Bubble News: Michigan Makes a Move

Submitted by jamiemac on February 21st, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Bumped to the front page for those of you wondering who to cheer for/against this weekend.

Events broke perfectly for Michigan throughout the week in the college basketball world. In addition to a pair of good wins since last Sunday, the Wolverines found an ally in the out of town scoreboard. Every night has brought carnage to the bubble. Many of Michigan's bubble brethern fell, some twice, and lost key swing games.

The upshot? For that answer, we'll break out the latest Bracket Matrix chart. A total of 19 brackets, nearly one-third of the now 60 brackets tracked, have been updated since the close of day Thursday and Michigan's resounding win over Minnesota. Of those, 15 pushed the Wolverines up the chart and into the field of 65.

The overall numbers still dont look to great, but consider Michigan's surge just in the last 48 hours. When the week began, Michigan was only in nine total fields. The Wolverines saw their support dwindle throughout the week until only six mock brackets had placed Michigan. The Wolverines had fallen to eighth from last out of the comprehensive matrix. When Michigan tipped off Thursday night against the Gophers, the Temple Owls were in more fields than Michigan. Temple? Really? I didn't realize a fourth place team in the Atlantic 10 was that impressive. Were Pepe Sanchez and Mark Macon granted more eligibility and nobody told me?

All bracketologists needed to see was a big Michigan win, and the Maize and Blue delivered resoundingly Thursday night. It was cool to see Michigan elevated into Lunardi's ESPN field, where he has the Wolverines a 13-seed. This guy annually nails the field on the spot, so as long as we stay in his bracket, Michigan fans ought to feel confident on Selection Sunday. The Bracket Project has steadily moved Michigan up its NIT bracket lines and finally leapt the Wolverines into the field, where they check in as an 11-seed. The Bracket Junkie still has UM as an 11-seed, but Michigan saw themselves promoted up four spots to seventh from last team in the field. RPI's Jerry Palm, who is trying to predict what the field will look like on Selection Day, as opposed to giving us a snapshot of what the bracket would look like today, has Michigan in the field for the first time this season since he started doing his projections. Even in updated fields leaving Michigan out, there is good news to report. College Hoops Net did not list UM as even one of their final eight teams out earlier in the week. But, today, Michigan sits on the cusp as the last team cut from his Friday afternoon update.

The surge in support pushed Michigan up to second from last in the Matrix complete look. But, 41 brackets, many of which do not have Michigan in yet, have not updated since the win and won't update until after this weekend is in the books. A win tomorrow with some strategic losses across the country today and Michigan will likey see enough comprehensive support to get into the Matrix field. In case you think thats too many minds to change, consider of the 15 brackets that have UM in the field post Minnesota victory, only two had them in their field prior to that game. And, they now have more than twice as many bids as Temple, helpfully shielding readers here from a hateful Temple rant.

All this transpires on the eve of one of the more compelling weekends of the season for teams sitting on the bubble. Games between bubble mates litter the schedule today. If Michigan can take care of business tomorrow, one reason to assume an even greater movement in the Matrix is the fact that with so many head to heads, plenty of teams elbowing for room will fall by the wayside. By Monday morning, we may have our clearest bubble picture yet in this goofy season. We know the outcome of Michigan's game will go a long way in painting that picture. Here are some other games to keep a rooting interest today.

Notre Dame at Providence. Noon, ESPN Full Court. Line, Prov -2

It ought to be fun watching these schools attempt to play defense. There are 5 games in the NBA tonight. I set the total at 2.5 for number of those games this matchup between the Irish and Friars will outscore. Any takers? Sign on up!Michigan is farther ahead of Notre Dame than Providence in the pecking order, so I actually think Michigan fans should pull for the Irish, even if it opens the door for their rise up the bubble.

Boston College at Miami. Noon, no tv. Line, Miami -7

According to the Matrix, this is a consensus 9-seed (BC) versus the consensus fourth team out (Miami). Time is running out on the Hurricanes. Without a win today, you have to wonder if the Canes can do enough from here on out to merit consideration outside of a deep run in the ACC Tournament. This has to be considered a must win.

Tennesseee at Kentucky. 1pm, CBS. Line, UK -3

Again using the Matrix as a barometer, this is a #8 vs a #11. Kentucky is the lesser seed here and in desperation mode. They've lost four of six and are in real danger of being kicked out of a majority of brackets if they dont stop the bleeding. Michigan in the NCAA field, but not Kentucky? Yeah, right. That's a joke. What's next, the Cats on a longer bowl streak in football than Michigan? Oh. Wait. Nevermind.

Baylor at Oklahoma State. 1:30pm, ESPN Full Court. Line, OSU -4.5

Without really doing anything all that impressive, the Cowboys are making a move up the bubble. They've lost all their key games it seems in both league and OOC play. But, if they keep winning, they could sneak in there. This team is young, and probably more talented right now than Michigan. But, their defense is suspect, so they are vulnerable today to Baylor's similar up the floor tempo. The Bears are a disappointment this year, but if they can conjure up a winning streak, they could be a strong bubble team by the time league tournaments roll around. In the end, this game could give the Providence/ND game a run for their money as far as total points goes.

Louisville at Cincinnati, 2pm, ESPN Full Court. Line, L'Ville -5

The Bearcats surprising run to a bid faces a make or break game this afternoon. Seeded 12 in the latest Matrix, CU is the shakiest of at-large teams. A home win against top-10 Louisville legitimizes them and they will leap a couple of seed lines. A loss pushes them out of the field, with a limited road map for re-entry at their disposal the rest of the way.

Marquette at Georgetown. 2pm, ESPN. Line, G'Town -3.5

The Hoyas are the sixth to last team cut from the Matrix field. But, they have played a tough schedule and have enough quality wins where they wont need a good looking record to sneak into the field. But, they have to start stringing together some wins. A win over Marquette today cures a lot of the ills plaguing the Hoyas. It will put them on the right track and in line for a bid as long they can a get a couple more wins down the stretch. A loss forces them to sweep their next two games against Louisville and Syracuse, or else get ready for an NIT home game.

Vanderbilt at Florida. 3pm, ESPN Full Court. Line, Florida -8.5

Florida is a near unanimous selection across the bracketologist spectrum, landing as a Matrix 10 seed. They already have 20 wins. But, they're trending a bit downward and have lost three of five. With five games left, if they repeat the number the Gators might find that a lot of teams are passing them. The slate is rough. After this game, they play each of the four other likely SEC bid candidates. Does a Gator loss today open the door for a collapse?

SDSU at New Mexico. 3pm, no tv. Line, NM -5

Nothing has been able to displace Steve Fisher's club from their mock invite. Now, they face a tough test against the Lobos this afternoon. I dont think the Aztecs can afford too many more losses and still get consensus support in mock brackts. They're an 11 in the Matrix and a loss, despite on the road to a decent league foe, might turn a lot of double digit seed projections into NIT invites.

UNC at Maryland. 3:30pm. ABC. Line, UNC -12.5

Good news Terps fans, if you can win one or two of your final three homes games, then the squad could be a road sweep of two bottom feeders away from getting a bid. The bad news, those home games are against UNC, Duke and Wake. Good luck. That trek begins today against the Heels. I know from a SOS standpoint, UM could spin a Terrapin win positively. But, then again, does Michigan want to be on the bubble with a team that has such high end, recent scalps, not to mention a head to head win over them? I say no. I'm pulling for the Heels here.

Kansas State at Iowa State. 6pm, no tv. Line KSU- 3.5

Kansas State has been yo-yoing in and out of the field for about a month now. Right now, they're on the wrong side looking in, placing third from last out of the field, right behind Michigan, in the Matrix. At one time, Hilton Magic ruled, and Ames was an impossible place to get a win for road teams. However, Jamaal Tinsley, Marcus Fizer and Fred Hoiberg are not walking through that door. Its sad to see Iowa State irrelevant, but hopefully for one night they can conjure up the ghost of Johnny Orr and Hilton Magic can rule again. A loss here cripples KSU the way a possible loss tomorrow to Iowa would to Michigan.

Texas AM at Texas Tech. 6pm, no tv. Line, TAMU -1

Just once, I wish the folks on Game Day would ask Bobby Knight how he feels about his son turning Tech into a high scoring, no defense outfit. It would make good TV, seeing him take a swing at, I dont know, how about Jay Bilas? Are we into that? Sweet! What we're not into is a resurgent Aggie squad. Their easy win the other night against Texas puts them back on the map. The Aggies are cruising towards something like 22 wins and with OOC victories over LSU and Arizona, they can make a compelling case for a bid. With a handful of winnable games down the stretch, they can easily take care of the sub par league record marring their resume. A loss to a second division Red Raider team, though, might derail their surge enough to neutralize it entirely.

Washington at USC. 7pm, no tv. Line, USC -2

With 23 bids, the Trojans are the only team left out of the Matrix with more mock invites than the Wolverines. USC has not played in a week since being swept on their Arizona tour. Only the bubble chaos around them kept them in as many fields this week as they're in. They wont survive any of the next cutdowns if they lose again, even to a quality foe like UW. At the least, a USC loss and UM win tomorrow will enable Michigan to surpass the Trojans.

Florida St at Virginia Tech. 8pm, no tv. Line VT -3

According to the Matrix, this is a 6 (FSU) vs 11 (VT). On the surface, these clubs are trending in opposite directions. The Noles have been climbing, but the Hokies thanks to consecutive losses to Maryland and UVA are hanging on by a thread. Both of these clubs face treacherous schedules over the final two weeks. Wins for either might be hard to come by after today, so the loser faces the real possibility of a losing run that will extend into March. That's not a good thing. I think a road win by FSU would benefit Michigan more. Remember, we've been tracking 5 ACC bubble teams and hoping that three would fall by the wayside. Maryland and Miami are already out. Tech is almost out. If all three lose today, we'll have been granted one of bubble wishes as the final weeks begin.

Oklahoma at Texas. 9pm, ESPN. Line, Texas -1

The marquee ESPN game of the night. In one corner a title contender with one of game's best players. In the other corner, Texas, a team spiraling in the wrong direction. In the Sooners they have the wrong opponent to try and get out of this funk. The Horns have lost four of their last six, a la Kentucky. A loss tonight drops them to .500 in league play. They appear to be a solid 8-seed according to the Matrix, but for how long if they keep losing?

BYU at UNLV. 11pm, no tv. Line, UNLV -2

This late night game in the desert is between a #10 (BYU) and #11 UNLV) according to the Matrix. How does the loser stay in anybody's fields come Monday morning? At worst the loser will fall behind Michigan, provided the Wolverines can take care of business tomorrow.



February 21st, 2009 at 12:22 PM ^

I did not make any mention of the Bracket Buster Event going on this weekend. There are some pretty cool games, some of which will impact the bubble.

Butler/Davidson is tipping off right now and there is speculation that the loser of this game wont merit an at large berth in the event they lose the league tournament. On ESPN Game Day, they did the blind resume trick, and I quickly grabbed the team which ended up being Georgetown over Davidson. That was interesting. Butler might not even win its conference regular season. We cant be sure they'll get an at large if they lose a couple more times. In Steph Curry I Trust. For those who want to sweat with me, I paid steep for a money line on Davidson to win.

