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Johns Hopkins has won all four meetings in this series with the smallest margin of victory being six goals in a 19-13 win on April 23, 2016. Michigan is 5-2 on the road this season, but 0-3 in the Big Ten. The No. 8 Blue Jays are 6-1 at home and 2-1 in the conference.

Although the Wolverines (8-4) are in search of their first league victory, they still have an outside chance of qualifying for the Big Ten tournament if they can defeat Johns Hopkins and No. 9 Penn State on April 30. The offense, which is tied for 33rd in Division I in scoring, is spearheaded by Ian King. The senior attackman is only one of three players in the conference with at least 23 goals and 19 assists, joining a group that includes Maryland senior attackman Matt Rambo (27 goals and 24 assists) and Penn State sophomore attackman Grant Ament (26 G, 23 A).

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The Blue Jays (7-4) can lock up a berth in the Big Ten tournament with a win and grab a share of the regular-season championship with another victory at No. 2 Maryland on April 29. Even though the defense has given up 10.6 goals per game, Nick Fields has been the unit's catalyst. The senior defenseman leads the team in caused turnovers with 13, and his career total of 37 ranks fourth in school history since the statistic was recorded in 2009.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday at 2 p.m.

1) Shooting efficiently. The general rule of thumb is that a shooting percentage of 30 is a solid number for an offense, and Johns Hopkins is slightly above that mark at 30.5 percent, which ranks 25th in the country. Michigan has replaced goalkeeper Gerald Logan, who has since transferred to the Blue Jays, with redshirt sophomore Tommy Heidt, who ranks 16th in the nation in save percentage (.544) and has averaged 10.3 stops. Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the players on offense will get a thorough scouting report on Heidt.

"You want to give your guys tendencies that jump out at you, but at the end of the day, when we're catching the ball and taking a shot, the last thing we want to do is really think about it," he said. "We want to react, and we want to teach our guys to shoot the ball to good places and to shoot it on-net and force goalies to make saves."

2) Turning aggression into an advantage. Pietramala pointed out that Michigan is not afraid to push the envelope on defense and extend out to create turnovers or shut down possessions. But the Wolverines have found themselves in 58 man-down situations, which is the highest total in Division I, and that would seem to bode well for a Johns Hopkins extra-man offense that is tied with No. 1 Syracuse for the national lead with a 56.3 conversion rate. Still, Pietramala said that number bears out his contention that Michigan will force the issue against the Blue Jays.

"If it's a game where they're being aggressive and you're not moving your feet and you're not moving to throw and you're not moving to catch and you're not moving to shoot, those can turn into caused turnovers," he said. "So we need to be very good against their pressure. The fact that they're averaging almost five penalties per game proves my point that they are a very aggressive and a physical group on the defensive end and in the riding game."

3) Raising the emotional stakes. Both sides have something at stake in this game. Michigan is only 1-12 in the Big Ten in regular-season contests, but would love to add Johns Hopkins to its list of wins against ranked opponents that includes then-No. 10 Penn on March 11. Playing the role of spoiler may also drive the Wolverines, but Pietramala said the Blue Jays can only be concerned with their own motivations.

"I know that they want to win, and our guys know that every opponent that comes in here wants to win," he said. "They're competitors, their coaches are competitors. So what role they want to play is of no consequence. It's the next game, and the next game is the most important game. We know – and we've seen this in our season – that if we don't show up and play well and don't compete, you can lose. So our approach to this is no different than every other game."

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