it's a major award
It was a great weekend for Michigan hockey. A sweep at Northern, combined with Notre Dame’s loss to Western on Saturday, gave Michigan the CCHA regular-season title. So now what? Well, Michigan is now the top seed in the CCHA tournament and likely awaits the winner of Ohio State and Lake Superior. Michigan gets the lowest seed remaining in the quarterfinals, but Bowling Green is not much of a threat to win anything, and Michigan State has to travel up to Alaska in their playoff matchup (enjoy the long flight, Sparties), so it is likely that Michigan will face the Lakers (who they swept earlier in the year) or the Buckeyes (against whom they are 3-1, with the loss coming in Columbus in OT). OSU had a win and a tie against Lake Superior last weekend at home, but these games will be in Sault Ste. Marie. Since OSU is 6-10-1 on the road this year, this could go either way. The big upside from Michigan getting the top seed (other than the nice banner in Yost) is getting to avoid Notre Dame or Miami until the finals of the CCHA tournament.
Meanwhile, around college hockey, Merrimack got swept (crushed, really) by Maine, allowing Michigan to flip its comparison with Merrimack and move up to a solo fourth in the Pairwise rankings. (For a note on how the Pairwise works, see last week’s update.) Michigan is in the driver’s seat for the fourth spot in the Pairwise and the #1 seed hat goes along with it.
Can Michigan stay there? First, they have to win the CCHA tournament. A loss can knock Michigan down real fast, especially if that loss is to ND. So let’s assume that Michigan wins out. Michigan can afford to lose one comparison, as long as that comparison is not against Denver, if they want to keep a #1 seed. The teams to watch are those near the TUC cliff (especially Ohio State, Michigan State, Bemidji State, Minnesota State, and Alaska-Anchorage), along with Boston College, Denver, and Merrimack. Let’s look at how each could affect matters:
Teams near the TUC cliff: Michigan is 2-2 against MSU and 3-1 against OSU. Neither are a TUC right now, but both are very close. Ideally, OSU would sweep the series with the Lakers then get swept by us. That might be enough to have OSU end the season above the .500 mark in RPI, and allow us to use what would then be a 5-1 record against them for the Pairwise. MSU has to go to Alaska in the CCHA playoffs, where they just were last week. If they don’t win that series, they stay below the cliff. If they do sweep Alaska, then they will play Michigan, and a sweep by Michigan in that case would keep MSU above the cliff. However, their record against Michigan would then be something that Michigan would want to keep (4-2), so they are actually less important than OSU. So you are rooting hard for OSU (ewwww, icky) to sweep this weekend. Bemidji State is an interesting team, as they have a 3-0-1 record against UNO but were 0-2 against Denver. Whether they stay in the TUC field has a big effect on those comparisons. They play @ N. Dakota today, have two against Minnesota next weekend, then will be a 9, 10, or 11 seed in the WCHA tournament. Root hard for Bemidji, because if they fall out of the TUC field, we lose the comparison with UNO. Alaska-Anchorage is 1-1 against UNO, but 0-3-1 against Denver. Getting them out of the TUC field would go a long way toward locking up our comparison with Denver. However, Minnesota State is also 0-3-1 against Denver and 0-2 against UNO. UAA plays at Minnesota State next weekend, then both will be on the road in the WCHA playoffs. Root for a sweep either way to get one of these teams outside the TUC field.
Denver: Denver is currently our main competition for the last #1 seed. If they win the WCHA tournament, they’ll get it with a better RPI. Of course, they’ll have to get past North Dakota and some other very good teams, but if they win out, they’ll get a #1 seed. They play St. Cloud State next weekend at home, then will likely be the #2 seed in the WCHA playoffs. Root against them as though they were the lovechild of Sparty and Brutus Buckeye.
Merrimack: The comparison with Merrimack is very close, and will come down to the teams’ TUC records. Merrimack has only played 13 TUCs to Michigan’s 20 (at the moment), and Michigan has a slight lead. It’s close enough that, when MSU was above the TUC cliff for about 3 hours last night, that hurt Michigan’s TUC record enough to flip the comparison. Since the only TUCs left for either team are in their respective tournaments, it will come down to those games. Merrimack will draw either Maine or Northeastern in the quarterfinals, then probably either New Hampshire or BC in the semis. If Michigan wins out, Merrimack would have to win the Hockey East tournament to flip this comparison.
Boston College: Flipping this comparison would give Michigan a little breathing room for the #1 seed. BC has a big home-and-home series with UNH this weekend that will decide who wins the Hockey East regular-season championship. A split in that series would leave the two teams tied in TUC record, so it would come down to the respective tournaments and which teams end up as TUCs. The good news is that I think BC and Merrimack would face off in the Hockey East semis, so someone has to lose that game, and if Michigan wins out, that would mean that only one of these teams could end up ahead of us. But root for UNH this weekend.
Rooting guide: You want as much of the following to happen as possible:
OSU to sweep Lake Superior. If rooting for OSU causes nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or a rash in a sensitive area, don't worry, this is normal.
Anyone who plays Denver to beat them.
UNH to get at least 3 points from BC.
Merrimack to not win the Hockey East tournament.
Bemidji State to win a game or two
A sweep in the Minnesota State-UAA series, and then for both teams to do well in the WCHA tournament.
Finally, root against Michigan State. It probably won’t matter all that much, but it will make you happy.
After winning today against Minnesota we hold on to our NCAA Tournament hopes (despite what ESPN might think). As we’ve known for a while, beating MSU is a must for this discussion to matter. If that happens, we need to win 1-2 games in the conference tournament to get into serious tournament conversations.
There’s already a thread about whether we could get in with just one win in the BTT, but that thread is lacking a critical piece of information – WHO would we play? I started to investigate this and it revealed a very interesting scenario.
Right now we know who the top three teams are (OSU, Purdue, Wisconsin). We also know who the bottom four teams are (Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, Indiana). At this point those seven spots aren’t really likely to change barring some upsets in the final week. But the middle four spots are totally up for grabs among Michigan, MSU, Illinois, and Penn State.
Here’s the remaining schedules and a prediction to go with them for the four bubble teams:
Michigan State (16-11, 8-7)
- Purdue (Loss)
- Iowa (Win)
- @ Michigan (Loss)
- FINAL RECORD = 17-13, 9-9
Penn State (15-12, 8-8)
- OSU (Loss)
- @ Minnesota (Win)
- FINAL RECORD = 16-13, 9-9
Illinois (18-11, 8-8)
- @ Purdue (Loss)
- Indiana (Win)
- FINAL RECORD = 19-12, 9-9
Michigan (18-12, 8-9)
- MSU (Win)
- FINAL RECORD = 19-12, 9-9
Those results, with all favored teams winning, conclude in a 4-way tie for fourth place. Now let’s examine what this would mean for the tournament seeding, since the top five teams get a bye.
According to the tournament’s website, in the event of a multi-team tie you have to look at the teams’ records against the other teams that are tied. So let’s look at that list again, with the head-to-head record of the four teams:
- MSU: 2-4
- PSU: 2-4
- Illinois: 3-2
- Michigan: 4-1
This would mean that Michigan and Illinois would get the byes while MSU and PSU would have to play on the first day. This is a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand it gives Michigan a better chance to make a run with one fewer game to play. It also gives Michigan the chance to play a better team in their first game to improve their resume, in this case Illinois.
On the other hand, Michigan doesn’t get to play one of the bottom feeders in the opening round to get their 20thwin. In some ways I think I would prefer to end up in the #6-7 spot to get another game against Iowa or Indiana. I’m curious what everyone thinks about this.
In the end what matters is beating MSU and winning at least the first game in the tournament, likely against Illinois. In the scenario described here that would put us in the semi-finals with 20 wins, a 9-9 fourth place conference finish, a 5-1 record against the other conference bubble teams, and a top-ten strength of schedule. Even with just that one BTT win it would be pretty hard to keep us out of the tournament with that resume.
Go Blue – Beat MSU!
I'm not an expert on bracketology, but I think we should be rooting against Illinois and Penn State in every game while we actually (*gulp*) root for MSU to win both of their other games. They would end up ahead of us in the standings, but we'd get a bigger resume boost for beating them.
Since my part of the Worst State Ever was covered in a blizzard this morning, I had a chance to go ahead with more comparisons of Michigan to other bubble teams (previous comparisons included Virginia Tech and Butler). Today I’ll look at two teams that ESPN has as a 10 seed, above the “last four in”, and another that is squarely on the bubble, a 12 seed in ESPN’s bracket. Warning: this is long, and a product of me not having to work today.
First comparison: the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga is 19-9 and tied for first in the West Coast Conference with St. Mary’s (another bubble team). I chose Gonzaga for a couple reasons: first, unlike St. Mary’s, their schedule strength is at least comparable to Michigan’s; second, they should now be above the last four in by virtue of their in last night at St. Mary’s.
A word on St. Mary’s: with three straight losses in the last 8 days (including RPI #317 San Diego), the Gaels’ resume has taken a big hit; Somehow, Joe Lunardi still has them as a 10 seed, but they are 3-6 against the top 100, with two of their three wins against the #63 and #99 teams. Their lone big win was against St. John’s, which is a huge win, but it was also the first D-I game of the season for both teams. With that record against good teams, and a loss to the #317 team last week, I don’t see how they make the tournament without winning their conference tournament, especially since the loss to Gonzaga last night dropped them ten spots in the RPI. Even if they make the WCC finals and lose to Gonzaga again, they’ll be in the mid-50’s RPI at best, with another loss on their resume. Gonzaga, however, has enough top-100 wins that they should be able to sustain a loss in the conference tournament finals to St. Mary’s.
Here are the wins and losses for each team. The only common opponent is Illinois, who beat both Michigan and Gonzaga, though Michigan’s game was on the road and was much closer. I again listed Gonzaga’s losses next to Michigan’s worst nine losses, which helps to make up for the difference in schedule difficulty.
RPI Team RPI Team
24 Xavier 36 @ Michigan St.
51 vs. Marquette 43 Harvard
56 @ St. Mary’s 61 Oakland
57 Oklahoma St. 62 @ Penn St.
83 vs. Baylor 62 Penn St.
97 @ Portland 65 @ Clemson
97 Portland 98 Northwestern
107 IUPUI 111 Utah
121 San Francisco 172 @ Iowa
162 Santa Clara 172 Iowa
228 @ Pepperdine 186 Indiana
228 Pepperdine 250 Bowling Green
246 Lafayette 252 Bryant
249 @ Wake Forest 273 Gardner-Webb
278 @ Loyola Marymount 279 N.C. Central
278 Loyola Marymount 317 S.C. Upstate
315 San Diego
318 Eastern Washington
RPI Team RPI Team
2 @ Ohio St.
2 Ohio St.
4 San Diego St. 8 Purdue
10 @ Notre Dame 13 @ Wisconsin
28 vs. Kansas St. 13 Wisconsin
32 Memphis 17 vs. Syracuse
38 vs. Illinois 38 @ Illinois
56 St. Mary’s 47 Minnesota
87 @ Washington St. 77 vs UTEP
121 @ San Francisco 98 @ Northwestern
162 @ Santa Clara 186 @ Indiana
What stands out to me after doing this comparison is how equal these two resumes are. Gonzaga has a win against a top 25 team in Xavier, but Michigan has more impressive road wins and better wins near the bottom of the top 100. Gonzaga has three additional wins, but they played four more teams with an RPI above 200. Each have three losses outside the RPI top 50 (none at home). The real difference between these schedules is that Michigan played Kansas once and Ohio State twice, while Gonzaga played Eastern Washington, Southern, and Lafayette. Also, Michigan’s losses were to better teams.
Next comparison: The Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has an RPI of 78 (Michigan’s is 66) with a schedule strength of 139 (Michigan’s is 21). They are 11-2 in the absolutely terrible SEC West, and 8-6 out of conference. Bizarrely, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has them above his last four in as a #10 seed. It’s not just Lunardi, by the way; the Bracket Matrix shows that 36 of 68 brackets have Alabama in the field at the moment. Here is the comparison between Michigan and Alabama, comparing Alabama’s 8 losses to Michigan’s 8 worst:
RPI Team RPI Team
16 Kentucky 36 @ Michigan St.
29 @ Tennessee 43 Harvard
73 Mississippi 61 Oakland
105 Arkansas 62 @ Penn St.
116 South Carolina 62 Penn St.
120 Lipscomb 65 @ Clemson
144 @ Mississippi St. 98 Northwestern
144 Mississippi St. 111 Utah
205 @ LSU 172 @ Iowa
205 LSU 172 Iowa
228 Pepperdine 186 Indiana
231 SE Louisiana 250 Bowling Green
255 Troy 252 Bryant
264 South Alabama 273 Gardner-Webb
271 @ Auburn 279 N.C. Central
271 Auburn 317 S.C. Upstate
297 Alabama A&M
309 Florida A&M
RPI Team RPI Team
2 @ Ohio St.
2 Ohio St.
8 @ Purdue 13 @ Wisconsin
22 @ Vanderbilt 13 Wisconsin
57 vs. Oklahoma St. 17 vs. Syracuse
99 vs. Seton Hall 38 @ Illinois
105 @ Arkansas 47 Minnesota
119 vs. St. Peter’s 77 vs UTEP
143 @ Providence 98 @ Northwestern
162 vs. Iowa 186 @ Indiana
This just doesn’t make any sense to me. There is simply no good reason to rank Alabama ahead of Michigan. Four losses outside the top 100, another at #99. A loss to Iowa, who Michigan beat twice. This is simply an example of someone overrating one or two “marquee” wins and ignoring the overall resume. The biggest marquee win, by the way, is over a Kentucky team that is 1-6 on the road in the SEC (Kentucky also lost road games to Georgia, Ole Miss, and Arkansas, and only managed to beat S. Carolina). Their biggest out-of-conference win is at home against mighty Lipscomb. This is not a tournament team, and the SEC is not worthy of having six teams make the tournament.
Last comparison: the UAB Blazers. UAB has an RPI of 34 and SOS of 55. They are 19-7 overall, 9-4 in Conference USA. They are 7-6 against the RPI top 100, but 0-5 against the top 50. Lunardi has them as a 12 seed and one of the last four in.
RPI Team RPI Team
58 VCU 36 @ Michigan St.
59 @ Marshall 43 Harvard
59 Marshall 61 Oakland
69 @ UCF 62 @ Penn St.
69 UCF 62 Penn St.
77 UTEP 65 @ Clemson
80 Kent St. 98 Northwestern
105 @ Arkansas 111 Utah
132 @ E. Carolina 172 @ Iowa
147 George Washington 172 Iowa
173 Rice 186 Indiana
201 SMU 250 Bowling Green
221 Middle Tenn. St. 252 Bryant
240 @ Tulane 273 Gardner-Webb
255 @ Troy 279 N.C. Central
264 South Alabama 317 S.C. Upstate
297 Alabama A&M
307 SE Missouri St.
336 Jacksonville St.
RPI Team RPI Team
2 @ Ohio St.
2 Ohio St.
13 @ Wisconsin
5 @ Duke 13 Wisconsin
32 @ Memphis 17 vs. Syracuse
32 Memphis 38 @ Illinois
39 @ Georgia 47 Minnesota
40 Southern Miss 77 vs UTEP
91 @ Tulsa 98 @ Northwestern
150 @ Arizona St. 186 @ Indiana
The way I have this listed makes it look like this comparison is pretty even, maybe with UAB having a slight advantage. However, I did compare their losses to Michigan’s 7 worst losses, so that distorts things a little. Michigan is 2-9 against the top 50, compared to 0-5 for UAB. Michigan is 5-2 against the RPI 51-100, compared to 7-1 for UAB. The difference in schedule strength makes comparisons difficult, since seven of Michigan’s games are against the top 20, compared to only one for UAB. However, they have about the same number of games against teams ranked 26-100. Against those teams, Michigan is 7-4, and UAB is 7-5, with Michigan having better wins and UAB having better losses when going by RPI. However, the RPI numbers in Conference USA are a little inflated, as #40 Southern Miss is not on the bubble at all, whereas #38 Illinois is fairly safely in the tournament unless they implode in the next two weeks. UAB only has one win over a team anywhere near the tournament (VCU, in Lunardi’s “next four out”). Among Michigan’s wins are the win at MSU (in the tournament), against Harvard (in if they beat Princeton, and currently about a 13 seed), and at Clemson, who is equivalent to VCU in bubble status. Based on better wins, the comparison should go to Michigan.
