ESPN Tournament Challenge 25 Hour Marathon Open Thread + General Bracketology Talk

ESPN Tournament Challenge 25 Hour Marathon Open Thread + General Bracketology Talk

Submitted by JWG Wolverine on March 12th, 2018 at 6:54 PM

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So I normally hate gimmicky stuff like this that ESPN does, including the Fantasy Football version of this show in the fall (sucks), but this is a marathon that I grew to absolutely love last year. My time to worry about Bracketology is restricted to my free time from now until the first game, and it's nice to have a show to count on no matter when that free time comes! So, the ESPN Tournament Challenge is on now, shifting across ESPN channels from now until 7:00 ET tomorrow, and also on WatchESPN and the ESPN App.

I have no idea why it's 25 hours instead of 24, I guess that's one of the stupid parts of this!

I thought that in addition to being an open thread for the event, this could be a good place to have general non-Michigan-specific bracket talk. So, who have you got in your bracket? Who is your final four? Major upsets? Which matchup is currently giving you a headache? Discuss below.

Let's have fun and discuss below, and hopefully any of us not picking our boys to take this thing are dead wrong. Go Blue!

Joe Lunardi Picks MBB to win the Big Ten in 2018

Joe Lunardi Picks MBB to win the Big Ten in 2018

Submitted by Tshimanga Cowabunga on April 4th, 2017 at 4:57 PM

Joe Lunardi released his bracketology for 2017-2018. Lo and behold, Michigan is in all-caps and the highest seeded of 7 Big Ten teams (only at a 4 seed). Obviously, it is way too early to think about bracketology for next year but interesting to see a talking head think of Michigan as  a Big Ten favorite.

An overly extensive look at the bubble

An overly extensive look at the bubble

Submitted by mfan_in_ohio on March 13th, 2016 at 3:02 AM

Michigan should be in the NCAA tournament.  For proof, let’s compare their resume to some other bubble teams. Warning: this is a REALLY long post.

First things first: who are those bubble teams?  Well, among power 5 conferences, you have Vanderbilt, Syracuse, and South Carolina; among mid-majors, you have San Diego State, St. Mary’s, Monmouth, Temple, and Wichita State.  Along with Michigan, that’s nine teams, with (currently) five spots available, four if UConn loses to Memphis.  So if we can show that Michigan is more deserving than at least five of these teams, they should be in. 

If you don’t want to read it all, here is a summary:

Last bye (for now): Wichita State.

Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan

Bubble spot: Syracuse

First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State


We are all familiar with Michigan’s resume at this point, but a quick recap:

· 4-11 against NCAA tournament locks, with the four wins against teams expected to be seeded in the 3-6 range in the NCAA tournament, and the loss to Connecticut being the only one of that group to a team expected to be seeded 8 or below.

· 0-1 against NIT-level competition, a loss at Ohio State

· 8-0 against teams 101-200

· 9-0 against teams 201+


We’ll start with Wichita State, a team that most bracketologists have in the field.  The Shockers (giggle) have a 23-8 record in a solid mid-major conference, with an RPI of 49.  While they have a very strong nonconference win at home against Utah (a probable 3-seed in the NCAA tournament), they lost their other three efforts against the RPI top 50.  In addition, they are only 3-4 against teams 51-100, and two of those three wins are against #93 Evansville.  To put it another way, Wichita State is 2-7 against the top 75 (NCAA/NIT teams), a good comparison point for Michigan, since all of our top 100 teams are in that range.  Finally, Wichita State has a “bad” loss, at #114 Illinois St. To sum up:

· Both teams have approximately the same winning percentage against both the RPI top 50 and against NCAA/NIT competition.  In both instances, Michigan’s opponents were, on average, of a slightly higher caliber, and they had a slightly better winning percentage.

· Michigan has a better “best” win, as Indiana and Utah are roughly equivalent, but Michigan’s win was at a neutral (road, really) site.

· Wichita State has a bad loss that Michigan doesn’t.

· Wichita State was the regular season champ in their conference (a conference which would have only had one bid had the Shockers won their tournament). 

Verdict: Without the loss to Illinois State, these two profiles are pretty even.  That loss should place them below Michigan, but I bet the committee has the Shockers higher (though not as high as Lunardi does). So we'll give Wichita State the nod.


Vanderbilt's resume is pretty similar to Wichita State's, but a little worse. The Commodores are 2-7 against RPI top 50 teams, versus Michigan’s 4-11.  Granted, all of their games are against the top 27, so their competition was (very slightly) more difficult.  Vanderbilt racked up five wins against three losses against NIT-level teams (and Stony Brook).  They also have three bad losses. They played five non-conference games against the RPI top 50, but lost them all.  Summary:

· Michigan has a better RPI, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.

