The Michigan basketball team has just seven regular season games remaining, which means March Madness is getting closer and closer. The No. 6 Wolverines were slotted as the second No. 2 seed in the early release of the top 16 by the selection committee, and they seem poised to finish no worse than a two seed. With two games left against Michigan State, there’s a clear path to a top seed for U-M if it takes care of business against its rival.
Earlier today, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his updated NCAA Tournament bracket, which can be seen below.
It has Michigan as the No. 2 seed in the West Region, taking on last year’s first round opponent Montana. It’d be a challenging opening game, given how tough Montana played Michigan last season, but it’s a better draw than getting Loyola-Chicago, a Final Four participant last year, like Michigan State does in this hypothetical bracket.
Following Montana, Michigan would see the winner of No. 7 seed Mississippi State and No. 10 seed Clemson. If U-M picks up another win, a likely match-up against Houston or Iowa would follow. Both of those teams should scare Michigan. Houston is ranked in the top 10 and nearly defeated U-M last year before Jordan Poole saved the Wolverines, while Iowa is one of the two teams that has beaten Michigan this year.
The good news for Michigan fans is that the top half of the West Region is weaker than the bottom half. Gonzaga is the weakest of the four No. 1 seeds, while No. 5 seed Villanova has already lost to Michigan this season. No. 4 seed Louisville would be a challenge, but is a winnable game.
In the Final Four, Duke or Michigan State are the most likely representatives from the East Region.
The Big Ten has eight teams in the projected field, with Indiana dropping out:
- No. 2 seed Michigan
- No. 2 seed Michigan State
- No. 3 seed Purdue
- No. 4 seed Wisconsin
- No. 6 seed Iowa
- No. 6 seed Maryland
- No. 9 seed Ohio State
- No. 11 seed Minnesota