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Bracketology Roundup and Rooting Guide: March 11, 2017

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Michigan may not be a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament yet, but here are the teams for whom Michigan fans should root on Saturday to boost the Wolverines’ seeding.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan’s Resume

Record: 22-11 (10-8 Big Ten)
RPI: 36
SOS: 30
Home: 15-3
Road: 3-8
Neutral: 4-0
vs. RPI Top 25: 3-2
vs. RPI Top 50: 5-8
vs. RPI Top 100: 11-11
vs. RPI 101+: 11-0

Michigan’s resume received a massive boost on Friday as the Wolverines registered a signature win by edging Purdue, 74-70, in overtime. Their RPI shot up from #43 to #34 in the immediate aftermath of the win before sinking to #36 over the course of the day. Accordingly, Michigan has cemented itself as an RPI top-50 team. However, what was more important was that Michigan added its third victory against an RPI top-25 opponent. The selection committee is easily seduced by those type of wins — it historically favors teams that can beat the nation’s elite — and now only nine teams in the country have more RPI top-25 wins than Michigan. And, with Minnesota (RPI #19) beating Michigan State, Michigan could tally its fourth RPI top-25 win on Saturday.

Bracketology and Seed Projection Roundup

Bracket Matrix (Mar. 10): #9 Seed (114 of 114 brackets)

CBS Sports (Mar. 10): #9 Seed vs. Dayton (East)

Crashing the Dance (Mar. 10): #8 Seed

ESPN (Mar. 10): #9 Seed vs. Dayton (South)

FOX Sports (Mar. 10): #8 Seed vs. Xavier (South)

Sports Illustrated (Mar. 10): #7 Seed vs. Arkansas (East)

A disclaimer similar to yesterday’s must be stated: this column was drafted on Friday night after the completion of the day’s slate, but most of the brackets aggregated on Bracket Matrix and/or listed hereinabove were last updated on Friday morning prior to Michigan’s win against Purdue. Therefore, though most of these brackets show U-M as being an 8 or 9 seed, U-M should be straddling the 7-8 seed line right now. Not only did the Wolverines add an RPI top-25 win, none of the teams listed above them as a 7 or 8 seed on Bracket Matrix have done so during Championship Week. Plus, Miami-FL, Oklahoma State, and Virginia Tech (all 8 seeds) lost on Thursday, while Dayton and South Carolina (both 7 seeds) were upset on Friday. With so many games being played during Championship Week and the field being so fluid, these brackets have not been updated quickly and accurately in real time. Nonetheless, when the new brackets are published on Saturday morning, the Wolverines should be right on the 7-8 seed line.

And, if they are a 7 seed, it will mean that they will avoid a 1 seed in the Round of 32.

UPDATE (8:55 a.m. ET): Here is where Michigan sits in the brackets that have been published Saturday morning:

CBS Sports: #8 Seed vs. Arkansas (East)

Crashing the Dance: #7 Seed

ESPN: #7 seed vs. Seton Hall (South)

Sports Illustrated: #7 Seed vs. Vanderbilt (East)

As aforementioned, Michigan is right on the 7-8 seed line, and so far, it appears that brackets are favoring putting the Wolverines as a 7 seed than an 8 seed. However, a loss to Minnesota could maybe see Michigan slip down to an 8 seed. Therefore, Michigan must beat the Gophers to solidify its status as a 7 seed in the tournament.

UPDATE (10:40 a.m ET): SB Nation revealed its new bracket on Saturday morning, which has Michigan as a 6 seed (!) vs. Vanderbilt (East). This is a surprise and likely an outlier for the Wolverines. Nonetheless, it is additional evidence which strongly supports that Michigan has maneuvered out of the 8-9 seed death trap into the class of 7 seeds.

Michigan’s Rooting Guide (Mar. 11)

Michigan wants the bold team to win in each of the following games:

Minnesota vs. MICHIGAN (1:00 p.m. ET | CBS)

Rationale: Duh.

