Is Michigan On The NCAA Tournament Bubble Now?
A few weeks ago, it would've seemed panicky and ridiculous to think Michigan would ever be considered on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but here we unfortunately are.
January was basically a lost month for the Wolverines, who were a consensus No. 9 seed on the various bracketologies prior to Saturday's latest loss at home to Illinois. Several of the consensus bubble teams -- DePaul, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Richmond, and Tennessee -- also lost this weekend. So if I had to guess, Michigan will be one of the last four byes or last four in when the bracketologists update their projections this week. Selection Sunday is seven weeks from today.
Keep in mind that a team's NCAA Tournament resume isn't simply analyzed in a vacuum, but in relationship to the other teams competing with them for seeding and/or selection. Thus, it's not about finding 68 worthy teams, but the 68 worthiest teams.
The biggest stat to watch going forward, other than wins and losses obviously, will be what are called Quad-1 wins. These are defined by wins at home against top 30 NET teams, wins at neutral sites against top 50 NET teams, and road wins against top 75 NET teams. The NET is the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee's took for power-rating Division I college basketball teams. We don't full know the exact criteria that determines the NET, but we do know it's a combination of strength of schedule as well as efficiency analytics similar to a KenPom.
Michigan had three Quad-1 wins entering play on Sunday which is more than Louisville, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Auburn had. All teams ranked in this week's AP Top 25. Only three teams in all of college basketball have played more games against Quad-1 opponents than the Wolverines' 10.
That elite strength of schedule metric will keep Michigan on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble provided the Wolverines don't bottom out in February, too, like they did this month. Especially when you consider due to the overall strength of the Big Ten, it's quite possible eight of Michigan's final 12 games could be against Quad-1 foes.