The second weekend of March had no shortage of upset wins and conference shake-ups. Michigan has increased their seeding floor to a 3-seed by taking care of business to close out the regular season.
Yesterday was the most fun I’ve had watching regular season college basketball on a day Michigan wasn’t playing since I can remember:
Saint Louis - UMass: Boy does SLU look terrible on offense. Game was a brickfest. Both teams have guards that can drive almost at will but was really sloppy looking all the way. I continue to assert that Saint Louis is Ohio State-lite, good defense, but cannot compete in a shootout.
Virginia - Maryland: Score one against the strategy of fouling up three. Maryland still managed to pull it out in OT as the Big Ten saboteur in the ACC did some good work to knock Virginia out from 1-seed contention.
MSU - OSU: I remember watching this game on the last day of the season two years ago and REALLY caring about the outcome. It was a much more fun watch this way, and I can’t say I was disappointed by the end result.
Wright State - Green Bay: Horizon League tournament champion Wright State has now put Green Bay on the bad side of the bubble. Green Bay has a win over Virginia but no marquee road or neutral site wins despite a 24-6 record.
Things that needed to transpire in order to open the remote possibility of a Michigan one-seed:
- Kansas losing (@West Virginia)
- Duke losing (@Wake Forest)
- Virginia losing (@Maryland)
- Wisconsin losing (@Nebrasketball)
However not all fell into place:
- Syracuse beat Florida State.
- Villanova beat Xavier.
Villanova is now a virtual lock for the last one seed by virtue of having the fewest and least recent of any teams under consideration. It is possible they could lose that one seed with an early exit from the Big East tournament but even if they lose to Creighton in the finals, it’s hard to see them falling off the 1-seed line.
Over in the Big Ten with Nebraska and OSU beating Wisconsin and MSU, Michigan wins the Big Ten Conference by three games. The committee does not factor that into seeding but what is important is that there will not be any bias towards Michigan as having “lucked” their way to a conference title. They dominated the Big Ten start to finish and the committee loves to talk about the “full resume”.
RPI Still Matters...
In RPI news, Michigan still sits among a clump of teams in the top 10 - Creighton, Duke, Syracuse, Iowa State, and Virginia. Nebraska and Stanford have improved their RPI to 41st and 43rd keeping them somewhat clear of the “bubble” at 50. Iowa, meanwhile, now at 48th has disintegrated to the point where an early BTT exit for them could have them drop out of the top 50. Minnesota sits agonizingly at 51st in the RPI, and they draw a rematch of Penn State in the first round of the BTT which does not do much to bolster their bubble resume. If Iowa stumbles and Minnesota makes it into the top 50 it’s mostly a wash. Florida State is down at 59 but would need a run in the ACC tournament to crack the top 50.
The bracket matrix is starting to solidify, but there was plenty of movement near the top seeds in the past week:
- Florida 1.00 [—]
- Arizona 1.00 [—]
- Wichita 1.08 [+0.01]
- Villanova 1.42 [+0.49]
- Kansas 1.73 [-0.03]
- Wisconsin 1.94 [+0.12]
- Virginia 2.23 [+0.49]
- Michigan 2.41 [+0.41]
- Syracuse 2.62 [-0.92]
- Duke 2.87 [-0.57]
- Creighton 3.14 [-0.22]
- Iowa State 3.68 [-0.24]
- Cincinnati 3.84 [+0.33]
- SDSU 3.81 [+0.06]
- Louisville 4.10 [New]
- Michigan St 4.11 [+0.11]
There will be significant movement from these figures today since this update, as of 3/9, brackets are not accounting for Virginia, Wisconsin and MSU’s latest losses (and only half the brackets updated post Kansas-WVU), you would expect to see UNC reclaim the 16th spot on the S-Curve.
Best Ever Seed For Beilein
Michigan is still sitting a full seed away from cracking the one line. It’s going to be hard for Villanova to lose that last spot so Michigan is playing to lock up a 2-seed. Michigan’s floor (!!) is a 3-seed, which would still be Beilein’s highest seed ever in the NCAA tournament. The fact that last year’s Michigan team despite finishing with as good if not better regular season record was seeded 4th goes to show you how much weight the committee factors in conference standings.
A 1-1 record in the BTT for Michigan may be good enough for a 2-seed depending on how the other teams competing do: Kansas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Syracuse, and Duke are your competitors. Six teams for four slots are pretty decent odds, considering half of them will be playing in the same conference tournament.
Once you get to that point the S-curve becomes all important. Where will the committee rank Wichita State? With Arizona’s third loss does Wichita slide to the #2 overall seed? Florida seems to be heading for the #1 overall seed which means the “worst” 2-seed will head to the South region and Villanova in the East will get the “best” 2-seed.
Michigan-Wisconsin and Duke-Syracuse matchups will prevent those teams from being 2 and 3 seeds in the same region, due to the NCAA rules about not rematching teams played 3 times during the season until at least the elite 8, so there is the possibility of some S-Curve reshuffling if that happens.
Rest Of The B1G
- Wisconsin is now in the same boat as Michigan with a 2-3 seed range depending on their tourney performance.
- MSU will drop out of the top 16 seeds but can fight their way back in with a BTT finals appearance or with a lot of help from surrounding teams.
- OSU is up and down. They are a solid 6-seed now but could climb as high as 5 or drop as low as 8.
- Iowa is in a free-fall. They are headed for an 8-9 matchup.
- Nebrasketball is going dancing, lock it up. Depending on how other bubble teams shake out they could move as high as a 10 seed, if the tournament happened today they’d be in at 11.
- Minnesota gets no chance to pad their resume. PSU in the opening round is a MUST WIN. If they upset Wisconsin that will punch their ticket. More likely they lose that game and spend the next two days wondering their fate and hoping for no bid thieves.
So You're Saying There's A Chance...
However, if Villanova is upset in the quarters or semis then here’s your remaining rooting interests:
- Root for Florida State to beat Maryland and then upset Virginia.
- Root for Duke over Syracuse in the semis, but then for Duke to lose in the ACC finals.
- Root for anyone to beat Kansas in the Big 12 tournament at any point.
- RPI must work out so Michigan has 10-12 top 50 RPI victories. It’s a silly and arbitrary cut-off but a very important stat the committee considers at the high seeds.
Combine all of the above with a Michigan victory in the BTT and the door opens, but only just slightly.