Michigan basketball’s 2022-23 season has been unconventional, to say the least. A turn-and-fire desperation heave from Hunter Dickinson which ultimately led to a Quad 2 OT win over Wisconsin on Sunday may have saved the Wolverines’ season.
However, it appears it was not enough to push Michigan in some experts' brackets. Let’s dig into how close Michigan really is to getting into the Big Dance:
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi
Michigan was not the only bubble team to earn a big win. Arizona State’s Desmond Cambridge hit a buzzer-beater from beyond half court to earn an upset win over a top-10 Arizona squad.
ARIZONA STATE HALF-COURT SHOT FOR THE WIN TO BEAT NO. 7 ARIZONA pic.twitter.com/YWWrDxhF8Z— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 25, 2023
That same Sun Devils’ squad demolished Michigan early in the season. Now they are up to 20 wins, so there’s not much of a chance the Wolverines get in before them based on their resumes.
Then North Carolina, another team that beat the Wolverines, upset No. 6 Virginia to get a massive Quad 1 win. With the Tar Heels’ unlikely run to the National Championship last season, fortune is likely in their favor in the eyes of the committee as well.
Clemson comes in as team 71, a spot ahead of Michigan, but the Tigers are teetering. They have lost four out of their last seven and finish the regular season at Virginia and home against Notre Dame. A loss could cost them a few spots in the rankings.
Despite being No. 55 in the NET Rankings, the 17-12 Wolverines are on the top of the First Four Out, according to Jerry Palm. One of the Last Four In includes Wisconsin (No. 72), Mississippi State (No. 39), Oklahoma State (No. 46), and West Virginia (No. 26).
Mississippi State has been playing really well down the stretch — 7-2 in its last nine games, including Saturday’s upset win over No. 25 Texas A&M. In this run, the Bulldogs have beaten three other teams in Palm’s bracket: Arkansas, TCU and Missouri. They have bad losses to Florida, Georgia and Drake, but finish with games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Michigan fans have to hope for an early SEC Tournament exit or a slip-up this week.
Oklahoma State being in over Michigan doesn’t make much sense. The Cowboys are 16-13 heading into Monday night’s game against Baylor and are in the midst of a four-game losing streak. They also dropped games to UCF and Southern Illinois to start the year. A win on senior night or at Texas Tech will be necessary to hold their current standing.
The Virginia Mountaineers are another really interesting one to me. Purdue beat them by 12, so Michigan has a similar opponent. Both beat Pittsburgh by a similar total to open up the season. They have been horrible in Big 12 play, though — 5-11 in the conference and have lost four of their last five. They likely will not be favored in games at Iowa State and home against Kansas State to wrap up the season.
Palm’s First Four out include North Carolina, Arizona State and Penn State.
His First Four Out mirror Lunardi: Michigan, Clemson, North Carolina and Arizona State. His last four in include Mississippi State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin. Memphis and Auburn sneak into the tournament as the other 11-seeds.
Memphis heads to SMU before a season finale against No. 1 Houston. It has an opportunity to screw things up, but also solidify a spot in the tournament if it can pull off an upset.
Meanwhile, Auburn is another bubble team Michigan fans should keep their eyes on. The Tigers have just three wins in February, and wrap up the season in Tuscaloosa against No. 2 Alabama and at home against No. 12 Tennessee. Two losses and a win or two from Michigan could have things swapped by the end of the week.