Life on the Bubble: February 28th, 2011

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan didn’t do enough to earn a bid last week, but a split was enough to keep its hopes alive heading into the final week of the regular season. Despite Michigan’s absence from most brackets last week, the Wolverine appear to have opened some eyes this week with a big win at Minnesota. Most bracketologists appear to have Michigan listed somewhere between the last four in and first four out.

What does Michigan need to do to remain in the picture? Beat Michigan State and win at least a game in the Big Ten Tournament. A Michigan State win would likely push Michigan into the 4-5 game with a match-up against Illinois. Winning both of those games would add a pair of top 50 wins to Michigan’s resume and provide a nice boost heading into Selection Sunday. No small task but not really unreasonable either. That might not cement Michigan’s tournament spot, but it would put Michigan in a very good position.

The Resume:

  • Record: 18-12 (8-9 B10)
  • RPI: 57
  • SOS: 20
  • vs. RPI 1-25: 0-7
  • vs. RPI 1-50: 2-8
  • vs. RPI 1-100: 8-11
  • Road Record: 5-5
  • Quality (Top 50) Wins: at Michigan State (40), Harvard (44)
  • Bad (100+) Losses: at Indiana (178)

We have a full run down of where Michigan lands in the brackets of a number of notable national experts after the jump. Remember that these are projections as of right now and don’t include any predictions of what the future may hold.

Crashing the Dance: 2nd Team Out

Bracketology 101: Last Four In

Bracketology/Lunardi: Last Four In

Bracket Matrix: Next Four Out

Eamonn Brenann (ESPN): “Huge road win for Michigan, and an even bigger loss for Minnesota. The Wolverines have been quietly (OK, not quietly, because Michigan fans e-mail me more than any non-BYU fan base in the nation) making a late-season push for at-large consideration, and this win will only boost that case. In fact, the Wolverines are probably, if only barely, in the tournament right now. A home win over Michigan State in the regular-season finale might very well seal it.”

NBC Sports: Last Four In

Andy Glockner (SI): Last Four In

Jerry Palm (CBS): Coming soon

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  • mat

    If they beat Illinois and MSU it’d be hard not to award Michigan a bid. That said, it’s a tall order.

    It seems as though Michigan has to win 2 more games. It doesn’t really matter if that includes MSU or not, but beating them would go a long way in giving UM the edge over MSU head-to-head. (And obviously winning 1 in the BTT is a lot easier than 2.)

    • Mith

      I think MSU definitely matters. 9-9 is OK, 8-10 will not get it done I think.

  • JimC

    If we’re generally considered IN now (seems like the consensus) and we beat MSU, won’t that basically seal it? I know at least one expert said the same.

    • Jeff

      The general problem with that is that 1)some teams will leapfrog us by making runs and 2)the bubble always shrinks by 2 or 3 spots during conference tournament play.

  • DB

    Even if they are the in the last four in, they are not really “in.” Remember, there are always a few bubble spots lost due to upsets in conference tournaments. You really want to have at least a couple of buffer teams.

  • Rob in AA

    I keep looking at the “vs RPI 1-25” stat at 0-7. Does anyone have a sense of how that stat might factor in to the committee’s decision (assuming we don’t beat a top 25 team in the BTT)?

    • peterklima

      I don’t think it should matter much. the 7 looks bad, but that is just because we played so many top 25 teams.

      Something to think about when it comes to quality wins:

      Michigan vs. top 1-50 (RPI) = 2-8
      Illinois vs. top 1-50 (RPI) = 3-7
      Mich State vs. top 1-50 (RPI) = 3-9

      If Michigan beats MSU and Illinois loses to Purdue, then Michigan will have the same or better “quality win record” than those two schools.

      If you want to look at beating only a top 25 team. Well, a few teams including Arizona, Missouri, Xavier, and Gonzaga have ZERO top 25 wins. And, Duke, UNC, UNLV and Florida each only have won 1.

      IMO – If those teams have a shot (which they do) and have done enough to be considered….so has Michigan.

      • BK

        Also, I think Michigan’s much better than average road record and hot finish will offset this one deficiency in their resume, at least to some extent.

      • michiganvic

        Beautifully said. I agree with your research and input.

  • mistersuits

    It’s march and michigan controls it’s own ncaa destiny, how awesome is that! If OSU beats PSU (80% kenpom) and Purdue beats Illinois (84% kenpom) then our “state” championship game is for the 4th seed in BTT. Michigan can play with anyone or we could lose to anyone, that’s the way it goes this year, but you cannot deny how exciting these next two/three weeks are going to be!

