With a 15-15 record, only two wins against the RPI Top 50, and three losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100, Michigan will have its postseason fate determined by the results of the Big Ten Tournament. John Beilein has said that he would consider invitations to only the NCAA Tournament and NIT, not the CBI or CIT. Given that Michigan is miles away from the NCAA Tournament bubble and a borderline NIT team at best, Michigan has lots of work to do in the Big Ten Tournament in order to participate in the postseason. My best guess is that Michigan would need to win the Big Ten Tournament and secure the auto-bid to appear in the NCAA Tournament and win at least two games to receive an invitation to the NIT.
So I decided to calculate the odds of either event happening. Using KenPom's Pythagorean ratings, I conducted a Log5 analysis to determine what Michigan's odds are to reach each stage of the Big Ten Tournament. Unfortunately, due to Michigan's current state and Wisconsin looming in the quarterfinals, the results weren't too surprising:
Don't Make Plans to Watch Michigan Basketball This Sunday: Barring a miracle, Michigan's Big Ten Tournament will be over before Sunday. The Wolverines have less than a one-percent chance to appear in the Big Ten Tournament title game, let alone win the title itself. This isn't breaking news, but Michigan likely will not dance this season.
The NIT Is a Long Shot: Though it's not a requirement to have at least a .500 record against D-I teams to play in the NIT, the NIT never has asked a team with a losing record against D-I teams to participate in its tournament. Given that Michigan is 14-15 against D-I competition -- Michigan's first opponent, Hillsdale, is a D-II school -- the Wolverines need two wins in the Big Ten Tournament to be considered for an invitation to the NIT unless the NIT breaks custom. While a win against Illinois in the second round is more than doable, KenPom doesn't favor Michigan's chances to get past both Illinois and Wisconsin, giving the Wolverines only a 2.9-percent shot. Michigan being slotted in the No. 8/No. 9 matchup is the worst possible scenario because it means facing Wisconsin -- the Big Ten's best team by far -- in the quarterfinals. If you want further confirmation, just look at No. 10 seed Northwestern, who has an 8.2-percent chance to appear in the quarterfinals on the other side of the bracket. Michigan can't look past Illinois of course, but Michigan will need a huge upset over the Badgers if it wants to play in the NIT.
Here are some non-Michigan takaways from the Log5 analysis:
Wisconsin Is the Overwhelming Favorite: It would be a stunner if Wisconsin was not one of the two teams represented in the Big Ten Tournament title game, and it's more likely than not that Bo Ryan's team wins the whole thing. Wisconsin has almost a three-quarters shot to play on Sunday and a 58.3-percent chance to hoist the Big Ten Tournament trophy after the game. The Badgers are such a dominant favorite that their odds of winning the tournament are more than five times better than any other Big Ten team. Of course, Rutgers did beat Wisconsin this season, so anything is possible.
Michigan State, Not Maryland, Is the Favorite on the Other Side of the Bracket: Though Maryland is the No. 2 seed and had a 14-4 Big Ten record, No. 3 seed Michigan State is the favorite to emerge from the other side of the bracket. The Spartans have a 34.5-percent chance to play in the Big Ten Tournament title game, while the Terrapins have a 27.5-percent chance. This may seem odd, too, because Maryland has the easier path to the finals by facing either Indiana or Northwestern in the quarterfinals rather than Ohio State -- whom Michigan State likely will face in that round -- but this is the case because KenPom doesn't like Maryland nearly as much as it likes Michigan State.
Purdue Better Hope It's Safely in the NCAA Tournament Field: With Purdue's win over Illinois on Saturday, many assumed that win should ensure that Purdue will be on the right side of the bubble on Selection Sunday. That better be the case because there's a solid chance that the Boilermakers will not be adding another win to their resume. Because Purdue has a double-bye, Purdue misses out on the opportunity to win a gimme against a lower-tier Big Ten team and pad its resume. Instead, the most likely scenario is that Purdue's first Big Ten Tournament game will be against Iowa -- a team KenPom thinks is much better than Purdue. Yes, Purdue won its only meeting against Iowa, but Aaron White exited that game early with an injury and Purdue barely hung on to beat the Hawkeyes on its home floor. If there is a rematch with a healthy White at a neutral site, Purdue may be looking at a one-and-done appearance in the tournament.
Ohio State Should Be Your Dark-Horse Pick: This won't make you happy, but, if you want to go with a dark-horse pick, Ohio State should be your choice. Ohio State is the No. 6 seed and has only 7.5-percent odds to win the Big Ten Tournament, but they benefit from not being on the same side of the bracket as Wisconsin. Nonetheless, people still may discredit their chances because they have only two wins against the KenPom Top 50. However, look at Ohio State's likely path to the final: Indiana, Michigan State, and Maryland. The Buckeyes were 2-2 against these three teams, but they won by double digits in both home games and lost by only three points in each road game. If all four games were on a neutral floor -- like the United Center where the Big Ten Tournament will be played this week -- there's a solid chance that Ohio State would have won all four. Add in that Thad Matta's teams always seem to play well in the Big Ten Tournament -- Ohio State has appeared in the title game in seven of the last nine years, winning four times -- and it doesn't seem far-fetched that Ohio State could be the victor on Sunday.
Bold Prediction: Rutgers will not win its first Big Ten Tournament.