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An Examination of Michigan's Postseason Odds

Michigan is 13-11 (6-6 B1G) and has six regular-season games remaining. Using KenPom's projections, we calculate the record Michigan most likely will finish with and what it means for Michigan's postseason hopes.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know Michigan's odds to receive an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament are bleak at best. Michigan is 13-11 (6-6 B1G), is No. 85 in RPI, owns no signature wins, has two glaring blemishes on its resume with losses to NJIT and EMU, and has lost four of its last five games. Oh, and Michigan is without its two best players in Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr.

Nonetheless, I busted out my calculator to determine just how dire those odds are.

The general consensus is, for Michigan to have a realistic shot to make the NCAA Tournament, the Wolverines will need to finish with at least an 18-12 (11-7 B1G) regular-season record and then add at least one win in the Big Ten Tournament as well. Thus, Michigan must to win five of its final six regular-season games. Here's the schedule:

Michigan's Last Six Regular-Season Games
Date Opponent Odds to Win (via KenPom)
Feb. 12, 2015 at Illinois 26%
Feb. 17, 2015 Michigan State 40%
Feb. 22, 2015 Ohio State 32%
Feb. 28, 2015 at Maryland 20%
Mar. 3, 2015 at Northwestern 52%
Mar. 7, 2015 Rutgers 84%

Using those percetages, I calculated the odds that Michigan will finish 18-12 (11-7 B1G):

Michigan's Regular-Season Record Projection - KenPom

KenPom gives Michigan only a 3.7-percent chance to finish with a regular-season record no worse than 18-12 (11-7 B1G). Further, this doesn't even account for the fact that, in addition, Michigan likely would need to win a game in the Big Ten Tournament to be on the right side of the bubble. Thus, Michigan's odds to be an at-large NCAA Tournament team are even smaller than 3.7 percent. Only Lloyd Christmas likes Michigan's chances:

Lloyd Christmas - Chance

It seems Michigan will need to win the Big Ten Tournament to dance this season.

If Michigan doesn't make a miraculous run through the Big Ten Tournament, it very well could be bound for the NIT, for which Michigan currently is projected to be the last No. 2 seed. Though there is no longer a requirement that a team must have a .500 record or better to participate in the NIT, no team with a losing record has ever received an invitation to the NIT. Therefore, for Michigan essentially to preserve its NIT eligibility, it must win no fewer than three more regular-season games and finish with a regular-season record no worse than 16-14 (9-9 B1G) because Michigan would still have a winning record even with a loss in its first Big Ten Tournament game. As you can see in the graph above, KenPom gives Michigan 50.2-percent odds to have a winning record regardless of the Wolverines' performance in the Big Ten Tournament.

However, a winning record won't guarantee Michigan an NIT spot. Last year, Indiana finished with a 17-15 record, but the Hoosiers were snubbed by the NIT and declined the CBI's invite. So Michigan may have a 50-50 shot to maintain its NIT eligibility, but it doesn't necessarily mean Michigan has a 50-50 shot to be in the NIT. But, if Michigan closes with a 16-14 regular-season record, it shouldn't be snubbed by the NIT and CBI.

Therefore, Michigan has about 50-percent odds to secure itself a spot in the postseason, whether it's in the NCAA Tournament, NIT, or CBI, based on its regular-season resume. Of course, Michigan may be able to sneak into the CBI with a 15-15 (8-10 B1G) regular-season record, meaning its postseason odds would be higher than 50 percent. But, in such a case, the Big Ten Tournament will determine the Wolverines' postseason fate.