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Big Ten Good Friday Lunch Club Memo - April 19, 2019: There’s No Easy Way Out

No shortcut to the Big Ten Tournament

Indiana v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Big Ten Lunch Club Memo

To - Big Ten Lunch Club members

Re - There’s no easy way out

Hey everyone, how’s it going? Welcome back to another Big Ten Lunch Club meeting. Happy Good Friday to everyone out there. I hope you all have a great Easter this weekend.

Well, after a grueling two and a half months, it all comes down to these final two weeks of the regular season. We still have the Big Ten Tournament to play the first week of May, but you can’t go to the conference dance without a bid and that’s what the next two weeks are for as we close out April.

Now, we always value truth and transparency here at College Crosse, so I have to be honest, things don’t look that great at the moment for our Five Bid Dream. Indeed, while OSU, MD, & PSU held their end of the bargain by having stellar non-conference records, the same can’t be said for JHU, Rutgers, & Michigan.

Nevertheless, don’t fall prey to despair fellow lunch club members, as we still have a shot at achieving the dream. Now, I will be frank with you, it won’t be easy. Indeed, it’ll be downright near impossible, but we always knew getting five bids wasn’t going to be a cakewalk.

In my opinion, the best shot at getting five Big Ten teams into the NCAA Tournament involves Ohio State, Johns Hopkins, & Rutgers winning their next two games and Maryland & Penn State losing their final two games. In this scenario we’d have Penn State, Johns Hopkins, Ohio State, & Rutgers all finish with a 3-2 conference record, with Maryland finishing 2-3 and not making the Big Ten Tournament. Hopkins & Rutgers would then need to meet in the Big Ten Tournament title game, with the winner of the automatic qualifier being the team that didn’t beat Penn State twice.

This is by no means a guarantee, as this scenario leans heavily on the idea that Maryland has done enough in the regular season right now that they’d get an at-large bid even if they lost their final two games and missed the Big Ten Tournament. Moreover, it depends on Hopkins & Rutgers not meeting in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals, and instead one of those two teams beating Penn State B1G Tournament. Then, ideally, the team that didn’t beat Penn State in the semifinals would win the the automatic-qualifier. A situation where Rutgers wins the AQ, Hopkins finishes 9-6 with two wins over Penn State & a win over Maryland, and Ohio State finishes with an undefeated non-conference record, a 3-2 record in the Big Ten & a win over Maryland, would give the conference its best shot at five bids.

Now I didn’t say this would be a simple. However, given some of the tough losses our beloved Rogue Conference endured in the non-conference portion of 2019, alternatives to achieving our Five Bid Dream are at a minimum. But we’re here and there’s no point in crying over bad losses now. Besides, getting five bids is supposed to be difficult. If it were easy, everyone would do it

Now I obviously realize the chances of the above Five Bid Dream scenario happening are remote. Penn State barely lost one game all year and suddenly they are going to lose their next two regular season games to Johns Hopkins & Rutgers, and then lose to one of those two again in the Big Ten Tournament? Probably not, however, JHU & Rutgers will be playing with desperation the rest of the way out and teams with their backs to the wall tend to play with a ferocity that sometimes results in surprising results.

Indeed, just look at Ohio State last weekend. Down 8-3 to Hopkins at halftime, the Buckeyes were one half away from an 0-3 start in the Big Ten and in all probability not making the conference tournament. However, OSU battled back, found their groove on offense, clamped down on defense, and robbed Hopkins of a much needed win. If the Blue Jays & Scarlet Knights play the way the did in the first half last week against Ohio State & Maryland, respectively, for the rest of the way through the season, they’ll have a shot at making both the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

Moving on to this weekend, you can find the Big Ten Good Friday Lunch Club Big Board for April 19, 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 Good Friday Lunch Club Big Board For April 19, 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 6-5 Ohio State 14 vs. Johns Hopkins 13 April 21 Johns Hopkins @ Penn State 4-4 2-1 12-5
Maryland 10-2 Maryland 16 vs. Rutgers 13 April 20 Maryland @ Ohio State 8-1 2-1 14-4
Michigan 3-8 Penn State 17 vs. Michigan 7 April 20 Michigan @ Rutgers 3-5 0-3 8-6
Ohio State 8-2 Ohio State 14 vs. Johns Hopkins 13 April 20 Ohio State home vs. Maryland 7-0 1-2 8-7
Penn State 10-1 Penn State 17 vs. Michigan 7 April 21 Penn State home vs. Johns Hopkins 7-1 3-0 8-6
Rutgers 6-6 Maryland 16 vs. Rutgers 13 April 20 Rutgers home vs. Michigan 5-4 1-2 9-6

Johns Hopkins vs. Penn State

Hopkins really needs this game. The Blue Jays can probably still make the Big Ten Tournament if they were to lose this Sunday, but a loss this weekend would drop them to 2-2 in the conference and 6-6 overall. In that situation, Hopkins would have to beat Maryland on the last weekend of the regular season in College Park to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament and finish with an above .500 regular season record. Not an ideal place one wants to be in if you’re a Blue Jays fan. Hopkins can really make a statement that they are a NCAA Tournament caliber team with a win this weekend, but beating Penn State will take a monumental effort from the Blue Jays. While JHU owns a 4-1 series lead, Penn State did win last year 14-12 in Happy Valley and that was without Grant Ament.

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Both Ohio State & Maryland had gutsy performances last weekend. Both teams were down 8-3 in their games last weekend. Maryland was down 8-3 before going into halftime down only 9-6, as opposed to OSU’s 8-3 halftime deficit to Hopkins, but the fact remains, Maryland & OSU were on the ropes for large portions of the first half last Sunday.

Regardless, the Buckeyes & Terps came back to win their games last weekend, setting up what could be the best game of the weekend. These two teams usually have very intense contests when they link up. Indeed, five of the last seven games have been decided by two goals or less. Maryland owns a 5-3 series advantage since the Big Ten was formed, but Ohio State won last year’s game in College Park, in their first-ever road victory versus the nation’s #1 ranked team.

Moreover, who can forget the 2017 Big Ten Tournament championship game, which in my opinion was one of the top 5 best college lacrosse games of the last 20 years, There is a legit amount of tension between these two squads, but as long as it is limited to the line crossing and the occasional coach stare-down, it is all in good fun. Hopefully we get another great one this weekend in what is turning out to be one of best new rivalries in all of college lacrosse.

Michigan vs. Rutgers

Rutgers pretty much has to win this game. It is going to be Senior Day and Alumni Day, so it should be a nice crowd in Piscataway. This is a special class for Rutgers. The Class of 2019 has won 36 games over their four year career at RU and with one more win, they will break the record for most wins in a four-year span. Rutgers has won the last two games between the two schools by a combined score of 30-15. The Scarlet Knights should be able to take this game, but they can’t be looking past Michigan to their season finale versus Penn State or they might get buried on Saturday.

Michigan is in a bit of a tailspin right now. After opening up the year 3-1, they have lost their last seven games. However, despite their below .500 record, Michigan is still alive in the Big Ten Tournament race. If they win this weekend and then beat Ohio State next week, the Wolverines would have a 5-7 record, the tiebreaker over both Rutgers & Ohio State, and in all likelihood a bid to the Big Ten Tournament. If you are a Wolverines fan, you still have a shot at postseason glory.

Hopefully you will have a chance to watch some of the action on Saturday or Sunday. Catch you next week with another Big Ten Lunch Club memo. Have a wonderful Easter. I’ll see you out there.

Very truly yours,