Michigan Earns Three-Seed, Draws Montana In First Round Comment Count

Ace March 11th, 2018 at 7:07 PM

Michigan will be dancing in Wichita. [Marc-Gregor Campredon[

After the most inane bracket reveal in the history of television, we now know the NCAA Tournament bracket in full (pdf here). Michigan is the three-seed in the West region; they'll play Big Sky champion Montana on Thursday in Wichita.

UPDATE: Per Tony Paul of the Detroit News, Michigan will get the late tipoff on Thursday, approximately 9:50 pm ET.

While it rankles that Michigan State, also a three-seed, got the coveted placement in Detroit over their superior rivals, the Wolverines got the better draw. The Spartans get Kansas-Duke-Auburn as the 1-, 2-, and 4-seed in their region. Michigan drew Xavier (easily the weakest one-seed), North Carolina, and Gonzaga.

Even though Montana is the top-ranked 14-seed on KenPom, Michigan should match up well with them. The Grizzlies start two paint-bound bigs and rely heavily on forcing turnovers to spark their defense. They also lean hard on point guard Ahmaad Rorie, who gets to deal with Zavier Simpson.

Should the Wolverines avoid a massive upset, they'd draw the winner of Houston-San Diego State 6/11 game on Saturday. The Cougars rank 17th on KenPom, best of the six-seeds, but again the matchup looks decent on paper. The have an extreme high-usage point guard, Rob Gray, who'll draw Simpson. While they have a short, mobile frontcourt that should be able to switch against Michigan's offense, they're also quite small in the backcourt—three starters are 6'1" and no rotation player is taller than 6'8".

If the seeds hold to form, Michigan would then get a rematch with UNC in the Sweet Sixteen. That will undoubtedly be tough—you probably tried to forget the 86-71 loss in the Dean Dome—but the Wolverines have become a completely different team since then. Plus, John Beilein wiht a week to prepare against an opponent he's already seen and so on. The location is a bit of a bummer, but the draw could be a whole lot worse.

We'll have much more on the Montana game and potential future opponents this week, including a podcast we'll record tomorrow and post on Tuesday.



March 11th, 2018 at 7:15 PM ^

All things considered can't complain too much.


- We got 3 seed

- There are no 'home teams' in Wichita

- MSU got Detroit, but they have a much stronger bracket

- Probably the easiest region of the four

- If we face North Carolina, it will be in Los Angeles. Tons of Michigan alumni in LA, San Diego(right?), and droves should drive down from the San Francisco Bay area.


- North Carolina loss this year was an away game, and the guys on our team will be eager for a rematch.


March 11th, 2018 at 7:23 PM ^

Two friends of mine said they'll be in LA for the Elite Eight if we make it that far.

It would have been nice to see us in Detroit but I like our bracket better. So it's not a total loss. And Sam Webb's head won't explode tomorrow because MSU isn't a higher seed than us.


March 12th, 2018 at 12:22 AM ^

We will take over Staples like we did The Garden. Everyone I know is already sending me links to Stubhub and Ticketmaster. Only question seems to be do we get the full day passes or just individual games. Personally, I wanted X and UNC with the S16 in LA. Couldn't be happier

But don't count your chickens! All other 3 teams in our sub-bracket are tough, and as Ace points out, tops of their seeds.

Hype level:



March 12th, 2018 at 1:09 AM ^

and NYC, I would bet Los Angeles has the largest number of Michigan alums and backers.  I know it is the third largest alumni club outside of Michigan (after Chicago and NYC).

We might have more fans than UNC here if we play them in the S16, and we'd be playing a virtual home game if we make the Elite Eight v. Gonzaga or Xavier.

Are people buying tickets already with the assumption that they'll just sell if Michigan doesn't make it? I figured I'd wait and see, but if they're going fast...


March 12th, 2018 at 1:52 AM ^

Michigan got a 3 seed but that's just a number if you play the competition that a 4 seed should expect.  Montana is not only the highest rated 14 on kenpom, they're ranked higher than every 13 seed and a 12 seed.

Houston is 17th, which is two points per game better than the next 6 seed in efficiency margin and better than two 4-seeds and two 5-seeds.  They're also playing extremely well of late, as they're the 7th best team since the beginning of February, per Bart Torvik.

So our first two games are expected to be by far more difficult than any other 3 seeds first two games.

Then UNC is the highest ranked 2 seed, they just beat Duke for the second time of the year.  Duke is talented, but I don't think UNC is a better draw per se.  And then Gonzaga is by far the best 4 seed.  They're 7th in kenpom and are the national runners up!

Xavier is the weakest 1 seed, but the 2-4 in this bracket are all top 10 kenpom teams. The 1-6 in the region are all top 17 kenpom.  More than a third of the top 17 is in Michigan's region.

And it's not like Kansas is that good.  They're only 0.05 points per 100 possessions (negligible) better than Michigan in kenpom.  That's worse than the 4 seed (Gonzaga ) in Michigan's bracket. Kansas couldn't beat Oklahoma St. this year.

