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Bracketology Roundup and Rooting Guide: March 9, 2017

Starting at noon and ending past midnight, there are several games on Thursday that will impact Michigan’s place in the NCAA Tournament picture.

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

Michigan’s Resume

Record: 20-11 (10-8 Big Ten)
RPI: 46
SOS: 32
Home: 15-3
Road: 3-8
Neutral: 2-0
vs. RPI Top 25: 2-3
vs. RPI Top 50: 4-7
vs. RPI Top 100: 10-11
vs. RPI 101+: 10-0

The biggest development for Michigan’s resume on Wednesday was that it lost an RPI top-100 win. When Nebraska finally succumbed to Penn State in overtime, the Huskers sunk from #95 to #104, and two of Michigan’s RPI top-100 wins disappeared. However, Furman simultaneously crept back into the top 100 (#100 to be precise) to mitigate some of that harm. Whether the Paladins can cling to their new top-100 status remains to be seen. If they do, Michigan will need to beat Illinois (#58) and Purdue (#19) to ensure that it will have a .500 or better record against the RPI top 100. If they don’t, only a run to the Big Ten Tournament championship game will get that done.

Though, ultimately, the selection committee cares more about the number of RPI top-100 wins a team has rather than the winning percentage it has against the RPI top 100.

Bracketology and Seed Projection Roundup

Bracket Matrix (Mar. 8): #9 Seed (135 of 135 brackets)

CBS Sports (Mar. 7): #9 Seed vs. Dayton (Midwest)

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

ESPN (Mar. 9): #9 Seed vs. Wichita State (East)

FOX Sports (Mar. 8): #8 Seed vs. Arkansas (East)

SB Nation (Mar. 8): #8 Seed vs. Wichita State (South)

Sports Illustrated (Mar. 8): #8 Seed vs. Dayton (Midwest)

Sporting News (Mar. 8): #8 Seed

Michigan remains firmly in the 8-9 seed range, but its ability to move to a 7 seed became slightly more difficult after Wednesday’s results. Two teams that were ahead of U-M as 8 seeds on Bracket Matrix (Miami-FL and Virginia Tech) won their matchups and are receiving more consideration to be a 7 seed. The Wolverines need these teams ahead of them to lose. Otherwise, the prevailing thought that Michigan needs to win two Big Ten Tournament games to break into the class of 7 seeds will subside. Instead, U-M may have to win three such games and advance to the championship game.

Michigan’s Rooting Guide (Mar. 9)

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

MICHIGAN vs. Illinois (12:00 p.m. ET | BTN)

Rationale: Duh.

North Carolina vs. Miami-FL (12:00 p.m. ET | ESPN)

Rationale: Miami will jump into the class of 7 seeds if it beats likely 1 seed North Carolina, and Michigan won’t have the opportunity to earn a win of that caliber in the Big Ten Tournament.

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State (12:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2)

Rationale: Oklahoma State is the last 7 seed on Bracket Matrix. Though a loss to Iowa State (currently a 6 seed on Bracket Matrix) would not be a bad one for the Cowboys, it would likely drop them down a seed line and open up a 7 spot for a riser from the 8 or 9 seed lines.

UT San Antonio vs. Middle Tennessee (12:30 p.m. ET | No TV)

Rationale: As an 11 seed on Bracket Matrix, Middle Tennessee would be a potential bid stealer if it did not win the Conference USA auto-bid. Though Michigan should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament, U-M would prefer that the bubble not shrink and C-USA not have two teams in.

Michigan State vs. Penn State (2:25 p.m. ET | BTN)

Rationale: Michigan should either lose an RPI top-50 win or an RPI top-100 win as a result of this game. Though RPI top-100 wins are important, history has shown that the selection committee places more emphasis on RPI top-50 wins. Thus, Michigan wants Michigan State (#49) to beat Penn State (#92) and remain in the RPI top 50, so U-M will continue to have four top-50 wins.

Marquette vs. Seton Hall (2:30 p.m. ET | FS1)

Rationale: Both Marquette and Seton Hall are 10 seeds on Bracket Matrix, so either result will see the winner possibly breathing down Michigan’s neck. In that case, Michigan would prefer that team be the one it beat by 18 points on a neural court back in November. Plus, if Marquette (#55 in RPI) wins, it could jump into the RPI top 50 and give Michigan its fifth RPI top-50 win.