SMU vs. UCF (3:00 p.m. ET | ESPN2)

Rationale: Ranked #17 in RPI, SMU is Michigan’s best win of the season, particularly because U-M beat the Mustangs by 22 on a neutral court. Michigan wants the Mustangs to continue their ride — they have won 24 of their last 25 games — and win the American Athletic Tournament.

Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt (3:00 p.m. ET | ESPN)

Rationale: Arkansas is one of the few remaining teams trying to pass Michigan from behind on the seed ladder. In Bracket Matrix’s Friday morning update, the Razorbacks were just one spot behind Michigan. The Wolverines should have created more space between them with their win over Purdue (RPI #20) as Arkansas only eked out a one-point win against Ole Miss (RPI #71). Plus, Michigan has a chance to earn a better victory (Minnesota is #19 in RPI) than Arkansas (Vanderbilt is #33 in RPI) on Saturday. Nonetheless, Michigan — win or lose — wants the Commodores, who were an 11 seed prior to their win over Florida, to dispose of the Razorbacks.

VCU vs. Richmond (3:30 p.m. ET | CBSSN)

Rationale: This is very similar to why Michigan wants Arkansas to lose on Saturday. VCU is one of the few remaining teams trying to pass Michigan from behind. In Bracket Matrix’s Friday morning update, the Rams were just two spots behind Michigan. The Wolverines extended the gap between them with their win over Purdue as VCU only defeated George Mason (RPI #104). Plus, Michigan has a chance to earn a much better victory than VCU (Richmond is #79 in RPI) on Saturday. Nonetheless, Michigan — win or lose — wants Richmond to roll over the Rams.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET | CBS)

Rationale: For whom Michigan roots will depend on whether or not Michigan beats Minnesota in the earlier semifinal game. If Michigan wins, it would prefer that Northwestern beat Wisconsin because the Wildcats won’t jump the Wolverines on the seed ladder and would be a better matchup in the Big Ten Tournament championship game (as Wisconsin has always presented a very difficult challenge for U-M). However, if Michigan loses, it would prefer that Wisconsin beat Northwestern because it does not want the Wildcats to jump them for a 7 seed — in such a scenario, Michigan’s projected RPI would be 37th and Northwestern’s would be 39th. So don’t pick the color of your pom-poms for this game until the clock hits 0:00 in Michigan-Minnesota.

Villanova vs. Creighton (5:30 p.m. ET | FOX)

Rationale: With wins against Providence and Xavier so far in the Big East Tournament, Creighton has paced itself ahead of Michigan on the seed ladder. The Bluejays were listed as a 7 seed on Bracket Matrix prior to their win over the Musketeers, and it would not be surprising if they were considered a 6 seed on Saturday. Accordingly, Michigan likely would not pass Creighton unless it wins the Big Ten Tournament, but that would only be if Creighton does not upset Villanova to win the Big East Tournament. If that happens, U-M will be stuck behind them.

Oregon vs. Arizona (11:00 p.m. ET | ESPN)

Rationale: If Michigan is given an 8 seed on Selection Sunday, it wants to face the weakest possible 1 seed in the Round of 32. Oregon is ranked 16th on KenPom, well below the other 1-seed contenders. Michigan would rather oppose Oregon than, say, a Villanova, North Carolina, or even Gonzaga, and if the Ducks win the Pac-12 Tournament, they could snatch that last 1 seed.

Big Ten Breakdown

Dancing (Lock)

Minnesota (24-8, 11-7 B1G, RPI: 19)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 6

Purdue (25-7, 14-4 B1G, RPI: 20)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 4

Maryland (24-8, 12-6 B1G, RPI: 30)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 6

Wisconsin (24-8, 12-6 B1G, RPI: 35)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 7

Michigan (22-11, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 36)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 9

Northwestern (23-10, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 48)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 9

Michigan State (19-14, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 50)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 10

Strutting (Comfortable)

N/A

Stepping on Toes (Just In)

N/A

Stumbling (Work to Do)

Illinois (18-14, 8-10 B1G, RPI: 62)

Bracket Matrix Seed: Next Four Out

Iowa (18-14, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 81)

Bracket Matrix Seed: First Four Out

Tripped (Big Ten Tournament or Bust)

Ohio State, Indiana, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers