Your Wednesday Bubble Watch Rooting Guide

Submitted by Tim on March 2nd, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Now part of a recurring series. Check out jamiemac's Diary on the Bracket Matrix for more breakdowns as they specifically relate to Michigan.

Tales from Last Night

Last night went much better for Michigan than did Monday. The relevant results for the Wolverines:

  • Purdue beat Illinois 75-67. As a fellow bubble team, we wanted Illinois to lose.
  • Oklahoma State beat Baylor 71-60. Since both are bubble teams, either one losing was nice. You still want both to lose their next game.
  • Florida beat Alabama 78-51. Alabama was a fellow bubble team, but this huge loss might damage their resume beyond repair, unless they have a huge run in the SEC tournament.
  • Gardner-Webb lost to Coastal Carolina 72-83. We wanted Gardner-Webb- a past Michigan opponent - to win, but this result was expected, so it's no killer.
  • Bowling Green lost to Kent State 57-63. See above.
  • Missouri lost to Nebraska, 58-69. We wanted Missouri to knock Nebraska off the bubble for good.
  • Ohio State crushed Penn State 82-61. There was a lot of debate in the comments of yesterday's post over who we actually wanted to win, and reached a vague consensus that Ohio State was probably more favorable for Michigan. Yayz.
  • Virginia Tech lost to Boston College 61-76. We wanted VT to knock Boston College off the bubble, but they may have played their own way out of the tournament by getting bludgeoned at home with a bid on the line.

None of these were killers, to say the least, but Kansas State is solidly in the tournament at this point.

The Bubble

The Matrix was updated juuust before last night's games, so the above results aren't taken into account. I'll note them in the "Change" column.

Per the Bracket Matrix:

  Bids Bubble In Bubble Out Change
Big East 11 Marq (10)    
SEC 6 Tenn (9), UGa (10), Bama (12)   Bama lost to Florida by 700 points.
Big Ten 6 Ill (10), MSU (11), Mich (12) Minn, PSU Illinois lost to Purdue, Penn State was crushed by OSU.
ACC 5 BC (12), VT (10), FSU (9) Clem, Mary BC pasted VT.
Big 12 5 KSU (8) Neb, Bay, Colo, OkSt OK State beat Baylor, Nebraska beat Mizzou.
Pac-10 3 Wash (9), UCLA (8) USC, Washington St.  
Atlantic 10 3 Richmond (11) Dayton  
Mountain West 3 UNLV (7) Colo St UNLV up from 8. Now likely solid.
West Coast 2 Zaga (12), St Mary's (11)    
Colonial 2 Old Domin (8) VCU  
CUSA 2 Memphis (11), UAB (12) USM, UTEP, Marsh, UCF Jamie Mac covers the league on the JCB.
WAC 1 Utah State (9)    
Horizon 1 Butler (12) Cleve St, UW-Mil  
Summit 1 1-bid Oakland (13)    
Ivy 1 1-bid Princeton (13) Harvard  

When the Matrix is next updated (before tonight's games - how inconvenient), I think it will look a liiiittle bit better for Michigan.

Today's Games

Wednesday is a HUGE night for college basketball, so there are going to be tons of games to watch (and the next couple days might not be frontpage-worthy). You're rooting against bubble-ish teams, though things get more complicated when a past Michigan opponent is involved.

[Ed-M: I'm throwing in a few results and smileys while waiting for certain people to finish packing, 'cause "girl's gotta have options"]

