Should Michigan be a "bubble team" now?

Submitted by mfan_in_ohio on February 20th, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Most bracketologists have Virginia Tech in the tournament.  Joe Lunardi said that the Hokies were above his “last four in”, even after their loss to (and sweep by) Virginia yesterday (Virginia is about even with Iowa in RPI).  FWIW, Michigan’s current RPI is 57, Va. Tech’s is 64.  I thought it would be interesting to compare Va. Tech’s resume with Michigan’s, and I’m doing it by comparing their individual wins and losses to each other.  I used the RPI numbers coming into Sunday, put common opponents in bold, and tried to format as best I could.



Va.Tech                                 Michigan

RPI     Team                           RPI     Team

50        Florida St.                  42        @ Michigan St.

59        vs. Oklahoma St.        43        Harvard

61        Penn St.                    61        @  Penn St.

65        Miami                         61        Penn St.

91        @ N.C. St.                  66        Oakland

94        @ Maryland                73        @ Clemson

94        Maryland                    76        Northwestern

102      vs. St. Bonaventure  108      Utah

130      vs. Miss. St.               161      @ Iowa

168      Georgia Tech             161      Iowa

236      Mt. St. Mary’s            178      Indiana

243      Wake Forest               249      Bowling Green

259      Campbell                    253      Bryant

266      vs. CSU Northridge     260      Gardner-Webb

299      @ UNC-Greensboro     262      N.C. Central

317      S.C. Upstate              317      S.C. Upstate

319      Longwood



Va.Tech                                 Michigan

RPI     Team                           RPI     Team

9          Purdue                        1          Kansas

10        @ North Carolina         4          @ Ohio St.

26        vs. UNLV                      4          Ohio St.

31        @ Kansas St.                9          Purdue

45        @ Boston College        19        @ Wisconsin

144      @ Virginia                    22        vs. Syracuse

144      Virginia                        39        Minnesota

168      @ Georgia Tech            41        @ Illinois

                                                51        vs. UTEP

                                                76        @ Northwestern

                                                178      @ Indiana


The biggest differences between these schedules, in terms of difficulty, is that Va. Tech played Longwood, while Michigan played Ohio State twice and Kansas.  Our wins are better than their wins.  Our losses are better than their losses.  But Michigan is punished for playing a more difficult schedule.  If Michigan had played and beaten #144 Virginia rather than losing to #1 Kansas in overtime in their out-of-conference schedule, there would be no argument; Michigan would have the better resume. 

So why is it that Va. Tech is above the bubble while Michigan is not even mentioned?  They have 1 top 50 win (against #50, at home); are only 3-3 against teams ranked 100-200 (the Iowas and Indianas of the world), including a home loss; and their best road win is at #91 N.C. State.  Michigan has 2 top-50 wins, has road wins at #42 Michigan State, #61 Penn State, and #73 Clemson, and is 4-1 against teams ranked 100-200.  Virginia Tech’s only advantages are a 7-5 record against the top 100, compared  to Michigan’s 7-10, and a 7-5 conference record where they have only played one game against either of the conference’s two ranked teams. 

I’m not saying that Michigan belongs in the tournament; they have to get to .500 in the  conference, which would include two more top-50 wins, and then win at least one game in the BTT.  But can someone explain why everyone seems to have Va. Tech in their brackets but no one (outside of and Andy Katz) mentions Michigan?



February 20th, 2011 at 5:03 PM ^

YES.  Actually i think they should be much more than in the "bubble team" talk but the insane RPI prevents it.  Belmont for God's sake, has a higher RPI based upon their notable victories over Stetson and Cambell (twice). 

I predict this team will beat Wisconsin....beat Minnesota and end the regular season by beating MSU putting us at 20-11.  One win in the tourny and we're in but man it's ridiculous we even have to worry about it.

Blue Bunny Friday

February 20th, 2011 at 8:32 PM ^

The RPI isn't perfect, but it's something other than human polls, and it ranks everyone. Belmont is no longer ranked ahead of us as of today (UM 55 Belmont 59). There are 68 teams that get into the tourney and that leaves the committee with a huge margin for error. Their goal is to allow the best team in the country a chance to prove it. 

I don't see much problem in a team like Belmont getting in over Michigan (other than being a UM fan). Neither team is going to win the thing. Belmont is likely to win their conf. tourney anyway, so this whole thing won't matter.

BTW, Lunardi (brackethead) has his own prefered RPI that ranks M #40.  The team has work to do to get in the tourney and that makes them, at best, a 'bubble' team.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:08 PM ^

I agree I was a little surprised that we're not even being mentioned, let alone given the green light by ESPN and other media analysts.

In these times though, I just take a look back and think about what everyone's (including my own) expectations of the season were.  I mean even Brian and Tim were predicting the apocalypse... "Losing Manny and DeShawn... who's going to score?" 

But, thank goodness for the emergence of Darius Morris, Tim Hardawy Jr., and overall increased team chemistry.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:09 PM ^

I don't know how much this factors into it, but there's a lot more instability in the middle of the Big Ten standings. Michigan is in basically a five-way tie for fourth place (MSU is back a game, but obviously we still play them and they will vault us if we lose). On the other hand, VT is sitting alone in fourth in the ACC.

If the middle of the Big Ten wasn't so crowded, I think more people would be talking Michigan.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:13 PM ^

need one more win. MSU playing so badly has hurt the entire B1G. The ACC isn't much better, but they always get looked at as a better "basketball" conference.

One more win and we are on the bubble, two more and we're in (or on the good side of the bubble).


February 20th, 2011 at 6:26 PM ^

I don't think there is much of an argument for the ACC as a comparable conference this year.  We beat them in the challenge this year plus from top to bottom we have much more solid teams and even our top teams are better than their top teams.  Duke is the only team out of the conference that over the whole course of the year has proven they would be able to win  in the Big Ten.  UNC is playing very good right now though, but still not at the level of OSU, Wiscy, and Purdue.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:15 PM ^

I'd be ecstatic if we went 2-1, since that would mean we'd have a victory over either Wisky or MSU at the minimum. 3-0 seems very optimistic, especially given the absolutely ridiculous way the refs call games.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:17 PM ^

I think it's mostly friction from preseason expectations. VT and MSU are considered bubble teams because they started the season highly ranked and people have been paying attention to them. We started out way below the radar with very little expectations of even getting close to the tournament. Slotting like this is not as bad in basketball as in football, but it still exists, and unfortunately we're getting the bad end of it.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter. If we finish 9-9 in the Big Ten, we will be close, with wins over two out of Wisco, Minnesota and MSU. If we don't, we don't deserve to be in the tournament anyway.

Michigan Arrogance

February 20th, 2011 at 5:19 PM ^

whether we are a bubble team now doesn't matter, really. We have 3 games left all against tourney teams. If we go 2-1, we're in. if not, we're out (BTT not withstandin... or withstanding? IDK what "withstanding" means to be honest).

either way, they've met my expectations (6-7 wins in the B10) with 3 games to go, so i'd say it's a successful season.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:22 PM ^

Lunardi has always struck me as a bit of a company man when it comes to his brackets. Both the ACC and BE are heavily featured on ESPN, and they tend to make the bubble more than other teams from other conferences. If UM wins 2 of the next 3 games, they should be in barring a bad loss in the B1G tourney.


February 20th, 2011 at 6:05 PM ^

His final prediction (made the day of the selection) is rarely wrong.  At this point in the season he doesn't know much more than anyone else.  Lunardi loves to trumpet his track record, conveniently downplaying the fact that his projections change almost daily.


February 20th, 2011 at 6:53 PM ^

His final projection is the only one that matters. Who cares how good his others are, no one cares about the rough draft of an essay. Also, he makes his predictions based on the current resumes of the teams, not on how they are expected to finish. It makes sense then that they would change frequently. Way to downplay Lunardi without checking the facts.


February 20th, 2011 at 11:57 PM ^

The reason I watch the 5-day forecast is to get an idea of what the weather will be like for the next week.  If the broadcaster is making huge revisions to his or her 5-day forecast from day to day, I'm going to change the channel to one with more reliable predictions.  It's the same way with February forecasts for March NCAA picks.  Changing your projected brackets from week to week is lazy and intellectually dishonest.


February 21st, 2011 at 10:02 AM ^

once you get past the top 24 teams* or so, it's pretty difficult to predict, with any level of certainty, the tournament field.  There are still three weeks left in the regular season and the bubble is going to be in constant flux.  Hell, it will be in flux through the final conference tournament games.  e.g. if a team other than San Diego State or BYU wins the MWC, they go from no more than 2 teams to a certain 3.

Early projections need to be viewed as a "if the tournament started today" predictor and not as any sort of measure as to what we can actually expect the field to look like.

*Note that I said teams and not seeds.  Even though you can reasonably predict the top teams in the tournament, it is still too early to predict the seeding.  After this past weekend, who are your #1 seeds?



