In the heat of a push for an NCAA Tournament bid, the Michigan Wolverines took a major step back by losing on the road in Madison. Because of the results of the game and the actions by head coach Juwan Howard and the players who escalated an altercation. Now, we all wait for the reprimand from the Big Ten and U-M athletic director Warde Manuel.
Now at 14-11 and seventh place in the Big Ten, Michigan is still a bubble team. But with five games against five current tournament or bubble teams left, the Wolverines will very likely be without their head coach and possibly some important players. A tall task just became an enormous one, and they probably need to win at least three of them, along with a game or two in the Big Ten Tournament, to feel good heading into Selection Sunday.
Here are what the experts were saying prior to Sunday’s events about the Wolverines’ chances:
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi: Last Four In
The Wolverines are included as one of the four 11-seeds who are the “Last Four In” in Lunardi’s bracket. They join North Carolina, Creighton and Memphis.
Lunardi has the Wolverines heading to Milwaukee to face a tough Memphis team led by explosive big man Jalen Duren. A Howard/Penny Hardaway coaching matchup would be really fun to see, as both squads have a bunch of talent but haven’t really figured out what works this season.
The winner of No. 11 Memphis-Michigan would move on to play the No. 6 seed UConn with defending National Champions Baylor being the Round of 32 opponent.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm: No. 11-seed Michigan vs No. 6-seed St. Mary’s
In Jerry Palm’s Bracket, Michigan was a bona fide 11-seed in the tournament after winning on the road against Iowa. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, dropped to his “Last Four In” stage along with Indiana and Memphis.
The Wolverines move into a solid East Region in this bracket that includes No. 4-seeded Wisconsin as a potential Sweet-16 matchup for Michigan. No. 3 Villanova could be the opponent in the Round of 32 for the Wolverines in a rematch of the 2016 National Championship game. The East Region’s No. 1 seed is Kansas.
Michigan is one of nine Big Ten teams in Jerry Palm’s bracket. Rutgers moves to a solidified No. 11 seed after four consecutive wins over top-20 opponents. Michigan’s matchup with the Scarlet Knights on Wednesday could be a deciding factor for them making, or missing, the tournament.
SBNation’s Chris Dobbertean: No. 11 Michigan vs No. 6 Marquette
Like Palm, Dobbertean had the Wolverines as one of the last four bye’s in the NCAA Tournament. Instead of a matchup with St. Mary’s, Michigan would get a little taste of Shaka Smart instead. In his first season with the program, there is a lot of buzz coming out of Milwaukee for a team with a lot of length and plenty of shooting capabilities from deep.
Dobbertean also has nine Big Ten teams in his bracket, including five locks: Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan State. And then four bubble teams: Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Rutgers.
Fox Sports’ Mike Decourcy: First Four Out (prior to Thursday’s win over Iowa)
Decourcy has been relatively low on the Wolverines all season, but they finally popped into his bubble this week. The teams Michigan is in the bubble with are San Francisco, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Memphis, North Carolina, Belmont and SDSU.
The Big Ten leads the way with eight teams in Decourcy’s bracket, including a rise from Rutgers to the No. 11-seed.
Check out his whole bracket:
As a bubble team, the Wolverines’ path to the tournament was already difficult, and it just got even harder. We are going to learn really quickly what this squad is made of over the last five games of the regular season.