Michigan hasn’t done much since last week, only playing one game since last Sunday, but a RPI top-50 win never hurts. The Wolverines beat Illinois soundly on their home floor this past Sunday, which vaulted them back up into the top-5 in both polls, where Michigan rests at No. 4. Michigan still has some tough tests on its schedule to round out the conference slate: rematches against Michigan State and Indiana stand out, but both of those games occur on Michigan’s home floor.
Both of those games will likely have significant tournament seeding implications, as Indiana sits on top as the No. 1 overall seed and Michigan State has taken a step back on the 2-seed line, trending toward 3-seed line, with a pair of losses. Michigan seems to be holding steady on the top half of the 2-seed line, but wins over either of those teams could put them back in the top-seed category. In what has already been an exhilarating Big Ten season, there are still plenty of meaningful games yet to played.
Nitty Gritty, Bracketology Roundup, Big Ten Bubble Report and Bracket Debate after the jump.
- Record: 22-4 (Division I only)
- RPI: 6
- SOS: 29
- Home: 15-0
- Away: 4-4
- Neutral: 3-0
- vs. RPI Top 50: 7-4
- vs. RPI Top 100: 10-4
- Joe Lunardi/ESPN: 2 seed vs. Niagara (Auburn Hills/Washington D.C.) – Feb. 26
- Andy Glockner/SI: 2 seed vs. Niagara (Auburn Hills/Washington D.C.) – Feb. 26
- Jerry Palm/CBS: 1 seed vs. Southern (Auburn Hills/Dallas) – Feb. 24
- Crashing the Dance: 2 seed – Feb. 26
- Bracket Matrix: 2 seed – Feb. 26
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.
- Indiana (24-3 overall, 12-2 Big Ten, 7 RPI): Indiana holds the No. 1 overall seed, which at this point places them in the friendly confines of their home state for the Indianapolis regional. The Hoosiers are coming off an impressive win against Michigan State at the Breslin Center as Victor Oladipo continues to dominate the competition.
- Michigan (22-4 overall, 10-4 Big Ten, 5 RPI): At this point, Michigan is sitting on a 2 seed in most brackets, though Jerry Palm has the Wolverines as a 1 seed. They have a chance to solidify a top seed with home games against Michigan State and Indiana in the next two weeks.
- Michigan State (21-6 overall, 11-4 Big Ten, 9 RPI): The Spartans have hit a rough patch, dropping their last two games — to Indiana at home and Ohio State on the road. Those losses put Michigan State teetering between the 2-seed and 3-seed lines.
Should be in:
- Wisconsin (19-8 overall, 10-4 Big Ten, 25 RPI): Going into the final few weeks of the Big Ten season, Wisconsin finds itself in excellent position to secure a 4-5 seed. After handling Ohio State at home, the only truly tough test left for the Badgers is a road game against Michigan State on March 7th. The Badgers continue to move closer to the “lock” category.
- Ohio State (20-7 overall, 10-5 Big Ten, 19 RPI): After a particularly ugly loss to Wisconsin on the road, the Buckeyes have bounced back with a big win over Michigan State at home – a much needed top-25 win. Ohio State is in a position similar to Wisconsin, around the 5-seed range, and it still needs to go on the road against Indiana.
- Minnesota (18-9 overall, 6-8 Big Ten, 17 RPI): Minnesota appears to be in some trouble. The Gophers have dropped four of their last five games and cannot find a way to win on the road, losing to Iowa last Sunday. Bracketologists have them anywhere between an 8 and an 11, and if they drop either of their final two Big Ten games, both on the road to lackluster competition (at Nebraska and Purdue), Minnesota could find itself on the outside looking in.
- Illinois (19-9 overall, 7-8 Big Ten, 33 RPI): After winning five straight games, the Illini lost to Michigan at Crisler Center, which shouldn’t hurt them too much. Illinois is around the same 8-9 range as Minnesota, and with two of their final three Big Ten games on the road — at Iowa and at Ohio State — John Groce’s club will need to finish strong.
- Iowa (17-10 overall, 6-8 Big Ten, 91 RPI): The Hawkeyes got a big win against a struggling Minnesota team at home, but immediately after went on the road and got beat by one of the Big Ten’s worst teams, Nebraska. It appears that Iowa’s bubble has burst, as they are left off all of the bracketologists’ “last four in” lists.
Bracket Debate: What teams should Michigan fear in its region?
Michigan will most likely find itself in the 1-3 seed range come NCAA Tournament time. Now that the Big Ten season is winding down, it’s time to start looking at some match-ups with possible tournament opponents. Which teams does Michigan not want to see come March Madness? We took a look at four teams — two possible second-round match-ups and two possible Sweet Sixteen match-ups — that could give Michigan some trouble.
4-5 Range: Marquette: Marquette is coming off a huge win at home against Syracuse, in which it showed its toughness and ability to match up with the Orangemen inside. A big reason for that is the Eagles’ gigantic junior post player, Devante Gardner. Gardner, at 6-foot-9, 290 pounds, could cause Derrick-Nix like disruption in Michigan’s low-post defense. Marquette plays an aggressive, physical style that the Wolverines have not been comfortable with this season — especially when nobody knows how healthy Jordan Morgan will be come tournament time.
3 Range: Georgetown: Two words: Otto. Porter. It’s not specifically Michigan’s ability to match-up with Georgetown’s versatile scorer that should have Wolverine fans worried, but any team’s. The Hoyas have won nine straight games, including a huge win at Syracuse in which Porter scored a career-high 33 points. Porter is shooting 52 percent from the field and a shocking 45 percent from beyond the arc, making him a nightmare match-up for any team.
8-9 Range: Missouri: The Tigers have struggled lately, and it feels as though Phil Pressey is being asked to do too much, but one thing stands out about Missouri that could be an issue if they play Michigan: offensive rebounding. The Tigers hold the 7th-best offensive rebounding percentage in the country, and Michigan relies heavily on getting defensive rebounds to start its lethal fast-break attack. When the transition game is negated, Michigan is simply not as good. Missouri’s offensive rebounding ability could go a long ways toward doing just that.
7-10 Range UCLA: UCLA may be having a down year in the Pac-12, but no one wants to run into the Bruins in the tournament. They are still supremely talented — Shabazz Muhammad isn’t the most efficient player, but he’s still averaging 18 points and five rebounds for the season. One thing UCLA does surprisingly well: take care of the ball. The Bruins’ turnover percentage of 16 is ranked 6th nationally. Michigan would have to use turnovers to ignite its fast-break attack, as UCLA has the horses to run with the Wolverines off defensive rebounds.