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February 27, 1979 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-27

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, February 27, 1979-Poge

Frantic finish in Big


Kissing your


icers will take it
In less than'a 24-hour period this past weekend, Michigan's hockey team
was transformed from a bunch of sleep-walkers on skates to a group of hard
hitting, angry young men.
The change took place in Duluth, where the Wolverines were mauled
Fridaynight, 12-3, but regrouped to skate to a 3-3 overtime tie Saturday
night. This transformation was in part due to the Bulldog's relatively weak
performance in the second game.
However, I hesitate to explain Saturday night's result as due to the
Bulldogs' evident lack of concentration. Rather, the Wolverines were the
decisive factor in the game.
The Blue icers were incensed over their humiliating defeat Friday night
against the Bulldogs. They were mad as hell, and this condition was ap-
parent on the ice Saturday night.
"We were totahly embarrassed Friday night," said Wolverine goalten-
der Bob Sutton, who manned the nets for Michigan in the tie game.
And, according to star center Dan Lerg, the Wolverines knew what they
had to do the second night. "We were desperate," said Lerg.
In essence, Saturday night's tie score was as good as a win for the
luckless icers. It was a moral win, according to Coach Dan Farrell. They
outplayed a team that is likely to end up in the NCAA playoffs, in front of a
partisan Bulldog crowd.
The Wolverines played 70 minutes of great hockey in the overtime game,
something which has not happened to this team in a long, long time.
Although there were many fine performances for the Wolverines in the
game, Sutton's name stands out.
Sutton sparks surge
The sophomore played a phenomenal game in the nets for Michigan.
Each successive save was more impressive than the one before. His stats
clearly imply this: In 70 minutes of play, Sutton had a total of 46 saves, let-
ting only three pucks get by him. Contrast this t the night before when
goaltender Rudy Varvari made 35 saves in 54 minutes of play, letting 11
shots get by for UMD scores.
"I had some really good practices this past week," remarked Sutton.
"The key factor for me was that I was mentally prepared before the game."
This preparation proved invaluable. Leading his team, Sutton proved to
himself that he has the ability But Sutton believes ability is only half the
game, mental attitude is the other half.
And with a record of 0-8-1 in league starts, the former Penn player has
had a tumultuous season. But something clicked the other night, and Sutton
hung in tough, stopping Duluth cold in their tracks. He and his teammates
displayed unusual aggressive behavior for this struggling team.
More importantly, he proved to his coach
that he could do it - come through under heavy
pressure. "This was the first time we've had
good goaltending in weeks,; said Farrell.
And nobody knows better than Farrell how
bad goaltending can hurt a team. Michigan's
lack of quality net play has shipwrecked the
Wolverines this year. If youroffense can only
generate on the average three to three-and-a-
half goals per game, without solid goaltending,
you're sunk. And so the icers have struck the
Sutton ocean floor.
The same sad story.
The reasons why are old news: injuries, inexperience, minimal offense
and practically no defense. The statistic of 111 league goals for Michigan
compared to 180 against is chilling.
It's academic to discuss where the Wolverines would be in the WCHA
standings if they had more performances from their goalies like they did
Saturday night.
According to Farrell, his decision to go with Varvari for 16 out of 30
league games was based on his estimation that he was the best netminder on
the team. However, his record of 5-11-0 does not impress me as deserving all
those games played.
As most goalies will tell you, you've got to play to get better, to develop.
Practice is not the answer. Sutton has got to play more to develop. And the
same holds true for Peter Mason, who as a freshman, has the time and
potential to develop into one of the better goaltenders inthe league.
The point is, if Varvari didn't click, why did Farrell hold back with Sut-
ton and Mason? The fans will have to wait until next season to find out the
answer. It's too late now.

The unpredictable Big Ten season is
finally coming down to its predictable
hectic finish - and with four teams still
in the race, just about anything can
Before the season, a lot of people
predicted a close race, but nobody
thought it would be this close, and
nobody thought there would be this
many teams involved.
With two games remaining, Michigan
State, Iowa and Ohio State are locked in
a three-way tie for first place with 12-4
records. Purdue is just one game back
at 11-5.
CONCEIVABLY, the Spartans,
Buckeyes and Hawkeyes could each
win both of their remaining games and
finish in a three-way tie. None of the
three leaders play each other again, but
the Buckeyes must travel to West
Lafayette on Saturday to face the
Boilermakers. So there might be just a
two-way tie. But then again...
Obviously, the possibilities are en-
dless. But the Big Ten has drawn up
some relatively simple tie-breaking
procedures, which definitely give an
edge to Michigan State.
Iowa appears to have the easiest
schedule ahead, facing Michigan and
Northwestern at home. The Hawkeyes
should be flying high after upsetting the

Buckeyes by 15 points last Saturday.
Chalk up a likely two victories.
MSU hits the road for games at Min-
nesota and Wisconsin, and shouldn't

f '!

worse than a split.
And Purdue hosts Indiana prior to the
Ohio State match, no easy task in itself,
but one the Boilermakers ought to han-

