketball schools with the best odds to win the championship:

Bovada's Odds to Win 2015-16 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship (Top 25 Schools)
Rank School Odds
1 Maryland 9/1
t-2 Duke 10/1
t-2 Kentucky 10/1
t-2 North Carolina 10/1
t-5 Kansas 16/1
t-5 Michigan State 16/1
t-7 Arizona 20/1
t-7 California 20/1
t-7 Iowa State 20/1
t-7 Virginia 20/1
t-11 Gonzaga 25/1
t-11 Indiana 25/1
t-11 Villanova 25/1
t-11 Wichita State 25/1
15 Oklahoma 28/1
t-16 Michigan 33/1
t-16 Purdue 33/1
18 Louisville 40/1
t-19 LSU 50/1
t-19 Notre Dame 50/1
t-19 Ohio State 50/1
t-19 Syracuse 50/1
t-19 Texas 50/1
t-19 Texas A&M 50/1
t-19 UConn 50/1
t-19 Utah 50/1
t-19 Wisconsin 50/1

Here are the odds for Big Ten schools:

Bovada's Odds to Win 2015-16 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship (Big Ten Schools)
Rank School Odds
1 Maryland 9/1
2 Michigan State 16/1
3 Indiana 25/1
t-4 Michigan 33/1
t-4 Purdue 33/1
t-6 Ohio State 50/1
t-6 Wisconsin 50/1
t-8 Illinois 100/1
t-8 Iowa 100/1
10 Minnesota 300/1
t-11 Nebraska 500/1
t-11 Penn State 500/1
t-13 Northwestern N/A
t-13 Rutgers N/A

There are two important reminders. The first and most obvious is that these odds are very early as the 2015-16 men's basketball season doesn't begin for another six months. The second is that Bovada and other sportsbooks set these odds to optimize their return on the prop bet, not to list who's actually the first-, second-, and third-favorite and so on.

Poll
Do you think the odds Bovada gave Michigan to win the 2015-16 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship are spot on, too low, or too high?

  27 votes | Results

Friday Michigan Recruiting Roundup: Top prospects including U-M in trimmed lists of schools

May 22, 2015 by  
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In this edition, a pair of 2016 targets have included Michigan in their top eight schools and the latest scholarship offers.

As we inch closer and closer to the summer, recruiting for the 2016 cycle should pick up in the next few weeks or so. We are starting to see some of the top targets on the board narrow down their respective lists of schools, and a pair of players Michigan has been keeping an eye on did so on Thursday.

Defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (Houston, Texas) and outside linebacker Lamar Winston (Portland, Oregon), both four-star prospects, revealed their top eight schools via Twitter.

Elliott is a name to keep an eye on more so than Winston. It is very possible that Michigan takes two defensive tackles in this class with the nation's top player Rashan Gary (Paramus, New Jersey) filling one of those spots. I believe Elliott is one of the more likely candidates to do so.

Winston will be a tough pull from the West coast, but it is worth noting that Michigan is the only school in his top eight that is not from the Pac-12. This is a staff that has a lot of ties to that region of the country and we will see if that pays off in his recruitment.

Busy week for offensive line offers

Throughout the last couple of months of Michigan football recruiting has seen certain themes and patterns develop in terms of the players being offered at certain positions. This week, a large emphasis has been placed on the offensive line, particularly in the 2017 class.

The Wolverines offered a pair of five-star recruits this week at offensive tackle in Foster Sarell (Graham, Washington) and Wyatt Davis (Bellflower, California), who are ranked third and sixth at their positions per the 247 Composite, respectively.

Another 2017 offensive tackle offered was Henry Bainivalu (Seattle, Washington) as the staff made its way through the Northwest part of the United States.

Bainivalu is a four-star prospect and the 12th-ranked offensive tackle in the class, per the 247 Composite.

We are still about two years away from National Signing Day 2017, but it is never too early (apparently) to look ahead to the 2018 class, as the Wolverines did when they offered offensive tackle Brey Walker (Moore, Oklahoma), according to 247's Steve Lorenz. (FREE)

It is still early, but many expect Walker to be a top-ranked player at his position in the 2018 class. Michigan has swooped in with an early offer, so we will see if that pays off over the next three years or so.

Wide receivers a need, too

In the nearer future, Michigan has a need for playmakers at wide receiver for 2016, so they are turning every stone over across the nation to find guys that can give them an explosive threat in the passing game.

The latest wide receiver offer went out to Chase Claypool (Abbotsford, British Columbia), according to Demetric Warren of Varsity Preps.

Claypool is a three-star prospect and the 172nd-ranked wide receiver in the 2016 class, per the 247 Composite.

That's it for Friday. Check back in Monday for the latest Michigan football recruiting news from over the weekend.

Michigan Football Recruiting: Pair of top ’17 OL from Washington offered

May 21, 2015 by  
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The Wolverines offered two of 2017's top offensive lineman while making the rounds through the state of Washington on Thursday

The Michigan football coaching staff has been busy this week spreading out and offering prospects throughout the entire country. Thursday, the staff made its way through the state of Washington and offered a pair of the 2017 class' top offensive lineman.

The biggest, and least surprising offer, went to Foster Sarell (Graham, Washington). This is an offer many expected to come sooner or later for awhile.