Michigan fans should cheer hard for the Colonial Athletic Association today. One of Michigan's more compelling outcomes on its resume is its win over Northeaster, a team currently tied for first in the CAA. A good Bracket Buster for the CAA elevates the league and elevates Michigan's win. Northeastern is currently up 39-35 over Wright State (psst, I have NE +4) in the second half in a game on ESPNU. VCU lost last night by 1 on the road, so that hurt the CAA. Other notable CAA games include Old Dominion at Liberty, Hofstra at Fairfield, and George Mason at Creighton.

That last game is huge because Creighton is bucking for serious at large consideration should they not win the MWV Tournament. If they can keep their winning streak going, the Jays probably only need to advance into the finals of that tourney to nab a bid. A loss today may negate all those pro-Creighton feelings.

Staying with the MVC, Northern Iowa travels to Sienna. NIU probably wont get the at large considertion Creighton is getting. The Saints however have a guady 21-6 record and RPI ranking. They played a brutal OOC slate. While they didnt in any of those games, they have a 15-1 league mark. A win here may give the Saints legit at large credibility so long as they can at least get into the finals of the MAAC next month. Dont sleep on the Saints; remember they crushed Vanderbilt to win a first round game in last year's tournament.

The final game to keep an eye on St Mary's at Utah State. When the month began, both teams seemed sure bets for the field, even with league tournament losses. The loser today may not have the luxury anymore, especially St. Mary's. The Gaels have played themselves out of an at large bid. But, a win today and a nice run to end the season could get it back. A loss and they'll need to get by Portland and Gonzaga in one of the most balanced WCC fields in years next month. That's not likely.

I hope everyone enjoys the hoops today. I'll check back in with some thoughts throughout the day.


February 21st, 2009 at 12:55 PM ^

Only has 7 points and is 2/12 in shooting. No treys. And, he has more turnovers as field goals

Yet, Davidson only down 34-29 at half. He'll go off in the second half.

Wildcats turned it over twice on fast breaks that last minute or it would be closer.

Yinka Double Dare

February 21st, 2009 at 1:40 PM ^

I'm a bit surprised you went with Davidson given Curry is playing hurt. I wouldn't necessarily expect him to go off in the second half. KenPom had it as a 2 point Davidson win but that assumed a healthy Curry. I know Butler's lost their last two but only one of those was a poor performance (last weekend against Loyola). Also, Butler has a couple of very good on-the-ball defenders and plays very good help defense, making it even harder for Curry on a gimpy ankle -- he really doesn't look like he has the lift and explosion he would normally.

Davidson has the game at their pace, but Butler is making shots today, which means Davidson is in trouble unless Curry finds the range, and quick.

I don't mean to say I would have taken Butler, I would have stayed far away from this game given Curry's uncertainty.

But if you're watching, you have to look at Gordon Hayward and wish we had him. 6 foot 8, good rebounder, and absolutely deadly from 3 point range, he would have been an awesome fit for us.


February 21st, 2009 at 2:09 PM ^

Big second half coming up for UK, up 7 at the half vs the Vols. They play LSU, at South Carolina and at Florida down the stretch, so they need to tuck away this win. Getting Patterson back in the lineup has been big for them today.


February 21st, 2009 at 2:13 PM ^

I just turned on the GTown game and guess who is reffing? Surprise surprise Ed Hightower.

How many Ed Hightowers are there? My god that guy refs every game I've ever seen.

So I'm putting the over/under on guys fouling out at 5.


February 21st, 2009 at 2:19 PM ^

That is ridiculous.

Knight on the pregame said this travel and bulk of games causes grumpy refs who call grumpy games (paraphrasing, obvs)....but thats pretty spot on.

Hightower used to be a principal/superintendent in Iowa....i hope he's at least retired from that with how many times they drag his bones out to ref.


February 21st, 2009 at 2:16 PM ^

The Irish blew out the Friars, 103-84.

The Irish are 15-11, 6-8. They have home gimmes vs Rutgers and St Johns bookending the rest of the season. In between, they go at UCONN, home vs Villanova.

They need to go 3-1, IMO, or they're out of this discussion.