Again, the point of these comparisons is not to suggest that Michigan belongs in the NCAA field. However, it does show how close Michigan is, not just to a team that is on the bubble, but to a team that may be above the last four in. The bubble is so large and so fluid at this point that two good wins (like beating Minnesota and MSU) or a single not-so-good loss (like BC losing to Miami (YTM)) can move a team up or down 5 to 10 spots in the famed S-curve. We don't need to (and really can't) match the record of the 2008-09 team, we just need a few more good wins. If Michigan wins their last two, a win in the BTT quarterfinals should be enough to get to the NCAA tournament.
Georgia defensive end Jordan Watkins (6'5", 260 lbs) has seen his recruitment take off in the past few weeks with 27 total offers. The top schools in the country have been after Watkins, and rightfully so. He offers a rare combination of athleticism and smarts. Jordan is the complete package and he could also be on the verge of landing a Michigan offer. Here's a look at his highlights and what he thinks about Michigan.
TOM: Tell me about what's been happening lately with your recruitment, and where you're at.
JORDAN: I'm in basketball season right now, so I haven't gotten too deep into researching schools or trying to visit. I'm just seeing who's interested in me and how much each school seems to be interested. I'm up to 27 offers now, and every one is a blessing. The first and second offers mean as much to me as the twenty seventh. This is an opportunity not a lot of people get to have, so I'm very blessed.
TOM: Who has offered you recently, and who were some schools before all this started that you really wanted to hear from?
JORDAN: Recently I've gotten offers from Auburn, West Virginia, South Florida, and LSU. One school before all this started was Georgia Tech. That was a team I was a fan of growing up, and you always want a chance to play for the team you grew up cheering for. I also grew up liking Michigan too, and one of my good friends is a Michigan fan. The other one was Miami. I had a cousin play at Miami, and for me to be the second person in my family to play there would be pretty cool.
TOM: With Michigan specifically, what kind of contact have you had and what are you hoping for?
JORDAN: So far I talked to Coach Montgomery on Wednesday. He said he saw my highlight tape and loved it, they were going to evaluate me as a staff on Thursday and then he would tell me the news soon. I'm just waiting to hear back now. Michigan, as I've said before, is a school I want to have because of the academics and athletics. Michigan is one of those places, it's hard to think off the top of your head a school that has the football tradition and prestige that Michigan has. The combination of academics and the network they have with alumni.
TOM: You've mentioned academics a lot, and I know you have a 3.66 GPA, so I'm assuming that will be a big factor for you?
JORDAN: Academics is huge for me. That's the first thing I'll look at when I pick a college. That's why you're going to college to get that degree. I want to go to a great school, and I would like to go into sports broadcast journalism.
TOM: Besides having intelligence, what do you bring to the table? What kind of player is Jordan Watkins?
JORDAN: I'm a balanced all around player. I can stop the run because I have long arms and great feet. I can use my arms to keep offensive linemen off of me. I have good quickness off the ball, which helps me in the pass rush. A lot of times I can pick up what offensive linemen are doing, or snap counts, or what the quarterback likes to do before the snap. Small things like that help me be a better player.
TOM: What's your timeline going to look like from here on out. I know you said you're in basketball season, when does that end?
JORDAN: We're in the state playoffs for basketball right now, and our goal is to go all the way. March 12th would be the championship, so once that's done I'll start taking visits and researching. I'm trying to work everything out with my parents and the coaches to get my list down to 10 or so before the season starts then take my visits from there.
TOM: Back to Michigan again, where do they fit in the equation? Are they going to get a visit?
