What will it take to make the Dance?

Submitted by 2014 on February 7th, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I'm nursing a little Super Bowl hangover that's making it difficulat to do real work, so instead I decided to dive into Ken Pom to see if there was any real chance of us making the Dance this year.

My takeaway, we need to go 5-2 down the stretch including a win against either Illinois or Wiscy to get a signature win on the resume, and we need to win 2 in the Big Ten Tourney.

Here's how I get there:

Wins - We have a few solid wins, but overall, no real signature win to hang our hat on:

Wins RPI
Clemson 30
Michigan St. 49
Penn St. 58
Penn St. 58 58
Oakland 71
Iowa 77
Harvard 88
Utah 130
Bowling Green 239
North Carolina Central 293
Gardner Webb 297
Bryant  309
South Carolina Upstate 317
Concordia NA

Losses - We don't have any bad losses, our worst loss is against Indiana who has an RPI of #63 (that UTEP loss isn't looking as bad now that they are at 18-5). If there is any such thing as a good loss, well, we have quite a few of them. There are no derailer losses and the only one on the horizon is potentially Iowa at #77:

tOSU 1
tOSU 1
Kansas 2
Wisconsin 5
Purdue 9
Syracuse 12
Minnesota 42
Northwestern 47
Indiana 63

To Go - Ken Pom has us wrapping up at 17-14, which gets us into the NIT in all likelihood. Going 5-2 and getting a couple wins in the Big Ten Tourney is not inconceivable at this piont (KP says 10% chance to get 19 regular season wins - so you're saying there is a chance):

To Go Local RPI Ken Pom Prediction Needed for Dance
Northwestern Home 47 W 69-66 W
Indiana Home 63 W 68-63 W
Illinois Away 16 L 69-60 W
Iowa Away 77 L 65-63 W
Wisconsin Home 5 L 61-56 L
Minnesota Away 42 L 69-64 L
Michigan St. Home 49 W 66-62 W
Record     17-14 19-12
Big Ten Round 1 ? ? ? W
Big Ten Round 2 ? ? ? W
Big Ten Round 3 ? ? ? L

Assuming we don't completely collapse, NIT is looking like a lock, and the Dance is looking like a longshot, but way more likely than I personally thought at any time this year. Go Blue, let's get 'em boys...



Source: http://kenpom.com/



February 7th, 2011 at 12:59 PM ^

i'd hardly call the NIT a lock - the games against N'Western and IU, even though at home, will be tough. 

this team has been such a joy to watch.  they play really hard and keep showing improvement. 


February 7th, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

Lock might be a bit strong, but if our RPI is #54, and Ken Pom projects us to finish at 17-14, I'd say we're pretty darn close.

We will get an NIT bid if we finish at 17-14 with a 7-11 Big Ten record as Ken Pom predicts. There just aren't that many good teams this year, a lot of mediocrity....


February 7th, 2011 at 1:30 PM ^

Kenpom says we have about a 10% chance of winning 15 or fewer games, in which case we wouldn't make the NIT (Assuming a 1-1 BTT).  So highly likely that we'll make the NIT, but not quite a lock.  

Also, Kenpom gives us what looks like about 11% chance of going 19-12 but there's a non-zero chance we do better than 19-12 so we have about 15% of chance of making the tournament right now.  Certainly something to hope for.

(I obviously agree with you that 5-2 gets us in, 4-3 would leave a lot of work in the BTT).  Nice analysis. 


February 7th, 2011 at 1:23 PM ^

According to Kem Pom:


Wed Feb 9 47 Northwestern W, 69-66 61 63% Home    
Sat Feb 12 63 Indiana W, 68-63 62 69% Home    
Wed Feb 16 15 Illinois L, 69-60 62 16% Away    
Sat Feb 19 77 Iowa L, 65-63 63 44% Away    
Wed Feb 23 5 Wisconsin L, 61-56 53 25% Home    
Sat Feb 26 42 Minnesota L, 69-64 62 30% Away    
Sat Mar 5 49 Michigan St. W, 66-62 62 64% Home


Our chances of doing winning the 5 games you say we need are 1.9%.....




February 7th, 2011 at 4:31 PM ^

Also, this is a very young team that has had some learning experiences.  One drawback to computer models is that they can't take into account the fact that teams can get better or worse over the course of a season.  Our offense still has its rough patches, but on the whole, the guys are looking more comfortable in it as the year progresses.  This is borne out in our improved 3-point shooting (now up to 34.9% on the season; it was hovering around 30% in December).  


February 7th, 2011 at 1:30 PM ^

I think the RPI formula that the NCAA Committee uses is more like what umhoops.com uses: http://www.umhoops.com/information/rpi/.

A lot of the teams we've beaten are ranked significantly worse in this RPI than on the KenPom site (Clemson, for example is 73rd instead of 30th).

We have only one win against the top 50 according to this RPI measure (MSU), and the Indiana loss looks terrible (they're 150th).

I really think that without a really good non-conference win, Michigan will have to go 6-1 down the stretch or win the big ten tournament to make the NCAA.



February 7th, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

which is a much better indicator of team quality and predictor of future performance than than RPI because it weeds out a lot of the "luck" factor.  Unfortunately, your point does illuminate the fact that the NCAA committee uses RPI as one factor, although I've read that they are starting to use margin of victory more in their analysis.

