Punching The Ticket: M Close To Moving Off The Bubble Comment Count

Ace February 15th, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Saturday's win was cause for celebration. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]

Michigan's tournament resumé got a significant boost from Saturday's win over Purdue, which gave the Wolverines a third victory over a top-50 RPI squad heading into a home stretch in which they'll face as many as three more such opponents. (Maryland and Iowa will easily qualify; Wisconsin is on the edge at #44.)

As it currently stands, here are the numbers and rankings of note:

Record: 19-7 (18-7 vs. D-I), 9-4 Big Ten
RPI: 52
KenPom: 48
RPI Strength of Schedule: 91
KP SOS: 65
RPI Top-50: 3-7
RPI 51-100: 0-0
RPI 101+: 15-0

And here's the schedule the rest of the way:

  • at Ohio State (#83 RPI, #73 KP)
  • at Maryland (#6 RPI, #13 KP)
  • Northwestern (#104 RPI, #91 KP)
  • at Wisconsin (#44 RPI, #33 KP)
  • Iowa (#10 RPI, #4 KP)

While even a 1-4 finish with a lone win against Northwestern should put Michigan in decent bubble position barring an immediate exit from the Big Ten Tournament, CBSSports' Jerry Palm notes that M's unusual resumé makes matters less simple:

Michigan picked up a much-needed win at home over Purdue, and the Wolverines own the strangest looking profile in the bracket. They have wins over Maryland, Texas and Purdue, which are three top 25 teams, but those are also their only three top-100 wins. There has been only one team to get an at-large bid with fewer than four top 100 wins since the RPI formula changed in 2005. That was when the committee made the mistake of taking Middle Tennessee State in 2013, which had a gaudy record, but only one top 100 win. The highest seed for a team with only three top 100 wins is a No. 9 seed, which was given to Bucknell in 2006. Even for a team with four top-100 wins, only two teams have been seeded in the top half of the bracket.

A victory at Ohio State would give Michigan that critical fourth top-100 win (barring an OSU collapse down the stretch, at least) with the added benefit of it coming on the road; pulling that off should lock up a bid, especially if M takes care of business against Northwestern to secure 11 conference wins and no bad losses on the resumé.

Michigan had been on a slide down the brackets following the week of home blowouts and the underwhelming victory over Minnesota, but the win over the Boilermakers turned that around. After slipping to the ten-seed line on the Bracket Matrix, they're back to a nine-seed; that's where Palm and Yahoo's Brad Evans have Michigan, while ESPN's Joe Lunardi bumped them up to an eight-seed.

Those bracketologists are all focused on resumé. A different, simpler methodology created by Basketball Prospectus' Drew Cannon is also worth noting; simply adding a team's KenPom and RPI ranking projects the tournament field about as accurately as the traditional method. The "Easiest Bubble Solver" method also produces Michigan as a nine-seed, and for now comfortably clear of the bubble.

Assuming a victory over Northwestern—never totally safe, of course, but KenPom gives it a 78% chance—Michigan should need just one other win to feel very secure about their postseason outlook. Moving off the 8/9 line, which sets up a potential second-round matchup with a one-seed, might require a little more work, though it's worth noting a couple of the current one-seed matchups (Kansas, Oklahoma) may in fact be better for Michigan than a couple of the two-seeds (UNC, Xavier).



February 15th, 2016 at 3:35 PM ^

What about Texas at 21? NC State is 101. If you stretch to 101 then you have 5 top 101 which seems a long way from 3.

Even Northwestern is at 104. Seems like the CBS guy did not bother to do his homework.


February 15th, 2016 at 6:01 PM ^

The top-100 thing is indeed silly. The Penn State wins were also top-100 at various points.

That said, Michigan's schedule is still soft no matter how you slice it. That's reflected in our KenPom and RPI rankings (neither of which pay attention to tiers). This is where scheduling so many ultra-low majors instead of mixing in Oakland and the MAC hurts a little bit. But it's probably for the best that U-M took that approach, since a loss to an EMU-level team would likely have us on the wrong side of the bubble right now.

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February 15th, 2016 at 3:39 PM ^

Some of the non-conference teams are awful.  Everyone is going to schedule some cupcakes but ideally you want your cupcakes to be in 150-200 range of the rpi.  It's tough to predict where a team is going to up end up but UM seems to always have a few cupcakes that are awful.

This year Minny and Rutgers aren't helping either.  They are both around 250 in rpi and it's rare that a P5 conference has a team ranked that low, let alone two teams ranked that low.


