Breaking Down The Bubble

Breaking Down The Bubble

Submitted by smwilliams on March 2nd, 2017 at 2:19 PM

After last night's loss to Northwestern, I got a little panicked about the thought of Michigan blowing their next 2 games and missing out on the tournament. To help assauge my fears, I took a look at all the bubble teams (based on Bracket Matrix) and how they fared in the categories we know the Committee tends to weigh heavily in their decision making process. Those categories are: Record, RPI, Non-Conference SOS, Wins vs. Top 50 RPI, Wins vs. Top 100 RPI. Apparently, they have added some emphasis on advanced metrics (my guess is KenPom) to aid in their decision-making process. 

Here are the "Bubble Teams" at the moment:

Atlantic 10: VCU, Rhode Island

American: Houston

ACC: Syracuse, Wake Forest

Big Ten: Michigan, Northwestern, Michigan State, Illinois

Big East: Xavier, Seton Hall, Marquette, Providence

Big XII: Kansas State

Pac-12: USC, Cal

SEC: Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Georgia

Mid-Majors: Wichita State, Illinois State, Middle Tennessee, UNC-Wilimington, Texas-Arlington

TEAM RECORD RPI NCSS VS. TOP 50 VS. TOP 100 (L vs. 100+)
Michigan 19-11 48 84 4-8 11-11 (0)
VCU 23-7 23 83 2-3 7-4 (3)
Rhode Island 20-9 42 20 2-3 4-7 (2)
Houston 20-9 51 85 1-5 3-6 (3)
Syracuse  17-13 78 201 6-7 8-10 (3)
Wake Forest 17-12 38 13 2-9 7-12 (0)
Northwestern 21-9 45 160 4-6 10-9 (0)
Michigan St 18-12 46 21 6-7 11-11 (1)
Illinois 17-12 55 50 5-8 10-12 (0)
Xavier 18-12 31 24 3-8 8-11 (1)
Seton Hall 19-10 50 200 3-6 9-9 (1)
Marquette  18-11 59 249 7-6 9-10 (1)
Providence 19-11 54 171 5-7 10-8 (3)
Kansas St 18-12 58 220 3-8 5-11 (1)
USC 22-8 35 168 2-5 5-7 (1)
Cal 19-10 53 34 1-7 4-9 (1)
Arkansas 22-8 27 39 3-6 10-6 (2)
Vanderbilt 16-14 47 1 4-8 9-13 (1)
Georgia 17-12 49 17 1-7 9-11 (1)
Wichita St 26-4 41 221 1-4 2-4 (0)
Illinois St 24-5 33 139 1-1 2-3 (2)
MTSU 25-4 39 27 2-1 4-1 (3)
UNCW 24-5 36 88 0-1 5-3 (2)
UTA 22-6 37 43 1-2 2-3 (3)

Based on Bracket Matrix, 18 of these 24 teams are currently in the field. Obviously, that # could drop if the mid-majors lose in their conference tournament. If neither WSU/ISU, MTSU, UNCW, or UTA win, there would be at minimum 14 spots for these 24 teams. Where does Michigan stand in each category?


If Michigan were to lose out and end up at 19-13, they'd be playing with fire. A list of teams with less than 20 wins to garner at-large bids in the last 5 years is as follows:

2016: Vanderbilt (19-13, Play-In), Oregon State (19-12, #7), Texas Tech (19-12, #8), Syracuse (19-13, #10)

2015: Oklahoma State (18-13, #8)

2014: Nebraska (19-12, #11)

2013: N/A

2012: West Virginia (19-13, #10)

2011: Tennessee (19-14, #9), Penn State (19-14, #10), Illinois (19-13, #9), USC (19-14, Play-In), Michigan St. (19-14, #10)

Some years are more leniant than others to teams with less than 20 wins, but picking up that 20th win would make us all feel much safer on Selection Sunday. Not only does that 20th win represent an important benchmark, but it avoids the stigma of Michigan being in a freefall and finishing the year with 3 consecutive losses. That said, you may realize that half of these teams currently have less than 20 wins. I'd root against all of them as hard as you possibly can. 


Michigan is currently dead center in terms of RPI with the 12th best RPI among bubble teams. Again, the concern with losing out is that two more losses to average-or-worse teams would probably see their RPI end up in the high 50s or so, which would put them towards the back of the pack depending on what other teams do. I believe last year, Michigan went into Selection Sunday with a RPI in the low-60s and barely made it in. 

Non-Conference SOS:

This is much better. 85 isn't eye-popping, but this stat will remain static (ha!) until Selection Sunday. Michigan sits 14th, but some of these teams have truly dismal numbers. The Valley teams and the Big East might suffer from not having played many good teams outside of their conference (or in-conference in the case of Wichita St. and Illinois St.)

Michigan is in good standing here.

Record vs. RPI Top 50:

And here we get to the good stuff. Michigan currently has the 7th most wins against teams in the RPI Top 50. The mid-major teams are hard to gauge because they haven't had many opportunities, but when you look at teams like Wake Forest, Cal, and Georgia, Michigan is a cut above. This may not matter much for a team like VCU, but UNC-Wilmington has played 1 game against a Top 50 opponent all year. The Committee will not look favorably at that. 

Record vs. RPI Top 100:

And here's our shining star. Michigan is tied with State for the most wins against Top 100 teams of anybody on the bubble. Last year's team had 4, count 'em, 4 wins against Top 100 teams. And much like last year, they have zero losses outside of teams in the Top 100. They have as many wins as almost half the teams have games played. Also, even if they lose their last 2, they'd still be Top 100 opponents (Nebraska is currently at 85). 


