Alright, six games into the hoops season, and one thing is clear, Michigan will not get in to the NCAA tourney as a bubble team. Wins against Marquette and Boston College (perhaps) would have been nice little "quality wins" for this team's resume, but the loss to Alabama and Marquette) will now fit nicely into the "bad losses" category even though Marquette was clearly a decent team.
What does that mean. In my opinion, that means Michigan needs to finish fifth or higher (outright) in the big ten and beat Utah (barring any other unforeseen pre-conference losses.)No three way ties for sixth or 9-9 finishes. To finish fifth, Michigan is going to have to win those "trap" or "snakepit" games in the Big Ten, tough to do. Games like on the road at Iowa, and on the road against Penn State. These games that both Michigan and Michigan State have lost with regularity for the last five years (longer for M) have to go in the win column this year.
Michigan needs to be a comfortable upper level Big Ten team to get into the NCAA tourney after this horrific start. With games still against Connecticut and Kansas, the sheer number of predictable losses for this team already means that they are going to be limited to about 6-7 max Big Ten losses to squeeze in. Now of course, a win against Kansas or Connecticut, as unlikely as that is right now, would make the picture a little different and may put Michigan back on the right side of that bubble. Right now, however, wins against Connecticut and/or Kansas look about as likely as, well, Gene Hackman will have to measure the distance between the free throw line and the basket before the game in order for Michigan to stand a chance.
As for how to handle business in the Big Ten, after this start I really don't have many suggestions. By I will give three just for the hell of it. 1) I would bring D. Sims off the bench (gasp). Yes, I think that he is a liabily on the floor right now, and I don't like the formula of the starting line up. Sims and Novac out, Wright and Gibson in. A more physical start to the game and instant offense of the bench. 2) Manny Harris - go to, twenty shots per game minimum, go from more of a nameless, faceless offense to an offense with a focus toward this unique talent. Hit him in the post, on the wing, top of the key isos, etc. 3) Rebound. I hope the boxing out drills are plentiful this week and in the future. If you play zone, great, but start figuring out how to secure of d-rebound from the zone or this is going to be a loooooong season.