Seth’s 2018 Bracket Assist Tool

Seth’s 2018 Bracket Assist Tool Comment Count

Seth March 13th, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Tourney time is bracket time. There are a lot of good helpers out there these days to make your brackets that give you win predictions and whatnot. I’m not as cool or fancy as Bart Torvik (let’s be honest, you should be using Torvik) I like just having all of a ton of information in comparable form when I do it, so I make this little tool on Google Sheets that you can have too:


Most of the data are from Kenpom, though since last year I also included (You know Ed Feng from the MGoBlog Roundtable on WTKA and his wheelhouse is NCAA brackets (he wrote a book on it!). Ed’s TPR is an expected margin of victory over an average opponent, so like Michigan should beat the 160th-ish team by 15. Both he and Kenpom wound up pretty close, but it’s a bit more data when you’re deciding things like how soon should “1 seed” Xavier go out?

The Tool The Tool The Tool:

To use this you:

  1. Follow this link to make a copy of the spreadsheet.
  2. Select the two teams you want to compare.

The site will be pulled from Team 1, fyi, so if you pull a match that doesn’t exist you’ll still get the distance each team will have to travel to their real site.


Kenpom, Torvik, Hoop-math, ThePowerRank, why Ohio State-Gonzaga returns a weird number, Printable Bracket with minimal ads, funky-ass bracket-making music


Bracketbullets, 2018 Edition

Bracketbullets, 2018 Edition Comment Count

Brian March 12th, 2018 at 10:36 AM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Eh, I'm fine with it. Not getting Detroit over an MSU team with two wins over tourney teams and two double-digit Ls to Michigan, neither at Crisler, is annoying. But other than that I'm not trading draws with them. Michigan pulled the weakest #1 and weakest #2. Gonzaga's a strong #4 and that's usually good since there's a better shot they take down the 1 before the E8. In this case the 1 is so weak that Kenpom favors Gonzaga in a hypothetical matchup. That's bad, but emphasizes how good the draw otherwise is.

And all of these hypothetical regional matchups would be happening in Los Angeles, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from anyone in the region. Flip M into MSU's slot and they're staring down Kenpom #3 Duke and #9 Kansas… in Omaha. I'll take #7 UNC and #8 Gonzaga in a building that might slant to Michigan given the cosmopolitan nature of the fanbase over a roiling pit of Jayhawk partisans. Also, Izzo is 1-11 versus Duke.

Meanwhile, the first round. Michigan got the top 14 and top 6. The first probably won't matter—M has been installed as a 12 point favorite. Montana has five games against major conference opponents this year. They beat Pitt in OT, lost by 13 to PSU, lost by 16 to Stanford, and lost by three at Washington. All of those were on the road, naturally. They're 0-1 in Kenpom "A" games—the PSU outing—and 1-6 in "B" games, which include the aforementioned losses plus Ls against nonconference mid-majors Santa Barbara and Georgia State (a 15 seed) plus a 1-2 record in road games against the three toughest Big Sky opponents.

Despite that they're #71 in Kenpom, better than the other 14s by a fair distance. This is because they've hamblasted a bunch of Big Sky teams en route to a 16-2 conference record. When the difficulty level steps up they haven't been able to hang.

Montana plays a couple of 6'8" posts with no stretch ability and relies on their point guard for 27% of their shots; Synergy has them in the 14th percentile at catch and shoot and 16th on the off the dribble jumpers that Michigan has been very good at forcing. With all due respect to the Grizzlies, this isn't the picture of a 14-3 upset, especially against Michigan.


Rob Gray and his unfortunate hairstyle

The hypothetical second round. While Houston's had an impressive season boy do they look like the team you'd pick out for Michigan to play in round two. Let us run down the ways. Houston…

  • Relies on a high-usage point guard. Rob Gray is at 29% usage; his efficiency relies on TO avoidance and getting to the line. 50% of his threes are unassisted. He's 6'1" and not super athletic. That's the profile of a heavily-relied-upon guy that X can turn into a potato.
  • Is transition-dependent. Houston was #13 nationally in transition eFG; Synergy has them in the 91st percentile. They're only slightly above average in % of transition shots, but the upper reaches there are populated largely by teams that aren't any good and are just trying to get a shot up before the defense can get set.
  • Relies on threes. Average number go up; 34th in hitting them. Michigan is top ten at preventing three launches. Two Houston players are Just Shooters and don't threaten much when you run them off the line.
  • Lets you shoot threes. They're 195th in allowing them. 3PT D is good at 43rd but how much is luck, how much is real, etc.

The one thing that stands out on Houston's resume that's bad for Michigan is that their defense is massively foul-prone. Michigan is unlikely to take as much advantage of that as your average team.

In the "remains to be seen" category: Houston pounds the boards—17th—despite not having anyone taller than 6'8" on the floor. Houston is in fact tiny. Three different 6'6"-6'7" guys get about 75% of their minutes at the 4 and 5. Michigan has done very well at keeping the opposition off the boards and probably should in a hypothetical second-round matchup, but the sheer weirdness of Houston's approach here might give them avenues that Michigan isn't used to dealing with.

The other second round. Kenpom gives San Diego State a 34% chance at the upset of Houston and the Aztecs are an entirely different challenge. They're huge (18th nationally in height), three-averse, and frequently use a 2-3 zone. They have what might be the strangest three-game stretch in the country: a win against Gonzaga bracketed by losses to Cal (at home!) and Wyoming.

So despite the 6 vs 11 thing, I think I'd rather see Houston. San Diego State is not overly dependent on their PG (21% usage), doesn't run that well, runs a long-ass zone, and has a big Duncan Robinson matchup problem in Malik Pope. Pope is a diverse and athletic 6'10" four who can face up on or post Robinson and might be able to clobber him on the boards. Duncan's come a long way but I'm not real happy when the opposition rolls in with a 4 who's their biggest-usage guy.

But what about UNC? The Tarheels did clobber Michigan early in the year, thanks in large part to a 15 minute stretch spanning halftime during which Michigan got three buckets. This team is not that team. Eli Brooks played 18 minutes; Zavier Simpson played one minute more than Ibi Watson did. Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers both got their first real minutes against a real team—and on the road.

I would not expect Michigan to win that game, and that's fine. Michigan earned a three, got a three, and got what's actually the perfect Kenpom matchup at that point in the bracket: the #7 overall team vs the #10 overall team. But I don't think the first game is at all representative of what you should expect. UNC starts three seniors and two juniors coming off a national championship. Michigan had no idea who their point guard was or, frankly, what shape their ass was at that juncture.

UNC poses a bunch of matchup issues and Michigan will have to play their best game of the year to beat them. Even so I expect that to be tooth and nail. Should they be so fortunate to make the Elite Eight that game will feel like a breath of fresh air.

Don't even think about it. It will be UNC. Lipscomb? No. A 9-9 SEC team? No. Providence? No, even though their coach is Bunk Moreland. The Tarheels got a gift draw to the Sweet 16.


or big boy cool glasses [Campredon]

TIME TO PUT ON THE BIG BOY PANTS. It took a typical committee injustice to prevent Penn State from getting the Kenpom booby prize this year. They're the second-best team left out of the field, one slot behind St. Mary's. And they're a four-seed in the NIT. Same goes for Nebraska, which turned a (soft) 13-5 conference record into a 5 seed in that same tournament.

This is in part because both teams scheduled like garbage in the nonconference. Aside from their mandated Big Ten-ACC challenge games, this is what those two teams took on amongst power conferences and other actually good teams:

  • Penn State: Pitt, Texas A&M.
  • Nebraska: Creighton, Kansas, BC, St John's.

Nebraska deserves a little sympathy for coming up just short against those two tourney teams but the rest was dreck. This goes for the rest of the conference, too. The Big Ten's NCSOS markers per the NCAA's reckoning:

  • Ohio State: 32
  • Purdue: 71
  • Wisconsin: 92
  • Maryland: 141
  • Illinois: 169
  • Indiana: 201
  • Iowa: 203
  • MSU: 217
  • Minnesota: 244
  • Michigan: 259
  • PSU: 265
  • Nebraska: 274
  • Northwestern: 306
  • Rutger: 333

There are about 350 D-I basketball teams. Just five Big Ten teams were in the top half, and two just barely. I know the committee head basically laughed this metric off earlier this year, since the RPI is about 75% SOS all of that crap got lumped into actual RPI numbers and diced into quadrants and what not. It got batted back and forth as the league went through its conference schedule.

The league's scheduling has real impacts you can see when better ranking systems survey the landscape, like Seth Burns's implied pythag:

Pythag has a lot more respect for the Big 10 than the RPI has, and it shows here with the Big 10 getting three teams on the top two seed lines. Surprisingly (to me anyway), the ACC would only get one.

In a WAB (or Implied Pythag) world, Nebraska would be safely in. Ditto for St. Mary’s. Marquette and Middle Tennessee would be the last teams in, while Oklahoma State would be the first team out.

Nebraska's an 8. That's what they deserved. Oh and MSU's a 1 and Michigan a 2. But because our conference has its collective head up its Izzo, none of that came to pass. Nobody even thought about Nebraska as an at large because the collected weight of RPI boat anchors moved a top 30 Kenpom team (Penn State) out of the top 75 in RPI. And moved a top 50 Kenpom team (Maryland) almost out of same.

Hell, you don't need to even put on the Big Boy Pants. Just stop scheduling SWAC and MEAC teams, which are 8 points worse than the ASun. We'll see if next year's committee really dusts the RPI. If so, hooray. If not the league should fine any team that ends up with an NCSOS under 200.


Unverified Voracity Pissed Off People In Practice

Unverified Voracity Pissed Off People In Practice Comment Count

Brian March 9th, 2018 at 1:39 PM


i can see it [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Jordan Poole annoyed everyone into being mean. That's Ace's take on the season, no doubt, and uh…

"It was just aggressive," Jordan Poole said last week in Ann Arbor, before the team left for the Big Ten Tournament in New York. "Guys were leaving with cuts, fights (were) breaking out. It was pretty high-intensity games in open gym. I think that's when we knew our identity was going to be tough." …

So what changed? Multiple players mentioned the freshmen as bringing a certain kind of mindset as soon as they arrived on campus.

Hibbitts singled out Poole. "He didn't want to get quote unquote 'bullied' or anything like that," Hibbitts said. "He held his own and wasn't backing down from anybody."

…it might not be wrong.

Figuring out Detroit. I have not been able to figure out how much flexibility the committee has to intervene in a situation like the one burgeoning in the Midwest this year, with Xavier, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan, and MSU all in as protected seeds. A ton of brackets have Xavier as the #1 in Detroit and Purdue #2 behind them. Joe Lunardi had a conference call recently in which he asserted that the committee was likely to slot teams in strictly by distance:

"If the Committee goes strictly by mileage, Xavier and then Purdue and/or Cincinnati will end up in Detroit ahead of one or both of (Michigan or Michigan State)," Lunardi said on a conference call Thursday. "And I said earlier, the Committee could wiggle. They could choose to put Xavier or Cincinnati in Pittsburgh, which is about a 20-mile difference to try and open up a Detroit slot. They just have not done that in the past. They go one team at a time, look at mileage — I call it drop and slot — and then move on to the next team on the list."

Lunardi also asserts that Michigan State will be ahead of Michigan on the seed list, which is an extremely frustrating situation to be in if it does in fact come to pass:

If they're on the same seed line you'd think that would be a situation where head to head would break a tie for Detroit placement. But I'd brace yourselves for Not Detroit.

One reason there's such a logjam. Jason Lisk took a look at protected seeds over the past decade:

…the breakdown of actual top seeds by geographic region (as generally defined by where the regional finals are held) is as follows:

West – 14%

Midwest – 36%

East – 27%

South – 23%

The East (if we consider the Carolinas as representing the southern edge of the East Region) and the South (if we include the South to go from Georgia and Florida in the East, to Texas and Oklahoma in the West, and Kentucky to the north) are pretty balanced in terms of the teams and hosting sites.

There are too many teams fighting for protected slots and too many regionals in an area with no top-end teams. Lisk runs down the bracketing procedure if you just go by distance, and it boots both MSU and Michigan from Detroit:

#1 Virginia goes to Charlotte

#2 Villanova goes to Pittsburgh

#3 Xavier goes to Detroit (Cincinnati is 263 miles to Detroit, 273 to Nashville and 288 to Pittsburgh)

#4 Kansas goes to Wichita

#5 Duke takes the 2nd Charlotte spot

#6 Purdue takes 2nd Detroit spot

#7 Cincinnati takes Nashville

#8 North Carolina takes 2nd Pittsburgh spot (slightly closer than Nashville but still a 7+ hour drive, so now that option is closed to Michigan and Michigan State

#9 Michigan takes 2nd Nashville spot (ahead of either SEC contender)

#10 Auburn then has to go to Dallas 700 miles away

#11 Michigan State then goes to 2nd Wichita spot 900 miles away

#12 Tennessee takes 2nd Dallas spot 840 miles away, foreclosing Texas Tech and Wichita State from being relatively close enough for fans

This is a worst case scenario for locations and assumes Michigan is the top 3 (which they are on Torvik but aren't on the Bracket Matrix). It vastly preferable to MSU getting an undeserved slot over a Michigan team that beat it by double-digits twice. But it's still pretty doofy.

NIT is a four letter word. Jaaron Simmons was taken aback recently.

"We've got to keep winning games so we keep playing in the postseason," Beilein told his team. "NIT, NCAA."

Beilein and Simmons made eye contact. Simmons laughed.

"What are you laughing at?" Beilein asked, a smile creeping on his face.

"Coach," Simmons said, "I ain't come here to play in the NIT."

Also of note: Simmons is still calling Zavier Simpson "X." Can we still call him X? Amongst all the letters X is the coolest.

Livers should be good. Via the Daily:

And while instant reactions seemed grim, it seems the injury is not as bad as it may have initially seemed. Livers came back to the bench midway through the second half, though he did not play the final 19 minutes of the championship bout.

“I could (have gone back in),” Livers said. “Duncan (Robinson) was just playing good.”

After the game, Livers vowed to be ready for the NCAA Tournament. Aided by the extra week off, he will, at minimum, have 10 days to regain his health in preparation for the Tournament.

That kind of injury could have been anything from a rolled ankle to a Dread High Ankle Sprain. Looks like it's the former.

Report reports that reports are good. A couple months ago, Illinois announced it would undertake a feasibility study for hockey, sponsored by various agencies that want to promote hockey. The unsurprising conclusion:

Ice hockey would 'flourish' at University of Illinois, study shows

A study on the feasibility of an NCAA men’s ice hockey team at the University of Illinois reached a clear conclusion: Go for it.

The study that launched in June found the interest level and talent in the state would help a hockey program thrive at Illinois.

The university has not decided if it will add a team but is seeking information on funding from campus and community stakeholders. Athletic director Josh Whitman told reporters Thursday that implementing a varsity program would require raising “north of $50 million” and called it “probably one of the more ambitious projects.”

That is the laziest possible takeaway from a shoddy "study" riddled with typos, unjustified assumptions, and self-contradictory assertions. But if you only read the front page, yeah, that's what it says. Not what it shows. Frustrated Illinois fan Steve The Illinois Fan actually read the thing and brings up various issues with the report in a Medium post.

Penn State was the best-case scenario for a startup program: huge fanbase, limited basketball tradition, massive program benefactor. They've created a program that generates 1.7 million in ticket sales annually… and it's still only a break-even proposition when you include the women's hockey boat anchor that Title IX lashed to it.

Illinois has zero of these advantages, and frankly it's hard to see them being anything but a basement dweller if they did start a program.

Iowa and Nebraska remain the Big Ten schools at which hockey makes the most sense. Both schools are smack dab in the middle of the USHL. Both have (or will probably have) private rinks of the appropriate size literally across the street from campus, obviating the need for a massive startup donation. Both have large local fanbases and basketball programs that don't often reach the NCAA tournament.

People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them, Part Lots. Pittsburgh's athletic director let Jamie Dixon return to his alma mater TCU without a fight, hired a search firm headed by his old boss, who also happened to be the old boss of flailing Vandy head coach Kevin Stallings. Stallings had managed one NCAA bit in the previous four years, that an 11 seed at 19-13. Pitt immediately cratered; Stallings was booted after just two years.

Miraculously, that AD had already gotten out ahead of the posse:

So Pittsburgh (presumably) paid six figures so the search firm could recommend an old buddy, and the hire has now produced a disaster in two years. Barnes, by the way, moved on to Oregon State in December of 2016, and spent only 18 months as the athletic director in Pittsburgh. It was a costly tenure, and one for which the school now gets to pay the final bill while Barnes is thousands of miles away.

Once you get to a certain level of rich, other people at that level will crony your ass so that no level of incompetence is too high. See Dave Brandon.

Etc.: Football hires Ron Prince as an analyst. New York doesn't care about you. Steve Kerr also thinks amateurism is stupid.


Conference Tournaments Rooting Guide Update

Conference Tournaments Rooting Guide Update Comment Count

Seth March 9th, 2018 at 10:46 AM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon (oui, les Campredons qui fait le bon vin)]

After some some rooting guides by the users popped up we made our own, and now that we're deeper in I've updated it. I’ve highlighted the team you’re rooting for in each. All times eastern.

UPDATE 3/9: Just about nothing went right for our rooting interests last night except Duke easily dispatched the Domerless Domers. We're now 5-14 overall on our rooting guide, though to be fair we were picking against a lot of favorites. There's nothing to be done for Maryland and Penn State since everything that could conspire to move them down RPI has transpired—the Terps dropped 6 spots from yesterday without even playing—and everyone around them now has upward mobility. We're going to stop tracking that now since they’re both probably trapped below the 75th threshold, and just focus on various conference champions we don't want to pass Michigan.

Friday, March 9


  • Cincinnati vs SMU (ESPN2). Why: Michigan’s competing for a protected seed and there are too many Midwest teams for too few Detroit slots. Cincy is a 2 in the bracket matrix but an early tourney loss could have an outsized effect given their weakish schedule (best non-conf win is @UCLA) and deny Wichita State a shot at a signature win later on.
  • VCU vs Rhode Island (NBCS). Why: No, URI isn't catching us; this is because Michigan beat VCU earlier this year and an upset here would be nice for an RPI bump, while a run to the A10 title would sneak in another tourney win. It won't happen but it'd be fun.


  • Bama vs Auburn (ESPN). Why: Auburn has a slightly stronger resume than Michigan’s right now. A loss to a mediocre Tide could push them below us and lock Michigan into a 3-see. However Auburn could also do us a favor if we get stuck behind them by winning the SEC and keeping Kentucky, Florida, or Tennessee from passing us. So if Auburn wins, just root for them the rest of the way.


  • Southern Miss vs Marshall (CBSSN). Why: Former Michigan opponent stayin' alive.


  • Kentucky vs Georgia (ESPN). Why: Kentucky is currently a five seed to Bracket Matrix but a run in the SEC Tourney could conceivably pass Michigan while boosting the resumes of Tennessee and Auburn. Florida is the last double-bye in the SEC tourney and are currently a six seed by the way. Georgia knocked out Mizzou, probably the best shot to blast the SEC threats out of the water, so now we're UGA fans I guess? Hard to root for that school.


  • UVA vs Clemson (ESPN2). Why: Last chance to knock Clemson below Michigan--if they upset a 1 seed here that'll almost certainly push the Tigers ahead for good.
  • Miss St vs Tennessee (SEC Network). Why: Any chance of Michigan moving up means passing one or two SEC teams, and Tennessee is currently one spot ahead of us in the bracket matrix and 10th in RPI. 
  • Temple vs Wichita State (ESPNU). Why: Wichita State can’t play in Wichita because they’re the hosts so we really don’t want them winning the AAC tournament and passing Michigan for a protected seed (they’re the second four-seed to Bracket Matrix). Better Cincy than Wichita.


  • West Virginia vs Texas Tech (ESPN2). Why: Both are technically threats to Michigan but TTU is one spot below us on Bracket Matrix so a win here could push them permanently over Michigan while WVU has a ton of RPI to make up.
  • UCLA vs Arizona (Pac 12 network). Why: Zona (last four-seed on BracketMatrix, 18th RPI) would probably need a championship to have a shot at passing Michigan but the best possible time for them to go out is versus a team Michigan beat.

The Rest of the Weekend

I'm just going to do this by conference now:

  • ACC: Anyone but Clemson. UNC helps those around us as much as it does us, Michigan can't pass UVA, UNC, or Duke. Championship Game: 8:30 pm ESPN tomorrow night.
  • Atlantic 10: VCU all the way! They play A10 1-seed Rhode Island in an hour or so in the quarterfinals so there's a way's to go.
  • Big East: An upset by Butler or Providence doesn't move Nova or Xavier down far enough, and neither can catch Michigan but feel free to root for one-seed chaos anyway?
  • Big XII: Would strongly prefer WVU knocks out Texas Tech then loses to whichever Kansas team (probably Kansas). In the championship root for whichever team has the most Kansas in their name. CG will air at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN.
  • ConfUSA: Root for Southern Miss to maybe (not likely, they're not very good) give Michigan another victory over a tournament team. They play Marshall this afternoon and the winner of ODU/WKU tomorrow night at 7:30pm, CBSsports.
  • Pac 12: Root for UCLA and against Arizona. A Pac12 banner shouldn't put the Wildcats over Michigan but never trust the selectors with a marquee name. Championship game is at 10pm on FS1.
  • SEC: They're still in the quarterfinals so this is a bit more complicated. Root for all the upsets tonight in hopes of Michigan finishing above the entire SEC, but if they don't come off you want Auburn (8th RPI, first 3 seed to Bracket Matrix) to win it, followed by Florida (37th, first 6 seed), Kentucky (17th, last 5 seed), and last of all Tennessee (3rd 3 seed, 10th RPI). Worst case scenario is Tennessee over Auburn in the finals, since that'll put both of them over Michigan. Florida over Auburn in the finals would get iffy. Semifinals will be at 1pm and 3pm tomorrow on ESPN, and the championship will be at noon on ESPN on Sunday.
  • Atlantic 10, ConfUSA, MEAC, MtnWest, Southland, Sun Belt: Don't curr.

[After THE JUMP: results from Wednesday and Thursday]



Conference Tournaments Rooting Guide (thru Friday)

Conference Tournaments Rooting Guide (thru Friday) Comment Count

Seth March 7th, 2018 at 4:15 PM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon (oui, CE Campredon)]

After playing a compressed schedule then four games in four days Michigan gets to watch the rest of college basketball sort out their seed resumes this week. We’ve had a couple of rooting guides pop up on our radar. The one by Mercury Hayes included some I’ve left out, and the board post by ish goes into a bunch of scenarios. There’s also this very useful twitter thread. We figured since you’re all probably junkies like us, you’d also like to know when these games are taking place. So here’s a rooting guide with gametimes and stuff! I’ve highlighted the team you’re rooting for in each (in blue if it only matters to getting Penn State to 75th in RPI). All times eastern.

UPDATE 3/8: Noted the scores and winners from last night. Now Maryland is 74th in RPI and Penn State has fallen to 80th, so really you're rooting for nobody else to pass Maryland now. I don't know how much the quartiles will actually mean to the committee--maybe not at all--but it's a number they see so we might as well track it.

Wednesday, March 7


  • Cal vs Stanford (Pac12 Network). Why: Penn State is currently 77th in RPI and Stanford (76th) losing would be one fewer teams ahead of PSU. If PSU gets up to 75th that’s another Q1 win for Michigan.
    RESULT: Stanford 76-58, but Cal is such a schedule weight they dropped to 83rd.


  • Notre Dame vs Virginia Tech (ESPN2). Why: Same reason; ND is 70th in RPI. Also why: they’re an MSU non-conference win, and State needs to cherish every tournament team victory since they skipped out on a lot of chances in-conference. Also also why: Screw ND.
    RESULT: Notre Dame 76-65. VT pissed away a 19-point lead with some Teddy V assistance. ND is up to 64th.

  • Vanderbilt vs Georgia (SEC Network). Why: ditto. Georgia is 83rd.
    RESULT: Vanderbilt 78-62. Georgia moved up to 81st anyway.


  • Texas vs ISU (ESPNU). Why: Michigan beat Texas on the road earlier this year so any little boost to that victory should help. Even if they ride Mo Bamba all the way to a banner they can’t catch up to Michigan but a decent run could put them in the tournament. Also Shaka Smart was college roommates with one of our big sponsors. Hook ’em!
    RESULT: Texas 68-64

  • Ole Miss vs South Carolina (SEC Network) Why: Back to helping Md/PSU. South Carolina is 80th in RPI and a run in the SEC could push them up.
    RESULT: SC 85-84, up to 75th in RPI

  • North Carolina vs Syracuse (ESPN2). Why: This is an argument because UNC is a two seed right now to Bracket Matrix, so UNC losing to Syracuse miiight give a Michigan a shot to move up a line. But honestly, nah, the H2H settles things if it’s close, and I hate Cuse.
    RESULT: UNC 78-59

Thursday, March 8


  • Clemson vs Boston College (ESPN2). Why: Clemson is currently 12th in RPI--one spot ahead of Michigan--so the sooner they go out in this tourney the better.


  • Colorado vs Arizona (Pac12 Network). Why: Zona is currently the last 4 seed on Bracket Matrix and Michigan is the last 3, so a run could pull the Wildcats ahead of us. Root against them all the way: they probably get UCLA in the 2nd round by the way.


