2008-2009 Season

Bubble Madness

What the hell is going on? Does any bubble team want to make the tournament? They certainly aren’t playing like it. So far this week ten bubble teams have lost and six of those ten lost to bad teams. Losing to Wake Forest or UNC makes sense, even losing to fellow bubble teams is reasonable, but losing to teams like Georgia, Georgia Tech, St John’s or South Florida is just embarrassing.

All of these losses are great to see for Michigan as well as any other team. I put together a rough list of 17 teams who were on the bubble this week and needed some wins. Four won, four haven’t played yet, and nine lost. The fact that this many upsets have occurred is remarkable and it will be very interesting to see how the field readjusts.

Bracketologists across the country are shocked by the recent transgressions but there is no denying that it is good news for Michigan. Michigan moves into Lunardi’s bracket and also moves up a couple spots at Crashing the Dance.

Katz. Andy Katz took a stab at deciphering the bubble today. Katz feels like there are 57 spots that are basically locked up (this lists includes South Carolina and Arizona, two teams I’m not so sure about) which leaves eight spots remaining and 18 teams fighting for them. Looking up and down the list I have a hard time finding 8 other teams that deserve a bid over Michigan:

1. Maryland
2. Virginia Tech
3. Miami
4. Rhode Island
5. Providence
6. Texas A&M
7. Oklahoma State
8. Kansas State
9. Penn State
10. Ohio State
11. Northwestern
12. Michigan
13. Florida
14. Kentucky
15. Saint Mary’s
16. UNLV
17. New Mexico
18. San Diego State

I would take Maryland, Providence, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and one from the MWC but even that is a bit shaky. Providence and Penn State very well could lose tonight and they probably still need work. An argument for mid majors like Saint Mary’s or Rhode Island could be made but they have 3 top 50 wins combined. I challenge you to come up with an 8 team list that doesn’t include Michigan.

Katz also makes the argument for Northwestern; a team that has already beat six top 50 teams and probably deserves more bubble talk than several other teams who are being considered. Northwestern’s RPI isn’t very good but a win over Ohio State this weekend would move them to 9-9 in the conference with seven top 50 wins. Not too bad, Bill Carmody deserves some serious coach of the year talk.

Conference Strength. I made the case a while back that the Big Ten was the deepest conference in the country and I think this argument still holds. The ACC and Big East are great conferences at the top, they combine for 10 of the top 25 RPI slots but they don’t have the depth of the Big Ten. The Big Ten has seven teams in the RPI top 50. The Big East has eight but they also have 16 teams, five of which fall outside the top 100. There are some good teams in the middle of the ACC but all of them have played their way out of the top 50 leaving only five top 50 teams.

So wouldn’t it make sense that the deepest conference should get the most bids? Big Ten teams went out and beat plenty of people in the non-conference season, Duke, Louisville, Kansas, UCLA, Florida State, and Missouri are just a few of their victims. So if all of these Big Ten teams play (and beat) top competition and then battling it out to a tie at 500 they should be rewarded. Andy Glockner agrees and gives the Big Ten some love on SI.com and mentions that they are the conference most likely to get 8 bids.

8-10? Could Michigan make the field at 8-10? I don’t see why not. There has been a list of teams who made the dance with a losing conference record floating around the internet; the conclusion is that there is more or less one per year. With all of the other bubble teams slipping up this week I find it hard to believe that Michigan wouldn’t get consideration at 8-10. They have the strength of schedule (9th), quality wins (5 vs. top 50), solid RPI (even with a loss on Saturday the RPI could hold in the forties), and they play in a good conference. The resume that I look to compare them with is 2008 Arizona.

The other issue is what happens with Northwestern and Penn State. Northwestern could finish 9-9 with a win in Columbus and cause Michigan to fall to ninth in the conference. Penn State could fall all the way to 9-9 but they also could go 11-7. I think that an 8-10 Michigan team deserves a bid over a 9-9 Penn State team that played no one in the out of conference. There are also mid-majors and conference tournament upsets to worry about that but the bottom line is 8-10 is not as much of a long shot as some believe.

Saturday. This week’s bubble disasters are making one thing clear: the winner of this game is in very good shape. We can debate whether it is a play-in or play-out game or whether it would punch anyone’s ticket but the bottom line is that beating Minnesota would add one more top 50 win and finally give Michigan a marquee road win. The RPI would likely jump into the thirties and it would be hard to deny Michigan a spot with their resume.

There is no doubt in my mind that this team has overachieved this year but the bottom line is that we’re here now. We are in a situation where we control our own destiny and it’s time to go out and play.

Thursday Night Viewers Guide

The viewers guide seems to be just as lucky as MGoBlog liveblogs are unlucky. Cheer for the bold teams and hope for some more good news. Bracketology 101 also has some more information and previews of these games.

  • Providence at Villanova – 7 PM, ESPN2
  • Tennessee at South Carolina, 7 PM ESPN
  • Dayton at Xavier, 9PM ESPN2
  • lllinois at Penn State, 9 PM ESPN
  • Cal at Arizona, 10:30 PM FSN
  • USC at Oregon, 10:30 PM
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