The Big Ten Tournament begins this week and the Michigan Wolverines already have their opening-round opponent set in the Indiana Hoosiers. They got to this point after stunning the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus with an impressive 75-69 win, doing so without Hunter Dickinson.
Before the Wolverines’ final three-game stretch against Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State, just about every analyst was saying they needed two wins out of the three games to lock in a spot in the NCAA Tournament. After accomplishing just that, it feels as though Michigan is sitting on the right side of the bubble with just the conference tournament games to play. Even a loss to Indiana may not pull them out of the tourney because of their stellar play down the stretch.
Let's take a look at where the experts have Michigan with just a week to go until Selection Sunday.
Lunardi has given some love to the Wolverines over the past few weeks. In his latest bracket, he had Michigan as one of the Last Four Byes and an 11-seed taking on the No. 6 seed LSU Tigers. This would be a rematch of the last year’s Round of 32 matchup which saw the Wolverines pull away with a 86-78 win. The Tigers are 21-10 this season but have lost nine of their last 15 heading into the Tourney. Their most impressive wins came early in the season over Kentucky and Tennessee.
The No. 3 seed Texas Tech would await the winner of that matchup in the Round of 32 and a Sweet 16 contest against No. 2 Wisconsin could await if each team advanced that far. Gonzaga is the No. 1 overall seed in a stacked West Region in Lunardi’s bracket.
Palm had the Wolverines as one of the First Four Out prior to their win over Ohio State. This is the best example of the importance of the victory for Michigan on Sunday afternoon in Columbus. Now, Palm bumped them into his Last Four in along with Rutgers, SMU and BYU.
Michigan would face BYU for the No. 12 seed in the South region. The Cougars' best player is Alex Barcello who is averaging more than 17 points a game while shooting 43.7% from deep. He is exactly the kind of player Michigan has struggled to slow down this season. The senior guard hit nine shots from deep in a 33-point performance against Pepperdine less than a month ago. He would be the Wolverines’ main focus defensively.
If the Wolverines emerged victorious, No. 5 UConn would stand in the way before a potential Round of 32 matchup against No. 4 Texas Tech. The South Region has Arizona as the No. 1 seed and Purdue at the No. 2 line.
What’s funny is Decourcy has been fairly low on the Wolverines for weeks now and they have not even been in the bubble in some of his brackets. That has suddenly changed, even before the OSU win, as Decourcy had Michigan dancing.
The Wolverines join Wyoming, Xavier and SMU as the Last Four In. A matchup against the Wyoming Cowboys would await as the two 12 seeds did battle in the South region. Much of Wyoming’s offense comes from its two stars: Graham Ike and Hunter Maldanado. The two average 38.6 points of the Cowboy’s 73.4 a game with lots of scoring on the interior. Their two similar opponents are Arizona (both lost) and UNLV (Michigan W, Wyoming L).
A Round of 64 matchup with UConn would be next for Michigan with Tennessee likely in the way after that. We’ll see if Michigan gets a little more juice in Decourcy’s bracket after the OSU victory.
Michigan has been bumped up to a No. 10 seed in Dobbertean’s latest bracket. A matchup with Colorado State is hypothesized here. The Rams are the No. 23 team in the country for a reason. A 24-4 record has been the story of their season in the Mountain West with early wins over Creighton and Saint Mary’s. However, the Rams lost twice this year to UNLV who the Wolverines handled in their fourth game of the 2021-22 season.
A win for Michigan would mean a tough second-round matchup with the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils and a chance to end the career of legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Beyond that could be No. 3 Purdue, No. 4 UCLA or the No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs. It would be an insanely difficult bracket for the Wolverines to navigate through.