Last week around this time, we broke down the status of both Michigan and Michigan State as the season draws to a close and the NCAA Tournament approaches. It appeared then that both were on the fringe of being among the final at-large teams to make the dance.
But after impressive performances from both squads last week, it is safe to say that both very well could have punched their tickets to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Both the Wolverines and Spartans each picked up a pair of wins last weekend, one of those for each coming against ranked Big Ten foes at home. Michigan downed Purdue at home on Saturday, followed up by MSU handing Wisconsin it’s fourth loss in five games with an 84-74 win on Sunday. It’s something both teams were in desperate need of, particularly the Spartans.
For now, let’s just handicap where each team stands with two games to go in the regular season plus the Big Ten Tournament.
|MICHIGAN WOLVERINES||MICHIGAN ST SPARTANS|
|RECORD||19-10 (9-7)||18-11 (10-6)|
|STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE||34||13|
|KEY WINS (RPI)||SMU (18), PUR (20), WISC (32), MICH ST (42)||MINN x2 (16), WISC (32), WICH ST (40), MICH (46), N’WESTERN (50)|
|BAD LOSSES (RPI)||NONE||N’EASTERN (128)|
|REMAINING SCHEDULE||@N’WESTERN (03/01), @NEB (03/04)||@ILL (03/01), @UMD (03/04)|
[Strength of Schedule measure the overall win-loss percentage of opponents through games played; RPI measures the team’s win-loss record against its strength of schedule; Key Wins are classified as teams in the RPI Top 50; Bad Losses are classified as teams with an RPI of 100+. All of these stats are courtesy of CBSSports]
There are a number of things to take away from this table.
- The sub par records compiled by both teams are backed up by their relatively strong schedules respectively.
- According to the RPI, the Spartans have racked up more ‘quality wins’ than their rivals from Ann Arbor, but are damaged some by their December home loss to mid-major Northeastern (15-15 on the year).
- Both UM and MSU have chances to only improve their resumes with a pair of road games remaining.
- Michigan plays at Northwestern, who very well could be dancing for the first time in program history; and at Nebraska, who have been in a number of close calls during conference play this season. The Wolverines are also just 2-7 in true road games this year.
- Michigan State meanwhile has an arguably tougher draw to finish the year. Illinois has won three straight and four of their last five games overall. And despite the three-game losing skid, Maryland is still considered one of the top tier teams in the Big Ten.
While both Michigan’s John Beilein and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo have to be very pleased with the way their teams played last week, they also know that there’s work left to be done and they can further improve their case to the Selection Committee with some quality road wins this week.