Duke is a tough 2 seed to draw, but other than them, that's a relatively easy bracket. Auburn has been terrible since their guy got hurt.  They're a non-entity in that bracket. Not to mention, MSU was gifted two homes to start.  They'll get to the sweet 16 with ease and the final four test will be Duke.

Michigan got a tough draw again, but it wasn't nearly as bad as last year. And the team is good enough such that they can beat everyone in their path.

Just win baby.


March 12th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^

i.e. not sure the sharps have bet up other teams.  They're certainly not propping up Michigan.

Take a look at the odds of winning the regionals.  They're giving UNC and Gonzaga 5/2 odds to make it out of the West region and Michigan 3/1.  Then they have Michigan at 8/1 to win it all with UNC only 18/1 and Gonzaga 28/1?

Makes absolutely no sense.

My guess is title winners draw a lot more early dumb money so Michigan is somehow still getting action at 8/1 there.  If anyone really thought they had an 8/1 shot at winning it all, it would imply about a 2/1 odds of winning the region (assuming coin flips in the semis and finals which is generous even).  Must be just M slappy's betting that 8/1 to win it all right now that aren't even looking at the regional bets.


March 12th, 2018 at 8:15 AM ^

Yeah, the Houston draw is kind of crappy.  Using Bartorvik and seeing since 2/7 (after the bad NW loss), UM is the number one team in the nation....and Houston is number 5 in that same stretch.  The good news, as others have pointed out, is that they run through a high usage, but not super efficent point gaurd (very simliar shooting stats to Charles Mathews) and haul down a lot of offensive rebounds.  Is Rob Gray any better offensively than Carsen Edwards or Cassius Winsonton?  I don't think so, so Simpson will be key.  And defensive rebounding is UM's strength and Houston isn't, say North Carolina in OREBs and don't have the crazy length/size and athleticism that, say MSU has, both of which are top five in OREBs (at least according to Bartorvik).  Houston also has a really good Just A Shooter who takes like 70% of his shots from 3 and hits 44% of them.  So just don't sag off him.

The main thing that has me worried about Houston (besides a guy like Gray just going off), is that they foul ALOT and allow ALOT of free throws.  Which UM is teeerrrribble at making.

So basically, no gimmie the first round, and second round will be tough.  But both are games that UM will be, and should be, favored in.  The usual applies, limit TOs, hit your open shots.  And for god's sake, MAKE YOUR FREE THROWS.  


March 12th, 2018 at 4:16 PM ^

Well, at least you got the "Just win baby" right. The deal here is if you can't beat Montana and Houston/SDS then it's your own damn fault. Clearly Michigan is and deserves to be the highest seed at this site. They are still going to have to show up. Once you reach the Sweet 16 anyone can beat anyone else-plain and simple.


March 11th, 2018 at 10:21 PM ^

I'm not convinced its a better draw but they are about equivalen. Montana is the top 14 on kenpom and houston is the top 6 seed on kenpom so our first weekend is clearly more difficult.  Duke and UNC are relatively equivalent on kenpom and unc won 2 of 3 this year and while Xavier is easily the weekeast one seed I bet they lose to Gonzaga is ranked as high as Kansas and easily the toughest 4 seed in the bracket. Plus they are a west coast team. No bracket is going to be truly easy but we got the highest 14, 6, and 4 seed in the bracket and our 4 seed is a top 10 kenpom team which invalidates the bonus of getting a weak 1.

Honestly Gonzaga got an easier draw as the 4. UNC-G is below Montana in kenpom, osu is 15th to houston's 17 in kenpom and xavier is an easier sweet 16 opponent than unc. 


March 12th, 2018 at 1:23 AM ^

Bucknell, Stephen F. Austin, and Wright State are any more talented?  Those are the other 14 seeds, all of whom are ranked well below Montana.

Montana is actually ranked above every 13 seed, and even a 12 seed on kenpom.  No teams are that talented in that range, but Montana is pretty good anyway.

We have a 76% chance of winning, per kenpom, while Tennessee has an 88% chance of beating their 14 seed despite kenpom having us rated higher than Tennessee.  The best 14 seed has double the chance of winning compared to the worst 14 seed.  That's how big the spread is (or put another way 71st compared to 135th).


March 12th, 2018 at 8:47 AM ^

It may not be reflected in “KenPom,” which appears to be the holy grail of CBB fancy stats on this site. I personally feel much better about being in a Region with Xavier and UNC, as opposed to Kansas and Duke. The Omaha Regional Final will be a Home game for Kansas. Very tough. I like our chances in LA!


March 11th, 2018 at 7:41 PM ^

the entire field, UNC is the one team I wanted to avoid, Duke included. Berry is a four-year baller, played in two NC games. They are deep and talented on the inside. I really like the rest of our bracket but...... eh. I am going to be a Texas AM or Providence fan in the second round.

UM Griff

March 11th, 2018 at 7:20 PM ^

I like the west region. We should do well in our first two games. North Carolina will be a really tough opponent; we are not the team they beat earlier in the year :)


March 11th, 2018 at 7:21 PM ^

Couldn't have asked for more (other than LCA).  Pathway to Sweet 16 really clear.  

Carolina not likely to make the Sweet 16 - don't share the ball well.


Go Blue!