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Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Memo - February 21, 2019: A Few Hits

Our beloved Rogue Conference took a few hits last week

Maryland v Georgia Tech

Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Memo

To - Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club members

Re - Week 2 Review

Welcome back everyone to our weekly Big Ten lunch date. Things were going pretty well for the Rogue Conference through the first two weeks of the season. Hopkins was the only team with a loss. Penn State looked great. Maryland was a top 3 team in the country. Rutgers & Ohio State were climbing up the polls and Michigan had won their season opener versus Cleveland St. Then Week 2 happened and the shine began to fade a little.

Week 2 wasn’t horrible or anything. It was sort of like those 40 degree days that Stringer Bell talked about in The Wire. In fact, Week 2 was actually pretty great for a few teams in the B1G. Indeed, Penn State is considered to be the best team in the country not named Loyola after crushing Stony Brook 17-4 last Saturday. Maryland won an OT thriller versus Penn on the 16th and then turned around and beat Colgate 11-6 on Tuesday. Moreover, Ohio State went on the road and beat a tough UMass team to climb to 3-0 on the season. Combined, OSU, PSU, & MD are 10-0 on the season and the three are ranked in the top 8 of the College Crosse Top 20 Poll and ranked in the top 10 of the IL Media Poll. Things are more than fine at College Park, Happy Valley, & Columbus, they’re actually pretty great.

However, the other half of the conference does have me a bit worried. Indeed, Rutgers, Hopkins, & Michigan are now a combined 3-4 on the season. It may be a little unfair to lump Rutgers in this group as they are 2-1 in 2019 and their loss to Army this past weekend was by a single goal. But that would mean you’d have to ignore the fact that St. John’s had them on the ropes midway through the 4th quarter of their game a couple weeks ago. Things aren’t dire at Rutgers by any stretch of the imagination. They could come out this weekend and beat Loyola and hop right back into the top 10. However, if Rutgers just misses the cut and doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament again this year, we’ll definitely look back at the Army game as a missed opportunity.

Michigan is another team that isn’t in trouble yet, but you do see some worrying signs for the Wolverines, namely, the team's inability to hold onto big leads. This is the second week in a row that Michigan let an opponent climb back into the game that they had full control of in the first half. UM was able to survive Cleveland St. despite letting a 7-0 second quarter lead turn into a 9-8 game with seven minutes to play. However, their luck ran out this week against Drexel, as Michigan squandered a 7-2 second quarter lead and a 12-9 lead after three quarters, as the Dragons unloaded with seven goals in the fourth quarter to force OT before winning it in the second extra session. Again, like Rutgers, Michigan will have opportunities to right the ship, but Michigan needs to shore up that defense and hold onto leads better or they’ll be on the short end of a lot of close games this season.

As for Hopkins ....

You can find the Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Big Board for February 21, 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 21, 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 0-2 Loyola 18 vs. Johns Hopkins 12 Feb 23 - Johns Hopkins @ UNC 0-2 0-0 12-5
Maryland 4-0 Maryland 11 vs. Colgate 6 Feb 23 - Maryland @ Navy 4-0 0-0 14-4
Michigan 1-1 Drexel 17 vs. Michigan 16 (2 OT) Feb 23 - Michigan @ Jacksonville 1-1 0-0 8-6
Ohio State 3-0 Ohio St. 11 vs. UMass 7 Feb 23 - Ohio St. home vs. Bucknell 3-0 0-0 8-7
Penn State 3-0 Penn St. 17 vs. Stony Brook 4 Feb 23 - Penn St. @ Yale 3-0 0-0 8-6
Rutgers 2-1 Army 10 vs. Rutgers 9 Feb 23 - Rutgers home vs. Loyola 2-1 0-0 9-6

Johns Hopkins vs. North Carolina

The Jays have not had a great start to their 2019 season. After getting blown out by Towson in their first game, Hopkins lost to Loyola 18-12 last weekend in their second game. While JHU played better against the Greyhounds than they did against the Tigers, Hop still had problems defensively as Loyola scored more goals in the first (6) & third (7) quarters than Hop did the entire game. Joey Epstien had a great game against Loyola, as he finished with a hat trick and three assists. Kyle Marr also played very well, as he had six points (5 Gs, 1 A) last weekend. Nevertheless, Hop just didn’t have an answer for Pat Spencer (3 Gs, 4 As), Kevin Lindley (4 Gs), or Chase Scanlon (4 Gs, 2 As).

