2008-2009 Season

Tourney Talk with Mike Fahmie

Mike Fahmie of Mike on Sports agreed to answer a couple questions about Michigan’s NCAA tournament chances. Mike knows his stuff and his site is definitely worth a look in the days leading up to Selection Sunday.

Let’s get it out of the way — what does Michigan have to do to make the NCAA tournament? These are basically the three scenarios that I have come up with; how do Michigan’s chances stack up in each situation?

  • Beat Minnesota and lose on Thursday of the BTT? Out.  Keep in mind winning on Saturday likely matches Michigan with either Iowa or IU in the first round.  Losing to either one of those schools is a horrendous last impression to leave on a committee that will be begin flying into the Indianapolis airport that afternoon.  See Illinois State last season.  The Red Birds had a strong profile, but the last impression they left on the committee was a nationally televised 30 point loss to Drake.  Because of that, they missed the cut.  The Wolverines need to turn committee members heads the next week and a half, not repulse them.
  • Beat Minnesota and lose on Friday of the BTT? Squarely on the bubble, but I’d say I like their chances.  The way things are shaping up around the bubble, I really think Michigan will need to win two in the tournament to feel safe.  As I said earlier, this situation likely means they will have beaten a lowly Iowa or IU team the first round, then likely bow out against an Illinois, Penn State, or Wisconsin [ed: They would most likely play Purdue or Illinois in the 2nd round].  While those teams look tourney bound and wouldn’t be considered “bad losses”, I can’t stress enough how much the Wolverines need to leave the committee with a solid last impression
  • Lose to Minnesota, how far do they have to go in the BTT? While the result of the Minnesota/Wisconsin game will surely be big, I’m a firm believer that Saturday’s game will end up being a play-out game for both Michigan and the Gophers.  Making it to Sunday would be rather impressive, but with a sub .500 B10 record, I think they’d need a lot to go right for them around the other bubble teams.  Hate to say it, but losing to Minnesota may leave them at BTT Champs or bust.

How many teams do you see getting in from the Big Ten?

Eight is a big number, and I think it’s just out of reach.  Seven seems most likely.  Michigan State, Purdue, and Illinois are all locked in.  Penn State seems fairly safe despite their low RPI.  With Illinois and Iowa remaining, they should be able to split and get to 10 B10 wins including Purdue, MSU, and Illinois, so I like their chances.  While the Buckeyes are bubbly now, I like their chances to win their final two (@ Iowa later tonight, then home against Northwestern Sunday).  Wisconsin has an RPI of 30 and SOS of 6, which makes them nearly impossible to leave out should they split their final two, one of which is a home tilt with IU.  That leaves us with Michigan and Minnesota, one of which I see making it, the other out.  Should the winner of their meeting Saturday lay an egg in the BTT, the number will drop to 6, but I’m confident that won’t happen.

It seems like people are saying the bubble is pretty “big” this year because there aren’t a lot of mid-majors pushing for at large bids. Is this true and will this help Michigan?

I think you can break that down into two parts.  On one hand, there are a lot of power conference teams vying for at-large spots, and that can’t be a good thing for any of the other teams.  When only 5 spots are remaining, would you rather be competing with 9 teams or 20?  Simple math tells you your odds are better with 9, so I don’t think that helps.  The second part of it does work in the Wolverines favor though.  There won’t really be a lot of conference tournaments you have to sweat out as a bubble team this year.  Sure, you’ll root for Siena to take the MAAC, Butler the Horizon, and Gonzaga the WCC, but outside of that, it’s hard to any mid-majors making it as at-larges.  Davidson has a case, but a loss in their conference tournament would give them 3 SoCon losses this year vs. one quality win.  It’s hard to see Creighton make it as an at-large in what’s turned out to be a disappointing MVC.  Outside of that, you just hope New Mexico doesn’t catch fire (which they’re fully capable of) and winning the MWC, and that another Georgia doesn’t come along and steal a bid.