February 15th, 2016 at 3:32 PM ^

If they keep playing with the grit, hustle, and defensive effort they showed against Purdue they could actually do a bit of damage in the tourney. Still not a super high ceiling compared to recent years, but the floor seems to be coming up.  


February 15th, 2016 at 3:35 PM ^

Love these predictions, but there is still a lot of basketball to be played. The northwestern game is a must win and if they could just get one other win I don't see how they could be left out. I have said all season that I think 10-8 in conference gets them in but let's go ahead and get to 11 wins just to be safe. I don't like leaving the tournament hopes up to how they do in the big ten tournament.

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a different Jason

February 15th, 2016 at 4:00 PM ^

Why does everyone think of ways to justify getting their favorite team into the NCAA tournament? Why not accept the fact their team is not very good and hope for an NIT bid. That way you can watch more wins. I would rather see wins over lessers than losses to betters.


February 15th, 2016 at 5:13 PM ^

be that much different if Levert hadn't missed time?

With Levert UM got beat pretty soundly by Xavier, UConn and SMU.  They also beat Texas.

Without Levert, UM got beat pretty soundly by MSU, IU, Iowa and lost to Purdue.  They also beat Maryland and Purdue.

YMMV, by I don't think UM's record is that much different if Levert hadn't mised time.  Maybe they would have beaten Purdue on the road.

Trader Jack

February 15th, 2016 at 7:00 PM ^

It's very possible that their record would be the exact same, but that's not the point. Any time a team is missing their best player for a significant stretch, that is factored in by the committee when evaluating said team's resume. Whether LeVert's presence would've made a difference or not doesn't matter; it only matters that the committee will give the team credit for his absense when considering our tournament resume.


February 15th, 2016 at 5:05 PM ^

At this point the season is what it is. We really should just be happy about making the NCAA Tourny and not even worry about matchups. We just don't have that luxury this year. Maybe pray for a win, but I don't think this is a Sweet 16 team.


February 15th, 2016 at 5:58 PM ^

I'm going to complain about the somewhat arbitrary top 100 cutoff. I believe NC State and N'W are just outside the top 100. And PSU was at like 105 before they lost to Nebraska. Are committee members really telling me that victories NC State, N'W, Illinois and PSU are significantly worse than victories over Albany, Grand Canyon, Santa Barbara and Kent St would be? I understand it's purposes but I just think it's a bit silly to make a hard cut at 50/100/150 etc. I hope the committee members really take a longer look at schedules and victories than the basic RPI profile. 


February 15th, 2016 at 6:15 PM ^

Win 2 games and the team is golden, but only 1 feels like a bubble. They do need to schedule better teams during the OOC slate, as that SOS is ugly. I have to assume some of that was the previous AD trying to keep the arena filled with happy winners.


February 15th, 2016 at 10:11 PM ^

The committee always seems to hammer teams that end the year on a bad note. If we just beat Northwestern then a bad team in the first round of the BTT, I think that's still dangerous ground. That would be 8 out of 11 losses to end the season with only 1 good win.


February 15th, 2016 at 10:02 PM ^

Think you are a little bullish on our standing.  We are good for right now but a northwestern loss would be legitmately bad and an osu loss still relatively damaging.  Not to mention we will be in a situation where a first round big ten loss would be a bad loss.  Need to take care of business still.


February 16th, 2016 at 7:52 AM ^

An away win over Ohio State tonight and Michigan is off the bubble. Losing to Northwestern at about 100 (with wins over Wisconsin and Michigan) wouldn't be a dealbreaker. So beating Ohio State puts them in, in my humble estimation. A loss tonight and there is still work to do.

What is the origin of "the bubble" expression anyways? I guess it is a reference to the bubble in levels, but it doesn't really make sense when I think about it.


February 16th, 2016 at 9:56 AM ^

Here is an interesting article from last year about Colorado State and their exclusion from the NCAA Tournament based on an inferior resume when you looked at multiple ranking systems, which the committee does when selecting the field.  The Rams had the highest RPI (29) of a team not selected to the Tournament since expansion to 68.  Their other rankings told a more complete story: 68 in KenPom and 57 in the ESPN BPI and Saragin Ratings.



February 16th, 2016 at 10:54 AM ^

I'll be interested to see Ace's prediction vs. OSU. Typically, Brian and Ace seem to say a variant of, "And the place where I predict the same thing as Kenpom." I don't think Kenpom is accounting for LeVert's return. While tonight is a "must win" for OSU, I really like Michigan's chances. And I'm interested to see if Ace ever deviates from Kenpom.