isportsweb Senior Editor
Michigan (18-12, 8-9) will play at Minnesota (21-8, 9-8) on Saturday at noon. The game will be televised by ESPN. Michigan and Minnesota are both on the Bubble and this is setting up to be a virtual play in game for both teams.
Minnesota kept their hopes alive on Wednesday when they knocked off Wisconsin in an ugly game at the barn. Michigan has been sitting idle all week watching a lot of Bubble games go in their favor. The good news is that the coaching staff has had all week to get the team prepared for this game. Additionally Michigan matches up pretty well against Minnesota. The Gophers lack the dominant big man that has hurt Michigan against other teams this year. Minnesota is also not a very good perimeter defense team. Michigan will also have the two best players on the court in Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
This season has been the roller coaster John Beilein said it would. It has also been a season that many did not expect. When I projected Michigan for 21 wins in the pre season I took a lot of heat and many people countered by saying Michigan would be no better then a .500 team. Yet here we are in the final regular season game and Michigan seemingly controls their NCAA destiny. There were a few others who agreed with my lofty projections, notably Histo the Mad Hatter, but most did not see this coming.
Michigan really needs to break through and get this road win. Recently, they have come close at some tough road venues (Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Iowa). A win would make them a respectable 5-5 in their last 10, which as we all know is one of many factors the selection committee considers. The Selection Committee also says every year that they reward teams for playing tough schedules. Michigan’s strength of schedule usually checks in among the 10-15 toughest in the country and yet they have only one bad loss (at Iowa). So we will see on Selection Sunday if Michigan gets credit for that schedule. Take a look at the current Top 10 teams in the country and Michigan has played 4 games against top 10 teams (Connecticut, Duke twice, and Michigan State).
All of these Bubble theories will work a lot better if Michigan wins on Saturday. Back in the preseason I projected this game as a Michigan win. If you recall I projected 17 games as wins. Looking back on the other 16 games I projected them to win they are 15-1 in those games (the only projected win they did not get was at Penn State). To get to 21 wins I said of the remaining 14 games on the schedule they needed to win 4, they ended up going 3-11 in those 14 games. You can read the entire projection article here.
Notes: Jay Bilas was working the North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech game Wednesday night and said he thought Michigan was in regardless of the outcome at Minnesota. I’m not sure I agree with that but either way it is nice to have some good reviews for Michigan in a nationally televised game.