Bracket Watch: February 27th, 2017

Orion Sang
on

As we’ve seen all year, this is a high variance team. Michigan nearly suffered a terrible loss at Rutgers last Wednesday but was able to grit out a win in Piscataway. Then, the Wolverines managed to hand Purdue its worst loss all year on Saturday, adding yet another huge, resume-boosting win.

The Wolverines are looking good heading into the final stretch and will hit the road for their final two regular-season games against a reeling Northwestern team and Nebraska.

Michigan, though, isn’t quite off the bubble yet — although one more win (whether against the Wildcats, Huskers or whoever the Wolverines play in the Big Ten Tournament) should do the trick. With the way it has played lately, Michigan certainly has the look and feel of a tournament team — even that of a team that could make some noise and notch an upset or two.

Nitty Gritty

  • Record: 19-10
  • RPI: 46
  • SOS: 34
  • Home: 15-3
  • Away: 2-7
  • Neutral: 2-0
  • vs. RPI top-50: 4-7
  • vs. RPI top-100: 11-10

Bracketology Rundown

Locks

  • Purdue (23-6, 20 RPI): This week showed just how volatile the top of the conference has been this year, and the Boilermakers’ loss to Michigan was a perfect example of the lack of divide between teams in the top half of the conference. Still, Purdue 
  • Minnesota (22-7, 16 RPI): The Golden Gophers continued their surge with wins over Maryland and Penn State. Minnesota is certainly peaking at the right time — with Purdue and Wisconsin slipping up, the Golden Gophers now have a chance to be the highest-seeded Big Ten team.
  • Wisconsin (22-7, 32 RPI): To say it wasn’t a good week for the Badgers might be an understatement — they dropped games to Ohio State and Michigan State, falling eight spots in the RPI and sliding in bracket projections everywhere. Wisconsin’s best and only top-50 wins this season are at Minnesota, vs. Maryland and vs. Michigan. There’s not a lot of substance on that resume and people will be taking a closer look. 
  • Maryland (21-7, 28 RPI): The Terrapins are slumping, losing three in a row to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. They’ll have an easy opportunity to right the ship against conference floormat Rutgers before ending the regular season against Michigan State. Losses to the Scarlet Knights and Spartans would certainly complicate things, but that is unlikely to happen.

Bubble In

  • Michigan (19-10, 46 RPI): Michigan is very close to moving off the bubble and seems to be in great shape. They probably wouldn’t want to tempt fate and lose their three remaining games.
  • Northwestern (20-9, 50 RPI): A two-game losing streak pushes Northwestern down a bit, and suddenly, things are looking hairy for the Wildcats — with two more games against Michigan and Purdue, Northwestern could easily end the regular season on a four-game losing streak.
  • Michigan State (18-11, 42 RPI): The Spartans’ RPI will always be buoyed by an extremely tough nonconference schedule. Wins like the one over Wisconsin Sunday can only push Michigan State — another team that has a claim to already moving off the bubble — even higher.

Bubble Out

  • Illinois (17-12, 57 RPI): The Fighting Illini have jumped into this tier after three consecutive wins, including a crucial victory over Northwestern. Illinois’s next game, a home matchup against Michigan State, will be vital to their chances. Win that game and win at Rutgers and suddenly the Illini are 9-9 in conference with a top-20 SOS. 
  • Indiana (16-13, 89 RPI): Like Illinois, the Hoosiers also recorded a win over Northwestern recently. They’ve still got a ways to go to get on the right side of the bubble, though. Two games on the road (at Purdue and Ohio State) won’t make things easy, but they do provide one last chance for the Hoosiers to revitalize their NCAA chances. 

Bracket Debate: Is Michigan off the bubble yet?

While we at UM Hoops don’t think the Wolverines are quite in the clear yet (three consecutive losses to finish the year would put them in quite an uncomfortable position on Selection Sunday), an argument in favor of the other side can easily be made.

In fact, several outlets have already declared that Michigan has indeed moved off the bubble. Here’s what Sports Illustrated’s Michael Beller had to say: “Speaking of the Cyclones, they were one of a handful of teams that all but punched at-large tickets on Saturday. They were joined by Michigan, which throttled Purdue, and Miami, which shut down a Grayson Allen-less Duke team, as the big mid-seed winners on Moving Day. All three should now feel safe on Selection Sunday.”

Michigan has snagged some impressive conference wins in the past couple weeks and an earlier win over SMU continues to hold up well.

What do you think? Let your opinion be heard below in the comments section. Do you think Michigan has played itself off the bubble yet? What are you looking for performance-wise out of the team as it enters these final few games? And if you’re the type to look ahead, which team would you prefer Michigan faces first in the Big Ten Tournament?


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  • Tony DeMaria

    2+ wins = 100% odds of making the tournament
    1 win = 90% odds of making the tournament
    0 wins = 55% odds of making the tournament

    That’s my guess, not an actual calculation. Losing all 3 would leave them at 19-13 (9-9) and a loss to someone like Illinois/Iowa/Penn State in the BTT. Not a great position but not a terrible one.

    • I’d go higher for the the second two. I think if they win 1 more they are 100% in and if they don’t it’s more like 70%, some of the ‘bubble teams’ getting mention don’t really stack up to Michigan even with a few more losses.

      • Tony DeMaria

        That’s a good point. I’ve just seen some complete shockers by the committee in recent years to give 100% to a scenario where Michigan finishes 1-2 (or 1-3). Maybe 95% is better. But you are right this is a very soft bubble and I cant believe some of the teams that are in the conversation when looking at their resume. I’ll agree 70% seems like the better probability after considering that.

  • ChiMan

    Teams I wouldn’t having a shot at in the BTT = the revenge tour: Ohio State and Minnesota come to mind. I wouldn’t mind another shot at Illinois although they are playing pretty well right now. I’d prefer we avoid Purdue, Rutgers, and Iowa. We just never seem to play Iowa well and they are starting to really come together. Rutgers is just asking for us to add a bad loss to the resume, and I think we just take our win over Purdue and move on. I wouldn’t press our luck with another upset of them. Finally, I’d prefer if we avoided Indiana. Beating a team three times in the same season is very difficult.

  • Laurence Stewart

    They to win as many games as possible. I believe if they win at Northwestern, the Nebraska game will allow them to play stress free, and if they can win two in the tourney and get a 7 or 6 seed may be possible. I want them to stay away from the 8 or 9 seed.

    I would prefer them to play a combination of MSU, MINN and Wisc . Stay away from Maryland and Purdue and Penn State. The higher the seed the better chance a sweet sixteen run

    • ChiMan

      You know, it’s interesting. I hate to give them ANY credit but MSU seems to actually be playing better without Harris. I thought they were dead in the water when he went down with an injury.

      • Eron was the least-efficient player in the MSU rotation, Izzo played his bench too much and his freshmen not enough. Result: more minutes for freshmen and less shots for inefficient player.

        • ChiMan

          Hmm….interesting. But it seems players like Ellis and McQuiad are the biggest beneficiaries from his injury. I would certainly say he’s better than those two, no? Maybe Langford? I really thought they’d miss him a lot more on the defensive end but that doesn’t seem to be the case. This might be one of those addition by subtraction kind of situations I guess.

        • A2MIKE

          funny, because I saw that same stat on Kenpom after we played Sparty and thought, “sure glad Izzo won that recruiting battle”. I remember this board and myself included being pretty down on not getting Harris. Probably was a blessing in disguise.

    • MAZS

      Harris is an addition by subtraction for State. I endured one evening of so-called basketball at Moneyball in Lansing this past Summer. A perfect venue for Harris, who, because no defense is played, and he has no shot shame, he could put up over 40 a night. Hell, Nairns was putting up 25+ shots a game. Michigan players tried to participate last Summer for the first time. They all abandoned the experiment after 1 or 2 games. The MSU crowd whined that they couldn’t take it. I am sure it was because of the uselessness of the games. Wagner sat down next to me after his game and we commisserated about the ridiculously few touches he (and all the Bigs) got. The games were unwatchable.

  • Dylan

    I think we are in barring other bubble teams doing amazing things and taking bids away. So to be safe I think one win seals it and two wins moves us to a 7 if one of those wins is Northwestern.

    I think we are in now and it is nice that Michigan has earned the “rep” of a tournament team. It seems like when those teams have average season they still get in more often because of who they are. If Michigan State and Syracuse are two that come to mind. 5 or 6 years ago Michigan could have the same record and was always listed as last four in or not in at all.

    I am more curious about what seed we would get if we made a run in the Big Ten Tournament.

  • Lanknows

    Semantics. Those saying we are Off The Bubble/IN are probably not considering the unlikely possibility of losing 3 straight to not great teams. They assume a team with M’s record will win at least 1 of 3. In other words they are Off The Bubble, but could be pushed back on, because being off or on is a temporary state. Bracketologists are looking at this issue nearly all year long and are used to projecting ahead (within reasonable margins of error) – so they aren’t looking at it the way many fans do — like clinching a playoff spot in pro sports.

