Bracket Watch: February 20th, 2017

Orion Sang
on

While Michigan’s recent stretch of hot play — and an impressive three-game winning streak over Michigan State, Indiana and Wisconsin — came to somewhat of an end Sunday night at The Barn, the loss didn’t hurt Wolverines’ NCAA Tournament chances.

In fact, Michigan (7-7 Big Ten, 17-10 overall) actually improved its projected seed on nearly every bracket released over the past week based on the strength of a 64-58 home win last Thursday against the 16th-ranked Badgers, giving it a split on the week. While the Wolverines remain on the bubble, they continue to inch closer toward the field. And yes, a road win over a team as highly-regarded as the Golden Gophers would definitely have boosted Michigan’s resume, but the Wolverines still have several remaining games on the schedule to move up (or down).

As things stand today, most bracketologists have the Wolverines projected as a 9-seed and they are in all 94 brackets on the Bracket Matrix.

Nitty Gritty

  • Record: 17-10
  • RPI: 55
  • SOS: 33
  • Home: 14-3
  • Away: 1-7
  • Neutral: 2-0
  • vs. RPI top-50: 3-7
  • vs. RPI top-100: 9-9

Bracketology Rundown

Locks

  • Purdue (22-5, 21 RPI): The Boilermakers are in the midst of a five-game winning streak that could easily extend to nine before the end of the regular season. With a win against Wisconsin earlier this year, Purdue appears to be a good bet to be the highest-seeded Big Ten team given its current trajectory.
  • Wisconsin (22-5, 24 RPI): The Badgers halted a brief two-game losing streak with a win over Maryland on Sunday. Strong performances from Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig (who missed the Michigan game due to a calf injury) were a good sign for a Wisconsin team that has been highly dependent on Ethan Happ as of late.
  • Maryland (21-5, 19 RPI): The Terrapins have a gaudy 13-5 record against RPI top-100 opponents, and still hold a higher RPI than conference foes Wisconsin and Purdue despite losing to both of those teams.

Looking Good

  • Minnesota (20-7, 23 RPI): The Golden Gophers are back off the bubble after countering a five-game losing streak with a five-game winning streak, including a resume-boosting home win over Michigan Sunday night. Minnesota has an impressive road win at Purdue to boost its resume and impressive computer numbers as well.
  • Northwestern (20-7, 37 RPI): A loss against Rutgers would’ve been tough to swallow, but Northwestern still appears to be trending in the right direction. It might be too early to call the Wildcats a lock becuase closer examination reveals only 3 top-50 wins in 9 tries

Bubble In

  • Michigan (17-10, 55 RPI): Despite a tough overtime loss Sunday, a split against Wisconsin and Minnesota still inched the Wolverines closer to moving off the bubble.
  • Michigan State (16-11, 43 RPI): The Spartans missed yet another chance to grab a quality win after a loss on Saturday against Purdue. They’ve still got an important pair of games left on the schedule against Wisconsin on Feb. 26 and at Maryland on March 5, though Michigan State will be without the services of senior guard Eron Harris, who suffered a season-ending injury against Purdue.

Bubble Out

  • Indiana (15-12, 90 RPI) and Ohio State (15-13, 82 RPI) are still nowhere near making the tournament, moving even farther away since last week’s projections.

Bracket Debate: How high can Michigan go?

A win over Minnesota would’ve helped the Wolverines immensely, immediately standing out as their best road win — easy to say considering there would be just two to compare. Despite some late DJ Wilson heroics, Michigan ended the week with a split that still moved it up the bracket projections, begging the question: just how much can the Wolverines improve their seeding?

Wins over Rutgers and Nebraska wouldn’t do much to improve Michigan’s tournament profile (even though both are on the road), but there are still two games that should be circled on the calendar: a home contest against Purdue on Feb. 25 and a road game at Northwestern on March 1. The Big Ten Tournament beckons, as well. If the season ended today, the Wolverines would be the No. 7 seed in the tournament facing No. 10 seed Penn State, with a rematch against Wisconsin waiting in the next round.

What do you think? Let your opinion be heard below in the comments section. How high of a seed do you think Michigan can earn? What would it take for the Wolverines down the stretch to reach this seed? And if you’re the pessimistic type, what would it take at this point for Michigan to be left out come Selection Sunday?

  • MaizeBlue10

    Orion, gut instinct, if we go 2-2 with wins against Rutgers/Nebraska but lose in the BTT opener, Michigan is……….?

    • Not Orion, but 2-2 with a BTT win and I think you are in pretty comfortably. Lose that first game (probably a pretty poor loss) and you are sweating it out.

      • MaizeBlue10

        Iowa is probably the team to a avoid. Obviously still not good to any other team at the #10 spot, but at least it’d be a top 100 L.

