Team 103

Bracket Watch: February 26th, 2019

Michigan suffered a disappointing home loss to Michigan State on Sunday afternoon, but most bracket projections still have the Wolverines listed as a 2-seed — for now.

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As things stand today, Michigan checks in around 8th on the seeding-curve which translates to the final 2 seed in most projections. Here’s a rundown of the most recent bracket projections and some inside insight on the process from one of the best bracketologists out there.


Bracketology Rundown

Michigan is an impressive 7-4 in Q1 and 8-0 in Q2 games. The Wolverines still have two Q1 games left on the schedule — at Maryland and at Michigan State — and even Nebraska at home on Thursday qualifies as a Q2 contest. The Wolverines have only played one Big Ten game (Northwestern at home) this year that wasn’t at least a Q2 game and still don’t have a bad (non-Q1) loss.

Here’s where Michigan stands in notable bracket projections:

Around the Big Ten, the league that once was projected to receive ten NCAA Tournament bids is now realistically looking at six, seven or eight. While Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Iowa are all locks, Minnesota and Ohio State are firmly on the bubble.

 Ask the Expert

Joseph Cook-Shugart of 1-3-1 Sports had the best bracket projection in 2018 and is ranked among the best bracketologists on the internet. He’s agreed to answer a few questions in each Bracket Watch as we get closer to Selection Sunday. 

How much cushion does Michigan have before the 3-seed line after Sunday’s loss?

About the same amount of cushion as that old futon we all had during our college years.

Houston, despite playing in a non-power five conference, has a very impressive resume. At 26-1, they actually have  a better SOS than Michigan (61st vs. 69th), are ranked higher in the NET (4th vs. 9th), and are 4-1 in quadrant 1 games. They also have games against UCF and Cincinnati left on their schedule, which present opportunities for more quality victories.

I am also no longer sleeping on Marquette like I was earlier this season. The Golden Eagles have won 12 of their last 13 games, and they’ve been climbing in the NET in the process. They have a comparable record to Michigan, a much better SOS (41st vs. 69th), and a marginally better quadrant 1 record (8-3 vs. 7-4). Tomorrow’s game at Villanova may make or break their case for a 2-seed.

What’s Michigan’s seed ceiling with games vs. Nebraska, at Maryland, at Michigan State and the Big Ten Tournament still on the schedule?

I’d say Michigan’s seed ceiling, given the strong level of competition to close the season, is still a 1-seed, believe it or not. I think their floor is probably a 4-seed.

I don’t know if it’s out of timing or laziness or what, but the committee has demonstrated a pattern of overlooking the games that are played on Selection Sunday and Selection Sunday Eve. With the Big Ten Tournament back to taking place into the weekend when the field is set, there is once again more weight on these regular season games.

If Michigan finds a way to close the season 3-0, they’ll get two more quad 1 wins, be sitting at 27-4, and squarely in the conversation for a 1-seed, pending how other teams perform. If they go 2-1, I don’t think it matters much which 2 games are victories and which is the loss, that should be good enough for a 2-seed (barring an early Big Ten tourney exit). If they go 1-2, they’ll likely fall down to a 3-seed. Heaven forbid they finish 0-3, I think that’d drop them down to a 4-seed.

Can you think of any similar situation where the bottom of a league basically plays the bubble teams into the NIT?

I think the closest parallel to this situation is probably in the Big East. Both conferences have clear cut leaders that are competing for the conference crown and are tournament locks (Michigan State, Michigan, and Purdue vs. Marquette and Villanova). The middle to bottom of the Big East is chaotic – every team in the conference has an overall record above .500, but the majority of them are on the outside looking in as of right now.

For all the similarities, the parallel stops in that the Big East is missing their Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, etc. as teams that are certainly in the field, but a step below the conference leaders. One could argue St. John’s, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

Notable Replies

  1. CoryR

    I’d trade a #2 seed for a #3 if it meant getting out of Duke’s region.

  2. umhoops

    Probably a lot of randomness there in terms of how all of the bracketing rules are applied. There isn’t a hard and fast rule that the top 3 seed goes with the bottom 1 seed or something. They try to keep teams as close to home and then apply some rules to “balance” things out but there’s no exact rule there.

    For example, the top 2 seed could be sent to DC to be closest to home despite the top 1 seed playing there. Or the bottom 2 seed could be sent to DC to balance the bracket.

  3. adamsmit86

    South Carolina appears to be creeping up. That win may be a Q2 win soon.

  4. eric_shap

    FYI, there is a rule that the top 1 and 2 seed cannot be in the same region.

  5. bluejayway

    I much, much prefer this kind of discussion versus needing to beat a No. 1 seed in the B1G tournament on a last second shot from an under-performing bench player against a partisan Indiana crowd just to get into play-in game. Um, just for example.

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