Michgan Basketball Tournament Hopes

Submitted by swarwick33 on December 10th, 2009 at 3:34 PM
With an tough 4-4 start Michigan has an uphill battle to make the NCAA Tournament.

First we have to remember that this is a good year to be in the Big Ten as it is an extremely deep and talented conference, and would be considered a power conference this year. This makes it possible to make the NCAA Tourney with 19 wins and a Big Ten tourny win, but 20 or 21 and add a BTT win would lock up a birth for them.

Secondly, their out of conference schedule this year is on par with last years. Last year they played UCLA, Duke (2), UCONN, and Maryland. This year they have played Creighton, Marquette, Alabama, Boston College, and Utah (4 of them away from home), and still play UCONN and Kansas.  That is 7 quality opponents, now granted they are currently 1-4 in those games, but win 1 against either UCONN or Kansas and all of a sudden you have a 2nd quality OOC win.  This would be the same as (corrected! sorry apparently counting to 2 was tougher today that I thought) last year.  The tough schedule will help them with their RPI, and as dumb as the RPI is, it matters to the selection committee. 

Last year after the Big Ten Tournament Michigan was 20-13 and drew a 9 seed.

So what would they have to do to make the tournament.  Here is a scenario for you. # of wins in ( )

  • First you must win the two cupcake games left: Detroit (5), Coppin St. (6)
  • Beat UCONN (7) at home: They could have won on the road last year
  • Take care of business against the Big Ten basement dwellers: Indiana (8&9), Iowa (10&11), Northwestern (12&13)
  • Go 5-5 against Penn State (14) Michigan State (15), Wisconsin (16), Ohio State (17), and Minnesota (18)
  • Beat either Purdue or Illinois (19)
  • Win 1 BTT game (20)
This would give them 20 wins and 11 Big Ten wins.

Is 11 Big Ten wins tough? Sure.  They could have accomplished it last year though had they beat Penn State and Iowa on the road.  The toughest, and probably most important, thing to do is to sweep Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern.  Every game you lose to those teams is another you have to win against the powers of the conference.

So when will we know if they have realistic tournament hopes? The 6 games between January 14th and January 30th.  Home games against Indiana and Iowa bookend games vs. UCONN, at Wisky, at Purdue, and vs. MSU.  They go 4-2 or 5-1 they could be on their way.  Less than that and they could have a lot of work left to do come Big Ten Tournament time.


Maize Rage

December 10th, 2009 at 3:56 PM ^

I am still pretty hopeful we will make the NCAA tournament, or make deep run in the NIT.

An observation:
Stu has shot 2- 12 the last two games and his minutes are (inexplicably) on the rise. I would rather see LLP taking more shots.

A win against either Kansas or UConn will do a lot to erase a lot of concerns.


December 10th, 2009 at 3:57 PM ^

Thanks for the breakdown. Not wise to bet your money or emotional well-being on making the big dance, but surely possible. It's a streaky team...we're clearly capable of putting together a run of poor performances. Once/if we get some positive momentum going, who knows how hot we can get...!?


December 10th, 2009 at 4:35 PM ^

Obviously, they need to improve their play in order to actually come through on any of the above scenarios.

The Big 10 is very tough and well regarded this year. With UM's OOC slate, if Michigan can prove they're on equal footing with the other league members during conference play, they have a strong chance at a bid......even if they're just 3-4 games above .500, they can get it as there are examples throughout this decade of teams with records like that getting a bid becuase both their OOC and league slates were considered among the best.

I agree with your sentiments and that January stretch you pointed to.....but, I also agree with Los Barcos, IU might not be the bottom dweller we thought they were. Nor is Northwestern for that matter. Actually, road wins at their places might even be argued as quality wins before its all said and done.

Long way to go. It looks bleak now, but in no way, shape, form or hisotrical precedence did last night's loss close the door on an at large berth.


December 10th, 2009 at 4:39 PM ^

As I said after the BC loss. This team will not make the tournament. It sucks but lets face reality. They are really bad right now and it makes no sense why they are so bad. I just don't understand how we went from a pretty good team to a bad team.


December 11th, 2009 at 2:44 PM ^

"I just don't understand how we went from a pretty good team to a bad team."

It's the same team. One that upset UCLA & Duke unexpectedly, struggled through most of the B10, and then found its magic at the end to finish up 9-9 in the B10 & then sealed the deal by smoking Iowa in the first round of the BTT. After the season last year, we were talking about how the team overachieved.

Hopefully, soon we will be saying "I just don't understand how we went from a bad OOC team to a pretty good B10 team." 12-6 would definitely do it IMO (so would 14-4 or 18-0), but that's a feat that we didn't achieve last year.


December 10th, 2009 at 4:40 PM ^

it doesn't help that we had higher expectations this season, but unfortunately they appear to be lacking in upperclassmen leadership and grit....D is lax and rebounding sucks. Shooting goes in cycles, we all understand that...but in most sports and especially basketball, there is one thing you can control, your effort. And its not there right now for 40 minutes.