Oregon vs. Arizona State (3:00 p.m. ET | P12N)

Rationale: If Michigan is given an 8 or 9 seed on Selection Sunday, it wants to face the weakest possible 1 seed in the Round of 32. Oregon is ranked 17th on KenPom, well below the other 1-seed contenders not named UCLA. Michigan would rather oppose Oregon than, say, a Villanova or North Carolina, and, if the Ducks win the Pac-12 Tournament, they could snatch a 1 seed.

Nevada vs. Utah State (3:00 p.m. ET | CBSSN)

Rationale: Like Middle Tennessee, Nevada is another mid-major that could steal an at-large bid if it does not win the Mountain West Tournament. Michigan prefers that the bubble not shrink.

Morgan State vs. Howard (6:00 p.m. ET | ESPN3)

Rationale: Michigan wants its non-conference opponents that are not contending for a similar seed as the Wolverines to perform well in their respective conference tournaments.

Iowa vs. Indiana (6:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2)

Rationale: Neither Iowa (#72 in RPI) nor Indiana (#78) will fall out of the RPI top 100 with a loss on Thursday. Therefore, Michigan would rather see the team it beat twice improve its RPI than than team it lost to once. A win by the Hoosiers would be more of a boost to Michigan’s resume.

Florida State vs. Virginia Tech (7:00 p.m. ET | ESPN)

Rationale: Michigan generally wants to cheer for its non-conference opponents come Championship Week, but this is an exception. Like Michigan, Virginia Tech is vying for a 7 seed and is ahead of U-M by a few positions on the seed ladder. If the Hokies earn a big win against Florida State, it will be difficult for U-M to pass them, especially given their head-to-head result. Plus, VT should remain in the RPI top 50 with a loss to FSU, which would do no harm to U-M.

West Virginia vs. Texas (7:00 p.m. ET | ESPNU)

Rationale: Michigan wants its non-conference opponents that are not contending for a similar seed as the Wolverines to perform well in their respective conference tournaments.

Butler vs. Xavier (7:00 p.m. ET | FS1)

Rationale: Xavier is a bubble team and currently an 11 seed on Bracket Matrix. The Musketeers could start to make a move up the seed ladder if they upset Butler, which is a 4 seed on Bracket Matrix. Michigan does not want to feel that pressure from behind, preferring Xavier just lose.

Hampton vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore (8:00 p.m. ET | No TV)

Rationale: Michigan wants its non-conference opponents that are not contending for a similar seed as the Wolverines to perform well in their respective conference tournaments.

Northwestern vs. Rutgers (8:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2)

Rationale: Both Michigan and Northwestern are 9 seeds on Bracket Matrix, and the Wildcats are just one spot behind U-M on the seed ladder. Michigan doesn’t want Northwestern to jump them in seeding, and a loss to the Knights, who are on a winning streak (!), would prevent that.

Providence vs. Creighton (9:30 p.m. ET | FS1)

Rationale: Providence may be a 10 seed on Bracket Matrix looking to leapfrog Michigan, but Creighton is a 7 seed. Michigan wants the group of 7 seeds to soften up, so U-M can propel its way into that category. Creighton losing its first game of the Big East Tournament would help.

UCLA vs. USC (11:30 p.m. ET | ESPN)

Rationale: Michigan doesn’t want USC, an 11 seed on Bracket Matrix who squeaked past Washington on Wednesday, to gain any momentum by adding a second signature win over UCLA. Further, the Bruins extending their winning streak to 10 games makes U-M’s loss even better.

Big Ten Breakdown

See Tuesday’s update for a detailed rundown of the Big Ten’s NCAA Tournament hopes.

Dancing (Lock)

Purdue (25-6, 14-4 B1G, RPI: 19)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 4

Minnesota (23-8, 11-7 B1G, RPI: 20)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 6

Maryland (24-7, 12-6 B1G, RPI: 24)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 6

Wisconsin (23-8, 12-6 B1G, RPI: 40)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 7

Michigan (20-11, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 46)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 9

Strutting (Comfortable)

Michigan State (18-13, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 49)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 10

Northwestern (21-10, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 54)

Bracket Matrix Seed: 9

Stepping on Toes (Just In)

N/A

Stumbling (Work to Do)

Illinois (18-13, 8-10 B1G, RPI: 58)

Bracket Matrix Seed: First Four Out

Iowa (18-13, 10-8 B1G, RPI: 72)

Bracket Matrix Seed: First Four Out

Tripped (Big Ten Tournament or Bust)

Ohio State, Indiana, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers