so much for that
5 step program to reach the NCAA Tournament
Step 1: @Wisconsin; @Purdue; v.MSU - The important thing here is to secure 1 win. 2 wins would be great, but not likely. Winning 1 of these 3 would keep Michigan's NCAA tournament hopes off life support and makes the next stretch of games all the more important.
Step 2: v.Iowa; @Northwestern; v.Wisconsin; @Minnesota - This will be the point in the season where we look back and say, "Michigan played their way into the tournament here." Or we will say, "That stretch sealed their fate, and popped the bubble." Iowa is obviously a must win. The game @NW will be intriguing. How will Michigan counter the 1-3-1 trap that NW sprung with great success. In all honesty, if Beilein figures a counter to the trap into the gameplan and it works, no reason we can't come away with a victory here. The Wisconsin game will be a huge game at home, and an important chance to secure a RPI top 25 victory. The benefit of this game would likely be similar to that of the Purdue game last year. Win and you set yourself up for a chance at making a run at the bubble. Lose and it might be over. I just feel like Michigan will show up in this game. We haven't beat Wisconsin in a while and with Jon Leurer out, our chances increase dramatically. @Minnesota, we match up well with Minnesota as evidence take last year. Minnesota struggles to play a half court game, if Michigan controls the tempo they at least have a punchers chance. Given all that I think its important to go 3-1 in this stretch with one of those wins coming against Wisconsin.
Step 3: @Iowa; v.Penn St.; v.Illinois - Michigan can't afford any more bad road losses (like Indiana). Take care of business and move on. Same goes for games at home against inferior opponents. That takes us to Illinois, who is a poor match up for Michigan, but at the same time this is a winnable game. If Sims shows up and plays to his capabilities we can take this game as well. Probably need to go 3-0 in this stretch, which is by far the easiest of the 5 steps.
Step 4: @OSU; v.Minnesota; @MSU - Tough way to end the regular season. If Michigan takes care of the first 3 steps they only need to win 1 game in this stretch. Seems like the Minnesota game would be the best opportunity for that.
So assuming Michigan goes 1-2, 3-1, 3-0, and 1-2 in those 4 stretches of games that leaves this team at 18-12 overall and 11-7 in the Big Ten. Probably not enough to push them in the tournament, but definitely enough to get them on the bubble. They would most likely be the 4 or 5 seed with that finish and get a first round bye and a chance at a quality neutral court victory in the BTT quarterfinals. Most likely against Ohio State, Illinois or Minnesota.
Step 5: win 1 game in the BTT and that finishes the season at 19-13, with probably 6-7 wins over RPI top 50 teams, the exact same as they had last year.
Its not foolproof, as many analysts will say that the bubble is a year to year thing, sometimes it is harder to make the tournament than other times. Small 1 bid conference tournaments will more than likely determine our fate, given the current assumptions. I really think this team has a shot to get hot, they still haven't played their best basketball. Go Blue!