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Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Memo - February 14, 2019: Week 1, Five Wins & A Blowout

Another successful week for (almost) everyone in the Big Ten!

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Memo

To - Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club members

Re - Week 1

Welcome back everyone to our weekly lunch date. I hope everyone is having a great Valentine’s Day. Today might not be that fun of a day if you’re single, but in my opinion Valentine’s Day is great regardless of your relationship status, as February 14th means we’re only about a month away from the first day of spring and (hopefully) the end of these snow days. So even if you didn’t get any V-Day candy this year, cheer up, as warmer days are on the horizon.

Speaking of warming up, you know which conference is getting a little hot right now? The Big Ten. Indeed, Week 1 was nearly another sweep as Ohio State, Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, & Rutgers all won last weekend. Penn State looked really good last Saturday dropping a program-record 27 goals against Robert Morris, avenging an early season 2018 loss to the Colonials. Rutgers dug deep and turned a 15-12 deficit with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter, into a 19-15 victory against St. John’s.

Ohio State’s offense broke out against BU, as the Buckeyes cashed in on 17 goals to beat the Terriers. Michigan was able to hold on in their season-opener versus an improved Cleveland St. Additionally, while Richmond nearly pulled off a come-back victory in their game last Saturday versus Maryland, the Terps were able to avoid a late-game collapse to beat the Spiders 10-9 and move to 2-0 on the season. Indeed, everyone had a pretty good Saturday in the Big Ten last weekend, with the exception of course of my beloved scrappy underdog Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.

Hop got smoked last weekend by Towson, no two ways about it. That was a thorough throttling by the Tigers. Now, while it was certainly a bad outing for the Jays, I, unlike my compatriot Ryan, don’t think it’s panic time at Homewood. This was the first game of the season, Hopkins had several new starters at key positions including face-off & goal, it was a rival game, and Towson has held serve the two previous meetings at Johnny Unitas. So losing to the Tigers on the road very early in the season isn’t the end of the road, as the 2015 Jays demonstrated when they recovered from an early season loss to Towson to make it to the 2015 Final Four in Philadelphia.

However, Hopkins losing while everyone else in the Big Ten won did result in several funny Tweets aimed at my direction, with one perfectly expressed by friend of the blog Jac Coyne:

Indeed, what if the Big Ten does get five bids to the NCAA Tournament this year, but Hopkins is the odd-man out? First off, that would be hilarious. If ever there was a self-own, it would be me starting up a series focused on the Big Ten, only for the conference to get the coveted five bids, with Hopkins not being one of the five. Yea, that would really funny and I would totally be fine about it if that happened this year.

Anyway, let’s never mention that personal nightmare again. MOVING ON, you can find the Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Big Board for February 14, 2019 directly below. Links in the 2019 Overall Record column will take you to that team’s official 2019 schedule page. Links in the Last Game column will take you to the recap of that team’s most recent game, while links in the 2018 Overall Record column will take you to Chris’ 2018 Year in Review post for that particular team. Below the Big Board is a preview of the six B1G games this weekend.

Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Big Board For February 14, 2019

Team 2019 Overall Record Last Game Next Game 2019 Non-Conference Record 2019 Conference Record 2018 Overall Record
Team 2019 Overall Record Last Game Next Game 2019 Non-Conference Record 2019 Conference Record 2018 Overall Record
Johns Hopkins 0-1 17-8 L vs. Towson Feb 16 - Home vs. Loyola 0-1 0-0 12-5
Maryland 2-0 10-9 W vs. Richmond Feb 16 - Away vs. Penn 2-0 0-0 14-4
Michigan 1-0 10-8 W vs. Cleveland St. Feb 19 - Home vs. Drexel 1-0 0-0 8-6
Ohio State 2-0 17-10 W vs. BU Feb 16 - Away vs. UMass 2-0 0-0 8-7
Penn State 2-0 27-10 W vs. Robert Morris Feb 16 - Away vs. Stony Brook 2-0 0-0 8-6
Rutgers 2-0 19-15 W vs. St. John's Feb 16: Home vs. Army 2-0 0-0 9-6

Johns Hopkins vs. Loyola

There is no better way to get over losing 17-8 to a rival one week than to go out and beat another rival the very next week at home. Hopkins will look to do just that this Saturday at Homewood versus the highly ranked Loyola Greyhounds. Loyola looked fantastic against UVA last weekend as they beat the Cavaliers 17-9 at Ridley. Pat Spencer was his usual amazing-self, as he finished with seven total points (5 Gs, 2 As), but Loyola also got a major boost from Kevin Lindley who cashed in on five goals as well.

Hopkins will have to improve upon their play from last weekend if they want to have any shot against Loyola. Last weekend Hopkins lost the face-off battle 21-7, Towson had a GB advantage of 43-18, and after the first quarter there were numerous long periods of time where Hopkins didn’t even have a sustained possession on the offensive end, let alone a good shot. It could be be another long afternoon for the Hopkins faithful on Saturday if Loyola gets rolling early against the Jays.

Maryland vs. Penn

Everything was going pretty well for Maryland through the first three quarters last weekend versus Richmond. However, the Spiders had a 5-0 run in the final quarter and what should’ve been a pretty comfortable victory for Maryland turned into a pretty tense affair with a couple minutes to play. The final score was a little deceiving given the fact that the Terps hit the pipe/crossbar a couple times in the fourth, but still, the game was a great reminder that life can come at your swiftly. Next time Maryland might not be so lucky.