JORDAN: I'm not sure when, but Michigan will definitely be a place I try to visit. Michigan, as far as final lists I can't say yet because I haven't thought too much about it, but Michigan was definitely a front runner before all this started.
No Wrestling taking place this weekend as everyone prepares for Big Ten's next weekend. Seeding for will be announced at the beginning of the week and I'll have a tournament preview after that. I have been working on possible seeding results, but might as well just wait on the official word and see how the brackets will look after that.
The NCAA did recently announce the NCAA tournament qualifier allocations for each conference. These guarantee the X number of top placers at each weight make it into NCAA's. Every conference gets at least 1, going to the champion. The Big Ten has received 64 spots this year. The second leading conference is Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association with 45. Big 12 3rdwith 33. Pac-10 26. ACC 21.
Each Weight contains 33 spots. After the automatic qualifiers are decided, The remaining at-large spots will be given out. Automatic bids are anywhere from 27-29 spots depending on weight. Leaving about 4-6 at-large bids left after conference meets.
Here is how the Big Ten allocations look and where Michigan's wrestler rank there:
125 – 5 spots. One of the Big Ten's lowest numbers for qualifiers with 2-3 serious contenders. UM's Boyle comes in around 5thhere. Can't have any setbacks in the tournament.
133- 8 spots. Loaded weight for the B10. About 4 serious contenders. UM's Stevens ranks about 7thwith a strong possibility of placing higher.
141 – 6 spots. Top heavy weight for the B10. Top 4 guys in the conference rank in the top 4 in the nation. Number 5 ranks 7thnationally. After that is a big drop off. UM's Russell ranks #1 and has beat all the top contenders already.
149 – 8 spots. One of the more open weights with a clear, but, not overly impressive favorite. Will be a competitive weight. Michigan's Grajales ranks anywhere from 4th-8th. Probably a good thing there is a lot of spots here as he can be very inconsistent.
157 – 6 spots. 2 serious contenders and a grab bag after that. UM's Zeerip is going to come in around the cutoff here. A good tournament and he can crack the top 4.
165 – 5 spots. Probably the weakest weight for the B10. I originally had UM's Yates ranked about 5th. However, Wisconsin's Andrew Howe is rumored to make it back from injury in time for this meet. If he is close to being healthy enough, he's the clear favorite as the returning national champ, making a lot tougher task for Yates to get in. I think if he misses out here, he'd be looking good for an at-large given the questions surrounding Howe leaving 6 at-large spots here.
174 – 8 spots. Pretty competitive weight here. A clear favorite, then things get closer. UM's Zeerip shouldn't have a problem making the 8. A good tournament should get him into the top 4.
184 – 6 spots. Top contenders will make this a competitive weight, but, after that it gets a little weaker. The low spots here is bad news for UM's Collins. I don't have in the top 8 here.
197 – 6 spots. 6 B10 wrestlers ranked in the top 11 here with UM's Biondo being the 6th. So he can't afford any setbacks. After the top 6 though, things drop off quite a bit.
Hwt – 6 spots. Always a weird weight. The favorite is prone to get upset. UM's Apland can beat anyone here, but probably ranks around 6th. Unless he tanks, he should manage a spot.
Michigan has a good chance at getting 9 of their 10 weights into NCAA's. That's good for them as their strength is in numbers to have a good showing at the national level. As far as Big Ten's, I'll have more in the preview, but, they will be fighting for that 4th spot at best. Should be a good tournament between PSU and Iowa with Minnesota just on the outside of them. Wisconsin could make a good run with the return of Howe, giving them a legit shot at 4 B10 Champions.(133,165,184,197). Michigan is hurt by only having 1 real shot at a B10 title. Those placement points are vital.
Before I start, I just want to thank whoever created the "groping for optimism" tag before I could. After last night's miserable ending, I felt like looking for a reason to be positive.
Anyway, a few days ago I put up a side-by-side comparison of Michigan and Virginia Tech. The Hokies are a team that most bracketologists not only have in the tournament, but many have above the "last four in", and the case can certainly be made that Michigan's resume is stronger.