February 20th, 2011 at 9:08 PM ^

He actually tends to wrong along the way but in his final bracket looks good, but that is after all the tournaments are completed and basically every site has the same breakdown.
<br>And let's not blow smoke up his butt for getting most of the teams in - with the autos plus all top 35 teams getting in as a given, he's only taking a chance on about 8 spots a year. He's not bad at his job by any stretch, but I do question his methodology at times.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

We played shitty at Illinois (who is not very good right now) and took Iowa to OT.  We don't have any signature victories and we beat up on teams we're supposed to beat (especially if we play them at home).  You can compare records to '08 but that year we beat UCLA and Duke.  We haven't beaten anyone good lately and remember that this team only won 3 times in January.  Maybe next year.


February 20th, 2011 at 8:35 PM ^

Well what do you know... someone tearing down our team and who jumps in on it? None other than the biggest hater on the site MfaninOH. Where were you yesterday after we beat Iowa? Oh, that's right we won so you couldn't say shit. 

Just stop already with your hating bullshit.


February 21st, 2011 at 1:13 AM ^

My comment was more toward MfaninOH, it's all good sarto. Nothing against you. Only thing I would say about your comment is that Illinois really isn't that shitty, they are tough on their home court. We shot the ball terribly from three and almost stole a W. I thought we were lucky to even have a chance to win considering how bad we shot, to me, that's a good sign. Same thing in the Kansas game, we were like 2-15 from 3 point land and almost stole a W on their court as well.

I think this team is better than people are giving them credit for, i'm not saying their great but they're good and getting better as the season goes on, which is the most important thing. As for beating the teams were suppose to, you can't hold it against our team because they beat the teams their suppose to beat, isn't that the point? They play whoever is on the schedule. I just hope we can pull out at least 2 more wins so all of this is a moot point anyway.


February 20th, 2011 at 5:46 PM ^

be on the bubble? yes. are they? maybe... bubble or not it all depends on what the selection committee looks at in a couple of weeks... there are 2 losses that are going to hurt michigan in the end and those are the ones at northwestern and indiana... out of any 2 games that michigan needs back right now are those 2, they were BAD losses to not very good teams...


February 20th, 2011 at 5:46 PM ^

I guarantee we'll be a hot topic if we beat Wisconsin Wednesday and the rest of the league games go as planned this week.  If Wisconsin beats Penn State today, and tosu and Minnesota hold serve on their home courts against Illinois and sparty, respectively, on Tuesday, a win over Wisconsin Wednesday would put us ALONE in 4th place for the time being.  4th in the B10 this late in the season has to get you mentioned for the big dance

Snidely Doo Rash

February 20th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

more love than us?  They are the definition of a 1D team with Battle.  I do not see the arguement for them instead of us when we owned them this year on the court.  Beat Wisconsin is definitely Plan A.  


February 20th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

We beat Wisconsin the talk will be instantaneous. An Mgoblog poster looked at Lunardi's last live chat before the Illinois game. The questioner asked what a potential @ Illinois victory would do for M's Tourney chances. The answer was that Michigan would be mentioned in bracketology. Obviously we lost that game but beating Wisconsin at home should have an even greater effect.

If I had to choose between beating @ Illinois or Wisconsin, I would definitely choose Wisconsin. The team has a huge opportunity on Wednesday. Let's seize it.


February 20th, 2011 at 6:12 PM ^

Yes, they should be an NIT bubble team.  If they finish strong, they'll be right there for an NIT selection.

Let the NCAA thing go.  This team is making slow, steady progress.  I love the young guys (Jordan Morgan, Morris, Hardaway).  But this team has way too many holes to be considered one of the best 30+ at-large teams.

A good showing in the NIT gives momentum going into next year.


February 20th, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

This argument gets more and more stupid as we get further into the season.

"But this team has way too many holes to be considered one of the best 30+ at-large teams."

This comment makes absolutely no sense.  The committee doesn't consider "holes" when they make selections.  They consider resumes, and we have a chance to make make a huge addition to our resume on Wednesday


February 20th, 2011 at 6:26 PM ^

of seeing God as they do of beating Wisconsin.  Let it go.  Oh, and the NCAA selection committee does INDEED look at a team's holes.  They do that because they are trying to find the BEST teams to make the tournament the very best it can be.

And Michigan's resume this year is akin to a high school graduate's applying to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Michigan will be doing well to win 1 of the final 3.  But that 1 won't come against Wisconsin.


February 20th, 2011 at 11:44 PM ^

If Michigan doesn't win another game this season they will still be in the NIT, if you can't understand that then you I don't know what else to tell you. Your insane if you really think they are on the bubble to get into the NIT. I hope you come back around after we win 2 out of 3 and make it into the tourney so you can eat all the shit you've been spewing.