The NUmbers Guy: 2013 Spring Post-Season Preview
Former WNUR Sports Director Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) breaks down the upcoming post-season schedules for Northwestern women’s lacrosse, softball and baseball.Just when you think the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team is falling… they come out and suffocate you (metaphorically – violence is bad, peeps) and show y’all what seven championships in eight years looks like. I imagine the ‘Cats are a bit like this beautiful Nic Cage gif – all cute and innocent and then BAM HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW???
After the Florida Gators put up 22 goals against the ‘Cats back on April 20th (the most goals Northwestern has allowed in its history), they didn’t score a single goal in the final 18:52 on Sunday. The ‘Cats won 8-3 and got their first win against the Gators since 2011 and reclaiming the American Lacrosse Conference crown. Ballin’.
With post-season play heating up, let’s break it down a bit across the WNUR Sports spring gambit for women’s lacrosse, softball and baseball.
The NCAA released the bracket for the 2013 tournament last night. Click here for the full bracket. Northwestern earned themselves the second overall seed in the tournament and will play the winner of a first-round match-up between Notre Dame and Stanford. The ‘Cats beat Stanford 12-8 and Notre Dame 10-8 earlier this season. Northwestern hasn’t lost to either Stanford or Notre Dame since 2003 (a year in which they lost to both). Since then, the ‘Cats are a combined 20-0 against the two schools.
If all seeds hold, Northwestern would face seventh-seeded Penn State in the third round. The ‘Cats tamed the Nittany Kitties 11-3 at home earlier this year.
Looking forward in the bracket, I think former WNUR Sports Director and all-around swell individual Eric Mayo summed it up well:
I see NU got a gift from the wlax committee. Two scariest teams (Florida/Maryland) on opp side of bracket.
— Eric Mayo (@Eric_Mayo) May 6, 2013
The toughest team on Northwestern’s side of the bracket is No. 3 seed North Carolina, who beat the ‘Cats 11-8 back in February. It certainly isn’t an easy path to finals, but the ‘Cats have an excellent chance to return for the ninth consecutive year.
Now, because I know y’all are curious, you can find all of those games right here at WNURSports.com and on the air at 89.3 FM. I’m not saying I’ll be upset if you don’t listen, but little Jeffrey will. Don’t disappoint little Jeffrey.
The fighting Kate Drohan’s had a rough weekend against No. 10 Michigan, but, ya know, they’re ranked tenth for a reason. The ‘Cats earned themselves the fifth overall seed heading into the Big Ten tournament, which starts this Thursday.
On Thursday, the ‘Cats (30-21, 12-10) will face the 12-seed of the tournament, the Indiana Hoosiers (19-34, 3-19). The two squads did not face each other this year, but Northwestern is clearly the better team. Now, if they lose, I claim all responsibility since I am a horrible jinx. Sorry.
If the ‘Cats were to beat Indiana Thursday, they would move on to face the fourth seed, either Nebraska (38-12, 15-6) or Wisconsin (39-11, 16-7). If the Cornhuskers beat Penn State on Monday, then it’ll be the Badgers. Northwestern is a combined 0-4 against those two teams this year, but those were all on the road, so we’ll just pretend they never happened.
Again, y’all can hear those games from Lincoln, Neb, right here on WNUR Sports. Ben Goren will have the call on Thursday with first pitch at 11:30, and I’ll be joining him for the rest of the tournament because I freaking love corn.
As for the NCAA tournament, the ‘Cats appear to be right on the bubble. They entered the weekend 45th in RPI, and three games against Michigan will boost their strength of schedule. So… in case anybody on the selection committee would like to acquire a fully-functioning pony… you know…
The team is currently 8th in the conference, and only the top six teams qualify. After today’s game against Ohio State, the ‘Cats will only have one series left, where they will head to Indiana for three games against the Hoosiers. If the ‘Cats were to win out, they would finish 12-12 in conference – except Ohio State and Indiana are the fourth- and second-ranked teams in the Big Ten respectively.
Michigan State (currently fifth and 9-6 in conference) still has six Big Ten games left, but they are against Iowa and Penn State who currently sit ninth and eleventh in conference respectively. They will most likely be uncatchable for the ‘Cats.
Sitting sixth are the Michigan Wolverines (10-8 in conference). Michigan has three against Purdue and three against Nebraska left on their schedule. The Boilermakers have struggled this year, but Nebraska is a good team that should give Michigan some problems. The ‘Cats own the tie-breaker over Michigan after their series win in April, including the 6-0 shutout at Wrigley Field. That series also started a bit of a skid for the Wolverines who have lost seven of their last 10. So… I’m saying there’s a chance.
Illinois (seventh with a 9-9 Big Ten record) will play three games against Penn State (started from the bottom and… well, they’re still there) and three against Minnesota (tops in the Big Ten, you betcha) before the end of the year. The Illini have lost two of their last three series… but the lone series win came against Northwestern. Bwah.
Basically, the ‘Cats need two things: they need to win out, and they need Purdue and Penn State to play spoiler to the max. It’s unfortunate that Northwestern is on the outside looking in because their rotation of LukeFarrell, Zach Morton and Brandon Magallones is one of the best in the Big Ten and could do some serious work in the tourney.
It’s an exciting time to be a Northwestern Wildcat fan. Women’s lacrosse is getting TURNT UP, softball is fighting for a spot in the NCAA tournament, and baseball has a shot to go back to the Big Ten tourney – that seems pretty awesome. Time to getcha popcorn ready, ‘Cats faithful. These next few weeks are going to be awesome.