  • Cal State Bakersfield vs Utah Valley (ESPN3). Why: Utah Valley is 73rd in RPI and we want Penn State to get to 75th to convince the committee to count that as a Quartile One victory instead of a Quartile Two victory because Penn State’s non-conference schedule was crap so RPI has them severely underrated. This should be all the explanation you need for streaming WACball when your family is begging you to come to dinner.


  • Texas Tech vs TEXAS (ESPN2). Why: The Red Raiders are currently predicted to be a four seed so a run in a very strong Big XII tournament could push them past us. Texas is also a non-conference win.
  • LSU vs Mississippi State (SEC Network). Why: An LSU run would make for a boost in Michigan’s strength of schedule and also knock Mississippi State (72nd in RPI) below Michigan's conference rivals.
  • Duke vs Notre Dame (ESPN). Why: I flipped this because Notre Dame is an important non-conference win for Michigan State, who skipped double-plays against every tournament or bubble Big Ten team, and only played one ranked conference team on the road, until they lost by double-digits again to Michigan in the tournament and if you thought it was getting old to point this out you don't know me very well. If ND gets blown out here the committee will remember they were a legendary Teddy V'ing away from losing to Virginia Tech; if they pull off the upset MSU has a stronger case to be ranked ahead of the team they lost to twice, once at home and once at a neutral site, by double digits. Nope, still not old. Michigan can't pass Duke.


  • Baylor vs West Virginia (ESPN2) Why: Though we’re all secretly hoping West Virginia ends up in Michigan’s bracket we’re not hoping for West Virginia to steal Michigan’s spot. At 31st in RPI we probably shouldn’t worry about WVU, but Baylor can’t hurt us at all and the Mountaineers could.
  • East Carolina vs UCF (ESPNU) Why: UCF is 78th to RPI so that removes another Md/PSU problem but also UCF is 5th in defense to Kenpom and Michigan is 6th so YAR ME CAROLINA MATEYS or whatever the kids say when they’re not saying “We in here!”


  • Old Dominion vs La. Tech (no TV). Why: ODU (77th) is another team that needs to get out of Maryland and Penn State’s way.

Friday, March 9


  • Cincinnati vs Winner of UConn/SMU (ESPN2). Why: Michigan’s competing for a protected seed and there are too many Midwest teams for too few Detroit slots. Cincy is a 2 in the bracket matrix but an early tourney loss could have an outsized effect given their weakish schedule (best non-conf win is @UCLA) and deny Wichita State a shot at a signature win later on.


  • Winner of A&M/Bama vs Auburn (ESPN). Why: Auburn has a similar resume to Michigan’s right now. A loss could lock them below Michigan, however Auburn could also do us a favor if we get stuck behind them by winning the SEC and keeping Kentucky, Florida, or Tennessee from passing us. So if Auburn wins, just root for them the rest of the way and if they lose root for LSU and upsets galore.


  • Kentucky vs Winner of Georgia/Vandy vs Mizzou (ESPN). Why: Kentucky is currently a five seed to Bracket Matrix but a run in the SEC Tourney could conceivably pass Michigan while boosting the resumes of Tennessee and Auburn. Florida is the last double-bye in the SEC tourney and are currently a six seed by the way. Mizzou probably has the best shot to blast the SEC threats out of the water.


  • Winner of LSU/Miss St vs Tennessee (SEC Network). Why: Any chance of Michigan moving up means passing one or two SEC teams, and Tennessee is currently one spot ahead of us in the bracket matrix.
  • Winner of Temple/Tulane vs Wichita State (ESPNU). Why: Wichita State can’t play in Wichita because they’re the hosts so we really don’t want them winning the AAC tournament and passing Michigan for a protected seed (they’re the second four-seed to Bracket Matrix). Better Cincy than Wichita.


  • GW/Fordham/St Louis vs Davidson (NBCSN). Why: Davidson is 84th in RPI.


Unverified Voracity Explores Zero And Uh... Nero? Hero?

Unverified Voracity Explores Zero And Uh... Nero? Hero? Comment Count

Brian March 7th, 2018 at 12:45 PM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

If it keeps going like this I'll learn to spell "renaissance" correctly on the first try. Rob Dauster on Michigan's elite... defense? That is what the card says. Defense.

As surprising as that decision was, the dots connected. Yaklich, like Beilein, spent his life as a teacher and a high school coach before breaking into the college ranks. Unlike Beilein, however, Yaklich has prided himself in his ability to get the most out of a team on the defensive end of the floor.

“As a high school coach, I focused entirely on defense,” Yaklich said. At the high school level, coaching offense is more about skill development, about making your players better shooters, better ball-handlers, better scorers. Figure out a handful of things that you can have success with and trust your players to make plays. “My high school coaches instilled that in me. When I went to Illinois State, I naturally grew into that role. We didn’t have a defensive coordinator, but my voice, that’s what I took pride in.”

At Michigan, that is, quite literally, Yaklich’s role. He was hired to coach Michigan’s defense, to be their defensive coordinator, and the success that the Wolverines have had on that end cannot be overlooked. Prior to this season, Beilein never had a team finish higher than 37th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings. In the last four seasons, the Wolverines never finished higher than 69th.

“The smartest thing is I stopped coaching it so much,” Beilein said of his team’s defensive improvement. “I let other people become the voice of it. I wanted one guy, that’s all he thinks about all day long.”

I'm not taking credit for suggesting that Beilein needs a defensive coordinator. But I'm not not taking credit. I will be ambiguously pleased.

Similar resumes. I should have posted this a couple days ago when it was slightly different, with the Stauskas Elite Eight team at the top of the list. But anyway here's Bart Torvik's list of resumes most similar to Michigan's in recent committee history:


Nik and company are still #3. These are all at least three seeds and 40% of them are twos. I haven't seen anything else suggesting Michigan can get to a two, but hopefully that indicates Jerry Palm's (and 30% of the matrix's) 4-seed is off.

There is exactly one bracket that puts Michigan on the five line, but it's KPI. For some reason KPI is on the teamsheets, so hooray for that.

One of many maximum Beilein moments. A man who recognizes his own limitations.

Unbalanced schedule FTL. This year was an excellent example of how the Big Ten's schedule cheapens the regular season title. A gent calling himself "Wicked_UMD"—must be a St. Cloud State fan—analyzed how the schedule rotation affected expected wins in league play:

Team Exp Win Delta
Michigan State 1.09
Northwestern 0.66
Purdue 0.65
Nebraska 0.51
Ohio State 0.46
Iowa 0.18
Indiana 0.16
Minnesota 0.02
Wisconsin -0.08
Illinois -0.10
Penn State -0.43
Rutgers -0.77
Michigan -0.81
Maryland -1.27

That half-win edge over Purdue had a fairly good shot at costing the Boilers a share of the title, and Michigan is almost two wins back of MSU—flip that first Purdue game and that is also a title-altering schedule gap.

