Bracket Watch: February 22nd, 2016

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan appeared to have pushed itself off the bubble with a win over Purdue, but is squarely back on the bubble after losses at Ohio State and Maryland.

“We’ve got three games left, two are at home,” John Beilein said after Michigan’s loss at Maryland. “It is what it is for about everybody in this country. You’re sitting there, you’ve got to win the games you need to win. I tell our guys there’s a formula for it. I just watch it, it’s in my head.

“You’ve got to win on the road; we’ve got four of those. You’ve got to beat good teams; we’ve got a couple of those, but you need more of them. You may need more of them. And you can’t have bad losses. So we’re trying to avoid them all the time.”

The Wolverines have three great wins — Texas, Maryland and Purdue — but not much else on their NCAA tournament resume. If the field was selected today, Michigan would be in — according to most bracketologists — but a trip to Dayton is a distinct possibility and CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm is already projecting just that.

Michigan faces a pivotal week with Northwestern at home and a trip to Wisconsin. A pair of victories could punch Michigan’s ticket, but things will become very dicey if the Wolverines fall at home to Northwestern. The trip to Madison is important because it’s a chance to beat a fellow conference bubble team on their home floor.

Nitty Gritty

  • Record: 19-9
  • RPI: 55
  • SOS: 63
  • Home:  12-3
  • Away:  4-5
  • Neutral:  3-1
  • vs. RPI top-50:  3-8
  • vs. RPI top-100: 4-9

Bracketology Rundown


  • Michigan State (22-5, 16 RPI): Michigan State is surging as its schedule lightens and it’s successful non-conference slate looks a lot better now that its rocky January is in the past. The Spartans have to play Ohio State twice, but have a very manageable closing four games in the conference season.
  • Iowa (20-6, 13 RPI): Iowa’s loss at Penn State dropped the Hawkeyes a seed line in many projections to the 3 line. That puts them behind the Michigan State team which they swept in conference play.
  • Maryland (22-5, 10 RPI): Maryland is the third conference team that is battling for a 2-seed and the Terps picked up a much-needed win over Michigan on Sunday. With road trips to Purdue and Indiana left on the schedule, Maryland has at least an opportunity to move up.
  • Indiana (22-6, 29 RPI): I moved Indiana to the lock category after they picked up home wins over Nebraska and Purdue. Hoosiers are a legitimate Big Ten title threat at 12-3 and appear to be playing for seeding down the stretch. Right now, Tom Crean’s group is probably around the 6 or 7 seed-line and trending upwards.
  • Purdue (21-7, 23 RPI): Purdue is struggling to win league games on the road (dropped last three at Maryland, Michigan and Indiana), but it has a strong enough resume to hold up as a mid-seed team on Selection Sunday.

Bubble In

  • Michigan (18-9, 56 RPI): Michigan is teetering among the last few byes in the field and needs to do something to bolster its resume down the stretch.
  • Wisconsin (17-10, 45 RPI): Wisconsin avoided an upset scare against Illinois at home and has completely turned its season around. The Badgers are as high as an 8 seed in Lunardi’s latest projections, but have plenty of tough games left: at Iowa, vs. Michigan, at Minnesota and at Purdue.

Bubble Out

  • Ohio State (18-10, 70 RPI): Ohio State might be short in quality wins, but it has held serve in Big Ten play and now has an opportunity to play its way into the picture down the stretch. That probably means at least 2 wins in its final three games against Michigan State (2x) and Iowa (home) followed by some quality work in the Big Ten tournament.

Bracket Debate: Top-100 wins

Top-100 RPI wins have been a hot topic when examining Michigan’s resume because there’s a legitimate chance that the Wolverines could finish the season with just three — all in the top-50.

Statistics regarding the rarity of a team with just three RPI Top-100 wins making the NCAA tournament have been swirling around Twitter, but Michigan’s situation is a bit more complex. The Wolverines have played predominantly teams inside the top-50 or outside the top-100, but also have several wins on their resume just on the cusp of the top-100.

Penn State’s upset win over Iowa has pushed the Nittany Lions to the brink of the top-100, hovering around the 99 through 102 spots in most calculations. Similarly, N.C. State is hovering in a similar spot, currently checking in at 99th in the RPI.

Should it really matter where Penn State and N.C. State finish? If they finish 98th and 99th does Michigan really have a better resume (with three extra top-100 wins) than if they finish 101st and 102nd? It shouldn’t, but given the way that the selection committee’s team sheets are constructed, it can’t help but play at least a part.

team sheet

Sample ‘team sheet’ via Crashing the Dance

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  • Nick

    Win the home games and one game at the B1G tourney and they’re in, with a bye, and ready to make noise.

  • bobohle

    Being in the play in round would be alright if it has to be. Remember UCONN won it all a few years back also playing in the play in game. In fact UConn wouldn’t have made the tournament that year if they didn’t win the Big East tourney by winning five games in five days. However if M takes care of business and wins two of the three games they should avoid the play in game. However if some miraculous way Caris can play,the extra game may be benifitial.

    • rlcBlue

      Connecticut has never played in the First Four. In 2011 VCU made the Final Four starting from the play in game, but they then lost to Butler, which in turn lost to Kemba Walker’s UConn team.

      It has been the case, though, that every year a team that plays in the First Four advances beyond the round of 64 – VCU (Final 4) 2011, South Florida (round of 32) 2012, LaSalle (Sweet 16) 2013, Tennessee (Sweet 16) 2014, and Dayton (round of 32) 2015.

    • Mith22

      I don’t remember that- but that’s because it didn’t happen. UConn won it in 2014 as a #7. They won it in 2011 as a #3. They didn’t play in the play in game either time. No play-in team has won the championship. :)

  • Wayman Britt

    Assuming UM beats NW, then the game at Kohl Center is almost the whole season. Beat Wisconsin then UM goes dancing and Badgers don’t. Badgers win, then they have successfully bounce back from going to the final and losing the majority of their starters to make the tourney.

  • Champswest

    Win the game.

  • Chillax
  • Fab 5 Legends

    i think the last game of the season against Iowa will be big…if we beat Wisco we are in but i think if we lose and beat Iowa at home we should also sneak in….considering how this season has gone…if we do make the tournament it is a SUCCESSFUL season….most of us had higher expectation but thats with a healthy Spike/Caris and assumption of player development from the rest of the guys….if we do make it…i dont see us winning more than 1 game which would make for a great year imo…leading up to next year…..i dont expect Caris to come back…he should just think about his future and try to get drafted in the 1st round…with that being said, i would love to see suit up if healthy in the ncaa tournament

  • GTFOmycourt

    In my opinion, even if we only win one B1G tournament and only against Northwestern we will be in. We need any combination of 2 games in my opinion. We have 3 high quality wins. All of our losses are high quality losses (so to speak) in terms of RPI. The worst being @OSU. Our resume is neat, tidy, and it is easy to defend keeping us in. Keeping us out requires a more complicated explanation. Just my opinion.

  • Mattski

    Bubble THIS me bredren–we are in. You heard it here first.

  • A2MIKE

    What if… and hear me out on this one…

    Michigan closes 2-1 with a big win over Iowa, after Iowa has an emotional de facto championship game earlier in the week with Indiana. They are probably going to slot in to the 7 seed (1. Iowa, 2. Indiana, 3 MSU, 4 Maryland, 5 Purdue, 6 Wisconsin, 7 Michigan, 8 OSU (assuming they lose out). They would most likely play Northwestern or Penn State in the first game. What if they lose that game? Then what? I say out completely. That would be a very dicey situation if they played Penn State, a team that they have already beaten twice, and we know how much Chambers wants to beat us.

    • If they beat Iowa and win one other game I think they are still in.

      • A2MIKE

        play-in or in the field of 64?

        • Really too tough to say, but they’d have 4 top-25 wins and PSU beating them would actually probably lock up the two wins over PSU as top-100 wins. Obviously beating PSU in that situation would be the ideal outcome, but either way I think that would be enough.

          • Fab 5 Legends

            i think if we beat Iowa we are in the field of 64….Louisville & SMU being booted out is huge for us right now

      • Carl


    • A2MIKE

      Forgot the last part, if they don’t beat Iowa on senior day and assuming they lose at Wicsonsin, they would most likely play Iowa after playing some variation of Penn State/Northwestern.

  • bobohle

    Sorry about my Senior Moment about saying UConn was in the play in game. They did have to win five games in 5 days in the Big East Tournament to get in in a year they won the championship. If it wasn’t in 2014. My mistake.