While most Michigan students are stuck inside watching the
snowflakes fall each weekend, the No. 8 Michigan water polo team is
criss-crossing the country, traveling to the East Coast, West Coast
and everywhere in between.

Last week, the Wolverines finished sixth out of eight teams in
the Stanford Invitational. This weekend, the team looks to get back
on track with a trip to New Jersey for the Princeton Invitational,
where Michigan will face two teams ranked in the collegiate water
polo national top-20 poll — No. 15 Brown and No. 18
Princeton.

“We are going to have to be ready to go through what we
went through last weekend,” Michigan coach Matt Anderson
said.

After the Invitational, the Wolverines will have faced nine
ranked teams in their first 13 games. Last weekend, Michigan (6-3)
lost to No. 2 Southern Cal. and No. 3 Stanford.

“Those two teams are only going to lose to each other
during the year — there’s a clear separation,”
Anderson said. “Even with the loss, we are in the water,
having a very successful season. Our only three losses are against
top-10 teams.”

In Anderson’s eyes, there is a separation between the
teams on the West and East Coasts, with the west traditionally
being much stronger. Michigan and Indiana are the only top-10 teams
outside of the West Coast.

“On the West Coast, it is very physical, very fast and
(the players are) very big,” Anderson said. “On the
East Coast, it’s not as fast and they don’t let it get
as physical.

“(The eastern schools) are getting to that point (of the
western schools), but not all of the schools on the East Coast are
able to attract those players from the West Coast.”

Michigan’s ability to compete with the West Coast schools
was demonstrated during the season’s first tournament in Ann
Arbor. Michigan defeated Arizona State and UC-San Diego on the way
to the Michigan Invite crown.

“If we were a Michigan State or an (Eastern Michigan), we
don’t get those (California teams),” Anderson said.
“We get them out here because we are Michigan, and that does
allow us to match up against the West Coast schools.”

In addition to Brown and Princeton, Michigan will also match up
against George Washington and Wagner.

The competition may be easier, but the Wolverines will still be
playing on the road for the second weekend in a row.

“The fans are about five feet away from you on the ground
level (at Princeton),” said Anderson. “Every one of
them and every one of their fans are going to be booing Michigan.
(Because of) jealousy, or whatever it may be, no one likes Michigan
wherever we go.”

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