You forgot your three predictions
he grew a beard
Diarist Note: Added some predictions at the bottom of the post. UM down 3 at half, here's hoping they have a big second half in them. Thanks for reading. Go Blue!
Thanks to all the Bubble Carnage this week, the last five days might have been one of the best stretches for Michigan basketball in recent years. Ironically, the Wolverines never took the floor. Maybe that's appropriate given the state of hoops in Ann Arbor the last 10 years or so. Teams on the bubble went down in flames all around Michigan this week. The Wolverines were like the golfer in the clubhouse whose score shockingly puts him in the lead as the original leaders keep bogeying holes on the back nine.
Hours before Michigan tips its most important and anticipated game in years, lets take stock in the impact the crazy last week of hoops had on Michigan's place on the bubble.
Before most of this week's action began, Michigan was only in 11 of the 62 total brackets tracked by the Bracket Matrix. This morning, they've found their support doubled to 22 and sit as the second-to-last team out of the comprehensive Matrix.
Granted, that does sound like much. Taking a deeper look, however, reveals just how much the Wolverines surged this week without even playing a game. More than half of the brackets, a total of 34, have been updated since Thursday morning. Of those, Michigan is in 17, exactly half. Of the 28 updated since Friday morning, Michigan is also in half. I'm sensing a trend.
Michigan's support clearly is more solid in the most recent straw polls. That's good news. With so many bubble teams slitting their own throats this week, half of those Bracketologists have elevated Michigan to help fill the void. What's the deal with the other half? It's obvious, they're waiting for Michigan to uphold their end of the bargain and get a win.
Therein lies the rub. Despite all the help the out-of-town scoreboard gave the Wolverines this week, they still need to take care of businss. On the road. In Minnesota. At the goofy, raucous Barn. Against a team just as desperate to stay in the field and off of the bubble. The Gophers are a 9-seed in the latest Matrix and every bracket thats been updated since their Wisconsin win this week has the Gophers in with a solid seed. But, they cant go the rest of the season without a win and expect a bid to be handed to them.
While I sense a strong anticipation for this afternoon's game, I dont sense a whole lot of confidence among the fanbase. Maybe I've been to caught up in all the Bubble Tracking, but I have a quiet surety the Wolverines are going to get it done today. We've been here before, needing a win to all but clinch an at large berth, only to see the team fall short. Law of averages, says, Michigan has got to win one of these games sometime, right?
Beyond intangible 'they're due' theories, the real reason for my hope rests with the man on the sideline, John Beilein. He was brought here for this purpose. To win a game like today, a game his predecessors could either not win or even get the team in position where it would even matter.
Michigan's March woes have been documented. They've lost six straight regular season games in March. However, they have one of the best March coaches in recent times now leading them. Beilein is 33-23 in the month of March the last 10 years. He's 35-19-2 against the spread. His teams turn profits in the month of March from West Virginia to Richmond to Canisius. Now, its time for Michigan.
Beilein has a week to prepare. His team has a week of rest to hone its game. Minnesota, meanwhile, may have an early funk. Dont forget, this team just beat its biggest rivalry in dramatic fashion three days ago. Michigan might have the early intangible edge. They must take advantage of that and get off to a godd start. If Michigan can play in the first segment of the first and second halves better than they did at Wisconsin a week ago, Michigan may just set the pace the whole way. Even if it does not play out like that, I expect this team to have a chance in the final possessions like they did in Madison six days ago.
Maybe it wont be enough in the end, and I am full of you-know-what. But, I love Beilein's history in these spots. I think he has them ready to play their best. At the very least, I am confident enough going to the window to buy a Michigan +5 ticket.
Another benefit of all the bubble teams losing this week is providing a Michigan a shorter road map to a bid, should they fail to deliver this afternoon in Minneapolis. It otherwise would seem unlikely that an 8-10 league mark would merit the bill, but it happens often enough where all hope should not be cast asidee if they lose today. Michigan would need 2 wins in next week's Big 10 Tournament, perhaps even three, but they wont be in a position where they have to win the title. If the bubble massacre continues, then Michigan's bar for entry might be closer to two wins in Indy rather than three. So, with that in mind, here are other games, in chronological order, to keep an eye on:
Georgia Tech at Boston College, noon, ESPN Full Court. Line, BC -8.5
The Eagles have not locked up a bid on their own accord, although the bubble blood from this week may have done so for them. They can clinch a bid with one more win. However, should they lose a home game to the last place Yellow Jackets they will be putting a lot of pressure on themselves in the ACC Tournament. In the event of a loss today, the most likely matchup is Virginia in a 6/11 first round game. Lose today and lose that one, and the Eagles will be on a three game losing streak against the bottom third of the ACC. A Matrix 9-seed this morning, they could be out of the field if they go winless the rest of the season.
NC State at Miami, noon, ESPN Full Court. Line, Miami -8.5
The Canes loss to Georgia Tech sapped nearly all their bracketology support and they've fallen from on the verge of the field to seventh-to-last out of the Matrix. Virtually all their support remains from brackets not updated since the loss. Of the 34 brackets updated since then, the Canes are only in 3 fields. They wont garner much more support with a win today. But, it may set up a scenario where a couple of wins next win might sneak them back in, pending other results. The winner of this game will be the ACC 9 seed, the loser its 10 seed when the league field meets next week.
Seton Hall at Cincinnati, noon, ESPN 360. Line, Cincy -6.5
By most accounts, we can stop scoreboard tracking the Bearcats in the wake of their dismal showing against South Florida. Only one of the 34 brackets updated since Wednesday include the Bearcats. It's a computer generated formula on that site, so you might want to tinker with the numbers a bit. Althought it had Michigan as an 8-seed, so maybe the formula works just right. I think if they win tonight and somehow win two or three games next week and advance into the Big East semifinals, they might find themselves on a bracket line. Could their 8/9 game versus Providence be an elimination game for the loser? The league's top seed would await either team in the quarterfinals.
Colorado at Kansas State, 2pm, ESPN 360. Line, KSU -17
Unlike most of the bubble teams that lost last week, KSU went down to a good team in Oklahoma State. But, its not helping them get any more support. Like the Bearcats above, KSU gets a single bracket nod among the updates since they last played. The Wildcats wont add any more points by beating last place Colorado today. They need to win today and win at least a couple of games in the Big 12 Tournament to get back into the mix. Some more bubble carnage might be needed as well.
Kentucky at Florida, 2pm, CBS. Line, Florida -5.5
A week ago, this looked like a classic play-in game. Now, after both spit the bit against league lightweights, the dynamics have totally changed. This is an elimination game. The loser will have no more at large chances. The winner still would need to win a game--maybe even two--to feel safe about an at large bid next Sunday. Kentucky has fallen in the Matrix to third-to-last out, one spot behind Michigan in the projected pecking order. Only one bracket since Wednesday has included Billy Clyde's club. Florida clings to an 11-seed in the Matrix, but only nine of 34 fields updated since their loss Wednesday have the Gators on a seed line. Michigan has almost twice as much support from those Bracketologists as the Gators do. Yeah, I'd say this game is pretty big in Gainesville this afternoon.
South Carolina at Georgia, 2pm, ESPN Full Court. Line, USC -5
MGoBlog already owes Georgia a beer. You might want to upgrade to a keg should the Bulldogs pull another road shocker. Watching these SEC team wilt to lesser teams with bids on the line reminds me of how Tampa Bay lost their spot in the NFL playoffs this past season. Win at home against the lowly Oakland Raiders, are you're in. No problem. Whoops. Anyway, South Carolina has been a solid tournament invite for about a month, but consecutive blowout losses in the last week has put it all in jeopardy. Even with a win today, this team cant afford to be one-and-done in Tampa next week when the SEC field convenes. The Gamecocks are on stronger footing than their fellow league brethern that choked this week, with 25 invites from the 34 brackets updates since mid week. Those could all disappear if the Cocks 2-game losing streak increases to three and then four games.
Missouri at Texas A/M, 2pm, ESPN2. Line, Missou -2
The Aggies have a poor man's Michigan resume. Instead of more glossy wins over Duke and UCLA, the Aggies have scalps of LSU and Arizona. Texas A/M also shows us the value of playing the season out. Three weeks ago, they were 3-7 in league play. Today, they're a home win away against one the Big 12 top dogs from locking down a bid. The Aggies look secure for now and are garnering more than 80-percent support across the Bracket Matrix spectrum. Should they lose today, however, the Aggies will be under a lot of pressure to win at least one game in their league tournament.
UMass at Rhode Island, 2pm, no TV. Line, URI -10
I would like to say I saw this coming. But, I cant. I had no idea a URI charge up the charts was in the works. They've won six in row and 10 of 11. They are fourth-to-last out in the Matrix and find themselves in 18 total brackets, including notables like B101, the Bracket Board and Bracket Junkie. Considering they host a 11-win Umass team, they'll only cement that support today. So what else is there to say? How about I share a quick story on what first comes to mind when I hear the words Rhode Island and NCAA Tournament.
Flashback to the 1998 Regional Finals with Standford playing URI. I'm in Vegas with a bunch of buddies. We spent the weekend getting our clocks cleaned betting the Regional Weekend of games. But, there's one day left and we're all convinced that Stanford will roll upstart URI, who was lead by, among others, Lamar Odom. We're all sitting on Stanford -4 tickets. And for the first half, URI smokes the Cardinal.
The rout continued in the second half, and some of us left our seats in disgust to stand in line for deli sandwiches. We can only make out the action from a small TV about 30 yards away, but it sure as hell looks like Stanford is coming back. They are! We get back to our seats as Michael Madsen steals an inbounds, makes a layup and gets fouled. He does a stupid dance, but we're there at Treasure Island doing the same thing.
The Cardinal is now, inexplicably, winning. URI cant buy a bucket. Stanford can salt the game and the cover away at the free throw line. The CBS graphic shows that the Stanford shooter Arthur Lee has made 33 free throws in a row. We wince, expecting that to be a jinx. It's not! He swishes them! Stanford is covering, up 5, and our own bankroll comeback is underway. 3-2-1 and its over..........only the Rams Cuttino Mobley launches a meaningless 65-footer that banks home at the buzzer. I still can see my friend Sean throw down his Maize UM Hockey hat before he collapses on the floor. Talk about a dagger. It remains in the team photo of worst beats ever.
And, you know what? It was not even our most infamous gambling moment that afternoon at the Sports Book. I'll save that story the next time I feel like going on a Bill Simmons-esque trip down gambling memory lane. We got our butts handed to us all weekend, and I still have not returned to Vegas for March Madness.
Penn State at Iowa, 2pm, BTN. Line, Iowa -2.5
The Nittany Lions thrilling win over Illinois sure did cement their support among the Bracketology crowd. Penn State finds itself in two-thirds of the total brackets, but only two of the 34 fields updated since mid week exclude Penn State. They appear pretty safe, although I would not recomend losing today and going one-and-done in the Big 10 Tournament. Speaking of which, this game carries huge seeding implication for the Big 10 field. With a win and a Purdue loss to MSU tomorrow, the Lions would climb as high as the #2 seed. Should they lose, they could be part of a traffic jam of tied teams and fall as far as 6th or 7th.
Maryland at Virginia, 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN Full Court. Line, Maryland -1.5
Like MIchigan, the Terrapins go on the road today in an attempt to notch a .500 league mark that might open the door for a tournament bid. Unlike Michigan, the Terps play a lousy Virginia team mired in 11th place. Maybe this is not as easy as it sounds for Maryland, however. They were in this exact some position last year, and went into Charlottesville and got trounced 91-76 by the Cavaliers, sending them to the NIT. If that history repeats itself, expect the Terrapins to tumble down the Matrix in the lead-up into the ACC Tournament. Maryland is a 12-seed in the Matrix and of the 34 fields updated since midweek, the Terps are in 19 fields, two more than Michigan.
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 3:30pm, ABC.ESPN Full Court. Line, OU -10
The Cowboys were among the biggest winners of the week because they were one of the few bubble teams to, well, win a game. And since they did so against a fellow bubble team, the Cowboys saw their support gain a lot of ground on the field. They've moved to a 10 seed on the Matrix and have an invite from 59 of the 62 brackets tracked. That means they surely can absord a loss today to a Sooner team that wants to end their home season in style. The Pokes probably could survive a one-and-done in the Big 12 Tournament next week, although it would be an anxious lead up to Selection Sunday if it plays out like that.
New Mexico at Wyoming, 3:30, no TV. Line, NM -4.5
These damn Mountain West Conference teams wont go away. Just when one gets pushed farther down the Matrix, another threat pops up to charge up the charts. It's like Whack-A-Mole. Here's hoping Wyoming--a team fired up to earn an NIT bid today--plays a mean game of Whack-A-Lobo later today. New Mexico can wrap up a share of the league title with a win. The problem for New Mexico is they're not getting a ton of Bracketology support as only nine of the 34 recent updates include them. A loss might extinguish any at large bid hopes they have unless a deep run in MWC Tournament ensues.
LSU at Auburn, 4pm, ESPN Full Court. Line, AU -1.5
War Eagle, brother!! Could the Auburn Tigers really be the second best team in the SEC? I think you might be able to make a compelling case. If they hold serve at home today against LSU, the league's regular season champ, that argument becomes stronger. As of now, the Tigers (Auburn, that is) has next to no support. One Bracketologist since the midweek updates includes Auburn. In that field, the Tigers are the last team in, while Michigan is the last team out. Things might get uneasy in the blog alliance between MGoBlog and the Joe Cribbs Car Wash if something like that actually happens. Silliness aside, Auburn has worked themselves in position to get a marquee win today and a good showing next week in the SEC Tournament to get a most unlikey at large bid.
Stanford at Arizona, 7:30om, CBS (West Coast Only). Line, Arizona -6
You never want to be on a losing streak in the month of March. That's exactly the position the Arizona WIldcats find themselves in today. The Cats have dropped four in a row. Yet, the remain in the relative good graces of the Bracketology crowd, in large part due to all the other bubble teams taking the gas pipe this week. Looking deeper into the Matrix reveals the trouble the Cats are in. A total of 28 brackets have been updated since their Thursday night loss to Cal. Half of them have excluded the Cats. Michigan is in the same amount of brackets within that range as Arizona. Their grip on their 11-seed is loosening and a loss to the Cardinal today will be a stomach punch to their at large hopes. It's not a vintage year for Standord, but they just beat ASU, so they're more than capable of spring the upset. Even if the Cats get the win, they better not go one-and-done next week in the Pac 10 Tournament. They're staring at the possible first game against either Cal or ASU, so a lot more needs to be done before we can pencil the Cats in or out of the field.
Duquense at Dayton, 8pm, no TV. Line, Dayton -6
The Flyers have a guady record, but they better not go the rest of the year without a win. They sit on the Matrix 9-line and have unanimous Matrix support. But, that support could whither if they lose tonight and their opener in the A-10 Tournament. A loss today puts them on a slippery slope. Can both Dayton and Rhode Island get bids coming out of the A-10? I think that's 50/50 at best. If the Flyers enter the league tournament on a losing streak, it might be a simple beauty contest between those schools with the team that goes deepest in the A-10 the one earning the bid. Duquense wont be an easy out and they're trying to scrape their way into the NIT, which would be a rare post season bid for the school.
UNLV at San Diego State, 10pm, no TV. Line, SDSU -4
The Aztecs have played themselves out of the tournament in recent weeks. This morning, they sit as the eighth-to-last out of the Matrix field with only six total mock invites. They can make up some ground with a win tonight against UNLV, a Matrix 11-seed. This looks like the first of two games between these clubs as they appear headed to a likely 4/5 quarterfinal against each other in the Mountain West Tournament. I'm trying to think what combination of results will keep both out of the field. A Rebel win today, followed by an Aztec win Thursday? An Aztec sweep? The Rebels host the league tournament, so I dont think they can afford an early exit from that field.
Mid Major Elimination Games: Colonial, Southern, MAAC, Oh My!
If these intangible bubble outcomes dont float your fancy, check out the countless Mid Major action that's going on today. Quarterfinal action in the Colonial, Southern and MAAC and semifinal action in the Missouri Valley and Horizon will eliminate 16 teams. More exciting, how about Championship Games in the Big South, Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley? The winners get auto bids into the Dance. The loser sees their season end. Is that enough high stakes for you?
Here's a link giving you all the relevant brackets. Seriously, if you're not checking this site multiple times a day, you're not trying hard enough in March Madness.
Those three title games are being shown as a tripleheaders on ESPN2 beginning at 4pm. The Colonial and MAAC quarterfinals are all being shown on ESPN Full Court. The Horizon semifinals will be on ESPN U tonight. For coverage of the rest of the games, check out the leagues' websites where not only links to live streams are being offered, but CILs are being moderated to track the action.
Most of these games are important to the teams playing. They're elimination games. Lose, and hit the driving range. Or, join the baseball team.
Did you see what happened to Creighton last night? Being touted as a possible at large bid should they dont win the MVC, the Bluejays needed an amazing buzzer beater to survive Witchita State and keep their tournament hopes alive. A loss last night would have eliminated them, but they survived and advanced. You can bet there will be a couple more moments like that today as these league fields play out.
My sense is Michigan and the rest of the bubble benefits if Creighton goes on now to win this Sectional. Although, if one of Creighton or Northern Iowa lose today, it might ensure that this league only gets one bid.
