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
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+)|
|Rhode Island||20-9||42||20||2-3||4-7 (2)|
|Wake Forest||17-12||38||13||2-9||7-12 (0)|
|Michigan St||18-12||46||21||6-7||11-11 (1)|
|Seton Hall||19-10||50||200||3-6||9-9 (1)|
|Kansas St||18-12||58||220||3-8||5-11 (1)|
|Wichita St||26-4||41||221||1-4||2-4 (0)|
|Illinois St||24-5||33||139||1-1||2-3 (2)|
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)
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.
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: