Are the Michigan Wolverines going to make the NCAA Tournament?



One of the bubble teams this year is the Michigan Wolverines out of the Big Ten. The Wolverines have had a great season considering the talent they lost from last year and the talent they (presumably) lack this year.

But, is it enough to get them dancing? Let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

Michigan will enter the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 4 seed, going up against the No. 5 seed, Illinois. They also boast an overall record of 19-12 and 9-9 record in Big Ten play, which puts them at a tie for fourth place with Illinois and Michigan State.

However, when looking past the records and standings, Michigan lacks an impressive resume.

The SOS of 18 is impressive, but with that strong of a schedule, Michigan was not able to pull out many impressive wins.  Michigan has a key win at Clemson, but after that, the best thing they can show is two wins against an underachieving Michigan State squad.

Another major thing the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will look at is RPI. Michigan has a 56, seventh in the Big Ten. For a team with 19 wins, that may seem low, but it is explained by the lack of wins against teams with high RPIs.

The Wolverines are 0-7 against teams with an RPI of 1-25, 2-1 against teams with an RPI of 26-50, and 7-3 against teams with an RPI of 51-100. Also, of extreme importance, five of those 19 wins came against teams with an RPI of 201+.

The committee will also look to see how a team does on neutral site games, because all the tourney games are played on a neutral site. In that category, Michigan is 0-2.

In most years, this would not be enough to get any team a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but Michigan may have lucked out. There is an extremely weak bubble this year, hence why Michigan State still has a small chance to make it in the tournament.

To prove this point, let’s take a look at some of the other “bubble” teams this year.

1)   Michigan State: The Spartans have an SOS of 8 and an RPI of 51, but they have only put up a record of 16-13. They are 1-8 against teams with an RPI of 1-25, 3-1 against teams with an RPI of 26-50, and 5-3 against teams with an RPI of 51-100. Overall, it’s really not too bad for Michigan State, but the 16 wins are what make Michigan look better.

2)  Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech has a record of 19-10, which is shown by a SOS of 88 and an RPI of 65. They are 2-6 against teams with an RPI of 1-50 and 5-1 against teams with an RPI of 51-100. What make the Hokies’ resume look bad are the 8 wins against teams with an RPI of 201+, but they were saved with a huge win over Duke, who was No. 1 at the time.

3)   Colorado: Colorado has put together a record of 20-12 with a SOS of 73 and an RPI of 76. Colorado is 5-6 against teams with an RPI of 1-50 and 2-3 against teams with a RPI of 51-100. Also, they have 8 wins against teams with RPIs of 201+, which does not look good as the committee fills out the brackets.

I’ll just stop right there, because it does get any better from then on. All of those teams I brought up were mentioned as the Last Four In on Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket.

The bubble is extremely weak this year, and it is making it very easy for Michigan to make a spot in the tournament.

Comparing Michigan’s resume with all the other teams on the bubble, Michigan is either of equal quality or better. So, as of right now, Michigan appears to be in good position to make the NCAA Tournament. But, this is the all-great March Madness and anything can happen.

–Jonah Puls


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