Sarell is a five-star prospect and the third-ranked player at his position in the class, per the 247 Composite.

The other offensive tackle offered was Henry Bainivalu (Seattle, Washington), per his Twitter account.

Bainivalu is a four-star prospect and the 12th-ranked offensive tackle in the class, per the 247 Composite.

Michigan has made the offensive line a huge priority on the trail as Jim Harbaugh's staff tries to build depth at all positions. Development at those positions will be key to the turnaround in Ann Arbor.

Dylan Larkin is Leaving Michigan Hockey

May 21, 2015 by  
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Larkin has signed a three-year ELC with the Detroit Red Wings.

After one of the most prolific freshman campaigns in program history, Dylan Larkin has elected to forgo the remainder of his college career and turn pro. Larkin, who had 15 goals and 47 points in just 35 games, joins Andrew Copp on the list of major subtractions heading into next season.

"My year at Michigan has been the best year of my life, the most fun year of hockey I've ever had," Larkin told MGoBlue. "Going to one of the best universities in the world and having fun with my classmates, it will be tough missing out on what they're going to accomplish. On the other note, I have a chance to live out the dream of my life, and I'm really excited about it. I think it's a great opportunity. I really feel like I'm ready for this challenge."

"In Dylan's year with Michigan, he proved to be one of most talented players in college hockey," said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. "We knew this was a tough decision for Dylan, but we also anticipated that this might happen. I hope that Dylan continues on a path to graduate from the university while preparing for a long career in the National Hockey League."

Larkin, the Waterford, MI native was drafted 15th overall by the Red Wings last June. He will join the Grand Rapids Griffins in time for their Western Conference Final matchup against the Utica Comets.

We will have more information on this story as it develops.

Thursday Morning Brews (5/21/15)

May 21, 2015 by  
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Hitting the Links Is Scared of Titanoboas

All-Urban Meyer Team

This was a great exercise. Also, this team is terrifying.

How Harbaugh Is Changing Recruiting - Again

This is a must-read. Ben Axelrod talks about Michigan's upcoming QB camp.

What Does Florida State Get From Everett Golson?

Golson has struggled more than most at handling pressure in the pocket, and Florida State is revamping their line. But Golson also has a proven track record in big moments, just like Winston.

SI Piece on Harbaugh

This was really well done.

B1G Might Change Time Obligations For Players"Not The Minor Leagues"

This is much more realistic and helpful round of ideas than freshman ineligibility. Also, the second link is more basketball-centric, but it gives a face to some of the push-back against athletics in the Big Ten.

Brett Favre Will Play Flag Football At Camp Randall

The Big Ten is entertaining, in a way it wasn't a little while ago.

Recruiting Staff News, Other Updates

This was an interesting read about some goings-on in Michigan's athletic department.

2015 Projected Depth Chart

What stands out is the depth at certain spots - third-string Bryan Mone, fourth-string Mo Hurst, fourth-string Drake Johnson, second-string Ben Gedeon. Depth charts will be less useful this year, though, with Harbaugh mixing and matching the right pieces to get as much talent on the field as he can. Henry Poggi, Chase Winovich, and Royce Jenkins-Stone will see the field in some capacity.

SB Nation Preview: Indiana

Bill Connelly talks about a number of things that have gotten some air time here before - from Indiana's make-or-break season to the impressive but challenging work Kevin Wilson has handled. Also: Nate Sudfeld is an unknown quantity in some respects, since he was injured in '14 and shared quarterback duties with Tre Roberson in 2013. But in his career, he has a 34-13 touchdown ratio and has never had a season below a 60% completion rate.

SB Nation Preview: Purdue

This wasn't discussed in this preview, but no matter who wins Purdue's quarterback battle - Danny Etling or Austin Appleby - Purdue will have the worst quarterback in the Big Ten. Both struggled mightily a year ago.

Laviano vs. Rettig

On The Banks looks at Rutgers' spring game, and sums up how the QB battle looks right now.

SB Nation Preview: Notre Dame

Folston doesn't get the attention, but he is turning into one of the better running backs in the nation. Four of his five 100-yard games came in the second half of last year.

The Rise of Australian Punting

There will be four Australian punters in the Big Ten next year.

Mike Slive Q&A

This was a good look behind the curtains at one of the game's more influential figures over the last decade.

Michigan's Strengths and Weaknesses

This is horse meat to some extent, but that's to be expected during the off-season. Also, Michigan's pass rush concerns - which this preview emphasizes - are a bit overblown with a three-man front and Michigan's fabulous D-line. The passing game and even depth in the secondary are at least as pressing.

ACC: Most Meaningful Moments From 2014...Big Ten...Big 12

This was a good look at the storylines that dominate each conference and where they began.

Broome and Henschke Show: The SEC v. Jim Harbaugh continues

May 20, 2015 by  
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In this edition of the show, we discuss tailgate foods, a possible transfer situation and more of Jim Harbaugh ruffling feathers across the nation.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Joshua Henschke and myself do a podcast for Wolverine Sports Radio, as some of you may already know. We will now be posting these here at Maize n Brew.

On this edition of the show, we discuss the ideal tailgating spread, more alleged drama between Guz Malzahn and Jim Harbaugh and a situation where U-M's new head football coach "Jim Schwartzed" Rick Neuheisel while he was at UCLA.

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