Friday @ 7:20 PM on TNT. Hopefully you realize that I'm not talking about the Buckeyes, but the Ohio Bobcats. Of course, this is a great match-up because of the endless jokes Michigan fans can make about playing "Ohio" and using the "Beat Ohio" slogan, but that's not the only reason why this seeding helps the Wolverines. Michigan may be a 4 seed, but their NCAA Tournament selection is actually set-up pretty well to make a deep run.
Now, the first thing to address is the debate over Michigan's seeding. All the speculation last week and through the weekend was that Michigan would be picked as a 3 seed on Selection Sunday. However, as we know now, that didn't happen. This announcement surprised a lot of people, including myself. Michigan seemed to have everything in place for a 3 seed, but two things seemed to have swayed the NCAA Selection Committee. The first being Michigan's collapse against the Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon, losing by a score of 77-55. The Wolverines didn't just lose, they got stomped. I hate to admit it, but during that game, this team barely looked like it deserved a tourney bid, let alone a 3 seed.
However, as we all came to realize, that was just one game on one night. Michigan has been pretty consistent all year and deserved a pretty good seed. I think Michigan was still set to receive a 3 seed until Sunday afternoon, when Florida State upset North Carolina to win the ACC. This was a pretty big accomplishment and I believe this is the game that vaulted them past Michigan and to a #3 seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Basically, in my opinion, Michigan had a 3 seed locked up, even with the dreadful loss to the Buckeyes, but lost the spot because Florida State did great in its own conference tournament.
Was this the right choice? It's obviously debatable and I think we'll see how Michigan and Florida State do in the tournament this weekend, but Florida State has some great wins and great momentum coming into the tourney, so it's not a surprise they were seeded above Michigan. Regardless of whether Michigan is a 3 or a 4 seed, they have a good shot at going deep because of the region and teams in their bracket. Michigan will be favored in their first two games (just like they would have been as a 3 seed) and as a result, a Sweet 16 finish isn't too crazy of a prediction.
Along with this, a potential 2nd round match-up with Temple is not that scary. I think Michigan has a great shot at beating them and advancing to the Sweet 16 if they play each other. At that point, Michigan would likely get North Carolina in a chance to go to the Elite 8. If Michigan had received Florida State's 3 seed, they would likely be facing Ohio State instead of North Carolina (assuming they won their first two games as well). Personally, I think the Buckeyes are every bit as good, if not better than North Carolina. Sure, North Carolina has been great, but Ohio State is probably just as dangerous.
Now, Michigan will not be favored against the Tar Heels if they meet in the Sweet 16 round, but I certainly think they are beatable. After that, there's no predicting who Michigan would play, if they even make it that far at all. I think Michigan has a great chance to at least make the Sweet 16 with its selection. Beating North Carolina is no easy task, but even if Michigan had a 3 seed they'd have to play Duke, Missouri, Ohio State, or Kansas, and personally, I think Missouri and Ohio State are just as good, if not better, than North Carolina. When a team starts playing 1 and 2 seeds, there isn't exactly a lot of difference.
Basically, what I'm saying is that I think Michigan got a pretty good draw this year for the NCAA Tournament. It may not have been everybody's dream, but match-ups with Ohio and Temple are certainly winnable and I think the Wolverines have a decent change to win them both and a decent chance at winning another game or two. I'm not predicting a Final 4 run, but I think fans should expect Michigan to be playing in the second weekend of the tournament. If not, I think we should be pretty disappointed.
Either way, this year's prospects are better than last year's #8 seed against #9 Tennessee followed by a 2nd round match-up with #1 Duke is a lot tougher than a game against #13 Ohio and #5 Temple. Wolverine fans should be excited and I look forward to a good run this year.
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