Michigan could have sealed the deal as an NCAA Tournament participant with a win at Maryland on Sunday, but the Wolverines lost a close game, 86-82, leaving them with work to do.
Michigan is “in,” for now, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi. He has slotted the Wolverines as a 10 seed, but the season is not over as head coach John Beilein said after U-M’s loss to Maryland. He knows what it is going to take to make the field.
“I have the formula in my head,” Beilein stated. “You’ve got to win on the road, and we’ve got four of those. You’ve got to beat good teams, and we’ve got a couple of those, may need more of them. And you can’t have bad losses. We’re trying to avoid that.”
From an RPI standpoint, Michigan has one top 10 win over Maryland, (10) and two top 25 wins against Purdue (21) and Texas (23). N.C. State and Penn state could potentially help Michigan’s resume if they continue to win.
In Depth Look: Michigan’s defense has been struggling lately. The Wolverines last five opponents have averaged 76 points per game, shooting 51 percent from the field. With the absence of senior captain Caris LeVert, there has been a clear fatigue component contributing to the abundance of defensive lapses. His return for the remainder of the regular season is doubtful.
Bottom Line: Northwestern travels to Ann Arbor tonight to kick off Michigan’s final stretch of the regular season. This matchup has been established as a “must-win” game for Beilein’s Wolverines. U-M can’t afford a loss at home to the RPI ranked #108 Wildcats. With a win tonight and a win against one the last two regular season games, (Wisconsin, Iowa) Michigan will likely be in. Should Michigan drop their last two games, hold your breath and hope they make a B1G Tournament run.