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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?