If they do that, they're probably in, pending the Big East Tourney. In this scenario they would likely play one of the bottom 3 Big East teams in the first round, then a WVA, S'Cuse, Cincy, GTown type matchup in the second game.

I'll throw it out there for any discussion, what do the Irish need to do?


February 21st, 2009 at 5:10 PM ^

3-1 is a bare minimum, but I think they might need to make the quarters in the Big East tourney with that. Assume, for the moment, that they lose at UConn but win the rest. That puts them at 3-8 in true road games (none of the wins against top 50 teams) and 4-11 top 50 RPI going into the conference tourney. Their RPI sits in the high 60s right now, and wins over Rutgers and St. John's at home won't help at all. 10-10 in conference games (including tourney) sounds good, until you realize that six of those would be against the awful bottom five (four of whom are considerably worse, according to the RPI at least, than Iowa).

4-0 and don't lose in the first round (assuming that 10-8 isn't good enough to get them a bye into the second) would be plenty. 3-1 with the loss at UConn, they probably have to make it to the quarters, but if they win there and lose one of the other games making the second round might do it.


February 21st, 2009 at 2:36 PM ^

Ed Hightower fricken sucks! I've said that for years. He's a total assbag!

Worst officials ever in the Big 10

1. Ted Valentine - total piece of shit!

2. Jim Burr - just an incompetent old man

3. Hightower - The game is more about him than the kids - he SUCKS.

4. "the rat" - can remember his name but he was terrible, too.

5. Phil Bova - just because he always reminded me of these other dipshits.


February 21st, 2009 at 3:25 PM ^

jamiemac wrote:

"It was cool to see Michigan elevated into Lunardi's ESPN field, where he has the Wolverines a 13-seed. This guy annually nails the field on the spot,"

Wouldn't it be great if the panel just says FTS on doing all that work and uses his brackets every year?


February 21st, 2009 at 4:32 PM ^

Georgetown falls! Great news for ]V[ichigan. Georgetown is now 14-11 (5-9) with the following remaining schedule:

@ Villanova
@ St. John's

Even if they win 3 of 4, they sit at 17-12 (8-10) and still on the bubble. Anything worse and they are done. Their SOS is great, but it'll be hard putting a team that finished 3 games under .500 in conference into the tourney.


February 21st, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

Like I said, 8-10 puts them squarely on the bubble with the BE tourney to go. A win then loss in the BE tourney probably gets them in, but that will still be dependent on other bubble teams, like Michigan, PSU, Miami. But they gotta get there first. It's an uphill battle.


February 21st, 2009 at 4:31 PM ^

for Georgetown.

They had four straight chances to cut the lead down to 2 and flat choked each time. Eventually Marquette converted and pushed the lead up to 6 with less than one minute to go. Game over.

The Hoyas have to win out in their final four games in order to get to the .500 mark in the Big East. In the ACC, Miami won today, but still has to win out their remaining three games to get to a .500 league mark.

Both have to go on nice winning streaks from here on out to merit a bid, while UM probably just has to break even the rest of the season.

What a development considering the outlook for Michigan when the season began and that the Canes and Hoyas were in the preseason top-20.


February 21st, 2009 at 6:04 PM ^

But we played Maryland, so it's a boost for our SOS. I understand that they're another bubble team, but it's better that they win than any of the other teams mentioned above.

Durham Blue

February 21st, 2009 at 11:39 PM ^

I have a non-sports related question. It seems there are more than a few UM engineers that frequent this website. I am seeking the Michigan Engineering t-shirt that spells out "engineering" with various mathematical and engineering symbols. I think Ulrichs and Michigan Book and Supply used to carry it but I cannot find it there anymore. Does anyone know where I can buy one?


February 23rd, 2009 at 5:08 PM ^

What's with the Temple Bashing???

Temple's RPI is 36th, compared to Michigan's at 56th. And Pepe Sanchez is back...he has reincarnated into 17yr old freshman Juan Fernandez.