The narrative surrounding the Michigan Wolverines has gone through multiple transformations this season. They started out as a title-contending, top-10 team. They quickly turned into massive underachievers and have worked their way into being a fairly impressive comeback story. Left for dead a couple of months ago when they were 7-7 overall, 1-3 in the Big Ten, the Wolverines have notched a bunch of high-quality wins since. They still haven’t won back-to-back games in nearly a month, but recent triumphs over Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State have placed Michigan squarely on the bubble heading into this week’s conference tourney. Here’s what it needs to do in order to claim its place in the NCAA Tournament.
Update: The Wolverines lost to Indiana 74-69 on Thursday. With that one-and-done performance in the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan’s path to the big dance just got dicier.
Michigan, the Big Ten’s No. 8 seed, will begin its conference tournament run on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET against the ninth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers. A victory there would give Michigan another quadrant-1 victory — its sixth overall. The Wolverines’ record with that result (18-13) would still leave something to be desired, but that many Q1 wins gives Michigan a strong NCAA Tournament case. As of the morning of March 7, fewer than 20 teams have that many Q1 wins. If the Wolverines want to leave no doubt about their NCAA Tournament spot, they could have that opportunity against top-seeded Illinois on Friday.
What teams losing would help their cause?: Michigan will take all the help it can get, but, among Big Ten competition, losses by Rutgers and/or Indiana would be good. That makes Thursday’s game even more important.
Will Michigan get in?
Answer: No. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has them as one of the last teams in but it’s hard to imagine a team that was inconsistent throughout the regular season get the nod, especially after getting bounced out of the conference tourney by another bubble team. Also, do not rule out the selection committee attempting to make an example out of head coach Juwan Howard following his actions after the Wisconsin game a few weeks ago.