  • greg

    Dylan, I respectfully disagree that we need 2 wins to get in. If we win Saturday and lose our next game, it will probably be against Illinois which won’t be a “bad” loss. Unless a ton of upsets occur in the other tourneys, I think we’re in with a win

    • Alex

      This may be the case but I’d feel a lot more comfortable on Selection Sunday if we beat MSU and win the 4-5 game in BTT (assuming this is the game we start in the BTT). Conference record of .500 may be essential to our at-large hopes. It’s going to be one heck of a game on March 5. I’ll be looking at tickets as soon as I get home. This team has been so fun to watch. I think they are deserving and need to tie up these loose ends.

    • Jeff

      We’d be in pretty big trouble under that scenario. Not totally out of the question, but certainly less than 50/50. Beating ILL in the 4/5 game wouldn’t make me feel totally comfortable either, it would depend on what else happens on the bubble. The only way I’ll feel 100% comfortable is if we get a win over one of the top-3 in the BTT.

      • I agree completely. We need to go out and beat some people.

  • MikeB

    It still might be too early to start looking at other teams on the bubble, but why not? These are the other ‘Last 4 in’ and ‘1st 4 out’ from Lunardi’s Bracketology and their remaining schedule:
    Richmond- @St.Joseph’s (8 – 20) ,Duquesne (17 – 10)
    Alabama – @Florida (22 – 6) , Georgia (19 – 9)
    Baylor – @OK State (17 – 11) , Texas (24 – 5)
    Boston College – @Virginia Tech (19 – 8) , Wake Forest (8 – 21)
    Colorado – @Iowa State (15 – 14) , Nebraska (18 – 10)
    Memphis (who just go hammered by UTEP) – @ East Carol (15 – 13) ,Tulane (12-15)
    Clemson – @ Duke , Virginia Tech

    All of them have road games to start the week. Not sure if it’s better for UM if these teams play a better team (more likely to lose) or a worse team (can’t build resume). Regardless, hope for losses.

  • AG2

    Just remember: no team has ever received an at-large bid with an RPI of lower than 75. The lowest RPI to get an at large bid was the 1999 New Mexico Lobos at 74 and that was only because they were the Mountain West regular season champs in a year where the Mountain West wasn’t yet eligible for an automatic bid. Something for Clemson and Colorado fans to keep in mind.

    Also, Baylor in my opinion is closer to losing to Oklahoma State than they are to beating Texas, even thought you can never trust a Rick Barnes coached team. After all, Baylor does have losses to Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech (at home!)

    There WILL be 2 Conference USA teams. UAB is in no matter what if they win the regular season title.

    Virginia Tech is probably in, so root for them to knock out Clemson and Boston College in their last two games.

    • JimC

      Thanks AG2.
      Well this is going to be fun…just about every day this week there will be a game of interest for us.

  • Sean

    Penn State currently sits just ahead of us in the RPI rankings. We’ve beaten them twice so presumably, we would get into the tournament ahead of them if our resumes are comparable.

    So I’m wondering if it may be good for us if Penn State beats Ohio State and manages to reach the RPI top 50. This would give us two additional wins over RPI top 50 teams without having to play a game. Plus, this gives us another reason to root against Ohio State.

    Obviously beating State would be more helpful to our resume, but if Penn State finishes strong, I think that would boost our resume. What do you think?

    • TRUBLU78

      problem with Penn State IMO, Is their losses are to Maine, at Miss, Maryalnd, at MSU, swept by Purdue, swept by Michigan, at Ohio State, at Ill, and at Wisconson…only bad loss is at home to Maine who is .500 but almost beat Harvord….and PSU beat Wisconson I dont know alot but that sound like a decent resume to me………

    • gpsimms

      actually, to me, the big thing about psu beating osu that would be really bad is that we’d have to play purdue in the second round instead of osu.

      say what you want about sullinger and all of osu’s talent. purdue scares me more than any big ten team right now.

      i think, considering how close we were to beating osu and wiscy, that we would much rather play them than purdue.

      now, if we’re in regardless with 2 wins, then i guess it doesn’t matter. but if we have to beat an osu/purdue/wiscy for our tournament lives, give me one of the red teams.

    • JimC

      Penn St is off the bubble now, and beating OSU would at least get them into bubbletalk mode. Then if they had a run in the BTT they would take another at large bid. So for them and lots of other bubble teams, I want them to lose.

  • Tweeter

    this is such a fluid situation that its tough to say where Michigan will be in terms of the bubble picture come selection sunday. I think the one thing we can all agree on is that if they win the next two games (MSU and probably Illinois), they will be in. But I don’t think you can speak in absolutes about their chances if they lose one of those particularly the BTT game.

    The other thing that makes this difficult is that the picture of what a bubble team looks like has changed since the field has expanded by three. The fact that we don’t have a top level win looks bad, but how many of the bubble teams that have one of those also have 5 road wins over bcs competition and only one bad road loss?

  • Champswest

    The MSU game is going to be for all of the marbles. The winner is likely in and the loser could be going to the NIT. How cool is that?