Of the 37 brackets updated after last night, Michigan is in all of them and is an 8 or 9 seed in 32 out of the 37. They are actually the highest ranked team on the Matrix out of all 24 teams. Even if they lose out, it seems unlikely that 14-18 of these teams will do enough to pass Michigan within the next two weeks. 

That said, beat Nebraska and all of this is moot and the Big Ten Tournament becomes about whether they can climb to a 6-7 seed (if they make the semifinals/finals) rather than spending next Thursday worrying about winning or getting left out. If you'd like to watch some games with an eye towards eliminating some competition, here are my recommendations:

Houston at Cincinnati [7:00 p.m., ESPN2] (root hard for Cincinnati)
Tulsa at SMU [8:00 p.m., CBSSN] (root for SMU who is currently a Top 25 win on a neutral floor)
FIU at Middle Tennessee [7:30 p.m., ESPN3] (a loss to FIU would pretty much kill their at-large hopes)
Cal at Utah [11:00 p.m., ESPNU] (Utah isn't bad, but Cal needs to avoid losses)
UT-Arlington at Louisiana-Monroe [No TV] (same deal at MTSU, lose and say good-bye to an at-large bid)
MVC Quarterfinals [ESPN3] (root for Wichita State, against Illinois State)
Illinois at Rutgers [12:00 p.m., ESPNU] (GOOOOOO SCARLET KNIGHTS)
Providence at St. John's [12:00 p.m., No TV?] (Johnnies win would severaly damage the Friars chances)
Texas Tech at Kansas St. [1:00 p.m., ESPN News] (a home loss to Texas Tech would put Kansas State on the outside looking in)
Georgia at Arkansas [2:00 p.m., ESPN2] (both bubble teams, but Arkansas is probably in whereas Georgia needs to do some damage)
Florida at Vanderbilt [2:00 p.m., ESPN] (another good win for Vandy would make them very viable)
Michigan State at Maryland [2:00 p.m., BTN] (root against State just because)
Cal at Colorado [2:00 p.m., PAC-12] (if they don't lose to Utah, a loss here would be great)
George Mason at VCU [2:00 p.m., No TV] (VCU is closer to in, but a loss could help Michigan's seeding)
Xavier at DePaul [2:00 p.m., No TV] (DePaul is the Grim Reaper for bubble teams)
Seton Hall at Butler [2:30 p.m., ?] (a road win at Butler could bump the Pirates ahead of Michigan)
Creighton at Marquette [2:30 p.m., ?] (the Blue Jays are in, but sliding down seed lines. Marquette is right on the bubble. I'm torn)
Georgia Tech at Syracuse [4:00 p.m., ACC Network] (I left GT off my list with a RPI in the 80s, this is a weird game and I'm not sure how to feel)
Memphis at SMU [4:00 p.m., ESPN 2] (keep rooting for SMU)
Wake Forest at Virginia Tech [4:30 p.m., ACCN] (VT is technically a bubble team, but they'll make it. Don't let the Demon Deacons get another big win, also the better the Hokies look, the less worse our home less to them is)
Davidson at Rhode Island [6:00 p.m., No TV] (a loss at home to Davidson would send the Rams to the NIT)
FAU at MTSU [6:00 p.m., ESPN3] (see above, any loss is a bad loss for our favorite Sparty-killers)
Washington at USC [6:30 p.m., PAC-12] (Washington is the DePaul of the west this year)
UT-Arlington at Louisiana-Lafayette [8:15 p.m., ESPN3] (any loss is a bad loss, again)
MVC Semifinals
Purdue at Northwestern [4:30 p.m., CBS] (a win here seals the deal for Northwestern)
MVC Championship Game

After a crappy loss, some hope for next year's B-ball team

After a crappy loss, some hope for next year's B-ball team

Submitted by Ahriman on March 1st, 2017 at 9:37 PM

Losses like this suck bad, but I came across this article that might provide some hope for next year's team. Obviously, this year isn't done yet, but Zach Shaw at 247 wrote an article about how well Austin Davis (redshirt) and Charles Matthews (transfer) are playing in practice.

Coach B said: "I hate practice some days. I hate it when Austin and Charles are getting baskets on us or defending us really well," Beilein said. "But I love it when I just think about the future with those two guys. It's really going to be helpful."

If Wagner and D.J. come back, next year's team should have a lot of talent (freshman Poole, Livers & Brooks too) and should do well. Just thought this might help some on the board cope with the NW loss.

B1G tourney seeding

B1G tourney seeding

Submitted by Autocracy Now on March 1st, 2017 at 7:35 AM

Someone who is much smarter than me and follows this closely can probably answer my question off the top of their head: Is it still possible for Michigan to break into the top 4 and get a Thursday bye for the B1G tournament? If so, is that an extreme long shot? 

Planning game attendance scenarios. Thanks, and sorry if this specific question has already been discussed since the Purdue win. 

Michigan Air Jordan 31s for sale on 3/7 and they're perfect

Michigan Air Jordan 31s for sale on 3/7 and they're perfect

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on February 28th, 2017 at 11:03 AM

Finally. Air Jordans. is reporting that the custom Air Jordans the 5 Jordan schools get for the NCAA Tournament every year will potentially be on sale on the date of March 10th.

OT: FontMan JoeMSports with the scoop. $160 on 3/7.