    I agree another win is probably needed. Without it, there’s a chance but they would need some help and it could come down to things like SMU winning their conference.

    • Lanknows

      More importantly IMO is if Michigan can get off the 8/9 seed spot to improve their chances of making the sweet 16. Rather be a 10 seed than an 8. Hopefully a BTT run can get us up to 7 or even 6.

      Win or lose, playing these road games (and then the BTT) will prepare the team for the tourney. They’ve mostly all been through it before, but Wagner’s home/road splits are a little concerning and Wilson hasn’t played many crunchtime minutes till this year. Road games are just what this team needs now that they are (mostly/probably) IN.

      In the big picture, the seeding range (7-10) is less of a concern than being well prepared to pull off a second round upset.

    • Tony DeMaria

      Yes when someone says they are off the bubble that should mean ‘This team has 100% chance of being selected if Selection Sunday is today’. If someone calls a team a ‘lock’ (something I saw a few sites say about michigan after Saturday) that means ‘no matter what happens the rest of the season they are in’

  • A2MIKE

    I hope the team isn’t satisfied with just making the tournament.
    0 wins = 66%, very possibly another play-in game.
    1 win (regular season win and lose first game of BTT) = 100%, no play-in game (10 seed)
    1 win (lose both regular season games and win 1 BTT game) = 90%, 10 seed
    2 wins = 100%, 8-9 seed
    3 wins = 100%, 7 seed
    4 or more wins = 100%, 6 seed

    • ChiMan

      This seems about right. I think that first one potentially goes up a touch, depending on who the BTT game is against but otherwise, I think pretty spot on Mike.

  • ChiMan

    Also, don’t look now but….Michigan is #29 in this week’s AP pool with 14 votes. Moving on up!

  • AC1997

    Dylan, would it be possible to include the Kenpom rank of the teams also? I know the selection committee is still in love with the RPI for some reason, but contrasting that with Kenpom would be nice.

  • JimC_UM

    Sure MSU had a tough schedule, but (without checking…) didn’t they lose to all the top opponents!?
    C’mon IL & MD, you can end sparty’s streak!!!

    • rlcBlue

      I keep thinking that, too – but they did beat Wichita State on a neutral court – a win that’s comparable to beating SMU on a neutral court. But then they lost to Northeastern at home. Whenever I see MSU listed as safely in the NCAA tournament, I have to believe that 1) they are getting credit for losing those games to Arizona, Kentucky, Duke and Baylor, and 2) they are benefiting from the “Izzo’s teams always get better in March” narrative. However, unlike us, they did win their OT game at the Barn, and their home game against OSU.

      • bobohle

        Plus their AD Hollis is the Comm. Chairman.

  • Tony DeMaria

    Kind of crazy that on Lunardi’s Feb 6th Bracketology, Michigan isn’t even listed among his first 8 teams out of the dance. And Lunardi has seemed to have slightly better seeding of Michigan than other major bracket guys. Now 3 weeks later, there are at least 6-8 teams closer to his “Last 4 byes” than Michigan. I guess that’s what happens when you win 5 of 6 including 2 road wins and 3 Top 50 kenpom wins, with your only loss being in OT on the road against the #30 kenpom team

  • malcolm bolt

    I’d rather be in the 7-10 bracket playing a possible weak 2 seed in the second round over a strong 1, which could run the table assuming the Wolverines get out of the opening round.

  • bobohle

    IMO: If we win @ NW and Neb plus the first B1G Tourney game we could move up to a 6 seed if the chips fall right and get in to fourth or even third place. I may be dreaming but stranger things have happened.

  • bobohle

    We are also sitting at the third highest BPI in the conference.

    • Mark Worthley

      only espn cares about bpi

  • bobohle

    Dylan: Has Mo Bamba said anything on social media after his visit to Duke yesterday? I don’t think he said anything after his Kentucky visit either.

    • Visit started today I believe.

      • bobohle

        Rivals listed the 26th but that’s ok. Thanks.

  • Chace

    I really hope we can beat
    northwestern.. they’ve lost 5 of 7 and 2 straigh, which usually would tell me they’d beat Michigan but that thinkings been wrong for me this year… so hopefully we can pick up a big road win as it could maybe raise our seed in the tournament I really would love to avoid a #1 team in the second round.. really wanna see NW make the tourney I’ll be rooting for them to do so but really need Michigan to win this game. Hopefully NW can beat Purdue at home. Also would help out are seeding in BIG tournament, as we’re tied for the 6th and 7th spot and I think I’d much rather be a 6 seed and vs a Minnesota or Maryland team in the second round than a Wisconsin even tho we’ve played well against them…. go blue!