For seemingly the millionth time this season, the Michigan Wolverines squandered a Quad 1 win in the final minutes of a big game. Indiana held Michigan scoreless in the final five minutes of the contest Saturday, a disgusting trend that has a chance of keeping Juwan Howard and his team out of the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, it has been a momentum-building couple of weeks for the Wolverines. They made some progress with a three-game winning streak, their first since the start of the 2021-22 campaign. But that won’t be enough, based on their 2-9 record against Quad 1 teams and No. 67 overall NET ranking.
We are just a few weeks away from the Big Ten Tournament, and Michigan doesn’t have a lot of opportunities for big wins on the schedule. In fact, their best chance was probably on Saturday night. They’ll need to keep winning this week as they have an emotional game in Madison and host the Spartans in a massive rivalry game.
The rest of the Big Ten is struggling to cement spots in the tournament as well. Chaos within the conference has swung seasons around all year, and several programs sit firmly on the bubble. Let’s take a look at where teams are sitting this week:
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi
Joe Lunardi is higher on Michigan than just about anyone I have seen. Both this week and the last he has had the Wolverines in his teams considered for the bubble. I haven’t seen that kind of love from others across the bracketology space. Maybe that is because Michigan sneaked in at 17-14 a year ago, and the committee knows it will bring in revenue.
As of Saturday morning, Lunardi had eight Big Ten teams in the Big Dance. Purdue is sitting at No. 1 overall still, with Indiana moving up to a No. 4 seed. After Northwestern’s upset on Super Bowl Sunday over the Boilermakers, it’s hard to imagine they keep the tippy-top spot. Illinois and Rutgers were both sitting on the six-seed line before the Fighting Illini won a matchup between the two on Saturday. Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, and Northwestern round up the teams in the tourney, with an added boost to the Wildcats with their shocking win.
It is interesting that Wisconsin was Lunardi’s first team out at No. 69 overall BEFORE losing to Nebraska by 10 points in Lincoln over the weekend. That falling stock isn’t great for No. 79 Michigan as it heads to Madison this week. Penn State was the last team being considered within the conference at No. 82 before it fell to a scorching-hot Maryland squad.
CBS’ Jerry Palm
Palm’s rankings also appeared before the weekend's action, but the Wolverines are expectedly nowhere to be found in the bracket. The Badgers, who were just out of Lunardi’s rankings, were one of Palm’s last four teams IN the tournament. Again, that has likely changed after their loss to Nebraska.
Palm’s bracket had Iowa as a six-seed and Rutgers as a seven, while Maryland sat at an eight-seed with Michigan State and Northwestern. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, select the “see more teams” button, and continue to scroll down, you will see the Wolverines in consideration, but it’s pretty clear they still have a ways to go. Overall, Palm had nine Big Ten teams in the tournament before the weekend.
SB Nation’s Chris Dobbertean
Also coming out on Friday, SB Nation’s Dobbertean liked nine Big Ten programs to be going dancing. In his Feb. 10 update, he had Purdue on the No. 1 line and the same eight teams that Palm had on his list.
The biggest difference was Northwestern at a nine-seed and Wisconsin firmly in as an 11-seed in the “last four byes” category. Michigan makes an appearance in the “next four out” behind teams like Memphis, Oregon, Penn State, and Wake Forest as the “first four out”.
Here’s Michigan’s remaining schedule based on the Net Rankings on Sunday evening:
- Wisconsin (two, A/H): 80 - Quad 2
- Michigan State: 32 - Quad 1
- @ Rutgers: 21 - Quad 1
- @ Illinois: 22 - Quad 1
- @ Indiana: 17 - Quad 1
It’s a tough schedule, but it provides the opportunity to earn some wins that can impress the committee or sink the ship altogether. The Wolverines need to continue to stack wins together if they are going to be dancing come March.