At this time of year, it's all the little things that make the difference when living life on the bubble. The Bonnies, already in a First Four game, lost a quarterfinal game they couldn't afford to lose. Michigan was able to beat Big Ten regular season champion Indiana to advance to the tournament semifinals. These differences, when also taking into account a similar body of work from November to early March, tend to make or break teams.
Now, is Michigan "in" for sure? Absolutely not. Michigan still only has four Top 100 wins. And yes, while those four wins are all in the Top 30, that means there isn't a lot of meat in the middle of Michigan's schedule and nearly a dozen losses.
Other movers from Friday: I'm more and more convinced Monmouth is safely in the field at this point. I moved Monmouth out of the First Four and onto the No. 10 line because other teams are fading fast. Vanderbilt lost to Tennessee while South Carolina fell in the SEC quarterfinals. Those teams needed to add to their respective resumes, not add blemishes.
The biggest win came from Seton Hall. The Pirates' victory over Xavier bumped them up to the No. 6 line, while a team like Wisconsin - which really got hot but still has plenty of blemishes on its resume - fell to a No. 7.
West Virginia moved onto the No. 2 line, replacing Xavier (No. 3). The Mountaineers just get the job done. It's mighty impressive and has been since early in the season.
Here's the updated bracket thru Friday night's games:
|LAST FOUR IN: Wichita State, UConn, Michigan, Vanderbilt; FIRST FOUR OUT: St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, Valpo, St. Mary's (CA)|
If Michigan beats Purdue, the Wolverines should be safely in the field. A loss could be withstood, but other things could happen and, most importantly, while it's a quality loss it would still be a resume loss.
Virginia still has a much better resume than North Carolina, but there's a chance an ACC Tournament title for the Tar Heels could give UNC the No. 1 and bump Virginia to a No. 2.... It's not right, but it could happen.
Michigan State has to beat Maryland (and likely win the Big Ten Tournament) to keep the No. 1 seed in the West. That's been said for the past week. Until the Spartans lose they are a No. 1 seed.