With an tough 4-4 start Michigan has an uphill battle to make the NCAA Tournament.
First we have to remember that this is a good year to be in the Big Ten as it is an extremely deep and talented conference, and would be considered a power conference this year. This makes it possible to make the NCAA Tourney with 19 wins and a Big Ten tourny win, but 20 or 21 and add a BTT win would lock up a birth for them.
Secondly, their out of conference schedule this year is on par with last years. Last year they played UCLA, Duke (2), UCONN, and Maryland. This year they have played Creighton, Marquette, Alabama, Boston College, and Utah (4 of them away from home), and still play UCONN and Kansas. That is 7 quality opponents, now granted they are currently 1-4 in those games, but win 1 against either UCONN or Kansas and all of a sudden you have a 2nd quality OOC win. This would be the same as (corrected! sorry apparently counting to 2 was tougher today that I thought) last year. The tough schedule will help them with their RPI, and as dumb as the RPI is, it matters to the selection committee.
Last year after the Big Ten Tournament Michigan was 20-13 and drew a 9 seed.
So what would they have to do to make the tournament. Here is a scenario for you. # of wins in ( )
- First you must win the two cupcake games left: Detroit (5), Coppin St. (6)
- Beat UCONN (7) at home: They could have won on the road last year
- Take care of business against the Big Ten basement dwellers: Indiana (8&9), Iowa (10&11), Northwestern (12&13)
- Go 5-5 against Penn State (14) Michigan State (15), Wisconsin (16), Ohio State (17), and Minnesota (18)
- Beat either Purdue or Illinois (19)
- Win 1 BTT game (20)
This would give them 20 wins and 11 Big Ten wins.
Is 11 Big Ten wins tough? Sure. They could have accomplished it last year though had they beat Penn State and Iowa on the road. The toughest, and probably most important, thing to do is to sweep Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern. Every game you lose to those teams is another you have to win against the powers of the conference.
So when will we know if they have realistic tournament hopes? The 6 games between January 14th and January 30th. Home games against Indiana and Iowa bookend games vs. UCONN, at Wisky, at Purdue, and vs. MSU. They go 4-2 or 5-1 they could be on their way. Less than that and they could have a lot of work left to do come Big Ten Tournament time.