  • TRUBLU78

    Just FYI heard Jerry palm on the radio this morning saying Michigan’s chances are slim to get in without a deep run into BTT…..He also said pretty much the same thing about MSU. Now I feel with a win over MSU get ourselves into a 4/5 slot in conference tourny…..get a win or two and were gold….gosh if 8 or 9 teames in the big east are gonna get in they gotta take the top 6 in Big 10

    • Jeff

      That’s strange considering he had us in before we split with Wisconsin/Minnesota. That’s similar to Lunardi in a chat, after being asked if a win over Wisconsin would put UofM in, he basically laughed off the question like it was ridiculous. Then we LOST to Wisconsin and beat Minnesota, and suddenly he has us in. Theses guys seem to talk out of both sides of their mouths sometimes.

      • paul r

        I get crazy looking at all these things. Big 10 is #2 RPI conference and there are only 4 locks(OSU, WISC, PURDUE, ILL?) with MSU, UM, fighting for their lives? Then I hear 11 Big East Teams and 6 SEC?? something has to give.

        • KRN

          That’s because the Big East and SEC get to pad their win totals against awful teams like DePaul, South Florida, Auburn, and LSU (that wouldn’t even win a game in the Big Ten this year) which makes them look better than they actually are. They then proceed to beat up on each other in order to add “quality wins” to their resume when they are really quite average wins. The bubble Big Ten teams could easily beat teams like Marquette, Alabama, and West Virginia.

          The Big East and the SEC will get exposed in the tourney just like the last two years.

  • Brian W
  • KAB

    The guy we want to have us in is Lunardi.I think he is lik 98% correct..

    • Tweeter

      He has missed nine teams over the last nine years, so a team every year. But really all of the people doing the bracket predictions are about the same. there is a site some where that has a breakdown of the last five years for every predictor and I believe according to that site that Lunardi is like middle of the pack. 98% is a bit misleading since just about everyone can single out 60 teams each year that will make it. It is only that last handful of teams that are really tough to predict and he has missed one team out of that bunch each year, so really he is like 75% or something.

      • Tweeter

        thats the site, but ofcourse that ranking system gives points for correctly predicting a teams seed so its not just based off correctly predicting the teams that will make the field.

  • Kenny

    If we beats MSU and in a 4 way tie with PSU, Illinois, and MSU. We will be the 4th seed based on a 4-1 record against the other three. It is also hard to argue that we are not a best of the four given we swept PSU and MSU and barely lost to Illinois on the road. Given the strength of Big Ten this year, it is hard to keep the 4th best big ten team out of the conference.

  • Sam

    All I know is that I’m rooting against other bubble teams and I am incredibly pumped that I get to go the BTT this year again and cheer on the Wolverines with about 50 other Maize Ragers.

    • tin mad dog


  • KAB

    Once again,The not going to care that we finish 4th in the conference.They will just look at are resume and see if we are deserving…My opinion is that when we beat State then it’s time to dance,but none of us will be on selection Sunday.

  • Mboy

    If Michigan gets to the semi’s in the big ten tourney they are in. If that means beating MIch St, getting a first round bye, and winning one game, or losing to Mich St, not getting the bye, but winning two in the big ten tourney.

  • Bigfoot

    What time is the 4/5 game of the B1G tourney?

    • paul r

      approx 3:30 on Friday.. follows first game that starts at NOON

      • Mboy

        that would be 2:30

  • BK

    My question is- when did we suddenly become probably in? It seems like a week ago we weren’t even firmly on the bubble. Did people give us credit for that Wisconsin loss or what?

    • mistersuits

      massive amounts of bubble carnage this past weekend meant a lot of teams on the bubble are trending downward

  • JDiesel

    I agree with the SEC and ACC comments. They are weak conferences with top teams inflated b/c of wins against the bottom dwellers in their conferences. However, I have to disagree about West Virginia. They have beaten several quality opponents AND beat Purdue relatively easily….
    Hopefully, we will take care of business on Saturday, win a B10 tourney game, and get back to the dance (which, IMO, is simply crazy to contemplate if you think back to mid January… I thought we were heading for the CBI!)

  • J.D.

    Semifinals was once my prediction but I’m starting to lean towards a 4/5 finish and a very likely 9-9 conference record being enough. Anyway, now I’m worried about a 4/5 seeded loss to Illinois, in the BTT and not getting 20 wins. As crazy as it sounds 9-9, a 6 seed gimme game against Indiana/Iowa, puts us at 20 wins, with still a chance to play and beat a top seeded team. But on the other hand no game is a gimme. Right?

  • Joel

    There’s a possible scenario (maybe a couple?) where Michigan and Michigan St end up 4th/5th in the conference, and would then play twice in a row, which would make things even more interesting.

  • Troy

    The simple way to end all this bubble talk is to keep winning.

  • Kevin

    I want this game so bad. This program needs it. Come on boys.