A week after a near-miss against Maryland, the “near” portion of that situation didn’t come into play at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights took home the comfortable victory.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Ohio State 2016|
|Faceoff Wins||8||Faceoff Wins||13|
|Offensive Efficiency||.212||Offensive Efficiency||.263|
The teams struggled equally on the clear, but Ohio State benefitted from more possessions (from faceoffs), more EMO opportunities, and – by the end of the contest – a big home crowd to power the Bucks to a win.
Brad Lott had a very good year for Michigan on faceoffs, but Ohio State’s Jake Withers was on another level – and followed through on that in this one. Going .381 against such a good specialist is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s certainly not the recipe for an upset. Withers also picked up seven ground balls himself, and managed to get off two shots, so perhaps shifting up the strategy to muck things up and prevent fast break might have been wise. Most of Withers’s success did come in the second half, so maybe the staff had hoped Lott would return to his first-half form.
Gerald Logan didn’t have a great year – which is unfortunate, because he’s very talented – but was U-M’s best player in this one. Though he allowed 10 goals, he made 19 saves, and a number of those he let in were plays on which his defense really hung him out to dry.
The Wolverines’ offensive production was fairly spread out, with eight different players notching a point, and only two (freshman Sean McCanna with two goals, sophomore Patrick Tracy with a goal and an assist) registering more than one. Ian King was back on the field, but not back to full health – which he may not have ever returned to this season – and launched four shots with no goals, and turned the ball over three times. Fellow star offensive player Kyle Jackson missed the contest.
Michigan played a very sloppy game, giving the Buckeyes four extra-man opportunities (Ohio State cashed in twice, though U-M did get a short-handed goal near the end of the game, as well). Like the lack of a decisive win or stalemate on faceoffs, that’s not the recipe for an upset. The two penalties that the Buckeyes scored on really helped them build momentum: the first came to level the score in the first quarter, and the second capped a four-goal Buckeye run to build a three-goal lead in the third quarter.
Former Michigan commit (and Bellarmine transfer – I guess dude just didn’t know where he wanted to go to school) Austin Shanks was one of the Buckeyes’ top performers with a goal and two assists, though the entire OSU starting midfield also had three-point days, too.
Logan’s performance sort of obscures (from the stats at least) how disheveled the Michigan defense looked at various points in the game. The late (or way-too-early) slides reared their ugly head in this one. Michigan did start a couple freshmen on close D – MJ Melillo and Nick DeCaprio both started the final six games of the season, a nice look to the youth movement – so there may be some explanation, though that isn’t an excuse, either.
Michigan returned home to take on Hopkins, but didn’t experience a much better result against a team that would be Dancing just a few weeks later.