Bracket Watch: March 12th, 2014

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Michigan 84, Indiana 80-1
Dustin Johnston

Last time we checked in, Michigan was attempting to climb the S-curve to the two seed line. While a few projections had Michigan as a two, everyone else had them as a three seed, which is where the Wolverines had been for a while.

That has changed. Notable bracketologists are unanimous in projecting Michigan as having locked in a two seed and the Wolverines are a comfortable a two seed in the latest Bracket Matrix.

Michigan’s odds of earning a top seed appear to be low, but they aren’t dead. The Wolverines would need to win the Big Ten tournament to have any claim at a one seed, but teams above them would also probably have to slip up.

Wichita State, Florida and Arizona all look to be comfortable No. 1 seeds at this point. Villanova appears to hold the final No. 1 seed right now but Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin and a potential ACC Tournament champion (Duke, Syracuse, Virginia) are all fighting for the top line.

Of course, those are the same teams that Michigan is fighting for positioning on the two seed line. The Wolverines will be very focused on Wisconsin and Kansas — the two teams that will want to play in the Midwest regional in Indianapolis. Kansas is without Joel Embiid which could affect its Big XII tournament performance and NCAA seeding, while the Wolverines will be hoping that Wisconsin makes an early exit in the Big Ten Tournament.

Last season, the Wolverines came into the conference tournament battered, bruised and disheartened after a soul-crushing regular-season finale against Indiana that cost them a Big Tent title. This season, Michigan is playing better than it ever has this season — at least on the offensive end — going into the postseason. The Wolverines have won their last five games and almost all of their rotation players are playing well.

Michigan won the Big Ten regular season title, but there is a lot of season left. The Wolverines have a chance to make a major statement in the Big Ten tournament that could go a long way toward locking down a two seed and potentially staying close to home in the Midwest region (Indianapolis), especially if Wisconsin and Kansas falter.

After the jump we have an in-depth look at Michigan NCAA tournament resume, predictions from notable bracketologists as far as Michigan’s potential seeding and a discussion of how other Big Ten teams are faring in the most recent bracket projections.

Nitty Gritty

  • Record: 23-7
  • RPI: 9
  • SOS: 9
  • Home: 13-2
  • Away: 7-4
  • Neutral: 3-1
  • vs. RPI top-50: 8-5
  • Vs. RPI top-100: 13-6

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.

Locks:

  • Wisconsin (25-6 overall, 12-6 Big Ten, 6 RPI) The Badgers have wrapped up a two seed. With a few wins in the Big Ten tournament, coupled with an early loss for Kansas in its conference tournament, Wisconsin could find itself in the Midwest region. Many were considering the Badgers to be top seed material, but those chances took a severe hit when Wisconsin dropped its final regular-season game to Nebraska on the road. At this point, the badgers find themselves in a similar position to Michigan — a solid two seed that needs to win some games in order to move into its desired region.
  • Michigan (23-7 overall, 15-3 Big Ten, 10 RPI) Michigan is hoping for a solid run in the Big Ten tournament, but even more so its eye is on what other teams do in the coming weekend. Specifically, Michigan needs Wisconsin and Kansas to lay eggs. The Wolverines are positioned well and have played their way to a two seed — but their most pressing concern at this point is location, location, location.
  • Michigan State (23-8 overall, 12-6 Big Ten, 25 RPI) Michigan State went out with a whimper at the end of conference play, losing three out of its final four games, culminating in a demoralizing loss to Ohio State on the road. The Spartans turned it over on a quarter of their possessions against the Buckeyes, and it’s tough to win when that happens. Despite the disappointing finish, Michigan State is holding steady at a five seed in most bracket – of course that seed is three spots lower than Michigan State was ranked in the preseason polls. .At this point, the Spartans are hoping for a run in the Big Ten tournament simply for the chance to get Keith Appling, Brendan Dawson and Adreian Payne reps and back into form.
  • Ohio State (23-8 overall, 10-8 Big Ten, 24 RPI) While Michigan State is in the 4-5 seed range, the Buckeyes find themselves just a notch below, in the 5-6 seed range. The majority of projections have them as a six seed, and it appears Ohio State’s recent defeat of the Spartans had little effect on its seeding. If the Buckeyes can figure out a way to score and make a run in the Big Ten tournament, and Michigan State doesn’t do anything, the two teams could switch places.
  • Iowa (19-11 overall, 9-9 Big Ten, 49 RPI) If Michigan State went out with a whimper, Iowa went out crying like a baby. The Hawkeyes dropped an amazing five of their final six Big Ten games, finishing with a loss at home to lowly Illinois. Unlike Michigan, Iowa’s offense just couldn’t keep up with its inability to stop anyone. Now, the Hawkeyes are sitting steady with an eight seed in most projections. It’s unlikely they can do much about their seeding at this point besides moving up to a seven with a run in the Big Ten tournament.