At this point, we are looking at a few games over .500 and an NIT. They need an epiphany real damn soon.....


December 10th, 2009 at 5:04 PM ^

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I am already much further down the road than you in coming to grips with what I've seen from this team this year. I put our chances at making the tourney at 10% at this point.

Four things are absolutely startling to me:

1. For a supposed good shooting team our FT shooting has been horrid.

2. Our 3pt shooting has been horrid.

3. Our rebounding is even worse than last year.

4. Our defense is worse than last year, by a fucking longshot.

5. Stu is playing horribly.

Unless these items change and that real fugging quick we will not be a .500 team this year and miss the NIT, let alone the Dance.


December 10th, 2009 at 6:31 PM ^

NCAA - Zero
NIT - Slim
Let's all come to grips with the fact we have a bad basketball team. That will make March much less traumatic and any B10 success enjoyable.


December 10th, 2009 at 7:47 PM ^

...is an overstatement. Especially regarding the NIT. The team is playing really poorly now, but it is very capable of getting hot, and there are a whole bunch of meaningful games left on the schedule. I'm not saying that the NCAA tourney is particularly likely, but the team certainly still has a nontrivial chance to make it (as the OP outlines). And a birth in at least the NIT is likely, albeit not guaranteed. There's plenty to be pessimistic about, but lets keep it grounded in reality.


December 10th, 2009 at 11:30 PM ^

Bad 3pt shooting, bad 2pt shooting, bad FT shooting, and bad defense - all correctable as the season goes on. The problem with our team is there is not a leader among them. Harris is a great player, maybe the best in the B10, but he is not a leader. Sims is the reincarnation of Courtney Sims. Solid, sometimes great, but docile and zero leadership skills. The next leader looks to be Zach Novak, but not until next year will he be comfortable in that role.
It's difficult to become a leader midseason and that's why we will struggle to make the NIT.


December 10th, 2009 at 6:37 PM ^

Michigan had 2 OOC quality wins, Duke and UCLA, so they would need 1 to match last year and 2 to be further ahead. The thing that you won't be able to replicate now is the fact that Michigan had 1 bad loss, to Iowa on the road. I have a feeling that loss to Bama and possibly this loss to Utah might be to teams that finish near the bottom of the RPI top 100 (constitutes a bad loss). Small point, but M was a 10 seed and one of the last 4 teams in the tournament. I really am with you on the 11-12 big ten wins including the BTT will probably place us in the tournament, and definitely in the tourney if they can beat uconn.


December 10th, 2009 at 8:56 PM ^

I'm feeling very negative about the chances for this team right now. We have to beat UConn or Kansas??? I don't think that happens. Sure we have the talent to beat UConn at home, but hey, we really haven't played one good game all year. We struggled with Arkansas Pine-Bluff at home, and haven't beaten a good team all year. The OP says the win over Creighton is a "quality win" (they are currently rated #141 at rpi.com) but that victory is a FAR cry from beating UCLA and Duke - both of whom were #4 in the country at the time we beat them last year. Heck, even UConn is not as highly regarded this year as those two teams we beat last year at the time we beat them. Our out of conference schedule is on-par with the schedule we played last year, but it doesn't help you when you lose all the games against the top teams. That Alabama loss in Orlando was a killer. We controlled that game for a good 35 minutes only to lose it down the stretch.

Likely scenario - we'll end up 6-6 in the non-conference (losing to Kansas and UConn) and then be about .500 in conference. We'll lose to State twice, and you know we're going to lose a game or two that we shouldn't to Iowa, Northwestern or Indiana. If we could get our shooting turned around, maybe we can salvage things. In watching last night's debacle, the commenter said that we rank #290 out of 340 teams in Division 1 in 3-point shooting %. Yikes. And yet we're jacking up 35 3's a game (or so it seems).

I'm hoping we turn it around - upset State and UConn at home - beat the Buckeyes and Badgers for once, and knock off Purdue and the Illini, while not losing a game to the Big 10 bottom feeders. But hope is the key word - at this point, the team has not shown any reason to believe those things will actually happen.

steve sharik

December 11th, 2009 at 12:39 AM ^

We shoot relatively normal percentages, we're probably close to undefeated. By the end of the season, our percentages will be around normal; these guys are just too talented shooters. Therefore, the percentages from here out are going to be pretty high in order to get us back up to respectability by season's end. I agree with those who think things aren't bleak yet.



December 11th, 2009 at 5:58 PM ^

frankly, i dont think a 6-6 (or even 7-5) ooc, and 11-7 conference record gets us into the tournament.

and northwestern is a solid program, and i wouldn't write IU off either. Iowa looks like the bottom of the b10, and to be honest, id put us at #10 right now the way we've been playing vis-a-vis IU and NW.