Today, I thought I'd look at a bubble team that the BTN compared Michigan with last night: the Butler Bulldogs. Butler is 19-9, with a 12-5 record in a fairly competitive Horizon League. Michigan, however, is now 16-12 in D1 play, and 7-9 in the B1G. Here, again, are each team's wins and losses, with common opponents in bold. I did the losses a little differently this time; since Michigan has three more losses, I listed those first and then did the remaining 9 side-by-side. Also, these RPI numbers are from before last night's games. Wisconsin's RPI is probably a little higher, Florida States is a little lower, but it's not a big deal.
RPI Team RPI Team
37 @Cleveland St. 36 @ Michigan St.
37 Cleveland St. 41 Harvard
48 vs. Florida St. 61 @ Penn St.
55 Valparaiso 61 Penn St.
81 vs. Washington St. 64 @ Clemson
107 vs. Utah 67 Oakland
112 Wright St. 80 Northwestern
141 Stanford 107 Utah
153 @ Detroit 172 @ Iowa
153 Detroit 172 Iowa
171 @Wisc. Green Bay 181 Indiana
171 Wisc. Green Bay 250 Bowling Green
183 Ball State 255 Bryant
202 @ Siena 263 Gardner-Webb
212 @ Loyola (Ill.) 280 N.C. Central
233 Miss. Valley St. 319 S.C. Upstate
273 Youngstown St.
290 @ Illinois-Chicago
RPI Team RPI Team
4 @ Ohio St.
4 Ohio St.
6 vs. Duke 9 Purdue
23 @ Louisville 19 @ Wisconsin
24 @ Xavier 19 Wisconsin (guh)
55 @ Valparaiso 22 vs. Syracuse
108 @ Wisc.-Milwaukee 39 Minnesota
108 Wisc.-Milwaukee 41 @ Illinois
112 @ Wright St. 51 vs. UTEP
133 Evansville 76 @ Northwestern
273 @ Youngstown St. 178 @ Indiana
The quality of top wins is about the same. Butler's top five wins are roughly equivalent to Michigan's top five. While the RPI numbers average one spot better for Butler, Michigan has three road wins in that group to Butler's one road win and two neutral-site wins. Michigan's next three wins are all significantly better than Butler's. Where Butler cleans up in this comparison is in their wins against teams with an RPI over 150. Their wins against terrible teams are against less terrible teams than the ones Michigan played. Apparently bracketologists find this to be important.
As for the losses, there is truly no comparison. Even comparing Butler's 9 losses to Michigan's worst 9 losses, Michigan wins the comparison by a wide margin. Purdue and the two Wisconsin losses are roughly the same as Butler's top three losses, but Butler's five losses outside the top 100 stand out like a sore hand. Youngstown State? Really?
The way I look at this is that Michigan has better wins against the top 150, and Butler has better wins against the bottom 150. Michigan has lost to far better teams, a result of their much more difficult schedule. Against all teams ranked outside the top 25, Butler is 19-6, while Michigan is 16-5. Both have about the same winning percentage in that regard, but Michigan's losses were to much more difficult competition.
Let's look at it a different way, the way that the bracketologists do:
RPI: Michigan is #58, Butler is #47.
SOS: Michigan is #25, Butler is #74.
Record against the top 100: Butler is 5-4, Michigan is 7-11.
When you look at it in this simplistic a form, you can understand why Butler frequently gets put into the field (also, last year's tournament) and Michigan doesn't sniff the bubble. However, a closer look shows the comparison is far closer. It also shows that wins in the last two games might not be enough. Unfortunately, what gets left out in this view is:
Against teams 100-200: Butler is 8-4, Michigan is 4-1.
Against teams with RPI>200: Butler is 6-1, Michigan is 5-0.
If Michigan, rather than playing Kansas, OSU twice, and Purdue, had lost to IUPUI (RPI #102) four times, both teams would have 5 bad losses, but Michigan would now be 7-6 against the top 100, and the resumes would look the same, except Michigan's losses would be to better teams.
If Michigan beats Minnesota on Saturday, I'll continue this series of comparisons with a look at Gonzaga. If not, it will be time to focus fully on hockey.