Michigan adjusting to new No. 1 ranking


Michigan adjusting to new No. 1 ranking

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Ray Jackson was a sophomore the last time Michigan was ranked No. 1 in the country.

Now, two decades after the Fab Five went to back-to-back Final Fours, Jackson is ready to tell any remaining doubters how impressed he is with this season's Wolverines.

``Everybody has been calling me and asking if we're for a real, and I keep saying, `Yes, we're for real,''' said Jackson, who lives in Texas now. ``It brings back good memories.''

Michigan has the nation's attention now, after moving to the top of the AP poll Monday for the first time since Jackson and his other Fab Five teammates were ranked there during the 1992-93 season. There's no telling how long the Wolverines will remain at No. 1 - a brutal Big Ten schedule could knock them off that perch at any moment. But this rise is a source of obvious pride.

``The different ways the program has grown, with a lot of support from a lot of people - from the regents to the president, to our athletic directors,'' said coach John Beilein, who took over in 2007. ``This is what happens, when you really do the right things to prepare your team to put them in this position, and then you have to have a lot of luck.''

Michigan did catch a bad break Sunday night, when forward Jordan Morgan sprained his right ankle in a win at Illinois. His status for Wednesday night's game against Northwestern is uncertain.

The Big Ten offers few chances for a breather. After hosting Northwestern, the Wolverines (19-1) will play at No. 3 Indiana next weekend. Then they'll host Ohio State next week - a rematch against the only team to beat them so far.

Still, Michigan has been turning heads all season - to the point that even Michigan State coach Tom Izzo offered his grudging respect Monday.

``If I had a vote, I'd have to vote them No. 1 even though it's your rival,'' Izzo said. ``Who wants to do that? But I also have respect for what they've accomplished and what they've done.''

The Fab Five lost in the national title game in 1992 and 1993 before Chris Webber left early to go to the NBA, but banners from those seasons were removed from Michigan's home arena. A federal investigation revealed that a booster gave Webber and three non-Fab Five players more than $600,000 while they were student-athletes, and the NCAA forced the school to dissociate from them until 2013.

Jackson says he hasn't heard from Webber in years.

``It would be great to get those banners back up to restore some of the tradition,'' Jackson said. ``I don't know what his thinking is about the situation. I know a lot of people keep asking.''

The dissociation with Webber can't end until May 8, so for the rest of this season, most of the focus will be on Beilein and the current players. Trey Burke decided to stay for his sophomore year instead of going to the NBA, and he's developed into perhaps the top point guard in the country. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and freshman Glenn Robinson III are other standouts for what has turned out to be a smart, unselfish team.

``We are excited about the ranking, don't get me wrong,'' Hardaway said. ``It's great for our fan base, and it's great for the University of Michigan. We just want to do a great job of just staying in the moment - just do what we can to get better as a team each and every day.''

That's Beilein's main message for his players. As the attention grows and the games become bigger, the Wolverines are hoping little will change about the way they're playing.

``We have to put it in perspective and say to them, `How did we get here?''' Beilein said. ```Did we get here because we were obsessed with being No. 1, or did we just get here because we worked hard every day? Well if that worked so far, then let's just keep doing exactly what we were doing.'''

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings


3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings


Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

It wasn’t pretty but the Caps eventually got what they needed in Detroit: two points.  

After a sleepy first 40 minutes, Brett Connolly scored midway through the third period and then Philipp Grubauer made sure it stood up at Little Caesars Arena, where Washington eked out a 1-0 victory Thursday over the scuffling Red Wings.


Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

For much of the game, Grubi was left to fend for himself. Good thing for the Caps he was up to the task. The German netminder, who has been one of the NHL’s top goaltenders since Thanksgiving, turned aside 39 shots, including three stops on a pivotal 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.

2-Brett Connolly, Capitals

The Caps didn’t get many Grade-A opportunities vs. Jimmy Howard. But Connolly buried one of the few they got…on a 2-on-0, set up by Jakub Vrana in the third period.

Connolly’s goal was his 15th of the season in his 63rd game, equaling the career-high he set a year ago in 66 contests. Vrana, meantime, has three goals and five assists since getting scratched 12 games ago.

3-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller didn’t record a point, but he was all over the puck in Motown. The veteran center finished with a game-high six shots on net. He also had a key backcheck against Darren Helm, on a shorthanded breakaway, in the first period.

Eller was good in the dot, too, winning eight of 12 faceoffs.

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