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The Home Stretch: Basketball
An intermittent observation on the probable postseason fates of the hockey and basketball teams.
We now resume your regularly scheduled sports blogging, sans meta-, with a look at Michigan's March Madness prospects. Pleasantly, this year "none" is not an option.
Garrett Rivas clapclapclap
If The Season Ended Today...
Everyone would be very surprised. Also, Michigan would be a middling seed. Joe Lundardi has them #7 against Colorado, ex-home of both Chauncey Billups and, er, me. A seven seed seems harsh to me for a 16-4 team with a fairly good SOS (#70) and an RPI that would have them a #5 if it was the sole basis for seeding (#18). Template-beridden but long-in-the- tooth blog Bracketology 101 has Michigan a #5 in their latest projection. Bracketography.com splits the difference, placing Michigan #6 and setting up a titanic storyline game that may see me rush the court and beat an elderly man about the head: Michigan versus Steve "I Ruined The Program" Fisher's San Diego State Aztecs.
...But Since It Doesn't
Michigan would be well served to win some additional games. The schedule breaks down like so:
- Tomato Cans*: @ Purdue, Minnesota
- Swing Games:Ohio State, @ Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois
- Er... Um: @ Michigan State
(*Obviously, that whole Penn State-beating-Illinois-at-Illinois thing means there is no such thing as a gimme in the Big Ten. Nonetheless, there are two teams on the schedule that inspire far less panic than the others.)
The good news is that there's only two games left in hostile environments against non-tomato cans. The bad news is that there are only two games left against the Big Ten's Four Horsemen of Incompetence.
Michigan could probably squeeze into the tournament by beating Purdue and Minnesota and winning one game against one of the bottom four in the Big Ten tournament, but they'd be one of the last teams in if they made it. Win a couple of the swing games and Michigan looks very solid at 10-6 in the conference anointed by the RPI as the nation's toughest with three or four of the committee-coveted good wins. They would be in no question and would likely recieve a seed in the #5-6 range.
The tough closing stretch provides a major opportunity if Abram gets healthy and Michigan's threes keep falling. Getting hot and going on a tear at the end of the season--while extremely difficult--could see them shoot up the fake brackets of projectioneers around the country. I don't think that'll happen, but college basketball is weird.
So, You're Telling Me...
Barring total collapse, Michigan is in. They probably need three more wins the rest of the season (Big Ten tournament included) to be assured of a bid. In a scenario where Michigan's bid is in question they would get to play one of the FHOI in the first round of the BTT. They would really, really have to blow it to show up in the NIT now. (No whammies.)
To maintain their current seed projections (anywhere from #5 to #7), Michigan has to go 10-6 or 9-7 in conference (#5-ish for the former, #7-ish for the latter). If they do something stupid like go nuts and streak towards 11-5 or 12-4 with a strong showing in the BTT, they will get a sweet sixteen seed and possibly home games at the Palace. (<-- that depends on how MSU does down the stretch.)
And you think?
Beat Purdue and Minnesota; split with OSU; lose @ MSU; beat one of Indiana/Illinois at home; 10-6 in conference; out in BTT semis; #6 seed. If we play Steve Fisher I strap myself to a chair to stop myself from pulling a reverse Artest.