Michigan’s spring schedule is here! With a few dates filled in thanks to our ability to assume things using our deductive reasoning:
|Jan. 31||Marquette, Denison (Exh.)||Home (Oosterbaan)|
|Feb. 7||Bellarmine||Home (Oosterbaan)|
|Feb. 14||Detroit||Home (Oosterbaan)|
|Feb. 21||Notre Dame||Home (Oosterbaan)|
|Feb. 28||Canisius||Home (Oosterbaan)|
|March 3||Jacksonville||Away (Jacksonville, Fla.)|
|March 14||St. Joseph’s||Away (Philadelphia)|
|March 26-29||Maryland||Away (College Park, Md.)*|
|April 2-5||Ohio State||Home*|
|April 16-19||Johns Hopkins||Away (Baltimore)*|
|April 23-26||Penn State||Home*|
|April 30-May 2||B1G Tournament||College Park, Md.*|
Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision
Thoughts on thoughts on thoughts:
- It’s a lot of home games on the docket. Only four away games (two of them conference games), and a whopping four regular season games in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse – as best as I can recall, U-M has not played more than one per year in the first three seasons of the program. Oosterbaan was considered a big advantage during the club days, and although the varsity squad plays on a regulation-width field rather than the narrower football lines of the old days, it’s still an environment that not a lot of opposing teams are used to. That Bellarmine, Detroit, and Canisius are potentially winnable games, and will be played with a U-M advantage, that’s a boost to start the season.
- I included the Big Ten Tournament at the end there, but let’s be honest with ourselves here: a six-team conference means Michigan almost certainly has to win two games to make a four-team field (or win a nice little tiebreaker), and they’re probably another year from pulling that one off.
- Speaking of the conference schedule, the dates are still in flux (though the weekends appear to be set), thanks to – hopefully – the Big Ten Network’s ramping up of the sport’s coverage. According to Lacrosse Magazine, primetime Sunday games on BTN are in play… which means not a whole lot of Michigan action on Sundays, most likely (the Hopkins game should be on ESPNU, per the Blue Jays’ existing contract with that network). Either the Ohio State or Rutgers game should be prior to Michigan’s football spring game – more likely the latter contest, if my football spidey sense is accurate. In other things falling into the “hopeful, but unrealistic” category, maybe the U-M administration will finally realize it only makes sense to play the lacrosse game before the football practice, not after it.
- Michigan will play back-to-back Philly teams, one away and one at home. The Drexel matchup is particularly interesting, because U-M swiped Dragons offensive coordinator Conor Ford in the offseason. Drexel may be familiar with his schemes, but he’ll also be familiar with theirs – and their personnel. Nice little intrigue to the coaching chess match.
- The spring break trip is interesting in that it’s not as comprehensive as previous years, when two or three games would happen over the break. There’s no midweek game (there aren’t any on the schedule at all, actually), and even the start of spring break sees the Wolverines playing a home contest against Canisius, rather than getting their travel on.
I see about 6-ish winnable games (counting, say, Rutgers and Drexel for about half apiece), so this is a schedule at least as difficult as last year’s at the top. There’s not as much pulpy bottom to exploit, either. Michigan will have to take strides as a program to put together a record that looks like progress. Given the tough nature of Big Ten play, Michigan will take its lumps this year. They’ll also take some lumps in the non-conference (welcome home, Sergio Perkovic, please don’t score eight goals on us), but they should be able to win some games.
With Michigan moreso than other programs, it’s tough to know how much improvement to expect year-to-year, because the roster is still in the middle of transforming from a fully MCLA club talent base to a fully NCAA varsity recruited talent base. The third year of that transition (Team One wasn’t a transition at all) – but with yet another new offensive coordinator – should be the best yet.