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 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).