Things don’t get easier this weekend as JHU goes down to North Carolina to play the Tar Heels. UNC has been consistently great against Hopkins over the last dozen years, having won 10 of the last 12 meetings. Hop did win at Carolina 13-5 in 2017, but they will need to turn it around and play much better than they have the last two weekends if they are to have any chance versus the Heels.

Maryland vs. Navy

The Terps had a busy week as they beat Colgate on Tuesday night and also beat Penn on last Saturday afternoon (I can’t enter two hyper-links in one cell, which is why only the Colgate game is listed in the Last Game column for Maryland). MD had a pretty interesting afternoon against the Quakers, as Maryland held on for the 13-12 overtime victory over the Quakers. Penn absolutely dominated at face-offs, winning 21 of 25 attempts. However, despite again giving up five goals in the fourth quarter, sophomore Roman Puglise was able to save Maryland with a goal less than 20 seconds into overtime to give the Terps the victory in Philadelphia.

Maryland played much better against Colgate this week. The offense had no problem finding the net in the first half as the Terps scored 9 goals and went into halftime up 9-3 on the Raiders. Maryland was able to hold Colgate scoreless in the third quarter before giving up three goals in the final quarter, so while the offense was a little quiet in the third and fourth, the Terp defense was very solid throughout the entire game.

Watch out for this game if you are a Terps fans as the Midshipmen have been playing very well to start out the season. Navy’s defense gave up only 8 goals against Vermont and six goals against UMBC, while their offense has improved greatly thanks to major contributions from Christian Daniel (7 Gs, 3 As), Ryan Wade (3 Gs, 6 As), & Greyson Torain (5 Gs, 1 A). This will be the 3rd game in one week for the Terps, so fatigue may be a factor for Maryland and the Terps will be on the road for this one as well. I think Maryland should win this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was close going into the fourth quarter.

Michigan vs. Jacksonville

Michigan’s loss to Drexel was definitely a disappointment if you are a Wolverines fans. Losing always hurts, but Michigan had a 15-11 lead with just under 8:30 to go in the fourth quarter and even after Drexel scored a few goals to cut the deficit to 15-14, Michigan scored again to go up 16-14 with 1:36 left in the fourth. Regardless, despite the two goal lead and roughly 90 seconds on the clock, Drexel was able to score with 59 seconds to play and then again with 8 seconds left to send it into OT.

Michigan still had its chances in extra time as the Wolverines had two shots on goal in both the first and second overtime, nevertheless, the Dragons defense prevented the golden goal, while their offense found the back of the net with 1:11 left before the third OT.

Michigan will have to shake off the tough loss to Drexel as they get ready for the Dolphins on Saturday. Jacksonville has had a shaky 0-3 start, however, two of those losses were by a combined three goals. The Wolverines will be traveling some distance for this game, which always is a factor early on in the season. While their offense should give Jacksonville all it can handle, UM’s defense can’t allow another fourth quarter collapse if they want to fly back to Michigan with a win.

Ohio State vs. Bucknell

Ohio State is quietly climbing up the ranks of the national polls. After a close win against Cleveland St. in their first game, the Buckeyes found the back of the net early and often against BU in their second game and went all the way to Amherst, Massachusetts to beat a very solid UMass team last Saturday. Josh Kirson has just been on fire this in the cage for Ohio State. Kirson had 17 saves against UMass and had an excellent 3rd quarter stopping eight Minutemen shots. Offensively, Tre Leclaire is back to his dominating self in his junior year, as he leads the team in goals scored this season (11 Gs) and had four tallies against UMass last Saturday.

