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Bracketology Roundup and Rooting Guide: March 12, 2017

Selection Sunday has arrived. What seed will Michigan receive this evening? We examine all possibilities and list the teams U-M fans want to win today to boost U-M’s seed.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan’s Resume

Record: 23-11 (10-8 Big Ten)
RPI: 30
SOS: 30
Home: 15-3
Road: 3-8
Neutral: 5-0
vs. RPI Top 25: 4-2
vs. RPI Top 50: 5-7
vs. RPI Top 100: 12-11
vs. RPI 101+: 11-0

Selection Sunday is finally here, and it’s remarkable to see how much Michigan overhauled its resume in the past five weeks. Beforehand, Michigan had only one RPI top-50 win (against SMU) in 23 games. Since then, the Wolverines are 9-2 with three RPI top-25 wins, four RPI top-50 wins, and both losses determined at the wire in true road games against RPI top-50 teams in Minnesota and Northwestern. Plus, they would have five RPI top-50 wins in that span if Michigan State didn’t slip down to #51 in RPI on Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the season, Michigan flashed glimpses of its potential, but was unable to string it together for consecutive halves, let alone games. However, Michigan finally has attained that potential, and now its resume finally reflects that.

Further, Michigan fans must love this about the Wolverines’ resume:

Where are NCAA Tournament games played again? Oh, that’s right.

Bracketology and Seed Projection Roundup

Bracket Matrix (Mar. 11): #7 Seed (126 of 126 brackets)

CBS Sports (Mar. 11): #7 Seed vs. Oklahoma State (West)

Crashing the Dance (Mar. 11): #7 Seed

ESPN (Mar. 12): #6 Seed vs. Syracuse/Rhode Island (East)

FOX Sports (Mar. 12): #6 Seed vs. Providence/Kansas State (East)

SB Nation (Mar. 11): #6 Seed vs. Vanderbilt (East)

Sports Illustrated (Mar. 11): #7 Seed vs. Vanderbilt (East)

Sporting News (Mar. 11): #7 Seed

With its second RPI top-25 win in as many days, Michigan has jumped from straddling the 7-8 seed line to straddling the 6-7 seed line. Many brackets that were updated after the Wolverines’ 84-77 win against Minnesota slot them as a 6 seed, such as ESPN and FOX Sports, while SB Nation had them as a 6 seed before the win on Saturday. However, there is no guarantee that Michigan is a 6 seed. CBS Sports has updated its bracket since U-M’s win versus the Gophers and considers the Wolverines as a 7 seed. It seems Michigan is right on the border. The best guess is that, if Michigan whacks off Wisconsin to win the Big Ten Tournament, U-M will be no worse than a 6 seed with a long shot to be a 5 seed. On the other hand, if Michigan is worked over by Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament final on Sunday, U-M will be a 6 or 7 seed. Either way, there is no chance that Michigan will be an 8 or 9 seed and face a 1 seed in the Round of 32.

Michigan’s Rooting Guide (Mar. 12)

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

VCU vs. Rhode Island (12:30 p.m. ET | CBS)

Rationale: Michigan is ahead of VCU on the seed ladder (U-M is a 7 seed in Saturday night’s Bracket Matrix update while VCU is a 9 seed), but in some brackets, there is not much separation between the two teams. If the Wolverines don’t capture the Big Ten Tournament championship, it will leave the door open for the Rams to beat Rhode Island, win the Atlantic 10 Tournament title, and pass by U-M for a better seed. Michigan would prefer that the door is slammed shut.

Kentucky vs. Arkansas (1:00 p.m. ET | ESPN)

Rationale: Similar to VCU, Arkansas is behind Michigan on the seed ladder with a chance to make a last-hour move on Sunday. The Razorbacks are an 8 seed and just three spots behind Michigan on Bracket Matrix’s Saturday night update, and they already have a better RPI (#25 to U-M’s #30). If they topple one of the nation’s top teams in Kentucky to win the SEC Tournament, they can make a strong claim for a better seed than U-M. Therefore, Michigan is pulling for Big Blue.

Wisconsin vs. MICHIGAN (3:00 p.m. ET | CBS)

Rationale: Duh.

SMU vs. Cincinnati (3:15 p.m. ET | ESPN)

Rationale: All week, this column has encouraged Michigan fans to root for SMU to win and secure the American Athletic Tournament because the Mustangs have been U-M’s best win of the season. However, on Selection Sunday, the circumstances have changed. The Mustangs will battle the Bearcats for the tournament championship on Sunday, and most brackets have the teams as a 5 or 6 seed. But SMU tends to be the 6 seed, while Cincinnati is the 5 seed. Just look at Bracket Matrix’s Saturday night update. SMU is guaranteed as an RPI top-25 team even with a loss on Sunday, so such a loss would not damage Michigan’s resume. And Michigan is making a push for a 6 seed (maaaaybe a 5 seed), so an SMU loss would help the Wolverines shoot up.

Big Ten Breakdown

Dancing (Lock)

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

Bracket Matrix Seed: 5

Minnesota (24-9, 11-7 B1G, RPI: 22)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 5

Michigan (23-11, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 30)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 7

Maryland (24-8, 12-6 B1G, RPI: 33)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 7

Wisconsin (25-8, 12-6 B1G, RPI: 34)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 6

Northwestern (23-11, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 49)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 9

Michigan State (19-14, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 51)

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: 64)

Bracket Matrix Seed: First Four Out

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

Bracket Matrix Seed: Next Five Out

Tripped (Big Ten Tournament or Bust)

Ohio State, Indiana, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers