Record: 19-9 (9-6 Big Ten)
vs. RPI Top 25: 3-6
vs. RPI Top 50: 3-8
vs. RPI Top 100: 4-9
vs. RPI 101+ or D-II Schools: 15-0
Michigan's resume is feast or famine. The Wolverines have three excellent wins -- two at home against #10 Maryland and #23 Purdue and one against #22 Texas in the Bahamas -- and no bad losses. On the other hand, those three aforementioned wins are the only ones of legitimate quality that they have. Michigan does have a fourth RPI top-100 win, but it's hanging on for dear life (#99 North Carolina State). The fun stat that has been traveling around the Interwebz the past week is that only one team with fewer than four top-100 wins has received an at-large bid since 2005 (Middle Tennessee State in 2013). Maybe the Wolfpack will remain in the top 100 or #105 Penn State will make a move, but it's clear that the lack of RPI top-100 wins has harmed Michigan's NCAA Tournament chances. And losing to #76 Ohio State and #10 Maryland on the road last week didn't help much.
Bracketology and Seed Projection Roundup
Bracket Matrix (Feb. 22): #10 Seed
CBS Sports (Feb. 22): #10 Seed vs. Seton Hall (First Four)
Crashing the Dance (Feb. 22): #10 Seed
Easy Bubble Solver (Feb. 22)*: #11 Seed
ESPN (Feb. 22): #10 Seed vs. Wichita State (South)
Sports Illustrated (Feb. 22): #9 Seed vs. Syracuse (Midwest)
*Based on projected resumes on Selection Sunday, not current resumes.
Michigan still is in the NCAA Tournament field, but the margin for error is thinning. Most brackets that have been updated since the Maryland loss have Michigan as a #10 seed. In some cases, that doesn't even guarantee the Wolverines a bye as CBS Sports has them in the First Four as the third-to-last team in. But the prevailing thought is they'd be one of the last four at-large teams to skip a trip to the First Four if the season ended now.
Nonetheless, the season doesn't end now. Michigan still has three regular-season games remaining and needs to win two of them to feel comfortable. Tomorrow's home date with #108 Northwestern is a must-win. The Wolverines can't afford a bad loss now more than ever, and it'll allow them the chance to split the final two at #45 Wisconsin and versus #15 Iowa. And, for those that think a win over Northwestern should be sufficient, don't forget that there will be bid stealers when upsets transpire in the conference tournaments. Michigan doesn't want to be near the cut when Championship Week starts.
Big Ten Breakdown
Maryland (23-5, RPI: 10): Maryland has the Big Ten's best RPI, but its dearth of RPI top-25 wins (2) and stunning loss to #223 Minnesota could be too big of obstacles for the Terrapins to conquer as they pursue a #1 seed. Two other obstacles: upcoming road contests at Purdue and Indiana. Lose those, and a #3 or #4 seed will sound just right.
Iowa (20-6, RPI: 15): Is Iowa in a mini-slump right now? The Hawkeyes lost to Indiana by eight in Assembly Hall, but everyone not named Indiana loses in Assembly Hall. Since then, though, they edged Minnesota by just four at home before falling to Penn State in State College. That's not the sign of a team that's in contention for a #1 seed. Right now, the Hawkeyes are the last #2 seed on Bracket Matrix but will have a chance to make a move by closing out against Wisconsin, Ohio State, Indiana, and Michigan. Buckle up.
Michigan State (22-5, RPI: 16): The Spartans have won six of their last seven with their only defeat by one point in overtime in West Lafayette. They're rolling, and, with a final stretch against Ohio State twice, Penn State, and Rutgers, they should keep rolling. The bad news is it'll be very tough for them to jump into #1 seed territory due to the weaker competition. The good news is that Tom Izzo will look like a magician in March again.
Purdue (21-7, RPI: 23): Boilermaker fans haven't been thrilled with their last two weekends, during which road losses to Michigan and in-state rival Indiana occurred. As a result, Purdue is a #5 seed for the moment. But, with home games against Maryland and Wisconsin upcoming, the Boilermakers can finish strong and secure a top-four seed.
Indiana (22-6, RPI: 29): It was back and forth as to whether Indiana should be in the above category or this one, which may seem like a surprise for a team that is 12-3 in the Big Ten and atop the conference standings. However, the Hoosiers have only four RPI top-50 wins, and there are three losses to teams outside the top 100. That's why they're a #6 seed. Even if Indiana lost out to Illinois, Iowa, and Maryland, Indiana probably would still be in the field. Nonetheless, one more win would dot the "I"s and cross the "T"s.
Bubbling (Just In)
Wisconsin (17-10, RPI: 45): Wisconsin continues on its second-half surge. Since sitting at 9-9 overall with four losses to teams outside the RPI top 100, the Badgers have accumulated eight wins in their last nine games, and, suddenly, their resume looks tournament worthy with four top-50 and eight top-100 wins. The bad losses will continue to be an anchor, which is why they're the last #9 seed on Bracket Matrix and barely in on other brackets. However, they are on the upswing and can continue to make their case with a home meeting against Michigan and road games at Iowa and Purdue.
Michigan (19-9, RPI: 53): See above.
Stepping on Toes (Work to Do)
Ohio State (18-10, RPI: 76): Ohio State is one of the rare teams that is 10-5 in the Big Ten and not near the NCAA Tournament bubble, but that's what happens when a team has three bad non-conference losses and the easiest conference schedule. The Buckeyes are winning games, but they aren't beating good teams as they have only two wins over RPI top-100 teams (#12 Kentucky and #53 Michigan). However, Ohio State will have three straight chances to beat not just good teams but great teams (#15 Iowa and #16 Michigan State twice). If Ohio State can make some noise, maybe it can sneak in the tourney late.
Tripped (Big Ten Tournament or Bust)
Penn State, Northwestern, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Rutgers