  • Iowa @ Michigan State (6:30, BTN). Pull for the Spartans to not embarrass themselves against Iowa (again). They're a fringe RPI top-50 team, and Michigan has the chance to get a season sweep on Saturday.
    MSU 85-66smiley
  • North Carolina @ Florida State (7:00, ESPN). You want North Carolina to smear Florida State's innards all over the gym. The 'Noles are a solid bubble team that can be knocked down.
    UNC 72-70smiley
  • Maryland @ Miami YTM (7:00, ESPNU). Maryland is on the wrong side of the bubble, and this game could end their tournament dreams.
    Miami YTM 80-66: Terps go derpsmiley
  • Memphis @ East Carolina (7:00). Pull for the Pirates to get the upset. Memphis is a bubble team, whereas ECU has no chance to make the field without winning the league.
    ECU 68-57 YAAARRRsmiley
  • SMU @ Central Florida (7:00). Central Florida is vaguely on the bubble, and this loss would knock them off for good.
    UCF 51-48 angry
  • St. Louis @ Dayton (7:00). The Flyers are near the bubble, and this loss would knock them out for good.
    St. Louis 69-51 smiley
  • UAB v. Southern Miss (7:00). Both are bubble teams, but I say root against UAB, since they're the ones currently considered "in." Trading spots would slightly weaken Conference USA on the whole.
    UAB 67-66 indecision
  • Richmond @ St. Joseph's (7:00). Root with all your might against Richmond. They're a bubble team currently in the tournament, but losing to a terrible St. Joe's would change that in a hurry.
    Richmond 69-54 angry
  • Colorado @ Iowa State (7:30, ESPN3). Iowa State can undo what Texas did, and get the Buffaloes off the bubble.
    Iowa State 95-90 cool
  • LSU @ Georgia (8:00, ESPN3). More SEC carnage plz.
    Georgia 73-53 angry
  • Cincinnati @ Marquette (8:00, ESPN3). Get these Golden Eagles off my bubble. If the Big East gets 11 freakin' teams into the tournament, I will do something drastic like be mildly upset.
    Cincy 67-60 smiley
  • Minnesota @ Northwestern (8:30, BTN). Michigan has a series split with each of these teams, but since Minnesota is on the bubble, I think you want them to lose and seal the deal. The way they've been playing lately, it's likely to happen. I guess you could theoretically want them to claw back into the RPI top-50 as well. I'm mostly indifferent on this one.
    Cats! 68-57 indecision
  • Clemson @ Duke (9:00, ESPN). Though they're a fellow bubble team, I think you want Clemson to win this game. They're behind Michigan in the pecking order, and the Wolverines have a big road win over them. More Michigan opponents in the tourney == better Michigan resume.
    Duke is up 10 with under a minute to go as I post this. frown
  • Utah @ Colorado State (9:00). A double whammy: Utah can knock Colorado State off the bubble for once and for all, and improve Michigan's strength of schedule.
    Colorado State is up 15 with 1:08 to go. broken heart
  • Marshall v. UTEP (9:05). Both are bubble teams, but UTEP is a past Michigan opponent.
    UTEP 82-74 smiley

Need to write all of that down? Some games are obviously more important than others. In the Clemson/Duke game, for instance, you could make an argument that you want either team to win (much like last night's PSU/OSU contest), so you can be happy no matter who emerges victorious.

As far as likelihood that all of these results come through the way we want? Well, Kenpom's odds have it at slightly better than 3.6x10-8. That includes our serious underdogs as well (even Clemson, who we're not even sure if we want to win), but in all the Kenpom favorite is "our team" in seven of the fifteen games.



March 2nd, 2011 at 1:53 PM ^

We are going to want PSU to beat Minn on Saturday to hopefully get them back in the RPI top 50. I think we want Minn to beat Northwestern so that PSU gets a road win and 2 more wins in the OWP category. Minn is likely out of the Tourney at this point anyway.

Edit: Actually, PSU will get the 2 extra wins in OWP no matter what assuming the beat Minn on Saturday. The road win counts just the same against a 12 or 13 loss team. So, I think you were right that we want Northwestern. Not to mention what the guy below me said about Northwestern being in the RPI top 100.


March 2nd, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

Extra reason to cheer for Northwestern. They're currently just above the theoretical RPI Top 100 cutoff for what constitutes a bad loss. We already have one against Indiana, we don't want NW to slip in to that territory.


March 2nd, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

Thanks for giving me more reasons to waste my time Tim!  Seriously though, thanks for putting these together.  It's making this an interesting week of basketball


March 2nd, 2011 at 2:11 PM ^

We need a lot more luck with bubble games going our way. Monday night we did horrible, according to what Tim posted during the day Monday. Tuesday night (last nite) we did fair, I think Tim was more optimistic  than I with last nights results. Assuming we don't beat MSU and ILL both, I think we will need plenty of help. Tim mentions 15 games for tonite. I think we need about 8 of them to go our way for it to be a decent night. Granted, some are more important than others. 10 would be great.


March 2nd, 2011 at 2:52 PM ^

We only had mild rooting interests on Monday (or we were cheering for serious underdogs). The Maximum Care Level on all of those games was maybe a 6. Yesterday and today, the MCL is around a 9. Also, you're waaaaaay more pessimistic than reality dictates.

Like, shockingly so. Assuming there's regular attrition along the bubble lines, there's a good chance the MSU game will seal the deal (and though it's extremely unlikely, it's possible that even the MSU win isn't necessary).

Of tonight's 15 games, 2-3 are toss-ups as far as Michigan is concerned (i.e. we'd be happy either way) so the Care Level on the outcomes of those individual games is probably like a 1. Of the other 12-13 games, getting maybe... 6ish of them would be a good night.


March 2nd, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

I guess I was too pessimistic on the outcome of mon/tue/wed games. I guess I assumed that we had better chances to get some of those games than reality dictated. I have a high level of fear that a random nobody in say, the SEC, will win their conference tourney. Regardless, please keep up these daily posts Tim.


March 2nd, 2011 at 3:58 PM ^

Too pessimistic.  The real important games are the ones involving the remaining bubble teams.  Alabama and Baylor losing were huge events in our favor, I think even VT losing is a benefit, and same goes for PSU. 

Even though Clemson winning would help our RPI and SOS, them losing would knock yet another team off the bubble, which I think should be the ultimate goal.  Any of the teams in the last four in, first four out in ESPN terms losing would be the best we can hope for, anything else happening to improve our RPI/SOS would be gravy.  A few more games like Alabama/Baylor/PSU, and we'll be sitting pretty


March 2nd, 2011 at 4:25 PM ^

Yes, but this all hinges on us beating MSU.  If we lose to MSU at home, then we're one of those bubble teams losing, potentially being knocked off the bubble.

And if we beat MSU, I don't think we need to worry too much about the Bamas and Baylors of the world because we'll be ahead of them anyway.


March 2nd, 2011 at 5:21 PM ^

In general, I agree with you, but we could also beat Wisconsin and Purdue and lose to OSU in the Tourney and be in a better position than beating MSU and losing to Illinois would put us.


March 2nd, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

I agree with that, but obviously we'd all agree that road is much more difficult than beating MSU and Illinois (or even falling just short again against UI).  I think we could beat Wisconsin, but, they just seem unstoppable of late.


March 2nd, 2011 at 9:56 PM ^

Uh, no.

With a loss to State, the Wolverines would still almost certainly make the tournament with 2 BTT wins (and that includes a first-rounder against Indiana or someone of that ilk).


March 2nd, 2011 at 10:31 PM ^

I don't have numbers to back me up, but I disagree.  I can't see 8-10, beating Indiana and then one upset vs Wisconsin as any kind of guarantee.  Beating MSU to conclude a strong regular season finish, beating Illinois/MSU and then a loss to OSU seems, to me, like a much better route. Just my gut feeling.....


March 3rd, 2011 at 10:00 AM ^

I have to disagree as well.  Losing to MSU would make UM 8-10 in conference and 18-13 overall.  I think with that losing conference record they would need to win 3 BTT games (i.e. make the final) in order to feel safe-ish about getting in.  And, if you're gonna get to the final, might as well just win the whole damn thing.

The scenario you described makes M 20-14.  I just don't think that's enough with a lack of many quality wins.


March 2nd, 2011 at 2:53 PM ^

I think that we should be rooting for Duke over Clemson tonight.  While we did beat Clemson on the road, Clemson is also a solid bubble team that could surpass us with a win against a top-5 team away from home.  Their RPI and shot at making the tournament would hardly be hurt losing to Duke, a probable 1-seed.

