Bracket Watch: February 29th, 2016

Dylan Burkhardt
on

With one game left in the regular season, Michigan finds itself facing the possibility of a mid-week trip to Dayton — if it makes the NCAA tournament field.

The Wolverines are projected by most bracketologists among the last four teams in the tournament, meaning they would be headed to the First Four in Dayton on either Tuesday or Wednesday. With more games to play and bids to be stolen, that means that Michigan isn’t safe and has its work cut out to make the tournament field.

A home win over Iowa on Saturday night would be Michigan’s fourth against a top-25 team and might just do the trick. Following that up with a win in its opening game of the Big Ten Tournament (likely to be Penn State in the 8-9 game), would seal the deal.

But if Michigan loses on Saturday against the Hawkeyes, it could have a monumental task in front of it in Indianapolis. Merely adding a third win over Penn State to the resume might not be enough and that could mean that the Wolverines need to knock off the Big Ten Tournament No. 1 seed to crack the field.

The Wolverines still appear to control their own destiny for now, but they are running out of second chances to get the job done.

Nitty Gritty

  • Record: 20-10
  • RPI: 55
  • SOS: 60
  • Home:  13-3
  • Away:  4-6
  • Neutral:  3-1
  • vs. RPI top-50:  3-8
  • vs. RPI top-100: 5-10

Bracketology Rundown

Locks

  • Michigan State (24-5, 14 RPI): Michigan State looks like it has a legitimate chance at the No. 1 seed line and several bracketologists have already given the Spartans the bump. Michigan State closes the conference with a trip to Rutgers and a home game against Ohio State and looks like a strong Big Ten Tournament performance could have it on the top line.
  • Maryland (22-5, 10 RPI): There was a time that Maryland looked like it had a chance to play its way as high as the 1-seed line, but the Terps currently sit as a three seed. They still have a chance to share the Big Ten title, but after losing three of their last four there’s some clear work to be done.
  • Indiana (23-6, 27 RPI): Indiana could lock up the Big Ten Championship outright this week with a win, but the question is how high can the Hoosiers rise up the s-curve? Conventional wisdom puts them around the 6 seed line right now, but they have two chances for quality wins this week at Iowa and vs. Maryland.
  • Purdue (22-7, 18 RPI): Purdue sits around the 5 seed line and picked up a much-needed win over Maryland on Saturday.
  • Iowa (20-8, 22 RPI): Iowa is crumbling, losing four of its last five games and it has to play Indiana, which will be fighting for an outright Big Ten title, and at Michigan, which will be fighting for its NCAA tournament life. The Hawkeyes still have sweeps over Michigan State and Purdue, but need to turn their season around in a hurry.

Bubble In

  • Wisconsin (19-10, 33 RPI): Wisconsin might not be a lock yet, but it is certainly close. The Badgers have won 10 of 11 games including a pair of quality victories at Iowa and over Michigan last week. Wisconsin’s resume still has those early bad losses, but there is just too much quality to leave the Badgers out of the tourney.
  • Michigan (19-10, 56 RPI): Michigan needs to beat Iowa on Saturday or it could be in for a long day on Selection Sunday. A win over the Hawkeyes would shore up the Wolverines’ resume, but a loss would leave it looking fairly mediocre heading into the Big Ten Tournament.

Bubble Out

  • Ohio State (18-10, 70 RPI): Ohio State picked up a quality win at home over Iowa, but still isn’t sniffing the NCAA tournament conversation. The Buckeyes would need to win at Michigan State, a team which beat them in Columbus by 19 on Tuesday, to stake any claim in the bubble race.
  • Wayman Britt

    I understand UM lost two of its top players to injury this year, but with it’s new facilities, resources, highly paid coaching staff and academic stature they should not go two years without making the tourney. It’s okay to make the final four every 3 – 4 years (no cheating), but not making the dance every year is unacceptable.

    • malcolm bolt

      I agree, but this is a polarizing topic amongst the fan base and at times many excuses are made for Michigan’s plight. Right now the program is stale and lacks a killer instinct. It is not in the rut like the Ellerbe years, but Michigan needs to be regalvanized with fresh recruiting and new ideas. Beilein does not need to be fired, but better players are needed and better principles of hustle and defensive pride need to be desired. Michigan is dangerously on the verge of becoming a settling program. No excuses with cheating should be given. Virginia and Wisconsin have turned the corner, good examples of clean programs.

    • Tony DeMaria

      True, and even without Levert and Spike, there is a ton of recruited talent on this roster. 1-2 five star players (depending on which recruiting service) and 3-4 four star players are on this roster. Most teams with that kind of talent would make the tourney easy. So either Beilein is recruiting the wrong guys for his system, or they are not developing them properly.

      I’m not even close to a fire Beilein guy, but I will admit these last 2 seasons can only be considered a failure for him. Irvin never developed into anything better than a 3rd scoring option, Walton has shown flashes but is not a consistently great player…he was better his freshman year when he had Nik and Glenn to spread the offense to. Chatman has been a complete bust, and Donnal has definitely improved this year but definitely isn’t a guy you can count on to be the man next year.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    as expected, i predicted this a while ago…win over Iowa will get us in…at home we get this W we deserve to sneak in…if we lose we do not deserve to get in…we had too many opportunities at home against top competition to prove ourselves…something mid-majors do not get a chance in their conference…i feel like we will come out and play with a chip on our shoulder…getting into the NCAA tournament will be a Successful year for Michigan considering injuries/player development…the entire team that played this season will be back next year…therefore it will be good experience to just be in the tourny

  • Retiredat23

    This season would have been a lot different with Jaylen Brown on the roster.

    • bobohle

      OH YEAH!!!!!!

  • darrenJ19

    Luckily, UM will have all week to get ready for Iowa on Saturday. They should be well rested and prepared–no excuses. Meanwhile, Iowa has a tough Indiana team on the road tomorrow. Things are falling right into place for Michigan to get a BIG win to send them to the tourney. Home game, Iowa is struggling at the right time, a whole week to prepare/rest…This is Michigan’s game to lose. They have the talent to win, they’ve beaten good teams at home (Maryland and Purdue) now they need to take care of business. GO BLUE!!

  • Tony DeMaria

    If UM beats Iowa, Iowa’s resume is still better than Michigan’s but not by a ton

    Iowa 20-10 (11-7). 5 top 50 wins
    Michigan 21-10 (11-7) 4 top 50 wins

    Iowa has 2 wins betweeen 51-100 and Michigan currently 0 (but 3 from 51-107 vs. Iowa’s 4 from 51-107). Iowa has a loss outside the top 100 (Penn St) and 2 from 51-100, Michigan has 0 outside top 100 and 2 from 51-100.