· Michigan has a better record overall, and a better record against top teams.

· Michigan has no bad losses, while Vanderbilt has three.

· The only thing Vanderbilt has going for it is a better record against NIT teams, which will bode well for them in the NIT.

Verdict: Michigan should be ahead of Vanderbilt.  19-13 in the SEC, with no big nonconference wins and three bad losses, doesn’t deserve a bid. 


Let’s stay with the SEC and discuss South Carolina.  The Cocks (more giggling) have a weird resume for a power 5 team.  They only have 2 games against NCAA locks: they were crushed at home by Kentucky and eked out a road win at Texas A&M.  They were undefeated in their nonconference schedule, but the best teams in that schedule were bubble team Tulsa and NIT-bound Hofstra.  The other 10 were composed of 4 against the RPI 101-200 and 6 against the RPI 201+.  The Gamecocks also have two losses in the RPI 101-200 and one to #221 Missouri, who went 3-15 in the SEC (for comparison, think Minnesota).  Summary:

· Michigan has a better RPI.

· South Carolina has a better record, but played a ridiculously weak nonconference schedule.

· South Carolina has the better “best” win, and is 5-4 against NIT teams (Florida, Hofstra, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama)

· South Carolina has three bad losses, one of which is awful.

Verdict: South Carolina’s schedule is basically what you get if you take Vanderbilt’s schedule, take out all the losses to top 50 teams, and replace them with wins over tomato cans. I don’t think the Gamecocks deserve to be in the tournament based on their weak nonconference schedule. Had they beaten Missouri but lost to Texas A&M, they wouldn’t even be discussed.  I don’t think that a single game should take them from middling NIT team into the tournament, and Michigan has better proven the ability to compete with good teams and has no bad losses.  South Carolina is probably ahead of Vanderbilt based on head-to-head, but Michigan should be ahead of both.


Next: Monmouth.  The Hawks got a lot of hype early this year from some high-profile wins over UCLA, Georgetown, USC, and Notre Dame.  Unfortunately for Monmouth (and its entertaining bench), UCLA and Georgetown proved to be Penn State-level competition. This leaves their RPI just above Michigan’s, at #53. The Hawks are 2-2 against the RPI top 50, with all games against teams expected to be seeded around the 7-8 spot.  They are 1-2 against Iona, the only team they played in the RPI 51-100. Critically, however, they have three losses in the RPI 201+.  Those aren’t “bad” losses, they are “horrible” losses.  By comparison, the teams on Michigan’s schedule closest to those three losses were Houston Baptist (an 82-57 home win) and Charlotte (a 102-47 win in the Bahamas).  Summary:

· Monmouth has a better winning percentage than Michigan against the best teams on the Hawks’ schedule.

· Michigan is 4-7 against teams better than anyone Monmouth played.

· Monmouth’s three horrible losses should negate their best wins.

· Low- to mid-major teams with RPI’s above 50 never get into the tournament.  By comparison, Akron has an RPI of 36, and they’re not getting in either.

Verdict: I understand the Bilas types saying that Monmouth did what the committee would ask by scheduling good nonconference teams away from home.  However, the committee also asks teams not to lose to Army and Canisius.  Maybe Lunardi is right, and the committee will let them in, but I don’t think so.  Michigan should be ahead of Monmouth.


While we’re talking about mid majors with few big wins, let’s talk about St. Mary’s.  The Gaels boast a gaudy 26-5 record, but against a schedule that includes 18 RPI sub-200 teams, five of which were on their nonconference schedule (by comparison, Michigan’s oft-maligned nonconference schedule included six such teams).  The five losses include their only game against a top tournament team (California), going 2-1 against Gonzaga (who would have been a bubble team without the autobid), a split with NIT- or Vegas 16-bound BYU, and two bad losses, both to Pepperdine.  The problem that St. Mary’s has is that their best nonconference results are wins over UC Irvine, Stanford, and Grand Canyon. 

Verdict: Theirs is a hard resume to figure, and I like their resume better than Monmouth’s due to its lack of horrible losses.  Also, Monmouth played just as many 200+ teams as St. Mary's, but St. Mary's at least beat them all.  I’m going to put them just ahead of Michigan, and I think the First Four is a good place for a team like St. Mary’s that really hasn’t had a good enough chance to prove their worth.


Up next: Temple.  The Owls are the regular-season champ of the American conference, a multi-bid league.  They should be in, right?  Well, they also went 6-6 in their non-conference schedule and got beat pretty bad by a Connecticut team that had just played a 4 OT game the day before.  Temple played six NCAA tournament teams in their non-conference schedule – and lost all six games. Their next best nonconference win was against Fairleigh Dickinson, a sub-200 RPI team.    While they finished with a 21-11 record (Michigan is 21-12), 14 of those games are against the RPI 201+, including six nonconference games.  They also split with NIT teams Tulsa and Houston, and RPI #136 Memphis.  Finally, they have a “horrible” loss at #217 East Carolina.  Summary:

· Temple has a better record against NCAA teams, but four of their 5 wins were against bubble-ish teams Cincinnati and UConn.  Against teams seeded 1-8 (and SMU), they are 1-6.  Michigan is 4-10 against the same group, for double the winning percentage. 

· Temple beat SMU and was 2-1 against UConn, while Michigan lost to both.

· Temple has a bad loss to Memphis and a horrible loss to East Carolina, while Michigan has none.

Verdict: This is close, but I give a slight edge to Temple.  This is a tough call, because Michigan has an excellent win over Texas and the near-road win against Indiana is at least as good as Temple’s home win over an SMU team that had recently lost its best player to a transfer.  Also, the teams have almost the exact same record, but Michigan’s schedule is significantly harder. However, Temple has a better record against top 50 and top 100 teams, and against tournament teams, and the bad losses might not negate that. 


Speaking of conference champs that lost in their tournament, Steve Fisher’s San Diego State appeared on the bubble with a loss to Fresno State.  The Aztecs are 1-4 against the top 50, with a neutral site win vs. Cal, and losses to Kansas, West Virginia, and Utah (all top teams) to go with a home loss against Arkansas-Little Rock (Sun Belt champ, RPI 46, seeded around 12th if they win their tournament). They went 1-2 against Fresno State (RPI 66), won at #72 Long Beach State, and lost to #92 Grand Canyon at home.  San Diego State also has a bad loss at home against Boise State, and a truly horrible loss against RPI 302 San Diego.  That’s really bad, and easily the worst single loss by any bubble team. For comparison to teams on Michigan’s schedule, San Diego falls somewhere between Northern Kentucky and Bryant, and is worse than Rutgers.

· Michigan has a better record against the RPI top 50, and a better “best” win (Indiana > Cal).

· San Diego State is 2-3 against the RPI 51-100 (which is pretty weak for a bubble team). That puts their record against the top 100 at 3-7, and, unlike Michigan, half those games are against NIT-level competition.

· Their two bad losses include a truly horrible loss, while Michigan has no bad losses.

Verdict: The Aztecs should not be in the field.  Like South Carolina, they have just one win over a top 50 team, but they had 5 tries to do it, one of which was a home game against Arkansas-Little Rock in which they scored only 43 points.  Their record against the RPI 51-100 suggests that they would struggle in the NIT, and they have a horrible loss that negates their one good win. They shouldn’t be in, and, personally, I don’t think they should be close.


Lastly, Syracuse.  This is a team that most bracketologists are leaving out, but I am not so sure.  They are 5-9 against likely tournament teams (and Louisville), though five of those games are against near-bubble teams (including losing three to Pitt).  They are 3-1 against NIT-type competition, and have two bad losses (one of which was at home) and a horrible loss by double digits at #245 St. John’s (The Red Storm’s next best win was over #184 Wagner).  Summary:

· Their record against NCAA-level teams is roughly equal to Michigan’s.  They have more wins, but had the benefit of playing more bubble teams than Michigan did.

· 3-1 against the NIT is better than what Michigan mustered, though Michigan only had one road game in that group.

· The two bad losses and the one awful loss more than negate that advantage.

Verdict: Slight edge to Michigan, but it’s close. 


Overall, this bubble is a mess, and there will be people putting forth lots of combinations of these nine teams to fill the final four or five spots in the tournament.  As for me, here’s how I see it:

Last bye (for now): Wichita State.

Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan

Bubble spot: Syracuse

First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State

We'll know how wrong I am by 7 pm.

Michigan a 9 seed to ESPN, still in first four to CBS.

Michigan a 9 seed to ESPN, still in first four to CBS.

Submitted by mfan_in_ohio on February 25th, 2016 at 2:50 PM

As expected, the Northwestern win isn't a huge help.  The slight bump on ESPN is likely a function of two things: 

1. Lunardi isn't all that good at this; at one point he had LSU as a #7 at the same time that everyone else had them as a #11.

2. There are a bunch of B1G teams in the bottom halves of brackets.  Iowa, MSU, and Maryland are all expected to be 2-3 seeds, and Wisconsin has a good shot to be a 6-7 seed.  Indiana or Purdue could also wind up a 6 seed as well.  Given all of that, Lunardi may have artificially bumped Michigan up to a 9 instead of a 10 to avoid an intraconference sweet 16 matchup.