Steve in PA

March 2nd, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

I'd set my pubes on fire and douse it with rubbing alcohol before I'd even think about rooting for them.


On a positive note...Bucknell is hosting the Patriot League tournament starting tonight.  I plan on making most of the games with my family and seeing Bucknell get another Bid to the NCAA.  Maybe they can beat Kansas again?


March 2nd, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

Let's put it this way. Clemson might pass us, but they will bring us up with them. We are right on the edge of in right now. Clemson beating Duke and VaTech would mean they are in the RPI top 50 and into the tournament. That equates to another Top 50 win for us, another top 50 win on the road, another win against a tournament team, it bumps VaTech down past us, and it bumps our RPI a bit.

They might pass us, but in all likelihood, Clemson winning out and a win over MSU would probably move us from a 12 seed to an 11 seed.


March 2nd, 2011 at 3:03 PM ^

losing to Iowa might seal the deal on them not making the tournament and break a team that's  on the verge of being broken.  Sure, they might fall below the magical top 50 RPI, but we have at 4 wins against teams in between 51-60.  Sparty falling will most likely raise our RPI as well as those 3 other teams.  


March 2nd, 2011 at 3:12 PM ^

I don't think an MSU loss is such a terrible thing. Based on the strength of the Big 10 and the fact that so many of them are going to finish at .500 +/- one game, I think the farther we move up the standings the better. The Big 10 seems to be a good position to get 5 teams in, with an opportunity for six. I'd much rather Michigan finish the conference in a high position than worry about how many Top 50 RPI teams we beat, because I think the committee takes 5  Big 10 teams regardless of whether their RPI metrics move a spot here or there. I'm rooting for the Hawkeyes tonight.


March 2nd, 2011 at 4:52 PM ^

Does anyone remember how many big10 teams were projected to be in before conference play started?  I vaguely remember there being a lot of talk of there being a good chance that 6 teams making it (tOSU, MSU, Purdue, Wiscy, Illinois, Minnesota) with NW having potential of making it 7.  It's pretty clear that the big10 is still as tough (though Minnesota and MSU have fewer key players available), that some of the names have changed (Minnesota -> Michigan, NW -> PSU), and the the conference schedule has been a slugfest from top to bottom.  So, why only 5 teams now?


March 2nd, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

I'm sure about Sparty...that I'm rooting for Iowa to trounce them in the stripmall otherwise known as East Lansing.  You're right...they lose to Iowa and it still helps us as we'll have a better in-conference record.  No matter how much they want to prop up Izzo, 16-14 (or 16-15) spells N-I-T.


March 2nd, 2011 at 4:03 PM ^

Agreed- if we move above state in conference position, then it won't really matter if we sweep them, and they are not a top-50 win. We'd be in over them regardless.


I could also believe an argument where we would root for Minnesota at this point, for the same reasons Tim used in saying we should be rooting for state.


March 2nd, 2011 at 4:45 PM ^

I'd really like to beat Sparty on Saturday.  I could see them getting in as a .500 regular season big10 team.  I'd rather they have that locked up going into saturday (they'd be 9-8 with a win tonight) than being in a must-win situation.  Bracketologists might say Saturday is still a "should-win" even with a win vs Iowa tonight, but they would come into Saturday's game a little less desperate.


March 2nd, 2011 at 4:57 PM ^

Oakland is only 1 win, one of Minn/PSU will not make to the top 50, and the other is a very long shot to do so. Even if Minn makes it back (they have 2 games while PSU has 1) along with Oakland getting in, that's only 2 wins against the top 50, which is exactly what MSU would get us. If you really want Oakland in, you should be rooting for MSU as they played MSU but not Minn or PSU.


March 2nd, 2011 at 8:56 PM ^

It's all moot if we don't beat them. If we do beat them, we want them to be in the RPI top-50 (and we'll pass them with the win).

I understand it is (was, since they've won by this point) hard for people to root for State, but the Spartan win helps us 1000000000000000000x more than an Iowa win would have.