The net result is a cheapening of the regular season title. Adding two conference games will help somewhat, but only somewhat: each team still misses almost half the conference for a second game annually. There is a way to create a maximally meaningful and fair conference race with just one extra game:

Alternative: 19 game conference schedule.

PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin. Rutgers is relegated to the Big East every year.

PROS: Absolutely fair. Winner is undisputed. Makes Big Ten title a huge important deal. Final six games for teams that make upper half would be knock-down drag out brutal free-for-all for league title. Would give top teams impregnable schedule strength. You could televise the schedule draw with Ronaldo and Messi in suits.

CONS: May cost league NCAA bids if the best team in the bottom half can't get any marquee wins in the last six games or the worst team in the top half just gets blitzed. Bottom half is just kind of sadly playing out the string. Uncertainty about final three home games may impact ticket sales negatively. Extremely distant possibility that the 8th best team 13 games in can climb all the way to the top.

This will never happen because the folks in charge are more interested in milking as much money out of college basketball than making a drastic and potentially awesome change. But seriously you guys.

Mo draft stock. The Draft Express gents on Michigan's center:

Despite his limitations, and the diminishing market for players his size, there's still a role in today's NBA for a highly skilled big man who can space the floor and plays with a competitive spirit. Wagner is young for a junior, not turning 21 until the end of April, so he has time to continue to improve considering he was already a late bloomer to begin with. He'd likely get picked somewhere in the second round if he decided to keep his name in the draft but also could benefit from coming back for his senior year and continuing to work on his weaknesses, namely his defense, passing and overall feel for the game.

They rank him 55th, so not even towards the top of the second round. SI has an extensive Big Ten Tournament scouting article that comes to a similar conclusion:

Draft Projection: Second Round

After testing and staying in school last year, Wagner has definitely improved, although he’s still a bit of an acquired taste among scouts. It depends on what you value in your bigs, and his considerable offensive skills will be worth the risk to some teams despite his lackluster defense and physical limitations in that area. Wagner excels as a screener and post-up option and has a good feel for finding pockets in the defense. He’s heavy-footed and looks a bit clumsy at times, but his skill level facing up, attacking closeouts and keeping defenders honest gets the job done in college. He gets some credit for helping lift Michigan to the title (and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player) but the Wolverines won more by playing great team basketball than relying on Wagner to carry them.

It'll be up to Wagner's whim. He's not in the range where he's going to get a guaranteed contract and may end up in the G-League. The money there isn't great so he might decide he'd rather play under the bright lights of the NCAA than for the Fort Wayne Mad Antz even if he delays his earnings a year. If the consensus is that he'll stick on a roster that's a totally different matter.

FWIW, SI on Matthews:

Draft Projection: 2019

The former Kentucky transfer has been plagued by consistency issues throughout his career but has an outside chance at the league depending on how much he can improve over the course of the next year. “I can’t put my finger on what he does well,” says one scout, the sentiment being that Matthews is best suited as a 3-and-D wing given the heavy demand for such players. He has the right type of body to fit in the league, but struggles to create his own offense and has to simplify his approach. He did hit a pair of threes against Michigan State, but must improve his shot selection and become a consistently impactful defender to succeed in the NBA.

Silver lining from his collapse midseason is that Michigan doesn't have to worry about his departure after just one year.

The hopes are dangerously up. George Sipple of the Free Press checks in with Quinn and Jack Hughes, who's currently the projected #1 pick in the 2019 draft. In addition to various items about how he is a generational hockey player is this tantalizing possibility:

Two Hughes at U-M in 2019?
There’s a chance Jack could join his older brother at Michigan next season. The middle Hughes has not committed anywhere, and Ellen and Jim acknowledge U-M is one possibility.

Michigan has had players accelerate to play college hockey early. Jack is currently in his junior year of high school, but, through online courses, he could go on an accelerated academic track, and graduate early to be able to play collegiality next year.

Jack sought exceptional status to play in the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old, but was denied. Among the short list of players who have been granted that status to play a year early are John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid, who are now in the NHL. …

“It could be a perfect scenario,” Jim said of Jack going to U-M. “But they’re not there yet. The beauty is Jack is in a really great spot right now. He values the development he’s getting with Seth and Wrobo.”

For perspective, Hughes is playing up with the U18s as a U17:

Adding Hughes—and presumably keeping Quinn—would radically change next year's outlook.

Brandon Johns highlights. He is up for Mr. Basketball and looks like a perfect fit as a Beilein 4:

His main competition is David DeJulius, it appears.

One and done done? The NBA's one and done rule was always more about the NBA than college basketball, and now that they've got Lebron and a former president criticizing it publicly it may not be long for this world. The proposal is wrought with frippery that attempts to make it seem like one-and-done wasn't a selfish act from the drop:

Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver and several of his top advisers have been engaged in listening tours and information-gathering missions with an array of stakeholders for months. That has included formal meetings with the National Basketball Players Association about adjusting the so-called "one-and-done" age-limit rule. But Silver's aim is much more comprehensive than simply re-opening the door for 18-year-olds to play in the NBA, sources said.

A plan is expected to include the NBA starting relationships with elite teenagers while they are in high school, providing skills to help them develop both on and off the court. It would ultimately open an alternate path to the NBA besides playing in college and a way 18-year-olds could earn a meaningful salary either from NBA teams or as part of an enhanced option in the developmental G League, sources said.

The NCAA is either going to work with the NBA to keep a healthy number of future stars in college basketball or lose them all because of their archaic rules. Survey says it'll be the former because the people in charge care about money.

Etc.: I summon the Bracket Leak Hero from his home in Valhalla. Daily on Lavigne. Also Boka. Amateurism under attack, repeatedly, FBI investigation is good.


The Bracket Split

The Bracket Split Comment Count

Brian February 16th, 2018 at 11:55 AM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

So here's a thing: there is a big ol' discrepancy between various bracketology attempts when it comes to Michigan. I don't think I've seen such wide splits during this pleasant recent era when the tourney is a given unless the basketball gods hew down your two best players. And I'm not talking about randoms on Bracket Matrix:

I think the main discrepancy here is between people looking at overall strength of record calculations and those looking at the NCAA's teamsheets. Michigan has a Quadrant One problem. Take it from Palm:

The Wolverines have a poor non-conference schedule and only two quadrant 1 wins, but neither of those things can be addressed tonight.