        • ChiMan

          I totally echo these sentiments. I want nothing to do with Iowa in the tourney. I’ll be thankful if we never see Peter Jok in an Iowa jersey again lol

  • tenz

    Is it just me…but i find it very difficult to see the Big 10 getting 7 teams in the tournament

  • Chace

    I think will grind out a 2-2 record over the next four games…. I think will handle Rutgers but then Purdue at home on senior night will be a big game… I expect dw to play great but will the rest of the team? I’ve lost confidence in Zak sad to say but I hope we can match Purdues bigs and keep them off the offensive glass which will be tough.. then at NW will be a test it would be a great road win to have on the resume… then a game that really intrigues me is at Nebraska to wrap it up I won’t be surprised if Nebraska eeks one out there better than their record shows but ultimately I see splitting Purdue and Northwestern and Losing to Nebraska….. I think we’d have two win 1 game in the tournament to be a lock… but two will definitely help us…. hope we can grind out a 3-1 record but I think it’ll be tough sledding.. what’s your take dylan?

    • bobohle

      Zak will be ready for Purdue!

  • ChipperFliet

    I know this is all about “The Tournament”, but what about the B1G Tournament? I like this team on a neutral court. Can definitely make it to the B1G championship. Nobody in this conference scares me.
    Purdue prob has the best game overall. Inside & outside, and plays good “D”. We’ll find out Sat. See you there.

    • bobohle

      I agree. We seem to play very well on neutral courts.Wish the B1G Tourney was at MSG this year instead of next year though.

      • ChiMan

        I dunno. Depending on how things pan out, with the addition of some new faces, including Matthews and another year of playing time for DJ and Moe, next year could be really special. I could see us running the table at MSG next year.

        • bobohle

          I agree on next year but we were 2-0 at MSG this year and really played well in the blow outs of Marq and SMU.

          • ChiMan

            There certainly is something in the water in MSG that Michigan feeds off from. I’m not mad at it! :)

        • ChipperFliet

          With Mathews and X joining the starting line up along with DJ, Moe and Maar, will probably be the best defensive team UM has put on the court in a very long time. Mix in sharp shooters Duncan and Jordan Poole, could be the makings of a very fun team to watch. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Would love to meet Sparty in the B1G tourney and kick there a$$ one more time. And hope Purdue and Maryland end up n the same side of the bracket. Go Blue!

  • AA7596

    It’s interesting how the bubble has changed over time.

    Amaker went .500 in the Big Ten three times and missed the tournament each time. (None of those snubs were considered controversial, either.) Beilein has gotten in twice at .500, and possibly a third time this year.

    What gives? The Big Ten isn’t better now than it was back then, due to the addition of Rutgers and Nebraska. The First Four isn’t the difference, either—Beilein’s .500 teams got into the main draw, and this year’s team is headed that way too. The bubble has just shifted in favor of major conferences.

    • ChiMan

      Another thing to consider (and I’d probably have to examine this a little closer). If I recall correctly, Amaker very rarely beat teams he wasn’t supposed to and had the occasional game lost to a clunker but there wasn’t a win over an SMU or a Wisconsin to make up for that. He was pretty close to making the tournament twice if I recall but again, I think scheduling played a factor.

      • A2MIKE

        Michigan largely played 9-10 cupcakes under Amaker and 2 or 3 big games which they would routinely get smashed in. The lone exception being 2006. That team should have made the tournament. They slept walk to the NIT finals and never really put forth any effort in the NIT.

    • JimC_UM

      Ha, you guys remind me of probably the most maddening loss in the last 15 years or so, at least that I remember. In 2005-6 we beat MN twice in the regular season by about 20 points, and only needed to beat them in the B1G tourney to make the big dance. And Amaker’s team choked & lost to MN, dropping them to the NIT.

      http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-baskbl/archive/schedule-2005-06-archive.html

  • JimC_UM

    Am really just hoping that
    1) M makes the Big Dance.
    2) Sparty doesn’t!!!!!

    That would be the perfect scenario.

    • bobohle

      Sparty AD Hollis is the Committee Chair. Do you think that will happen?

      • JimC_UM

        No, but I have a dream :)

        • bobohle

          I’m with you on that. Sparty may have trouble finishing 2-2 now that Harris their only Senior is out for the duration.

  • Indiana_Matt

    I wish that there was the balanced schedule like in the old days. Then you knew you’d play everyone twice and that’s what all the other teams had to do. Harder to compare conference record now. Oh, to go back to a smaller league with no conference tournament :)

  • A2MIKE

    My take: Finish 4-0 and make it to Saturday of the BTT and Michigan can advance as high as a 6 seed.

    Finish 1-3 or worse and only win 1 or less games in the BTT and it will be NIT.

    Prediction: Finish 3-1. Win first game of BTT (Thursday) and lose on Friday and end up as a strong 9 seed in Gonzaga’s region.

    • ChiMan

      I’m with you on like 90% of this. I could see the 3-1 finish, I’d be ok with 2-2 considering what we have in front of us but I like 3-1 better. I do think however if we finish at 3-1, I think we have a really good shot to make it to Saturday in the BTT. Beilein tends to do well there and I like the neutral court out in DC, unless we draw Maryland.

    • MaizeBlue10

      I would say in your scenario of 3-1 + 1, that’s a 7 or 8 seed. 8/9 are obviously interchangeable ha,but I think they may even sneak into a 7 if they close out 4-2.

      Adding a W against Purdue or at NW looks nice on that resume.