This will be Penn’s first game of the season, so even though this is an away game for the Terps, Maryland should have an advantage, as they have a couple of games under their belt already. Maryland’s offense has been pretty good this year and they are getting excellent play at face-off, as the Terps have won 75% of their attempts. Maryland should be fine on Saturday at Franklin Field so long as Jared Bernhardt (7 Gs, 1 A) and Logan Wisnauskas (5 Gs, 3 As) have their usual game & the Terps get contributions from Anthony DeMaio (3 Gs, 2 As) & Bubba Fairman (2Gs & 2 As). But as the Spiders showed us last weekend, the game isn’t over until the final whistle, so hopefully the Terps close out this one without any extra drama.

Michigan vs. Drexel

Michigan’s game versus Cleveland St. last weekend initially looked like it was going to be a run-away victory. With 5:35 left in the first half, Michigan was up 7-0 and it looked like the rout was on for the Wolverines. However, Cleveland St. fought back and scored the next seven out of nine goals to head into the fourth quarter only down 9-7. After CSU scored with a little over 7 minutes left in the game to cut the deficit to a single goal, it looked like Michigan was on the verge of a monumental collapse.

Nevertheless, grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory was not to be for Michigan, as Brent Noseworthy added an insurance goal with 1:56 left in the game and the Wolverines escaped with a 10-8 season-opening win versus the Vikings. Obviously a win is a win, but Michigan can’t let teams claw back into games like that if they want to make the jump this year. The Wolverines might not have been able to hold on last Saturday if the Vikings didn’t start out with a 7-0 deficit.

This will be Drexel’s second game of 2019 as they play this weekend versus High Point. The Dragons return Marshal King & Matthew Varian in 2019. Both King & Varian were Second Team All-CAA last year as King finished 2018 with 18 goals and 11 assists, while Varian added 28 goals and 21 assists. Both King & Varian pose a decent 1-2 punch for the Dragons and could pose problems for Michigan if they were to get going on the 19th.

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Ohio State vs. UMass

The Buckeyes played very well last weekend against BU. After holding off Cleveland St. 12-9 in Week 0, OSU unloaded on the Terriers with 17 goals last Saturday. Jack Jasinski and Tre Leclaire continued their strong play in 2019 with five and four goals, respectively, against BU. Ohio State rotated goalies last weekend, first using freshman goalie Skylar Wahlund for the first 40 minutes (8 saves), and then using sophomore Josh Kirson to close out the last twenty minutes of the game (3 saves).

Ohio State will be facing a hungry UMass squad that lost in overtime to Army last weekend. The Minutemen played well last Saturday, as they had 23 more shots than Army, nearly double the amount of GBs, and won face-offs 21-4. UMass has a potent attack with Chris Connolly, Gabriel Procyk, & Devin Spencer. Connolly & Procyk especially had good games against Army last Saturday as they finished with seven & five points, respectively. UMass beat the Buckeyes in Amherst in 2016 in the second-to-last meeting between the two squads & if OSU is not careful, the Minutemen might pull it off again this weekend.

Penn State vs. Stony Brook

Last weekend was another great one for the Nittany Lions. PSU scored a program-record 27 goals in their win versus Robert Morris as they were scorching hot on offense. Indeed, take the second quarter for instance when Penn State had 12 goals on 13 shots. I mean, I am not a big analytics statistician or anything, but that appears to be pretty efficient. Regardless of the math, Penn State is very good and potentially the best team in the country. Thank god we finally get to see them this weekend, as their game versus Stony Brook on Saturday will be their first nationally streamed game of 2019. Shout out to the America East Network.

The Seawolves return over 95% of 2018 scoring, most notably Tom Haun who led the team in goals (22) & points (36) and Jack Walsh who led the team in assists (25). Penn State’s offense will probably be too much for Stony Brook, but this will be the first away game of the season for PSU and they could get caught sleeping if their minds are focused on Yale on February 23rd instead of the task at hand versus SBU.

Rutgers vs. Army

Were it not for a furious seven-goal comeback in fourth quarter last weekend, Rutgers would be going into this game with Army 1-1. Credit to St. John’s for playing well last Saturday, as they had the Scarlet Knights on the ropes. Indeed, after going down 9-3 with 8:24 left in the second quarter St. Johns went on a 12-3 run to take a 15-12 lead with roughly ten minutes left in the fourth quarter. Luckily for Rutgers, the RU offense woke up and proceeded to cash in on the next seven goals to get the 19-15 victory. Again, a win is a win, but Rutgers was very fortunate to pull away with the victory last weekend. One can’t be giving up 12-3 runs every Saturday, as you won’t always have a seven-goal, fourth quarter explosion in your back pocket to save you.

The Black Knights look good coming into this game versus Rutgers. Army would’ve won their game against the Minutemen in regulation were it not for UMass’ Chris Connolloy scoring with one second left in the 4th quarter. Army got a tremendous effort off the bench last week from attackman Brendan Nichtern who finished with four goals and three assists. Miles Silva also had a very good game against UMass, as he finished with four goals on the afternoon. Rutgers will have to keep Army’s offense in check, while also figuring out a way to solve AJ Barretto in goal, as the Army goaltender started out the season hot against UMass last weekend with 17 saves. Army won this game last year at home, but now they got to come to Jersey for this weekend’s match-up. I think Rutgers gets one back this year and hopefully won’t need a fourth quarter come-back to do it.

We have a nice quintet of games this weekend with Michigan playing on the 19th. Hopefully Hopkins has a better game against Loyola this weekend, as I’d hate for this series to devolve into a succession of depressing “Dear Diary, we lost again” posts, as Hop’s chances at an at-large bid should they not win the Big Ten Tournament dwindle into nothingness.

Anyway! On that lovely note, have a wonderful and fun Valentine’s Day. Remember, chocolate as a gift is never a bad idea. Good talk. I’ll see you out there.

Very truly yours,