Basic takeaway: we are still very much a bubble team, and probably need another win, either in the next two games or in a BTT quarterfinal to get to the dance.

(Still) way too early bracketology: Michigan a 7 seed

(Still) way too early bracketology: Michigan a 7 seed

Submitted by BlueLikeJazz on February 1st, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Just released today, the latest bracketology has Michigan at a 7 seed. These are still fairly meaningless, but it is nice to see the team firmly off the bubble and creeping towards an attractive seed.

Depending on how the last 9 games + BTT go my guess is that anything from a 4 to a 10 or 11 is possible. I'm hoping for a 6. Barring a complete meltdown they aren't missing the tournament.

Other teams of note:

Xavier - 2

Iowa - 1

MSU - 3

Maryland - 3

Purdue - 4

Indiana - 6

Wisconsin is in the "next four out" category and OSU is nowhere to be found.

Michigan a 4 seed in latest Bracket Matrix

Michigan a 4 seed in latest Bracket Matrix

Submitted by MH20 on February 17th, 2014 at 4:39 PM

After the most recent Bracket Matrix update (today, 1:10PM), Michigan is now the top 4 seed, unsurprisingly dropping from their previous spot as the second 3 seed.

36 brackets were updated today; here are the seeds given to Michigan and their frequency:

  • 2 (one bracket -- all hail HoopsHD!)
  • 3 (six brackets)
  • 4 (21 brackets -- including ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo)
  • 5 (seven times)
  • 7 (one bracket)

Once again, Drew's Bracketology, who you'll discover is a Minnesota fan if you click over to his page (or just read this sentence), is quite bearish on Michigan (and Iowa), listing both as 7 seeds.  His bias does not carry over to his Gophers, though, as he has them barely in the field as a 12 seed.

Other B1G seeds according to the Matrix:

  • MSU: 2 seed
  • Wisconsin: 3 seed
  • Iowa: 5 seed
  • OSU: 6  seed
  • Minnesota: 10 seed

In addition, Nebraska is now listed on two brackets as a 12 seed.  For reference there are currently 81 brackets in the Matrix.

Latest bracketology from CBS Sports (Jerry Palm)

Latest bracketology from CBS Sports (Jerry Palm)

Submitted by oriental andrew on January 27th, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Jerry Palm, CBS Sports' resident bracketologist, has an updated bracket with Michigan moving up to a 3 seed (4 seed last time) in the West.  His current projection shows potential rematches against Iowa State (2 seed) and Arizona (1 seed) in the West.  

EDIT: As pointed out by Paps below, Stanford (11) could also be a potential rematch in this region. 

Other Big Ten teams include:

  • Minnesota (8 - West)
  • ohio state (8 - East)
  • Iowa (4 - East)
  • michigan state (1 - Midwest)
  • Wisconsin (3 - South)


WBB left out of ESPN Bracketology again

WBB left out of ESPN Bracketology again

Submitted by Fifth-Stringer on January 20th, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Charlie Creme's new Bracketology out today continues to omit Michigan, not even putting them the First Four Out or Next Four Out, while seven Big Ten teams are in the mock bracket.

Michigan's argument: only losses are to 1 seed Notre Dame, 5 seed LSU, 6 seed MSU, Next Four Out Bowling Green and in OT to Xavier (i.e. only one bad loss so far), combined with road wins over supposed 11 seed OSU and 6 seed Purdue.

I'd say that while the resume may not be strong enough for a bid yet, consideration is certainly warranted and KBA is of course doing an incredible job. The rest of the B1G schedule will be big.

Thoughts on the ladies' tournament chances?

Early ESPN Bracketology

Early ESPN Bracketology

Submitted by JHendo on December 16th, 2013 at 3:30 PM

As pointless as it is this early in the season, Lunardi's 1st Bracketology since the season started came out today.  In the preseason one, he projected us as a 3 seed, and clearly a lot of things have changed in college basketball since.  We are now sitting as a #8 seed in the East bracket going up against Dayton.   Seeing as the best win we have so far is against RPI (ESPN) #103 FSU, and our worst loss is RPI #153 Charlotte, 8th seed seems very valid and maybe even a bit generous.  Of course, while still interesting, this all means nothing, especially before conference play has begun.

Other interesting points:

  • #1 seeds - Arizona, Syracuse, Louisville, OSU
  • Big Ten teams (tied with ACC for the most teams with 7) - #1 OSU, #2 MSU, #2 Wisconsin, #6 Iowa, #8 U of M, #10 Indiana, #11 Minnesota
  • FSU (#11) is the only team we beat projected to make it to the tourney.  Charlotte is our only loss not projected to make it.