Tournament drive
Top Four

at Minnesota
at Wisconsin


Michigan St.
Ohio State

Conf. All
12 4 20 5
12 4 19 6
12 4 17 8
11 5 21 7

at Wisconsin
at Purdue
Ohio State

gain bids to the 24-team National In-
vitational Tournament.
Here are some other possibilities and
tie-breaking procedures:
IF THE NCAA takes two teams and
there's a three-way tie for first, the
champion would be determined on the
basis of won/lost record between the
three teams. MSU again has the edge,
here, with an unblemished 4-0 record
against Iowa and OSU.
If MSU were to somehow lose and
Iowa and the Bucks tie for first, and two.
teams were awarded NCAA bids, the
Hawks would go according to the
second criteria - best overall won/lost
percentage. Iowa and OSU are 14
against each other.
Thus, the Spartans are undoubtedly
in the driver's seat. If they win their
last two games, they can't possibly lose
out on the title. Either Iowa or Ohio
State will most likely get an at-large
bid, and Purdue's chances of an NCAA
spot are slim, barring some wild upsets
this final weekend.

have much troublethere. The Spartans'
four losses this year have all come on
the road, but they have ripped off eight
conference wins in a row after double
disasters at Michigan and North-
Western. They're at the top of their
form - expect two Spartan victories
, OHIO STATE also must play on the
road, at Wisconsin and Purdue. The
Bucks probably had some wind taken
out of their sails by the Iowa loss at
home, but should be able to handle the
Badgers. But problems could arise at
Purdue's Mackey Arena. Expect no

This supposition would leave Iowa
and MSU tied for the title with 14-4
records. In the event of a tie for the
title, the Big Ten will determine the
champion in one of two ways, depen-
ding on whether the NCAA decides to
send a second representative to the
national tournament or not.
THE . BIG TEN champion
automatically qualifies for the NCAA
Mideast Regional, and the NCAA has
the option of selecting a second team
(not necessarily a second-place team)
to the tournament.
In the example given, if the NCAA
chooses not to have a second Big Ten
team, the Spartans and Iowa would
hold a playoff game at a neutral site to
determine the lone conference
If the NCAA allows a second team as
expected, MSU would go automatically
as the champion, on the basis of head-
to-head competition with Iowa (the
Spartans won twice). In that event, the
NCAA would probably choose the
Hawkeyes as an at-large team.
The teams left out in the NCAA cold
are still considered heavy favorites to


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Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
Dribble to NCAA 's
MICHIGAN STATE guard Earvin Johnson drives against Michigan forward Thad
Garner in one of the Spartans' nine straight victories which have propelled them
into a first place tie in the Big Ten. MSU plays their last two games at Minnesota
and at Wisconsin.

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Remember back in October when Big
Ten basketball coaches were touting
the conference as the best league, top to
bottom, in the country?
Apparently ,he league has made
believers out of some people, as, for the
first time ever, there may be five eams
from the same conference invited to a
post-season tournament.
The tight race for first-place honors
has virtually assured the Big Ten of
placing two teams in the NCAA tour-
nament, and according to the NIT
president Paul Carlesimo, as many as
three teams from the, conference are
being considered for that tournament.
The Big Ten champion automatically
qualifies for a spot in the. NCAA's
Mideast Regional, and a second team is
also expected to be selected. The Big
Ten conference is one of the few con-
ferences which has had two teams par-
ticipate in the tournament every year
since it became permissible for a
second team to be selected in 1975.
i The NIT is then expected to select the
two remaining teams from the four-
team scramble and is considering, for
the first time, granting a bid to a third
"We think the NCAA might take two

I k :."A
a "VA"


teams," Carlesimo said. "Michigan
State and Iowa look to be that two.
We're looking to take at least two more
Big Ten teams, and Illinois had been in
the top 10 for a long time and they have
only nine losses."
The sixth-place Illini currently sport
the same league record as Michigan-7-
9, but the Illini had set the world on fire
with their preseason streak of 12
straight. Their overall record is 19-9,
which betters fifth-place Indiana's
overall slate of 17-11. Illinois hosts Nor-
thwestern and Indiana this week.
It is the overall record that the NIT is
looking at, emphasizedCarlesimo. "We
feel very strongly that there'll be two
teams from the Big Ten, and when it
comes down to the nitty-gritty, Illinois
with nine losses will be a factor."
Carlesimo oversees a five-member
board of selectors entitled the
Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basket-
ball Association (MIBA). The five
schools represented are Fordham, St.
John's, Manhattan, New York Univer-.

sity, and Wagner. Madison Square
Garden, which hosts the final round,.
also provides some input, said
When looking at teams, Carlesimo
said, "We look at wins, losses, major
winstand major losses, rankings and
outstanding players. We try to stay
away from teams with losses in double
The MIBA will be convening this
weekend to examine the candidates and
will announce the 24 bids one hour after
the NCAA announces theirs, which is
scheduled for 3:30 EST this Sunday,
March 4th.
Like the NCAA, the NIT has expan-
ded its tournament by eight teams,
from 16 to 24. But Carlesimo doesn't
feel that the tournaments are spreading
themselves too thin.
"We still feel that the quality deser-
ves two tournaments," he stated. "The
NCAA has to take a batch of teams
regardless of their records (due to
automatic qualification)."

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