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Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Memo - March 28, 2019: Survival Of The Fittest

Only the strong survive.

2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Memo

To - Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club members

Re - Survival of the fittest

Welcome back everyone to our weekly lunch date. So our beloved Rogue Conference finished the non-conference portion of its regular season last weekend. The conference went 4-2 combined last Saturday & Sunday, highlighted by a dramatic OSU victory over Notre Dame in overtime.

Presently, the Big Ten is a combined 34-15 through the first two months of the season, for a 69% winning percentage. Not too shabby. Indeed, a couple bounces here or there and the conference could very well have gone 36-13 or or 37-12.

While 34-15 is very good, given the performance of Hopkins, Michigan, & Rutgers so far this season, getting 5 bids for NCAA Tournament this year will be an uphill climb. Nevertheless, with conference play starting this weekend, everyone is 0-0 for the second act of 2019.

Conference time in college lacrosse is always great. These games have a mixture of desperation & anger in them that makes them unpredictable and exciting. Indeed, conference time is when the teams with lackluster non-conference records (Michigan, Hopkins, Rutgers) can take all their frustration out on their conference-mates. It's a wonderful time of the year for college lacrosse fans, as conference games usually result in fantastic games & thrilling endings.

Moving on to this weekend, you can find the Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Big Board for March 28, 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.

Big Ten Thursday Lunch Club Big Board For March 28, 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 4-4 Virginia 16 vs. Johns Hopkins 11 March 30 JHU @ Michigan 4-4 0-0 12-5
Maryland 8-1 Maryland 16 vs. North Carolina 9 March 31 Maryland home vs. Penn State 8-1 0-0 14-4
Michigan 3-5 Delaware 16 vs. Michigan 13 March 30 Michigan home vs. JHU 3-5 0-0 8-6
Ohio State 7-0 Ohio State 11 vs. Notre Dame 10 (OT) March 31 Ohio State home vs. Rutgers 7-0 0-0 8-7
Penn State 7-1 Penn State 15 vs. Cleveland State 11 March 31 Penn State @ Maryland 7-1 0-0 8-6
Rutgers 5-4 Rutgers 10 vs. Hofstra 7 March 31 Rutgers @ Ohio State 5-4 0-0 9-6

Johns Hopkins vs. Michigan

We might see some high drama in this game, as both teams can ill-afford a loss at this time. Indeed, Hopkins has to go at least 3-2 the rest of the way to avoid finishing the regular season below .500. If Hop were to go 2-3 in the Big Ten, finish the regular season 6-7, and somehow (because of tiebreakers) made it into the Big Ten Tournament, they’d have to win the entire thing or they’d finish 7-8 for year & ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.

The same applies for Michigan, but the Wolverines have an even shorter plank. Michigan’s loss to Delaware last week dropped them to 3-5 on the season. Which puts them in a difficult spot, as a loss this week would make them 3-6 with only four games left on the schedule. Given the situation both teams are in right now, I have a feeling we’ll see a renewed sense of urgency out of both squads on Saturday, as there is very little room for error for either team the rest of the way.

Maryland vs. Penn State

This is the biggest game of the weekend and deserves the Sunday prime time tv slot on the Big Ten Network. Maryland is on a roll right now since their overtime loss to Notre Dame back on March 3rd. Indeed, the Terps have scored 14 or more points in each of their last three games, all wins, since the Notre Dame loss (14 vs. Albany, 17 vs. Villanova, and 16 vs. North Carolina). Moreover, the defense has not given up more than 9 goals during that span as well.

Like Maryland, Penn State has also been rolling this season. Though they hadn’t played a game since their March 10th win versus Jacksonville, the Nittany Lions didn’t show much rust or complacency last weekend in their 15-11 win over Cleveland State. The Vikings did make it interesting in the fourth quarter as they cut PSU’s lead to 2 goals with a little over nine minutes left in the game, but Penn State then went on a 3-1 run to close out the game for the 15-11 final score.

The main concern for PSU fans right now is the status of Grant Ament. Ament was held out of last weekend’s game versus the Vikings. Ament leads Penn State’s offense with 56 points in seven games this season. Penn State is still a formidable team without Grant Ament, but he has been an integral part of the team’s offense in this season and him not playing on Sunday would definitely have an impact on Penn State.

Rutgers vs. Ohio State

Rutgers needs this game badly. Given its relatively pedestrian regular season so far, the Scarlet Knights could really use a win versus a quality opponent right about now.

Moreover, a win versus Ohio State would place Rutgers in a very good position with regards to the Big Ten Tournament, as Ohio State looks to be one of the leaders in the conference. If Rutgers can knock off OSU in the first week of conference play, they'll most likely only have to win two out of the next four conference games to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament. Bottom line, this is a very critical weekend for Rutgers.

Ohio State on the otherhand needs to make sure they don't have a letdown after last weekend's dramatic victory over Notre Dame. It would be a bad look for the Buckeyes to lose the weekend after their biggest win of the season. While Rutgers has a lot on the line this weekend, OSU needs to stay sharp and keep their momentum going.

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Back to work for #B1G play. #GoBucks

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Only three games this weekend, but I think all three will be highly entertaining. Big Ten Sundays are back this weekend and I couldn't be happier. Hopefully you all get to catch some of the action this weekend. I’ll see you out there.

Very truly yours,