Michigan appeared to have pushed itself off the bubble with a win over Purdue, but is squarely back on the bubble after losses at Ohio State and Maryland.
“We’ve got three games left, two are at home,” John Beilein said after Michigan’s loss at Maryland. “It is what it is for about everybody in this country. You’re sitting there, you’ve got to win the games you need to win. I tell our guys there’s a formula for it. I just watch it, it’s in my head.
“You’ve got to win on the road; we’ve got four of those. You’ve got to beat good teams; we’ve got a couple of those, but you need more of them. You may need more of them. And you can’t have bad losses. So we’re trying to avoid them all the time.”
The Wolverines have three great wins — Texas, Maryland and Purdue — but not much else on their NCAA tournament resume. If the field was selected today, Michigan would be in — according to most bracketologists — but a trip to Dayton is a distinct possibility and CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm is already projecting just that.
Michigan faces a pivotal week with Northwestern at home and a trip to Wisconsin. A pair of victories could punch Michigan’s ticket, but things will become very dicey if the Wolverines fall at home to Northwestern. The trip to Madison is important because it’s a chance to beat a fellow conference bubble team on their home floor.
- Record: 19-9
- RPI: 55
- SOS: 63
- Home: 12-3
- Away: 4-5
- Neutral: 3-1
- vs. RPI top-50: 3-8
- vs. RPI top-100: 4-9
- Joe Lunardi/ESPN: 10 seed vs. Wichita State (Last Four Byes)
- Jerry Palm/CBS: 10 Seed (First Four Play-In) vs. Seton Hall
- Yahoo Big Board: 9 Seed
- Crashing the Dance: 10 Seed
- Bracket Matrix: 10 Seed
- 1-3-1 Sports: 10 Seed
- Michigan State (22-5, 16 RPI): Michigan State is surging as its schedule lightens and it’s successful non-conference slate looks a lot better now that its rocky January is in the past. The Spartans have to play Ohio State twice, but have a very manageable closing four games in the conference season.
- Iowa (20-6, 13 RPI): Iowa’s loss at Penn State dropped the Hawkeyes a seed line in many projections to the 3 line. That puts them behind the Michigan State team which they swept in conference play.
- Maryland (22-5, 10 RPI): Maryland is the third conference team that is battling for a 2-seed and the Terps picked up a much-needed win over Michigan on Sunday. With road trips to Purdue and Indiana left on the schedule, Maryland has at least an opportunity to move up.
- Indiana (22-6, 29 RPI): I moved Indiana to the lock category after they picked up home wins over Nebraska and Purdue. Hoosiers are a legitimate Big Ten title threat at 12-3 and appear to be playing for seeding down the stretch. Right now, Tom Crean’s group is probably around the 6 or 7 seed-line and trending upwards.
- Purdue (21-7, 23 RPI): Purdue is struggling to win league games on the road (dropped last three at Maryland, Michigan and Indiana), but it has a strong enough resume to hold up as a mid-seed team on Selection Sunday.
- Michigan (18-9, 56 RPI): Michigan is teetering among the last few byes in the field and needs to do something to bolster its resume down the stretch.
- Wisconsin (17-10, 45 RPI): Wisconsin avoided an upset scare against Illinois at home and has completely turned its season around. The Badgers are as high as an 8 seed in Lunardi’s latest projections, but have plenty of tough games left: at Iowa, vs. Michigan, at Minnesota and at Purdue.
- Ohio State (18-10, 70 RPI): Ohio State might be short in quality wins, but it has held serve in Big Ten play and now has an opportunity to play its way into the picture down the stretch. That probably means at least 2 wins in its final three games against Michigan State (2x) and Iowa (home) followed by some quality work in the Big Ten tournament.
Bracket Debate: Top-100 wins
Top-100 RPI wins have been a hot topic when examining Michigan’s resume because there’s a legitimate chance that the Wolverines could finish the season with just three — all in the top-50.
Statistics regarding the rarity of a team with just three RPI Top-100 wins making the NCAA tournament have been swirling around Twitter, but Michigan’s situation is a bit more complex. The Wolverines have played predominantly teams inside the top-50 or outside the top-100, but also have several wins on their resume just on the cusp of the top-100.
Penn State’s upset win over Iowa has pushed the Nittany Lions to the brink of the top-100, hovering around the 99 through 102 spots in most calculations. Similarly, N.C. State is hovering in a similar spot, currently checking in at 99th in the RPI.
Should it really matter where Penn State and N.C. State finish? If they finish 98th and 99th does Michigan really have a better resume (with three extra top-100 wins) than if they finish 101st and 102nd? It shouldn’t, but given the way that the selection committee’s team sheets are constructed, it can’t help but play at least a part.