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Bracketology: CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm still has Michigan dancing, his thoughts and more

Could Michigan still be in the tournament after consecutive OT losses?

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hope seemed lost after the Michigan Wolverines’ overtime loss to the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday evening. It was the second time in as many games the Wolverines let a prime opportunity slip out of their hands as they pursued a bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Many said the Wolverines would need to win one of those two games to be in the NCAA Tournament before the Big Ten Tournament began. Now they sit at 17-14, an identical record that got them into the Big Dance just a season ago.

Can they finagle their way in once again? Let’s see where the experts have Michigan prior to conference tournament action:

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm

I was as surprised as you to see it, but Palm actually has the Wolverines in the tournament as one of his First Four teams. They are quite literally Palm’s last team in this grouping, facing Utah State for the No. 11 seed in the East region.

Maize n Brew reached out to Palm for an explanation; here’s what he had to say regarding why he has Michigan in:

“Strength of schedule, a couple of Quad 1 road wins, a handful of wins over teams likely to make the field, and just one bad loss,” Palm said, “The other teams they are competing with have bigger problems.”

Those other teams would include Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, North Carolina and Arizona State, who are in Palm’s First Four Out.

Michigan starts Big Ten Tournament play against Rutgers, a team that is not in the field of 68 per Palm but is on the bubble.

“That’s an elimination game,” Palm said. “Nothing is guaranteed to the winner but a chance to fight another day.”

The victor on Thursday gets the joy of taking on Zach Edey and the top-ranked Purdue Boilermakers. It could be the final shot Michigan or Rutgers gets to prove they are tourney-worthy.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi

Lunardi’s bubble looks completely different from Palm’s as Michigan is in the Next Four Out category. Ahead are Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Clemson and Utah State. The Last Four In includes Penn State, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Mississippi State. Rutgers, who is not in Palm’s bracket, is one of the Last Four Bye’s, per Lunardi.

The uphill climb for the Wolverines would have to start by beating Rutgers on Thursday and likely defeating Purdue. It would be hard to imagine the committee leaving them out if they could accomplish such a feat.

There is a lot to play out still, but one thing is for certain — there is still a path to Michigan sneaking into the tournament.

FOX’s Mike Decourcy

Decourcy has Michigan as his last team in the First Four Out category. Clemson, Nevada and Arizona State sit just ahead in that category.

The Final Four In are Mississippi State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Oklahoma State. Rutgers is holding onto a thread as well after losing to Northwestern at home on Sunday.

A Michigan win on Thursday in Decourcy’s scenario would mean another tournament-caliber victory for the Wolverines, but would it mean enough to switch spots like Palm estimates?