In-or-out, I say a team you tell me what you think: (The questions were all answered before Tuesday night’s games.)

  • Georgetown: Out.  SOS can only do so much when you’re 6-10 in conference. They need to win at least four in a row from here (B-East tourney included) to get on the at-large radar.
  • Kentucky: In.  They’ll take down Georgia on Wednesday, which sets up a play-in game with Florida over the weekend, which I think they’ll pull off.
  • Michigan:  Out.  The fans in Minneapolis/St. Paul are smart and will know what’s on the line this weekend.  The atmosphere (though at 11 am local time) should through the roof in an already tough place to play.  Hard to see them coming back to A2 with the win.
  • Providence: IN.  Talk about getting new life, the Friars looked left for dead after losing to ND.  Now, they have 10 B-East wins including a big signature win over then #1 Pitt.  Hard to see them missing the cut.
  • Minnesota: IN.  I think they’ll close with two big wins (vs. Wisc, vs. Mich), then pick another up in the BTT to cement their spot.
  • Virginia Tech: OUT.  The Hokies have two huge road wins, but will back into the ACC tournament with losses to Duke, UNC, and a surprisingly strong Florida State team.
  • Penn State: IN.  Hard to see the committee leaving a team that will have won 10 conference games and upset the top three conference teams.
  • Maryland: OUT. The Terps will finish 8-8 after splitting their last two (@ Wake, vs Virginia) and need to pick a couple up in Atlanta.  They’ll fall short, and be left out of the tournament once again.  On another note, the Maryland boosters may begin voicing some displeasure with Gary Williams.
  • UNLV: IN. A big showdown at San Diego State looms this weekend, but regardless of the result, the Rebs have something big in their corner: the MWC tourney will be in Vegas.  I like their chances to at least make it to the championship game, possibly giving the MWC as many as four bids.
  • Florida: OUT.  As I said with Kentucky, the showdown this weekend between the two will be monstrous.  I like the ‘Cats, leaving the Gators in need, once again, of a strong SEC tournament showing, which they’ll, once again, fall short of.

You’re a Michigan fan correct? How painful must picking the NCAA tournament be when your team never seems to make it?

The past couple months have been an absolute roller coaster.  When you follow the field as I do, every game that rolls across ESPNU’s bottom line leaves me thinking “How does that help/hurt Michigan?”.  The conference season has been massively disappointing.  After at one point having the maize-and-blue as high as a five, the fact that the odds aren’t in their favor is as painful as ever.  That being said the inner Maize Rager in me is confident (while the objective bracketologist isn’t).   This team has it in them to win at the old barn.  They showed it at UConn.  Hell, they showed it at Wisconsin for a vast majority of the game.  They can pull this off; it just seems unlikely at best.

Either way, both the objective and homer sides of my basketball viewing eyes can agree this team has the right man in charge, and is clearly on the right track.

Just how good at this are you?

I think Bracketology 2009 Presented by BetUS. com at MikeOnSports. WordPress.com offers a great insight into the field you don’t get anywhere else.  Not only do you get an extremely accurate field (rated #3 on the web last year by Gary Parrish at CBS Sportsline)  but you also get a deeper look as to exactly where your team stands.  I provide in-depth storylines every weekday throughout the season.  Each bracket is accompanied by not only storylines, but what I call The bReAkDoWn, a look as to how safe each team in consideration for the dance is.  More than anything, Bracketology 2009 won’t leave you waiting.  New brackets will be posted Wednesday and Friday this week, then every day from Monday-Selection Sunday.  Speaking of Selection Sunday, Bracketology 2009 offers something you don’t find at most sites: an in-depth live blog explaining my selection process.  From 11am through 6:30 pm, you’ll be able to follow my process from the announcement of the #1 seeds, to listening to me pop bubbles around the country, to be the first to see the final 2009 bracket, and get my in-depth analysis when the bracket is finally released by our friends at CBS.  I think you’ll find good reason to make Bracketology 2009 a great bookmark.  GO BLUE, BEAT THE GOPHERS!

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