Davidson and Stephon Curry take the March Madness stage today at 2pm in the Southern quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Eric Maynor and VCU get the Colonial quarters underway at noon. These have been two of my favorite players to watch for three seasons now. Both will see tournament dreams end today if they can't win. Davidson is a heavy favorite to win their tournament, but VCU will be a in dogfight as the CAA final 8 include four 20-game winners, five teams with at least 11 league wins and 7 teams with a winning record. Need a rooting interest? How about Northeastern, a team Michigan beat four months ago. The longer the Huskies stay in the field, the better Michigan's numbers will look. I'll be tuning in.
Alright, my March Madness Jones is in full swing. My record is 6-3-2 in my March columns, but today we're spreading the action everywhere. And, I already have UM +5. What could go wrong?
****Our first championship games tip off. Of course, I have calls on each of them. I'll take VMI +3 over home team Radford in the Big South; ETSU in a pick 'em over Jacksonville (not the Jaguars) in the Altantic Sun; and Austin Peay -1 over Morehead State in the Ohio Valley. These games will be an ESPN2 triple header beginning at 4pm. Yeah, I'll be tuned in.
*****In the Missouri Valley Semifinals, Creighton was given new life and they will beat Illinois State this afternoon. I'll play the -150 moneyline. That's the second game of day. Northern Iowa will win and cover the small -1 in the first game over Bradley.
****Give me Cleveland State in a pick 'em over UW-Green Bay in the first Horizon semifinal tonight on ESPN U.
**** In the Colonial, I'll take Hofstra +6.5 over Old Dominion and George Mason -4 over James Madison.
**** Auburn takes down LSU.
**** Missouri goes on the road and beats Texas A/M
That ought to keep me busy for awhile
You forgot your three predictions
Jamie Mac you're the shit.
Cincy falls in OT to Seton Hall. BC hits a last-second shot to escape Georgia Tech. Miami wins by 8 over NC State.
I don't think these make much difference, as BC was in good shape anyway, Cincy had little hope even in the best case, and Miami still has plenty of work to do.
I thought BC getting that win was big.
They're only in the 9-seed range.
A loss would have been back to back losses against woeful NC St and GT to end. A first round ACC loss after that would kill them.
That win, I think, locks in a bid for them, regardless of what happens next weekend in Atlanta.
Florida finishes off Kentucky; Florida's still alive for an at-large, but Kentucky is auto-bid or bust now.
K-State handles Colorado; no surprise there, but they've still got plenty of work to do.
South Carolina handles Georgia; resume still lacking the big wins, but they're still alive.
A&M up seven with a minute to go against Missouri. That probably gets them in if it holds up (they were up 22 at the half).
Rhode Island loses to UMass on a buzzer-beater. That might be a killer.
Penn State and Iowa are tied midway through the second OT.
A&M is probably in, PSU probably needs to win at least one in the Big Ten tourney (depending on who they draw).
They're surging right now. They beat LSU today and have won 8 of their last 9 games.
They have probably the worst profile ever for a 10-6 major conference team. 2-5 vs. RPI top 50, 5-9 vs. top 100, SOS #67, RPI #61. Keep in mind that they play in the weaker West division, so they only face Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina once each. They're probably ahead of Kentucky in the pecking order now but definitely behind Florida and South Carolina. I don't see them having a chance unless they take down Florida and Tenn/SoCar (whoever ends up being the #1 seed in the East) in the tournament.
That was an awesome win over URI for everyone on the bubble.
I'd say its the second most important bubble outcome of the day so far.
After UM winning, of course.
UNM/Wyoming is on "The Mountain" for those with the Direct TV Sports Pack (Ch 616). New Mexico is up 48-45 with 14 1/2 minutes to go.
Wyoming is up 1 with 2 1/2 left.
EDIT: New Mexico wins, 74-73.
Back and forth in the final minutes. Wyoming missed a wild scoop shot in the final seconds.
They're down 1, so they hold for the last shot, leaving them no chance to foul when that ugly shot misses (it hit the bottom of the backboard, didn't it?). Didn't seem like the best strategy to me.
Is getting their asses handed to them right now in the MVC semis.
Down 34-19 in the first half to Illinois State. I'm not sure they make a strong case for an at large if this if their swan song......especially if they keep getting run off the court like this.
They've been flat non competitve.
Ooops. I got my answer about seedings at Yinka Double Dare's diary post.
Michigan's locked into the 6 or 7 seed. If Wisconsin and Ohio State either both win or both lose, you get the 7. If one wins and the other loses, you get the 6.