It doesn't take long to figure out why the first part of that might be the case:


Michigan's quadrant one games are

  • @ Kenpom #4 Purdue
  • @ #6 MSU
  • @ #10 UNC
  • @ #11 OSU
  • @ #52 Nebraska
  • @ #45 Texas
  • home vs #4 Purdue

IE, five games against top 10-ish competition, four of them on the road, and just two in the more winnable section of the bin. So if you're looking solely at the bin that doesn't look too great. It looks significantly better if you take each individual game and pile them into a Strength Of Record calculation, as ESPN does. ESPN ranks Michigan 17th in SOR, i.e. the first five seed. The AP poll, which is sort of a folk SOR calculation, is a seed more skeptical but more or less agrees.

So if you're looking at the worse and more arbitrary bins and eyeballing it, if you're looking at basic nonconference SOS measures that don't know that playing 200 is exactly like playing 350 if you're tourney-level, Michigan doesn't look too good. If you're trying to sum up Michigan's season without the bins, they look a bit better. Thus a couple of votes for 5-6 seeds and a general 8-9 malaise.

The good news is that Michigan has three relatively easy Q1 games to finish the year: home against OSU and on the road against Penn State and Maryland. Those are 58%, 38%, and 41% shots per Kenpom, much better than the large majority of their Q1 games to date. (They had a 15% shot at MSU, a 10% shot at Purdue, and a 20% shot at UNC, for instance.) If they could pick two of those off and end up 4-6 against Q1 teams, hopefully their high degree of difficulty in those games—7 of which would be on the road against top 50 teams—would matter to someone and they could get into that 5-6 range the optimistic folks currently have them in.

FWIW, Alex played around with Bart Torvik's Teamcast a bit. Findings:

  • Winning out (ie: also winning the BTT) gets Michigan a three seed(!).
  • Losing out puts them in Dayton as the last team in the field.
  • A reasonably optimistic end of season featuring two wins in Michigan's final three games and a 2-1 record in the BTT nets them that 6.
  • Going 1-2 down the stretch with reasonably optimistic BTT gets them a 9 seed.

So there is a great deal left to play for here.


Basketbullets: Brackets, Shot Volume, Wisconsin, Stephening

Basketbullets: Brackets, Shot Volume, Wisconsin, Stephening Comment Count

Brian February 13th, 2018 at 2:19 PM



Brackets: large differences. Michigan is a 9 seed on the Bracket Matrix, but Joe Lunardi has a more optimistic take:


Lunardi doesn't pay enough attention to avoid rematches in the first two rounds, thus the potential UNC game in round two. Let's hope he's right, and not everyone else. (Everyone else is probably right.)

I don't dive into the numbers like bracket guys do, but it's completely bonkers to me that a team like Alabama is ahead of Michigan on the matrix. Alabama has Ls to Minnesota, UCF, and Texas in the nonconference and is 7-5 in the SEC. They've got a smattering of good wins but they're 43rd in Kenpom.

Sucks being a Big Ten team this year, I guess. Crashing The Dance's entirely algorithmic take barely has Michigan out of the first four—they're the #29 at large—and has them as a ten-seed. Woof. (It's missing Michigan's most recent win, but I don't think Wisconsin is moving that needle very much.)

Let's all try to not think about what Michigan's tourney profile with one of those games against Purdue in the W column.

Shot volume: we have some of it. Michigan's always been okay at getting shots up, and this year they're fairly good. Via John Gasaway:

Gluttonous	         TO%     OR%     SVI
1.  North Carolina      16.1    41.0    102.8
2.  Villanova           12.9    28.4    100.7
3.  Duke                17.2    37.4     99.8
4.  Ole Miss            15.9    32.9     99.8
5.  Florida State       16.2    34.2     99.5
6.  USC                 14.4    29.5     99.5
7.  TCU                 16.8    34.9     99.1
8.  Notre Dame          16.7    34.0     98.8
9.  Arizona State       14.1    27.1     98.7
10. Auburn              15.7    30.8     98.6
11. West Virginia       18.1    36.9     98.5

Normal                   TO%     OR%     SVI
12. Florida             14.5    27.2     98.3
13. Virginia            14.2    26.3     98.2
14. Iowa State          16.9    33.2     98.2
15. NC State            16.8    32.5     98.0
16. Michigan            13.9    25.0     97.9
17. Ohio State          15.5    28.6     97.8
18. Purdue              14.3    25.4     97.7
19. South Carolina      17.4    33.4     97.7
20. Butler              14.3    25.2     97.6

Michigan checks in 16th amongst 75 major-conference teams, largely on the strength of their TO rate, which is typical Beilein, and an OREB rate that, while last in the Big Ten, is not cripplingly low. Teams like Creighton and VT and their sub 20% OREB rates get sucked into the bottom here despite solid TO rates. And TO rate is where it's at:

Since turnovers are way more important to shot volume than offensive boards (you can’t rebound your miss if you’ve already coughed up the ball), you can generate a UNC-like shot volume with nowhere near the Chapel Hill-variety emphasis on the offensive glass. Shot volume is small-c catholic on how you get the job done, it just measures results.

Michigan doesn't focus on OREBs, exchanging them for excellent transition defense, but they're not hurting themselves on offense much by doing son.

I'd be interested to see a defensive version of this, especially to see Michigan's uptick in it over the last couple seasons.


Cowan and Mason are UA3 shooters [Paul Sherman/Marc-Gregor Campredon]

The Stephening. Kevin Pelton takes a look at Trae Young, the insane-usage Oklahoma guard who is the face of a vanguard of players. Curry has created a subclass of three-point launchers unprecedented in NBA history...

Curry's 3-point attempts increased only marginally to 7.9 per game in 2013-14, albeit in fewer minutes. It wasn't until two seasons later, after winning MVP, that Curry fully unleashed his full 3-point arsenal. In 2015-16, Curry zoomed past double-digit 3-point attempts, averaging an incredible 11.2 per game ... and becoming the first player in NBA history to be voted MVP unanimously.

Curry's success helped pave the way for other stars to shoot 3s more frequently. This season, his 10.0 3-point attempts per game rank second in the league behind MVP favorite James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who is attempting 10.7 per game. Each of the past two seasons, both Harden and teammate Eric Gordon have attempted more 3s per game than any player in league history before Curry.

...and naturally the college game has also noticed.

