Yesterday, my good friend and Maize n Brew colleague Kyle Yost gave a great glimpse at which teams U-M fans were hoping took an L in order to increase the chances for the Michigan Wolverines to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, it wasn’t a very good day. No. 2 Alabama thankfully took care of Auburn in OT, but Utah State beat Nevada, Penn State just got by Northwestern, and Notre Dame beat No. 25 Pitt, Michigan’s only quality non-conference victory.
But at the end of the day, Michigan still needs to earn a couple more big victories before Selection Sunday — none more important than tonight’s matchup against Illinois.
So let’s dive into some matchups tonight that could help or hurt Michigan’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
All win percentages are from Torvik.
No. 5 Purdue at Wisconsin
- 9 p.m. ET, FS1
- Root for: Purdue (70%)
This is a no-brainer here — the Wolverines NEED Wisconsin to lose. The Badgers are a popular “Last Four In” team by the likes of Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm, and a win against a top-five team would all but solidify their spot. This is a huge, HUGE game for Michigan’s chances of making it in.
Arizona State at No. 4 UCLA
- 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Root for: UCLA (90%)
Another team Michigan needs to lose tonight is Arizona State, which defeated the Wolverines earlier this season and took down currently-projected 3-seed Arizona on a buzzer-beater last weekend. The Sun Devils travel to a hostile environment at Pauley Pavilion to take on UCLA, so hopefully the Bruins can pick up the win for Michigan’s sake.
Memphis at SMU
- 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- Root for: SMU (24%)
Memphis is riding the 10- and 11-seed line right now on BracketMatrix, so just to play it safe, Michigan fans should be rooting for an SMU victory. It’s asking for a lot, as the Mustangs have been downright bad this season, but a bad loss this time of year can really hurt a team’s chances of making it into the tournament.
No 8 Arizona at USC
- 11 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Root for: Arizona (54%)
As of a week ago, USC was an 11-seed and one of the Last Four In, according to Lunardi. The Trojans did pick up a win against an average Utah squad since that was released, and they weren’t among the Last Four In in his last update, so it appears they have risen up his rankings. Arizona is only a one-point favorite heading into this matchup, so fingers crossed the Wildcats can rebound from its heartbreaking loss to ASU last weekend and help Michigan along the way.