Bubble In:

  • Nebraska (19-11 overall, 11-7 Big Ten, 41 RPI) It’s tough to see Nebraska getting left out of the NCAA tournament at this point. The Cornhuskers appeared to have played their way in after a rousing home victory over Wisconsin gave them a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament. The fact that they have a first-round bye is especially impressive given that Nebraska lost five of its first six games in conference play with a brutal schedule to start off. The Huskers are projected as an 11-12 seed with many bracketologists giving them the last-four-in treatment. There is little question Nebraska has played its way in — if it can win a few Big Ten tournament games it will solidify itself more firmly in the field and take a bit of the edge off on Selection Sunday.

Bubble out:

  • Minnesota (18-12 overall, 8-10 Big Ten, 51 RPI) The Gophers had their chances. In the past month, Minnesota had the chance to beat Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan — and lost every one of those games. The only quality win it achieved after beating Wisconsin at home on January 22nd was against Iowa, also at home. But with the Hawkeyes in a tailspin themselves, that win didn’t end up helping the Gophers much. Minnesota is among the first four out in most projections.
  • Win the Game

    Is it just me or wouldn’t it be best if Michigan got placed in the east region? Every time they have played in New York City, they have a pretty big, if not huge, crowd advantage. The only team that would have more fans would probably be Syracuse.

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      I think Michigan would definitely draw well in NYC, but Indianapolis too. It’s four hours away from Ann Arbor and I suspect a lot of people could make it down.

      • dustindbo

        What do you think it would take for the committee to move us from the South Region to the East Region? Reaching the B1G Tourney Championship game? Dying to see them at MSG.

      • MAZS

        I’d take a 2 seed in the Midwest at Indy over any 1 seed.
        I think if we out-perform Wiscy in the BTT, that may be all we need to do, irrespective of what KU does.

  • blackie6

    So what would you guys say – 10% chance of a 1, 75% chance of a 2 and 15% chance of a 3? Worst case, if we lose to IU on Friday – are we still most likely a 2? Or, does everyone flip and we’re a 3? It just seems during the madness that is March, things change quickly…..

    I’m not suggesting we will lose to IU on Friday, but for some reason they are tough for us to beat and the game is in Indy…..

    Thansk

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      Sound about right.

    • jemblue

      As of right now I’d say something like 10% chance of a 1, 60% of a 2 and 30% of a 3 – I think a loss on Friday would give the committee an excuse to drop us down to 3. But if we win then I think we’re almost a lock for a 2. (*Maybe* we’d still drop if we played and lost to Nebraska.) If we reach the final, we’re a top-2 seed for sure.

  • Kenny

    Why everyone put IOWA as lock and Nebraska as bubble. Both have same record, and the latter has better RPI and played much better lately.

    • jemblue

      Good question . . . I guess we all just figured they were a lock all along, since they were in 3rd place for weeks. Their collapse this year is reminiscent of Amaker’s last couple of teams. If they lose the opening game of the BTT, it could be dicey.

  • Mike

    I’ll take any seed that doesn’t have us playing Ok St. In the second round.

    • Hail Blue

      Well as of now they are a 9. Lets hope they dont have a big run in the Big 12 Tourney and they stay there. Or only move up 1 more spot

      • jakerblue

        Lunardi currently has them as a 10 seed in the same region as UM being a 2. Meaning they could play in the second game.

        Whatever the o/u would be I’m a buyer.

  • Cory

    So it looks like a high probability that we’re playing in Milwaukee Thursday/Saturday? If so I’m not too thrilled about my 2 p.m. flight on Saturday the 22nd. Anyone know when game times are determined? Are they by site or by CBS when the matchups come out?

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      Yes, there’s a very good chance Michigan opens in Milwaukee on Thurs/Sat. Times are set by CBS. Sat/Sun times won’t be available until after the Thurs games.

      • Cory

        Hmmmm, I thought they announced the game times for both days of each site at the same time? I may be completely wrong, but I thought I remembered knowing what time we’d play VCU right after we beat South Dakota State last year?

        • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

          The times for weekend games are usually announced after the last game on Thursday (at all sites).

          • Cory

            Well, I flew during the VCU game last year so maybe it’s a good sign!? (Delta did have TV’s on the plane that showed the game, this airline will not)

  • Jason

    Question for those much better versed in Bracketology than me: if we do get a 2 seed, and Nova locks up the last 1 seed, where would we fall in relation to the other 2’s? The best 2 seed would be placed in Nova’s bracket, and the worst 2 seed would be placed in Florida’s region, right?