The website has used play-by-play data to track assisted and unassisted field goals at the college level back through 2011-12. The leaderboard of unassisted 3s is dominated by the past two seasons, and Young has an excellent chance to post the highest total in that span.

Young is on pace to hit around 100 unassisted threes this season. That is on another level from Derrick Walton's ability in this department; he hit 34 last year. It's on another level from everyone, but these kinds of guys are about to be a lot more common. Maryland's Anthony Cowan, who you may remember making some very frustrating shots against Michigan earlier this year, is hitting 40% from deep despite half of his makes coming unassisted. PSU's Tony Carr is hitting 46% despite having 38% of his makes unassisted; Minnesota's Nate Mason is at 42% and on 45% unassisted threes.

When the pull-up three is a good shot that changes your late clock offense significantly; not only do you get a decent shot at three points but the defense has to respect it, opening up other things.

(FWIW, Michigan's dip in late-clock offense this year is a little about reduced efficiency from three—Walton hit 40% on 64 late threes last year; Zavier Simpson is at 33%; as a team Michigan's FG% on late threes has dipped 4 points. But it's more about an inability to get anyone to hit a jumper inside the line. Michigan is at 22% on late two point jumpers; last year they were at 36%.)

This is particularly relevant for Michigan because you can't throw a brick around here without hitting a game video of David DeJulius in which he pulls up for a three, several times.

The evolution of this from BS high school offense to something you really want to have on your team has been fascinating, and rapid.

What's going on with Wisconsin. This doesn't have a ton to do with Michigan but I found this conversation about Wisconsin basketball to be interesting all the same. This is an excellent point:


I do not think that Gard is intentionally changing the Ryan system—but I do think the formula may be outdated. Not because it doesn’t work, but because everyone is using it now. Bo was at the vanguard, and used shot volume to wring wins out [for] lesser-talented teams. After about ten years of doing this, other coaches finally grudgingly admitted that it was ingenious and started doing it (namely: protecting the defensive glass and limiting turnovers) themselves. At around the same time, however, Wisconsin got super talented and put together its best sustained run ever. So we didn’t notice that the underlying formula might not work as well without elite talent.

Let me explain this a little further. You correctly point out that Wisconsin used to rank among the elite in turnover percentage and defensive rebounding percentage, and now they rank as mediocre. That is correct, but it obscures the fact their actual performance hasn’t changed much. Look at the turnover numbers:

Year   TO% Rank

2018  18.0  120

2005  17.9   22

An even starker example, using last year’s full year numbers:

Year   TO% Rank

2017  17.0   71

2006  17.4    9

In other words, a turnover percentage that used to rank among the elite, now ranks among the mediocre. Wisconsin hasn’t really gotten that much worse at committing turnovers, it’s just that literally everybody else has gotten better.

A similar thing is happening with defensive rebounding.

Michigan's managed to stay ahead of these trends. They're still 4th in TO rate nationally, and their DREBs have improved a great deal this year. Wisconsin got a sudden reality check this year. Which is nice when you're playing at the Trohl Center. But I'm not sure it's good for the league overall. Wisconsin putting together a good program comprised largely of random kids from Fond Du Lac helped the league perform without upping their recruiting. And there's really no way to up the Big Ten's recruiting without activating the Bag Man Wonder Powers that have an even bigger influence on basketball recruiting than they do football.

Who fills Wisconsin's spot in the league? Nobody, in all probability. And then you get slotted in as a nine seed despite being 20-7 with a win at MSU.

Finally. A dream too beautiful and vision-blocking to live.


Seth’s 2017 Bracket Assist Tool

Seth’s 2017 Bracket Assist Tool Comment Count

Seth March 14th, 2017 at 1:08 PM

Tourney sponsor reminder: HomeSure Lending is that. NMLS 1161358.


This began as a tool I made to fill out my brackets, then a few years ago I shared it and it became a thing. Much of the data are from Kenpom, though this year I also included’s rankings, which Ed determines by expected margin of victory over an average opponent. Both he and Kenpom wound up pretty close, but it’s a bit more data when you’re deciding things like which should-be-a-6-seed do I choose in this 7-10 matchup? Alex Cook will have a thing later today that shows which teams got screwed the most in this year’s rather whacky seeding. Spoiler: Maryland and Minnesota shouldn’t be over the BTT championship participants.

The Tool The Tool The Tool:

To use this you:

  1. Follow this link to make a copy of the spreadsheet.
  2. Select the two teams you want to compare.

The site will be pulled from Team 1, fyi, so if you pull a match that doesn’t exist you’ll still get the distance each team will have to travel to their real site.

Thanks also go to the guy who wrote a google script to pull drive times with a formula.


Basketbullets: Still-Not-A-Bubble Watch, The Last Two Plays

Basketbullets: Still-Not-A-Bubble Watch, The Last Two Plays Comment Count

Ace March 2nd, 2017 at 2:46 PM


Five days ago. [Bryan Fuller]

That wasn't a fun way to lose. I'll cede that point. The reaction to a one-point road loss, however painful it may have been, has still been borderline hysterical. Heading into last night, Michigan had won five of six—with the one loss a ref screw-job in Minneapolis—while moving off the NCAA tournament bubble. They have the best offense in the Big Ten by a wide margin and a defense that's steadily improving. They lost last night on a prayer of a play that was inches away from backfiring spectacularly; if Nathan Taphorn's pass flies another six inches or so, Michigan is inbounding under Northwestern's basket with a chance to win in regulation.

With a night to sleep on it, here's where things really stand: Michigan is still comfortably in the NCAA tournament field. Jerry Palm's latest bracket denotes 15 bubble teams, including Michigan State. Michigan, projected as a nine-seed, isn't one of them. Joe Lunardi dropped the Wolverines one seed line—to a nine-seed. Michigan is still an eight-seed on the Bracket Matrix, though they'll slide back to a nine as more projections are updates; that's still not on the bubble.

Illinois, a team that Penn State swept this season, has moved into the field on several projections, including Palm's. This year's bubble is really soft. If Michigan loses out, they're in danger of a nerve-wracking Selection Sunday. They have two very winnable games left: at Nebraska, a team that's never beaten Michigan since joining the Big Ten, and a neutral-site game in the BTT against a team that won't be seeded higher than ninth. KenPom gives Michigan a 63% chance to beat Nebraska. The most likely BTT scenario, a 7/10 matchup with Ohio State, gives M a 68% chance of picking up another win, per Bart Torvik's tourney simulator. That works out to a 12% chance of losing both games.

The rending of garments is premature.

[Hit THE JUMP for the final play and more.]