March 2nd, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

Last nite when I couldn't sleep at 4am I was going to make a thread like this to pass the time until I felt tired again.

Yours is prettier.


March 2nd, 2011 at 3:52 PM ^

Thanks, Tim, for this awesomely prepared guide.

I always pull for East Carolina since I did my undergrad there. But beware, all. ECU basketball has been mediocre to epically bad forever. Since 1965, they are (according to Wiki, anyway) 539-705 thru 2010. They've been to the big dance twice, both times with a losing record(!). It's not completely unthinkable (they only lost by 3 earlier vs. Memphis), and the program is showing signs of life (read: mediocrity as opposed to horrible-ness) at 7-7 in conference. I'm just saying, you probably have more important things to do... like scoop your cat's litter box... than worry about what the outcome of this one will be. 

Sac Fly

March 2nd, 2011 at 6:38 PM ^

Im not very familiar with how RPI works, but oakland is sitting at 56. If oakland wins the conference tournament could they have a shot at moving up those 6 spots and give us another top 50 RPI win? I didn't think it was very likely with the caliber teams they will play, or if conference tourney games even counted. Just a thought.


March 2nd, 2011 at 9:02 PM ^

Conference tournament games do count in the eyes of the RPI (for the NCAA selection committee, they're basically regular season games, when it boils down to it). Though Oakland will be playing pretty crappy teams, upping their win% will help raise their RPI.

Oakland's RPI is also helped by the likes of West Virginia, Purdue, Tennessee, Illinois, MSU... these guys played one heck of a tough non-conference schedule, and they're close enough to the RPI cutoff that they can make it.

Plus, if they make the NCAA tourney as an autobid (which they're a heavy favorite to do), that give Michigan a win over a "tournament team," which may not be an official criterion, but certainly isn't likely to hurt.


March 2nd, 2011 at 6:42 PM ^

OK - my thought on MSU-Iowa:

MSU beating them means MSU has a higher RPI, most certainly top 50, and if we beat them twice, that's 2 top 50 wins for us.  However, if MSU loses, we'd almost certainly be ahead of them on the bubble, making it more likely they pick us. 

Since it's essentially a wash, the tie-breaker is emotional value in an MSU win/loss.  Since it would be very awesome for MSU to be swept by the worst team in the league and us having the chance to knock them out of the tournament altogether by beating them, I pick IOWA WIN as the best overall choice. 



March 2nd, 2011 at 7:42 PM ^

I just looked at FSU's profile - why in the hell are they a 9 seed?  Their RPI is 48, they have a total of 6 top-100 wins, and a loss to RPI #273 Auburn.  Our one bad loss (Indiana) is 100 spots higher than theirs, and we have 8 top 100 wins to their 6.  Clemson, our common opponent, we both beat, but Clemson ranks as their 3rd highest RPI win, but there are our 7th. 

Sure, we have more total losses, but we played a much, much harder schedule.  We've played 19 top-100 teams, they have played 13.  We will each have one more top-100 game after the regular season ends. 

How are they a 9 seed and we're a 12?  Those resumes seem pretty equal to me.


March 2nd, 2011 at 8:33 PM ^

By my count we are current winning in 4, losing in 2 and tied in 1.  But all the games are close.  Oh and this gives me something other to do other than my thesis after the library closes at 7 in abandoned Ann Arbor.

PS What are the FSU cheerleaders wearing?


March 2nd, 2011 at 9:10 PM ^

Everything is coming up MICH so far...

State, North Carolina (near-buzzer-beater 3), and Miami all got their wins, and East Carolina scored the HUGE upset against Memphis. A god-awful St. Louis team ended any hopes Dayton had of staying on the bubble.

SMU couldn't quite upset UCF, but that was one of the games that were only on our periphery.  UAB leads Southern Miss with a couple seconds left, but either result is fine by MIchigan.

The only bad 7:00 result was Richmond beating St. Joseph's, but that was such a ridiculous longshot that no harm is done. We basically got the expected result.