Bracket Watch: February 7th, 2013

Michigan 76, Ohio State 74 (OT)-1
Dustin Johnston

As the college hoops season enters February and March creeps closer, a number of teams have yet to decide their postseason fate. This college hoops season has been full of surprises and nearly impossible to predict — just ask No. 5 Kansas, who lost on Wednesday to TCU. Among all the confusion, Michigan remains relatively steady. The Wolverines have lost two close games to highly-ranked teams on the road, but they have held serve at home so far and still appear to be in excellent position to land a no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

That being said, there is still plenty of room for error on Michigan’s schedule. The team travels to distinctly inhospitable  Madison to play Wisconsin on Saturday, and from there will travel to East Lansing to play the Spartans just three days later. Sitting at 1-1 so far in this grueling 4-game stretch is nothing to sneeze at, and it seems a reasonable expectation for Michigan, given the team’s struggles on the road this season, is to split the next two. From that point, four of Michigan’s final six games are at home, and the road games aren’t particularly daunting — Penn State and Purdue. The home games won’t be picnics — among the Wolverines’ opponents are Michigan State, Indiana and Illinois — but Michigan has been stellar at the Crisler Center so far this season. The Wolverines recently knocked off 8th-ranked Ohio State at home and are in excellent position, despite a loaded Big Ten, to secure a very high seed.

After the jump you can explore an in-depth look at Michigan’s resume, a collection of projections from notable bracketologists, as well as a look at how other Big Ten teams have fared during this stretch of the season and where they sit in the NCAA Tournament picture.

Nitty Gritty

  • Record: 20-2
  • RPI: 4
  • SOS: 13
  • Home: 13-0
  • Away: 4-2
  • Neutral: 3-0
  • vs. RPI Top 50: 6-2
  • vs. RPI Top 100: 13-2

Bracketology Rundown

Around the Big Ten

We’ll also keep a close eye on the rest of the Big Ten and let you know who’s in, who should be in, who could be on the bubble and which games this week have the biggest tournament implications. The Big Ten is widely considered the nation’s best conference, and so far this conference season teams of all tiers have been solidly beating up on each other.

Locks:

  • Michigan (20-2 overall, 8-2 Big Ten, 4 RPI): Michigan is steadily gaining a stronger and stronger hold on a 1 seed, an especially difficult task in this year’s Big Ten. Despite losses to Ohio State and Indiana on the road, the Wolverines look to be in the driver’s seat — but there is a lot riding on their next two games in Madison and East Lansing.
  • Indiana (20-2 overall, 8-1 Big Ten, 12 RPI): The Hoosiers seem to be in good position to secure a 1 seed, and in contention for the Indianapolis regional with Michigan. However, Indiana plays its most difficult games at the end of the season; its last nine games include five on the road against Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan.
  • Ohio State (17-5 overall, 7-3 Big Ten, 17 RPI): The Buckeyes’ tough loss at Michigan shouldn’t hurt them, all things considered. They are holding steady in the 3-5 range when it comes to seeding. Ohio State’s next game is against Indiana, whom it still has to play twice.
  • Michigan State (18-4 overall, 8-2 Big Ten, 13 RPI): Somehow, Michigan State keeps cranking out victories. Despite injuries to Gary Harris and Travis Trice, the Spartans have won seven of their last eight, with the one loss coming on the road against Indiana. All but Andy Glockner have penciled in Michigan State as a 3 seed at this point — if the Spartans and Wolverines can both hold serve in their upcoming match-ups, we’ll be looking at a top-10 showdown in East Lansing on Tuesday.

Should be in:

  • Minnesota (17-6 overall, 5-5 Big Ten, 11 RPI): Minnesota has dropped five of its last seven conference games and is having a hard time finding a groove. The good news is most of their tougher games to finish the conference slate are at home — they will meet Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin in the friendly confines of The Barn. Despite the Gophers’ recent struggles, they are holding steady in the 4-5 seed range.

Bubble in:

  • Wisconsin (16-7 overall, 7-3 Big Ten, 40 RPI): After a four-game win streak to begin Big Ten play, including a win at vaunted Assembly Hall against Indiana, Wisconsin has come back to earth. The Badgers have gone 3-3 since that game and it seems clear that they do not belong in the upper echelon of Big Ten teams this season. Bracketologists project them in the 6-8 seed range. With Michigan coming to town on Saturday, Wisconsin has an excellent opportunity to enhance its dancing chances.

Bubble out:

  • Illinois (14-8 overall, 2-7 Big Ten, 46 RPI): Illinois, by all accounts, is holding on by a thread. Joe Lunardi has the Illini as one of the first four out of the NCAA Tournament and most other brackets hold them in the 8-11 seed range. John Groce’s club needs to get some wins in conference play; Illinois has just one win in its last seven contests.
  • Iowa (14-9 overall, 3-7 Big Ten, 93 RPI): Fran McCaferry’s team may be a year away. Iowa has played plenty of Big Ten teams extremely tough, including Wisconsin, who escaped with an overtime victory at home against the Hawkeyes on Wednesday. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many close games you’ve lost on Selection Sunday. The Hawkeyes have already played three overtime periods and are just 1-5 in Big Ten games decided by four points or less.

Records are Division I only, RPIs updated on evening of 2/16/13..

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