Regardless, we will go dancing with 19 or more regular season wins unless we get a 6 or lower seed in the BTT and lose in the first round.  19 or more is all we need, it's as simple as that.

Braylon 5 Hour…

February 7th, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

If we somehow end up at 19-12, win a first round big 10 tournament game and then lose, to end up 20-13... I would be more than overjoyed at that result, even if we didn't get into the tournament.

I think Beilein has done a good job with this team.  We went into the game @ MSU 1-6 in conference, having gotten beaten pretty soundly the previous games, and we've won 3 out of 4 games since.  This week's home games come against 2 teams we lost to pretty soundly; it'd be a huge step forward if we could take care of business and get to 6-7 in conference going into the final stretch. 


February 7th, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^

When Morris, and then Hardaway, didn't dunk those two balls at the end of the game yesterday, do those 4 points have any effect on the NCAA bid determination ?  Meaning, we still won, but now by only 3 vs 7 and wonder how the computation is affected.

the Bray

February 7th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

I think a 9-9 conference record (5-2 finish) gets them into the NCAA with only 1 B10 tourney win.  9-9 is going to get you into a tie for 4th or 5th place.  Behnd only OSU, Purdue, Wisconsin and one of Illinois/Minnesota.  Tied with the other of Ill/Minny and ahead of MSU and the rest.  I think the B10 gets 6 teams in in that istance. 


February 7th, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^

does the big ten champion automatically get a ncaa bid?  if so, our odds are much better, as you have us winning our first two big ten tournament games, putting us in the final. maybe we win that game.


February 7th, 2011 at 2:17 PM ^

1. Sweep the remaining weaker teams (Northwestern, Indiana, Iowa).

2. Win at least two of the other four games (at Illinois, at Minnesota, home vs. Wisconsin and Michigan State); any mistakes in category 1 have to be corrected here.

3. Win two tournament games.

1 is not much of a problem, although conference games can be difficult at times. 2 is going to be a big challenge: the wins at Michigan State and Clemson were good, but that's the same team that lost at Northwestern and Indiana. Williams Arena is always inhospitable.

3 essentially requires that Michigan not finish 8th or 9th in the conference; as well as the Wolverines played OSU in their two meetings, any other path to two conference wins seems more likely to me than a path through the #1 seed, even given Purdue's destruction of UM in Ann Arbor (Conseco is neutral unless you're playing IU or Purdue ... IIRC Wisconsin and Ohio State travel well, but playing an in-state team makes it a road game).

The middle of the pack is a mess right now, so it's impossible to say where they'll finish, but 9-9 and above 8th would seem to give them a much better shot at 20+ wins and an NCAA bid.


February 8th, 2011 at 3:38 PM ^

If 1) and 2) happen, there's no chance we end up at an 8 or 9 seed, given that we are tied for 8th right now.  If we go even 4-3 down the stretch, we will be no worse than 7th, with a shot at 6th.  Regardless, I think 5-2 is necessary to avoid drawing OSU, Purdue, or Wiscy in the second round; i.e., to have a legitimate shot at 3), we need to accomplish both 1) and 2)


February 7th, 2011 at 3:07 PM ^

Don't forget that the odds are better this year for bubble teams because there are 4 extra spots in the field. A team that would have been the last 4 out last year would make a tournament this year. They go 7-2 , I think they're in.


February 7th, 2011 at 3:35 PM ^

I can think of only a few chances Michigan has of making the NCAA tournament this year.  Among them:

Santa Claus

Easter Bunny

Harry Potter

I think you get the idea here.  I plan on enjoying the rest of the season, watching a young team grow, and enjoying their NIT appearance.  Is there anyone here who wouldn't have been happy with a NIT berth before they started playing the games?  I had them pegged for 14 wins; anything more is a bonus AFAIC.  


February 7th, 2011 at 5:03 PM ^

NIT is the likeliest destination for Michigan.  NCAA is unrealisitic IMO. Michigan does not have any quality win and has 2 bad losses(IU and Northwestern).  They do have a road win against Clemson but Clemson isn't a great team.  MSU is fading fast.  Illini is fading and looks like a winnable game for Michigan.

The schedule is pretty favorable for Michigan to get 18-19 wins.  I don't think that Michigan has a strong enough resume to get into the NCAA tourney at 20 wins. They need to win Big 10 tourney(duh) to assure a spot in the NCAA tourney.


February 7th, 2011 at 11:05 PM ^

Big Ten is getting 6 in this year.  If you're worst loss is to a team with an RPI in the 60s, that's pretty good compared to others on the bubble, for instance Washington State or Alabama.  If we've got a strength of schedule in the top 15 and have a similar record you've got to like our chances.  A Wisconsin win at home would be absolutely huge.


February 7th, 2011 at 5:56 PM ^

...by saying I'm a little cranky today. Referring to this tournament as "the dance" annoys me. And don't get me started on "punching their ticket to the big dance".

I feel better already.

Steve in PA

February 7th, 2011 at 7:36 PM ^

20 wins or win B10 tournament. 


Taking 2nd or 3rd in B10 tournament with 18 may get us on the bubble for one of the playin games, but I would rather go to NIT than be 1-and-done at NCAA.  This team needs more games.

matt mich

February 9th, 2011 at 1:53 PM ^

I don't know whats going to happen but, I know that we are going to beat Iowa at Iowa and we acutally might have a good chance of going to the big dance as a 11 seed again.