Bucknell poses a formidable challenge for Ohio State. The Bison come into this game 1-2 but their two losses were to Maryland and Richmond, two teams that have played very well in the first month of the season. Bucknell’s lone win came against Bryant, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed; the Bulldogs always have a stout defense and the game was in Rhode Island. Yes OSU will be playing at home this weekend, but if that offense goes suddenly quiet, Bucknell could definitely be within striking distance after three quarters and as we’ve seen a lot this year, being up by a couple goals in the fourth does not guarantee victory. If OSU is not careful they could be the next B1G team to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Penn State vs. Yale

The Penn State rock show went on the road last weekend and Tambroni’s bunch did what we’ve come to expect, namely, punish teams for their sins. That may be a little dramatic, but when you take a look at PSU’s offensive statistics after three games this season, you’ll probably allow the hyperbole.

I’d hate to be the defensive coordinator that has to figure out a way to stop this offense. Penn State has scored 61 goals in three games this season and they probably could have 70 if they hadn't called off the dogs in the fourth quarter of their last two game. Penn State has been very impressive so far this season and besides Loyola, they are playing better than anyone else in the country.

Don’t let Yale’s loss to Villanova last weekend fool you, this is still a very dangerous team. Now having said that, the loss of Ben Reeves can not be overlooked. Ben Reeves was a generational talent at Yale, a great teammate, and one of the best ambassadors the game has produced in the last decade. However he is gone now, and while Yale still has a garage full of weapons, the loss of a player like Reeves, who you could always rely on to either get a bucket when you desperately needed one or make the right play at the exact right time, is going to probably take a few games to get used to before Yale gets back into the groove they were in last year.

I think Yale will play much better this week than they did last week versus Villanova. I think their game last week was more just a team playing its first game of the season than it was any reason to be very concerned. Additionally, I think Yale will continue to improve each week and will be a very imposing team in a month or so ... however ... I don’t think any of that will matter on Saturday, as Penn State is pretty much Thanos right now and they seem to be getting better each week.

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Rutgers vs. Loyola

Tell me if you heard this one before: Rutgers lost a winnable game at home. I don’t mean to be flippant, but like my boy Malcolm Tucker, I tend to make jokes in times of stress.

If Rutgers shores things up and goes out and beats Loyola this week, then goes on to win every game they are supposed to win in out of conference play, then loses in the the Big Ten Tournament title game in May, and then finally earns an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, we’ll look back at this loss to Army as a slight bump on the road to postseason glory. However, if Rutgers is on at-large bubble come Selection Sunday and ends up not getting a bid to the big dance, RU fans will definitely be looking back at this game versus Army with a lot of regret.

Now while Rutgers has a slight rep of not closing out games they need to win, they also have a knack for surprising everyone if you count them out. Bottom line, while they needed a big fourth quarter to beat St. John’s two weekends ago and came up short versus Army last weekend, Rutgers can definitely regroup and win this weekend versus the Greyhounds. Indeed, over their last 25 games, Rutgers has gone 22-3 at home at High Stadium. I don’t know if RU has the defense to not only contain Spencer but also limit Loyola’s other weapons, but I do know Rutgers is a different team at home and they usually gear up when it comes time to play highly ranked opponents in Piscataway, NJ. Loyola should win this game but don't count out the Scarlett Knights just yet.

We have a nice set of games this weekend, as all six B1G teams play on Saturday. It’s not panic time for Hopkins, but the Jay's could really use a W this weekend (honestly, I’ll take a competitive half) or next week’s memo might just be a bunch of sad emojis and a link to Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” video in the Hopkins section.

Anyway! Good talk. I’ll see you out there.

Very truly yours,