The Michigan women's basketball team is currently in fourth place in the Big Ten, trailing Wisconsin by 1 game. Here are the standings:
|#11 Michigan State||11-2||--||.846||23-3||.885||W5|
|#23 Penn State||10-4||1.5||.714||21-7||.750||L1|
With a win today over Wisconsin and victories in their two other remaining games, Michigan would be guaranteed to have at least the number three seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They beat Wisconsin earlier this year at Crisler 75-59, so a victory today gives them the edge over the Badgers in a head-to-head tiebreaker for seeding. One development in U-M's favor in the matchup (noted from a story in the Michigan Daily): One of Wisconsin's seniors, and the team's third-leading scorer, Tara Steinbauer, is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in the Badger's loss to Iowa on Wednesday.
The #3 seed would not only give the team a first-round bye in the BTT, it would also most likely mean that they would not have to face MSU until the tournament final given that the Spartans are likely to win the Big Ten. (Michigan has lost nine straight times to MSU.)
Michigan's last two regular-season games are against two of the bottom teams in the conference--Minnesota at home on the 24th and a road game vs. Illinois on the 27th. If they could possibly win these last three games, they should be in good shape for securing their first NCAA tourney bid in a decade.
Right now, both Michigan and Wisconsin are squarely on the bubble, making today's game that much more important. In his women's Bracketology feature, Charlie Creme has had Michigan in the field in his last few brackets (right now as a #9 seed), but their position is fairly precarious. Jeff Sagarin ranks Michigan at #36, RealTimeRPI.com has them at #41, while CollegeRPI.com has them at #35. Michigan has a superior strength-of-schedule rating (in the 8 to 11 range), but the problem is that their better wins on the season (Boston College, OSU [twice], Iowa) have lost some of their value as those teams stumbled following good starts. "Bad" losses to Detroit and Minnesota won't help either. So Michigan needs to finish strong to secure a bid.